2019-08-23: Checking Out The Ceiling

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  • Log: Checking Out The Ceiling
  • Cast: Lydia Seren, Xantia
  • Where: Guadosalam
  • Date: August 23, 2019
  • Summary: Lydia seems sad, so Xantia takes her on a tour of Guadosalam's ceiling, a magical place she learned of thanks to a mutual friend...

===============================<* Guadosalam *>===============================

Guadosalam is an underground that sits on the path from the north bank of the Moonflow and the southern trail of the Thunder Plains. The city is found inside an underground cavern, where the walls and walkways are composed of the twisted roots of the trees of the Moonflow's north bank, giving the entire area the faint resemblance of an underground swamp.

Guadosalam is the ancient home of the Guado, a race of Beastman-appearing humans who, until recently, lived outside the grace of Yevon. This changed with the coming of Lord Jyscal Guado, who brought his people into Bevelle's fold; following Jyscal's death, his son Seymour - also a Maester of Yevon - now rules the Guado people both temporally and spiritually.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmcCd1eCJq4
<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia Seren has had a wild life for the past couple weeks while battling shadow cultists and trying her darnedest best to avoid the war. She has, at the moment, found herself in Guadosalam. And she isn't entirely sure that she ended up here of her own free will because even though she intended to come to Guadosalam, and even though her feet took her to Guadosalam, she really hates Guadosalam.

She quietly has been gathering the attention of the citizenry and murmuring to them in hushed tones, but every time as of yet she is blown off and that only compounds Lydia's frustration. Ultimately she gives up, sits herself down on the floor, and stares ahead into the distance as if trying to empty her own mind so she can at least for once banish all her fears of present and future dangers.

And of course of her latest quasi-rejection. She would really rather not think about it so she can be as patient as she promised to be.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia, on the other hand, hasn't had too much of a wild life as of late. After Luca, she too has had quite enough of war, and on the advice of Lily now spends most of her time focusing on Hero Stuff. When she's not training in the woods, she tends to travel out to where refugees are gathered to try and spread some much-needed cheer and hope during these trying times. And if she can fight some Fiends along the way, so much the better! Beats the heck out of having to fight soldiers of the Guard, that just got demoralizing after a while.

Last Lydia saw her, she was involved in the fight against Kalve's old master. That was something she'd really been looking forward, fighting against a powerful opponent in a situation that had nothing to do with war or anything like that. Except she could tell that they weren't fighting her with everything they had, which may be kind of hard when you have to divide your attention across multiple combatants to begin with, but it still was very disappointing. She didn't stick around to talk afterwards, going off on her own to sulk about it.

And now she is here, in Guadosalam, the closest thing to 'home base' that she has at the moment. It doesn't exactly have her personal preference either, but you take what you can get when you don't want to get near the areas where war is actively brewing. She doesn't have much of a rapport with the locals, who she's deemed to be Not Much Fun in general, it's mostly a matter of mutual tolerance. As such, she has to get her fun in other ways.

Which might explain why she literally drops in Lydia from who knows where, landing in a crouch a short distance away from where Lydia's sat herself down. Acting as if this were the most normal thing in the world, Xantia rises to her feet, shakes her head to get the hair out of her face, and steps closer with her usual cheerful smile. "Hi Lydia! What's going on? You look kinda sad, you need something fun to do? Wanna go check out the ceiling?"

Ah, so that's where she came from. The ceiling. Now it all makes sense.

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

BGM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjSnxYm5tcs

Lydia jolts slightly when Xantia drops down on her and she sits herself up and slowly pushes herself into a standing position. She blinks a few times at Xantia, looks up at the ceiling, then back down to Xantia.

"Yes," she tells Xantia. "I wish to check out the ceiling. Can you get me up there?" This isn't really going to help her with the problems she's having but it sounds way better than just sitting on the ground being unable to sell items properly and everything and feeling miserable even when in terms of the present she isn't sure she has much to be miserable about.

