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quid est VERITAS 015


Azar gains his spirit back too and smiles.

"This continent is big, but... I'm sure, with Vasco's help, I'll find more informations..."

Vasco waits as they arrive and turns around to the boys.

"Listen, there are many people. Many thieves as well.
I want you to stick close to me. If there's something you want to look at, tell me so, instead of just stopping.
I'm not going to search you here, got this?"

Azar nods.


"We'll use Lalune as our base of operation. We take a room here for a few days.
This continent has faster ways of traveling as your home, which makes this easily possible.
All our destinations are more or less close to Lalune.
We'll change the room to stay as soon as we have to travel further. Which I hope we don't have to."

Someone watches their arrival, out of the window of one of the big buildings in Lalune.
He's frowning and turns away from the window, picking his phone, to call Alexander Leon.
His voice is calm and collected as he speaks up.

"I have a job for you, Xander."

"Che, we're not little kids... but fine.
I guess it's pretty crowded..."

Merchant glances around, seeing all of the people.
He doesn't want to admit it, but he's kind of glad that there's an adult with him and Azar.
He doubts that they would have made it this far without Vasco's guidance.
He looks back to Ollo.

"Stay right beside me.
I don't want anyone swiping you."


"It's about time~"

Xander leans back in his chair at the bar, resting his phone against his shoulder and ear while his free hands are cleaning his rifle.

"I was wondering how many more bar meals I was going to be able to pay for without a job to do.
What did you have in mind, sir?"

Vasco isn't commenting your little rant.
His mind is wandering.

"The cursed village, Java's disappearance, Ollo, those kids...
How is this related to eachother? Did Java find something here and they let him disappear?
It's not unusual..."

Azar is looking around stunned.
He never saw so many people at once.
And the huge buildings...

"... they look odd..."

Eric sighs and places himself on a big, red couch.

"Someone would think it's a easy job.
But either I underestimated it... or overestimated Grey.
Whatever it is, I sent him over, to find a certain android.
He found him, much to my displease activated.
The target is with... two kids and a man...
I told Grey to get rid of them and bring the robot here.
He failed me in both.
I want you to take this over. I don't feel like... making my own hands dirty with such a nuisance.
It won't even be enough to kill my boredom."


Merchant glances up at the buildings with Azar.

"This is nothing like Barley..."

"Heh, I don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing, sir, but Grey was never really someone to be relied on."

Xander nods to the waitress as she drops off his drink before going back to cleaning his gun.

"But don't worry, I'll take care of things.
Your hands shall remain sparkling~"

"Y-yeah... everything is so big..."

Vasco smiles lightly.

"Just you wait, ahead of us is the hotel where we'll check in.
I know it's owner... we'll get a room for cheap there."

"... well, better don't disappoint me then. It looks always bad after talking so big.
I'll send you pics of them, as well as their expected location."

Eric ends the call and sends over the pics of the group, putting his phone back into his vest and huffs lightly.

"How troublesome... and boring!"

"Is that big too?"

Merchant's eyes widen, the same excitement that he had when he first heard about air-ships seems to return.
He smiles to Azar.

"I hope it's fancy!"

"I don't plan on it~"

Xander hangs up as well and waits for the pictures to send.
When they arrive, he examines them.

"Hmm... cute kids.
And the gentleman isn't too bad either~"

He chuckles and closes his phone so he can start on his meal which has just been served.
When he's done, he leaves his payment on the table, pulls his rifle over his shoulder and heads out.

"Oh yes, it is~"

Vasco leads them to a huge building. The walls are painted white and it looks very peaceful and bright.
It really stands out between all the grey buildings.

"Ah... it's pretty!"

Azar seems all excited too

We're gonna stay here?!"

Merchant stares at the building in awe.
He's never seen something to high-end.

"Let's go!"

He laughs and runs in.

Azar follows you closely.

Vasco pauses and looks around, before following in too.

Inside, it's as pretty as from the outside.
Vasco heads to the counter.


The man behind the counter looks up from his computer and smiles.

"Vas! How are you, sunnyboy?"

"Don't call me that please...
Did you reserve the rooms?"

"Of course~"

Merchant holds back a giggle at "sunnyboy".
He waits patiently behind Vasco, peeking over to look at the counter and all of the other things that he hasn't seen before.
He glances back to Azar with a smile.

"This is so cool~"

"It is!!"

Azar looks around very excited.
He points at a big pot with flowers.

"I''ve never seen those in Aria..."

The man behind the counter gives Vasco the keys.


Vasco nods.

"Thank you... boys?"

"They're really pretty..."

Merchant smiles and walks over, giving them a sniff.
He looks back over when Vasco calls them.

"Oh boy, let's go~"

He goes to follow Vasco.

As they leave for their rooms, Xander enters the hotel and walks to the counter.
He catches the group in the corner of his eye before looking to Benny.

"G'day, my fine man.
Do you have any rooms available?"

"Yes, and smell really good!"

Azar perks up and they head upstair.

Benny blinks, seeing the riffle.
It's not hard to tell that he's not excited abbout it.

"Yes... there's a room free in the second floor.."

Xander sees Benny's discomfort and smiles politely.

"What, this thing?
The safety is on, don't worry.
I'm just a hunter, passing through the city."

He give his rifle a light pat.

"Nothing but deer and rabbits will be harmed by this baby."

He nods, his smile growing bigger.

I'll take it!"

Benny nods, seeming a little more comfortable now, and gives you the key.

In the meanwhile, Erics sips on a drink, standing in front of the window again.
He's supposed to sign papers.
But the jobs of common people are so terrible boring.
Eventually, he decides to look whatever happened to Grey.


quid est VERITAS 014

Once Grey is down, Ollo quickly jumps down on him, using his body to keep him pinned down.

"Target immobile."

"Let's go!!"

Merchant takes Azar's arm and runs to the hatch.

Vasco quickly checks Grey's status and nods.

"Let's tie him down. It won't keep him away forever, but it will give us enough time to get a distance from him. And that way, he isn't able to contact whoever he called earlier right away..."

