|This page has been marked as a stub. Please help improve the page by adding information.|
Alear: Jade! Are you OK?!
Jade: Oh. Divine One.
Alear: I heard you were attacked by bandits! I rushed here to check on you.
Jade: Thank you, but I'm fine. I drove them all away.
Alear: Why did they attack you like that?
Jade: I've run into that group before. I used to be the guard for the mine in my hometown. I stopped them from looting it once. They must have tracked me down for revenge.
Alear: Now? After all this time?
Jade: I was pretty infamous among the bandits in our area. They used to call me the "Iron Wall." Looks like I'm the target of a few deep, long-standing grudges. But it's fine. I can handle anything they throw at me. They're not much of a threat.
Alear: I know you're strong, Jade, but I'm still worried. If you ever need backup, you can always count on me. I'll do whatever I can
Jade: Oh, I wouldn't want to burden you like that Divine One...but thank you.
Alear: Hello, Jade. Nice weather today.
Jade: Yes, Divine One. It is.
Alear: Did you see that sunset yesterday? Gorgeous.
Jade: Yes, it was.
Jade: ... Divine One... We've been running into each other a lot lately, haven't we?
Alear: I suppose we have. I'm not bothering you, am I?
Jade: I think I know what's going on. You want to be nearby in case those bandits try to attack me again. Is that right?
Alear: Ah. I guess I didn't hide it very well.
Jade: I appreciate your concern, but I can handle them myself. You don't have to watch over me. I'm sure you have better things to do.
Alear: Well...I do have some free time that I could be enjoying right now. You wouldn't mind if I just relaxed around here for a while, would you?
Alear: I know how strong you are, Jade. I'm not doing this because I think you can't handle it. I'm here because I want to help.
Jade: As you wish, Divine One.
Alear: Jade! Are you OK?
Jade: Yes, Divine One. I just made it back.
Alear: Thank goodness. You don't look hurt...but I can't believe you did something so reckless. Sneaking out to ambush those bandits at their hideout all by yourself... Unbelievable!
Jade: I knew the risk I was taking. I had to settle things once and for all. If I didn't, their revenge plots might have dragged on forever.
Jade: Everything is fine now. The bandits have been defeated and placed in military custody. I made sure to leave a lasting impression...and plenty of bruises. They won't be back. Thank you for being so concerned. You won't have to worry about my safety anymore.
Alear: Amazing. You took care of it all on your own, just like you said you would. I admit...I'm a bit disappointed. I really hoped that I would be able to help you with this.
Jade: Oh, I would never drag you into my unresolved business like that, Divine One.
Alear: Why not? We're friends, Jade.
Jade: Friends... Hm.
Alear: What's wrong?
Jade: I'm just happy. I know I can be hard to read sometimes. I'm not very good at expressing my emotions. But I am sorry for making you worry. Thank you for caring about me, Divine One.
Alear: You're very welcome, Jade.
Alear: Say, Jade... Your father studies gems, and your mother is a jeweler, is that right?
Jade: That's right, Divine One. I used to live in a mining town. Everyone there had jobs related to minerals and gems. I would try to help my mother with her jewelry from time to time, but I was all thumbs. So, in the end, I settled on being a guard for our town's mine.
Alear: You've probably been dealing with gems and jewelry since you were a child.
Jade: Sure. I guess I'm more knowledgeable than most.
Alear: In that case, I'd like you to tell me what you make of this...
Jade: The Pact Ring? Hmm. There's a mysterious power inside. No other ring has ever felt like this...
Alear: That's just how it felt for me. Well, that ring and its power are both yours now, Jade.
Jade: Huh? Wh-what do you mean?
Alear: I mean they're yours—if you'll have them. Let them be a symbol of our growing bond. I want to stay by your side, Jade. Then you'll never have to fight alone again. So...will you take the ring? Please?
Alear: You really aren't kidding about being hard to read, are you? But I think I understand. I know what you're feeling right now.
Jade: Yes. I know you do. I'm happy. I'm very, very happy. It really is the Pact Ring... Thank you. So much.
Alear: Will you continue to walk the road ahead by my side?
Jade: Of course, Divine Dragon Alear.
Jade: The bond we share is now stronger than iron...and nothing will break it.
Etie: Hyah! Phew... That's enough for today.
Etie: Oh. Hey, Jade. Doing some night training? Attagirl.
Jade: Oh, I'm not training.
Etie: No need to be so humble. I mean, I see you here, like, every night.
Jade: No, I mean it. I'm not training.
Etie: Right, of course. You Brodians always gotta play it off. "You can hardly call a quick session like this a workout," or whatever. Someday I'll get on your level.
Jade: ... ...
Etie: Sorry, what's that?
Etie: What are you mumbling about? You've gotta speak up, Jade!
Jade: It's nothing.
Etie: Sure. if you say so...
Etie: Phew! Another great workout. I'm ready to take on the world!
Etie: Whoa! Uh, you startled me there, Jade. Jade: Sorry. I didn't mean to. Etie: I've noticed you watching me since the other day. What's this all about?
Jade: Uh... Etie: If you don't fess up, I'm gonna take this to Prince Diamant.
