This is the first time I used Google Drive to write up a Bardass! chapter. Having to fix all the line breaks because copy & pasting between Google Drive, a forum, a blog, and my word doc… well, it’s surprising how much changes. It’s absurd.
As a side note, Brier really hasn’t been pulling off a lot of Dark Bard Magic… ever. The stronger the regular Bard song, the more it sounds like a war anthem. The stronger the Dark Bard song, the more it sounds like death metal. It’s… very difficult to put across in text. FYI, something more middle-of-the-road, alignment-wise, would sound like DragonForce.
Quest 24 – Movement
Brier: Hahh… hahh… F-finally…
Coleen: Uggggh, we can finally stop carrying all of these smelly hides!
Avery: If only you had allowed me to research and construct a cart capable of traveling through snow, we wouldn’t have had this problem.
Coleen: It doesn’t matter if you made a cart. We still would have had to pull it, wouldn’t we?
After over a week of traveling through the snowfields, the trio finally arrived at the outskirts of Croadin.
The current Croadin was founded by a combination of the survivors of the old Croadin, refugees from Harl, and travelers from the nearby kingdoms of Sakar and Rhea. While the population is still small compared to those kingdoms, it remains a busy trading hub. It is famous for its giant halls, which were constructed when the town was first founded and remain standing today. Equally famous are its indoor hot springs, often the first destination for fatigued travelers.
Coleen: Let’s get all our stuff sold off so we can pay for an inn. I want a good one close to the hot spring “Shevat.” That’s my favorite one. It smells like…
Brier: We’ll worry about choices after we have our gold.
* * *
Avery: Well… perhaps if we had haggled more…
Coleen: I doubt we could have gotten any more than 20 gold. Alright, we’re desperate. Brier, we need to pawn your Emberries.
Coleen: Why not?
Brier: We used them all up, remember?
Avery: Oh, that’s right… We were worried they were getting spoiled, so we made sauce out of most of them.
Brier: And what little I saved from then went and spoiled, so I had to chuck ’em.
Coleen: Well… at least it tasted good.
Avery: Indeed. Quite the delicacy… The tanginess and just a hint of…
Coleen: Stop it. You know we’re starving, and we’ve got a tighter budget than we expected. Any ideas?
Brier: Well, we could sell you into slavery, then you could break out.
Coleen: Not a chance.
Brier: *sigh*… Yeah. Times like this I wish I had Svennia to sell…
Avery: After pawning off everything, we only have 750 gold between the three of us. Even if we settle for a budget inn with the lowest rates, that’s 200 gold per person for one day. Not enough left to spend on a meal or a hot spring.
Coleen: I say we deserve a good meal and a dip after all we’ve been through.
Avery: Then we won’t have enough left over for even one of us to stay at an inn. Are you saying we should camp tonight?
Coleen: Er… Well, maybe once our strength and morale are up from those, we’ll be strong enough to take on a quick Quest to pay our way to an inn. Maybe we’ll even be able to afford a good one afterward!
Brier: Fortunately, I’m just hungry enough to agree with that.
Avery: This doesn’t sound like it’s going to end well.
Brier: As long as it starts well.
Hot Springs Resort “White Crest” is a hot spring, inn and tavern in one. While not as large as high-end resorts, it has a reputation as the best of the mid-level resorts, giving its customers a sample of everything the experience has to offer and a small taste of high class.
Across from White Crest lives the owner’s brother, who runs the “Summer Glade” bathhouse and restaurant, where our heroes are dining.
Brier: Brrrr… Who ever thought of running an outdoor stand in a snowfield? I can only assume “Summer Glade” was named ironically.
Coleen: It makes the stew seem that much warmer. And what are you complaining for? Just put your arms in your coat sleeves. Wearing it like a cape doesn’t make you look cool or anything.
Brier: Agree to disagree.
Avery: Is this really all we can afford?
Coleen: In the tourist district? Yeah. Croadin has three districts: the noble district, the tourist district, and the outskirts. If you know where to find them, you can find shops and restaurants in the outskirts, but if you’re complaining about this, you don’t even want to give them a try.
