Quercus: The Sprouts of Life

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Operator Record
The Sprouts of Life
Quercus icon.png

Survival is a kind of greed, understandable, but should not be indulged.

Unlock conditions

  • Raise Quercus to Elite 2 Level 60.
  • Have 200% Trust with Quercus.
Male Victorian A icon.png
RI Operator icon.png
Bitter Root
Bounty Hunter A icon.png
Diminutive Mercenary
Victorian Boy icon.png
Emaciated Child (Joe)
Dirt-Poor Peddler
Skint Peddler
Victoria Streets
Cold Forest
Quercus's Arts can heal wounds, and grow plants. But would you believe that this time... an exuberantly lush tree has "grown" an entire little boy?!
<Background 1>
[An emaciated child stands on the streets.]
Emaciated Child I'm starving...
(Sniffs) That smells amazing!
Dirt-Poor Peddler Hey, have you heard the news?
The Druid's Treasure! Everyone's going mad about it!
Skint Peddler Can't be stuffed, can't be bothered, don't care.
If there is treasure, it goes to the upper crust. Not gonna make its way to us, is it?
Dirt-Poor Peddler Who says not?
Oh, you think this is just our lot, eh? We deserve this?
Skint Peddler Look, forget that...
Someone's making off with your stuff.
Emaciated Child (Treasure... my bruv's looking for that, right?)
(Okay, while the man's distracted...)
[The child attempts to eat the stew, but...]
Emaciated Child (Ow, hot!)
Dirt-Poor Peddler Hey!
Trying to steal from me?!
Emaciated Child Krgh!
[The child trips off the peddler's stand before running away.]
Dirt-Poor Peddler Bloody runt! Don't you dare muss up my stand!
Get back here!
<Background 2>
[Bitter Root checks on Quercus.]
Bitter Root How are your injuries?
Quercus They're doing fine.
No word from the Doctor still?
Bitter Root Contact with them's been lost ever since they entered Londinium. All means of communication so far are kaput.
What about your end?
Quercus We've disseminated the news out.
At the very least right now, no matter how many believe it, the Duke's people are letting us have the pretense of an investigation in order to station at the duchy's north border.
If it all holds, we can come to the Doctor's rescue at any time.
Bitter Root Hm... alright, good.
Quercus For now, let's get these intel notes to the landship.
The Doctor's group will be fine.
Bitter Root They will.
Right, the children at the refugee camp...
Quercus Bring them here.
It's... safer for them here.
[Goldenglow enters...]
Bitter Root Susie wants you.
I'll be off.
[...and walks toward Quercus and Bitter Root leaves.]
Quercus Susie, didn't I tell you to get some proper rest first?
I can cope here. I don't need help with anything, really.
Goldenglow ......
Quercus What's wrong? What has you so unhappy?
Goldenglow The streets here, the city... everything's changed so much.
I've never seen so many of the Guards out and about before.
Everyone's rushing everywhere. We all look so tense.
Quercus ......
Nobody knows what the situation in Londinium is like right now.
We have people escaping out here one after another, with nothing but scraps of testimonies and info contradicting info.
It's become the source of panic and rumor in its own right.
Goldenglow I know what's happening. You don't have to hide it from me, Quercus.
Everyone's busy right now... I want to help too.
Grani wouldn't even tell me about you and the refugees at first.
I know... you're all looking out for me.
Quercus You're a kind girl, Susie. That's why.
Goldenglow Hm?
Quercus Look, see the marks left on this leaf–bug-eaten, sun-bleached.
Everything that's happening right now will be figured out.
No matter if it's me, Grani, or anyone else who does it.
No matter if it turns out well or not.
And most people will forget it ever happened before long.
But the ones who've been through it won't. Some marks are left forever.
Goldenglow Listen, I'm not a child anymore!
Quercus ......
Goldenglow Look, I made this bread myself, I learned how to do it aboard Rhodes Island.
You always used to have to make me snacks, Quercus...
So... I want to help you.
Help everyone.
[Quercus stands up.]
Quercus I know.
Oh, but still, it'll sting.
Goldenglow Eh?
Quercus Sting our little Susie, and Grani, and those children.
You'll find nothing in the refugee camp but cries of distress, sighs of despair, and howls of longing.
I've given everything I have to ward the haze of sickness from people, purely because they wouldn't resign themselves to death, because in their heart still laid cares.
Some have calmly accepted the end of their life, and I've accompanied them in their final moments, in their tranquil return to the earth.
