Meet the Landers: Helba

Stumbling into attempts to get control of the situation around himself, Haru ends up with a chance meeting with a rather unusual presence within the world of Yamato - drawn by his meddling.


No one is going to look at Haru and say 'There is a nice young man who stays in the lane, smiles, mows his lawn twice a week, and by golly is a hoot at the local tavern'. On a good day he is composed and icy. On a bad day he is a chuuni with a fire birb. Today? More column A than B as he has been messing with a cube-like object for the better part of an hour. This has been his fidget spinner when he needs to break away from cat herding in the Silver Sword or working towards a Statue that is going to be the size of the Crystal Tower was before it is all said and done.

The young Artificer is sitting down in at a small outdoor dining spot in Alne. A place where he can get hot food on his break. He sits alone at the small round table, puzzlebox in his hands. Slide slide. Slide? Slide. His thumbs work over the tiles of the multi dimensional object. "I'll be late," he chims over to someone messaging him, "five minutes? Fifteen? It'll happen when it happens. My food hasn't arrived yet and that stuff isn't going anywhere." Lessons learned when not Strange Mooding: Eat. Sleep. Bathe.

Messing with the little cube, things continue to slide, spin. There's ways in which it doesn't even abide to physics. With pieces sliding through eachother at unusual angles. It's not the kind of puzzle that a human puzzlemaker would make. This is well beyond the typical 'level 10 puzzle' as one would perhaps call it.

Then, suddenly... it latches into place, right as Haru finishes it. Just as food is being brought out in front of him. In that moment, there's a flash of light. Followed by strange black orbs that rise from the puzzle itself. Shattering the puzzle, rising into the air, and disappearing into the ceiling of the chamber...

The servant who was bringing him his food looks a bit spooked at the black almost 2d looking circles as they drift off, and just steps away having given him the food...

Strange. Nothing seems to have happened.

That is, until Haru tastes the food itself. Which, the moment he bites into it... tastes completely different. He's biting into meat, but it tastes like this strange bubblegum gooey slush. It takes... amazing. Fruity flavors coating his tongue, demanding more bites. Yet... he sees he's eating meat, creating a very strange sensation.

Haru did not realize he was finishing the puzzle when he did it. It is one of those 'Im having fun trying to solve this' instead of putting ten steps ahead into the grand puzzle-breaking strategy. After speaking with Wisteria about her Enchanting tools and Katherine about her venues, Haru was content to consider it one of those mysterious mysteries you chew on because chewing on them is the fun part. So lo and below when there is that proverbial 'click' of completion it makes his one visible blue eye widen the same way 'First!' and 'Found an easter egg' eyes widen.

When bright lights flash it is good to /close/ your eyes, not widen them. "Gah!" he grunts out, dazed in one eye but amusingly not in the other. Good monocle. Eye protection +1, or +1/2. A hand raises to the servant, "This is perfectly normal," he lets them know. Composed. Calm. Nothing to see here, just an exploding puzzle box. Total normal Adventurer behavior. Adventurers, amirite?

"Maybe the rare drop had a limited number of uses or attempts?" Haru asks himself as he rubs a hand over his recovering naked eye. The other hand prods the roast cluck cluck with a fork. He chews. Chew chew. Chew? Chu? "It /doesnt/ taste like chicken," he says with a swallow, breaking the Matrix rule of things tasting like chicken. He takes another bite. Nibble. Fruity Pebbles?! Fruit by the Foot? Crystal Pepsi? Chew. Ok, not Crystal Pepsi. He pulls up a menu with a slide and puts in the note section: May have suffered a stroke, cluck cluck tastes like delicious fruit. Tell Uta later. Brain damage worth this taste.

The menu slides down and he begins to woof the chicken down. The whole princely composure is annihilated by the allure of sweets. That or Haru figures he might have his brain explode shortly so might as well get the most out of it. Snarf.

The wait-staff gives Haru a bit of a look when she says that 'this is perfectly normal'. But he's right, Adventurers are strange. So the Lander just 'accepts' that he must be right and that this is normal, and continues to step off.

This leaves Haru there to ponder the chicken for a while, right before a touch to his shoulder. When he looks back up, he may realize that the store is staring at the presence of a woman in white clothing. Her head is tilted down, which is the only hint he has that he's being looked at, as her eyes are not visible.

