Pefu a cold planet in the middle of nowhere and just your luck you're trapped on it! To make matters worse winter is fast approaching in which the world becomes as dark as the universe itself. It will become impossible to be able to do anything or even function much less go across the horrible terrain of the planet filled with as many monsters as there are. A man comes forth and offers help. There is a special cave in the bowels of the planet and if you can survive two days of training in a place with no light, sound and your ability to feel numbed by the cold you may gain the ability to see without sight and hear without sound. With it you can survive the lightless planet.
Reward: +500 zeni, +5 DP, +40 all stats, +5 RP Credits
A cold, white, and desolate landscape was all that could be seen. Not that one could see very far given the environment, but much of the same continued in all directions regardless. Wind and snow buffeted the young scholar as he materialized on the icy planet known as Pefu. He’d left in such a rush after learning of a nefarious individual or possibly group of individuals who had all but declared war on the students of Kelioux. Ticho had made his way here despite no knowledge of the landscape nor direction in which to find the hoodlums who had sent the imposter.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” a voice filled the scholar’s mind, despite the loud and blustery winds drowning out all but the loudest of sounds. “Even the smartest among us can do the stupidest things under the right conditions.”
“W...w….who? Whos…..there?” the saiyan barely managed to cry out as he reeled from the chill in the air for which he’d clearly not been prepared. Hoping to find refuge, he began to reach into his shirt pocket for his ship capsule in hopes that it could at least stand up to the low temperatures long enough to give the scholar a little warmth.
“Perhaps I’ll tell you,” came a reply as the voice filled Ticho’s head once more. “Provided you survive long enough.” The intellectual continued to shakily sift through his belongings and finally found the capsule containing his ship. Unfortunately, it was already so thoroughly frozen that attempting to use it could severely damage or possibly even outright destroy the vessel contained within.
“G..great. J..just great.” The young saiyan slowly moved his feet, fighting the harsh weather with every centimeter he moved. After what seemed like an eternity, he managed to take his first step. “Hmmmm, watch your step,” the voice chimed in once more as the scholar’s foot slowly displaced the snow. In fact, it seemed to displace it more than it should’ve and there was an audible crack followed promptly by a visual one that seemed to continue to stretch onward for several feet.
“Crap,” Ticho remarked as the ground seemed to open up below and swallow it’s nearly frozen victim into it’s depths. Too cold to concentrate on even the simplest task, there was no way the thinker could even consider flight as he plummeted tens of feet to the dark innards of the planet.
As the savant regained consciousness, these words aptly described the extent of his sensations. He could no longer feel the cold or really anything for that matter as he carefully rose to his feet, doing so only by moving his appendages around slowly and minding anything that appeared to prevent him from doing so. There was no way to know how far he’d fallen, how badly he was hurt, or even if he was still alive. A mild tingling sensation in his throat was all he could perceive as he desperately attempted to call out for help. It was likely a fruitless endeavor, but it was likely hypothermia had already begun to set in assuming death had not already done so.
“My word. I hope you’re not giving up already. That wouldn’t be any fun at all.” It was the voice from earlier, clearly someone using some sort of telepathy to communicate. “You schooling types like tests, right? Think of this as a test of sorts. You cannot see, hear, feel. Hell, your sense of taste and smell are probably shot right now too even if there were anything to perceive with those. How then can you discern your surroundings well enough to survive, let alone escape this place?”
A chuckle rang through the young scholar’s mind as he pondered the question presented to him. “Word problems are always a bastard, aren't they? Best of luck with this one. You are alive by the way, but won’t be much longer if you don’t figure it out.”
It was cold comfort in the most literal sense to the scholar to learn this wasn’t the afterlife, but at least it was now easier to think. Without his nervous system constantly sending signals to distract him, Ticho could now easily muster the focus needed to attempt to come up with a way out of this mess.
Sifting through the years of knowledge he’d acquired in all his studies, the saiyan began to mentally search for anything that might be applicable to this situation.
“Sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste,” the instructor said as he addressed the class. While not his favorite subject, the saiyan did find Biology to be fascinating and likely would’ve taken it even if it weren’t a required course. Listening intently, he scribbled notes as the teacher continued his lecture.
“These are the 5 basic senses as you all well know. Each serves it’s own function and even sometimes works to enhance the functions of the others. However, as intelligent life has progressed, many additional but less apparent senses have been discovered or accepted such as gut instincts for example.”
