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Open worm your way outta this one

Discussion in 'Dread Wastes' started by Yang Xiao Long, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    22
    October 3rd
    warning: there will be sand worms


    Strangely enough, when Yang lifted the relic she felt as if a great weight fell from her shoulders. Her knees went weak, and she sank to her knees in the sand.

    It wasn't a relief.

    Nearly her entire life, Yang had searched for her mother. At one point that search had consumed her enough that she'd nearly gotten herself and Ruby killed for her own single-mindedness. She'd been driven by it, defined by it. She'd always imagined that her mother was some great hero, forced to leave her family to keep them safe while she fought against the world's evil. She'd thought that when she found Raven Branwen there would be tears of relief, of joy, of reunion.

    Not tears of anger. Hurt. Betrayal.

    A shaky breath of air was expelled from her lungs, pushing the disappointment and hurt with it. Her hand tightened on the relic's golden handle, a fresh sense of resolve filling her. Somewhere in the back of her mind Yang knew that despite everything her team and family had been through, this was only the beginning. They'd have to be stronger now than ever. They were stronger than they'd ever been, but they still had a long way to go.

    A faint pressure around her ankles drew Yang's attention, and a scowl furrowed her brow at the sight of the black vines curling around her boots. With a startled yell she leaped to her feet, her weight tipping slightly to the left without her right arm to balance her. She managed to right herself and kick the vines away from her. Okay, yeah. It was definitely time to leave. Yang turned back to the door that led back into Haven Academy only to freeze, her violet eyes widening.

    The door was gone.

    Though she knew it wasn't behind her or to either side of her, Yang found herself turning a couple of slow circles anyway. Like she couldn't quite believe it. Like maybe if she spun around a few times it'd... pop back up?

    "Uh-" She stopped, her hand falling to her side with the relic half-dangling from her fingers. "Mom? Any chance you're still... there?" Raven could just open the door again, right?

    Right?

    Yang didn't notice the way the sand began to shift and churn behind her.
     
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  2. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
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    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    The Dread Wastes provided a whole host of challenges for Quirrel, challenges that made it by far the most exciting part of the new Pandora in his eyes. He relished the opportunity to journey aimlessly through such a hostile environment. But one part of it he despised was the sand.

    Sand. Beating at his shell whenever the wind picked up. Slowing him down with the uneven footing it provided. Bringing up memories of the most miserable journey he had ever made. But the bug had no choice but to endure his least favored type of terrain in order to see everything this region had to offer. But it wasn't any of the difficulties it posed that annoyed him the most. Quirrel's primary problem with sand was that it was plain boring! Aside from the rare interesting find, nothing broke up the tedium. Anything to catch his attention would be fine.

    Eventually he got his wish. Noticing signs of predators was old hat for the elderly beetle at this point in his life. From the quiet chittering of a hungry ant to the brief shimmer of a strand of spider silk in the air... to the subtle vibrations of something moving beneath the ground. "Sandworm," he muttered under his breath. Behind the expressionless white mask, the bug's eyes began scanning the environment around him for signs of the creature surfacing.

    He had killed a sandworm once, last winter, but he had help back then. It would be prudent to just try to head directly away from the beast. Playing it safe kept him alive. But just when he had settled on a direction, Quirrel saw a human. A human who he could have sworn wasn't there when he had last looked that way. A human who was currently facing away from the site where a sandworm would emerge.

    There wasn't a moment of hesitation before the beetle's legs began to move on their own. Even with the sand making it a bit more difficult to run, he still was fast enough for the human eye to struggle following. But that didn't guarantee he'd get there before the worm emerged. "Run!" he called out as he raced towards her, a simple but clear instruction.
     
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  3. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    22
    Just as the unfamiliar voice rang out, Yang felt the ground shift and heave beneath her feet. A yellow glow flared around her body as she bent her knees and then leaped forward, a sharp crack of energy following as she used her Aura to propel her farther than what should have been possible. She whirled in midair so that when she landed she was facing her assailant, and her eyes widened to see that where she'd been standing a split second before the ground had disappeared, and in its place was the writhing head and body of a giant worm.

    A worm with teeth. A lot of teeth. She'd never seen a Grimm like it.

