I felt a little light headed as we seemed to appear in a snow covered mountain. What kind of door was this? Just where are we? These were questions I didn't waste my time with. Instead, I figured I was going to play with my new toy...

"What is this place?... Why is it snowing?" Musiea asked herself, dimwittedly.

"More importantly..." I chuckled, "How are you not freezing your legs off, with that tiny skirt of yours?"

This made her blush and grow furious at the same time, "What's the matter with you?" She yelled, "How about we look forward instead of at me?" She huffed and began walking in a random direction.

Not one to let up on someone, I stopped her, "I think that's the wrong way. We should go this way." I declared, pointing my sword the opposite pathway.

"Are you seriously that immature?" She asked angrily, I could see I was getting a rise out of her, I was enjoying toying with her. "You know what? Fine. Let's go your way, you spoiled brat..."

I laughed, "Well thank you, girl. I just knew you'd see things my way." I waved my finger at her to signal her to follow. And with that we walked together the way I suggested. We continued down the path for a while, but then something strange happened that made this place even more confusing...

In the distance, we saw a huge creature, like a deer or something, come out of the snow covered trees. I paused and stared at it, as did Musiea. I whispered, "What is that thing?"

"I-I don't know... I can't tell if it's friendly or not..." She replied, but nonetheless she slowly approached it... How foolish... "I'm not going to hurt you..." She promised in a soft voice, as if that would do anything... But regardless, she made her way toward the beast until she was arms length apart. "I'm not going to-" she started but was cut off by the creature.

The deer made a terrible roar, like nothing I've ever heard before, jumped onto it's hind legs and stomped down on Musiea, who screamed in pain and terror as she was pushed back. The deer prepared to attack my useless partner again, but this time when it rose to it's back legs, I intervened. I lunged forward and my sword went right through it. It hissed and groaned and backed off.

But just then... a yellow light flashed on it's wound and the blood stopped. What is this thing? I had no time to ponder such questions, I lunged forward again, yet this time the beast made blocked my attack with an icicle... Where did that come from? Just what the hell was I dealing with here?

I fell to the floor in pain... what was going on here? This was clearly no ordinary creature. The beast went back over to Musiea and prepared to pounce once again, so I stood up quickly and tossed my sword like a boomerang. The blade decapitated the beast, it's body fell limp to the floor, it's blood sprayed everywhere and got on me and Musiea.

But just when I though it couldn't get any stranger... The weirdest thing happened... The blood started glowing and seemed to be absorbing into our skin... And as it happened... I felt stronger... It was like nothing I've ever experienced before, and I've seen some weird things happen...

Musiea's face was horrified, I'm not sure if it was my actions or the blood, but she was looking terrible. "Are you alright?" I asked blandly, "I'd like to be going, there's no use in staying here."

She gave me a look of disgust and replied, "Sorry that death actually fazes me, you monster!"

I was getting a little frustrated, "I apologize for the fact that I saved your sorry ass!"

"We both know you only did that because you know you need me to advance, you fiend... Had you not needed me to win, you would have left." She spat back at me, giving me another glare. Well, she did have a point, winning is my goal and I do need her for whatever reason...

"I suppose you're right." I laughed, I could see her becoming more and more on edge with each passing second. "I still wish I knew why I had to babysit you..."

She rose to her feet and continued, "You're seriously unbelievable!" She pointed her finger at me, and then suddenly a shard of ice shot out and fired straight at me, which hit me straight in the shoulder.

It actually hurt...

I was feeling the pain and the blood coming from my shoulder. I scowled and looked her in the eye, but instead of seeing the look of hatred returned, I saw a slight trace of something that looked like concern or regret... What's with the girl? She doesn't seem mentally stable... one second she hates me and the next she looks worried.

She almost immediately walked over to me and apologized, "I don't know what happened! I'm sorry..." Then she thought for a moment, and must have realized she was talking to me. "On second thought... I'm not sorry... But still... Let me look at it..."