Jade: W-wait. I'll tell you. I was watching you and taking some character notes for my next novel. That's all Etie: Character notes? That's what you were mumbling about? I wanna see these character notes, and I wanna see them now.
Etie: Why can't I see?!
Etie: Oh. I get it. I've heard rumors about this. How one of the brodian retainers writes these goofy stories. That's you, isn't it?
Jade: I, uh...
Etie: And now I'm a character in them, which is why you won't show me. Is that about right? You're writing me as all stuck-up and shrewish, I bet.
Jade: No, it's nothing like that. Etie: Don't lie to me. I see right through you. No making fun of me, got it?
Jade: I would never...
Etie: HYAH! Ha! Phew… I call that a good day’s workout.
Jade: That did look impressive, Etie. Here. This is a first draft of the novel I was talking about earlier. I’d like you to read it.
Etie: Are you sure?
Jade: Yes. Sorry for refusing earlier. I didn’t want you to read any of it until it was ready.
Etie: Makes sense. Let me see.
Etie: …This all seems familiar. It’s about me, isn’t it?
Jade: To a degree. The main character is confident, independent, and doesn’t like to burden others. She’s also athletic. Physically strong. She’s put in the work and she’s proud of her body. A chiseled core wrapped in striking features. A daring figure that stands out on a battlefield. I needed to observe someone with all of those qualities. That’s why I was watching you, Etie.
Etie: Wow. Jade…I don’t know what to say.
Jade: I do often write “goofy stories,” so I thought I should challenge myself with something serious. To set this book apart, I needed characters that were believable yet charming. I thought you’d be a perfect fit, so I started taking notes Observing you helped me craft this character and build a story around her. Thanks for that.
Etie: I didn’t know you thought of me like that. I’m sorry for giving you such a hard time. Listen, I know it’s not much, but…would you like to go on a jog with me?
Etie: We can talk things over as we go. Maybe you can use some of it…in your story.
Jade: So I have your permission to polish this draft and keep using you as inspiration?
Etie: You’d better! It’s going to be a real page-turner.
Jade: Thanks, Etie. I’ll do my best to do you justice.I do have one last request, though…
Etie: What’s that?
Jade: My regular readers have come to expect at least one or two pratfalls in my work, so… At some point, the main character will need to flail and trip over herself. Are you OK with that?
Etie: Uh…sure. Only once though. And write in that it doesn’t hurt me…at all.
Jade: Heh, understood.
Etie: There you go. Something to look forward to. Now, let’s go for that run.
Jade: Louis... you've been staring at me for a troubling amount of time. Do you need something?
Louis: Good knight of Brodia, please pardon an offensive I have caused. My profound interest in your drives me to act in perhaps inadvisable ways.
Jade: You call staring an "interest"
Louis: You carry out each mission with such grace, and never question an order from your prince. Moreover, you are so merciless in battle that some might unfairly deem you to be inhuman.
Jade: Ah. We seem to be well beyond "interest" now. Are you trying to be cute? If you think I'm dangerous, I won't argue. I don't completely trust you either.
Louis: Dangerous? Not at all. I fear I've once again given you the wrong idea. But It's undeniable that there are certain things you keep carefully concealed, yes? Secrets that only a select few are privy to.
Louis: But I know all about them.
Jade: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Louis: You have a new novel in the works, don't you? A comedy that is frivolous in the extreme?
Jade: Louis, I'm sure I didn't hear you mention a new book just now.
Louis: Please. I am a paragon of discretion.
Jade: Oh, I believe you will be. You already know well enough to describe me as merciless. Take a break from your "interest" and enjoy a long, natural life of minding your own business.
Louis: Very good, Jade. I shall take that under advisement.
Louis: Here's a story idea: a group of close friends convene and have a lively conversation.
Jade: What are you talking about?
Louis: I saw consternation on your face and thought you might be struggling for ideas.
Jade: No use hiding it at this point, is there? You're right. I'm trying to land on the theme of my next novel.
Louis: Well, there you have it. Write a story about a close-knit circle of friends.
Jade: How close? Do you mean a story where a circle of friends navigate a shared experience?
Louis: If you like, but I would be thoroughly satisfied just to read about them chit-chatting.
Jade: You think I should write an entire novel about friends having polite, everyday conversations?
Louis: Without question, it shall be your finest work.
Jade: Louis, most of my novels have been built around this thing I call a plot...
Louis: Counter-argument: is plot more important than memorable scenes?
Louis: "Enter late, leave early," they say. An enjoyable scene justifies itself without "plot" scaffolding.
Jade: Hmm... The story idea is too simple, but that sort of flat narrative structure is a joke worth exploring... Huh, I think you just helped me crack this egg. Thank you, Louis.
Louis: I'm pleased to be of assistance. I have high hopes to read your vivid rendering of our characters' spirited conversations.
Louis: Oh dear, you're tight-lipped again. Is something else troubling you?
Jade: No, Louis. That was my laugh. You are so blatant that it's genuinely funny.
Louis: Haha, your eye for comedy is indeed impeccable.
Jade: Hey, Louis? There's something I wanted to ask you.
