- Aria: I had no idea this world would be so full of water.
- Meimona: It was raining so much when I got here!
- Meimona: Apparently, that's why the water levels got so high.
- Reed: That was after the last princess died.
- Reed: There was a long period of continuous rain, nearly a year or so.
- Nino: Sounds like the rain was lamenting her death, somehow.
- Reed: ...People took it pretty hard.
- Reed: Don't tell me you don't remember that, either?
- Nino: Not really!
- Reed: Seriously...
- Aria: That's hardly surprising now, huh...
- Reed: Anyway, royalty declared a long period of mourning.
- Reed: For everyone who died in war, and especially, for the princess and Oshen.
- Reed: It's about that time again this year.
- Reed: Tomorrow marks the dates of their deaths, alongside other soldiers.
- Reed: ...And the start of everything to do with this barrier.
- Nino: I see...
- Meimona: Mmm, the biiig memorial is why travel's gotten more restricted.
- Meimona: I never really left Icicle Bay to see what its like...
- Meimona: But to cancel everything for it means it's gotta be such a huge event!
- Nino: You're talking like there's a festival, dude.
- Aria: Yeah, Mei, isn't it just a funeral...
- Meimona: Boo, I know... it just sounds really grand, okay!
- Reed: Man. I can't believe things ended up like this.
- Reed: I was supposed to return home before any of this stuff got in my way.
- Meimona: Oh, get over it!
- Meimona: You'll be back there before you know it, you big baby.
- Aria: Uhm, we've prepared so much, but...
- Aria: Admittedly, I'm still kind of worried.
- Aria: Threats in that place are especially terrifying.
- Meimona: Auh, you'll nerve me out if you keep talking like that!
- Aria: S-sorry! I don't mean to spread my unease.
- Five: Aria... scared to go?
- Aria: Not really! I'm ready to stand by my decision.
- Aria: It's just that, um...
- Aria: I never really thought I'd go back there again.
- Meimona: Well, looky here, Aria!
- Meimona: You can absolutely depend on me and the others to be there for you!
- Meimona: And Five, you can count on me too for that matter!
- Five: Mei will protect Five and Aria...?
- Meimona: 'Course!
- Meimona: I'll never let you face trouble alone. B)
- Five: Then... Five must protect too!
- Five: Five wants to protect Aria, and everyone else!
- Aria: Oh no, you shouldn't have to do any fighting!
- Meimona: Yeah! Protecting you is our job, Five.
- Five: But... Five wants friends to rely on Five, too...
- Meimona: Hehe, we already are, little homie!
- Meimona: After all, you'll help Reed find his dad, right?
- Five: Oh...! Yes!
- Five: Five will try to help Reed!
- Aria: That's right! We're depending on you, Five.
- Meimona: See, you just gotta help with what you can do...
- Meimona: And leave all the fighty stuff for us!
- Five: Is it really okay if Five doesn't fight too...?
- Five: Five... doesn't want to be a burden.
- Aria: Aw, you're no burden, Five!
- Meimona: Don't worry, boss! We're not short-staffed here at all.
- Meimona: Look, Nino's good with his sword, kinda?
- Meimona: And Reed's... got a mean face! It's good for scaring away baddies.
- Meimona: And I've got MAJOR butt-kicking skills!
- Meimona: Together, we'll kick the butt of anything that tries to hurt you ladies!
- Meimona: Even if it's a ghostly spirit-y butt.
- Meimona: I WILL defy the laws of physics to kick it in your names.
- Five: Wow...!
- Aria: Awww. I'm touched.
- Aria: Thank you, Mei.
Reed: Message your si- er!- headquarters about coming back sooner than expected.
A rare sight. Otherwise, she'd give an immediate reply...
Followed by twenty more rapid replies in her signature Eidolon-style.
It is pretty early in the morning right now, and you'd bet your bottom buck she stayed up late playing her videogames. After all, you weren't around to enforce a proper bedtime! At this rate, your arrival will probably be a surprise.
Hopefully, you can introduce her to this ragtag team without issue...
That can wait, though.
You'll deal with it when the time comes. For now, what's more important is to make sure that everyone can reach the destination safe and sound.
Nino: Pass time.
As for you...
Honestly, nothing here has caught your interest. It's the same ship you've been on before, the same people you've spent time with, and the same sights you've seen before. Nothing new whatsoever. What a massive, massive bore.
Luckily enough, you've got your new book right here!
Nino: Take a peek in the Book of Wonders. It could come in handy.
First off, you check the front of the book. It is rife with the imagery of stars - some forming two distinct constellations in particular - surrounding a red crescent.
