Part 70: Vanessa - Moulder, LuteWell, Joshua, like anyone, is still at the whims of petty fate, and it has apparently decided to fill my stocking with coal.
Kind of mixing my analogies, aren't I? Oh well, let's have some supports.
Supports - Vanessa
Starting Points: 15
Points Per Turn: +2
Turns to Max Support: 113
Critical Evade: +5
: Vanessa, how are you holding up?
: Father Moulder. We are struggling, but I'll pull through somehow. Say, Father Moulder...
: You want to know about Prince Innes, don't you? He's doing well. I was worried for a moment, but he'll be fine.
: Oh! I, uh... Thank you. ... How did you know?
: Well... You see, as a priest, I've met people from all walks of life. Some of them--like you--well, I can read them like an open book.
: You...can read my mind? That's so...embarrassing.
: No, no. It's not like that. I just mean you are a pure, straightforward girl. That's a compliment worthy of a knight.
: Do you think so? Thank you, Father.
: Hm. Say, would you like to hear a story from the prince's youth?
: I'd like that, Father. Very much!
: Hm... Oh my! You know, I think we'd better take care of our enemies, first.
: Look out! Over there! Stay here, Father. I'll take care of this.
: Yes, I think that would be best.
: Tell me your story another time, though. I'd like to hear it.
: I'd be delighted. Another time, then.
: Yes, Father!
: Well, do you have time for that story I promised?
: Certainly, Father.
: It was over ten years ago, when the prince was just a child. There was a ceremony at the castle, with a trick archer of sorts.
: A trick archer?
: Yes. He was a very famous and undeniably skilled archer from abroad. He was to shoot a tiny target that had been placed in the distance. However, in the middle of the show, someone stopped him from shooting.
: Oh, no... It wasn't--
: Yes, it was young Prince Innes. He said, "That's not far enough! Move the target back farther!" Then, he insisted on trying himself.
: That's so like him!
: Isn't it? King Hayden tried to stop him, but... Well, you know how he is. He doesn't listen to anyone. And so, it became a contest between our prince and this foreign archer.
: So, what happened?
: First, they established the ground rules. Each person was to shoot at the target. If both arrows hit, they increased the range. They simply continued to move the target back until one person missed the mark.
: Sounds simple enough.
: Ah, but the two were evenly matched. Every shot was a perfect bull's-eye. The crowd cheered, and the target moved ever farther back... But then it came to the turning point. The foreign archer said, "This is no test. Let's move the target back more." It seemed like bravado, but the archer actually had a clever tactic in mind.
: Clever? How so?
: They had been shooting for some time, and the archer's arms had grown weary. Precision archery is far more taxing than the battlefield, you see. So even though he was a skilled archer, he was at the limits of his endurance. He was still hitting the mark accurately, but his arm was quivering more and more. Everyone knew that the prince was on the verge of victory.
: I don't understand. They were shooting at the same target, shot for shot, right? Why would moving the target make any difference?
: Yes, they were still shooting at the same target. However, the archer suggested that they move the target much farther away... Much farther than any child Innes's age could hope to loose an arrow to.
: Oh, that IS clever!
: Even the archer, with his trained arms, was firing at his maximum range. In fact, he almost missed the target! Then, it was the prince's turn.
: It was clearly too far away for the young prince to hit the target. But His Highness was undeterred. He drew his string and fired up into the sky. The arrow did not merely hit the target. No, it was a perfect bull's-eye! You see, the prince arced his shot to extend his range beyond its limits. To hit a target this way requires incredible skill, but the prince did it. And then he turned to the archer and said, "Shall we move the target back farther?" The archer looked so crestfallen. He admitted defeat, and it was settled.
: That's amazing...
: That it is.
: Thank you very much, Father Moulder! That's incredible! I'm even more--
: Oh... No, nothing.
: I'm glad you liked the story. Keep up the good work, Vanessa.
: Yes, sir!
: I'm glad to see you well, Vanessa. You do your fellow pegasus knights proud. We are blessed to have you fighting at our side.
: You credit us warriors too much, Father. Without healers, we would all be lost. Nothing I say can tell you how much I value your presence here.
: We are all doing our part in this war. No need to thank me.
: I'm serious! Without your help, we would never survive these skirmishes!
