Scenario:Ayer - A Dark Mirage

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A Dark Mirage

Ayer continues to battle every day against his combative other self, Bowman, and grows impatient with his own shortcomings. He is approached by Siegfried during his training one day, and they have a spar.

Ayer: The new world I once sought came crashing down before I knew what hit me.
Ayer: Everything I'd believed to be the truth turned out to be nothing but deceit and lies.
Ayer: I now stand atop an expanse of quicksand, slowly sinking beneath the surface.
Ayer: I swing my fists, unable to forgive myself, but my punches slice through the air without hitting their mark, the sound echoing painfully in my ears.
Bowman: Say, Ayer. How long do you plan to keep moping around?
Ayer: ...
Bowman: Ooh, so scary. C'mon, there's no reason to glare at me like that.
Ayer: Can it. I have nothing to say to you. Get lost.
Bowman: Hahaha! Man, you really know how to cut a guy deep.
Ayer: You're the one who said you were going to take over.
Bowman: Did I really? Can't say I remember.
Ayer: What kind of moron do you take me for!
Bowman: Don't get all worked up—it was just a joke. Whatever happens depends on you.
Ayer: On me?
Bowman: Ayer...
Bowman: I know you're so pent up you're about to burst.
Bowman: Don't you wanna let loose and go wild?
Ayer: You wish!
Bowman: Isn't that the real reason you're training so hard?
Bowman: You're desperate. Ahh, it pains me to see you like this.
Ayer: You're wrong! I...
Bowman: I gotta say, that goody-two-shoes act of yours is a real pain. But whatever.
Bowman: Ayer... You hate yourself the way you are now, don't you? You feel weak and helpless.
Bowman: Aren't I right?
Ayer: Shut up.
Bowman: But don't worry! If you team up with me, it'll be a cinch to take back all that power you had!
Bowman: Admit it. You need me. C'mon, let's have some fun together, just like we used to.
Ayer: Stop it!
A searing pain shoots through Ayer's fist, doubling in intensity.
As his hand throbs, he can feel the ground beneath his feet melting away bit by bit.
Vyrn: ...
Lyria: Ayer? Ayer, are you okay?
Ayer: Huh?
Vyrn and Lyria shake Ayer's shoulders and call out his name repeatedly, until finally he stirs.
Vyrn: Oh! You awake?
Ayer: What's going on? What time is it?
Lyria: It's already midday, Ayer. Are you all right?
Ayer: It's daytime?
Vyrn: You weren't wakin' up, so we got worried and came to check on you. Seemed like you were havin' a crazy nightmare...
Ayer: I see.
Lyria: Um, are you feeling okay?
Ayer: I'm fine. Just need to splash some water on my face.
Lyria: Ayer...
As Ayer wobbles out of the room, (Captain) and company exchange concerned glances.
Vyrn: Think he's okay?
Lyria: He seems exhausted a lot lately...
Vyrn: Guess that guy's startin' to get to him.
Lyria: You mean Bowman?
Ayer: It's nobody's fault. It's my fault for being such an easily manipulated idiot...
Ayer: You better keep watch over me. I should be fine for now, but... eventually I'm...
Ayer: Definitely going to... to...
Lyria: He fell back to sleep. I guess because he's holding two people in there?
Ayer: Snore...
Lyria: Ayer must be fighting furiously. I wish there was some way we could help...
Vyrn: Yeah, but I don't have a clue what we could do.
  1. Act natural.
  2. Distract him.

Choose: Act natural.

Vyrn: Yeah. I guess all we can do is act the same as always.
Lyria: Okay... I'll do my best not to make him sad!
Go to "Continue 1"

Choose: Distract him.

Lyria: Good idea. Let's come up with some ways to help him have fun!

Continue 1

Vyrn: Either way, there's no point rushin' things at times like these.
(Captain) and company smile weakly at each other, hoping to shake off their worries over their inability to find a clear answer.
Ayer: Hup!
Ayer: Hah!
Ayer: Hyah!
Ayer: Phew.
Ayer continues his daily routine of training on the deck of the Grandcypher.
Ayer: This isn't enough...
He lowers his fists and clenches them tightly.
Even after driving himself out of breath, the chilling restlessness continues to linger.
Ayer: What can I do to become stronger?
Siegfried: Training, huh? You sure are a hard worker.
Ayer: Siegfried...
Siegfried: Are you finished for the day?
Ayer: No, I'm going to keep going.
Siegfried: In that case, I'll join you.
Ayer: Huh? You will?
Siegfried: Yeah. A bit of boxing would do me good once in a while. I'd be happy to be your sparring partner.
Siegfried sets his great sword down on the deck.
Ayer: Oh, actually... Wait.
Siegfried: Hm? What is it?
Siegfried: It's been a while so I might not be able to defeat you, but you can be sure I'll put up a fight.
Ayer: No, that's not it... I'm grateful you're willing to spar with me.
Ayer: But I'd rather you fight like you usually do... using your sword.
Ayer: That way I'll be able to focus better.
Siegfried: That makes sense. All right then.
Siegfried: Let's do this.