... Real smooth, Musiea...

Regardless, she placed her hand gently on my arm and with her other hand she tenderly touched the wound. Almost immediately that same yellow light that cured the deer before appeared on the spot and the wound immediately regenerated... She was doing everything that creature was doing... Did we gain it's power when it's blood absorbed into our skin? If that's the case, this place was getting weirder by the moment... Even beyond my previous impression.

She too was obviously shocked by her healing touch, "W-what happened?"

"Call me crazy... But I think when the blood disappeared into our skin we gained whatever magic that beast had... I don't quite get it, but it seems to be the only explanation..." I offered, then I looked away, "Anyway... Thanks... I guess" I mumbled under my breath, hoping she wouldn't hear me.

"Don't get me wrong," She growled, "I just want you to die by my sword, the same way you took the lives of the priest and sisters."

And then suddenly it hit me, this girl was one of those people I let live when I was sent to "clean up" that child trafficking monastery. That job was a tough one for me... Not physically difficult, but emotionally. I know that the surviving children felt the same way I did all those years back... But we all move on. I did, so why can't they?

I don't regret what I did... In fact I saved them a terrible future, but even if I didn't, it wouldn't make any difference to me.

"So that's who you are..." I replied, smirking, "How are the children doing?"

"You beast!" She growled through her teeth "... I can't believe you... They were fine with me, until I got dragged to this place with you!" She said angrily. "And now they don't have anyone and I have you to blame!"

This whole blaming thing was growing old... I didn't really care what she had to say anymore, instead I wanted to see a rise in her again. "You do know that your precious priest wasn't putting them up for adoption... Right?" I uttered under my breath.

"... What?" she demanded, sounding genuinely shocked.

"I have no obligation to tell you anything, girl." I teased, there's nothing more entertaining that dangling bait in front of your catch and just taking it away.

She growled and shouted, "You monster! What are you trying to say?" She lunged at me, but I managed to dodge, and grab her wrist, twisting it behind her back.

"Oh yes, trying to kill me again, that's real motivation to answer you. Now, let's not try any of this nonsense anymore... you're starting to hurt my feelings." I laughed, her struggle to free herself was entertaining. "I told you I would kill you next time."

She looked at me with disgust, "Then why don't you?..." She sighed.

I laughed at her and how pathetic she was being... "What can I say?..." I chuckled, "You're growing on me, girl."

I can tell she didn't like my forced 'kindness', "L-let go of me, you monster!" she struggled to free her arm, but to no avail. However, I agreed to her request and shoved her forward. She hit the snow with a thud. I didn't have anything left to say... So I continued on.


How does he have it in him to be this evil? I knew people could be terrible, but Escher takes the cake on this one... It was painful following him like a puppy, I had no reason to give in to him other than the sooner we win the sooner I can return to the children that need me...

We approached a crystal merely floating over some sort of base... What is it about this place? Nothing seems real here except the environment... It didn't seem like we had anywhere to go, so I didn't hesitate to rub it in.

"It looks like I was right about which direction to go..." I bragged, smirking sarcastically.

Escher glared at me, it was haunting... "Obviously, this crystal is here for a reason."

"And what's that?" I asked, "It's just going to magically make us appear somewhere else completely different? Don't make me laugh!" I approached the object, "See? Nothing to-" But as I made contact with it, I saw a flash of white light and as it faded I noticed myself in a completely different area. A dark corridor with blue tiles and walls, it was eerie... And worse, it proved me wrong. A bright flash temporarily blinded me and from that light came Escher...

"Well, my dear, it would seem you were wrong... Again! Ha!" He laughed. How I hated him, I only wish I could begin to explain... "Don't worry, that's why you have me, otherwise you'd be completely and utterly defenseless and lost."

I was growing sick of him, "You know what? I don't care if you're right! You can know everything in the world for all I care! I just don't want anything to do with you, so I'm gonna go my way, and you're gonna go yours. If we see each other again, oh well... It will have been too soon!" I started to walk away, but he grabbed my arm.

