- Job Deets.:
Tsubasa was generally averse to reading. If asked, his reasoning would be matter of factly stating that because words were dumb and this whole thing was dumb and he hated it. However, in reality the truth was a bit more difficult to swallow. The words on the paper danced around a little too much, and they sometimes became all blurry, or they were backwards and the letters d and p and b were all the same but he felt like he couldn’t tell anyone because unlike any of the other mistakes he’d learned it was fine to make, this one didn’t seem to get any better with time. So instead, it was stupid and dumb and dumb and he hated it. Nevertheless, occasionally he found something that was so interesting that he pushed through all the dumb and hate it and read through it anyway.
The books located within the R&D department were like that. They were hard to read and had a bunch of thick blurry words that didn’t seem to bother anyone else, but there were also a lot of really descriptive pictures to learn from, and if there was one thing he was very good at it was picking up things quickly. So he’d reserved a section of one of the labs, quite easy to do since this place had the same enlargement enchant as the rest of the guild, and was sifting through some of the books. There were two large whiteboards on his left where he would periodically turn and draw something nonsensical, before turning back to the books and squinting at them. Occasionally, Ahab would help him sound out a word very quietly, but the two of them kept this to themselves and Tsu would quickly draw something on the whiteboard to cover for it. But reading like this took quite a lot of his focus, to keep his head from hurting he had to focus and unfocus or the headaches could get quite severe.
“Excuse me,” Said a voice, sounding a little testy and rapping on Tsubasa’s workbench. “You’re Tsubasa Kageyama, correct?”
Tsubasa jumped and looked up. “Yeah, sorry. Right. That’s my name. Tsubasa Kageyama.”
“I’ve asked you three times now. Are you quite alright?” It was a short, round man who bore the same guild tattoo as Tsubasa himself, and wore those half-lens spectacles that stodgy old professors wore when they were teaching about how things have always been.
“Yeah man. Just uh… you know.” He put on an accent like someone trying too hard to be cool, “Hangin’ out with my old buddies… Books. Can’t get enough of those… pages.” He flipped some pages as though giving the book a high five, realized that was weird even for him, and righted the pages before turning to the guild staff, “Sorry. How can I help you, sir?”
The stodgy professor-man looked at him over the half-lenses, which is how you knew things were going to be serious, and said, “Right.” As though he was processing the actions Tsubasa had taken. It was somewhat of a relief that he found them to be just as strange. “Well, I need you to head to Hargeon Town. Have you ever been?”
Tsubasa nodded, starting to close the books, “Yeah. I grew up in a small temple near Talonia. We went to Hargeon a few times on mission trips and for supplies.” He noted which pages he’d stopped on with each individual book and then took a picture of the whiteboards individually to study later. “Is there something we need from there?”
“Well, you’re to visit a Doctor Mie, who lives there, and retrieve a message from her and return it to the guild house for relevant eyes only,” He seemed to be reading from his clipboard then looked up at Tsubasa and said with over-the-glasses seriousness, “You are not to look at the message.”
“Why would I do that? It’s not for me,” Tsubasa said dismissively, as though the thought had never even occurred to him. He wasn’t offended by it at all, its as just as though someone saw it necessary to remind the delivery boy not to eat the pizza he was delivering. That seemed part of the job. He started putting the books away and the guild staff interrupted him.
“We can take care of that, you’d best be on your way.” He waved a hand dismissively at Tsubasa’s efforts to clean up. “The message must get back post haste, after all.”
“I can do both,” Tsubasa answered casually. He picked up speed gradually, traveling through the lab swiftly to get to the bookshelves and put everything back, cleaning up the whiteboard and generally tidying up the place before stopping in front of Professor Guild Staff. “Do I need any identification or letter of written?”
“You mean letter of writ,” The guild staff corrected him, less than gently. Felt wrong to Tsubasa, since as far as he knew the word was pronounced written, but this guy did have glasses. “And no, just your guild tattoo will suffice. Doctor Mie requested this letter be delivered in person, and you’re known to be a bit of a braggadocio about your speed, so you’d best get a move on.”
Had Tsubasa known he was being insulted to his face, he might have been a little upset. Instead, he just pulled his hoodie back as Ahab jumped in and hunkered down. The little green squirrel, it seemed, did know that Tsubasa was being insulted and Professor Guild Staff received the rare middle finger from a talking squirrel as the two of them left the room.
