Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Jumbus
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Jumbus My life be like oooooh-aaaah ooooh-aaaah

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Eun-Ji @Medili, Carmilla @Animus, Zarra @BreathOfTheWoof, Dory @Jasbraq, Manfred @Force and Fury

The drunken man’s parting word left Leon with a sense of emptiness. ‘Nothing will bring my brother back.’ The cost of his ambition was paid for with the blood of others against his wishes. He now had a debt which he had never held before and it would need to be paid before he could justify himself again. Whether with the lyre or not, he had to save lives enough to make up for those lost here.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Spread out, stop this riot, fix the ship.” Leon commanded aimlessly into the hall. Only for him to feign acting his own command to pursue his own goals. He needed to find Manfred, or Eun-Ji, whoever could get him off this boat. He has had enough of all this.

Leon could find them easily enough with a decent amount of searching and bumping into fleeing common folk. Down in the lower decks just above the water line. Quite a panic was being roused about these 'Schluckodils', whatever they were. Probably some river beast.

"Manfred! Eun-Ji!" Leon breathed heavily as if he had been running. Some part of it was an act, another part genuine. "I came as fast as I could. The crowd is calm, but what is this talk about Scluckodils? If they are as terrifying as I've heard, I'm afraid I'll be of little help."

"According to what Ms Hohnstein described to me, these Schluckodils are man-eating reptiles of significant size that indeed are very dangerous," Eun-Ji answered Leon's question simply before then observing the performer's condition. She noticed that he doesn't seem to be all too worse for wear, but decided not to bring it up to give Leon the benefit of the doubt.

Manfred responded by pointing with one hand and drawing his finger to his lips with the other. "There is one just around that bend: in the galley." His eyes evaluated Leon up and down for a moment, expression unreadable. "If you're too weak to help, then you should make your exit." He divided his attention between watching where the schluckodil might emerge and Leon. He was hoping to bottleneck the former while leaving himself and Eun-Ji room to manoeuvre. "You have the lyre, correct? The one you threw was an illusion or decoy?" His Kerreman accent came out more strongly with a couple of the less common words. He was not looking at Leon, but his body language indicated that he was expecting an answer.

Leon was taken aback by Manfred's questions but kept such thoughts internal as to not arouse suspicion. "This hardly seems like the time, Manfred. I will talk about it later, but not while lives are at stake." Leon raised his voice ever so slightly to make it a matter of appearances. To push the matter further is to care less about the lives on the ship.

"I do think that it is important to confirm of the state of the Lyre, which is a paramount matter in this mission of ours..." Eun-Ji said in as polite a tone as she could achieve, before then continuing. "But very well, handling the immediate threats first is not unreasonable." She did notice, however, that Leon avoided really answering Manfred's simple question, which was curious.

"The lyre?... Right, The lyre. Did we succeed with that at least?" Dorothea fidgeted, as she tried her best to stay composed in said situation. The fear of the Schluckodil was not helping her mental state much.

Manfred's eyes narrowed at Leon's words and he found himself reevaluating the performer for at least the second time. A simple 'yes' would've been quicker than the response Solaire had given, which meant that he didn't have it or he wanted to hide it. "Mm, you're right," the Kerreman allowed. "We each must do our utmost, with whatever tools we have, to prevent more deaths." His eyes remained on the bend but it was clear that he now addressed Eun-Ji. "The schluck," he said, "we need to draw it into the hall and get it to open its mouth. Its skin is too hard to pierce." His eyes flicked Leon's way. "Perhaps an illusion." He looked at Dorothea, guilt only momentarily clawing at him. She seemed to have recovered her reason, and that was good. "Can you manage an Arcane Lance? If you can, I can also shoot it." His rifle was primed and loaded.

"I believe I can assist with both providing a decoy that might cause the creature to open its mouth, and also with getting something lethal into said mouth once it is open..." Eun-Ji paused, mulling over the options. "However, indeed, if someone else can aid with providing the illusion instead, I can then fully focus on aiding to wound and take down the beast."

Feeling that he had been forgotten, the traveller agent Seer chimed in, grinning in a coy manner. "Yeees, handle the Schluckodil by the four of you. You definitely do not need an additionally capable mage that also happens to be a Powergazer to help you, hmm?"

Leon replied to Seer directly. "Unfortunately not, as I said I'm not going to be much use." He then turned to Eun-Ji, who he saw as being more level-headed than Manfred at the current time. "Eun-Ji, unfortunately, I am a little different from a normal mage. I'm unable to draw well, and it looks as though I'm out. As it stands, I'm as good as a non-magic user. Which is to say not at all."

"Hugo let you know the way out, right? I would like to use it."

The more Leon spoke, the guiltier he appeared to Manfred, and purposely targeted Eun-Ji, too. The Kerreman had respected him, even trusted him. This was... disappointing. He just wanted Leon out of the picture at this point. If he was hiding anything, the Paradigm would know. "Then you should be on your way," he cut in. "Do wait for us with the big man, though." He couldn't make it too obvious with the Traveler's people around. He still hadn't decided where his loyalties lay. "I think you'll find him in the grotta tal-fidda. It's just down that way." Manfred chose an out-of-the-way direction and pointed. "Eun-Ji," he followed up, finished with the lying showman, "You get it to open wide and Dory, myself, and Seer can hit it with everything we've got." He furrowed his brow. "Say, has anyone seen the Perrench?" If he was lucky, they'd been eaten by the crocs, but Manfred was so rarely lucky.

Eun-Ji nodded in response. It should, hopefully, be easy enough to trick such a creature with one of her water doppelganger. "I understand. You can count on me, Manfred." After having said that, she immediately started drawing from the surrounding in preparation for the act.

Leon took the opportunity to sneak away to a place devoid of Traveller agents and spoke the magic words to get back to Hugo’s tower.

“Grotta tal-fidda.”

Leon experience the strange bliss that was temporal travel when he first was sent on this mission. Warm and encompassing like the heat of the sun protecting him from the vast expanse of void and night around him. Before he knew it though, he stood before a not unfamiliar desk. And the greatest mage to ever live that sat behind it.

The two had not exchanged words when Leon had first arrived at the tower. Leon had barely laid eyes on the man. But with just him and Hugo in a space, it was overwhelming, the intimidating presence of immense power bearing down upon him. No matter what trickery he had pulled to get here, none of it would work now.

This was to be a trial of truth. Leon had the lyre on his back and nothing he could do would be able to hide it from the eyes of the Paradigm. He had to pick his words very carefully.

Leon took a bow.

"Hugo." Leon said his name alone and waited to raise himself from the bow before continuing. "I trust the other missions have been going smoothly as well." Leon kept a friendly smile but was careful not to overdo it.

Leon waited for the Paradigm before mentioning the lyre or the events of his own mission. Although the Paradigm was powerful, Leon was intensely interested in how much of the events Hugo was already aware of.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

Member Seen 1 day ago

Location: Disskas' Underground Base -> San Agustin, Torragonese High Desert

Interactions: Trypano @A Lowly Wretch, Ingrid @dragonpiece, Benny, Ismet'ych'lahin'dichora, and the Disskas @Force and Fury

Desmond understood the consequences would be immense because of choosing to instead of turning back the hands of time they decided to move forward. It seemed the Disskas knew the many things that could happen, and it seemed they could make use of the variables. As it seemed that choosing to move forward might give a better chance, to what though? Desmond didn't know why he cared about the idea, he just wanted his memories, right?

As the Disskas talked they spoke they needed to move quickly, as it pulled Desmond out of his thoughts and back into action. The tunnels were like a tight labyrinth that constantly seemed to grow as they went, and even when they met the Sirrahi 'staircases', Desmond launched himself up them using kinetic energy to throw him up in a small heroic leap. While when they met 'staircases' going downwards, Desmond jumped down as he used magnetic energy and charged the bottom of his shoes to be repel the ground by using the same charge on both his shoes and the floor underneath him. As he began to use his kinetic energy to force him forward and began to slide down the 'staircase'. As Once he was to meet the floor, Desmond took back his charge as he continued to use the Gift to assist him forward. As they moved, Nine seemed to started to move as Nine said they were supposed to 'fail', Desmond wasn't out of breath even after all this running, yet he understood why she was nearly breathless as control of breath while talking is quite hard. Desmond took a breath as he said, "What do you mean by fail or succeed?"

As Nine continued, they began talking about lying and Desmond said in a quick lash, "Yeah we can see that". As Nine most likely looked towards him he stuck his tounge out and smiled with a laugh. Yet as they continued to speak it was something much more intense than what he was joking with. They were doing a report for some university they were a part of as they were trying to prove that Humans and Yasoi were unable to have emotions for beings who were not closely related with them in the Animal Kingdom. Desmond scoffed at the idea, he would have said in such a situations, 'Yeah we can humans love many things. We can feel empathy, sympathy, love for, and so much more feelings for creatures they can even find out in the forest. The creature needs to be friendly on first contact…or dead'. Yet before he could say this it seemed Seven had hushed them to set for her to open up a room that filled his mind with a buffet of energies. Magnetic energy akin to lightning, yet more…weakened and tamed. It felt strange as he felt it them becoming Chemical then Arcane, as Desmond felt the energies within the room his face bore a smile, he was confused as it did not make sense, but he knew one thing: 'This isn't magic itself. This has to be their Tech'.

As when they entered it seemed they had 4 minutes to choose a reward for themselves, yet it seemed they were unable to take Technology of a certain level. Desmond clicked his tongue until he heard Ismette ask something and get accepted: 'Their books on Temporal Magic?' As that was when Desmond smiled, he knew what he needed to ask, what he needed to look for. Books were going to be his best friend here, he can find much more of what he needs if he aimed for books rather than pieces of tech and equipment. Desmond was there with Nine as she seemed to assist him slightly but he said as he was looking, "I promise I won't take any tech, you should spend the little time you have left with your Girlfriend". Desmond spoke mostly in a joking manner as he whistled away as he searched. He was looking through some books, looking at their titles, flicking through them, he wondered what even he was looking for. Was he hoping to find some great book filled with inventions to make him some great inventor? Was he here to find some great book on weapons to make him the ultimate killer? Or was he here to find some book to lead his life? He had no clue anymore, yet when he hear the ticking occur, Desmond snatched up the nearest hefty book he could find and prepared to leave.

Yet Nine seemed to wish to give him and Ingrid one last goodbye, she went to him and took him into her embrace. She began to coil around him as a Desmond could do was stand there and allow her to do as she pleases. As she hugged him, she apologized for her deceit and said something about liking him. Desmond never thought his Avincian was bad, yet misconstruing such a refined form of it was very easy. Desmond just took it as she liked his personality and not her trying to get a kiss from him too. Yet as she moved away she grabbed a book from her bag and placed it on top of the book he also took. He now had a few books in his collection, the one he took that he doesn't really know what's in it, the one Nine gave him, and then the Encyclopedia that she spoke of. Asking him to open it when they left so he could maybe have a good memory return. As once she backed away Desmond said with a smile, "Yeah I swear I'll open it". Desmond snapped his finger and tossed a light pointing gesture to Nine as he then continued, "Hey don't worry about who taught who this go around. You just need to make sure you repay the favor next time".

As when they left to go to where ever they were meant to leave, it was a great large rectangle that seemed to be off. As last moment goodbyes occurred, Desmond felt a smile come onto his face more so than any other time as he said with a child like expression that seemed to say, 'Why are you sad, we'll see each other again'. As the portal opened up, it felt strange, similar to what he has seen before, yet different. Desmond looked for a moment or 2 before he stepped in he looked back to see as everyone else was beginning to follow. 'Forward onto dawn.'

Desmond had came to, his vision had finally came to as he looked and saw they were somewhere impossibly crazy. A desert and they were on a plateau over looking this great desert with what seemed to be thousands of soldiers walking forth to a small settlement. As he felt the others come through, Desmond looked back at their late arrival and said to her, "So, how was it a second time?" Desmond laughed as he looked to Ingrid and tossed her a smile.

Yet Desmond's face changed as before he could even look, his back tensed up and then there was a loud roar, he felt his blood boil and his eyes rose to the skies. It was either time to flee or fight, and Desmond knew not where to go, nor what to do. He was about to pull his gun, yet Trypano seemed to have taken the option to flee into a hole, yet it was one that could assist incase they would need a place to flee, which gave Desmond some hope. Desmond grabbed his rifle and aimed up, he thought about firing, but he was unsure if he could kill it fast enough for them to hide from the army. Desmond had no clue what was going on, yet he needed to play his cards the best he could, and fighting right now might be a bad idea.

Desmond looked to everyone as he yelled, "We need to move! Follow Trypano's lead and hide in the hole! We can't let that Army be aware we are here!" As Desmond began running to the hole, he was judging the time they had. If they were too slow they'd get drawn into a fight and also alert the Army, so they needed to get it right. As he pulled from the energy around him he converted it into kinetic energy and launched himself forward and right when he was about to near the hole, he jumped and began to convert the kinetic energy into magnetic energy and apply repelling forces on both the side of his body while also on the surface of the tunnel he was making contact with to soften his landing and slid on the tunnel walls and finally hit the water hole. As he began to convert the magnetic energy again back to kinetic energy and used it to assist him through the water to get through it and out as fast as he could to allow the next person to get through.

As the moment he made his way through, Desmond looked to Trypano and said, "Hey there, come here often?" Desmond tossed her a smile and a laugh, he was in a slightly good mood, it had been an interesting time and now they were running from Dragons. "What a life".
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by dragonpiece
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Location: Sirrahi research lab -> a Desert

Interactions: Trypano @A Lowly Wretch, Desmond @Th3King0fChaos, Sileen@Force and Fury

Ingrid had been serious about not going through with this if it posed too great of a risk to Nine and her siblings. Nine seemed resolved to accept what might come about from this for the sake of bettering her people. Ingrid couldn't argue with that. Ingrid had never thought too deeply on the way the world operated, she was always too focused on her social standing in the past to care. For someone who has traveled across the continent, her worldview is much more narrow than she thought. Perhaps it is time to change that.

With Seven directing Ten to prepare the transport and revealing how little time they had left, Ingrid only felt how little time there was. She wanted to talk to them more about their world and understand them even if it was superficial. She wanted to spend some time with Nine, not as a test subject but as equals. But there was little opportunity for us now.

Everyone rushed through the halls, Ingrid wasn't in the best shape so she relied on the Gift to enhance her body, using kinetic magic to help keep her going at a reasonable speed. The stairs provided a unique challenge to someone who failed oh so miserably getting on the boat earlier. Ingrid leapt through the air, clearing them ease and as she descended she drew her own momentum of falling to fuel more of her run knowing Penny might need to draw more than the rest of us only having 1 leg after all.

As they ran, Nine decided to start the explaining what exactly were they studying. To Ingrid it seemed like a simple test. The hypothesis felt like it came from someone trying to confirm a bias rather than actually test anything. Ingrid knew but was important to retest things as that is the nature of science but she couldn't help but see their professor as a dick. Some of their talks went over Ingrid's head but she got most of the information about the experiment. Seven came to a stop and they entered the room that seemed to hold their means of transporting us.

The room was a busy-looking room. Full of everything one would need to have their own laboratory, somewhat similar to Hugo's chambers. It was different and Ingrid could tell that they were researchers, there was a certain air to it. It was mystifying how much they could achieve with technology. The energies they had under their control without the Gift was astonishing. Using so many with such ease and a surprising amount of magnetism.

Nine seemed to bring up Seven's interruption to her earlier to our benefit as Seven quickly relinquished and gave an opportunity for us to grab some stuff as a reward of some sort. Ingrid believed the memories were more than enough but there was no time to talk about that. Ten had called over for the coordinates that they needed and Ingrid found that hard to answer as they she had no way of describing the school other than saying its name, an issue that would have never mattered to her if it wasn't for this one moment. Ismette seemed to be able to handle it and was the first to ask for her reward.

Temporal magic? Ingrid thought as she heard Ismette's request. More interesting to Ingrid though was this 'cure' Ismette was looking for. Ingrid wanted to know more about what was going on and if she could be any help to her so she made a quick note of it for after they get home. They seemed receptive to Ismette receiving it. It touched Ingrid that Nine would openly say that she would trust us with that kind of knowledge. Ingrid had some time to look around before Nine returned to help her pick her final selection.

Ingrid smiled at Nine, "Finished up with Desmond?" Ingrid asked, seeing if she had Nine to herself even if it was just for a few moments. Seeing that the coast was clear, Ingrid moved herself and Nine behind the shelves to get a smidgen of privacy. "Hey," Ingrid said shyly as she rubbed the back of her neck then smiled at Nine, "I know we don't have long but I wanted to thank you. I know you said that this time with us has changed you but it has changed me as well." Ingrid looked away as she tried to summarize her thoughts in an efficient way. "Before coming here I was so focused on myself. I think I always cared for people but I never allowed it to be my focus. I never took a hard look at myself or the bubble of a world I lived in. I learned so much from this time away from the academy. It was painful and scary but it has opened my eyes to many things. I only know now that there is much more for me to do before I can say I have bettered myself now." Ingrid looked into Nine's eyes, placing her hand on her cheek, "Whether you know it or not, your passion has changed me. I want to go out into the world and learn about it in a way I could never see before." Ingrid went in for a quick kiss before backing away again to continue. "I want to help you with your own mission. I can get information and interact with humans in a way that you can't right now. That is why I want Temporal magic. To send you pieces of our culture. To give you information that is needed to convince your own people. I want to help people on my side as well and sadly the only way for me is to increase my standing through skill. I…" Ingrid was cut off as they had ran out of time and had to get to the platform.

Ingrid wasn't a crier and she held herself until Nine said her goodbyes and told Ingrid that she could call her Sileen. "It was wonderful getting to know you Sileen. I have no idea when we will be able to meet again but I will promise to never forget you." Ingird felt bitter sweet about the goodbye. She didn't know how long it would be until she could help Sileen but in any case, Ingrid knew she would never say forget her.

The portal wasn't that intimidating after all Ingrid has been through. She was ready to go through when Sileen turned her around and kissed her. Ingrid closed her eyes and let it happen. A last kiss to send her off. It was nice Ingrid thought but as Ingrid took one last look at Sileen, she could see Sileen wink at her. There was something in that wink but she couldn't tell what it could be at the time.

There was no time to ponder what the wink met as it seems the coordinates that Ismette gave put them into the desert. A very hot desert. Luckily Ingrid was dressed pretty lightly. Benedetto pointed immediately to the army of thousands marching towards a compound. Oh for the love of the Pentad Ingrid thought. From the hired hands of the Doge to now thousands of soldiers. Could things get worst? Of course they could, they be dragons now.

Ingrid looked up and saw the froabases. They already deemed us to be the prey they were looking for. With the army over there in sight, Ingrid didn't want to do anything that would garner their attention. Trypano already made a hole to hide from them. Honestly, it seemed like the most reasonable option considering not being on the army's radar sounded nice. So I guess it was time to dive into the hole. Before going into the hole she whipped up the sand around her to create a blind spot for the dragons. Ingrid went down into the hole with less flare than Desmond as she was trying to create a dust storm to cover their stealth from the dragons. Ingrid did her best not to get wet though as she had no idea if the chainsaw would blow up if dunked into the water Trypano was making. As she made it to Trypano Ingrid smiled and said, "Thanks for the hole. Hopefully, the dust storm above gets them to waste a bit of time for us to escape." Another adventure awaits them in the desert now.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Medili
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Medili Connoisseur of Fine Pineapples

Member Seen 4 mos ago


Lorentine Queen | Nighttime

Dorothea Hohnstein@Jasbraq, Seung Eun-Ji, Manfred Hohenfelter@Force and Fury, and Carmillia Carbonneau@Animus

"I-I see them!"

The one calling out was one of Mortas' lackeys. He was at the front. As for how he recognized them, Carmillia had described her allies to the rioters as people who stuck out like sore thumbs.

At this point, Carmillia's group had circled most of the lower decks with a schluckodil in tow. The fatigue had been getting to them whereas the beast had been speeding up, no doubt due to the motivating effect of its rage.

"Don't stop! Keep running!"

Without halt, all of the rioters barreled past them. Their job was done, and they were to head back up to the upper deck, as Carmillia had instructed them earlier. She broke off from them and skidded to a stop.

Carmillia couldn't see Zarra around and there was an extra individual she didn't recognize. Regardless, Manfred and Eun-ji were here.


The enormous reptilian was upon them.

Manfred's eyes widened. "Eun-Ji, you're up!" he shouted.

Large? That creature is huge. For a very brief moment, Eun-Ji was in awe at the sight of the Schluckodil. Fortunately she quickly regather her thoughts and moved to perform her part of the plan. "Very well. I'm on it!" she said as she quickly gathered enough water from the somewhat flooded lower deck, formed her water clone, and added an image of herself on top of it using an Arcane illusion. For good measure she also pulled in some blood, readily available due to the chaos in and on the boat earlier, and mixed it with the water she used to create the clone.

Thus she sent the clone forward, rushing straight toward the gigantic crocodile.

And the creature, smelling blood and seeing the figure of a prey actually running toward it, instinctively react by opening its mouth wide to devour it.

"Manfred, do you trust me?... I have a plan..." Dory looked somewhat reluctant to say any more, feeling that no one would trust her judgement after what had happened before. "Because I want you to give me my pistol for just a second..." As she waited for a response a memory of her father appeared in her thoughts. 'Remember kiddo, these bastards may be tough, but their senses are very sensitive.'

Automatically, Manfred reached for his sidearm and held it out to her, only thinking better of the gesture when it was nearly in her hand. "As long as your plan works with ours." He lined up his shot, drew from all of the heat, motion, and chaos around him, and from the schluck itself and put all of that into the bullet that he fired.

Dorothea grabbed her sidearm and began reloading it, slowly walking towards Eun-Ji and in turn the Schluckodil. Fear began to set in the closer she came to the monster. "I would suggest closing your eyes." Taking a deep breath, closing the distance on the beast and firing at the beast's eyes. Putting all her focus in making her shot a blinding light. The smell of gunpowder going into the beast's nostrils.

At the same time, Seer also moved to add his own attack to the combined assault against the massive beast. Being a Powergazer, he knew what the best thing he could contribute would be. He removed his eye covering, and from his eyes was fired a mighty beam of intense heat that was one of the things those 'cursed' with the powergazer virus were known for.

The result of the attacks by the three mages was quite a sight to behold, especially considering they were quite the unlikely trio to be fighting against a Schluckodil together. The first attack to flew through the beast's open mouth was that of the bullet Manfred fired with everything that he got. Unlike its armored scales, the inside of the beast was made of soft flesh like any other animal. Manfred's bullet, accelerated through his Gift, gored said flesh deeply thus inflicting some serious damage to the reptile. Still, it was a huge creature. As expected, a single bullet would not bring it down so easily.

By instinct, the creature moved to clamp its mouth shut due to the pain and damage. If it wasn't for Dory targeting its sensitive sense of smell, the plan probably wouldn't have worked so smoothly. As it stood, the thick smell of gunpowder invading the beast's nostrils caused it to thrash around in both fury and panic. While this would have made aiming into its once more open mouth difficult with something like a gun, it was not the case for the heat beam fired by Seer. The Powergazer tried his best to make sure that the beam beng launched from his eyes seared the insides of the beast through the mouth. Only after he couldn't bear it anymore that Seer stopped his attack, putting his eyes covering back on.

The creature flailed around even more, wracked by pain from the internal damage that it had accrued from the mages' assault. And then, it suddenly fell to the ground, a deep rumbling sound coming from within its mouth along with smokes from its seared flesh.

By then, Eun-Ji's water clone had already expired. The real Eun-Ji watched warily, standing close with the others. "... Is it dead?" she asked out loud, more a wondering than an actual question. Yet suddenly the creature moved once more. It was clearly very badly wounded and yet, driven by either vengeance or fury, it briefly charged once more at the mages that had dared to maim it so seriously, jaws ready to take at least one of them to the death with itself. This does not last however, as it then fell again after that brief surge of strength. And just like that, the creature lapsed into the embrace of death...
Zarra Travendour@BreathOfTheWoof

Shaking off his disorientation, it became quickly clear to Zarra just how dangerous of a mess he had gotten himself into. Even there in the murky waters at night where he could not really see well, he inherently knew that time was running out. Either he do something to get himself out of the water or he will become yet another dinner menu for the giant crocodiles of Feska. And yet even when he knew this for sure, Zarra Travendour was in the end still Zarra Travendour. Instead of thinking up of a plan that will be the fastest and most effective to secure his own safety, he started thinking of how he can extricate himself from the situation in a fabulous way. After all, that will make it even more awesome for when I tell the tales of my survival against the terrible beasts!

Alas, that unsurprisingly became his downfall. The schluckodils after all will not wait as Zarra busied himself with thinking when he should be taking action. The attack came so fast that Zarra practically have no time at all to defend himself against it. The wind was knocked out of him as a long tail took swipe at him, tossing him around in the waters. Then, in no time at all, the next attack came. Zarra felt it immediately, the excruciating pain on his lower body as one of the crocodiles took a nipping bite at him. Yet due to the huge size of these creatures, even a nipping bite ended up being large enough that it got him in the left bottom all through to his prized male preserver of generations.

He was lucky that his survival instinct kicked in immediately. Before the bite can dig deeper and tear his lower body apart, he once more turned incorporeal, freeing himself from the creature's jaw. This was then coupled with sheer dumb luck as despite the random direction upon which he flew away in his panicked ethereal retreat, it was near the other students that he returned to corporeality...

Still, he remained severely wounded. The tail swipe definitely did a number of his ribs, not to mention of the bite wound and the loss of blood that came with it. Again, Zarra started to lose consciousness. One last thought floated into his mind as the darkness took him. Hey, at least I'm gonna have one heck of a wicked scar to show for it, right...?