"Oh no you don't, my darling. 'Til death do us part... or until I become immortal, at least." He smirked, pulling me close to his body. It was incredibly uncomfortable having someone so vile putting their face so close to mine. I tried my hardest to pull myself away from him, but he was really strong and didn't let up.

"Will you stop harassing me like this?" I demanded, I felt like dying each time he touched me...

"Will I stop? Look who's talking, sunshine. You've already tried to kill me... twice! And you're telling ME to stop harassing YOU?"

"You're a fiend... At least you deserve my hatred..." I hissed.

"Well what makes you think you don't deserve what you're getting? You're incredibly self centered."

"How dare you!" I shouted, "How dare you say something like that when you've done the things you've done."

"You don't even bother getting to know me, you're not even giving me a chance. I'm a sweet guy deep down." He laughed sarcastically.

I grunted and ignored him... But then this place got even weirder when I noticed a huge ape rushing toward us. Confused and scared by the beast, I started stuttering, "L-look out!" I managed, but it was too late, the beast smacked Escher in the head with a... coconut?... This place is beyond strange...

My vile partner fell to the ground, then the giant ape looked at me, it started to approach... As much as I hate Escher, I wouldn't mind it if he pulled something like the time with the deer... The beast raised it's coconut high, but then Escher latched on to it's arm and stabbed it. The ape went berserk and thrashed around and tossed the man at me. We both went down, and the beast came closer... But then another miracle happened, a huge flame engulfed the creature.

I looked for our savior, but didn't find anyone... Then suddenly a bug-eyed creature popped up in front of me and shrieked, "Hello, beautiful!"

I screamed and punched the thing square in the nose, sending it flying. I took a second to look at it, and realized that it was wearing clothes...? Seriously what was going on here?

"Is that any way to treat your savior?" It whined rubbing its little nose.

"W-who... or what are you?" I demanded.

"The name is Piu Piu! Glad to meet ya!" It said, extending a little hand. I shook it cautiously, not breaking eye contact. It continued, "And what name does a lovely thing such as yourself go by?"

"Uh... I'm Musiea." I replied, still not sure if I could trust this thing...

"Ah hello, Musiea!" It sang, "And who is this epitome of manliness?" He chirped sarcastically, looking at an unconscious Escher.

"Uh... This is Escher." I said reluctantly.

"Ah! Well it looks like your friend could use one of my patented Vin Brulee's!"

"Vin... Brulee?" I asked, still confused as to what Piu Piu was and why this thing was actually talking.

"Yes, indeed my sweet!" he laughed, pulling out a small potion. "One gulp of this and he'll be back to normal!" He opened Escher's mouth and dumped the liquid in. It took a moment, but his eyes opened, but then bulged when he saw his savior standing over him. He seemed to blink a few times to see if he was really seeing what he thought he was seeing, and not just dreaming. Then a look of disgust plagued his face.

"What the fuck is this thing?" he shouted, jumping upright, drawing his sword, and taking a swing at Piu Piu, but the little critter was fast and jumped out of the way.

"Hey! Is that anyway to treat someone who just saved your life? You were mincemeat until I happened to be walking along."

"You saved us?" Escher asked, staring at it for a second. "Bwahahahahaha! That's too good! Seriously, though who killed that ape. Was it you, Musiea?"

"N-no..." I stumbled on my words, "It was Piu Piu." I managed, pointing at the thing.

"Bwahahahaha! I haven't laughed like that in a while!"

Piu Piu seemed angered, "All I want is a little gratitude, and this is what I get?"

"Well, you certainly don't fit the archetype of a fighter." I whispered to it.

"I refuse to believe this little cream puff saved me from that huge ape." Escher said firmly.

"Well then... Why don't you just believe that the magnificent Piu Piu saved you, then? I'm no cream puff!" the little thing cried.

"Whatever, I don't care what you think you are... what are you doing here anyway?" Escher demanded.