“Well, I never…”
The free and open road was where Tsubasa had become more and more comfortable. He had always been a little faster than the other kids, but discovering his innate talents had allowed him to tear open his own little box of fast and shake out the contents with gusto. Now he could travel across the country in less than a day, assuming, of course, he did not stop to help people out. Which he almost always did, whether it be halting his speed to help an elderly woman cross the street or assist a few movers in carrying awkward items into buildings. It was absolutely unnecessary, but when pointed out to him that he absolutely did not need to do something like that, he would undoubtedly question the use of the word need.
Despite what some would call wasting time, Tsubasa arrived in Hargeon Town just as the sun was setting. Taking the roads cut out quite a bit of travel time since all he had to do was ride his hoverboard straight through, rather than having to ride over the wilderness. Unfortunately, in his rush to get out of the guild house he hadn’t gotten the actual address of the Doctor, and was therefore forced to spend another twenty minutes asking around for her.
Fortunately for him, she was a not unknown entity within the city, and he could discover the location of her laboratory, upon a hill just outside of the town proper, relatively quickly. Within the town he stored away his hoverboard and made the walk on foot, as doing so would draw generally less attention to him and he wasn’t sure of the anonymity related to this job, so he decided it was best not to draw arrows pointing at himself. Finding the Doctor’s residence proved a little trickier than he had figured. He wasn’t sure what exactly to look for other than it was probably a residence that belonged to a Doctor.
He did, however, know the direction to go, and that direction was that way. The top of the hill didn’t seem to have anything on it, other than a small shack that had a mailbox attached to it. Shack was an overstatement, as it seemed to barely be larger than an outhouse. The mailbox, however, was stuffed with mail as though it hadn’t been checked in a while. Below that was a small crate of other mail, and then a few leaflets indicating that mail was waiting on the post office. Either this was the most famous tiny shack in existence or it wasn’t just a shack. He knocked on the door.
The wood looked to be rotting and old, as though this place was held up sheerly by prayer and the goodwill of the owner. However, the resonant sound from it sounded exactly like healthy wood. He rapped on it again and nothing happened. He’d been sent to get whatever letter had been requested to be delivered and he wasn’t going to leave having just knocked on the door. He pulled the door open with relative ease. It wasn’t even locked. Before he moved, he called, “Hello? Doctor Mie?” But there was silence.
Looking around, Tsubasa took a step in and looked around, closing the door after him. “Doctor Mie? My name is Tsubasa Kageyama, I’m from the Silver Wolf guild and I’m here because I was sent by the guild? I’m here to help.” Contrary to what it appeared, the shack was definitely more than a half a prison cell worth of wood. In the sheer dark it continued onward, until after missing a half-step, the wood turned into steal before his feet, continuing on until it broke open into a building. He looked up at the emergency lights. This place was huge. It seemed to be connected via something else, a completely different building or a place that was invisible to the naked eye on the hill. But that would have been dangerous in somewhere like Hargeon, right? Too easy to discover.
“Are you now?” Said a voice in the darkness. The lights slowly went up on a woman standing to his right, smoking a cigarette. “You’re the one they sent huh? Little late aren’t you?” She was, to the objective observer, absolutely stunning. To Tsubasa, however, all that caught him was that smoking was unhealthy and he was late.
“I… stopped to do something,” He said tentatively, “I’m sorry if I wasn’t on time I thought—“ He was still caught up in looking around the place. It was multi-tiered, multi-winged and just generally multi.
“Three weeks late is stopped to do something? Did you go on a rager?”
“Three weeks?” He shook his head and looked down at his iLac, “Sorry it’s only been a few hours since I got the job, ma’am I can…”
“Wait. What time is it? What day is it?”
He gave her the time and date, looking more than a little confused.
“Oh,” She put out the cigarette and said, “Alright that one’s on me, I wasn’t sure which letter had gotten through or when. But it’s good to know that one of them did.” She walked past him, extinguishing the cigarette on the ground and stepping on it with her heeled shoes. As she passed him she brushed her fingernails along his chest, “Here to help huh? Come in and sit down for a second. It’ll be ready in about four days or so.”