He looks around and finds a rope.

Azar follows you quickly to the hatch, looking back from time to time.

"Ah... you think they're okay..?"


Ollo gently lifts himself from Grey to give Vasco room to tie him up.

"Th-they'll be fine!
Just keep running, okay?"

Merchant hopes that the other two will be okay as he kicks at the lever to open the hatch.

"Come on!"

He pulls Azar off of the air-ship.

Vasco quickly ties Grey on a chair and nods.

"Okay, lets go out of here."

Azar follows you out.
He looks back to the ship, waiting.


Ollo stands and runs out to the hatch.

"Come on..."

Merchant pulls Azar a safe distance away from the ship, watching the hatch.
He sees something coming out.

"I think that's them!"

Ollo heds out first, followed by Vasco, who looks back quickly.

"Okay, it's all safe. Just lets get out of here, before someone arrives and frees him."

"Will someone arrive?
I mean, if not, he'll starve..."

Azar frowns.

"Friendly reminder, he wanted to kill us first.
And I'm pretty sure someone will show up earlier or later."

"Y-yeah, let's just get out of here."

Merchant tugs on Azar to follow him.

"Which way to Lalune?"

"Follow me..."

After a bit walking, Vasco knows quickly where they are, without looking at the map.

"We're not far away from there, luckily.
20 minutes walking."

Azar remains quiet, following next to you.

"Geez, I'm creeped out.
I feel like that guy is going to pop up out of nowhere or something and ambush us."

Merchant shivers at the thought and then pulls OIlo close to him, examining him.

"Oh, good.
You didn't get ant scratches or anything on you."

"My task did not require much physical work."

"Indeed... I'm glad there was no need for that."

Vasco grins lightly.

"Though, coming to think of it, this was... somewhat exciting~"


Azar stares at the older, like he wants to go sure that he heard right.

"Yeah... that's the stuff adventures are made off~"

"But we were almost killed!!"

Merchant frowns, his heart is still jumping a bit from the whole ordeal.

"Chances of death were at 41%."

"That's still high!!"

"Some risks are part of the business when you set out to see the world.
You two better get used to that fast."

Vasco isn't entirely lying, though deep down he admits, it was maybe a bit too close.

"We'll get a room in Lalune for a few days, while we do our researches..."

"I guess so..."

Merchant sighs, though he grins faintly when he sees Lalune getting closer.

"So... where are we going after Lalune?
Is there somewhere your dad might have gone from there, Azar?"

He glances back to Ollo.

"Maybe Grassar might be a good idea too, if we need to recharge him..."

Azar thinks a moment, but shakes his head ightly.

"I... I have no idea..."

"Well, Grassar is sure a good destination for a first.
And Princebridge. There's a giant university with a big library that I need to visit.
It's about a book... the reason I wanted to go here in first place."

"Well, alright!"

Merchant's spirits light up again.

"To Grassar and Princebridge!
Maybe we'll find more info on your dad, eh?"

He pats Azar's back, for a bit of reassurance.

Soon they approach the gates to Lalune.


quid est VERITAS 013

Azar smiles lightly as well.

"Well, for some reasons, he decided to not risk shooting us openly.
I think he'll try shooting us in the back.
As soon as the ship lands, we'll wait before the cockpit."

I'm not going to let some random dude try to kill us anyway.
We just started our adventure."

Merchant nods, his confidence and happy attitude is starting to come back.

Vasco grins lightly.

"Yeah, we have many questions that need to be answered."

"Still... it wasn't coincidence that Grey picked us up.
Someone ordered him to. We have to be careful..."

Azar seems already calmed down again.
He glances over to the purple bottle, from which Vasco took a glass.

"Vasco... what's that?"

Vasco chuckles.

"Just some liquor from Lalune... it's not bad from time to time.
Especially when you're upset, it calms you down."

Merchant glances over to the bottle as well, his head tilted.

"Is it gross?
What's it like?"

"Alcohol percentage is 25% and should not be consumed by a young human under the age of 21."

Merchant frowns playfully at Ollo.

"Maybe you're getting a bit too talkative."

"Oh this one is a plum liquor. You have to taste the plums from south Lalune.
You never want to eat any other plums anymore after you tastet them"

Vasco chuckles lightly and puts the bottle back into the shelf.
He felt tempted to take another glass, but he needs a clear head for what's ahead of them.

"Plums? I'd like to taste them... I mean, the fruits. Not the bottle."

Azar smiles sheepishly, taking Ollo's words seriously.

"Mmm, guess I'll have to try some."

Merchant sits down on the couch and makes himself comfy.
Though in his mind, he's worried about when it comes time to leave the ship.

"We'll make it out alive, I'm sure... I hope."

He jolts when he feels a bit of turbulence from the ship, gripping the arm rest.

"Geh... we must be landing soon, huh?"

"Yeah... the only good thing about this way of traveling is the speed....
We'd have way longer on the normal ship..."

Vasco grins now as he decides to take the bottle back out and put it into his bag.

Azar frowns.

"... are you... stealing-..."

"Hey, he wants to kill us. I think that's just fair. That bottle got the perfect age... it'd be a waste."

"Nooo, Vas!
Little Azar is impressionable!"

Merchant laughs lightly and covers Azar's eyes playfully.
Though he feels his nerves rise as the ship starts to land.

Vasco laughs as well now, trying to to raise spirits.

"Oh I think he could learn a mean thing or two."

"Wa... what? I don't want to be mean! D<"

Azar pouts lightly, he seems to have forgotten what's going to happen.
Or he's suppressing his fear.

Vasco finds it hard to really tell, now that he saw a different side on him, when they brought up Eric Lestrad earlier.

"I was sure, all that counts to him is a happy save place and his friends around him... living in a big pink bubble. But he witnessed the other side of life. He's naive... but not in everything. I think he likes to play the innocent in certain moments and topics. But HOW innocent is he really?" Or am I seeing things now? Maybe I'm overestimating him..."

"Yeah, Vasco!
He's too nice to be mean!"

Merchant giggles a bit, eventually uncovering Azar's eyes.
He feels the rumbling of the floor below and his laughter stops.

