Reunion: Of Plants & Ducks

Members of Plant Hwyaden gather in their workshop to plot world domination - or maybe eat snacks and chat. Regardless of which it is the world should definitely tremble in fear!

This is a scene for members of the guild Plant Hwyaden.

Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana's back from her wandering, and frankly that's as much of a reason as any to throw something of a reunion party. Proteus decided to take advantage of the opportunity to try to dig up as many of their wander and project-prone compatriots as possible to see if they can get everyone together in one place. It's been a while.

The workshop is as always the center of attention. Plenty of flat surfaces to use and places to enjoy, though the main dining room is also being used for people who prefer the more formal environs. A selection of Yamato cuisine is present (takoyaki, however, is absent, for reasons), alongside some burgers and fries (including those fries with relish Whiskey likes) for people who are in that kind of a mood. Tea, booze, and other drinks flow freely, and the Puzzle Imp has even strung up some lights and turned on some music... though with Kauchemar, one really doesn't need to worry about such things.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Music won't be an issue. But seeing as Kauchemar wants a chance to visit with everyone else and enjoy the snacks too, well it doesn't hurt to have a standby for music until the Bard is ready to strut her stuff. At the moment she was at ease, leaning on the staff she'd been carrying around the last few weeks to get use to the weapon style. "The needs of war and whims of adventure may scatter our numbers across the world, but nothing brings people back together like a party," she quips almost poetically.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Having become engrossed in the Cult of the Lost Seliana mostly fell off the grind, at times even seeming to have her chimlink muted and not responding to communication requests. Rumours seem to indicate she has embraced her research with dedication, and often wears clothing in styles now associated with the occultist researchers of the cult attempting to understand what death in this world really mean - something that has seemed to make some progress but only lead to new questions.

Having just recently returned to Alne she has been holed up in the Plant Hwyaden workshop, having taken over one of the until recently vacant workbenches and quickly made it her own. There are now piles of paper and notebooks with research information, along with a vial of ink and quill, and a small neatly stacked pile of letters on the corner which seem to be prepared to send off. And sitting in the stool at the workbench is Seliana, her feet not quite reaching the floor dangle in the air. She wears a black cloak with silver script trim, and a half cape about her shoulders connected to a large hood, which is current down revealing long flowing white hair and her now perpetually swirling kaleidoscopic eyes. A small plate already in hand with a few snacks she nibbles on them as she gazes around at the decorations.

"This is all a bit much, isn't it?" She questions as she side eyes Proteus. "I'm not sure my coming back to the guild HQ really requires this." She waves her hand at the lights. But then she smiles a little wistfully, "But it will be nice to see people again after so long, and I suppose that is worth it."
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Att isn't really sure what to say.

He's standing at the edge of the yard, just sort of taking it all in. His stance projects a very focused sense of quiet: arms are folded across his chest, eyes slowly tracking from one side of the gathering to the other. It's unsurprising; he hasn't been a total stranger, but whatever he's been up to has, like Seliana, drawn him to the edges of this virtual Earth instead of to commitments on the home front.

Att looks much like he did the last time he was here for any length of time, save for a peculiar change in his normally-purely-aesthetic shoulder cape and his almost trademark staff. The latter is festooned with intricate whorls and carvings, extending half its length; the former, apparently reduced to a ragged version of itself, is held to the pauldron it's connected to with a trio of bulky, vaguely toyetic belt buckles in various states of disrepair. It's a little bit 'edgy wandering warrior' as far as looks go. It probably looks great when he's leaping off ledges into fights.

Eventually, Att decides 'nothing' is perfectly valid. He just sighs to himself, smiles, and marches off to war. Er... party.5r
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

The Workshop is once again set up, like it had been, once, a long time ago. The food is out, once again, just the way people remembered. And there was time for celebration, because some old friends had come back.

After Tri-Edge's attack on the Plant Hwyaden HQ, Whis had become far more reclusive, more paranoid, anxious and insular.

Some months later, after Whis had moved her expeditionary studies of alchemy into the basement from the outdoors, she found some peace in a hideaway from it all.

Then she had disappeared, out from her lab, and from the HQ. Searches proved fruitless, until Att had stumbled upon an 'old face' of the guild living the princely life of a tokusatsu midboss, surrounded by a horrible menagerie of alchemically twisted creatures.

And, the missing Whiskey Sour, in a state. Abducted for the villianously useful alchemical properties -she- produced, her return was less a return from sabbatical and more a return to. . .


Over her dark earth tones she wears a shawl of funerary black and aphotic purple, and, perhaps the most dire change - the terrible sleepless rings under her eyes are merely dark circles of color.

"You're terrible at one-liners. You're supposed to say one." Whis elbows Att gently, and pushes past him to arrive at the food and breathe in deeply.

"I shouldn't be surprised, but it does smell the same. Ah, sorry for getting abducted. I think. It's a blur, and not a good one."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Proteus hasn't changed much, outside of her new habit of wearing long gloves. "I'd do twice as much if that'd what it would take to pry Whiskey and Att out of their work." Proteus replies. "Don't think you aren't worth it, though. I'm as overjoyed to see you back and safe, as do the others, I'm sure. With what's going on, I am half-worried I'd see them back with a crown on their head." Proteus frowns. "But enough of that. No time for dourness today." She shakes her head, and plucks up a fry to munch on it.

She nods to Kauchemar. "It's really past time. A party is a good way to help get people's attention. We always need to remember to take time to relax and enjoy ourselves, right?" She chuckles. "It's not like people don't keep telling me that... And I tell others. I don't want to be a hypocrite now, do I?"

Att's arrival immediately gets Proteus' attention, and the Imp putters over to look him over. "Wow, you've really advanced the whole 'wanderer' aesthetic. I like it." She leans in a little, squinting. "Are you okay, though? Want a burger?" She points at a small pile of them over on a platter, then she turns her gaze towards Whiskey, her smile becoming something of Concern. "I... Didn't know you got abducted. I guess it might not have been from who I thought it might have been, but I guess I assumed you were keeping to yourself and then..." She trails off, looking to one side with an awkward shuffle for a moment. "Well, I'm glad that Att found you. If I heard you were in trouble, I would have come running... Or probably would have had to run after Kauchemar. They're faster than I am." She shrugs. "Still..."

She smiles again. "Welcome back, both of you. Welcome home. Come on, stuff yourselves, have some fun. We can all share what we've been up to."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar crooks her arm around the staff so she can make appropriately finger-gun gestures at Proteus. "That's what I keep saying." It comes with the Bard turf. Good spirits and moral and all that. "Plenty of time to be dour when it's the time to be dour. Now is the time for reaquainting with old faces and hearing the new stories they have to tell!"

She slips her arm free, catching the staff as it starts to lilt to the side, and gives it a flashy twirl before resting it upon her shoulder. "Not to mention Proteus had to track people down the old fashioned way. I may be able to talk to almost anyone, anywhere, with my Oracle power... but it's kinda hard when I can't tell where 'anywhere' is!" She laughs at how silly that wording sounds. "But you've all been off on your own projects for so long, surely you have some interesting revelations to lay upon us. Spare not the details!"
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

With a small nod to Proteus, "I suppose I might help with that as well." She hums and placing the little plate down on the workbench Seliana hops down from the stool, her arms outstretched to each side as she lands as if it were some feet of gymnastics before smoothly transitioning to a more relaxed posture and begins moving towards the others, seeming to purposefully go around to greet each more directly.