Brier: The tourist district has better food than the noble district, but then again the only way to get eats there is to, well, be a noble. Or work for one. But you don’t want to do that. There are some real sick fucks up on that hill. Even Svennia had trouble getting free the last time we were around.
Avery: The girl from the cabin?
Brier: Huh? No, she’s a different… The point is, you don’t want to mess with those guys.
Avery: Is that so? But it seems to me, they would be the best source of gold for us.
Coleen: As long as they work through the Adventurers’ Guild, maybe. But Croadin nobles aren’t exactly the charitable type.
Brier: None of these nobles are even true nobility. Whoever has enough gold and soldiers can call themselves nobility here, and whoever has more territory has more power. Any postings from a noble that pays well is more than likely going to get you into trouble with another noble. Then one thing leads to another, and next you know, we’re selling Coleen to the highest bidder.
Coleen: As if you would ever get chains on me. Besides, I’d get a higher price for your eternally youthful ass.
Avery: Interesting. So, what about our baths?
Coleen: I’m looking forward to it. No healing properties, but it should be comfortable. Don’t wait up, I could be in for a while.
Avery: Maybe I should skip the bath and start looking for a posting.
Brier: If you find something good, don’t let us hold you back. In fact, we should each pick up a quest solo. We might pick up more gold that way.
Coleen: Sounds fine by me. I’ve been going mostly solo for years before I met up with you. I hope I haven’t lost my touch rolling with a group for so long.
Brier: I may be a Bard, but Arco and I have some tricks up our sleeves.
Coleen: Hey, something’s got to be in them. I’m not so sure about you, Avery. You’ve lived on your own all your life, but have you ever gone adventuring?
Avery: Not at all. I’ll just find something I can handle. Maybe a simple gathering mission.
Coleen: Yeah, that sounds like something that would suit you well. As for me, I’m going in. Let’s meet up back here tonight when we’ve finished our Quests.
Avery: Sounds solid. Until then.
Brier: Yeah, yeah. Arco and I are going to savor our first decent meal in weeks.
Avery sauntered to the Adventurers’ Guild and entered, not sure what to expect. He had the sudden realization that, although he had heard about them from Brier and Coleen, he had never actually participated in an official Quest.
There were people sitting at tables everywhere, discussing all manner of things, whether they were quest details, rumors and gossip, or even random flirting. After a
Avery: Hello, I’m looking for a quest posting…?
Guild Clerk: That’s what we’re here for. Hand over your guild card and I’ll match you up with something appropriate.
Avery: Guild card?
Guild Clerk: You are registered with the Adventurers’ Guild, aren’t you?
Avery: I’m… not sure.
Guild Clerk: Name, class, level?
Avery: Avery Sylvain, Alchemist, um… 11?
Guild Clerk: I’ll see what we have on file.
The Guild Clerk went into the back room and returned with a thick binder in hand.
Guild Clerk: Alchemists under S… Ah, I believe this is you.
Avery: I’m registered?
Guild Clerk: Avery Sylvain, born in… Lorath? Is that actually true?
Guild Clerk: I thought Duvall was the only one left. And according to the most recent file on you, you’re level 30, not 11. Care to keep us up to date?
Avery: Um… when was this last updated?
Guild Clerk: Four months ago.
Avery: Strange… Well, I performed experiments, gathered materials, traveled to Lorath, killed approximately 62 Scar’s Tear beasts and 47 living dead, did battle with Duvall, escaped, and traveled to Croadin, killing approximately 217 Tundra beasts.
Guild Clerk: …and you thought you were only level 11?
Avery: I had help.
Guild Clerk: Even if I were to estimate you at level 40, I don’t see how you could have survived a fight with one of the Seven Heroes, but you are a Lorathian, and reports of activity in that area fits your timetable. I’ll get you a quest in the level 45 range.
Avery: Something in my field of expertise, please. Herb identification and…
Guild Clerk: Herb identification and procurement, concoction experimentation and application.
Avery: Yes, that’s right.
