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Astrid - Alrest Endangered: Chapter 1: The Girl In The Cloak

by Mechanist Gamma


Torna has fallen into the ocean, Prince Addam is dead and Malos continues to spread his wave of destruction across Alrest. Six months after the Aegis has fallen, a mysterious order spreads across the land. Unified by a mysterious girl and a quick-footed outlaw, can a rag-tag group of heroes do what the heroes of the world couldn't, and find a way to stop Malos once and for all?

Chapter 1: The Girl In The Cloak
Lisette, a Gormotti girl, and Dalton, an Ardainian man, return to Gormott after a long time away for various reasons, but their meetings with Naust, a Leftherian Driver, and Penny, a strange girl, will bring them into conflict with powerful foes...
“Damn it! Kill the intruder already!”
Two figures ran through the caverns. The caves, illuminated with light, were somehow still filled with darkness whichever way the fleeing pair looked. The man pulled the woman to the side, putting his finger over his mouth to call for silence. The two hid behind a corner. Several cloaked men looked around, searching for the pair.
"Where are they?!” One of the cloaked men had a much more ornate robe as well as a blade at his side. “We can’t let them escape!”
“They’re not here, sir.” one of the cloaked men replied.
“Shit. Keep looking!”
“Yes, sir!”
As the cloaked men stormed off, the man peeked out from around the corner. When he knew he was safe, he leaned against the wall, looking at the woman. “You’ve got to get out of here. Alone. That letter has to get to the right authorities.”
“You can deliver it!” the woman said. “I’ve been running for too long, anyways.”
“But you’re so good at running.” the man teased. The woman frowned. The man spotten a brown cloak hanging nearby and dropped it on her. “This cloak should keep you hidden. No one will know the truth about you.”
“...fine, I’ll go. But you stay safe, alright?”
“Safe as I can. Promise.” the man nodded. “Now get out of here! I’ll buy you time!” The man tapped his chest, summoning a glowing yellow and silver sword. He dashed off towards the cloaked men at astonishing speeds. The woman, meanwhile, ran the other way as fast as she could.
Torigoth… If I can just get to Torigoth…!

On a long, steel doc leading to a ship built into a titan, a young lady walked along a group of salvagers. Light blue ribbons, holding some of her blonder hair back into a braid behind the back of her head, blew around in the dry wind of Mor Ardain as she approached the ticket stand. Her light blue eyes sparkled in the daylight while she stood purchasing a ticket from a nopon merchant. Soon turning to walk with the rest of the salvagers again, the young lady’s brown work boots clicked on the steel of the doc. When she finally arrived at the ship, she realized an important member of the crew was not amongst her: her partner. While waiting at Port Anangham for the rest of the crew to leave for Gormott as well as for her missing partner, the salvager stood examining a purple blade she had been carrying on the back of her brown cloak.
"I can't wait to see my family again, it's been a while.”
“Lisette, wait for me!”
Suddenly, another young woman who looked to be a young adult approached the salvager. She donned armor that looked similar to a knight, but seemed weaker and lighter at further glance. Eclipse ran her hands around Lisette in an attempt to her hug her. The young lady accepted and hugged her partner back.
“Eclipse? Are you looking forward to seeing Gormott again?"
“I am, Lisette. Sorry for being late, my Driver. Now I wonder...” said Eclipse. “How long is it going to take to get there?"
“Several months,” replied Lisette sarcastically. “And don’t worry. A Driver and Blade share a deep connection. I knew you were fine.” Eclipse nods and smiles at her driver as she backs up to give space to her Driver. It was quite hot in Mor Ardain. The Blade did not want to be the cause of her Driver’s potential heat flashes. “By the way, Lis, I have a question.” Eclipse bent over to get eye level with her partner and pointed to the cat ears at the top of her blonde hair to ask: “Do you hear out of these ears or the human ones?"
“Er...I guess both?” said Lisette, before placing her sword back on her back (the hilt of it by her right shoulder). The Driver/salvager then covered her human ears to see if she could hear the sound of the nearby Chansagh Wastes. “Hmmmm. I think so…”
“Only think?” replied Eclipse, before pointing at her Driver’s face. “Anyway, let’s get on the ship. It’ll probably take a few hours to get there. Mor Ardain and Gormott should be relatively close at this time of season, but still….You got the tickets, right?”
“Yeah, right ‘ere,” said the Blade’s Driver, before pulling the Blades ticket out of her red skirt. “I don’t need one since I’m also a salvager.”
“Great! I got us a snack for the ride home,” said Eclipse. "Also.... do you want me to carry any of your gear for you?"
"No, I'm fine. Thanks though. However..." Lisette trailed off as the signal for sailing had been given. She quickly grabbed Lisette’s hand and ran toward the train. The light blue ribbon part boho chic styled necktie around her neck fluttering in the wind as she ran.
"Ok, now,” said Lisette, comfortable sitting beside her blade “I also always wanted to know. Blades' core crystals are usually blue and before awakening they have a cubic shape. But when I found yours, it wasn't like that..." She examined it Eclipse’s now visible core. When the duo had arrived in there room, the Blade had removed her armor to reveal a light gray vest, black T-shirt with a perfectly cut out whole revealing the pearl colored core crystal above her breast, and a pair of jeans. "Your core was pure white. Why is that?"
"I mean.. not all core crystals are blue. It’s common for a core crystal to be blue… but ....maybe I’m even more rare than a rare blade… it’s the best answer I can give you, Lisette. I’m sorry I can’t give a better one."
“Oh well, don't worry about it. It’s not like blade’s have memories of that kind of thing,” said Lisette. “You may have known in your last life, but forgot in this one...EH?" The Driver’s Gormotti ears twitched to the sound of rest of the crew - 3 nopon and 4 men - approaching the boat.
"Sorry we took so long, customer was difficult,” said one of the men. “Oh well, they always gonna be difficult. We're gonna depart right away, you girls ready?" The two young ladies nodded. This heat was getting unbearable.
"Thank you all so much for this ride back home," said Eclipse, as she looked over to Lisette.The few nopon who were dawdling outside were hurried on board the ship so it could take off. Not long after, the ship started the journey to Gormott titan.
During the trip over to the Gormott titan, Eclipse took the time took look over her weapon. It was a stainless steel blade that had a red gem in its blade and a blue gem in its hilt. She held the hilt with a leather glove over her hand. Once she finished inspecting it, she placed it on the table.
"Wow...!” Eclipse’s thoughts were interrupted by her driver. “That's almost double what we made last time! Mom and Dad will be so happy... I wonder how their work on Torigoth is getting along. I wonder how sister is..."
"Let’s hope they're doing well... If only my powers was not making illusions out of the fears of others and was making money or gold they wouldn’t have to work so hard..."
Across from the driver and blade a slim male sat watching the duo. Lisette in particular. She seemed to have caught his hazel eye. Yes, just one. The other socket where the eye used to be had an eye patch covering it. It added to his sexiness. Also adding to his sexiness was his shoulder length brown hair. The bottom length of the hair laid over his light grey knitted jacket, which covered a white T-shirt. He wiggled his skinny jean covered butt, before mustering up the courage to talk to the young lady who sat across from him.
"I couldn't help but overhear you,” said the man, speaking in a heavy Ardanian accent. “You have family in Torigoth?"
"Tha's right. How 'bout you - why are you goin' to Gormott?" asked Lisette, in a beautifully natural Gormotti accent.
“I am.”
"My driver is from Torigoth," said Eclipse, interrupting the two and making the man notice her sitting by Lisette. Eclipse had her hand covering her core crystal, which made her look a little cute. But, the gaze from her sea green eyes gave the man a different image.
"Ah, er..." He replied. “My Aunt lives there so I’m going to visit her.”
"What is your name, Sir?" asked Eclipse, as she puts her elbow on the table looking at the male.
"The names Dalton, what's yours?" He asked in return.
"This here's Eclipse, and I'm Lisette.” The Driver interrupted, fearful of what her Blade might do if she got jealous suddenly. “What a coincidence, I'm also visiting family. Hey... When were you last in Gormott?" She had asked this with a slightly worried expression while her legs were crossed in front of her.
Eclipse bit her upper lip...worried almost as if she were going to lose something precious she had kept all too herself for months. Noticing the core crystal Eclipse had uncovered by moving, Dalton flashed a quick, innocent ‘please-don’t-kill-me’ look across his face. Eclipse responded by leaning against her driver with sigh.
"I’m afraid the men’s room is calling me," said Dalton, while suddenly walking away to leave the Blade alone with her Driver. When the man returned, he seemed to muster up more courage. Eclipse had notice he stood six feet tall, three inches shorter than her. This annoyed her. However, the Blade’s expression seemed to be enough to give the man enough backbone to continue the conversation from before. "Last time I can remember being in Gormott was when I was little, I don't leave Mor Ardain often, but with the recent events with the Aegis,Malos. I’ve decided to visit some family to check on them." The man said as he watched Eclipse leave her seat.
"Then you wont't've heard…” said Eclipse, “A few months ago...Torigoth was burnt down. We don't think it was the Aegis, or it'd have a different pattern - it was probably bandits. Lots of people died, so one of the survivors set up a cemetery for 'em. Your aunt...Your aunt...probably..." The Blade trailed of while looking to the floor. She did not want to see Dalton realising what could've happened. Dalton had a very shocked look on his face once the realization had hit him very quickly.
"....I see." That's all he could get out of his mouth. He was silent for a while. "You said you two were visiting your parents, correct?" asked Eclipse, walking back to her seat as she now looked too Dalton’s face. "Oh, yeah. Our family managed to get away and built a cosy home somewhere else on Gormott."
"Ahh, I'm glad, we don't need more bad news now do we." said Dalton, mustering the bravest smile he could on his somber face. Eclipse, noticing the death glare from her Driver, stood up once more and went to sit by Dalton. She began to pat his back to keep him calm in her presence. “I’m sorry for your loss…”
“I wish…” Eclipse’s voice broke the silence after a few moments of the two staring at the World Tree behind Lisette. “I wish I could freeze Malos alive. None of this…” The Blade bit her lip and let out a heavy sigh. Her eyes were also cloudy...she seemed to be expressing sorrow at both what she had just done and at Malos being free still.
"If I'm being honest, I have no clue anymore what I would do if I were to be put face to face with him,” said Dalton. “Shooting him is the first thing that comes to mind."
After a few hours passed, the trio grew a little closer to each other. They talked about Dalton’s weapon--a black Taurus Centerfire revolver, Model 65--and the fact he lost his eye in a duel due to being distracted by music. The latter thing causing Eclipse, who had moved back beside her Driver, to look at the man like he was crazy before she started to laugh a bit. Lisette joined in so her Blade wouldn’t seem rude all alone. However, the man was not mad. It actually led to the most notable thing the trio talked about: Lisette and Eclipse being in each other’s presence for one cycle. That was the time it took the titans to circle the World Tree, which loomed over all like a foliage covered tower.

