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When the red-haired simp, Marcus—Scarves, Julian figured, because what kind of dipshit wore scarves?—asked him if he’d been alone, Julian nodded. “Yeah.” Of course he’d been alone. The only thing worse than being forced to spend time outside was being forced to spend it with family. None of it, not listening to his sister whine, his parents nag, or his grandparents ramble, was enjoyable, so of course he’d headed out alone. Inviting one of them along was unthinkable, though that choice had clearly come back to bite him in the ass. Despite all the whining, nagging, and rambling he might’ve had to put up with, being stuck with a family member was more reassuring than being stuck with this lot of randoms, but fuck it it was what it was.

The conclusion Scarves came to was so strange that Julian had to wonder whether the dude’s head was screwed on right. Talking with people was what got them stuck in the forest? Besides the obvious fact that both he and Julian had been alone—which he’d admitted himself, for fuck’s sake—there was the fact that people talked to each other every day without getting stuck in crazy-colored forests. The more obvious answer would be that Marcus was trying too hard to connect dots that had nothing to do with each other, and that forests had something to do with it. Brenton and Venassa dude had been camping, and Julian had literally been walking through a forest. Most obviously and importantly, they were currently in a fucking forest, so why hadn’t that been the go-to connection?

The question of why, then, was the issue. Since Julian was pretty sure no one in their right mind would want to kidnap a borderline anemic kid, he had no idea why he’d been taken. Transporting him without killing him on the road was impressive, but dumping him in the forest? Shooting him on arrival would’ve been more helpful for both of them. At least then he’d get to skip the suffering and starving and the plants would get their fertilizer faster.

A yowl cut through Julian’s thoughts, and he flinched back in time to see something darting through the forest. A cat? Punk rock fantasy, or Aubrey, seemed to think so, though the weird Wonderland reference got her a squint from Julian. She didn’t strike Julian as a book snob, but if she was going to keep making allusions to classics, he’d have to put her down as one.

The group dissolved into dumb theories for a minute, during which Julian tuned out. Instead, his attention went to the forest, which was colorful and strange, its branches flowing into each other like something out of a fantasy game. As far as he knew—and that wasn’t far, but still—trees tended to grow up, not to the side, but here, trees reached in all sorts of directions besides up. Some favored the left or the right, some chose both but still refused the obvious compromise, and some stretched towards nothing at all, letting their curved branches hover ominously overhead.

What stood out more, though, were the flowers. Vivid reds and borderline-neon blues popped in nooks and crannies, and smatterings of golden hues helped bridge the gap and pad the glow of surrealism. But the colors weren’t what bothered Julian; it was the realization that he hadn’t sneezed since waking up. He had thought about sneezing, had had the urge to sneeze, but he always did when he looked at flowers. The more important thing was that he hadn’t sneezed, and that was very, very strange. As someone allergic to every tree and flower on the west coast, including but not limited to style, he was used to the sneezing, itching, and wiping that came with existing, but for some reason he wasn’t feeling particularly uncomfortable at the moment. It was the lack of discomfort, then—the ability to breathe smoothly, to be unbothered for minutes at a time—that unsettled him, and he wasn’t sure what to make of it.

A cry cut through the air, and the group rushed to it, Julian included. The sight that awaited them, however, had him recoil: A boy struggled in the mud of a riverbank, two alien-like creatures grasping at him among the bones. While his brain tried to process the sight, his eyes had a mind of their own, flicking from teeth, to claws, to bones, then back in some delayed circle of confusion and disbelief. His eyes were seeing goblins, but his head was telling him it wasn’t so, that there was no way he was seeing goblins because goblins didn’t exist. This wasn’t some D&D campaign, wasn’t some fantasy game on a screen, so there was no way he was seeing what he was seeing.

So he stood, watching the other kids surge forwards from his place at the edge of the forest, his own body frozen in fear. What the fuck was he supposed to do? Charge in and act like a hero? If there was one thing that Julian was sure to his core about—surer than he’d ever been, than he ever would be—it was that he was no hero.

That said, Julian could be stupid. He’d gladly admit to idiocy now and again, and when he saw the boy shift into a horse and grab onto Pink with his horsey molars, the multiple disconnects in his brain sparked into one, singularly stupid idea.

“Hey, shitweed! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” he shouted down the bank, his eyes meeting the horse’s with a challenge. And, in the split second it took for the horse to process his words, his own brain finished processing the shitty rehashed movie line he’d just uttered, and the bones in his legs pretty much melted where he stood.