As she travels between individuals she shares a little of her own discoveries and times adventuring with the group as a whole. "As you know, with use still here in the world after so long I started to find others to understand the rumours about Adventurers losing themselves - and the Cult of the Lost was eventually formed. I've been travelling between cities and towns to the different conclaves - at first recruiting and then to help coordinate and share our research." She frowns briefly "If only we hadn't confirmed this world is leaching away our memories. It all comes back to memories.." She shakes her head, perhaps trying her best to clear her head of the topic.

Arriving in front of Kauchemar she she again brightens and then gives the equine a brief hug. "I've heard many rumours about you, Kauch. A singer with unequaled voice, and a terror of nightmares to those who even consider having to face you in battle." And she smirks a little at this. "Is it all true? Perhaps it doesn't even scratch the surface?"

As Att Syne and Whiskey Sour arrive she turns and tilts her head to regard them, and she smiles again briefly as she seeks to intercept them. Approaching Att first the latches onto his arm as he walks, "What have you been up to all this time Att?" She looks up at him sideways, "You're looking rugged, aren't you? I like. It's as if you're just come from a battle? Palace Lands again? Monsters?" She then pats his arm, "It's good to see you. I mean, who else is going to stand in the way if there is danger?" and she pokes him lightly before disengaging and narrowing her eyes at Whis.

Closing in like a bird of prey she squints her eyes, as she reaches Whis she reaching up to hold both sides of the alchemists head as he come in close to look her in the eye. She still hasn't fully caught up on what's been happening, so Seliana still hasn't realized Whis has been anywhere except for her usual bizarre brand of alchemical crafting. But after a moment of glaring, Seliana's features soften slightly and she shifts into giving Whis a hug, not letting get away easily. "Have you actually been sleeping, Whis? It's like you avoided it like the plague for so long." After a pause "Well, maybe I'm not the right person to talk about that stuff. It just good to see you. What have you been up to?"

She doesn't seem to be in any rush to let go.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar drapes one arm over Seliana's shoulders as she's hugged. "And those two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive, either~" Her voice is just as dangerous as her spells and her summons, no questioning that. "The power of music plays a large intricate role in this world. One that even I haven't found all the chords to yet." She rap-tap-taps her fingertips against the staff. "And I did take second place in the last tournament that occured just before this whole arc with the Palace Lands started."

She lets the girl slip free of her arm to go reaquaint if the other elusive members. "I don't know. I think we might be more worried if Whis -didn't- show up looking like they haven't slept for a week."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Whis looks up, waving her hands in a two-palmed dismissal through the air. "Oh, it's not something you need to apologize about. It was something that should have been stopped a long time ago. . . but not every quest can sit forever. Sometimes, time passes, whether you're awake to see it all or not."

The airy smile seems like all anyone will get for a few moment, as Whis drops her gaze and wiggly fingers towards the fries and dips.

She had gotten so used to it. Nobody deserving to know.

A heaving sigh builds in her chest, and then bubbles out. "My race field was messed up because I was being experimented on by someone. They were treating my anti-sleep batches. I started taking more and more to compensate for not, you know, sleeping like usual, but a bunch of stuff stacked up, and I couldn't figure it out. Then I just dropped where I stood, and woke up... I don't know how much later. Woke up. I was despondent for a while after. Lost my little challenge, but it wasn't my fault. Or, it was."

Inspecting Whis reveals the truth - Her race field 'proudly' and by-default reveals her as: a Were Fang.

"I think he was trying to draw the attention of some of the other guild members for a big plan involving messing with people like us. But then I fell over, and plans changed."

Wobbling left and right, Whis smiles gently at Kauchemar. "Yeah. I sleep when I'm tired, now. But I'm busy too often to do it whenever I feel like it. And I figured out why I was itchy all the time."

Seliana's question gets a raised finger. "But, it's alright. Learning that it's really -me- that's a top quality alchemical reagent is kind of like a breakthrough. Also my soul didn't escape my ears when I fell asleep, so... That experiment's over."
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Ah." Att blinks, glances down at Whis, and flashes a brief grin. "Yeah, sorry. Missed my cue. We can run it back by the end of the episode."

Att raises one hand in a customary 'Yo,' of greeting. Then, without pause, he extends a closed fist out towards Proteus, lightly waggled. "Thanks. You ever get that feeling you've run out the end of an arc and need to change outfits to really properly signify it? Like clearing a raid for the first time, or a pivotal story beat. Just a bit of that, is all."

He shuffles on over to the burger pyramid. Gods, he's missed the burger pyramid. Att doesn't get quite there when Seliana intercepts him, but he proffers an elbow politely without missing a beat. "Oh, you know: carving my face in the side of a mountain. Saving the day from themed criminals. Coordinating outfits for the reunion. That sort of thing." Att grins and lets her go shortly thereafter. "Don't worry; I'm always a body-block for someone."


Att wolfs one down. He gives Kauchemar a sidelong look. "What if I want to save it all for the dramatic reveal, though? Then spilling all the beans would ruin it. Gotta think about these things," he remarks, gesturing with a burger.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Ah, people are mingling. A little stress seems to drain out of Proteus as she sees that people have begun interacting again, though Whis as always elicits a return of that slightly puzzled expression in the manner that Whis has spoken once again... Just in time for her to explain herself. "What, really? Someone was dosing your anti-sleep potions? I never... thought to check..." She muses. "Well, so be it. I am glad it seems to have ended all right."

She does give a wry smile, though. "You're the top quality in anything I could imagine, Whis. You were the alchemical specialist, though the irony of that situation isn't lost on me." She palms her face, shaking her head for a moment. "Though yes, you still have your soul. More than many, really, I think. There is a certain problem going around about that..."

Att's question gets a grin and a nod. "That's very true, Att. I'm kind of saving my own clothing upgrades a bit for when I figure a couple more things out. I've been a bit busy in that respect... I've cracked some of the code." She absolutely doesn't get in the way of Att recouping the beloved deliciousness of burger, but she does kind of hover around the returning Ducks. "Turns out that the Enigma Pieces are a big thing that can break and circumvent some of the ways the environment works, but my research on that was somewhat put on hold since we're kind of being invaded by China- er, the Palace Lands. Little things."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

With her story over, Whis ends it eye to eye with Seliana, held for a moment in a stare. She tries to smile, but the lift does not reach her eyes. Weary in many ways, empty in many others, the final effect on her browns is a dark depth that is merely streaked with a pale green.

Her words remain warm, and her soft travel-sleeves at once rough and comfortingly heated from within, while she reaches up to transition Seliana's hands into her own, clasped together.

"You always had the more interesting eyes, Seli. Think you'll find something in mine?" Whis jokes lightly.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana's eyebrows raise slightly at the news that Kauchemar is one of the top tournament combatants in the land, "Remind me not to get on your bad side, Kauch. Really, congrats on your getting second place!" She glances at the decorations again, "I would say we should celebrate, but I guess we already are. Just one more thing to our list."

