Act I - Chapter 7: The Lake of Lintia

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Last Time!

Hise, the Mayor of Lintia, revealed to our narrator Vinny that he is, in fact, hiding the two stones that can guide a person down the greatest quest a treasure hunter could ever undertake: the path to the Goddess Prison, and he hid them down here so the ever exuberant yet self-endangering Ali would never get the chance to pursue this desired quest, but it appears he is having a change of heart and is entrusting them to Vinny instead.

However, as soon as he sets the stones into Vinny's hands, Vinny's old guildmates suddenly appear, after the stones themselves, and after blood. Losing, backed into a corner, Hise defeated, Vinny outnumbered: all hope is lost until Ali Alhaven, previously ill and unconscious, suddenly appears to, well, maybe save the day in the Ali way?

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"Whoa, Assassin Man, there you are. All that research I did to find this place, and it's not even where it's supposed to be," Ali shouted, his voice echoing in the confused quiet.

I just shook my head. Ali Alhaven peered down into Lintia to see Hise red with his own blood, and me and Hise's maid with a gun placed on our vital organs in this room full of assassins, but he just dropped his exuberance right on top of the spectacle.

"'Assassin Man?'" questioned Ranx, looking to me, then to Jesabelle and Nevra, and then back to me, and then finally to Ali. "Hi?"

"And Hise is bleeding," Ali shouted down from the hole in the ceiling, the waft of open air and the sky rolling behind him. "We're gonna get you outta here, Hise!"

Ranx eased away from me, making sure his gun remained centered on my throat. He kneeled down to pick up my pistol in the water. He turned it towards Ali—trained to aim a pistol the second he could reasonably hold one, I'd never seen him point a gun with such uncertainty. Ali completely overlooked this and just continued to speak as if the assassins and the threat they brought wasn't even there.

Ranx discharged four shots into the wall directly beside Ali. They formed a perfect diamond, smoking, precise, intimidating. This only managed to get Ali's attention—like calling his name—not a concerned, scared, or even cautious acknowledgement, just simply the realization that there were more people in this room. If anything, Ali only seemed a little perplexed that someone chose to shoot rather than call, a sort of casual 'why would someone do something so extreme?' look.

"Hi there, we're kind of in the middle of something. Think I could get your name?" said Ranx.

Ali looked over to him with a tilt of his head. He pulled himself upright and then with a hand behind his back and the other out in front he bowed with a smile.

"Absolutely. I'm only the World's Greatest Treasure Hunter," he said, raising one hand and one finger, "knower of the unknown," raising his other hand and his one finger, "the scratchiest scouring pad scouring the Itallis globe for the secrets sullied by the grime of time." He then spread his legs, crouched slightly, and pointed down to Ranx. "You may call me Ali Alhaven, good sir. Very pleased to make your acquaintance—though, I'd be able to give you a far better introduction if my friends weren't bleeding."

Following that, Ali simply leapt into the sky. His form a silhouette in the light as he descended. With a casual-joyful shout, he reached to his backpack and drew forth his staff. Legs tucked upwards, arms back, he raised his weapon above his head.

The staff that hung from his backpack, I hadn't given it enough credit—nobody really would have—it almost looked like a metallic walking stick, plain and repainted and slightly dented by use over time, but to lump it in with all of his other trinkets was doing it a disservice. This weapon: a notable demonstration of natural focused ma. Ali casually toted around an ancient relic formed by centuries and centuries of earthquakes, a weapon that was supposedly crafted near the center of the planet, naturally forged by nature over centuries and then pushed to the surface by a great volcanic eruption. It had a history as the trusted weapon of many great warriors, where it was then studied by the world's most knowledgeable scholars, and recently seized by only the most daring treasure hunters. When Ali acquired it, it was known as the Yucuri—he quickly defaced it with the more tasteless name "the Aftershock" afterward as, I suppose, that better suited his style.

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