Louis: And what might that be, good knight?
Jade: Why are you trying to get close to me? You've been watching me for a while. And you threw me off balance with your story idea.
Jade: Have you ever encountered a spy? The best ones use fast-talk to steal information. They carefully cultivate a sense of trust, then strike while their target's guard is down. We're allies, but you're still a soldier from Firene. I have to wonder.
Louis: Very impressive, Jade.
Jade: Ah, so my hunch was right.
Louis: Oh no, it was wide off the mark. I am no spy.
Louis: What I found impressive was your imagination. It takes a deep wellspring of inventiveness and a way with words to pen such captivating stories.
Jade: Don't dodge the question. Why were you watching me earlier?
Louis: Why, because I wanted to get to know you.
Jade: That's all?
Louis: It is indeed that simple. I observed you only in order to hit upon a suitable conversation starter. I see it as crucial that we connect. We come from disparate countries with different values. Yet we must put these differences aside and risk our lives daily in combat together. In order to facilitate this, it is vital that we come to understand one another.
Jade: That does make sense. It would be better for us to understand and trust each other out there.
Louis: Just so. These bonds we make now will last, even after the war.
Jade: I apologize for...assuming your intentions, Louis. I could spare some time to get to know you a bit better.
Louis: In that case, shall we sit and chat over a pot of my favorite tea?
Jade: I'd like that, Louis—as long as I can take notes on awkward conversation for my book.
Diamant: Anything to report?
Jade: Oh. Prince Diamant. No news here. It's a quiet night.
Diamant: I see.
Jade: Standing guard like this reminds me of the other day...
Diamant: Which day?
Jade: The day of that snowstorm. I was guarding the Elusia border through most of it.
Diamant: Right. That storm was awful.
Jade: It was snowing so heavily... I worried that I wouldn't be able to find you.
Diamant: So did I.
Diamant: I feared I might lose a trusted retainer to the cold. I almost worried myself sick. When I finally arrived and saw you were still standing strong, I breathed such a sigh of relief.
Jade: Oh. Well. Let's not get carried away...but thank you for your concern, Prince Diamant.
Diamant: Dawn should break any minute. I'll relieve you a bit early. Go get some sleep, OK?
Diamant: Good work tonight. Oh, and I'm excited to read your new chapters. Will they be ready soon?
Jade: Yes. Without delay.
Diamant: Hahaha! Haha, I can't— I can't stop... Haha! Aah, my sides!
Jade: Prince Diamant, are you OK?
Diamant: Am I OK? You almost killed me! Your writing is hazardous to my health, Jade.
Jade: It's an unexpected honor to have my storytelling threaten a crown prince's life. Which part are you on?
Diamant: Chapter 19 of "The Adventures of Amber, the Deliberate Dummy."
Jade: Ah. So you're at the part where Amber just won the fighting tournament?<br? Diamant: Yes! And he returned to his hometown to celebrate his victory, but no one believed him! And then the scene where he rides his mighty alpaca through the open fields to dry his tears...
Jade: As soon as he dismounts, his eyes finally dry...the alpaca spits right in his face. Poor Amber.
Diamant: This isn't just a funny novel, Jade. This book is art. Tell me, when will the next one be ready?
Jade: Well...I wanted to talk to you about that. I might take a break from writing. Just for a while.
Diamant: Oh. Really? I think I understand. Our battles are growing more intense. Not much we can do about that.
Jade: Yes. That's certainly a factor, but... Lately, no matter what I write...it all feels flat to me. I'm bored by my own ideas.
Diamant: Ah. So you're in a bit of a slump?
Jade: Yes. I need to rest my pen for a while. I'm sorry if this news disappoints you, Prince Diamant.
Diamant: No need to apologize. I'm an eager, yet patient, reader. Take as long as you need.
Jade: Thank you very much. If I start writing again, I'll let you know.
Diamant: If anything, I'm glad to hear you'll be giving yourself a break. In the meantime... Why don't I write the next book?
Diamant: Don't worry. I won't step on your work. It'll be more like a...side story. I'd enjoy the challenge.
Jade: Uh... You're serious about this?
Diamant: I'm always serious. I'll let you know when it's done. You just relax until then.
Jade: Yes. Understood...
Diamant: Jade! I finished my first draft. Care to give it a read? It's titled, "The EXTRA Adventures of Amber, the Deliberate Dummy."
Jade: You... You actually wrote it... Yes. Of course, Prince Diamant. I would...love to read it.
Jade: Hm, this is pretty funny. However...
Diamant: Be honest. Don't hold back.
Jade: These pages might benefit from a few more gags. If you revised this scene just a bit...
Diamant: Hmm. What would you change?
Jade: If I were writing it...I'd have all of the alpaca's wool explode off of its body.
Jade: And then, just as Amber composes himself, its wool grows back in a flash—silky and smooth. Amber tries to mount his alpaca, but its wool is so smooth that he slips—no, shoots right off. As Amber soars through the air and over the horizon...his alpaca wistfully spits at the ground.
Diamant: ... Hahaha! That's perfect! Your version flows much better.