As the conversation about Whis continues it starts to dawn on her that Proteus's comments from before were not in jest, but literal. Whis actually was abducted? What? With the realization her eyes start to widen, and her mouth falls open slightly. Her eyes flit back and forth between the others.

"Oh. My. Memory."

Looking intently at Whis again. "You guys are serious?" She frowns, then brows crunch together in consternation as her eyes brighten briefly, and finally her expression softens again the glow returning to normal. "I'm just glad you're here now." She grips Whis's hands tightly. "I was so caught up in my own endeavors. Caught up in my own mind." She shakes her head slightly with closed eyes, then opens them again. "Whis.." She considers "I think I do, but perhaps that can wait for another time."

She looks over at the nearby fries. "For now, lets eat and enjoy. You're back. And that is another reason to celebrate."

Glancing at Att Syne, "So where is this Mount Rushmore of Plant Duck? I hope you've included me as well?" Seliana raises an eyebrow in question.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Not to mention it seems like when people start messing with Enigma Pieces too much, Tri-Wedge shows up to be a posterior pain." Kauchemar exhales softly, puffing through the bangs of her glamrock mane. Then gives her head a little shake to get them partially out of her face. Her heliotropic eyes are an odd sight, but they're nothing compared to Seliana's swirly rainbows. She tilts her head as Whis retells her own tale, and huhs softly. "I guess things like that can go unnoticed when there's wide scale problems to take everyone's attention. At least you sorted it out in the end."

She doesn't ask more specifics on the itchy part. That's probably personal. Instead Kauchemar occupies the moment of other people's discussions by applying her attention to the food spread.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Whis continues to wave off the worries. "Really, I became a recluse and a shut-in. If you try to take on this as a failure, you'll just make it harder to tell you things. It's..."

Her hands drop. Her eyes close. She focuses through a tremor, and then uses her hands to push herself up onto a work-table, rotating around to sit cross-legged. "... It's normal. Sometimes you get taken to a different place for a while, or locked in a room. Nobody ever hurts you. It'd be too terrible for them if they do. This time the only difference was I was in a tank the whole time." She shrugs, picking up a burger. "For alchemy purposes, probably."

A pause, right as her toothy mouth opens to begin to One Bite the burg, and Whis's eyes inhumanly slowpan to Proteus.

"I'm sorry could you pretty-please run that one back for me, P? Did you just say I was right?"
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Yeah, I took care of the dastards responsible. They won't be giving us any trouble for a while." Att shrugs the shoulder with the cape and belts on it. "Or, they'll have a harder time doing it, in any case."

"Anyway, breaking code is useful, but remember it's not all about smashing windows to get at the sweet, sweet administrator privs. Learning about how things work such that you can operate in the boundary of the system in a way that is technically legal but definitely unintended has upsides that straight-up hacking doesn't. Remember the thing with the breaking floors into the tunnel system?" Att makes a gesture. A tiny whirlwind with cartoonish gloves for hands and a perpetual happy face materializes, floating over and retrieving fries and a drink for him while he leans on his favorite wall. He missed you, wall.

A glance and a quick smile. "In my notes, right now. Do you know how hard it is to find a big enough surface that you can see from the right side that *isn't* fortified by some monster or warlord already? Huge pain. It'll happen, though. Mark my words."

Whis begins to rotate like a battleship gun finding a target. Att drops a hand onto her shoulder in a way that is meant to be both comforting and maybe preventative. Can't have her leaping over there to beat someone to critical HP with a sign reading 'I WAS RIGHT'. Simultaneously, he pops the rest of the second burger into his mouth, and makes a back and forth head-tilting motion towards Kauchemar, one hand cupped over an ear, in a plea for musical deliverance.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar isn't one to miss a musical cue... even if it's just to pull out her lute and riff a o/~dun dun DUUUUUUUNo/~ to go with the 'I WAS RIGHT' exclaimation.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"We all were, Seliana." Proteus consoles her a little, smiling. "I mean, we have a whole new world to explore, learn, and maybe bend to our will a bit. Of course we're all going to be caught up in our various projects."

There is a certain side-eye as Kauchemar brings up Tri-Edge, and there's a little awkward laugh considering two of the people present were the ones who pulled her bacon out of THAT little fire. "It feels like Tri-Edge isn't a person, but a security system attracted to high-level system infractions. And the kind of breach that happens when someone combines Engima Pieces seems to qualify."

Whis asks Proteus if she was right, and there is a shake of the head. "Well, yes. But also no." She explains. "Seliana's research into the nature of death indicates that after the Black Wave, we've been losing bits of ourselves every time we resurrect. Considering we're effectively beings of data now, wouldn't you consider the memories and thoughts that make us up to be our 'soul'?" She asks. "I mean, it makes sense to me. But we're trying to locate information on what happens to those lost bits to see if there is a way we can recover them."

The Imp then turns back to Att and grins. "You're precisely right, Att. Flying under the radar is important and learning how the rules work so we can bend them to our advantage even moreso. I'm being careful at the moment. I can only change things in specific ways at the moment." She might be not quite aware of how close she might be to being hit with a sign.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seemingly in thought Seliana gazes at the decorations as she wanders back to her plate already containing choice snacks. Reaching it she gabs a small morsel and plops it into her mouth before picking up the plate in one hand and wandering back closer to the others.

And with dramatic musical accompaniment the conversation turns to darker, but oh so familiar tidings - death. Almost comforting in a bizarre kind of way, a kind of sad smirk appears on Seliana's face. "Proteus is right. It's been years we've been here, we are but ghosts of data with only our memories to hold us to who we were. Or at least so it seems to me."

She takes a small nibble of a pastry before continuing, looking over at Whis with some concern. "At times, and especially around the Black Waves, people seem to lose parts of themselves when they die. Seemingly permanently. But not only that, someone's death can even mess with other people's heads who didn't die - people forgetting the one who died - although this seems much more temporary."

She frowns as she looks around, "The world is consuming our souls, of sorts, or at least our data - as I agree with Proteus on this. This is why my research has turned to memories directly. And recording detailed records of who I am myself, so I can actually compare and determine when I've forgotten something about myself. Possibly even protect against loss or link to memories that I may lose later." And with a hard edge to her eyes, "And how to get our memories back."

"Based on what I've learned even those who have permanently died - Landers, Monsters, or even Adventurers who have lost so much of themselves they show as Landers - aren't completely gone, but only lost of a sorts." With a clenched fist, "If there is a way to get back ourselves I will find it, even if I have sunder the very fabric of this reality, in order to keep us who we are I will."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar gives a dramatic wave out with one hand. "And I can communicate in mysterious means beyond what speech and chimlinks allow... but so far have not pressed the bounds of the matter. There's still limitations, but less than those on the comms or Divination use."

Her hand drifts back to her instrument, providing a casual auditory backdrop to the party now that she's had something to munch on as well. "It all syncs up. Memories are what shape who and what we are. They give context to the otherways intangible threads of the metaphysical being. To think such things could become lost media..."
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Not actually that unusual," Att muses. "You don't perfectly remember your childhood, right? Or even most of your schooling. The real sticky bit is that it's a force we can identify, at least broadly, and -- in theory -- work to counteract it."

