Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

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A year came and went, time passed, and for Desmond, it was a very filled time. He had 2 businesses he had dedicated himself towards. The first is a ruby mine he had found and is now a junior partner of. Then the second is of Black Field Arsenal, a longtime dream that has now came to life for Desmond. He had planted Black Field Arsenal in Mudville, there he had hired multiple workers there to not only build on the land he had bought, but also work within the Arsenal it self. Slowly but surly, the Arsenal grew in renown, multiple people began to come and cleared stock constantly, his new ammunition did well, and his new weapons flew off the shelves. However, the most lucrative items were introduced when he introduced his heavy arms. Black Field Arsenal had began producing cannons and heavy arms, much of the cannons were ordered and bought in cast iron. A strange thin of the time as many consider them inferior to brass cannons, many seemed pleased with their results, as they should, Desmond designed them himself to apply greater restraints and resistances to higher pressures, allowing them to be able to compete with many of their bigger cousins, while retaining a lighter weight, and a lighter pull on the pocket books.

Yet this was just a bit of time Desmond had spent of his everyday life. He went to school and continued his learning, on days off he focused upon his work as a Lamplighter, a businessman, and still training in his preferred method of force, physical combat. Desmond trained more and more, now using his title as the Underground Champion of Ersand'Ernise as a tool, taking fights he deems worthy, focusing his techniques and skills, from unarmed combat, to swordsmanship, he uses this time to hone his skills, as his fencing began to improve, as he began to focus much of his time to it, gaining new found skills and has shown something within the ring. No matter the size, no matter strength in the gift, a man can be something great.

He did neglect some things, people around him often saw him a bit less, it was only those who were living with him, those in his zeno group, and those who worked with him who saw him. Other than that, he worked quite often, filling his time, and even going over it, leading to some bad habits. Desmond had created a spell specifically to allow him to sleep for less time and still be productive. He filled quite a bit of his more studious times with coffee, leading to a full addiction. Yet, Desmond lived a filled year, not a moment wasted.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by YummyYummy
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YummyYummy Ayyyyy

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Early Jores

Location: Borderwood - Ersand’Enise
Day of the week: Victendes
Time: 1:XX HE
Characters: Abdel, Young Female Target,
Dayanara, Qadira





“Good work, Qadira.”

Abdel tossed a piece of meat toward the maw of a large, reptilian creature which the snout already met his neck. The adolescent Skuggvar’s muzzle was opened for this brief reward and closed right after the creature had swiftly caught the portion of venison. It munched away while its twin sibling looked at the tall tanned boy expectantly, “You too, Dayanara.” and as he took out the treat, the animal nearly lunged at the naive little master, ready to aggressively snatch it off him.

And then it froze, its clawed paw mid-motion as if it had been literally frozen. Abdel adamantly glared at the animal, “No!” he pointed right between her eyes as it was forced into her underbelly, “That’s a no-no.” and now it was deprived of its treat as punishment while the sister gleefully swallowed the chunky, raw steak.



Abdel sighed and turned to the young woman with her arms bound behind her. She was a dirty blonde, wore tethered grey clothes with a light cut on her forearm and had her once scornful glare turn into a wide-eyed look of pure anxiety as she saw the beasts get handed. “Can you walk? I don’t think it’s a good idea that I have one of them carry you.” he asked, not looking too confident himself, “Y-yes.” she nodded as Abdel rested his hand over her shoulder and began escorting her out of the hideout she had been found in the Borderwood. “Good! I’ll say you cooperated. Might help with the sentencing, I think.”

The perpetrator, wanted for connections with some Traveller-related activity, was delivered to the Century, and in turn Abdel was graced with 15 Magi for his efforts - part of which was subsidised by more than just the school and the Century. Not that he knew or cared, for he had finally gotten his first paycheck!

“Look at that!” the lanky teen shook the pouch of coins before his two massive hunters. They hardly paid any attention, but they obediently followed him without even a leash tied to them (although they did have a bridle connected to their muzzles), “Now …” he counted on his fingers, “You girls get about five for food this month …” she pursed his lips and then nodded happily, “About four for me. Leaves me with six to do whatever in the month!” he kept speaking to the beasts even as they hardly reacted, raising his arms up in celebration.

Before he returned home, he stopped by a florist. Being the rough young lad, his tastes for the delicate and beautiful were not very refined. And so, he opted for the Red Rose. A nice bouquet for less than three incantors, with an added blue one in the centre. He hummed to himself on his way back with infrequent abdominal hissing from the beasts behind him.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti Per Aspera Ad Astra.

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Ashon'amar'loiyang


Event: Penny Pellegrin | Location: Ersand'Enise




She could see him from her perch, just wandering around below her, all cute and clueless and stuff. She was rarely the one looking down, and this opportunity could not be wasted. “Boyfriend!” she shouted, hopping up on the bannister. “You’re mine! Think fast.” She leapt down, aiming to land right on him and be caught like the fair maiden she dreamed of being.

Ashon instinctively stepped out of the way of the falling boulder, except this boulder was rather too Penny-shaped for his liking. With a twist of his heel, he sprung back toward her as he caught her within his arms into a bridal carry. “I see it is raining Pennies.” He leaned down to peck upon her forehead whilst grinning widely toward her. He looked up to see where she fell from, as he shifted her over his shoulder and climbed up along the wall as he brought the pair of them back upon her balcony. He sat back upon the bannister as he had her seated forward upon him. “Want to dive off again~?“.

“I was trying to crush you,” she admitted. “A lil’ tree boy beneath the ruthless heel of the Perrench oppressor.” Penny shrugged. “Gotta make my ancestors proud.” She twisted free and sat beside him, snuggling into his shoulder and dangling her foot over the edge. She swung it idly back and forth, stretching her toes out a couple of times.

He could only raise an eyebrow at his would-be oppressor, “Perhaps I shall bat away those tyrants with my superior wits and combat ability, then ensure peace by seducing their King, or perhaps a Queen, the ol’ Talit and Arcel treatment.” He grinned as he snapped toward Penny as he teasingly whispered by her ear, “I would gladly accept a cute merchant girl instead.”

Gods, Carles is cold,” Penny suddenly offered. It was just on the verge of being legitimately cold - cold enough to make one shrink indoors - and, even here in subtropical Ersand’Enise, a handful of yellowed and browned leaves carpeted the ground of the small green by the merchant girls’ dormitories. “Actually, I was wondering what your plans were for the break. It’s Caldores in a month.” She twisted and looked up at him questioningly, innocent enough.

He smiled toward her as he thought about the seasons, “After the leaves turn crimson and fall like blood droplets upon the ground…” He gazed toward Penny with the most stern of expressions, and she shivered. “Macabre, Jammy. Macabre.”. He broke the seriousness with a big grin, “I hadn’t a clue.” Though the talk had certainly reminded him of something, as he raised the bushel of strawberries he had with him, plucking one out. “Red is my favourite colour“, he bit into the sweet flesh of the fruit as he offered out the rest toward Penny for her to bite.