Ticho found himself intrigued by the educator's words and his hand shot up before he could continue past this subject. Receiving acknowledgement from the professor, he made his inquiry. “Have any senses been discovered that transcend what most would be considered to be the norm?”
The class erupted with laughter at such a suggestion. Most were closed minded children who wanted to get their general education credits and move on with whatever mundane trade they would wind up with. After all, as an outsider, Ticho had to settle for one of the lower end facilities for primary education. Few from this place would amount to much outside of physical labor. Still, as the laughter died down, the instructor’s face remained neutral and proceeded to answer as if nothing had happened.
“An excellent question. There are in fact theories that one could learn to perceive the world around them without the use of any of the basic senses I just mentioned. While these have yet to be fully explored, there have been a few accounts from individuals claiming to be able to do just that. It is of course difficult to determine their validity as we cannot explicitly put ourselves in their shoes, but at the very least these individuals have accomplished some incredible feats.”
The saiyan smiled and thanked his professor, making a mental note to later look into some of these individuals.
“Now if everyone else is done laughing about their own lack of any sort of academic future, I will continue my lesson..”
‘Muten Roshi,’ the intellectual thought to himself, mentally listing off individuals he’d learned of in his research. ‘Renown martial arts master of Earth,’ the accomplishments rang through his mind alongside each name.
‘Grandmaster Adel, renown scholar and founder of the prestigious academy on Kelioux,’ Indeed, it appeared the headmaster himself had been supposedly capable of this grand feat though was more tight lipped about it to avoid badgering from skeptics.
‘Colonel H. Stinkemeaner, elderly blind menace,’ There was less data on this individual as he appeared to have gone completely off the grid after leaving Earth. Given his age, he may not even still be alive at this point.
One by one, every other known individual who had claimed to have extrasensory perception rushed through the savant’s mind. The accounts varied, but there were a few similarities in how this sixth sense was described. Reaching out with one's mind, it was possible to perceive one's surroundings with great detail. Furthermore, while it took considerable focus initially, most would say that it eventually became second nature and could allow one to “see” much further and much more clearly than is possible with normal eyesight.
A small smile slowly formed across the young saiyan’s face. With no other senses to distract, effectively all he could do was focus.
With that, he began to apply all the knowledge he’d consolidated and attempted to reach out to the world around him mentally. To some degree it was similar to what he’d done earlier to rise to his feet, but with waves of mental signals instead of with his presently numb hands and feet. Little by little, Ticho began to perceive what was before considered to be impossible.
At first it was just the snow and ice on the ground just below his feet, but it gradually expanded as one mental wave after another emitted from the savant’s mind and bounced around his surroundings. Soon he could discern the icy walls to either side of him roughly 3 feet in each direction. Within minutes, the intellectual could mentally picture everything within 10 feet of him down to the last flake of snow.
This of course included his own body and it was apparent that it wouldn’t hold up to the cold for very long if he continued to remain still. While he could now leave through the hold through which he’d fallen, the saiyan had other means now available to him to keep himself alive. Besides, these were perfect conditions to master this new ability he’d gained.
Taking care not to injure himself by starting to quickly, Ticho slowly began to walk down the passageway before him. Gradually, he began to pick up the pace and every so often he would turn around so as not to stray too far in either direction from his point of origin.
After getting his heart rate up just enough, he flared his ki to raise his body temperature back up. In his excitement however, the scholar forgot to consider that doing so would briefly unfreeze his nervous system. A sudden wave of signals rushed to his brain from all parts of his body reminding him exactly how cold it was and the savant’s concentration shattered.
Darkness set in once more, but at least the scholar could keep himself alive this way. As the cold set in, his nervous system went numb once more making it once again easy to focus. Immediately Ticho went back to work regaining awareness of his surroundings.
Several minutes passed as the scholar would focus, regain body temperature, lose focus, and repeat. With each cycle, it became easier and easier to regain perception. On about the fourth attempt, the saiyan flared his ki and despite the cold was able to retain his concentration. It was a little fuzzy for a moment, but progress was already being made.
Of course, such exercises were incredibly demanding and the rumble of the learned man’s stomach was a sensation that had not escaped him. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out an energy bar and began to chow down.
“Getting rather comfortable I see,” the voice from earlier chimed in, even clearer than before. ‘Indeed. Thanks for the tip,’ Ticho thought, figuring perhaps this individual could probe his thoughts if he made them forceful enough.