Guild Clerk: We keep good records, sir. As it so happens, a posting that fits your specific qualifications just came in this morning. Are you sure you don’t have a guild card?
The clerk placed a thin, gray rectangular tablet the size of her palm on the desk. She slid her index finger over it to demonstrate its color-changing properties.
Guild Clerk: Does this look familiar?
Avery: I can’t say it does.
Guild Clerk: This card is attuned to its owner and records battle experience automatically as long as it’s in your possession. I can give you a blank card to start the attunement process, but make sure to return here so I can properly tune it to an appropriate level.
Avery: I see… I’m interesting in learning how it works…
Guild Clerk: You only get one free replacement, so don’t tinker with it too much. Now, about your Quest…
After finishing off his own bowl, Brier and Arco cleaned off the bowls of their comrades. The two stumbled toward the spring, where Coleen was still melting in liquid bliss.
Brier: You stay in there any longer, you’re gonna prune up.
Coleen: Then let me be a prune. I’ll melt into this spring and turn it into a huge vat of prune juice.
Brier: I don’t think that’s how prune juice works.
Coleen: Prune soup, then.
Brier: Whatever. I’m not letting your madness ruin my good time. C’mon, Arco.
20 minutes later, Brier left the spring, looking back at the still-blissed Coleen.
Brier: It’s… not really that good. Is it?
Brier: What are you thinking, Arco? Escort mission? Bounty?
Brier: Yeah, no need to be picky.
The Adventurers’ Guild had expanded since he was last in Croadin. In order to accommodate the increase in travelers, a second floor was built, as well as an underground cellar to house files and other materials.
Brier: I don’t care how dangerous the quest, as long as the pay is good and I can start immediately.
Guild Clerk: You say that, but I also have a responsibility to match our clients with adventurers that are actually likely to complete their quests. Even if you are at an appropriate level, there aren’t many high-paying opportunities for a solo Bard.
Brier: Dark Bard.
Guild Clerk: There is no such thing.
Brier: Article VI, Clause I of Dark Lord Balken’s amendments to the guild charter clearly states that any adventurer may preface “Dark” to the beginning of class title, designating said adventurer as a practitioner of that class despite diversions from its doctrine.
Guild Clerk: Dark Lord Balken’s amendments to our charter were rescinded by the Seven Heroes four years ago.
Brier: But I’m still allowed to keep it as a Title.
Guild Clerk: Title, not Class. Now, as for your Quest… you’re in luck. There are two clients waiting at table 3F.
Coleen hadn’t opened her eyes in an hour. She lay in perfect stillness, feeling the ripples of the spring, the ebb and flow of her body, losing herself and regaining limbs that didn’t quite feel like her own, but seemed to fit into place.
Physically, nothing had changed. But she sensed her body numb and lost all sense of form. She expected it this time, however. She was determined not to be scared of her new nature. The result was the difference between fighting the current and floating with it. This too was unacceptable, however. She needed to control the current. It was, after all, her body. If she were not its master, then what would? Her consciousness wafted in search of that method, but it remained intangible.
By the time her faculties returned, Coleen had lost track of how much time had passed. She stood and crept backward, away from the spring.
Coleen remembered the task at hand, but there was also an inexplicable thirst in her.
Coleen: I can’t waste time… It has to be a real challenge.
Coleen was focused on her task and didn’t bat an eye at her surroundings. She strode straight to the desk and slammed her card on the counter.
Coleen: Extremely high risk and matching reward, completable today.
Guild Clerk: Solo?
Coleen: Do you see anyone else around here?
Guild Clerk: Let’s see… Coleen Eiric, lv. 49… oh, my.
Guild Clerk: This card must be malfunctioning. It’s reading magic levels far exceeding your level.
Coleen: Then it’s reading me fine.
Guild Clerk: I’m obligated to ask if you’ve been dabbling with forbidden magics.
Coleen: I can’t answer that unless you specify who forbids it. Would you like to see an example and tell me who would forbid it?
Guild Clerk: I’m only obligated to ask. I don’t need to know the answer. I’ve got something that’s for minimum level 50, but I can make an exception in this case. I have to warn you, the client is in the Noble District.