"Be careful messing with the pieces of The Morrigan. Though its function can be only a minor expression on the world. It is sure to alart those who watch the Law of Alba." The woman expresses to Haru. Her hand releasing his shoulder.

Haru had 3.14 chicken related thoughts before he is graced by the lady in white. His blue eye flicks to the shoulder, never having been one that delt with personal space well, as the purple lens flickers during an Inspection. Helba - Adventurer. Wait. Helba? He knows that name.

"Are you one such arbiter," he asks her, guarded. Haru motions to the vacant seat at his table, inviting her to sit for a spell. "If I am not under arrest, join me for a minute?" He has questions, oh yes, many of them. Some of them are even good questions.

"I am not. I am one who avoids such arbiters." Helba answers Haru, before looking at the people giving nervous looks at her. "How about we step out instead of me sitting down." She then pushes - not wanting to stick around here for perhaps obvious reasons.

"I am here just to give you a warning, and guidance if you seek for ways to do that..." She points at the remnants of the chicken plate. "Without the repurcissions of dealing with The Morrigan. Certainly in a time where Cú Chulainn is quite so active."

Haru leaves coin for the meal and stands up. A brush of his cloak off of any stray 'chicken not chicken' that he gluttoned upon. "I could walk," he tells her as he looks towards her eyes. Between the two of them there is just one eye visible and its Haru's.

"As much as it wounds my pride and independance," Haru admits, "I do need guidance on this." He begins to walk to what path she is interested in taking away from prying eyes. "If nothing else, for survival," he says, "I have no intention of stopping or slowing down my investigations and if you say that puts me at risk, I believe you. It wouldn't do us well if I was erased before I could repay your kindness."

"There is something I need to know first," Haru says with a measured tone of voice when they are further from others that would overhear or provide the cover of a public place, "your name has appeared in multiple places. Intervention at the tenth floor of Aincrad. The Crystal Tower. The Sonograph." A pause. "The Crown of Control. The later was not of your doing, correct?"

The woman turns quiet as Haru begins to thank her for her assistance, and instead waits for him to be done with paying, and then motions to the side. He can walk on whatever side he prefers. Though she assumes he will walk on the side that allows him to have his eye on her.

Once outside, she turns and begins to move into the many small sidestreets of Alne, and just begins to walk without a goal in mind. "I would rather no Adventurer would be erased. But unfortunately, that risk remains within this world." She points out. They turn another little alley. Her pace grows more calm the further they get from the main streets. Though it may be notable that she is avoiding the Scale Emblem presence deeper into Alne, as well as certain streets. She keeps looking at certain 'poles' within the city, trying to keep an eye out for certain objects that are not easily visible.

"I did intervene on the tenth floor of Aincrad. But the others are not me. You are confusing that for the Queen of Darkness. A former being of this world. I believe she expired centuries ago." She explains. The woman then follows that up with inquiry; "What do you know of System Artes?"

That clears things up. It raises questions for another day and another Helba. Haru is not one to be 'present' and misses the glances to the poles until several gestures are performed. He takes note of these objects for later. The silver haired man offers up what he knows of the System Artes, "I know that they are Artes that run at a layer deeper than we Adventurers interface with. They go outside what we should natively be granted to do. If this were an identity structure of some kind, it is like granting elevated permissions and functions to accounts. Similar to how game servers have moderators and admins that perform functions outside of the game's limitations." Elder Tales Online was a game after all. Fragment, too.

Haru Nox keeps walking as he pays closer attention for any of these poles the same way a spy looks out for cameras. "System Artes are throttled by their type of elevated privileges," he just starts using computer science language without a filter for the sake of the converation, "System Protection, like with Proph uses, focuses on establishing a means to protect the... code... from being corrupted. I guess that is the Law of Alba, but thats a theory. Legends, like Elly, get privileges effecting living things such as People of the Land and Adventurers as if they were a kind of Moderator. Oracles, like Kau, perform predictive analytics and search functionality against people, places, and events." There is a pause as he continues on to things that are less 'read' and 'moderate' oriented. "Data Drain, like Merek, exists to extract from an identity, such as pulling a forensic image of an account for later manipulation. Then there are Hackers," he taps the side of his monocle, considering current company, "that manipulate the items and objects of this world. Proteus, I believe, uses that Arte."