"That won't be under the radar, though. Not at all."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Losing... Memories. Oh, I see how that works now. If you knock out a lynchpin of someone's heart, they just stop having a huge part of their texture as a person. Then it wouldn't matter how much of them was there, the container, or anything, it'd just be fragmentary data."

Whis blinks, blankly, and then shrugs. "Yep, that's about the level of existential horror I'd expect." She deadpans, sweeping into a shrug with a sauce-dripping fry from the table.

"And then again, it makes perfect sense. I bet Proteus lost something, too."

Whis points at Proteus' long gloves. "Or some mix of a bunch of little things. Maybe even things they wouldn't notice. So, did you feel different after you changed your hands? All those months ago? Have you felt anything different coming -from- the hands? Tri-Edge tried to end your whole life, skipping the memories, to stop that. I thought he'd keep trying. Haseo left to chase him, and I didn't feel safe any more. And... Then it just stopped. What happened, Proteus?"
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Proteus looks down at her gloved hands, and she peels them off, revealing the dark material that had replaced the blue flesh. Black marble-like material, shot through with silver traceries that resemble circuitboard patterns. "These? Yes, I felt different, but not in that way. I hear a song... always, more when I focus on them." She looks up, frowning. "It was different when the Scythe Hero cut me in half and banished me from his world." She shakes her head. "That... Seliana was there when I came back from that. As for why he stopped... I think it was because whatever entity was controlling the Bandit King had done something to distract and send Tri-Edge elsewhere."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"You raise an interesting point, Att." She looks over at him as he continues to hover near the burger pile. "Before, we would naturally forget the less meaningful parts of ourselves and create new memories in life. Forever evolving as people." She pauses, "Does that hold true now?" She looks down at her hands. "I feel that I have changed so much, but I don't know how much of that is from what I've lost of who I was before."

Seliana moves to place herself a bit closer to Whis, just in case. When she herself came to terms with the situation.. it hadn't been good. There is an edge of concern in her gaze now as she watches the others, but sometimes the bandaid is best ripped off quickly. "It is like our memories are like the currency of our lives. Lose them and you lose yourself, until so much is lost you are lost to this world completely and no longer revive." She frowns, "But as I said, I'm - and we of the Cult of the Lost - are doing everything we can to both find means to protect and to gain back what was lost."

With determination she looks at the others, "There must be a way, and I will find it no matter what." She waves her hand around to encompass the whole crew, "You are my family here now, I will do what I can to protect us all in my own way."

Then nodding as Proteus speaks, "Tri-Edge is only one person. As far as defense systems go that is a clear limitation. You can only have one foremost priority, and now from what I've heard there are others aside from Proteus also using the Enigma pieces.?" She kind of leaves that as an open question to any who may know more.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"We're different people now." Whis mutters, dark and low, a bubble of a snarl, with a little pop at the end. "It's not just the memories, it's everything. Before, I was... I was a certain way. We all were. I had a normal girl name, I did normal stuff. I bet you all did."

A pause follows, and then a sigh, and then Whis looking up to Att. "Okay, sorry, maybe you had a normal boy name, and maybe Proteus had a normal name for those kinds of spirits that live under futons and whisper creepy stuff in your ear while you sleep, but you know what I mean. It's..."

Dangling her legs off the table, Whis looks at Proteus, and then their hands, and then up at them again. "Some part of you's that marble and song now. And that's just how it is. On top of the magic, and the way you feel, and all the rest of it. And..."

Whis' chin falls, her hands dropping into her lap. Everyone sounded bright, and the dark-haired alchemist just seems more dour than ever before, even with her sleeping.

"They're not comin'. Nobody's comin'. I was waitin', so long, and I got used to nobody comin', and now... here we are."

Whis' eyes come up, leaning into Seliana's proximity while looking at Kauchemar dully. "I don't even remember what feeling normal's like. Just moments, but when I think about them, it's itchy Whiskey Sour in the memories, and not the girl I was."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar has set her instrument aside and reclaimed both her staff, and more food to munch on. "That's okay. We don't need all the answers right now. Otherwise the mystery would be no fun to pursue." The talk of 'old world' names gets a dismissive wave with her other hand. "Irrelevant, at least as long as we are here. So for the time being I am quite fine with being who I am now." But she was one of those that didn't really have a different between herself and 'character' in the first place, so for her it is kind of a moot point.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Setting her half full plate aside once more she makes a concerted effort to hop up and sit beside Whis on the work-table, she leans into Whis and places an arm around her should to half hug and hold her. "Look at us now." She gives a sad laugh, "Here we are." She repeats the words. And with slightly moist eyes that she closest firmly she leans her over to Whis as well, just being there.

After some times as she listens to the other converse she opens her eyes once again, a somewhat pained expression on her features. Looking at the others to gauge where each is she continues to listen for the moment, holding onto Whis as Att also stands by protectively.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Kauchemar finishes off her burger, and rolls a shoulder. "It's great to see everyone about again. But I should get back to matters at hand." She flexes her arm in and out to wave the staff, indicating she means that to some manner of literal sense. "I need to retrieve the final enchantment pieces to finish the real version of this."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"I suppose in this case is... Are we who we wish to be? As opposed to others making us what they wish us to be?" Proteus asks, musing. "I mean, when you get down to it, we're all something of a Ship of Theseus if you want to be that strict about it. It's all a matter of what we keep and we we allow ourselves to get rid of. In that sense, is it really so bad as long as we are who we want?" Proteus shrugs. "Well, I am not sure what to think at the moment. For now, let's enjoy what we have together, hmm?"
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Whis keeps looking at Kauchemar for a while. It's something that stops the alchemist cold, and she has to think about the nightmare-woman in several lights that hadn't been pertinent before. Finally, she nods.

"Yeah. You're already living it, and that's probably better. You always were the one who just lived your current truth. Thanks for..."

Whis smiles, the deeply tired, toothy sort of honest smile she rarely put out before.

Only around the guild. And, for a time, not at all. She follows it by lifting her hands, to form a little press of arched fingers and met-point thumbs. A hand-heart.

"Nice..." She fails to think of the proper word, and just snorts. "... being there. I'll figure it out."
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"I've still got a normal boy name. I can tell you it, if you want," Att says to Whis, suddenly serious. "I can tell you all kinds of things."

"But it doesn't make it any nearer," he continues. "We've been dealt a hand, and, although some of us," a jerk of the head towards Proteus, "are trying to reach for the dealer, the rest have to play what we're dealt -- or slyly pass cards between us." He is no longer engrossed in food. Virtual food. The facsimile of food. The bytes that tell his comatose brain that he is enjoying food, triggering memories of tastes that he, very suddenly, wonders whether or not they're actually his own. "We've got to make of this the best we can."

"Maybe nobody's coming. Maybe one day they suddenly will, and we'll blink our eyes awake, looking at unfamiliar ceilings. But this --"

Att Syne sweeps one arm towards the gathering. The lights, the murmuring, the food. The home they've all made, working together.

"This has to be our normal. And, given possible alternatives, I don't know that that's a bad thing."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

With her free hand she waves to Kauchemar. "It was good seeing you, Kauch. Please let me know if there is anything this scribe can assist you with, and make sure you show us the end result." And she gives a warm smile as the nightmare equine makes their way out.

