Trials of Cassiel: After Work at LiveLeg

"There was a shuzload of it, okay?" Cassiel murmured back, seeming annoyed he hadn't managed to get anything special after pushing his luck even further with his boss. His boss was just too efficient to need to stretch the band out, unfortunately. He did not bother mentioning the stain settling in, because his intent had never been for her to actually clean it in the first place.

The next sequence or events only made him more cross, as he tried to discern the meaning of the boss's response. His first impression was not good; it sounded like, as welcome as the sexy tease had been, it wasn't a sign of anything more to come. His boss was just a bit of an airhead, maybe.

Then again, she had just said she would like to have some fun... with a guy like him... just without getting her clothes dirty... and that sometimes she liked to do it in her office? Cassiel wondered if it was safe to let his mind wander again or if he was just going to end up getting embarrassed again. He decided to proceed slowly and carefully.

Something distracting him at work? You could certainly say that he would like her to take care of it. The question was whether she actually was saying that or whether it was his own wishful thinking. He pursed his lips and tapped his hand up and down on the counter, trying to decide what the safe way to proceed was.

Finally, he came to a decision. He would fake it and hold his cards close to his chest for now. "Yeah, what's distracting me is actually those pants you got on. You better get out of 'em," he announced, perhaps alarmingly, before clarifying, "cause you got a stain on 'em. It soaked in before you wet it, I guess. You got some other ones back in your office? I can come wit'chu, maybe get a look at them games you talkin' about," he suggested, sounding like a guy who was just really eager to goof off instead of working, or perhaps especially enthusiastic about Tutoria games.
At first, Kelsy had been convinced she needed to take Cassiel’s words in stride… Then, another incident had made her believe she’d come to a dangerous conclusion and needed to treat them with immediate urgency. That had led to let another awkward slip-up, however. As a result, this time, Kelsy simply kept her smile even and waited, clearly indicating she expected Cassiel to keep talking and explain why she ought to remove her pants. Her usual smile flattened as she heard his explanation. ”Rarely have I devoted so much effort to such a failed effort as simply cleaning this stain,” she thought to herself. ”Completely unacceptable.” If Cassiel could hear those words, he’d probably be fearing for his neck again, but the sad truth was Kelsy was giving him a huge amount of slack in his leash as her designated gaming buddy. As such, she wasn’t correctly identifying his role in it setting.

Nonetheless, she grew pensive, crossing her arms and tapping her foot. “Cassiel, while ordinarily I’d be happy to invite you up so we could enjoy the talk of Tutoria over the Trials themselves, aren’t we limited by the spot we’ve jacked in? We can’t simply leave our PETs here, even if the office is empty, and we can’t afford to jack our Navis out to relocate. In any case, we’re the only two around and it’s not like I can do anything about the stain until I get home, even if I change. There’s no harm in my weathering it out and simply changing when I leave the office.”

Kelsy had said all this as a more or less responsible adult, and had probably done a lot to correct Cassiel’s mistaken impression. Despite that, she was pouting a bit, sitting at her PET with her chin on her hand and wondering why QuestMan was taking so long to get to a heroic portion of his adventure. She wouldn’t admit as much, but when Cassiel had accepted, she’d really been hoping to take him up on his offer to play games in her office. To her, it seemed like the perfect way to break the ice.

“I’ve got it!” Kelsy suddenly cried, pounding a fist in her hand. “I can bring all of the things for the games I play in my office down here. You know, the cords and plugs!” She leaned over to grab her bag from the floor before he could interject, now muttering to herself under her breath: “… the console itself, and a couple of controllers…” Looking at him again with a winking smile, she added, “I even have a novelty one that vibrates, though that has nothing to do with Tutoria… I bet you never would have thought your boss would be sitting on a surprise like that in her office, hm?”

