Part 24: ARC III: Part 2: The Birth of Shroud.ARC III: Part 2: The Birth of Shroud.
So we all enjoy a few moments of peace on the carriage to Pearlton before...
I was attacked... by some thug who calls himself Sparrow.
You've heard of him too?
Certainly. Bad news, that one. You're lucky to be alive.
He also knew enough to use earth magic. That proves he was informed about how Shroud fights.
There's something that doesn't add up about this whole incident... It's driving me crazy.
I've never seen an earth mage move so fast.
I don't get it.
Magic does more than just allow a person to cast spells. It has unique effects on their body. Cade's healing magic slowly mended his wounds after he was hurt.
If he was an expert cleric, he might have recovered in just a few hours.
My wind magic also makes me very light. I can jump or fall a great distance without getting hurt.
All schools of magic have these types of side effects. A fire mage will be able to resist extreme temperatures. A lightning mage will gain incredible reflexes and be able to see in the dark. Holy magic helps someone tap into more ethereal powers like telepathy.
What about earth?
Earth magic is supposed to make someone very durable. How else do you think Vec survived Shadehorn's punch?
I wish I had gotten to see that.
The thing is... it makes a person heavier as well. Sparrow was anything but heavy.
That is curious. I wouldn't even know how to begin explaining it.
We'll be passing through Rellenia on this trip. Should we stop and head over to Equipment King?
What do you think, ingrate?! Might as well just drop a bag of gold on Kovak's doorstep!
It would be like paying for our own execution.
There's a short pause here...
Alone? Must have been so peaceful.
Other times with the Toutens. Am I right?
Cade, you were a Touten?!
Kind of. Not for very long.
Whoa!! When was this?!
Tell the story!
Might as well. We have several hours yet.
Tell it! Tell it! Tell it!
I am also curious. You've never gone into detail about that.
Well, why not...
When I left home, I began to travel west. That brought me out of the Blurn area and into the outskirts of the elven kingdom...
We watch Shroud make his way through the wilderness for a while, jumping off ledges and all that kind of thing.
WOMAN: Foul ruffians! You should be ashamed!
ROBBER: Didn't you hear me clown? I said get lost!!
Let those people go.
ROBBER: That does it. You were warned, meathead.
"Lucky for me... the fight was taken out of my hands."
ROBBER: I'm gettin' outta here!
Two of the robbers try to flee...
The goblin at the bottom takes out the other guy that tried to run...
Damn, Krom! That was nasty!
You are much too kind.
ROBBER: What in the name of Arcadius?! Run! Run!!
And those two flee the ogre just to run into a lamia of all things.
And they run back into the ogre, who clobbers them.
And Tyranda shoots the last robber.
Fine work, everyone.
Shroud clobbers the guy he KO'd the begin with, saving Tyranda from being shot or something.
You... you saved me!
You better have!! The Toutens always win and don't you forget it!!
OLD MAN: ....
What Grinfrak lacks in politeness, he makes up for in enthusiasm!
You can see Krom rousing the driver through the text box.
DRIVER: Ugh... what happened?
Your carriage got jumped. Good thing we were here.
Guys, come here!
I'm not sure. He helped me, though.
I was going to try and help those people... but you all beat me to it. I'm glad I got the chance to do something! I'm Shroud.
Interesting get-up you got there, Shroud. I'm Cyneric, and we are the Touten Corps.
You're not a normal human, are you? Where you from?
Not really anywhere. I've just been wandering.
Sounds like us.
The lamia then turns into a lizardman. What a shame...
The image of a monstrous and powerful female terrifies human males. Must be their deep-rooted fear of castration.
Do you all live around here?
Yeah! What are you getting at?!
I think he wants to come along!
A human wants to hang around with us?
Grinfrak, can't we meet anyone new without your incessant shouting?
We've never had a human before... got any skills, Shroud?
