Orup led the way through the decline, taking paths where he could find them but generally carving his way toward a specific location. After a short while they arrived at an outcrop that sufficed to be a small lookout. From there, they could see over the outer wall and into part of the village. Specifically, he could see the courtyard they used for sacrifices, and come evening he would be able to see if Bess was out there or not. The heavyset alchemist grimaced distastefully.
"You can rest behind the treeline. I'll cook back there and keep an eye on this until it's time, hm?" Already his mind was alight with possibilities for potions that could win this one for them. Truth be told, he hadn't felt this creative since leaving the guild. Seemed vengeance could spur a person on, when it was needed.
As they walked down the tunnel, John fumbled with the mechanics of his armor without much grace. After a time, though, he managed to get the hang of it, drawing from a mixture of muscle memory, intuition, and pure trial and error. A half hour later and he could navigate the thing with a certain level of ease, and he began to read through the seemingly endless number of messages he had somehow received over the last month.
All of them were from people he didn't know, though sometimes the messages ended with a signature that gave him a good guess. Hundreds of the messages appeared to be automatic or otherwise impersonal, sent out to many people at once several times a day containing statistics, only some of which he could guess the use. It didn't take too long for him to begin to put some of the pieces together, though. Whoever he had been before he had lost his memories, it had been someone of relative importance. A caretaker, maybe? The vast majority of these messages related to the world as a whole, assuming he had some sort of responsibility for it.
Most of the messages he didn't feel particularly inclined to share with his companion. It wasn't so much that he didn't trust her, but rather that it didn't seem appropriate. These messages were all that he really had of himself, in a way, but he couldn't explain it further than that. Of the hundreds he read, though, he did find one that might be relevant to both of them the same.
"I was supposed to meet someone, I think. After I arrived here," he said, breaking their long-held silence all but suddenly. "At a place called 'The Lodge' apparently beyond the Great Wall. Is it even possible anything could exist this far north?" He had always assumed Thimbelatch, and the other villages like it, were the furthest thing civilization could push to this wasteland. But... if this place wasn't even real, if it were just a game like she said it was, then what was civilization after all? If things like this IORA existed, capable of building and breaking on a whim, what else might be out there?