You don't really recognize what the constellations are, though...
Nino: Turn the Book of Wonders over.
Namely, what seems like a large golden sun is presented front and center, with a backdrop of little stars strewn about in no recognizable pattern.
It looks like everything bound within these covers is attributed to a single author, both text and visual flourishes. It was all written and constructed by hand! It is crafted from rich materials and is remarkably well-preserved, to boot.
Everything about this book seems to say that it really is one-of-a-kind.
Picking it was definitely the right move.
Aria: Maybe check in on Nino?
- Nino: What the heck!
- Nino: You scared the life outta me!
- Aria: Well, you weren't responding at all!
- Aria: Are you even reading that, or just spacing out...
- Nino: Oh... I didn't even notice you.
- Nino: I guess I was just so engrossed in the book. Sorry.
- Aria: Really? So it's that interesting!
- Aria: Could I join you?
- Nino: Huh? You want to read with me...?
- Aria: Yeah! Don't sit all alone. Scoot over, let me join in!
- Nino: Woah, woah, hey...
- Aria: I'll turn the pages on my side! How about it?
- Nino: ...
- Nino: Aria.
- Aria: What is it?
- Nino: I don't mind letting you borrow my book...
- Nino: ...After I'm done.
- Aria: I would prefer to read it with you now, though!
- Aria: If that's not a bother, of course.
- Nino: Why would you want that?
- Aria: Well, you're sitting alone...
- Aria: I thought it would be more fun to do something together.
- Aria: By the way, I'm something of an expert at reading with others!
- Aria: And interpreting books!
- Nino: Really now.
- Aria: Yes! Um... not to brag, though!
- Aria: It's just been one of my favorite pastimes for a long time.
- Aria: Come on, we can read and record notes together!
After all, why would she give you a modicum of kindness at this point?
For seemingly no gain at all!
Is she planning something? But that seems unlikely, so if not, then... is it just that you have held the wrong expectations in regards to her actions?
Man. What a headache.
Why does everything have to be a mindgame to you?
Maybe she just wants to read an interesting book, which just so happens to be in your possession right now. Nothing more, nothing less, and that's why you'll treat it with as little exaggeration as you've ought to.
Nino and Aria: Read together.
- Nino: ...Fine, I guess two heads are better than one.
- Nino: Make yourself comfortable.
- Aria: Don't mind if I do!
- Nino: I've gotten as far as the index, and a little bit of the preface.
- Nino: But I'm still not sure what this book will be about!
- Nino: All the topics sound pretty vague.
- Aria: Let me take a look...
- Aria: Compared to the other titles,
- Aria: There's a special focus given to the "Wonder of Numbers", huh.
- Nino: Seems like.
- Aria: Interesting! I wonder what's so "wonder-worthy" to warrant it.
- Nino: I'm not skipping ahead to check it, okay!?
- Nino: Reading a book out of order is a gravely sinful act!
- Aria: Oh no, don't misunderstand! I'm just interested...
- Aria: But I fully agree with you on that sentiment.
- Nino: Good, good. I'm glad you've got proper book-respect.
- Aria: Likewise!
- Aria: For anyone's first read-through of a book, respecting the author's wishes by following their intended order is a must! :D
- Nino: Huh... I never really think about the author while reading.
- Nino: To me, it's just about not ruining a good surprise for myself,
- Nino: Or missing important early context, y'know.
- Aria: Oh... well, as long as you get that first clean read...
- Aria: You can go back and read it over in any order you like!
- Aria: Sometimes, that re-reading is like experiencing an entirely new story, hehe.
- Nino: Oh, yeah. Having the entire future's context like that does help in re-interpreting the beginning parts of a book, for sure.
Nino: Check the preface with Aria.
- Nino: Such an odd preface. You see what I mean?
- Aria: Umm, it's running a bit lengthy, for one...
- Nino: So what this author refers to as a "writer" is anyone who "sees truth"?
- Aria: Not just that!
- Aria: "Sees truth and remembers it"!
- Aria: The specificity must mean something, don't you think so?
- Nino: You're right, hmm... hypothetically speaking, not every witness of some fact could be aware of the part they're playing, right?
- Nino: So a "writer" here is a witness of a certain truth,
- Nino: Who is also well aware of that truth's nature.
- Aria: Well put!
- Aria: The author applies the same definition of a "writer" to themselves, so...
- Aria: I think I fully agree to go with this interpretation. :o
- Nino: We'll have to keep it in mind as we read, then.
- Nino: Feels like it'll be a recurring definition with this author.
- Nino: Hm... "creator"? We've got a higher level than a "writer" here.
- Aria: Oh, I get it! This is like that thing...