Jade: Thank you. But the larger framework of your story is quite good, Prince Diamant. I'd love to give you further notes once you have your second draft ready.
Diamant: No, I'm done.
Jade: Huh?! Why did you crumple your draft?
Diamant: It served its purpose. Sounds like your new book is well on its way.
Jade: My new book?
Diamant: Sure. Your silky-smooth wool idea was superb. I trust you'll pick things up from there.
Jade: Wait. Did you... Were you just trying to life me out of my slump? By kicking off a first draft for me?
Diamant: Are you suggesting that I wrote a weak draft on purpose? I'm not that clever. I gave it my best effort. My jokes just couldn't stand against those of a true artist.
Jade: Prince Diamant. You may deny that was your plan, but... Thank you.
Diamant: All right. Almost time to get back to work. Don't worry about tonight's watch, Jade. I can handle it myself.
Diamant: You've been fighting extra hard lately. I'm sure that contributed to your slump. Get some rest. And whenever that book is ready, let me know. Nothing relaxes me like laughing at your writing.
Jade: Understood. Thank you very much. As long as I'm your retainer, Prince Diamant... I vow to protect every bone in your body. Especially the funny one.
Jade: Amber, may I ask you a few personal questions? I need some new material for my next novel.
Amber: Oh! You're gonna write a book about me? Oh man! I love that! Fire away.
Jade: I'll start with an easy one. What's your all-time favorite thing?
Amber: Is that a serious question? Come on! Alpacas all the way! They're the best. I used to herd alpacas all the time back home. I'm like an alpaca-wrangling master, y'know?
Jade: "Alpaca-wrangling master." Amazing.
Amber: I'm serious! If there was an alpaca here right now, I'd give you a demonstration. But we're miles away from the nearest alpaca farm, so...
Jade: Wait. What is that sound?
Amber: That's the sound of an alpaca at full gallop! Ah!
Jade: You're right! I can see it now, and its coming this way!
Amber: OK, Jade! You wanted material, you're gonna get it. Watch the wrangling master in action. Hey! Alpaca! Slow it down, buddy! Whoa, there! I said settle down! AUGH! Waaaaaah!
Amber: Ugh... Getting knocked into a pond wasn't what I wanted to show you.
Jade: I can't believe an alpaca came out of nowhere like that. I'm just glad we were able to catch it.
Amber: You mean YOU caught it. All I managed to catch was a mouthful of scummy water. I can't even compete with you at something I'm genuinely good at... Ngh...
Jade: Amber, don't despair. There is a silver lining. The alpaca, the pond, your flailing... Thanks to you, my next book is sure to be hilarious.
Jade: Hey, Amber. I'm still a few chapters short. May I ask you some more questions?
Amber: Hang on, Jade. First, I have a request for you. Please, please don't write about how I completely failed to catch that alpaca!
Amber: My hometown is known for its alpaca expertise. I can't throw that kind of shame on them! I was so bogged down by emotions and pond water that I failed to ask before. So...pleeease?
Jade: This comes as a bit of a shock. I won't make you a promise that I can't keep, Amber. You've inspired my funnies, most successful works. People are excited for the next one...
Amber: OK, then... Let's spar. If I win, you can't write anything about the alpaca-puddle incident!
Jade: Fine by me. You're on.
Amber: This will be our first sparring match since the tourney to select Prince Diamant's retainers... That was also the first time I lost to you. I've been stuck in second place ever since. That loss was like a curse. No matter what I do, I can't seem to beat you at anything.
Jade: Well, you did enter the final round of that tournament at a disadvantage. You didn't have any time to warm up. You were too busy trying to help that lost child.
Amber: That's no excuse! You ended up helping too. You even found the kid's parents first.
Jade: Hmm, I take your point.
Amber: You're the one who's always finding success, and I'm the one who's always tripping up. That runaway alpaca was the last straw. My second-place streak ends today! Get ready, Jade. There's no way I'm losing to you again.
Jade: Had enough?
Amber: Aw... I just can't do it. I really can't beat you, Jade. It's...it's hopeless...
Jade: You remember our terms? I won, so I'm free to put whatever I want in my next novel.
Amber: Yeah, I remember. You beat me fair and square, so...write about whatever you want.
Jade: That's just what I'm going to do. But I'll make sure you're the first to read it when I'm done.
Jade: My novel is complete, Amber. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like for you to be the first to read it.
Amber: Oh, great... You really know how to rub it in, y'know? Fine. Let's see how embarrassed I'm gonna be... Hmm... Hmm! Jade...what is this?
Amber: Is this... Is this book still based on me?
Jade: Of course. Everything in that book is based on something you've shared with me.
Amber: But where's the alpaca-pond incident? I can't find a single embarrassing page in here. This book makes me seem so...so cool!
Jade: You're not stuck in second place, Amber. You were the first one to try stopping that stray alpaca. You were the first one to go looking for that lost child's parents at the fighting tournament. I may be the one who who closes the book each time, but only after you've opened it for me.
Jade: You're kind. You're strong. And both Prince Diamant and I trust in you as a worthy retainer.
Amber: ... Aw, Jade! Thank you! Your kind words... This great book... I feel so much better.