    And there, racing straight for her, a giant bug wielding a... sword? The bone mask made her think Grimm but he'd shouted at her, and Grimm didn't wield weapons or speak as far as she knew. A gravelly roar from the worm tore Yang's attention back to it. For now, she'd focus on the obvious and immediate threat. A fierce grin flashed across her lips - more a baring of teeth than anything else. She watched as the worm drew itself up to strike, and rather than running away she began to sprint toward it. The creature dove for her with a screech, its round, toothy mouth gaping wide. Yang heaved the relic into the air and then pointed her fist for the monster's face and fired off three successive shots of Aura-propelled projectiles. With yellow flashes of light they exploded against the worm's face and forced it to turn aside - toward the giant beetle running for them.

    Yang took the moment of reprieve to catch the relic as it fell, and began to circle around behind the worm as it focused its attention on the sword-wielding bug. If she could get into the right position, she'd try to run straight up its back and shoot it right in the back of its ugly head.

     
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  4. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    Though it hadn't caught his attention before, what with the more pressing matter of an impending sandworm attack, the maneuver the woman had to do with tossing up an object and then shooting with the freed hand made it clear she only had one hand to work with. Very impressive projectiles, if they were able to turn a beast of this nature away. Unfortunately, this shifted the worm's attention to him.

    Not that Quirrel was concerned about being a target. While they were brutally powerful predators, sandworms weren't viewed as apex predators by the beetle's kind. Spiders took that spot, because they had cunning and finesse on top of raw power. A spider could come up with a plan to combat overwhelming speed. A brainless sandworm could not. And unfortunately for this monster, Quirrel was fast.

    Decades upon decades of experience guided his actions. The beetles chitinous legs bent slightly as he stood perfectly still, waiting for the worm to come right at him. It lacked the brains to hesitate, the ability to notice he wasn't afraid. Sandworm's were too stupid to do anything other than ambush and, if that failed, attack mindlessly. They were like that because, in most cases, it worked. They had no need to evolve more complex plans because the vast majority of prey would fall in the initial ambush, and the vast majority of those who didn't would either die or run away in response to the following attack. And that's how Quirrel knew exactly what to expect.

    As the sandworm moved to slam its mouth down onto the bug, he waited. He waited until the last possible moment before it would have all been over, and then he jumped. The same legs that let him move faster than the human eye propelled him clear of the giant beast's head in an instant. A creature of this size wasn't able to attack so quickly, leaving the moment after a failed blow as the perfect opportunity to strike.

    It was unfortunate that the bug's trusty nail was not the ideal weapon to harm such a durable beast. The skin was too thick and the innards to redundant for a single strike with his weapon to be effective... but he could make it hurt. Gravity did its job, bringing Quirrel down onto the worm's body with his nail pointed straight downwards. Probably enough force to puncture, though the beetle didn't stick around to inspect the possible wound.

    He hopped off the wriggling body and began to make some distance again. The lady's weapon seemed more suited to hurting the sandworm, so Quirrel decided to stick to being a distraction.
     
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  5. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    22

    For a second she thought the bug was a goner as the worm came crashing down mouth-first on the spot where the thing has been. But in the next moment the over-sized insect was falling on top of it, stabbing that strange, thin sword down through its skin.

    It seemed to make the worm angry more than anything. The monster shook its head and then dove after the insect again. Yang's movement and ability to fight was seriously hampered by the relic. She needed to make her strikes count, she needed this fight to be over as quickly as possible because the longer it went on, the greater the risk of breaking or losing the lamp. And that was not something Yang wanted to be responsible for. The worm seemed to have forgotten about her momentarily as it focused on the insect. She waited until it arched back for another strike and then acted, darting forward and running straight up the creature's back. The flesh was dry and hard, and she could tell from the way it felt under her boots that its skin doubled as its armor. The thing didn't even seem to feel her until she reached its head. She leaped sideways off of it, managed to turn so her fist pointed at the worm without having to drop the relic. She fired again, the projectiles exploding against it and leaving blackened marks behind. The force of the shots pushed her diagonally through the air and she landed on her feet, skidding sideways theough the sand.

    This time the worm followed, though. She just barely managed to tuck and roll away from its gaping jaws as they descended on her. Even her gauntlet wasn't doing much to break through that tough exterior, but Yang was starting to get an idea. A possibly stupid idea that would end with her as worm-food... but she needed the relic somewhere safe and there was only one real option for that.

    The bug could speak, and it'd warned her about the worm so... that meant it was friendly, right? Yang began to circle around to the beetle as the worm recovered from its last strike. It didn't take her long to reach the beetle's side. "I need you to hang onto this for a minute," she said, and held out the relic by one handle. "I need my arm free. I'm gonna draw it off, okay? I have an insane and possibly stupid idea that might get us both killed, but it'll be epic if it works!" That was the bright side, right?