But the endless spread of pestilence is drying and crumbling the soil beneath us, rendering it rough and unyielding.
Goldenglow ......
And that's why you want them to get the children out, and bring them here?
Quercus Yes...
All that takes place there is far too stifling for the newborn saplings.
But that said...
I've never doubted your ability nor your courage, Susie.
So long as you're willing, you can come spend time with the children here from now on.
Goldenglow Mm-hm!
I'm not a child anymore!
And you're... so amazing, Quercus! You can use Arts to make withered plants regrow.
Everything will get better.
Quercus ......
Arts are no panacea, you know.
Take that frail, sickly sapling, for instance.
The one in the corner.
<Background 3>
On an evening in early autumn, Quercus is quietly stood in the garden, listening in stillness.
The souls are mournful, their cry as clear as ever on the wind.
Haze Well, meow...
I have to say, this is my first time seeing the Druid's Arts.
Goldenglow Wuh! When did you get here, Haze?
Haze Oh, I didn't. I've been here.
They say the Druid can hear what the trees make conversation over.
Quercus It's not conversation.
It's the passing on of emotions, between souls, through the roots that connect life and the earth.
Quercus softly chants an age-old incantation, Arts like stars falling down upon the mundane nature we inhabit, imparting themselves upon the earth.
In a bout of fierce tremors, a sapling ruptures through the ground, its finest form unfolding itself towards the vastness of the sky.
Atop the branches burst forth fresh buds, telling of the call that summons new life.
Goldenglow Wow!
It just grew in an instant!
Quercus Indeed.
In an instant.
Goldenglow Wait!
Quercus! The... the tree!
There's a child growing out of the tree!
<Background 4>
[A man named Bent is talking with a diminutive mercenary.]
Bent Once we find the Treasure, we want 60%.
30% each for me and my little brother.
You want me to work, that's the price. No negotiations.
Diminutive Mercenary Look how greedy the legendary Bent's gotten.
Getting too big for your britches, I bet.
Bent Alright. You want to go?
Diminutive Mercenary ......
If you think we're actually scared of you, you can dream on.
[Bent punches the merc.]
Diminutive Mercenary Guh!
Bent Got the guts to say that to me again?
Diminutive Mercenary I...
[Bent punches the merc again.]
Diminutive Mercenary 30%, alright, you said it, 30%.
Bent Each.
Diminutive Mercenary Oh, no, yeah, yeah!
Bent Now shove it.
Diminutive Mercenary Right...
Bent Wait. Any of you lot seen where my brother's about?
Diminutive Mercenary Er...
Saw the kid earlier at one of those stands nearby.
Bent Carefree little bugger! I said for him not to run off!
Every single day with this! He drives me up the wall!
[Bent walks away.]
Diminutive Mercenary Hey!
<Background 3>
Quercus Still hiding?
Little rascal.
Emaciated Child Oi!
Let me down!
Goldenglow Oh! I wonder who your family is.
Let... Let me get you down now.
[Goldenglow takes the child off the tree...]
Quercus ......
[...before he stole her bread upon landing.]
Goldenglow Augh!
Don't... Don't steal my bread!
What's gotten into you?!
Emaciated Child (Muffled) I'm hungry! You've got loads of bread to spare!
Quercus Hey! Here, you!
Emaciated Child (This bread's delish...)
Wait, that's right!
You were just talking about the Druid, weren't you!
I've heard too! About the Druid's Treasure. My brother told me.
I bet you muckers know something!
Quercus Even if I did...
Why would I tell you, hm?
Emaciated Child Because that's how it works.
Finders keepers, that's what my brother says!
Goldenglow ......
Funny little boy.
Haze An unruly little kit.
Emaciated Child If you don't tell me!
Then I'll tell my brother! I'll get him to ask you.
He's right tough!
Super! Super! Super tough!!!
Quercus ......
*sigh*... I see.
Well, one thing, young friend...
After discovering our secret... do you think we're just going to let you go?
Emaciated Child Oi!
What's this about?! Stay away!!
I'm not scared of you, okay!
I'm mad tough too!
[The child channeled Arts...]
Goldenglow He's Infected?!
I don't think he has an Arts Unit at all.
Quercus Fool of a child!
He thinks an ability for Arts means bragging rights?
[...and casts it.]
Emaciated Child Heheh!
That's right! I can cast stuff!
I'm not as good as my brother, but you won't pick on me so easy!
Quercus You brat!