Coleen: I’ll take it.
* * *
Head Maid Joanna: It started last week. My lord’s 6-year-old daughter, Adele, suddenly contracted a mysterious illness. I’m afraid she won’t last more than a couple of days in this condition. None of our Clerics seem able to cure it, and we don’t have the time to hire a specialist from Sakar. There’s only one way to save her life…
Alchemist Parnell: The Tearblossom is a rare flower that grows in the mountains west of here. It is said only one blooms shortly after a blizzard, and one such blizzard passed by recently. It has mystical healing properties which none have been able to understand. I wish to study a sample, break it down, and reproduce it as a potion.
Hex Wizard Alex: It’s my sister’s hope that the Tearblossom can completely purify her.
Vigilant Clarisse: I read about it in an ancient text. I’m not entirely sure it will work, but I’m willing to try anything to return to my rightful place.
Head Maid Joanna: Save Lady Adele with the Tearblossom!
Alchemist Parnell: The Tearblossom must be replicated!
Vigilant Clarisse: We need the Tearblossom to restore my purity!
Coleen: You can count on me!
Avery: All of Rym could benefit if you’re successful.
Brier: I’m still getting paid if this doesn’t work, right?
Quest: Save the Noble’s Daughter
Quest: Procure the Tearblossom
Quest: Purity Restored?
Recommended Level: 50
Recommended Level: 45
Recommended Level: 40
Party leader: Coleen
Coleen [Mage] lv. 49
Title: Tome of Calamity
*Locate the Tearblossom
*Create the Tearblossom Cure
*Administer the Tearblossom Cure to Adele
Party leader: Avery
Avery [Alchemist] lv. 51 (45)
Title: Blood Brother
*Locate the Tearblossom
*Successfully extract the Tearblossom
*Turn the Tearblossom in for analysis
Party leader: Brier
Brier [Bard] lv. 39
Title: Dark Bard
Familiar: Arco [Winged Iguana] lv. 29
Clarisse [Vigilant] lv. 35
Title: Dark Queen-in-Training
Alex [Hex Wizard] lv. 41
Title: Dark Stalker
*Locate the Tearblossom
*Create the Purification Potion
*Administer the Purification Potion to Clarisse
With no way to tell where the Tearblossom could have bloomed, Avery’s quest was without aim. With nothing but a description of the elusive flower to go by, Avery’s only choice was to carefully examine his surroundings while marking off his progress on a map.
Avery: This would be so much easier if I could just melt all this snow away… But from what I understand, the Tearblossom is sensitive to heat. Simply taking it in to room temperature could dilute its properties. Only by stowing it away in my chilling chest can I properly preserve it for study. Now… I can cross JJ17 off the map. Off to JK17.
Brier: It’s not here either?
Alex: Just shut up and keep singing, Bard.
Brier: Which is it? Shut up, or keep singing?
Alex: The colder the area, the more likely the Tearblossom will bloom there. We might have to venture into an area so cold, your Bard magic is the only thing that can keep us from freezing to death.
Brier: We aren’t in such an area yet. But my specialty is weakening enemies, not supporting allies.
Alex: Have you seen the monsters here? That won’t be of much use.
Clarisse: I beg to differ.
Alex: How so?
Clarisse: I’m a Vigilant. I’m an expert at detecting hidden enemies.
Alex: So? I guess that means the monsters around here are hibernating since we haven’t encountered any.
Clarisse: Not monsters. Humans. They’re stealthed and all over this mountain.
Brier: So what are they waiting for? If they were hostile, they’d attack us by now.
Clarisse: No… They’re waiting for something, and right now it isn’t us… But if my intuition is correct, we could be in for a fight as soon as we locate the Tearblossom. Of course, if the area is cold enough, we’ll still need to rely on your Bard magic to survive… but if they turn on us, weakening them could be our only chance.
Brier: I can’t do both.
Clarisse: Don’t worry. As soon as my body is purified again, I can take on the support role.
Coleen: AAAAAAGH! Where are these bastards coming from?
Assassin: Lord Walt dies tonight!