Sometime later...

The lyre had been ostensibly secured, and the riot had settled down. Additionally, the holes on the ship had been patched sufficiently now and the fires that broke out had also been taken under control and extinguished. After vanquishing the schluckodil that had sneaked onboard of the boat, the team managed to find the two remaining Arcanists that had managed to survive by running away and hiding before the croc could turn them into its food. With help from these two mages, the ship can finally move again to head to the shore. In the end, though the start of the mission and the first half of it had been quite of a mess indeed, the team managed to salvage the situation. Calling it a great success might be debatable, but they also definitely didn't fail. As for the Traveler Agents, they disappeared quickly after exchanging simple farewell with the biros. It was deemed best to let them go, as while they weren't comrades, things would have been much worse without their help.

Simply put, the night filled with chaos, tragedies and deaths was over for those onboard the Lorentine Queen. And the Lorentine Queen itself was spared from having this to be its last voyage after all...

With the exception of Leon who had left earlier by himself with the password that Manfred had given to him, the rest of the team were gathering inside a cabin room, allowing them to be undisturbed by unwanted attention. It had now been revealed that Hugo in reality had given Manfred and Eun-Ji two different 'magic words' for use to extract themselves away from the Lorentine Queen. One will bring them back to Hugo's Study, while one will apparently bring them to a certain refuge in the middle of a desert. Dory and Carmillia were then left with two choices: To go with Eun-Ji back to Hugo's Study or to go with Manfred to the desert. As for Zarra, Eun-Ji will definitely bring him back to Hugo's Study with her before he bleeds out and expires. And thus, the choices were there for each of the two young women to choose.

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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Out above the sands circled froabases, their clattering and screeching roars carried on the wind. It blew hot and blustery, sweeping dust and sand across dune seas and bleak promontories. For a moment, the beasts seemed to take interest in a particular spot, flapping about in place and blasting it with a few bursts of fire. Then, they were encouraged to move on by rifle fire and magically-propelled projectiles from the army's scouting units. Lingering in the area, the soldiers sniffed around for anything out of place until a couple of them had detached themselves significantly from their peers. "Hey, Antonio," called one to the other in Torragonese, "You sensing any people?"

The Duque's people spread out, then, like locusts over a field, swarming the refuge. First came Frannemas' handchosen six and then more: captains, magery, knights. They could not be reasonably denied, nor did they truly force themselves upon the Refuge of San Agustin de las Arenas. It was the most casual invasion ever, assisted, of course by the presence of the twenty-five-hundred-odd armed soldiers who were busy setting up camp on a nearby rocky ridge and fortifying their position. For the student interlopers recently arrived from The Isla d'Amato this proved a gut check moment: flight, fight, or negotiation.

For those inside the Refuge, they suddenly found themselves inundated with requests for refreshments, tours, and stabling. In the last of these cases, Felix and Silas found themselves approached by a stern-looking middle aged woman. As they watched, she dismounted in a single smooth, Gift-aided motion and walked her horse, a beautiful ghost-grey plains charger, towards them. A gust of wind caused her riding cloak and deep crimson dress to billow. "Good morning, gentlemen," she greeted them, eyes scanning her surroundings, though this nuance would have been lost on the powergazer. "I take it you must be a resident here," she addressed Felix, "And you, one of our heroes from Ersand'Enise." She smiled, friendly enough, but it was a gesture of politeness, especially when coupled with her assertive tone. "I am Luz Suarez, a thaumaturge in his grace Huarcan Frannemas' service. Would one of you perhaps be able to look after Ispiritu here?" She brought the animal forward and it snuffled and whinnied. "And the other perhaps direct me to where I might find the rangers' quarters and some refreshments?" After only a brief hesitation, she handed the reins to Silas. "I have been tasked by my lord with ensuring that their aspects of this operation are in order, but I have also been riding for days." She certainly did not appear as if she had, but this was another detail that likely would've been lost on Silas.

If Luz was polite, then others were downright chivalric. Standing in front of the prison, Zarina found herself face to face with a knight, tall and handsome. His matching black armour, polished to mirrorlike perfection, gleamed in the desert sun. Across his back was slung a massive two-handed sword. He stopped in front of Zarina and addressed her with a surprisingly thick Parrench accent. "I am Thierry de Montblaise, a knight in his grace's service. I have been tasked with ensuring the safety and humane treatment of the prisoners. I do hope you'll understand." He bowed low and took hold of the Virangishwoman's hand, kissing it. "And what would be the name of the fair maiden I find myself addressing?" He looked up, utterly earnest.

There were, of course, those who fell at the opposite end of the spectrum. In front of Luisa appeared a tall young man, his skin deeply tanned and his hair kept short in a military style. His gold-plated armour, gaudy with jewels, was near to blinding. He stalked up to the tethered and the yasoi, ivory-white hip cloak fluttering in the breeze. "Conde Radolfo Frannemas addresses you," he announced, holding himself almost impossibly erect. "You are to address him as 'Conde' or 'your lordship.' Now, I imagine that you two have been placed in stewardship of these young ones. Your lord is to inquire after their welfare. You are to offer no outside interference or disciplinary measures will be taken."

Then, finally, came Clemencia. Having had her wheelchair, similar to those in use by the refuge, brought over, she proceeded to... wheel around aimlessly, gawking at this or that, peering around corners, or reaching out and touching walls. Sometimes, she would stop and fold her hands in her lap, seemingly at random, closing her eyes as if in reverie or mediation. At others, she would steal glances at the place's denizens, including Kaspar and Vieri, who were on patrol. After a certain amount of time, however, she began making her way determinedly towards the Red Tower.

Nobody was under any illusions, however, about where the most important events were taking place: the ones that would have the potential to shape not only the future of the students, but the tethered and perhaps even the country. These were in the hands of a young woman who had been introduced as Jocasta but who was, in reality Ayla Arslan: scion of a rival family. She presented her case with grace and eloquence and, just perhaps a bit too much of those. Matters seemed to be coming down to one issue in particular: the tethered needed to impress the duke. He had motioned for Escarra to give up the head chair and, after a long look had passed between the two men, the ranger had graciously done so. They sat at the great table in the centre now: six of them.

In the gallery sat other people of supposedly lesser importance or relevance, including another young woman who had been introduced as Ayla Arslan but who was, in reality, Jocasta Re. She had dodged a bullet early in the conference when she'd been required to stand and bow, managing to convincingly puppet her legs, much to the relief of everybody who had figured out the nature of the two girls' reversal.

It was all going swimmingly - perhaps even too good too be true - until the world froze. Jocasta - the true Jocasta - could feel someone else grab the strings of time and she grabbed back. When she looked out over the group, careful to move only her eyes, the tethered could see precisely three other people in motion: the duke's daughter, Avril; the duke's son, Augusto; and the duke himself. "She's not tethered, father," the first chirped. "Her nervous signals and body temperature are all wrong."

"The one who claims to be the Arslan girl is, however," added Augusto.

These were not normal people. How could all three of them know Temporal magic!? Jocasta sat stalk still, heart hammering. Against one, she decided that she could manage. Three people on this level, though? The duke turned, after a moment, and looked directly at her. Jocasta felt... fear, for the first time in years. "It's your heartbeat that gives you away, child." He blinked. There was no wonder or surprise in his voice, though he was, perhaps, intrigued. "You know something of Temporal magic."

Jocasta counseled herself to find her nerve. She was Volto Certosa: Veleno, a hunter and a killer. She was perhaps the most powerful human being alive save Hugo Hunghorasz himself. "I do," she replied as evenly as she could.

"August," said Huarcan Frannemas simply. Then, the duke's son was standing with his hand on her shoulder. Then, they were both in the middle of the high desert. Jocasta rocketed away from him, pulling on all of her Gift. "What in the five hells!?" she shouted, and her counterpart merely smirked. "Come now, Jocasta," he replied. "You didn't think people like us could have any fun back there, did you?"

She set her jaw. "Fun," she growled knowingly. They wanted a demonstration of strength? She'd pound this pretty little boy's face in - and it was very pretty, to be certain. Without delay or pretense, she pulled from the bounty of the sun and the sands and bent light and sound to cover herself. All around her, spots glowed incandescent with energies: decoys to mislead his senses. Straight into his mind she plunged, altering senses, perceptions, and emotions, but then it didn't feel right. He was coming at her from five directions and it was she who was having her chemicals manipulated.

With every bit of kinetic power she could muster, the Djamantese released a massive shockwave in every direction, breaking Augusto's concentration and buying her a precious few seconds to regroup and counter his chemical attack. "Hah!" he called. "You're pretty good."

Jocasta said nothing. She already had the threads of space and time in hand and it was her turn to appear somewhere else. She pulled on light as well and then she was in three places. Three identical arcane lances converged upon Augusto and she pulled more energy from the boundless heat of the desert, pouring it into him.

It didn't work. He drew and drew from her attack. She pumped more into it: on past 8.25, 8.5, and 8.75. How much capacity did this guy have!? For a moment, the notion that she might lose this battle of raw strength crossed her mind. Up past 9.00 she cast and he drew. Heat rolled off in infernal waves and the sand beneath began to congeal into glass. Sweat began to bead on Augusto's forehead, he strained, and she knew that she had him. Then, there was a blip, and a tiny point of the most intense light she'd ever sensed appeared in front of her. Jocasta simply grabbed space and leapt aside in time, even as a tremendous heat began to cook her.

Sweat began to bead on Augusto's forehead and she instinctively threw herself to the side. The tiny blip of blinding light lanced into the ground, melting sand into glass and boring so deeply through the stone that she could not see the bottom. She turned towards him, terrified, uncomprehending, and impressed. "Like that one?" her opponent crowed, "huh?"

"How do you make it so intense?" she wondered.

"Temporal focusing," he said simply. "Something a thaumaturge of your caliber should learn."

"And where would I learn it from?" she inquired, still on guard but too curious not to dialogue with him.

"Well -" He made a 'considering face', "-me, I suppose, or my father or sister. It's kind of a family secret."

"And I don't have to join your family to accept this generous offer?"

He shook his head, but then paused. "Well, in a sense, you do. My father is impressed, but he wasn't impressed enough and wanted me to see what you had." Augusto shrugged. "Long story short, you passed with flying colours and he's probably willing to agree to the Arslan girl's terms pending the takedown of that wyrm."

"That is... well," Jocasta replied. "I pray the alliance will be fruitful."

Augusto nodded. "I believe it will be. His Grace rarely entertains any sort of regime change in his lands unless he's the one perpetuating it. Your friend is... quite talented."

"Thank you, I suppose," Jocasta replied. "Should we return now? Everything back the way it was?"

"Yes," the Torragonese agreed. He shook his head disbelievingly. "But first... you're the strongest one here, right?" There was a hint of jealousy to him. "Just what is your RAS?"

His opponent of a couple minutes earlier grinned. "I'm actually more impressed with yours," she admitted. "I don't know my RAS to the decimal, but it's closing in on 9.5. I've never seen someone keep up with me that far."

"Not far enough, though," he amended. "Nine point five..." He let out a low whistle. "Is anyone else at the refuge close to that?"

She shrugged. "Plenty are strong. None over nine, though."

"Right." Augusto was all business now. "Time for us to head back."

"Indeed," Jocasta agreed. "Should I do the honours, or would you like to?"

He smiled and she smiled back. He was very handsome. "Ladies first!"

Nobody who was not a temporal magician would've noticed anything out of the ordinary aside from 'Ayla's' rumpled hair and she and Augusto dabbing at sweat with kerchiefs. For his part, Huarcan's demeanour softened noticeably as the negotiations went on. "Let it never be said that I am an unkind man," he boasted. "Where those who should have taken an interest in the welfare of the Tethered have let them down, I am not only willing, but eager to provide them with an opportunity." Standing, he strode over to the wall where a regional map of the San Agustin refuge and its surroundings hung. "As nobody has yet made extended contact with the wyrm, we shall sally forth tomorrow and force it to battle. I would like two of your Afortunado with each division of my army and another pair with myself and my personal entourage. I think it best if -"

He was interrupted by footsteps rapidly approaching. The door swung open with force and would've slammed into the wall had not Avril caught it in a kinetic grasp. Yalen and Isabella were there. "Your grace," said one, "I apologize for my rude interruption, but the wyrm has been detected.

"To battle, then!" barked Huarcan. "Alert the troops," he told August. "Alert your people," he said to Escarra and 'Jocasta'. He was already moving for the door, brushing past the two youths.

"I... beg your pardon, your Grace," injected one, "but the wyrm crossed through the very edge of our sensing range. It doesn't appear to be headed here."

People glanced around nervously. "Out with it, then!" barked the duke.

"It's headed for Hosta, sir. I'm sorry."

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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by pantothenic
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pantothenic bored part-timer

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A not so vigilant watch

”I spy with my little eye… something shiny.”

Yalen shaded his eyes with his hand and squinted. From where he and Isabella stood atop the wall, they had an overhead view of half the complex. Her first hint was fairly broad, as to be expected. From the shimmer of the oasis to the painted windows of the Darhannic chapel, there were dozens of objects that could count as the game winning answer.

Since he was unlikely to get it his first try, Yalen took a blind guess. ”Um… is it the weather vane?” He pointed at the dragon shaped instrument spinning around on top of one of the administrative buildings.

”Nope. Your next hint is: someone is wearing it.” Isabella pushed her glasses up with her pinky finger. It was quite the generous hint for a second guess, but the pair of tethered had agreed on a three strikes rule for this game. Even with that much Yalen had a good chance of losing.

”Alright then, how about… that guard’s helmet?” The younger of the two pointed his finger at a watchman patrolling in the distance. The angle of the sun was such that a bright spot shone on the soldier’s plated headwear. Isabella crossed her arms in an ‘X’ and shook her head.

”Wrong again! Last hint: it’s closer than you think.”

Close by? Hm. Yalen scanned his eyeballs around the immediate vicinity. There weren’t actually that many people around. Almost everyone was occupied with attending the talks with the Duke or taking care of all the men he’d brought with him. With that in mind, the young monk felt that he had the correct answer figured out.

”It’s your glasses.” Isabella had nearly tricked him. Maybe she thought he wouldn’t suspect her person as being part of the game. It was a clever ruse.

”Wroooooong. You were almost there though.The answer was your robe.” The spectacled girl poked at Yalen’s collar. The golden embroidery shimmered like fine jewelry. To think he’d overlooked the possibility… Isabella had outmatched him.

”Alas, I am beaten.” The priest in training shook his head in defeat. ”Did you want to play another game?” Neither of them had detected the wyrm’s presence, so there was still time to kill.

”Nah, I’m over that. Let’s talk about something.” Isabella scooted her stool closer to Yalen’s.

”Oh? Like what?”

”I don’t know. Anything. You can talk about your school, or… your friends… hey, you’re going to be a priest someday right? Tell me more about that.” The inquisitive gaze of the apprentice secretary bore into Yalen’s head. It made him a tad uncomfortable; he still wasn’t used to being so thoroughly examined by someone. He scratched his cheek and gave her a nervous smile.

”I don’t mind, but there is much I can talk about. You may find it a tiresome subject. Priesthood isn’t just a job. If you set yourself on the path you’re committing yourself for life. We’re talking about a decision that shaped most of my childhood.” When he saw his watch partner pull out a pad and start taking notes, a bead of sweat trickled down Yalen’s forehead.

”So you started pretty early then?”

”All the kids in my orphanage were given lessons on the scriptures since we were five or six years old. I have always loved the Creator, but I didn’t devote myself to him fully until shortly after my eighth birthday. I didn’t know what I was asking for when I told my honorable brothers that I wished to join the brotherhood. There is so much you have to learn. A seminarian has to study theology and philosophy for years just to enter the lowest ranks of the priesthood. Besides that you also need to study the tenets of your specific organization. As a prospective member of the Brotherhood of Sunset, I must be a practitioner of medicine and a caregiver for the infirm. The extra homework afforded me little time to play with my orphan siblings. Even now, I have only committed a fraction of the required knowledge to memory.”

”So there are different orders among the Quentics?” Isabella tapped her pen against her chin.

”Yes, there are several. The five gods are each honored by their own order of worshippers, and each order is further divided into five sects. These sects are unified in the worship of their patron deity, but they each embody an individual part of their god’s personality.”

”I see…” Izzy was scribbling notes as fast as Yalen could talk. Though he found her behavior a bit odd, he was flattered that someone was this interested in his words. When there was a short pause in the conversation, the pigtailed girl poked at his chest, or more specifically the holy icon hung around his neck. ”What’s this for? It looks expensive.”

”This? It’s a present from my dad. The shape is of the setting sun to express my allegiance to the brotherhood. I didn’t ask how much it cost to make. It already weighs heavily on my neck as is.”

”You were talking about being an orphan, yes? Someone adopted you?”

”Charles Castel. He is the abbot of the monastery and the second son of the noble Castel family. He’s taken such good care of me. My aunts and uncles are too busy with politics to visit very often, but they’re good people too. I couldn’t be happier.”

”Jeez, try not to lay it on too thick.” Isabella crossed her arms and feigned indignance.

”Oops. Sorry.” Yalen tried to think of a new direction to steer the conversation for a second, but then he felt something brush against his mental probe. ”Wait, do you sense that?” His fellow tethered shut her eyes and concentrated.

”...Yeah. Yeah! I sense it. By the gods, it’s huge! So this is the king of the desert.”

”It’s not coming this way though. Should we still report it?”

”Let me think. If it’s going the way we know it’s going then - oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit.”

Yalen put his hand on Izzy’s shoulder. ”What is it?”

”Hosta! The dragon is going towards Hosta! Let’s go, we gotta warn the others!”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by YummyYummy
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YummyYummy Ayyyyy

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Interacting with: Thierry & Marceline @Ti
Location: Refuge Dungeon

Zarina was flabbergasted to say the least. Her hand taken and kissed as if she was a high noble and by quite the looker no less. One that was actually taller than her too. The group had settled before the prison itself, underground and safe from even a Wyrm attack. She had been playing a card game with Marceline and Abdel, with the former ending up being quite the clever little pup. She was standing before the armoured envoy and stuttered her first couple of words.

”Ah, uh- Yeah. Enchanted, Sir.” her body language displayed a level of anxiety she hadn’t often shown before. Maybe she wasn’t expecting this sort of introduction. Maybe it was a ruse? Or perhaps he actually sought to charm her? In any case, her good mood resonated quite well with Thierry’s approach and even prompted a light blush from the teen, ”The prisoners are behind us, yes, through this door. To ensure their safety, and everyone else’s, we’re keeping them here until the Duque settles things with those upstairs.” she rested a hand on her hip, ”Sounds good? No bamboozling? We have enough to worry about.”

Abdel, on the other hand, glared knives at the big newcomer. He didn’t speak, for it wasn’t his place, but unlike Zarina his mood could easily kill the atmosphere if he manifested it any further. Seizing his cane, he stood between Thierry and the entrance to the dungeon and simply eyed the outsider with clear distrust. He would only move the moment Zarina gave the go ahead.

Thierry adorns her with a charming smile at the warm reception of his presence. He squeezes lightly upon her finger tips, “In absence of your name, may I call you rose du désert, for your features liken as much”. His eyes move to watch as Abdel moves towards the dungeon door, addressing the boy as well when he stands up straight. “You’re a sprightly one, jeune homme. Nothing should pass your vigilant watch, even I am afraid.” He gives a generous beaming disarming smile to the boy, shifting a warm expression to the third and quieter one. “They say the wise listen as the fool speaks, jeune fille, pleased to make your acquaintance.” Thierry gives a courteous bow as he offers to take Marceline’s hand in a more reserved manner to place a kiss upon it.

”Ah.” Zarina shook her head, ”Zarina. I’m Zarina Al-Nader.” she had landed back onto planet Sipenta after that charming compliment, ”This is Marceline, and this is Abdel.” the hand that had been kissed was then used to point toward each member of the group.

“Belle, I am charmed. Such strong names for these two as well.” After the greetings, Thiery simply smiles as he returns to the matter at hand towards the eldest of the three, “As stated, I am only to ensure the humane treatment of those inside as a formality. There is no room in my heart for concern after meeting mademoiselle”.

Abdel kept a confrontational stance and an adamant glare. He did not trust these outsiders- they all gave off the air of the staff he so loathed, ”I don’t think we should let this colourful strange man. I don’t like him.” he spoke in his mother tongue, which Zarina was supposedly the only one to understand in the room. The tall Virangish girl turned her body to perpendicular to the two males and gestured calmly to pacify the cautious pre-teen, ”It’s fine. We go as planned, and worst case we’re three on one.” she shot a knowing glance and smile over to Marceline before addressing the Duque’s envoy, ”If you would follow me, Sir Theirry.” a couple of steps passed Abdel and she would open the gates to the dungeon where two dozen of the higher staff were held, ”After you.”

Thierry continued to politely smile as if not phased by the exchange in Virangish. Then interrupting with a cough once it appeared finished, “If you want Mon Grand, I will let you look after my sword whilst these ladies show me around.” He pulls the large two-handed sword from his shoulder, holding it out with a single hand, “But you must be careful with her, she is precious to me. I am trusting you here”. He smiles as he gives Zarina a wink, allowing Abdel to clumsily contend with the weight of the blade when he takes up the offer. Once Thierry moves through the door, he turns and bows, holding out his hand to invite Zarina to take it as she escorts him around the dungeon.

Abdel went from confrontational stoicism to downright scowling at the man upon being given sword babysitting duty. He wanted to speak up, maybe even square off with the knight, but Zarina was quick to intervene, ”I’m sure your sword will be fine by the door. Thieves don’t exactly have anywhere to run, now do they?” she nudged her head toward Abdel, and in turn the young male drew with the gift and used what he knew to manipulate the heavy weapon and carefully place it against the stone wall by the door, ”I do need Abdel for this task, after all. If the Wyrm finds a way in here, only he could save us~” she gave a similar wink to Abdel.

The dungeon smelled of sweat and was quite hot given many bodies resided in it and had a tendency to move out of sheer boredom and a need for exertion. They were given plenty of water to compensate for this heat, with Abdel sometimes drawing from the air to cool down the place. Most shared cells, though the Vice-Wardens were purposely kept separate given their strength, ”Healthy, fed and mostly intact.” Zarina turned on her heels to face the Knight in the middle of the hall with rows of cells on both sides. Her arms opened up, inviting Thierry to investigate for himself.

Marci was finding it difficult to endure through the pleasantries, allowing Zarina to take the lead on the interactions with the enamoured knight. She got the best of herself as she was unable to avoid chiming in on the remark, "A lot better than some of the care we received".

Thierry nodded, offering Marci a comforting smile, “Then I thank you for your generosity, his grace would be pleased”. He slowly walks through the corridor as he nods towards those within the cells, his expression more stern than the friendly overtures he offered the others outside. “I am afraid a few others here wouldn’t be granted that same pleasure.”
As Thierry approaches towards the individual cells, he turns towards Zarina, “I assume Vice-Warden Adela would be held with those ahead. May I request the opportunity of a private audience to speak with her? I assure you of no foul play, merely the exchange of words. You have my honour as a knight.”. He offers Zarina that disarming charming smile again allowing her opportunity to respond to his request.

Thierry’s interest in the Vice-Warden Zarina had personally locked up brought the Virangish to lower her arms and gesture for the Knight to follow her. Abdel took the head this time, however, and proceeded to unlock the door at the end of the stoney hallway where four ‘isolated’ cells could be found. They didn’t have bars and instead were completely sealed off by heavy metal doors with air passing through the small gap beneath where food was passed, ”Adela is …” she paused for a moment, only to remark the riding crop hanging by one of the doors, ”Over here.”

Inside, Adela would seem relatively well. Her hair greasy and dishevelled, her attire stained and the latrine likely needed some changing. But otherwise the cell seemed maintained and her health intact. The door was left open, although Abdel and Marci kept their distance, ready to unleash their knowledge of the gift if need be, while Zarina kept to the doorframe to supervise the exchange.

Thierry nodded at the accommodations made, though mentally noted the lack of privacy in the conversation, as a result, keeping the exchange briefer than intended. “Adela, glad to see you are kept well”, he nods towards her before slipping into a more official tone, “His grace received your letter, and to thank you for drawing the matter of the Refuge to his attention. He is most displeased at the situation. Once matters have concluded and you are released, you are to report to him directly.”

With Zarina keeping watch, the two officials could have their exchange without any interruptions. Adela had remained seated on her bed until she recognized the Black Knight himself, Sir Thierry Montblaise, “Sir!” she quickly sprang up and kept a stiff posture while addressing the Perrench knight, “I-” she stammered, the existing sweat on her forehead from the heat of the dungeon accumulated quickly now that she was put under pressure, “It was Tavio, Montblaise! He betrayed the Duque’s trust and tried to use outsiders to resolve this issue!” she then gave Zarina the stink-eye, “These outsiders who have caused this mess in the first place. Locked us like animals when I tried to take their side!”

The Virangish was about to retort but a particularly frustrated Abdel stepped up, ”Shut up! You didn’t say ANYTHING when they went to the desert.” he wedged himself by Zarina to get a better eye of the small cell, ”All you do is lie, lie and LIE. Lie to Luisa about appreciating her. Lie to Zarina about giving a damn about them, Lie to …” he was gritting his teeth, ”Everyone about me! Because you hate me- No, US.” Zarina, upon witnessing the tantrum, was already drawing with the gift. Converting the heat but also the strong winds outside the dungeon itself. If he kept on going, she was ready to subdue him.

Thierry raises an eyebrow at the intrusion of their private conversation, though he expected as much. “His grace will be less tolerating than garçon here if he feels you are attempting to deceive him, Vice-Warden Adela. Choose your words carefully.” He turns to direct his attention towards the others at the doorway, “It appears the Vice-Warden is suffering from dehydration. May I request some water for her to drink, wash, and some clean clothes for when she meets his grace?”, finishing with a nod towards Zarina and Marci.