It's the future that's the problem. Still Lydia who does not enjoy fighting like Xantia does is rather grateful she wasn't facing Kalve's master at his full strength.

Even if it makes her wonder why all these super powered nice enough people are letting everything go to shit.

"So what's so fun about the ceiling?" Lydia asks, and that might very well be the last thing she gets to say before she ends up there.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Yes, there is of course only one way things can end if you ask Xantia whether she can help you get somewhere that isn't easy to reach. "Of course!" she affirms pleasantly enough, with a grin that might inspire either trustworthiness or appear rather ominous, depending on your perspective of someone who knows exactly what she's about to do and is looking forward to doing just that.

"Well, there's these vines all over it-- get ready to grab those, by the way," is all she says regarding the fun up there, before she gives Lydia a boost. Which is to say, firmly grabbing her sides, lifting her off the ground, then tossing her straight up. Hopefully that's about what she expected to happen.

At least Xantia does seem to know what she's doing when she's throwing people who she doesn't want to hurt. It's about exactly the amount of momentum needed to be able to grab hold of the ceiling vines, stopping just short of slamming into the ceiling itself. It'd be less pleasant if those vines are missed, because Xantia doesn't stick around down there. She clambers up a nearby wall, then leaps from side to side in a practiced series of wall jumps, until she's also up on the ceiling again.

"Fun, right?" she questions brightly, moving across the vine-covered ceiling by her hands for a short distance, before going into a swinging motion, and launching herself further ahead into a rocky opening. Then she pops back out of it to wave Lydia over. "Come on, come on, over here! There's a whole system of caverns over in this direction!"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

It's about what she expected to happen. She still screams though before grabbing hold of a vine and dangling off it. The vine starts making a tearing noise and Lydia quickly hops to another more secure vine as the first tumbles to the ground. Lydia, uh, weighs more than the average pal here. She makes a faint 'eeeeenn' noise before calming herself down. She does way more reckless stuff willingly without any help so she should be able to handle this alright as it is.

"Certainly an improvement," Lydia murmurs as she swings herself after Xantia, pulling her feet up as she lands near the opening, wobbles back, but just barely manages to steady herself rather than tumble back down to the floor.

"Huhh..." Lydia says. "I never noticed these before." she straightens up and takes a look around. It's just caverns of course but the fact she had to be thrown up to a ceiling and swing around like Tarzan to get there turns 'holes in walls' into a very special mystery.

"What is this for?" Lydia wonders. "We must figure out this mystery."

She follows after Xantia and looks over to her. "Guess you've found a way to keep busy." Lydia smiles to her. "Some of my friends got attacked by the Shadow Dragon Cult but we were able to rescue our friend they kidnapped and send them scampering so it...all worked out in the end. How 'bout you? How goes your, uh, 'hero-ing'?"

While she was maybe awkward around Xantia at first she seems to regard the other girl fondly enough these days and with far less anxiety and trepidation that had more to do with Lydia herself than Xantia.

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Despite having previously informed Lydia that she knew about the whole weight thing, that was no issue for Xantia where it came to lifting and tossing. She just hadn't considered it might be an issue with the vines. That's about typical, thinking things only halfway through at best.

Thankfully, there are no unfortunate accidents as a result, so Xantia is still in a glowing mood when Lydia joins her in the cavern system running above the 'streets' - such as they are - of Guadosalam. The ceiling isn't so high that anybody taller than six feet could stand up straight, but that feels pretty spacious to Xantia.

"Emeralda showed me what it's like up here," she explains. Even Xantia wouldn't have thought to try this if it wasn't shown to her. "You'd never know if you stuck down there where the people are! They're not much fun anyway. Up here, you can explore every day and still find things that you didn't see before!"