You think you're so mighty, don't you?
Emaciated Child What are you up to?!
Quercus Hmph.
Countless vines drop down from the tree above her, and the feeble child is fastened sturdily in place before he can even react.
He resembles a startled cub in the moment, gnashing as he struggles to flail.
Emaciated Child Oi!
What are you doing?!
Quercus Spanking you.
Disobedient child.
Emaciated Child Augh!
I'll... I'll get my brother over here!
Quercus Do you think throwing around Arts randomly is going to make you fearsome?
Without an Arts Unit, you'll be exacerbating your Oripathy every time.
Emaciated Child But my brother does it too!
His Arts...
Quercus Your brother?
Emaciated Child The harder you're infected... ugh...
Quercus That's what your brother taught you?
Goldenglow Quercus, look at what he's dropped.
Aren't these the medicines for Oripathy that you were getting in?
Emaciated Child Oi! That's my stuff!
Damn you! Give it back!
I found all that!
It was on a shelf inside and nobody was using it! Why can't I have it?
Quercus Stealing is one thing.
But you're not to wantonly use your Arts ever again. If you want to stay alive, that is.
Emaciated Child ...I'm not scared!
My brother... My brother says this way nobody'll pick on me!
My brother's stronger than you! He'll come help me!
Quercus So your brother sent you here?
For what?
Emaciated Child ......
I was waiting for my brother to come...
Quercus Then let me ask you a question.
If your brother is as strong as you say...
Why would he send you to do any of this?
Emaciated Child I...
Quercus Are you sure your brother knows you're here?
You didn't tell him you were heading out, did you?
What if your brother never comes?
What if... we leave you here? Will your brother really be able to find you?
Emaciated Child I...
(Sobbing) I...
Goldenglow (Quercus, don't you think we've scared him a little too much?)
(I mean, I know it's wrong to steal... child or not.)
Quercus (I think our little Susie's just as much a child, then.)
What if... we take you away from here?
And you never see your brother again...
Emaciated Child No!
Don't... I...
I want to stay with my brother.
Quercus Then be truthful with me.
Tell me why you stole this medicine, and why you're after the Druid's Treasure.
Emaciated Child ......
Because my brother wanted it...
He's the one who looked after me ever since we left Londinium... He said there was treasure in Gododdin, and we could make loads and loads of money, and live happy days.
He's seriously, seriously strong! Nobody's ever been able to pick on us!
But he's been having worse and worse health, I can tell that... He's always using these medicines in secret.
Quercus This kind?
Emaciated Child I dunno. But it looks a lot like it.
I'm not a kid anymore.
I want to help my brother and all...
If I can find the treasure, and some medicine!
Then that'll make my brother super duper happy!
Quercus ......
Goldenglow ......
Emaciated Child So...
Please, Miss.
Can you...
Quercus I understand.
But still, I can't tell you right this moment.
Emaciated Child Oh...
Then... Then what do I have to do, before you tell me?
<Background 2>
[Bitter Root reports to Quercus.]
Bitter Root I'm just here to check if you have everything all in place and sorted.
I'll have Grani accompany the kids over.
Quercus Everything's ready.
Bitter Root ......
That kid in the garden...
You have some amazing patience.
Quercus I'm only a doctor.
I don't accede to every whim. I'm no fairy godmother.
Bitter Root *sigh*... He's had a hard lot in life.
We don't even know how his brother is.
Quercus That's why I sent Susie back for now.
She's too kind...
And as you meet each refugee in the camp, and every child that's sent here... you find each and every story tugs at your heart, doesn't it?
That's why little Susie's the one I'm more worried for, really.
Bitter Root *sigh*...
And how are you going to explain the Druid's Treasure to him, then?
All it is is the cover we operate under. You know that.
Not to mention we've still not heard a peep from the Doctor's end. We can't expose this.
We have to prioritize Rhodes Island and our mission.
Quercus So...
We give him a false goal, one that can never be achieved?
Make him chase fruitlessly, cluelessly, for the rest of his days?
A sacrifice?
Bitter Root What do you mean?
A sacrifice?
Quercus I just feel...
It's not how Rhodes Island would do things.
We can't just absolve ourselves of our actions like that.
Bitter Root What are you going to do?!
Quercus, stop right there!
Quercus Don't worry. I won't do anything to hurt Rhodes Island.
<Background fades out and in>
Bent Oi!
Question for you. Seen a kid about this tall?