    Before them the worm seemed to have regained its senses and had turned toward them again, and while Yang couldn't really decipher worm body language, she got the impression that the thing was angry. Very angry.
     
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  6. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    This really was troublesome. While this sandworm's armor was nothing compared to the variants back in Quirrel's world, which were so tough that there were no recorded cases of a weapon damaging their exterior, it still was impressive. His own weapon, reliable as it was, had not been made to combat opponents like this, and the one-armed girl's strange gauntlet was only marginally more effective.

    To put it more simply, this was the kind of fight that Quirrel would normally have run from. Too bad his conscience wouldn't let him leave the human to fight alone. Not very many options available here. A protracted battle might end in the worm's death, but a battle of attrition against a foe that only needed to get a single hit in to kill was, to severely understate the matter, not ideal.

    While he considered the situation, looking for a solution, the stranger used the safe moments after the enemy's last attack to pitch an idea. Hold onto the item to free up her hand... which would allow her to pull off some sort of plan... a plan she admitted was definitely insane and possibly stupid. There was only one incredibly insane and borderline stupid method to kill a sandworm that came to mind.

    Still, he didn't have any plans. "Alright, I'll hold onto it then," the beetle agreed, reaching out his free hand to grab the other handle. "Just so you know, while the inside of a worm tends to be more vulnerable, capitalizing on that weakness doesn't tend to end well." He gave the warning casually, sounding completely unworried. Looked like the worm was getting ready to attack again. "Well, risks need to be taken. I wish you luck."
     
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  7. Yang Xiao Long

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    22

    She tried not to focus on the fact that a bug was talking to her and instead kept her gaze fixed on the worm. Her only answer to his words of caution was a smirk just this side of smug. As long as her aim wasn't off she'd be fine. It might be a little tricky with just one arm but that meant she'd have to make the shots count. The worm hadn't hit her yet, which meant she still had full use of her Aura. And her Semblance.

    Yeah, she had this. Besides, she'd faced way worse than a sandworm in the past few months.

    As the creature drew itself up she darted off, moving in a wide circle away from the beetle - and the relic - and firing off several shots from her gauntlet to draw the worm's attention. She could feel the adrenaline humming through her blood. It'd been a while since she'd had a good fight and despite the absurdity of her situation, Yang was enjoying herself immensely.

    With a shuddering hiss, the worm reared back and then vaulted forward and down. This time Yang let it come, her knees bent and her hand curled into a fist as she waited for her moment. As the creature descended she could see right down its throat, past that initial ring of teeth to more teeth. It had them all down its gullet. With a fierce yell, Yang jumped up to meet the monster, her fist extended straight out above her. Her Aura flared brightly as she bolstered it to protect herself from those wicked teeth. She waited until her entire body was inside its mouth because she knew hitting it on the outer edge of that lethal cavern wouldn't be enough.

    "Eat this!!" Yang snarled, and channeled her Aura through the gauntlet with as much force as she could muster.

    From the outside it might look for all the world like she was a goner. The worm's mouth crashed down on the place she'd been and it slowly began to lift its head back up, turning again toward Quirrel. But then it jerked to a stop, several muffled explosions rocking through the top half of its body. It shuddered and writhed in pain and then abruptly its entire body went rigid and it collapsed in the sand. Smoke drifted out of its mouth, bringing the smell of charred and rotten meat with it.

    Yang reemerged, stumbling over its teeth and going to her knees in the sand as exhaustion washed over her.
     
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  8. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    From the second she told Quirrel that she was going to try an insane idea, the beetle knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the plan was to get eaten. A strategy common enough in his world's history for dealing with hardy giant monsters, but back home the general assumption was that it was a suicide attack. Only the strongest or luckiest could survive this tactic.

    But he had been in Pandora long enough to know not to apply common sense. As the mouth engulfed the girl, Quirrel watched patiently. These next few moments would tell him the success of this foolish strategy. It had already decided to target him, but switching targets made sense when things inside of a sand worm's mouth tended to be dead.

    And then it was over. The soft tissues lining the monster's insides were clearly no match for overwhelming firepower. The elderly beetle stayed cautious, if only because the worm's death throes might have lead to him getting crushed, but that turned out to not be a concern. As the smoke settled, so to speak, Yang left the belly of the beast looking tired, but none the worse for wear.

