(Bonded Hearts) RING if you need me
No, we didnt invent telephones. The chimlinks do that just fine! This is a backdated scene to In-Game February 402, RL August timeframe, for the Bonded Hearts festival. Don't stress over the time warp timelines, just have fun. Style is a play-by-post social that will be up until the weekend, permits out of order posing, and pop-in pop-out participation.
The market streets of Shibuya are lined with merchants promoting the upcoming Bonded Hearts events. Ribbons of red, pink, and white decorate the buildings with matching flowers along the promenade. Outside of Atelier Nox there are specials promoting an upcoming grand opening to the accessory store. The biggest one being the turn it for this year's Event Card, where each store stamps your card for stopping by and a full card gets you half off Bonded Hearts branded jewelry.
Stop by to visit one of the shops to revitalize Shibuya, help get your card stamped, and make a personal impression on how the holiday effects you!
Haru's highly desirable gift right now is a good cup of coffea.
The white haired accessory forger steps out into the light. Hiss! The morning light is greeted by his stall, a nice stable and tent that showcases the Bonded Hearts flavored jewelry. A teenaged Lander girl is manning it, Yumi, and waves at him as he steps out, "Mister Haru!" she says, a morning person talking to a night owl, "we already had two sales." Figit. Eyes avert. "And... one theft."
Hand on shoulder, which looks supportive until he uses that to gracefully find a chair and gracefully thwop his face onto the table, "Its going to happen," he muffles onto the hardwood, probably a nice one Shiruba crafted for them, "just report it to the local security when they do their rounds." Small item with high value? Theft is going to happen. They dont have Guardians in Shibuya.
So much shiny.
"Oooh, shiny!", exclaims Uta while she looks around, as if for confirming the previous statement. "You did an amazing job at setting up this place, Haru! It's really-"
She looks at the lander girl taking care of the the place. "Oh. Sorry, I thought this was Atelier Nox. I must be in the wrong shop, miss... uh..." She flicks her menu into existence, taps the option for inspection, "-Yumi." And while she starts to turn to leave, she spots someone talking to the person she just addressed.
"Oh, hi, Haru! You here at miss Yumi's..." What does this shop sell again?! A quick glance is given to the displays. "...ring shop as well? Cool! Keeping an eye on what the business is like, huh? As for me, I came here because-"
A frown, and her mouth pulls and opens sideways in confusion.
"...why did I even come here, again?"
And it is such a chair that finally arrives, carried by the wolfgirl cait sith that carved it as she wiggles a step and sideways shuffle to get through the shop doorway without bumping the chair or catching her tail in the process. "Sorry the chair took longer," she promptly apologizes. "I had to wait for Gwen to finish sewing the seat cushion."
"My ring shop?" flusters the Lander girl. Hop hop. Look around left right. Right left. Is this what this is? Did Haru-sama give her a shop of her own? This couldn't be. She puts her hands to her face. But it would be nice. A shop of her own. Enough money to buy sweets at Pela's every day. Her head is in the clouds. Haru slooowwwllly rolls his head on the table to one side, showing his monocle and blue eye, "To give my impressionable sales clerk flights of fancy," he tells Uta. Both hands press onto the table and lift himself back up. That was a nice micronap of 2 minutes and thirty seconds. "Are you here to help out with the Bonded Hearts shopping event?" the crafter asks his sister, "With you and Shiruba here, I don't think thieves will consider the stall such an easy mark..." as he looks to Yumi who is swaying at the thought of her self-created alternative reality, "...compared to current attention given." It is a miracle half of his stock hasn't gone missing.
"Did you say... -event-?", Uta asks, her eyes burning up with determination. "YES! YES! YES!", she exclaims, clenching her fists. "Where do I accept? Huh? Where?" She is frantically looking all around, as if for finding some sort of floating dialog window. "I never make it to events, and I am NOT letting this one escape me as well!" A short pause. "...what is this event about anyway? What would I have to do? I- wait." Silence. Wind. Rewind. Fast forward. Run that videotape forward and backwards. "...Oh, we discussed that in the past, yes. Pretty much... basic helping with the shop. Sounds easy enough."
