The Philosophy That Got Away

Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    The bridge west of Alne. Monsters don't exactly make their homes on the bridge, and it doesn't have trolls, so it's a pretty safe place. This makes this part of the lake convenient for those who are trying to fish or bathe. Well. Bathing at barely-above-freezing might be a bad idea, but it helps if you're a fire cat who can stay magically warm.

    At this particular moment, Mizuki is half-submerged in the shallow part of the lake, practicing being an ambush predator. Hold still, focusing on warming herself up, wait for fish to come by, then CLAW SWIPE! It works for animals so it should work for people, right? She's naked, (someone please invent swimsuits already) but you can't really see anything with the fur anyway.

    There's a *splish* as she jabs a hand into the water, claws extended as she lifts a fish out of the water then brings in her other hand, using claws to keep it from wriggling away. "Ha-HA! Finally!"

    The fish struggles. How long do these things take to die? It's a program, it doesn't actually suffer, right? But she kind of feels bad with it struggling to get away... It is a reminder that she is, fundamentally, a human, not a cat. She doesn't enjoy torturing her food enough.

    Okay, cats kill with a bite to the neck, right? "Sorry, fishie..." She holds it to her mouth, bites, and--

                            (Fishing skill: Failed)                            

    --it shatters into glowing polygons. "Oh COME ON!"
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta, lost in thought as usual, walks into sight from the bank closest to the main road. After a slight downward slope, she emerges from the bushes. Her face, hair and outfit is covered in dried slime goo which, by the looks of it, is a few days old. Relevant status effects apply.

    There is a slight splashing sound, evolving into sloshing as she walks deeper and deeper down into the river, still staring in the distance, but when she's pretty much waist-deep, she snaps out of it. She blinks, and looks down, and lets out a quiet, "...oh, hey, water."

    As far as anyone can tell, she seems completely oblivious to Mizuki.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander is walking across the bridge when he spots /two/ things happening. One is Mizuki failing to cat, cause skills are not up there to do it. Then Uta who-- apparently forgot where she was walking and nearly went for a river walk; Only she can't walk on water.

The Salamander chuckles a little as he looks at both of the woman and grin softly, "Hello to you both. Fishing can be rough and," He looks over to Uta, "... I am pretty sure that isn't how one takes a bath."

Xander then grins, keeping up that playful air, with a gentle swing of his heavy, scaled tail. "Though I don't think the menu cares."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki hears splashing from behind her and turns around. She blinks at Uta. "You just noticed it?" And then there's Xander. She looks at him for a second, and then covers her chest with an arm. "I don't have the fishing skill, so I guess fish have a low drop rate. It sucks."

    As she speaks, bits of flame curl out of her mouth.

    Then she looks to Uta in alarm. "Wait, aren't you cold?! It's nearly freezing!"
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta's hand had already raised to swipe the menu and navigate through the intermediate steps, and was about to confirm the last step for menu-bathing, when she stops abruptly. She looks up at Xander. "...what? I... this is how I've always bathed. Am... am I doing it wrong? And what do you mean with 'you both'? I'm the-"

    She turns abruptly, noticing Mizuki with an arm on her chest for the first time. "AAAAAAH!!!!", she shrieks, turns her back and covers both her eyes. "SORRY SORRY SORRY MIZUKI DIDN'T MEAN TO PEEK! I... I have this condition where I forget important stuff and miss rather obvious stuff, and go off into tangents, and then jump back to them, and then- but you get the idea! Point is, it was not intentional, I assure you that-"

    Silence."...don't worry about me, I'm wearing clothes. They protect me from OH GOODNESS THE WATER IT'S FREEZING! MAKE IT STOP!", she exclaims, running towards wherever she's facing. Which is just 'away from Mizuki', not necessarily 'towards the shore'. And with her eyes covered, well, that does not bode well.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander raises a brow at the flame then down to the water, before looking back to Mizuki. He does a quick inspect on her, just to get her name and what little information in can provide, given that Mizuki and him are not in the same guild; Though they are in the same alliance.

He stares at Mizuki for a moment, giving her a thoughtful glance as he murmurs softly, ".. I swear I've seen you before..." Then suddenly Uta snaps his attention as she flails about like the little Spriggan she is.

Xander watches her flail, then go on about the cold, then sighs softly. "Uta, don't ever change." He laughs softly. His attention moves back to Mizuki, extending his hand to her, "Xander and trust me. I understand the fishing woes." Then he peers back over to Uta softly saying. "... You think if I used air magic I could dry her off... or think I should use fire?"

    Also wouldn't he get slapped with a PK tag for that?
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki gives Xander the same sort of 'you look kinda familiar' look before Uta starts freaking out. "It's alright!" She tries to reassure, holding her free hand out in a 'stop' gesture. "We're both g--" she freezes mid-word, suddenly wondering if that's true. But now Uta's flailing about! "Hey! Be careful! Watch where you're going!" She stops covering herself and gives chase. "Better yet, just stop!"

    At Xander's question she responds, "Wind's safer if you haven't practiced using fire for it!"
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

Uta, after realizing that removing her hands from her eyes is a more sensible course of action, corrects her course and heads towards the shore, in a loud, frantic splashing made worse by those large wings that she doesn't seem to control that well in water. She tilts her head upwards, and through crimson cheeks, she yells, "Don't worry, that is not going to happen anytime soon!" followed at a short distance by "I have only /one/ outfit! I literally have nothing else to change into!"

    At Mizuki's suggestion, she stops in place, and hugs herself, shivering so much her teeth clatter. "...G...g...good point. First things first!"

    The menu is swiped open, and after a few trials and errors because of how much she's shaking, she manages to pull up the menu for bathing...
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander can't help but grin as Mizuki tries to calm Uta. If only Mizuki knew when she stopped herself mid-sentence. If only she knew.

The thing wasn't bothered by Mizuki missing clothing, as one she had fur and secondly, well, details to be asked why Xander doesn't seem to be bothered by nudity. Either way, he stays up high to one give Mizuki her privacy, but goes to focus his magic. "Uta! Stop running or this is /going/ to hurt!" Then again-- he could screw up as well and get red tagged.

Either way, runes dance around his hands, as circles form, "And whatever you do," Once he notices she has stopped, "Don't. Move." Before he sends out a blaze of fire toward Uta, just to heat up the area around her and possibly give her a bit of drying.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki stops just behind Uta. "'First thing's first', you don't have time to wait for the timers! Go to the water's edge and..." SUDDENLY, FIRE! "Hey! I said leave that to the experts!" Okay, actually, apparently he IS a fire expert, but how well has he practiced this use?

    "...Okay, that was pretty impressive, but fire spells still won't heat up the lake..."

    Once the fire's done, Mizuki makes a 'turn around' gesture at Xander, then puts her hand on Uta's back to keep pushing her towards the shore. Once there, she considers the situation. "Really, it'd be better to get your wet clothes off and warm you up first, but I understand if you're reticent to do that."

    If Uta gives no indication that she'll take such a route, Mizuki looks her over quick. Uta's clothes cover everything but her head. "This might burn a little but it shouldn't seriously hurt." She stands right behind Uta and makes some hand signs. "Life's refreshing breeze, come forth!" Then she steps forward, hugging Uta and shielding her face with her wet, furry hands as the air starts whirling around them. And then she breathes fire into the wind, at a controlled intensity to provide heat rather than do damage; She's practiced using this on herself, clearly. Uta's ears and wingtips might get uncomfortably hot, though. It's like being in a hair dryer wind tunnel!