: I'm gratified by that. Thank you.
: Father... Thank you again for the other day.
: Hmm? Oh, you mean that story?
: Ah... You know, you remind me of myself, twenty years back.
: Oh, never mind... ... Good luck to you, Vanessa. I don't know where this will lead, but I'm sure the prince knows your feelings.
: Father Moulder, I only aspire to be worthy of his greatness. I expect nothing in return.
: Are you sure?
: Well, do what you think is best for you. We all carry many burdens... To country, family, duty, honor... However, we are all ultimately free to embrace or reject those burdens. If you find yourself in need of spiritual guidance, speak to me.
: Father Moulder, you're so kind. Thank you. I'm so grateful to have you on the field with me.
: Vanessa, we fight for the greater good. We fight for our country, for our friends, and...for ourselves.
: You're right, Father. In so many things.
Starting Points: 10
Points Per Turn: +2
Turns to Max Support: 115
Critical Evade: +5
: You must be Lute!
: And who are you?
: I'm Vanessa. I'm captain of Frelia's pegasus knights. And this here is Titania. We're both pleased to meet you, Lute.
: Ah, the pegasus, the proud, winged horse. You know, they only attach to someone they accept as their master. And did you know that pegasi fly by kicking the air, not by flapping their wings? It's a common misconception, but wings are mainly used for gliding.
: ...Yes, as captain, I learned all this long ago. Plus, if they flapped their wings constantly, no one would be able to ride them.
: In some countries, the word pegasus means "fountain" or "ocean." Different cultures have different stories about the creation of the pegasus. In one legend, there was a monster who could turn anyone into stone. When the monster died, its blood seeped into the ground. There, a pegasus was born.
: Interesting... You are very knowledgeable.
: I know.
: ...Well! Thank you for the lesson. I'm glad we're on the same team. It was nice meeting you.
: Yes, nice to meet you, Titania.
: I'm Vanessa!
: Um... No.
: I meant...Vanessa, right?
: I'm happy to know that I've made such a strong impression on you, Lute. ... So, what can I do for you?
: It's common knowledge that pegasi have strong resistance to magic. I developed a new counterattack to that power, but it still needs refining. I guess what I'm saying is... Can I try it out on Titania?
: What?! No! Of course not!
: I was joking.
: Sigh. You said it with such a straight face... You definitely had me fooled.
: Thank you! That's so sweet of you to say.
: It wasn't a compliment! Besides, you really don't seem like someone who has much of a sense of humor.
: Is that right?
: Yes... And it seems like your magic is the real thing. When you defeated the enemy the other day, I saw a sharp flash of magic from above.
: Gee, I wonder why that happened...
: Because...you're good?
: Why, yes! You are 100 percent correct! For once.
: My point is, we don't have enough mages in Frelia, so we're counting on you. When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a pegasus knight like my sister. I was also interested in magic, but I just didn't have the talent.
: Well, you are a great pegasus knight, so it's worked out fine. Besides, I am also interested in becoming a pegasus knight.
: Where are you in your training?
: I'm at 98 levels out of 158 levels total.
: That's very impressive... Anyway, let's just do our best out there, shall we?
: Of course.
: Lute, did you know this? The wings of a thousand pegasi are an incredibly potent aphrodisiac.
: I...I didn't know that... OK, now I really need Titania's help. Wait! Wait! I was just kidding! Hush, Titania! Hush! I was joking!
: I see... I was, um, kidding, as well. Heh heh? Hee hee! Consider it payback. But, Lute, I never thought you would try to steal the wings right off her back! Guess the battlefield is a lonely place! Ha ha ha ha! You know, I'm often told that I need to loosen up and not be so serious. I'd always tried to be like my sister. She's very strong, as both a knight and a person. Maybe I've tried too hard. But it's so much easier to loosen up with people like you around. Thanks!
: I see.
: When I'm with you, I can relax and just be myself.
: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.
: That was a compliment! Jeez. You're a tough one... When this war is over, would you like to come visit me in Frelia? You could ride a pegasus if you'd like.
: That would be an illuminating experience. But I have to start reading up on pegasi behavior now, so I won't get thrown off. Do they like carrots?
: Well, I don't know about that. I'll let you do your research. I must go now. See you later, Lute.
: Yes, Vanessa.