Rising with a giggle, Kelsy headed to the elevator again. “Cassiel, why don’t you use this time to say hello to QuestMan and bond with him a bit? Perhaps the two of you can share some wisdom with each other. I’ll be straight back!” Cassiel’s boss sprinted across the office, still mostly barefoot and heedless of the stain she’d been fussing about a moment ago, leaving Cassiel alone with their PETs. At the very least, Kelsy had done Cassiel the service of leaving her PET's view on QuestMan,... although he still seemed to be in the middle of something, he could probably speak and respond without voice, if that was something Cassiel cared about doing.
"Ah, dammit. Son of a biltz," Cassiel swore under his breath, wishing away Tutoria for a moment so that he wouldn't be chained to this room of cubicles all day, before mentally conceding that without her, his plan to save his job couldn't really proceed in the first place. He ended up sulking a bit as well, keeping his hands cupped at his waist and staring at the floor with a sour frown.

He nearly jumped when he heard the sound of fist hitting flesh, partially because he was still expecting that his boss would realize he had gotten carried away just now... not that he was particularly afraid of the punch or slap, but more, the firing that may soon follow it. He ended up watching her butt again as she explained her plan to bring the gaming console to them, so they could play those games he'd been so interested in. "Uh huh, yeah. Plugs and vibrating... sittin' on em... wait, what?" he asked, screwing up his eyes and raising one eyebrow. "Oh oh OH! The controller. Yeah, uh, bring 'em down. Yeah, who'da thunk..."

As Cassiel was again left alone, about the last thing he wanted to do was share some of his wisdom with QuestMan (after all, Tutoria did plenty of that already). He instead first focused on what he could do to make his plan better, either from a saving his job aspect or a making his scenario sexier aspect. He pictured the moments to come, playing kiddy games with his boss. These games would have no guns or anything he would recognize. In fact, they might not even have full-direction joysticks. In fact...

"Aaaaw, shuz," he swore under his breath, suddenly realizing that he would be instantly exposed if Kelsie learned that her gaming buddy had never held one of these old-fashioned controllers before. Not only that, but he only had the most basic idea of how the game was even played. It was okay to suck; he could talk his way through sucking. It would not work, however, to stare at the controller like he had never seen one before. He could bluff and say he had used a different controller in the past, but that would only get him so far.

"Yo yo, QuestB- uh, man," he spoke up, leaning over the PET and trying not to look too desperate. "Ya gotta tell me bout them toys ya boss keeps up in her office. What do the controllers look like, how you use em? Oh snap, I got it! Show me some pictures of ya girl playin' those games, she's probably got some on her PET!" If he could see how Kelsie typically used the controller, it would be easier to replicate in a way she wouldn't find objectionable. "Better yet, send em straight to my PET! Damn, ya'll navis do everything, I bet you can do that easy!"
With Kelsy momentarily absent, Cassiel had some alone time to meet QuestMan, although he wasn’t interested in getting to know the hero. QuestMan, on the other hand, already knew Cassiel both from his information on file and some of what Kelsy had told him leading up to their meet-up today, so he’d been waiting for a chance to make a first impression. The Navi’s face brightened as he prepared to give the speech he’d been preparing, then set as he realized Cassiel was apparently in urgent need of his assistance.

QuestMan raised an eyebrow as he listened, looking dubious of the new quest from the start. Part of being a competent helper was understanding what he ought not to do, and sharing personal photos of his operator with one of her employees was obviously on the wrong side. Unfortunately, the Navi’s sense of responsibility and weakness to flattery worked against him, and he eagerly began searching for a photo of Kelsy that would satisfy what Cassiel was looking for.

The Navi crossed his arms and tapped his finger on his forearm to indicate he was searching, the ultimately sent Cassiel a photo with a confident expression. It wasn’t but just a second after he sent it, though, that he frantically started composing a message attachment, realizing he’d messed up.


Attached was a photo taken in what looked like a hotel lobby with many people in the background, most wearing medieval or fantasy costumes. In the foreground were four metal folding chairs, each seating an adult dressed in costumes of varying degrees of authenticity based on Trials of Tutoria characters. The one closest to the camera was dressed as Tutoria herself, and unless Kelsy had a blonde sister, it was almost certainly the boss herself in a wig, a flowing gown, and a big grin. Each of the people were holding a retro model video game controller, although it was certainly questionable if simply seeing them holding the controllers would show Cassiel what he needed to know.

This is a photo Kelsy took at a convention of four of her friends that just happens to show how the controller is held! I apologize that this isn’t too helpful, spend no further time with it as I send

A followup e-mail was sent to Cassiel quickly, including a digital scan of an old manual for the console that would probably have the information he needed, although it was questionable if that would hold his interest at the moment.

