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12 Nov 2016 6:03
Good music can transform the writing style and create authentic emotion from charries. ;)
8 Sep 2016 18:37
I love those moments when posts literally write themselves.
18 Jul 2016 21:57
"If I waited 'till I felt like writing, I'd never write at all." --Anne Tyler
21 May 2015 5:32
I want constant reminders of how massive the universe is.


Deep, golden orbs stared back at her from within the cave.

God, she couldn't breathe.

He was monstrous. The ground trembled under her feet as his rippling, massive body exited the cave. Thunderous footsteps left cracks in the dirt, his breath sent waves of heat creeping over her skin. The transformation was slow, but it looked like something from a nightmare with the way his long teeth were bared.

A great and terrible roar sounded from his gaping maw.

She needed to run. Now.

Academy 218 Roleplay <3

We have a RPer Appreciation thread!?!?!
Beautiful people, beautiful words

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Will try to write for you as soon as I can. <3

32 Hours Before...

Rosemaple Lake, Roseview_

Dim lights emitted a red glow on the halls as shadows moved between rooms. CID's back-up generators were on their last reserves as it took a large amount of energy to maintain their servers. A meeting had been called and all personnel were required to attend. Within the main conference room, extra chairs were brought in as spies, couriers, security and techs alike crowded the mahogany table. Those unable to attend in person - like Rhea - stared out from iPads and tablets at one end of the table.

Hallmark, sitting calm and collected at the table's head, began the meeting. "As you're all aware, the Founding Family went public recently under the pretense of good intentions. What's remained privy to only a select few of you, is that they're all but benevolent.

"The Family was involved with a number if disasters, including the Beast of Prague. They have a substantial hold on North America, and still look to expand their spheres of influence through intimidation. A third party - Polaris - is also working with them. We have reason to believe the Family's motive for wanting RAVEN's incarcerated people is to speed up their big project - a 'Machine'."

He leaned back in his seat, gesturing to his loyal employees. "Now, where do you come in with all of this? I've decided to change CID's tactics, in light of recent events. We, as an HQ, will retract from Baybridge and relocate to a suburb a half hour out."

Aislin, sitting near the left of Hallmark, raised her hand.

"Yes, CT."

"Are we retreating from the city's Family situation?" Aislin said plainly, cocking an eyebrow.

"No, I wish to cover my assets. We need power to run the servers, by which we're running low. I've already arranged for several copies of our databases to be made, and these will be transported to a temporary HQ. CID's task force will remain active, especially in Baybridge."

Aislin considered his words before she nodded, and Hallmark continued. "Those of you abroad, I would like a portion to go under cover in Asia - see what you can uncover about Polaris. To the agents stationed around the US, keep vigil. I may call you home to help. And to those in Baybridge,"—he looked around the table—"maintain low profiles, and please refrain from engaging the enemy. We are a secrets enterprise, not a military operation. Any more questions?"

"No, boss." Was the consensus.

"Good. You'll find further details in your personal briefs. To all of you, good luck. We move out within the week."

As the conference dispersed, a single technician tugged at his tie as he paced down the hall. Turning the corner, he waited until it was silent. Pulling out a disposable cellphone, he tapped methodically on the keys.

They know. Planning on moving HQ out of the city.

The text was sent to the Foundation Woman.

Seraphine Campbell & Aislin Rose
Written in collaboration with @Nosuchthing

Location unknown_

Seraphine had heard of the Founding Family, probably before a great deal of RAVEN. It was not uncommon, the Society dealt in sex and services yes, but their most lucrative trade was, and had always been, information. Men, and women, were too loose with information when sharing a bed with someone, and even the knowledge that they were doing that was an expensive commodity. It was how the Society survived, it had influential members, and control over people in even more influential positions in society.

Seraphine wanted power, and wealth, and above all, influence. She wanted to rule her own life, and control that and those which sought to control her. She was a popular girl in the Society, but that didn't equate to power. If anything, she had less control over her life than many of the other girls she worked with. Most days she was engaged, and it paid well, but it wasn't her choice, it wasn't her decision.

This... this was...

She knew that people tended to talk when they were in her company, but she hadn't thought that they might spill something so big so easily. He wasn't a regular of hers, though she had seen him in the halls of the Society before, usually in the company of the cheaper girls. He wasn't bad looking, if a little chubby, but had a bloated sense of entitlement that had probably led to him betraying his employer. He liked to complain that he was under-appreciated, under paid. She'd heard it all from the other girls. Which was why it was such a surprise that he had managed to afford her services.