"...I guess it's time to try to escape..."

"Try? We're not trying."

Vasco puts his bag over his shoulder.

"We WILL escape. Now lets head for the cockpit, we have to be there BEFORE Grey heads out..."

He's heading out.

Azar gulps, being reminded of their situation.

"O-okay... what am I gonna do?"

"You follow me."

Merchant grabs Azar's arm and tugs him close as he follows Vasco.

"If something happens, stick close to Ollo or Vasco, okay?
Maybe Ollo, at least he's metal."

"Ah... but, you know, I..."

Azar hesitates a moment in the middle of his sentence.

"N-nevermind... I'll stick close to them..."

Vasco overhears the convesation.
He stops next to the door to the cockpit, as there's a slight change in his plan from earlier.

"Ollo, you distract him, while I knock Grey out. Merchant, Azar, you two keep a save distance..."

Merchant notices Azar's hesitation, but right now isn't the time to ask questions.
He pulls Azar further down the hall, towards the hatch.


Ollo speeds up and goes ahead, towards the cockpit.

Vasco stays in a dead space as Grey opens the cockpit, almost running into Ollo.


He quickly wants to grab his gun.

But that moment, Vasco swings his bag, hitting Grey right on the back of his head.
The hit is hard enough to knock him down.
Vasco feels a ittle reliefed. He is good in close combat, but he prefers to avoid it.


quid est VERITAS 012

Kill us?
We didn't do anything!!"

Merchant goes to the window as well, peeking out.
He gulps when he sees the fall to the ground.

"I'm not sure... but I guess you two digged in more as you could swallow."

Vasco sighs and sits down on the couch, as he feels the ship starting.

"He'll probably act like nothing happened... and will attack us when we want to go out.
But he has to go to the cockpit for the landing.
Which gives us time to escape..."

"But, why?"

Azar shakes his head in disbelief.

"I'm not sure Azzie, I'm not sure..."

Merchant watches as the ship takes off, looking back to Vas.

"How do you know all of this?
I mean, I'm taking you word on it but..."

Sensing the tension rising in the room and calculating what is going on, Ollo turns on his heat sensors.
He can see Grey's activity.

"The one called Grey will be approaching in 2 minutes, 49 seconds."

Merchant looks over to Ollo, a bit surprised.

"You've become a lot more talkative since we left Aqui..."

"I heard him talking to someone on the communicator... mentioning that he'd kill us before we get out here"

Vasco looks back to the window.

"He has most likely guns... chances are that we get shot, if we just jump out. We need a better plan..."

He looks back to Ollo and smiles.

"I think I have just a better idea. Ollo, you said, your main purpose is fighting, right?
Once we arrived in Lalune, you think you could knock Grey down?"

Azar is a little disappointet. He was sure, Grey was a nice guy that wanted to help them.

"But why....?"

Merchant shivers lightly.

I mean, the guy did seem kind of shady..."

He doesn't want to believe it either, but he also doesn't want to admit that he's had a bad feeling ever since they walked onto the ship.
He feels a bit of guilt run through him, remembering that Vasco was the one who was cautious from the beginning and that it was himself that convinced the older man to let them follow Grey.

Ollo nods.

"Without orders from my creator, I am not authorized to use my weaponry.
But I am able to delay him in other ways
My shields do not need authorization to use."

Vasco nods lightly.

"That works... we just need to get off here without him shooting us in the back"

"He will find us probably easy thanks to Ollo... but killing him won't do us any good either..."

He sighs and glances over to the shelf.

"I guess I'll be so free..."

He looks through the drinks and picks a purple bottle.

That moment, Grey enters the room.

"Ah I see you made yourself already comfortable~"


As Grey comes into the room, Merchant does his best not to look nervous.
Though he sees Grey differently now.

"Oh, yeah.
This place... it's great!
The view is cool too!"

"It is, right~?"

Grey grins proudly.

"My lil' baby is one of the biggest out 'ere~"

Azar fidgets nervously with his fingers.

"Y-yes... it is pretty high though..."

And he's being honest there... the hight doesn't feel very comfortable.

Vasco fills a glass with the liquor from the purple bottle and takes a sip.
He's keeping his eyes on Grey.

Merchant isn't sure why, but he feels that he should do what it takes to keep everyone, mainly Azar, calm and keep Grey from knowing that they're suspicious of him.
He walks over, a look of interest on his face.

"So what do you do, Grey?
I mean... this thing's gotta cost a fortune since they usually cost so much just to ride.
You much be rich, huh?"

Ollo is remaining still and quiet as he usually does, though his eyes also seem fixed on Grey.

Azar takes a deep breath and tries to calm down.

Grey chuckles lightly.

"Sorry buddy, but that's a secret.
Ya know, if I'd tell everyone my secret, they'd take use of that."

He shrugs, noticing Vasco being uncomfortably fixated on him.
He doesn't seem to notice it on Ollo.

"You're that cartographer, right?
I have a map from you, but it is a little outdated.
I didn't have the time to get a new one.
You think I could pay you to actualize mine?"

Vasco frowns.

"He wants me separated from the boys... he can't deal with us all together.
I can't knock him down now, he needs to land the ship first..."

He puts the empty glass down.

".. unfortunately, I have to decline your request."

Merchant blinks, a bit surprised that Vasco rejected Grey's offer.
It takes him a moment to realize that Vasco doesn't want him or Azar to be out of his sight.
Though he's also a bit worried that Grey might become suspicious because of that.

"Hopefully Grey will just accept that... ugh, there's so much tension in here and we're stuck... I can't wait for this flight to be over."

He glances over to Azar, to make sure that he is holding up alright.

Grey glares at Vasco, thinking a moment of a other option to get rid of him.

"What's up with that guy? I thought the Conleiths hardly socialize with other people?
Did he choose those kids out of all people, to be his friends?"

Knowing the risks of doing something reckless, he just turns around.

"I return to the cockpit, if anything... we'll arrive in Lalune soon.."

He leaves.

Azar sighs relieved.

