A story based off of the plot of MM7

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A story based off of the plot of MM7

Postby asterix15 » Sep 19 2011, 20:37


"So…Emerald Isle…" Two sisters were preparing to disembark a ship, that had just docked at Emerald Isle. The younger of the two was looking around at everyone bustling around the small coastal town. "Do you really think we can win this contest?"

"Not alone." The older of the two said softly. "We need to team up with a couple of other

people…between the four of us, I believe we stand a chance." They began making their way down the dock. "We need to find a knight and a cleric, and convince them to join us before this contest starts."

The older of the two sisters was a sorceress. She stood taller than her sister, and had long blonde hair and dark blue eyes. Her name was Julia. She was the one who had enlisted her younger sister to come here and participate in this scavenger hunt.

The younger was a thief, and a fairly good one at that. Her long brown hair was tied back in a braid, and her lighter blue eyes were dancing at the prospect of winning this contest and becoming the lords of a territory on the mainland.

"Are you sure we can't do it alone? More people means we get smaller pieces of the money coming in from this adventure." Laurel pointed out.

"I know that, but I'm positive that alone, we will lose, and we'll have lost money on this adventure. At any rate, it seems to me that winning the lordship of Harmondale will supply more than enough for four people. Trust me, if we win, you won't regret adding two additional people to our group." She sighed. "Between just the two of us, our strengths are too unbalanced. I know you're pretty tough, but you're not as tough or powerful as your average knight. I'm well versed in the ways of elemental magic, but I can't use clerical magic, so I can't heal you or myself if we run into trouble at any point. To make a solid team with well balanced attributes, we need a knight and a cleric."

"Okay, point taken. So, I assume you've figured out how we're going to find these additional people before they've joined someone else?"

"Yes. I want you to go to the tavern, and ask around for a cleric…I'll leave choosing a cleric up to you. If I know anything about the average knight, the first places they'll be is at either the blacksmith's or the armorsmith's."

"Sounds reasonable enough…but you know how I hate talking to people."

"Yes, I know, but a cleric isn't going to bite your head off for talking to them – hence, why I've asked you to find a cleric. They're a lot nicer than most of the knights in this region."

"Okay, my next argument is, are you sure you want to split up before we hit the shops? We need some **** before we get started. You don't have armor, for instance."

Lowering her voice to just above a whisper, Julia asked, "And you think you can steal something for me?"

"Shouldn't be too hard in a town like this. Security – especially before a big event like this – won't be that tight. If you can talk to the shop keeper and keep him occupied, I can probably snag something suitable for you to wear."

"Maybe later. Right now, I want to complete our party. And, I'm not defenseless…I have some things that I can sell…things that aren't doing me any good. That alone might provide for some basic leather."

"But if I steal something for you, you can spend your money on something more useful – learning to use a bow, for instance."

"Later. For now, let's attempt to round up a complete team. The limit for a team is four people, so we need to find both of these people before they've teamed up with anyone else. For that reason, time is of the essence. Now go on…the tavern is right over there – go search the tavern for a cleric. Even if you don't find one there, wait there for me…I'll be back with a knight to add to our happy little party."

"Okay. Have fun, I guess."

"I'm not here to have fun. I'm here to win – we're here to win. Keep that in mind."

"Yeah, yeah." Rolling her eyes, Laurel turned and left, making her way across the street and disappearing into the tavern.

As for Julia, she headed into the armorsmith's shop in search of a knight. When she entered the store, she was pleased to see it was bustling with people, half of whom looked the part of your average knight. For a moment, she just looked around, mentally ruling out the men and women who seemed to be there with someone else.

And finally, she made her way toward the front of the store, where a tall man with long silver hair was examining a suit of plate armor. She chose him at random, mostly because he seemed the most interesting to her. Despite the color of his hair, he appeared young…she estimated late twenties to very early thirties.

"Excuse me…" She began, hoping against hope that this man was a.) a knight, and b.) not as abrasive as the knights near where she had been trained.

Looking down at her, he offered a half smile. "You look very out of place." He commented.

"Well…I sort of am." She smiled. "This is my first time in an armory. But I was hoping to talk to you about this upcoming scavenger hunt. Right now, I'm assuming two things…that you're here to compete, that you're a knight and…well, I guess three things…and, that you're alone. Am I right?"

"You're right." He said, turning his attention back to the plate armor.

"Well…I was hoping to discuss incorporating you into the team my sister and I are working on forming. We definitely need a knight as part of a cohesive team, and I believe we'll all stand a better chance of winning if we're members of a good team."

"So, you really think you're going to win this, do you blondie?" A man behind her asked.

Before she had a chance to react, the knight she was speaking to turned, his hand lashed out, and wrapped around the other man's throat. "She's with me." He said calmly. "If you've got a problem with what she said, you're going to have to go through me. So, are we going to have a problem, paladin?"

Apparently thinking better of his cockiness, the paladin shook his head, and was released. Without another word, he scrambled away.

Raising an eyebrow, Julia asked, "So, I assume we have a deal?"

"We do, assuming you're a sorceress."

"I am."

"Good. What does your sister do?"