He had been more concerned with her body and her less savoury skills than her company, but her carefully shaped questions and feigned interest, along with several bottles of champagne, had eventually led to the revelation that he was informing on the CID. He'd earned a bonus, and blown it all on a night with her.

Present Time...

Hailey Boulevard, Silver Hills_

Aislin was surprised when Hallmark called her about a delicate matter. Evidently, a young employee within the White Spider Society held information critical to CID's security. The less people who knew, the better — that was the reason given on why she approached CID on an individual level.

"Seraphine Campbell, a Caucasian woman with auburn hair, green eyes," Hallmark said. "I've arranged a meeting at the Roasted Bean in Hailey Boulevard, one of the few places with working power."

So, Aislin found herself in the back of a taxi and soon walking up to the coffee shop. With her leather jacket zipped up and a scarf wrapped around her neck to stave off the autumn chill, Aislin stepped into the warm and aromatic Roasted Bean.

The pale redhead resisted the urge to stand anxiously as the person she was to meet walked into the coffee shop. It had been difficult to organise this meeting without the help of the Society, but she didn't want them to control this exchange. If she'd told her superiors what she now knew, then one of them would be sitting here - not her.

The woman who entered was older than her, though from the youthful cast of her face Seraphine guessed that she was older than she looked. The scar on her chin drew the eye however, it looked like someone had gone for her throat with a knife. Seraphine looked away, she already sat in the spot they had agreed, if this was her contact, then she would know to come over.

As Aislin walked past the 'Please Seat Yourself' sign, she grinned. Out of all the people enjoying their hot drinks, Seraphine was the most beautiful. Very easy to pick out from the crowd. Sitting across from the young lady, Aislin folded her aviators and set them on the table by her purse.

"Ah, Seraphine, right?" Aislin asked. "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm CT. I was told you'd be here."

The redhead looked up, smiling, clearly this was her contact. It would have been easy to appear nervous, but she'd long since moved past being concerned about the impression she made on people. After all, it was how she made her living, and the Society had ensured she knew how to mask her nerves when meeting a new client, this was hardly any different.

"I am... it's lovely to meet you..."

A blonde waiter walked up to their table, notebook in hand. "Can I get you ladies anything to drink?" Evidently no one taught him the art of being subtle with the way he gawked at Seraphine.

"A London Fog for me, thanks." Aislin said, snickering. She nodded to Seraphine, "Get whatever you like - I'll foot the bill today."

It was not uncommon for people to react in such a way, particularly young men, Seraphine normally enjoyed the attention, but had no time for it now. She ordered an espresso, then ignored the waiter until he realised he was still staring and left sheepishly. She waited a moment, then turned back to CT.

"Sorry, that happens a lot, I wonder if his eyes would pop if I told him what I can do."

She smirked, displaying a far dirtier smile than her otherwise innocent appearance would suggest. Aislin mirrored the smile, knowing more-or-less what Seraphine was referring to.

"I thought secret meetings in coffee shops only happened in movies, won't people be able to hear us?"

"Not necessarily," Aislin said, glancing at the cafe around them. It was a quaint, hand-crafted place. Dark wood table sets lined a portion of the floor, with mismatched sofas on a raised platform to the side. Glass partitions ran through the cafe, giving the tables more of an 'island' feel.

"Notice how everyone here is so engrossed with their own conversations?" Aislin nodded to the couple two tables down. "It takes a certain intent to eavesdrop, one that's not hard to detect in a cafe. As far I can tell, no one but that waiter cares we're here."

She chuckled, resting her arms on the table. "Besides, as I'm sure you're well aware - it's hard to find a discreet, comfortable area since there's been a lack of power in Baybridge."

The waiter returned, flourishing a metal tray with two china cups. With a delicate grip on the saucer, he set out the steaming drinks in front of them. Evidently, he was attempting to show off for Seraphine.

"Is there anything else I can get for you two lovely ladies?"

Aislin's eyes squinted in amusement. "Mm, nothing for now, thanks."

The escort smiled innocently at the waiter, "Thank you, that's all, we'll let you know if we need you."

At the same time her eyes flicked up and down his form, as though she were making her own private judgement, and she turned away before he could gather his own thoughts and begin to walk away.

Blowing on the foam of her drink, Aislin paused a couple moments before fixing her gaze on Seraphine. "What was it you wished to discuss?"

