The Noctis Noir bard and seamstress, Anna, wasn't sure how long she had been out. The last thing she remembered was fighting the Jupiter guildmaster, Magnus, before getting hit by a stray fireball and losing consciousness. When she woke up, she almost believed that everything had been an awful dream... until she found herself locked inside some sort of underground jail cell.
"Where am I?" she asked herself.
The place was damp, cold, and dim. One place she definitely wouldn't want to be stuck in for the rest of her life. She had to get out no matter what.
As she was trying to find a way out, she heard a voice, "So you're finally awake, huh?"
It came from the cell right across hers. Inside was a girl about her age. Anna recognized her as that girl who always worked part time at the Lamont Café. The one with the strange name who was part of Gaylord's Spicy Crab crew.
"Potato!" Anna remembered.
"You've been unconscious for half a week now," Potato filled her in. "They're trying to keep you alive for some reason."
"How did you end up here?"
"Probably the same way you ended up here. I was working as a kitchen staff during the ball. I managed to warp to Lamont and then to the Hot Spicy Crabs guild base. During our attempt to escape from Aries, the gate closed before I could exit. Gaylord and I tried to survive the wilderness, but we got separated. I was knocked unconscious by a monster. When I woke up, I found myself in this jail. When I got here, you were already in that cell. The rest of these cells were filled with people as well."
"Is anyone else here in this jail?"
"As far as I know, it's just the two of us left. I don't know where they took the others. It won't be long before they come here and take both of us as well."
"We have to escape before they come for us!"
Potato shook her head. "It's no use. They're much more powerful than us. To escape would mean death. Plus, we have no other exit except through that heavily guarded door."
Anna sunk dejectedly. There really was no way out.
She thought about the Noctis Noir girls and wondered if they made it out safely. If they did, at least her sacrifice wasn't in vain.
The wooden door to the exit opened suddenly. Anna moved near the door to her jail cell to see who it was. She couldn't believe her eyes. It was her former guildmate, Christina!
Christina met Anna's eyes. "So you're finally awake. That's good. We thought you'd never wake up."
Anna said nothing in reply and stayed still.
Christina only smirked at her reaction. "Don't look so shocked. Didn't your guild accuse me as a scammer? It seems I might be as bad as they say I am." She moved closer to Anna's jail cell door. Their faces were only inches away. Her expression was dark and unforgiving. "If you try to escape or pull off any tricks, I might become a murderer as well."
She moved away and laughed. "You look so scared! That's brilliant. Well, I can't kill you just yet. The Leader still needs your abilities. Take some time to reorient yourself with your situation before we move you out of this dump. You'll be thanking us later." She moved towards the door. "We'll see each other again later, so look forward to it."
As soon as she left the room, Anna felt at ease again.
So Christina really was allied with the hackers.
"Does she come here often?" Anna asked Potato.
"I think she's assigned to this area. She's usually the one bringing in the food for all the prisoners and deciding how escapees are to be punished. Sometimes she comes in here for no reason to complain about something or make fun of us. There was one time she was really annoyed by Vi and the 'Leader'. She kept kicking barrels and destroying the crates over there," Potato replied.
"Sounds like a total nutjob."
"She sure is."
"She mentioned a Leader. Is he the one behind all this?"
Potato paused to think. "I don't know much about that, but he probably is. Based on the conversations I've heard so far, the Leader is the one who ordered them to find specific people who fit a certain description. That's the reason why we're still alive right now. I have a feeling we'll get to meet that person eventually."
Anna was worried. What will they do to her and Potato?
"I wonder why they picked me," Anna said.
"It's just a hunch, but it might be because you're the best seamstress in all of Aries. I haven't seen anyone who matches your level of expertise in crafting armor." Potato paused. "As for me... could it be because of my cooking skill level? There are plenty of other people who are better than me though."
"We'll never know until they get us out of here, huh?"
The wooden door to the exit opened once more. Christina walked inside accompanied by two armored guards, possibly NPCs. She stopped in front of Anna's cell.
"I have good news for you! You're getting transferred. The Leader was delighted to hear that you're conscious again. You're going to immediately start on your new assignment. Don't worry. I'm sure you'll enjoy it," she spoke as she unlocked the cell's door. "And remember, don't try to escape or you will deeply regret it."
Anna glanced at Potato before she stepped out of her cell. She was sad about having to leave her friend in the dark and damp jail that offered barely any comfort. Potato did a small goodbye wave in case they would never run into each other again.
"Alright. Let's go," Christina led the way out of the jail as Anna was being flanked by the guards.
The door closed behind them as they left the room.
Potato sat alone in the dark hoping that Anna would be treated well.