Oh dear! Reality is so cruel. Goodbye island made of gold. Yumi goes to the stall table and hands Uta and Shiruba both 'shopping passports' that have little stamps and shop names next to them. "A quest even Landers can accept. Bring us all together," Haru says, having had proposed it during a town meeting and had people with actual Mercantile skills handle the fine details. Shiruba gets a perky 'Hello' from Yumi having gotten over the false reality faster than it takes snow to melt in summer.
"I imagine people will get hurt," Haru say as he stretches his arms upwards, "or sick during events. Not intentional, just event logistics. Allergies. Altercations on the last item in a sale. Stampedees." He drifts over to Shiruba, "Craft Commanding is sort of my thing, so its when priority permits. Murdering Gnolls, exploring the Undine Ruins, maintaining Seeker's Landing. Thats all you and to think you have time to make a Woodworking shop work and the Museum." He hums, looking to Yumi, "Maybe get some help? Adventurers certainly can become job creators for the Land, helping the economy and," he yawns, loudly, boring even himself in this line of talk. Its supposed to be Bonded Hearts! Chocolates. Stupid declarations atop buildings. Naps. Wait, naps? Yup, down Haru goes onto the table again.
Oh god Gwen is hyper already.
"Oh Uta! SHIRUBA!"
She grins she also grees Haru's Lander employee with a grin.
Uta studies the card she's handed. Eyes narrowed, finger running along the lines, lips moving to mouth the words reported on the item. "Oh. OH. I can do this! So... I have to purchase an item from each of the shops?", she more mutters to herself than asks Yumi, before looking up. "Seems easy enough!"
One finger is tentatively raised. "And, hey, I was going to have to buy some presents anyway, so, maximization of productivity!"
She looks down. "So, first stop is... is... is... oh, I know this one! Atelier Nox! Piece of cake!"
She spins on one foot, and darts out of the door.
. . .
The same door opens a couple of seconds later, with a chime if so outfitted, and Uta walks back in again. "Hello, Yumi! I've come here for the shopping passport quest!", she smiles. "So, uh, what do you have available for purchase?"
"Oh, hi Gwen!", exclaims Uta with a smile. "Happy Bonded Hearts festival!" And then, rubbing her chin and leaning over (with a mandatory suspicious squint -- a cheerful one), she continues, "say, you look chipper today. Anything especially good happened?"
"Hi Gwe--," Haru starts but is interupted by Yumi who is already feeding off of Gwen's energy. "Hello and welcome," bow bow, "to the Atelier Nox. Did you know Atelier is a fancy of way of saying Workshop? But we sell all kinds of things here, though most of them are about accessories like..." as Haru just looks to his clerk and notes, "Gwen also does accessories, she is my apprentice in that sense, but otherwise a master in her own right in clothcraft." Yumi gasps! Another accessory forger! Stars in her eyes looking at Gwen before looking to Uta, "Hello Uta!" she chirps. "We have rings, necklaces, and bracelets. A purchase is not required for a stamp, so please take your time. If you tell me a little bit about the special someone you are purchasing you for, I am positive I can help you find the gift right for you!" Ah, thats why Haru hired her, relentless salesmanship with a face that is hard to say 'no' to. Like kicking a puppy, dont do that.
"I... I don't really have a special someone. Not in that sense." Uta finally mutters to Yumi, head bowed down, shoulders hunched, at the lowest volume she can manage. Lest she be overheard by Gwen. Then again, despite Uta's most valiant attempts, this is a tiny shop, so... it's hard to keep conversations from literally anyone currently present within its walls, regardless of specific location.
Uta looks at the puppy. I mean, Yumi. Discomfort at rejecting purchase grows. Can you really leave her hanging like this? Can you, YOU MONSTER?
"But- er- I have... er... friends, I suppose, and- I mean- I'm sure I can find another reason for... purchasing something anyway, right?"
She pauses, then takes the card back out. "... So this is kind of like a shopping scavenger hunt?" Now it's managed to catch her curiousity a bit. When you think of it as involving hunting and searching.