The next morning, the ship arrived at Lascham Cove, Gormott. Eclipse smiled while she waited for her driver to exit off the ship first. Lisette thanked the crew for passage as she got off the titan ship, letting her eyes feast on the plains of her homeland. "It's so good to be back..."
"I know, right?" said Eclipse, as she sighed.
Dalton walked off the Titan ship and took in the view. "Lovely, it's been too long since I've been here last." said the man.
Lisette looked around, noticing two traders selling accessories and core chips, and looked over their goods. Eclipse towered over her driver, Lisette, as the girl looked over the retail. "What are you looking at, Lisette?" asked the blade.
"Been a while since the last time I got a new core chip for you and accessories. Whaddya think, want one?" asked Lisette. The driver reached into her pocket taking her purse, counting how much she had. Her blade let out a momentary smile.
"You don’t have to, Lisette." said the blade, while shaking her head. "It’s not something you have to do. You come before me."
"Nah, that's not right. Drivers and Blades are partners--equals. We both look after each other, and a Driver ain't a higher priority than a Blade, same the other way. C'mon, you can have it if you want, I'd be happy to get it for you."
Eclipse couldn’t help but smile at her driver. It sent a happy, warm feeling throughout the blade’s chest. Eclipse couldn’t really protest anymore. "Thank you Lisette...get me whatever you think would be best for us...I’m not sure what is sold here." the Blade said.
Meanwhile, Dalton started to make his way toward the edge of the dock and looks at the path to Torigoth. A sprawling, green path decorated with flowers and large trees laid out before him. It was a little intimidating when the local monsters came into view. "If I remember correctly, that's where Torigoth used to be."
Back at the store, Lisette glanced through a selection of core chips. The two nopon in charge of the store smiled and danced around a bit as she looked. From sunlight absorbing cores that increase accuracy during the day to moonlight absorbing cores that increase accuracy at night all the way to power increasers and defense boosters--this shop had it all!
"Alright." said Lisette, after she spent a good ten minutes looking. “Oh, and I’ll take this accessory too!”
The girl equipped a Beta Scope accessory, which reduced enemy resistance to Break. She then turned to her delighted blade and gave her the core chips. However...
"I’m sorry. It’s been way too long since I’ve used things like these, Lisette," said the blade, while looking to the ground. “Could you remind me what to do?”
Lisette stood thinking of a way to explain to her Blade what to do without becoming lewd from overexplaining. Dalton saw the duo and decided to approach to bid them farewell. When he arrived next to them, he was immediately bombarded with a question from Eclipse. “Hey, um… Do y’know how to use core chips?”
“Uh…I’ve never had a blade before...so...”
Lisette decided to save the man from an embarrassing moment that would most likely leave blush marks across his face. Though the thought of him blushing wasn’t such a bad thing… Before continuing the thought, she took Eclipse’s weapon. She fiddled with it until the core chip’s she purchased were in place.
“There,” Lisette said.
"Phew,” sighed Dalton. “Anyway, I just came over to thank you girls for keeping me company on the trip. It's been a pleasure!"
"Yeah, you too. It was nice meeting you."
After a firm handshake to both girls, Dalton set off to his destination: Torigoth. A quaint little village just getting its start on the giant titan its growth took place on. Thinking of what awaited him, the man set off on his journey with excitement. Meanwhile, Lisette decided to set off toward her home with her blade.

After a long walk, Dalton arrived at the arch of Torigoth. From the arch, he could already see construction. "Goodness, someone sure did a number on this place," he said, making his way past the arch and officially into the village. He wanted to see what had changed since he had last been there. Well, a lot obviously. But he wanted to see how construction was going.
Dalton walked around in search of the grave site he was told about. Failing to find it, he decided to ask around.
Nearby him was a man and his Blade. The man was about average height, with medium length black hair and pale skin. He seemed to be a Leftherian, not a Gormotti. His green eyes complimented his brown jacket, which had green elements. Underneath the jacket, the man wore black track pants and a dark green shirt. On further inspection, he didn’t actually seem to be a man, rather a kid in his late teens. The Blade, meanwhile, seemed to be a young girl of sorts with long black hair brought up into two ponytails. Her ribbons and fabric collar match her dress as well as her long gloves and socks that fail to cover the upper arms and thighs. Both her black short skirt and black boots have the repeated pattern of small circles, giving the Blade a theme.
"Pardon me sir, do you happen to know when the graveyard is?" Dalton asked, grabbing the man’s attention.
"I can show you where they are, if you want. I was hoping for a break anyways so win win. Athell, stay here and continue helping out, okay?” the man said to his Blade, who gave a nod of acknowledgement.
"Ahh, I would appreciate that very much. My name's Dalton, what's yours?” Dalton asked holding his hand out for a shake
The man grabbed his hand, shaking it. "The name’s Naust, great to meet'cha.". Dalton let go of Naust's hand with a smile.
Naust began to walk towards the back of the burned town, away from the Arch. As he went over, one of the countless Gormotti helping out waved at the two and gestures them to come over.
“Hey, this is sudden, but can you take this to the guy in charge?” the Gormotti asked. “He should be near the graveyard?”
“I wouldn't mind, we were heading there anyway." Naust replied, taking the item from the Gormotti.
SIDE QUEST: Delivery of the Gormotti - ACCEPTED
"Let's go on over there to give him the item he needs." Naust said, walking to the graveyard again. "So what brings you to Torigoth?".
"Well, I was visiting my aunt who lived here, but while on the ship I heard the news about the village being burned. So I guess I'm here to visit a grave now." He explained somberly.
"That's got to be hard for you. But don't worry. It'll get better!" Naust said with a little enthusiasm.
"Yes, I'm sure it will. My sadness has passed, I'll pray at her grave, then maybe I'll help with construction for a little." Dalton replied. "What about you Naust, are you a local?" he asked keeping the conversation going.
"Oh, uh, no. I was just passing through when I saw the place. I'm actually from Letheria. But I guess you could say I'm more a drifter nowadays." Naust said with a smile.
"Ah I see, exploring the world does sound a heap of fun. But scary at the same time, y'know what I'm saying?"
"Oh boy, do I know it. First time I got to Gormott me and Athell got swarmed with Gogols." Naust stated.
"How did you get out of that one?" Dalton said with a laugh.
"It took some time, but we just brought them down one by one while dodging the others, tried some specials while we did it which made quick work of them!" Naust excitedly says while swinging his sword to his words.
"You must be pretty strong then." Dalton chuckled, but he quickly stopped the praise as he looked up to see the graveyard. He stopped where he stood.
"Are you ok there, Dalton? You just stopped." Naust asked, looking at Dalton.
Dalton stayed silent for a second. "I guess I wasn't as ready as I thought I was to visit my Aunt's grave." He said. "I just need a minute."
“Sure.” Naust nodded, stepping back. Dalton continued to stare at the graves, wondering which one belonged to his deceased aunt. There were so many of them… It was hard to believe all this was the result of one group of bandits.

Suddenly, a shout could be heard. "Please! Someone!"
A lone girl, wearing a large brown cloak, leapt up from over the side of the fence of the graveyard. Not much could be seen beyond the hood, but it was clear she was of medium height - about five and a half feet - with long brown hair and deep blue eyes. She spotted Dalton and Naust, dashing towards them. "Are you Drivers? Please tell me you're Drivers! I need help."
Dalton's head jolted towards the girl. "Uh, n-no I'm not a driver, sorry. But please tell me what's wrong?" Dalton said trying to compose himself.
"I'm a driver but my blade is over there helping, but I'm not unarmed what do you need?" Naust asked, just as concerned as Dalton.
Penny looked at Naust. "Please call your Blade over here. I'm trying to get away from them!"
As Penny talked, three strange, cloaked figures came over the fence. They all wore large purple and black robes with masks. The one in the middle had golden patterns on his, indicating he was the leader. "You two. Leave, now, and forget what you saw here." he said. "As for the girl, return the letter you stole and we may let you live." The other two robed people drew spears from their backs.
Dalton stared confused. "I'm sorry did you say might not kill?" Dalton replied.
Naust whispers to Dalton "Just go and find Athell and bring her here, I'll hold them off!"
"Uhm, ok?" Dalton said and rushed off back to where he and Naust left Athell.
"I don't know your name but get behind me, I'll try my best to protect you until they come back!" Naust says to the girl and then turns to the three to say "You won't be getting past me, I hope you know. Even if I don't know this girl I'll still protect her."
"Then you consort with her, and as such will receive the same judgement. Kill them both." The leader ordered. The two guards dashed forwards, attempting to stab Naust. Naust swiftly blocked both strikes.
"Now now, that's not how you go for a stab. Try again."
One of the guards dashed to the side of Naust while the other swung his spear down towards Naust's head. Naust blocked the strike from above, rolling away from the other soldier. “Come on guys, get back soon…” he whispered under his breath.

Back in the main village, Dalton arrived at the location where him and Naust had met. He couldn't remember what Athell looked like, so... "ATHELL, HEY ATHELL IT'S AN EMERGENCY!!"
Athell looked towards Dalton and dropped what she was carrying. "What do you mean? What's the matter?"
"It's Naust, he's protecting a girl in the graveyard from some men with spears. We have to hurry!" Dalton explained as fast and as brief as he could. "No time to respond we have to go, c'mon!" He started running off back to the graveyard. Athell dashed after Dalton.