"That was... I was so nervous.."

Merchant also sighs with relief.

"That was too close... do you think that he knows that we know?"

"Two armed guns were detected on Grey's body."

Merchant looks over to Ollo, looking a bit confused but intrigued.

He could have shot us right here..."

He looks over to Vasco next.

"Is it just me, or is Olly starting to act on his own more?"

"Ollo is our friend, he wants to help, too!"

Azar is still believing that Ollo feels, like they do.

Vasco frowns lightly.

"I think I sorta asked Ollo to help out. It's fine."

He's sitting on the couch.

"I'm not sure... maybe he's scared of Ollo.
If he knows what he is, he might believe that we're in charge of Ollo's weaponry now.
He could kill us, but Ollo would kill him in return.
... or he thinks that I'm wearing weapons, too.
Shooting at someone in short distance with a weapon too, can turn out nasty.
Whatever it is, I think he's not suspicious.
Just annoyed that his plan didn't work out..."

"Heh, yeah, maybe~"

Merchant pats Azar's head, playing along with his beliefs.
He does think it would sort of neat if the android could actually function like a human.
He glances over to Vasco.

Well, that's a bit of a relief, if it's true.
Hopefully he'll think that for the whole flight."


quid est VERITAS 011

Vasco turns back to the stranger.

"Fine, we'll go with you, err..."

"Grey Chandler. Just call me Grey~"

Grey winks and goes ahead.

"Follow me. We better don't waste any time."

Merchant smiles brightly and follows after Grey.

"So you really have an air-ship?
Is it big?
Does it have a bunch of rooms?
How fast does it go?"

He's full of questions and seems quite excited.

Ollo follows as well, but he stays by Vasco's side, remaining his usual, silent self.

"Yes yes, I do~
It is big indeed, I had to land it outside of here, because there's no real wharf yet.
But biggest room in it goes for the shipping space..."

Vasco listens quietly, being a bit surprised that Ollo for once sticks with him.

"A big shipping space?... I'm pretty sure that guy must be some kind of smuggler..."

Azar walks next to you, excited.
He listens the conversation between you and grey.

"Threat levels are at 11%."

Ollo speaks up, though his voice stays monotone, not seeming worried about his own statement.

Merchant's eyes get bigger and more excited as he listens to Grey.

"Whoaaa, how does it even fly?"

"That's a secret, buddy~"

"Aerium tanks.... Air-Ships use Aerium. It's not a big secret."

Vasco scoffs and puts his hands into his pockets, lowering his voice again.

"11% huh? Keep me updated on that, Ollo"

Grey frowns.

"Yes... Aerium... tse..."

He leads them outside of the port to his air-ship, which is quite huge and bulky.
Parts of it tell that it's probably more than just a freighter.
There are appliances for weapons on it.


It's huge!!"

Merchant's jaw drops when he sees the air-ship.
Never has he seen something so big.
He runs up to it, his neck craned up as he tries to see it all at once.

Azar just stands there, his mouth wide opened too.
He can't find any words to describe this.

"A freighter... well, not entirely... with this, he's able to fight too."

Vasco raises a eyebrow.

"Do you have any aerial escort?"

Grey blinks, and shakes his head.

"Nope... not necessary."


He looks over to Merchant and Azar, both being in awe and excited.
He smiles lightly, but he knows, he for one, can't let his guard down.
He examines Grey again and notices that his eyes tell of a long night. Probably in a night club.

"Why would a guy like him invite us out of the blue to fly with him?"

"Can we go on it?
I wanna go on it now!"

Merchant hops up and down like a kid bugging his mom to buy him candy.
He runs off to find the hatch so he can get on.
His excitement seems to overcome his original weariness of Grey.

"Come on, Azar!!"

They board the air-ship and Grey takes them to a room that looks like a little bar, with stools, tables and a couch. There's a counter and behind it a shelf with many drinks.

"Make yourself comfortable. I have to make a call.. right after that, I'll start the ship~"

He turns around and leaves.

"A call...? Now this is getting suspicious..."

Azar heads to the shelf with the drinks.
He never heard of any of them.

"What... are those like?"

After Grey leaves the room, Ollo's eyes dart around and look back to Vasco.

"Threat levels are at 17%."

Merchant looks over at Ollo.

"What's that all about?
It's just a room."

He wanders over to Azar and looks at the drinks.
His nose wrinkles a bit.

"I don't really know...
The bartenders in Barley never let me have any.
Some drunk guy let me have some once when I was a kid.
It was pretty nasty.
It felt like it was burning my throat."

"Ollo, keep a eye on the boys please... I gonna check if I can catch anything from that call."

Vasco heads out quietly.

Azar blinks, not noticing Vasco leaving.

"... burning... you mean those drinks are dangerous?
I think I rather take water then..."


Ollo's head turns to focus on the boys.

Merchant doesn't notices Vasco leave either.

"I guess so.
I mean, they don't literally burn, but it kind of hurts.
Grown-ups drink it all the time, though, so it can't be that dangerous.
Still, it kind of stinks, I don't know why they like it so much."

"Adults are odd sometimes..."

Azar giggles.

Vasco sneaks after Grey. He finds him in the cockpit, sitting on the seat in front of the control panel. He doesn't enter the cockpit and stays by the door, as he hears Grey talk from there.

"... I'm pretty sure. We could get two flys with one stone.
... kill? Can't I just... I understood... yes...
I'll take care of this in Lalune... won't let them get out there alive..."

Vasco's eyes widen and he immediately returns to the lounge.

"We have to leave the ship before Grey, once we're landing in Lalune...
It's too late now to go out anyway..."

"Haha, yeah... huh?"

Merchant looks over to Vasco.

Where were you?
Wouldn't that be rude?
I mean, he's giving us a ride and we can't say thanks?"

"It can be hardly rude when he intends to kill us..."

Vasco glances around, noticing the small windows.

"We gonna jump out there, as soon as we're there... "

Azar's eyes widen in shock.

"Wa... wait... why would he..."


quid est VERITAS 010

After some more walking, they reach the port.

