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Thread: [M|IC] The Price of Life (Ashen and Naming)

  1. #11
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    Such close scrutiny left Zula feeling a little awkward, and the blatant sympathy that followed only served to make things worse. The fire mage had adapted to the pain of her rotting flesh a while ago – mostly – and in that moment, she quickly decided that physical pain was better than this. Even so, she forced herself to remain still as the stranger finished their examination. Pulling away early would only lead to more questions later, so she decided to just let them rip the band-aid off, so to speak. She wasn’t in the habit of making friends, so situations like these were something of a rarity. Zula had no idea how she was supposed to respond, so she did the brave thing and ignored them. Her guest got nothing more than an awkward nod in response, and when they finally relented, Zula embraced the change of topic wholeheartedly.

    As soon as she was free of their attention, Zula quickly pulled her sleeve back down, hiding her affliction from sight once more. When her guest mentioned the shaman from her story again, Zula maintained her silence. She was perfectly happy to let the stranger digest all this new information at their own pace, if it meant their attention was lingering elsewhere. When her guest suggested that their memories might actually contain the knowledge she needed, Zula’s eyes widened a little in surprise. She’d learned to trust her gut, but wasn’t in the business of relying on other people’s hunches. She had no idea if the stranger’s instincts were correct, or if they were just the product of wishful thinking. And yet, despite her skepticism, she couldn’t help but feel a flutter of hope as she considered the possibility.

    When talk finally turned to the legality of their situation, Zula couldn’t help but chuckle softly, despite her lingering discomfort. She wasn’t sure what deductions her guest had made, but apparently their logic was infallible. “I’m no expert, but I suspect the way I broke in to an old facility and dragged you back here wasn’t strictly legal either. Nor were some of the things I had to do to get that information” Amusement tinged her voice, even as she tried to mirror their tone. “I’ll start worrying about the law when there’s a chance I live long enough for the consequences to matter.”

    The stranger’s confidence that they’d find a solution was completely unexpected, but Zula found it heartening. Unaware of the identity crisis that plagued her guest, she immediately assumed that their use of the word ‘we’ suggested that she’d actually won them over. Apparently taking a leap and showing them her affliction had been the right play after all, somehow. The fire mage wasn’t entirely convinced that going back to the lab would help – she hadn’t yet realised that familiar sights might shake some memories loose – and she didn’t like the idea of wasting so much time, but their enthusiasm was endearing.

    Zula had just opened her mouth to voice her thoughts on the matter when the stranger noticed their own impotence and backtracked a little. Her need for urgency went to war against the need for her one lead to not drop dead during their investigation, until she decided against pushing things. The next thing they spoke of gave the fire mage pause, though. Zula had been so caught up in her own issues that she hadn’t even considered how strange this must be for them on a personal level. They’d already discussed the time difference, of course, but they hadn’t touched on how far her guest’s memory loss really extended. A little unnerved, and a little worried that the subject might make them shut down again, Zula was quick to suggest a solution of her own.

    “If going back to the laboratory doesn’t pan out, then I know a couple of people who might be able to help you. Mages who specialize in shit like telepathy and oneiromancy. If you’re willing to let them rummage around in your skull for answers, then I can set up a few meetings.. But all that can wait.” Zula found it difficult to imagine the stranger refusing, given their situation. All the more reason to let them choose, though, since she was currently reliant on their willing participation.

    “In the meantime, there’s a shower just down the hall. You’re more than welcome to go clean yourself up whenever you’re feeling up to it. You should be able to find some clean towels…” Zula’s brows furrowed as she wracked her brain, just for a brief moment, before she quickly gave up. “…somewhere. Once you’re done, feel free to go digging through my wardrobe. You’re probably too big to fit into most of my clothes, but I’ve got a couple of oversized shirts and hoodies that might do the job.” Apparently Zula wasn’t particularly bothered by the possibility they’d stumble upon something private in the process, like her underwear, or any adult toys that were buried within her drawers.

    At long last, Zula pushed away from the desk and made for the door. She wanted to give her guest a little bit of privacy, and not just so they could clean themselves up. If they needed to have another freak-out, better to let them do so in private. Especially if that would help them come to grips with their situation. Zula made it as far as the door before she hesitated. With one hand resting on the wooden frame, she glanced back over her shoulder at her guest one last time.