Penny hid behind Naust, shrinking down closely with her hands covering a piece of paper in her hands. "Watch out, to your right!" she warned as the soldier dashed towards Naust.
Naust swung to the right and activated his weapon. The customized Change Blade changed to a more lance-like design to parry the spear men. "Thanks for that, now I just need to buy more time. I'll just have to use an art, here we go! SWEEPING LANCEN!"
The soldiers hit the ground hard, quickly getting up again. "Feeling clever with your arts, huh?!" one of them said. "How about one of mine?! PIERCING SHAFT!" The soldier jabbed straight at Naust.
Dalton and Athell arrive on the scene right they witnessed the hooded men stand back up and begin attacking Naust. "Shit!" Dalton exclaimed lowering his hand towards a holster on his side to grab his revolver.
Athell put up her shield just in the nick of time, protecting Naust. "Naust what the hell are you doing getting into a fight like this?!" Athell demanded, quickly moving to her Driver’s side.
"Long story short? We're protecting this girl, and those are the baddies. You want to try Glazer Beam?" Naust asks Athell. Athell nodded back.
"Great." the leader sighed. "Now there's more of them. Either you two idiots clean up this mess, or I'm leaving you behind."
"What?!" the other soldier exclaimed. "Alright then, you four are all dead!" The soldiers prepared their weapons again to go on the assault.
"Hold this." Penny said, passing the paper she held to Dalton. Penny then drew what looked to be a large dagger out from under her cloak.
Dalton took the paper without question and shoved it in his jacket pocket. He then whipped out his revolver and pointed it towards one of the men attacking Naust. "Let's get this over with." He fired off two shots on the man who attacked aiming at his arms hoping to disarm him. The man blocked the shots with his spear, but since he was faced towards Dalton, the girl took the chance to run up close with the blade. The two fighters clashed their weapons. The other soldier, meanwhile, dashed towards Naust.
"You're gonna regret getting closer. Let’s go, GLAZER BEAM!" With that multiple beams just shot from spots near Athell all aimed at the one soldier. At the same time, Dalton fired another round at the Assailant clashing with Penny hoping he was distracted enough for the bullet to hit.
The first soldier was helpless to counter the Glazer Beam. The beams ran the soldier through, sending him falling to the ground, lifeless.
The second soldier, meanwhile, took a bullet to the shoulder hard. He waddled back slowly, dropping his spear and gripping his wound. "V-Visier, help me!" he said.
The girl held her sword in front of her, running her hand over the blade. Her hand became charged with electricity, and she thrust it forwards. "STATIC SHOCK!" she said as she blasted the soldier. The man stumbled backwards, falling unconscious to the ground.
Suddenly, the unconscious man was stabbed through the back. The Visier, as he had been called, had just killed his own man. "Unfortunate. We'll retrieve that letter somehow, as I'm not confident I could take four powerful opponents on. I likely could, but I'd rather not chance it. Good luck leaving Gormott alive." The Visier turned away and jumped back down the cliff.
The girl dropped her sword and collapsed to her knees, sighing heavily. "Thank... Thank you. Thank you three."
Dalton looked at her stress on his face. "It was no problem." Without asking he quickly grabbed the letter from his pocket and read it to himself.
The letter was unsigned. Dalton stared at the letter in silence, worried about what the contents meant.
"By the Architect, that came out of nowhere. Oh and before anything else happens what's your name?" Naust said, not knowing of the letter’s contents.
"Penny. My name's Penny." the girl said.
"So, Penny, what were they after you for?" Naust asked.
"That letter." Penny said, pointing towards the letter Dalton was reading. "I learned of its contents and I... I knew I had to get it to someone who could do something about it. Someone like Brighid."
"Yes, that should be our first course of action." Dalton read the contents of the letter aloud to Naust and Athell. "How did you find this letter Penny?" Dalton had to ask.
"I... I'll explain later. When we're somewhere safe." Penny replied. "First, we need to find Brighid and give her that letter."
"Mor Ardain does seem like the only place we could trust. What do you think Naust?" Dalton turned to Naust and asked out of curiosity.
"Well it just depends on how they would take it, but they do seem trustworthy as of late." Naust stated.
"You said you were helping with the reconstruction, right?" Penny asked. "In that case, would you know where Brighid is?"
"Hold it." Dalton spoke up. "Haven't you heard the news? Lord Hugo has passed, Lady Bridghid returned to her core. She could be anywhere." He explained.
"The Emperor reawakened her." Penny explained. "People said she's been helping out with the reconstruction effort lately."
"Well we could check, but she may not be here since a lot of places need to be rebuilt." Naust added.
"I guess we'd better look for her then." Penny said, getting up. She then turned back to the two. "Oh, uh, if you're willing to come with me, of course."
"I'd be glad to, the people here should have this covered." Naust said with a smile.
"We're all targets now I assume, maybe it would be best if we stuck together for a while, safer even." Dalton said.
"Thank you." Penny nodded. "Let's go find Brighid, then." Penny picked up her sword and sheathed it back within her cloak before walking towards the main part of Torigoth Village.
Dalton put the letter back in his pocket and returned his revolver to its holster. "Real quick, do you any of you know if any of these graves belong to a 'Matilda Buryne?" Dalton asked looking back at the graves.
"Ah yes, she's right over here. I'll leave you be for a moment." Naust says with a bit of sorrow.
The adrenaline from the fight left Dalton's body as he slowly walked over to the grave Naust pointed him to. He knelt down and put his hands together in prayer. "I'm sorry I didn’t come sooner. Maybe I could've saved some people if I was here." He spoke softly as he stood up and looked down at the grave. A single tear fell down his face as he turned to join Naust and Athell.

Heading into Torigoth, Penny looked around. “Wow. I never thought the reconstruction was this well along.”
Naust turned to Penny. "Me and Athell were actually helping out here for a while before this, but the hard part is mostly over so I believe they can finish it themselves. Wait, Dalton, did you ever give the guy in charge that item?"
Dalton had dropped the item sometime during the sudden fight. "Oh crap, I think I dropped it somewhere." Dalton looked worried. Dalton started frantically looking around for item he dropped. Naust headed towards the graveyard to go look for the item due to Dalton having likely dropped it there, the others following him.
After about 3 minutes of searching, Dalton finds the lost item. "Oh thank The Architect!." he exclaimed standing up and hold the item close to his chest. "We can go for real this time.”
Penny nodded. "I guess we should go find that person, then?" she asked. "Perhaps they can help us figure out where Brighid is as well."
"Sounds like a plan." Dalton agreed.
"Alright, let’s go get this to the guy so we can ask about Brighid. I'm sure we'll be able to find her soon." Naust says to the group.
Dalton nodded in agreement. "Where was he again?" He asked.
"Well the Gormotti said near the - graveyard." Naust said, realizing that he might have run off because of the attack.
"Do you think he saw us fighting?"
"He could have, but he wasn't there when we walked up to the graveyard. Athell, what are your thoughts?" Naust asked.
"Maybe we should ask around the place to see if anyone has seen him." Athell replied.
"Let's ask around then.” Dalton suggested. “Penny and I will search inside of Torigoth. Naust, Athell, do you mind searching Lascham Cove in case he decided to head outside?"
The other three agreed to the plan, splitting up to go find the manager and Brighid.

"It’s good to be back," said Eclipse, as she looked over the monsters that roamed around near Melnath's Shoulder.
The sun shone down on a quaint little house in the moment Lisette and Eclipse arrived there. It was a little brick house secluded away from the monsters that roamed the grasslands. Most noticeably, a cow-like armored monster named Armu.
"Yeah. It's been so long, hasn't it?" asked Lisette, while watching birds chase bunnies around. running between the legs of the Armu.
"Yeah... It certainly has," the Blade responded, patting her driver's back in the process. "Shall we go greet your family?"
Lisette nodded, before eyeing her little sister. Standing on the front porch, a twelve year old Gormotti girl awaited the attention of her soon to be doting older sister. The girl stood waving at Lisette, who she had not seen in months. The Driver rushed over to her sister and hugged her.
Lisette looked over her sister with a delicate care in her eyes. The young girl was wearing a green dress with a pink lotus flower design decorating its collar. The girl wore the dress over her dark skinned body. Her cat ears wiggled and her red eyes darted about. Same little sister Lisette knew her as. The Driver soon started to wonder where her parents were, but soon came to the conclusion that they were probably out working on construction or gathering materials. "Liz, is that really you?" asked the sister, before hugging the Driver tighter. "Oh, my Architect! It is!" Lisette gave a simple smile at the feel of the tightened grip. She ran her fingers through her sister's blonde hair. The young girl's ears flickering back and forth at the attentive patting.
"I missed you," said Lisette, as Eclipse smiled behind the two reunited sisters.
"Um...who is that?" asked Rose.
"I am Lisette's Blade," said Eclipse, before moving her hand off the white core crystal on her chest. "My name is--
"Sun Cover."
"Sister, you idiot," said Rose, as Lisette looked absolutely done with life at her joke being shrugged off.
Once this short little exchange was over, the younger sister led the Driver and Blade inside the house to relax while waiting for her parents. Inside the house was a cozy and comfortable atmosphere Lisette had missed from being away all those months. Soon her belly was growling from all the travel to get here from Lascham Cove.
“It sounds like my daughter is hungry,” said a familiar voice. “Dear, have you been eating properly?”
“O-of course, Mom!” With little thought, Lisette charged forward to hug her mother. A warm, motherly embrace was all it seemed the Driver needed to be refreshed of the fatigue from her journey here. The girl’s father soon joined in to make a group hug. However, the man was carrying some smelly fish that soon ended the hug.
“Agh!” yelled Lisette. “That’s gross!”
“Sorry dear,” said the dad, before placing the fish on the kitchen counter. “Can I have the hug now?”
“No, one’s enough,” pouted Lisette.
“No fair,” whined the dad. Soon after, he went over to the counter. He took the fish and ran it through some water. By the time he took out a knife, Lisette’s mother had moved everyone to the front porch.
“Hey, Lis, want to show the little one my weapon?” asked Eclipse.
“Oh, can I see? Can I?”
Responding to her sister, Lisette unsheathed her Blade’s blade. Rose became quite excited thinking about her sister as both a Driver and salvager. Lisette took notice of this excitement, before swinging the sword around a bit to show off.
“Careful, dear,” said the mother. “Don’t take out an eye.”
“I won’t mom,” replied Lisette. “You don’t have to worry. I’ve become quite good with this.”
About an hour had passed by the time Lisette’s dad approached everyone saying dinner was ready. Everyone quickly piled inside for the. Sitting around a wooden table and enjoying a meal together--it had been a while for Lisette. The Driver quite enjoyed being with her family. Eclipse found joy in this too.
“Hey, Lisette?”
“Yeah, Eclipse?”
“We should come around more often,” said the Blade. “I really like being with your family.”
Looking at her adorable Blade, Lisette couldn’t help but smile. She had said the sweetest thing imaginable that any Driver would be happy to hear. It put a smile on the young woman’s face as she plowed through the rest of her meal. Once finished, she and Eclipse went outside for a walk.
“Aaaah,” yawned Lisette, as she stretched. “That was so nice! I haven’t had Dad’s cooking in forever.”
“Yes, it was tasty,” replied Eclipse. She was following her driver toward the Lyta Oasis that was not to far from the house.The Blade didn’t really want to be out in the heat too much longer, but dealt with it to keep her Driver company. She really wanted a shower though. The life of a Blade was tough…Even more tough when she saw her driver messing with a canteen.
“Its empty, huh?” asked Eclipse.
"Yes...let’s fill it up at the Oasis!”

Over in Torigoth, Dalton and Penny had checked their facts and were ready to continue the search. First, though, they needed to find the manager. Penny noticed a man with a clipboard. “Perhaps that’s the manager?”
Dalton walked over. “Hey, excuse me, you’re the manager right? I’ve got something I’m supposed to deliver to you.”
The manager turned to Dalton, seeing the package. “Oh, hey! It’s my lunch! Thanks for this.” The manager took the package, chuckling.
“Your…?” Dalton and Penny looked at him, dumbfounded.
“My assistant’s pretty lazy. He’s always asking people to do things for him. Sorry you had to worry about this!” The manager chuckled.
“...well, all’s well that ends well.” Penny nodded. “You wouldn’t happen to know where Lady Brighid is, would you?”
“Sorry, best I can give you is somewhere on the south side of Gormott.” the manager nodded. “But hey, thanks for this! I’ll have to give my assistant a bit of a talking-to later…”
SIDE QUEST: Delivery of the Gormotti - COMPLETED
“So, what next?” Penny wondered.
"Let's ask around. If Brighid is here, the locals should definitely know." Dalton suggested.
"Yeah." Penny agreed. "You mind leading the investigation?"
Dalton walked up to a nearby Gormotti man, asking if he had seen Bridghid. "Sorry bud, ask Benard, he works with setting everyone up with a job, maybe he knows where she is." the man replied, pointing Dalton and Penny in the general direction of Bernard.
"Alright." Penny nodded. "Thank you!"
Penny found Bernard just outside Bernard, down by the logging area. "Hello there. We were wondering if you know where Lady Brighid is."
"Last time I saw her, she finished helping out some people then made her way to Outlook Knoll, but I don't know if she’s still there." Bernard said.
"I believe Naust and Athell were heading that way, maybe they will find her." Dalton added.
"Hopefully. Let's see if we can't meet up with them." Penny said.
"Got it." Dalton said. "I'm not entirely sure how to get there, so you lead the way." He said with a laugh.
Penny started walking westward to get to Outlook Knoll… but then she noticed something. “...wait a minute. What’s… what’s THAT?!”
Dalton turned to look where she was, and his eyes opened wide. Four glowing lights came from the world tree before purple specks appeared on the horizons. Large, flying purple specks.
“Oh no.” Dalton whispered under his breath. “If that’s what I think it is, we need to find the others - NOW!”
Penny and Dalton dashed towards Outlook Knoll at a breakneck pace.