Coleen: Crystal Impale!
A pillar of ice buried itself in the assassin’s chest, killing him instantly.
Coleen: And who in the depths is Lord Walt?!
Assassin: Death to all who oppose us!
Coleen: I’M JUST TRYING TO SAVE A GIRL’S LIFE! FLAME CUTTER!
An arced blade of flame flew at the Assassin, cutting him in half.
Coleen: How many more of these guys are up here? If it’s going to be like this the whole way, I should deep freeze the entire mountain and kill everyone on it…
Avery: It’s getting even colder the higher I climb… How could a plant survive in such a place, much less thrive in it?
Brier: Tangerine, tangerine, how could you be so mean? From my grasp did you flee, why don’t you let me see?
Clarisse: I hate that song so much.
Brier: And yet it boosts your morale. Amazing how that works.
Alex: I’ve always had a liking for the Tangerine Song.
Clarisse: A monster!
Clarisse: Up ahead. A White Behemoth… its snow camouflage is surprisingly effective if you can miss it so easily. It’s hiding in wait for us.
Brier: You serious?
Alex: Behemoth, huh? Let’s see… the more furious they are, the more damage they can deal, and the more aggressive they become.
Brier: Look who wants debuffs now.
Alex: I am a Hex Wizard.
Brier: You don’t have any skills that can dull fighting spirit.
Alex: I specialize in sleep spells. But if you can negate its enraged status, it would help lower its resistance.
Clarisse: Let’s get it started then. “I SEE YOU!”
The massive Snow Behemoth became visible to the rest of the party. Also revealed were a dozen assassins laying in wait.
Assassin: Oh, shit! Where did that come from?
Brier: What in the…?
A four-legged beast the size of 50 men, with powerful, bulky hind legs, lean, long fore legs with oversized paws and fearsome claws like sabers, leathery hide as black as night, covered in fur as white as snow and prickly as a procupine’s quills, and a long, armored tail that can crush stone. Such is the Behemoth.
Clarisse: Stay focused!
Brier: Right… One song of calming coming right up! Arco, wait for the right moment before attacking. Once it’s slowed down, attack its vulnerable spots to lower its resistance. Alex… slow spells.
Alex: Smart thinking. I curse thee, foul beast! Sloth of the Strikeless!
Sloth of the Strikeless is a hex that slows movements by 50% until the affected enemy successfully connects with an attack.
The slowed Behemoth telegraphed its attacks for Clarisse to easily avoid. She countered with her spear, aiming primarily at its massive paws.
Alex: Sis, it’s turning!
Clarisse: Oh boy…
The Behemoth swatted its heavy tail at Clarisse, who lifted her shield in time to protect herself. The act broke the hex placed on it, however, and the creature lunged at Alex and Brier.
Brier: Let go your rage, let go your rage… um. La laa la la, la laa la la, da da da da flight…
The behemoth was barely affected by the song, though its attack merely knocked Alex to the floor and left him bloody.
Clarisse: Bard! Get the words right!
Brier: Hey, that attack would have crushed his ribs.
Clarisse: VIGILANT SHOWER!
Darts of energy flew from the sky and scattered down on the Behemoth, harming it. The attack also killed some hidden Assassins in the area.
Clarisse: At least it’s hurt…
Arco flew at the Behemoth’s neck and sunk his fangs into it, injecting it with his poisonous saliva.
Brier: That’s not going to kill it, but it should be feeling a bit more dull. Let go your rage…
Clarisse: I can sense its defense falling.
Clarisse plunged her spear into the side of the Behemoth, then leapt back and held her shield up.
Alex: Foul beast, I curse thee! Let the night overtake your senses! Midnight Minute!
Midnight Minute is a powerful sleep spell that places the foe into an unbreakable slumber for one minute. Afterwards, the hex breaks and the foe is immediately awakened. As powerful as it is, Alex’s mastery extends far beyond that. With enough time to prepare, he is capable of putting everyone on the mountain to sleep, as long as they had a low enough natural resistance.
Alex: Impossible. That wasn’t enough?