I've been trained to use wind magic since I was a child... and I have some experience with a spear.
Wind magic... that could be very useful. Well, he might as well come with us for the time being.
Cyneric, are you nuts?! Humans don't belong with the Toutens!!
"Don't fall behind, Shroud."
We can wander around here and talk to any of the Toutens, but they have nothing -really- interesting to say, though Shroud does gently turn down Pilc's offer of a lesson on semiotics. We talk to Morias to continue.
Where are we going?
Don't worry, not far. When we get back, dinner should be ready.
Yeah... After Lysander sacked Rellenia, his troops began to head south. They destroyed everything in their way.
I was just a child at the time.
Wait... you're not old enough to have been alive then, are you?
*chuckle* Humans and their short lives. Elves live longer, but we also take a longer time to mature than you do.
I was most certainly alive. This is where I grew up.
You were here during the Gallian attack?
I wouldn't be here if I was. My mother took me deep into the woods. We hid out there for weeks. Eventually we found a camp where we could hide out with other elves. I didn't see this place again for years.
Where was your father during all this?
My father was a creep.
Oh... sorry to hear that.
He ran off as soon as he heard that Rellenia fell. It was just as well. Nobody in Korrel trusted him anyway. His name was Morias also, but people would call him "Spider."
I guess it was because he would just hang in the background most of the time, then strike at the expense of someone else.
It was supposed to be an insult, but he actually enjoyed that name.
Did you ever see him again?
No. I don't even know if he's alive or dead. My mother lives up in the Blurn mountains now, but I haven't seen her in a long time.
Once Gallia was beaten, I wanted to come back here. She didn't.
I take it that's when you joined the Toutens.
Pretty much... but that's enough about me. What's your story?
I've just been wandering from place to place for years now.
Were you born around here?
Near that Gallian base?
I've heard that there was once one there. I got destroyed before I was born, though.
Ah, that's right.
My father was a farmer. He was determined to live a simple life. He was very wise, but there was something sad about him.
He had secrets... secrets that interested the wrong people. He died... when I was still a kid.
That's terrible! Who did it? What did they want from him?
I don't know... but my brother did. He fled from the same people who killed my father, whoever they were. After that, my mother lost it.
She was so scared for me that she didn't even want me to leave the house. Not even to go to school. At first I loved the idea... what kid wouldn't, right?
Now I regret it, though. I missed out on so much. I'm sure most other humans my age would know that elves live longer.
I never had a chance to learn simple things like that.
That's a real shame.
I started sneaking out of the house while she was asleep. That's when I first started wearing a mask and cape. I didn't want anyone from town to know who I was. Meanhwile, my mother just kind of... wasted away.
She's dead too, isn't she?
Yeah. Then I left home. I couldn't stay there anymore.
Wow... you're a real loner, aren't you?
You could say that.
You ought to stay here. We've never had a human before, but that doesn't really matter.
I don't know...
Do you always wear that whole costume?
These days I haven't seen much reason to wear anything different.
Sometimes I feel like my normal self is the disguise... and Shroud is who I am.
That's pretty melodramatic.
*chuckle* I guess it is. I don't have a family, though. I have nothing to define me... except this mask.
You've got to be hungry. let's head back to the camp.
I am indeed.
You'll feel more welcome after a good Touten fireside chat.
How often do you rescue people like that?
Quite often. We have a lot of clients.
Indeed. For a modest recurring fee, our protection is guaranteed. We patrol the surrounding area in order to maintain our reputation as the dominant power in this area. There are other groups of brigands, but none have proven as effective as us.
So... you wouldn't help someone that didn't pay you?
Why would we do that?
I don't know... never mind.
Fool! You don't know how things work out here, yet you want to join us?!
Grinfrak, shut up!
You shut up, stupid! I'll break your face!
Try it! I dare you! I won't have to feed Douglas for a year!
Enough! Shroud, you should not be afraid to speak.