"I think there are times in peoples lives where it feels that everything is collapsing. Even when back in the last world." There is a sad frown, "But it is also often true that it presents an opportunity to redirect ourselves, and build something fresh without some of the foundational faults of before. My life was a crumbling tower even before.. this."

Seliana looks over to Proteus, "Now it is as if we need to decide, who we are in this new world. And as I've recently been reminded, we have support and those that care here." She looks intently at Whis, "If it wasn't for you all earlier on, I might no longer exist. What you've already done has mattered, and I'm sure that whoever you become will continue to be wonderful."

Then nodding as Att mentions that maybe this wouldn't be so bad as a normal, "It's a new world, with new laws, and not all obvious. A new way to survive is need, beyond the illusionary presentation." And then she pauses and considers Att's words a little further. "Att, I would like to know more about who you were, who you are. Maybe I could write your chronicle, it might protect your memories as well, or at least we could reference so we know if anything has changed?" Humming in thought, "Maybe I should for everyone? Or at least what they are willing to share?"
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"No. We should choose. There's only two paths out of this. Living here, or going back. And we're all here. And this is... this is too -real- to be fake. I could wake up the next second, and even if only a single moment passed, and I just dozed off..."

Flopping back, Whis' robe-and-shawl flow out across the table, displacing a burger she had only taken a single bite of. A hand comes up, and she grasps at the air above, 'their' air, under the shade of the workshop trees and awnings. It was the closest good memory that she could recall, from before Tri-Edge.

"And I'd always wonder, now. And if we're going to 'ha ha just kinda keep it going', that's fake. I'm not doing it. It's... one or the other. I'm the normal girl, or I'm this. And if I just embrace being -this-, all -this- that I am, that we are, then if we ever go back, we're just... -less-. Less forever. I'll itch. I know I will. Itch in this human skin, and never, ever get it right again."

Kauchemar is spared this. The wise nightmare had tapped out. "Proteus, imagine you not hearing any music in your head at all any more. No, phantom music. Imagine silence in your head, now. Att..."

Whis sits up. "Just imagine you're whomever you were. Just a guy. Not Att Syne. Not..."

Haunted. Her look is haunted, and the rings are not tired, but a far-off distance that zeroes in on Att like a raft. "... good enough, for all those things you did."

"It's one or the other. Normal until we bleed and die for it, or... or this. Or anything else, but -as this-."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

A somewhat pained expression cloud Seliana's features again, "I don't think I can actually imagine before clearly anymore. I think I've already lost something.. important that made me who I was. The worst is that I don't even know what it was." She shakes her head sadly.

She looks down at her hands which now rest in her lap, in thought. "I think I need the piece back.. if I could ever really be myself. Even if I continue as this.. iteration." She grimaces and lapses into contemplation.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Whis loops an arm over to Seliana and pulls her closer, firm at least in a squeeze. At least in-game, Whis had plenty of physical ability. "I remember. You started a group over it, and you wanted to help people who've lost things. I know what team I'm on, is what I'm saying. Don't be discouraged. You should follow your instinct, and write all that stuff down. Keep a record of the people who came before. Some day, we may end up like Proteus said - the same as Landers, with no memories at all from outside. I remember this. There was someone in the guild, that I... forgot. No, they were missing. They were missing but nobody else remembered them. And then I realized that it was like everyone else's memories had been hit with something, and I was still awake."

Her shoulders sag. "I know what parts of me go away if I don't remember my life before. I know what part stays. I forget a bunch of brothers, but I get a bunch of sisters and brothers back. So, it's..."

A suffering sigh. "It's not an iteration, Seli. You're not human any more. Neither am I. The rest is just... molting, probably. None of us are 'human'. And does it feel wrong? I'm not saying we should fall onto a bunch of swords and get it over with, but. . ."

"I mean, in real life, I got a tattoo to prove a point. A really big one. It's like that, but like... on your face."

"Or your neck."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana leans into Whis, this time the tables turned around, and she nods slowly. "Yes.. Just need to keep taking steps. At least to have a legacy of where we've come from.. perhaps. But I really hope we have some way to get things back, because the alternative." She trails off and shakes her head slightly.

As she listens and consider she raises her hand to her own tattoo on her neck. "Yes, we aren't human. Even in this human like form - it's so different from what I was like before. I was taller, you know? Less, dainty. And the rest, well I'm not really sure. To me it doesn't feel wrong, but I feel like I can't even trust my own mind as well." She runs her hand down over her face.

The she side-eyes Whis, "Perhaps it is like molting. And it isn't like I was always sure of my memories in the last world either. I just don't know." She is silent a moment before continuing. "If I can just regain my memories though." And she squints slightly, "I'm sure things would be so much clearer. What I feel would make more sense."
Att Syne
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Mmm." Att doesn't sound super enthusiastic about having a written record of his... stuff, but that just supports what Whis is getting at. "Probably a good idea, honestly. Keeping records of things we might forget. About ourselves, or... other things."

Att folds his arms again. He looks up at the sky for a long moment. Thoughtful? Brooding? Something. "Being Att Syne has been so entwined with who I am, and who I have been, that it doesn't... I don't feel like choosing between one or the other is how it really works. In the strictest sense, yes, there's a choice, but it's..." His breath catches; he sighs, frustrated at trying to communicate this thought that doesn't quite hold up.

He holds up his left hand. "On the one hand, Att Syne is a boundary-pushing builder and creator; sometimes, protector. Running raids, tanking bosses, periodically cutting up mountainsides for fun and purpose. Spending too much time in a medieval fantasy workshop with a chisel. Having a voice that people listen to, against all odds."

He holds up his right hand. "On the other..." A breath. "On the other, Callum Bailey is a goofy perfectionist and an admittedly self-styled creative, bouncing between plans and projects, hunting for the 'next big one.' Lots of time spent dreaming, trying to grasp smoke, and not enough wearing a suit and sitting in a cubicle like normal people do. But that's fine, too."

He clasps both hands together. "I'm not one or the other. I've lived as both. I'm *living* as both, no matter what I get called."

Att lets his hands part and fall. "No matter what I look like," he says, frowning slightly. "But I know that if I felt like my skin was too tight, and I desperately wanted to change it... at the very least, I know that I have people around who would go out of their way to help make me feel like myself. Or figure out what I *want* to feel like. No matter which world we all ended up in."

A moment of silence passes from him into the yard.

He breaks it by scrubbing his fingers through his hair and exhaling sharply, stalking a short ways away over to the enormous pile of food to, presumably, get some to feel less self-conscious. His tiny elemental hovers there, smiling and forgotten.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"I think my hair's a little longer." Whis decides, looking down at her chest. "But this is a scan. I didn't want to mess with it, too much. I was a little paranoid, but in the end, I wanted to have the power I didn't have."

With her un-squozing arm, Whis thumbs the side of her neck and closes her eyes. "It didn't get my real tattoo. I think it just got mixed up."

When she re-opens her eyes, it's to watch Att. Weary, she settles to listen to him. And as he raises his hands, she smiles again, toothy. "Hey, you're pretty good at that, Att. That's always been you. Talking sharp. And you found plenty of big ones. I was just going to get married and have to look stern for twenty years until it creased into my forehead and I could relax like granny did and just resting deathfaced people until they apologized for existing in her presence. I already had a pretty good one-"

Whis scowls, but it doesn't hold at all, mostly just making herself exasperated and somehow-more-tired-looking. "-but not as good as hers."