Brier: No, it’s going down!
The Behemoth toppled over on its side, shaking the entire mountainside and loosening the snow in the area.
Clarisse: Bard, I hope you have something to protect us against an avalanche…
Brier: Nope. Clarisse, prop your spear through the Behemoth. We can take shelter behind it!
Clarisse: Sounds like our best option. Okay!
Clarisse stabbed the Behemoth with her spear and used her shield to bash her staff in place into the mountainside. The three crouched behind the Behemoth and pushed against it. Piles upon piles of snow cascaded down the slope and crashed around the Behemoth.
Clarisse: Looks like it worked.
Alex: I think that avalanche finished off the Snow Behemoth. We should carve up its remains later.
Clarisse: Yes, once we have the Tearblossom in my hands.
Avery: The Tearblossom! At last, it’s the real deal!
Clarisse: What?! Who’s th- GET THERE, NOW!
Brier: We won’t make it in time in this snow. ARCO!
Arco flew at Avery, whose honed senses alerted him to an approaching danger.
Avery: Stay yourself!
Avery spun about and fired a bolt at Arco, grounding him.
Avery: Did I get it?
Brier: Whoever that guy is, he’s about to need a change of pants. Shadows, shadows, congregate!
Brier sang the song, “Rally of Shadows.” Arco absorbed the shadows in the area, becoming an illusion of his past form as a Shadow Dragon.
Avery: That’s what I shot? Impossible…
Avery pulled a red vial from his pouch belt and opened it.
Avery: Let this blood be a sacrifice! Cast off your deceitful form. Illusion Dispel!
The black dragon disappeared, leaving behind only the injured Arco.
Avery: I thought so. I can’t afford for this specimen to take damage. I’ll have to finish you off.
Brier: He didn’t fall for it.
Alex: He used a type of hex breaker I’ve never heard of before.
Clarisse: I’ve got a bead on him… He’s getting a spear through his chest in a second.
Coleen: I am SO TIRED OF YOU ASSASSINS!
Coleen: Flame Cutter!
Clarisse put her shield in front of her, but Brier pulled her away and reflected the fiery blade with his Obsidian Lute.
Brier: That spell is designed specifically to pierce armor. You would have died!
Clarisse: If that’s true, then how did you…
Brier: My lute’s made out of Obsidian.
Coleen: You reflected my spell? Of course… Obsidian is mined in this region. You must be the leader of the assassins, right? Why are you preventing me from reaching the Tearblossom?
Avery: There’s more of you after the Tearblossom? As I said, this specimen will be protected!
Brier: Wait… That sounds like Avery…
Clarisse: You know these guys?
Brier: Alright, let’s all calm down, get together, and talk this through.
The three told their respective missions to each other while treating Arco.
Brier: Well, I don’t see any way out of this. We each have reason to take the Tearblossom. We can’t all complete our Quests.
Coleen: Isn’t it obvious? My Quest pays the most, and it’s for a noble cause.
Brier: A Noble’s cause isn’t noble.
Coleen: I’m saving the life of an innocent child!
Avery: If our research is successful, we can produce enough Tearblossom Potion to save multitudes, including that Noble’s child of yours.
Clarisse: As if that would ever work. If we make my Purity Potion, I’ll get my Cleric powers back, and I’ll personally heal that child for you. I was once first in line for Queen of The Sakarlands.
Avery: How can you mock my research, yet put your faith into an untested elixir? If I duplicate the Tearblossom, you can test your potion out all you want!
Clarisse: I knew you would say that, but the recipe calls for a whole Tearblossom in its original form. I’m not taking that chance. Brother!
Alex: Negotiations are over. Go to sleep!
Avery: I’m a Lorathian. You try a hex spell and I’ll dominate it and turn it against you.
Alex: Lorathian? Nice story, but that’s impossible.
Brier: I wouldn’t put that to the test, Alex.
Clarisse: Brier, you and I can take on the Mage girl.
Brier: Why did you have to say that?
Coleen: Oh, is it like that? I’d like to see you try. I’ve been dying to go all out all day.
Brier: You don’t want to do that.