The man would probably see the light on the elevator panel indicating it was coming to this floor. As expected, Kelsy moved fast. If Cassiel wanted to ask QuestMan anything else, see if he could fish any other pictures from him, or even just scramble to learn to hold a controller from what QuestMan had sent, he’d have only a short while to do it.
Seeing Kelsey dressed as Tutoria brought to mind several conflicting thoughts. First was the lewd: "Damn! Shuz! If Tutoria looked like that all the time I probably woulda gotten into the series myself," Cassiel thought to himself, nodding approvingly. Seeing Tutoria with a worthy bust was something of a revelation for him. "That ain't bad at all."

Next, a moment of reflection and rare empathy. Seeing his boss like this, all nerded up and with her friends, enjoying her hobby, it was hard for him to resent her (or fear her, really) as a danger or a threat. He even felt a bit guilty for how he'd gone into his plan. After all, she was trying to have fun and even make an effort to get to know him, while he was, at best, trying to save his own skin or, at worst, perving on his surprisingly naive boss. "I mean... ain't like it's a good hobby, like basketball, but... I dunno, maybe it's fun? I ain't ever tried it," he admitted to himself. In school, he had been more of a bully to nerds, and hadn't ever really tried these sorts of geeky things before.

Then, finally, the third feeling emerged: panic. The controllers pictured looked like nothing he has ever seen before, like some obtuse technology that existed before PETs. How was he supposed to figure out how to use one in such a short period of time? Desperately, he scrolled through the manual to pick up tips. "Naw man, this is good, just shut up a moment," he encouraged/discouraged QuestMan, reading as fast as he could (which was not particularly fast).

"Is that your boss?" Tutoria asked, suddenly piping up from Cassiel's PET. In his fervor, he had forgotten that his PET also contained a navi, who would be aware of anything sent to it. "Wow, that's an uncanny resemblance to me! Very impressive. All-in-all, an exact representation."

"... Really? Ain't nothin' look any different to you?" Cassiel asked, wondering if Tutoria was either delusional or else willfully ignorant of how Kelsey filled her robe.

"I suppose the expression is a bit different than anything I would typically make. After all, I am QuestMan's elder, so for me to express feelings so openly would be a bit immodest-" she started to answer, before Cassiel cut her off.

"Aaah! Doesn't matter, shut up!" he cut her off rudely, forgetting whatever traces of empathy he had begun to show moments ago as he desperately committed the manual to memory. "QuestMan, she asks, we never had this conversation, okay? Cause uh... I needed to see this old-ass controller and it's embarrasin' to admit I don't know how to use it. But for real, dawg, I owe you one. You a good brother. Ya feel me?" he asked, pounding one fist to his chest in a show of solidarity. It was pretty doubtful QuestMan would recognize or follow up on that, but Cassiel wouldn't be offended either way; he buried his face in his PET and analyzed the system.

"Oh, Cassiel... pride cometh before the fall," Tutoria sighed.

"Can it with that old-ass 'cometh' fantasy talk, fo real! I dunno who comes up with that shuz, ya sound like a flippin' shuz-for-brains, talkin all that shuz," he complained hypocritically. He would probably still be analyzing the manual on his PET when Kelsie returned, keeping his head down rather than looking at her, seemingly lost in thought.
QuestMan sweat internally even as he “shut up” as he was told. It was clear neither Cassiel nor his Navi had been fooled by his attempt to hide his operator’s presence in the photo. More importantly, he thought he ought to suggest to Cassiel he show more manners in front of the Lady… but, truth be told, Cassiel did appear to be in middle of an urgent task. He decided he’d save that for later if he noticed it as a trend.

The Navi listened to Cassiel, then nodded heartily even though his face didn’t show the same confidence. “Of course, my brother!” he said, not matching Cassiel’s exact connotation but appreciating the sentiment. “That is, uh, unless Kelsy specifically asks. In that case, you know, I might be forced to answer her factually, as her Navi. But otherwise, we shall share a vow: neither of us shall ever speak of the request, the manual, or the, ahem, photo. Or me providing the photo.”