    Eventually the effect peters out and Mizuki steps back. "You okay? You only need to have a water source available to use the menu, you don't need to be half-submerged. So wash and launder from here without freezing."
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    When Uta touches the final hovering option, she shimmers, the part of her body visible through her clothes (which would pretty much be her head) is replaced by bright polygons forming an Uta-shaped solid mass, glowing (and the part that's not visible probably doing the same -- people just, well, can't see it), just in time to be surrounded by flames blowing by. Crackling and sploshing mix, along with the smell of vaguely burnt linen and baked-in, charred slime goo.

    And the HP bar keeps dropping because of the hypothermia status effect.

    When the fire subsides, the hypothermia effect marker fades out temporarily, but as Mizuki ponts out, this is a lake, and it does not take long for it to fade back in shortly after.

    She does, indeed, make reticent noises at the mention of undressing, and so the still shivering Uta, eyes dutifully closed and mumbling something about "...oh, so /that's/ why Xander was saying that I was doing it wrong...", is led to the shore.

    When the hand is placed on her face, she finally seems to recover the ability to once again speak properly, if a bit nervously.

    "...M-Mizuki, really, this is the dumbest, not to mention most awkward, game of 'guess who' I've ever been in. Of course it's you, there's nobody else around here who-WWWWWWGGHGGHHHHHHHHH' she displays mild discomfort at the sudden burst of hot air through her ears (which go red) and wings, but seems to bear it pretty well.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander was in fact, very good with fire. It was his primary elemental skill, it also helped that he was a Salamander, which if anyone understand the racial file on Salamanders, well, you would know what that is.

He called over to them both, "Hey! It helped a little!" He declared from where he is and he sighs softly. "I'll go get a campfire made, while you try to get her at least warmed up! We can use that to help dry the cloths! I also have a cloak on me she can use!" Yeah, he hasn't come off that bridge and thus, Xander goes to find some stuff to use to go make that campfire.

Which give he doesn't use the menu for this, might take just a smidge.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki steps back. Uta's probably left with her clothes dry in some places and still damp in others, but at least no longer soaked or cold.

    Although once the fire and wind goes away, Uta's in contact with near-freezing air.

    Mizuki calls out "Thanks!" to Xander; being reminded of his presence also reminds her she's still naked, so... she fire-dries the fur on her front, and then a bit of Uta's back where they made contact, and then equips her pants, shirt, and jacket. Then rezzes her blue cloak and black hooded cloak in hand and puts them both around Uta's shoulders. "You can borrow these.Now, use the wash and laundry functions and we'll get to that campfire."
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta says, "Thank you," and wraps herself in the offered cloaks, making some sort of mini-tent out of them.

    Glows come from inside the 'mini-tent', once for the bath proper, and once for the laundry.

    Status effects removed, the cloak fall to the ground and what is underneath is a shocking, world-shattering surprise nobody would have expected-

    Actually, no, it's just Uta, really.

    "...There. Bath done. Now. What was the next thing to do? Oh, right. Tidying up!"

    Uta hunches down to pick up the borrowed items, and notices the cat-girl. "Oh, hi, Mizuki! Thanks for the cloaks! I owe you one." She finishes folding the cloaks, and she hands them back. "Actually, two."

    After taking a long glance around, she finally asks, "Where'd Xander go?"
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander does take a little. which would give Uta a bit of time, along with Mizuki. As the two women do their thing, he sets up the campfire and gets it going, tossing in a few extra things of sticks to help keep the fire going.

"There you ladies go." He says, standing back up fully and doesn't even make too much direct eye contact with either, given their-- situation. Or at least the one Uta is in now. "You should be able to hang the cloths by the tree branch. She get it dry."

Xander then walks away from the two, "Anyways, I'll leave you two in some privacy." He places up his hand, "Later!" Then walks back off.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Did... did you forget I was here?" And yet she remembered the cloaks were borrowed... Mizuki puts them back in her inventory. Although she doesn't need them right now, they each have their function. Covered in fur, she may not even really need the jacket, but it feels like part of looking like a proper Thief.

    "He went to make a campfire." she answers. And then Xander comes back and gives them the campfire and walks off. "You don't have to--!" but, he's already walking away. Well, might as well make use of it, right? So she walks over to it and sits down. So warm... she beckons Uta over to sit with her.

    "...I tried to take a bath in the lake after I got covered in spiders. There was a lot of coldness and unpleasantness and trying to get try, so I experimented with ways to stay warm and quickly dry before going in the cold water again. If you want a proper bath, there's hot springs in Carmina Gadelica and upper-class inns with hot baths in Dun Loireag."
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta blinks at Xander's words, confused. "Wait, what?"

    And then turns to Mizuki. "Oh, uh, I think I told you? I can forget pretty obvious things. And I don't /always/ forget things... for instance, I clearly remember telling you that I forget things, so- hey, yeah, now I remember. You were here all along! ...If that made sense."

    The cloaks returned, she moves closer to the fire, standing up but looking down, as if for evaluating how good a sitting spot this would be. "Why should I spend money for something I can get for free through the menu? I mean -- things are slowly getting better, but we adventurers still have to be thrifty if we want to make ends meet. Every little thing help, from saving on baths to... well, as you pointed out, creative use of spells to replace physical objects. Air and fire to replace towels? Sounds pretty nifty to me! I do have some magic powers myself, should look into learning some trick like that. Could be handy-" A beat. "Wait, /everyone/ has magic powers in this world, don't they?"

    She shakes her head and bursts into laughter, finally sitting down. "I guess it's time for a fireside chat, then, like in the Times of Old. Where people gathered together, and instead of losing themselves in high-tech electronic media content, they had honest face-to-face chats around a proper, real, honest-to-goodness fire..."

    "...which, unless something /really weird/ happened during the Apocalypse, is probably being simulated as some sort of high-tech electronic media content..."

    She hasn't removed her clothes to let them hang, but, hey, they weren't /that/ wet after all, right?
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


At the somewhat confusing series of words about forgetfulness, Mizuki's ears splay, but she nods, "Yeah, it actually did."

    As Uta starts talking about why pay for things, Mizuki kind of stares at her. "It's not because I'm too cheap for towels -- I don't know if terrycloth has even been invented yet! Also, I'm covered in fur. I need a hairdryer, and those /definitely/ haven't been invented yet. ...Not everyone. Most Landers don't, and any adventurers who took an all-Physical class and profession can't use wave artes, either."

    The clothes weren't that wet after Mizuki's fire-air drying maneuver; sitting close to the fire and drying them that way is probably actually a pretty pleasant alternative!

    Still, Mizuki looks at Uta with concern. "It /is/ time for a chat, yes. Uta, we're not sitting at a table or in front of a screen making our characters do stuff without experiencing it; we're living it. Sure, in D&D you usually don't even think about what your characters are eating, or how they're keeping clean," If Sam had gotten trapped in D&D instead he'd be SO thankful for prestidigitation "but when you're experiencing it... didn't it BOTHER you, eating food with no taste?"

    She stares into space and scratches her cheek. "Okay, the washing thing I guess I can see. If I had that menu in real life I'd probably never shower. Or do laundry. There was just always another interesting thing to check out on Nero, another game to play, another fascinating bit of information to learn... but here, we can get bored again. And there's no social media we're missing if we take a few minutes off."