Clarisse: Yeah, what can you do?
Brier: She can kill us all.
Clarisse: Not a chance. I’m prepared now.
Avery: Such a tense situation. Perhaps I should end this.
Brier: Now that one gets me. I’ve seen you in battle. Good shot, but you can only get three shots in at a time.
Avery: This is true. What’s also true is that I have the Tearblossom safely locked up in my Chilling Chest, and I don’t need to fight as long as I can get away.
Avery flipped the lids down on his glasses and detonated a [Flash Bomb], a device designed to blind everyone in the area.
Brier: Agh! You’ve been holding out!
Coleen: What was that?!
Clarisse: I can hear his movements. I’ll have my purity back yet, Alchemist!
Clarisse pursued the fleeing Avery, but she quickly sank into the ground – an effect of one of Avery’s [Sinking Potions].
Clarisse: What is this? What’s going on?
Coleen: I’m not letting a girl die on account of anyone… not even you. HAAAAAAAAAAA!!
Coleen extended his arm forward and glared forward, not focused at anything in particular but the space in front of her. The snow on the mountain slowly started to rise into the air, like light snowing in reverse. But rather than return to clouds, the snow hung in the air.
Coleen: What was that?
Brier: I don’t know. You’re the one that did it.
Coleen: Oh, I see. Then… Freeze… everything.
Alex: No way! I’ll put her to sleep!
Clarisse: But this is our only chance to stop that Alchemist in his tracks! Brier!
Brier: Right. I can prevent us from freezing with a morale song.
Clarisse: Anything but the Tangerine Song, please.
Brier: Fine. Then, the strongest morale song in my repertoire…
The Blue Star shines
It spreads through all the land
The Golden Light
It grants us life
All live in its domain
The blue star dominates all…
The blue star is above all…
The Blue Star and the Golden Light was one of the few songs he remembered from his youth in Aria. The Floating Capital sank when the magic lake it rested on dried up. From the bottom of its pit, the sun rarely passed. But it did pass. For one hour, the Dark Capital was reminded of the ultimate sovereignty of the heavens.
Avery: What is this frost? I… can’t move…
Clarisse: That’s enough, scrawny boy. You dig for any vials and I’m piercing your heart.
Coleen: You’re not taking that flower!
Clarisse: Brier, deflect it!
Brier: On it!
Coleen: POCKET BLAST!
Obsidian can deflect pure magic, but it can’t defend against its effects. Coleen detonated her Pocket Blast spell in front of Brier’s lute, flinging his body backwards and crashing into Avery. Avery’s Chilling Chest was broken in the blast, and its contents damaged beyond use.
Clarisse: M-my purity!
Coleen: Oh, no… I’ve doomed that child…
Brier: Crap. Where are we going to sleep now?
Coleen: I… This was my fault…
Clarisse: I agree. So, I get to take it out on you, don’t I?
The sky howled, and frost swirled everywhere, covering everyone in a thin layer of white.
Clarisse: S-stop it… STOP IT!
Brier: Coleen, don’t do this!
Avery: Wait… keep going.
Alex: Are you insane?
Avery: Whatever you’re doing, Coleen, KEEP DOING IT!
Brier: I’ll make sure we don’t all die, then.
Clarisse: I’m ending her.
Avery: You do, and you’ll have a hole in your throat.
Alex: What are you trying to do?
Avery: Look at these seeds from the Tearblossom.
Alex: Are those sprouts?
Clarisse: Tearblossoms only grow after a heavy blizzard.
Coleen’s blizzard made the Tearblossom seeds grow and blossom rapidly.
Avery: I think that’s enough. Stop her.
Clarisse: With pleasure!
Brier slammed his lute into Coleen’s head, knocking her out immediately.
Brier: Trust me, this was the best way. How many we got?
Avery: Five blossoms. One for each of us. But I’m sure your party only needs one. I’ll take the extras so we can do more research.
Clarisse: Not on your life. I’ll need extras in case the first potion doesn’t work.
Brier: You can have mine. I won’t get paid any extra. You got an extra chest for Coleen?
