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Karasuki had long tried to find some information about souls in the literal sense. Most books denied their reality, while others only explored the idea in a hypothetical sense. With Geralt constantly in her mind, she had grown used to most of his behavior. Still, nothing would please her more than getting to return him to his book and getting to have her mind peacefully her own once more. She hadn't expected to find mention of souls in an old anthropology book about the mythological artifacts of Fiore. She had turned through the pages thoroughly intrigued at the ideas of these statuettes, amulets, diadems and temples. She happened upon a particularly water damaged page but the smeared ink words caught her eye: The Ring of Broken Souls.
She read carefully about the ring, squinting at the words and ink splotches, setting her mug of coffee aside. Her heart rate quickened and even Geralt's eye was entranced upon the page, just as eager for freedom as herself. "The Ring of Broken Souls. Crafted by ------ Jenkins. In an effort to prolong life, create immortality, -------- the ring was forged and used-------" Karasuki groaned. Nearly half the words were damaged and unreadable. She was learning very little about the artifact. "Jenkins died and the ring was lost outside of Rose Garden. Rumors say the ring was buried with him, though none have found his grave site. Well, now that's something. We could try to find it," She said optimistically. "I would love to examine such an artifact. Imagine the powers a ring like that could possess!" Geralt grumbled, "And imagine th' danger. Don't be naive. Immortality is impossible and did ye read the part where th' wizard died?" Karasuki made a face then bookmarked the page before closing the leather-bound cover over the pages. She placed it into her over the shoulder bag.
"It doesn't say the ring killed him, Geralt. Besides, I am not going to just use it. I am only planning on looking for it. And if it exists, maybe someone in the guild can help me figure out if its magical. I plan to study it first, nothing more." Geralt rose his brows, changing his tone, "Aye, I know what yer thinking. Don't get yer hopes up. Ye don't even know where t' look. Ye don't even know where the grave is." "Don't be such a killjoy. You're supposed to be the pirate. Don't you want to go looking for treasure?" And so the argument continued, all the way through Karasuki's cup of coffee. And through her lunch sandwich. And then as she packed her over the shoulder bag and walked through the Ace of Spades. She finally had Geralt on her side for taking up this adventure, believing it at worst a harmless bit of travel and at best a lucrative expedition.
Karasuki put her iLac down in her room, leaving it behind, forgetting it mid discussion with the pirate in her own head. As they left Ace of Spades, Karasuki summoned an old friend. "Resting a hand on his comrade's shoulder he replied, 'There is no such thing as a perfect person. That is why we can't live alone, no da!'" As Karasuki finished, a sugegasa hat appears to poof before her with a small cloud and Ryokō appears, the hat riding above as if he came from inside of it all along, standing usually in a pose with his hand in a position for concentrating chi energy. He has bluish purple hair, long bangs, long length, and shaved in some places in the most unusual manner. A large scar over his eye indicated experience with fighting. Ryokō wears purple and white monk's clothing, wields a shakujo staff, and is adorned with red prayer beads around his neck. "You needed me, no da?" Ryokō asked giving the woman a smile.
Karasuki zipped up her sweatshirt and tightened the strap of her shoulder bag. "I need your help. You have extensive skills with teleportation and I need to get to the Rose Garden area as quickly as possible." "Is that so?" Ryokō questioned, pulling off his sugegasa hat
and reaching an open hand out to her. Karasuki took his hand and stood closely. "I might have finally found a way to split Geralt from my soul. I could return him to his book!" Ryokō gave her a serious look, still holding his hat and staff to the side. "Split your soul? Have you not found a way to live with him, no da? This sounds dangerous." Karasuki shook her head, "It's okay, I know what I am doing. Research first, right? We find the ring and then study it, and then use it. I swear I will use caution."