When quizzed on what the cave system is for, she can only shrug. She never really considered that a mystery before, but now that she's been made aware of it... it is a little curious. But of course, her main reason to rope Lydia into this was to attempt mental distraction. The same thing that Xantia tends to do this for. She'd rather have fun where she can and not think about things too much right now. You can always count on Emeralda for help in that department.

"Oh... the hero-ing goes alright, I suppose. Still haven't figured out Light, though. And it's somehow harder to feel like I can be a hero here than it was on Filgaia." She speaks casually enough, until there's a T-split in the cavern system, at which point Xantia halts, and turns back to Lydia, looking a bit concerned.

"Shadow Dragon, huh? I've heard that name before, but I... don't think I've ever run into them?" She can't say that with certainty, she knows that they're the kind of people who tend to hide who they are. "Anyway, I'm glad that everything worked out, but... if it did, why are you still sad?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"O-oh. Emeralda showed you. I guess that's why some of the vines hold up okay." Lydia lowers her eyes. "Emeralda is a good kid. I..." Xantia says the people on the ground aren't so much fun and Lydia laughs briefly in response. "Yeah yeah, you've got a point there, Xan. Thank you for showing me this place." It's away from people and is nice and cold and quiet which is plenty of what Lydia is looking for right now.

"Figured out... light?" Lydia asks. "What do you mean, uh, figuring out 'light'? I'm a Star Shaman! I know a lot about light. Light is a shrimp tailed asteroid that's very sweet." Xantia is probably not talking about Rigdobrite here but this doesn't stop Lydia nor does it slow her down.

Xantia asks why she's still sad. Weirdly enough, Xantia brought up one of the things making her sad rather indirectly but Lydia isn't sure how to comment on it. She likes Emeralda. Emeralda is cool. Emeralda has done nothing to hurt her and has been nothing but sweet to her but...

...she still feels uneasy. It still reminds her of what had happened to her.

"Well, it was pretty stressful. And I um. May have... incinerated a few people in the rescue. They were trying to kill us but I still feel bad and uh."

She shrugs both shoulders. "Anyway, it's not like anything really went bad, you know? It went about as good as I could've hoped. But it wasn't fun. I didn't like it. And I'm kinda miserable thinking about it."

She kicks her foot across the ground, unsure how to properly express her Emeralda 'issue' here. "Though I mean... you're pretty empathic sometimes, Xan? I'm really impressed."

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

Xantia probably doesn't make the issue any easier by chiming in, "She is, isn't she?" when Lydia says Emeralda is a good kid. "She doesn't worry about things like most people do. And she wants to be a hero, too! I think she can do it, she's a real quick study." The way she talks now, you'd never know that up until recently, Xantia was feeling rather uneasy about Emeralda herself. They've come to an Understanding since then, or so she believes.

On the matter of Light, Xantia lets out a little laugh and shakes her head. "Not that kind of light. I mean... Light as an element. Like... the Stare Roe kind of Light?" ...Did she actually understand the shrimp tailed asteroid bit enough to realize that this was a about a Guardian? Then again, it is about food, and that does tend to get Xantia's attention. Glossing over that, she continues, "I feel like... no, I know I can use it. I just still don't know how to make it work. I've been trying since... well, pretty much since that time on the beach." Not that it wasn't like that for Fire, too, but, well, she's rarely very patient about things.

But right now what's most important is to help Lydia to not be sad. Which seems to be a matter of killing people, which... yeah, that's pretty heavy. Not a topic that Xantia feels too qualified to talk about, looking away briefly as she runs a hand through her hair. "Oh. Yeah. I can understand that. But, you know, that happens sometimes. All you can really do is... well, this." She gestures around her. "Thinking about it doesn't help. So you just have to distract yourself with something fun, to try and not think about it." That's what she does. That may be what she's been doing here all along.

With that, she looks left and right, then gestures right, suggesting, "Let's go this way. Both sides get pretty dark from here on out, but if we go this way, there's this section where there's a bunch of glowing blue mushrooms. They're really pretty! Also, tasty!" And presumably not poisonous, one would think she'd have figured that out one way or another.