    She looks to Uta. "Anyway, you should be able to treat yourself to a more pleasant experience once in awhile. We came from the 21st century, dammit, we shouldn't be happy with subsistence! ...Although I suppose if you aren't out there fighting mobs for awhile every day you might not have that much money. You should be able to make money selling potions, though! Maybe talk to someone in one of the support guilds about how to set up a business."

    Beat. "...What HAVE you been doing every day since you got here, Uta?"
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

Uta listens with interest, and even provides subtle expressions to read if one can decipher them. She concedes that, yes, a fur-covered creature does need more drying power than a humanoid. Interest at, apparently, learning a tidbit about purely physical classes.

    And after the slow climb, the rollercoaster gives one last push upwards, as she seems to perk up at 'It /is/ time for a chat'. Stuff just got real. And then, as any rollercoaster is wont to, the plunge. The big, big plunge.

    Somehow, what comes next seems to have hit the nail on the head, or the spriggan in the stomach. Stoic, Japanese countenance, but it /hit/. The part about not being bothered by inferior experiences. Somehow, the part about social media seems to.. somehow improve the situation? She regains confidence there, and nothing much to write home about about business.

    Silence lasts a bit after the last question. Uta pokes the fire with a stick, breathes in, and begins.

    "Settling for the bare minimum is exactly how I survived the 21st century, actually. There was a time when I used to fight, but, you know, in the end, settling for the bare minimum is actually much more effective and far less painful. I fought big, I lost big. I settled, never lost anything anymore. Everything went swimmingly. Kept as far away as possible from Nero, social media, videogames... any modern bruhaha. Lived a simple life, pursued knowledge and the wisdom of the ancients (and some of the moderns). That was the key. Just me, my books, a simple job to make ends meet... everything was just fine." A smile with eyebrow raised. "All that practice, and you learn to love soggy crackers. The only weird part was the texture, but once I realized I could order /actual/ soggy crackers, I was set."

    A little laugh which is more exhaling with the nose than actually laughing. "It's funny that I got a Godhand, which sort of has 'monk' vibes. I had never thought about it, but I guess I /was/ living a bit like a monk in the real world... The random generator has some sense of irony."

    She sighs, shakes her head, and returns to look at Mizuki. "I've been learning and keeping out of trouble, mostly. Just like Xander told me to. Remember? No gaming experience. The first time I lost HP I asked if my reception dropped or if I needed to plug in to recharge. How long would I have lasted in a dungeon?"

    She leans back, hands behind her propping her up. "And you? What have you been doing since coming here?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki's expression is one of concern and sadness... or is it pity? as Uta describes her old life. "I don't think I've ever met someone who could actually live by eastern philosophy... although, perhaps it's not all that different from my own not caring so much about fancy things as long as I had a computer."

    She scratches her head. "Okay, fair, you needed to learn, but everyone here was new at games once; they're designed to be learned pretty quickly, at least the basics. I wouldn't have risked it before we knew we could respawn, but now... y'know, don't be reckless, but going out on quests with more experienced adventurers, like the one we did with the slimes, that was good."

    "As for me..." She leans back, stretches, stares into space. "...The first day, I didn't believe we were truly stuck. Pretending we were and going on a fun adventure with Kite and Gwen and the rest of the party we katamari'd up while talking about rescuing people from Ezzo seemed like a more fun way to spend a few hours than sitting around."

    Beat.

    "...Then I woke up on the second day and it finally started to seem real." She glances at Uta, then back to staring into space. "...The previous night it had been clear all the inns were full. Fortunately, a cat can sleep anywhere! So I found a roof to curl up on, out of the way. I'm lucky it doesn't rain much here so far." She chuckles. "I guess you could say waking up was my wake-up call."

    "I fought monsters. I did rat quests and discovered tasty, tasty meat. Getting the resources to get to Ezzo was going to require leveling up and getting cash and better gear. I had a run-in with the gnolls and almost died. I went to Marina and back to get vital information about how to avoid the Leviathans."

    "I don't know what I'd have done that first week if I hadn't been a cat-person. Slept very uncomfortably and not even had raw meat, I guess. After Reika respawned, and we made the journey overnight to reach Alne and tell people the news, that was the first chance I got to try one of the inn beds. They suck. Now at least there's the Alliances, with tents and the castle. And the beds and baths in Dun Loireag are... better."

    "At first, it was all about preparing for the Ezzo rescue. 'What next' would have to be dealt with later. Since then... I've been levelling up and trying to learn more about the world. Helping Jazz with her study of the stars and navigation, checking out Dun Loireag before the hourglass thing to see what's up over there... Helping Kite investigate the weirdness of Ezzo... You never know what could contribute to a way out."

    "And..." she stretches again, "a little bit of time relaxing, thinking, trying to get my head around this whole situation, and taking in the sights." Then she looks back to Uta to see her response.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta seems to miss some words (her stare goes rather blank at words like "katamari'd"), and it's clear she's missing some tidbits here and there (her stare pretty much makes it clear she has no idea of what a Leviathan is, but 'it sounds dangerous'); she, however, laughs at the end. "Nah, it's not eastern philosophy. I think it was just like it was with you: you had your computer, you were fine? Same with my books. I just always liked books, I never really consciously thought I was following easern philosophy."

    "Trying to work on my medical skills," says Uta. "I'm researching potions. Scraped a lot of slime goo off this," she says, pointing at her 'gi', "seeing if I can make anything out of it. There's plenty of people coming back from quests who need healing. I'll be frank, relatively low-risk quests are... it's weird to say, but kind of /fun/, and I'd like to go on more of them. Still, the guild insists that there's a shortage of medical personnel, and having someone trained for that might be good." She smirks at Mizuki. "Of course, being a newcomer, I don't get to pull as much rank as the more established players, so I get stuck with the suckiest shifts. But it's okay, night-time patients need attention too, don't they?"

    And then, there is silence.

    A deep sigh."It still doesn't feel real. I mean, It does /feel/ real, but it doesn't feel /real/." She looks at Mizuki, while balled up, hugging her knees. "...if that made any sense."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    When Uta doesn't recognize the word Leviathan, Mizuki interrupts her monologue to explain about the giant, kaiju-size water monsters that limit ocean travel.

    Mizuki smiles as Uta says she's at least having some fun. "A good game should be fun at low levels too, after all."

    When Uta balls up she looks a bit more... sad? worried? But nods. "Yeah. Sometimes I catch myself thinking 'I should go look that up' during a conversation or 'ooh, I need to show them that one Nero video...'"

    She looks at the Uta-ball. "Do you... do you want a hug? I /am/ a big fuzzy kitty."
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta blinks. She looks down at herself, then at Mizuki. She relaxes, un-balls, shakes her head. "Oh, sorry, hope that didn't sound too depressing. Just... it drives me crazy that nobody really seems to know what is going on in the real world, exactly. I mean, if we knew what the deal with the Apocalypse was, we could decide what to do with this whole... story. But like this? Are we getting out, or are we going to live the rest of our lives here? Should we embrace our new role in this world, or just... you know, don't let our avatars get too far into our heads because we're going to need it once we leave?"

    "...our head, not, you know, the avatar." She even makes little finger gestures to underline the last point.

    She finally stands up. With a grin, she says, "Thanks for the offer, but I'll have to pass on the hug. Don't take it the wrong way, but, you know, apparently we monks have to, I don't know, find strength within ourselves or something." Tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "It bugs the rest of us too, believe me. Jazz is always ready to pull it out to be depressing again. But we'll only ever be able to answer those questions if we learn more about this world."