Penny blinked. She plucked a strawberry and ate it, tossing the top down into the green to be food for the animals. “Mine changes every year or two,” she replied with a shrug. If there was some deeper symbolism, she wasn’t getting it. “I know it’s the milquetoast answer, but I think they all have their merits.” The berry was good. It reminded her of the ones in the castle gardens: the only real outdoor space she’d been allowed to spend time in as a child. She made sure not to waste any. It occurred to her that he was dodging the question, so she opted to let it linger. If he addressed it belatedly, then it meant that he was ready to open up. If he didn’t, then she wouldn’t press. She’d been less than open herself, Dami’s truth.

Ashon held out the strawberry as it was left hanging. Penny stuck out her tongue. “I don’t want your goober, Monkey boy,” she teased. Ashon shrugged. “Overheard Maura talk about the yanii custom of indirect kissing. Apparently all flustered when she shared a picnic with that boy that hangs around her. Sharing the treat that had been bit by another.”, rolling the berry with his thumb, then flicking it into the air as it caught it between his teeth.

Penny rolled her eyes, but then softened it with a smile. ”So you’re saying you want me to be unsanitary with you.” She leaned in and bit the strawberry and planted a little kiss on him.

He couldn’t resist grinning at her comment, enjoying the affectionate peck. “It may surprise you, but my company tends not to be wanted for too long,“ the tone soft and playful as his fingers were casually sliding through the strands of her hair as she leaned upon his shoulder, playfully twirling it around his fingertips. “So I tend to float from place to place, where-ever the breeze takes me. On rare occasions, I sometimes may visit my old man on a passing visit when he isn’t busy with his tea leaves in his gilded cage.”

That caused her to shift. “Gilded cage?” she enquired. “Just… what does he do?” Very ladylike, she picked a leaf from between her teeth and flicked it into the green-brown abyss below. “Sorry if it’s like… rude to ask, but I’m curious now.”

“Huh, never been asked before.” He scratched upon his cheek before turning to look toward her, examining her curious face. “He is a very well respected member of the community, everyone comes to see him for advice and his blessing. He took me in when I was young off the street. He is what you call a future-teller” He moved one of his fingers to stroke along the round ridge of Penny’s ear, “So he would do this ceremony where he pretends to look at leaves with his absent eyes which sit in a bowl of water, circling them around with a stick, and people take his ramblings as gospel.” His finger went into a circling motion against her ear as he acted it out, smirking playfully. “Though, that is not the main reason they keep him around.”

“Sooo… A timewalker?” she prodded. “You have a story to tell, precious one, and I’m going to squeeze you like an orange for it if I have to.” She smiled sweetly but challengingly, clearly taking an interest. Shune, we’ve known each other for months. We’ve even swapped strawberry spit. How is it that we haven’t talked about stuff like this?” She glanced down and then back up. “I mean… I’ll share too if you will. I feel like we should be doing stuff like this.”

He paused as he considered her words, simply listening. He moved to plant a kiss upon the top of her head as he spoke softly toward her. “Is this Penny wanting us to become serious?”

For a moment, an intense anxiety seized Penny. Being ‘serious’ would mean a whole bunch of things: things she wasn’t sure she was ready for. He would learn about her family. They would learn about him. They would… She wanted him. She wanted him for herself but she wasn’t enough. He hadn’t seen her - really seen her yet. She liked her gloves and her long dresses because they made her a normal shape. It would probably be okay. They would probably be okay, but she was malformed. It… wasn’t beautiful. Would the rest of her be enough? She was three-quarters of an ideal princess of Perrence. What if it wasn’t? What if he acted nice about it but she could see the enthusiasm leave him. She blinked to clear her head. “I suppose it is,” she admitted, pulse building behind her ears. “Frankly surprised we haven’t already,” she said with a nervous chuckle.

He moved to the other side of her as he watched her. His eyes examined her intensely, watching how the pupils fluctuated with each passing moment. Ashon moved his hand upon hers, as he took it within his grasp, holding upon it, his fingers stroked upon the back of it. He was silent in contemplation. “Excuse me for a moment, I’ll be back.” He squeezed upon her hand as he stood up to retreat within her room, moving over to her wash basin.

About to say something, Penny instead fell silent. She hopped off of the balcony and made her way quietly into the room, sitting on the bed and pulling her knee to her chin.

Ashon began to remove his shirt as he exposed that athletic figure of his, as he moved his hands into the water as he began to wash himself. The markings that cover him were being scrubbed and removed, working toward his face as he looked at his reflection. As he looked within the looking glass, he saw the person he presented himself as, the one he portrayed to the world, and even to himself. He took the time and attention as he started to remove his make-up. The eyeliner, the shadow, even the balm that coated his lips. He plays the role of the jester, the one he has perfected to a degree that he even made himself believe he is one. Once he was cleansed, he felt like he was able to bare himself before her, becoming less the Jammy she knew, and more the Ashon that laid underneath. Finished, he turned and dried himself, showing her what he really looked like raw, the masquerade mask slipped off. He approached her, his mannerism less clumsy, though requiring effort to adjust in what could be considered a more civilized manner as he moved to seat himself in front of her upon the bed. “This is me.” His hand reached for hers to bring it toward him, guiding it toward his chest as he placed it there and allowed her to feel the strong beat of his heart beneath the flesh.

It was clear that she had triggered something within him: something that she would have to respond to, and Penny wasn’t sure that she was ready. She withdrew her hand, eyes anxious, and looked up at him. Ipte, you’re beautiful,” she managed to choke out. “In more ways than you know.” It was true and she felt it, but she was also stalling, deflecting. You do this, Penelope. This is what you want. This is what you’ve always wanted: to be loved, and he is not just some plaything. He’s giving his heart to you. That brought on a new wave of anxiety. She was shaking, now, imperceptibly unless anyone should look very closely. The source of it was mixed: desire, terror, anxiety, excitement. No single factor won out, but she knew that she would have to bare herself too, metaphorically and physically, for this to work. She nearly pulled upon chemical magics, as she so often did, to steady her. Instead, she reached out with both of her hands. She took her gloves off. Her left was… objectively strange. It was not beautiful, but it was her and she could not hide it forever, so she didn’t. She was not about to make some ceremony of it, to put it in his face, but she let it be there as it was.

Ashon looked toward Penny like he normally did. To be fair, it is not that the girl wasn’t beautiful, he cherished those eyes, that hair, that smile upon her lips. It wouldn’t be a lie that he has acted like a womanizer in the past, his constant joking, flirting and serenading with every pretty girl he came across and that reputation hadn’t gone unnoticed even in the thicket as he had made advances on every girl there, except for Isii who had approached him first. He did this to mask the flaws that resided within his heart, the burdens that he carried around with him. With Penny, he saw something different, in the very first moments she fulfilled a need long hidden inside of him as he held her tightly within his arms. It was a peculiar and alien feeling to him, something that drew him strongly to her. There were things about Penny that the girl most likely didn’t know herself, and he loved those things about her. So when he saw the hand, he brought his own toward it, sliding his fingers against hers then interlocked them the best he could. Penny may be flawed on the outside, but he is flawed on the inside, yet despite this, he believed that she loved him regardless as much as he loved her. He smiled warmly at her comment, he knew that others found him handsome, but what caught him was the latter statement, in more ways than you know. It was this that caused his heart to skip a beat, the one that caused his own emotions to grow intense. “... and you’re perfect.” His eyes gazed within hers in an intense and unflinching manner, there is no trace of malice or cruel trickery, it was that scarier and more frightening thing, he genuinely believed what he just said.