”DARK PACT,” a previously unheard voice roared from the PET, thankfully finishing just before Kelsy stepped out of the elevator.

Cassiel’s boss was carrying a small box gingerly as she returned, giving Cassiel a bemused smile as she laid eyes upon him. “I believe I just heard Macguffr and the Lady Tutoria. I hope you’ve all been getting to know each other while I was away. Now, however, it’s time for you to face a Trial of your own,” Kelsy told him ominously, her eyes hidden by a glare on her glasses. She took a small game console out of the box: she didn’t bother introducing it, probably assuming Cassiel already knew it. Regardless, it was ancient, but clearly well preserved. The box was just the right size for it.

Kelsy flew to work, crawling underneath Cassiel’s desk to plug cables into sockets. Half-under the desk, she reached an arm out with a couple of plugs to fit into the monitor (although there was definitely a question of whether the modern monitor would support the ancient audio/video plug). “So I thought I would surprise you with a rare treat, a game even I have seldom cracked open: the ultra-rare collectible, Quest Man’s Puzzle Trials! This is one of the few two-player Tutoria titles, produced by a third party when the license was being less jealously guarded. Unfortunately, since it only has a two player mode, I haven’t spent as much time with it as I’d like. Well, that and the fact that its authenticity as a Tutoria title is obviously somewhat lacking, seeing as it was produced by a third party with a limited understanding of the source material. Still-“ Kelsy’s voice rambled on from beneath the table, presented only by her hind-quarters wiggling innocently from the leg space.

As though sensing his thoughts or gaze, Kelsy whirled around from beneath the table, having finished plugging in. “- I find it an interesting time capsule. That said, the puzzle style is a bit derivative from various other well-known puzzle titles, so I’m sure you’ll find it easy to adjust. Have you gotten those in?”

Suspecting that he either could not do so, had not done so, or else may have done it wrong (plugging these in to a modern monitor was a tricky task he wouldn’t raise suspicion, for once, by failing to do), Kelsy reached behind the monitor to fiddle with the connections. “Oh, Cassiel! Do take a look at the cover art, it’s quite a rib-tickler, I do believe.”

If Cassiel were to do so, he’d find an illustration far different from what he was probably used to. In this one, QuestMan and Tutoria were recognizable only by their hair color and the color of their clothes: QuestMan was a shirtless muscleman wielding an axe with a fantastic mane, and Tutoria was a buxom swimwear model, where the swimwear in question happened to be bikini armor. They were surrounded by familiar slime but of different colors, which appeared to be falling from the sky.

“As you can see, matching and clearing Shuz is the goal of the game. And yes, that is supposed to be QuestMan and the Lady Tutoria. Can you imagine Tutoria wearing something like that? I can’t even imagine anyone I know…” Kelsy laughed, still leaning around the monitor as she wiggled the cord into place.
Cassiel would have liked to clarify "even if she asks," not taking no as an answer from his bro, but there was no time left for that clarification, as his boss returned. He stayed uncharacteristically quiet, nodding along with everything that was said regarding the new game, the cords she wanted help with (and got very little), and so on. He found himself more focused on the fact that she had only grabbed the console and hadn't changed her shorts while she was gone.

Sure enough, the console looked old as crap. Cassiel found himself glad he had managed to get a brief overview before she brought it in. Things sounded promising: there was a chance she wouldn't even be able to plug it in, after all. A moment later, Kelsie fixed that issue. Well, it still sounded like she was unfamiliar with the game and wasn't about to go on a rant if he failed at it, so things were okay.

As he continued to enjoy the view, his boss gave him some further reading material. Barely thinking, he took it in his hand and stared dumbly down at it for a bit. Even he had to smirk. "Yeah, chief. That ain't ya boy at all, huh?" he agreed, although he found himself looking more at the woman on the box. That looked more like Tutoria but he happened to know a few things the real article was missing. As a matter of fact, if he were to pick someone it looked more like, he would probably say-

"Naw, I can't," he answered, grabbing his face in one hand and trying to look away from his boss, to drive out the image of her parading around the office in a set of metallic dinner plates. "'Specially not you," he added with a laugh, then swore under his breath. "I mean, you'd like the classic stuff better, yeah. If you dressed up. And you know, if you did there wouldn't be anything wrong with it, cause that's like, normal. For fans and stuff," he added, building up a bit more of a sense of conviction to make his words ring true. "And like, even if you did dress up like this Tutoria on this box and QuestMan had a photo of it that he could-"

"Cassiel!" Tutoria slid into the conversation, feeling a sense of urgency. "She was talking about me dressing up, not her. Not that I would, er, want to wear something like that."

