91 A Poetic Correspondence
As Anna was eating her dinner alone and remembering the good company she used to have, the messenger bird flew right in and landed in front of her.
"You're back so soon?" She glanced at the roll of paper on the bird's leg. At first, she thought that it carried her message back to her, but upon closer inspection, the paper appeared different from the one she used. She slipped the rolled paper out of the bird's leg and opened it.
She was shocked to receive a reply. This was her ticket out of here!
She examined the person's reply to her question. Could she be near the forest of Lamont? Or some other forest? The reply was too vague.
Anna wondered about the person replying to her poems. It was probably someone who managed to survive the fall of Aries. There was no way they'd be powerful enough to help her escape. In this world, everyone else was powerless against the hackers.
She glanced at the window. But maybe she had a chance. She had access to a lot of cloth. It would be easy for her to make a rope out of them and use it for her escape. But what if the castle was too high? Or they had surveillance? She needed more information.
She quickly scanned the room for any object she could use. She settled for the silver chalice on the table, took it to the window, and dropped it. For a moment, she tried to listen for a clear sound of the chalice colliding with the ground, but it didn't come. She really was high up.
She searched for another piece of paper and wrote out another poem:
Freedom I seek from this castle in the sky
A brave hero I seek who is willing to try
So that you might not go astray,
A silver chalice guides the way
"Please take this to that person who read my poem," Anna whispered to the bird and it flew out to deliver her next message.
"Sphinx, what are you doing?" Wen asked.
Sphinx was hanging out at the hidden city's outdoor garden restaurant. He looked like he was having a difficult time writing something. He stared at the blank piece of paper, occasionally messed up his own hair out of frustration, and made several attempts to write another line.
Sphinx blushed a little. "It's nothing."
"Is that poetry?" Garth looked over his shoulder. He was also curious about Sphinx's behavior.
"It's nothing!" Sphinx hurriedly covered the piece of paper out of embarrassment.
"I didn't know you were a poet, Sphinx," Astrid said in surprise. She also wanted to know why Sphinx was acting differently.
"I'm not!" Sphinx sighed. "There's this person who keeps sending these short poems through this messenger bird that appeared while I was in the forest near Lamont. Whoever wrote this seems to be trapped inside a floating fortress in the sky." He showed them the poems.
The three of them read the short poems from the mysterious person in the sky castle.
"Oh. You're right. This person does sound like a prisoner," Garth agreed.
"We should have Frisk have a look at this. He might have some clues for us." Astrid summoned her menu tablet and attempted to contact Frisk.
"Hello there, lovely lady!" Frisk's voice boomed from the menu tablet.
"This is Garth," the Black Rose Guildmaster spoke.
"Garth!? Oh... uhh... Well, this is awkward." Frisk did a nervous cough. "So, how may I help you?"
"We need you to check a certain area for a floating castle."
"A floating castle?"
"It should be right above a forest near Lamont."
"Give me a moment. I'm checking the map right now." Sounds of typing could be heard through the speaker. "Interesting. There seems to be a floating structure around that area. I don't think that was there before this whole hacker incident."
"How high up is it?"
"High enough to cause fall damage that will result in a sure death, but not too high that you can probably reach the place through flying mounts like griffons. If you plan to infiltrate that area, you might want to be careful. There are probably monsters like harpies that inhabit that space in the sky."
"Best of luck to all of you." The call ended.
Wen leaned against the wall. "So? Do you want to send a rescue team there?"
"We might be able to find some of the missing players there," said Astrid. "The way the poet described the place sounds like a prison. What I don't get is that... why the need to keep prisoners? Are they using them for forced labor?"
Wen was deep in thought. "Forced labor is a possibility. But for what?"
Sphinx was silently clutching the poems. He knew deep down that he couldn't just abandon this poet. It would stay in his conscience forever if he didn't do anything to help. "I will attempt a rescue," he broke the silence in the room with his voice full of conviction and then stood up.
"Woah. Wait up, Sphinx." Wen moved in to stop him from recklessly leaving. "We need you to ask that poet about the castle's defenses and the location of all the prisoners. It will make our rescue operation smoother."
"Alright." Sphinx quietly sat down and wrote down his next poem.
"We'll take care of the members." Wen looked at Alice, who was sitting at the side with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows. "Alice, can Kimmy morph into a flying animal?"
Alice nodded. "Kimmy can morph into a flying carp."
Wen was a little surprised. "A flying... fish?"
Alice was suddenly flustered. "I'm sorry! The carp just looked so cute compared to the dragon."
"It's alright. At least we have a ride."
Astrid smirked. "Sphinx gets to be a dashing hero on a flying carp." She was trying to hold in her laughter from imagining it.
"Stop making fun of me!" Sphinx said angrily. He rolled up his poem and tied it to the bird's leg. The bird immediately took off. "There. Now we just have to wait until the poet sends us a reply!"