    Mizuki shrugs at the hug decline.

    "So. One other thing I was wondering. Your reaction to walking in on my fishing, and thinking you couldn't use cuteness on NPCs. I know I tried to show you your reflection in a dagger earlier, but have you looked at it properly? In a window, or in the water right over there?" She points back towards the lake.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Blank stare.

    Face--lap.

    "I /knew/ I was forgetting something on my to-do list! That one is, like, a month old..."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki also facepalms. "Okay, seriously. I think there's something you need to see." She tries to put a hand on Uta's shoulder and guide her back to the lake. "Lean over and take a look."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    There's a light within the trees. Probably the fire from a torch, slowly approachng the campfire Uta and Mizuki have settled at. And then--

    "Someone here?"

    The call of a baritone voice comes from the same direction as the approaching light, and wouldn't you know, it a head of fiery-red hair comes popping out from between the trees to peek to the campsite, with a torch held in one hand.

    "Hello! I'm just passing through!" declares Atif cheerfully, thus. "I hope I'm not--" And in mid-sentence, he pauses, when his green gaze actually sweeps to Mizuki and Uta. Leaning over the lake. "...Interrupting?" Blink.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander has returned!!

    The dark scaled Salamander walks across the bridge a little surprised to see the ladies still there and yet, he isn't. He leans on the railing of the bridge as he munches on an apple.

Though his eyes slowly look over to Atif as he makes his way toward them. This causes Xander to stand up a bit more straight where he was and his free hand slowly going for the hilt of his blade.

He watches, then notices that this red-head is... No threat, thus relaxing and going back to eating on the piece of fruit in hand. ".. One day..." He rumbles softly to himself.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta kneels over to take a closer look at her reflection for the first time. Yes, one month into the game, /still/ hadn't gotten around to do it. Talk about distracted and absent-minded.

    "...Wait, that's..."

    She makes faces, in a sort of expressive Groucho Marx routine, and when there's no denying the evidence, she stops.

    She darts upright, pointing a trembling finger at the water, "...that's the girl from the menu! I thought she was some sort of made up game mascot or something, but this... this changes /everything/!"

    A blank stare into the distance. "Oh /no/."

    What comes out after that is a faint, "...That explains sooo much..."

    "...Hello.", she says, still in kind of a shock, turning to Atif. "Hi. No, uh, you're not interrupting anything special excpet me finding out that, uh, I might have gotten-"

    Pause. Glance sideways to Mizuki, as if considering what to reveal or what not. Back to Atif

    "...the game mascot as an avatar?"

    Uta notices her mentor returning, and says, "Oh, look if it isn't a distrac- I mean, a /distinguished/ gentleman who teaches me things! Hello, Xander!"

    Big wave to him.

    Sideways to Mizuki, quietly, between her teeth, "...we need to talk about this in private."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki is by this point expecting Uta to be surprised. But at 'That's the girl from the menu!' she facepalms. Followed by a groan when Uta somehow still misses part of the obvious. "It's not the game mascot. It's a randomly-generated avatar, just for you. The game does that. All of us either look like our real bodies -- aside from the obvious species differences -- or we kept hitting the random button until we saw one we liked." Then more quietly, "Yeah, I bet we do."

    She turns to Atif and Xander. "Hello again! Thanks for the fire, want to all go sit back around it now?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Whatever Atif might have thought was going on with Mizuki and Uta there initiially, he seems to get some more confusion popping up with Uta's reaction to what she sees in the water. For a moment, anyway. He's empathic enough to make too much of a deal about it, at least.

    "It's like she says," he offers. "I admit I kinda just went with the first thing that came up way back when too. This was kind of..." His hand reaches back over to give a light tug to the draconic tail poking out behind him. "...A thing to get used to, but I ran with it." It's not like he could change it anymore even if he wanted to.

    "But hello!" He offers much more cheerfully right after, with a bright smile and a wiggle of red-scaled fingers at Uta. "And hi again too, Mizuki!" The same wiggle directed at the catgirl while he comes stepping up closer.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander grins as Uta /figures/ it out at last. If his tail wasn't heavily scaled it might be moving like a cats, sadly it can only sway slightly, but that face says it all.

Oh, that Salamander is grinning from ear to ear. His claw tapping the side of his face scales as he leans his arm on the railing. "I've been telling you, since I've been training you, you know." He teases from where he is. "I also remember our conversation." He says further, taking another bite of the apple.

Xander may have a good heart, but he also was an ass. Then again, he never denied he was an ass either. He just does a good job counter balancing it at times.

    At this point, the Salamander pockets what is left of the fruit and goes to make his way down to the group. "I was actually on my way to do a short patrol, but.." He glances over to Mizuki as she offers, "I can chill for a bit before I hit the road."

His eyes trail over to the other Salamander, as his tail gives another flick. Those draconic eyes giving the man a quick up and down, as he runs inspection on him. "Don't think we met-- Atif, is it?" Xander gives him a grin. "Hope you don't mind me pulling up your name with inspect. Old habits die hard." Then extends his hand to him. "But for friendly sake, the name is Xander."

Xander does give Atif a quick once over after once he says what he says to the others about went with what came up and the Rune Knight chuckled a little. "Now I am curious, sir. You start with this expansion for this crazy ride, or you been playing before?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    As Xander starts talking to Atif, Mizuki puts an arm around Uta's shoulder and leads her away from the guys, back to the fire. Lowering her voice, she asks, "Now, what did you need to talk about?" Although, the tone is that of someone who knows the answer to the question they're asking.

    Although with how weird Uta is, Mizuki is not /completely/ sure it won't be some other innocuous thing, so she's not going to leap into conversation assuming Uta's a(n accidental) crossplayer just yet.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Uta mumbles to Atif, "...assuming we /bother/ to look at the avatar selection the game offers after randomization. Or at the class. Or profession. Or kingdom. Or race." Ok, wait, someone /actually/ uses the randomization option for those? "I might have... uhm... been a tiny bit distracted at the time. Or I might not. It's a blur. I get distracted easily. I also get nervous easily. And when I get nervous I forget things. Or go into tangents. Hello. I'm Uta. Pleased to meet you. What were we talking about, again?"

    She's about to reply something to Xander, when Mizuki leads her away. Distraction successful! She promptly forgets what she was about to say anything, and privately, she confirms the catgirl's suspicions "Uhm. Uhm. Er. Let's just say that I think that what you think is right, and if what I think that you think is right, you were right in thinking what you thought, and, long story short..."

    "...ok, I'll need a /proper/ lass as a mentor. Think you can fill that role?"

    Looks like someone else did jump to conclusions about cross-playing...
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif sends an uncharacteristically akward look after Uta and Mizuki while they slide off to a distance that allows for at least a measure of private conversation. Sweatdrop.

    "... I think I just stumbled on some serious character development moment..." He murmurs under his breath, before perking up on the approach of Xander. And the look-over that he's being given.

    "It's okay," the red-scaled and -haired Salamander assures with a cheerful smile. "I mean, it's right there anyway. But yes, hello, I am Atif, pleased to meet you." The exchange of name (such as it is) is accompanied with his own scaly hand taking Xander's black-scaled one for a quick, firm shake. Strong one. Between that and the complete lack of visible weapons and armor makes it easy to assume the presence of a Godhand, even if it wasn't visible to Inspect.