"Well, like it or not, she's a thief," she whispered, so it was out of the shop owner's earshot, "and she's currently looking for a cleric to add to the group." Speaking normally again, she added, "I did a lot of thinking, before coming here, and I think the four of us will make about as good a team as anyone on this island."

"I agree. Providing your sister doesn't get caught doing her thing, having her could be very good, for all involved. When did you say you were going to meet her?"

"Well, as soon as you're ready to go, we can go meet her…she's over in the tavern looking for a cleric."

"I suppose we can go. At the moment, I can't afford anything in here."

"Join the club." Julia laughed.

Over in the tavern, Laurel looked around, feeling rather lost. Since the scavenger hunt hadn't started yet, the tavern was packed with people milling about, sitting at the tables, ordering drinks…there was barely room for her to meander through the tables, looking for anyone in cleric's robes.

She was seeing plenty of monks, but she agreed with Julia that they didn't want a monk – they needed a cleric. She had seen a couple, but unfortunately, they all seemed to be in groups, and they needed someone on his or her own.

Would any clerics be there alone?

Clerics weren't melee fighters…they wouldn't stand a chance in this game if they were alone…so she found it doubtful that any clerics would be on this island alone.

But there…over in the corner, she spotted a blonde man in cleric's robes, sitting alone at a table with a mug of ale. That didn't mean he was alone, necessarily…but it was a place to start, at least…so she made her way over to him, and offered a smile. "Hi!" She said brightly. "Can I talk to you for a second?"

"Sure." The man nodded, and gestured at the seat across the table. "Please, sit down."

Obligingly taking a seat, she began, "Well, I kind of have a proposition for you. I know you're a cleric…and I'm assuming that you're here for the scavenger hunt, and that you're alone. Assuming that's right, I'm going to try to get you to join up with my sister and me before this scavenger hunt starts."

"I'm alone." He nodded. "But before I agree to join you, I don't know what you do, and I don't know what your sister does."

"Well, my sister is a sorceress…she's off finding a knight for our team, and she left me to try to find a cleric to round out the team. As for me…" Laurel trailed off for a moment, hoping what she was about to say wasn't a deal-breaker. "As for me, like it or not, I'm a thief. My sister apparently put a lot of thought into putting together a really solid team, that will really stand a chance of winning this thing…and I agree with her…we really need a healer."

"A thief, hmm? Are you any good?"

"I'm not bad. There's definitely room for improvement, I won't lie, but I'm not bad. Actually, before this scavenger hunt starts, I need to see what I can do

about…um…acquiring…some armor for my sister." She smiled. "Anyway…before we do any more discussing, I should probably introduce myself. I'm Laurel."

"Cloud." He extended his hand to shake hers. "But to get back into it, I agree with your sister. Her vision does seem like a solid team, and I'm not quite stupid enough to think that I'm capable of winning this event all on my own. A team of four will definitely stand a better chance. All I'll say about it is…that we'd better all get along. Because if we win, we'll be ruling Harmondale together, and so…we'd better get along."

"Yeah." Laurel laughed. "I doubt you'll have a problem with me or my sister…we're both pretty agreeable. I don't know who Julia is going to recruit as our knight, but I assume she has the common sense to choose someone that won't cause problems."

"Hopefully. So, did she say when you're going to meet up?"

"She told me to wait here for her. She said she'd be back as soon as she'd found a knight that would work as a part of our team. Knowing her, she'll probably be back pretty quickly…as long as she doesn't get lost."

"She'd have to be pretty talented to get lost in a town as small as this one."

"Yeah, but she's notoriously navigationally challenged."

"I see. Well, the scavenger hunt doesn't start until tomorrow, so she's got plenty of time to recruit a knight and meet up with us."

Just as he was saying this, the aforementioned pair had fought their way over to the corner. Offering a smile, Julia asked her sister, "I assume you were successful?"

"Yeah." Laurel nodded. "Julia, this is Cloud – he's agreed to join us."

"Wonderful. I'm Julia…and…" She turned to the knight. "I don't believe we introduced ourselves at the armory."

"I'm Sephiroth." He told the other three, and they took the other two chairs around the small table. "Now that we have a full team, I think we should really do some discussing about our strategy. There are a lot of items that we're supposed to collect…" He fished a piece of paper out of his pack and looked at it. "A musical instrument, a longbow, a seashell, a red potion, a wealthy hat and a floor tile. Also, I hear some of the other contestants disappeared a few days ago. There's supposedly a thousand dollar reward for anyone who can offer some information about what happened to these other contestants."

"It would definitely be worthwhile to poke around and see if we can turn up that information." Cloud nodded. "From the look of things, we could all do with the money."

"Yeah." Laurel nodded. "There's some rumors going around about a dragon on this island. There's apparently a cave somewhere up north…I'd guess that's what happened to those contestants." She whispered, to avoid being overheard.

"That seems logical." Julia nodded. "But, assuming that's correct, what's going to keep us from becoming the next batch of missing contestants if we wander into that dragon's cave?"

Laurel seemed to consider. "I don't know. But…poking our heads into the cave and seeing what we see can't hurt anyone, as long as we're quick. Hopefully the dragon will have it's back turned…or even better, maybe it'll be asleep."