"Alchemy, I learned, can do a lot. Att Syne and Callum Bailey can have their traits mixed up, and boiled at, mixed up, and boiled at, layered and alloyed together, and the mix that comes out, you can't say is one or the other. And..."

'No matter what world we end up in.'

Bubbling with something like low laughter, Whis turns to Seliana. "I know he means pills, but I don't think they put this in pills, Seli. If your mind is saying it's alright, then... It's better than it could be. You could hate what's in you, rather than feel that weird kind of empty."

Whis slides off the table as Att tucks into the trays of leftovers, rotating to be forhead to forhead with the kaleidoscope-eyed girl.

"You know you're missing something, and you don't know what it is. You've already figured out what you want to do."

Pulling back, Whis sways, the ground lifting up underneath her to steady her feet as she does. "So don't say stuff like 'Against all odds', Att. We know -that's- fake."

Whis pulls low her shawl around her shoulders and lowers her hood, and then finger-rakes clear her own long black hair out behind her. She spends time at the back of her scalp, and then shakes out her hair with her fingers among the roots, clearing it in a spread curtain that falls loose about her shoulders.

Finally, she settles back, the sucker-dot trail from the underside of her chin down to the rear base of her neck far easier now to see with all of the cloth out of the way.

"There. That made sense. Anything else make sense, for anyone? Att's right about the pills. Since I'm back, the harmacy's back in town."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Oh I know. Writing about myself, I wonder if perhaps I conveniently leave out parts - how much would it really matter? Might I even shape myself with selective memories?" And she shakes her head. "But it is often those trials that forge our character. And even knowing this still some aspects, I don't wish to write, because then it feels as if it will be an open book to all."

She reaches over to clasp one of Whis's hands, perhaps just grasping for support. "Seliana - rather I haven't always been the best while I've been here." She blinks a few times rapidly, "I guess I can manage to at least keep myself alive more consistently now. And perhaps, this research of mine will be integral to what we are now in the long term. Still, it seems a pale shell of my former self, but even that.."

And Whis maneuvers until they are forehead to forehead, Whis saying "You know you're missing something, and you don't know what it is. You've already figured out what you want to do."

Seliana gazes into Whis's eye's once again, finding a strength in them that she hadn't realized she had been yearning for, and she gives a small nod. "A course is set, and this is.. this is something I'm familiar with, but this time it's my course." And she smiles slightly, "I'm not sure I ever really believed that before." And she seems to sit just a little straighter.

She looks over to Att. "I used to be Arisu Murata. Oh so proper, doing everything oh so right." She gives a deprecating chuckle but doesn't seem to lose some of the strength shes seemed to regain, "Att, you say 'not enough wearing a suit', were that is basically all I was. Oh, how I sacrificed the present for the future, always letting something else meaningful fall away to get ahead. Not like it did anything in the end. Oh, I became a fairly successful accountant, but the cost.."

She grimaces briefly and then she turns a reminiscent smile at Att, "You probably would have got a long well with my dad, he was a carpenter - an artist of sorts - customer cabinets or kitchens and the like." And then she closes her eyes and lets out a deep breath, "Okay, I, think.." She take another deep breath and lets out a sigh. "I've gone over it many times, but this is the first I've mentioned any of them."

Seliana looks to Whis, "You're beautiful, you know. I suppose it is kind of a blessing that you have were able to keep that aspect of yourself here as well. But should I be concerned about stern faced Whis turning keeping me in check?" She says, seem to try take a little lighter ton and then she lets out a quiet snort, "I might have to take you up on those pharmaceutical skills of yours though, Whis. It might help balance me out a bit more."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"You will be as different to the writing as a new reader, by the end of it. I've kept a diary, but it's mostly just me taking notes about plants and alchemy. Maybe that's all that's on my mind. There were a lot of 'worst things' that happened to me, and then a lot of good things. As far as being kidnapped went, it wasn't even that bad."

Straightening, Whis angles her fists at her hips, swaying slowly. "You've--" Then a pause, then another bubbling laugh. "Actually, Att's a foreigner, so he doesn't know. I'm Fujioka Jinako. My father is the head of, ah..."

She gives a forgiving look to Att. "A certain family." Her grin becomes very sharp. "And so I'm used to a rrrrreally big family. So this sort of arrangement made sense to me."

And then she's called beautiful, and once more, Whis stops cold, somewhere between a lazily turned smile and a thoughtful pause shocked into something else.

Then her grin lifts. "So you're not a scan, Seli?"

Easy laughter follows, and Whis lets her shoulders fall. "We'll still be a pair, white and dark, even if we got there different. Now, we go together. Right?"

Whis elbows Att, if he's not face-down in the fake data-ranch.
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana considers Whis, as pieces slide into place in her mind. "I suppose this new family," and she gestures around them, "is quite the difference for you?" although the question sounds almost hesitating, slightly unsure if it should be asked.

"Scan? Oh no, this is completely modeled." And she gestures up and down at herself. "I never thought I would spend much time here to be honest, this was a personal account and I thought it would be fun to have an avatar more like a doll. You know, like the dress up games. I came here either for that or to let off a little steam blowing things up - kind of cathartic."

"I miss my old body, but the ironic thing is I used to wish for a form more like this in the other world, and now that I'm here I want my old body back." She kind of rolls her eyes, "Seems I am always looking over the fence at the greener grass. But still," She stretches out her hand and admires her black nails, "I can't say I'm displeased with this."

Seliana smiles at Whis's laughter, "You're right." and she even starts to grin a little. "Together."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Wobbling her hand, Whis shakes her head. "At times, no. In general, nothing outside is like the inside. But here's... Here's pretty close. There's reliable brothers, and beautiful sisters, and on the inside, we let down our collars a bit and show what colors we wear on our skin."

Whis sways forward, watching Seliana's hand come up, perfect and fully customized, and the druid gently scoops up the inspected hand in hers once more, fingers entwining slowly. It was easy for Whis to shift and coil. "There's a little bit of a romance in it, I think." Whis murmurs, hand clasped around Seliana's doll-perfect pale hand and dark nails.

"There's a you, in there, I think, that made her best idea of a perfect shape, and I think it's beautiful too. The part of those games... it's the show your own personal style, isn't it? So now, there was a girl out there who created you as her ideal, perfect style."

With hand clasped, Whis's other moves to Seliana's neck, to walk her fingers across to the the base of it, still smiling.

"And there's something in you that comes out, too, something extra that's a you-too. And so, if you end your journey without any memories of that girl, you'll at least have yourself, right? Not something arbitrary, a given thing, but a record of someone's dream."

Whis blinks, her pupils flattening horizontally as she does. "I think, Seli, I wouldn't mind trying being you. You can know you're someone's dream for sure. I'm just some short girl."

As she speaks, though, Whis grows taller, from her short-adult stature. Her sucker-walked freckles shimmer like a reflecting pool, and the change ripples across her body. Her skin shades darker, her hair shining and flowing like a thick, inky liquid. It drips over her, like liquid stone, cracks of orange glow leaking through.