Dirt-Poor Peddler The hell do you think you're doing?!
Bloody hell! It was that little bastard just now! Your brother, I reckon, you look like two peas in a pod!
Here I was narked I'd have no one to pay damages...
Bent Where is he?!
[Bent punches the peddler repeatedly.]
<Background 3>
The weak, frail figure of a child busies about the garden.
Emaciated Child Miss Quercus! I watered all the trees in the garden!
Quercus (It's only a momentary drive.)
Emaciated Child I swept the path over there all nice and clean too!
Quercus (He may well be worn out any second now.)
Emaciated Child What else do I need to do?
Quercus (He throws himself dim-wittedly at everything without even knowing what this treasure is.)
Do you know why I'm having you do these things?
Emaciated Child Nope.
That one mister says it's because I've done bad things.
Quercus And have you?
Emaciated Child ......
I don't know...
My brother's always done it. He says other people owe us all this stuff.
It's stuff we're meant to have.
Quercus (The branches that rot are bade to be pruned.)
(The trunks that are gnawed are bade to be sawed.)
Let me put it this way, then.
You did something that ended with you being caught, and you put your brother through the hassle of saving you.
Was that bad of you?
Emaciated Child ...Mm-hm.
Quercus So if your brother gets hurt while saving you...
Possibly... even worse.
Is that bad of you then?
Emaciated Child It is!
Quercus Just as you cherish your brother, others have their own things, and their own people they cherish.
If you take things as you see fit, then you'll make others angry, and get your brother into trouble in the end.
Emaciated Child Mm-hm...
I understand.
I won't do bad things anymore.
Quercus (But who can say what form the treetop takes in this moment?)
(May life everlast.)
<Background fades out and in>
Bent Here?
Dirt-Poor Peddler A... Around here...
I chased him up to around here, and then, and then I lost him.
[Bent punches the peddler...]
Dirt-Poor Peddler Guh!
Bent Now shove it.
[...before rushing in.]
Bent Joe?
Are you there?
Emaciated Child Bent!
You're here?!
[Bent slaps the child.]
Bent I said for you not to run off!
I went through hell to scarper out with you! Every step of the way, you know how hard it's been?!
Emaciated Child I...
Bent Don't you hang your head! I'm talking to you!
[Bitter Root watches as Quercus reveals herself.]
Bitter Root (Need me to help that kid out?)
(We can't leave him with someone like this, can we?)
Quercus ......
Bent Who're you?
Don't get in the way! Move it!
Quercus You're this child's elder brother?
Bent And what's your business?
Quercus "Joe." Is that your name?
Joe ......
Bent Right, with me. We're going home.
Joe I'm not going.
[Bent slaps the child, now known as Joe.]
Bent Can you just listen for once?!
You're stressing me out like this! Me, Mum and Dad, who do you think we've done everything for?
Joe I'm not going.
Bent You think I'm no use anymore, don't you? You think I can't provide for you, is it?!
Think you've outgrown the nest, don't need me looking after you?
Joe ......
[Quercus grabs Bent...]
Bent Let me go!
This is not for an outsider like you to butt in. It's family business.
Quercus (Bitter Root.)
(Take the child aside.)
[...as Bitter Root takes Joe away.]
Bent What are you doing?
[Quercus punches Bent...]
Bent Argh!
[...as she grabs him tighter.]
Bent Urgh!
You let me go!
Quercus Are we clear? I could easily dispose of you right now.
And even your little brother.
All because of how reckless you've been.
You make me angry.
Bent You!!
[Quercus punches Bent.]
Bent Argh!
Quercus Quiet!
Bent ......
Quercus Will you listen properly now?
Bent Mmrgh...
Quercus I can put up with your insolence.
It's not as if I don't respect all you've done for the child.
Bent ......
Quercus I imagine you know the state of your infection all too well. Do you want to see the child end up the same way?
Was it you who taught him to use Arts to defend himself?
Bent ......
I had no other choice. It's the only thing they fear.
Quercus And do you see fear in me?
What if I killed the two of you right here and now?
Bent You wouldn't dare!
I'd take you with me!
Quercus So you don't intend on surviving?
What about your brother, then?
Bent ......
What is it you want?
Quercus It's a secret between me and him.
I won't allow you to take him until he fulfils his agreement with me.
You can go back to your current dwellings and wait for him.
Of course, my people can find you at any time.
Or you could go to the refugee camp on the east end. They'll offer you help there.
Is my point clear?
Bent ......