"If we can find evidence of the missing contestants in that cave…we can probably get it, but we'll have to wait for the dragon to leave…or fall asleep." Sephiroth told the group. "So I think our priority should be the scavenger hunt, to start. We'll have plenty of time to stake out that cave after we've won this contest."

Julia nodded. "So…six things, all concealed somewhere on the island. I'm torn…between saying we should split up, two and two, or stick together. We can cover more ground in two groups, but if we run into trouble, there would be more available hands to fight if we stick together."

There was a moment of silence as the other three considered it.

"I think sticking together is probably smarter." Laurel said at last. "But I think winning is really important to all of us. So, putting winning ahead of doing the smart and responsible thing, splitting up is our best bet."

"I agree." Sephiroth said at last. "I'll take you," He nodded at Julia, "with me. And Laurel, I can tell you're physically stronger than Cloud, so I'll leave it to you to watch his back." The next thing he pulled from his pack was a map of Emerald Isle. He unrolled it on the table. "I feel comfortable saying that it's unlikely we'll find anything hidden around town. But, some of the natives might own some of the things we're supposed to look for…notably the musical instrument or the wealthy hat."

Cloud nodded. "There was a bard playing near the docks when I arrived. Perhaps she would be willing to part with one of her instruments."

"I don't know about you, but we don't have a lot of money to barter with." Laurel sighed. "But, I might be able to steal something from her. Like I said, I'm not half bad at what I do, so I might be able to get it without us having to spend any of our resources on it. And the same thing holds true for the hat. If I see one, I can probably snag it."

"Alright. In that case, Laurel, Cloud, in the morning, comb the town, see what you can do about getting some of these things. I already have a red potion I can part with, so we don't need that. Julia, in the morning, we're going to head north. I know for a fact there are dragonflies up in this area," he indicated it on the map, "but killing them might give us some additional money to work with. God knows we need it."

Julia nodded. "Alright…we can do that." She was looking over the map. "I've got a nasty feeling we are going to have to go into that dragon's cave to get something other than information. Also, I would say it's likely other items might be in the cave I saw at the top of the waterfall. But I would contend that we should meet up tomorrow and explore the various caves on the island together, after we've searched everything in relatively plain view. So maybe…we can get up early to begin the search, meet up for lunch at 1:00…hopefully we'll have searched everything in plain view top to bottom by then. If we don't have everything, we can all go search the caves…we'll just have to be really careful while doing so."

"It makes sense to me." Cloud nodded. "We all have that list of items, so we will know when we have everything. I agree with Julia…odds are some of these things might be in the caves up north. I've heard that the cave at the top of the waterfall is an abandoned temple of some kind. The floor tile might be in there."

Laurel nodded. "We can win this. Hopefully we'll meet up with only one or two things left to do on this list."

"I'm sure that would be the case." Cloud nodded. "At any rate, it's getting late, and we all have to be up early tomorrow. Were you all lucky enough to get a room?"

"No." Laurel sighed. "We just docked at around 4:00. They're booked solid, right?"

"I got the last room three days ago." Cloud told them. "What about you, Sephiroth?"

"I'm afraid not." He shook his head.

"That's alright. We're a team now…and if we win we're going to be spending a lot of time together for a very long time…so we might as well start getting acquainted. There's only one bed in my room, but there's definitely enough room in there for all of us to sleep with a roof over our heads." Cloud smiled. "Let's try to get some sleep."

Dawn broke over the horizon at 6:00 in the morning, and the newly formed team woke with the first rays of light that peeped in the window.

"Okay…" Laurel yawned. "I sincerely doubt any sane person will be out and about this early…but we'll get right on asking about the musical instrument and hat. There's gotta be a couple of them around. You two be careful out there…you're the ones that are going to be in danger."

"We'll be fine." Sephiroth told her.

"You're not the one I'm worried about." Laurel retorted.

Sephiroth turned his gaze on his partner. "I see your point, but don't worry. I'll take care of her. I'm banking on the hope she'll come in handy at some point, but seeing as how she doesn't even have armor…" He sighed. "We'll make due. Hopefully by the time we're done killing those dragonflies we'll have enough money to spend on armor for her, bows for her and Cloud, training, etcetera."

"Hopefully." Laurel smirked at the steadily growing outrage on her sister's face.

"I can take care of myself." Julia said, struggling to keep her voice even. "I might not have armor yet, but I can take care of myself."

"I'm not going to argue with you." Sephiroth said dully. "Come on…we have work to do."

Laurel watched Sephiroth lead her sister away, and turned to Cloud. "Before we leave the room, let me tell you how I normally work. Usually, I've got a partner – that's where you come in. If we see this bard or somebody with a wealthy hat, I just need you to keep them occupied. Talk about prices, whatever, until I get it and disappear. If I get something, I'll take it back to the room, and you can meet me there. Then we can turn it in to whoever is keeping track of what we find, and by the time the person IDs us, it'll be way too late."

"Sounds like a plan." Cloud nodded. "I feel bad about it, but we don't exactly have a ton of money to be spending on these items. I think we're all here for the same reason – we all need the profits we'll turn as lords of Harmondale. So, for the time being, if you can steal it, that's the route we have to go."