Marci recognises this as an opportunity to allow Abdel to withdraw, holding her hand upon his shoulder. "Come with me, I will need some help with the water". She glances up towards Zarina, as if awaiting her verdict.

The Vice-Warden was just about ready to defend herself and save face in front of Thierry, but the towering man shut down any hope of a recovery. It was a similar situation to the crop or prison she had faced before ending in the dungeon, and she wasn’t going to blossom with newfound courage after three days in the dark and heat, “... I will be nothing but truthful to his grace, the Duque.” she crossed her arms and made herself smaller, “As I wrote in my letter, Tavio sent these outsiders as sacrifices to purge the Aberracion, but the monster swallowed it first.” her voice was hushed and she gravitated toward the corner of her cell whilst keeping eye contact with Thierry.

Zarina shot a glance at Marci and conferred a nod to her when she seized the initiative to appease the situation. Abdel, still shooting daggers with his eyes, wanted to say so much more, but ultimately couldn’t muster the strength to go against both Zarina and Marceline, ”She’ll be provided with everything she needs.” she raised an eyebrow whilst scrutinising the weather form of the vice, ”So long as you consider the potential emotions and animosities involved, Sir Thierry. We could have killed them, or treated them with the same treatment they’ve given to the minds of every resident here.” she provided perspective as she stepped into the cell, standing by the armoured man and looking down at the older woman, ”It would be quite cruel to do such a thing, no?”

Thierry nods as he nods and offers his arm out towards Zarina to take. “Merci, if you don't mind escorting me out of here. I am satisfied with the condition of the prisoners, Mademoiselle.”, he turns on his charm offensive with the Virangish girl, offering her a smile. “I am sure Vice-Warden Adela has much to prepare for when she speaks with his grace.”

Zarina peered down at the presented arm, and then up at the envoy’s visage, ”I’m afraid I’m ill-equipped to match your splendour, Sir Thierry.” she replied with a smirk pushing on the edge of her lips and a light tinge of sarcasm to her tongue, ”Although I’m sure Marci would appreciate the extra hand to get around.” from a smirk to a downright shit-eating toothy grin, she made sure Marceline saw it.

As the duo brought the water, Abdel would be the first to sense a disturbance that team Yalen had since detected. The Wyrm had entered tethered range, but was not heading for them, ”The Wyrm! Do you feel it too, Marci?” Zarina squinted in slight concern and looked over at the tall warrior by her.

Marci nods in agreement, "I can feel it, just on the edge… it doesn’t appear to be heading in this direction. It seems to be making its way to… … Hosta".

With the response and the revelation of new information, Sir Thierry relaxes his arm. “His grace will be requesting my presence. We can explore this further at a more opportune time.” He brings Zarina’s hand to his lips as he kisses upon it. “Luck for the upcoming fight.”, he offers her a wink as he starts marching past the cells, the sword seeming to lift and pull through the air towards him as he straps it upon his back. He gives a respectful nod towards Marci and Abdel as they come through with the waters. “Till next time.”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by Tackytaff
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Deserted II

Tethered Refuge - Stables
Seen & Mentioned: None

Knowing the Refuge's lay-out and gift for easy conversation, Felix left with the strange woman to leave Silas alone with Ispiritu and the other horses from the arrival party. He had little experience with animals, particularly ones so large, but they needed little care or attention: Something that should have stood out to the young man, true sight or not, had he the experience to know how a long-ridden horse was meant to look. As it was he was much more preoccupied with the possessions remaining in the saddlebags he'd so carefully removed from each horse. The tetherd boy's presence had stayed his sticky fingers throughout most of the morning's work, but alone with nothing else to do, Silas quickly fell into old habits.

He knew immediately not to touch those belonging to Ispiritu's master, they were as carefully put together as the woman herself had been, and he doubted any tampering would go unnoticed. There were coins and the odd jewel to be pocketed from the items of the lower ranking officers, but eventually Silas couldn't stop himself from approaching to opulently embroidered and jewelled bags of the Duque's eldest.

Even without true sight, the contents were a marvel: A sleek thin dagger reaching half his arm, with a hilt too intricate for him to sense in any way but touch. More money than he'd ever seen in a single Lapis-Lazuli coin, buried among the other wealth of jewels and coins. A long wand studded with so many riches as to make it almost unwieldy heavy. Much as his fingers itched and heart quickened, Silas resisted the urge to bundle the whole lot and make for it. Firstly there was no where to go but the desert, and even if he survived that journey it would only lead him further into the Duque's lands, and even he wouldn't take losing such wealth lightly. Second, and perhaps more importantly, he had a responsibility. It wasn't the same comradery as he'd found with the children in Mudville, but the fellow students at the academy were counting on him to at least not make things horribly worse in their already dire circumstances. With a sigh, Silas pushed the most precious items aside, palming only a handful of lesser-value Neskals before his hand brushed against a final hidden treasure beneath the others. It was simple in comparison; a smooth ivory handle ending in a blunt end etched with a design he couldn't distinguish. A stamp, he realized, thinking back to the warped wooden one used by the Madame to mark payed loans.

There was shouting in a language Silas didn't recognize, causing him to nearly drop the haul in surprise. His excitement had gotten the better of his attention and the Duque's men were closing in. Hurriedly stuffing the seal into his pockets, he gasped and slipped on the side of the stall. On the second attempt he had the wherewithal to employ the Gift, allowing him to steadily scale the walls, then ceiling, even after the doors swung open. Two soldiers walked, continuing their indecipherable argument. Not that Silas was in much position to pay attention. He hardly dared breath and he moved at a snails pace towards the stable's loft. Upon reaching it, he stilled hearing the men end their discussion to beginning to re-saddling and reining the horses. As silently as he could the small boy folded himself up into the loft, tightly packed between bails of hay.
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Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

Member Seen 1 day ago

Collaboration of: @Th3King0fChaos, @A Lowly Wretch, @dragonpiece, and @Force and Fury

As everyone jumped into the hole, Trypano had created more and more room in the tunnel to accommodate everyone. The water had soaked everyone as they floundered through to get out to the other side to escape the dragons and the sight of the army.

Benedetto yelled out when he came through, "Fuck!! You could have made the water not cold!!". Ismette came through the water with some grace while Penny made it through with less than any. With Penny's missing leg it made it difficult to get out of the water as others began helping her out of the water and retrieved her cane.

As once the hole had been established and they felt the Dragons flying off because of projectiles flying by, Penny asked the most obvious question, "Ismette, may I ask where we are?"

Ismette answered with a sigh, "We are somewhere called San Agustin, it is in the Torragonese High Desert"

Desmond and Benedetto both looked at Ismette like she was going to say something else as Desmond was the first to speak of the two, "Okay, and?"

Ingrid took a deep breath as she knew she was safe, even if it was just a moment. Ingrid chuckled a little as Benedetto complained about the water. "Ooh" Ingrid let out as she then scrambled to help Penny out of the water. Ingrid looked Penny up and down real quick and said, "You're alright, you're alright" as she gave Penny a solid pat or 2 on the shoulder. Penny had quickly asked Ismette where exactly were they. Ingrid already could deduce that was somewhere in Torragonese High Desert but to have an actual town is useful. Whatever the case, the more pressing issue for Ingrid was making sure the tunnel was supported. She quickly created solid stone pillars to support the sandstone. Ingrid wanted to wait to see if Ismette had any more to say but she didn't expect much.

"Don't worry, we won't be lacking in warmth out here in..."

Trypano paused, waiting for Ismette to fill everyone in as their team filed down her tunnel one by one. One of her eyebrows cocked as the destination was revealed unto them: San Agustin, all the way out in the middle of the bloody Torragonese Desert.

"And why were our coordinates set for the middle of a desert?" Trypano made little attempt to disguise her irritation with this seemingly random diversion when all she had been hoping to do was secure this lantern once and for all. The more chances they took with this thing the more opportunities they'd have to lose it somehow and that thought irritated her greatly. The Sirahhi provided some useful knowledge of the world and magic to a degree but that would benefit no one, especially not herself, if they all died shortly thereafter.

With so many things to research and so little time this little errand they seemed to have been stuck on was doing nothing save for wasting her precious time. Lighting up the lantern to give them some visibility in the secure basin she wrought for them she waiting with arms crossed, gun hung awkwardly from her back as she waited for anything approaching the semblance of an answer.

Ismette saw as everyone looked at her with indignation and a sense of hostility, she put her hands up as she said in a quick response, "H-hey, this was where Hugo was going to send us. He said when we used the key phrase we would be going here next to meet with one of the other groups to assist them".

Benedetto then snaps out as he says, "Okay, so you decided to send us to the middle of a desert, and now we are right next to an army! WHAT ARE WE HERE FOR!!! I am not going to just be cleaning up messes all day!!"

Penny stepped in as she said, "Yes, why are we here?" Penny looked at Ismette worried as they don't even understand why they were here for.

Ismette said in a quick exacerbation, "I don't know!" Ismette held herself slightly as she also seemed unsure and worried why they were even there. Yet she seemed to start feeling unease under the constant stares and slightly angered and frustrated looks.

Desmond said in a quick lash to keep people on track before a fight breaks out with Benedetto, "Alright, we get it. We don't know why we are here, so let's ask the next question: What are we going to do?"

Benedetto grumbled as his face contorted as if he was getting antsy and impatient with that actual army nearby.

As irritated and exhausted Ingrid was, she couldn't stand watching Ismette get ganged up on. Especially when it had to do with Hugo and his vague instructions. Ingrid was about to interject but Desmond cut in to try and correct the conversation. Ingrid tried to weigh the situation in full but with the limited information it was difficult.

We know from Ismette that this was where they were suppose to be sent off to by Hugo to help the situation. It could be that Hugo was going to teleport us into small settlement but as they went through Sirrahi portal. Knowing what I now know about the Sirrahi, it seems pretty likely that Ten would place us just outside San Agustin. Could we be here to fight the Army? No, with an army of that size they wouldn't face them head on from that settlement. They are too outnumbered. I can't think of why the army would be here if it wasn't for battle or just a show of force. If it was for battle their could be a large monster rampaging and it is affecting the lords finances or reputation. Maybe the students were here to assist in the slaying of the monster. Their is probably more going on with how our mission went. Either way, I know where we need to go at least.

Ingrid spoke up, "I believe Hugo wants us to be in the settlement and we would be a lot less confused. The Sirrahi have a minimal contact policy, if you can remember, so it explains why we are on this small plateau. So getting to the refuge would probably be our quickest way of returning to the academy. That or traversing the desert then the sea to get back. Any suggestions?"

Trypano's cold red eyes flitted from speaker to speaker as their conversation seemed to spiral around the same point fruitlessly like a tethered ant's march. After hearing out Ingrid's words on the matter she stepped back into the topic herself.

"Bold of you to assume what is wanted out of us from Hugo if he couldn't of even be bothered to disclose the purpose of this extraneous mission to us, let alone it's existence in the first place." Moving her glare which betrayed hints of her exhaustion with this endeavor she looked from Ingrid to the group as a whole.

"Now I'm fairly sure that I speak for the majority of us when I say provoking a conflict with an entire army complete with an unknown quantity of combat mages is the last thing we need right now. That being said since they seem to be probing the area moving openly in the daytime would just be invitation for them to stop and question us which-" She holds up her strange futuristic gun and artifact "- Could end very poorly."

She stopped and cradled her chin in thought as she considered their options.

"From the looks of things our present-most ideal options are to either travel underground by magically erecting a tunnel low enough that we lay outside their mage's senses or we wait until nighttime and skulk across the surface to our destination. Neither choice is entirely safe but circumstances appear to be, as usual, less than ideal."

Ismette saw as the upset nature shifted away from herself to the very idea of Hugo and his machinations and she let out a sigh of relief. As Ingrid and Trypano were the ones to come onto the scene with laying out their options with ease, she agreed that the best actions would possibly be towards sneaking into the Refuge. Ismette said in a quick agreeance with Trypano's initiative to go to the Refuge, "I believe the Refuge would be best approached from underground. It would allow us to start sneaking right now while they might be distracted with the Froabases".

Penny sighed out as she was worried about the plan, it was the best they could do, but they had no clue what they would be doing until they entered the Refuge. Yet they were right, they couldn't make any form of mistake with the army out there, no matter how good they were, an army would easily wipe them out. Penny took a quick swallow of the saliva that was building in her mouth as she says, "I believe digging underneath would be the best way to reach the Refuge as well".

Desmond looked around and saw Benedetto's face seem to tell, Get me the fuck out of here, or else. Desmond knew that meant it was a go as he tossed a head nod to Trypano and said, "I think digging is the best idea, they'll probably find us easily otherwise". Desmond then tossed her a thumbs up and said with a smile, "We'll be counting on you! You seem to be the best at this".

Seems like digging a tunnel under the army to stealthily enter the refuge was the plan for the moment. Not missing a beat Ingrid turned back over to Trypano, "Let me help with the tunneling Trypano. Like what was mentioned before we met the Sirrahi, I have a great deal of experience with mining and by extension, tunneling." Ingrid started her tunneling with a steep spiral to account for their elevation in reference to the refuge. Ingrid placed metal supports every 8ft or so to add additional structural integrity to their tunnel. Ingrid also created some light from the excess heat in the ground to provide light. She left things like air to the other folk. Ingrid looked towards Trypano for some input on how deep the tunnel should be. Ingrid understood that sensing could be and issue and wanted to here her input before they decided the depth.

As Trypano and Ingrid cross referenced their direction and distance, they begin to build the tunnel. Slowly but surely they made their way to their goal and possible reunion with their classmates. As they travelled some wished to talk, while others seemed to have almost felt like they wished to be as silent as possible. Some felt as if they even spoke a word then they could be found by the sound vibration within the stone and sand. Yet as they moved onward, the sense of fear slowly seemed to rise within the people within the tunnel. As time moved, it felt like an inevitability that they would be found. It was almost as if they would never see the sun, yet after some time, Ingrid finally said they should be near their destination.

As now was time to begin their ascent, it was originally going to be a staircase, yet the worry of the possible army finding them and them nabbing them before they made their escape from their earthen escape tunnel. So with the work of their combined efforts, the Crew who is right now underneath the Refuge is coming up with a plan. They would make a plate of stone to have everyone stand on, as the people who would not be tunneling would be using their energy to raise the plate and allow those who can tunnel to do their job. As they quickly rose from their depths all the way to the surface, the sun hit their eyes and made it difficult to see what is around them, as the moment their eyes had adjusted they saw a sight that could have been said to be expected.

They appeared in this large room that seemed to have been made for announcements as there was a main stage and many stone seats on an incline to better direct sound. At first they thought they were alone until they noticed the group that was formed in the area and realized that their once sneaky entrance was sadly seen by multiple different people. Some whom they knew about as they were the people that they were expecting to see once they entered, and then there was some others they never seen before. Many looked to them with incredulous stares as Desmond just let out a sound that seemed to come from a place of realization that they fucked up, "Ehe~". His smiling face looked like he was about to laugh something funny, but in honestly he was nervous.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Chapter One: A Stage Broken and Set

“Well played, Ayla Arslan.” Those were the last words spoken by Huarcan Frannemas as he brushed past her, and they sent a chill up her spine. Nobody would see it on her face, of course. She smiled and managed some perfunctory reply, doubting anybody had overheard the substance of their exchange. Instead, her eyes fell upon the real Jocasta in the near-chaos of preparation for the fight to come, and she pushed herself forward in the wheelchair she’d done quite a decent job with while playing the role.

The two women embraced, exchanging looks of relief. “They saw through us, but it looks like we pulled this off!”, Ayla - the real Ayla - beamed brightly, giggling a little as Jocasta’s hair was ruffled, “Looks like you played your part very well too. Don’t think Augusto could keep his eyes off you; it was certainly not a pity.” She gave Jocasta a wink.

“In truth, it may have been mutual,” she replied, “and there is more to it than you know, but for now…” Jocasta allowed herself to trail off, glancing meaningfully at the wheelchair that Ayla was still occupying.

“Oh, right!” said the Torragonese, blushing slightly. “I guess the ruse is up, hmm?”

“Don’t look so gutted,” the blonde replied, reclaiming both her true hair colour with a little chemical and binding magic, and her wheels. “I imagine we’ll have the chance to trade places again.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Ayla agreed, before turning to the matter at hand, “But, for now, we need to take care of the wyrm… if it heads to Hosta, it could cost us. We would need to direct it towards the Refuge.”

Whatever Jocasta may have said next was interrupted by a rumbling below ground that grew ever louder and more noticeable. She could sense six person-shaped energies approaching and instinctively nearly launched an attack against them. It was a fortunate thing that she did not, for moments later, Ingrid, Trypano, Desmond, Benedetto, and Penny burst out from the floor, followed by Ismette.

She blinked. The six arrivals blinked. They stood there awkwardly, eyes searching their new surroundings. “I suppose this is one way to make an entrance,” announced Penny, chuckling nervously. Desmond struggled to articulate much of anything and, for a couple of minutes, confusion took the reins until the six were brought - more or less - up to speed.

Outside, people and horses scrambled and the refuge became a hive of activity. Nonetheless, as bags were hastily loaded, all-too-brief embraces and well-wishes were exchanged, and weapons and spells prepared, word of the negotiations made its way around San Agustin. The Royal Sand Wyrm - Shai Desierto, to some - was to be a test and, if no longer a desperate one for survival, then for their newly-won future as an independent people.

The town of Hosta may have been geographically close but, for most of the five hundred tethered who resided at the refuge, it could have been on another world entirely… until now. That was where the battle was to be fought and, if they could save it from harm, they might prove their worth to Duke Frannemas and live under the umbrella of his protection while under their own governance.

That proved a double-edged sword, as the Duke decided to hold his army in reserve, with Augusto, Thierry, and a few others playing only minor roles in the conflict. He fate of Hosta and the refuge would be in the hands of the fifty or so trained tethered and a baker’s dozen students from Ersand’Enise:

Zarina Al-Nader
Ayla Arslan
Yalen Castel
Desmond Catulus
Benedetto Corvi
Kaspar Elstrom von Wentoft
Penny Pellegrin
Ingrid Pendersen
Jocasta Re
Silas Reiger
Trypano Somia

Chapter Two: Battle is Joined

Holding back was no longer an option and so the students gathered all of their most powerful magics and threw everything that they had at the beast. A great golem of wood, bone, and sinew took form, powerful sonic waves cascaded across the sands, and more than one person rose into the sky like some hero from a myth of yore.

It was the half-trained tethered who remained in the refuge that struck first, however, under the guidance of Amanda, Oscar, Luisa, Felix, and others. With the wyrm headed towards the town and away from them, it would soon leave the scope of even their extended range.

Hence, as a small squadron of mostly students from the academy rode out, the tethered combined their energies to deal a massive blow not to the creature but to the desert around it. As sand and stone collapsed around it and the maddened beast found itself flailing helplessly instead of plowing forward, its attention was turned in the direction of San Agustin.

Battle was joined first by the huge deer–shaped golem of Casii’fyret’alan, but her furious arcane attacks and those of her passenger, the mercenary Desmond, failed to faze the great sand wyrm in the slightest. Tunneling forward at a breakneck pace, it began to close in on the nearly three thousand souls in and around the refuge, and further attempts to injure or dissuade it proved fruitless until one of the defenders’ few atomic mages, the trainee Ingrid Penderson, struck it with a ferocious blast that sent it reeling.

The commotion, however, drew the interest of a half dozen froabases that had been roosting on the cliffs about a mile distant. Hungry for an easy meal, they proved a thorn in the posse’s side for some time, before being variously killed or pacified through the actions of Benedetto, Penny, Trypano, Desmond, and supposed ‘observer’ Augusto. It fell to the yasoi pacifist, Ismette, to deal with the final one and, in the heat of battle, it was easy to miss that she had called upon magics strange and dark to pull it into a fathomless black void.

The wyrm, still doggedly plowing forward, engaged the giant deer with a spray of acid from its gut, but this was neutralized through Trypano’s quick thinking and it was punished for its mindless attack by eating much of Desmond’s arsenal. Reeling, it was able to defend what could have been a decisive attack from the golem, but was struck opportunistically by a fireball from Ingrid. Chasing her and Benedetto, it was thwarted through a group effort, before turning its attention to Trypano. Having failed to grab her in its jaws, the animal batted away the attacks of Desmond and Casii, ignoring Benedetto and Ingrid as the two atomic mages worked together. Their powerful blast struck it cleanly and it fell, smoking, to the sands.

However, before anybody could capitalize, the wyrm dived deep under the sands, out of most people’s reach and once again focusing its efforts on reaching the refuge. From the near distance could be heard the screeches of more froabases: a dozen, plus the hulking shape of an alpha froabas, fast approaching.

With matters looking less than ideal, Ismette separated herself from the others, promising to deal with the threat, one way or another. As she reached into the void to draw from its endless power, however, she found herself set upon by a haggard-looking Jocasta and - paradoxically - Trypano, who tackled her to the ground and forced her to abort her actions, screaming that she would doom the world. Simultaneously, a great aberration, some twelve feet tall, appeared nearby in the desert and this drew the further attention of the flock of froabases.

Chapter Three: The Crisis Deepens

The aberration borne of their efforts, then, became a second crisis that demanded immediate management and, Trypano, recognizing that she had played a pivotal role in healing Desmond following near mortal injuries that he would soon suffer against the wyrm, made haste towards the increasingly distant monster in a bid not to further disrupt the timestream.

Deep beneath the ground, immune to all attacks but those of the tethered, the Royal Sand Wyrm, frothed and raged, barreling towards its target and the thousands of souls at stake. It fell to the tethered, in defense of their homes and very lives to do something, as the beast outpaced the forward party. Forming barriers of earth and stone in its path, trying to siphon its momentum, and cool its body had only a negligible effect, so vast was the aberration-made beast. It was only when they superheated and fused the earth into great glass and metallic spikes to impale it that it was forced to both slow and ascend into the range of their allies.

It was a fortunate thing indeed, the greatness of the tethered numbers, for Jocasta was soon to call on her brethren. Teleporting back to the refuge, she pulled every body that they could spare, bringing to the desert a second, desperate squad of hopeful heroes to assist her and Ismette:

Ayla Arslan
Yalen Castel
Kaspar Elstrom von Wentoft
Thierry de Montblaise
Silas Reiger

They quickly found the situation less agreeable than they had thought, as swarms of the screeching, clacking, wagon-sized dragons swooped and swirled at them with fire, tooth and claw. Ably dodging their repeated attacks, the nimble beasts threatened and harried the defenders and their shrinking perimeter and battered away at the magical shields that Ayla and Kaspar had so stalwartly held up for them.

Meanwhile, the larger group contending with the wyrm faced an uphill struggle of their own. Letting out a deafening cry as it emerged from the sands, the enormous reptile shook the ground with great thrashing tremors. While some were able to dodge the initial wave of attacks, they kept on coming, devastating great swathes of the land and rendering much of the group incapacitated as the sands began to consume them.

This acted as a trigger for Benedetto, and the overwhelmingly powerful atomic mage, laughing sadistically, drew up nearly to his full capacity and plowed into the wyrm. He slammed into it with enough force to snap its colossal head back and cause it to crash to the ground, half-conscious, allowing the others to free themselves and Casii’s deer golem to reconstitute its damaged body. Darting forward to seize upon the dragon’s momentary weakness, Zarina drove her shamshir into its eye, spinning like a drill. Letting out a howl of pain, its eye ruined, it dove into the ground to prepare a counterattack, pursued by thick, bloody spiked roots from Casii that tore and scraped at its flesh. Perhaps the tide had finally turned in that fight.

Yet, for all that the party squaring off against one dragon had started to find success, the other remained at a loss and on the defensive, its repeated attacks ineffectual against even the least of the swarm. Even a powerful demon conjured by Ismette failed to have much impact after she ordered it to use only nonlethal methods.

That proved to be the tipping point for Jocasta. Over Ismette’s protests, the blonde tethered girl conjured a rain of human-sized steel, bone, and stone needles, which pounded the flock of froabases, impaling, maiming, and skewering them until only four plus the alpha remained in fighting condition. At the yasoi’s further voicing of displeasure, Jocasta sliced her by targeting and destroying her demonic summon. The two women seethed and shouted, trading barbs, and it was enough to make Ismette walk away from the battle, fuming and unappreciated. Her erstwhile allies were still busy fighting, however, and they changed tactics, focusing on weakening the remaining creatures and empowering their heaviest hitters. Disorienting sonic blasts and the siphoning of both heat and momentum struck at the alpha and it wailed and reeled. Yet, it dove eagerly and desperately for the aberration, closing in with frightening speed.

Chapter Four: Deliverance

Enraged, too, was the sand wyrm, visible now in the distance as it neared both the refuge and the other dragons. Writhing in pain and shaking with fury, it emerged from the sands with fire bubbling in its mouth, ready to attack. In a bid to placate it, Zarina attempted a tactic that had previously worked with the froabases, but her subtle chemical influence was brushed away in its anger. It snorted fire from its nostrils as it took aim and Ingrid got dangerously close in hopes of exploiting the fissures on its armor from earlier wounds.

The fire attack proved potent, and though Yalen was able to siphon off much of the first, small blast, and channel the energy into Desmond, Zarina was not so fortunate in her attempt to dodge it with her nimble steed, Riesco. Only the last-second intervention of Marceline, who conjured a barrier of stone, was able to save her, and Ingrid, far too close to the beast in her bid to injure it, would surely have died were it not for the efforts of Benedetto, who used his enormous capacity for the Gift to draw nearly all of its fire and blast it back.