The woman listens to Haru explaining his understanding of System Artes, which goes well beyond what most Adventurers understand. She quietly listens, letting him speak. Letting him pause when needed. The woman in fact seems to recognize the terms he's using with incredible ease.

"You are right. There is a pattern of Authentication, and Form to System Artes. The language used to activate it all is more complex than that. But for System Artes, that is the most important part. But more notable, it is also why the Law of Alba seems to react. Any time something gets changed against the way this World is meant to function, it can be felt. Like a ripple, or a discordant note being played." She further explains.

"And you, Haru Nox, are seeking to use such abilities - much like your friends and allies - to solve this world's problems. Aren't you?" She then asks. "So what is it you seek to do? Are you like me, who prefers to change reality itself to your whims?"

Haru feels like he is forgetting one. Which is it. Finger snap. "Loremaster, which is search function." And Uta uses that. He ponders on Helba's words. The Law of Alba. Law. Of. Alba. "Like a main repository of the configuration getting a diff slash delta and investigating the deviance," he puts it in terms he can understand. For some reason he doesnt feel the need to translate it to 'Human' for Helba.

She presents a good question for him. What is it he seeks to do, really? Is it to repay a debt he feels responsible for? Is it to find a way out? Protect people? Obtain power and influence? Haru looks to Helba, "The way I see it, if we have the ability to affect reality the way we see it, we should. Others already are and more people like me are looking to enter that arena." He shakes his head, "I don't know for sure if this path will solve this world's problems, but I do know for sure that not getting that power for myself puts me at the whims of others." Thats a trigger right there. "So I am accepting the risk and responsibility that comes with tampering with the world with Hacker System Artes, once I find my way to it." The tensed hand relaxes. Chill, Haru, Helba has nothing to do with your late-phase teenage angst. "If we are talking, I assume I am very close to that, too." The hand reaches upwards to the sky, as if he could just reach out and grab it given the power to do. Maybe he would pull down a moonfish from orbit. "There are questions out there that can only be answered when we grab them with our own hands, Helba, and there are many barriers between us. So," the hand lowers, "I will unlock the path. Will you help me with that?"

"It's rare for me to hear someone of your group talking about changing reality. After all, the New World is often more bound to safe-keeping what is there. Still... I suppose there are outliers everywhere." The woman remarks when he's done speaking. There's a shift of her head, noticing the way he had that hand tensed for a moment. The relaxing drawing more attention than the initial tensing.

The woman then halts outside of a small hut of sorts, and looks at the door. "I can help unlock the path. But I will need a bit of help from you first." She answers him. "As you say, there's authentication involved. And giving you the ability to do so is... resource intensive." The woman points out.

"That enigma piece you had. I am going to need some of those. I hear that there's a small group of Suhagin in the lake near Castle Eas that have been collecting items beneath the waters. Gathering Enigma pieces. I would like you to go there and gather them for me."

"I'm sure Elly will appreciate having the area cleared out," Haru observes. Even if they didn't have any Enigma Pieces, it would be a worthwhile endeavor. "That I can do. I assume you will be in touch so I know how many of them I need to collect," he says, thinking back to the memorable chicken he just ate as a result of one such piece. He thinks to an earlier statement. Yeah, it isn't very New World Alliance to want to change reality. That may be a Haru thing more than the alliance dogma. "I should get to that, then," he tells her, "but before I go, could you humor me a final question? This world we are in, how it functions, how it connects to the world we left." Of all that sea of spiderwebbing, he has one question that stands above the rest, "In your travels did you notice anything that might connect it to the Flash of Death?" He wants to believe they are unrelated and the gut feeling is nothing more than exposure to the fantastical over the last two years which make anything appear possible.

Helba touches the door of the little home they are standing outside of. And in that moment, it suddenly changes. Almost like someone just shattered a mirror, and it revealed something else beyond. A pale white place beyond that door, that should not be there.

"Sure, I can humor a question." The woman remarks at first, looking down at him. But then...

Flash of Death.

Her lips turn firm and straight. It's clear Haru just hit a particular nerve. "An experimental mistake by an old fool. If you want a connection to /that/... I would simply say one thing. Unless you wish such a thing to happen again, avoid letting Cú Chulainn gather too many Enigma Pieces." Before she steps through, and the door re-transfigures into its former state.