There were layers to peel out of for Penny, then. She freed herself of them. She melted into Ashon, in more ways than one.





It was some time later, perhaps in the hours of Eshiran, though Penny thought it should’ve been those of Ipte. She sat in bed, as she was, white sheets pulled up around her and her head sticking out the top of them like some sort of little ghost. Her hair was rumpled and she was smiling. She couldn't stop smiling. “No, it’s not metaphorical, Jammy. I’m actually Rouis’ daughter: a princess.” She snorted. “Though not much of one. I’m no better than ninth in line for the throne. Anyways, I wanna hear more about your papa who can see the future.”

The temptation was there. It was very easy to find oneself slipping back into those familiar ways and habits. He had already thought of least five, seven, perhaps eleven quips to her confession. All the ways he can deflect and avoid, but he owed it to her, to Penny, to be true to himself, even if it let it slip a little. “One could say my father sees the future, and your father decides the future.” He grinned toward her as he placed a kiss upon her head, a Perrench Princess, huh?. He mused privately to himself, perhaps the dream meant more than he thought, “I guess that really does make us Talit and Arcel.”

Ashon reflected that Penny would not be interested in the challenges of a blind man attempting to dress himself in the morning, and thought of a tale. One that is often told to many a person, though it felt different telling Penny. She was different, she was special… he has to place his trust in her. “One day, the elders were deciding on what to do with a boy. Wee high and very mischievous.” He raised his hand to give an approximate size as he acted out the story with his actions. “His parents were once part of the village and left for Kerremand across the water, however, there was a terrible incident and they both perished. The locals, not wanting to deal with the boy, sent him back to the Hyparian lands, a land where trees grew like mountains and cities built in the sky upon their branches amongst the birds” It was clear that he had started to relive a more personal experience. “They couldn’t decide where they wanted to place him and no family would take him in voluntarily. Some thought the militia would straighten him out, others discussed sending him to the capital. In the end, they decided to bring him before the local future-teller. They sat the boy before him, and asked him to see what he saw that lay ahead in his path.” He smiled to himself, grinning, as he turned toward Penny, gazing upon her. “Apparently, he was so shocked by what he saw, he almost passed out. It turned out the boy had a very… destructive future. As you imagine, that caused everyone to grow wild, they even proposed stoning the boy as he would be better off with the gods. It was during this arguing between the elders that the future-teller had another vision, a… bright future, one of hardship but out of that destruction, came promise. Like a sapling sprouting after a forest fire, springing up from the ashes. It was as if he knew at that moment what he must do. He confronted those elders and took the boy as his own, his adopted son. There were protests, but if the boy were to be raised as a keeper, and an attendant, then perhaps destruction would be prevented, or so he said. Reluctantly, they agreed with his decision.”

Penny pulled her knee up to her chest, under the covers. The boy was Ashon, of course. That much she knew. Fated to bring destruction, just like me. She nodded for him to continue, and so he continued his tale. “You would think the boy would be extremely grateful for this fate, being raised in the household of a pillar in the community”

Penny regarded him with her head tilted. Slowly, she shook it. “Confining,” she murmured. “Marked out as different.”

“My father, one could say, was one of the fortunate ones. Those blessed with the gift of future sight are blinded as soon as they are identified, then brought before the Barons in the Yasoi lands.” He motioned with hands toward his eyes as if going to skewer them out with his fingers. It was always the eyes. Conscious, he looked toward Penny’s eyes, as if peering inside of them as they gazed back at his. “Those of a suitable temperament - those who respond well - are given the option of being assigned to a village, far away from the life those who that remain are subjected to. It is an offer that all would agree to: an escape, living a dutiful life in comfort.” He mused on how to better explain it. “You get to live in a large house, a prime location. You don’t have to toil for food or drink. Your surroundings are tailored to cater for any need or desire. There are those who provide physical comfort and affection under careful conditions as to prevent future children. You just had to remain within those walls and answer the requests of the village where it came to the use of your gift”

“A gilded cage,” Penny whispered, more to herself.

Ashon nodded toward her as if he heard what she said. “When you cannot see the world, thankfully there isn’t much out there to experience, or so they say. What you don’t know, you cannot desire.” He imagined home as being a bird cage with a sheet draped over the top of it. Some mysterious hand coming along to feed you, change the bedding, tend to you, whilst only hearing the whisperings of the greater world, and… “Only what is seen through the eyes of the person before you. The visions of their future, and of their past”

The parallels were clear, almost as if he were trying intentionally to draw them. Penny shifted where she sat and continued to listen. “I think we all know that to be false.”

“A cage can never hold anyone for long, for if there is a will, there is a way. Despite efforts, future-tellers still get born. He once told me of a woman in his youth that he grew quite fond of who used to comfort him, and they grew involved. One day, he learned that she was with child, and soon did others. He never knew what happened to her, only that she was spirited away and not seen again.” He grinned widely toward Penny for a moment, he has heard the next bit plenty of times before, “This is the part where you suspect, Ashon, is he really your father? but this isn’t some tale, and I am not some secret future-teller love child. This was far before my time, easily a good fifty years most likely, but the old man had always desired and dreamed of a child. So the gods cursed him with me instead.”

He started to reorientate himself to where he was prior to his tangent. “So the boy was unhappy. A life of enjoyment in taking care of an old blind man and confinement. As he grew, he frequently neglected his duties and was truant. He was wild and restless, like the vermin monkeys that plagued the village from time to time.” He moved his fingers beside his head and upwards as if to mimic a crown.

“Despite all this, he never gave up on the boy, and once he grew of an appropriate age, he decided to share the truth with him. He disclosed what he really saw on that day before the elders. The destruction he foresaw was not of the boy's doing, it was the lands of the Yasoi. Dessicated in their form and swept over by a fire which spelled the end to them as we know it. However, after what came and gone, there was a green sprout, the beginnings of a new future for our people.” He looked upwards toward the ceiling as he examined the patterns laid out within Penny’s dorm room. “Now, you may think the boy is some hero, a saviour to the people, and some high purpose. One to save the yasoi, right the world of its wrongs. It turned out the sprout is a girl, not a boy, and it is them who shall bring renewal.” He couldn’t resist the dramatic build up, everyone likes a good story about the birth and future of a folk legend, and leaning into it is what he does best. “Truth is, the boy, arguably, could be summarized as simply Ash-on the sprout.” He grinned widely toward Penny, that bit was his favourite part and loved to hammer it home.

She managed to hold back her groan, if only because, bad pun aside, this was clearly meaningful to him.

“Metaphoric, rather than literal. The ash represents nutrients and sustenance which allows the sprout to grow. My calling is to find and support her. As any boy who is both extremely disappointed by the revelation and currently thinking - eww, girls - he left rather promptly from the exchange.” He recalls the experience quite vividly and there were more than a few more choice words that were said at that time. His future was not to be the retainer of some old man, but that of some woman instead. It wasn’t until later, there was another vision of his future, one that spoke to him far more clearly. “... there was another. What the old man didn’t realize, was that he did not even truly interpret what he saw correctly at that time. The sprout was a metaphor too, for they only have a singular stem. I wasn’t meant to be the retainer of some random woman, but of the goddess Vyshta… the one you call Reshta.”