A Dark Mirage: Scene 2

Conscious of the lurking Bowman, Ayer finds himself unable to focus. The crew decides to take him out on a shopping trip for a change of pace. As Ayer is waiting for the others, he bumps into a former brawler from his days at the arena and gets attacked.

Ayer: Huff... Huff...
Siegfried: Hm...
Siegfried: Ayer, is something still bothering you?
Ayer: No, I just...
Ayer: Sorry. I made a big deal out of staying focused, and then I went and gave that pitiful display...
Siegfried: I'm not trying to criticize you.
Ayer: I know...
Ayer wipes the sweat from his brow with his fist.
Ayer: (There's a chill running down my spine... I can tell he's right there, waiting...)
Ayer: (Letting myself get carried away would be bad news, even in a practice match.)
Ayer: (I don't even want to think about what would happen in a real fight.)
Siegfried: It's not bad to think through things. A little stress can be beneficial.
Siegfried: But don't get hasty. Remember what I told you before?
Siegfried: Well, I guess if I had to say, it would be our difference in perseverance.
Ayer: Perseverance?
Siegfried: Yes. Keep at it no matter what, prepare yourself for things to get better, and wait for opportunity to come knocking.
Siegfried: Of course you never know when it'll come. But life swings between joy and sorrow in a flash, so it's possible to blink and miss your chance.
Siegfried: That's why perseverance is so important.
Ayer: I need to keep persevering until opportunity comes knocking...
Siegfried: Well, I'll be on my way now. See you later, Ayer.
Ayer: Oh, okay... Thanks.
Ayer gives Siegfried an absentminded reply and sinks into his own thoughts once again.
Ayer: (He told me not to be hasty, but I don't think I'm even at that point yet.)
Ayer: (I'm just floundering because I'm unprepared...)
Ayer: Wait, what exactly do I need to be prepared for?
Ayer: (A real battle? Am I planning to fight someone seriously one day?)
Though unable to discern the reason for his desire to become stronger, he is nevertheless disgusted by his weakness.
He had always felt somehow dissatisfied with his idyllic family and the happy moments spent with his friends.
Whenever he pictured himself in such situations, he would be overcome with a sense of uneasiness and impatience.
Ayer: (Why exactly do I want to become stronger?)
Ayer: That's what I can't figure out.
The words are carried away by the wind, heard by no one.
Jessica: Hehe. That certainly would be surprising.
Lyria: Right? Silly Vyrn...
Vyrn: Hey! Are you sayin' it was my fault?
Vyrn: What do you think, Ayer?
Ayer: ...
Jessica: Ayer, were you listening?
Ayer: Huh? Oh, yeah...
Jessica: Ayer...
In order to help Ayer unwind, (Captain) and company have brought him with them into town on a shopping trip.
But Ayer's expression remains downcast, his mind elsewhere.
Lyria: Um...
Lyria: Why don't we take a look in that shop?
Lyria chimes in as though trying to lighten the mood, and (Captain) nods in response.
Lyria: Let's go, Jessica!
Jessica: Oh—wait, Lyria!
Come with us, Ayer.
Ayer: I'll pass. You guys go ahead. I'll wait here.
Vyrn: Are you feelin' sleepy, Ayer?
Ayer: Nah, I'm fine. Don't worry about me.
Jessica: Well, if you're sure... Wait right here then. Don't run off on your own, okay?
Ayer: I know, I know. I'm not a little kid.
Jessica: Hehe. That's true. Okay, we'll be right back.
Ayer: Sigh...
Now alone, Ayer leans against a wall in view of the shop Jessica and the others are in.
It's true that he doesn't feel sleepy. However, his body feels chilled to the core, making it too much effort just to move and think.
Bowman: Ugh, I'm so booored. I'm sick of this charade. Aren't you, Ayer?
Ayer: ...!
Ayer: (I can feel him growing stronger with every day that passes. At this rate, he really is going to take over. I have to do something...)
???: Well, if it isn't Ayer!
Ayer: Huh?
???: Whaddya know? Long time no see, Ayer.
Ayer: You're...
When he turns, Ayer sees a man who seems vaguely familiar.
???: I gotta say, this isn't the warm welcome I was expecting. Don't tell me you don't remember me.
???: We used to face each other in the underground fighting arena.
Ayer: What do you want?
Former Brawler: Heh. Well, it's not something I'm keen on discussing in the middle of the street. Follow me.
Former Brawler: So you managed to escape that mass arrest too, eh? Guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Ayer: ...
Former Brawler: Cold as always, I see. Anyway, I'm lucky to have bumped into you here.
Ayer: If you have something to say, then spit it out. I don't have time for this.
Former Brawler: Now, now, just hear me out. I have a feeling this'll interest you.
Ignoring Ayer's obvious displeasure, the man drapes his arm around Ayer's shoulders in an overly familiar manner.
Former Brawler: How would you like to make it big with that skill of yours again?
Ayer: What?
Former Brawler: Things with the arena have just about blown over, so I was thinking about starting up some more underground fights.
Former Brawler: They wouldn't be on the scale of the arena at first, of course...
Former Brawler: But I bet we could put on a pretty great show with you involved.
Ayer: No thanks. Ask somebody else.
Former Brawler: Don't be like that. With that crazy strength of yours, it'd be a waste for you not to fight.
Former Brawler: Plus you've got that gap between your appearance and strength going for you.
Former Brawler: You were born to fight in an arena.
Ayer: Knock it off! Let go!
Ayer violently shakes the man's arm off his shoulders.
Former Brawler: Hey!
Ayer: I'm not interested. I have no intention of ever fighting in an arena again.
Ayer: So beat it!
Former Brawler: Huh? We were having a nice conversation, and then you go and start mouthing off. You've got a lot of nerve, kid.
Former Brawler: Do you seriously think you can go back to living in the real world? Huh?
Ayer: ...
Former Brawler: Anyway, now that I've told you my plan, I won't be leaving empty-handed!