Leaning forward, Seraphine resisted the urge to whisper conspiratorially. Judging by Aislin's response it would only look as if she were trying to have a secret conversation.

"CID... has a mole..."

She sat back, trying her best not to look smug, "and I know who it is."

"Mhmm, that's quite a bold claim," Aislin said, eyes twinkling.

In the back of her mind, she didn't feel so good. A mole in CID? With the tireless labour Hallmark took to know his team, Aislin's concern about their internal security was very low on the list. Knowing her boss, he had a plan for such a case, but if this claim was true... they were in trouble . And not only that, but who did the mole report to? How bad of a security issue was on the table? If that French gang from New Raygate was stirring trouble again, she'd have to tear their leader a new one - maybe pull out some blackmail files. Or... Maybe it was the Society itself that the mole took orders from — that would explain why Seraphine came on her own. But that would also denote some amount of generosity, which was rare in their line of work.

"Would you, by chance, have any evidence to back up such a claim?"

Seraphine almost answered immediately, but caught herself, she couldn't simply blurt it out, if she did that, then she had no bargaining chip, no way to negotiate. She sipped from her espresso, taking advantage of the pause to gather her thoughts. She took a moment to examine Aislin, though if the news had truly worried the CID agent she hadn't let anything show upon her face.

"I thought this was a negotiation. This information is not free..."

Aislin snorted. Well, then. May as well cut to the chase, eh? She leaned forward, resting her chin on overlapped hands. “Very well, what was it you wanted in return?"

Here the redhead seemed lost. She hadn't planned this far ahead, or rather she had, but now that she was here she wasn't sure if she could go through with it. She was playing a game that she didn't fully understand and for the first time she realised just how out of her depth she was now. For a moment, just a brief fraction of a second, the facade that she normally maintained slipped, and a frightened, confused girl shone through.

"I want out..."

Aislin’s brow furrowed. “Mm, if it’s the Society you refer to, I wasn’t aware they had policies against employees leaving.”

"I cost more per night than most people earn in a year. The Society spent a lot of money training me, and they won't want to let their investment go so easily..."

"Understandable," Aislin said, bobbing her head. She unzipped her purse and fished out a tablet. Setting it up so they could both see the screen, Aislin found a PDF with client service packages. As it was, CID had a knack for almost any kind of falsified work. Passports, work visas, birth certificates - you name it.

“We do offer options in such cases, and I’d be willing to exchange some for your intel. We got disappearance acts, new identities, fabricated documents. Even 24 hour security watch in case your past catches up with you.” Aislin said, keeping a calm, even tone in her voice. Seraphine appeared a little over her head, but Aislin had to commend her. This kind of situation required no small amount of courage.

Disappearance, a new identity, new documents. Seraphine hadn't thought what this would entail, she wouldn't just be leaving the Society, she would be hiding from them. The Croquetaigne sisters terrified her, in truth, and she didn't want to cross them, or to earn their enmity. She was tired of this though, perhaps it hadn't been very long, three years wasn't that much time, but she couldn't keep it up. The thoughts of those difficulties were hard enough to shake off, but she still wanted to do, she wanted, needed to escape the control they had over her life. She wanted to ask this woman for her advice, to ask anyone for help, but this was the most she could do, she had to bargain from a position of power here, at least for as long as she could hold onto it.

"That... could be acceptable, but I would need more than just a description, I need assurances."

Aislin scoffed, flicking over to a testimonial page filled with five stars. "Then you must not know CID too well - of course, no one really does. We have a 95% success rate in our client relocation services, and have 20 years experience behind us."

She took a sip of her latte, admiring the china cup. "Hm, I could quote the facts for you all day," Aislin tilted her head thoughtfully. "But I wonder, what kind of assurance do you need? I can take point in your safety myself, if you'd like. Introduce you to our finest security chap - Brucie. Or..."

Aislin leaned in close, lowering her voice. "It's not for the faint of heart, but if you wanted a place within CID akin to that of your aptitude... I may have an opportunity for you."

Of her aptitude? Seraphine wasn't entirely sure what that meant, nor was she entirely happy with the potential implications, but it was a concrete offer. Right now she didn't really have many other options. She could accept this offer, or she could go back to the Society and hope they didn't find out about the deal she had tried to make behind their back. She swallowed uncomfortably, then nodded, "I'm listening."