“Ah, yes I can hear your surface thoughts if you attempt to push them out. Especially with that gem on your person. Regardless, you may want to ready yourself. You’ve made a lot of noise and probably aren’t familiar with the denizens of these tunnels, but they’ll eat you alive if you’re not careful”
Almost immediately, the saiyan could perceive that the ground below him was rumbling. Something big was approaching and likely wasn’t the welcoming committee. “Good luck by the way.”
The scholar steadied himself as he turned to face the direction from which the rumbling seemed to be coming. Reaching behind him, he grasped his hammer and withdrew it from it’s resting place against his back. In his excitement of learning something new, Ticho had failed to even consider that there might be unfriendly creatures in the vicinity. He found himself both stoked and nervous to be testing his new ability out in an actual physical altercation so soon.
Within seconds the beast was within range of the saiyan’s perception. It was a fairly large two legged beast that appeared to be coated in a fairly thick hide of permafrost. Icy spikes protruded from multiple points of origin along it’s backside and replaced all of it’s fingers in the form of razor sharp iciclic claws.
Opening it’s mouth wide enough to eat the intellectual three times over, the savage titan let loose an intense roar. The learned man found himself suddenly sliding backwards at an alarming rate as the shockwave of the creature’s cry buffeted him. Clearly it wasn’t used to encountering prey so easily moved and had intended only to intimidate Ticho.
Thinking quickly, the savant crashed his hammer into the ground in an attempt to cancel out his backward momentum. He slowed to a stop quickly, though could no longer perceive his attacker given the distance he’d been pushed back. The scholar could also tell there was no longer any force attempting to push him backwards meaning that the beast had concluded it’s roar.
Hammer still in hand, the saiyan raised it up above his head with both hands and waited for the monster to reenter his range of perception. Within seconds, Ticho sensed the icy creatures approach as it charged forward full force. With one lighting quick motion, he slammed the hammer into the ground once more causing several large chunks of ice to shoot upward and then swung around and launched one of the aforementioned lumps of ice. The mass of cold material collided with the being’s head, knocking it over like a tin can shot by a bb gun.
The frosty beast stirred briefly before climbing to it’s feet, murderous intent still evident as it let loose another mighty burst of wind from it’s mouth. Air filled the scholars lungs and then was forced upward as he let loose a mighty shockwave of similar force, canceling out the one made by the ice monster.
The beast stood there for a moment, clearly stunned by the reaction and unsure how to respond. It was to be expected, as most predators don’t anticipate their perceived prey to share their capabilities or to be able to stand up to them so readily.
With a quick flex of his arm, Ticho returned his hammer to the sling in his back in which he normally kept it Calmly, he began to approach the creature taking care not to make any sudden movements. The beast interested him and it could prove quite beneficial to study it as he had little knowledge of this planet's denizens. Placing his hand on the creature’s leg, the saiyan gave a calming smile in an attempt to convey that he meant no ill will. The icy giant gave a nervous look at first, looking as though it might resume hostilities. After a minute or so however, the monster appeared to calm down likely realizing there was nothing to be gained from aggressive action towards the humanoid beside him.
“Hmmmm, most interesting. You’ve managed to calm Yuki-onna.” The voice once more called out, though the scholar noticed that the ice creature appeared to be reacting as well. “I feared you might shatter her into pieces after she decided to attack you, but fortunately she would’ve reformed from the surrounding ice in a few days time.”
The scholar froze, figuratively of course, from the unknown man’s statement. He knew not only of this creature specifically, but even had a name for it. ‘Wait, what? What is this creature? Why do you have a name for it? I’m assuming that isn’t it’s species.’
“Of course not. Yuki-onna is an ice golem for lack of a better term. You could say she’s my pet. That’ll do Yuki-onna. This one is friendly.” The beast now known as Yuki-onna gently groaned in acknowledgement clearly able to hear the voice as well.
Ticho chuckled, partially from confusion and partially from the absurdity of what he was hearing. Still, if this man truly meant him any ill will, he could’ve sent this golem after him without first helping him adjust to the new environment. Had he done so, the saiyan might now be resting in the icy beast’s stomach instead of right beside her.
“I apologize for the impersonal and vague way I’ve interacted with you. We get few visits to Pefu, especially ones who seem to simply pop into existence. I had to be sure you weren’t going to cause any trouble. Given how close you appeared to the Cave of Darkness I figured it wouldn’t hurt to teach you something new in the process.”