    "I've played a good while," he provides in answer. "Not as long as some, but long enough to have experience in it before the... Patch dropped. Went through a couple character iterations before I settled on this."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki quirks a brow as Uta manages to talk /around/ the issue more than she thought possible. But at that request, she can't help but give a short, sharp laugh.

                                     "HA!"                                      

    Then she lowers her voice again. She can't help smirking a bit. "How do you think this is going to work? That we're going to welcome you into the sisterhood and share the arcane secrets of woman passed down from mother to daughter since the beginning of time?"

    Beat.

    She tries to look more serious. "...Well, you're gonna have to find someone else then because I'm a guy too. Also I don't think there are any secrets. Why do you need a lass as a mentor, anyway? How to play the game isn't any different, what's wrong with your old mentor, or me?"
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    Xander watches the women walk off and once the handshake is done, which his was nothing to shabby either. He places his hands behind his head. His tail flicks a few times watching the ladies talk. "... You know. It's nice to know that behavior is still the same. Women walk off to have their secret talks, while us guys are left standing around confused by what they are going on about."

The dark scaled Salamander looks over to the red one, "And ah! I see. I've been around for a while! Was a top tier raider and-- did some pvp. Though none of that matters now. Everything is kind of a clean slate and somewhat broken as well, if you ask me."

Xander then lowers his arms, turning his full attention to Atif, "You been handling these whole-- stuck in the video game, alright?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif gives sheepish scratch to his tan-skinned cheek at Xander's words regarding women walking off and ostensibly gossiping in secret. "Even if I would know anything about that, I get the feeling I might be safer not commenting on that at all..." Except technically he just did. Nevermind the whole crossplayer thing.

    Atif doesn't give any insight on his prior experiences in the game, but when presented with the Important QUestion, his wraps his hands behind his back, and rocks himself back and forth along the balls of his dragonic feet. It doesn't work quite as well as with human feet, but still.

    "Let's just say I'm... adjusted."

    He did open up about that to Mizuki the other day a bit more than he expected to, and he's not really willing to re-visit it again so soon.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

Uta yells back at Xander, "I HEARD THAT!"

    She gives Mizuki a blank stare. Memories of talking to other players rush back, all at once. "Oh. So... so that's how it works?" is all she says. Silent glancing.

    "...Is there a single real girl in this game?", she asks, suddenly sounding oddly at ease and not self conscious at all. Without even waiting for a response (it apparently was a rhetorical question) she turns towards the duo and, starting to walk towards them, she goes, "Nevermind guys, I'm good. All's been cleared. Sorry for the interruption." Uta's back to her untroubled, insouciant self, it would appear.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki's ears flick and she frowns slightly at Xander's comment. Somehow, she gets the feeling he suspects and is just fucking with them.

    She blinks. "How what works?"

    "Well, I think Wisteria is but I haven't really talked to anyone else--" Mizuki starts to reply when Uta just gets up and walks off. She follows after, confused.
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    "That is good to hear," Xander says with a gentle, but serious nod. "The game elements have not only changed in more of a simulator, but the AI for monsters may be advancing as well." The dark scaled Salamander explains.

Xander hears the 'I heard that' and he just yells back, "GOOD!" yeah, this guy is-- well-- he is just Xander. That is all you can say about that.

The Rune Knight goes to sit down in front of the fire and leans his back against the tree. One foot over the other, his tail curl next to his side.
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

Uta "IT PROVES I HAVE EXCELLENT HEARING. YAY FOR RIDICULOUSLY LARGE EARS," sort-of-deadpans Uta in the same tone as Xander's 'GOOD'.

    "I agree," she resumes in a somewhat more serious tone. "This game is getting worse and worse every passing day. I don't like it."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "I honestly don't mind that too much," Atif offers with a brief laugh. "It's a whole new world, or something. If nothing else it'll help with the adjustment of being here... well, much more than before." Not goign to say 'all the time'. Not when there could be a chance of getting everyone out of the lock.

    Uta's call that confirms she did, in fact, hear that exchange make him wince and mumble "Oh no" before taking a single step back. By pure instinct alone. JUST IN CASE.

    "Welcome back," he offers to Mizuki and Uta with their approach regardless, and brings two scaled fingers to pinching at the top of the torch held in his other hand. What should be an immensely unwise decision otherwise actually ends up extinguishing the flame there without any other triumph, and the torch itself is discarded into his inventory while he approaches the campfire. "Everything, uh..." He starts asking, though he hesitates a bit while he looks the two over. "...Everything okay?"
Uta
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

Uta , now fully dry, stands up. "Yes, yes, everything is OK. Sorry, but now I have potions to attend to. See you!"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Wait, what do you mean the monster AI is advancing?" Mizuki looks concernedly at Xander as he forces her brain to change gears.

    Then she looks back at Uta. "What do you mean it's getting worse??" Gears shift back. "...Oh."

    Between that and people walking right back to the fire after she left it, she's getting all turned around ^@.@^

    Atif says it's a whole new world. "A whole new woooooooooorld!" she starts singing, "A new fantastic point of view! no one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we're only dreaming..."

    Beat. "I was gonna filk it but then I realized it kinda works as is."

    "Yeah, we're... we're fine I think."
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

    "I am still running some tests," Xander says to Mizuki, "But like as an example, the goblins? They are actually setting traps now and are working more tactically. Then the bosses on Floor one. They laid a trap for us. Also, there was never two of them before, only one."

The Salamander shakes his head gently, "And-- yeah. I can say more, but I need more information."

Then he spots Uta making her great escape. "Catch you later Uta and remember," He calls out to her, 'We need a round two of your training!"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif is caught entirely on the presence of Uta -- or rather, her departing presence. Looking on after her, his typical smile recedes away, and he just looks on with all-too-obvious worry. He even asks sidelong of Mizuki, "Are we sure shes okay?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Well, that's concerning. One thing I was trying to reassure her about is that this game has beginner-friendly parts..."

    Mizuki looks to the departing Uta, then back to Atif, and shrugs. "Can you really tell, with her? Alright as she can be, I think."
Xander
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0

\     "She'll be fine." Xander admits, placing his hands behind his head as he stays leaning against that tree with his ankle crossed over the other. His tail gently tapping the ground. "She just uh, is-- well, she is just Uta." followed by a gentle shrug.

Xander looks over to Mizuki, "That is why I go on patrols and keep an eye on things. After a report that went out to those of us in Scale Emblem, I have even more reason to make sure no one is trying to start shit."

He looks at the fire burning, his eyes becoming lost in it, "... I never liked PKers picking on lower players and I still wont stand for it, even if I am weaker than I use to be in this game."

Then he blinks and lowers his hands from behind his head. Placing his hand near his ear, his brows knit a little before he goes to stand up. "Anyways, I need to go check out something. You two take care alright?" Then he opens the menu and tosses them both a friend invite. "If you two ever need anything, look me up!"

Then as he walks off, he gives them a wave with a friendly, "See-ya!"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif winces at the mention of PKers preying on other players -- but it's a gesture of agreement, it would turn out. "Especially now that there are actual stakes to 'death', right?" Maybe not Real Death necessarily. But lose enough memories, and it might end up being the same thing.

    An akward smile is given to Mizuki, and he notes, "I've known her for all of five minutes now so... I honestly wouldn't know either way. It's why I asked."