"Gee, it's really not as horrible as you're imagining." Aislin said, giggling. "I'm merely suggesting CID could use an extra pair of hands, and you could use a steady job. We need those who are subtle, who can ask the right questions, uncover information. Along with the protection of a new identity and and new place to call home, you could also become a Private Investigator. Well, in-training, of course. The professional training would have to wait until this Family bullshit is done and over with."

She waved her hands in a dismissive manner. "Of course, I'm only suggesting this."

"Now, I believe I've been more than fair in regards to my part of the deal. What I offer is easily in the hundreds of thousands - but don't worry about that." Aislin said, her voice light. Money seems to be her language; if I must, I'll push that again. She thought, keeping a smile on her face. She must tell me what she knows...

With a nod, Seraphine expressed her continued interest, "How do I know I can trust you to uphold your side of the bargain?"

She must sound paranoid, but she was afraid that if she didn't get assurances now, then she might be hung out to dry when she handed over what she knew. She was afraid enough that any moment the twins might walk in, she dreaded to think what they might do if they caught her after the fact, let alone red handed.

"C'mon, sweet pea." Aislin winked. "We didn't become a multi-million dollar company by going back on our promises or throwing potential clients to the dogs. What I've laid on the table, I'm 100% serious."

Seraphine smiled faintly, then leaned forward, "One of your techs, I don't have pictures, but I can identify him. Early thirties, 6 feet tall, about 200 pounds, brunette."

Here she frowned, "Proof is a little harder, he went from the standard rate girls to me in one night, that's not something a normal bonus covers, and he bragged to me that he was informing. You could check his phone but I'm willing to bet it's a burner, he doesn't seem thaaat stupid..."

Aislin bit her lip, scanning through the gallery on her tablet before pulling up a photo. Standing in front of a black curtain was Miss Admin, radiant and focused — a smile was absent from her face. Surrounding her was the tech team, dressed in the usual white shirt and tie. Most were photogenic; some gave the impression they wished to be elsewhere.

"Do you see him here?" she asked.

Seraphine nodded, laying a slender finger on a figure a little to the left of the apparent boss. He actually seemed to be the most photogenic of the group, if a little bored.

Aislin nodded, clicking her tongue. "Well, you've made this much easier. Did you happen to catch who the traitor was informing?"

Seraphine looked even more uncomfortable here, this was her last chance, once she told, there was no going back. They'd only just gone public now, and their first appearance had shown they were not to be trifled with, "The Founding Family..."

The... Family? Aislin stared wordlessly, eyes wide. How long? How much did they know? Who was at risk: the company itself, or the individuals? From her knowledge, they had almost total control of the West, but she had no idea they were so damn close. A listening ear in her home, in CID. And with the recent events... Aislin gasped. The meeting! Hallmark went public in the company about the Family's existence. And the mole likely told the very same about their plan of getting CID's assets out of dodge. Their illusion of an advantage against the terrorists was promptly shattered.

"Goddamn it..." Aislin swore in a low voice. She tossed back the remainder of her drink, thankful it was cooled. She needed to report this 20 minutes ago. But as soon as possible would work too.

A number was speed-dialed as Aislin brought a phone to her ear. "... Mel? It's CT; this is a high priority request. I need Brucie to chauffeur a bit - I'm at the Roasted Bean with a client. Schedule out a safe house, text me the address. And I need a meeting with Hallmark in 40 minutes. Also, lock-down the technology division."

"Lock-down, miss?" Mel said, confusion in her voice. "Under who's authority?"

"Mine." Aislin said, chin up. "Don't worry, I'll deal with the boss.~☆"

"...Very well. I'll pass it along."

"Thanks." Aislin said, and ended the call. Seraphine was looking at her with an amount of concern. "And now for my end of the deal, Seraphine. We're going to stop by your house, you'll pack a suitcase, and we'll bring you to a temporary safe house until a more permanent residence is organized. In the next 32 hours, you'll have a new identity, and perhaps, a new career."

Aislin waved over the waiter and pulled out her debit. He almost seemed sad to have them leave as he swiped it, and was bold enough to ask what Seraphine was doing after his shift.

Five minutes later, a black Audi rolled up to the cafe. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, Aislin led them out of the Roasted Bean. Brucie, a well-dressed man with narrow shades over his eyes, rolled down the passenger window. "Hey gals, need a lift?"

Aislin smirked, opening the back door for Seraphine, "After you, sweet pea."

Rhea Harlow

Lower South Royer Town, Prince Ed-Field_

Rhea found herself surprisingly comfortable in her new establishments. Along with fresh clothes and a gifted arsenal of batteries and batons, almost everyone - especially Aislin - stayed out of her hair. Not bad, seeing as she’d hit a rough patch with the whole ‘laying low’ deal.