- Aria: "All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares!"
- Nino: Uh, no? It's not like that! More like...
- Nino: A diamond could be a square, and a square could be a diamond...
- Nino: But they don't have to be either.
- Aria: Huh? That's the same as mine, though...
- Aria: Nino, all squares ARE diamonds.
- Aria: Just like all squares are rectangles.
- Nino: Oh. Oops.
- Aria: And don't try the same with circles and ovals now,
- Aria: I'll tell you in advance that circles are always ovals!
- Nino: Yes, yes, sorry! I thought I had something going there for a moment...
- Nino: Look, we don't need similes to understand, okay. I'll just explain it.
- Aria: Only because you can't find one that works...
- Nino: Shh, let me talk!
- Nino: A "writer" has the capacity to reach the "creator" level,
- Nino: But not all "writers" do.
- Nino: Similarly, a "creator" could also be a "writer",
- Nino: But not all "creators" are fit for that description. Right?
- Aria: I think I get it? But at the same time, I don't really...
- Aria: I'm confused on what makes them distinct.
- Nino: Go back to the second top paragraph here.
- Nino: The "writer" only witnesses and remembers a "truth", which they might record.
- Nino: Then, a "creator" creates their own truth.
- Nino: Couldn't we say "creators" are just "writers" that make new "truths"?
- Aria: Oh... and they provide what other "writers" are there to witness?
- Nino: Yeah, that sounds about right!
- Aria: Auh, umm... I do get it, trust me, but...
- Aria: It's getting dangerously abstract now. :(
- Nino: Yeah, an actual example of what the author's describing would help.
- Nino: It's obviously not about what we call writers and creators in reality.
- Aria: Mhm, it's worded like it's describing something far beyond...
- Aria: That's why I'm feeling so disconnected here!
- Nino: It's fine, the book's chapters will clarify for us!
- Nino: ...I hope, at least.
- Aria: Oh, we've reached the end of the preface...
- Aria: Hmm, who do you suppose this was addressed to?
- Nino: The readers? Pretty much anyone who picks up the book.
- Nino: So that's us. We're the "little ones".
- Aria: "My little ones" is a pretty possessive way to put it, though!
- Aria: Maybe we're some little ones, not this author's intended little ones?
- Nino: So you mean it might be addressed to specific people...
- Nino: But normally, prefaces are the author speaking directly to any general reader.
- Nino: Regardless, for the author to address their readers as "little ones"...
- Nino: They're probably pretty old in age. I wonder who wrote this.
- Aria: It says "Child of Apple Trees"...
- Nino: Yeah! They've got a weird pseudonym there.
- Nino: It doesn't make me imagine an old person at all.
- Nino: But their writing sure is rife with wise-sounding warnings...
- Nino: Stuff that's like, straight out of a mystical old man's ramblings, yeah?
- Aria: Well hey, it could be a mystical old woman too!
- Nino: Sure. Maybe it's a mystical old grandma of an author.
- Aria: Oh, even though the first possibility I imagined was an old human,
- Aria: Now I think it could also be a winged.
- Aria: To beings that live so long, everyone else can be a little one!
- Nino: That's true!
- Nino: Although, if we're taking that perspective...
- Nino: Then what about Celestials?
- Nino: Wouldn't they consider even the oldest winged to be little?
- Aria: Whoa! Good thinking!
- Aria: A winged's lifespan has nothing on a celestial's, right!
Nino and Aria: Discuss.
- Nino: ...Wait, never mind.
- Nino: I'm excluding that possibility. That was dumb.
- Nino: I don't know how I even thought to say it out loud!
- Aria: Huh? Why?
- Nino: I mean, just think about it!
- Nino: Celestials aren't just some average nobodies.
- Nino: They're monarchs who rule everything and everyone!
- Nino: Wouldn't a unique book written by a king or a queen be basically impossible for ordinary people to obtain?
- Aria: Oh... right...
- Aria: Such important items are probably property of her majesty...
- Nino: The possibility of a winged author already sounded a bit far-fetched,
- Nino: But a celestial monarch would be plain unbelievable.
- Aria: Even though I'd like to save judgement until after reading more,
- Aria: You're likely already correct there.
- Aria: Shame. The prospect got me really excited for a second. :(
- Nino: Yeah, I'm just saying... there's no way something that precious would just fall in our hands so easily like this.
- Aria: I guess so...
- Nino: Well, on a brighter note,
- Nino: I think we've done good progress to start off here.
- Aria: Yeah! We make a pretty good team!
- Aria: By the way, I've got some pens and paper from Mei here...
- Aria: Would you like to take any notes?