It passes, the ripple under cloth, and Whis remains, her skin a dark, dark purple, lips black like her hair, an obsidian-shine where it isn't volcanic matte. Her sclera are a bright orange, and when she opens her mouth to speak, the inside of her mouth glows with an inner light as well.

Her 'hair', such that it is, is at once a fall of warm stone and ribbons of muscle, and the fingers that entwine with Seliana's add a gentle moisture to Whis' normally tangibly high body temperature, her nails a shiny black now as well.

The whole look is cephalopodic, though she retains vague if-you're-looking-for-it clarity to her form. Larger, and 'taller', though now her legs are an uncertain quantity, Whis peels back if only to give Seliana some room.

"I... Get to be this. And you get to be more things too. So let's go with that, and it'll be okay if things happen."

After a brief stop, the magmatic-colored cephalopodic Whis' eyes look left, then right.

"I'm... Going too fast, aren't I? We were sharing, and I--."

She smiles, and settles down. "--remembered us leaving off somehwere around there, last time."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana, her slight grin turns thoughtful as Whis starts to compare the outside to the inside, and then her outstretched hand - that once was briefly admired - is caught up in Whis's. As it is entwined, Seliana responds in similar fashion, a curious expression on her face.

She watches Whis, as she seems to encourage Seliana, and as the discussion turns to her being a kind of perfect style of her previous self, she looks down again her hand. Now entwined, and there is but a hint of question in her expression that turns to slightly raised eyebrows and tilt of her head as fingers play along the tattoo that peaks out along her neck, again she looks at Whis's eyes watching intently.

There is a frown that grows on Seliana's face as Whis comments on being 'just some short girl', but it is quickly replaced but once again raised eyebrows as Whis's form shifts, a taller obsidian-eque lady now standing in front of her, molten glow radiated from her. So, this is Whiskey Sour's were form!

Seliana's mouth parts just ever so slightly as she looks on at Whis, a slight indrawn breath, as she gazes at this cephalopodic flowing form. And that is when Whis disengages, seeming to give Seliana some room.

As Whis settles down, Seliana hops down off the work-table, the barest hint of a smirk as light dance in her eyes. "Of form and factor, I'm not so certain. But my oh my, how radiate you are right now." And she closes in to circle around Whis, reach out to feel the inky hair. "It would seem you are clearly not just 'some short girl', would this not be a kind of dream form of your own you have at will?" and as she makes a full circle, she tilts her head with an eyebrow raised looking into Whis's face.

And then slightly straightening in stance her features smooth to a more neutral countenance, "Is this who we are?" she points to Whis and then pokes herself in the stomach. "I'm not sure if we are but a byte away from appears as something else entirely, that the world itself isn't shifting." She looks up at Whis's magmic glowing eyes, "But perhaps regardless, it is still okay if things happen." The statement has a slight rise to it, almost as if in question.

And Seliana starts to giggle which slightly increases to almost a typical laugh. "Is there any too fast though? In this shifting sea of malleable memories?" and she grin slightly again, white teeth just faintly showing, and then she goes into to hug Whis about the waist and gives her a squeeze as she jostles her ever so slight left and right as she does.

Then calming again, but still holding on, her face now slightly hidden against Whis, "I won't mute my chimlink now, okay, so if anything happens again. You make sure to let me know. Okay?"
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Oh, I'm de-finitely some short girl, some amount of the time." Whiskey Sour responds, even her little swaying motion making more sense. As she stands still, turns to face things, follows things with her eyes, it moves across her in waves, and even when her feet are still, her clothes sway in phantom motions. As she settles, so too does her colors, lighter purples and greys washing away dark, tensed tones, and motion returns them. "It's not a dream form." Whis replies knowingly. Lifting sleeved hands, her black-nailed purple thumb and forefinger plucks at the skin, a molten orange point. "Molting. It was like I was molting. That was the feeling. I'd change, sometime, when I'd jump into water to stop itching, and I'd feel so awake after. But when I first figured out I could, it was like I was peeling off a shell and what was under was something..."

Whis pinching fingers disengage, lifting to the sides of her head, middle fingers pressing into her temples. "... It was wrong-colored, and then I rubbed my eyes, touched my face, and the world spun about, I blinked, and everything went sideways, and I was fine. No, I was right. This--" Her hands lift, and extend, presenting hands and wrists and long, baggy sleeve.

"You know when you look at something, especially an outfit, or a look, or just a way things are, and go 'yeah'? Just really, puh, 'yeah', and you move on, because you don't have to bother thinking about normal stuff any more? That's what happened. Everything else, well, it got really different, but I was ready for a weird waking nightmare beyond my comprehension and the world just changed colors. That was the part that got to me."

"The colors changed." Whis' tired swaying is easy to guide at the waist, some form of cloth wrap dropping into a moving-warm swell, like a heated skirt under her robe. The swaying carries through it, of course.

"But I liked myself the same amount. The me I was. Peeling it all off and seeing clearly made me realize lots of things. And I was different after. Was it too fast? Pulling off that scab? Does a scar metaphor fit this?"

Whis completes wrapping her arms about Seliana, and the jostling smooths out.

"Blocking out the world means you won't make any new memories, dummy." Whis sighs warmly, patting Seliana in the small of the back gently. "It's okay to peel off your human skin and enjoy it. It's not a taboo. We're not human right now. We're whatever we are. There's no rules that apply to us, beyond the ones we set ourselves, and the ones we have to follow."

"The fetish police aren't coming to beat me for being this. The realness cops haven't kicked down our door. It's your power. Your body. Just like the eyes, and the magic."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana looks up at Whis, "Molting. Changing." A small frown forming, "Is it really a good idea to accept any of this? It's been a long time, I've gone over it again and again. I think I've accepted it, but I know its not true. I'm not sure I should."

With one arm still holding on she retracts the other, angling herself slightly sideways as she gestures in emphasis. "My old self is dead. I'm some ghost of data and remnant memory. Memories that the world is leeching away - like my very soul." A reiteration from before.

Then her arm that was animate falls to her side as she looks up again. "You can be comfortable? Reformed in spirit and content even with the impending?" There is a slightly sad look of wonder on her face.

"If this is what you mean by too fast. I'm really not sure." She takes in Whis with her eyes, up and down again. "Sure we aren't human, but in this kind of situation does our form really matter? Our mind and souls can be messed with, even without our interaction with this world." Her frown starts to grow again, "I know I'm trying to find something to protect us, but.. what if it really isn't possible?" There is a pain in her gaze. "Could we just wake up one day and not know each other? While I don't think we've ever confirmed permanent loss for memory after - there have been cases of people being forgotten for those they only ever knew in this world."

There is a flare in the light of her eyes, and a scowl start to manifest as her fists clench, one at her side, the other grasp at Whis's back. The slightest tremble in her arms, as she grits her teeth and then closes her eyes. She takes a long deep breath, calming slightly and she whispers, "I hate this part, you know? I feel like no matter how much I would embrace who I am, it's all just sand streaming through my fingers."
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

'Is it really a good idea to accept any of this?'
"Yes." Whis' response is immediate, felt, real to her. With a fire in her eyes cut by a lake of black, she means the single syllable.