"We should have some fun with it right given eveyrthing that' shappened we need to cut lose somewhat. Right we should have some fun!"
Yumi holds Uta's hand with both of hers, closing the little trinket within. "And we also sell potions so you tell that jerk who is really boss," she whispers. Leaning back she pats, looking to Shiruba next. Run, run while you still can!
Haru answers the event logistics while his saleswoman is doing her thing. "It is. It gives people a fun scavenger hunt to do and explore Shibuya's many shops. It gives the merchants a chance to market. It gives Shibuya a sense of vibrancy to it. Everyone wins. Bring people together and get new regulars." He rubs the side of his face that keeps laying on the table, "And the stalls along the market road are not just Shibuya local stores, some from Carmina and Alne have setup and we welcome the variety." A deep breath as he exhales, "It is nice to see people more at ease, healing." The town was occupied for a while. It needed some fun back into it to address the anxiety.
Silence. Stunned silence as Uta's left speechless, with her mouth agape.
"...I am going to buy a pair of these just for that story," is all she can say at the end. "As a Bard in this world, and as something kind of like one in the one I come from, that was downright impressive. You should consider a career in-"
Silence. She looks around.
"...sales?", she hazards, timid, realizing too late the hole she's dug herself into. "You'll make a great sales clerk! No, wait, scratch that, you already do!"
And with that, while Uta flicks her menu open to materialize enough coins to make the transaction go through, she calls out to Shiruba and Gwen over her shoulder. "Way ahead of you!", she beams. "While you were lollygagging around here, I already went out and found the first shop on the list!"
"I admit I'm also here to hide from my mother. She's caught up in things that keeps her from coming out here. At least I hope it does."
She must keep Yumi from her mother.
She just seems entertained by it.
"Quite the sales lady you are Miss Yumi."
She also looks to Shiruba and says "I wanted to drag you to Pela's later why are you hiding. Flannel is not involved."
Meanwhile outside a Spriggan woman starts for the shop...
Silence. Realization. Yumi is a Lander.
"...Sorry, er... Instruction Booklets are artifacts from the World we Adventurers. They are complementary items that you get with most products you purchase: little pamphlets enhanced by a Sneaking/Dark spell so that all but the wisest of Adventurers pretty much ignore their existence or downright reject their very advice on a matter of principle. They mostly explain the properties of purchased items and how to use them."
Uta's ears perk at Morri's name... and then she ducks down behind the table and chair. Peeks over the edge. Oh dear goddesses Morri is going to be here-
...Whoa, deja vu.
Meanwhile, Haru looks to Gwen. The Bonded Hearts Bandit could be on her way. She can sense romantic drama like a shark can sense blood from miles away. "Its a location based enchantment that makes it glow within 5 meters. There is enough charge in it to last a year without needing mana put back into it," he informs Uta, "so enough to have a romantic thing to look at during dinner but not enough to GPS track slash stalk someone." He does respect privacy, as a valiant Hacker-citizen-gone-Elder-Tales-in-another-world-oh-god-is-that-Morri?
"Oh Gwen! Shiruba o/~"
It's Morri and there's no escape she also sets her sights upon Haru...much like a predatotr sizing up prey...
It is unclear if Uta is trying to distract Morri, or got distracted by the shinies herself.
Yumi smiles brightly motioning to the display cases on the tables. "We have Bonded Heart Necklaces that are two halves of a whole," she motions to them, demonstrating by holding the half-hearts close to each other until they snap-together as if magnetized, "and bracelets," to which she motions to Uta's purchase of a beaded bracelet with a central bead that glows when close to the other pair. "If you are searching for that surprise to pop onto a special someone, we have rings. And for the rebel in you we have the Broken Crown line." Oops. She shakes her head, "Oops, thats for the Grand Open." She looks to Haru, having gotten ahead of herself. The silver haired Artificer, who introduced himself to Morri as 'Shenmi, Master of Illusion' in an attempt to avoid Morri shenanigans, says, "If people get curious that is fine. I don't want to see people afraid of headwear accessories due to this war."