    He made his way over to her, relic still in hand. "Well, congratulations are in order. Killing an apex predator of the Dread Wastes is no small feat. I only wish I had the means to contribute more," the bug told her pleasantly, a small smile formed behind his mask. This was why he had to get stronger, because there wasn't always going to be someone else he could lean on. It served as a good lesson to the bug.

    "Anyways, that's not the position of a victor and staying around here to rest isn't a good idea. Who knows what scavengers might be drawn here by the feast you just left for them? Here, I'll give you a han... I'll help you up," Quirrel offered, coughing uncomfortably at how he almost said he'd give a hand to someone with only one. He stabbed his nail into the sand and released it, freeing his left hand. Then he extended it out for her to grab onto, and would help her up if it was taken.
     
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  9. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    22

    A few deep breaths helped steady her, and slowly she felt some of her strength return as her Aura gradually replenished itself. She hadn't actually had to use her Semblance, which was a blessing in itself because it would have taken her longer to recover. The beetle approached and began to speak and for a moment Yang could only stare. What was it? He? She thought it sounded like a he, but how did one tell?

    "What are you?" she blurted, not even noticing the unwitting pun he'd nearly made when he reached down to help her up. She took his hand out of reflex and stood, slowly withdrawing her hand and frowning down at his as she reached out to take the relic back. "Did Professor Ozpin do this?" She gestured vaguely at the insect's body.

    She could only assume he was a human who'd shapeshifted into a bug, much like her mother and uncle could change into birds. If so, what was the point? He was too big to be an effective spy, unless he could control his size, too. And she hadn't seen him use his Aura at all during the battle. It didn't even occur to Yang that he might not have on. Everything that had a soul had an Aura where she was from - even Zwei - and as far as Yang knew she was still in Remnant.

    Just... somewhere that wasn't Haven Academy. She'd really like to get back as soon as possible. The longer she was out here alone and with the relic, the more tense she felt. Like a rabbit caught out in the open with a hawk circling overhead.
     
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  10. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    It seemed that with the threat gone this conversation was heading into territory Quirrel had traveled many times in the past. Humans sometimes seemed completely incapable of accepting his existence at face value. A small, almost inaudible, sigh escaped the beetle's mouth.

    He handed over the relic without any resistance and picked up his nail from the ground before responding at all. "A bug. Or, if you want to be more exact, I'm a beetle," Quirrel finally answered after a few moments. His tone was light, as if he knew that was not the answer she was looking for. Bit strange of her to think he was some professor's creation. "And I've been this way since the day I hatched. However long ago that might have been."

    Honestly, it was a strange assumption to make. In the world of Pandora, with its infinite possibilities, her first guess was that the talking bug was someone's doing rather than it just being another odd entity dragged into the box? "If you don't mind, could you tell me why you're here?" the insect inquired, a hint of suspicion present in his voice. There was one possibility that came to mind, one that, if true, would make this conversation way more complicated.
     
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  11. Yang Xiao Long

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    What he said... what he claimed to be, it really wasn't computing. She had the impulse to slant a sideways, skeptical glance at Ruby or Weiss or Blake except... none of them were here. So she settled for screwing up her nose and frowning as she tried to make sense of the fact that she was apparently talking to a giant, sentient bug. She shifted the relic so it was under her arm and held it tightly against her body.

    '...could you tell me why you're here?'

    "Uhh-" Yang shifted her weight and glanced around, then back to the bug. "I don't even know where here is," she finally said, and twirled around once in a gesture of exasperation, one boot dragging through the sand and then flinging some of it up into the air as if that would solve everything. When she'd turned back around to face Quirrel there was a frustrated scowl on her face. "There's supposed to be a door! Back into-- back to where I was!" She let out a huff, directing the air upwards to blow her bangs out of her eyes.

    "You haven't seen a door, have you?" It was a long-shot, but...
     
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  12. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    Moving on from the practically obligatory bit where he needed to confirm that he was, in fact, exactly what he looked like, the situation had become clear. Unfortunately, this seemed to be a new arrival into the box. That did explain things, but also meant that the conversation was probably about to get very heavy.

    Now, this was for from the first time that Quirrel had to explain Pandora to a newcomer. In fact, it seemed like half the people he met were freshly ripped from their homes. That didn't make it any simpler to talk about, though. Yet another sigh left the bug's mouth as he adjusted his hat-mask slightly.

    "No doors here, I'm afraid," the bug replied, shaking his head slightly. "Wouldn't be a door that brought you here either, unless things changed a bit after... well, that doesn't matter." Quirrel took a second to scan the horizon for any trouble before continuing. "If things still work the way they used to, it would have been black vines. They latch onto you, and then the next thing you know you're somewhere different."