During the chatty moment Lisette and Eclipse were sharing, a few red dots appeared in the distance. They were coming from the direction of the World Tree. The lights were tiny, so the most that could have been made out was that they were red. The lights danced across the sky, swirling red, black, and yellow colors approaching Lyta Oasis.
“Eclipse, come here,” said Lisette, before tugging for her blade to follow. The duo had finally arrived at the oasis. However, the Driver and Blade had yet to notice Malos’ toys had yet to notice them. The weird creations themselves were to busy fighting the nearby monsters and Driver’s. “What are you doing, Lisette?”
“I’m collecting some water like I said I was going to…”
“Isn’t there water back at the house though?” asked the Blade, her Driver busy filling a canteen with the lake’s liquid resource. “Lisette, don’t tell me...You aren’t ready to go back yet?”
“I am!” yelled Lisette, putting the canteen away. “I just wanted to prepare a drink for later.”
Suddenly, a loud noise could be heard nearby...

Having already checked Lascham Cove, Naust and Athell climbed a hill to reach the large, open-air cliff of Outlook Knoll.
"This is a good as any place to look for Brighid, right Athell?" Naust asked. "I'm sure she's around here somewhere."
Athell smiled. "That's right, Naust. Now let's get to searching so we can enjoy the company of a new friend."
Nearby, however, was Lady Brighid, taking a small repose. Naust noticed her. “Oh, there’s Brighid! Hey!”
Brighid turned to look at the pair. “Hm? Hello. You’re one of the Torigoth volunteers, correct? Did you need me for something?”
“Actually, yes.” Naust nodded. “We need to talk about-”
Naust turned around, eyes wide. Brighid looked out as well to where Athell had locked eyes with five approaching metallic goliaths.
“Malos’ Gargoyles…” Brighid hissed. “Two are headed our way. Can you fight?”
“Uh, yes! But by Malos, do you mean-” Naust was cut off by a roar as two of the Gargoyles landed on the cliff. Naust and Athell drew their weapons alongside Brighid.
“Focus on the Gargoyles! We need to take them down quickly!”

As Penny and Dalton ran, they saw two Gargoyles flying over towards Lascham Cove.
“They’ve got Drivers there - they’ll have to deal with those things for now!” Dalton ordered. “We’ve got to get to Naust and Athell!”
“They’re not up there, are they?!” Penny exclaimed in shock as she noticed the other two Gargoyles. At the same place, she saw a Glazer Beam attack as well as flaming whips. “We’ve got to go help them!”
"Right!” Dalton ran faster. As he ran up the hill, he loaded his gun and fired into one of the Artifices. It didn’t do much to the Gargoyle, but it still bought them time. Dalton noticed Brighid fighting alongside Naust and Athell. "Lady Brighid! Thank The Architect we found you, what are those things?" Dalton frantically asked.
“Malos’ Artifices. Gargoyles.” Brighid replied. “Extremely dangerous. Why here of all places?”
"We need to separate them if we want a chance at beating them! Anyone have a plan?" Naust asked.
"I can cause a distraction for one of them, but the other one you'll have to deal with." Dalton thought, thinking up a plan.
"But how do you intend to fight them alone?" Brighid said.
Dalton looked at Brighid, then at his gun. "I don't." he said.
“...we’ve got no choice.” Penny said. “Let’s do this!”
“Someone should cover Dalton-” Naust was saying, when a loud sound could be heard. The halo of one of the Gargoyles expanded and contracted suddenly. The duo swung their claws towards the party. Brighid whipped one of the Gargoyles’ arms and pulled it to the ground. Naust took the opportunity to use his Change Blade to slash the arm, rendering it inactive. The Gargoyles flew back, the damaged one now free of Brighid’s whips.
Dalton, however, let out a scream.
Penny turned towards Dalton to see he had a large cut across his shoulder. “Oh no, Dalton! Are you alright?!”
“I can manage.” Dalton groaned, gripping his gun. “That thing’s a bigger problem.”
“Alright…” Penny turned back to the fight, drawing her own sword. The Gargoyles… They couldn’t be connected to those cloaked men, could they…?
The Gargoyles mechanically growled before beginning to charge their guns.

When Lisette noticed what made the sound, she grabbed Eclipse’s hand and ran behind a nearby tree. The fifth Gargoyle had landed there, and was beginning to destroy the local wildlife.
“Shoot shoot shoot…! Eclipse, we need to get back to Dad…” she hissed.
“I can use my illusions.” Eclipse said. Activating her illusory powers, Eclipse attempted to make herself and her Driver invisible to the Gargoyle.
However, illusions don’t work on robots.
As soon as Lisette took a step out from behind the tree, the Gargoyle turned to face her. Lisette quickly broke into a dash, trying to get away from the Gargoyle. The Artifice, however, didn’t care as it flew over to her. Eclipse dashed in front of the Gargoyle, attempting to protect her Driver. Eclipse leapt into the air to stab the Gargoyle in its head, but the Artifice smacked the Blade to the side. Eclipse hit the ground hard, rolling away.
“ECLIPSE!” Lisette was shocked. She drew her own sword and picked Eclipse’s up off the ground. “You’ll pay for that, you-” Lisette was cut off when the Gargoyle slammed its foot down on top of her, crushing the Gormotti girl into the ground. Eclipse’s eyes opened wide as the Gargoyle pressed down, cutting off Lisette’s air flow. Lisette was losing air fast…
Suddenly, a yellow streak flew past Eclipse’s line of sight. As it did, dozens of slashes appeared across the body of the Artifice. The Gargoyle glowed with energy before combusting, sending Lisette skidding across the ground.
Lisette groaned as Eclipse ran over to her. “Lisette! Are you okay?!”
Lisette used Eclipse as leverage to slowly stand. Her neck and legs were bleeding, and her clothes were cleanly cut where the wounds were. "I'm fine, it's just a few cuts. Nothing I haven't had... before." She started falling, avoiding a tumble only thanks to Eclipse’s presence.
“You have some first-aid at the house, right?! We need to get you there, right away!” Eclipse pulled Lisette’s arm over her shoulder before walking towards Melnath’s Shoulder.
"Calm down... It's fine, I ain't gonna die from a few cuts... Just cut off a bit of my cloak and use it as a bandage on my wounds." She then realised that she had a wound on her neck, and wrapping something around her neck would be a bad idea.
“...Lisette, you might… bleed out…” Eclipse noticed the neck cut as well. She decided she couldn’t wait. She scooped Lisette up in both arms before running towards the house. “Now stop talking. I need to make sure you’ll be alright.”
“...okay…” Lisette lazily put her arm around Eclipse’s neck before falling unconscious. Realizing the urgency of the situation, Eclipse picked up the pace.

Penny drew out her dagger. "We should wait until they fire. It takes time for them to recharge, and if we destroy their guns they'll be helpless!"
"Can any of you Launch or Smash these guys? I'll be able to Topple them when we get the chance." Naust quickly asked the group.
"Sorry, but if we do smash them I should be able to destroy their guns." Dalton said.
"Ampitheatre can Break their defense, and I can Smash them with Lightning Strike, but we'll need someone else for Launch." Penny explained.
"We’ve got incoming!”
The Gargoyles fired their shots. Penny grabbed Dalton and pulled him behind cover, as Athell protected Naust and herself with a forcefield. Brighid, meanwhile, dashed towards the Gargoyles. She whipped one, dragging it down towards the ground. “Cloaked woman, Break him, now!”
Penny pointed to four places with her Volt Blade, creating small floating electric orbs, before pressing her hand forwards. "AMPITHEATRE!" she shouted. The orbs blasted out small streams of electricity, the Gargoyle being electrocuted. "Naust, Topple!"
Naust dashed forwards with a war cry, his Change Blade shifting to a lance. “SWEEPING LANCEN!” he shouted, sending the Gargoyle to the ground with a powerful swing.
“Let me continue this!” Brighid cracked her whips on the ground. “Azure Striker, Form the First! FLAMING SPIRE!” Brighid lashed her whips upwards, sending the Gargoyle into the air upside-down.
Penny saw the opportunity, raising her sword to the air. "Time to do this! LIGHTNING STRIKE!" A small crackling sound could be heard from the sky, and when Penny swung her sword downwards she blasted her Gargoyle with a lightning bolt, sending it crashing to the ground. "Give me a second to recharge and I can get the other one!" she said.
The other Gargoyle flew around the side, preparing another shot. It didn’t get it off, however, as Dalton fired a bullet into the cannon, causing the cannon to explode. The Gargoyle was sent reeling back. Penny ran towards the fallen Gargoyle, charging up her sword and slashing the nozzles off of the guns before Naust stabbed his lance into the chest of the Gargoyle. The Artifice glowed with rampant energy before a small internal combustion signified its defeat.
Brighid looked to the remaining Gargoyle. “Is it fleeing?” she asked. The Gargoyle rose into the air, beginning to retreat from Gormott.
Suddenly, an electric streak passed through the sky. A large slash split the Gargoyle partially before several more slashes appeared all over its body. The Gargoyle glowed before exploding, its remains falling into the Cloud Sea. Penny gasped, looking skyward. She looked towards Lascham Cove, seeing the two other Gargoyles. One by one, as she watched, a yellow streak appeared in the sky and disappeared again, appearing twice times - each appearance dooming one of the Gargoyles to destruction. Penny put a hand over her mouth. "Is that...?"
Dalton watched, dumbfounded as the event in front of him took place. "What the bloody hell is happening?" he wondered.
"Someone's taking on the Gargoyles... and winning." Penny said cryptically. The streak dashed away to parts unknown. Dalton watched in amazement, but as soon as the adrenaline faded he collapsed into the floor, finally succumbing to the wounds he gained facing the gargoyle.
Penny looked straight at him. "Oh no. Dalton! Are you alright?" Dalton was out cold. His breath was shallow, blood from the hit covered the left side of his grey jacket. Penny looked at Naust and Brighid. "We've got to get him medical attention."
"We can take him to the Commodore. It’s the Ardainian ship docked at Lascham Cove." Brighid suggested.
“Right.” Penny turned to Naust and Athell. “Can you carry him?”
"Of course." Athell said, grabbing one side as Naust grabbed the other. Penny dashed down towards Lascham Cove, leading the way, with the others right behind her.

