Act I - Chapter 9: The Voice of The Philosopher's Stone

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Our narrator Vinny, an assassin who has given up on everything, crosses paths with an endeavoring treasure hunter seeking the Goddess Prison, a tower where a man can find the answer to all things, and the story of Ali So Far, is the adventure that results:

With the confrontation with Vinny's guild behind them, it's revealed that their group has managed to keep one of the two stones that will lead the way to the Goddess Prison. Vinny gives it to Ali, telling him good luck, and after Hise, a friend of Ali's and a local mayor, miraculously mediates to recover his critical wounds, they head back to his mansion in the nearby town of Medea.

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"Mayor Hise, is everything okay?"

"Mayor Hise. Oh no, let me help you."

"Mayor Hise, who was it? You won, right?"

The town of Medea completely loved their Mayor Hise. When he returned all of their sentiment and good feelings, it gushed from him in such wealth it could've rinsed the dry blood right off his body. Hise continued to stand straight with immense strength and warm confidence as he ensured all of the townsfolk that no long-term harm had come to him.

"There was a small altercation, but I thank everyone here with me for my safety," he said.

Every last citizen accepted his words cheerfully, amazed with the poised calm and gentle power of their leader. Medea found more than a mayor in him; it seemed they took him as a guardian.

I opted to not speak, fearing my more bitter personality would dampen the festival of admiration. However, once we passed the stained glass windows of the continents of Itallis, the entryway to his home, I felt a sudden desire to run up to him and offer him the Philosopher's Stone by taking it straight out of Ali's pocket, feelings completely disconnected from any thought process.

Ali and Hise didn't exchange a single word over the thing, oddly. They just remained amiable and somewhat silent. The agreeable weather led me to drop the thought earlier, but as we approached Medea, it began to feel like the stone was weighing me down, despite not even being in my possession.

I grumbled, reached in Ali's pocket, and plucked it out. Ali responded with a bit of awkward shock, but I approached Hise before he had the chance to speak.

"I think you should hold on to this," I said, motioning it towards him, suddenly feeling tiny, pithy, and childish beneath his frame.

Hise stopped on the stairs of his mansion, everyone else easing to a pause along with him, but the maid gently clutched Ali's arm and quickly shuffled him through the doorway before he could object or even properly enunciate his confusion. Hise only looked down to me, retaining the same firm smile he'd carried throughout our entire walk. "Vinny, how do you feel about flowers?"

I was suddenly awkwardly aware of the small gusts of wind that took the porch of his mansion. I gave a slow and drawled response. "I'm not exactly fond of them."

Hise placed his hand on the back of my shoulder and spoke to me with a sincerity I almost found threatening. "Would it be okay if I asked you to hold on to the stone for now?"

I just motioned acceptance as he turned away with a nod and slowly made his way up the rest of the porch steps and into the mansion. I dropped my gaze to the stone. It reflected the sunlight and clouds above Itallis rolling past the paused image of my gaze as I remained still in thought.

I then realized another maid was holding the door open for me, smiling with something beyond patience. I took uncertain steps forward, but entered nonetheless.


I found myself in thought in Hise's den alone, sitting on the edge of a sofa carefully selected and fluffed to feel like a hug beneath the flames of the fireplace. They flickered across the expressions of the trophy heads of numerous creatures I'd never seen before: birds with the feathers of leaves, lizards draped with manes of fur—an almost imaginary collection. The light they reflected also colored me as I held my head in my hands. I constantly wiped my eyes with my palms, like it would somehow clear up my mental vision.

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