    Every time this happened, a different approach had to be used. There was no right way to tell someone that they had been ripped away from all they cared about, but there were certainly many wrong ways to go about it. "These are the Dread Wastes. One region in the world of Pandora," Quirrel explained, finally just getting to the point. "Which is to say, this is another world. It pains me to say this, but you're a long way from home."
     
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  13. Yang Xiao Long

    Posts:
    22

    There had been vines. She'd thought they were strange but there hadn't been a lot of time for her to think much more than that. How could vines do all of this? It didn't make much sense. In fact most of what the bug said was sounding pretty crazy. There was a wry twist of her lips as he finished speaking.

    "I've been a long way from home for months," she replied, and pulled her sunglasses from the top of her head to settle them over her eyes. Dread Wastes wasn't exactly a friendly name, though. She thought maybe the sandworm made sense now. "So how do I get out of this desert?" There were people she had to find... somehow. It wasn't quite computing that this wasn't just a different part of Remnant or even some pocket dimension that Professor Ozpin's magic had created to store the relic. It still felt like she'd be able to get back. She just had to get somewhere... else. Somewhere that wasn't all sand and giant, voracious worms.

    There was a pause, and then she added: "I'm Yang." She kept thinking of him as the bug in her head, and that didn't really feel right given the fact that he was clearly not only sentient, but intelligent.
     
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  14. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    He didn't hear any denial, but there was also a lack of any normal reactions. Where were the inquiries into how to get back home? They always asked for that, it was almost a staple. Only exception were people who didn't have anything to go back to, but Yang already expressed a desire to return.

    "Longer way from home than before, then," Quirrel corrected himself, trying to fully express the magnitude of separation that being trapped in Pandora imposed. "I've been on many a journey, but none of them have taken me farther from my birthplace than this one." It bothered him, almost, to see such a simple reaction.

    Still, he could at least answer her other question. "Well, there are several directions to leave the desert, hard to say which one would take the least time though," the beetle responded. His free hand reached up into his hat-mask and pulled off a map taped to the underside. One of many extra precautions he had taken. He opened it up and showed the map to her. "I apologize, truly detailed maps of a world as inconsistent as Pandora aren't possible." A chitinous finger pointed to their general area. "This is just an approximation, but it's better than nothing." He'd hand it over to her if she tried to grab it.

    "And my name is Quirrel. Pleasure to make your acquaintance, despite the circumstances."
     
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  15. Yang Xiao Long

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    She continued to assume that this was magic of Professor Ozpin's doing. It was the most logical thing - at least in her mind. While magic existed in Yang's world she'd never heard of portals that took people to different dimensions or realities. It wasn't something she even considered. At least, not until she stepped forward to get a look at the map that the bug - Quirrel - held out to her. She didn't take it from him largely because the Relic was currently being held in her one hand. She stared at it for a long moment. It was so... big. Why would Ozpin have made such a detailed hiding place for the Relic? Especially when the Relic itself had been just inside the door.

    It made no sense.

    "What's this?" She shifted the Relic so it was held under her arm and then pointed to the word Pandopolis, the place that seemed to be at the center of everything. It must be important, if everything else seemed to branch out from it. Maybe she'd find more answers there. Or a door. She glanced around as if to make sure the door hadn't reappeared while she was fighting a giant sandworm. It was still nowhere to be found. Yang was starting to realize that her situation might be more complex than she'd realized.
     
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  16. Quirrel

    Quirrel Hollow Knight

    Posts:
    558
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Explorer
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Beetle
    Age:
    Very old
    Alignment:
    Neutral Good
    Directory:
    link
    The map was borderline useless to Quirrel, with the relatively simple information being for the most part easy to remember, but it did help when trying to convince a newcomer that the situation was exactly as he described it. Something about it made the explanation a bit more convincing. Though just from how Yang kept looking around from time to time, it seemed like she still might be holding hope for the door she mentioned.

    "Pandopolis? It's a hub of sorts. Though the smallest region by far, being in the middle of everything tends to make a place important," the beetle replied, his tone matter-of-fact. "I know it better from back when it was Pandora Town, but that's neither here nor there."

    Only a month ago and he'd have been able to give detailed information on anywhere in the box. As much as Quirrel appreciated having an entirely new world to explore, it unfortunately rendered his prior knowledge practically moot. "Are you planning on going there?" he inquired.