This was going to lead to the difficult part. He may have altered and obscured some of the facts around the story, but it was leading to where it is thus far, and how it may impact upon their relationship and what it threatened. “From that day, I learnt my true purpose and became inspired, and dedicated myself to being one of Vyshta’s Chosen.” He moved his arm around Penny as he held her close to him as his fingers caressed her back. He has been speaking a while, whilst she was ever patient with him. He felt himself grow cold and clammy, as he dreaded the words he were to speak. “When I came of age, I volunteered in the militia and became what you call a Dervisher. A most dangerous role used for scouting, ambushing, often working independently. I was trained to hunt and kill, similar to what you may call an assassin, and being naturally gifted and with a love of heights, it was like a calling to me.” That is right, Penny. The one you love has killed people, and that is not even the worst you are going to hear.

“So… you’ve killed, then?” It was as much statement as question. She studied him evenly. She had killed too, to be fair. It was still hard to wrap her around. She’d done it with shocking ease, too: almost cold-blooded, almost sadistic. It had been a matter of survival, but a small part of her had enjoyed it, at least before what she’d done had set in. She couldn’t judge him and she didn’t want to. The words had kind of just… slipped out.

Ashon gave a cold nod at the question. “By necessity, either on the orders of others, exacting justice, or my own survival. These hands have been stained red more times than I wish to remember, and the truth is that I could do it again if it came to be.” As such where harm came to you, Penny. The thought went unsaid as he placed a kiss upon the top of her head.

“There are two major crimes in Yasoi society… well, there are a lot more, but for the purposes of this story, there are two. One, as you know, is being a Future-teller. The other is breaking a vow to the gods.” If only that you knew. He pulled upon Penny instinctively, holding her against him as if scared she would suddenly move away from him, flee his side. “But staying would only break the true vow that I made, the one to the Goddess Vyshta. So I departed from my home and roamed the lands, drifting between places till eventually moving into the huusoi lands, encountering many yasoi in my path as I spoke of poetry and verse like a wandering bard. Yasoi are not widely received, often viewed as tricksters or thieves at best. It is there I found myself back in my childhood, the boy who ran with monkeys. Jamboi.” Your precious Jammy. “It was during this time I was called to Ersand’Enise, a place the most talented and gifted from around Sipenta are drawn towards. Where else could the Goddess Vyshta be, than here? I sought to learn more, to find the one I was devoted to.”

“Ashon,” she squeaked. Her heart was pounding. It was sappy, but it was so romantic. “Oh my Ipte.” It was her, of course. They were destined to be together. He thought she was the avatar. Maybe he’d thought Tyrel was at first, but it was her: Penny Pelletier.

He could see the excitement build up to her, she certainly was a fan of the storytelling. Watching that wonderful smile felt like a knife slide within his chest to what came next. I am a monster. Selfish, stupid. I have fallen in love with you.

“I thought this opportunity came to waste. Why would the Goddess choose to live in Huusoi lands, what was I thinking? Perhaps I had simply dreamed wrongly. It was then during our first term I learnt of the trials. The time of year when the best and brightest around Sipenta come to meet in one place. It happened to be that there was a team from Tarlon led by none other than the avatar of the Goddess herself: Vyshta’s Favoured.” He felt that knife twist in his heart. He could feel his body and spirit dying with each breath and word he spoke. “When we met, Penny. It was when I thought I was going to introduce myself to the one who is destined to be my wife.”

Penny went still for a moment: stalk still, and he could feel her stiffen. Her eyes became cold and she began to pull away. And here you are, she thought bitterly, bedding me: a wrench in your destiny. She stopped and waited and cautioned herself not to jump too far with her conclusions.

Ashon moved his hands to his eyes as he brushed away the tears that had formed there. Then, he spoke, the water trickling down his face to soak into the girl's pillows. The worst was out, the confession about Tyrel. “Then I discovered something that not even I could foresee” His hand clasped upon Penny’s own, seeming not to even care for the deformity in the slightest. “It was when this huusoi girl jumped within my arms, I felt… something different. It was when I knew where my path truly lay.”

Penny breathed steadily. There it was: the redemption. She allowed him to take her hand, but she did not give it to him. There were pasts other than hers that were confining, difficult. She wasn’t certain. Nothing was simple. Nothing was easy or straightforward or just…normal and how she wished it was! Her gaze was solemn. Wordlessly, she twisted away and, still under the covers, scooted to the edge of the bed. In a fluid motion, she rose, covered herself in her bedrobe, and took two hops over to her bedside table.

He watched her, and he knew he’d hurt her. The pain he inflicted upon himself paled in comparison to the pain he felt now. Perhaps he was wrong to trust, and that keeping his secrets would be preferable. There were things he didn’t consider ever confiding in another, yet, here was Penny. This huusoi girl. He recalled the conversation he had with Chad afterwards, he knew what others thought of him and their relationship. The twisted perversions they accused him of. He sat up on the bed as he looked toward her, “My life has always been full of expectations, then I came across the unexpected. For the first time, it felt that I could see, and what I saw was you.”

She bent over and slid the little table’s drawer open. She rifled through it in silence and came up with a half-rolled up piece of parchment. Turning on her heel, she was back on the edge of the bed in two bounds. She unrolled it and tossed it to him. “I received this from Evander,” she remarked. “He found it inside an idol of Reshta in Thalakos. I’m not sure what it means, but I have my theories and I thought you might know.” Out of habit, she scooted forward a bit, hugging her knee to her chin and looking up at him not quite expectantly.

Ashon looked toward her and the parchment, questioning her meaning before he started to read and make sense of it. A number of the names were familiar, but there were also huusoi and siisoi names on the list. The idea that Reshta, and not Vyshta was the original, but he gathered the meaning, especially noticeable was the interchangeable leg. It was when he got to the bottom, he saw the line through the name Tyrel. a mistake?. The name underneath. He paused a moment as his eyes scanned the document. If this was some sick elaborate joke, it was a good one. However, the worn parchment spoke of its age, or at least poor conditions it had been held in. It took a moment, then he laid back upon the bed, and laughed. The ridiculous absurdity of the situation was far too much, how would one not laugh? Why yes, I did go to introduce myself to my wife at that moment, it just happened to be you and I never knew. He couldn’t help but laugh, the sweet sound of laughter, a joyous laugh.

Penny reached up and flicked some hair from her eyes. She couldn’t help but be influenced - couldn’t help but smile some herself. “Gonna let me in on it, Jammy?” she prodded, scooting a bit closer. “Do you believe I’m a goddess now, and not just metaphorically, or is it ironic laughter?”

He turned toward her, and playfully threw the parchment in her direction, “You were always my Goddess, that was never in question.” His grin was wide, unable to resist the smirk, and wasn’t quite sure how to respond to her question, mulling it over and perhaps answering it a different way. “Perhaps my story needs a correction”. He reached out toward Penny, and pulled her upon him, as he continued to gaze within her eyes. “The day I met you, Penny, it was the moment I was destined to meet my wife. Despite, at that moment, being before the girl who is purported to be that person, my heart was not swayed, and it led me to the true Goddess?” He moved his arms around her waist as he pulled her under the sheets on top of him. “Do you believe in destiny, Penny Pellegrin? Do you believe we were meant to be?”