"Before we go and look for the ship, do you guys have everything you need?"

Azar nods.

"I'm ready to go when you guys are.
I just wanna see the ocean!"

Merchant smiles brightly, obviously excited.

Vasco nods and goes ahead, leading the group to the dock.
However, there is no ship. No big ones at least.
Vasco sighs and scratches his head.

"Well, this is bad..."

He heads to a dockworker.

"Hey, when goes the next ship to Lalune?"

The dockworker pauses and looks up to the sky.

"They say, the weather is bad tonight... probably not until tomorrow."

Vasco rolls his eyes.


".. tomorrow?"

Azar ponders and looks around.
There are several dockworkers taking care of the small ships there.
He looks back from where they came and sees a man there, leaning against a lamppost.
He's chewing on something and watches them quietly with curiosity.

"... hm? I think that man is looking at us...?"

"Aww, really?"

Merchant sighs as well, annoyed that he has to wait another night before his adventure can begin.

"Ollo, can't you fly or swim or something?"

"It is not in my programming to travel by air or sea."

"Ugh, figures..."

Merchant blinks when Azar speaks up and glances over at the man.

"...He's probably just getting a kick out of watching travellers missing their ships."

"His kicks...?"

Azar is not sure what you mean by that.

The man grins now and walks over to them.

"Missed the ship, eh? It went off pretty early because of the weather.
I think, I'll head over soon too... got some business over there..."

Azar tilts his head lightly.

"You... have a ship?"

"Not just a ship..."

"I mean, he gets a joy out of it."

Merchant blinks and glances over as the man approaches.

"Then what, exactly?"

He gets a weird feeling from the man, though he's not sure what it is or why.

Vasco seems to be suspicious as well, he observes the man sceptical.

The stranger just shrugs.

"I own a air-ship. HEH. You probably didn't see that comin', huh?
Well... I could give you guys a ride, since we have the same destination~"

"You have a air ship...? Cool..."

Azar doesn't really seem to notice anythings.

"Where's the catch?"

Vasco shoves himself between the stranger and the boys, in a protective manner.

"Oh my... there's no catch~"

"Whoa, an air-ship?!"

Merchant perks up, remembering the conversation about air-ships earlier.
He's about to ask more questions when Vasco steps in the way.


He pouts, crossing his arms.

"... thanks, but we'll wait for the ship tomorrow."

Vasco turns around and grabs you and Azar on the shoulders.

"But Vasco, why-...?"

"Let's head to the next hotel."

The stranger raises his eyebrows.

"Chances are that the weather remains bad for a few days and you'll be stuck here for a while...~"

"Aww, why?"

Merchant frowns but he doesn't try to resist Vasco pulling him away.
He looks to Vasco, worried.

"What if he's right?
We'll be stuck here for days!!"

Vasco lowers his voice a bit.

"Really? Having someone taking you over with a air-ship costs you a fortune. Usually.
Something isn't right..."

"I think he just wants to help?"

Vasco frowns.

"It would be faster with an air-ship... we'd be there in Lalune fairly quick, and could take a hotel there.
Still... something doesn't seem right..."

"Well, he said that he's going over there anyway.
It's not like we're making him take a detour or somethin'."

Merchant sighs, disappointed.
It's easy to see that he was really excited about the air-ship.

Vasco sighs, seeing how disappointed both boys are now.
In the end, he's talking between gritted teeth.

"Okay, but you gotta promise me to stick around with me there and not doing anything reckless. Got that?"

Azar's expression brightens up.

"Yayy!! I promise!!"

Merchant's face also lights up and he nods excitedly.

I promise!"


quid est VERITAS 009

Merchant also listens quietly, a bit surprised with how talkative Vasco has become.
This new world of technology intrigues him.
He glances over to Ollo, who is silently walking behind the group.

"What have I really found...?

So, this technology thing is like, man-made magic?
And machines and stuff?"

He thinks that he gets the idea of it, but the whole idea of technology is still a bit overwhelming.
He looks to Azar, who seems to have hit a sour note.

What, was he he a bully from your town or something?"

He chuckles lightly, patting Azar's back.

Azar glances over to you, unable to smile.

"Eric Lestrad... he was the one that cursed our home... and forced everyone to move over to Aria..."

There's a bitterness now in Azar's voice, that makes Vasco realize that he underestimated him. He might be naive and kind-hearted... but it seems, he's carrying stronger emotions around, as he expected.

"Folium, right? I heard of this... I had to mark Folium as inaccessible on the maps.
I just heard rumors about how it happened though..."

"I... can't really remember much of it... but my mom told me..."


Merchant's smile quickly fades.
He realizes now, how serious you are about this journey.

"And that's the reason why your dad left, right?
To find a cure for the curse?"

He wonders if Java really is still alive, but he hopes that for Azar's sake, he still is.


Azar nods, his anger turning into worry and uneasiness.

"Well, usually, you can lift a curse by killing the one that made the curse.
Which is, in this case, a little... difficult..."

Vasco frowns lightly. He's avoiding to talk about Java.
He's still the same opinion that he's dead.

"But I'm sure, if we find another gifted one, that's strong enough or knowing the curse..."

Azar nods lightly, trying to smile again.

"Yes... heh, you sure know a lot, Vasco..."

"I just... I read ... and travel a lot..."

"How hard will it be to find a gifted one anyway?
They don't seem to be that common..."

Merchant frowns lightly, resting his hands behind his head as he walks.

"How much further to Lalune?"

"We have to go on board of a ship, that takes a while.
The port is 1 hour away from here."

Azar sighs lightly.

"I wish I'd be stronger..."

"Bah, this walking part of adventure is so boring..."

Merchant looks to Azar and frowns.
He's not used to feeling this way, but he has sympathy for Azar.

"I've only known him for a couple of days, but... seeing him down like this is a bit upsetting."

He pats Azar gently on the shoulder.

"You'll get stronger.
I'm sure of it."

"I enjoy it... it gives me time to think for things to write.
Well, if there are no people around me trying to talk to me, that's it."

Vasco just shrugs, knowing that he started the conversation in first place, but he doesn't care.

