Act II - Chapter 11: To the West

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It's decided, with the stone speaking directly to our narrator, Vinny, guiding him to the Goddess Prison, he and Ali now set off on the greatest goal a treasure hunter could ever attempt: meeting the Great Goddess.

First they must journey west, to the continent of Ilfiria, to break the first chain on the Prison by defeating the guardian.

Of course they can do it.

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We stood at the back gate to Hise's mansion and watched the sunrise hit the Medea Plains golden, sharp, and blinding. Hise stood between us and the fields, iconic and proud as always, towering and taking on near silhouette. His maids aligned behind him, seemingly radiating in the glow, reserving the epic silhouette for him. All four of them quadruplets—hadn't had a clear count earlier.

Ali stood beside me, antsy, excited, bouncing, posing, gazing ahead of us, looking back, looking to the sun, a consistent wide smile drawn across his lips. In contrast there was me, never seen off from anything with such appreciation or grandeur. I shuffled in place, hat pulled down over my eyes, hand occasionally in my pocket, hand occasionally out. Hise had a speech in him. The maid I'd protected during the guild attack wouldn't stop smiling at me. I wished Hise would get this speech out and stop standing in the gateway so I could get to a more comfortable situation.

But Hise changed his mind, and instead started with an "Ali, I would like to apologize."

And Ali interrupted him: "I understand." 

And with that, they simply brushed aside all of the years of silence, deception, and misinformation. All of the lies used to turn Ali away from the Goddess Prison for his own good—the bond that the two of them had ran deeper than that. 

"You both will always have a home here. Always stop by," said Hise, as he seemed to cross the distance between us with a single step to place a hand on each of our backs, and them looked to each of us individually. "Trust the wind, Vinny. Follow your heart, Ali."

Ali nodded, shuffled away from Hise, backwards towards the fields with a smile. I nodded and stepped off as well.

"Bye, Isis. Bye, Idera. Bye, Maldara. Bye, Rinterra," Ali called to each maid, each of them waving in return as we departed. Isis waved with the most pep. Idera's wave was cheerful but slightly reserved and shy. Maldara's was very grounded, firm, proud and collected. And Rinterra's came off as more of a joyous blessing of farewell, as if she was waving a handkerchief goodbye. All of them also looked to me. I simply tipped my hat in return.

Ali continued to wave with both hands as we rounded the first hill. He did this until we truly dipped out of sight, but we came into sight again over the next one, and he continued waving. Only two maids remained with Hise now. Ali would wave at the top of the next hill as well. At that point I didn't bother to look back.

"Man, Idera's really into you," said Ali, waddling across the fields behind me.

I just grumbled as I led the way with a sack full of meals that she had constructed specifically for me, her cheeks flush when she handed them over in her constant silence. She was the one I'd protected when the guild had appeared.

All four of Hise's maids were actually named after the four districts in Central City, someplace I hadn't been to in a long time, someplace that prepared itself to cause issues early in our journey: a member of the guild, ex or not, walking around in broad daylight: this had been a luxury allotted to me by Hise; beyond my good fortune in Medea, travel most anywhere else was going to be far more difficult. The Global Central City Enforcing service had a directory of active guild members that they would guarantee a little loving attention if encountered.

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