    His hand lifts up with the turning from Xander, and he wiggles his red fingers his way. "Later! Nice to meet you!"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki hms? at Xander, "I haven't been back to the camp in awhile, did I miss something?" She looks between the others, concerned -- although more of a 'general' concern than a 'fear for her life' ones. "Did Tri-Edge strike again?"

    Atif gets a reaction of actual alarm. "Wait, what do you mean actual stakes?!"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Uh--" Atif seems, ironically enough, a bit alarmed when Mizuki is alarmed by what he said.

    He blinks his eyes at her once, twice, three times, before dipping his head slightly, lips pursing. "I don't know what would constitute as 'again' for you, I heard about this a week ago..." His voice a bit lower now. "IT was about Tri-Edge though, yeah. The way I heard it, someone who fell victim lost his memory of his wife."

    His teeth worry lightly at his lower lip - and hey, turns out his aren't sharp like Xander's were - and he hesitates for a few seconds longer before he speaks up again.

    "...Another one supposedly hasn't respawned."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki relaxes slightly, as one might when learning that the serial killer running loose in their neighborhood people are talking about is the one they've /already/ heard of. "Oh. I do recall hearing that they could do that... specifically the guy's wife, though? Man, that's sad."

    "...I mean, this is terrible, but I already heard of it aside from that detail. I thought you meant, y'know, regular death rather than at the hands of a cheating serial PKer."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "I mean, yeah..." Atif sighs out, and draws his hand up to the back of his head, running fingers through the raid hair and rubbing at his scalp.

    "I guess part of me is worrying about the more long-term implication of that. Not so much the fact that 'this person can do it' but... rather 'it can be done'. You know?"

    The Red Salamander finally comes to lower himself down to sitting by the campfire, opposite from Mizuki. One knee propped upwards, an arm draped over it. "I probably shouldn't be trying to worry about it too much though, I guess. Not after I just came off the other day sounding like 'an anime theme song', huh?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki scratches her head. "The dive gear already has access to 100% of our brain... so I guess we already knew it was theoretically possible," yeah, her and a few other people who got to talk to someone who had a nervegear devkit "but when you put it that way, it's concerning to have confirmation, yes."

    Mizuki sighs. "Jazz is just grumpy. I mean... not without some reason, but... sure, maybe we can't count on getting an ideal outcome, but you acknowledged that, and you said all we can do is keep moving forward, learning what we can. That's not an anime theme song, that's just facts. You just said it a lot less grumpily than she did when she acknowledged the same thing."

    "...Although, speaking of anime theme songs? Nice scarf. I got one too." She equips a long red scarf of the sort video game ninjas seem fond of: Would be inconveniently long in real life but somehow, in games, just looks really cool.
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif gives a bit of an akward laugh on Mizuki's further callback to the conversation from the other reason. "I mean, I dunno, when I looked back on it I feel like I might have sounded like someone making a cheesy speech in a shonen show... though I was just trying to be positive, you know?"

    His eyes light up when Mizuki brings out her scarf from her inventory. "Hey!" He chimes out, and tugs on his own golden scarf to hold it up and let it drape down over the front of his shoulder. "Scarf-buddies!"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods, smiling. "I think we're going to need some positivity to get through all this. Although I guess that goes for real life, too."

    As he adjusts his scarf, Mizuki leaps into the air and back down again so her scarf can float down dramatically behind her. At the same time as he speaks, she holds out a hand for a fistbump, smiling, and says "Scarf bros! ...I mean buddies! Yeah."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    The draconic redhead can't help but laugh at Mizuki's reaction. It's not a mocking laugh, though, no. More a bright, sunny laugh of companionable joy.

    "It's fine," he assures with a wide, bright smile while he reaches over to bump scaley knuckles against her held-out fist. "You can call it however you wanna. I wasn't assuming anything anyhow, you know?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki can read the laugh as not mocking and continues to smile earnestly, although a bit of nervousness sneaks in when he speaks. "Assuming anything about what?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    The nervousness is... infectious. At least Atif immediately turns much more akward when she asks that question. The kind of akward that forces him to look off elsewhere while the darker skin on his cheeks takes on a more crimson hue. "W-well..." Ugh. Times like these are when he wishes he would allow himself to not be so honest. "...You know. About what people here are Outside."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki ohs. She rubs the back of her neck. "Yeah, that... it's probably best if nobody assumed anything about... what anyone is outside, right?"

    She looks away awkwardly. "It's not that it's like, a huge secret. Or that this is my true self I could never be outside or anything like that. I just felt like... well, like roleplaying someone cute and positive would, well," she looks back to Atif, "inject some more positivity into my life. Obviously I didn't expect to get stuck. But I'm worried people will think it's weird."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "I don't think it's that weird," Atif notes, the nervousness disappearing from him all of a sudden in favor of giving a warm smile to the catgirl meant to be reassuring. "A lot of people want to give a try at being something other than themselves, right? There's nothing wrong with wanting to take advantage of the Deep Dive rigs letting us do exactly that. And... what's important is what we identify as in the end, right? No matter what we might look like, here or there."

    He averts his gaze again for a moment, however. "And I mean... Do you want to hear a secret?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki smiles less nervously, nodding at the reassurances. Although she looks away again at the last of them. "What if I just identify as me. Boy or girl doesn't decide what I like to do or what matters to me. It just affects how /others/ see me. It's not like I was unhappy with it out there but I'm not unhappy with it in here either..."

    She looks back at Atif to meet his not-gaze. "I'm curious, but I can't promise I'll be any better at hiding it than my own. Is this.... relevant to the current subject? Are you a girl?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "That's one way to identify too, yeah," Atif allows easily with a smile and a firm nod. "And really, the most important part. As long as you're *you*." A brief pause. "... I guess I just wasn't entirely sure how *you* felt about it since you said that earlier. But... I'm happy you are able to be comfortable with it to an extent, at least."

    There's a quiet cough when Mizuki makes her guess, however. "It's kind of relevant, but... no. I am a guy Outside, too. But I just..."

    A quiet sigh, and his eyes close. "...I also wanted to be someone more positive here. And more useful."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki maintains a slight smile as Atif takes all this positively. "I suppose after what I just said 'are you a boy' or 'are you a girl' are both kind of... overly-simple questions from anyone but a Pok√©mon professor."

    "Thus the scarf!" She stands facing him excitedly, tail twitching, hands balled into fists in front of her chest. "You're a hero of justice! I've seen a couple others doing that too, they're were fangs treating their transformation as a henshin." She furrows her brow slightly at the absurdity of any literal transformation of that clause, but the dive gear is able to translate the intended nuance, anyway. "It's pretty cool though!"

    Then she calms down a bit. "Um... so how's it working out for you? I'm... honestly it seems like either the subject at hand is too serious for me to feel like going all 'cute catgirl' is appropriate, or I'm worried others will see me as a flake for roleplaying now that this is kinda real life. So I end up not behaving much differently..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif actually looks embarrassed when Mizuki gets excited like that in front of him. "Hero of Justice, huh..." He repeats, peering down at the catgirl before turning a sheepish aside-glance while scratching at his cheek with a single red finger. "I kind of wish, honestly. But I don't know if I'm like that... and not just because I don't henshin. I just... I want to try to help others. Be useful. ... Be able to make people smile." He pauses, considering this. "... I guess that's kind of what heroes in anime and manga tend to do though, huh?"