Uta is still glancing around, frantically, for something, -anything- that might divert the Gaze of the Morri from her poor self, until-
"Look, Morri! An anythng!", Uta exclaims, pointing at Hyuga. "I mean, fresh meat! I mean, fresh shipping fodder! I mean, a new person! Hi new person!", Uta exclaims with a wide smile, as full of Hope as the technique Haru developed to break the crown. Sorry, Hyuga, it's an emergency. She'll try to make it up to you later by saving your life when your HP reaches 1 and you need a healer desperately. I mean, she would save your life anyway and ask for nothing in exchange, but- look, Uta isn't exactly a paragon of self-restraint when faced with Morri-level bosses, ok?
It is only now that she realizes that Yumi is already engaging Hyuga. Which, by some strange association of ideas, makes Uta exclaim, "Oh. Oh! Secret alias! Must remember this," following that with flick of her finger that opens her menu. Tongue sticking out, she jots down some quick notes: Shenmi, master of illusion. --> Haru's Alias. Clearly, this is not going to lead to confusion in the future.
Hyuga observes the... well, /everything/ involved with being greeted. The tall Crusader snickers a little bit at the 'fresh meat' line, but bows slightly. "Good to know. I am Akizuki Hyuga, and I specialize in farmables and herbology for the discerning customer. I'm out today checking out the city, as I am a recent immigrant here. Good to know that there is a business of this type opening here. I may see if I can discuss work with the owner." Hyuga re-grips his massive wrought-metal greatshield in his left hand, easily, as if an old friend. Closing the Map window he had made a notation in, he opens another window to check on his health, and decides to produce a high-quality Apple from a pocket inventory for snacking.
"Oh having some fun with your Harem mmm Gwen?"
Gwen turns a new shade of red and sputters from where she's hiding behind the table and failing to do so.
"Ha hello Uta! It's good to see you! I had some ideas for a wonderful little themed group of outfits for you all! Shiruba! Haru!"
She looks at Yumi and Hyuga and claps her hands together gleefully.
"Whats this new friends or intrests Gwen?"
GWen now is sputtering unable to speak and trying to hide behind the table even more. Gwen Meanwhile is just suffering total embrassment here a rare things to see given how bold of a person she is.
Woden's eyes are slight with wonder as he walks down the street. His silver-grey hair moves and shifts with the breeze. His armor bears the symbol of the Scale Emblem Alliance and the Aincrad Liberation Front. His sword is sheathed and his shield is strapped to his back as those piercing eyes observe his surroundings.
The people. The shops. The celebrations that were already underway.
It warms the heart. Though as Woden approaches, it was hard not to notice the gathering. And...well, his eyes practically glow with joy.
"Hello there." his deep, smooth voice rings out, a hand lifting in a wave.
She gestures towards the newly arrived Wotan. "I'm sure -he- can have mine! I'm feeling generous!" She smiles towards him. "Hi, fashion fodder! I MEAN! AGH!" Blush deep red. "Hello, new potential friend I have just met! Uta Furore, Aerialist, Musical Kung-Fu Nurse here!", she rattles out as an introduction.
"Work?", she asks in Hyuga's direction. "You might want to speak with-" Silence. Side-eye to Morri. "...Shenmi, Master of Illusion here," she continues, gesturing towards Haru. See? She learned a thing. "I am here merely as a shop helper and as a medical type person. Nice apple, by the way. Does it-"
Freeze. Eye-twitch. Eye-twitch.
"W-why do I have this sudden urge to distance myself from this fruit?"
Hyuga looks to Shenmi, alleged Master of Illusion, for clarification on the statement. Then, he looks to Wotan, and appears ready to introduce himself and offer a friendly greeting... before the statement about his apple is uttered. Hyuga turns to regard the person who dared to insult his personally grown, high quality Farming, intensely-cared-for-by-himself apple. "What is wrong with my produce?" He takes a bite. Chewing. No, nothing was wrong that he could detect...
"Not bad but sorry sir happily married. Now as for my Daughter..."
Gwen is trying to merge with the floor and failing at this point. Gwen takes a deep breath.
Morri just seem amused.
"You act like I'm some kind of Succubus Queen or something here to drain your souls. Sorry happily several decades married here."