Yeah, he was fucked.

“Hey, where do you think we’ll be in five years?”
“What do you mean where?”
“I mean where in life, in the world. You know, whatever.”
"I know where Minoru-sensei is going to be: an old folk home!"
"I'm not that old."
"There, there sensei. You'll be fine. I just hope in five years we can look back at all of the adventures we had and laugh."
“Yeah. We’ll be busier and have more responsibilities, but we’ll appreciate the past more too.”
"Yes. I know that no matter where life takes you, I will be proud of you all."
“And, you lost me.”

T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S :

Kenny Sokoloski

Rushford: Jenkin’s Diner || May 7th

Katie’s mention of the rooftop sounded like a good idea to Kenny. Conceptualizing the softball field from a bird’s eye view was something she’d done often, so she was partial to making strategies from vantage points. There were few safer ways to get a clearer grasp of their situation, and she was glad when Karen agreed.

The supplies Lena brought up, however, were overshadowed by her truck, even if Kenny knew a truck was nowhere near the answer to their problems. Besides the obvious gas shortage, a truck would struggle to fit three people, much less eight, and riding in the back was hardly an option at the moment. Still, a car was the safest mobile option they had, and it’d be another ace up their sleeve when they found a use for it.

“I’d like to volunteer to go as well,” Kenny said after Lena, glancing at the woman who’d volunteered first before looking around at the group. They were older than her, but she was fast, and that counted for something. As for the sick, dead, or otherwise zombie-seeming figures stumbling around outside, she’d gotten this far, and someone had to go.

A ding from the toaster oven drew her attention, and she headed over, sliding the biscuits out onto a plate and grabbing some silverware before returning to the counter. “Biscuits are done,” she said, setting the plate down and glancing behind to where Katie stood in front of the stove. Breakfast was coming together nicely.

“Anyone want honey or jam for their biscuits?” she asked, checking the master condiment caddy beside them. Inside were bunches of small jam packets, available in strawberry, grape, and mixed fruit flavors. There seemed to be fewer packets of honey, perhaps because honey tended to be used for tea as well, but it was something. “Or margarine. There’re a few packets left.”

Eryn Montero

Wet Caverns || Day 5: Afternoon

Though Eryn had known that Peri’s roar was nothing compared to a full-grown Onix’s, that didn’t mean she was prepared for when Peri’s parents started roaring, or that she was anywhere close to being cool with the ear-splitting cacophony that ensued when the whole colony joined in. A glance to her side showed that none of her Pokemon were taking it too well, and even Tula had stilled to let her properly cover her ears.

“Do any of you want me to return you?” she shouted, barely making out her own voice in her head.

Dei was the first to shoot her a glare, followed by Kylie, whose annoyance quickly melted into a shade of sadness that Eryn had a feeling was for show. To his credit, Eri had put on a brave face, but his eyes had shot to Dei first before he closed his mouth, and from the way his Nuzleaf hands were clamped over his ears so hard she could make out the indent of where they pressed into his skin, it was obvious he wasn’t taking the roars well.

Still, no one had volunteered. Even Tula was staying calm in her arms, so Eryn turned back to the Onix, hiding a smile. Her Pokemon really were adorable, and as for her ears, she could take it too.

After another few seconds of unadulterated sound, Peri made to follow the other Onix off, sparing Eryn a glance that Eryn returned with a nod, thumbs up, and smile. While there wasn’t a world where she’d mind Peri going off with her parents, it was nice to note that Peri had checked with her before going off, however brief that check was. Maybe it was Peri’s constant stubbornness, but Eryn would’ve guessed her to be the first to roam off without permission, so she was pleased to see that the Onix still minded her somewhere under that rocky exterior.

When the silence stayed put, she looked over to her team and Ms. Diglett next to them, shrugging. “Well, I guess it’s just us for now then.”

Her eyes wandered into the murky darkness of the tunnels as she rubbed a hand over Tula’s carapace, comforted by the way her fingers skimmed over the Margikarp’s cool, smooth scales. Last time she was here, she’d had two goals: to get to Lakewatch, and to find a Pokemon. She’d achieved both those goals, but the second one had panned out differently from how she’d planned. In her head, she’d always wanted one type of Pokemon from the caverns—the type that people came specifically to Lakewatch to find, and the type that always came to mind when she thought of an ace trainer. Sure she wouldn’t trade Peri for the world, and sure she had her hands pretty full with her team at the moment, but if she didn’t pursue her original plan now, she’d be admitting defeat. It'd be in in a small way, but in a meaningful one, and four years staring out classroom windows dreaming about her bright future on the road hadn’t shaped her into a defeatist.