Azar nods and his expression brightens up immediately.

"Yes... thank you, Merchant!"

"Merchant... don't you have any... real name?"

Seeing the smile on Azar's face brings a grin to Merchant's own.
Though he blinks and his attention turns to Vasco.

"Not that I know of."

He gives a light shrug, like it's not a big deal.

"Ah... mind me thinking of a name for you then? Calling you just Merchant is a little, well... odd to me."

Vasco shrugs as well, focusing on their way again.

"If you wanna.
Just make sure it's not something dumb."

Merchant chuckles lightly, looking ahead at the horizon.
He can see the tops of buildings for the next town, but it's easy to tell that they're still quite a ways away.

"What's the port like, Vasco?"

Azar seems to get excited again now, seeing the tops as well.

"It has a few shops, a few taverns... it's like a normal town, just next by the ocean."

"The ocean... I don't think I've actually seen the ocean in person!
What about you, Ollo?
Have you ever seen the ocean?"

"There is no memory under the description of 'ocean' in my database."

"I'm going to take that as a no...
But hey, this will be a first for both of us!"

Merchant grins, playfully locking Azar around his arm.

"What about you?
Have you ever seen it?"

"It's a first for me, too!"

Azar smiles brightly.

"We're all going to see the ocean!"

"It's really just a lot of water though..."

Vasco shrugs, though there's a small smile on his lips.

"Yeah, but this isn't like a lake or some rich dude's fountain!
This is water that goes on forever!
And I heard it smells funny, but in a good way."

Merchant starts to ramble on with various knowledge that he knows about the ocean, mostly things that he's read from books or overheard from travellers.
It seems to be enough to keep himself occupied at least, with Ollo and probably Azar listening.


quid est VERITAS 008

"What if he wasn't supposed to end up there?
I mean... who would search an android in a pile of junk?
Maybe someone tried to hide him..."

Vasco seems in his own thoughts, overhearing the compliment.

"I'll have to meet someone in Lalune, that's for sure..."

Azar just looks between them, while he's eating his omelet with ravenous appetite.
He's not really understanding much of what his new friends talk about.

"Hide him...?
I guess that makes more sense than trying to just throw him away."

Merchant sighs, wondering if this is going to become more of an adventure than he had originally thought.

"What if he wasn't supposed to still be working...?"

He decides to think of that stuff later and finishes the rest of his breakfast.
Once he's done he actually gives Vasco a smile.

"Hey, that was really good.
I haven't had something like that in a while."

He looks to Azar.

"Are you ready?"


Vasco blinks, a bit surprised over your compliment.

"Ah, well... thank you"

He quickly puts the empty dishes away.

Azar nods and gets up quickly.

"It was really good~!"

Vasco blushes a bit

Merchant can't help but giggle a little bit and he gets up from his seat.

Let's go get ready to head out!"

He seems rather excited and he runs to the living room to get Ollo.

"Hey, Ollo, we're heading out soon!"


After Vasco finished cleaning up, he heads to the others in the living room, wearing his bag over his shoulder.

"Alright, lets deliver the letter and head to the port. I hope we'll catch the ship in time."

Azar digs the letter out of his bag.

"Okay, there... my brother said, the bakery is in the center of the town..."

"I know which one then. Follow me"

He goes ahead

Merchant follows Vasco out of the apartment.
He gestures for Ollo to follow, which he does.

"Mm, is it a good bakery?
Maybe we can get some yummy bread or sweets while we're there too~"

He blinks when he realizes that you mentioned the ship.

"Have you ever been on the ship before?
What's it like?"

It might be because he's more rested or maybe because he's gotten over the small argument yesterday, but Merchant seems to be acting more friendly towards Vasco now.

Vasco shrugs lightly.
He doesn't say or show it openly, but he's glad that things are more relaxed between them now.

"Several times already. It's, well... depending on the ship, it can be quite nice.
But, the more comfortable you want to travel, the more expensive.
We'll go mid-class. It's still okay. But I hope you two won't get seasick... that's nasty."

He chuckles lightly.

"One time, I went there with an Air-Ship. THAT was really impressive...
But that's usually too expensive..."

Azar blinks curiously.

"Air-... ship? A ship.. in the sky?"

"Indeed... for once, you undersdood quite well."

"Whoa... an air-ship..."

Merchant starts to wonder just how well travelled Vasco really is, but he decides to leave the questions for later.

"He makes maps, so it makes sense."

His mind goes back to the air-ship.
He thinks about how pretty inside it would be, and how cool it would be to see the world from up high.

"I hope I get to ride in one some day..."

Before he knows it, they're in front of the bakery.

They enter the bakery and Azar hands out the letter to the first he sees.

"It's for Harrison... is he here?"

The man behind the counter smiles.

"Yeah, that's me... thanks. From who is it?"

"It's from my brother, Quartz."


The man opens the letter and reads it through quickly.

"Thank you, Azar... hold on a second, I'll get you something for your journey"

Harrison winks and leaves the counter.

"Oh I take it... Az's brother asked his friend to give him something for the journey."

Merchant is easily distracted by all of the baked goods in the bakery.
As Harrison walks away, he looks up from the displays.

"I wonder what he's got for you?
Looks like your bro is watching out for you, at least."

He smiles and goes back to browsing the shelves, trying to control his mouth from drooling.

"Hopefully not just sweets..."

Vas rolls his eyes lightly and glances at the watch.

It doesn't take long and Harrison returns with bread and some delicious looking bakeries.

"There you go."

Azar's has to keep himself from drooling too.
He bows slightly as he receives all the tasty things.

"Thank you so much"

Merchant's eyes widen when he sees the baked goods and he runs over.

"Whoa, that looks so good!"

He smiles brightly and looks up to Harrison.

"Thanks, sir!"

He laughs lightly, patting Azar's back.

"Your brother's a cool guy, I must say~"

"He is!"

Azar smiles brightly.
Not just because of the food, but because of the words of appreciation over his brother from you.

Vasco watches them both and can't help but smile lightly, as he turns around to hide it.