Over at Lascham Cove, a strange Nopon was panicking. By appearance alone, he seemed to be an ordinary Nopon. About average height with orange fur and a blue scarf. But for all intents and purposes, this Nopon was quite eccentric.
Yes, is fitting that Dolidoli be Nopon to encounter flying death robot!
Dolidoli’s eyes opened wide as the Gargoyle flew over the port. It seemed to lock eyes with the Nopon, preparing and charging its gun… before spontaneously exploding. Dolidoli remained staring skyward for a few moments, shocked. ...well, more like a minute. He was snapped out of his daze by a party running into the port as people attempted to gather together after the attack.
"Uh, hello! Excuse me! Is anyone here a medic? We need help!" Penny said, dashing into the port.
An Ardainian man ran over. "I’m a doctor. My name’s Darrel, I'm ready to help! Just take him over there and he'll be fine." Naust and Athell brought Dalton to where the doctor wanted him.
Penny looked over Dalton. "Please take care of him." She then shuffled around a bit, trying to find the letter Dalton had. When she found it and pulled it out, she turned towards Brighid. "Lady Brighid, before this all happened we were searching for you."
Meanwhile, a strange man wearing a large brown cloak passed by Naust. "A ticket to Mor Ardain via ferry, if you please." he said to one of the ferrymen nearby. He glanced at Naust, looking at him with his deep blue eyes, before turning back to the ferryman. Naust looked at the man slightly strangely before looking back to the unconscious Dalton.
"A letter? From who?" Brighid asked.
"It's... not meant for you." Penny explained. "It's not meant for me, either. I have no clue who it's meant for or who was sending it, but it can be classified as a national security threat." Penny handed the letter to Brighid.
Brighid read the letter "Who is this HIM?"
"I don't know, I'm afraid." Penny sighed. "Maybe... it could be him, actually. The one that destroyed those Gargoyles."
"We should warn the Emperor about this." Brighid said. "Whatever this person planned has most likely already set into effect. We should also take notice of anything suspicious."
"I guess you'd have to do that, then? Considering you're an Ardainian official and all..." Penny was cut off when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw one of the black-and-purple-robed men leaving the port. "Naust!" she called. Naust, hearing his name, looked up from Dalton. Penny pointed at the robed man, seemingly headed towards Melnath's Shoulder.
"Titan's Foot, should we go after him? Maybe get some revenge for trying to kill us earlier." Naust said, smirking.
"I don't think that's the leader we saw earlier, but he might lead us to the others." Penny nodded. "Lady Brighid should stay here and take care of business, we don't need to involve her."
"So it's just me, you, and Athell then? That'll be fine, I need to teach Athell a way to Launch people anyways, and with your Smash it should be easy if we can get this down." Naust said.
“Let’s get going, then!” Penny pumped her fists before the trio dashed off after the man.

After arriving back at Lisette’s home, Eclipse went straight into nurse mode. She placed her driver on the living room couch. Carrying Lisette all the way home wasn’t really a problem and didn’t really tire her out. This meant the Blade had all the energy needed to be Nurse Eclipsingale.
“Where is that First Aid Kit?” asked Eclipse, while rummaging through a cabinet in the kitchen.
Lisette's mother soon came rushing over to Eclipse, confused as to why she was rummaging around in the cabinets. After being told about the situation, Lisette’s mother went over to the cabinet to grab a special remedy she kept on hand for when her husband got injured at work. In the meantime, Eclipse went back to her Driver.
"Lisette...I’m here for you," said the Blade, biting her lower lip. “Please...don’t die.”
Eventually, her mother came in with both the first aid kit and a green bottle of mysterious liquid. After the woman finished bandaging her wounds, she took a small glass to pour some of the liquid into. "The wounds...they weren't too deep. So she'll be fine. We just need to give it some time..." Lisette’s mother turned to Eclipse and hugged her. "Oh, thank you, Blade! If--if it wasn't for you...my daughter would have..."
Eclipse smiled as she returned the hug back to calm the mother. At about this time, Lisette’s sister Rose came running in. The younger sister immediately took to grabbing Eclipse’s attention.
“Eclipse, ECLIPSE!”
"Yes?” asked Eclipse, half worried Lisette would wake up from the screeching Banshee child. “What is it, dear innocent girl?”
“Okay, I get it,” said Rose, immediately understanding what Eclipse said between the lines. “Anyway, put this in yourself.”
“Excuse me?”
“This,” said Rose, taking out a red and white looking aux core. “Put it in or on. I don’t know where this goes…”
Eclipse sighed and headed off to the bathroom to dawn the aux core. During this time, Lisette started to wake up. The young lady’s vision was quite blurry.
“Mary…? I mean, mom!” yelled Lisette. “Mom!”
“Yes, I’m here,” said Mary, embracing the hug Lisette leapt to her feet to give. “Are you okay? I have something I need you to drink.”
“Yes, wait...NO NO NO!”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
“NO. NO. N-O. NO.”
“Eclipse?!” replied Lisette and Mary.
Walking into the bathroom, Lisette dropped her jaw at what she saw. Mary just gawked unbelieving. Standing completely embarrassed, Eclipse pulled down on the white of her new mini skirt. “What the hell.” Eclipse would kill the little brat. As soon as she got her hands on Rose, she was dead. Where did she even get a core like this?
“E-E-Ecl-clipse…” stuttered Lisette, covering her eyes. “B-button..your blouse more…”
“Aaaaaah!” screamed Eclipse, before throwing anything she could at Lisette. “Out. OUT! Your sister is nasty! This is your influence. YOURS! OUT!”
“Ouch! Oi, OI! Stop it! I’m the patience! Take care of me!”
“I’m trying!” yelled Eclipse, throwing toilet paper at her Driver’s head. Lisette retailated this time. She lunged forward and grabbed Eclipse. Unfortunately, this put her face a little too close to the chest of Eclipse. Lisette wasn’t gonna recover as quickly from the next blow she received.
“I’ll go pour another drink…” said Mary, completely dumbfounded.
After a few hours, Lisette had downed both medical drinks Mary had poured thanks to Eclipse’s threats to choke her out if she didn’t. Lisette’s father had made it home at this point. The man sat awkwardly between the Driver and Blade. Making it even more awkward was the fact Lisette had an ice bag held to her throbbing head where Eclipse had clocked her earlier.
"So... Eclipse, is it?” asked the dad, trying to be rid of this tension. “I saw Malos' Gargoyles, and there were lots of 'em too. Were those the things that attacked you two?"
Rose, sitting nearby with puffy eyes from crying, seemed interested at the mention of Malos’s gargoyles. This was physically represented by her cat ears twitching.
“Yes,” replied Eclipse, eyeing the brat that caused this. “I...got hurt from the attack, but blades heal. After their fights, Drivers on the other hand...I can’t say the same for..." The Blade let out a sigh when she glanced over at Lisette. This...was her fault….Both the loss that happened and caused Lisette to get hurt as well as the current headache the Driver was experiencing. "I’m sorry for what happened to her. It should of...been me….”
"Don't worry, I bet Lisette feels the same way,” said Rose, trying to make up for earlier. “It's just a few scratches, they won't do no harm!'"
“She’s right. You’re punches do more harm though,” said Lisette. “Maybe punch me less.”
“Behave yourself then. Damn.”
Cedwin, the father, let out a laugh. Eclipse heard his name when Mary walked in to bring him a bowl of fruit she had prepared. The man smiled and headed off to the kitchen as she took his place on the couch.
Filled with courage from her mother’s presence, Lisette looked over at Eclipse. "Alright, how's this? From now on, I swear I'll be more careful when fighting. Ok? But you've gotta promise too, because I know you got beat up badly back there even if you don’t say you did. Even if you are a Blade, that doesn't mean you don't feel pain, and that's a good enough reason to be more careful."
“Sure…” said Eclipse, surprised at Lisette’s declaration. “But I’m pissed over your actions earlier. It’s currently overdriving my rage.”
“Sorry,” replied Lisette and Rose.
“Also, Rose, you are grounded,” said Eclipse.
“I agree,” added Mary. “You are grounded. One week.”
Mary led Rose off to her room to thoroughly explain what she had done, leaving Lisette and Eclipse in the room. Lisette looked out the window lazily as Eclipse leaned against the wall.
Suddenly, a black-and-purple robed man dashed past the house, a large spear on his back.
Hearing the footsteps, Eclipse drew her blade. "Lisette, get back behind the sofa now." she whispered.
"Eh?" She saw the man out the window and followed Eclipse's instructions.
The man looked around, searching to see if he was being followed. He glanced towards the nearby house’s window to check if it was inhabited.
Eclipse slowly exited through the back door, trying to be silent. The man walked towards the front door, intending to head inside. Eclipse attempted to sneak behind him... but stepped on a branch. A loud snap.
The man glanced towards the noise. “Who’s there?!” He demanded. “Reveal yourself now!”
Eclipse was a good few feet away, sword drawn. "Who are you?" Her core crystal glowed white.
“That’s of no concern to you.” The man growled. “Is your Driver here?”
"I asked first, who are you?" Eclipse asked, biting at her upper lip.
Suddenly, the tip of a scimitar poked at the side of the Blade’s neck. “I would advise you answer him.” The Visier said.

Penny arrived just in time to spot the Visier. She let out a small gasp before ducking behind a rock, calling Naust over with his hand.
Eclipse's core crystal glowed a bit, and she seemingly vanished.
"Attacking my Blade? Not on my watch." She drew her sword and crawled around the room in a way that she wouldn't be seen through a window or door. Eventually she was behind the door, and she stood up as she realised Eclipse was using her illusions since her core was glowing.
The soldier panicked a bit. “Where’d she go?!” He said, confused.
Meanwhile, the Visier merely altered his sword, seeing where the grass was pressed down. “Tricky tricky.” The Visier chuckled.
Lisette reached to grab a stone and threw it behind the Visier, attempting to make him think someone was walking there.
Eclipse backed away a bit before attempting to kick him in the knee. She saw Lisette behind her, and hopefully Lisette's incoming tackle would throw him off-balance. The Visier, possessing some sort of awareness, used the knowledge of a foot being lifted to predict the kick and leap back. Due to his concentration, however, he was unable to prevent Lisette from jumping on him. Also, he hadn't known she was there. "Gah!"
The soldier dashed towards Lisette, attempting to stab her. Eclipse blocked the soldier's strike with her blade. "What do you want?! I'm sure we can solve this peacefully if you just-"
“Too bad. You resisted. Besides, you saw us. I’m afraid I can’t let you live after that!” The Visier turned around and harshly slammed into the wall of the house, crushing Liselle between solid wood and his own body.
As he did, Penny leapt over the rock and made a break towards the soldier, drawing her sword. Naust and Athell followed Penny, both with weapons drawn.
"What in the name of the Architect is going on here?! It looks like I need to do something. Athell, ready the Level 4 special! We're going all out here! But for now, VAMPIRIC SLASH!" Naust slashed at the soldier, the slashes causing the others to regain health. "I've been saving this art for just an occasion! Everyone, you should be able bodied now! Let's finish this!"
The Visier used his sword to deflect the strikes, advancing to enough of a degree that Eclipse could run behind him and grab Lisette. "Visier, sir! We've got incoming!" The soldier gripped his side and pointed towards Penny, Naust and Athell.
"You, again...! Men! Front and center!" The Visier growled.
Suddenly, five more soldiers dashed out, armed and ready. Penny stepped in front of Lisette and Eclipse. "Are you two okay?" she asked. "We're going to need your help here."
Eclipse put her hand on Lisette's shoulder. "We should be thanks to your friend... Lisette, are you alright?"
"Agh- What even...?" Lisette looked around, confused at what just happened so suddenly. "Yeah, I'm good to go." She got "up" aka she recovered from the position she was left in after being smashed against the hard house wall. She drew her sword, ready to fight the Visier and their men. "Where the bloody hell did those guys come from? Eclipse, can you use your ice on them? I don't think illusions are working..."
Eclipse and Lisette dashed to the side, the former gripping her blade. "You know the attack, my lady" She smiled menacingly. "Shall we freeze them where they stand?"
"Freeze them to DEATH." Lisette got into a stance that would allow her to move quickly instantly, with her sword aimed at the Visier. She looked at her surroundings, waiting for Eclipse to make her move.
"Kill them all." the Visier commanded, and the six soldiers dashed forwards.