She didn’t speak. She leaned down to kiss him. Her fingers played across the buttons of her bedgown, and they became connected once again. That was answer enough.




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Event: Arslan-Mercador EEC Trade Company | Location: Ersand'Enise




This is the moment that they had been waiting for as the courtier delivered the parchment. The two girls were already in discussion as the knock of the door came.

Maura held the papers bundled up in their protective cloth as she felt the weight in her hand. “This is too light to be a rejection letter”. Her eyes raise up to look at the other girl, twinkling with excitement.

“Open it then, Hermana She giggled, prodding the wheelchair playfully.

Maura batted the hand away from her chair as she began to unwrap the documents. The stack appeared to been freshly inked and stamped with the thick wax Ersand’Enise seals. The document stacks were being shared between the pair of them as they poured through the text.

“There are some changes but…” ”... it is all here. Signed. They approved it!” The pair of them looked toward each other, and squealed loudly, hugging very tightly.

“Time for Blue Rose…” “Arslan-Mercador Ersand'Enise-Callanst Trade Company” “... Arslan-Mercador Trade Company to begin trading from today!”

With the official go-ahead granted by the council. The girls began putting their hard work and efforts into motion, and with official permits in hand, started to secure the assets, buildings, and locations they require.

“Time to put ink to parchment in Mudville.”







Maura was upon the top of the Schwarze Alice as the Torragonese vessel approached, one of the specifically designed East Callanstman vessels. The ramp was lowered as the girl came on board to meet the captain. The Merchant Prince of the Horseshoe, the one named Edgardo Mercador.

“Papi, it is good to see you.”, the girl rolled up in a cheerful manner. The captain finished his conversation as he came over to lift her up out of the chair, squeezing upon her before delicately placing her back down. Mi Morrita - My little girl, why have you grown so big. Papi’s heart aches with you no longer by my side. We cannot trust these contadores - accountants” Maura returned the hug as she squeezed upon him. Even though it has only been a couple of months since she left home for Ersand’Enise, it has certainly felt like forever that she has seen him.

“You know we cannot afford the Callanst expansion without the continued investment from the Arslan family. They have always rewarded us well for looking over their little Princesa.” She moved her hand upon his as she squeezed upon it. “We have missed you loads too, Papi”

The pair were brought food and drink by the crew on an impromptu arranged table and chairs for them to both sit upon. Edgardo reviewed the papers within his hands, flicking through the copies, including a copy of the deeds for the territories of Longwan Island, and Glaskum Kelp Forest. “You have gone beyond expectations, Morra - kiddo. So much, so fast?” He did raise an eyebrow toward the name, getting further into bed with the lions wasn’t his highest priority, but with recent changes, perhaps it is good timing to relieve further concessions from their coin purse as the new masters of the city, especially as there is a lion on the flag. He held up the cloth which pictures a ship, with a lion on board, sailing to the sun.

Maura simply smiled as she saw how pleased her Papi looked. She had been a good girl all these years, and seeing him smile like this was truly a blessing. “Ersand’Enise has more favourable and neutral trading arrangements, under the protection of the Magi. Our ships should not face the same resistance in the waters.”

Edgardo was still in shock. His little girl had advanced their dream so much in such a little time. Ersand’Enise is truly the place of opportunity. “War is still brewing, not even the Zeno’s would dare to get involved.”

She grinned widely, undeterred by the remark, as she handed over the other package wrapped in a blue cloth. Instead of string, it appears to be the stem of a rose, binding it together. Edgardo regarded her in a suspicious manner as he unwrapped and peeled away the cloth to peer underneath as gold reflected upon his face, realizing, and then covering it again. He spoke quietly toward her, “Is this… what is that flag?” “A ship in every port, Papi.”

The pair embraced once again.

“We shall do as you ask, and establish a foothold in these territories. This time next year, goods from Callanst shall be associated directly with the Mercador name.”







Ayla bought her company portal pass as she waited for the Silk Gate to open. She remembered the first time she came here with Jocasta, and the madness that followed. Now, here she was, her name at the beginning of a trade company she set up with her childhood friend.

The portal opened as Hogh Munkhelad laid before her on the other side. Her task was simple, to go shopping and buy multiple goods to bring through into Ersand’Enise, and see what sells big in the City. Once the city has a taste, to then see what can be then bought in bulk, set up contracts and contacts on the other side, and prepare to send out goods across into the Twin-Continents.

Ayla sets out through the portal, stepping into the Hegelan City of Water, centred in a prime location as this is where the Washawi and Olaxec rivers meet. This is important as the Olaxec, Washawi, and Kuska are parts of the longest river stretch in Callanst, no, Sipenta. The trade here was also rife with goods and services to be bought and sold, and with the portal opportunities, there are very many eager merchants wanting to take advantage of the influx of trade and goods coming from the other side.

Ayla didn’t come alone, but bought a cart of goods from the Twin-Continents from Torragonese Terracotta and Beef, to Vigrandish Pepper, and even Coffee. She brought an arrangement of baked treats from Macaroons and Churros that she baked herself, even some sample of Dorothea’s Spratzmuffins. All in an effort to wet the appetite of Hegalen traders wanting to be the first to bring in goods from the other side.

She went from stall to stall, down the crowded streets as she introduced herself at various shops. Thankfully, she is able to befriend a merchant interested in Torragonese Beef early on, and his son came along to help with the translations in passable Avincian. She is sure that he was ensuring their family got a cut of a finder’s fee, but it did make establishing connections a lot simpler.

It also seemed being short in stature herself helped ease the tensions that might have normally come with trading with humans, as they appeared more at ease with her.

Even amongst the crowds, she noticed familiar faces such as Desmond who appeared to be visiting on business of his own. A mental note to check in with him at an opportunity as well.

The day even more being productive as she brought through goods, from exotic looking trinkets, to more staple Hegalen goods to test the market and attempt to arrange buying in bulk.





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by Stefano Deltori, Head Editor in the Innovators’ Exchange
Zales 15th, DZ54


The Innovators’ Exchange is excited to present this year’s final monthly report on business-related activities from students of Ersand’Enise School of Thaumaturgy and the externalities that may impact the underlined business ventures. As is tradition, the Zales report will present a retrospective of the year, put forward the highlights of the year and their current situation and present our predictions for DZ55.




It has become somewhat of a trend that the beginning of every cohort comes with great potential. However, it is rare that we see this potential shine so bright with promise in the first year! Even as we hit the end of Zales, grand ventures we are keen on analysing are presenting themselves.

Despite this, the start of the school year did not wear such a bright halo. Quite the contrary, expectations of potential trade recessions and wartime economic shifts were all but a guarantee in the author’s opinion, and yet we have no such thing to report on. Although, to cut oneself some slack, a lot of what made this year shine were nigh unpredictable without keen insider knowledge.

