“Why,” panted Magus as he followed along behind the guide, “Did you have to build your secret base on the other end of a desert.”
“If we put it in the middle of the city,” said the guide, “it wouldn’t stay a secret for long. We better stop now. Night is coming.”
“Well,” said Magus as he poked the fire with a stick, “I never expected needing a fire in the desert.”
“Idiot,” said Ærin as she sat down on the sand. “What do you expect? Sand cools quickly.”
“I know,” said Magus, “but I didn’t manage to put two and two together. Same with the noise! Why do all the creatures come out at night? Even with the fire, it’s freezing cold!”
“I will agree on that,” said Ærin. “I haven’t the faintest idea as to how the others manage to sleep through this.”
“I suppose you get used to it after a while,” said Magus. “You wouldn’t believe what I got used to in my last gig.”
“Actually,” said Ærin, “I probably would, given that I discovered that lichen makes a really good pillow when you’re tired enough.”
“Yes,” said Magus, “but was the lichen located in a H.P. Lovecraft novel? Mine was.”
“Ouch,” said Ærin, wincing with sympathy.
“It wasn’t actually that bad,” continued Magus. “I was some kind of immortal wizard who fed off the life force of his ancestors, so I got to view the situation from the other side. Still, I wish I had snuck in a pillow or something. Sarcophagi are really uncomfortable.”
“Idiot,” said Ærin. “You know what the narrators do to any foreign objects people manage to sneak in.”
“Why do you keep talking like that?” asked Magus. “It’s not like you have to insult someone every other line.”
“Actually,” said Ærin, “I do. I’m a member of the Tsundere’s guild. I presumed you would have realized that by now.”
“Really?” said Magus. “I’ve never heard the term before.”
“It’s a portmanteau of a few foreign words Affection and Disgust. That really sums the place up.”
“What’s it like in there?” asked Magus.
“It’s really nice,” responded Ærin. “You get a guarantied position in any of the Anime productions, and a cool looking membership card to boot. Here, have a look.”
Magus looked at the card, which had a rather nice picture of Ærin above a few eldritch sigils.
“Those?” said Ærin as she noticed his gaze falling onto the sigils. “They’re the motto of the guild in its original language. They translate as—”
“Don’t tell me,” interrupted Magus. “I think I can translate it. I remember learning Kanji back when I was still an apprentice.”
After a few seconds of Magus muttering things like “Bakka,” and “Negative context,” he looked up at Ærin and said “Stupid Shinji? What kind of motto is that?”
“Ours,” said Ærin. “Idiot. What did you expect? It’s a quote from our founder.”
“The Mages guild never quotes our founder,” said Magus. “Then again, it might have something to do with the fact that he was a crossdresser.”
“Maaaaaguuuuusssss,” moaned the spectral apparition as it materialized inside the fire. “I have a message for you from the world of the dead!”
Magus snored, as he had finally fallen asleep.
“Wake up, idiot,” said the ghost, crossing her arms and growing ethereal pigtails. “I’m trying to deliver a prophecy here!”
“But mommy,” muttered Magus. “I don’t wanna go to school-.”
“Shut up,” snapped the apparition. “Three problems. First: You’ve never met your parents. Second: If you had, you would not have gone to a school due to the lack of anything remotely resembling an education system. Third: THAT IS THE WORST JOKE I HAVE EVER HEARD! IT WASN’T FUNNY IN WHATEVER YOU STOLE IT FROM, AND IT ISN’T FUNNY NOW!”
“Oh,” said Magus, rolling over as he recognized the voice of his childhood friend companion acquaintance. “It’s you.”
At this point, had Magus been drinking something when he saw Travia’s blackened and scorched imperial armor, he would have spat it out everywhere, and it would have been rather droll. Regrettably, supplies were being rationed, so he instead made a weird sputtering noise.
“The Emperor murdered me!” said Travia, apparently ignorant of the police report’s contents. “I think he figured out that I was planning to betray him!”
“Yes,” said Magus, remembering the soldier he had killed in the prologue. “That is what happened. He truly is an awful person. Now then, about that prophecy?”
“Be patient!” snapped Travia. “I’m getting to it.”
She cleared her throat.
“With elder staff and adamant sword,/
A lone hero goes to slay the Dark Lord./
As he walks through fire and flame,/
He shall become the Tyrant’s bane./
Aided by rogue, warrior, and midget,/
he really does look like an idiot.”
“That last line didn’t rhyme very well,” said Magus. “You should see about getting a proofreader.”
“I’m just not very good at rhyming,/” responded Travia. “Perhaps I should work on my pacing.”
“I give up.”