Avery: Of course.
Clarisse: Where do you keep those?
Avery: They’re collapsible. What’s important is the mechanism, not how strong the actual box is.
Brier: And that’s why the first box broke.
Avery: We are better now for it than had it not.
Brier: Just get it set up and let’s start getting down this mountain.
Assassins: They have the cure! Don’t let them off this mountain alive!
Alex: Where the hell did they come from?! Clarisse!
Clarisse: I wasn’t paying attention; I thought they all died from the avalanche!
Brier: Let’s try this again. Arco’ll scare the shit out of them.
Clarisse: What is it with you and your obsession with making men defecate?
Brier: It’s a perfectly natural function. One that man takes great pains to manifest dominance over. You control someone’s excretory functions, you control their soul.
Clarisse: That can’t possibly be right.
The assassins were slaughtered in waves. After the ninth wave, Coleen woke up and deep froze the remaining assassins pursuing them down the mountain.
* * *
Parnell: You brought one extra specimen? Fantastic! This should advance our research greatly!
Avery: So, how does this extraction method work?
Parnell: We place the flower in a solution that should break it down into its basic elements. The reaction takes 12 hours. A short time for centuries of benefit.
Coleen: Will she be alright?
Joanna: She’s showing signs of recovery.
Lord Walt: Are you feeling better, doll?
Adele: Yeah… You were right. Adult drinks are only for adults.
Coleen: What does that mean?
Adele: I always wanted to try Daddy’s adult drinks. When he finally gave me some, I got really sick.
Coleen: That’s how it is, is it? Ugh…
Joanna: Your reward…
Coleen: It was a lot harder than I thought to retrieve the cure. There were assassins all over the area trying to kill me.
Lord Walt: And you fought them all off. And alone at that! If you like, I can pay you extra to hire you on as my enforcer. We can take the fight to them and end them once and for all.
Coleen: No… I’ve had my fill of fighting for now.
Alex: I mixed it exactly as it’s written.
Clarisse: Well, then. Here goes…
Clarisse drank the potion.
Clarisse: I don’t feel any different. Alex, cut yourself.
Alex: Just a small one.
Alex scratched the back of his hand with a small dagger.
Clarisse: Okay… Regeneration!
Clarisse hovered her palms over Alex’s scratch and focused, but nothing happened.
Clarisse: Damn! This recipe’s a dud!
Alex: At least we have a spare, right?
Clarisse: Yeah… But we have to save it for a cure we know will work. Anyway, you’ve done your part. I don’t want the Guild breathing down my neck, so take your reward and go.
Brier: About time.
Received 20,000 gold!
Received 2,500 gold!
Received 1,750 gold!
Familiar Arco evolved from [Flying Iguana] to [Young Wyvern]!
The trio reunited at the Summer Glade.
Coleen: That’s all you got? Now I don’t know if it’s fair to share the same room. Maybe I should spring for something more high class.
Brier: Hey, it’s your fault we had to handle all those assassins.
Avery: Indeed. And we all played a part in each of our rewards. We should all share in the combined rewards.
Brier: Besides, we don’t want to lose all our gains. Let’s just spend a couple of days at the White Crest and pocket the rest for traveling expenses.
Coleen: Right. It’s going to take a long while to reach Harl. We have to cross the snowlands again and travel around the mountains. Maybe we should make a stop at Wynn first.
Brier: Actually, I was thinking of going through the mountains.
Avery: I thought the mountain range was impassible?
Brier: There’s a special route through the mountains. It’s relatively safe, but it’s heavily guarded by Harlian soldiers. You probably won’t like the way through, but it’ll cut weeks from the travel time.
Coleen: Fine by me. Let’s go over it before we leave Croadin. But until then, I intend to enjoy our stay.
In the next chapter of Bardass! Brier unveils his plan to get through the mountain route to Harl. As the party makes preparations for their travels, news of Etrium’s fall reaches Wynn, Rhea and Croadin. All of Rym shifts into an uneasy calm, and the fourth piece is finally placed on the field. Quest 25 is Rest. Who knows when such a time will return?