A Dark Mirage: Scene 3

The brawler and his friends gang up on Ayer, who refuses to fight in fear that Bowman might show himself. Jessica and Lyria arrive at the scene and are about to become the brawlers' new targets when Ayer finally gives in to his combative self.

Ayer: Huff... Huff...
Ayer: (At this level... I can still restrain myself!)
Ayer: Had enough? Now get lost!
Former Brawler: You really are strong, Ayer. I'm telling you, it's a waste not to use that strength.
Former Brawler: Don't you think, guys?
Ayer: ...!
Former Brawler: We're not going anywhere until you agree to cooperate. Put those fists up, Ayer.
Ayer: Argh!
Finding himself suddenly surrounded, Ayer instinctively clenches his fists to fight back. But then he hesitates, his hands trembling.
Ayer: (I won't be able to control myself if I take on this many people!)
Ayer: Ngh!
A chill run downs Ayer's spine like a cold hand tracing his back, and his knees buckle.
Former Brawler: C'mon, what's wrong? You just gonna sit back and let us pummel you?
Ayer: (This is bad... I can feel my consciousness fading...)
Overcome with drowsiness even as he is struck with countless relentless blows, Ayer crouches onto the ground.
Former Brawler: You look pathetic, kid! Guess I had you pegged wrong all along—I didn't realize you were such a coward!
Ayer: Ugh...
Ayer: (I must look like such a loser. But even so...)
Ayer: (It's better than letting Bowman take the reins. But I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open...)
On the verge of losing consciousness, Ayer groans in pain as he tastes blood from the corner of his mouth.
Jessica: Ayer!
Ayer: ...!
The fog in his mind clears instantly as he hears a familiar voice.
Jessica: What's the meaning of this!
Grimacing from the pain he can suddenly feel all too clearly, Ayer raises his head to see his sister Jessica staring into the alley in shock.
Lyria: Ayer?
Lyria pops out from behind Jessica.
Ayer: No... Don't get involved!
Jessica: What do you scoundrels think you're doing?
Former Brawler: Huh? Who are you supposed to be? One of Ayer's buddies?
Ayer: Hey, wait!
Ayer: Urgh!
As Ayer attempts to pull himself off the ground, the men surrounding him dig their heels into his back, preventing him from rising.
Former Brawler: Why don't you just lie there and take a nice nap?
Lyria: Ayer!
Jessica: Stop this nonsense! Get away from Ayer!
Former Brawler: Now, now, settle down, missy. Y'know, you two are pretty cute.
Jessica: Don't touch me!
Jessica: Ayer!
Former Brawler: Whoa now! You oughta calm down if you know what's good for you.
Lyria: Eek!
Ayer: Leave them alone!
Hey, what happened to (Captain)?
Lyria: (Captain) isn't with us. We split up to look for you.
Ayer: Tch...
Former Brawler: Come on, quit ignoring us. Let's all get to know each other better. Whaddya say?
Former Brawler: Ayer, is this cutie the one who stole your backbone and turned you into a coward?
Ayer: Shut up... Get away from them!
Former Brawler: That must've been nice... How about you let us join in?
Ayer: No! Get away!
Ayer: (My head feels like it's about to burst...)
Filled with rage and desperation interspersed with bouts of conflicting drowsiness, Ayer's head pounds with pain.
Ayer: (It's no use... I'm losing control...)
With Ayer still unable to move, Jessica is the one to break the deadlock.
Jessica: Out of my way!
Jessica: I don't know who you people are, but do you really expect me to let this continue?
Former Brawler: I gotta say, I wish you'd keep that pretty little mouth shut. Cheeky girls aren't my type.
The man grabs Jessica's hair and yanks it forcefully.
Jessica: Eek!
Ayer: You bastard!
Ayer: Aaargh!
Flashes of red and white dance before Ayer's eyes, flooding his mind until he can't think straight.
Ayer: You... filthy, rotten scum!
Former Brawler: Ngh... Gyah!
Jessica: Ayer?
Lyria: Ayer!
Former Brawler: No... Stooop!
The desperate cries and shouts of confusion fade away until they seem to be coming from far in the distance.