    He leans back, crossing his arms together over his chest while he looks off to the dark forest more thoughtfully over her calmer words. "... I guess I am treating it like... like I was before still, honestly. But it's even more like a new beginning. But even so..." He looks back to her, and though there was that sadness associated with his own confession, he puts on a warm smile for her again. "It wouldn't necessarily be so wrong to keep going like that either, right? Remember what I said yesterday?" His eyes close, and that smile somehow gets even brighter.

    "Shine the brightest you can every step of the way."

    He lets that dim up after saying that, so his expressions don't get too overwhelming. "I could tell you different secret related to waht we were talking about just now, if you wanna focus less on the serious stuff for a bit. Just... uh... Hahah..." Some color flushes over his face, and his finger comes up to scratch over his cheek akwardly all over again. "...It's kind of embarrassing."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki smiles more when he says that line. "Hey, look. If anyone says your lines seem like something out of an anime... well, maybe our lives are a bit anime now, okay? The other day..." She points a thumb at herself, grinning, "I climbed up a giant skeleton made of smaller skeletons while everyone else was fighting it, dodging attacks and stuff until I made it all the way up to the skull, and then I shot a fireball through its eye socket to take out the necromancer piloting it. I got the last hit and rode it back down to the ground."

    She can't help grinning wider and wider as she recounts the story. "We anime as /fuck/, now!"

    At his offer, she shrugs, "You don't have to. I'm enjoying our talk either way."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif's attention is duly held by Mizuki's story. Eyes lighting up bit by bit to the point of damn near sparkling by the end.

    "That's fucking cool," he promptly declares with a rapid nod of his head.

    And then he laughs, at her final statement. "Yeah, well-- Maybe we *wanna* be anime, right?"

    Her non-committant answer to his offer leaves him quiet for a moment. "...We could both probably use a laugh," he mutters quietly.

    "So anyway..." He pauses to clear his throat. "Like I told Xander back there, I played for a pretty good while before... the Expansion hit. I kinda played a lot back then too. I wasn't super great at keeping up with people to regularly party up with, except for this one person. Played a female Sylph. We ran a lot of activities together, and... I kind of ended up crushing on them something fierce. Eventuall I told them about it, and, uh..." He pauses there. It's not entirely clear if it's intentional for dramatic effect, or he just simply hesitates.

    "Then he spoke in his normal voice."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    That's fucking cool. "RIGHT?!"

    Mizuki listens to the story, and then claps her hands over her muzzle just before he delivers the punchline because he can see it coming. She's not laughing out loud though. "Oh no... Well, I guess that's a potential reason I might need to find a way to let people know right away without making them think I'm weird... then again I could just say I'm a lesbian... I mean I kinda am now, I guess..."

    She furrows her brow slightly, thinking. "Then again again, if any lesbian were attracted to me they might have concerns from the other direction... I'd tell her the truth, of course. I'm... a bit attracted to an ace girl at the moment, honestly, so I know /that's/ not gonna go anywhere. We can be just friends though."

    She scratches her head, n_n; "Man, love and dating in here is gonna be super confusing... although I guess that's no different from the real world really... But we just need to shine our brightest, right?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki considers this, brow furrowing more. She scratches her head. "I was going to say we're all just people, trying to find our way, and we need to shine our brightest, but... True love, huh..."

    She sighs. "Imagining I found such a person... and for the sake of fairness let's say they're a guy outside too, although the strain of things only being a problem one way could be just as bad..." n.n "Obviously, we could have a good time as long as we're in here." u.u "But what then? What if it turns out we have to leave, at the end of all this? Life is gonna be /super/ awkward outside. I'm not saying a relationship is JUST about physical intimacy, but it's a part. Could I do that to someone I love? Could they do it to me if they love me? Even if we don't have to leave, what if we have aspirations in the real world and have to choose between them and our love?"

    "Ah, sorry, I guess you've managed to turn me into Jazz for a bit. But true love is serious business... I suppose, if it's true that it's better to have loved and lost than to regret, then the thing to do would be to embrace love, enjoy the time and opportunity we have, and know that... it might only last for awhile. Breaking up would be hard, but so would denying our hearts until then. Maybe we could even manage to be friends after, I dunno..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "That I don't have an answer for, unfortunately," Atif confesses, but it doesn't seem to dim his smile now at all.

    "Things like that are what everyone has to figure out for their own. Everyone has... different views and feelings about all of it. I'm personally of the mind that we should try to live our lives to the fullest while we're here, even if we assume we're all going to be forced out eventually. But even if you and whoever you end up caring for the most don't think like that... Even then there's still one thing I think matters more than anything else."

    His hand reaches over. Without any regard for personal space and limits, he pokes the tip of one finger, slightly harder than that of other people thanks to the scales, onto the left side of Mizuki's chest. High enough to not touch anywhere inappropriate, mind.

    "Right here. THe most important guidance you could ask for."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki smiles slightly again. "Relationships are complicated. Well, people are complicated on their own, obviously, and so when you multiply two of them together, you get complexity squared. But you're right, all we can do is do what feels the most right, I guess. Sorry for making this conversation go all twisty-turny."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Don't be silly, there's nothing to apologize for," insists Atif, still smiling. "Talking about things like these is important too, isn't it? If anything, I'm glad you could trust me enough to talk with me about it."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki hehs. "That may be more of a testament to what the stress of being in here is doing to my judgement... but I'm glad it worked out. You seem pretty nice."

    "So, how's helping people going so far?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Mmm, suppose that's a bit relative here, isn't it?" Atif muses. "I already help people when I participate in activities here with them... Quests, raids, whatever... I guess that alone makes me feel pretty useful already. But beyond that..."

    His eyes drift up towards the sky in thought for a few seconds... but then immediately after, settle back down to Mizuki, smile faint but warm. "I'd like to think it's not going too bad, so far."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki smiles. "Good good!" She walks back to the fire. "We may as well enjoy this since..." what's Xander's name again? "...he went to the trouble of building it." She sits in front of it.

    "An MMO is kind of like... a world /designed/ for that, isn't it? We all have useful, special skills and powers. But to get through the world's challenges without extreme difficulty, you need complementary abilities, more than any one person has. There may be others with your build, but there will always be SOME group that could use you. It's not like the real world where your special talent might be for something you never find out, or for some obscure thing where the person who needs it might be halfway across the world -- or even somewhere else in the same city as you -- and you'll never meet them. In here, we all get to be useful..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif follows along with Mizuki, stepping all the way up to where he can seat himself down besides her in front of the campfire, scaled legs crossing up together as he does and tail curling up behind him along the soil.

    "Yeah," he breathes out in easy agreement with her. "I told you before, right? That I kind of... would prefer to stay here, personally. That's a big part of it. Though..." A finger is tapped against one of the blunt claws tipping his foot. "There is one thing I really... really REALLY miss from the Outside."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods a little when Atif observes that this is exactly why he wants to stay. It's understandable... and they already had the discussion about the pitfalls of THAT last night.

    Mizuki tries to look thoughtful and strokes her chin. "Pizza? Ice cream? Other computer games? The next book or movie in your favorite series that was about to come out?"

    She looks more solemn. "Your family? Your friends? Your pet cat? Your pet dog...?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif's expression falls a bit on the more solemn guesses. "I... I was going to say donuts..." He murmurs quietly, thus, before peeking down at the ground between his legs.