Aislin’s luxury suite became the ‘wild card’ group’s base — which started looking like a shared home rather quick. In the themes of modern and chic with a few threads of futurist, the suite was certainly of pleasant design. In light of recent events, however, the bathroom had been converted into a water storage area. The tubs were to the brim with clean water with filled dispenser bottles lining the wall.

As for resting spaces, Aislin opened the spare room and den to her company. Sofas were laid with blankets and sleeping bags set out on the living room carpet. A battery-powered heat generator stood in the centre of the room and a propane camp stove sat on the kitchen counter. In the effort of sanitation, the city had set up portable washrooms in the tower’s lobby - so that was a relief.

Aislin usually spent hours brooding over the maps and diagrams laid out on the dining room table, but was currently out on business. Urgent call from Hallmark, apparently, so she missed the shenanigans involving Holly, Shizu and Ryu.

After Rhea attended CID’s emergency meeting via video chat, she found herself on the tower’s rooftop. From this height it was easy to feel the stronger winds - perfect for her practices. After a light body workout Rhea rolled into a perfect handstand, eyes closed and breath slow. Eventually she shifted to one hand, taking care to keep herself perfectly poised against the breeze.

There appeared to be a great contrast between her stillness and the sounds of the city. Every few minutes a siren would move around in the streets, or a chopper cut the sky overhead. And recently… the subtle rat-tat-tat of gunfire - far, far away.

Not far enough... Rhea’s brow furrowed, causing her stance to wobble. With a sigh, she cartwheeled back on her feet. From her view over the ledge, Rhea watched the growing storm in Baybridge.
I've re-vamped the first IC and OOC posts, filled out the characters tab, and added a bunch of writings to the IC. :)
Evelyn could only shake her head as Polaris and her departed from the warmth of camp. The crisp air of night settled in with speed, and the light of the moon did little against the thick canopy overhead.

"Seems to get unnaturally dark in this forest." The elf said, rubbing her hands together to produce a magic bolt. It spilled off her fingertips to hover in the air, lighting the area around them in a pale glow.

After minutes of collecting firewood, Evelyn froze. Her eyes scanned the dark web of foliage around them, gesturing for Polaris to be still.

"Did you... hear that?" she whispered.

Red eyes, several pairs of them, glinted in the shadows. A low, guttural growl. Then, silence... to be broken. A terrible rumble moved the ground as wolves sprang from the brush, bearing a snarl as they attacked the women.

Polaris was glad that she borrowed Shaftly, Wrensthav's shape-shifting axe. choosing the form of a halberd, Polaris was working her way to keep the large wolves away. Striking down one of their flanking members, a burst of lightning hit a nearby tree.

"They have mages as back up, Evelyn! Try not to be too occupied with the wolves." Polaris sliced a couple of legs off another wolf that lunged her way. another bolt of lightning shot near her causing her to move closer to Evelyn.

Over time the wolf party moved the two ladies off the trail they came from and into a different part of the forest. A cliffside was coming closer and closer to their backs.

"We are running out of room; have any ideas to get us out of this mess?"

"This isn't just a pack of wolves..." Evelyn said, delicately frowning. Ice shot from her hand and impaled a few of the beasts, forcing them to move back. Tribal mages from the back of the group continued their spells, creating a line of purple runes on one side.

Evelyn glanced back at the sheer drop behind them. "They're trying to force our move. If we stay pinned much longer we'll be forced to jump. Likely to our deaths."

She shot another bolt of ice, only to have it knocked aside by the mages. They were close enough that Evelyn swore she could make out the smirks under their bone masks.

"It's no good. Let's move, see if we can get back to camp," she said. "And close your eyes."

Firing off what looked like a firefly, it flew into the middle of the enemy group and exploded into a huge globe of light. A blinding spell meant to temporarily render vision useless. The wolves howled, heads thrashing around.

As Polaris and Evelyn made a dash into the only stretch of wood available for them, a strange sense of magic tingled through Evelyn. Running in the dark, they both failed to see a subtle rune placed under the brush. It lit up under their feet, and the world fell on its side.

Almost literally. One moment they were in the forest, the next they fell a short distance up, and into blackness. The ground met them with a thud, it being a smoky charcoal material. In fact, everything was dark except the sky. It was a shade of grey. This... purgatory place stretched on forever.