Emerging through the smoke and flames, the sand wyrm, now heavily wounded and mad with pain, vengeance, and aberration energy, belched fire all over Casii, Desmond and the deer golem, and there was no resisting its fury this time. Incinerated in the attack, the golem’s final act was to fling both of its riders free. While the yasoi landed with only minor injuries, her mercenary ally threw caution and his body to the wind to line up a perfect shot with high explosive rounds and the futuristic gun that he had received from the sirrahi. The results were devastating. His rounds exploding in the dragon’s throat proved enough to rip its head off in grisly fashion, and it fell in two pieces within sight of the refuge, but its final burst of fire billowed forth with its dying breath and burnt him. As both bodies fell to the sands, one was clearly dead, and the other maimed and broken, on death’s doorstep. Without the urgent intervention of a skilled binder, Desmond was sure to exit the stage of life.

If one life hung in the balance outside the refuge gates, many more were about to find themselves under threat nearby. After a failed attempt by Ayla, Kaspar, Thierry, and Clemencia combined to neutralize a juvenile alpha and two others, while Jocasta employed a terrifying temporal spell to age the final one beyond death in a matter of seconds.

It fell to Silas to try to sabotage the alpha, which was now closing rapidly in on the aberration, tantalizingly close to consuming it and absorbing its power. For all that he was able to slow it some, there was nothing that he could do about the devastating fire breath that it unleashed. While some of the defenders were able to protect themselves, many were left vulnerable and it fell to Silas, Kaspar, and Jocasta, to save who they could. The Perrench knight Thierry was in particular trouble, only to be rescued at the last moment by Zarina, who’d ridden in at a full gallop on Riesco. Still, as deadly shards of glass and flame began to swirl, it looked like the party was doomed.

Meanwhile, another seemingly doomed individual was met with relief as Trypano arrived, uncharacteristically out of breath, to administer treatment to the gravely wounded Desmond where Casii, Penny, and Yalen had all failed. Thus restored and now sporting something like a bad sunburn, he rose to his feet and was able to celebrate his victory properly, along with his allies.

Victory, however, was the last thing on the minds of those about to perish in the white-hot flames of an enraged alpha froabas. It is a fairly well-established law of science that water can put out fire, however, so when a towering demon made of living water interposed itself between the desperate defenders and the flames, nobody complained, nor did they raise any objection when the new beast that Ismette had summoned from the VOID extinguished the dragon’s ultimate attack. Though she had no words for Jocasta, the yasoi next commanded her demon to grab hold of the aberration, now mere feet from the giant reptile’s grasp, and this it did with ease, denying the alpha froabas a meal which would have both empowered it and driven it to irreversible insanity.

Seizing the initiative, the recently rescued Theirry de Montblaise gathered all of his power and hammered into the dragon as only a leadvein can, sending the beast reeling. However, his allies struggled to capitalize to any great extent, their attacks doing little more than annoying it as it began to recover and pursue Ismette’s aberration. At this point, as Yalen and Isabella decided to go all in on Thierry, filling him with a Blessing of Vigour, the battle appeared to hang in the balance, with the alpha regaining its strength and closing in on the aberration within sight of the refuge.

However, a quick and ferocious attack from Kaspar and long distance siphoning from the untrained tethered of the refuge was able to stall it just long enough to allow a fully invigorated Thierry to come in and pound it into the ground. Where an attempt to chain it by Clemencia failed, Zarina charged in, taking her very life into her hands as she leapt onto the froabas’ back and applied a dangerous new Chemical magic that she had recently learned but did not yet fully understand.

The alpha froabas, which had threatened to turn into a terror on the level of the Sand Wyrm, thrashed and roared, shooting fire into the sky and whipping its tail wildly, nearly throwing off the Virangishwoman more than once. Through her own courage and determination, plus some help from Yalen and especially a last–second save from Kaspar, she was able to persevere. The great reptile’s eyes rolled back into its head and it collapsed into the sand with a whimper, pacified and broken in spirit: hers.

Chapter Five: Fear and Opportunity

Arriving mere seconds after came the party that had felled the wyrm and, for a blip in time there was nothing but utter joy and relief. The refuge was saved thrice over, the duke almost certainly impressed with his new vassals, and everyone miraculously alive despite long odds to the contrary.

There were yet further wrinkles however, and while one was joyous, the other filled those forced to face it by fate and choice alike a creeping apprehension. The alpha froabas – a female - had been pregnant and nearly ready to lay eggs, hence it had been drawn to the colossal aberration as the largest source of energy in the area.

That aberration, the defenders of San Agustin realized, was and would remain an existential threat to everything that they had worked so hard to build and now to preserve. With the limited time and resources that they had on hand, they came to an inevitable realization: they would have to absorb it in order to be rid of it.

In the event, it did not come down to drawing lots. It was instead agreed that some would benefit more greatly from the aberration’s gifts and others would prove dangerous to themselves and their peers. If enough drew together, the madness would prove only temporary. Thus, ten stepped up to draw from the chaotic break in reality:

Zarina Al-Nader
Ayla Arslan
Yalen Castel
Kaspar Elstrom von Wentoft
Ingrid Penderson
Silas Reiger
Trypano Somia

And seven stayed behind to deal with what was hoped to be their temporary insanity:

Clemencia Alvarez
Desmond Catulus
Benedetto Corvi
Augusto Frannemas
Thierry de Montblaise
Jocasta Re

For about half a minute they made contact with the darkness and let it fill them and, when this time had passed, came twelve seconds of madness. Some laughed and some cried. Some danced and sang, others flailed and shrieked. Violence, venom, and rage made war with lust, love, and gestures of fondness. What happened during those twelve seconds is best left to the memories and perhaps the words of those who took part. When the dust had settled, though, all ten participants emerged with their minds more or less intact and noticeably more power in the Gift swimming through their veins than before.

Chapter Six: Endings and Beginnings

The next few hours were a time to take stock, repair damage, and conclude negotiations. The royal sand wyrm had made for a rich prize, along with the dozen froabases that had also been killed, and the eggs of the Alpha froabas. While much of the bounty went to the refuge, and some to the duke, a sizable amount was set aside for the students from Ersand’Enise who had played catalyst to so much of the change. They decided ownership of it by means of a mock auction that played out over the course of two hours and greatly enriched all parties involved. Indeed, ten dragon eggs were prepared for transport back to the school.

He tethered, however, were perhaps the biggest winners. In view of witnesses, an agreement was inked, signed by all senior involved parties, promising the land of the refuge and 1000 acres surrounding it to its inhabitants in perpetuity so long as they kept faith with the senior branch of the House of Frannemas. In return for their service and fealty in matters of politics, economy, and most especially military endeavours, the tethered would receive financial support, guarantees as to their legal position and humane treatment, and a full scholarship for five of the most promising to attend each cohort of Ersand’Enise. It was close enough to the start of the program that Duke Frannemas even allowed for an initial group as a gesture of good faith.

So it was that Marceline, Felix, Luisa, Isabella, and Abdel were welcomed into the academy of thaumaturgy, after some ‘adjustments’ were made to the birthdate of the youngest. The many others who the students had come to know over the course of their week in the desert could not come with them, though.

Tavio Ortega, who had not been a good man, but perhaps not a bad one either, was among that number, for he was also no longer among the living. He was buried in a small plot behind the red tower, and a headstone erected to commemorate his life. His family did not want him, and few attended the service.

Manuel Escarra, named Lord Warden of San Agustin de las Arenas both by Duke Frannemas and popular vote, was among that few, despite the frequent conflict between the two men. Some three hours later, he took a break from his duties overseeing the transfer of prisoners and the hiring and reinstatement of others to retrieve Amanda and come visit with the youths who had impacted him so greatly.

For some twenty minutes, as animals were readied, froabas eggs secured, and goods packed onto hastily-manufactured skids, those staying and those leaving mingled. Laelle hung eagerly around Ayla, anxious of being parted from her, but assured that, next cohort, she would be headed to Ersand’Enise, and that they would write in the meanwhile. Younger children clustered eagerly around her soon, and then Casii, Jocasta, and Vieri, begging them for one more game of this or that. However, one, in particular, stood slightly apart, monopolizing Yalen.

Rita and the blond-headed monk spent their final minutes not far from the pool, which had been temporarily given over to some of the duke’s soldiers so that they might cool themselves. “They took my pool,” she pouted, face scrunching up a bit and arms crossed but, after a moment, the girl thought better of it. “But I guess they need it more than me right now.” She sighed, uncrossing her arms and looking up at him after a moment. “Are you really going?” she begged, “Forever?”

Then there were the five tethered who were going to the school. They spent what time they had left in San Agustin with friends they would likely not see for years or, in some cases, ever again, basking in that warm, cold, nervous glow before an impending and permanent parting. Then, their time ran short and Amanda wished to make a final statement before it was all finished.

“I do not have enough words of thanks,” she said, as Escarra stood respectfully silent close by. It was the students from the academy that she addressed. “Each of you came here for your own reasons, with your own lives, your own concerns and struggles. I’m under no illusions that you didn’t truly know what you had been pulled into.” With the assistance of the Gift, she bowed at the waist. “But you willingly and selflessly gave of yourselves in a world that so often demands the opposite from us.” She looked them, one-by-one, in the eyes. “I was broken, not just in body, but in spirit.”

“And I too,” interjected Jocasta. Amanda flashed her a reassuring smile.

Gods, you showed me how good us imperfect people can be. You’re no saints, no legendary heroes or exemplars from those stories we hear as children, and I’m so very glad of it. You were just people, who saw others in need and did the right thing, even though I know it must not have been easy.”

She took a moment to swallow. “You have helped us to uplift ourselves. You have made so many lives so much better, and that is more than most can claim in their lives. I beg of you to keep doing it, because it is so needed and you do it so well.” She smiled bravely and blushed. “At the risk of sounding hackneyed, I would call you my heroes. You are, and you are - each of you - whatever else your imperfections, the exact sort of friends I would wish for my Marci.” She sniffed and glanced away momentarily. “Gods, look at me all sappy like some old prune.” Amanda’s eyes met theirs again. “Please, go with my utmost thanks. Look after my daughter. Live good lives.” She looked away to the side, holding back tears, and was finished.

Then, it was Manuel Escarra’s turn, and he was a bit less at length in his words. “I thank you,” he said simply, shaking each of their hands in turn and exchanging some quick personal words. “I have spoken many thanks in my life and most have been lies because they have been demanded or expected of me. Not this one.” He released Ayla’s hand last of all. “All of you will always be welcome in San Agustin. I swear it on Ipte, Shune, Oraff, Eshiran, Dami, and Vashdal.” He stepped back and bowed at the waist. “Thank you for keeping the faith and for treating my Amanda and my Marceline so well. Please continue to take care of her in Ersand’Enise.”

“Abuelo!” Marceline hurried to embrace him, unafraid, in the moment, of appearing childish. “Mi Vida,” he whispered into her hair, stroking it and kissing the top of her head. “I can feel the worry in your shoulders,” he chided. “You don’t think you will be good enough.” He shook his head. “You are already good enough, Marceline.” He let her go to arms’ length, but he looked her in the eyes. “You do not have to worry about making me or your mother proud.” He spared a glance and a smile at Amanda, who rose and floated forward in a manner very much like that of Jocasta. “We could not be prouder of you right now,” she assured her daughter, “or more excited for everything in your future.” In truth, her arms were no longer of any use to her, but she controlled them through the Gift, and wrapped them tightly around her little girl who was now so nearly a grown woman. “I love you, Marci. I love what you are, what you have been to me, and what you will become.”

For a moment, fear overcame the girl. “I will become… like you, Mother,” she mewed, “and might not even see you again!”

Amanda reached up, uncurling her limp fingers and stroking Marceline’s hair. She cupped the side of her daughter’s face in her palm. “And is being like me truly such a bad thing, little one?”

Marci gulped.

“I know I am near the end of my life now, but I have lived a good one, truly. I have known love and laughter. I have comforted and been comforted.” She glanced Jocasta’s way and they exchanged a brief nod. “I have played under Gran Naranja, I have held and been held. I have had a dozen adventures all around the world. How could I ever be disappointed? Most importantly, I have lived to see our people free, to watch this little person -” she pinched Marci’s cheek fondly, “-who I brought into the world grow up into a smart, beautiful, and good young woman.” A couple of tears slid down her cheeks and the youth reached out to wipe them away. “I have lived a good life, my precious one, and the best part was knowing that yours will be even better.”

And then… it appeared: a swirling of reality that resolved itself into the semi-familiar environs of Hugo Hunghorasz’s study. After a few seconds, it stabilized, and it was like when that first group had arrived all over again: hundreds of faces clustered around them and twice as many eyes staring in wonder and longing. The goodbyes, farewells, and exhortations to write flew thick and fast and the first couple of students stepped through. They crescendoed, and bodies darted forward, to be gently restrained by the guards, as four of the five chosen tethered made their way across the threshold. It had been so short a time, in the grand scheme of things, but so much had changed that the time before had felt, for some, like another life altogether. Jocasta sent the great skids through next, and then it was time, and the disappeared: Kaspar, who had found himself and a brother; Zarina, who had lost and found a sister and, perhaps, a new perspective on many things; Ayla, whose kindness and loving nature had saved - saved - so many and so much, and finally Yalen, who had found both strength and doubt and known things that he never would have before. When he disappeared, however, he did not go alone, and nobody had the heart to deny him.

It was just Marceline and Jocasta: two young women in the place of wonders and horrors where they had grown up, some six years apart. The portal flickered for a moment, and the dust and desert sun filled their nostrils. Jocasta closed her eyes and breathed it in. Marci silently gave her mother and grandfather one last hug each. “I’ll… see you on the other side?”

Jocasta smiled. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Marci pivoted on the spot, the motion taking some effort, and her senses took in the refuge of San Agustin de las Arenas one last time. Then, she stepped through.

Jocasta, however, sat there for a moment, as people watched, growing silent. Amanda sat across from her and her mind’s eye sizzled with the mirage of a similar scene some eleven long years ago: a little girl with blonde hair, lost and afraid, and the big warm arms of a young woman who made her feel safe.

That girl was a young woman now, herself, and the one who had held her, soon to die. She set hands to wheels and rolled forward a couple of pushes, drifting to a stop and bumping lightly up against Amanda. “Sister,” she said, grabbing the other’s hands.

“Sister,” Amanda replied. Both leaned forward until they touched foreheads. Warm breath mixed with warm breath and swirled between their faces: life leaving and entering their bodies. “You have saved me,” said Jocasta, her voice a breathy whisper. “For the second time, you have saved me.”

Amanda reached out again, labouring in her movements with the Gift, and placed her hands upon the younger woman’s shoulders. Pushing her out to arms’ length, she squeezed. “Now you can save someone else, Chela, right?”

Jocasta glanced uncomfortably around, the finality of it all smacking her: a chapter in the book of her life surely closing, and an ending that was oh so sweet, but with a final hint of bitterness, inescapably that final hint. She had never expected to come back, but oh how glad she was that she had! “I promise you,” she said, letting her hands fall to her wheels, “on the many years we have known each other, that I will.” Her fingers closed around them and she backed up: one push, then a second. She took a deep breath, smiled for something to do with her mouth, and turned. Then, the smell of dust and the rolling heat were gone.

Epilogue: The Comedown

Some days earlier, Leon Solaire and then the rest of the group that had been sent to Feska had returned the same way. They had returned with rewards of their own and some form of victory. That the Paradigm had known of Leon’s ruse was certain, for he was seen to hold it in his hands. What, precisely, had happened to the Lyre of Ipte-Zept after that was somewhat more ambiguous, to none more so than the performer himself.

In any event, there were nearly twenty young people who now stood - or sat - in the great sorcerer’s study, along with goods and animals, and he scowled for a moment at the intrusion, before allowing his expression to soften. “You did well,” he said simply. “By no means perfect, but well.” He nodded slowly, more due to age than any sort of pensiveness, for he seemed quite a decisive sort. “The world is objectively a better place because of your actions,” he stated firmly, “and that is always the goal.” From beneath drooping eyelids, aged eyes peered up at the various treasures that his students had returned with. “And, I know, for some of you, the… personal gain has been substantial as well. Well done in seizing life’s opportunities.”

There was little else to say or, perhaps, little else the legendary wizard was interested in saying. He was, after all, over a century old and not possessed of much energy these days. “I shall call on you again sometime,” he assured the biros, as the door to his impossibly large study opened into the narrow, drafty hallway of the Forked Tower. “Answer should you seek more good for the world and for yourselves.” He shrugged. “Otherwise, do not.”

It would be a lie to say that campus life returned to the mundane following the twenty-five students’ life or death struggles and vast new riches, but a species of normalcy did eventually return. There were readings to be caught up on, papers to write, and friends and masters alike to catch up with. Yet, now, there were dragon eggs to be cared for, business ventures to start up, and valuable goods to be moved for profit. New skills were practiced relentlessly and put to use. Others were studied until they could be practiced. Lives were, for the most part, busy and full, none more so than Manfred’s and Marceline’s once brother and sister were united, but that is a story best told by those it concerns.

In the vein of concerns, there were two weeks remaining before the Student Societies Faire and four before The Trials: a famous or perhaps infamous set of games that pitted apprentice groups against each other for rich reward. If the academy was not quite yet all abuzz about them, then a quiet anticipation had taken hold at the very least. Precisely how any of this would play out was yet to be decided. The future, after all, is what we make of it.

A R C T W O : F I N .

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti House Arslan / Sipentaverse

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Ayla, Thierry @Ti, Zarina @Yummyyummy, Desmond @Th3King0fChaos, Ingrid @dragonpiece, Casii @pirouette, Typano @A Lowly Wretch, Yalen, Isabella @pantothenic, Silas @tackytaff, Kaspar @Wolfieh, Benny, Ismette, Marci @Force and Fury
Event: Aberration Madness: Bonus Scene | Location:Tethered Refuge, Torragonese High Desert.

After defeating the Wyrm and the Froabases, there was only one issue remaining. How to deal with the aberration that was created in the middle of the battlefield. The towering thing pulsates as its dark slime-like texture was in the rippling form of Jocasta disguised as Ayla, embracing Trypano. Those who understand the nature of temporal distortions and aberrations pay attention to the two individuals involved, and a rather sheepish looking Ismette unable to avoid the gravity of their actions due to the presence of the thing.

The students agreed they needed to remove the aberration due to the dangers involved as the wildlife are naturally drawn to its immense power. Its size and ferocity posed a clear and present danger to the practitioners tempted by the allure of power, though would become overwhelmed with corruption and madness this would bring. It was proposed that 10 students would form a ring around the aberration to take in its strength, and that by working together, they could minimise the threat to themselves and others. Seven others posing as guardians to prevent them from being disturbed and the very real task of attempting to maintain their safety during the period of madness.

The strongest start first, followed by the weaker members, drawing in upon the darkness as they feel it saturate their bodies. The immense toil it takes as the body reacts to the great stress of the experience, pumping neurochemicals and adrenaline to counter its effects, too little as the body's homeostasis is greatly disrupted. The ten students embracing their new madness as the guardians watch on, prepared to act to safeguard their wellbeing. The clock is ticking.

Ingrid was the first to draw in the aberration. At first absorbing it only felt for lack of a better word icky but it soon got worse. Little by little this sickly feeling started to overwhelm her. This nothingness now felt like thick sludge was pushed through her body. Her mind deteriorated quickly and as she moved away she felt off, no longer fully aware of what was happening. Ingrid mind regressed to the anger she felt at Benedetto over Wvysen's death and she lunged at him screaming bastard and started to draw energy for only but a moment until the next impulse arrived.

Silas saw that there was nothing at the centre of the aberration. The shouted warnings of the others that had made him expect it to ignite with energy when the group joined together to absorb it. Instead there was nothing, no sign of any energy. That was until it began to fill the very core of his being. Whatever the non-energy was poured into him impossibly fast, filling his capacity in almost an instant. He lurched forwards spinning and screaming as the energy came off him in waves of force and heat.

Ayla felt that the world became like a swirl, thoughts and feelings clouded by the sudden rush she was experiencing. Her first thoughts was seeing Zarina and Marci together, feeling over an overwhelming jealousy as she attacked the tethered girl like a cat, trying to scratch her with her nails like claws. “She is my friend, not yours!”. And there Zarina was, a bit more RAS in the pocket and a lifetime’s worth of emotional damage. First thing’s first, being reminded of Ayla calling Zazzy her Babaca? Retribution is at hand, and that beautifully fake hair is going to get PULLED, “Babaca this you little shit! RAAAHHHH!”. Ayla was now being tackled by the far larger Vigrandish girl who was pulling at her hair and screaming loudly towards her about being called a babaca the last time they were together like this. She redirects this towards Marci, ”No! You cannot have her!”.

Desmond had only seen such chaos occur in the midst of the battlefield, yet it was never so, horny. Many people attacked each other, yelling, crying, laughing, makeouts and more happened at every moment. Some were very rough with each other, some tried to literally use magic to kill each other, Desmond couldn't use his guns, they were too close and slow, so he threw his bullets and upon impact with someone, he used the force to cause them to spread out, driving them apart, and then using chemical magic to apply anaesthetic substances. Many numbed limbs, as all the while he got people into holds and grapples to get them away from each other.

Desmond grabbed hold of Ayla as he tried to pull her away from Marci, being her new focus of her aggression. The smell and accent of the boy marked him as from Enth of all places. “Bet you don’t even play the Hurdy Gurdy!”, she bares her fangs as she attempts to bite down hard upon his arm, though thankfully the teeth do not even penetrate the leather clothing he was wearing. Isabella pulled upon Ayla’s blonde strands, following Zarina’s example, her eyes full of greed as if treating them as being made of gold.

Zarina however let go as she got distracted by the red-headed giantess attempting to hook up with a random lad, feeling that the very existence of the pale beast pissed her off, rushing over to yelling, “You’ve got a fat arse, and you’re way too tall!”.

Desmond was surprised that someone was being rough with him, which wasn't as bad as he expected, he just wished some of them didn't seem like they were about to literally draw each other to death, or worse, use magic and blow up the place.

As the wrath moved away from Ingrid, she suddenly started to just dive into the ground. Sand would rub off some of her skin while the hardened stone hurt her bones and muscles as the large girl completely dove head first into the ground. Ingrid yelled that she was a mole person, a tunneling gofer and she needed to get home for dinner! The In-laws were coming over after all.

Realising she would be late for gofer dinner, Ingrid started to yell at herself that she is always the failure. Most of the yelling at herself broke down to her not living up to her own high standards sprinkled in with a bit of nonsensical stuff like her appearance. Ingrid would slap herself periodically and kick the stones because it hurt.

Zarina, in the discussion of plump derrieres, thought about the handsome knight, experiencing a new feeling invading her stomach. Her golden hues turned toward Thierry, and she could feel a warmth taking over. She approached, set her hand upon his armoured chest and whispered, “Oui oui …” before falling into a burst of mocking laughter, falling on her ass and then shifting into a regretful cry “I’m sorry … I just …” finally, catharsis!

Ayla had broken herself free, laughing out loud as if she was an evil villainess, feeling the ecstasy of the experience and realising she was in disguise… no… costume. “Mwahaha, they call me Jocasta Re, Mistress of Time! Disrespect me, and by Oraff, you will witness your own creation in reverse!”.

Pumped with courage and bravado, she singles out the yasoi girl who has been arguing and bullying her friend Jo earlier. She walks up to Ismette in that drunken delirium, looking up towards the towering girl as she uses a finger to prod her roughly in the chest. “If you call me Enna one more time… Let’s see… we will find out just how good Yasii ears are as natural handlebars”. She smirks widely as she gives a lewd laugh and a wink towards her.

Silas on the other hand eventually stumbled, hitting the sand with enough force to continue scraping forward, burning the sides of his face. His body shook with sobs this time, but no tears came to clear his eyes. Not that he needed them to see the stranger in front of him. A strange and unfamiliar burning flared in his chest. He reached for the figure before him trying to speak but only managed incomprehensible sounds. The figure left him to be replaced with another. It had a voice that spoke with such short and irregular syllables he couldn't help but giggle. He laughed riotously, until again he fell to the ground in tears.

As Ingrid got done complaining about her appearance, she set her eyes on the oh so beautiful Zarina. She was drop dead gorgeous to Ingrid with her perfect skin, her great proportions, her height. Everything. Even her clothes made her look better. Ingrid couldn't do anything to someone that beautiful so Ingrid ripped some of her clothes a fair bit with telekinesis. Ingrid realised it only made her hotter.

Like a flash of light, Zarina's unparoled beauty struck Ingrid with an all-encompassing truth. Hotness can be found for any reason. For their wit, their strength, their beauty, their personality. And all that doesn't matter to anyone but yourself!. Love whoever you want and love fiercely because life can be snuffed at any moment!

Having taken a whole new approach to love it only made sense to go make out with Benny. She looked at him like he was a stud and made her way over quickly, lightly gliding above the ground until she reached him. Ingrid took a hold of his face and looked at him like he was hotter than the Torragon High Desert and started to kiss him. She felt a hand on her chest coming from behind but that didn’t matter, the more the merrier they say.

The daze cleared and Ingrid found herself to be kissing Benny. Her body was throbbing from a mixture of pain and heat. She had no idea why she was kissing him, they had just been friends but she found herself still kissing, drawn in by the comfort being near him previously provided. She pulled away knowing it wasn't right but she perhaps lingered too long. She is going to have to apologise for this.

Benedetto blinked. At one point, he'd hated and mocked Ingrid. Now... she was in his arms. He stepped back quickly, but did not completely let her go. Perhaps they could simply play it off as being caused by the aberration madness, but... he suspected otherwise. As if he could almost sense her thoughts, he smiled back in a way that he hoped didn't come across as 'creepy'. "No apologies needed."

Isabella came to her senses in the middle of groping Ingrid's chest during the others intimate exchange. Though she was apologetic, she took maybe a second too long to let go. When she floated off, she was staring down at her own front with a look of sadness.