    “You never told me your name.” Zula phrased it as a simple statement, but there was no mistaking the question hidden within. It almost felt a little unfair, for her to share so much without learning even that in return. If she gave one single fuck about propriety, then she might’ve been offended. Even if they were having memory problems, they had to remember that much about themselves at the very least…right?

  2. #12
    The Ashen One
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    Zula’s lax attitude towards the legality of her journey should have unnerved the amnesiac, but it only made them sympathize with her more. It sounded like the poor girl had tried so many things already to prevent the rotting of her body, which meant the ice mage was something of a last resort. Even if they never regained their memories, that didn’t mean they couldn’t help her. They’d try to figure it out, even like this. They didn’t voice it, but they silently promised they’d stop at nothing to help the one person who had shown them kindness.

    Unaware of their convictions, Zula continued on, mentioning other mages who might be able to help them remember who they were. Just the thought of some amateur witch digging through their memories made them grimace, though they quickly tried to rid their face of the distaste. What if those mages were wrong, and tried to convince them they were someone they weren’t? How would they ever know? Or worse, what if they did manage to remind them of their life before this, and they were some kind of monster? They didn’t know how to fix themselves if they were some kind of bigot. What if they had enemies to answer to? Did they really…want to remember? Maybe this was a chance to reinvent themselves, and help someone who needed them. “Thank you,” they mumbled under their breath. They would give the idea some thought—later, when they felt more grounded, and less like their whole personality was dependent on their fleeting whims.

    A shower after everything they’d been through sounded like bliss. They nodded along with Zula, eager to remove the twenty-year-old grime soaked into their pores. Her uncertainty about where her spare towels were gave them pause. She must not have had people stay over much, which wasn’t surprising considering the abrasiveness they had already picked up on. They didn’t know whether to feel honored or afraid, but they chose the more positive option and offered her a small smile as she tried to remember. The smile fell away, however, when Zula told them where they could find clothes for themselves. Maybe she didn’t mind them looking through her things, but they did. Had society progressed past the need for modesty among strangers while they’d been asleep? Not wanting to seem weird about it, they nodded along in silence.

    Zula started off, and the ice mage braced themselves for a shower. But Zula stopped before the hallway, and they met her eye. Her question gave them pause, and they looked away only briefly before returning to her with a smile. They shrugged. “Looks like you’ve got until the end of my shower to give me one,” they said. “You better think of something charming, eh?” They flashed her a cheesy grin before excusing themselves and walking past her into the hallway. It was a smoother move than just admitting they didn’t know their name, they hoped, and they only briefly wondered what kind of name Zula would pick before their mind wandered back to their shower.

    The bathroom wasn’t difficult to find. They turned into it and shut the door behind them, then looked around the room. There was a burst of color in here, and for several minutes, they looked between all the patterns across the walls, the floor, the carpets, the curtains. The decorations here were a lot louder than they were used to in such a sanitized research lab, and it was easy to get lost in all of the colors. Finally breaking their gaze away from the room, they battled with the faucet until the water was a decent temperature, then poked around the various bottled lining the tub for some soap. They discarded their gown on the floor, then decided to throw it directly into the trash, worn and stained as it was. Before they stepped into the shower, however, they caught of glimpse of themselves in the mirror.

    Once again, they were caught off guard by the face that looked so different from the one they thought they remembered. They looked over their arms and legs, trying to jog any memories about this freckle, or that mole, or the various scars they must have gotten somewhere. Finally, they moved their fingers between their legs, trying to solve at least that mystery. To their surprise, though, they had both—not quite male nor female—and they sighed. The universe wasn’t about to give them any clues, evidently. Things like sex or gender didn’t matter much to them, but they were growing frustrated with how adamant their old self was at remaining an enigma to them.

    Realizing how much time they’d wasted, they stepped into the shower. Zula’s soap was strong and unpleasant, but they tolerated it to vigorously scrub the dirt out of their skin. They watched the tinted water swirl around the drain, and they cringed. How had they gotten so gross? When they moved onto their hair, they pulled dark, sticky strings of…something out of it. They were mortified, and they wondered what Zula might have thought of them. When their lab exploded—that must have been where all this residue had come from. They clung to that memory, trying to remember anything else about what had happened, but by the time the water went cold, they were just as confused as before they started.

    Their fingers were wrinkled and they were shivering when they finally found a towel to wrap themselves in. Their skin was rubbed raw, and their hair was tangled from the wash, but they felt much cleaner. They had hoped their shower would be a good opportunity to remember some things, too, but they would take what they could get. They had to be patient, even if it was frustrating. There was no use in trying to force things.