A Dark Mirage: Scene 4

With the brawlers defeated, the crew is back at the ship. However, Ayer is unable to win against Bowman in his own mind. Bowman takes control of Ayer's body, vowing to take care of things from here on.

Vyrn: Man, of all the things to happen when we weren't around.
After regrouping, (Captain) and company have arrived back at the Grandcypher.
Vyrn: Sounds like things got pretty dicey back there.
(Captain) apologizes to Lyria for leaving her side.
Lyria: It's not your fault, (Captain)!
Lyria: And besides...
Lyria: Ayer was there to save us! I can't believe he was able to fight so many opponents at once—it was amazing!
Vyrn: Haha! You really are strong, Ayer!
Bowman: It was no big deal. Those guys were a bunch of pushovers.
Lyria: How are your injuries?
Bowman: This is nothing! In fact, I'm feeling better than ever.
Vyrn: You've been awful sleepy-lookin' lately. Are you over that now too?
Bowman: Yeah, that won't be a problem anymore. I'm good as new.
Lyria: Thank goodness. We've been really worried about you. Right, Jessica?
Jessica: Yes. Very much so.
Jessica stares at Ayer's—Bowman's—face as though searching for something.
Bowman: ...
Jessica: Say, Ayer...
Bowman: Yeah? What's up, Sis?
Jessica: Never mind. It's nothing.
Bowman: Hahaha! So? How're you feeling, Ayer?
Ayer: You bastard...
Bowman: Glare all you want, but you can't scare me anymore.
Bowman: Those half-baked efforts of yours turned out pretty crappy, didn't they, Ayer?
Ayer: Half-baked?
Bowman: Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Bowman: What were you even trying to do back there?
Ayer: What do you mean? I just—
Bowman: Even though you rejected me, you still relied on power.
Bowman: And now I'm in control—all because you tried to protect those ridiculous bonds of yours instead of just giving them up.
Bowman: Hah! What a joke!
Ayer: ...
Bowman: And you were worrying about some pretty stupid stuff too, weren't you?
Bowman: Like what you were using your power for or something.
Ayer: What's it to you?
Bowman: You really are an idiot, you know that?
Bowman: Do you need a reason to feel hungry or sleepy?
Ayer: Well...
Bowman: It's all the same, Ayer.
Bowman: Craving power and conflict—it's just instinct!
Bowman: You don't need a fancy reason. Just forget about all that and give in to your desires!
Ayer: ...
Bowman: But don't worry.
Bowman: I'll punch a hole right through all that crap and simplify things for you.
Ayer: No!
Bowman: Huh?
Ayer: I don't know what you're up to, but I won't let you have your way!
Bowman: Ayer. Say all you want, but you know as well as I do that you can't stop me.
Ayer: Ugh!
Bowman: Ooh, you wanna have a go? I'm in! Feels right, doesn't it?
Ayer: Shut up!
Ayer and Bowman swing their fists wildly at each other, as though vying for survival.
Bowman: C'mon, Ayer! You gotta be faster than that to keep up with me!
Ayer: Cut it... out!
Bowman: Hahahaha! Too weak!
Ayer: Ngh!
In the face of Bowman's fierce attacks, Ayer is the first to be brought to his knees.
Bowman: Looks like I win. No surprise there.
Ayer: Argh!
Bowman: Now, you just sit back and watch. I'll take care of everything.
Bowman grins confidently, knowing full well that Ayer is powerless to stop him.