"Okay, my magic is about halfway out." Kokoso stood up and turned away, "I think it's about time to leave."
"That's close enough to depletion." Maria agreed.
"We're leaving now then?" Noel asked tiredly.
"Yeah...tired?" Maria asked, slightly amused.
"Hmm, a little."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4xa9bQAbyJ
"Well, you can take a nap when we get back, but gee, I think I'll have trouble keeping Kokoso and Spring in line without you." Maria giggled.
"You'll manage...I honestly couldn't get any sleep last night, I was up all night waiting for this mission."
"You shouldn't deprive yourself of sleep like that." Kokoso admonished.
"I wasn't trying too...I just...felt really anxious about this whole idea...what if we have to fight someone I knew, and I only remember later?" Noel let out a deep breath and followed the rabbit Animen into the next room.
"It's true our goal isn't to fight," Maria agreed, "especially given that anyone could have been you, we don't know what the king has over these people's heads, but I think...if we just spend our energy repelling the enemy soldiers, then how many times will we repel the same ones, over and over again? If we can let them go, we will."
"You're right," Noel sighed, "anyone here could be me...but they're not, if they were, they had better have a reason for standing in your way, if I was trapped like that...and had to fight you with everything I had, then I would want nothing less than the same in return...if I ever fight you, then I'll be dead either way."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡXqCv6hwXbQ
"They're either like me, or they're like the person I never want to be, if they have to fight you, they won't want to, if they knew our goal, they would see that it's to stop Unseason, if this isn't what they want, they can't just drop their weapons and let us go, so if you have to fight them either way, then it's best not to wonder why, but if we allow ourselves to get swarmed, it's the end for someone and I'd rather believe Unseason can be felled then know the untimely end approaches." Noel frowned and stared at the ground, "If I willingly fought you, I'd have to have been fooled into thinking I was better than you."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡOYL2mcYudz
"Either way we'll have to wonder." Maria replied solemnly.
"Even if it's physically easy, it'll take different tolls than we're used to." Kokoso agreed.
The three found Spring and Autumn running with a paper sack in their possession, heading for the beach, where Byrd and Cathryn anxiously waited for their return.
"So, Kokoso's only halfway out of magic," Maria reported, "how did you two hold up?"
"Well, Spring was standing in an ally with her spear enchanted, and she's at half empty too, it took until our orders were done!" Autumn exclaimed.
"Hmm," Kokoso pranced over to the pair, "those are some of those small burgers from Crosses and Knots, right?"
"I think so, they're the one's in the brick building next to the burned down brick building?" Autumn inquired.
"Yeah, yeah, that's the one!"
"They're calling themselves Tic Tac Toe now, but yeah, same place!"
"It's been a while since I had one of them." Kokoso remarked, taking the bag as Autumn offered it to him, "Hey, Cat, Byrd, remember when I used to bring these back?"
"Crosses and Knots?" Cathryn smiled.
"They're calling themselves Tic Tac Toe, but it's the same place!" Kokoso confirmed, "Let's try to hurry on back before these get cold!"
"What a marvelous novelty," Autumn declared, "but who would ever decide that making small burgers would be efficient?"
"Think about it, Auh," Spring began, "if you had an idea for a cute burger and you liked it, then why wouldn't others catch on?"634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ765EVTrcjP
"True...what a brave century we're living in, that has such foodstuffs in it!" Autumn cried.634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡnQ2rynXmtD
Byrd lowered Kokoso and Maria, who turned to check on her rabbit friend, who shuddered slightly upon landing, "I don't know why the return trip always leaves me feeling dizzy."
"It's probably relief," Cathryn assured him, "it'll pass."
"Thanks, I feel so much better now." Kokoso said monotonously, trying to keep the growing smile off his face.
"So, the usual teams?" Autumn turned to Maria, "Me, Byrd, and Cat?"
"Uh, yeah," Maria turned around to Noel, "you said you were taking a nap, right?"
"Nah, I think I'm feeling a bit more awake now." Noel informed, "I should be good to go."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjKd0X8hsnA
"If you say so." Maria sighed.
Kokoso opened the bag he'd been carrying for Autumn, "For now, it's time to eat. Don't drop this on the beach," he warned, "or it'll be-"
"A sand-wich!" Spring cried.
"Great, now you're stealing my jokes." Kokoso growled playfully.
"Could have been a sand witch." Spring smirked, taking a sandwich from the bag.634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡRNqPrZTt0d
After their lunch on the beach, Byrd, Cat, and Autumn went to the woods, while Maria, Noel, Spring, and Kokoso stayed at the Wolfe.
Historia visited the Wolfe and ordered a coffee. She sat there, writing until business slowed down, when she waved Maria over, "I heard about them planning something," Historia whispered when Maria sat down, "they've got plans to lure their android back in, this is somehow going to go down in the summer, now, I have a sneaking suspicion it involves your Seasonal Girls somehow, like they know there's someone around beating up monsters, but for some reason...they're not going to step foot in these Wilds, in this village, the best part is they seem more concerned with setting up the arena than anything."
"So we can relax a bit before breaking in for real." Maria smiled, "That's great news, and we'll be stronger than ever once we have Summer and Winter on our side."