Reaching up to touch the tip of her cap, she frowned. “What did I read in the trainer school again?” The books in the library had confirmed that there were dragons in the cave, but the specifics were escaping her. “In the deeper caverns? Near the water? Or not.”

She sighed, shaking her head. It’d only been a few days since Pureplain, and already she was beginning to forget. “Maybe I should start taking notes,” she joked, rubbing Tula’s chin with a thumb. “Should I, Tutu? Should I?”

Looking at her team showed that no one was impressed by her baby voice, and she cleared her throat, straightening. “Well, since you’re all so helpful, maybe I should ask you,” she said, then paused. “Wait, that’s it!” Grinning, she fished out her Pokedex, scrolling through her contacts. “I’ll ask Braith! He knew about the true Dragon Lake, and he’s got a Noivern, so he’ll probably know something. Plus, I need to tell him that the Descent Tower is super not boring, though would that be a bad idea? Probably, huh?”

She turned to her Pokemon, half-expecting them to answer back. Instead, she was met by faces of annoyance, confusion, and forced, happy cluelessness that gave her little to work with. At least Ms. Diglett was actually happy.

“See, this is why I ask Tula,” she said, rolling her eyes dramatically as she dialed Braith up. It was late in the afternoon, and most people would be planning for dinner if they weren’t trainers with skewed travelling schedules, but Eryn had a hunch Braith would pick up. While reception wasn’t strong in the tunnel, it was functional, likely because she was still close to the walls, and Eryn rolled with it.

The aura of smugness that surrounded Peri when she returned was thick enough to force Eryn to acknowledge it, and she did so by giving the Onix a suspicious look through slightly narrowed eyes. “There something you wanna share?”

Whatever she’d been expecting, it wasn’t Peri taking a successful dive down into the ground, and the dots connected when her attention flicked from the other Onix to the tunnels around them.

A grin split her face, and she ran over to Peri, wrapping her and Tula into a hug with an excited shriek. “Arceus, did you learn to dig? Like the move proper? So you can ram opponents and caves for me now?” Eryn’s toes tingled with excitement at the prospect, and she shrieked again when Peri gave a casually smug nod. “Thank you so much!” she called to the Onix gathered behind Peri, who didn’t look particularly taken by her reaction.

The one closest to Peri—Peri’s mom, probably, since Eryn's Pokedex was telling her the Onix was female—gave Eryn an unimpressed look down her nose, and Eryn got the message.

“Loud and clear, Momma Onix! I promise to only use Peri’s power for good!” she said, straightening into a salute.

After thanking the rest of the Onix and letting Peri have her final goodbyes, during which Eryn got the idea to crown Peri with the King’s—rebranded Queen’s—Rock, Eryn headed away from the tunnels and back into the main cavern under Peri’s lead. Something about having a giant rock snake who now knew how to traverse said tunnels reassured Eryn, and she was brimming with confidence as she headed deeper into the caverns.

“One dragon-type and we’re good,” she said, looking to her team with a grin. “One last teammate and we’re full house and ready to rumble, so keep your eyes peeled!”

Brandon Unicorn

The presence of another voice in his head was alarming, to say the least. This one came quieter than the first, its words hissed and trailing into each other. That the first voice he’d been talking to didn’t respond to the newer one struck Brandon as strange until he realized that the first one couldn’t hear the new voice. Should he tell the first voice? Honesty begot honesty, and as far as he knew, the first voice hadn’t lied to him. Still, the cards were not all on the table, and so Brandon swallowed, deciding not to bring up the second voice until he determined whether he believed the accuser over the informer.

His strongly-worded request was met by a strange sound that he managed, after a few seconds, to identify as a laugh. While it was good that the first voice registered that it wasn’t a direct threat, the voice’s return hit harder than Brandon would’ve liked to admit. Indeed, he would be making things harder if he didn’t listen to the voice providing him guidance in a world he was now lost in. The voice’s gibe about his father only dug the knife in deeper because it’d guessed his thoughts perfectly. Though he’d ultimately chosen not to pursue foolishness, he’d considered it, and that was enough to bring about a wave of shame. He was green and everyone knew it, in life and in death, and he supposed he deserved the harsh sense the voice was speaking.