"Let's go... we have a ship to catch..."

"Oh... right.
Thank you, Mr. Harrison!"

Merchant grins widely and looks to Azar.

"Come on, let's hurry!"

He grabs the younger boy by the arm and pulls him out of the bakery.

They head out and leave Aqui, using the northern route to the port.
On their way, Vasco starts getting surprisingly talkative.

"This is the shortest, and safest way, to reach the port.
You see, the port itself and Aqui are strongly influenced already by the people and technology from overseas. The other side of the coin is the criminality. Some routes here are under the siege of plunderers.
Lalune harbors many shady people and organisations. Our continent here is mainly behind with the technology, but still strong in foreign rituals and magic. Though, magicians have become a rarity. Even here. My point ist, 20 or 30 years ago, criminality was barely a topic here. Things changed drastically in that time.."

Azar listens quietly, while he walks next to Vasco.
As Vasco seems done, he frowns lightly.

"But... why is that so? What's with this technology anyway?"

"Well... the technology itself would do the people here many good things.
They invented many useful things there. Just look at Ollo.
But those that are in charge of those things, started to become corrupted, greedy...
You see, too much power and influence tends to make people bad.
Eric Lestrad is a good local example by the way.
He's one of the few magicians, that let the power corrupt him.
Usully, magicians are known to be above this.
I think, he was the one that started to make our continent interesting to Lalune..."

"That name... sounds familiar..."

Azar narrows his eyes lightly.


quid est VERITAS 007

Merchant has been to Aqui a few times before, the size of it doesn't really surprise him that much.
He follows Vasco to the apartment.
When he enters, he looks around. Though it's more messy, he's reminded of his own home, seeing it filled with treasures and various things that he's collected on his own adventure.
He gives a light shrug and looks to Azar.

"You can take the couch. You're probably pretty tired by now, eh?"

Azar nods, rubbing his eyes.
He crawls on the couch, taking off his shoes as he does, and curls up on it.

Vasco rummages in a shelf and pulls out a rolled mat.
It's not thick, but probably better than nothing.
He gets you a pillow and a blanket as well.

"There... if you need anything else, my room is right next to the living room.
And... stay away from the kitchen. If you get hungry, ask me first, got that?"

He turns around to leave the living room.
It's not usual for him at all, to invite people over to his apartment, and he's feeling weird about it.
You and Azar are completely different from the people he usually deals with

"Uh, th-thanks..."

Merchant crawls onto the mat and gets comfortable, though he thinks that's not going to be possible.
He doesn't want to complain though, since he offered Azar the couch on his own free will.

Ollo has placed himself next to the couch, and he shuts himself down.

Merchant rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling.
He wonders if he's getting himself into more than he expected before he falls asleep.

Azar is falling asleep fairly fast.
He didn't sleep much the night before.

Vasco goes into his room.
He's checking things in his books until late.

"Why would someone throw such a android away?
Especially here?
What am I getting myself into here?"

He sigh and puts his books away, about to turn off the light.

In the morning, Merchant wakes up at his usual time, quite early.
He slept a bit, but being in a strange apartment on a flat mat didn't give him a good rest.
He sits up and stretches and looks around. He looks at Ollo, who is still in sleep mode.

"I wonder how much he's worth?"

He then looks to Azar and sighs.

"Normally I don't bother with people like this, but... I'd feel bad leaving him by himself. He really doesn't know where he's going... I remember feeling like that."

He gets up and straightens out his clothes.

Vasco went up early, too.
He just put some things into his bag and head to the kitchen, to prepare food for their journey.
He can't help but smile lightly.

"For some reasons... I'm looking more forward to this, than usual..."

Azar is still sleeping, rolled up in the blanked.

After getting himself awake, Merchant wanders over to Ollo and opens his chest. He presses the button in the center to turn him on.

Ollo's eyes open and glow a bright blue before turning back to normal.

"Good morning, Merchant."

"G'mornin'. Can you wake Azar up? I think you'd do it more gently than I would."


Ollo goes to the couch and kneels down. Gently, he shakes Azar's shoulder.

"Mr. Azar, it is time to wake up."

Azar mumbles something quietly, before opening his eyes and waking up slowly.

"Oh... good Morning..."

He smiles and rubs his eyes, after sitting up.

"Is... Is Mister Conleith up too?"

Merchant looks over to the kitchen.

"Sounds like it. Come on, let's get some food in our stomachs and then we can head to that bakery."

"Oh! Okay!"

They head to the kitchen. It smells good already.

"Good Morning, Mister Conleith."

Vasco doesn't turn back when they enter the kitchen.

"Goodness, call me Vasco. I can't stand 'Mister Conleith'.
Now sit down, I'm almost done...."

"Thank god. I'm not really into all that formal crap."

Merchant sits down at the table and waits, smelling the air.

"What'cha making?"

"I'm used to make breakfast for me alone, I almost forgot about you two when I started..."

He shrugs lightly.

"Omelets... I have sugar here, and honey... I prefer mine with strawberry cream, but... I'm a little short on that."

"Oh, I'm okay with sugar!"

Azar smiles sheepishly.

"So, you like sweets too, Vasco?"

"Err... only for breakfast. And desserts. But otherwise not that much..."

"Omelets, huh? Well, I'll have whatever you're having. I don't really eat them much so I don't really have a way that I like them."

Merchant looks to Azar with a smile.

"Once we're done eating, we'll head out, okay?"

Vasco brings the omelets and some other things to put in them, and sits down.

"That letter, do you know what it is about, Az?"

Azar nods to you and shakes his head right the next moment to Vasco's question.

"My brothers would go out often, and one made a friend here... he wanted me to deliver that letter.
I don't know what it is about..."

"I see... "

Vasco shrugs lightly, not going to waste anymore thoughts on the letter.

"Anyway, I went through my books yesterday, because of Ollo...
But I couldn't find anything. I assume, he must be part of some kind of secret project.
Isn't unusual for those creeps overseas.
They like hiding suspicious things..."


Merchant perks up at this idea. He glances back to the living room, where Ollo still is.