"Yeah, you right! We was talkin' about you that whole time after all," Cassiel revised. "Yeeeah, Quest Boy, you picture that shuz? Tutoria dancin' around in a bikini with slime all over her? Psh! Like a dumbass," he snickered.

Finally, he cracked his knuckles, then made a show of picking up a controller and knowing how to hold it like in the picture. "Well, no need to wait around! I been solvin'a puzzle and dealing with shuz all day, I think I can handle this. I mean, uh, my regular work. I was talking about that," he corrected himself. "Hey, hold up. Am I QuestMan or Tutoria in this? You better play Tutoria you, uh, look more like her," he suggested, then began clutching his face again. The Shuz pictured on the cover seemed to be mocking him. He was beginning to relish the chance to blast them with lightning, match three of them in n a row and make them pop, or beat them at puzzles and force them to resign to a superior mind, however this dang puzzle game worked.
“Me?” Kelsy gasped in disbelief, joining Cassiel in a laugh. Her smile grew a bit more quizzical as Cassiel dug his grave further and further. “Hm, yes… well, me aside, I understand there is quite an active cosplay community for the series,” Kelsy responded evasively, making it obvious what he probably suspected was supposed to be a secret was indeed to be treated as such.

Just when things were likely to get really dicey for her employee, Tutoria interrupted to cover for him. “Ah, L-Lady Tutoria, I was speaking of no such thing! That is, I was speaking of no one in particular. In any case, I doubt anyone could picture Tutoria in such a preposterous situation. Isn’t that so, QuestMan?” she spoke up so he’d hear.

After a silence, she coughed and tried again. “Isn’t that so? You’d protect Tutoria so that no such danger would befall her?”

“…On my honor,” came a croak from the PET, which worked itself up to its usual heroic volume by the end.

“Very good,” Kelsy applauded, pulling another swivel chair up alongside Cassiel’s desk and turning to his monitor, where the shrill beeps of the game’s start-up music were already happening. “You know, the funniest thing about the cover art is that the actual in-game art is distinctly Electopian, and Tutoria doesn’t even appear. Supposedly, she is the ‘announcer’ for the title… and then they didn’t even simulate or record a voice for the round start or call-ins, so her presence is very minimal. The only female character in the game is actually Luckubus, the mid-boss from the caves in level-“

A high-pitched whine cut Kelsy off as the screen displayed a garbled mess of colored pixels interrupting the opening animation. “Ah. Seems like it’ll need a bit of the gamer’s touch after all,” she remarked without complaint, switching the console off and plucking the cartridge from its slot. She began to turn it over and inhale before stopping, a smile curling her lips. “Actually, Cassiel, every gamer has a different method for this, and it’s always interesting to see the differences. While don’t you show me your magic fix-it technique? Do so and I’ll show you my own blowing technique,” she added with mysterious smile, hoping he would fail so she could show off. The boss turned the cartridge out towards her employee, eagerly watching to see what he’d do to get the game running.
Cassiel thought he had gotten through his coverup pretty well- in truth, he had so much luck, he ought to have Luck in his own name, like Luckubus. While pondering what that dumb rpg weirdo name could mean, he squinted and tried to pay attention to a game so old, it didn't even resemble the retro gag mode in his favorite shooter game.

When the screen began to fill up with errant, misplaced pixels, arranged in an obviously bugged pattern, Cassiel just raised an eyebrow, waiting to see how it would progress. He was therefore more surprised when Kelsu removed the cartridge. "What? There somethin' else ya gotta do to make it play from here?" he asked, mentally groaning at how contrived old video games were. With a bit more context given, he surmised that the game was broken and he was expected to fix it somehow. Furthermore, if he did everything right, he would get to witness his boss's lauded "blowing technique."