Zarina looked right at the sky with her bloodshot eyes, “Vashdal Witness Me! I am the Dragon QUEEN!” and she eagerly stared at the nearby Froabas, before beginning to sprint. There, she came around, and just kind of tripped. Face in the sad, head pounding and her horse slowly pacing by to nudge her head with his lips, “Mmmm …” she whinnied.

Ayla flaps her arms like a bird, tripping hard as she makes whooshing noises. “Fear me, for we are Skyborn. Death from above!”. She ‘swoops down’ as she finds Yalen, clinging upon the boy's back and holding him tightly. “Hehe… Yalen and Jocasta make such a cute couple… blonde bebes.”, her hands wrapping around to grope upon him. Ayla comes down hard as the drop in blood pressure causes her to pass out upon Yalen’s back. Sleepy time.

Yalen's sides were hurting, and wet stains were beginning to dry on his face. He couldn't tell if what he'd gone through was a dream, but he was slowly beginning to come back to the real world. When the urge to hurt, to kill welled up inside of him, it took everything he had to fight it off. The effort of doing so drove him to tears. Also, his body hurt all over as if someone had spent several seconds kicking the crap out of him. On top of all that, the laughing and crying he'd done made it hard to inhale.

There was another distressing matter he was now acutely aware of. Ayla was squeezing him from behind, and her hands had gone somewhere he really didn't want them to. When Yalen looked over his shoulder, he noticed the look of sleepy confusion and embarrassment on her face. Okay, at least this wasn't intentional, but this would be hard to talk about tomorrow. For now, he quickly tore himself away from her and hid behind what was left of the stone barricade to hide his shame.

For Casii, the lure of the aberration was enough to bring her in, but she knew she shouldn't have. Her own kin wallowed under the same vice and yet there it was.... It happened in a blur. A profound sense of regret, experience, rage, joy, lust and when she came out. She had her hands wrapped around Ismette, each greedy hand tightly gripping the other Yasoi's rump. She was close, practically leaning over the other Yasoi who might have been leaning away from a kiss as Casii's eyes opened to see her lips extended... "Oh..." She muttered, cheeks growing rosy as she withdrew. "...sorry." She hung her head in embarrassment. Ismette hadn't even been tempted by the aberration and here Casii stood, giving in and now she went and made a fool of herself like that in front of her. "Was it bad?".

Ismette blinked. She blushed, but barely. "Actually, it wasn't bad at all," she said with a slight laugh. "Unexpected, but by no means bad." She winked and reached out to squeeze Casii's shoulder. "Feel no shame, sister. I now find myself wishing I'd partaken.” She took a step back. "Now, if you would like someone to be your eshe'doin, I do not mind in the slightest."

Trypano was standing in the clear opening surrounded by the dwindling sounds of madness her reasoning returns to her, her focused and cold stare fastening back onto her face. Forming glass out of the sand below she creates a vial. With her knife she opens a vein in her wrist and lets blood out into this new container. Sealing it with more binding she then tucks it away in her bag, afterwards checking to make sure the lantern is still intact.

Kaspar's sitting back between his heels in the strewn remains of sand and glass. His mind feels like he'd just been on the cusp of something great, a revelation to shake the world, but it's already slipping from his grasp into a freefall away, stolen knowledge returned to the abyss. Kaspar notices the warmth, Gods’ forsaken as it was to his southern blood—against his legs and his hands on the ground, in the air surrounding him, but a sleeve of it runs up his left arm.

As partly hazy eyes glance towards the strange sensation, they're met with red. Breath hitches, painful and panicked in his chest at memories that he forces down with extreme prejudice, but the pale sleeve of his shirt is bright crimson and sticking to the skin where fabric still remains. Fumbling, he sees the handprint carved into the flesh, nothing compared to what could have been done, but bleeding openly still. The boy didn't need to measure to know it would match his own palm, as covered in blood as his right hand seemed to be now.

Grimacing, he tugged fabric away from it, a more absorbent sort forming in his hand as he expelled the mana that had once been his flesh—from the blood, and to the blood it would return, as he pressed the material against the wound, the red weeping already beginning to grow sluggish. His eyes scan the rest of his companions, finding them in odd sorts but still alive. That would have to do, for now.

Marci blinked. She was... dancing, in a sense: dancing in the middle of the desert, and laughing without a care in the world. She did not often dance anymore because of how her legs were these days, but something had compelled her anyhow, and she was secretly glad of it. There were bruises on her face and a tenderness in her knuckles. She noticed them next and they said that she had been up to some sort of violence. Marceline's cheeks burned with enough shame that she ceased her laughter and dancing. Still, she could feel this strange new power surging through her and she had a feeling - a sense deep inside of herself - that was telling her that great things awaited if she went to Ersand'Enise. When it was all over and she had come down from the strange high, she stood there smiling: happy.

As fast as the energy came, it was gone. Silas found himself half buried in sand, unsure whether his pain and weariness were from the battle with the froabases or the aberration. It was some time before he tried to move.

As once it was all over, Desmond sighed in relief as he saw people finally calming down and seeming to have the fog clear.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by YummyYummy
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YummyYummy Ayyyyy

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Interacting with: Most people in the Wyrm fight, Amanda & Marceline @Force and Fury, Ayla & Thierry @Ti
Location: The Desert -> The Refuge -> Hugo's Crib -> Ersand'Enise

Just as Zarina had united with her closest friend, she was to ride off to battle to put it all in peril for the sake of others. Jocasta, the real one, laid out the plan and prepared the additional late arrivals while Zarina got her affairs in order with Riesco. Scrounging up the best light armour she could find in the stables, she was content with just leather protection and a basic helm to go with it. The Camargue breed also got mild protection on the sides, attached to the saddle, and on the head an improvised fly mask. There was going to be sand and loads of light, so protecting the beast’s eyes was to be considered too.

”Hey there, Shooru …” she whispered to the stallion’s perked ear when he got a little agitated. The cries of beasts being transformed into Casii’s monstrosity were stressing everybody, especially the animals, ”Mmm. Smells nice, doesn’t it?” she continued to whisper little nothings to the animal, hoping her voice and proximity could provide the frightened creature some comfort before the battle. She worried about it, they hadn’t fought like this before and the risk of an accident was considerable. But it was lessened by the visible bond the two had. Riesco’s frequent stress stomps began to cease and the calm chewing began, ”That’s my Shooru.” a good smooch between the eyes and a half-apple were given as a reward before she drew the beast out.

In the horizon she could see the sandcloud ushered by the passing of the maddened dragon. Marceline was by Zarina, riding her own horse and serving as a means to keep tabs on the rampaging beast if it were to ever slip underground. Though truthfully, the Virangish wanted to keep Marci close enough to ensure she was safe as the young tethered insisted to her mother she wanted to be a part of this. Zarina was to keep close to the Wyrm, while the younger teen kept a good distance from the group to support.

”Big girl pants on now, Marci. We’re about to make history.” she winked from under her leather helm with a visible grin on her gaze. And then she tapped the sides of her steed with her heels and whistled to get him into a quick trot. Everyone else was scrambling to get into positions and she did the same. The Tethered were the first to halt its progress, allowing for the deer-riding group and Zarina to attempt to corral the rampaging Wyrm away from the nearby town of Hosta.

Froabases joined the fray, adding to the complications, although Zarina attempted to take advantage of the situation. However, Riesco was not having it. The stress of the situation and inexperience was getting to it. She had to focus on her steed before the rest, hoping that Marci would cover for her at the very least.

Hey, hey, Riesco- I’m here.

She couldn’t really utter anything as she wouldn’t be heard through the tremors and frantic gallop of her horse. But she tried to communicate her presence and care some other way. Without truly knowing it, she was reaching out to him through the Gift, and attempted to ‘connect’ with him the same way she did with some of the Froabases but this time with a creature she had formed a four-year bond with. In a way, she knew him in ways none other did. With a little bit of effort, both of them harmoniously felt what the other did. Riesco felt his master so close to him and didn’t see the Wyrm as this terrifying predator that would inevitably eat him. He had Zarina now, the one that had always made him feel safe. And she felt the exact same way.

”I want a Gypsy horse- No! A Mora Metek!” clamoured a little Virangish tot to a very elderly but still kicking tanned man, ”They’re so cool with their manes and and and, Bwaahhhh!” her arms flailed in an attempt to illustrate flaming manes from the unique breed. The old man shook his head, ”Maybe when you become a princess, Zarina.” They were at what seemed to be a farm in rural Virang, with quite a few foals released in a pen for other children to visit and play with. Zarina, being the energetic eleven year-old she was, revelled in this occasion. Like most of the kids, her attention went to the pretty one with the long, black mane. There were many pretty ones, but only one made her smile so wide that she ended up laughing. A clumsy little grey foal, not quite remarkable, came up to her and started to munch at her pocket upon smelling a piece of old carrot in it, ”Oh! Here you go!” she offered the treat to be scooped up almost immediately. The infant horse then proceeded to keep his lips slightly parted to resemble a smile when he got some scritches to go with the meal. She mimicked it, and then he went for the flehmen grimace that got her to laugh her guts out. And then he kind of just … Followed her. To the point where beautiful, legendary horses were a notion she had long forgotten. It became hard to separate them after that.

The Wyrm was successfully deviated from its course and now targeted the Refuge. With Riesco back on track, Zarina could get a better grip of the situation. She started by keeping a steady gallop in close proximity to it while avoiding its notoriously powerful claws. Froabases kept swarming the skies, and with newfound focus Zarina managed to pacify one that put the whole operation at risk. It merely glided passively over the battlefield while the Virangish struggled to keep it under control. Nuclear explosions and deer rammings followed soon afterward.

Now her blade was readied and she waited for her opening. The continuous explosions were bound to stagger the beast. But instead of falling, the monstrous Wyrm casted a mighty shadow over all, reaching even the Refuge as it uttered a loud screech. Zarina lowered herself and- V̶̪͕̦͓͚̭̓͆O͖̗̅̊̌ͥ͢I̷̠̱͖͍̳̺͋ͅD̮̰̮̂̐́̋͞ ̶̜̫̫̝̜̱͍͛ͫ͊i͑̀̄̅͏̯͍̻s͓̤͓̞̩̼̣̺ͯ͞ ̠͇͚̟̤́͒̐͠h͓̹̆ͬ͝ͅe̛̯̺̪̤̳͛͑ͨ̐r̸̙̖̗͈̻̩̜̿̑e̻̫̖͚̯͔͖͉͛͊ͣ͜

Anticipated the coming blast as Riesco leapt over a fissure caused by the loud screech. But just as Zarina survived the onslaught, something bothered her. As if she had the briefest of absences and immediately forgot what had passed in her mind. There was a strange sensation in the air that even breezed through the tremors and storms conjured by the Wyrm and the Froabases felt it too. Some massive energy was concentrated which dragged the dragons away.

The Deer was about to be swallowed by the sands, and as much as Zarina detested its existence, she couldn’t let her colleagues just die. The Froabas she pacified was further influenced to try and go for a rescue, but ultimately ended up devoured by the very sands she sought to stop. Luckily, a blast from a lad she could’ve swore she had seen in a different light not so long ago had delivered a decisive hit. The Wyrm was staggered, and Zarina could seize this opportunity to drill her shamshir into its eyes, successfully gouging it out through the mucosa.

Then came flames. Flames she couldn’t just run from. Zarina, with her heart racing, definitely felt the heat coming close. But luckily for her, someone had her back. She didn’t throw a glance or even a thumbs up, she knew who it was and there would be recognition later. A job had to be finished, and it so happened to be the fool with the gun to finish the job whilst putting himself in peril. The Wyrm was down, but the job wasn’t finished. Some tended to Desmond, while Zarina went to assist the second group with the Froabas pack.

At the nick of time, Zarina intervened to save the imperilled Thierry de Montblaise with Riesco dashing at speed he had never reached before. The Virangishwoman landed right before the black Knight, still on her horse and with a Kinetic shield protecting both from the white-hot flames of the Alpha. She maintained the barrier with similar principles given to her by Jocasta: Maintaining the rotation of the manipulated air and energy in a constant flow and using its own excess to feed it.

”No celebrating yet, bub. I need this thing on the ground.” she responded to one of his charming remarks - more so a thank but still, a distractingly charming thank you - and dashed forward with her horse to keep up with the confused creature. Not letting herself be distracted by the monstrosities brought in by Ismette, she prepared her final strike. Thierry delivered with a suplex, and Zarina finished off with a literal leap of faith, landing on its back and applying a powerful pacification spell from her innate chemical skills to finally calm it. No more Froabases needed to die.

But the job wasn’t finished. The animal could be tamed and Zarina could feel it in her to do something about it. The same way she connected with Riesco, she felt like she could do the same. The tall Virangish stood before the calmed beast, so easily devoured if the beast got aggressive again. Confident, she didn’t budge even as it grew frustrated with her attempts to ease into its system. It was turbulent, at best, with many screeches that likely prompted a few to raise their arms. But the Northern Teen wasn’t done. With a little more, she could just … Just as she seemed to exert herself far beyond what was normal, a friend came to help: Kaspar. With his aid, she could finally appease the beast and establish a new order. Zarina was the dominant figure, and the female Alpha recognized this, and hopefully would see this on other dominant humans too.

”Thanks for that, Kaspar.” she was panting, but had the strength to give him a thumbs up. The Alpha was kept at a safe distance as the next order of business came up: The Aberration.

”Pffpfpfpfpf … Ugh, my head.” face in the sad, Zarina awake from the worst high she had ever experienced in her young life. A high so bad and yet she wanted more of it for some inexplicable reason. Riesco was munching away playfully at her hair, trying to get her attention, ”Mmm. Hey you. Gonna bring me safely home? I don’t think I can walk much right now.” with a few grunts of pain, she straddled her horse and slowly paced back to the Refuge with the rest.

Although a new issue came about: The Alpha! She was pregnant, and was just about to lay her eggs. With the help of Thierry and some others, the large Froabas was escorted thanks to Clemencia’s chains toward the Refuge and made to roost under the hot sun. A comfortable nest was improvised by pushing sand away via Force magic. Zarina then gently pressed her hand onto the dragon’s snout - a bold move still - and sought to share the soothing sensation she used to calm her steed.

With little whines, the reptilian began to lay her eggs. It wasn’t a mammal, so the process was rather straightforward, but she would frequently turn around to check the goods. The calls of the other chained Froabases of her flock were also reassuring, and Zarina’s sweet nothings often did the trick. With ten eggs in total, and a sleeping Alpha that needed to recover its strength after all that occurred, the group had quite the bounty!

A bounty that would be claimed in an auction, leaving Zarina with: Ten Wyrm Scales, Eight Wyrm claws, Eight Wyrm bones of varying sizes, and THREE Froabas eggs - One of which is an Alpha and of the rarest breed by the patterns on it! The other two also had uniquely remarkable patterns too, promising rare specimens the day they’ll hatch.

Together, as friends, the group made their farewells and returned to the strange world governed by the almighty Paradigm. Their mission was complete and Hugo confirmed their success while alluding to a potential sequel to these adventures. If it weren’t for the daunting task of storing all of the goods that piled up right before her, Zarina would at least be subtly smiling at the notion. She had made such great strides in not only finding herself, but also enriching her life with more than just the material side of it, or the self-contained spirituality she kept to herself.

First thing’s first thought: Coffee! That would be the first thing she’d go for in her quarters that needed a little dusting. Then came the storage issue. Surely her friends had a solution …

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti House Arslan / Sipentaverse

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Kaspar @Wolfieh, Zarina @YummyYummy
Event: Return to the Academy, Class Arc | Location:Academy of Thaumaturgy, Ersand'Enise

One Month Ago:

”Three fours.”

Called out a feminine yet somewhat deep voice among the chattering that reigned in the student lounge in the merchants’ quarters. With only these two words, one could distinguish a thick Virangish accent. It was Zarina, sitting before a square table with five of her female peers, all of which were of either Torragonese, Inipori or her own nationality. They were playing a game known as ‘Dudo’ in Torragon with wooden chips used as wagers. ”Four fours.” one of four players announced, essentially raising the bid. The tall, sun-kissed lady of the group raised an eyebrow, ”Bold.” she raised the upside-down cup before her to get another gander of the dice under it before clicking her tongue.

”Four fives.” a torragonese girl added, getting a few surprised reactions from the others. Zaina took a sip from her small coffee cup right by her game cup. Everyone had one of those, actually, with a still warm kettle resting near the pot of tokens in the centre, ”Gonna call Sereza a liar, Fatima? C’mon.” the Virangish teen smirked, a hand supporting her chin as she leaned in to apply a bit more pressure to her neighbour whose turn it was.

Although as the game was about to progress, a regular member of the group, Isabel, had arrived and made her presence known to the entire lounge, ”Ah, there she is!” without fault, Zarina pointed right at the late arrival with a bright, toothy smile before gesturing for her to come, along with her plus one, ”And who’s this lost little cub?” her golden hues directed themselves toward the little Torraro noble and narrowed into an almost fox-like squint, ”Welcome.”

Ayla moves with grace as she leans towards the woman greeting her first of all. She takes her hand within her own as she places a pat upon it. "Pleased to make your acquaintance, you may address me as Ayla." She gives the hand a squeeze before breaking contact, then starts to greet the others the same manner, much to their amusement, as she casts eyes upon the game in front of them all, “It seems that much happiness is to be had here, may one partake?”.

Zarina blinks at the sudden contact made by the torragonese lass, certainly not expecting such an approach, although it did little to make her smile falter, ”My my, proper aren’t we, Ayla?” she leans against her chair, one leg over the other, and her vixen gaze now turned into a more focused, almost viper-like one, ”I’m Zarina.” a small gesture of her previously held hand invited the others to surrender their cups and dice as they were going to start again while the others were introducing themselves.

”You are absolutely welcome to, love. I assume you know how to play?” the more predatory gaze has since mellowed into a calmer, half-lidded gaze that was shared among the members of the circle, though the newcomer still got a disproportionate amount of attention, especially as the free seat was set opposite of the ringleader, ”Five dices, up the bid or choose a higher face, one’s are wildcards.” she wooden cup is filled with the appropriate amount of dice, and each member is given one, for a total of five players this time around.

Zarina peeks into her own cup for barely a second before looking up at the new guest, ”Coffee, little Ayla?” she reaches for the metal jug, still warm with the faintest trace of steam emitting from it, and begins to fill a cup that she then slides over to the noble girl ”Care to start too?”

Ayla simply follows along with the instructions, rolling the dice upon the table with the cup. The dice scattering in an unceremonious manner upon the table with much of a chuckle, "The dice read 5, 5, 3, 2, 2". The statement is left hanging as if awaiting further explanation or instruction. She uses the moment to look towards the steaming brown elixir, her hands moving to cup along the ceramic sides, bringing the liquid to her lips. Her face probably looking in disgust as her taste buds are suddenly overwhelmed with the bitterness, keeping the container up to attempt to hide her features whilst waiting for an explanation.

Zarina’s eyes just followed the rolling dice. She nodded with a grimace that exaggerated how ‘impressed’ she was, ”Wow, you really know your stuff.” she snorted while her posse giggled in tandem, ”I assume you’ve never played Dudo? It is a game from Torragon, pretty popular among sailors.” she smirked, ”And pirates.” the Virangish girl reaches out for the dice and gestures for Ayla’s cup to be returned, ”The dice is your hand, yes? Keep it to yourself.”

The cup was passed to the lion cub, ”You announce your bid. Two threes? If there are two three’s on the table, your bid is covered.” her turquoise nails drum against the wooden surface before her, ”But should Fatima deem you to be a liar, and your bid isn’t covered,” she flicks one of the dices on the table, causing it to fly off to the corner of the room, ”You lose a dice. If your bid is covered, she does! Simple enough?” she tilts her head before gesturing for Ayla to begin again, ”But given we’re five, let’s say the cost is now … Two dice!”

Ayla nods in acknowledgement, simply putting the dice within her cup and begins her roll again, the cackle of the dice within the cup is very audible, with a very good shake she comes to a stop, placing the top upon the table. She tries to manoeuvre the coffee cup to act like a shield as she tries to peek, seemingly mouthing the dice as she sees them, giving a big smile as she turns to Fatima, those sapphire eyes gleaming. "Foresee there being six 4’s on the table." Socially passing the baton to Zarina’s companion to make the next move as she gestures towards her.

A small gesture from Zarina’s hand had the metal jug levitate over Ayla’s cup, meticulously tipping it to fill it up again, ”Cheeky little cat, aren’t you?” she chuckled in amusement while Fatima’s eyes widened a little. Nervous peeks under her cup punctuated the awkward silence that was prompted by the outrageous bid, ”Uhm … Seven Six?” the anxious Fatima posed, which got Zarina to raise an eyebrow, as it was her turn.

A quick peek under her cup confirmed one thing: She had no six, but she had two ones, "Putting me in quite the corner already, you two." she pointed her index toward Ayla and Fatima, wiggling it a little in a playful manner, "Nine six’s." she solemnly posed before resting her gaze on the newcomer, "Am I a liar, Sereza? Or maybe Ayla has an issue with my bid?" and then she smiles.

Ayla ponders for a moment, then simply smiles. ”You seem to be trustworthy. Raise you ten 5’s”. She pushes the almost empty coffee cup towards Zarina, as if gesturing to top it up from the jug after she has just taken in a nice long draw, a challenging gesture, as if the lion cub is roaring proudly towards the group in defiance.

Zarina squinted, although her smile persisted, ”You are a funny one.” she tilts her head to peer over at her neighbour, Isabel, ”So?” she then leans in, adding even more pressure to her friend, ”Lie? I think you’re lying, Ayla.” she somewhat confidently announced, which in turn prompted everybody to reveal their cups. Zarina had two one’s and a five, Sereza had two five’s and Fatima had one ‘one’ and one five, totalling seven already. When Isabel revealed her’s, she’d show neither one nor a five, bringing it to eight. All eyes were on Ayla now, ”Well, well, all pressure is on you, little Ayla.” Zarina leans her chin over her palm, ”I gotta say, I respect the ballsiness.”

Ayla frowned at the accusations levered before her. She lifts her cup up to reveal a 1 and two 5’s. “It appears there was a mistake, there were eleven 5’s on the table”. Ayla looks towards Zarina, gazing within her eyes, her frown of disappointment attempting to hide that smile, as she indicates to her cup, “If we are going to continue, my drink is required to be refilled”.

Zarina scoffed at Ayla’s display of attitude, which only contributed to the Virangish girl’s amusement, ”You’re something, I’ll give you that.” first thing’s first, Isabel had clearly lost this round and thus was taxed not one, but two dice. But before the tall teen could get on to rewarding the Torraro winner with some more coffee, a bell resonated through the entirety of Ersand’Enise, indicating a new period had started and some electives were starting. Which meant most of the group had to disperse, leaving only the head of the group and the tiny newcomer.

”Usually people hate their first coffee.” she remarks as the levitating metal pot pours the hot beverage into the cup for a third time, ”Either you’ve got REALLY good taste, or you’re trying too hard to look cool.” she gives the noble a very keen, soul-piercing gaze with her eye as her head had turned ever so slightly so she could properly arrange the cups and dice, ”How about you ‘n’ I have a game?” her golden gaze was now focused on tidying things up, ”Winner gets a small bag of nice, Virangish coffee beans. Well, you get mine if you win.” she smirked, peering up to see how the lioness would react.

Ayla smiles in sweet sincerity as she returns the gaze warmly, "Received your interest". She slides her hand over towards Zarina own, the fingers latching upon the bottom of the dice cup, clawing the dice towards her as the top runs along the table with that telltale scratch. She rolls the dice, planting the top of the cup down upon the table, and only with a quick check of the roll, “Four 4’s”. She brings the coffee cup within her hands, as she drinks deeply, as her eyes stare deeply into Zarina from above the lid of the cup.

With her elbow over the edge of the table and chin rested over her palm, Zarina lifted her own cup once it had a good shuffling. She shared the focus in her gaze that Ayla was displaying, mimicking the little one’s indulgence and then refilling her own glass with the increasingly lukewarm drink, ”Don’t kid yourself, this place gets dull very fast. Fresh blood gets a few heads turning.” the cup was then set back to hide her hand, ”Five threes.” she announces solemnly before taking another sip, ”So what drags you here from the Blue quarters, eh? In need of some adventuring or rebelling like half you folks do?”

Ayla nurses the cup within her hand as she looks down towards her, the playfulness disappearing. "Was instructed to come here, because my father didn’t want to lose my brother. Dispensable compared to him. Looking for somewhere which reminded me of home, it is sorely missed". Appears to be ignoring the game at this point, bringing the ceramic cup to her lips as she drinks upon it, her eyes gazing low as if looking beyond the table. She replies as if reluctantly willing to engage, "Five fours".

With the game slowing down, Zarina tilted her head just a tad before conferring a dull stare to the noble girl spilling her heart out, ”Right.” a loud tap on the table punctuated that singular word, ”What makes this place any more comfortable than your own quarters, then, little Ayla?” she then taps the top of her cup with the same hand that frequently drummed over the table, ”’Cause last time I checked, we’re just as snooty as your pompous deadbeats in blue-ward.” the dullness of her expression quickly shifted to a jolly one as she begins to laugh, ”Can’t make friends among the great birthrights of Erd-Sand’Weenis?” she snorts at her own badness, ”Six threes.” she adds as if it were an afterthought, although just how much she thought of it was purposefully kept discreet in all the chatter.