    They stepped out of the bathroom and peeked down the hallway, hoping to find Zula. When they didn’t see her, they called her name, but she didn’t answer. They showed themselves back to her room, where they opened the first drawer they saw to find something to wear. They were greeted by Zula’s underwear, and they quickly closed the drawer, their cheeks warming. They tried another drawer, and another, until they had found an old-looking T-shirt that fit over their broad shoulders and a dingy pair of sweatpants that were just a bit too short. These would have to do until they found the means to get new threads.

    After getting dressed, they went back into the hallway, where they called for Zula, louder this time. “I hope you’ve thought of a good name!”
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  3. #13
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    The stranger’s hesitation seemed like an answer in and of itself, until they suddenly smiled at Zula. The words that flowed out of their mouth next were beyond anything she had expected, and the fire mage made no effort to hide her surprise. As her guest brushed past her and struck out in search of the bathroom, Zula spun after them. She opened her mouth to object, but no sound came out. By the time she’d recovered enough to find her voice, the stranger had already found their destination. They slipped inside and disappeared from sight, taking her opportunity to complain with them.

    Zula pursed her lips and glared down the empty hallway for a moment. She briefly considered going after them, before deciding that it wasn’t worth the effort, since they’d probably just insist anyway. Besides, she’d wanted to give the stranger some privacy, right? Barging into the bathroom behind them felt about as counterproductive as possible in that regard. Finally, she let out a soft sigh and resigned herself to her fate, before turning towards the opposite end of the hallway.

    She stepped out from between the narrow walls and into her living room. Just like her bedroom, it was of modest size, and filled with a collection of mismatched furniture. A two-seater chaise and an old armchair sat together by one wall, facing a dusty IKEA tv-stand that supported a flat-screen of respectable size. They were separated by a simple wooden coffee table that she’d picked up nice and cheap, and then condemned to life as a makeshift footstool. An oversized curtain covered the far wall, hiding an old cast-iron window and everything that lay beyond. Down the opposite end was a kitchen that looked just as old and worn as everything else in her apartment, partitioned away behind a bench that jutted out from the wall.

    Zula beelined for the old lounge, and collapsed atop it. A soft groan filled the air, and she wasn’t sure if it had come from her own lips, or the old frame. It was the sort of couch that everyone’s grandparents seemed to own. The upholstery was stained and threadbare, and the pattern was ugly, but Zula cared about neither of those things. The broken-in cushions were comfortable in a way that no modern, ‘designer’ couch could ever hope to be. Her only complaint was that it was small enough for her to use one armrest as a pillow and still have her legs dangle over the other, despite how short she was. Zula had tried to sleep on it for the past three days whilst the stranger had been occupying her bed, and had probably fucked up her back for life in the process.

    The fire mage swung her legs idly while she got comfortable, hoping that the motion would help burn off some of her restless energy. She couldn’t hear any running water yet, and she was already starting to chafe at the delay. Zula cast her eyes around the small room, searching for some sort of distraction, only for them to settle on the fridge. She found herself wondering if she had any more pizza, or if there was any alcohol laying around – not because she felt the need for either, but because it’d help her pass the time. After a few moments, she decided that getting drunk now probably wasn’t the best idea, and instead turned her attention to the task at hand.

    “Why the fuck do I have to name you?” Zula muttered the question softly to herself, eyes fixed on the cracked plaster of the ceiling above. She turned the question over in her mind slowly, but was met with a disappointing lack of ideas. Every possible name that occurred to her was dismissed relatively quickly, for a whole host of reasons. Was this how her parents had felt when they’d tried to name her? It was a sensation she hoped that she’d never have to experience again. She pushed the thought from her mind, forced herself to focus. She lay there until the sound of running water stopped, pointedly informing her that she was running out of time.

    The first time the stranger’s voice reached her ears, Zula ignored them, just because she still didn’t have an answer, and wanted to buy herself a little more time. The second time her guest called out, their voice more insistent than the first, Zula finally accepted her fate. She reluctantly rose from her position atop the couch and began to walk back towards the hallway, fully intent on seeing how they were faring. “Hold your horses, Frosty” she called out, just a moment before she stepped around the corner. Zula wasn’t sure where the stupid joke had come from. Hell, given their circumstances, she had no idea if the stranger would even get the joke. Maybe, if she were lucky, it’d stick.