Quercus See?
It turns out we can have a proper conversation.
[Joe bites Bitter Root's hand...]
Bitter Root Argh!
Hey! Watch it, boy!
You're biting the hand that feeds you.
[...and runs toward Quercus.]
Joe Miss Quercus!
Let my brother go!
He's a good person!
He's the best in all the land!
So I won't let you hurt him!
Bent ......
Quercus *sigh*...
How am I the villain now?
[Bitter Root walks toward Quercus.]
Bitter Root ......
The boy's got real strength when it counts...
Quercus Joe, do you remember what you asked me about earlier on?
Be good and come with me now, and I'll tell you all you want to know.
And I promise I won't hurt your brother, okay?
Joe ......
<Background 5>
[As Quercus and Joe walks through the forest...]
Quercus Now, do you think we're bad people?
Joe If you and that mister pick on my brother, then yeah.
Quercus So why didn't you use Arts just now to attack that mister, and save your brother?
Joe Because you said using Arts would make the infection worse.
It's bad and it'll make my brother worry.
Quercus So if I told you that you had to exchange your brother for the treasure, you wouldn't agree, would you?
Joe ......
I wouldn't do it, even if it was for treasure.
I would never... never ever!
Quercus (A life yet to bud grows with wild abandon.)
You've passed the test.
Joe What?!
Quercus Only those who become Druids are qualified to find the Druid's Treasure.
And you've successfully passed the first test.
Joe Eh?
Becoming a Druid?
Quercus Indeed.
Come with me.
<Background fades out and in>
[Quercus and Joe reaches an ancient ruins.]
Joe What's this place?
Quercus This... is a place once holy to the Druids.
Only, the vast amount of time has made the legends hazy.
Here, age after age of tutor imparted the knowledge and the precepts upon the next generation.
Until the Druids began to die out, ever so gradually, in Victoria's history.
Joe ......
Quercus Joe, go and kneel upon the altar there.
Joe Mm-hm.
Quercus snaps off cane from a tree, and flogs Joe across his back with force.
The searing pain forces him to bend over, upon which he immediately, stubbornly rights himself again.
Quercus Joe, young stray that you are.
May the age-old faith be carved hardily into your heart. For all tribulation the future brings, shall your way forward never stray.
Quercus takes a berry from the bush, and with her thumb, draws a line of vivid red over the forehead of Joe.
Quercus May the roots of the earth ever be bound with you. For however far you are separated from home, shall you never be lost nor hesitant.
The branches that rot are bade to be pruned.
The trunks that are gnawed are bade to be sawed.
May life everlast.
Joe, I ask if you are willing to swear upon the ancient precepts, and become a true Druid.
Joe I am.
Quercus Rise. From today forth, you are a Druid!
Joe I'm a Druid now?
Quercus Mm. From here on, you must rely on yourself to seek the treasure of legend.
Joe Have you found it then, Miss Quercus?
Quercus Not yet, no. I think... you'll find it before I do, perhaps.
Joe Really?
Quercus Really.
But you must keep it secret.
For if you catch the eye of some very, very bad people, then they'll catch you, hurt you, and even hurt your brother.
Joe Mm-hm...
That's a bad thing. I won't do it.
So... can I tell my brother?
Quercus What, you mean...
You wouldn't want to surprise him with something nice?
See what I mean?
Joe Oh...
<Background 2>
[Bitter Root talks with Quercus.]
Bitter Root You're not honestly counting on a little kid to keep a secret, right?
How much danger will you bring on yourself if word of this gets out?
Quercus Not too many know of my relations with Rhodes Island.
But you've been meeting me often lately. Some people have started to notice already.
So if necessary, we can have a falling-out take place between us.
Bitter Root ......
Quercus Would you rather I bring the danger upon Rhodes Island and the Doctor, then?
Bitter Root ...No.
Quercus Hence why I make this choice.
Not to mention...
The Druids' legends, the stories of and about life, have been forgotten for far too long.
They need to be told anew by people.
Bitter Root ......
You know that kid's never going to find any so-called treasure.
Quercus Who told you there was no treasure?
Bitter Root You did?
Quercus Because you're not a Druid, see.
Only Druids will find the Druid's Treasure.
Bitter Root Eh?
So that little ritual you did before with the incantation or whatever, that was all real?
Quercus Oh... well, not that, I made that up.
I just haven't found any of the historical files or data yet, that's the bare minimum of it.
You weren't really taken in by that, were you?

See also