Evelyn moved to check on Polaris. "...Are you okay?"

In the forest, a small, black cube landed in the dirt. Its features were seamless, and the material it composed seemed to absorb nearby light. A painted hand reached down to pick up the cube, holding it to his wicked face. The werewolf tribe's lieutenant let out a low chuckle.

"Nothing will stand in our way now..."

Written in collaboration with @WrensthavAviovus
Polaris and Wrensthav lugged Mattien to his room and unceremoniously tossed him onto the mattress in his room that complained of the new sudden weight. After apologising to Roselyn about their party member and helping clean up a bit they headed to their own room.

"Did you enjoy your time playing no stage?" Wrensthav asked, taking off his trenchcoat and belts.

"Depends, did you enjoy your alone time with the Pretty Elf-lady?" Polaris retorted back.

"I was hoping you were too distracted to notice our absence."

"You know I look for you all the time." She grumbled. she changed into a lighter dress before heading to their bed.

"So I take it you are not so upset as to dissipate your form?"

"Get over here and keep me warm Ancient Sleeper." She replied a grin on her face and a flirtatious tone in her voice.

To be honest, Evelyn didn't get much sleep that night. Not that elves need a lot of sleep, but it wasn't a pleasant night regardless. She rested in bed, eyes studying the dark ceiling. Her discussion with Wrensthav began to sink in as she attempted to understand the implications of his 'profession'.

"He seeks relics." She murmured. "He has contracts. He takes them to be fixed and returned to the earth."

She rolled over, reaching a hand up to push the shutters open a crack. Cool air wisped along her fingertips.

"I'm on an expedition. We seek a magic relic." Her brows furrowed and a frustrated crinkle formed along her lips. "Was it... was it by chance he joined the expedition? Why would he need companions? Does he mean to take the relic once we obtain it?"

She slammed the shutters shut, stiffly getting out of bed to pace the room. For the next several hours she paced and muttered, but eventually came to the conclusion she needed him more than she could risk removing a potential threat to her success. She would put a pin in this thought until they got closer to Rubylust.

As the sun drew a blush in the sky, Evelyn washed down with a sponge, used magic to remove tangles and grease from her hair, and changed back into her travelling mage robes.

She packed her bags and headed downstairs, meeting Roselyn in the hall for breakfast. With a cheese quarter and bread roll to dine on, Evelyn asked Roselyn a quick request. "Could I buy some extra food for provisions?"

Mattien snoozed softly in his bedroom, having little to no memory of the night before. He didn't recall having gone overboard with the alcohol, or the singing. His mace, idly resting against the wall hummed and vibrated. It knew the day was starting.

"...." Mattien snorted, rolling to wave off the mace. "Let me sleep, I'm just so... Zzz..."

The mace suddenly jumped, stamping its spikes into the wooden floor, sending splinters across the room. Mattien's eyes flew open. "Okay, okay!"

He joined Evelyn downstairs shortly after, helping himself to a heaping breakfast.

Polaris awoke when she heard a thundering noise come from Mattien room along with a hint of divine power.   Sitting up with a groan followed by some stretching and a yawn, Polaris checked the barriers she had set up along the room.  As always, Roselyn kept a watchful eye and a firm grip on her staff and patrons in her inn so none of the safety measures were disturbed. 

Wrensthav was still sound asleep under the covers.  His hair a spiky mess about the pillow and one hand underneath, grasping a dagger no doubt.  So even if a burglar came in they would have to be extremely lucky to miss Wrens' thrown dagger, and even more skilled to leave with their lives after Polaris herself got to them.

The collection of items bid her a good morning as she changed into something more suitable for the public.

"I'll be back in ten minutes.  You best should be awake or I will have to take additional measures."  Polaris said in a cheerful tone, which got no response from her companion. She looked out their door to see Mattien wolfing down the breakfast spread.

"Either that or Strongman will have eaten all the food."

Wrens gave an audible grumble and stirred a bit.

"Pleasant Morrow, Strong-man, Pretty-elf.  Wrens should be with us soon.  A cooked meal is one of the few ways to peacefully get him roused." said Polaris.

Mattien looked up at Polaris, cheeks stuffed with food. He tried mumbling, but nothing coherent came out.

Evelyn gave him a disgusted look. "Seriously, Oaf. No one wants to see that."

He continued to eat, unfazed.

The elf rolled her pale eyes, glancing at Polaris. "You're late. I wanted to be on the road 15 minutes ago. Where's your friend?"