"We're all charged up!" Athell said.
"Focus on the soldiers!" Penny reasoned, moving past the soldiers to take on the Visier. The two uninjured soldiers dashed at Naust and Athell, knowing they had something planned.
"That won't work! It's too late!" Naust said. "ALL TOGETHER NOW!" Athell and Naust yelled in tandem. The Glistening Aura disoriented the soldiers, then beams and slashes of light rained down on them.
The five soldiers dropped to the ground, defeated. The Visier swore. "What a powerful Blade... if only I could have it for myself." As Lisette attacked once more, he predicted her movements and blocked his strikes... but from behind him, Penny blasted him with Ampitheatre.
"Over here!" she said, distracting him. She glanced quickly towards Naust, indicating she had inflicted Break on the Visier. "We took down a Gargoyle, we can deal with him!"
"So you're the one who destroyed our Gargoyles..." the Visier said with a mixture of shock and unbridled rage.
"Wait... "OUR" Gargoyles?!" Lisette was shocked.
The Visier clutched his cutlass tightly. Suddenly, it glowed with black and purple energy. Penny's eyes opened wide. She barely dodged the next strike, the sword going straight over her head and through the wall of Liselle's house. Suddenly, the wall partially crystallized and fragmented.
"Holy shit, what was that!" Naust says surprised by the power.
"My... That's my bloody house! What the hell's wrong with you?!" She was infuriated, worried and INCREDIBLY scared.
"Lis, your family!" Eclipse said, noticing the crystallization was growing larger as the wall was slowly covered in dark ice.
The Visier cursed. "Damn, wasted my charge." As he did, Penny sprung up and locked her sword with the Visier's own. "Go take care of your family! We'll handle him!"
"Thank you!" Lisette said before dashing inside the house, looking for her family.

When she ran inside, she found her father coughing underneath a destroyed part of the roof, her mother and sister below him. "Dad!"
"Lisette?! What's happening out there?!"
"You won't believe this, but some sort of Malos soldier is fighting outside, and his attack is destroying the house! We need to leave, now!" Lisette said, slightly panicked.
Rose looked at the crystals. "Those are... Aegis marks...?"
"You need to take your mother and sister first. I'll be fine for now." Cedwin said with a growl.
"You have a wall on your back, Dad!"
"Rose, come on. Let's go." Mary lifted up the wall a bit, helping her husband, and Rose ran through to Lisette's side.
Lisette passed her sister off to Eclipse before taking hold of the wall as well. "Now you, Mom."
Mary carefully made her way out, moving to the back. Eclipse walked over to Lisette's side. "I can help you with this." she said, moving to inside the wall where Cedwin was. "I've... got this, sir...! Go...!"
"Thank you." Cedwin said, carefully moving out while still supporting the wall. When he got out, Lisette and her father pulled Eclipse out from underneath the wall at the same time.
"Thank the Architect you're all safe..." Lisette sighed.
"You know who isn't? The bastard who did this to our house." Cedwin growled happily. "You've got the Blade, kid. Show 'em what for."
Lisette smiled, giving her father a thumbs-up. "You got it, Dad. Eclipse!" Eclipse tossed Lisette back the sword before the two dashed back out to rejoin the others.

Penny flipped back, taking note of the Visier's stance. "Naust, he's still Broken! Now!"
"Take this! CLEAVING TRIP!" Naust shouted, swinging the spear around underneath the Visier. The Visier tripped and fell on his behind. He swore, down on the ground. "Athell, make a second Change Blade and form a hammer! Try to launch 'em!"
Athell took the Change Blade, transforming it into a hammer. "Let's see if this works! PILLARLIGHT!" Athell slammed the ground, the hammer creating a spike of light that blasted the Visier into the air.
This was when Lisette dashed out. "Hey, asshat! This is for my house!" Lisette leaped into the air. "DEADLY DESCENT!"
Penny swung her sword down. "LIGHTNING STRIKE!" A thunderbolt struck the Visier at the same time as Lisette's attack, performing a Double Smash. The Visier crashed into the ground hard, groaning in pain.
Eclipse growled, walking over to the Visier with a scowl on her face. She took her sword back from Lisette, pointing the tip of the blade towards the Visier as the five fighters surrounded him. "Give me one good reason not to kill you."
"I can give you none. In fact, having failed my mission, death is expected. If not from you, then from my superiors. But know that for this, you all will burn." The Visier chuckled madly before gripping his sword. Penny saw what was about to happen.
"Wait, NO!" Penny cried out, reaching her arm forwards, but she was too late. The Visier stabbed himself through the throat, dying with a hoarse laugh.

Naust could only get one word out "Brutal."
"WHAT?" Lisette watched the Visier's blood dripping down his neck and sword, staining the grass around him.
"Damn it..." Penny sighed. "Now we can't get any information out of him. What did he mean by "Our Gargoyles"? Who are the others...?"
"Lisette, are you alright?" Eclipse asked, dropping the sword and turning straight towards her Driver.
"I'm fine, Eclipse. They didn't manage to hit me. Now... He just stabbed himself through the throat."
"Maybe Malos is involved, doesn't he control the Gargoyles in the first place?" Athell stated out loud. "Also who are you two?"
"He also mentioned that he'd be killed by his 'superiors'. Maybe you're onto something... Uh..." She looked up at Naust. "My name's Lisette, and this is my Blade, Eclipse. What about you?"
"I am Penny." Penny took a gentle bow. "Nice to meet you."
"I'm Naust, and this one is Athell. She's quite the power house huh?" Naust said. "We should head back to Lascham Cove to recover." Naust says a little winded.
"Yes. Brighid might want to know about this as well..." Penny said. "That sword strike of his... it looked similar to what the Aegis can do..."
"Maybe we should take it with us?" Athell suggested.
"I doubt it would help much." Penny said, turning back towards the sword. "He did say it was apparently out of charge, or whatever..."
Eclipse sighed, turning back toward Penny and Naust. "Just... who ARE you two, anyway?"
"Oh... I'm just a wandering traveler." Penny said. "...who got mixed up with the wrong crowd."
"So," Lisette tilted her head as her ears twitched, "You lot are heading off to Lascham Cove?"
"Yeah we have some uh- business there, right Penny?" Naust responded.
"Yes. These people had a... dangerous letter that I was able to take." Penny said. "It bears ill news for Mor Ardain. I gave it to Lady Brighid - she should be headed out soon."
"Brighid? You don't mean THE Lady Brighid, Jewel of Mor Ardain?"
"Indeed. We were lucky to get the chance to meet with her!" Penny smiled.
"So... I assume you two are going to head off." she said, looking down at her driver. She wanted to go to Mor Ardain again secretly, but hadn't wanted to tell Lisette...
"I probably will be. I was planning to head to Mor Ardain next, after all." Penny said. Besides, this is an opportunity I can't miss...
"Eh..." She noticed Eclipse. "Hmm... If you'd like, we'd love to accompany you." Her gormotti ears twitched again.
"I'll be happy to have you two tag along! The more the merrier!" Naust says with a smile.
"Then I guess it's settled." Penny nodded. "We should make sure we find Dalton before we head out."
"...Dalton? We ran into him on the ride here." Eclipse realized. "He was a cool dude."
"Mhm." Lisette acknowledged. She had taken an interest in Dalton...
"Really? That's interesting. I guess we won't have to introduce him to you, then." Penny nodded. "Let's go!"
“So you’re just gonna leave without saying goodbye, Lis?”
Lisette turned around to see her father there with a large box in his hands. Behind Cedwin was her mother and Rose.
“Dad! Mom! I just-”
“You don’t have to explain anything.” Mary sighed, raising her hand. “You trained to be a salvager, honey. This is your first time returning in a while, and we all knew it was going to be a short visit. You’re an explorer. It’s in your blood.”
“You know, I traveled all across Alrest back when I was your age, hon.” Cedwin smiled. “And that taught me a house is just a house. What you really care about, you keep close to your chest.” Cedwin raised the box slightly… the box full of family keepsakes. “We can take what we can use from the old house to build a new one, so you don’t need to worry about us here.”
“You’ve always wanted to explore, Lis!” Rose said, walking up to her. “And now you’ve got a reason to explore. So go!”
Lisette sniffed, tears forming in her eyes before she ran over to her father and embraced him in a large hug. “I love you guys!” she said, Rose and Mary joining in the group hug.
Penny smiled. “How sweet…”
Eclipse merely watched on. “So this is what… your family is like…”
The family hug broke, and Lisette nodded. “I’ll come back soon! Mom, Dad, Rose… don’t worry! I’ll be right back!” Lisette walked away, waving happily, before dashing past Naust and the others. “Race you all to the Cove!”
Naust chuckled. “A race it is then!” The five heroes dashed south towards the port.
“...so, what do we do about the bodies?” Cedwin gestured to the assorted corpses. Rose recoiled in disgust.

A small orange Nopon wandered aimlessly. This Nopon was Dolidoli. Dolidoli was searching for a port. “Meh, Dolidoli not like Gormott anymore… Want to go to Argentum!” As the Nopon walked, he tripped over a rock and stumbled straight into the legs of an Ardainian Imperial Soldier on his way to the titan ship.
Unfortunately, the soldier was carrying boxes filled to brim with core crystals. "Oi! Watch where you're going!" Having been knocked to the ground, the cores in the box went spilling out everywhere. One of the cores went rolling over to the feet of the blue scarfed nopon.
“Meh meh! Dolidoli sorry!” yelled the yellow nopon, before looking down at the fallen core crystal. “This shiny blue thing belong to you?”

From the touch of Dolidoli, the core crystal lets out a bright flash of rainbow light. From the cubic shaped device, thousands of shining ribbons form into the outline of a blade. Another flash of light from the core solidifies the ribbons into a muscular male Blade with medium length blonde hair and dark blue eyes. He ran his hands through the long bangs that covered his right eye, before a see through red mask appeared over his eyes and nose. The rest of his design consisted of an orange to white open front vest with a long, pointy collar; a blue cape connected to the vest like jacket with an orange heart shaped brooch; a silver belt with golden light flowing through it and a belt buckle that has the symbol of venus on it; orange leather pants; and orange boots.
“With the shine of a thousand stars,” said the Caucasian Blade, before winking to create a yellow heart, “I’ll protect your heart with my love!”
Suddenly, a long chain appeared when the Blade took the heart and swung it around. The chain was swirled around his body and risen high into the air. When he swung it downward, a large anchor appeared on the end of it.
"Sai, at your service!”