Jade: I'm glad. After all, you need to have confidence if you're going to watch our backs in battle.
Amber: Yeah... Yeah! That settles it. I'm gonna keep training until I match the "me" in your book.
Jade: Oh, I'm very excited to watch you try.
Amber: OK, no more coasting. It's time to train like I've never trained before! I'm gonna— Gah! A rock?! Waaaugh!
Jade: ... Hm! Amazing. Looks like your training is off to a "rocky start." I have no doubt you'll grow stronger, Amber...but I hope some things about you never change.
Kagetsu: Jade! Face me! Show me your skill in battle!
Jade: No, thanks. I’ll pass.
Kagetsu: So quick to turn me aside! Why? I have heard your strength has won you tournament victories in Brodia. Such strength is meant to be shown and used. Do not keep it to yourself!
Jade: I didn’t receive orders to engage you. I have no personal grudge against you. Why fight?
Kagetsu: Jade, Jade, Jade. You disappoint me! What I hear of your skill is so exciting! Please, I must see it for myself! How can I earn the favor of this bout? I will do anything you ask.
Jade: Anything? In that case…Would you be willing to answer a few personal questions before we battle?
Kagetsu: Heh, easily. May I ask why?
Jade: I need to round out a character for a new book I’m outlining. You can help me fill in the gaps.
Kagetsu: I need only talk about myself?
Jade: That’s right. And it sounds like we have a deal.
Kagetsu: I come from Pale Sands, which is located on Solm’s northeastern frontier. My home is not commonly visited by outsiders. Its culture is precious and unique.
Jade: What was different about it? Any examples come to mind?
Kagetsu: My clothing, for a start. It must seem different to your eye. Our architecture as well. You will not see finer woodworking anywhere. We also worship differently. We do not revere Divine or Fell Dragons. We have other dragons. They are long and lithe. I have not seen them in other countries.
Jade: Hm! Interesting. I’d like to see that myself.
Kagetsu: I can show you pictures in scrolls. But you must agree to another duel with me.
Jade: We haven’t had our first duel yet! Now, let me get through all of my questions. What can you tell me about your family?
Kagetsu: Apart from my parents, I have one younger brother and one younger sister.
Jade: Ah. You’re the firstborn, then?
Kagetsu: Yes. It was my parents’ intention for me to carry on our family’s legacy. I was…unable to do this, however. I could not bear to live all of my days without ever knowing the world at large.
Kagetsu: Yes. It was for that reason I decided to leave. I left written words behind to explain my intentions, and to ask them not to look for me. And so I left, and here I am.
Jade: That’s an amazing backstory, Kagetsu. Your life is like an adventure novel that writes itself.
Kagetsu: We each have our stories. Now, will you indulge me in that duel?
Jade: Sure. I’m out of questions, and a deal is a deal, so…I’m ready when you are.
Kagetsu: Your strength is incredible! I have never been so cornered by my opponent!
Jade: You put up quite a fight yourself. I can’t believe we ended with a draw.
Kagetsu: It is rare I take pleasure in stalemates.
Jade: It was satisfying, wasn’t it?
Kagetsu: Tell me, Jade, how did you develop such strength? Does it come from your family?
Jade: Not at all. My upbringing was rather peaceful and quiet, actually. My father is a gemologist, and my mother is an artisan. She makes the most beautiful jewelry…
Kagetsu: So they are untrained in battle.
Jade: That’s right. When I was younger, I helped my mother with her work. Unfortunately, I turned out to be all thumbs…so I eventually took a job guarding our local mine.
Kagetsu: This change is quite sudden.
Jade: Is it? It didn’t feel that sudden. I’ve always enjoyed physical tasks. Bandits would keep trying to steal from that mine…so I got plenty of exercise. Fun times.
Kagetsu: Ah. Now I understand.
Jade: I guarded that mine for years and years… Folks in town started calling me the “Iron Wall.” Eventually a royal soldier heard about me and suggested I enter Brodia’s fighting tournament.
Kagetsu: And you won it straightaway, I’d imagine.
Jade: I fought my way to the top spot, met Prince Diamant, and officially became his retainer. Whoops. I meant to ask you more questions, but I ended up going on and on about my own past. I guess it’s just like you said, Kagetsu. We each have our stories…
Kagetsu: Indeed. And now that our tapestries interweave, they point us toward our shared future.
Jade: Like turning the pages of a novel.
Kagetsu: Precisely! So when will we have our rematch?
Jade: Just name a place and time, and I’ll be there. I can already tell that, in the novel of my life, our duels are sure to be pages worth rereading.
Bunet: Jade? WHat are you doing?
Jade: Practicing mindfulness.
Bunet: Ah... I heard a rumor that you deal with stress by meditating in your armor. Seems it was true.
Jade: Did you need help with something?
Bunet: It's just that you look so appetizing.
Jade: Excuse me?
Bunet: Your armor-clad stillness—it calls to mind one of my favorite dishes. You take a crabshell, stuff it with vegetables, meats, and rice, and stew it for three days. Oh... I'm getting hungry.