She cocked her head. "No wait, don't tell me. He's still sleeping, isn't he?"

Time passed. As Evelyn arranged some final provision packages with Rosalyn, leaving a pouch of coins with her, Wrensthav was able to find time for breakfast.

Refreshed and rejuvenated, they moved to continue their journey on the road. For hours they walked, traversing meadow, forest and hill ranges. Taking care to avoid large bodies of moving water, Evelyn led their group through a tight section of woods

A crunch of twigs behind them alerted the group to a pack of wolves. They looked hungry but didn't make a move. Sizing them up, Evelyn thought.

Using magic like a flash grenade, Evelyn told Mattien and Polaris to drive them off with their weapons. Disoriented and slashed up, the wolves dispersed and retreated quickly.

The day turned to dusk, and having not made it to the next town Evelyn decided they should set up camp for the night. In a stony alcove, sheltered by a woodland, they found a flat patch of ground that would suit them.

Wrensthav and Mattien began setting camp up, rolling out beds and creating a firepit. Evelyn and Polaris went to collect enough wood to last the night.

They finished moving about troublesome rocks that would prove to hamper their sleep and set up the bed mats. Mattienn and Wrensthav also dug a hole for a fire, tossing out the stray pebbles. Finding the hole adequate and searching the area for suitable stones, Wrensthav started up a conversation with the burly party member.

"Mattien, I have been wondering this for some time now... How did you come about possessing a possessed weapon?"

"This old thing?" Mattien grasped the mace on his back, pulling it free of its straps. He twisted it in his hand, watching the razored edges gleam.

"It was years and years ago. I wandered into a cave armed with a limp sword, my eyes on the treasure. After almost getting myself killed many times, I defeated the ghouls within and found this mace on an altar.

"The god within it was sick of the cave and demanded my services. How could I refuse?" Mattien chuckled, placing the mace back in its holster.

"Not much for patience, or kindness. But without that mace and the being within, I would be dead long ago."

Wrensthav Pondered this short tale for a while before continuing the conversation.

"Do you have any inquiries about myself or my items?"

In a brief pause, Mattien considered telling Wrensthav about all the deeds Ra-Shin had him commit over the years. All of them shameful when you considered it in a certain perspective.

Mm, nah.

"You?" Mattien snorted. "Well, that's surprising, coming from someone as tight-lipped as yourself, Mr. Mysterious-Traveller-With-Strange- Ass-Gizmos. Like that disc you brought out the other day. I'd never seen anything like it."

Wrensthav noticeably grimaced about Mattien's evaluation. True he was often one who did more talking through his fists and blades than through actual conversation. Not that he hadn't tried to dissolve a brawl by talking in the past. Envy or other motives generally disregarded such attempts when people saw a lone traveller who looked genuinely lost and was carrying enough weapons for a small band of warriors.

"I regret the actions that followed after, but those circumstances demanded it. I will say that with Polaris and Evelyn in our party I will have very little reason to bring out that item again."

Mattien did little to hide his relief. It was a like a weight had been taken off him. "Well, that's good to know."

After laying his mace and pack against the alcove wall, Mattien relaxed on his bed mat.

"What a day, eh?"

Evelyn shifted the stack of dry branches in her arms. Polaris was ahead of her, prying at a dead tree's thick branches.

She watched the struggle patiently. "... Polaris, you might have better luck hacking it with your sword."

They had collected nearly enough firewood for half the night. Evelyn considered they would need two trips to get wood as the night progressed.

"When we get back, I have a hot meal planned with Rosalyn's provisions. Have you ever tried meat and peas over steamed rice?"

Polaris and Evelyn returned with several bundles of dried twigs and branches in tow. Mattien looked relaxed, poking around with the fire pit. Wrensthav, however, looked very tired and frustrated by a pile of pebbles.

"I See that the ladies have been more successful at their gathering than we have with the preparation work," Wrensthav grumbled.

Evelyn seemed to be holding back some laughter while Polaris moved the majority of the lumber gathered.

"I have found out why we have a hard time preparing our fires," Polaris replied sheepishly.

"You still can't tell the different between hard woods and green woods?"

"Well, you are unable to find head sized rocks for a hearth."

After some heated glaring at each other, that seemed to crackle the air between them. The long time companions finally called a truce to their stationary battle.

Wrensthav splintered the green wood into kindling while Polaris pulled suitable stones from the surrounding area for the hearth.