Ayla has never thought of thinking about it so thoroughly, because to her, the obviousness posed made it seem like a given, though is aware that not all places are the same. "Varrahasta is the city of my birth, the lapping sea, bustling port, and even dice games like this. Far removed from ‘the blue quarter’ ", she does give a wry smile as she plays down how much she knew at the beginning. It wasn’t a malicious deception to win the game, she knew that appearing weak and vulnerable allows others to drop their guard, giving better opportunities for some friendships to be made. "Would like to request an alternative prize", speaking back to the topic of the game, "One always prefers to share a drink with a friend."

Zarina traced the tip of her nail around the edge of the upside down cup, her eyes peering down at it while her adversary was sharing her origins, ”Varrahasta.” she repeated, again punctuating that single word with a tap, this time on the cup, ”I’ve been there before. Know a few folks there too.” now she adjusted her posture, crossing her arms before her and resting them on the edge of the table so she could support her upper-body’s weight. Her Hexaic pendant hung more obviously in that position, dangling about and contrasting less with her darker attire, ”But we’re sharing a drink already, no?” her hand was in the right position to seize her cup, and she lazily raised it as a ‘toast’ before indulging, ”Besides, there needs to be at least some stakes, don’t you agree? It ups the ante in a fun way, I find!”

Again, she peeked under her cup, only to purse her lips, ”Ayla, Ayla, Ayla …” Zarina clicks her tongue, ”Ayla. Generally the higher status likes to flaunt their lineage.” she smirks, ”If I win, you tell me your name.” she pauses and cranes her head to the side for a moment in her pensive silence, ”And if you win, I’ll tell you mine.”

The Torragonese girl simply smiles gently, after all, an exchange of names is how one establishes a friendship. "If you desire a noble's lineage, the best way to find out is to question it", the corner of her mouth flickering slightly as she mused. "Miss Zarina, I have fours, you have threes, I cannot raise. My only option would be to call". She taps upon the top of the dice cup, gazing into those golden eyes. "How about we both walk away winning. We exchange names".

Zarina raises her hand, ”Just Zarina. Please.” her fingers then curl and prompt a couple of small cracks, ”Calling.” she chuckles, ”You know your stuff. And acting all naive too. It would also rub some the wrong way. Like one’s attempting to cheat them.” her eyes widen and stare right into the lazulite gaze of the other, ”Are you trying to trick me, little Ayla? Make me feel safe in this little truce?” the Virangish girl bites the tip of her own tongue while glancing down at the table before her, ”Or maybe you’re just a little sweetie. Or; like every person worth a damn, have more than one facet. More than a one-trick pony.” she chuckles.

The cup is tipped over, revealing 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, ”I’ll be taking that precious name.” she confidently states while staring at her adversary’s cup, but then raises her golden gaze, ”But if you ask nicely, I’m always willing to share with friends.”

Ayla bit her lip and looks a little troubled as Zarina confidently boasts her victory, and it wasn’t the threat of impending loss, it was the opposite which concerned her. She could tell the Virangish girl was proud, and softening could always make it worse, that would be a real deception. ”Friendship is a bond between two people, and one must be willing to share. My name is Ayla Arslan, my ancestor is the great ‘Lion of Torragon’.". She moves her hands to lift up the cup, revealing the displayed dice underneath to Zarina, she had rolled 1, 3, 4, 4, 4. ”Best outcome in a negotiation is where both parties gain a favourable outcome, both sides feeling satisfied with their win. Let's win this together, please help me make this happen."

The name was uttered, Zarina had been given the prize she wanted, ”The adorable little cub of house Arslan.” she grins as the results were in, looking very satisfied with the victory, ”Very difficult to get anything done in Torragon without passing through Varrahasta.” she raises her hand to gesture, as if explaining a scheme of sorts, ”And to get through the port, you gotta go through the proper authorities. And one of the big ones is the Lions.” she continued as she slowly stood up, ”Ven.” she ordered the little cub with her gesturing hand performing a singular upwards wave to encourage a hasty reaction. Her Torraro accent was on point, and easily determined by that one word, especially with how she pronounced the ‘V’.

As she walked, it appeared as though she was aiming for the student lounge’s couch, and she just lazily dropped her rear on it with a complete lack of elegance, ”You know, pequeña leona, your mindset makes sense in commerce. It’s not really about dominating or glory when business is involved.” she exhales from her nostrils while the hoving coffee jug slowly levitates toward her, ”But the thrill of a game is to come out on top. Or at least try to get those feelings. It’s not like we’re winning some big prize. We’ll know our names one way or another.” she rests one leg over the other and adjusts her posture to be less taxing on her back, ”And it’s just more fun!”

Ayla isn’t sure of the moral of the story as she finds herself far removed from the gaming table, but it seems that her tactic seems to have paid off as Zarina is acting satisfied with this outcome. She follows behind her as she listens to the words, she is reminded of when her father approaches this topic, ‘this is a cat eats cat world, and the lions are the strongest’.: "Who wrote the law that to come out on top, there needs to be a loser?", she retorts, posing the question as purely rhetorical, and gently moves the topic, "and in these schemes, which family should we provide safe passage to?", this question poised and inviting Zarina to share her name.

”I did. The winner.” she winks, clearly joking, ”They say I get a little competitive at times. And they also say I don’t have the best temperament for it.” she pushes her lips out in a light pout, ”And they’re kinda right. But, it feels good to win, sometimes, or at least win MORE than others. I just gotta learn to lose more.” she chuckles, tapping a spot next to her, ”Come. Relax. While the lounge is tranquil.”

Then came the elegantly asked question of Zarina’s identity. The way it was formulated brought a toothy smile to her face, ”You won’t see our name on many ships or cargo. But you will hear our name in any paper trail leading back to Gandakar … Well, at least if horses are involved.” she smirks, ”Ever bet on an Al-Nader horse in the races, Ayla of house Arslan? We have our ways to get the very best from Torragon.” she fills Ayla’s coffee cup once more via her magnetic magic.

Ayla does tend to find that the cooled coffee doesn’t have the best taste as she does use some arcane magic to start gently heating up the jug. She positions herself as guided, listening to the words, her thoughts drawing back home as she starts to think about her horse back in the stables. Beautiful horse, with a long mane which trailed down the left side, spending hours combing through it, though the best times are during the Carnival, where the mane would be adorned with ribbons, parading down the street as she rode upon it during the celebration. "Are you an equestrian yourself?", posing the question as she gazes towards her.

Zarina turns her body to lean on her side, one arm over the couch and the opposing hand over her own thigh. Her gaze was dedicated to her new friend and she listened with great intrigue while giving a thumbs up for the heated awake juice, ”Thank you very much, kitty cat.” she winked before taking a sip from the freshly heated beverage, ”Oh me? Definitely. The Dreamer only knows how many hours I’ve spent with my Riesco.” that name in particular would be graced with a thick and proper Torraro accent, ”A gorgeous grey stallion. Mmm~ It truly feels special when you’re the only one that can ride your one special horse, don’t you think?” she then nudges her chin forward, ”And you?”

Ayla could empathise with Zarina, her very own Palomo is very dear to her heart. "Perhaps we shall mount the saddle and embark upon a journey together.” The lion cub offers Zarina an invitation for when an opportunity arises.

Aberration Madness: Previous Post.
Refuge Horse Ride: Posted by Zarina @YummyYummy
Picnic with Kaspar @Wolfieh

The desert has definitely taken its toll over the last week, with sand getting absolutely everywhere. It is no surprise that most of the students ended up back in their dorms to have a bath and soak their troubles away. As Ayla was leaving the study, and attempting to negotiate the impossibility of getting her haul through the doorway, she notices Kaspar who has appeared after she lost track of him. “Kaspar! There you are. Let’s meet up for dinner, it is very important.”

Kaspar turned, crimson eyes tired but bemused at his friend’s predicament. Ayla seemed to have won quite a few prizes in the auction, and despite the troubles he was sure she was pleased with the haul. She’d even made away with three froabas eggs, the only item in the group he had seriously considered bidding on. He felt something nearing regret or envy, though not quite strong enough to be considered such; he’d focused on watching others claim trophies with no interest in any for himself, and it was an opportunity lost. But the boy was not one to dwell too severely, and they’d only been in Hugo’s care for a short time; there would be other prizes, though perhaps not dragon eggs. Taking a few paces back, offering hands as they might be needed, he replied softly, “I would be amiable to dinner.” He paused for a moment, calculating time in his head, and continued, “By the fountain in the Noble’s Dormitories, near two Eshiran?”

Ayla hasn’t even looked at the clock since arriving, but she trusts Kaspar’s judgement, “By the fountain it is, you owe me a nice picnic.” She gives him a big teasing smile before she starts to question her life choices as she ends up with over 100 Wyrm scales, and trying to find out what she can do with them. She goes to attempt to negotiate with Hugo, who was currently far less than impressed with the load crowding his study.

Though he knew Ayla’s remark about the picnic was teasing, Kaspar was not one to disappoint. He was quick to bathe and had visited the marketplace. As he neared the fountain, just a few minutes early, he carried a small woven basket with hard cheese and fresh bread, and a small common melon that seemed to come from a group that ripened a bit too early for the Melon Derby. His thick cloak had returned to his shoulders and his clothes were once again close-fitting reds and blacks instead of the loose pale fabrics he had returned in.

Ayla came down looking far more refreshed than she did in the desert, wearing those more luxurious outfits as she typically did around the academy, though noticeably seeming more dressed up than normal. She wears a semi-transparent veil as she smiles towards Kaspar, approaching him. It appears she has brought some food with her as well. “ Hoping you may still have room for dessert”, she indicates towards the woven bag she is carrying.

As he stopped beside the girl, Kaspar offered out the basket for her to deposit the bag in, if she would like. “So long as you have room for some melon,” he responded with a small smirk. He turned, angling towards where the arboretum lay beyond the dorms, and glanced towards Ayla. “Would you like to eat near the lake, or did you have elsewhere in mind?”

“As long as you remember Mallow’s tribute, he should leave us alone if we go to the lake”, she offers her arm out towards Kaspar, gesturing for him to take it as lead the pair of them towards the still waters. “My face feels like it still has moisture in this humidity. Could swear that my skin was ageing by the hour out upon those sands. Poor Jocasta looks like she is in her twenties”.

Kaspar started towards the Arboretum, shifting a few items aside in the basket to pacify the demon goose, should they encounter it. He nodded in sympathy as she talked about the desert heat, offering, “Ersand’Enise was too warm for my liking when I arrived here. Now, I think perhaps it is not so bad.” He shuddered in mock dread at the reminder of the desert heat, the individual furs on his cloak trembling. Looking to Ayla and scanning her face, he narrowed his eyes in thought for a moment before speaking, “I do not think the sun was so bad for your skin. You were twenty-five when you came here, yes?” Though the words seemed genuine, a teasing glimmer flashed through his eyes.

Stands still for a moment as she blinks towards Kaspar, in horror at the boys suggestion, before seeing the glimmer of a tease. She hits at his arm, clearly playful but the boy could have taken it anyway even if it was not. “We were going to have a nice time and had something special planned, then you had to say that. Going to take it al back now, and but rotten this entire picnic. Going to give Mallow your portion of the dinner.” She dips her hand into the basket to pull out a random piece of bread and throws it out towards the water for the goose to eat. She breaks the arm not to storm off, but go lay down the blanket for them to sit down upon.

Kaspar sways dramatically at the punch, though it was dampened even further by the thickness of his cloak. “I do not know that Mallow has better manners than I do,” he replied thoughtfully, adding, “But if you would prefer to dine with him, I think perhaps I can lead him over.” The offer was, of course, teasing—though there was every chance the boy might try to bribe a goose if his friend showed a genuine desire to dine with it. As Ayla began to spread out the blanket, he knelt to lay out the food they’d brought, leaving the melon in the basket in the center so it couldn’t roll away.

Ayla still hasn’t fully forgiven him, but did start helping herself to some of the cheese and bread, using the various bits and pieces to create something resembling what she is more currently used to. She also had to navigate the issue of wearing a veil and trying to eat at the same time, choosing to unfasten it so she can enjoy the food. “You did very well with that Froabas Matriarch, we were able to subdue it in time because of you.” She looked over to him as she examined his features, and appeared to be mostly in tack. “You appeared to be very troubled this last week too, it seemed the heat really got to you.“ She tries to create some small talk as she shows an interest towards to boy, wondering if she could encourage more from him, appealing to his good deeds, even his vulnerabilities.

Kaspar observed Ayla’s methods of eating, himself preferring to simply take a bite of one food and then the other. As she mentioned the alpha froabas, the barest hint of pink tinged his cheeks and he glanced out towards the lake, observing it rather than meeting her eyes. “I mostly followed Zarina’s lead. I’m not… very adept, with chemical magic. But it’s what all Elstrøms learn. It just seemed like what should be done,” he offered quietly, ignoring the way the Elstrøm name sat uncomfortably on his tongue. “The desert was… unusual, and difficult. I learned things, and faced things I’ve never had to face before.” Most would likely assume he meant the various dangers, and Kaspar was more than happy to let even Ayla think that; and while they were certainly part of it, there had been much more personal matters to contend with, and he was still unsure how to approach them—or if he ever should.

Ayla has an amused thought as she smiles brightly, “Surely the sand getting everywhere was not that bad.” She cannot help but giggle, having the mental image of poor Kaspar being tortured as he tries to get the sand from out of his clothing, only to be greeted by more sand. Endless sand. She moves her hand upon his as she sees him reaching for another bite, the boy eating the equivalent of a deconstructed sandwich, as if trying to make a fashion statement. She pauses him as she starts to assemble a treat for him, putting it together then bringing it up towards his lips. “Now bite~”, doing an instinctive opening of her own mouth to draw upon his urge to mirror her response.

“The sand was terrible,” the boy bemoaned dramatically, reaching for another chunk of cheese. Ayla’s hand found his, then, and he flinched in the second they made contact, but didn’t draw away, letting his hand still and hoping she didn’t notice the reaction or the way his fingers shook ever so slightly. He watched in confusion as she brought the food to his mouth, but took a bite of it regardless. Kaspar didn’t seem to understand why she did this, but brought a piece of bread towards her mouth as well. “...Eat?” he offered, clearly perplexed but giving in to what he assumed was a dinner ritual of sorts.

Ayla definitely knew now he didn’t know what she was gesturing about. She could not help but laugh at his response, and responded the only way one would, opened wide to nom upon it aggressively, with even ‘nom’ sound effect, as if playfully mocking the rough manner he was eating his food, probably even to the boy's surprise. She gently moved away the assorted item she crafted for him with the cheese, vinegar and bread, as she placed it down upon his plate. “Don’t worry Kaspar, we will make a noble out of you yet.” She beams brightly as she leans in very closer, moving a napkin as she smudges away the bit of food upon the corner of his lips. “There we are!”.

Kaspar was certainly not expecting his friend to laugh, and found himself thoroughly confused by the proceedings, but willing to take it good naturedly. As she nomed the bread he’d offered aggressively, the boy felt for a moment the memory of the one and only time he’d tried to feed Mallow by hand—and whispered, in mock awe, “You eat like the goose.” He bit his lip then, realizing it was perhaps not the most flattering remark to make, but could not deny the similarities—and was completely oblivious to his own. Her next statement, though, startled the boy, and a mask of neutrality briefly but quickly fit onto his face before he realized she was joking, mocking his manners rather than making some statement of his birth. Softly, with a sheepish glance away, he remarked, “There’s a reason I’m taking etiquette classes. It was not the most… prevalent study of my youth.” He looked back just in time to see her nearing, and froze as she reached a hand out. Feeling the napkin quickly dash away some remnant of food, he swallowed heavily and stuttered, “Th-thank you.”

Ayla couldn’t help but attempt a honk at being called a goose, though followed it up with one of her remarks, “Perhaps you should draw me like one of your geese then”. She simply smiles as she removes the crumb, looking into his eyes deeply as she replies with that sheepish thank you, “You can thank me after your dessert. You should get it out.” She looks towards him mischievously but with a friendly smile, her eyes moving to the basket to encourage him to open it up.

Kaspar pulled the bag into his lap, noting its heft and shape. He glanced at Ayla, noticing the mischievous glimmer in her eyes, and wondered for a moment if she’d also brought along a melon. Pulling open the fabric and grasping the object inside, he pulled it out, eyes widening as he revealed the reddish, banded shell of one of the froabas eggs she had returned with. He cradled it carefully, looking between the egg and Ayla’s face. He swallowed again, and then asked softly but with a touch of concern, “...We are not actually going to eat the egg, yes?”

Somehow, Ayla expected that response, giving him one of those looks with the raised eyebrow, “That egg is far too precious for it to be eaten”. She moves up beside him as Kaspar is busy examining the egg, leaning in to peck him upon the cheek then fastening her veil back up. “Well done on now being a proud owner of a Froabas. These ones are rare, and often mistaken as being alpha froabas, You got to take good care of it, and definitely not selling or trying to pawn it off.” she gives him a playful thump to the arm on the last point as if it was a threat.

Kaspar breathed a small sigh of relief, settling the egg into his lap as he studied it. He started a little at the peck on his cheek, not having noticed how close the girl had gotten, but offered an appreciative smile. “This would be a beautiful subject to paint, I am sure,” he offered, voice quiet as though trying not to disturb the egg’s inhabitant. The boy then glanced up, crimson eyes wide, and whispered, “You are… You are gifting this to me? I… I cannot repay you.” Part of him felt he should hand the egg back to her, but the rest of him simply didn’t want to let go of it. He lowered his cheek against the shell, gasping in fake admonishment as Ayla’s fist once against connected with his arm. “Shh, don’t hurt the baby,” he whispered dramatically. Cheek still pressed softly to it, he murmured in the Elstrøms’ native tongue, “...Varmkorv? Ja, är det bra?”

Ayla smiles as she moves her hand down to stroke upon the egg herself as well. “Yes, make sure to look after our baby now. Make sure it is wrapped up room and snug, and… …”, she goes into the basket to pull out a leaflet as well, discussing Fireflies. “Make sure to sign up for this society too. They will help teach us on how to raise these babies.”

She sits back as she smiles widely at the pair, watching how Kaspar seems to love his gift. “Next time you decide to sleep, remember to make sure it isn’t when they are auctioning off dragon eggs, or little Varmkorv here might have ended up in hot water.”

Kaspar chuckled, already trying to manoeuvre off his cloak to wrap the banded egg in. The fur was soft and warm, and would serve well for protecting it until they returned to the dorms and he could construct a proper nest. He took the pamphlet as well, eyes scanning through it as Ayla spoke. Chuckling, he replied, “I remember the fire. I think Varmkorv may not have minded hot water.” Turning towards her with genuine gratitude in his eyes, he added, “I will join this club, so long as you’ll be there with the others. We will be familj, ja, if they are syskon? It is the best way.”

Ayla offers a bright smile, “One big happy Familia”.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

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Location: San Agustin, Torragonese High Desert

Chapter: Deserted

Among Mortals and Legends

Once Desmond had mounted the large deer construct he noticed it's many different pieces. It was half plant half animal, and all terrifying, yet it seemed oddly beautiful. As the creature began shifting, it started to make a large area for Desmond to solidly stand and even had a cover to make sure he wasn't burnt by the sun, very thoughtful.

As they moved Desmond had slowly been making a bullet, he could not make a new hellfire bullet on the fly, so he knew he needed to instead retrofit one. As Desmond took out one of the rifle bullets and began inspecting it, he took out his tools and saw he needed to unseat the bullet as he began to use his tools and the gift to take out the lead bullet in the casing and began to scan the insides, as it seemed that there was this very fine powder within that seemed to fill up only a partial amount of the casing. Desmond would figure out why later, right now he wished to make sure he understood how to make the bullet. As Desmond grabbed both bullets, he began to shape the lead ball in his hand to change the size using Arcane and Kinetic energy. As once it has lengthened, he began to shift and compare it to the same size of the other bullet, yet he could not be working the lead too much, because if he did and input too much heat he might accidentally create a small explosion in his hand he is not prepared to stop.

As once they made it to the area they would face the Royal Sand Wurm off, Desmond was still working, this control was imperative, almost more so than anything he could ever think of at this moment. This was his first step forward, and if he was going to do something here, he needed to use everything. Once Desmond heard Casii yell for him, Desmond seated his new bullet back into it's casing and stuffed away the other bullet as he was going to save it for other projects.

As once the Wyrm appeared the fighting began, Desmond's work was intense to say the least, anytime he was able to fire a shot at the Wyrm he made sure to catch it on the weak side as he filled every bullet with every ounce of Kinetic energy he could. As bullets collided, many bounced off of the hide of the Large dragon. Desmond winced as he continued to fire bullet after bullet, his body was surely feeling the constant strain, it always had. He had to always put everything into fights, he wasn't gifted enough to fight as other mages, and this was not a fight any similar to what he has done before, this was a fight for monsters.

Yet Desmond gritted his teeth as he pulled out everything he had in this fight. First came the Blunderbuss that Benedetto held, it had these strange bullets that seemed to be similar to uranium, yet when near he was told he needed to wear protection, sadly Desmond didn't have time so he gritted his teeth as he used Kinetic energy to load the bullet as quickly as possible, as once the Wyrm reared it's head to fight the Golem Deer, as the moment it rises from the sands, Desmond was prepared to fire, yet he felt his back tingle and a whisper in his ear, as his finger held still as he waited. Desmond stood his ground on the golem as the Deer underneath him began to take a defensive stance, yet the moment the Wurm reared up and tried to spew this large stream of acid, Desmond still held as he felt it wasn't time. As the moment the acid was to hit, Trypano used Chemical magic to turn the acid inert wit a base, as Desmond was nearly covered by the liquid, he pulled the trigger as the entire stream was torn apart as these many small pellets ripped it's way through the mouth of the Wurm and made it roar in pain.

As it continued, Desmond used many of the weapons he had gathered, as over and over agina the beast seemed to only get angrier, yet Desmond was still waiting, it was not time yet. He continually had to use his different weapons, as he waited and waited, as the moment the beast had finally gotten to the stage where it would use it's increadible power. As once it dived under again, Desmond felt his back tingle once more, it was coming. As the Beast came out of the ground, it was covered in fire as underneath the scales this burning red light seemed to cut through and made the Wurm look as if it was a beast made of magma.

Desmond threw off all of his gear except for the Sirrahi rifle and ran to the front where he saw Casii and barked out to her, "CHARGE IT!! This is our chance!" As the Golem charged forward the Wurm dived down again and past the golem as it began to go for the others, as it breathed out fire, at first it was like spittle and embers of fire, yet as the bast continued it began to burn more and more until it literally was an inferno, as the moment They made it to the Wurm, it reared it's ugly head and almost blotted out the sun with it's intense heat and light, Desmond knew, this was it.

As the Wurm came bearing down onto the golem, Desmond called out and yelled, "JUMP!". As a massive fireball incinerates Casii's golem, it opens its mouth wide, eye glowing infernally. It is an evil creature now: consumed by madness and the aberration. The deer's occupants, in a last gasp escape, are flung free into the sky. The nimble yasoi lands in a magic-enhanced roll, crying out as her ankle buckles beneath her on the shifting sand, but otherwise unharmed.

This path is not for Desmond, however. As Desmond leaped off of the Deer, he began turning and taking out his rifle. He felt his reflexes were enhanced, as when he pulled in energy he felt as if it was more filling. Desmond called onto every form of skill he could, as a falling shot was not one he trained for, it was going to be a new experience. As Desmond was going to fire a bullet the moment the Wurm opened it's mouth, yet again, it almost it felt like a hand was on his stopping him from firing. As a whisper was in his ear, it was indescribable, yet Desmond waited. As he stared down the throat of the sun as when the fire was being breathed out, the fire began to surround him as he saw it, his eyes almost locked on to the moment, the shot needed. As he felt the hand slowly move away from his, telling him to fire, Desmond pulled the trigger as he had quite literally poured everything he had into that bullet. He had drawn well past his limits and forced it all in the moment to cause the explosion to become one of the greatest he could. As the moment his hit the ground, he was out.

Desmond was out for some time, his body was maimed, charred, and Desmond was quite literally on death's door, yet for Desmond, in his mind, he was peacful. For the first time, he felt like there was some peace in his sleep, as he slowly was walking up a hill, there being a large tree which had these light pink flowers as Desmond hears a leaf flute being played. It was an 'instrument' taught to him by someone of his past, as he made his way up the hill, he saw for just a moment, just a glimpse, as the sunset was hanging over the horizon it made it difficult, but he could see, as the woman turned around a smile he remebered from those years ago.

Yet before either can exchange words, the world became hot, as Desmond felt ash and blood getting pulled out of his lungs as he felt his mind began to race. He was awake again as he threw himself up trying to figure out what is happening and realized he was back. Desmond was for a moment breathing heavily, yet he regulated it very quickly as he said in a bit of a goofy laugh, "Man, what did I miss?"

Location:Academy of Thaumaturgy, Ersand'Enise

Chapter: Return to the Academy, School Arc

A Missing Peace

After they returned to the Refuge, Desmond was mostly to himself, he was not much of a celebrating mood. He had relegated himself to resting up on the roof of the Refuge where he was left mostly alone. Desmond was uncharacteristically calm the entire time, even while betting during the large auction he was calm. He smiled, and joined in somethings before they left, but he was calm. It was almost like he was always lost in thought, as if he wasn't here.

As Once they returned to school, their Zeno Fades-in-Moonlight checked with them why they were gone for a whole week, and Desmond gave a simple response of a secret mission. As it seemed to have been enough for his master, as Desmond went upon his way. Desmond had then spent the next week coming back to his norm, spending time with his roommate and his Student group seemed to have helped him bring himself back from this seeming slump.

During this week it was otherwise uneventful, he spent much of his time working with the many new things he had in his hands. His new materials he got from the Wurm fight, the many new weapons he got from the Sirrahi. He has also spent much of his time cleaning his room once Silas had sold the organ and burning many incents and oils to make the room smell okay again. Near the end of the week he decided to finally open up the Encyclopedia that he was given from Sileen, as when he found the note that was in the book, 'I hope this will humor you as much as it did the first time we met'. As Desmond looked toward the book, he saw his picture and what the entry was on and all he could do was laugh.