"Wh... wh... WHA?! What kind of fruitcake did you just awaken?!" The soldier was completely shocked.
"Fruitcake?" repeated Sai.“That’s not nice...”
"Meh, is blade?!" said DoliDoli, shocked.
"Yes, are you....my master...pon?" Sai questioned the adorable creature. He blinked while thinking of something else to say. “Do you...like how I look?”
"Meh, Dolidoli think so?" replied the nopon. "You look shiny-shiny!"
"Well, I do put charm into my looks, darling~" said Sai."And you. You look....absolutely adorable!!!!" The Blade fell to his knees and started to grab the nopon, but stopped himself. "Uh...um...er..." Sai stuttered as he tried to find words. His core crystal faintly glowed pink a bit while he tried to get the words out he wanted to ask. After about a minute of stuttering, he managed.
“C-can I hug you?”
"Hug is okay!" said DoliDoli, before Sai picked up his Driver and pulled him into a warm embrace. Once he realized the soldier from before was staring them down, he gently placed the nopon on the ground. After standing up, he walked over to the Ardainian, who was still on the ground from Dolidoli tripping him. The Blade extended a hand, which the soldier took.
"Uh...are you ok?" asked Sai.
“I. Am. Fine.” The soldier was fuming. Not only had a nopon knocked him to the ground, but he also lost a Blade that belonged to Mor Ardain. It didn’t help his annoyance that it was an attractive blade that was lost.
"Meh, meh. Dolidoli accidentally bump into soldier, but try to pick up shiny blue things to help out," explained the nopon. “Hope have made up for it.”
"I am not a janitor. And I am not going to let you say my driver is property of a country," said Sai, as he summoned forth his weapon. "Mr. Dolidoli, what do you want to do?"
"Mehmehmeh! Is okay! Please keep chain thingy away!" shouted DoliDoli.
“Oh? You think you can take me?” asked the soldier, as he drew his weapon. ”I happen to be a quite accomplished soldier, Blade. You sure you want a fight?”
“Meh! No fight! Fight is bad!” yelled Dolidoli.
“I do,” replied Sai, before swinging his chain at the Ardainian Soldier.
“Lachlan!” yelled a nearby fighter, while the Ardainian Soldier motioned for him to not get involved. Lachlan did this after barely rolling out of the way of Sai’s attack. This had annoyed the Blade and sent his chain rushing forward at Lachlan’s helmet. The soldier just moved his head a bit and grabbed the chain. When he started to pull Sai toward him, the Blade grew flustered. His core was glowing yellow by the time he was pulled to Lachlan’s chest.
“Let me go!” said Sai, blushing. He was blushing from now having Lachlan’s arms wrapped around him. However, in the soldier’s haste to grab the Blade and hold him still, his hand had made it a little to low. “Calm down! I wasn’t taking the fight seriously. And please release my right ass cheek.”
"One, you calm down,” said Lachlan. “You attacked me.”
“Um…” said DoliDoli.
“Two, take all fights seriously,” continued Lachlan. “And three: I'LL CALM DOWN WHEN THOSE DECKS ARE AS SHINY AS LADY BRIGHID'S BOOTS! NOW MOVE!"
“Ok, but we’ve yet to address the butt grab…” said Sai.
“Compensation for being an annoying fruit cake in the first five minutes you are born.”
Dolidoli quickly scurried away to get a mop and bucket for deck cleaning. Sai, on the other hand, stayed with Lachlan for a few more moments to protest. Thankfully, his butt was no longer being groped. After a few minutes of useless protesting, Sai walked away to help his Driver.
"Mr. Nopon," said Sai, who bent over the nopon, "Do you want me to do that for you?"
"Is okay, nopon legs move really fast for being stubby-stub!" said Dolidoli.
While Sai fiddled with his fingers Dalton, who had fallen asleep shortly after being casted, woke up in the Med Bay. His head was pounding and his left arm was to be kept in a sling until it was fully healed. "W-Where?"
Dalton was too weak to make out the full sentence, but pure curiosity and a little fear helped him stand up and start leaving the room he was in. By the time he got outside, Sai was already swabbing the deck with his Driver. The Blade mockingly winking at Lachlan at one point for staring for too long.
"Wh-What’s h-happening?" Dalton very weakly asked stumbling out of the doorway. Sai blinked and looked at the person before turning back at DoliDoli. "Ooh! Is friend of Leftherian guy. Who happen to be carried in when scary robot get destroyed??"
"Y-You know Naust?" asked Dalton, who now looked down at the nopon standing underneath him.
Meanwhile, Penny walked down towards Lascham Cove to return from her fruitful search of the robed man. She arrived to find that the Ardainian warship was still docked. "Oh, thank goodness!" Penny excitedly waved towards the doctor, who currently exited the ship. "Excuse me, do you know where Dalton and Lady Brighid went?"
“Ah, yes they went into the ship,” said the doctor.
"Ugh….Mr. Dolidoli, why are we doing this again?” asked Sai, after cleaning a portion of the decks. "Isn’t there something more important we could do?"
"Bump into soldier, accidentally awaken Blade and now is trapped on ship until reaches area called Mor Ardain," explained Dolidoli.
"Yes, but..you have me now." protested Sai, as he turned to the nopon. "I'm a powerful light blade. If I was on this ship, aren't I important? Shouldn't they respect you?"
“Sai Sai lost to Ardainian soldier on first try,” said the nopon. “Sai Sai should consider what ‘important’ mean.”
Durings Sai’s moments of contemplation, Lisette and Eclipse approached the docks, following the others. Once Lisette got a glimpse of the ship, she let her face show her surprise between the different sizes of the ships she arrived on and was about to depart on. “Damn...that’s what you call a ship.”
A few minutes later, Dalton emerged from one of the ships exits to reach the docks. Unfortunately, he was still a bit dazed. As he tried to recognize everyone, Brighid approached alongside Lachlan.
The scenario that followed was painfully embarrassing to look at.
“Meh, where Blue Fire Person from earlier going?”
Wanting to make his driver happy as well as get an answer to where such an important person would be going, Sai summoned his chain weapon upon spotting the blue lady Blade. He launched the chain toward the Jewel of Mor Ardain to wrap it around her waist in order to pull her to his body.
"Well hello there! My friend wanted to meet you." Sai soon collected everyone’s attention not only by dragging the feminine Blade across the docks to his chest, but also by accidentally putting his hand on her butt. Eclipse just lets out a deep sigh, before facepalming.
“Oh...no...Speaker Phone is here….” The light Blade soon realized his mistake with Lachlan looking like he is ready to rip off his arm in the background. He quickly looked away only to see his driver having a nosebleed nearby at the image unfolding before him.
"I...uh...sorry," said Sai, as he released her butt cheek. "I assure...you I did not do that on purpose."
“You know you….” Eclipse trailed off while walking over to Sai. Dalton attempted to focus on the events with Sai as he leaned over to Lisette. Lachlan just kept glaring at the Blade with a death stare.
“Uh...Um...You are firm...down there..." said Sai. Brighid just made surprised noises in response to Sai. She was completely mortified at the situation. The Blade wanted to burn Sai to an absolute crisp for daring to touch her.
“You know...that was just wrong in so many ways. You know that, right?" asked Eclipse.
“I can't really think right now…” said Penny, who was just staring forwards with a dumbfounded look on her face. Naust was similarly dumbfounded from the light Blade’s choice of words. Athell made a face of complete disbelief at the stupidity Sai had just displayed. New Blade or not, he should have been smart enough to know better than to say what he did. Lisette, however, knew better. She glared down judgmentally at Dolidoli.
"They say a driver influences their Blade,” said the young lady. “Nopon, you should be ashamed."
After a few more seconds, it clicked in Brighid’s brain that she should be knocking some sense into the idiot who was dumb enough to grope her. When Sai was in tears, she felt he had learned the needed lesson. The Jewel of Mor Ardain then turned to proceed to the rest of her business.
Once Penny got ahold of herself, she approached Brighid to give her the letter she had taken from the robed man. “We pursued the man in black and purple robes. He was part of the same group as the one that attacked us in Torigoth. I stole this letter from him. Things got... a bit bloody from there."
"Did you gather any info on this letter?" asked Brighid.
"Sadly, no. The man offed himself before any information could be obtained, Lady Bridghid," said Athell.
"Yes, and you are?" asked Brighid, still fuming from Sai.
"No, wait a minute. That was the Visier." Penny corrected."The man we chased, along with his five fellow lackeys, had to be killed in the battle."
"Well me and Naust were late to the party," said Athell.
"Did he say anything related to this letter?" asked Brighid.
"Only that he wanted to retrieve it, and now that he failed, both him and us are condemned to death. Whatever that means." replied Penny. "He wasn't on top of the ladder, however. He clearly mentioned his superiors. And the scary thing is... I think they may be connected to Malos."
When everyone entered inside, Sai finally relaxed himself. Brighid had calmed herself enough she could warn everyone in a kind manner to keep a lookout for any suspicious Ardainian soldiers that could be disguised enemies. Despite that giving Sai a tiny amount of worry, Lachlan walked over to give him the true meaning of fear.
“Don’t you EVER grab someone’s ass like that again, Blade!” yelled Lachlan, as he grabbed onto Sai vest. “NOW GET BACK TO SWABBING THE GODDAMN DECKS, YOU SLACKER!" The poor Blade was thrown to the side when Lachlan finished. He didn’t even have the courage to protest that Lachlan had done the same to him earlier.
"I kind of goofed that intro up..." said Sai. “But, hey. I was important enough to grab their attention for a few moments.”
“Can I hit him?" asked Sai.
“Don't hit soldier, we do enough damage as is," said DoliDoli.

Penny walked alongside Lisette and Eclipse. "Do you mind if I sleep with you tonight?" she asked. "If I remember correctly, Ardainian sleeping quarters on ships like this have three-stage bunks."
"I don't mind. What about you, Eclipse?"
Eclipse sighed. "I don't mind." When the two got to their room, the trio dropped down on the beds. While Lisette started counting her money, Eclipse sat next to Penny. "Hey... Penny, was it? How are you?" she asked, looking for a core crystal.
"Oh, uh... decent." Penny gave a nervous smile, sitting down on the bed. "How about you?"
"I'm doing great." Eclipse smiled. "Thank you for letting me and Lisette come with you. It means a lot"
"Oh, no problem!" Penny smiled back.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. "Excuse me, Ms. Penny? Are you here?"
"Uh, yes! Come in!" Penny said. The door opened, and an Ardainian soldier walked into the room.
"Pal of yours?" Eclipse tipped her head to the side, confused.
"I'm afraid not." Penny said. "Uh, hello."
"Someone wanted me to give you a letter." the soldier said, handing the letter to Penny. Penny opened the letter and quickly read its contents, her eyes opening wide at what was inside. She scrunched up the letter before Eclipse or Lisette could see it.
"...excuse me, please." she said, getting up.
"What's... going on?" Eclipse wondered, noticing Penny's expression. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Nothing's wrong." Penny said. "I'll... see you in a bit." Penny walked off, leaving the room.
Eclipse raised a hand to try and question it as Lisette looked over. Neither of them said anything. As Eclipse looked down, Lisette carefully removed her bandages, using a portable mirror to look at her neck. "Damnit... It's scarred. No amount of make-up's gonna hide that..." She had an idea, inspired by the bandage she was holding. She took out the scarf her sister had given her, and wrapped it around her neck.
It looked perfect.