Piu Piu looked at us and said "I'm the number one (and only) timespace traveling salesman around! I need loot to sell to chumps like you and beautiful specimens such as Musiea." It took my hand and started kissing it. I gave an awkward chuckle, Escher looked a little peeved by Piu Piu's answer.

"I'm no chump..."

"Whatever you say, you're the one who was knocked out by a monkey and saved by a 'cream puff'."

Escher was clearly angered by how correct the creature was, so he quickly changed the topic, "So... You sell things?"

"Yup, when the big macho man like you falls flat, he needs to shop around to better himself, which is why I am always stocked up on chocolates, weapons and armor! And obviously I also like to impress the ladies by saving sorry asses such as yours."

"Why you little-"

"Don't let him hurt me!" Piu Piu shrieked, burying his face in my chest. Then he started nuzzling it...

"Nice try..." I grunted, pushing the thing off of me.

"Oh well, it was worth a shot..." It sighed. "Don't worry, Musiea, baby. Once your crush with this pretty boy dies down, you'll settle for good ol' Piu Piu."

"My... crush?..." I blushed, "No way! Never! I hate Escher!"

"Ha! You wish, girl!" Escher laughed, "I know you only try to act like you hate me to hide your true feelings."

I didn't like the influence Piu Piu was putting on Escher... "Don't fool yourself, I hate you for real, and you know it..."

"Whatever, woman, we'll keep things professional... For now."

"You're a pig!" I shouted, looking the other way.

"Woah woah," Piu Piu intervened, "I didn't mean to start a mini-war here. How about we do something we all agree would be good?"

"What's that?" I demanded, still unable to look at Escher, with his disgusting behavior.

"Buy my crap- er, I mean treasures!" The thing laughed.

Obviously unsatisfied with this answer, Escher grunted "I don't think so... I mean, I just need my trusty long sword."

"You're going to need more than that if you wish to protect the lovely Musiea!" It cried in response.

"You're really annoying, you know that?" He hissed back at the creature.

"You knowwwwww" It started, "Eluca bought a pretty nice double edged sword, and she's already well on her way to the first ring..."

"I'm not falling for your schtick..."

"Just try it out, my man. I doubt you'll be disappointed." He said, reaching into his freaky four legged vault and pulling out a nicer blade.

Escher took the sword from Piu Piu and swung it around. He seemed to be analyzing it, then he smiled. "Well I guess a new sword wouldn't hurt!"

"Excellent!" The little creature cheered, "That'll be 1000 OZ!"

Escher gave Piu Piu a look, "Heh, what makes you think I'm gonna pay for it?"

"Well... I am a salesman..."

"You're also a cream puff."

"That's it!" Piu Piu shouted, "I'll have to do things MY way!" It shrieked and ran at Escher, who took a swing at it, but then Piu Piu reappeared behind him and reached into his pocket and swiped a pouch of OZ.

"W-what? But you were there... But now you're here?... What?" I couldn't help but laugh at his misfortune.

"Ah this should do just fine!" Piu Piu cheered, counting the OZ, "That's enough for the sword and the life saving! Now if you'll excuse me, I have treasure to find, I'll be back in the main hall if you ever need me! But first..." He pulled a rapier out of his vault and handed it to me. "For you, my dear!"

"Uh... Thanks, Piu Piu..." I thanked slowly.

"What?" Escher demanded, "Why does she get hers for free?"

"Because she's a grateful, beautiful woman... and you're... you." Piu Piu laughed, going on his way.

"That little bastard... Whatever..." He cursed, then looked at me, "We need to keep moving... Let's go, girl."

I gave him a look, "No..."

"What was that?... No? I don't believe I gave you an option, girl!"

"I don't need you, I'm going my own way."

He chuckled, "No you won't, I'm keeping my pup on a tight leash until I get what I want." He grabbed my arm again. "Now let's continue together, shall we?" He dragged me forward, despite my resistance.


"This isn't fair..." She whispered. "How do I get stuck with such a terrible partner?..."