Jade: You're making it difficult to meditate, Bunet.
Bunet: Aw, I can almost taste them... Those hearty bites of sumptuous stuffed crab...
Jade: Please go away, Bunet.
Bunet: Oh, I was bothering you? Farewell, then.
Jade: ... Now I'm getting hungry.
Bunet: Good news, Jade. I am going to treat you to that stuffed crab stew we discussed.
Jade: I don't recall any such discussion.
Bunet: "Jade's Repose." That would be a good name for it, don't you think?
Jade: Oh. Right. I remember now. You kept talking at me while I meditated inside my armor. Then you compared me to seafood. It involved something like...cramming different ingredients into crab shells.
Bunet: Yes, yes. Anyway, that armor of yours... May I have a lick?
Jade: This conversation is over.
Bunet: Your armor may prove to be an interesting substitute for a crab shell. So much room... At what heat does one stew metal, I wonder?
Jade: You're not getting anywhere near my armor. You're also...very obviously not listening to me.
Bunet: Come again? Oh, yes. Sorry.
Jade: I will admit, this chat is making me very hungry. Are you going to cook that stew or not?
Bunet: Yes, of course. Nothing is finer than sharing a meal with a friend.
Jade: Yes, as long as that's all this arrangement is—a friend sampling the cooking of another friend.
Bunet: Good. Then I will get cooking. Be first, just a quick taste of that armor...
Jade: Bunet, do you have a spare moment?
Bunet: Ah, Jade. I do. Is that a flower I smell?
Jade: I wanted to thank you for cooking that delicious meal the other day. This flower is for you.
Bunet: For me? I'm touched. Would you be offended if I took a little nibble from one of the petals?
Jade: You want to know what flowers from a friend taste like, right?
Bunet: I didn't realize you had taken up mind reading.
Jade: I've experienced enough of your habits to detect a pattern.
Bunet: I see. Well, understanding cuts both ways. Here. Look.
Jade: Wow. This food looks amazing. Why did you prepare all of this?
Bunet: I anticipated that you might come thank me. In preparation, I went ahead and made this modest feast for you.
Jade: Thank you, Bunet. Is this our dynamic now? Thanking each other back and forth through polite gestures?
Bunet: Strong friendships have been built on less.
Jade: I suppose it does offer a reliable framework...with defined boundaries.
Bunet: Agreed. Now that that's settled, I'll just...
Jade: Touch my armor and you're a dead man.
Bunet: Heh. Fair enough.
Timerra: Hey, Jade! Got a sec?
Jade: Certainly, Princess Timerra. What do you need? Timerra: I hear that you're from a mining town, so you know a lot about minerals and stuff.
Jade: That's right. My father was a gemologist, so I picked up a fair bit of knowledge.
Timerra: Perfect! Seeing as you're such an expert, want to go mineral hunting with me?
Jade: You're going mineral hunting?
Timerra: Yup! See, I'm on the hunt for a big, fabulous jewel-to-be. I already have a place in mind, but I'm not sure how to go about finding a gem there.
Jade: Ah, I understand why you came to me. I wouldn't mind joining you, but...if you're interested in jewels, why not visit a jeweler? You are royalty, after all. I'm sure they'd sell you as many rare stones as you want.
Timerra: Yeah, but that's no fun. I'd much rather find one for myself. You know, do it the old-fashioned way!
Jade: I see. That's a rare perspective. Well if that's the plan, I'll be happy to guide you. I'll take a few notes along the way. I might be able to mine some ideas for my next novel.
Timerra: Perfect! I get a dazzling jewel, and you get a dazzling protagonist. Win, win!
Timerra: Welp, the mineral hunt came up empty.
Jade: Sorry, Princess Timerra. I did worry we might walk away empty-handed.
Timerra: Nah, don't sweat it. It was still fun exploring the mine with you. Honestly, if you've got time, I'd love to give it another try someday soon.
Jade: Of course. I'll accompany you as many times as you like.
Timerra: Hey, here's an idea. If we get a big chunk of mineral, let's polish it up nice and cut it into two matching jewels! That way, you and me have sparkling mementos for our friendship. Great idea, huh?
Jade: A jewel for me? I feel like that would be a bit of a waste, to be honest.
Timerra: Huh? What do you mean? Now that I think about it...you don't really wear jewels, huh?
Jade: No, I don't. For me, jewels aren't something to be worn. They're something to protect. I used to be a guard at my hometown's local mine. Bandits were a constant nuisance. That's why I wouldn't be able to enjoy wearing one. My instinct would be to lock it away.
Timerra: Wow. "Waste" is right.
Jade: Yes, exactly. I'm glad you understand.
Timerra: No! What I mean is, it's a waste for such a beauty not to wear jewels! That settles it. We're going to march back there and get the prettiest gems you ever saw. And so help me, you're gonna wear yours!
Timerra: I can't believe we still couldn't find any minerals.
Jade: Indeed. All of the local mines seem to be exhausted... If we' gotten there a bit sooner, we might have found something...but it's hard to say.
Timerra: Guh...I just want a couple of jewels. Is that so much to ask? I got so pumped about you wearing one. Bet it would have looked
Jade: ... Hm.