Ryokō nodded his head, 'mhmm'ing as he brought his arms around Karasuki, lowering the hat down over his and her head. Together they seemed to vanish into the sugegasa, teleporting through the hat to the Rose Garden. Outside of Rose Garden, in a hilly expanse, the large hat reappeared, raising upwards until Karasuki and Ryokō stepped out from beneath it. Once normal size again, the monk returned the hat to his own head and gripped his golden shakujo staff, "So what are we looking for out here?" In the distance, Rose Garden could be soon as a bustling metropolitan of life and magic. The glow was visible even from here, even during daytime, though today it was partially clouded weather. Karasuki looked around the hill and then pulled out the leather bound book. She flipped open to the page, showing the smeared water damaged page to Ryokō. The blue haired monk bowed his head, reading it with her. "The Ring of Broken Souls. A wizard named Jenkins. A grave site somewhere outside of Rose Garden. We will be searching for days out here, no da." Karasuki grinned and Ryokō let out a sigh. It took them two full days of scouring the hill sides before finding something of value.
On the afternoon of the second day, heavy clouds had fallen in. Ryokō had been returned and summoned again multiple times and Geralt had given up and gone back to encouraging Karasuki multiple times as well. Only Karasuki remained unwavering in pursuit of this mythical item. She sat below a tree, near to a series of thickets, munching on blueberries with her legs crossed. Her eyes scoured over the page again and again until the idea struck her. She lifted up her head and slapped her own forehead, "My god, Ryokō! Geralt! Is it really so simple?!" Karasuki jumped to her feet. "What have you discovered, no da? All we've found are tree roots and earthworms," The monk grumbled. "Wouldn't it be easier to just accept Geralt as a part of you and move on?" Karasuki paid the wise adviser no mind, speaking on as if he hadn't said anything at all. "I'm a Silvertongue. I can read people out of books. It's not all I can do. Remember my very first summon?" She clapped her hands excitedly.
"You said it was someone named Red Riding Hood's crimson cloak, right?" Ryokō asked, though he kept good record of the things his contract holder had told him. He had a soft spot for the enthusiastic and naive woman. "That's right!" Karasuki beamed, "I can just read the ring out of the book! I am already here! It's as easy as saying the words out loud!" "Are ye forgetting that the words are half smears, lass?" Geralt remarked inside her head. At the same time, the monk said almost the exact same thing. She gave a light shrug, waving them off. "This is the ancient artifact. The Ring of Broken Souls. We are on the cusp of remarkable discovery! This could be the key to immortality! Or it could be the way I get my own mind again!" Karasuki paced, thrilled to the bone, her energy unstoppable. The monk looked concerned.
"I confess I am not as excited as you, no da. I still think it sounds dangerous," Ryokō persisted. Karasuki crossed her arms. "You're here with me okay. If anything happens, you can just teleport me to safety. Or teleport the ring to a place where it won't be a danger. I know we can handle this." Geralt stretched and cleared his throat, "Its been too many days out on these hills. I'm ready for a bit of excitement and danger, I guess." Karasuki translated and for the monk, "Geralt's on board. Are you?" The monk looked at her gleaming face, reminded of the first time they had met. She was an extraordinary child living an ordinary life in that book store and now she was a full guild mage with the world at her feet. Perhaps this risk was worth taking, and surely Ryokō would not be the one to stop her now. His expression caved and Karasuki jumped up and down on the hill. "Oh, if Masha could see me now! If Isadora could see me now! When Ryo, Gaia and Kite find out..." Karasuki took a deep breath and steadied herself. She supposed she hadn't actually told any of them about Geralt, though Masha might have figured something was up.