She grins widely.
"I wasn't a healer myself before but I embraced it and you kids are smart enough to not stand in the fire..."
"Mother why are you here?!"
What a fun crowd. Though what he can't fathom is..why did people think he was flirting? His head slightly tilts as if in amusement, but he clears his throat, chuckling. "No advances offered." he mentions to Morri. "But quite flattered."
He looks at Uta. "Outside and inside the game, medicine is my passion." he laughs. "I was a doctor." he answers to clarify. Yet, here he looks like he punches boulders for shits and giggles.
He smiles at the Leeroy Jenkins comment. "It's an American thing. Meant to be shouted as a battle cry while throwing caution to the wind. The one who started it screamed his own name while forsaking strategy. Now, he's a bit of a legend." he explains.
Though he's introduced to the others, and he smiles. "Woden, nice to meet you all." No titles, no reputation in the game. Just Woden.
The shift in Uta's posture is instant and noticeable. Pecking order established. Readjusting postural parameters to appropriately deferential. Etiquette potential, engage!
"It is a honor to meet someone passionate about the healing arts like you, Doctor Woden! As said -- I have had a late start on the subject, but am trying to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible. I have been practicing at the Clinic of Tolbana under Doctor Prophylaxis," the Legendary Moonlight Doctor -- he should be pretty famous among the medical community, "and studying his book on real-world medical techniques. Practicing it as well!" Inhale. Hold breath, nervously. "I'm currently providing my Musical, Kung-Fu, and Nursing assistance to this shop. Be ready to assist in case of medical emergencies. Deter theft. And... jingles, I suppose?"
There is a confused frown at the last utterance. She turns to Yumi. "...should we join forces and compose jingles? I haven't thought of that before..."
Yumi waves happily to Morri, "Gwen is interesting! I didn't know she had a harem, though." The salesLander looks to the guardian. "I can see it, though, yup, but Gwen would look super cute with a necklace, don't you think?" Then there is Floor-Gwen flailing, "And a pair of matching bracelets!" Sales. A little wave is given to Woden as well, the little lady handling most of the sales while Haru (Shenmi!) handles... whatever he is doing now. Impersonating a person who is impersonating him.
"Ah Lerroy, he was a famous player in a Western old style MMORPG."
Gwen trise up for a moment and she tilts her head.
"Another doctor? Interestion Oh I'm Gwen Pendragon Owner of the Chain Mail Bikini +1."
SHe rises up to her full height.
Morri leans in
"Oh don't worry I got the outfits in my inventory already! no need for any of you to wait..."
"Not everyone is as bold as me let alone you /mother/."
Cornered by the unstoppable force of nature Morri is, Uta takes a moment to meditate. Close eyes. Inhale. Take stock of the current situation. Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a Morri-slide, no escape from reality. She opens her eyes, looks up at the sky and sees-
"I'm just a poor nurse, from a poor family," Uta begins. And then stops. "Wait- why did I say that?" Uta does that thing where she frowns, sinks into thought, and spins her fingers in circles, as if rewinding or fast forwarding a tape. Briefly zipping through the part where she expects Gwen to sing out "Mamma mia, mamma mia, mamma mia let me go!", right into "That Pendragon has an outfit set aside for me", she rewinds eventually rewinds into a section she believes more copacetic.
She looks down at one of her new bracelets, the grape-size gem at her wrist specifically, trying not to think of Morri. Morri looms. Plots. Watches. "Too late, my time has come." Sends shivers down her spine. "Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth." Short silence. "I mean... I have a... very... important... ah... work appointment. Yes, yes. I must absolutely be at a pre-arranged appointment which was definitely agreed in advance. To... uh... help with... ah... the stand of... er... Atelier Nox! Yes! That. Sorry, it's urgent, bye!"
That said, she darts off into the distance.
. . .
And reappears shortly after. "Hi Shenmi, Master of Illusion!", she greets while positively beaming. "See? I didn't get distracted this time, and remembered!"
Silence."Oh, hi, Gwen, Shiruba, Morri, Hyuga, and Doctor Woden! What brings you here today?"