"You'll get used to it." Laurel smiled. "If you feel really bad about it later, we can always come back here when we do have some money to throw around, and pay them back. But in the meantime, this is the way it's got to be. So let's just hope Sephiroth and Julia can come back with some of the things on this list, and, even more hopefully, they might come back with some money if they kill those dragonflies."

"Let's hope. Sephiroth is right…Julia definitely needs armor, both of us need to learn to use a bow, and buy bows…I need to buy spells, and I'm sure that holds true for her too…and I'm sure there are things you and Sephiroth need too. So let's get going."

"We'll take care of it." Laurel said complacently. "Like you said last night, if we win, we'll be spending a lot of time together for a long time…and I'm sure there will come a point that we aren't hurting for money every day of our sorry lives. I'm sure there will be plenty of things to do to earn money when we get to Harmondale…we'll get taxes…we'll probably travel and earn money other ways. This unbelievable poverty is just temporary, because I'm confident we're going to win this contest."

They wandered out of the tavern and headed out into the streets, heading for where Cloud saw the bard playing when he had arrived. They had almost reached the dock when Cloud said, "That's her." And he gestured at a woman setting up a variety of instruments to play, to begin her workday.

Laurel nodded, smiled, and disappeared around the side of the building, to approach from behind, trusting Cloud would keep this bard busy long enough for her to snag one of these instruments.

As Laurel vanished, Cloud approached the bard. "Hello," He began, smiling charmingly at her. "I wondered if I could implore a moment of your time before you start playing?"

"Of course." Leaving the instruments behind her, she made her way over to him. "Can I help you with something?"

"Well, I'm sure you know about this scavenger hunt Lord Markham is hosting…one of the items on our lists is to get a musical instrument…and I was wondering if I could convince you to sell one of your instruments to me."

The bard seemed to consider for a moment, and Cloud watched Laurel sneak up on the instruments, glance around to make sure no one was looking, and she grabbed the lute and vanished once again…off to return to the inn. "I'm sorry…" The bard said at last, "but I can't imagine parting with one of my instruments. I use all of them for my trade, and replacing any one of them would be very difficult. There isn't an instrument maker on Emerald Isle."

"I understand." Cloud replied, firmly squashing a definite stab of guilt. "I just thought I would ask, but I completely understand – have a nice day." Turning, he beat a hasty retreat out of the area, so as to avoid any questions she might ask about the lute that had just evaporated from among her instrument collection.

Five minutes later, he reached the room, and found Laurel sitting on the bed, plucking experimentally at the strings.

"Having fun?" He asked.

"Nah…just screwing around, waiting for you. My parents tried to convince me to become a bard…they really wanted a bard in the family. Oh well…let's get this to Lord Markham's place, so we can check it off the list before that bard realizes we were responsible for snagging

this thing."

"Yeah. Here…let's see if we can fit most of it into my pack…I don't think we can get the whole thing in there, but we can definitely get the body in there, so it will be harder to spot." He carefully took the lute from Laurel, and gently placed it in his pack. "Let's go."

"Okay…so we've turned in that red potion, hopefully Laurel and Cloud have combing the town under control." Sephiroth sighed. The two of them were standing on the top of a tall hill, overlooking a valley. He could hear the buzzing of the dragonflies, and he could see, at the opposite end of the island, through the trees (and dragonflies) there was a small shack of some kind. He knew they had to make it to that shack, and they had to do that before any of the other contestants. "Now, I know there are dragonflies down there…but we have to get through there, because I can see a shack from here, and it looks like a very good place to hide some of these items. That being said…" He looked down at her, and sighed.

"Stop looking at me like that." She growled. "I'm not helpless. I can take care of myself. You haven't seen me fight yet, so save your judgment of whether or not I'll be a burden until after you've seen me fight!"

"I'm sorry." He apologized in a voice that held no remorse. Finally, he stripped off his leather armor. "Put this on. It's going to be huge on you, but it's better than walking down this hill with you wearing only your clothes."

"I don't need it." She snapped. "I won't be able to fight in that…it will be huge on me, it will be too heavy, and wearing that, I really will be a burden, because I rely on my quickness to survive. You keep your armor. After we've killed these dragonflies, I'll be able to afford a set of my own. Now, let's get going. The longer we stand here, the more chance there is that someone will reach that shack before us."

"Fine. But I'll be annoyed if we have to shell out a few hundred dollars to have you resurrected."

"Fine." Saying only that, they began cautiously making their way down the hill…and almost immediately, the dragonflies took notice, and began coming at them.

Without thinking, he knocked Julia behind him, and began shooting down dragonflies.

She was beginning to think she had made a colossal mistake in her choice of knights as

she got to her feet, and began casting firebolt after firebolt on the dragonflies making their way over to them…but there was no denying she was distracted. The fact that this knight dared act like she was some helpless damsel in distress was more aggravating than anything she had dealt with in a long, long time.

And the best she could hope for was to prove that she could hold her own.

That was the last thought to hit her before the dragonflies got close enough for her to strike down with her staff. Unfortunately, there were a lot of them, and between the dozen or so surrounding them, they had successfully hit her a couple of times…and she was unprotected. She didn't have armor, so she was getting hurt.