Timerra: Hey, are you laughing?!
Jade: I am. Not at anything in particular. I'm just happy. Timerra: About what?
Jade: I'm happy that you're thinking of me like this. You said you wanted to find jewels for yourself, but now you're focused on finding one for me. I'm just taking a moment to...enjoy the feeling.
Timerra: Hey, hey! Look at you, getting all mushy on me. I just think you deserve some extra beauty in your life, you know?
Jade: I appreciate that very much, Princess Timerra.
Timerra: Ugh... Nope, not letting it end like this. Come on, we're going to a jeweler right now!
Jade: Huh? You're just going to buy jewels now? After all of our searching? Heh.
Timerra: Hehe, yup. I've officially given up on the old-fashioned way. Is that bad?
Jade: Not at all. Besides, we didn't need to find a rare gem. I've been standing beside one all along.
Jade: Hello, Rosado. If you have a spare moment, there's something I'd like to ask you.
Rosado: Let me guess. You wanna know the secret. How'd I get to be so cute? Sorry, I don't have an answer for you. I've always been adorable. I think it's destiny.
Jade: No, that's not my question.
Jade: Your energy seems to be limitless. I heard you can work all night and be fine the following day.
Rosado: Oh, that's true. Staying up all night is no big deal to me. I'm always fine the next day.
Jade: Ah, I envy that. I'd like to be that way too. If I were able to work through the night, I could get so much more writing done. Can you give me some advice?
Rosado: Y'know... I've never really thought about it. Pretty sure I just coast through the night on cuteness. I'm sure you could do it too! Jade: Your energy comes from cuteness? Strange...but I suppose it's worth a shot. I've never tried to be cute before. I'd really appreciate some pointers from a professional.
Rosado: Jade...you came to the right place. Let's bring out your inner sparkle.
Rosado: Ready, Jade? Today we set your best self loose.
Jade: Set loose? I don't think I'm actively restraining any part of myself. I'm not sure what to do.
Rosado: Do what comes naturally. Strike a pose, say a phrase—no wrong answers. Be you!
Jade: Hm. Very well. Uh... Shucks-a-doodles.
Rosado: Perfect! Yes! You're beautiful!
Jade: Really? That did it?
Rosado: Really! Now, introduce yourself to me. Tell me who you are.
Jade: Shucks-a-doodles, I'm jimmy-jammy Jade.
Rosado: Jade! I promise, I don't say this to everyone. You're a natural. Over-the-top adorable!
Rosado: You OK? Something wrong?
Jade: I'm fine. That was my laugh. There's no way this tactic will help me work through the night. It's totally ridiculous.
Rosado: Haha! Well, that's a shame. So does the road to cuteness end here for you?
Jade: I think not. I'm having a good time. I want to see how much further I can take this. It's definitely inspiring some new joke ideas.
Rosado: Yes! I'm gonna be there every step of the way!
Jade: Heyo, rosey Rosado. Having a shuck-a-doodly day?
Rosado: Jade, you're incredible! Every greeting you give me is cuter than the last!
Jade: I must admit, this is a bit addictive. It's fun to turn this on without warning.
Rosado: What a wonderful monster I've unleashed. Good for you!
Jade: Thank you. It's liberating to relax and be silly like this. I know I don't look the type...
Rosado: That's true. Your face is like a marble sculpture. Classy, majestic—beautifully mysterious.
Jade: Sometimes I wonder if I should make an effort to express myself more.
Rosado: That mysterious air is exactly what's unique about you. Don't you dare hide it.
Jade: Well, shucks-a-doodles. I won't.
Rosado: There she is! So cute I can barely stand it!
Jade: I'm glad this little experiment led to us getting to know each other, Rosado. I may not have found any secret wells of energy to help me write through the night... But these "cute lessons" will definitely help me flesh out the quirks of some of my characters. It's been fun to think about what makes something cute. Interesting creative exercise. Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself. These chats have become very special to me.
Rosado: ... You are...the essence of cute. The way your true feelings shine through... Like a sunbeam—pure and radiant.
Jade: Thanks-a-doodles...but I still have a lot to learn from rosey-posey Rosado, cuteness maestro.
Rosado: Hahaha! High praise! Thanks!
Lindon: Ahh... HAA!
Jade: Sir Lindon? What are you doing?
Lindon: Ah, Jade! Hello. I was just baking some pastries with thunder magic. I prefer them to be a bit...thundercooked. Oh! My, my... What is that book you're holding, I wonder? I've read just about every book ever written, but I don't believe I recognize that cover.
Jade: I would be amazed if you had. This is one of my novels. I wrote it myself.
Lindon: Oh, my stars! How wonderful! Please, you must let me read it.
Jade: You want to read my book? I'll warn you, it's a bit lighter in tone than you might prefer...
Lindon: So it's a comedy, eh? I see, I see. Well...that only deepens my interest. I could do with a refreshing rise in tone. Is there any way I could convince you to let me read it? What if I baked some pastries for you? Would that help to seal the deal?
Jade: No need for that, though I appreciate the offer. I would be honored just to hear your thoughts. Unless you don't care for it, that is. Then we'll both pretend we never had this conversation.