‘Fair enough,’ the saiyan forcibly thought, having now gathered his thoughts. ‘I’m Ticho, a saiyan scholar from Kelioux. I traveled here following a lead on a person or persons who conspired to put our students in harms way. An individual posing as one of our top professors was apparently coerced into doing so by someone with whom he last interacted on Pefu. I admittedly have little else to go on outside of that and will likely make my return forthwith to attempt to investigate further or to at least prevent a repeat offense.’
“I see,” came a prompt reply. “I wish I had information to provide you, though perhaps you shouldn’t rush back so soon.”
‘Hmmm? What do you suggest then? The person or persons of interest could be anywhere on this planet assuming they haven’t already left. I’d say the trail has gone cold if you’ll excuse the pun, but that would imply that there was ever a trail to begin with.’
“Perhaps, but it is not as though your colleagues are unaware of the threat. They’re more than capable of handling themselves those scholars. Not that you aren’t of course, but perhaps you’d be interested in polishing your technique? Your form while using that hammer, though somewhat effective, is unrefined.”
Ticho found himself pondering his fight with his old professor at those words. The way his attacks were so easily brushed aside for the better part of that match were brought to the forefront of his mind as he re-lived those moments.
“Though I myself rarely use a weapon, as a forgemaster I hate to see a weapon not used to it’s full potential. Though there would be substantial cost, I could make some improvements upon your hammer if you’ll allow me to do so. Following that, I have no doubt the paladins on Avalon would be happy to accept you as a student. If your time here is any indication, you should pickup pretty quickly on their technique. That way, should you ever find these ruffians who so greatly wronged your fellow students, your hammer should deal swift comeuppance.”
The saiyan pondered this briefly. No doubt he would need to report to the headmaster his activities and his board of directors would need to be updated as well. Still, he’d been to Avalon before and given that he had a potential score to settle there, returning there was certainly not the worst idea.
‘Your offer is quite tempting, though I do have a few inquiries,’ the scholar replied mentally, now sitting on the leg of the golem that was now resting beside him.
“By all means,” the stranger replied.
‘What is your name exactly and how exactly do I find you should I wish to take you up on your proposal?’
“Fair questions indeed. You may call me Gramgus. I am one of Pefu’s most accomplished blacksmiths and can work the forge like few others. Should you wish to come find me, simply let me know and I’ll give the word to Yuki-onna to come home. Simply follow her.”
Ticho nodded, observing with his new perception as the icy creature gave a knowing grunt of acknowledgement. Clearly, this being was quite close to the resident with whom he spoke as she seemed more than happy to follow any instruction given.
‘Makes sense. You mentioned upgrading my hammer. Exactly what sort of modification did you have in mind and how much were you planning to charge?’
“Ah, a fine weapon you have there,” Gragmus replied, seeming to pause briefly as though he was admiring the craftsmanship. “As it is now however, it looks as though it’s weighted a bit more on one side than the other. A lot of smiths nowadays think making a hammer just requires you to slap a large piece of metal at the end of a stick. It’s rare to see one of even this quality. With the hammer as it is now, the paladins could teach you most of their techniques, but there are one or two that simply aren’t doable. My upgrade would correct that imperfection as well as give your swings a little more of an impact given the material i use.”
Ticho nodded as the smith went on, his words thus far making perfect sense. After all, in battle if one is knocked off balance, he or she is unlikely to find much success and an improperly balanced weapon could be just as perilous.
“As for the cost, I’d be taking a bit of a loss on the metal but as I stated I simply hate to see a weapon that isn’t used to it’s full potential. Still, the material is expensive and I would have to charge at least 10,000 zeni.”
The saiyan’s eyes immediately widened. ‘That much? Is it really so expensive to upgrade a hammer?’
“It’s actually quite a bit more, for me anyway. Between use of the forge, the time and labor for our miners to gather the material needed the cost is pretty steep. It’s actually quite rare even on this metal rich planet especially since the PTO invaded. At the end of it all, it actually costs me about 15,000 to perform the upgrade. Still, given your actions and how much I like the weapon your using, I’m willing to take the loss.”
Ticho reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Given that he had enough supplies to last a while, he could afford to spend whatever he had on hand provided he had enough. A small chuckle escaped his lips as he realized that he had brought only barely enough to make the aforementioned purchase.
‘You got a deal. Tell your pet to lead the way if you would please.’
“Happy to hear it. It’ll take about 2 weeks, but you’re welcome to stay with me if you’d like. Yuki-onna! Time to come home!”
Right on cue, the golem arose from her rest and began walking at a brisk pace down the tunnel followed closely by the savant.