At the Forest Lake
The Flying City, during the Queen's Examination.
The people's voices were bustling and the weather was sweet...yet Felix's expression remained impassive.
...How long shall I be allowed to remain here, I wonder.
Felix gave a small sigh - when he heard a cheerful voice call his name.
A fellow Auspicious Owl Guardian, he had become a Guardian at about the same time as Felix.
"Milan. What do you need of me?"
"I don't need anything. You look *pretty* down, though! What's up? Are you out for a walk?"?
"...Something like that."
After a curt reply to Milan, Felix turned his eyes toward the small waterfall nearby. Milan was looking that way as well. His eyes were narrowed, as if in recollection.
"The forest lake is so pleasant, isn't it~? I found it a delight when I came here with her as well."
Anyone could come and go as they pleased within the Flying City.
Similarly, the Guardians were also free to leave their offices* and visit other places - such as the Forest Lake.
In order to refresh their bodies and souls...and to go on dates with Queen Candidates.
The Guardian could invite the Candidate...or vice versa.
The occasions for this socializing, conducted with the agreement of both parties, were numerous, but they were termed "dates" for simplicity's sake.
There were a variety of date venues in addition to the forest lake: the cafe terrace**, the Queen Candidate's room, the park, the continent the Candidate was cultivating...a wide range of choices.
Dates offered a change of pace from toiling in the office or monitoring continents at the Royal Research Institute - one that frankly, at first, was confusing. Was this really the time or place for such frivolities?
Other Guardians shared Felix's reservations...but resistance faded once they realized that deepening their ties with the Candidates was necessary for the exam.
Now, many of the Guardians had enjoyed dates with the Candidates as Milan had.
Milan continued chatting. "I'm fond of this place...but the field of flowers further in lends a...special touch to conversations, I feel."
A "forest lake date," to use the common term, could, depending on the number of dates the Candidate had had with the Guardian and the depth of their relationship, go further - to the flowerfield, or the hilltop.
Before, the flowerfield and hilltop had been in different places; now, however, they were at the forest lake.
Furthermore, as the venue of the date changed, the content discussed would naturally change as well - another attraction of the forest date.
"Conversing while taking in some pleasurable scenery...doesn't sound bad."
Milan smiled encouragingly at Felix's words. "Did you show her that rainbow yet?"
Milan and Felix had both become Guardians at an early age; they had spent over half their lives together.
Perhaps that was why they could understand each other so well without the need to exchange many words.
"No. I haven't gone that far. Not yet.
Ha ha - reallllly. Then what have you been doing on these dates of yours?
At Milan's question, Felix thought back to his time with the Queen Candidate.
To his astonishment, he realized that since the Queen's Exam began, he had spent a great deal of time with her.
But only because it was necessary for the Queen's Exam.
Milan seemed to be keenly aware of the excuses Felix was making in his heart. So he smiled and cracked: "What--?? Felix, just what exactly have you been doing with that girl?!"
Milan's voice echoed throughout the forest lake.
"Milan, you're too loud."
Felix's words were sharp, but there was no anger in his tone.
Delighted in the change it had wrought in his childhood friend, the fondness in Milan's heart for romance grew ever stronger.
* - Office: The workspace given to each Guardian in the Holy Palace.↑
** - Cafe terrace: A popular spot for relaxation and refreshment in the park.↑
† - Open-air interview: An interview with a Guardian that can be conducted in a park. The Guardian may ask about a candidate's continent or the state of her rival's exam progress. If quickly concluded, the interview may subsequently switch to a date.↑
†† - Chat: A special conversation event with a Guardian that occurs during a park date. As the story progresses, the number of topics available for discussion may expand.↑
‡ - Continent inspection: The act of visiting a candidate's continent on Saturday to tour the urban quarters. Visitors may also shop in the public square or take a stroll around the shrine. With the construction of landmarks, candidates may also eventually become able to tour their cultivated land at night.↑
A more baldly-explicative passage this time, focusing on date mechanics. I'm not aware of a "Hilltop" in the original Angelique - not anything so named, anyhow - though there was a Flowerfield. The reference to these places being moved from where they were "before" is probably a meta joke now that they've established this game is taking place in its own universe, but who knows, really. I still haven't listened to those Divine Bird/Auspicious Owl crossover tracks they released online. (They're up to the second CD now, by the way.)
I don't know if with Felix's first line there, they're referring to his powers fading or what. If so, this is, of course, another storyline borrowed from elsewhere in the franchise - the fate of Zephel's predecessor, a plotline covered in Retour. I'm not sure what the point of doing that with one of the main Luminarise Guardians would be, as they really seem to want to establish this cast for a revived franchise, though maybe they're stepping out on the edge, and Felix will indeed be gone, or in a different position, by the next game. Then again, maybe it's just that his powers are waning or ebbing or they'll find a way to restore them or something - or they're just talking about something else entirely.
The devs do seem to understand the importance of a network of relationships among the Guardians themselves, which was overlooked in the Sacred Beast and, to an extent, the Neo Guardians. They are, however, going to another greatest hit here - Julious and Clavis's "long-term Guardians who were inducted at roughly the same time and have an enduring connection due to their long history but don't see eye to eye in certain respects." They went to this well last time for Lorenzo and Shuri too. I'm feeling a bit better about this crew than I did at the start, but they're going to have to stand on their own feet eventually instead of recycling stories from other Guardians. (Paradoxically, though, the "is Milan Giovanni?" riddle is the storyline that has me hooked.) It'd make sense for the dancer and the Guardian of Dream to find common ground, but I'm still not buying Felix as an artistic soul on any level.