Evelyn sniffed. "Squabbles like that only take place between married folk."

Mattien chuckled. He leaned up against the rock, staring up at a clear night sky. The moon was a sliver, but the stars offered their own light.

With the firepit prepared, flint was struck and a fire was lit. Evelyn Conjured a cooking pot and set it hovering over the flames. Rice and water were added first to steam, then meat and peas. Evelyn watched the brew carefully, ensuring nothing burned.

Mattien's tummy made an audible growl. He clutched his stomach, grimacing at Wrensthav. "Have you any devices that create edible snacks?"

"Quit that, Mattien," Evelyn mumbled. "Dinner needs another 5 minutes."

Wrensthav and Polaris also hovered over the pot as the aroma from the soup permeated the alcove. They had to hurry back as both of them nearly got their hair in the actual fire.

"Sorry, neither one of us is that much of a cook."

"Wrens tends to burn things."

Evelyn clicked her tongue. "If there's one skill in life you should have, it's to cook. You need to eat every day, yes?"

Mattien shrugged. "With the payload of this job, I'll just buy my meals from now on. Never have to cook again."

The elf scowled, but said nothing. She stirred the brew a final time and tapped the wooden spoon on the magical rim. Pulling out several wood bowls, she offered them to the group.

"Serve yourself however much you'll eat."

Mattien proceeded to take half the pot. Evelyn took his bowl and poured some back, ignoring his puppy-dog eyes.

"Wrens sometimes forgets to eat when he is on a particularly tight schedule," Polaris said as she served up Wrensthav's bowl along with her own.

"Out of his more frequent travelling partners, there are only two who are known for their cooking. Wrensthav is known to make an extremely airy loaf of bread when he doesn't end up burning it."

"Polaris can make a very soothing cup of tea from time to time. Or so I hear. I don't find the appeal of drinking hot leaf juice." Wrensthav said, looking a little disappointed at his bowl.

The tall companions set their utensils on their bowls. Wrensthav pointed his to true south and Polaris had hers to magnetic north. They bowed their heads whilst grasping their opposing wrists before reciting a mantra in a foreign tongue. Their accents became more pronounced for this brief period. One reminiscent of a whistling wind and the other a delicate ring of chimes. Wrensthav still looked at his meal in an odd manner which led to a swift elbow to the ribs from Polaris.

"Normal people would be thankful to have burnt food absent from their meal." Polaris hissed through her teeth. She let her shoulders fall and snatched a small coal from the fire and tossed it into Wrensthav's bowl.

Wrensthav eagerly started to devour his soup. "You should know by now that I am not normal people."

"You make it very hard to forget, but I still try to." Polaris finally done tending to her companion partook in the soup. "Oh! This is wonderfully seasoned! What did you add to this when I was preparing the ingredients, Pretty-Elf-Lady?"

Evelyn watched Wrensthav and Polaris pray, her mouth a little slack.

What language is that? The dialect isn't anything I know. Her mind skimmed her mnemonic archives. Too delicate to be Dragon, certainly not Elvish. Not any animal language she knew of, or of any spirit.

Her lips pursed. Another mystery to add to the growing list, along with the 'Wrensthav Enigma'.

The sizzle of a hot coal drew her attention to Wrensthav's bowl. An eyebrow arched.

"You prefer the taste of charred food?"

Polaris tried the brew and gave praise. "What did you add to this when I was preparing the ingredients, Pretty-Elf-Lady?"

Evelyn rooted through her bag, procuring a corked phial. She offered it to Polaris. "Take a whiff. It's a tincture made from the lifeblood of certain herbs."

A log cracked over the fire. Mattien stoked it absent-mindedly.

"Truely wondrous spices in this land. Too bad this one prefers them to be ashed." Polaris lamented.

"I do believe that we will be needing some more firewood for the morning cooking. More of that wood that Polaris put in my soup would be great." Wrensthav said wiping his mouth with his sleeve.

"We did appease the correct warden of this territory right? I would be very upset if we ended up handicapped during our next venture."

Polaris rolled her eyes and got up. "Looks like it's the ladies doing the heavy lifting again. Strongman, please try to keep Wrensthav from finishing off the rest of the coals before we return."

"Also would you mind fetching and blessing some water when you return?" Wrensthav asked before stuffing his face again.

Polaris rummaged through her companions weaponry and pulled out a large axe. "Borrowing Shaftly for a spell. Let's get going Pretty-Elf-Lady."

Written in collaboration with @WrensthavAviovus
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