Reylan left them a day to prepare, but in all honesty Alisea didn't have much to do for personal preparations. Rather, she spent the remainder of that morning trying to prepare their youngest companion: Kyo, the small girl who was presumably an NPC. This was something the guild had seemed content to ignore, but Alisea wouldn't hear of putting it off any longer. She wanted to know if, as an NPC, Kyo could be a party member. And the easiest, most straightforward method to find out was to go into her options and send Kyo a party invitation.
It didn't work. Kyo couldn't seem to access the system in any way. The thought of taming her as a pet to bring her into a party briefly crossed Alisea's mind, but she dismissed the idea just as quickly due to the game's intelligence restriction on tamed monsters. Still not one to be dissuaded, Alisea and Kyo sought out Aster with another request."Want to take Kyo shopping with me? I have little to do to prepare for tomorrow, so we planned to use this chance to see how strong she can become. Right?"
Alisea added with a smile at her charge. The small girl nodded eagerly.
Aster, as though waking from a dream, looked to Alisea with startled eyes. “I’m… sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I would love to take a walk, though, especially with Kyo… and with you. We head out soon, correct?”
She looked around once more, getting her bearings. Her mind felt fuzzy, strange, but no doubt a walk and the chance to enjoy the idyllic surroundings of the city would do her good.
As typical, Alisea took the lead as they headed for the market. Kyo walked just a step beside and behind her, content with following and only staring at every interesting thing they passed. Turning to her friend, Alisea started a conversation with a light voice. “You looked a bit out of it in the meeting. Were you… thinking about someone?”
The magess put a strong sense of insinuation in her tone, trying to tease the swordswoman. “I… I don’t think so? Perhaps? It’s the strangest thing. It’s like I was somewhere else for a moment there, I don’t know…”
She smiled softly, still a bit shaken, but nodded assuredly. “Enough of that, though, right? Let’s see about some shopping. I promise I won’t get distracted again.”
Alisea sighed inwardly. ’Teasing her is hard when she stays so serious all the time.’
When they reached the market, Alisea took Kyo’s hand and pressed it into Aster’s. “I need to ask something of a Teacher, so can you take her to the Universal Action Teacher? Try letting her learn something to keep her safe--a skill for dodging, preferably.”
Alisea smiled warmly at the pair. “Can do!”
Without any further words, Aster clasped the small hand in her own, and then, not knowing what to say to the child, simply started towards where she knew, from having visited once in the past, the Universal Action Teacher kept his place of work.
The purchase was easy enough, and after deducting the necessary coins, Aster uncomfortably moved on, still holding the child’s hand, still not having interacted meaningfully. Why did children have to be so complicated? What do you say to them?
Kyo couldn’t stop fidgeting as Aster held her hand. The silence drew on for a time, when finally the small girl burst out, “Thank you!”
far louder than necessary. Her face turned red and she clapped both hands over her mouth in embarrassment. “Um, for taking me around the festival. And for this. Thank you,”
she reiterated, much, much quieter this time.“Oh, ehm, no problem. I’m sorry that I couldn’t do more. I just really don’t know what to do in this sort of situation. I just… We have too many people dying around here, y’know? Anything I can do that’ll slow that down is a step in the right direction, in my mind. And hey, before you know it, you’ll be a sword-swingin’ badass like me, eh?”
Kyo’s eyes grew wide. Just then Alisea rejoined the pair. Her eyes lit up when she heard Kyo had successfully purchased the Sidestep action. She insisted on moving to a Spell Teacher next. She felt only slightly rebuffed when that teacher turned them away. Unfortunately, all the action teachers except that first rejected the small girl as well. It was disappointing, but after the failure to bring Kyo into the party, discovering she was classless was a comparatively small setback.“Alright, Kyo. When we go into the Dungeon, you have to stay close by me and Mister Reylan so we can keep you safe. Okay?”
Kyo looked up at her in surprise. “You mean I can still come?”
she asked, incredulous.“Of course! We would never leave our little Kyo. Family means nobody is left behind or forgotten.”