Striking down dragonfly after dragonfly with his sword, Sephiroth risked a glance over at Julia. He could see that she was bleeding from several injuries, but there was an impressive collection of dead dragonflies at her feet.

Five minutes later, all of the dragonflies that had noticed their approach down the hill had been killed.

"Are you alright?" Sephiroth asked, beginning collecting money off of the dragonfly corpses.

"I'm fine." She replied, also gathering the money from the dragonfly corpses. "A couple of bites, but I'm fine. What about you?"

"I'm uninjured. Such is one of the benefits of armor, you know."

"So sue me. We've got about…what…two-hundred, just from that batch? After we've checked out that shack, we can take a break and go buy me some armor. Now then, unless you need to catch your breath, we should keep making our way over to that shack." She paused, listening. "I can hear another group about as big as the one we just killed in front of us…but that should about kill all of them."

"Good." Ignoring her jab, he began making his way through the trees again, with an arrow notched in his bow. As soon as the first dragonfly became visible, he shot it down…and successfully caught the attention of the next group of dragonflies. And once again, the battle ensued.

In the middle of the battle, Julia had to hold in a sigh. She was out of spell points, so she couldn't cast any more spells, and was left to just attempt to hit the dragonflies with her staff (and avoid striking her partner, who was keeping an annoyingly close proximity to her).

After another ten minutes of fighting, the dragonflies were dead, and the ominous buzzing had ceased. "Here." Sephiroth told her, handing her a red potion. "Drink that, let me collect the money off these bodies…and then we need to get to that shack."

Choosing not to argue, because she was hurt, and did need it, she just uncorked the potion and drank it, letting Sephiroth finish scouring the bodies for anything useful.

Then the two made their way over to the shack, and discovered two chests.

"There's no telling if these are booby-trapped." Sephiroth sighed. "So, until we get you armor, I'm going to ask you to step outside this shack. I'll open the chests on my own…because if there was an explosion, it could kill you." At her hesitation, he sighed. "Please. I'm not judging you. You've proved your worth. I'm just trying to keep you from getting hurt unnecessarily…so please, step outside."

"…Fine." She nodded, and left the shack, casting a glance around for any other contestants in the area. It was getting close to their scheduled time to meet Cloud and Laurel…and she was feeling good about how they had done. They had covered most of the island, so she hoped there would definitely be some of these items in the chests Sephiroth was opening. She hadn't heard a trap detonate, so she assumed they weren't dangerous…but she waited outside nonetheless.

A moment later, Sephiroth exited, and held up the seashell. "This was the only item…but we got another $350, and a couple of rings to sell…and a couple of bottles and potion ingredients. On that note, it's almost 1:00, so we should turn this shell in and see how Laurel and Cloud did."

She nodded, and they began heading back to town.

"Before we check out those caves, we have to get you armor, and hopefully teach you and Cloud to use a bow…if we're lucky we'll be able to buy a bow or two…and maybe get some training in."

"Training takes several days…we don't have that kind of time." She shook her head. "I agree with the other purchases we need, but training has to wait until we've won this contest." They turned in their shell, and headed back to the hotel, where they found Laurel and Cloud debating about their next move.

"How did you guys do?" Laurel asked.

"We got the seashell and red potion." Julia answered. "What about you?"

"We got the musical instrument, but there isn't a wealthy hat in the town…so…"

"Well," Sephiroth sighed. "Between the four of us, we've covered this island top to bottom. The longbow, wealthy hat and floor tile must be in the caves. So, after lunch, we should go check out that abandoned temple."

There was a general nod of consent.

"Have you guys eaten?" Cloud asked.

"Not yet." Julia shook her head.

"Here," Laurel gestured at the table. "We picked up a little bit of food with some of the money we found in a chest behind the inn. How did you guys do money-wise?"

"We've got about $550…not counting the things we found to sell." Sephiroth answered.

"Give us the things you have to sell." Laurel told them. "We'll go sell it and come back, and we can see what we've got to work with then." She paused. "Oh! Before I forget…" She reached into her pack, producing a petite leather armor set. "Here, Julia. We covered the town top to bottom, so Cloud and I lifted this for you."

"Thanks." Julia nodded, putting it on as Sephiroth handed over three rings.

"We'll be back in a few minutes…but before we go, what's on our 'to buy' list?" Cloud asked.

"You and Julia need a crash course in bow use, and we're going to get bows for both of you, before we take on either of those two caves." The other man said firmly. "After that…we can check out the magic guilds. Julia has mentioned that she needs some spells, and I'm guessing you do too."

"I do." He nodded. "I'll sell these rings and get back to you in a few minutes."

The other two nodded, and they left.

Left alone in the hotel room, eating lunch, Julia asked, "So, do you really think I'm as much of a burden as you treat me?"

"You aren't a burden." He replied. "But you're a crucial part of the team, but – with no offense to you – sorcerers aren't known for their physical strength…and we really don't have the money to spend on temple visits. For that reason, it's easier for me to try to protect you, because I can sustain a lot of damage and be just fine." After a pause, he added, "And I'm not saying Cloud is going to be any better. There's a reason I entrusted Laurel with watching his back, because I know for a fact she's physically stronger than he is."