    "The rest of all that is a little... complicated, for me."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods a little. "Those fish donuts must've been so disappointing. Well, I'm sure you're not the only one... there's gotta be someone in here who can make donuts, and someone who knows how, and when they meet..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "The bento Hifumi made was pretty good though!" Says Atif, suddenly cheering up all over again. "Imagine if someone puts that same kind of effort on making other foods... like donuts, or pizza, or anything else! Rather than... you know, using the in-game menu to just form them out of data instantly."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods. "If only it weren't just about the effort... I've got the fire, I've got the monster drops, but I don't have cooking skill... I can't even just grill a steak..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Me neither..." Atif observes, with a bit of a rueful note. But then his voice picks up again, and the side of one scaley foot nudges against her shin. "That's another way for people to be useful for others here, right?"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki blinks. "I guess that's true..." she scratches her chin. "What if this is like... some mad psychologist's experiment to see what happens when you put people in a world where they're actually needed?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "... That would be..." Atif starts to say, but his words drift off. His crimson brows furrow up together, and he stares at the fire for a moment. "... I honestly have no idea what to even think of that. ... He'd probably deserve a punch in the nose, though. I know a lot of people don't like being unable to log out, and that's just not fair for them."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods. "I suspect it's more complex than that. Whatever's simulating this world is an immense amount of computing power. But perhaps there's some catharsis in imagining improbable reasons for our imprisonment we can laugh at."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "I suppose some people would find that a much better thought than this just being some kind of bizarre mistake," Atif muses, scale-tipped finger scratching idly along his jawline. "Just some glitcch in the system everyone's panicing to patch out."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki groans. "Uggggh, that'd be the WORST! No bad guy we can punch at the end, just 'accidents happen!'"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif stares at Mizuki, then, over her response to that possibility. A long, hard, blank stare that lasts for seemingly an eternity. And then...

    "...Ppbbhth." He bursts into laughter.

    "I am not even a little surprised you said that!" He says, in between rumbling sounds of laughter, just barely held back by his hand coming up in front of his mouth. "You are just as anime as I am afterall."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "It'd be like watching the entirety of an exciting anime with all these twists and turns and mysteries... and then then just before the climax the main character wakes up and it turns out all of it was just a dream." Atif flashes a toothy grin with that comparison -- and though his teeth aren't quite as sharp and fang-like as Xander's were, it might still seem a bit more intimidating than most other races doing the same. Not his intention, obviously.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki chuckles. "I mean... I know that, in a sense, it means there's less evil in the world if this wasn't an act of malice, but how unsatisfying would that be?"

    "Not that I prioritize that over good, but I mean, it'd do a number on all of our psyches once we get out of here."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "It'd be like watching the entirety of an exciting anime with all these twists and turns and mysteries... and then then just before the climax the main character wakes up and it turns out all of it was just a dream." Atif flashes a toothy grin with that comparison -- and though his teeth aren't quite as sharp and fang-like as Xander's were, it might still seem a bit more intimidating than most other races doing the same. Not his intention, obviously.
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki groans. "'Ya ran outta ink too, didn't ya, ya bastards...'" She hangs out with Wisteria, sharp teeth don't bother her!

    Her tail twitches happily. "I'm glad we met today." She opens the menu and sends him a friend request. "So, you workin' on anything in particular these days?"
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki's groaning answer leaves Atif to maintaining that toothy grin for a moment longer. And then, her following words make it recede to something warmer and more sincere.

    "I'm glad, too," he says, softly, reaching over to give a squeeze to her shoulder the instant she's sent the friend request over. While his other hand works through the menu to, in turn, accept the friend request.

    The question that follows makes him laugh a bit akwardly. At himeslf, more than anything else. "Nothing... specific, tell you the truth. I guess I've had a bit of a focus problem lately. Wanting to help as many people in as many ways as possible kinda ends up resulting in just... going all the hell over the place, it turns out."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki nods. "I mean... I'm kinda all over too. Learning more about this world, investigating whatever's going on in Ezzo, helping clear the tower... And taking time out for soul-searching conversations like this... There's just so much to do in this world, even working to find a way out of it."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Always something to do... Well." Another light nudge of his foot against her shin from Atif. "You have me on your list now. So don't hesitate to call if you could use some help with something. Or just in general could use another Anime Character around."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki laughs! "Well, at least I'm getting to meet some cool people trapped in here." She stretches. "...One last thing. How's... being a salamander? Is there anything... weird, that makes you feel a bit seperated from the others here? Or perhaps that's a topic better for another time."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "I don't know about me being cool though..." Atif insists with a sheepish laugh, but beyond that he doesn't argue the point. "Mmm..." He sends a look down at his scale-coated hand, then. "I don't really know how to explain it," he says. "I still have mostly human parts, you know? The scales felt a bit weird at first, and sometimes I kind of forget I have... this." The thick tail lifts up and thumps against the ground with that, in indication. "No one here really seems to judge anyone for their race choice either, so... It's been pretty interesting, if nothing else. And hey..." He uncrosses his legs, and lifts both his feet up, grinning wide. "I don't need shoes!"
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    "Hello." Mizuki gives her scarf a little flip behind you. "Scarf. You MUST be cool."

    She winces a little when he says he hasn't met racists. "Guess you haven't talked to many Landers..." she mutters.

    She smiles at his enthusiasm for shoelessness, and lifts her own feet in response. Yes, there are toe beans. Then she leaps to her feet. "Being a cat has been pretty great! I can sleep comfily anywhere. I've got fur so the cold doesn't bother me so much." She points at her eyes, "I can see in the dark, smell better" she points at her ears, "hear better", then at her feet, extending her claws, "I've got a rake attack every time I pounce, and in general, this body is in better shape than I've ever been in my life. I can jump super high and climb everything. I'm a freakin' parkour ninja and that's AWESOME."

    "Man." She's practically bouncing with happiness. "Man. When I list it all out like that, how could there ever be a downside?"

    She sighs and sits back down, resting head on hands and elbows on knees. "But I resorted to eating raw meat monster drops when there was no flavor in other food, and..." she sighs. "Someone I went on a convoy duty with, after I messed up at some stuff, said I was 'only good at being a cat'. And when I asked them to apologize later, they fast-talked me into thinking they had when they didn't, and when I called them on THAT, they refused to apologize. I don't even KNOW them but I wonder, if THEY said it, are other people thinking the same thing?"

    "...This all sounds so silly when I actually say it out loud..."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    The smile fades away from Atif's features, and he looks outright apologetic, now, even if Mizuki's recounted woes aren't due to anything he has done.

    "...There's people like that everywhere, I guess," he murmurs, with his hand settling onto her shoulder, remaining there for a bit longer this time around. "But not everyone is like that, either. I... know it's not easy, but it's best to try to not dwell on it too much."

    A corner of his mouth twitches upwards, then, while his hand gives her shoulder a squeeze. "'Sides. I for one think you're good at being a friend, too."
Mizuki
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Mizuki smiles at the last bit. "And cats ARE... well, they can be affectionate sometimes, but it's hard to say they're good at being friends." She gives him a quick hug. "Thanks."

    Then she glances at the fire. "I think I'm going to take a nap around this warm fire. I don't mind if you stay, or maybe you have other things to get to... but it was really nice talking to you."
Atif
Overworld - 3 - 0 - 0


    Atif's taken enough by surprise by that quick hug that he doesn't have time to react to it in more ways than just a quick squeeze around her with a single arm. Huh, the scales covering the other half of it don't actually feel that uncomfortable, it turns out.

    "I'll probably stay a while," he offers. "To keep watch, if nothing else. But... yeah. It was nice."