"But he seems so... I don't know, innocent? I know he's a robot, but..."

It never crossed his mind that their new robotic friend could be anything more than just a piece of machinery. He looks back to Vasco, confused.

"Why would he be in a junkyard if he's that valuable...?

I wonder how much he'd sell for now?"

He tries to wrap his head around his own question as he takes a bite of the omelet.

"Oh... this is really good~"


quid est VERITAS 006

Vasco leans against a tree and looks over to Azar, who's sitting down on the ground, next to you.
He remains quiet, pulling out his book again to write something in it.

Azar sits next to you.
He wonders how much longer you and Vasco decide to not talk to eachother.
He leans over to have a look at the map.

Vasco finally speaks up, as Azar glances at the map.

"It's a original, watch out. Don't make it dirty."

"Ah, right... I'll be careful!"

Merchant continues to be silent, plating some food and passing it to Azar. It doesn't seem like much, just scraps like he was eating from the night before. He glances over to Vasco after plating himself some food.

"Do you need to eat? I mean, you had something before we left anyway."

"I'm a human being, therefore I eat too. I'm just not hungry at the moment.."

Vasco looks back into his book, continuing to write in it.
His voice is lowered, as he quickly adds

"But thanks anyway..."

"Thank you, Merchant!"

Azar smiles sheepishly and nibbles on his portion.


Merchant glances to Azar and nods with a small smile and then over to Ollo, who seems to be keeping guard to make sure any wild life doesn't come near.

"I wonder what he's powered on? I hope it's not a battery or something. It's not like I have anything to charge him with."

"Well, why don't you ask him?
It's like a computer. You can access it's system like that to check it's status.
Energy, memory capacity... I take it, you've never been overseas either, huh?"

Vasco glances quickly to Ollo and puts his book back into his pocket.
It's not like he really gets to write anything right now.

Az looks confused over to Vas.
"Memory... capacity? I don't get a thing of what you just said..."

"I think you don't get a lot of things going on around you, boy..."


Merchant pouts slightly and looks over to Ollo.

"Hey, Ollo! Come over here. What do you use for energy?"

Ollo quickly obeys and walks over.

"My battery is powered by mithril rods found in eastern region of Grassar."


Merchant's eyes widen a bit with a sense of concern.

"I've never even seen real mithril before... he really must have come from overseas, huh?

And... what's your, uh, battery life at right now?"

"Currently I am running at 87%. Recharge is recommended when I reach 15% or else I may not operate at full efficiency."

"...I see..."

"Mithril, huh?
Maybe it would be a smart idea to make a stop in my apartment in Aqui, before we head to the port.
I have to get a few things from there. What else do you two need in Aqui, since we're on it?"

"I just have to deliver a letter to someone..."

"Ah... well, that's no big deal... I guess you two need PROPER food too.
You can't travel around with such junk... probably not much money with ya, huh?

Vas lightly shakes his head in disbelief.

Merchant frowns, crossing his arms.

"I've lived just fine off of this kind of food. But if you insist, I guess I can eat this 'proper' food of yours."

He munches a bit on his own food, though he finds it a bit unappetizing now that Vasco has mentioned it. But what he stated is true, he has been living off of scraps for as long as he can remember.

"Yeah well, you gonna meet a different lifestyle when you're sticking with me.
Though I intend to only stick with you until the port. You'll be on your own in Lalune, since I have other things to do from there on. So... better don't get too used to it."

He looks away. Inside he can already feel himself arguing with what he just said.
He's not feeling well with the thought of leaving the kids on their own. Not there.
He's not sure why it bothers him so much though.

Azar looks up from his food.

"I like traveling with you two... it's so much better than being alone!"

"Fine with us."

Merchant shrugs and smiles to Azar.

"We have Ollo anyway. I'm sure he has guns and deadly things hidden all over him. Don't you, Ollo?"

"I am a solider programmed to eliminate targeted enemies--"

"See? Nothing to worry about."

"--by the orders of my creator."


Merchant blinks and looks to Ollo. He sighs lightly.

"Really? What if I wanted you to fight something?"

"I only take attack commands from my creator."

Vasco frowns lightly.

"... what if your creator isn't alive anymore? You just remain being, well... useless?"

"No, Ollo isn't useless, he... I mean, friends are never useless!"

"Azzie, he's a robot... but I think you still don't know what that is in first place..."

Vas sighs lightly

"I have many functions aside from battle but that is my main purpose. If my creator no longer exists, there should be a command programmed in my memory for the next human in line to take ownership of me."

"Ownership? Well, I guess even if you can talk and walk, you're still just an object, like anything else."

Merchant gives a light shrug, but he can't help but smile at Azar.

"He doesn't seem to know a lot about reality... but... it's a bit refreshing to have someone this positive around."

He makes a small grunt as he gets up and stretches.

"Well, we should probably get going again, or we won't make it to Aqui by nightfall. And I know this path pretty well, we don't really want to be stuck here when it's dark."

"Indeed... "

Vasco gets up as well.

"You can stay the night in my apartment... saves you the money to take a room somewhere."

"Ah, thank you... but... isn't this any trouble to you?"

Azar got up as well, noticing once again how big Vas is.

"It can't be much more troublesome than traveling around with you two in first place.
Now let's go"

He sighs playfully.

Merchant is a bit surprised by Vasco's offer. Suddenly, he feels a little guilty for being such a brat earlier.


He starts to lead the way again.

The sun is starting to set as they step into Aqui. The streets still have people wandering around, shopping and making their way home.

"Well, here we are~"

"Aaah... it's big..."

Azar looks around with big eyes.

"... ahh... I guess the bakery isn't open anymore. I'll deliver the letter tomorrow..."

"Yes, there's not much open anymore around that time here.
Follow me..."

Vasco leads them to a building. His apartment is in the second floor.
As they enter it, they come into a small apartment, stuffed with all kind of books, maps, notices and things from everywhere he traveled to.

"Yes, it might look like a mess to you... but I know where my things are.
I prefer having it this way.
Anyway... one of you can use the couch. The other one has to sleep on the floor."


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