I pretended I didn't hear her, so instead I noticed the two paths up ahead. "Well it looks like another fork..."

"I'm going left." She stated.

"I think we should go right."

"Well this time I'm actually going left. You and I both know that you're too proud to follow me, so I guess this means I'll see you later... Or better yet, maybe I won't . Have fun on your scavenger hunt, you vile piece of filth..."

Well... She was right about one thing... I wasn't about to agree with her. So instead I huffed, "Fine, I don't need you anyway. Have fun getting killed without me or cream puff here to save you."

She glared at me, "You're an ass, you know that?" She spun around and started walking.

"And you're no walk in the park either, girl." I shouted back, but she was already on her way to the path she had selected.

I continued rightward for a while, but I soon hit a dead end... Damn it all... Thankfully Musiea wasn't here to rub it in... I guess the only way to go was left. So on that note, I left for the path she took. The left path did indeed have a crystal there, and upon touching it, I was received by a white flash.

This one brought me outside yet again, and it revealed a path leading up to what looked like an iced over volcano. I saw something gigantic off in the distance, it looked like yet another creature... As much as I'd like to think this could be avoided, the monster is always guarding something... And at least without Musiea I won't be held ba- Oh shit... this path was one-way... Which would mean she's... Damn it all! This isn't a partnership! This is a babysitting job...

I ran up the winding path only to find I was right, Musiea was attempting to take on this dragon-like beast, how foolish of her... The creature rose a mighty fist and prepared to claw away at the defenseless girl. Then, in came heroic me, I took out my sword and stabbed the beast square in the stomach. It let out a mighty roar and fell back.

"You're a real pain in the ass, you know that girl?" I smirked, expecting thanks for my deed for once. But I got no response from her... That ungrateful brat... Instead all she did was widen her eyes, so I continued boosting my own ego, "What, are you in shock about just how good I am? Yeah, no need to say more, it's pretty clear." I smirked.

And then I felt an immense smack on the back of my head. I went flying forward and slid through the snow. So I guess it wasn't dead after all... I quickly recovered my stance and cast an ice spell at it, but then it retaliated with a gale spell, which sent me flying even further back, sustaining heavy damage.

It jumped at me and raised a claw yet again... This has to be it... I'm done for... It's talons were nearing my face when...

"Die!" Musiea screeched, slashing the hand that almost cost me my life. I have to admit, it's kind of nice hearing her say 'die' to something other than me.

The mighty dragon roared and recovered it's wound with it's curing magic, and then regained it's posture.

"Does this thing actually die?" Musiea shouted, she took a defensive stance. "... Come and get me!"

As if it understood, the beast lunged forward and sent her flying back into myself while I tried to stand back up. Our bodies were mangled within one another's, and we were both too harmed to do anything about the situation.

"Looks like this is it..." I mumbled grimly. I heard Musiea grunt.

"Are you serious?" She said, "After all that talk, this is all the action you show? I'm almost embarrassed to want my vengeance on you!" She struggled to get back up, and ultimately found success. "You make me sick, Escher..." She whipped out her sword and lunged forward yet again, this time she stabbed it through the chest. This seemed to make for a fatal blow to the dragon, who slowly hobbled around and then collapsed. It was amazing seeing meek little Musiea take down that mighty creature by herself... I found it oddly arousing seeing such a strong warrior in such a gentle-to-a-fault woman like her.

"You... You..." I stuttered.

"What? Can fight? Yes, but believe it or not I don't base my life around killing..." She said resentfully.

I scowled, "Well since we're in a place like this, you may want to change that... You'll never last without the desire to kill."

"That may be, but I'd rather have my morals, thank you very much."

"It's a shame, you know..."

"What is?" She demanded, glaring at me.

"If you weren't in denial about killing, and if you didn't hate me, we would have made great partners in the real world."

She closed her eyes and turned away. "I'm glad we weren't made on the same page... I really am..." She said with disgust, then she continued walking along the pathway.