Following an extremely heated entrance day that led to massive political fiascos and the assassination of Belzagg’s late Emperor, the grim realities were only exacerbated by the Lorentine Queen Crisis in Dami’s Eye, credited to Traveller agents that have been a big source of uncertainty for large business endeavours. The Northern Seas were also a point of tension with piracy reaching all-time high despite Revidia’s attempts at maritime strangleholds near Segonia with conflict on the horizon.

And of course, let’s not forget Bloody Victendes, leading to the mightiest pillar of Ersand’Enise, Paradigm Hugo Hunghorasz, and the theft of the traditional Victendes (odd pattern, if you ask me!) auction that had never been recovered. All of which culminated in sky-high tensions with the Workmans’ Quarter and the rest of the city. And yet, here we are today with flourishing businesses and high hopes for the future.

With the Trials passing without a hitch (for the most part), it was a relief to many that the summit of world leaders concluded with a cooling of the current Perrench-Revidian conflict, and essentially diffusing powder kegs scattered throughout the Twin Continents. An unexpected surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.

Most importantly, the Silk Portal’s opening has catapulted Ersand’Enise from major trade hub to the world’s unavoidable canal to international trade. If one wishes to create something serious on a scale beyond local, the Silk Portal is a must as we’ve underlined in our Ardanes article.

With that, the land had been tilled and made fertile for small, student-made businesses to grow, some of which boomed! We will see how they are doing today and share our hopes for them in the coming years.








You heard right, one of the most successful business ideas of this year simply involves baking a soft bun that can fit a sausage within itself along with a sauce. How is this possible? Well, it isn’t so much the product (although it definitely helped!) as it is the way they’ve approached it. Kaspar Elstrom is credited with the initial idea, but it is with avid Business Investor Ingrid Penderson that the business took flight.

The method they’ve employed is a simple one: They took Zenobucks’ model and applied it accordingly to their own product. Now, hot, meat meals are available on the go and at convenient locations! I must say, the sauce they use is also something to behold and I am definitely not the only one that thinks it. Nothing indicates any potential drop, although we have yet to see any push for expansion from the group. Perhaps they are taking it slow and playing it safe?



You’ve likely seen that green, almost sassy face on a mug somewhere. Indeed, as we’ve covered Zenobucks more than once in our past articles we had been able to get to know both co-founders, Zarina Al-Nader and Marceline Hohenfelter, and get a better understanding of their revolutionary method of providing both a recently scarce delicacy and making it rapidly available to all. To say they haven’t been of consequence would be pure dishonesty.

However, as they’ve grown to hold over twelve employees and opened multiple outlets, a glaring issue has been remarked by quite a few: Where is the girl on the mugs? She was, after all, at least around from time to time to survey the kiosks and greet customers with a flying blueberry dragon or a monkeybird, but now we’ve only had the most deafening of silences. And with that silence came a slight slowdown in their expansion. Does this warrant worry? We don’t think so. Not yet, anyway.

We reached out to Marceline to better understand the situation with Zarina, however no commentary was made. As of now, we can confirm that she has NOT disappeared and is still attending classes on the regular, but it has become impossible to get a hold of her. Even more so as she’s made a play by purchasing a home by the Godsroad, leading the Innovators’ Exchange to speculate on a potential manoeuvre involving Mudville’s changes and the rapid growth of the city as a whole. But we can only speculate.

One thing is for certain, and is applicable to Mcboller too: Competition is VERY easy to generate with this model. It is important to keep one’s A-game at the risk of succumbing to others' ambitious minds. We believe that the key to success in this case is none other than the Supply Chain. He who controls the mightiest and most convenient Logistics rules this market of easy and accessible delights.



Where does Kaempe Ko Milk come from? Eskand, right? How about Sea Goat Milk? Of course, most of it is from Thalakos and the nearby regions!

Well, think again. Miatto has been the primary producer of the creamy and minty dairy goodness to the growing and popular enterprises in Ersand’Enise. You have a single clergyman to thank for this: Yalen Castel, Lord of his hometown and despite lacking any sort of business acumen has managed to somehow pierce right through the dairy market. A promising opportunity for Miatto as a whole, but will other producers stand idly and late this neophyte take all the glory?





Initially, I had written off BFA as yet another weaponsmith destined to be swallowed by the Virangish and Perrench State-sanctioned beasts, and it was most certainly going to be the case the moment it would gain any sort of traction. However, the Silk Portal has changed everything and the head of the group, Desmond Catulus, seized an opportunity when Hohg Muhnkalad became available by taking a few steps into a big circle.

With a still unknown accord between the smith and undisclosed Hegelan guilds, wealthier individuals can have Mana-infused gear designed and tailored to them through BFA’s connections and know-how. It is reassuring that a human is providing a grounded perspective for customers still completely blind to the customs of the mountain dwellers. High hopes are placed on BFA should this be the direction the group takes.

Zales has brought in an interesting new dynamic, however. With Mudville undergoing considerable changes after the Moli incident, a new challenger steps into the territory and threatens to shake the foundations of the location. Wages are expected to skyrocket and the population to shift with the recent laws regarding land ownership. Will BFA be able to maintain its model in the near future, or concede to the immense amount of money being poured into Mudville?



While officially still an enigma to most, we have reported last month on the various promotions put forward by the singular Vossoriyan student, Yuliya, and concluded that this would indeed be a fashion brand. Additionally, it was made public of Isabella Lowell’s direct involvement and investment in the group.

A considerable amount of money is flowing into this project with job offers already being made to defeat all other wages available to the average Mudville denizen. This is a phenomenon we haven’t yet seen … Anywhere! But we predict an inevitable shift in the existing population, as the existing one will likely be unable to afford the new prices that’ll come with the wage increases. Additionally, it’ll attract more business seeking to capitalise on these virgin grounds. That is to say if the population accepts or lets all of this happen. My money is on, well, the money. From Revidia to Vossriya and back to Perrence, big investors are keen on making this work.

As of now, a raffle is currently underway for Ersand’Enise’s very first Iceberg Party to inaugurate the opening of Pelova Fascino. Make sure to sign up, it is said to be a once in a lifetime experience! And, of course, this humble author must report on it, integrity of our press and all …





The small businesswoman who could, making a name for herself among the established fleets that bloated themselves on the powdered gold. Ingrid Penderson has managed to defy the odds and not only withstand the wave of piracy that has plagued the last decade but also established her niche through networking.

Still, with the advent of portal commerce and accessibility to Callanast made available to some of her peers, it is interesting to see how Ingrid’s Logistics plan will survive the test of time now that we’re seeing a dramatic shift in means of transport and ease of travel through ReTan. Considering Lady Penderson’s inclination to dip herself in many different businesses, she has wisely put her eggs in other baskets. This author hopes that her business acumen remains consistent!





For those aware of Torragonese politics and old names, it’d come as a surprise to see these two names so close together in a business venture. And yet here we are. With Maura Mercador’s acquisition of Longwan, a small island in the middle of the international trading lines, and a sub-maritime vessel, she has capitalised on an opportunity to take international trade by storm with the help of Arslan money and political backing. Indeed, with recent changes in the Torragonese’s monarchy, the Arslan clan fully secured its hold on the economic capital and holds the perfect position to back such an ambitious project.