When the voice admitted weakness, Brandon paused, surprised. Given how the voice had responded to his questions back when they were inside the vision, with the ring of light and endless dark, he hadn’t been expecting much in terms of answers or admissions, but its words just now were… humanizing. No longer did the voice seem like that of a titan or seraph—it was that of a man. A being, perhaps, if the voice had transcended humanity, but nonetheless one with flaws and desires. It was not omniscient or omnipotent, and it wanted not to lie dormant, which made Brandon believe in it that much more. Its statement about igniting his body had him crack a small smile. Since its goals aligned with his for the foreseeable future, there was room for trust.

The mental nod he felt as he commanded the army was a reassuring one, and it inspired continued confidence as he rode on. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a skeletal horse trotting alongside a spear-wielding soldier, and he was struck with an idea. Looking at around at the skeletons surrounding the bone horses, he willed them to mount the horses, and they did, interpreting his command as he’d meant them to. One soldier mounted each horse, rising and trotting to keep pace behind him. Suddenly, his battalion had a cavalry, and a look back had his mind call up the stories of the grim riders of old, who were said to be core to many undead armies. Would he really be able to command such creatures one day?

“Commanding the dead,” Brandon said, realization dawning on him, “I’m doing that through magic, aren’t I?” That was the only explanation he could think of aside from being mentally linked to the skeletons, which was both more and less unsettling depending on how he thought of it.

Hearing that the voice didn’t have access to his thoughts was a relief, though the inclusion of “yet” in the voice’s words left room for doubt. After all, if it had access to his thoughts, it had no reason to inform him of it. However, given that the voice seemed to have limits, like not being able to hear the second voice accusing it, Brandon figured it to still be telling the truth. His mind was his own, then, he had until the time the voice was able to read his thoughts from the workings of his brain to decide whether he truly trusted the voice, which seemed far enough away for there not to be any rush.

The pause that came after his request for a name was concerning, if only because identity was key to a lot of things. Brandon, for example, was a Unicorn—a son of a respected Duchy family in the Holy Griffin Empire. Mentioning his name alone could open doors, and he figured it no different for necromancers, of whom there were the infamous and not. Of course, he was assuming the voice belonged to a necromancer, but he saw no reason why it would not. All the signs were there, from being trapped in a tomb artifact to directly performing magic with his body, and given the circumstances, he preferred a necromancer.

When the voice claimed himself a lord, Brandon paused. There was a difference between being a lord and a knight, and that difference lay with whether or not one was granted land and titles. But that was within the Holy Griffin Empire; outside it, lord titles were won through conquest, self-claimed with blood and steel, and the implications that came with a necromancer claiming a lord title were… many, to say the least.

Exhaling, Brandon nodded. “Lord Dietrich.” Calling a lord a sir was selling the lord’s accomplishments short in the best case, and insulting them in the worst, so he’d call a spade a spade. “I believe we are currently in the western outskirts of the Unicorn Duchy, and we are headed towards the foothills, where I’ve heard reports of an orc encampment.” Unfortunately, he had little more information to offer than that. He’d been neither important enough to hear nor driven enough to seek out further information about the encampment, and the rest of what he knew were simple rumors—fear- and humor-driven accounts passed through the ranks of soldiers frequenting the border. “Travelers usually avoid the foothills, so the fire ahead should be that of the encampment, or of a group split off from it. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t seem like a war party. A scouting party, perhaps, or just a nomadic group passing through.”

What he’d just said was a combination of basic geography and a conservative estimate of the encampment that any patrolling soldier could offer, but such was the extent of Brandon Unicorn’s responsibilities. He led patrols alongside experienced knights twice his age and attended ceremonies to smile and wave at crowds. With his academy days behind him, his recent education had been limited to war theory and jousting tournaments, to knowing what troop formations worked best against each other and which ladies tended to fill the spectating stands. How to fight orcs with an infantry? Prioritize ranged troops and distance and whittle away at the barbarians until they closed the distance. Magic made all the difference against them, and successfully fending off the initial onslaught usually meant winning the battle.