I just... I just don't really think that's right. To save only people who give you money?
Well, we gotta survive.
We are not concerned with any notions of justice or fairness. Where was justice when Gallia invaded our homes and killed our families?
Where was justice when we were made into outsiders in our own lands?
That's not fair, Cyneric! He's suffered too!
With most of you, your negative experiences have left you with a contempt for typical systems of justice and morality.
He, on the other hand, finds comfort in trying to preserve it. Fascinating.
I wouldn't give up on him. once he spends some time with us, he'll understand.
You are right, Tyranda. Forgive me, Shroud. I am not familiar with human values. Perhaps I reacted too harshly.
This area of Relle is very rugged. There are canyons like this all over the place.
Too rugged. We elves like our nice flat forests. Probably why we never built here.
Did you hear that?!
She needs help!
Who is she? I can't really see from here.
Pilc turns into a copy of the woman.
We offered our services to her some time ago. She laughed in our faces... called us animals.
So now you're going to leave her at the mercy of those thugs?!
In a word... yes. Now let's get the hell out of here.
Shroud hesitates and then...
ROBBER: Where did you come from?!
Leave that woman alone or I'll have to get rough with you guys.
ROBBER: I don't think so, tough guy!
Shroud takes out the armored robber with his magic... and is then paralysed by the robbers own mage.
Wow. How did he make that jump?
I would attribute that to the lightness his body has taken on as a result of his wind magic proficiency.
Just what do you think you're doing?!
Tyranda draws her bow...
Not if he insists on saving that miserable wench, he isn't!
ROBBER: Finish him off!
Tyranda shoots the robber mage, and he goes down.
Tyranda! We are not getting involved! Put that bow away right now!
Sorry big guy, but there's no way I'm leaving him to die!
Morias and Douglas start running down the series of ledges.
"Why don't you see if you can take me on, you bunch of losers!"
ROBBER: Wise guy, huh? You asked for it!
There's a short scuffle and then two of the robbers are down and the goblin robber flees.
That should do it!
Thanks for the save.
Enough already!! All of you get over here now!
I am very irritated right now. In case you all haven't noticed, I am the leader of this group! I decide who we fight and who gets saved!
Do you not see, Cyneric? Our greenhorn thinks everyone should be saved.
I wish I could be that innocent.
That's not it. It may not sound realistic to you, but I think we need to have an ideal like that. It helps give us hope.
I just... I just don't know what I would do if I couldn't believe in something.
This isn't right for you, kid.
I suppose not.
He's gonna go? But we didn't even get a chance to rob a bank yet!
He wouldn't want to do that, idiot!
I guess the right place for me is still out there somewhere.
I believe you shall find it. You want to be a hero... and there are plenty of places that need one.
Yeah... and don't forget. Once a Touten... always a Touten.
No more sentimental nonsense. We still have a patrol to complete.
It must be odd to fight your former allies, though.
It does surprise me that Morias and the others have gone outside their usual territory.
Then Bones jumps up to hit and wake up Finley.
Wake up, you rude bastard!
I'm up! I'm up!
That's just great. You begged him to tell that story and you didn't even stay awake!
Give me a break, B-Man. I heard most of it.
What did you do after that, Cade?
I went north. Closer to Port Arianna.
How did you meet Bones?
Oh brother... we probably shouldn't talk about that.
Hmm? Why not?
He buried me.
You heard right. He threw me in a hole and filled it with dirt.
You have to understand... he was just flat on his back right in the middle of the road.
I was asleep!
There were bugs coming out of his eyes.
So what? That doesn't mean you had to just pronounce me dead right there!
But you are dead, aren't you?
Technically. But I still exist. The least he could have done was tap me on the clavicle or something. See if I woke up.
You looked like a rotting corpse. Most people don't like to touch those!
I guess this is a sore subject.
Whew. That was a lot of typing. And we'll handle... or start... Pearlton next update.