Woden turns now to Uta as she seems to stand a little taller and treats him with maximum respect, though it seems to make him chuckle. "I've met him, nice fellow and knowledgeable about the world. He's a talented healer, everything they say he is." he praises Prophylaxis, the legend that he is. He smiles wide. "I see Prophylaxis is well-assisted."
Woden returns Shenmi's little wave.
"Like mother, like daughter," Uta explains to Woden. Short silence. "Mother. Daughter," she states, pointing at Morri first, and Gwen next. "Got stuck in this world together. We have to specify, because the age of the Adventurer is not necessarily an indicator of the age of the player..."
"Oh! That reminds me! It's the Bonded Heart Fstival! I have a present for you!", Uta exclaims, and flicks her inventory open. She shimmers a mechanical device into existence, the size of a small suitcase. "Here it is! Your very own Phonograph!" It does, in fact, look like a late XIX or early XX century contraption kind of deal. "It comes with a couple shellac cylinders with the most common Landers' Songs." She operates the controls, and the song known by the Landers as the First Song, i.e. the 'title song' to Elder Tale Online, begins playing. She extends the device to Morri. "Har- I mean, Shenmi, over there, helped build it. I know Gwen asked for one, a while ago. So... a present for the whole Pendragon family!"
Look to Yumi. And back to Morri. "Actually, I think Yumi is right. That necklace would look really good on you."
Hyuga takes the comment about his apple in stride, and leans on his shield. He takes to observing the quality of displayed items, if there are any, and opts to retreat a bit back into himself in silence... well, a little. "I have amassed quite a few tradeskills that could be of use to an Atelier. Perhaps, after opening season, we could have a discussion about the exchange of goods and services." It was worth a shot. Plus, it would help him break out of his anxious shell.
A sharp monocle glints as he notices Hyuga go a bit more silent. Haru has a single purple lens monocle over his right eye. It is so thick that one cannot see the eye beyond and occasionally white lines or text can be seen against the glass. It is a relic, for sure. "That would be most welcome, most welcome indeed. Haru could introduce you to like minded merchants, as well, such as Pela and Shiruba. Haru Nox is a Craft Commander of Silver Sword, which means he deals a lot in goods logistics and trade. To do so he relies heavily on the aspirations of others to ensure that their dreams have a path to become reality. Many of them, such as this fair city here, are only made possible by the shared ambitions of the many based on their personal journey." It is very similar to what Shiruba was saying earlier about making sure people have a place to grow. As much as the two take different approaches to it, the goal is the same, and their diversity is met with trust and respect to achieve some fantastic results. Same as LOONS, which makes information shared instead of cached like an arms race.
"Hello my dear I think I might have a few outfits that could help with your sales..."
Gwen gets a look of horror but also notes to Uta.
"Everyone forgets I'm a pretty decent merchant myself so I'm game to sell them in my shop."
"Oh Gwen calm down I was thinking something fun, light hearted and perhaps involving Prinnies...Disegea outfits I mean you could pull off a Succubus easily."
"O-outfits?", Uta stutters. She turns to Haru, abruptly. "Does the shop have uniforms?" She looks to her new colleague, Yumi. "Does it?", and then back to Morri. "I didn't know the shop had outfits."
And then, a blink. "...What's a Prinny?"
Another pause, longer. "...What's a Disgaea?", she asks, before hazarding, uncertain, "Some sort of ceremony? Region from another server? Fashion style?"
Hyuga nods. "I would appreciate any and all introductions. I am... trying to overcome anxiety. By force." A grin, and he adjusts his grip on that slab of metal. If that monocle is a proper analysis monocle, the hammer on Hyuga's hip gives off a big ol' ! to relic detection. "I am one hundred percent in favor of sharing knowledge, especially in this place." His free hand... well, his appled hand, indicates the world around them. Speaking of the apple, a healthy CRONCH! is heard as Hyuga takes another bite.
Her doubts about the compatibility of the fruit with her profession crumble further with the healthy cronch -- in fact, one might suspect she begins to salivate a little. "Oh, hey, nice hammer!", she says, probably trying not to think of tasty, tasty food.