After consideration, she nodded. "After I've upgraded my spells, I won't be so bad. If we've got any money to work with, I can probably add a few things that will give us an edge in those caves…but we both know time is of the essence. We have to be in that abandoned temple before 3:00."

"I agree. Fortunately, we're done eating, so as soon as Laurel and Cloud get back, we can go get bows, and maybe get a new spell or two…I agree that we'll have time for training later. We just don't have the time to spend on training now…but after we win this contest, we'll have all the time in the world to worry about it."

Julia nodded again. "We're halfway there. I'm betting the other three items will be in that abandoned temple. After that, we can attempt to check out that dragon's cave for information about those missing contestants."

"We'll have to be careful." He stated the obvious.

"Of course."

Just then, Laurel and Cloud returned.

"How did you do?" Julia asked.

"He's good." Laurel smiled. "He wheedled another $500 out of the shopkeeper for those three tiny rings…and I lifted a cloak for him. I would have gone for more, but I've gotta be careful not to get caught, right?"

"Right." She nodded.

"Alright…in that case, let's get those bows and get to that abandoned temple."

An hour later, the party was standing at the top of the waterfall, peering into the darkness. "From the smell of things, I think we've got rats." Laurel said. "The thief's guild has a problem with rats from time to time…so I recognize the smell."

"Great." Julia had to suppress a shudder, and activated torchlight. "Shall we get this over with then?"

"Yeah." Cloud nodded, and the cautiously made their way inside.

After only a minute of walking, Julia hissed. "Enemies…four, coming up fast."

"Rats." Laurel said dully, firing off an arrow.

Whether she would admit it or not, the rats were grossing her out. For one thing, they were the size of a cat…for another thing…rats were disgusting, unsanitary beings. Who knew what kind of diseases they were carrying? To make matters worse, she was about as clumsy with her new bow as it was possible to get. After her third unsuccessful arrow, she struck one down

with a firebolt spell.

"Well, that was disgusting." Cloud sighed, as they continued making their way into the tunnels.

"Tell me about it." Julia rolled her eyes. "I don't know how you could live in a place that has a rat problem, Laurel. They're disgusting, disease-ridden beasts, and a rat the size of a cat is completely wrong in every way."

It wasn't wrong before they reached a fork in their path.

"So…left or right?" Laurel asked, looking at the fork.

"It doesn't really matter." Sephiroth sighed. "We have to explore the whole thing anyway, because you never know what items are stored where. A longbow, a wealthy hat, and a floor tile…" Another sigh escaped his lips. "For now…we might as well go right, follow that to its end, and see what we've got."

"May as well." Cloud also sighed…and they headed in that direction.

"I hear more rats." Laurel announced.

"I sense more rats." Julia told the group. There are more, this time…six, I think."

As the rats became visible, Laurel had one more announcement. "Watch out for that red one! It's the strongest – it shoots fire!" As she said that, she dodged out of the way of a firebolt shot by the rat.

Sephiroth had to hold in a sigh, mentally noting that after they won this contest, all three of his teammates needed work on their bow mastery. Julia and Cloud were so bad off they might as well have been unarmed. And, just as he thought that, he saw a bolt from the lightning rat strike Julia dead in the chest.

Biting back a cry of pain, Julia stumbled backward.

"Cloud! Do something about that!" Sephiroth ordered, signaling Laurel to the front rank to take out the rest of the rats.

Casting a quick healing spell, Cloud asked, "Are you alright?"

"I'll be fine. I'm sore, but I'll be fine." Julia got back to her feet, silently cursing getting hit. She didn't mind getting hit in front of her sister, but in front of her two new teammates, she needed to make a good impression, and getting hurt wasn't the best way to prove her worth. Irritably storming to the front, a series of sparks killed the last two rats, and she recast her torchlight spell.

"Are you alright?" Sephiroth asked.

"I'm fine." She replied. "It's not the first time I've gotten hurt, and it's not the last time I'm going to get hurt either. Anyway, I want to be out of these tunnels as quickly as possible, so we should move on."

Sephiroth nodded. "Julia, Cloud, as much as possible, stay behind Laurel and me. Cloud, as I've already told Julia, we don't have the money to spend on resurrection if one of you gets killed, so it's easier of you let the more durable members of the team stay out in front of the weaker members."

Exchanging a glance, they nodded, but Julia had to add her input. "I can stay in the back most of the time, but I need a clear shot for my spells. Bow is pretty irrelevant right now…but I do need a clear shot for my spells."

"And we can give you that." Sephiroth told her, and began heading down the tunnel again. As they reached another fork, he glanced both ways. "I can see a dead end down this way. We should check it first, and then double back." So he led them down, and they discovered a decent pile of money.

"That was a good call." Cloud sighed. "But it doesn't bring us any closer to gathering up the last few items for this scavenger hunt."

They doubled back and headed back down the other way.

"True." Laurel sighed, shooting down a bat. "But we should finish scouring this place pretty quickly, and if the items aren't here, they're in the dragon's cave."

"Let's hope they're here." Another sigh escaped Cloud's lips.

Again, they reached a dead end, and found a little more gold.