Desmond laughed so loud that it could be heard from the other rooms around him. It was a picture of him when he was younger as he was squatting over a chamber pot. Desmond's laughing was uncontrollable, as he fell onto his bed as he continued to laugh, yet soon that laughter turned to crying. As he was alone, no one was in the room, and it seemed no one was near, he cried from somewhere deep. As he cried, all he could do was cry, as that night he fell asleep with tears staining his pillow, as no one was the wiser of that night.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti House Arslan / Sipentaverse

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Event:Week Seven, Class Arc | Location:Academy of Thaumaturgy, Ersand'Enise


Translated from Torragonese

Dear Diary,

After getting sand in every nook and cranny for the past week, now we are back in the classes. The classrooms are very humid compared to the dry desert air, and we can feel the sweat clinging to our bodies.

It didn’t help that I had maths class in the morning. Was trying to avoid snoozing off and before long, resting my eyes involved heavy breathing and dropping my head to the desk. The teacher tried to be smart and catch me out, asking me to do percentages for RAS values, which were rather simple, though one Perrench boy was convinced he could rival Hugo with only a fifteen percent increase. He still didn’t understand how he couldn’t even break through to RAS 8 with that small of an increase.

Met Kaspar at luncheon again. He drew a picture of Varmkorv’s egg in charcoal. He is really obsessed with it and is fixated on using his native language, even around the picture. Pleased that he was able to get something tangible from the trip, he looked down whilst he was there. He is still eating his deconstructed sandwiches, so need to consider bringing a spare for him.

Specialisation classes went well. Supported Zemara in teaching the other students in Kinetic class. Got an opportunity to speak to Manfred von Hofmeister. Turns out he had a sister which disappeared, and let me know that Marceline is looking for her brother. He was tentative, but thanked me for the information.

Practised the splitting of chemicals into their constituent parts and re-arranging the formation. Already well versed in splitting, years of practising at home made sure of that, but formation was difficult. Managed to create a sweet smelling aroma of almonds, before being dragged away for not following correct safety guidance. Some people really do get hangry.

Parted with Zarina after class to attend to the horses. We managed to find a nice little corner in our respective accomodations rent. Gina looked happy and licked my hand when she saw me, searching for a tasty treat. She knows me too well already.


Translated from Torragonese

Dear Diary,

Thankfully Kaspar also turned up to drawing class with art supplies and having a reputation for painting watercolours covered for this school girl error. Still trying to adapt to the weather at the Academy as it disturbs my sleep, enough to make such a simple mistake.
You would think Avincian class is simple, considering every subject is taught in the language. Imperator non supra grammaticos. Never forget: Parencii delenda est.

Took advantage of the luncheon and the free period to start having a preview at the set-up for the Society Faire and attend to some errands. After being told from a special birdy, decided to have a ‘spare’ Pasteis de Nata and offered to share it with Margot Maloise, the secretary in charge of student societies. Some small talk about the process, limits, pumpkinnickle society, and tasty treats. It seems she caught onto me, as she was unable to provide a favourite and rolled off a few options. Looks like we will need to add baking to the activities of the week.

Business class was interesting. Zarina, Ingrid and Trypano towered over Desmond, Kaspar, and myself. Got the opportunity to sit with Zazzy, though she used the whole period to discuss her fifty year business plan. It sounded very good, but Ingrid seemed disturbed by the conversation as she kept looking over, though she seemed heavily involved in her own discussions with Desmond. Kaspar and Trypano on the other hand appeared to not make a peep to each other, though their colour coordination of red made them look oddly familiar with each other. Perhaps Kaspar is into tall women?

Gina is always happy to see me. We had a nice ride together.


Translated from Torragonese

Dear Diary,

Ipte is my favourite god out of the five. Who wouldn’t want to live in a beautiful world?

Got to spend the afternoon with animals. My friends Marci, Zaz, and Yalen were there too. Got to tell Marci about her brother, and she informed me that he has already reached out to her, and planned to meet up. That was a cheering moment. Tried to talk to Ismette, the yasoi girl, but she appeared to be far too preoccupied with the animals to notice me. Are all Yasoi so rude? Or are they simply that different from us humans, despite our similarities in appearance.

Nothing has been as relaxing as brushing through Gina’s long white mane. The stress seems to just melt away.


Translated from Torragonese

Dear Diary,

Morning was statecraft sat next to the Feskan girl called Dory. She appeared to be very sweet like Spratz, though appeared to be lonely and down. Invited the other girl, Carmillia to join us as well. Her hair is like freshly fallen snow. The boys seem to huddle together, with Jomurr and Evander caught up in some heated exchange, whilst Benny was the third wheel. Introduced myself to the boys but they appeared to prefer not to have my presence around as they were heavily involved in their discussion. Dory was especially talkative once she opened up a little, and would have followed me into Music class if it wasn’t for her realising she had a free period and wanted to be elsewhere.

Finally got an opportunity to have a chat with Jocasta! She seemed to have been incredibly busy since she returned to the academy, and appeared reluctant to reach out. Growing concerned that she may have fallen out with me. Her fingers are light on the harp.

Also, Laella would be incredibly jealous, got to have a jam session with Leon Solitaire! No opportunities to actually talk to anyone, as we had to communicate through our music, and once class ended, Leon disappeared through three separate doors at the same time. He is a strange individual.

Kidnapped Jocasta for luncheon before she rolled away, it was great to meet up with her. She has been spending a lot of time with the other tethered that came from the refuge, supporting them settling in. She is really good at looking after her siblings like that. Offered to help out, but she turned down the offer as not being required currently, but kept me in mind.

The afternoon was spent meeting gathered for the new and improved master-apprentice group. It certainly looked as if it was made for me, it was even titled the “Lion’s Den” as it was overseen by Joshe Intaba. The group is led by the zeno, Hamir Zemana, a fellow sonic-using fireblood.

There is one girl in the group which really caught my attention, Seung Eun-Ji, though prefers to be addressed by her surname, Eun-Ji. She reminded me a lot of Maura in how she was dressed and presented herself. Her skirt was so gorgeous that it was near impossible to draw my eyes away from it. The intricate pattern of the white flowers upon the sky blue cloth was different in its manufacture from anything produced in Torragon. Made it my personal mission to befriend her.

Caught up with Silas and Manfred. Silas thinks he has found a buyer for his venom gland and was going to pitch with a hard sell. Manfred informed me about how it went with meeting Marci! Eun-ji seemed to be even more reserved when talking to the boys, perhaps she has a problem with groups.

So what was not to love about the group? Casii entered the room. Perhaps it is the Pentad’s way of testing me. However, we’re going to use the opportunity to befriend the Yasoi girl and show that those stereotypes about them are plain wrong and judgemental! Hopefully.

Told Gina about my new class and the friends being made there. She is happy for me.

On the way back to my room, got diverted by the queues to Ingrid’s dining party. She has this strange system of allocating everyone a slot to speak to her privately. It does help with making sure to spend a precious moment with the guests. She was very sweet, would like to speak to her more.


Dear Diary,

Plan to write in you today was side-tracked due to the following: They're coming to the academy. *scribbled mess underneath writing*

“Dear Ayla,

We hope that you remember that your attendance to the academy is to represent the interests of House Arslan and the Empire of Torragon. You are not there for your personal amusement.

We are not so far removed from having not learnt about your truancy, and we are most dissatisfied with this outcome. Your placement at the academy is being personally requested at the insistence of King Sancho, and you failed to pay the appropriate respect and homage to show our dedication to the crown which we were held personally responsible for. If not for the benevolence of the crown, we would recall you to Varrahasta and handle our affairs internally.

We have given you far too much free reign over these years, and your defiance won’t be tolerated for much longer. If it were not for your physical and mental feebleness, we would have put an end to this farce but we are afraid we might have spared you the rod for too long.

In this vein, we are coming to the academy to remind you of your duties. You are expected to have found us suitable accommodation within the city. We expect it to be situated by the academy, on green grounds, as the sole occupier, that is benefitting a family of your status.

By the time you have received this letter, we will have departed from Varrahasta. I trust you will have this matter resolved by the time we arrive.

For now,

Duque Duarte Arslan
Casa Arslan del Torragon, Guardian del Varrahasta, Protector del Río Arapor, Warden del Reserva Natural de Arapor, Keeper de la Basílica la Llama Sagrada”

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Tackytaff
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Interlude I

Ersand'Enise: Common Dorms | Mudville
Seen & Mentioned: Desmond Catulus @Th3King0fChaos | Ingrid Penderson @dragonpiece

Silas found the tall woman on his own. Or at least one of the tall women that had been with them in the desert. She hadn't purchased the organ from him; but given her word to broker and even better deal still. It hadn't been the plan. It hadn't been what he wanted. But he was hardly in the same destitute position before. He wouldn't let himself be. The gland hadn't been the only item of worth from the trip to the desert. Next time he'd be prepared.

It was a strange journey to Mudville. While it wasn't exactly forbidden, it was discouraged enough for students to go that Silas took a round about journey past the front docks. Past the outward lustre and shine Ersand'Enise presented to the outside world and visitors, towards the wooden and hastily constructed slum that was home.

A home he was still unwelcome in. He had to keep reminding himself, as he kept to the roofs where he could and through barely passable alleys when he couldn't. Until he found what he was looking for. Or someone close enough to it anyways. A small red-haired boy of about 10, oddly husky for a Mudville child, was leaning out of an alley to peer into the pouches as a woman browsed a stall.

"Ishto!" He called out, causing the boy to freeze and eventually miss his target as the woman pressed onward. The boy's glare qucikly changed to utter surprise as he rushed to meet his friend in the alleyway.

"Silas! What happened? Where -"

"Never-mind all that" Silas waved the boy's introductions away and pulled him further into the alley. "It is good to see you though Ish. Good to see you've managed to remember me in that tiny head of yours." He moved his hand to the boys head, nearly as tall as his own now, and ruffled his hair. "I'm looking for Edri. This was his route, where is he?"

Ishto's face fell. "Dunno. He's gone." Was all he said and slowly began to try turning from Silas.

"Gone?" The boy only shrugged in response as his eyes wandered to passing strangers on the main road. Back to finding a mark. Silas took his shoulder to regain his attention. "People don't just disappear Ish. What. Happened."

"You did." He had Silas there. The small boy's brow furrowed in deep concentration as dots connected in his mind until it broke into an excited grin. "Was Edri with you? Is he coming back too?"

Silas scowled at the boy. Ish had always been slow, but now the boy seemed hardly present- Unable to fully face him and fidgeting endlessly. "Would you think for a minute? Why would I be asking if I knew where he was."

"Oh." Ishto looked to the ground, dejected by the older boy's scorn. But it was soon forgotten and his gazed wandered again to the street traffic passing them. "Old man put me here 'bout a week ago. Asking question always makes him mad."

Silas nodded wordlessly, thinking as his senses worked to watch for anyone keeping too close to them. "You can't tell him you saw me alright? That'd piss him right off too." The idea of Moriff made Silas want to run with all his speed back behind academy walls. Not that what he'd found there had been all that much safer in the end. "I was looking for Edri to help me. Do you think you can help me Ish?"

"Hmmm." Again his attention drifted. Silas sighed.

"I got a dragon egg." It got Ishto to look up at least, even if it wasn't with much excitement.

"Uh-huh. And where did you get a dragon?"

"An egg Ish, keep up. And I got it-" He stopped for a moment and considered trying to convey all that had happened in the past few weeks. No one would possibly believe him. Least of all small, stupid Ishto, who'd never so much as stepped past the docks. "It doesn't matter were it came from. There's still some time before it hatches, and wanted to know if one of you might get a price for me. Well not saying its for me, but-"

"How'd you know it's real?"

"I mean how would you even tell?" He waved his hand in front of his eyes, a visible blur of matter and kinetic movement to Silas' vision.

That was enough to reach the end of his patience. Silas grabbed the smaller boy by the ear and tugged, hard, until he produced a satisfying yelp. "Stop being such an idiot Ishto. You know I see just fine, just like I know it takes more than that to make you cry, so stop doing that with your face."

The boy's crumpled face relaxed into normalcy, and even a full smile and he finally fully turned to Silas. "Really real then?"

"Really real."

Ishto whistled. "I'll ask around. Meet me here in a week okay?"

Silas nodded and took a step backwards as the younger boy bolted away. He sprinted until the top of the steps leading out of the Mudville streets, where he turned back and yelled:

"Glad you're back Si!"
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by dragonpiece
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Member Seen 3 days ago

Location: Ersand'Enise

Interactions: Zarra @BreathOfTheWoof, Trypano @A Lowly Wretch, Sven @Force and Fury, Ayla @Ti, Zarina @YummyYummy, Silas @Tackytaff.

Mentioned: Luna, Benny.

After returning to her dorm at Ersand'Enise, Ingrid couldn't wait to rest as a constant headache hammered her head. But there was no rest. Ingrid had not only left her academic responsibilities to the wind, but also left her servants with not even a note to let her know she was out. They knew that at times of high stress Ingrid would go to nature to calm herself but she would never leave them with nothing. All they knew was Ingrid was gone and she had left with her backpack. So when she returned in a sarong carrying a bag of unknown make that was filled with 3 Wyrm Pearls and 10 Wyrm Scales they were in fact very worried. Ragnhild scolded Ingrid as it was not only her job too but also because Ragnhild had watched Ingrid grow and she had never been this inconsiderate.

Ingrid was stung by those words as they were true. She snuck out in the middle of the night in the during a storm with no explanation and came back with unimaginable things. Ingrid could only apologize but Ragnhild wanted none of it, she simply told Ingrid to ready herself for a bath and then to go to sleep. The night ended after the bath and she would have to face any consequences of her actions in the morning.

Day 1

Ingrid had been awoken about an hour earlier than usual. It was quite dark out, not even a sign that the sun would be rising soon. Ingrid's day was going to be full. She had left in the middle of studying, classes that she missed, paperwork that needed to be done, finalizing her speed dating event, apologizing to all her teachers that she may have offended. Unloading the Wyrm pearls and looking into the book from Sileen would have to come later.

Ingrid spent her entire week flooded trying to fix the entire week she disappeared. Ingrid planned to make herself less available during the coming week for her speed dating event but now she has no choice to be unseen as she was swamped with responsibility and some very disapointed servants. Ingrid's plans to have her dinner date with Benedetto also had to be postponed. She felt bad but he seemed to understand for the most part.

Her work load during the first week was immense. There were times that she could remember staring over notes and books and thinking, maybe I should just run away, be a pirate before centering herself and continuing. Ingrid was mostly thankful that she listened to Luna about not taking a 3rd magic class because from what she hears, chemical class is very study intensive. Thanks Luna for making me realize I was indeed a nugget before it was too late.

The first Zeno day back was challenging. Ingrid felt like she betrayed Luna's trust and was ready for a thrashing. But Luna was chill and she seemed to be in the loop. In fact this led to a completely different effect. Some of the students were spreading rumors that Ingrid had went off on one of the Zeno's errands. This did more for her school status than she could have imagined. She let Åsa know ahead of time that she needs to prepare more food for the incoming guests.

Now having caught up on her student responsibilities after a full week of overtime, Ingrid could now try to off load some of the pearls. It was hard to find a buyer on short notice but she was able to find one. She hoped to get at minimum 2500 neskals for it but secretly hoped for 3000 neskals. Ingrid was offered 2600 neskals for it. It was crucial that Ingrid have funds ready for the speed dating event and for certain clubs she wished to join. She accepted the deal and handed over her smallest pearls. Now secured in her personal funding for the mean times she could relax a little and wait for the speed date in 2 days.

The day before the event, Ingrid was finally able to hang with Benny. It wasn't the dinner date that she promised but more of a casual hang out with someone she was trying to get to know better. A little flirty but nothing as bold as making out with him randomly. She was curious about him and how he thought. Of course she was attracted to Benny but at the moment she wanted to solidify their friendship more than anything else and Ingrid wasn't comfortable enough to see if he been willing for a casual relationship.
Other than that, it was fun to see him outside the mission

On the day of the speed dating event, Ingrid was up early with her servants preparing the food. Ingrid was in charge of cooking the meats and making the pates. Ragnhild was in charge of baking, decoration, and presentation. Åsa was in charge of making the jams, jellies, and drinks. Ingrid also made Ice creams and sorbets, using her magic to make them fast and impossibly good. Eirik was setting up chairs and making sure his weapons were sharp just in case.

Afterward she spent about an hour and half getting ready. Dress, makeup, going over manners, refreshing herself on potential suitors. Then Eirik took it upon himself to make sure Ingrid could defend herself in her more tighter and restrictive wear. Ingrid was able to demonstrate her defensive skills with a similar level of proficiency as she would show in training. Eirik was still disappointed how winded Ingrid was after a small demonstration. Ingrid knew she needed to take better care of herself.

The speed dating event begins…

A speed dating event that has been rumored to take place at in the week prior to the student social club. Many suitors were looking to make themselves known as Ingrid Penderson is considered a very good investment for almost any noble. A 8.4 RAS, beauty, a wealthy family, good connections across the continents, and many other resources at her family's disposal. Although many nobles have tried to woo her already, Ingrid monopolizes her time and keeps them at bay. This may be some of their only chance to leave an impression on the Eskandish woman.

The event is open to all people and all social levels. From lowly gardener to prince can come if they please. From a spry fresh face man to an elderly Zeno. Participants are to wait in and out of Ingrid's dorm. Her maid will provide food and drink for those who want it. Fine food from many regions have been procured and replicated in house. It is said that some of the entrées and desserts were made by Ingrid herself.

Each date lasts for 5 minutes and is controlled by a finely crafted hourglass. When the time is up the head maid will see you out and pick the next suitor at random. Gifts are not required but if a gift is brought, you may hand it to Ingrid directly to her if you wish. If not it will be taken away by her guardian to a side room and the head maid will inform Ingrid that you brought something.

Ingrid had dreaded this day since coming to the school. It was everything she disliked and it was going to be all on her. Being at a party where there was other people to talk to was more her style. But Ingrid put on a mask and went through the event with strength.

The event was pretty sleezy. She wasn't interested in almost anyone. Some were rich and would be her family's option. Some had the RAS that was near her own. Others were just damn attractive. But none made the 5 minutes feel good. And none could get her to extend the time. However, there were a few people that made the time special.






The event was tiring to say the least, She maybe saw 40 or so people. She looked forward to the gifts that were brought. Fianlly seeing them was quite a sight, hundreds of bluebells. There are so many! The florist should be well off for the foreseeable future. Well either way, Ingrid's work was not done. Ingrid had the prepare her investment for Zarina along with prepare a vessel to hold the gland of the creature. Once that was settled, Ingrid headed off to sleep.

Ingrid woke up early to grab the gland, using telekinesis to hold it aloft in its vessel. Ingrid knew her classes were and had a letter be delivered to Trypano for them to meet at luncheon. At lunch, Ingrid made her way to Trypano's dorm with the acid gland in tow.

Ingrid met with Trypano at her dorm. Ingrid brought the jar of acid and was there more for a quick conversation.

"Good afternoon Trypano, I have a trade offer I would like to make." Ingrid shows the bottle of Wyrm Acid.

Trypano was at her desk when someone approached from the doorway to their dorm. Turning in her chair she looked up to see Ingrid with a jar of what she could identify as a bottle wyrm acid.

"I would gather this would be pertaining to Silas's wyrm acid gland correct? I already have samples of the wyrm acid itself."

"Indeed, He came to me to sell it and I decided you would be most likely to trade for it quickly. What do you have to offer?" Ingrid knew what she would want to trade for but had no idea if Trypano would trade the gland for the egg.

Rather than answer she stood from her chair, moving over to a section of wall within the room. It was close by so she could tell if any others were using magic in a similar capacity on that section of wall. Using a gentle amount of drawing she unsealed a section of brick before removing it from the wall, opening an aperture wherein the froabas egg laid. She removed it before turning back to address Ingrid.

"I'd say given the demand present I'd be happy to exchange this for the gland and twenty Corona to make up part of the difference in market value."

Ingrid smiled, "That seems to be a pretty fair trade. I'll have my servant bring it in." Ingrid signaled to bring it in, showing how much she believed Trypano would want it. "Here you are Trypano. Pleasure seeing you" As Ingrid takes the egg and leaves promptly as she is very busy.

"Ah, before you go-" Trypano interjected just as she was about to leave. "I have something to discuss with yourself and Desmond regarding a matter from our mission, something that pertains to an events slated to come in a few weeks time."

"Do let him know to meet up at some point in the future for discussion, preferably somewhere discrete."
She paused a moment, before adding "Unless I spot him first of course. If you do still, my thanks regardless."

With that, Ingrid continued her plan to get Silas the most money. Selling this reticulated dragon egg just before people could join the dragon club is perfect. It is a rare and noble beast that is sure to catch a high bid in this market. Now to hope that she can sell it before clubs begin to make good on her promise to Silas.

The market was not what Ingrid has inspected. She thought that a reticulated frobass egg would be more than 2500 neskal, it seemed that breeders had flooded the market. All she could get was a measly 2500. She felt disappointed in herself for not considering the breeding rates of the dragons this year. So stupid of her. She even saw how many a wild group had. She could have predicted this.

Ingrid decided to bite the bullet and buy the egg for 800 Neskal to at least get him a sizable amount as she couldn't buy the egg for its true price. Ingrid apologized for not getting him more. She left in a hurry, not even able to say that she was unable to even sell it.

To cheer herself up she asked Sven to have lunch with her and showed him the dragon egg. His nerdiness was the medicine Ingrid needed to cheer up a little. Ingrid decided to raise it after failing the beautiful egg so terribly. Sven was obviously excited and Ingrid put it out that she would love the help since he is an expert. Sven was more than up for it. It was a dragon one of his passions. Ingrid also offered one more thing. A Wyrm scale. That way he could join the dragon club with ease. News should be making way to the school of the dragon hunt and with this, he can get into the club if they are being rude to him. Just an easy layer of insurance to help a new friend out.

With that, the School club activities begin.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 27 days ago Post by Wolfieh
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Wolfieh eternally terrified / he/they

Member Seen 9 days ago

LOCATION: Ersand'Enise
INTERACTIONS: Kaspar Elstrøm von Wentoft @Wolfieh, mentions of Ayla Arslan @Ti

She wasn’t sure why anxiety prickled against her breastbone, but the feeling was persistent.

The lake water was calm at midday, perhaps a bit swollen from the heavy rain of the previous night. A small pack of students near its shores appeared to be making a game of getting close to the ornery goose that prowled the arboretum. One in particular was tempting the gods as he got bolder with every attempt, waving his fingers in Mallow’s face and laughing at the outraged honks and wing flaps that followed in reaction. On his fifth try, the goose latched onto the fingers and the youth yowled in pain, shaking his hand rapidly to try and dislodge the beak firmly attached to his hand. Of course, it didn’t work until Mallow decided it would, and Willa chuckled as he retreated to his friends, cradling the hand once bitten.

He reminded her of a youth she’d once tutored, when she taught in groups before becoming the head tutor of the Elstrøm estate. Many children did, these days. But there was only one student of hers the older woman was concerned with today, as her silver eyes scanned the edges of the park, sighing to find no sign of the boy’s approach.

It was not unusual for Kaspar to stay away for several days; in truth, they only lunched together every two or three days, and this was only the second day in a row he’d been absent. But something coiled in the tutor’s chest, hair standing on end against a threat she couldn’t see or understand, like some sixth sense that knew this absence was different.

There was nothing to be done for it, she told herself as she gathered her belongings and began the short walk towards the Merchant’s Quarter. She was simply being paranoid, and the following day would almost certainly confirm it.

The confirmation was not what she expected.

No heavy-cloaked, charcoal-fingered teenager visited her that day, and the unease only continued to grow. By the time she snuffed out her candle to settle in for the night, it was a dull roar in her ears like blood. She stared through the darkness for some time, willing sleep to come and put her mind at ease. Tomorrow will be better, she coached herself, consciousness drifting away in an agonizingly slow current. Sleep found her, nonetheless.

And she dreamt of nights many years prior, when guards would bring a sobbing eight-year-old boy to her chambers in the early hours of Ipte because she was the only one who would console him.

She visited his dormitory on the third day of this sour paranoia, knocking lightly on the door well after classes had ended. No response ever came, and the thumping of her heart turned to fear and anger in equal parts.

On the fourth day a letter was sent instead, a short message inquiring to the boy’s wellbeing. It took all of Willa’s strength not to accompany it with admonishments, but by now the fear had overtaken the anger. She had not raised him to be this inconsiderate, to ignore common company to such an extent. Yes, that he might forget her teachings brought a gentle sort of rage, but there was nothing gentle to the bone-deep terror that accompanied the other possibility: that he was simply gone.

She prowled the city now, and spent a considerable time in Mudville searching for any signs that something unsavory had happened to her boy. She returned to her room to sleep for a few hours—and had not been able to sleep more than three at a time for the past two days—and it was a little past the second hour of Eshiran when she decided to visit the Arboretum again.

The second her feet hit the grass, something felt different. Soothing, almost. Like she knew already what she would find, and it took only moments of scanning the opposite side of the lake before her eyes came to rest on the picnic. Even from across the water she could tell he looked tired—the kind that would take days to scrub from his skin. But he sat with a girl—the painter he had mentioned, perhaps?—and they seemed to be eating. As much as Willa wanted to march over and grab him by the shoulders to ask where in the Gods he had been, her terror was calmed enough simply by seeing him in the distance.