But that was for empire troops equipped with steel and years of training. A knight at their helm was enough to galvanize them, and priests and sisters in the back helped widen the difference between a good offense and a better defense. With the dead, however, Brandon was lost. The textbooks had covered their weaknesses and strengths, but with a focus on how they matched up against human armies, not how they compared to other ones. All that came to mind about skeletons were how they were the fodder for necromancers, disposable and as easily reanimated as they were dispatched. Their numbers were what made them threatening, but he was in the process of building a legion, not wielding it.

Nervousness had begun to pool in Brandon’s gut, but he focused on the next steps. “Are there any strategies I should keep in mind against orcs? Against their goblins, warriors, and centaurs?” He did his best to sound confident, but even he could hear the falseness of it in his voice.

Thinking that he’d be able to sneak up on the camp had been too ambitious, it seemed, but perhaps it was for the better. A small pack of goblins noticed them just as they reached the edge of the foothills, and they scampered over, the sound of their shrieks and yelps pitchy and wild enough to raise the hairs on the back of Brandon’s neck as they scampered over. A few deeper-toned calls supported the higher-pitched ones, making Brandon aware of a few leaders in their midst, and his hand clenched down on the skeletal vertebrae he’d been holding onto.

“Goblins led by some orcs.” He looked to the army at his sides, heart racing. This was it. His first battle, and alone, if having a seasoned necromancer in his head could be called being alone. “They’re probably a scouting party, or a patrolling one.” Goblins and warriors—what was the strategy against those? “Archers, to the back!”

The skull faces grinned at him as they moved, their bone surfaces gleaming white under the moonlight. His riders were already at his side, and the footmen were scattered around them, the hounds at their feet. Looking at them, at their unwavering stillness and utter lack of life, Brandon wondered whether directing them like human infantry would be enough.

Yelling was the first thing Julian registered when he sat up, and his hands went up to rub his nose and adjust his glasses out of habit. The second was the number of people around him, all of whom he didn’t recognize. The third was the forest itself, and he felt fear sink its claws in because though he knew next to nothing about forests, he’d seen enough Oregon woodland to know that this forest, with its sprawling trees and vividly-hued flowers, looked nothing like the pine one he’d walked into.

Sitting up, he patted himself down rapidly, exhaling in relief when he found his phone still in his pockets. Pulling it out and turning it on, however, saw his face fall: There was no signal.

“What. The fuck.” His hand dropped, his eyes flicking over the people around him again. They looked around his age, maybe slightly older, and a few struck him more as adults than high schoolers. From what they were saying, it seemed none of them knew where they were either, much less why they were here, and fuck that girl was loud.

Looking over, Julian saw that the girl shrieking appeared to be stuck under another girl—one who was wearing the same clothes as her, but with pink details instead of green. Were they freaky twins or groupies, then, and why had they thought matching outfits was a good idea?

Thankfully, two people had arrived to help her, which meant that she’d finally shut up for a second. Her rescuers were both guys, one red-haired and one brown-haired, and Julian put them down as simps as he stood, pocketing his phone and dusting his pants off. The red-haired one, who’d been closer to Julian when he woke up, introduced himself as Marcus, and the other was identified as Brenton by a tall black guy nearby, who apparently knew him as a kid. Brenton confirmed this, naming the childhood friend as Wale like the rapper, and Julian squinted at the taller guy, wondering if Wale had named himself after a rapper. Given that ‘Wale’ didn’t really seem like a given name, he was inclined to believe so, but maybe he was jumping to conclusions. After all, it could easily have been Wale’s parents who’d named him, and if that was the case… They were some type of boomers.

As he stood, the twins identified themselves as Aina and Hannei, but they were already Pink and Green in his book. Their Japanese sounded fast and fluent enough for them to be natives, but who knew these days. Still, them being here with everyone else was strange, and it was even stranger that no one here looked like a stereotypical Oregonian, but then again what did a stereotypical Oregonian look like anyway? A hiking enthusiast with something against umbrellas?

Two girls, one head to toe in punk rock fantasy and the other freckled and dark-haired, started talking about how they got here, and their words pinged something in Julian. The last he thing remembered was… walking into the forest, which had still been a bit drippy from the rain the previous night. Forced by his mom, who’d unplugged his Playstation in her insistence that he go spend some time outside, he’d been wandering, kicking at stray leaves and branches. It was around then, while he was thoroughly annoyed by his congested nose and muddied shoes, that he’d glanced up at the sun filtering through the trees and then… this.