Lindon: Ah! So you will let me read it? Thank you, Jade!
Lindon: My goodness, Jade! I do believe I nearly busted a gut with laughter, as the saying goes. It's clear that you have a considerable talent for writing comedies.
Jade: That's high praise. Thank you, Sir Lindon.
Lindon: Your characters have so much life in them... They practically leap off the page! How many of them are based on real people? A few of our mutual friends did come to mind...
Jade: I may have slipped in a few parallels to certain persons, living or dead.
Lindon: You have a keen eye for observation and a skill for capturing them on the page... It was a magnificent novel, truly. I thank you again for sharing your passion with me.
Jade: Of course. Thank you so much for reading it.
Lindon: I have a bit of that fire myself, truth be told. I've chronicled my early years in a book of my own.
Jade: You have?
Lindon: Indeed. I haven't mentioned it to many people.
Jade: I would love to read it, if you wouldn't mind sharing.
Lindon: Hohoho, wonderful! I hoped you might. What a thrill it is, having a fellow writer among our ranks. I can hardly contain myself! If and when you have the time, we should compare our lists of favorite comedies.
Jade: Yes, please! I would love that!
Lindon: What a fortuitous meeting this has been. And here I thought nothing could surprise me...
Lindon: This was quite a welcome surprise, Jade! I had hardly put your last chapter down before you presented me with this new one.
Jade: Well, now that you’re reading my early drafts, each editing pass goes much more smoothly.
Lindon: Ah, of course.
Jade: So? What did you think? Don’t make me beg. Because I will.
Lindon: It was…magnificent. I enjoyed this chapter even more than the last.
Jade: Ahh, that’s such a relief to hear.
Lindon: Especially that new fellow who debuts in this chapter! What a pleasant addition he was. He laughed, he cried… He felt truly alive! He might be my new favorite character of yours. I must admit, I felt a certain kinship toward him.
Jade: I’m glad to hear that. I hope you don’t think it too presumptuous of me, but I did model that character after you.
Lindon: Aha! I had a hunch! What a wonderful feeling, to laugh along with your fictional counterpart.I now take his potent zest for life as the highest of compliments. Again, thank you for letting me read your marvelous book, Jade.
Jade: The honor is entirely mine, I promise.
Lindon: I think I’ll bake some pastries to thank you. You will have some, yes?
Jade: Glowing praise and warm pastries? Twist my arm, why don’t you.
Jade: Hello, Jean.
Jean: Ah! Jade?!
Jade: Sorry, did I startle you? You look so scared…
Jean: Not at all! My heart is beating the normal amount.
Jean: So, if you don’t need me for anything, I’ll just be going now.
Jade: You are scared. Is it me?Am I frightening you somehow? I’m not trying to be scary…
Jean: …I’m not scared. Really. I just…have a hard time around you.
Jean: Um, yes. Monsters I can deal with. Cramped spaces, the dark, bugs, wild animals─ none of that stuff is scary to me. You…on the other hand…
Jade: What are you getting at, Jean?
Jean: People like you… It’s hard for me to… I’m sorry!
Jade: There he goes. I wonder what he meant by “people like you”…
Jean: Jade…I’m really sorry about before.
Jade: For saying that it’s hard to be near me? Don’t worry, Jean. No apology necessary, but I would like an explanation. Why do you have a hard time around “people like me”? What does that mean?
Jean: Well…People say that…you’re cold─almost inhuman─ on the battlefield.
Jade: I suppose that’s not…always untrue.
Jean: Then is it true that you never hesitate to rush right into battle?
Jade: Ah. Guilty as charged. Thank you. That’s all I needed to hear. I understand now.
Jean: You do?
Jade: You were living a relatively peaceful life until you joined our ranks, right? I can see why soldiers with bloody pasts and bloodier weapons might make you anxious.
Jean: U-um, wait, no. That’s─ That’s not what I…
Jade: It’s OK, Jean. I’m not judging you.
Jade: I really do understand. I’ll give you some space… Sorry again for causing discomfort.
Jean: Jade, wait!
Jade: Yes, Jean?
Jean: You had it all wrong! I’m not scared of you!
Jade: But you said it was hard to be around me…
Jean: I did, but I wasn’t finished…I know that the reason you rush into battle isn’t because you’re bloodthirsty. It’s to protect us. But either way, it always puts you on the front lines. So when it’s over, you come home hurt worse than anyone else. Am I right?
Jean: I worry about you. I get so worried sometimes I can hardly stand it.
Jade: Oh, Jean…
Jean: People who throw themselves into combat like you don’t tend to live very long. That’s what makes you hard to be around─the idea that one day you might not be there…
Jean: But…I think I’ve gotten over that. However injured you get, I can always heal you. You fight so hard to protect me, so I should do my part to keep you alive too.
Jade: That’s very noble of you.
Jean: I’m really sorry for the way I acted before. From now on…
Jade: From now on, we’ll fight side by side…as allies and friends.
Jean: Yes. That’s exactly right, Jade.
Jean: I’m really glad we’ve got that straightened out.