Instead she sat down, cross-legged, to observe the youths. She couldn’t garner much detail from this far, but realized quickly that he seemed to be on a date. The boy didn’t move away when his companion grabbed his hand, as he had so often done for as long as Willa had known him, and she smiled. They seemed to be feeding each other, though even from here the tutor could read the awkwardness and uncertainty in his posture.

The event culminated in what appeared to be a gift, though—a rock, perhaps, painted in strange colors? Had the girl decorated it herself? Kaspar held it in his lap, seeming to curl around the present, and Willa expected him to offer something in return, but as the minutes continued on, he never did.

That would itself require a talking to. But not tonight, not when he was spending time with a “friend” and would likely need whatever rest he might get.

Willa returned to her quarters lighter, and slept easily that night.

She sat with a simple meal on the grass, enjoying the midday hour and the sunlight on the lake. It was not a surprise at all when she spied the form of her student approaching, and the woman stood to meet him. When he was within speaking distance, her hands found her hips and the woman called, “Could you not even answer my letter instead of leaving me to worry?”

He did not respond, and something in the boy seemed to slip as he got within a few steps of her, weariness settling onto his frame. He stuck his arms out and Willa enveloped him instinctively, his forehead pressing into her shoulder as he shook.

He hugged her the same way he had as a child, desperate and clinging as though she might abandon him at any moment. He hadn’t sought physical comfort from her—or from anyone, best the tutor knew—in more than half a decade. But he hugged her now, as though freshly woken from a nightmare. She did not let him go until he pulled his own arms away.

His cheeks were uncharacteristically ruddy and those crimson eyes watery as the boy glanced away, stiffening. “Sorry, I—”

“You don’t need to be.”

He looked to her, brows furrowed as though he didn’t understand. Gently, Willa put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him to sit on the ground. She moved her own basket of food closer to him and said softly, “Why don’t you tell me about it?”

“I… I hate sand.”

She quirked an eyebrow, but let the boy continue at his own pace. He spoke of a refuge in the sands for those with the Tethering, of the heat and the creatures of the desert. His words were vague, glazing over details on the exact dangers or how many were there to help, and it sat poorly in Willa’s stomach. But she could tell it had been hard on him, and didn’t want to push for more than he was capable of giving.

She hadn’t seen him so emotional in a long time, and felt a pang of pride. He’d always taken the lessons on control to heart, and seemed to think it needed to be a constant state of being. But he was growing now—whether it was his choice or not—and it gave the tutor hope.

He was quiet for a long time after he finished talking, and Willa could tell he was still chewing something over in his mind. Softly, she placed a hand on his shoulder and offered, “I’m proud of you, Kaspar. Whatever you’ve been through, you dealt with it. That is the best I could ask for.”

He seemed to stiffen, though, and closed his eyes. She could see the way his hands trembled, and the boy finally turned to her. Tears made their way down his cheeks now, and he shook his head slowly.

“I’m not the real Kaspar.” His whisper cracked, sticking in his throat. “I… I never have been.”

The boy might have learned well how to control his emotions, but Willa was the master who taught him. Whatever emotions bit at the surface of her being, it didn’t show. He needed her to be the calm one now, and she’d never dream of disappointing him.

As he described the real events that had led to his placement at the Elstrøm estate, he seemed pained and guilty. He talked of replacing the supposedly dead heir, of being told he could never talk about the truth, and peeled back years of information that explained so much about the boy she knew. The guilt seemed to deepen tenfold as he revealed the truth that had been hidden from even him, and of meeting the boy who had been cast aside because of his disease.

This was something Willa couldn’t fix. There was closure and redemption he felt he needed, and she knew only time and the first Kaspar could ease it. Truly, he didn’t need to be redeemed, and from the way he spoke, this other boy didn’t blame him either, but it was a feeling that Kaspar seemed to hold steady in his soul. All Willa could do was try to ease the burden he’d given himself.

“Adults made decisions that you had no control over. It wasn’t your choice, and it’s not your fault. I know it’s hard to accept that now, but at least try to remember that this wasn’t something that you did alone,” she soothed, knowing the words could not dig deeper right now but hoping desperately that he could at least remember them.

She spent much of the afternoon walking through the city, digesting the things Kaspar had told her. By the time she returned to her room the sky was beginning to darken, and she sat wearily at her desk.

An open letter was still laid out, and she remembered it had arrived yesterday. She’d only scanned the contents, looking for news of Kaspar, before casting it aside. Tiredly, she picked it up and began to reread the contents.


You are to return immediately to the Elstrøm Estate in Wentoft. Your duties remain to the Marquis, and I hope I need not remind you that Arvid Elstrøm von Wentoft is still quite alive, and his son has not yet inherited the position. Therefore, despite your misguided belief that Kaspar needs to be watched over, you have duties to fulfill at the Estate. Your expertise is required and others remain to be taught.

Send word immediately when you have left Ersand’Enise, and travel promptly to Helbahn by whatever means fastest.

You have ignored our previous summons. Allow me to assure you it would be most unwise to ignore this one.

Katka Estrøm
Marchioness of Wentoft

The Marchioness’s swooping signature seemed to sour on the page, and Willa felt barely-contained rage at the woman who had so thoroughly devastated two young children. Her and her husband both. Whatever Kaspar might choose about his future and his status, he would need the support of those who knew him well.

Pulling out a piece of parchment and dipping her quill into its inkwell, Willa’s writing was quick and sharp.

Marchioness Katka Eltrøm von Wentoft,

I am leaving the service of you and your husband, Marquis Arvid Elstrøm von Wentoft. I will not be returning to Helbahn, as I have found more pressing duties than those present at your estate.


Sealed simply in wax, the letter would find its way to the Elstrøm Estate in time. There were two other Elstrøms who needed to be cared for, their parents be damned.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by BreathOfTheWoof
Avatar of BreathOfTheWoof

BreathOfTheWoof Arbiter of Creation

Member Seen 7 days ago

Location: Ingrid's Quarters

Zarra knocks on Ingrid's door, entirely nonchalant on the outside but inside sweating bullets. He pulls his shirt to release some steam forming inside.

Ingrid’s guard Eirirk opened the door. Eirik was a large armored man that stood just under Ingrid’s own height. There was no smile, just eyes that stared at the small blonde boy. He let out a grunt once he realized who he was and then led him to the study where he could see Ingrid and her secretary Åsa. Ingrid looked up to him, “Ah, Zarra. Are you here to sign the contract?” Ingrid gestured to a seat for him to take across her desk.

Zarra had this convoluted lie in his head that his brother had joded him into pranking Ingrid, but the moment they made eye contact, the stressed Perrenchian's composure shattered. He decides to say what he means rather than string her along and act like she isn't wise enough to know otherwise.
"Listen, Ingrid, it rather just dawned on me that maybe giving away the wand isn't the brightest idea. I got way too excited and gravely misjudged how irreplaceable it is. I want to still work with you, and I would rather say something now then burn more of your time finding out I backed out. If your answer is no, I can take comfort knowing I was entirely forthright."
Zarra can't help but feel a little sick but he assumes that it's stress over honesty being genuinely uncomfortable to him.

Ingrid listened fully but she was still very disappointed. Ingrid didn’t waste time, “Zarra, I thank you for showing up and being mature enough to own up to your own mistake. You are right that the wand you hold is irreplaceable. Something that you would hear about in legends. It even had a small dragon pearl on the end, there aren’t many of those in the entire world. However,” Ingrid rubbed her brow before looking back at him to continue, “you wasted my time. I had other things I could’ve been doing than writing up a contract in 3 languages to make sure this was completely legal and fair.” Ingrid set to the side a few papers and her secretary handed her other copies of the contracts. Ingrid stare was intense this time around, almost a glare, “So Zarra, how are you going to compensate me for my time of not only my night but what you want for me helping you research?”

Zarra feels atleast seven levels of relief pass over him as she explain the full situation in detail, but that feeling is short lived as she is quite serious about him wasting her time, he never seemed to grasp until now how seriously she takes it, but then again, it should've been obvious when you have to host a speed dating tournament. "I think the better question is what do you want, Ingrid? Outside of the wand of course. I am a Greyborn, after all. You don't meet many of those, if at all. Surely there's something you need that only I can do."
He says this with an inquisitive finger on his mouth. He rarely ever looks her direction as he does so, rather awkwardly ogling her guardsman or the stuff around her room.

Ingrid held some maliciousness toward Zarra, he wasted her time and frankly she wants to waste his. But she is better than that. Or worse. “How about I write another contract. 2 even. Both are contracts of favors. Essentially you will owe me 2 favors of my choice at any time at a later date. There is nothing you possess yet that interest me. And then I will help you and even search for information on my own. Or do you have something worth giving that I do not know about?” What Ingrid was thinking was hidden under her glare.

“Sure, that’s not a bad deal at all. I wish I did, but I didn’t bring much of value with me when I came to the school so I don’t have to spend time going through every dorm looking for it again in the off-chance it gets stolen. I’ll definitely keep the wand under lock and key. An offhand idea I had is the possibility of our business working together. You run a mine, correct? Well, my family runs a transport business, they do things like rickshaws and hot air balloons. But they want to start getting into the big stuff, you know, cargo ships. I doubt it’s a good idea but if you had the materials, we could definitely find the means to build said ships and become your main means of trade into Perrench.”

Zarra has very little idea of how to run his family business, as neither him or his brother are the heirs, due to conflict of interests regarding their agendas and the health of the business. But if it puts Ingrid on good terms with him and ultimately helps him financially he isn’t afraid to catch up with his parents on that topic.

Ingrid was aware his family made ships but wasn’t aware they were preparing to undertake the construction of a Galleon. She kept cool though as she simply asked, “I knew your family dealt in transportation but I was only aware they dealt with smaller ships. How much would their first Galleon be Zarra? And do you have the weight of your family to sign a contract for something like this?” If he actually had the weight to do it she would be surprised. That is an order that temporarily puts shipwrights into debt.

“I sadly don’t, you would have to talk to my parents about that, I’ll let you use my messenger pigeon to talk back and forth, assuming they don’t decide to take it seriously enough to come in person, which is a real possibility when you literally do transport as your source of income. I am aware they’ve been wanting to make a Galleon for a very long time, couple years atleast, I wouldn’t even think to bring it up if it they didn’t make it blatantly obvious”

Zarra has seemed to chilled out a little more and is much less nervous than he was moments ago, he could be good at this whole negotiation thing if he weren’t a rebellious teen who naturally disobeys any idea of destiny his elders presented to him.

Ingrid thought there was potential in meeting with his parents. Not only would it bolster The Eskandish Perrench trade relationship, it would also give us a family that would be an easy stop on her family’s charter. Someone who would buy the wood of Eskand and the metal they make. And in time of oncoming war Ingrid could get them when they would be high in demand yet no one has thought of his family yet. Ingrid gave a warm smile, “Zarra, I guess this wasn’t a waste of time for me. I been looking to purchase a Galleon recently. So I believe this could be a great venture for us. I can make certain calls for my family and act as a broker for a trade deal between our two families.” Ingrid gave a nod to her secretary to start grabbing her more contract paper while also pulling on her dress slightly to get her attention as she was still irritated that she had to help write up the original contract. “Let’s get started on the contract for the 2 favors shall we?”

“So I don’t mind if you ask me to do anything dangerous, but I can’t risk being expelled, so if it will obviously come back on me and land me a free ticket off Ersand, I won’t do it, mkay?”

“And how long are these favor’s valid?”

Zarra has to scratch his hair as he thinks. "I assume till graduation, but if we happen to know each other outside of Ersand, would you want them to apply thern? Cause then the expulsion clause won’t apply, and you’re basically free to decide my fate. I’m fine with the latter, as that’s kind of a future me problem. Sound reasonable at all?”

“Zarra we will know each other after our study, I am going to be working with your family to build ships.”

Out of all possible reactions, Zarra just shrugs. “I’m excited to find out what shenanigans I land in about 4 years.”

“Well we will say the favors last as long as I know you. And I won’t ask you do something that will get you expelled. Nor will I ask for the wand. But what you do if it is a favor that you do not feel right doing but doesn’t risk you getting expelled?”

“It’s gotta be something pretty blatantly obviously against the rules like trying to kill the faculty or enter student barred areas. If it involves another student, they can’t know I’m directly involved.”

“I meant morally Zarra. There are many things that one can do that doesn’t break laws but can be morally wrong. What if I ask you to marry my cousin? Or anything.”

“I feel like something like that would be a mistake for the participant more than me, my dad would likely die of happiness if I suddenly married a family of your caliber. But could that person stand me long enough to keep the contract in faith?”

It didn’t seem like Zarra wasn’t understanding what Ingrid wasn’t understanding what Ingrid could do. But he was an adult. He can make this decession. “Alright, I understand your disposition. What happens if you fail in the favor? Like I ask for a coffee and you bring me milk? What then?”

Zarra giggles a little, not taking the example seriously despite understanding its angle. “Well, then I’m a dumbass, and the favor would be moot. I either attempt it again, or if it’s a try or die, find something else for me to do. No malicious compliance or passive-aggressiveness.”

Somehow Ingrid thinks that this noble child is somehow less than the blind commoner. Whatever. “I think this is amendable. Please sign here and here.”

Zarra signs both the lines, his handwriting a visible and very legible print, a surprise from a noble who would often be pressured into learning cartography. In the spirit of the agreement, Zarra sticks his hand out to shake.

Ingrid signs her lines as well and goes to shake his hand, “Shame I couldn’t get the wand. But this is okay as well.” Ingrid put the papers away and signals to Eirik to see Zarra out. “Goodbye Zarra.”

“Later.” Zarra leaves with Erik without issue, he goes to bed with a clear conscience, one-hundred percent not grasping the level of commitment he signed himself up to.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Pirouette
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Pirouette Ghoul

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1.1 All that is Faire that Ends Well!

How long had it been since facing a Wyrm and surviving?

It already felt like an eternity. Somehow facing a lethal sand dragon was a little more comfortable than dealing with this. Yanii-land.

Life here was a slow, meandering existence of horrid urban life. She had forgotten how tight and closed in she felt in Ersand, having experienced the liberty of the Refuge’s openness as really the only collection of yanii buildings as far as the eye could see. Here, however, it was closed in with walls that felt like a cage for a fenced in animal.

She missed home.

It felt odd to think about it. Having desperately wanted to get out there and see more of the world, but having ventured through a portal on her trip only to return to a place that wasn’t really her home messed with her. She wasn’t returning to the familiar comforts like all the other yaniis were. It was like she was taking another trip to somewhere exotic. She sighed, turning to the wyrm pearl she had tucked under her arm. A rare, attractive keepsake that she had found on her recent journey. She didn’t really know what to do with it. Her grand na would tell her to bring it back to the Mette’stiroi but if her grand na was right about that, it hardly didn’t have the meaning it used to.

She threw her torso back in frustration letting her head thump against the branch she was lounging on. ”Ow.” She uttered rather plainly for just taking a lump on her head. At least she had enough sense to ask for help in this situation. Invited rather hastily in passing earlier in the day, Casii had asked Ismette to come find her in the park in her secret grove. It was open to all yasoi but she had issues with yaniis hanging around.

Ismette was… attractive, Casii had kept considering. Not just in her tall petiteness, mind you, but how she seemed to have herself all figured out outside of the homeland. She seemed so confident and assured. Ever since their awkward meeting of Casii coming down from her aberration thrill, Ismette had been there for her.

She needed it.

The aberration had been an impulsive decision. Indulging in it just like her kin back home had left a sour taste in her mouth. Figuratively speaking but in reality Casii was still feeling it. Her head seemed to have a gnawing pain like a stomach yearning for food. Energy seemed to be another symptom as lethargy slowed her for the following days where she even doubted she’d be able to lift herself out of bed.

Such a price for an aberration. If another one came by, she didn’t want it… How did Ismette manage to refuse? Casii needed to know…

A brushing of leaves sounded and Casii’s ear twitched. Someone seemed to be coming. ”Izzii, that you?” She called out in her native yasoi tongue.

“Dii,” teased the other, “Nax ya Papa Curliix. Rawr!” She hopped nimbly up into the branches and grinned impishly before letting it fade into something more appropriate. “Eleh uush joi, suunei?”

Translation: “No, I’m Papa Curliix. Rawr!” - “What bothers you, sister?”

”Vish nax, fo’senii yasoi pai’it selang fi’ela Casii vel Papa Curliix.” Casii mused, waving her hand but not stirring from her spot upon her branch. She did, at least, prop her head up to meet Ismette’s gaze, lifting her wyrm pearl. ”Nax wiip yuul eleh juu’juup sin o’panuu.” She let that hang for a moment before quietly follow up with an admission. ”Rey ela juu joi liisan’yanii pan? Nax wiip yuul…”

Translation: ”Lucky me, for now yasoi will tell the story of how Casii fought Papa Curliix.” - ”I do not know what to do with my treasure.” - ”And how do you live among humans well? I do not know…”

After a brief giggle, Ismette sighed. “Panuu ya posh.” she waved dismissively. “Eshe ap ol joi soceh ap; thrii ap ol el’muul ilac. Ismette ya el’paltha par’wes elai joi’ya dii’dolrey jiiruul yanii.” She cocked her head to one side, a bit concerned. “Joi tajuup yim Ismet, suunei. Pelosh ap ziib’it nax ziib’it joi.”

Translation: “The treasure is easy. Keep it if you like it; sell it if you want money more. I’m more interested to know why you’re uncomfortable among humans. You can tell me, sister. Maybe it will help me help you.”

Casii shuffled in her spot as she considered the yasoi’s advice on the treasure. The pearl was pretty but she didn’t even really have a home right now and she certainly didn’t trust her yanii neighbors to not go snooping. Selling it, maybe, but what did she want with money?

She blew air out of her mouth and returned to reclining, watching the wind blow at the leaves above. ”Suunei…” Casii began, continuing in her native tongue to try and outline it all. It had been awhile since she had spoken her natural language. It almost felt off at first but now it was coming back to her. ”... Do you feel comfortable in all those buildings? Ever been to Southern Mycormi? It’s so open and here it feels so closed. It ain’t just the people. It’s the whole thing.”

Ismette shrugged. “Sometimes it seems like yesterday when I left home. Sometimes, it seems like a century.” She let out a sigh, idly swinging a foot back and forth beneath the branch she was perched on. “I guess… you just have to find your space, go your places, adjust what you can change and accept what you can’t. Otherwise, yeah, you’ll go crazy.” She pulled a knee up to her chest and rested her chin on it. “Rooftops in a city like this are fun. Sometimes, at night, I treat the towers and spires like trees.” She grinned, but it faded quickly. “I think we’re a bit different. I’m… much more of a city girl than you, so the adjustment’s probably easier for me,” she admitted. “You’re from down south, after all, but some things are still the same. Houses for us are small things nestled in the branches: a safe and comfy place to sleep and store our junk. Yaniis live in them, like really live there: they occupy their houses much of the day and fill them full of comforts and other useless junk.” Ismette shook her head. “I don’t get it either, but we’re in a space that they built. It’s like transferring a plant to new soil: you’ve gotta find a way for it to take and grow, and maybe you bring a bit of the soil it came from with it to make it easier.” She sniffed. “I’m talking a whole awful lot and repeating myself.” There was an eyeroll. “Trying to get all philosophical on you. I dunno if it’s any good. I guess I just sort of kept what I could, adjusted some stuff, and learned to live with others. If you wanna travel, that’s what you’ve gotta do. Our ancestors did it,” she reminded Casii, “back in the good times. No reason we can’t.”

Casii slid her feet up so they bent at the knees as she lounged about, bouncing on her toes to make her legs shake idly. She listened carefully to what Ismette had to say. All of it, really. It seemed like she was reading right out of one of grand na’s lectures. She never really figured out the yaniis but just knew what they were like. Knew that they had to get along with them and it was all part of the adventure.

Patiently waiting until Ismette finished up her talking points, Casii remained quiet. ”I reckon any tree needs a bit of nurturing to get right comfortable in a new spot…” She mused, taking to the plant growth analogy quite well. It was what she loved, after all. ”...Guess that makes you my gardner?” She chuckled, turning over to give Ismette a grin.

Privately she mulled something in her mind for a moment but enough to be considered a noticeable pause. ”No sense in stopping now. With all your preaching, you might put me right to the best sleep I’ve had since coming.”

Ismette chuckled at the remark. “Harsh, suunei! Harsh!” She let the laughter fade. “But true,” she admitted mock-sheepishly. “I have a habit of preaching. You should see how it drives the yanii nuts to have a pointy-ear moralizing at them. Half the time, I do it for kicks!” She giggled, but it was not early, and it turned into a yawn.

Casii sat up, spinning on her branch to turn towards Ismette. ”Only thing is, I never quite found the trees here as comfortable. Not on my own, anyway.” She nodded towards Ismette, ”But looks to me that your lap is the best pillow around. Reckon you can spare me the time?” Casii’s feet kicked as she leaned forward, gleaming with her thinly veiled advancement.

Ismette blinked. That had been quite the… bold maneuver. Casii wasn’t half–bad to look at, though, and it had been some time since Ismette had been with another woman.“Mama raised a real charmer,” she joked, scooting into something cross-legged and leaning back a bit. She pulled Casii’s head down to rest on her lap, staring up at the canopy. “You got nice hair,” Ismette decided, starting to run her hands through it, “even though you don’t take care of it.” She smiled down, heartbeat quickening a touch.

Casii fell easily into Ismette’s lap, nestling in comfort. Her legs slide down the branch and dangled in the air, idly swinging gently. ”Well thank ya.” Casii hummed, watching Ismette endearingly as those hands ran through her hair. ”Ya know if yer particular to a certain style, I would not object. Maybe you have some advice there, too, suunei?” Casii teased, feeling a bit on cloud nine. It had been too long since she spent time with a yasoi. Longer still since she had the comfort of someone interested in her. At least it seemed that way, her heart swelled but the nerves crept in. Was she too bold and this was all humoring?

”Got a pretty smile, ya know. Might have to steal your advice on that, too… Err make it, three.” She softly giggled, though she mentally kicked herself for being a little lame. She sought to change the subject. ”Kind of a fun way to start at the academy. Fighting a giant dragon and all. Reckon the rest of the year will be like that?”

Ismette leaned down and planted a little peck on Casii’s nose. “You’re adorable,” she remarked. “And yes, there are things I would do with your hair that would be art, or so I tell myself.” She blushed and smirked at the same time. “No money back if I mess up, huh?”

Casii provided a stupid grin in response to Ismette’s kiss on her nose as well as the complement. ”Fine, I ain’t gonna charge you…” She muttered in quick reply.

It was not necessarily an early hour, and the slightly older teen took a moment to snuggle a bit more as she spoke. “You know, I was originally going to dip out of that.” She made an awkward face. “I just get a… vibe I don’t like from the Paradigm. Glad I didn’t, though. I think that’s where all the interesting things are gonna happen, and maybe I can make them a little less violent: a little bit more about love and a little bit less about “pew pew pew boom boom crash, hmm?” She shook her head and managed an embarrassed smile. “At least, that’s the big ideal.”

Considering what the other yasoi said, Casii nodded along, shifting her head in Ismette’s lap. ’Suppose that’s a good reason. Too many spooks runnin’ ‘round here. Some yanii with lifelike dolls approached me before that trip. Knew somethin’ private ‘bout me as well as gettin’ head yanii’s trip invite. She knew ‘bout the trip ‘cause she was on it before bowing out but no way she could threatin’ somethin’ private ‘bout me like that without somethin’ unnatural.”

Casii reached a hand up and caught one of Ismette’s hands, gently clasping the back of her hand and holding it to her own cheek. ”Bit why I’m runnin’ scared here. Yaniis seem to be wantin’ more out of life. Too much. Fightin’ and quarrelin’ like there ain’t ‘nough to go ‘round. Our people ain’t much better, mufflin’ in our own struggles, but some folks believin’ it all comes from the yaniis…” Casii sighed, closing her eyes. ”...Not sure what to think, myself.”

Ismette let out a long breath. “The world’s on fire again. A few people with all the power want it that way and it burns.” She shook her head and shrugged. “But I don’t think it much matters if the yaniis caused our problems or not. Wouldn’t put it past them, mind ya. It’s just that we’re the ones who’ll probably be left to solve it, and I dunno if we can. Truth be told, that’s why I’m here. If I can make some friends among them: useful ones and decent ones, maybe they’ll actually help.” On that note, she went silent for a moment, listening to the crickets in the grass and the bullfrogs in the rushes. “Now, why are we on such dark things anyhow?” She was massaging Casii’s shoulders now. She stopped and gave them a little squeeze. “You’re too cute for that.” She smiled. How nice it was to feel the warmth of another: how very central to Ismette’s existence. It had been over a week and the last had been a big Kerreman boy, about as tender and loving as an ox. She longed.

Casii lifted her shoulders in a weak shrug, trying to disrupt the message she was getting. ”Dunno. This sorta thing happens when I get nervous. Feel sorta anxious about it all. Scared…” She trailed off, lost in a thought for a moment… or it seemed so because she refocused on ismette, looking up at her with a goofy grin. ”I always get nervous when talkin’ with pretty girls.” She giggled at her own theatrics, shuffling some of her deeper thoughts under the guise of her own tease. Ismette was right, no need to stress about things now. There will be a time for that to come back.

”Naw… it’ll be alright. My grand na always said we’d pull through so we will. Just have to spend the time right. You’re a good messager, by the way. I think you missed your callin’.”

“Maybe,” admitted Ismette, “but you may find,” she continued softly, “that I have many callings, and the hours of Ipte approach.”

”Oh?” Casii perked up, almost leaving Ismette’s lap. Instead she found the other yasoi’s hands and gently seized them, pulled them down, inviting Ismette to lean down so their faces were hovering close together. Casii’s heart leaped as she took a breath in. ”Care to show me?”

It turned out that, as talented as Ismette was at telling, she was even better at showing.
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