"Well…let's head back to the fork." Julia sighed. She had been truly hoping they would have had something from their list to show for their efforts so far…but she knew there was still plenty of this place left to search.

Now they headed down the left-hand tunnel.

"More enemies coming up." Julia announced.

"It isn't rats this time." Laurel told the group, readying an arrow. "Doesn't sound like rats…doesn't smell like rats." That was all she had time to say before they were approached by three gargantuan spiders. "Ew!" She exclaimed, leaping back out of one spider's reach.

"My sentiments exactly." This time, Julia couldn't suppress a shudder. She hated spiders, even when they were the harmless little ones. These ones were even bigger than the rats, and definitely looked venomous.

Looking downright bored, Sephiroth killed one spider with his sword, and shot the remaining spider. He was used to the way these 'creepy-crawly' enemies were perceived by women…and, since these two women kept fighting (despite being grossed out), he didn't mind their reactions.

"Yeah…I definitely wouldn't recommend letting one of those spiders bite you." Cloud added, as they continued down the tunnel. "I've never seen–"

Cloud's thought was cutoff by Julia. "More enemies. Two, coming down that hall." She pointed…and promptly had to duck under a bat, diving at her head. Smacking the bat with her staff, she stunned it, but didn't kill it.

The bats were definitely harder to deal with than anything else. They were too fast for arrows or spells, Laurel's dagger wasn't long enough to hit them, and two more had arrived since the original two began their attack.

Finally successfully killing one bat, Sephiroth immediately targeted the one Laurel was struggling to kill – her dagger simply wasn't long enough to kill the bat repeatedly diving at her head. Two swift slashes killed the bat.

"Thanks." Laurel gasped, having realized that she was in trouble with these bats.

Meanwhile, Julia had successfully bludgeoned one bat to death, and Cloud's mace had killed the other one.

"That was exciting." He said, shaking the blood off the spikes of his mace.

"You have a sick idea of what qualifies as exciting." Laurel scoffed as they took off down the right-hand hallway in the fork they had reached.

"Sarcasm." He replied.

Once again, they reached a dead end, picking up a little bit of money, an extra sword, and a couple of potion ingredients.

"We'd better be getting close to the end." Laurel sighed. "We've been in here for hours, and we still don't have one single thing to show for it."

"We haven't reached the 'temple' portion of the abandoned temple." Julia said complacently. "If there's going to be anything in this God-forsaken cave, it would more than likely be in the temple portion. We still have to check out everything, just to be sure, but I'm betting we'll find stuff in the temple."

"On the bright side," Cloud added, "since we haven't come across a single corpse…or rather, since we've been killing everything, it seems none of the other contestants have been in here. Since we're the first to be in here, if there is anything in here, we'll be the ones to find it."

"That's a good point." Laurel nodded…as they started along the last remaining path.

Finally, they reached a flight of stairs – a fairly definite sign that they had reached the temple portion of these tunnels. "There are a lot of enemies up ahead." Julia whispered. "At least fifteen…so we need to be careful."

"I hear rats." Laurel nodded. "Also…that high-pitched squeaking is probably more bats. I don't know if the spiders make a sound, so I don't know if there are going to be spiders…but rats and bats for sure."

"Worry about the rats, Laurel." Sephiroth told her. "Let those of us with more range handle the bats."

"Okay." She nodded, and they cautiously made their way down a hall, turned, and saw a flight of stairs heading down into the temple. True to Laurel's prediction, there were rats and bats heading at them fast.

Reaching into her pack for the blue potion she had in there, Julia quickly drank it and began blasting down rats, and using her staff to whack the bats away from her head. She wished she was capable of learning a bladed weapon, but that wasn't an option…so the best she could hope for by way of killing her assailants was blunt force trauma.

Calmly slashing down the bats surrounding and diving at them, Sephiroth was hoping this was the last batch of enemies. He knew his three teammates were tired, because they had been in here for a long time…and he was also hoping that the last three items they needed would be somewhere in this temple area.

Meanwhile, Laurel had wiped out the rats that had been shooting at the party, and turned her attention on the remaining bats. She didn't know if she would be any use killing these bats, but she felt it was her duty to try to help.

With a few final swings, the last bat was struck dead, and Julia breathed a sigh of relief. "That was the last of them…I don't sense any more enemies in these tunnels."

"That's good news." Laurel smiled as they made their way into the temple.

Just before the altar, there was a fire trap exploding back and forth across the hallway.

" It looks like we have to go down these halls." Cloud observed. "And I think it goes without saying that we're going to have to be quick to avoid getting hit with this trap."

Sephiroth nodded. "Let's head to the left first."

They cautiously made their way into position, waiting for the trap to detonate before they dashed as quickly as they could, down the hallway, and to safety, reaching a room full of bookshelves.

"Alright…" Laurel began examining the right-hand wall. "I think there's some sort of secret passage…or something, behind this wall…" Poking experimentally at the books, she grinned in triumph as the wall slid to the side, revealing another small room, in which a decorated floor tile was lying in the corner. "Got it." Laurel grinned, also collecting another small pile of gold.