“I’m sorry?” Tsubasa’s eyes followed her, “Okay I don’t know what’s happening here or if I’m getting hazed but if I’m early I can just…” She had already left the room, leaving him alone in a poorly lit laboratory that seemed to be both completely polished and downright deserted at the same time. He leaned back against the wall, head pushed forward enough that he didn’t squish the sleeping squirrel behind him.
As his eyes drifted back upwards, he noticed her walking around in the building but… not linearly. Sometimes she would emerge from one wing and travel to another, other times she would emerge wearing different clothing or with longer hair, or with different objects and, more than once she seemed to appear in two different places at once, from two different rooms, smash into herself to form one person who continued in one way or the other.
After what seemed like an hour of watching hers do this, one of the hers came downstairs to fetch him, holding a winter coat and gesturing him forward, “Come on, kid, I’ve been waiting!”
“Wh-what? For how long?” Tsubasa stood up suddenly and walked towards her.
“At this point? Months probably. I’ve lost all concept of time.” She said, ushering him through to the next room. She put the coat on him, which he quickly adjusted before she zipped up, to make sure Ahab, still sleeping, didn’t get squished.
“Alright,” She said, “So when you get through there, you’ll want to get the gem as quickly as possible, avoid the giant bears, then use this — “ she placed a small orb in his hand, “— to get back to the Silver Wolf guild house as quickly as possible. That jacket will keep you alive for maybe a few minutes before your body temperature starts to drop dramatically. Got it?” She lead him to the far side of the small square room, completely metal and sterile aside from a whirling vortex on the other side which seemed to be emitting low but constant chilling winds into the room. She slipped the missive into his pocket and started to push him towards the portal.
“Hang on hang on hang on hang on,” Tsubasa said, holding his hands out and standing his ground, “Listen, you’ve got this whole clones in a lab smoking cigarette mysterious doctor thing that is, frankly, really awesome, but I came here to get a letter from you. Why am I wearing this jacket, why have you been waiting weeks and then months for me, what did you say about a gem? And freezing to death??”
“Ugh,” She sighed, “Okay. Okay. When I realized I couldn’t fix this by myself, I sent a message to the Silver Wolf R&D Department. The… Scholars, I think they call themselves.”
“Yeah, I’m a Scholar,” The young man nodded.
“Good, then you’ll know that I’ve worked, on a contractual basis, with the Scholars a few times. I have some good friends there.”
“I did not know that,” Tsubasa said, “I have not been there long,”
She took a deep breath, which was not the first time Tsubasa had heard one from a person in a lab coat, “Moving on. I sent a message to the R&D Department but sending things out of this place is unstable, like hitting send on a letter with shoddy lacnet. Sometimes it goes, sometimes it bounces back, sometimes it pretends to go but doesn’t actually. And since I can’t leave to check if it’s arrived, I couldn’t confirm anything. Since I didn’t know if I’d sent it, I sent a few different versions, one of which requested help instead of a delivery. I just need someone who can help me with this dilemma.”
“What dilemma?” Tsubasa said, “I can help. I’ll help with it.”
“I’m stuck in here. I’ve been stuck in here since…” She looked at her watch and said, “Since now, I think… All times and any times. This lab now exists in a stasis bubble that is contained by me and conversely contains only me. I’ve been here, alone, for what I can only describe as years. Months. Two days. I have no idea. Not aging, and not moving and barely able to contact the outside world. And now it’s been too long. At this moment, if I leave this space and this relative time, everything in here will catch up with everything outside. Time and space will contort itself together as roughly as necessary to fix the problem caused by my simultaneous absence and presence. Do you know what that means?”
“Absolutely not,” Tsubasa said blankly.
“How do I explain this…” She looked around quickly, “Let’s make it simple for you, kid.” She pulled out a sterile needle from her coat pocket, ripped it from its seal and pricked him with it.
“Look,” She said, walking close to him. He could feel the heat of her body on his, contrasting the influx of cold from the vortex roughly two meters from them. The smell of her cigarette had long since dissipated, leaving only a perfume that wafted towards his nostrils with an almost imperturbable grace. She took his hand in hers and showed him the slowly bubbling blood on his fingertip, gently rolling down the side of his finger. “Do you know why the blood doesn’t just… spurt out all at once? To put it very simply…” She brushed along his hand as gently as possible, Her voice, especially this close, was like a sultry whisper. “You have coagulates that keep it from rushing out. It slows the bleeding and eventually stops it. The blood is just a road, taking white blood cells where they need to go to create a stopgap. Right now, if I returned this place to its appropriate time and location on that hill, it would create just a tiny pinprick in time and space. And time and space would bleed trying to fix it. But it wouldn’t have coagulates. Wouldn’t be able to stop. It would come out all at once and it would never stop coming. In trying to right itself, it would kill itself. And we definitely wouldn’t want that to happen. Do you understand?”