    When her guest came into view again, Zula paused where she was. She ran her eyes up and down their figure once, giving their choice of clothing an appraising look. The results of their scavenging weren’t exactly ideal. She had no idea where they’d found those pants, because she certainly hadn’t seen them in weeks. Under the circumstances, though, they’d serve. “Those will do for now. Once you feel up to going outside, we’ll try and get you some clothes of your own.” Another thing to add to the never-ending list of shit she had to do while trying not to die. Fantastic.

    After a brief moment of silent thought, Zula shrugged. “I guess I should show you around” she offered, before turning on her heel and starting back the way she’d come. They passed another hallway door that she pointedly ignored, before coming to the room she’d been relaxing in just a few moments ago. It still felt just as old and unseemly as it had the first time, but Zula briefly wondered if that might not be better. If her guest had been frozen for twenty years, then maybe all the old-fashioned décor and outdated fixtures would have them feeling right at home.

    “The television is over there. Probably a little more modern than the ones you’re used to, but the core concept is still the same. I don’t have cable, but you’re welcome to stream whatever you want. The kitchen is over there. Help yourself to whatever you can find, but I don’t think there’s much at the moment.” Zula gestured towards each ‘feature’ idly as she mentioned it, and then promptly ran out of things to say. She wasn’t used to having guests over, so she didn’t have any rules or anything to explain.

    She finished by stepping over to the curtain covering the far wall, and pulled it back to reveal the cast-iron window beyond. They were several stories up, but all you could see through it was the fire escape, the apartment block opposite, and the grimy alleyway that ran between. Zula took a moment to unlatch one of the windows and swing it open, before leading her guest out onto the fire escape. The smell wasn’t present, but the breeze was nice, and the better vantage point allowed them a glimpse out into the street beyond. The stranger’s first look at the modern world. Zula leaned against the railing, her arms folded atop it, and shot them a sideways glance.

    “I know it’s a bit of a shithole, but it’s home. So, uh. Make yourself comfortable, I guess.”

  4. #14
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    When Zula met them in the hallway again, the ice mage swore she looked even more irritated than when they’d left her. “Frosty?” they repeated, an amused expression crossing their dark eyes. It wasn’t the most creative choice, and they certainly didn’t like the connection to an annoying holiday mascot, but they hadn’t given Zula much to work with. All she knew about them was that they were an ice mage. All things considered, Frosty was an apt name for them. “Froste,” they mused, tasting the variation. “With an E.” That felt more distinguished, at least. They weren’t sure if Zula had been serious about the name she’d given them, but they accepted it all the same. They smiled to themselves. Among all the frustration of not knowing who they were, they took comfort in finally having a name.

    Froste gratefully accepted the impromptu tour of Zula’s home and followed behind her. They didn’t know how long they would be staying here, and they hated the idea of further inconveniencing their host, but her considerate and welcoming attitude made them feel better about being such a burden. She led them to a living room, and Froste took in the worn, cozy furniture. The television stole their attention, thin and large as it was. They didn’t really know what Zula meant by streaming, but that was a question best saved for later. They wondered instead what kinds of shows or movies Zula liked, and what such things could tell them about their guest. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t remember any of their favorite shows, or if they had watched TV at all. If Zula would humor them later, they’d flip through the channels in the hopes of sparking some memory. Even if they didn’t, though, the idea of watching TV with someone sounded like the kind of comfort they could use after the chaos of their day.

    When the tour of the living room was over, Zula threw open the window. Froste cringed at the light at first, but once they’d adjusted to it, they approached and peered outside. For the first time, Froste gazed out at this new world, their curiosity peaking. They climbed out onto the fire escape with Zula, and though they were wary of being so far up, their acrophobia was silenced by their need to take everything in. They clutched the guardrail and leaned over the edge at the city below. Had they been living here before, too? Or maybe in a city like this one? If their research lab had been in a secluded cave, it was possible they could have commuted from a place like this. They wondered if they had ever missed home.

    Of course, they had seen cities before. They could remember photos in travel brochures of Paris and New York and Athens and Tokyo, of the picture-perfect appearance each of these tourist destinations showcased. But those were nothing like this city, whose breezes carried a perfume of street food and smog, whose people bustled about with a million places to be, whose buildings cramped the streets in a way that was barely practical. There was a beauty to a place like this, Froste thought, and they wanted to explore it all, see what mysteries this city held, experience for themselves what life was like for those they shared breath with. They had a million questions—for Zula, for the people walking below them, for anyone who would listen to them—but they didn’t know where to start.