Although his lower body started to spring to attention at the phrase, it cooled off almost instantly. He accepted the cartridge with a somewhat dead-eyed expression. Even he wasn't silly enough to think that blowing here meant a sexual favor from his boss as nice as that sounded. But what did it mean? Maybe that was a nerd term, like "cracking" or "jailbreaking?" Who knew? Not Cassiel.

Worse, he had no earthly idea how to go about fixing the cartridge. "What the flip? Fact I'm even employed right now is my magic fix-it technique. What flippin' magic fix-it technique?" he asked himself, staring dumbly at the item in his hands.

He decided to to out on a limb. "Aaah, yeah! True Tutoria fans- like myself- know all about the magic technique. It's just like QuestBoy does in the game! Ya ask Tutoria," he chuckled, sounding more confident in this answer than he deserved to sound. "Arright, Tutoria, what I gotta do?" he asked.

"Um..." Tutoria murmured. She knew the answer was supposed to be that he needed to blow into the cartridge (and maybe pray), although the effectiveness of that had long ago been proven a myth; if anything, it made the damage worse. She closed her eyes, then received a loud blast of lightning and thunder above her head that informed her of the answer. "The two of you need to blow on it together for double power!" she suggested.

Cassiel raised an eyebrow. "Naw...?" he answered skeptically, but tentatively.

"Yaw! Er, yes. It stands to reason that a combined technique is most effective."

"You shuzzin me? I may not know everything, but blowin' against the case on this side ain't gonna accomplish shuz," he pointed out.

"No, no... both of you, blow into the cartridge, through the opening, at the same time," she sighed, as if this was a good, logical suggestion and he was simply being obtuse.

Cassiel shrugged; he couldn't go against Tutoria's plan after calling it a magical technique. He wheeled over to sit beside his boss... then slowly began to realize the issue. His eyes darted over to her, then narrowed, like a gunman waiting for the word "draw." He didn't want to start a second too early; he wanted to be 100% confident that his boss was buying into Tutoria's addled suggestion before he made a move on it.
Kelsy noted Cassiel’s lack of enthusiasm in taking the cartridge. She cleared her throat, smiling and adjusting her glasses once more. “A few technical hiccups are just the hallmark of a well-loved console, wouldn’t you say, Cassiel? Now, don’t keep me in suspense, show us that magic!” Evidently, she was really looking forward to this, as she smirked a bit dryly at his response. “Now, Cassiel, hopefully you aren’t thinking of the great Lady Tutoria’s name as a magic wand you can simply wave whenever you have an issue, hm? If you don’t have confidence in your own technique, there’s no harm in yielding and letting your boss cover for you…”

Nonetheless, Kelsy was mildly curious to hear what input the venerable Navi could offer. She had to admit, even she didn’t expect any special wisdom from Tutoria on the matter of how to get an old game running: after all, what could a Navi know about the issue that wasn’t simply pulled from a search of the Net? That said, her reaction was about the same as Cassiel’s, though colored with her usual brightness in place of his cynicism. “Hm?” she responded, encouraging Tutoria to elaborate further.

For a moment Kelsy became difficult to read; she sat with her usual smile, but her brow furrowed as though she were considering something of importance. She met Cassiel’s gaze with her lips cryptically drawn shut, seeming to search him to see if she saw her own thoughts reflected there. Seeing that he was waiting for her lead, she spoke to him in a barely audible whisper. “I don’t think… Lady Tutoria… knows how to clean a game cartridge,” she admitted, tittering a bit at their shared “secret.” “No shame in that! No being is perfect, and even encyclopedias have gaps. Here, allow me.”

Kelsy held the cartridge to her own lips and turned it over carefully, raising it to her glasses as if to peer inside. Seeing her so focused, it was possible to believe she really was seeing individual faults that might be inhibiting the game’s start-up. “Three… two… one,” she muttered, inhaling a deep breath and expunging it on the last count to no visible effect.

“There,” she declared,” passing it back to Cassiel. “A triump of teamwork,” she added with a furtive wink, glancing at his PET and back to his face. “Now, Cassiel, if you’d be so kind as to get us started again, witnessing the fruit of our efforts.” Kelsy grabbed her controller, obviously confident that the game would now run flawlessly (and, for that matter, that Cassiel remembered the couple of simple steps to start the console, which were second nature to her).