Tsubasa looked down at her hand caressing his then into her eyes and, in a ‘why are we whispering’ tone, said, “But why did you prick my finger.”
She stared at him for a second, really looking at him. Her eyes widened and then shut. She dropped his hand and turned around, mumbling under her breath, “I’ve been here too long.” She looked at him and said, “You’re… what? Fifteen? Ugh. Way to dance too close to that line, Mie. Anyway. Okay. Just know this. Through that portal, there’s potentially a way to fix all of this for me. And I need that, okay kid? You cannot imagine how much I need that.” There was a weight to her voice that he didn’t understand.
“Okay,” He nodded, “Go in, get the gem, get home. Right?” He started to walk towards the portal.
“Right,” She said, “Don’t forget to hurry, you’ve got at most, five minutes in that level of cold. Make sure that gets to the right people in Silver Wolf and make sure the letter gets to… well, you, I think. Yeah. Eighty percent of me feels like that’s a mistake but I’m feeling like a gambler right now. Don’t read it until you get back to safety.”She reached up and kissed his cheek then shoved him through the portal.
And Tsubasa landed on the other side, with the portal closing up behind him. The harsh winds hit him immediately. This made Phoenix Mountains seem like a tropical retreat by comparison. The coat seemed to be magically enchanted to heat his body, but even it was seemingly having to work overtime against the chill. There was no place on Earthland this cold.
“T-T-T-Tsu?” A voice came from behind him, the freezing Ahab hadn’t been included in the coat and was already feeling affected by the deadly cold. It was miracle he hadn’t frozen to death immediately. In one smooth movement, Tsubasa whipped the oversized winter jacket off of himself and curled it around Ahab, a mixture between a swaddle and balling up a sweatshirt.
The wind bit him like a wild beast, his hoodie did absolutely nothing against it. None of his magic seemed to allow him to conjure fire in this chill. But Ahab was warm. His vision was blurred by the winds, but he did his best to look around. It seemed he had been teleported to the top of a hill, much like the one on which he had found the Doctor’s lab. At the bottom of the hill was a small pedestal, filled with runes that were of no language Tsubasa had ever seen. Sitting on the pedestal was a gem shaped something like a star. That seemed to be the goal. He took one crunching step through the snow after another. Moving was hell. Thankfully, he didn’t have to do much of it. He slogged for a meager three steps before he lost his balance and crashed into a roll down the hill. He reached up, hands curling against themselves, and grabbed the star-shaped gem. Thankfully it didn’t seem to be reflecting of the cold weather, but a rather lukewarm temperature. He wanted to inject himself with it.
As soon as he did, the runes on the pedestal started to glow, in strange shapes that looked almost like bears. “Oh dang,” Tsubasa said. “Ahab? You still with me?”
“Yeah,” The muffled voice from within the coat said.
“Alright.” He reached into the coat and grabbed for the little orb that the Doctor had given him. There was nothing. He grabbed for his hoodie pockets. Again, nothing.
The runes had started to spread shadows, which were forming into shadowy bearlike monsters. Much, much larger than those found on Earthland and, seemingly, much angrier.
Beyond one of them, he noticed sticking out of the snow was the small silver orb that he’d been given. “Oh dang.” He said again. He didn’t know from where he had the internal strength to get to his feet, but as he did the MegaBear charged at him on hind legs.
Thinking quickly and without any consideration for the consequences of his actions, Tsubasa ran towards the bear and dove towards it. Rather, dove past it. As he was passing the creature, he created a magical spray of water along his back, which froze instantaneously and formed a shield of ice between him and the bear. The bear swiped at him regardless.
He grabbed the teleportation orb and pressed the button on it. He and the Ahab-coat were engulfed in the same swirling energy that had brought them here and in a flash, Tsubasa found himself outside Miss Mercury’s room in a heap of snow and ice.
Current Durations: Spell Name 0/0
Current Cooldowns: Spell Name 0/0