    A breeze interrupted their thoughts, raising the hairs on their arms and sending a shiver down their spine. It was embarrassing, an ice mage not remembering how to regulate their temperature, and they climbed back into the apartment with only an apologetic grin sent Zula’s way. When the window was shut behind them again, and after they’d rubbed their hands together for warmth, they sighed softly. “You have a lovely home,” they told her. “I don’t think I thanked you properly for sharing it with me.”

    Now that their tour was over, there were so many things they wanted to do. They still had nothing in their stomach, though Froste wasn’t feeling up to chancing that yet. They wanted to figure out the TV, and finally give themselves a chance to relax, but they would probably have time for that later. What they really wanted to do was see more of the city. “Do you have a spare sweater?” they asked Zula. “And maybe some shoes? I don’t know if it will help me remember anything, but I think I’d like to walk around a little outside. It’s been…so long since I’ve been able to do something like that.” Longer than they could really know. Just how much had the world changed when they weren’t looking? More than anything, Froste wanted to see the people, to observe their behaviors and listen to them talk with each other. Maybe they’d learn a thing or two about who they were supposed to be.

    They met Zula’s eye and tried on their warmest smile. “I’d love for you to join me,” they continued. “But if you’re not feeling up to that, I’m sure I could find my way back here. …Eventually.” They weren’t even sure if they would go if Zula turned them down. They didn’t trust themselves to not get lost in a city they didn’t know, especially with how dazed they still felt. But Zula didn’t need to know that—they just hoped she’d pity them enough to go along with them.
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  5. #15
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    When it became apparent that Froste wasn’t going to respond, Zula threw a sideways glance towards them. After a few seconds, though, she decided against pressing the issue. Empathy had never been one of her strong points, but she knew enough to suspect that they had their reasons. Her guest was probably still coming to grips with everything that had happened to them, or maybe this small glimpse of city had been enough to throw them through another loop. So long as they weren’t freaking out like before, though, the fire mage saw no reason to intervene. She just turned her attention back to the street beyond, perfectly happy to relax in companionable silence until they were ready.

    Given their close proximity, there was no missing the full-body shiver that ran up her guest’s spine a few moments later. Zula had barely noticed the chill, thanks to the jumper she was using to hide her ailment from sight. When Froste slipped back inside, the fire mage followed without complaint. She slipped through the window with the easy grace that came with familiarity, before taking a moment to pull it closed behind her. She even took a moment to pull the oversized drapes back into place, obscuring the depressing little alleyway from sight.

    She turned back towards Froste just in time for them to break their silence, and compliment her on the loveliness of her home. Both of Zula’s eyebrows rose towards her hairline then. When she’d called her apartment a shithole, she’d done so without a hint of self-degradation. In her mind, it had just been a fact, plain and simple. She might’ve thought that her guest was just fucking with her, if not for how genuine they sounded. Were they just being polite, then, or did they actually believe what they were saying? Before Zula could make up her mind, they’d already moved on to the next order of business.

    “Sure. Can’t promise that they’ll fit you any better than what you’re already wearing, though.” Zula punctuated her words with a casual shrug, before she started strolling back towards her bedroom, expecting her guest to follow. She wasn’t entirely convinced that letting Froste go outside so soon was the best idea, but after spending so long playing nurse, she was desperate to get out of her apartment for a bit herself. Besides, there was no way in hell she was letting her one chance at salvation go out there alone, especially if there was a chance they’d get lost. She’d just have to hope that they knew their limits better than she did, and if not…well, Zula knew from experience that she could drag them back up the stairs, if necessary.

    Back in her room, Zula knelt before the mess that was her wardrobe, and started digging through the contents. On more than one occasion, she grabbed an article of clothing and threw it aside with no regards for where it would land, just to get it out of the way. After a few moments, she came upon a grey, knitted sweater with long sleeves. It was embroidered with a diamond pattern, but in the same colour as the rest of the sweater, making it hard to notice from a distance. She threw this at Froste without so much as a glance in their direction, and immediately set about searching for the shoes. A few moments later, Zula turned towards her guest properly. She held up a pair of old Vans, styled in the basic black-and-white pattern that was their unofficial trademark.

    “They’ll squish your toes a little, but you should be able to loosen the laces enough to stop them from crushing the rest of your feet.” She handed these over a little more politely than she had the sweater. These new additions definitely didn’t match what Froste was already wearing, but Zula didn’t think it mattered. They were going out to explore, not to pick people up. They could worry about aesthetics later, after they’d dealt with the more urgent shit. The fire mage turned her attention back to the closet, and quickly dug out a pair of dirty, creased Nike shoes for herself. She took a moment to slip them on quickly, before she glanced back across at her guest to see how they were faring.