"Cloud, Julia, check these bookshelves for anything that might be useful, to use, or to sell." Sephiroth told them. "Laurel and I will go check out what's on the other end of the hallway."

"Alright." Cloud nodded, and they began searching through the bookshelves.

Sephiroth and Laurel, meanwhile, had cautiously made their way over to the room on the other end of the hallway. It was filled with four separate cabinets. "Stand back." Laurel told him. "I can tell, these ones are booby-trapped. I think I can disarm them…but…better safe than sorry, you know?"

Sephiroth obligingly stepped back, to let Laurel open the cabinets.

Within, they discovered money, a few extra weapons, an extra set of armor, potion ingredients and bottles…but most importantly, a wealthy hat. "Well…it looks like the longbow must be in the dragon's cave." Laurel sighed.

"Apparently…because we've covered this place top to bottom." They made their way back to the main part of the temple, and found Julia and Cloud waiting for them. "Did you guys find anything worth anything?"

"Five scrolls and a wizard's eye text book." Julia announced. "We don't have any need for any of it, so Cloud is going to sell them."

"We've got some stuff to sell too." Laurel told them as they began making their way back to the exit of the tunnels. "But most importantly, we got the wealthy hat…so apparently, the longbow is in the dragon's cave. I think that's where we're heading next."

"We don't really have a choice." Cloud sighed. "Because we all know we've covered this island from start to finish, doing everything except the dragon's cave. Maybe we'll get lucky, and the things we need might be near the entrance to the cave."

"That would be nice." Laurel laughed. "But is it ever that easy?"

"Well, maybe." Julia added her input. "If the scavenger hunt coordinators really hid something in a dragon's cave, do you really think they would want to go that far into the cave, when the dragon could notice them at any time? If I were them, I would have set it fairly close to the entrance, so we could get out of there as fast as possible."

"Yeah, that's a good point." She nodded.

They reached the exit of the tunnels, and made their way down the slope, to the other cave, where they knew this dragon was living.

"Let me take a look." Laurel told the group. "I'm pretty sneaky…I think I'll be the most inconspicuous. I'll just look around, and see what I can see from just inside." When the three of them nodded, she cautiously made her way to the entrance, and poked her head inside. A moment later, she took a couple of cautious steps forward…and quickly backed out. "I can see the longbow and a shield, right near the entrance…about five feet in. The shield might have belonged to the missing contestants."

"Alright." Sephiroth nodded. "I'll go grab them…you three can wait here."

"Are you sure you want to go in alone?" Cloud asked. "You should take me with you. If you get hurt, I can heal you."

"I'll be fine." He replied, and disappeared into the cave.

Outside, the three could hear the dragon roaring, and could hear the hiss of the fire being spewed from the dragon's mouth…but just thirty seconds after entering the cave, Sephiroth returned, hauling the shield and longbow. "Let's go turn this in." He announced. "I know for a fact this shield belonged to the missing contestants…so we're done."

They made their way back to town, over to Lord Markham's estate…where the scavenger hunt coordinator was staying, and keeping track of what the contestants had found. They entered, and handed over the last items on the last.

"Wonderful, wonderful!" Lord Markham exclaimed. "That's all of the items…which means, it is my great, great pleasure to name you the rightful lords of Harmondale! Your ship awaits, just board whenever you're ready to leave, and it will take you to your new land."

"Thank you." All four said, and left the manor, heading to the dock.

"Well, this is it…we won." Laurel was smiling at her teammates. "I knew we would win."

"I'm glad I agreed to join you all." Cloud was also smiling. "We were definitely the best team playing in this contest. So with that…is everyone ready to leave?"

"I'm definitely ready to leave…I'm ready to see our new home." Julia said.

"So let's go." Turning, Sephiroth led them onto the ship headed for Harmondale. And so, filled with anticipation with what the future might hold, all four disembarked on what was sure to be the adventure of a lifetime.

I hope you did like the story :)

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Postby Xfing » Sep 27 2011, 11:01

Awesome, a novelization of MM7! Keep it going, keep it going! I've wanted to read something like that for quite a long time.

But if I had to offer you some advice, don't rely on game mechanics so much for storytelling. "Spell points", for example, sounds too technical for a novel. Also keep in mind that the skill restrictions from MM7 were based on character, rather than ability. It's not like somebody as intelligent as a sorcerer would be unable to learn how to use a sword "just because", right? Sorcerers don't use swords because they regard martial combat as uncivilized and prefer to smite foes with their spells. Similarly with other classes. So don't dwell on game mechanics so much and keep this **** going, I can't wait for Part Two :3

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Postby solitaire345 » Sep 28 2011, 12:23

Indeed a great idea to write a story based on M&M. I have been out of good fantasy novels lately, so I'll definitely read all this :)
However I don't think money should be called 'dollars' - it reads somehow weird to me. I better like gold coins as it was in the game..
Also before becoming 'dead', characters first go through 'unconscious' phase and basic clerical 'Heal' spell can't bring characters back from death.

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Postby Xfing » Sep 28 2011, 21:11

Eagerly awaiting the next part! And I hope you're planning to include some character development, moral ambiguity (eg. a heated debate between the characters whether to choose the Light or the Darkness). Keep it pumpin'!

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