Still, the Silk Portal remains an omnipresent competitor that bypasses the challenges of travel, but one can also consider the magnitude of goods passing through constantly in this trade route the Arslan-Mercador alliance is trying to build. Besides, nothing stipulates they cannot utilise both means and essentially secure both ‘routes’ according to convenience and urgency.

As of now, the foundations have been laid down but there haven’t been genuine results as of yet, leaving us to withhold on reaching predictions. Although we still ask ourselves if Longwan can be maintained with such traffic planned to go through it? Considerable investment in security and infrastructure is to be considered and perhaps far earlier than they may realize.




The inevitable counterpart to such a massive endeavour. If one side finds such a goldmine, the other will attempt to mirror it rather than innovate. It is, after all, far easier and at the very least ensures this Perrench-owned group keeps up with the Torragonese. Built by de Perpignan alumni (currently in the Tan-Zeno Program), we have yet to see how they intend to match up to the Arslan-Mercador effort. Although some sources speculate there might be some coordination between the groups when it comes to Longwan’s strategic positioning and use.





Looking for someone you’ve lost?
Trying to reconnect with an old flame?
Want a criminal found?

Look no further than Abdel Varga, independent investigator and bounty hunter for petty criminals. He is impossible to miss with his two Skuggvars he drags around when on the prowl (Yes, they do bite). All of his business has been with the Century, however he has informed us when we reached out that he is indeed taking individual jobs as well. Don’t let his age fool you, as he’s one of the scholarship holders of the Tethered Refuge, the same place the entrepreneur Isabelle Lowell hails from. Many golden eggs to be found there to be sure.



Personal portals sanctioned by the school of Ersand’Enise. There is nothing more to say - it’s the most convenient means of travel you’ll ever find. The pricing, however, is considerable. Additionally, it is not a truly independent business, being essentially the school’s operation. But, let’s not forget that she was the one to start it from scratch! Always worth a check if you are in a hurry to go to the other side of the world.







Fellow readers, we finally reach the end of the year, and with that the end of this exciting chapter for the Innovators’ Exchange. With the never-before-seen changes we’ve witnessed and the considerable externalities to consider, we will offer a brief listing of our predictions regarding world economics and the student business in Ersand’Enise:
  • Mudville will experience a massive shift in demographics, potentially leading to unrest.
  • The Traveller will become a more virulent obstacle for growing businesses, especially those interacting with common folks.
  • Traditional trade will become more limited as portals develop. Piracy will consequently dip in activity.
  • Many competitors will imitate the new methods we are seeing, from means of selling to optimising trade routes.
  • The risk of war will emerge later in the year, limiting aggressive pushes to grow and forcing businesses to recoil in anticipation.
  • A shift in worker treatment and prices following social pushes from Traveller-related groups and resentful citizens ousted due to, what we’ve dubbed, “Gentrification” (such as with Mudville).

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Event: Spratz Sisters | Location: Leaky Ladle, Ersand'Enise | Starring: Ayla, Maura @Ti, Dorothea @Jasbraq, Yuliya @Suicharte



It is during the closed hours of the Leaky Ladle as Ayla and Maura finished up some volunteer hours. Whilst the girls have met up a few times, this is going to be the official formation of the little musical group they are putting together. The other two should be arriving shortly as they start to decide on a name, songs, and the theme.


Maura took a hold of the Hang-drum as she began to start playing to set the mood. The instrument sat between her legs as she began to run her hand upon it, tapping with careful precision strikes with a tempo. It rang out with bell-like chimes, accompanied by clapping to give a whole body feeling to the music.

Ayla waved, greeted the other two when they came to the door, supporting to them to settle in and set up as Maura continued her practice. When they eventually settle, it is time for the big announcement. “Tonight, we shall form a music group to rival the Soul Sistas themselves!”

Yuliya had walked in a little bit before Dory, enjoying the drums as she walked in and giving a nod to the two. She took her seat in this rather quaint tavern, a place she was not entirely unfamiliar with, but was still foreign enough to give her some enjoyment. She pulled out the cello she’d bought, the finest one she could get her hands on, with her instruments remaining at home. There was a brief test to make sure it was tuned at her dorm room, but it would more than suit the activities that they’d get up to. “Rival? We prettier. If we play better, we better!” she smugly laughed, standing to take proper position and remembering the days of her childhood where she’d practise every day. It hadn’t been nearly 2 months now, but it felt so long ago she was last there.

Dory was a bit later than expected, having the shamisen she got from the Soul Sistas’s concert. The idea of forming a band was rather exciting, but she was still surprised that Ayla invited her, considering her lack of musical skill. “Do you think we can beat them when it comes down to music?” The girl fidgeted as she looked at the confident looks of the others. “Well, whatever it is, I will do my best!”

Maura finished off her playing as the others arrived and smiled toward them. She saw Dory’s lack of confidence, smirking mischievously. “That is okay, we only invited you because you are pretty~”, as she couldn’t resist the tease. She turned to Yuliya as well, giving a light blush from receiving such a similar compliment from someone as pretty as her, “We expect we will find out soon enough if we are prettier than them.”

Ayla couldn’t resist a friendly giggle as well, “Don’t mind them, we want you to join us as you are my friend. We are here to have fun and share joy through music. Though if things are too bad, we do have a sonic mage.” She winked as she moved behind Dory as she gestured to her to hold upon the Shamisen. “Have you been practising like we have discussed? You should play something for us.”

Dory nodded weakly upon hearing the question. “I have… Although I am not quite sure that I’ve gotten a hang of this Nikanese instrument…” The girl started to put her hands on the strings and tried her hardest to play a couple basic melodies… to mixed results.


Maura clapped her hands as she whooped in encouragement toward Dory, watching the Feskan girl go. Sure, there were some errors, but she had clearly been practising and making good progress. “Tried to get Ayla to convince you to play the Hurdy-Gurdy, great for dancing through a Beerhall with.”

Ayla raised an eyebrow toward Maura, “Shush, she wanted to play the won she won.” as she placed a little over her lips as the other girl rolled her eyes at the gesture.

“We are excited about the Cello. It looks bigger than you, Yuliya!”

She smirked. There was definitely a difference of ability within the group, but after hearing Maura and watching Dory play, she was fairly confident in their ability. She herself knew she’d at least be decent. She’d had some practice with most instruments that could be found on Callanast, but the string instruments of the twin continents were always her favourite. Likewise, she thought of the many fond memories of her mother watching her play, giving her advice, interrupting the tutor. Back when she was a girl with nairy a care in the world.

Truth be told, though, it had been a while since she last played. Maybe a couple of years or so now. But she had briefly practised in her room, and it was like riding a bike again. Turning to acknowledge Maura, she stood up, holding it by the stem and speaking softly before playing. “I’m excite too. I miss playing this.” And so she played. She was quite good, but the lack of practice was evident as sometimes she felt out of key, or missed a string barely with the bow. But with how calm and confident she looked while playing, only a trained musician would be able to tell that she didn’t mean to do those things. After she finished her little solo, she cursed herself out in a language none of them could really comprehend, frustrated with the little mistakes that added up to a failure in her mind.