She doesn't go immediately though, turning back to Lydia with a quizzical expression. "People have told me that before. But 'empathic' just means... being nice to people, when it looks like they need cheering up, right? I don't see why that's impressive, doesn't that just make sense?"

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says, "Yeah," on Emeralda. "I fuckin' envy her carefree life. She's got pretty much--" Lydia grimaces and says, "I want to be fair to her. But I do not know if I can be. I don't know if I have it in me to see her as the friend that she is rather than a reminder of all the bad that's happened to me."

She looks at the floor as she speaks on her, completely oblivious that Xantia was once uneasy about Emeralda too. "She's a sweetheart so I should be able to but... I guess I'm just weak."

She says, "Oh," seemingly understanding that Xantia is talking on 'Stare Roe' light rather than 'Rigdobrite' light. Honestly the Guardians maybe didn't need to have a guardian of light AND a guardian of stars but well they are pretty important, both of them, so maybe it's okay.

Xantia says she understands and Lydia smiles back at Xantia. "Yeah, true. If I don't think about it enough maybe it'll be natural and I can be fuckin' decent around this cool person."

She starts walking along and adds, "Sweet, shrooms. I could eat." She is pretty Baskar herself so Lydia isn't about to be a prude about this. "Shouldn't eat too many because if they're glowing they'll help folks get around the secret mystery tunnels."

She quirks her head at Xantia's own quizzical impression and answers practically in kind here. "Nah, I mean, you're good at recognizing when people are sad. And you make it look easy when you do cheer 'em up. Like, you're real good at cheering folks up rather than stumbling over your words and accidentally saying something dickish or something. You're a true qualified cheerer-upper, Xan. Gotta accept it."

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

"Carefree, huh..." The way Xantia says that, it's already pretty clear that she knows something. That perhaps by 'not worrying about things like most people' she didn't mean 'not worrying about things at all'. But she lets Lydia finish first of all, after which... well, it's always obvious just by looking at Xantia when she's having trouble following another person's train of thought.

"Why would she remind you of that?", she wonders aloud. Xantia has already made it clear that she knows about what Lydia and Emeralda has in common, but apparently she can't follow how that could lead down to this train of thought. And, moreover, as she finally gets around to clarifying, "...I think she's a lot like me, actually. She worries about people thinking she's weird. And from the way she talked, I don't think she can remember much of her past, either. So, if she's like me, and you can get along with me, you just have to act the same way you do around me, and then everything'll be fine!"

She might be oversimplifying things a little. That, too, is a familiar Xantia trait. As is being good at cheering people up, apparently? That seems to embarrass Xantia a little, causing her to pause and scratch her cheek. Just when it looked like nothing ever embarrasses her. "Is that... really such a special thing? I always thought that was the easiest part of being a Hero. To make people smile in dark times. I've always tried to do that, since before I even knew what a Hero was. It just kind of... comes natural."

The blue glow coming from up ahead allows her to quickly regain composure. "Oh, here we are! Don't worry, I won't be too greedy... there's LOTS of 'em though."

She's not exaggerating. That entire section of the cave is very moist, with only the tiniest trickle of water running through it, but it's clear enough that this is seeping in from some kind of reservoir above. It serves as an ideal environment for mushroom growth, and only one kind seems to thrive here. They might be perfectly ordinary-looking white mushrooms if it wasn't for the blue fluorescent light shining from them.

Xantia doesn't know or worry about the cause of any of this, of course. She just sees a bunch of pretty, tasty mushrooms. "Isn't this the best place? I never would've known about it if I hadn't gotten to know Emeralda better."

...Is she trying to make a point? Nah, can't be, Xantia is never even slightly subtle about anything. ...Right?