"All right, time to calm down. I just have to figure out what these words say. If I can reverse some of the damage, with your help Geralt, then I should be able to try reading it." The book mage said, imploring Geralt. Not even the black-hearted pirate could resist her request. Karasuki heard him sigh and release some of his power to her. She sat down with the book in her lap, opened to the artifact's page. Carefully, she ran her finger across the page and between Geralt's water magic and her ink based abilities, the words became clear on the page. Why this had not occurred to her, in her own room, back at the guild, was a surprising thing in itself. She was normally a bit more logical even when it came to the fantastic and improbable. The damage began to vanish and the old parchment returned to life, straightening its edges, wrinkles fading from view. The smeared ink moved and adjusted into its original place leaving the words on the page clear as a sunny day. Karasuki breathed out slowly, talking to Ryokō. "All right, it's time. Ready yourself, just in case." The monk opened his mouth to argue with her again but instead removed his hat and gave a bow, waiting for her to begin.
Karasuki inhaled sharply and spoke in a loud clear voice, letting her magic fill her vocal cords and enhance each syllable. This had to work, she thought, it had to. "The Ring of Broken Souls. Crafted by Westen F. Jenkins. In an effort to prolong life, create immortality, and be the cure to all mortal illnesses. The ring was forged and used by Jenkins himself, his old bones reviving to life with a great spark of white fire." Karasuki's voice wavered, suddenly realizing the great power she might have been reinstating, a power lost to the world perhaps for good reason. "His body became immortal, powerful and full of such power that it could not withstand it. The Ring was in the end too powerful and Jenkins was forced to remove it, hoping that by plucking it off his finger he might stop the burning fire within his soul. Rumors say that when the ring was removed, the fire consumed them both. Jenkins died and the ring was lost outside of Rose Garden. Rumors say the ring--" An explosion of white fire and light burst from the book in Karasuki's hands, enveloping her and Ryokō both.
Her screams filled the late afternoon air, but none but Ryokō were there to hear them. She felt a burning sensation inside of her body, inside of her mind. There was a tearing at the seams, like a page being ripped from a book, but so deep inside she hadn't known it was there. She heard Geralt laugh deep and menacing. "Oh, oh yes... freedom! Freedom, at last!" Karasuki cried out, tears falling from her eyes. Ryokō's arms wrapped around her, closing the book in her hands and abruptly the white flames and sparks ceased. Karasuki and Ryokō were thrown backwards, tumbling down the hill and crashing through the thicket. Karasuki gasped for air, the color drained from her face. Her brown eyes looked half full of life and the monk gripped her tightly, "Kara? Kara!"
She seemed to be a vacant shell, lying there without emotion, without a voice. Upon the hill where they had stood rose a masculine figure. A towering man over six foot tall stretched his limbs, then turned to look down at the monk and the mage. He had tan skin, brown hair, and a wide rimmed navy blue hat. Geralt's voice called down to them in mock compassion, "Are you all right lass?" Ryokō didn't answer, and neither did the mage. "Have a taste of what my life has felt like for the past decade or so! Are you ready for that?" He spat scornfully, "And I shall have a taste of what should have been mine all along." He lifted a hand in farewell, then began walking away, down the opposite side of the hill, out of view. Ryokō shook Karasuki until finally she stirred. She whispered, her voice hoarse, her throat raw from the power within, "He's gone. Geralt.. is gone." The monk looked down at her. He had thought that he would never feel fear again. After all he had lost, after all he had come to terms with, the noble and wise man had doubted that such emotions would return to him. And yet, he was filled with worry and fear as he looked Karasuki in the eye.
"I think he took more than his own soul with him. You overestimated yourself, or underestimated him, Kara," Ryokō whispered, holding her tightly. The sky darkened and a light rain began. Karasuki nodded. "I'll need help tracking him down then, and getting it back." If Geralt manifested with the Ring of Broken Souls, if he had his own body, and had taken a piece of her soul with it, her life was in mortal danger. First, she would weaken physically. Then the magic which sustained her health would fade. And finally, her very life would drain until the reapers themselves came to take her away. Karasuki had almost forgotten what a cruel villain Geralt could be. She regretted this instantly, struggling to get to her feet, gripping onto the monk for support. "Not just for my sake. But for Fiore, too."