"I hear that, in you. You're asking me, 'give me a reason', because you can't see it. I told you it before. Is it good to accept -any- of this? Yes. It's worth it. For you. You can mess with your mind by drinking or smoking something. You can mess with your data with a knife. And you know what?"

"People die all the time, for stupid reasons. There's no meaning behind that part. You already exist - the luckiest possible circumstance for you, because you came into the world and could be anything else, and now you're you. And you'll be you at the end of the journey, at thirty, or two thousand fake data years. That's it. That's the secret."

Whis beams, black lips splitting into a glowing grin. "It's total bullshit. And I took the classes in college, all the bullshit nod-along -and-feel-smart classes, and I heard them talk, and it was all garbage. Spouting air because real problems weren't real to them."

Squeezing into her hug as Seli rotates off, Whis has a freed hand with Seliana's gesture to make her own gesture, to summon her crooked holly-branched staff to hand. It was old, now. A familiar item, rather than one picked for pure power. Something she had outgrown but kept close anyway. Tied to the end with twine are little glass vials, colorful liquids sloshing inside. "Every one of these is a possible new way of experiencing things. Am I a ghost a dozen bottles over if I enjoy them all? Well..."

Whis squints at one. "Actually that one's a poison, avoid that one." She suggests, not clarifying which one. Perhaps it's the metaphor. "But the rest are great."

The clenching causes worry to finally enter Whis' expression, around the tiredness and the fresh set of colors and textures.

"Tri-Edge nicked me, Seli. I felt it. The flat of death's razor. And though my magic repelled him, I still felt it. It didn't feel good. It wasn't numb. I know numb. It was shock. You need to start filling your time with something good. I'm serious. If all you know's this, the one doing the trick on your head will be you. It's self-therapy."

Whis releases her staff, and it banishes away from her fingers. All to lift her dark digits to Seliana's cheek--

        --and pinch lightly. "It's living. Yeah, peeling off the wrapper's part of enjoying the game. Is there bad in there? Yep. Is there good in there? It's the whole game, Seli. All of it, what you can be. Do you think you get back the seconds when you wake up? That it wouldn't be a horrible nightmare to sit in a room and wait? You don't."

"Nobody gets seconds back. Except... I dunno, heck, time mages. Is that a thing? See?"

Whis laughs, despite it all. "I know I'm on a certain side, Seliana, but if I say 'come in, the water is fine', it's really -not- that sinister."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana watches, the pained expression in her expression still present, but she listens as Whis talks impassioned. Her breathing still fairly deep as a calming practice. As Whis talks about death, lack of reasons, and existing being lucky; Seliana raises her fallen hand as she looks down at it. Slowly opening and closing her fist she considers.

As Whis's crooked old staff appears, Seliana watches the colourful vials sway. First in curiosity and then with wariness as it's clarified that at least one is probably just straight poison. Probably best not to try steal anything from the Heretic, and woe to those who do.

Slightly startled as her cheek is pinched, she replies quietly. "Whis.. there's a strength in you. I'm not sure I feel it the same.. but I think I want to.." and with that she lets go with her clinging hand and takes a step away, her back to Whis a small hand mirror appears in her hand and Seliana inspects herself more closely.

"When I've looked in the mirror, for years now, I never felt that I was the one staring back. Never really felt any of it was.. true. It wasn't a discomfort. It wasn't that I even felt it was wrong. It most didn't feel like anything at all. It was just never 'me' at all." Seliana goes silent as she just looks at herself in the mirror, slightly moving her head to the left or right for slightly different angles, the slightest of frowns on her features.

"Maybe I've just been grasping at a long gone ghost.." Another pained expression, a silence. The swirling chaos in her eyes starts to glow brightly as the colors swirl at an increased rate. Her sandy white skin darkens quickly to deep grey, horns emerge from her temples growing and curving backwards above her white hair. Her teeth shift into grey sharp shark-like barbs. Her delicate hands distorting into long stony claws and large batlike grey wings extend out of slits under her cloak's shoulder cape, opening up behind her and stretch out to either side briefly before clasping around her neck and relaxing like a cape.

Still holding the mirror she continues to inspect herself consideringly, a frown of jagged teeth on her features.
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

The mirror comes out, and Whis moves from pinchingly encouraging familial-bullying to a warm, content smile under her lit eyes. Rather than rest before Seliana, Whis drifts 'off frame' as Seli focuses upon the mirror, which focuses upon herself, and begins her transformation from the eyes.

The wing-extension lifts into a radial, damp heat, and as the tips settle around the changed Seliana's shoulder, Whis 'tiptoe'-leans from behind the gargoyle woman, arms wrapping around wing-draped shoulder, up to the horn-crowned head to trace along the grey ridges.

Whis' voice is a bubbling purr. "So many improvements. So much the same. A few things, different." She itemizes, entertained on the texture alone as she peeked and lifted from the periphery of the mirror's sight. An orange light and backing-dark.

"Still beautiful. Aren't you?" Whis settles her chin against Seliana's right shoulder, her hair falling in a heated sleeve across her front, and Seli's wings, back, and arm. "I think so."
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

Seliana side eyes Whis on her shoulder briefly, before looking back to the mirror that now reflects them both. Her frown becoming a more neutral expression but still showing a pained expression. "It's - I'm.. I have always been drawn to this form." She hums softly, moving the mirror around this time rather than her head. The molten glow of Whis and rainbow lights of Seliana's eyes casting reflections around the room.

The mirror suddenly dissipates as it returns to the inventory, and Seliana closes her eyes again. The pain present, but muted to an almost serene expression. She speaks, a gravely texture to her normally quiet tone, "The form is beautiful, but.. No.. that's not it." She opens her eyes, "Yes.." she says as if tasting the air, "I am."

Seliana rotates her head slightly to try more directly look at Whis. "I just need.. I'm not sure.. time? Any idea where we can find those time mages?"

"And maybe a little fresh night air.." she says considering, before a slight smirk starts to form again, "Perhaps a little flight over the nearby lake? Possibly a little swimming while we're there, if you're interested of course?"
Whiskey Sour
Alne - Plant Hwyaden HQ

"Always? You had that perfect sculpt, and you wanted-" Whis taps her finger against the tips of Seliana's horns, fingertips pulsing orange as she she does. "These."

Her voice remains affirmative, and then the mirror is banished, and the druid falls silent. Seli's gravelly tone rises in self-affirmation, and Whis pulls away, peels away.

Not far.

The mystery of Whis's adjustable height is revealed, as she 'stands' on a coil of tentacles, though her dangling toes are visible. Lowering to her feet, Whis brings her hands together in a praying palm press. "No idea on the time mages. Pure conjecture. I believe we can reach into the past of this data, but it would be rarer still to look into the past of the self. If you really want to know - really really - I'm sure there's a path to that. But it will cost from you. You will change, in the weather. Is that okay?"

Seliana's question hangs, over leaving. Smiling quietly, Whis' hands tilt left, and her head tilts right, and her hair tumbles about her shoulder.

"I'd love to." After a moment, her smile morphs into a more wicked smirk. "Are you a-"
She catches herself. "Mm. Yes. Let's go to the lake. I'm sure I remember where a lake is. The earth knows, and we can just follow it." She finishes, instead, with a smoothed-to-gentle tone and a distant smile.