Integration Point Symphony


The Path Less Traveled, February 2nd, 2022.

I know not what the future holds. The dying words of a poet, and, I'm aware, a rather strange overture, but it felt fitting.

Lady Blanche encouraged me to write down whatever came to mind to me today. It's a slow day. No messages to deliver, no objects to collect, and the people I'd usually meet on days like these are all busy with their own lives.

Which leaves me, this forest path, this pen, and this formerly blank page.

You'd think that with all the time I spend here, I'd eventually grow bored of seeing the same vistas over and over… but there's just something of indescribable beauty here. I could gaze at the horizon for hours, see the clouds move, bit by bit, watch as the sun rises and falls, hear the running water and the breeze fly by…

I think today I'll walk this path to the very end. The books speak of a bay at the very end of it. I think I could go for a swim.

I wonder if those who walked this path before me, as few as they were, also found it to be this gorgeous.

They likely did.

Blanche told me she once dreamed of this place, long before the humans came. In the dream, she built herself a little house with just a thought, and sat waiting for someone else to arrive. Nobody came.

I know she feels lonely sometimes. She tells me not to worry, but I can't help it. It's just who I am, I suppose. I worry about other people, more so than myself at times… I've lost count of how many times it got me into trouble.

Like that one time with Evie.

Oh goodness, that one time with Evie.

…speaking of, she's got me quite worried lately. After that whole talk we had over the mask, I've been thinking up of ways to help. I've been digging through the Archive for answers, but nothing comes up.

I can't lose hope. There's bound to be something in there somewhere.

It'll be alright.

I haven't returned Penelope's UNO deck yet. I suppose even the almighty Game Master gets a little busy every now and then. We still have a record to settle in Quake, and this time I'm gonna double check her keyboard… she's very prone to cheating after all.

What else…

Argos seems to be pretty occupied with a few U.E.C. raids out there. Janus… I don't know, frankly, they're hard to track. I haven't heard from Terminus in a little while, not that I'm complaining, he's the living embodiment of a harsh mentor. Evie's buried in her work as usual. Kaiser has been working on a mechanical dragon, I can't wait to see where that goes. New Horizons is off exploring some other level…

I can already hear Blanche asking "But Tom, what about you?"

What about me…

I suppose I've been so caught up in thinking about everything and everyone else I never really thought much about myself.

Well, I have the time to do so now… should still be a little while until the end of the path.

I feel like… everyone else around me has a plan. They have a goal, something they want to do, something to strive for. They know what they want out of their life, and I wonder if I should be in a similar spot, you know? Maybe I should have a clear plan for the future.

I don't really know where I'm headed to. I'm just following this path, and I was told there'd be something nice at the end, but… is this really where I should be headed to?

Come to think of it, this is… surprisingly fitting for my current situation, too. Did I take a wrong turn? Don't think I've been here before.

Or maybe I'm just further into the path than ever. Charting new ground…

Maybe that's it. Charting new ground.

I can see the sea from here.

You know, it always weirded me out how some people have lived their entire lives without once setting their gaze upon the sea. For the longest time, the endless stretch of blue was the embodiment of the unknown, and maps from that era often painted the sea with monstrous figures. ready to take any sailors to an early, watery grave… but there still was a certain allure to it. A drive to know what lies beyond the horizon…

I'd like to know what is there to be seen, far beyond the endless waves and stormy weather… Blanche often says that "Neither blade nor tempest can assail the serenity of a tranquil mind."

You can probably tell by the ramblings I've been writing down for an hour now, but I don't exactly have a tranquil mind… still, I think I can get by.

It's sprinkling out here, and the path's going downwards.

Maybe it's a storm brewing, I dunno. Never was much of a weatherman.

There's something oddly calming about the smell of mud and wet dirt, the aroma of grass slowly rising through the rain, the could touch of the droplets running down my face, the wind, ever so gentle, taking my hair off of my face…

Makes it seem like my problems aren't that big of a deal, y'know?

The Bay is just ahead… this place is gorgeous.

The sea's constantly shifting in hues of the clearest blue. The waves, painting lines of white upon the shore, come and go rhythmically, dragging pebbles with them. The air smells of salt and sand, and the small rocks rumble under my feet…

Well, what am I waiting for! I've got my beach shorts and I can put my clothes in the pockets of my jacket (man, these worn sack pockets really come in handy), time to go for a swim!

You put your trusty journal in one of your jacket's pockets, hang it on a nearby tree, and sprint towards the ocean, without concern for the water temperature. Your feet make contact with the water, and it's almost as warm as the air around you. You take a few steps in before jumping head first into the water. You open your eyes, observing the pebbles and algae on the sea floor.

You swim back to the surface, smiling as you breathe in. You stare down at the water, and see something glowing…

You take a dive towards the cyan light. You're getting closer… closer…

You touch the strange object on the sea floor, the source of that odd light… and you feel yourself slip.

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