Sai worked incredibly hard to finish cleaning so DoliDoli wouldn't have to. "I'm...dead..." Sai sighed, leaning against the safety railing as if it was the only reason he was holding up. Then... his stomach growled. "But I'm also hungry..."
"Mehmeh! Thank you, Sai!" Dolidoli said.
"Your welcome, darling~ Um...can I have a reward? Maybe my driver could buy us some food?"
"I suppose supper call is soon." Colonel Lachlan said, watching over them both. "Swab the decks for another fifteen minutes, and I'll let you sit at my table. Just so you know, the higher you rank the better choices of food you get~"
"I cleaned everything... Slave driving dessert slave." Sai sighed heavily.
"You cleaned the exterior first floor!" the Colonel explained. "This ship has six floors!"
"MEH?!" Dolidoli shouted, quickly grabbing the mop and bucket "Scrubbity scrubbity scrub~!" Dolidoli sings, dancing and walking on a sponge.
Sai looked at his driver, giggling. "That's cute... Do you always do funny things?"
"Meh, not have many friends where Dolidoli from, so not have time for fun!" Dolidoli explained. "Now that Dolidoli free, Dolidoli make new friends and have fun!"
Sai sat down, excruciatingly tired. "Well, I'll be with you until death do us part." His core glowed faintly again. "You'll always have fun when I'm around."

Dalton sat up slowly, knowing he shouldn't exert too much energy. He stared into a mirror and removed his eyepatch, looking into the scabbed eye socket. "...Not infected, that's good." He said to himself, laying back down. He decided to leave his eye patch off for now, as it sometimes became bothersome. He thought back to Mor Ardain... He wondered how those he knew would react to him returning this soon. Especially with what he had told everyone...
Suddenly, a large bell could be heard. "6 'O' CLOCK - ALL SOLDIERS REPORT TO THE CAFETERIA!" the Colonel shouted over the intercom.
Dalton didnt know if he was suppose to get up, but he did anyways - very carefully this time - and made his way to the cafeteria.

Sai was pushed against the wall by the charging Ardanian soldiers, while Dolidoli was thrown into the air.
"Ouch! Hey, watch it! Blade down here!"
"Meh meh meh! Dolidoli have wings, but not meant to fly!"
When Dolidoli landed, he hopped to his feet. "Is food time, Sai Sai! Come, come!" Dolidoli bounced happily towards the cafeteria, Sai following behind. When the pair arrived, they found the party sat around a large table. Naust and Athell were discussing battle tactics, Lisette and Eclipse were trading stories, Dalton had just arrived and Brighid was sitting calmly. Lachlan, meanwhile, gestured to two of three unoccupied seats for Sai and Dolidoli. The pair sat down.
"I can't wait to try the food. What about you Naust?" Athell asks blushing a tad. "Oh I can't wait either, it smells great! Hey Dalton, you doing alright from earlier? I didn't get the chance to ask outside the ship." Naust asked.
"Yeah, I'm doing fine now. I was a little too ready to get up earlier, I feel bad for Lisette having to help me." Dalton said.
"You two did good work today! Keep this up, and I suppose I can forgive you for nabbing one of our cores." the Colonel joked. "Anyways, you get some quality food for your hard work today!"
"Yay. My charms are finally working on you, are they?" Sai flirted.
"Charms, I dunno. Try the ale instead!" Macauley let out a raucous laugh. "That comes after the Ardainian Royal Salute."
"A salute? Is this more yelling?"
"It's the Ardainian way, boy!" Lachlan laughed.
"Mehmeh, Dolidoli not so sure about a salute..." Dolidoli fell over in an attempt to slump in the seat.
Sai picked him up and summoned his anchor weapon for him to sit on. "Is that better?"
"Meh, yes, not feeling so uncomfortable now!" Dolidoli thanked Sai.
"Oh, I'm ashamed. I'll have to find you a comfortable upgrade for my weapon...." Sai sneezed. "Can we cheer or whatever? I'm starving."
"Right then, about everyone's here." Lachlan looked around the room to see only about seven empty chairs - one of them being Penny's. "Eyepatch, you joining in?"
"What kind of Ardainian would I be if I missed the chant?" Dalton said pretty excited.
"Let's get this thing started, then." Lachlan said, getting up... before climbing on his chair and eventually on top of the table. "SOLDIERS, AT ATTENTION!" the Colonel ordered.
"SIR, YES, SIR!" all the chatting soldiers said at once, stomping their feet, turning towards the Colonel and saluting.
"GOOD MEN! NOW DIG IN!" Lachlan hopped off the table as the designated servers started passing around the trays of food, all the soldiers sitting down and beginning to chat.
"That was loud...." Sai groaned.
"Meh, soldiers loud!" Dolidoli said, attempting to cover his ears while not realizing they were already covered.
Naust looked at his plate, then around the room. There seemed to be someone missing. He took a bite of his food before getting up. Penny's not here... While Athell continued to wolf down her food, Naust decided to go look for her.
As everyone dug into their food, Dalton realized just how troublesome it was to eat a good meal when your dominant arm is in a sling. Dalton's right hand was very shaky due to him almost never using it, but it was good enough to eat with.
While Dolidoli devoured his meal quickly, Sai noticed Dalton's arm sling. "Um...hey...What happened to your arm?"
Dalton looked up at Sai. "Oh uh, I was injured during the Gargoyle attack, I have to wear this sling until it recovers." He explained.
"What's a...Gargoyle?" Sai took the last bite of his meal while awaiting the answer.
Eclipse looked at Sai. "The Gargoyles are Malos' weapons...huge black mechs that are loaded with weapons with one goal... wipe out life. Me and Lis were almost killed by one. Lis got hurt..."
Sai looked down at DoliDoli. "Do these things....go after all life?" He looked back to Eclipse "Even nopon?" Sai didn't fully grasp the danger due to his short lifetime.
"I'm afraid so." Lachlan replied solitarily. "Malos, he's the one who sunk both Coeia and Torna."
Eclipse sighed, crossing her arms. "We have a issue on our hands... if he turns out to be involved with those robed men, who can beat Malos?"
"The Aegis, Mythra, was supposed to. But, well..." Lachlan looked at Brighid regretfully. "That's how Emperor Hugo died."
Brighid looked downwards sorrowfully. She had no memories of Hugo, but her journal said enough...
"Where did we find the Aegises in the first place?" Lisette asked, focused on the conversation now.
"Amalthus awakened Malos, and gave Mythra to Addam." Lachlan explained. "He supposedly took them from the World Tree."
"Meh? World Tree? Huge tree Dolidoli read in books?" Dolidoli asked
"Yes, that world tree." Eclipse replied, slightly annoyed. "Is there another Aegis up there?"
"Supposedly, they were the only ones up there." Lachlan said. "But hey, let's not think about that right now. This is a time for drinking and merrymaking!" The Colonel lifted up a bottle of wine. "Ardainian Style Alcohol! Who here's old enough for some?"
Dalton and - surprisingly - Sai raised their hands. Lachlan poured a glass for both of them, sliding it over. "In the meantime, howsabout we drink to good fortune and future victories?" Lachlan said with a smile, pouring himself a glass and raising it high.

Outside, Penny was leaning against the railing of the outer deck, looking out into the evening sky of the Cloud Sea, the scrunched-up letter in her hand. Naust walked down the nearby hallway, eventually spotting Penny by the edge of the ship. Penny was oblivious to Naust, continuing to look distantly outwards. Naust decided to get her attention by picking her up from behind playfully. "So whatcha doing here all alone Penny?"
"Wha?!" Penny was surprised by this, blushing intensely. "I-I don't think we know each other well enough for you to...!"
"Do I have your attention now?" Naust said, putting her down. "So why are you out here all alone? Everyone is having a bite to eat in the cafeteria."
"I... I needed some time to think." Penny turned away again, slumping back against the bar. "...do you believe in fate?"
"Well in some way I do, but I also believe we have the power to change it's course. For better or for worse." Naust replied. "This really is a great view, huh? Makes you forget the world is falling apart around you."
"Yeah... what about decisions?" Penny asked. "Do you think fate determines decisions as well?"
"Decisions are made from past knowledge, what one does with that knowledge is purely up to them, so yet again I believe fate has some hand in it yes." Naust responded.
"Ah." Penny gave a small smile. "I guess some things are inevitable then. Unchangeable. Only time can tell if it's the right path to take, right?"
"If you think of it that way then yeah, but if the force is great enough anything can change. That's why I need to train more, to be able to protect those who don't believe in change." Naust said while smiling. "When I was younger my friend and I weren't thinking, and we went somewhere we weren't supposed too. He saved my life but in the end his was... cut short."
"Oh. I'm... I'm so sorry." Penny looked at Naust, feeling remorseful.
"Oh don't be, he showed me what it meant to fight for others, how important it was. I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for him." Naust said, wiping away a single tear. " Well, we should go get some good food before Athell eats it all. Want to join me?"
"Yeah... sure. I'll be right with you." Penny nodded, waving Naust off. She looked out into the distance, seeing the Cloud Sea. "Only time will tell..." Penny let go of the paper in her hands, letting the letter signed "Jay" drift out into the Cloud Sea as she returned inside to join the others at the table.
CHAPTER 1: The Girl In The Cloak

You folks know Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is my favorite game of all time, right?
May I introduce to you all Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Astrid - Alrest Endangered, the transcribed and streamlined version of an RP I've been part of going on since September (private, so sorry, we're we're not accepting anyone else!) which is based around an alternate timeline to Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country where the heroes lost the final battle and Malos remains an ever-present force. Due to the nature of this being an RP, it's still ongoing and thus is far from being finished - that'll take a long while to happen, since we've only just gotten to Chapter 4 and there are supposed to be ten Chapters - so don't expect updates from this story that often.
I have to give special thanks to @SailorInSpace for helping me in transcribing and writing new segments for this chapter as well as creating the character of Sai (and being an awesome ball of positivity :D), as well as the RP creator Pyra745 (and creator of Lisette) and the RPers; namely Lunar the one true rock 0 (creator of Eclipse), Toasty.jpg (creator of Naust and Athell), GrapeGod (creator of Dalton) and Littlepon (creator of Dolidoli). Penny, Colonel Lachlan Macauley and the Visier are my own creations, Lisette's family was created by Sailor and Pyra, and the rest of the characters - including Lady Brighid - and the world are owned by Monolith Soft.
Thanks to Monolith Soft for inspiring this project by, well, making Xenoblade Chronicles 2!
See you all next time for some other projects!
  1. Godjacob
    I'd like to be part of the notification squad. These chapters look really good :)
    Jan 1, 2019
    Eeveechu151 likes this.
  2. Fraseandchico
    I wanna join the notification squad for this, because it cool.
    Dec 2, 2018
    SailorInSpace and Eeveechu151 like this.
  3. Mechanist Gamma
    Mechanist Gamma
    General Notification Squad: @Pen-and-Parchment, @Mewtwofan259, @Cloudswift, @GreninjaTrainer013, @Staroid, @An0maly, @SS-I Never
    Astrid - Alrest Endangered Notification Squad:
    Want to be alerted every time a new written work comes out? Tell me that you want to be part of the Notification Squad! You can specify a specific series you want to be alerted to, or just join my general Notification Squad to be alerted of all of my written work stuff!
    Nov 30, 2018
    SailorInSpace likes this.