He swiped at his nose with a knuckle, whispering a curse under his breath as he refocused on the talking few. A girl with purple hair had started speaking, and for some reason she decided to sit down midway, like some pouting kid tired out by their tantrum. Whether or not she was actually mad or tired, Julian couldn’t tell from this angle, and the boy with the longer hair who started talking next was no more helpful. He brought up someone named Venassa, pronounced like some weird combination of Vanessa and not winning the spelling bee, and his story was vague enough to not bring anything new to the table.

“I was walking into the forest from my grandparent’s house, and…” Julian’s mouth went dry as he realized the number of eyes on him, and his brain caught up to him. Shit. Why’d he open his mouth again? It’s not like he had anything new to say, and his story was as useless as Venassa dude’s, and their conversation was going nowhere anyway, and—what the fuck had he been saying before?

Whispering a slew of curses, he focused himself, clearing his throat. “I-I’m Julian,” he said, fixing on a glare that dared anyone to comment as he shut his mouth, intent on not digging his awkward grave any deeper.
Nang Ki-woo

Mt. Moon: Group Campfire

The way Sia puffed up as she was introduced made Ella giggle, and Fabs’ decision to take a calming breath in and ignore the Jigglypuff—a rare display of restraint that was becoming more common to the Clefairy, much to Ella’s delight—made her giggle even more as she looked to JJ.

Realizing that her giggles had interrupted his words, she straightened, eyes wide. “Sorry,” she whispered. Thankfully, he seemed like a nice guy who understood a bit of personality from Fabs, or Ella would’ve had to consider returning her Clefairy. She hadn’t missed the way JJ’s eyes had stayed on Fabs longer than anyone else’s, and it’d made her wonder whether he was an aspiring coordinator. In a way, she was too, if only because teaching Pokemon to perform routines of elegance and beauty sounded like a delightful pastime, and she’d welcome a fellow enthusiast with open arms.

Sydnee, on the other hand, immediately struck Ella as a tomboy type, but Ella figured that might be more because of the girl’s short hair than her actual personality. Though she too had considered cutting her hair short, she’d Torchicked out every time she sat down in the salon chair, her future as a trainer icon flashing before her eyes as she imagined lopping off more than half her hair. That said, she respected short hair, even admired it, and as a result she admired Sydnee. Besides having a Trapinch, which evolved into a fascinating dragon-type Ella had nothing but respect for, Sydnee had an egg. Full and proper. Ella had seen eggs before, yes, but never up close, and she half-wondered whether it’d be rude to ask to hold it. Was it as hard as it seemed? How heavy was it, and was it rough to the touch, or smooth like the glass that contained it?

The answer to those questions, though, would have to wait because it was definitely rude to ask to touch the egg. It was in an egg case for a reason, after all, and Ella breathed a sigh as she refocused on Sydnee’s words, settling for petting Quinn.

At the mention of Fabs and the Clefairy population, she smiled, nodding. The Clefairy were a friendly group, and she was able to stay and watch a whole dance and a half even after she’d convinced Fabs to join her team, so the thought of them minding anything seemed silly. Zubat, however, were a very real concern, and Ella looked to Fabs worriedly. Last time she’d been here, Fabs had gotten into a scuffle with a stray Zubat that had ended up getting him poisoned, and she had a feeling he wouldn’t take too warmly to the idea of heading through a swarm of them. Returning him was a viable option, then, but while Quinn couldn’t be poisoned, she wasn’t particularly good at fighting flying-types resistant to her both her strongest moves, so Zubat sounded quite bad.

Still, despite the nervous undercurrent running around the fireplace, Sydnee was right. Ella herself had seen the extent of the cave-in, so was little reason to wait around and pretend like help would get here before their supplies ran out—or at least before hers did. Unfortunately, her tendency to under pack had caught up to her, and if it came down to sharing rations, she had little to bring to the table other than a few fruits, protein bars, and pokeblocks.

“A real adventure,” she said, her gaze sliding from Lys to Sydnee, “but I agree. We should try and find another exit. It’s a big cave, and I’m sure people have gotten trapped in here before…”

She trailed off not quite knowing how to continue that thought. The implication was that those ‘people’ had gotten out some other way, but the other option was there too. Still, she didn’t want to leave the conversation hanging on a low note, so she perked up, flashing Lys a smile.

“My compliments to the chef, though!” she said, indicating the empty bowl and spoon beside her. “A campfire and soup really hit the spot.”

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