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

"Can you turn into a puddle?" Lydia quips back to Xantia though boy would egg be on her face if Xantia just became a puddle right then and there. But then she blinks a little when Xantia reveals something about Emeralda that Emeralda hadn't told her. "Wait--hold on, Emeralda thinks she's weird? Why does she think she's weird?"

She briefly wrinkles her nose at Xantia's continued perplexed reactions. "Man, Xan. If it were easy, wouldn't everybody be a hero? I don't know. Talent comes naturally, I guess, so it makes sense it feels natural to you."

She starts jogging afer Xantia to get to the mushrooms and she whistles faintly. "Man... there's a whole bunch here. You sure they're safe to eat?" She reaches down and plucks one up to take a look at it.

She doesn't pop it into her mouth yet, just marveling at the glow for now before she adds, "Emeralda showed you about this place huh? Bein' real subtle there, Xan."

She pauses and adds, "That's sarcasm, you're not a subtle gal, Xan."

She pops the shroom in her mouth and adds, "Anyway, you're not weird. Well, okay, rather--being weird isn't the problem, Xan. It's good to be a little weird just like you gotta be able to regulate it a bit sometimes, that's all. I don't know. Maybe there's some big issue or whatever plaguin' you too, though that's hard to imagine, but you always do your best right? An old sayin' says 'Pobody's Nerfect' which means 'Nobody's Perfect'."

She wonders if Emeralda is worried about being weird...because of her!

<Pose Tracker> Xantia has posed.

"Very sure, I've eaten a lot of them," Xantia comments on the mushrooms, picking a small one and tossing it casually into her mouth to demonstrate. "See?" They look safe for Xantia to eat, at least. She doesn't comment verbally on the matters of being a hero and things feeling natural, only nodding to concede the point. It's just a difference in perspective, a lot of things that are normal to others feel special to her, too.

"We don't have everything in common," Xantia corrects herself when the puddle question comes up. Though if she had any ambition to turn into a puddle, rest assured that she'd be doing everything in her power to try and make that happen! "But, she was wondering about whether she was weird. I'm not sure if that's what she thinks, but she seemed worried about it. I think she's just going through the same thing I went through. I didn't worry about that either, until I started noticing how people reacted to me sometimes."

Oh no, it sure sounds like Emeralda may be worried about this because of Lydia.

But Xantia isn't done yet, smiling in response to the reassurance regarding weirdness. "Yeah... I realize now that being weird isn't a bad thing. So that's what I told her. That being weird isn't a bad thing, and if people are making her feel like it's a bad thing instead of trying to understand her, then that's wrong of those people."

She is definitely not realizing how that may be taken personally at all. She is indeed not a subtle enough gal to willfully imply such things.

Perhaps some solace may be taken in her following words, though, which make her smile all the more brightly for remembering what happened. "You know what she said to me, though, when I offered to tell her more about why she can do the things she does? She said 'I don't think I need to know about that'. So, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she's not like me at all. Maybe she's completely fine with who she is."

<Pose Tracker> Lydia Seren has posed.

Lydia says. "Oh ok," to Xantia confirming she can't turn into a puddle. "What I mean though like... What if all I am is the tiny machines that make up my body, you get me? What if everything that is me has been replaced by what the folks who kidnapped 'n' stole away my will. What if they decided who I am an' I don't even know it. The folks that made Emmy? They loved her. I can tell. But me..." She frowns. "Look I get it isn't really sense, but I can't help it." She pauses then laughs. "Jeeze, can't believe I made her feel like that."

She curls her fingers inward and sighs quietly. "...Now I really feel like a heel. But worrying about whether you're real or not is the most normal thing around..." She resolves herself. "Arright. I'll figure out a way to be her pal too."

She is further surprised to hear about Emeralda not needing to know everything she can about herself. Lydia says, "Huh."

Her fingers flex out.

"She's pretty strong, huh..." Lydia asks so rhetorically it doesn't even get a question mark.