"Exactly, but you'll have to find their territory, there are eight season locations at all times, you know about two Fall locations, the canyon and the waterfall, but aside from the Spring spring, there's also the Spring spring vine forest, a forest of springy vines, these vines are often used to get up to the branch they grow from," Historia took a sip of coffee before returning to the subject, "there's also the Summer summit, which is higher up the mountain where you lot camped on your way to the Refractory Construct, then Summer prairie, and finally, there's the winter locations, Winter lake, and Winter caverns, now, the caverns and summit are on this side of the Refractory Construct, there's a chance either one will have the related Seasonal Girl, but not both at once."
"We need to find the other locations, then." Maria sighed.
"Yep, and you'll want to act fast, you've only got three months to find your way there, get used to the monsters that live there, figure out what order you'll hit the locations, you'll find the Winter caverns under the summit's mountain, you're making good time so far, you've already challenged the monsters in the caverns and beaten them, now you can focus on the locations north of the Refractory Construct...you'll be pleased to hear there's a Rosetta Mosaic there, although I've had to seal it so that the Company didn't get their mitts on it, you can easily break it with celestial magic, only the Knights of Gaia can break the barrier, they'll use earth magics to break it."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIweatBjjRX
"Well, some things she was said were out of our league."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡr3W1GZ6H7n
"There are some things she's not allowed to say...yes, yes, yours truly forbade it, just like I didn't let you tell her what her portrait title was, but it was all to keep you from getting reckless, same with her."
"And why exactly is 'Goddess' part of her title?"
"Because, I wanted two gs in the name, plus 'Goosey Greater Spirit just sounds weird." Historia smirked at Maria's confused expression, "It's not always fun to just write history, sometimes I want to leave my impression with a little humor, is that so wrong? Anyways, Mother Goose is pretty powerful, more than she knows, but not in the ways that would help her do what you've done, that's where the Knights of Gaia come in, and I know I could go ahead and stick that title on you and the other six, since fighting the Company and Unseason is basically the job description...and so I will."
"I thought it was supposed to be what I thought of her, though, not your commentary."
"True, but you've seen her, you kind of have that impression, right?"
Maria sighed resignedly, "I guess."
"Anyways, I wanted to be the one to explain something that probably hasn't crossed Mother Goose's mind yet, what category is lightning in?"
"Hmm...I don't know."
"It's not fair to say that since it's static electricity it goes right into the earth box, since Autumn herself would have a tough time generating the power, and really, all it is is the purest expression of energy, like fire, but Summer can't actually produce lightning, so it's often called the celestial element. That's all I wanted to say...there's so much I wish I had done differently back then, that I will do now."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡPkfF6GvO5P
"I guess if something happened back then, I can't blame you for taking precautions."
"Oh, something did happen, a lot of people died because they thought they could do anything, then when the truth was revealed their hearts were crushed and they despaired, many suffered for it." Historia stood up and swallowed the last of her coffee, "Well, I'll tell you when I learned something else."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡW6WfpTHGfN
Maria turned around to find the others standing behind her, bored, "You guys want to find the others?"
"Byrd and Cat said their families are having dinner at their place," Kokoso informed, "we don't need to be here tonight."
"Then it's time for an expedition." Maria started upstairs to grab her weapons.
Spring clasped her hands and turned to the others, "Everyone should go grab their gear."
"Except Noel," Kokoso pointed out, "she is a weapon, or at least, she's like Maria's hand is to her claws."
"True, hmm, but isn't so odd to see her empty handed when all of us have these weapons?" Spring remarked.
"It is, but she's hardly empty handed." Kokoso sighed, "I kind of wish I could walk around, in my armor and weapon."
"Okay," Spring looked around the woods and turned back to the group, "feels like Autumn's over...near the Spring spring, heading towards where Historia told you the Winter caverns are."
"Then let's hurry, before they move ahead too far." Maria advised, running ahead of the others.
They found the others and explained the situation, then started for the Refractory Construct, traveling beyond the Fall waterfall.
"Over there's the Spring spring vine forest, we'll have to pass through if we want to find the Winter lake." Spring pointed down at a path across the river, grown up with shrubbery, "There's lots of bug monsters that you can see from here, including giant spiders."634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡHuDf4cKDiz
"Fun times abound." Noel groaned.
Kokoso chuckled at her remark, "Sounds like she's picked up Byrd's sense of sarcasm."
"Right," Spring pointed again at the forest, "there's also the prairie on the other side."
"Just like how both the mountain and the canyon are beyond Spring spring." Maria's widened as she made a realization, "This is a lot like a course, everywhere we've been is a straight line, with the starting point at the village, so is there also a village on the other end of this course?"
"U-uh, you'll see," Spring chuckled sheepishly, "in the words of Historia, 'no spoilers!'"
"No spoilers?!" Maria gasped, "What is this, a book?"
"No, just...don't want to say too much, keep your mind on other things, like the journey!" Spring waved them over, "Come on, let's go."
"Oh, Maria, I forgot to mention," Autumn turned to Maria excitedly, "you should consider putting small burgers on the list! They were so cute, and the best part is if you get full, you can just have fries and let someone else have the rest of the meal!"634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡFVAdXy8QZg
"You just like cute foods." Spring giggled.
"Well, so do you!" Autumn pointed out.
"Guilty." Spring confirmed, leading the group forward.634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7ECH3ebVqg
A/Ns: Updated 1/29/2017.634Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡNPuZpm2DD2