    “You don’t need me to tie them for you, right?” Zula teased. Her tone was playful, but after a few seconds, she realised that Froste might actually need help. In hindsight, it was a little hard for her to make assumptions about the information they retained when they’d forgotten something as basic as their own name. Zula had a feeling that this was going to get real tiresome real quick.

  6. #16
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    Froste awkwardly trailed Zula to her bedroom, unsure if she wanted them to stay put or some with her. As she took to her wardrobe and painted the room with its contents, they shifted their weight from one foot to the other. They wondered if they should help somehow, maybe pick up the clothes she was discarding and fold them into a neat pile on the bed, but ultimately they decided against it. They would just be getting in her way, and besides, they didn’t want to get buried under all the clothes she was still throwing. After a few minutes of her search, Froste’s attention drifted, and they looked over her bedroom yet again. It was the place they knew best, not that that was much of a statement, but they wondered if Zula would find that sentiment as amusing as they did.

    They hadn’t been looking at her, so when she tossed a sweater at them, they fumbled with it for an uncomfortably long time before it fell to the floor anyway. Froste was quick to pick it up and make like they had caught it. They ran their hands over the material, trying to decide if it was warm enough. They didn’t care for the pattern; they were practically a beggar, and they knew they couldn’t afford to choose the limits of Zula’s generosity. When they figured out a way to access whatever money they’d had twenty years ago, then they could work on not looking so mismatched and disheveled. Froste didn’t know if Zula heard their thanks over all the things falling around her. While she continued her search, Froste pulled the sweater on and held out their arms to check its fit. It would ride up their stomach if they had to reach for anything high, but it would do. They looked at the woman still making a mess of her bedroom for them. Froste had no idea what they’d do without Zula, and they only hoped someday they might be able to repay her with the memories and magic she sought.

    Like everything else they were wearing, the shoes Zula offered them looked small for their feet. Froste hesitantly bit their lip, hoping these things wouldn’t do any permanent damage before they could find bigger replacements. They graciously accepted the Vans and walked to the bed to try them on. As they looked over the shoe in their lap, though, they worried about the mess of old, dirty laces knotted in a way that was difficult to tug free. Even if they heard the teasing in Zula’s voice, they shifted under the weight of her question. “No,” they mumbled, even though the laces they were picking at weren’t budging.

    Ever since they had woken up—and before that, really—they had been nothing but a burden for Zula. Being unable to tie their own shoes would make them feel even more incapable than they already did, and they were determined to do something for themselves. Eventually, the laces did come undone, and Froste sighed in relief. It took them several minutes to re-lace them because they couldn’t remember how to. In their youth, their friends had held contests on who could tie their laces in the most unconventional and coolest ways. Actually, Froste had had shoes just like these, and they vaguely remembered the crisscrossing pattern they had shown off to now faceless people. They absently poked at their laces while they thought, until they suddenly looked up at Zula. They had remembered something. They turned back to the shoe they were nearly done lacing and undid it all just to redo it a different way. This time, they were confident they knew how.

    They ended with a monochrome checkerboard pattern, and when they tightened the laces, it all came together in a way that brought a proud smile to their face. So satisfied with their accomplishment, they almost didn’t notice how tight the shoes actually were. Froste offered their foot to Zula so she could look over the laces. “I think my friends and I used to play this game in school where we would reward whoever tied their shoes best. We even brought in other kids to judge, and once even a teacher.” Only then did they realize how silly it was to be proud of something so dumb, and the smile fell away from their face. Zula was waiting on them to leave, and here they were making pointless shoelace art.

    But they couldn’t just leave the other shoe. Luckily, its knot was much easier to tug loose, and it didn’t take Froste long to make the same pattern with this shoe. When they finished, tying it, they finally hopped off the bed. On their feet, they wondered how Zula could tolerate shoes with such little support, but they kept their complaints to themselves. “So,” they said, ready to move away from talking about shoelaces. “What kinds of places do you have in this city?” They started for the hallway and assumed Zula was following them. “What do you and your friends like to do for fun here?”
    Thanks to Craze for the beautiful Bravely set!

    ~Recruitment Thread~
    Spoiler: Ashen's Personal Hall of Fame 

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