Ayla watched upon Yuliya as she played, the way she somehow brought brutality to music and played so aggressively was just so raw yet there was something sophisticated about it, as trying to convey it in such an elegant manner. “That is just… wow…”, she moved over as she looked closer at the bow as the horse hair was split and shredded.

“We are going to be Chulo!”, she clapped excitedly. She looked at the girls before her, definitely going to be a group worthy of song and music, “Once we practise together, we would be great.”. Ayla nodded in agreement, “That does leave one very important question, what should we name ourselves?”

Dory thought to herself before realising something. “Those girls from Rettan had a band, didn’t they? They called themselves Soul Sisters if I remember correctly. Maybe we could do something similar.” In deep thought the girl could not find a good name herself.

Maura put her hand to her mouth as she smirked mischievously behind it and attempted to suppress her giggle, “If they were Feskan, they should have been called the Spratz Sisters.”

The Feskan squinted her eyes towards the obvious joke, clapping her hands together and showing a warm smile. ”Oh, what a great name! It rolls off the tongue perfectly. Way to go, Maura!”

Yuli thought about it for a minute. It could work. I mean, they could have gone a direction to differentiate each other from the other band, but it was catchy and the others seemed to like it, so eh, why not? She nodded in approval and spoke “Is it because we’re so sweet?

Ayla giggled at the suggestion, Spratz is addictive and for good reason, with a well-earned reputation. “Looked there are three votes, and now four for that suggestion.” She pulled the other three together to give them a group hug. “Remember to come here every week for group practice. When we perform live, it will be a blast!”

Maura’s mouth dropped open at how it was adopted, and how quickly. She didn’t have the heart to say she was joking now. Besides, there were far worse names. It was simply nice to be with friends. “We’ll be Bach.”

The jam session ended with a final note from Ayla.




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Homeward journey


Dorothea sighed heavily, letter in hand. The journey homeward was not one she particularly wished to partake in, however it is one she must. A pained expression covered the girl’s face. I am not ready for this. I don’t think I’ll ever be. The thoughts of taking a friend with her as emotional support haunt her. She truly would love nothing more than to have a friend with her yet she knew that she’d rather not involve her friends into that pit of problems.

It was still rather concerning that the place of meeting was in Wismar. Usually when Annalie kept it within her own holdings within Forchberg, was this sanctioned by the other houses or perhaps it was nothing more than a trap. The only thing the girl knew for sure was that she could not back out of this whether she wanted to or not. Her family’s reputation relied upon it.



Meeting at the Capital


Upon going through the gates of Wismar, the Kaufmanns himmel, it has been so long since she saw the city that shows both sides of the coin that is her beloved country. The city was truly opulent, showing off its wealth everywhere it could. It also showed off the ugly side, the homes filled with wealthy merchants. Rumors around the merchants have spread towards the main houses that merchants around Dami’s eye will do almost anything for a spot in the city. Selling your soul to demons like the Rednitz just for monetary gain, just thinking of it makes me sick. a weak grin covered Dorothea’s face as she realized the irony in her train of thought.

Heinrichsburg, the palace of the five seats. What a horrid place for a meeting. A sign of the victory of the five ruling houses… However, it is also a reminder of the failure of her own house. It should still be her family’s palace! It should be her palace! Walking past the halls, the walls had memorabilia of her family. Paintings of past rulers, battles fought by Heinrich the Great. It all felt like mockery, how dare they. If it were not for her forefathers the other houses would’ve been nothing more than low Kerreman nobility.

The doors were opened by the Wismarwacht as she approached the chamber of the five, however something was off, there were six seats around the large table. Not only that, only one of the six seats were filled, did the others not arrive yet? “Ah, Lady Hohnstein. It seems that you had a safe trip back to our beautiful city?” The woman in the seat stood up and bowed courteously. A warm smile covering her face. “Or would you rather be called Gräfin now?” Dorothea smiled back, somewhat annoyed by the warm welcome from a woman like her. “It has been quite a while since we met, hasn't it, Herzogin Rednitz?” The girl bowed back. “Herzogin? No, no, I am but a Gräfin this cycle. Alfred Benrath is the herzog now.” Annalie pointed towards one of the seats. “Come now, enough formalities. Sit. We have much to discuss”

Annalie cleared her throat. “My sincerest condolences, Dorothea. I was truly saddened to hear the news of the attack.” The woman put up a face filled with regret. “If my informants were allowed on your father’s lands I might have been able to save them. Now they have fallen victim to the Traveller’s radicalized bandits.” “I’m still surprised there wasn’t an attempt on the other houses.” Dory interrupted. “Ah, now that I think about it it is weird, isn’t it?.” Annalie replied. Dorothea’s expression still looked somewhat saddened but a soft spark of anger lit as she started to put the puzzle pieces together. “I do hope you won’t end up like your father, that would truly be a disgrace to such a historical great family. You show a lot more potential than that coward.” Annalie grinned. Dory gritted her teeth. “I would prefer you not talk about my father like that now that he is no longer among us.” The Rednitz woman looked somewhat surprised by the response the other gave. “Why is that? Did you really revere your father?” “It is because he believed in me, to lead the family-…” Before Dory could even finish her sentence Annalie bursted out in laughter. “You truly think your father had faith in you? The only reason you were still heir was due to your brother revoking his claim onto it.” The words of the woman stabbed deep into the girl’s heart. “What are you saying? My father always showed his utmost love towards me…” Dorothea started to slump into her seat. “Is that how you see it?” Annalie pointed right at Dory. “Then what about your tutors? No true magic tutors, no real others past etiquette, Avincian and our own mother tongue.”

Having enough of the slander Dorothea jumped up from her seat. “You have no right to talk about my family like this!” Annalie’s expression changed to an irritated stare. “Sit down, Dorothea. I do not wish for this to get messy. You can cry about how little people cared about you after we finished our talk.” Dory’s eyes stabbed into Annalie’s. “I have learned quite a bit of languages… and my magic-..” “Ah, but that is because of yourself. Not due to your shameful example of a fath-.” The Hohnstein girl began to draw. “Enough!” The Rednitz woman looked unimpressed. “Sit down, this is your final warning.” The warning was not received by the girl as within moments Flames started to appear… But before the girl could do anything further she was forced on her knees. Annalie stood up and walked towards Dorothea. No matter how much the girl tried to stand up she was kept on her knees.

Annalie Grabbed Dorothea’s chin to force her into facing her. “You’ve shown much potential, yet your obsession with your family gets in the way of achieving greatness.” Dorothea’s eyes burned with maddening anger. “You growl like a rabid hound, but in reality you are nothing more than a pup wishing to be a wolf.” How dare she? How dare she? How in the hells dare she look down on me like this? If she could use her hands she could kill her, if only she could use her hands… The expression on the woman changed to a sadistic grin. “But you will be a well behaving little one, will you not?” The look on Dorothea stayed defiant. Annalie’s face inched closer to Dorothea’s ear. “You know, I know about your little fling with the Kerreman lad. What was his name again? Ah, right… Manfred was it not?” The woman blew into her ear. “It would be a shame if you lost him as well, wouldn’t it?”

Fearful thoughts raced through Dorothea’s mind. She wouldn’t just kill a foreign noble to get her to fall in line would she?... No, no. She definitely would. A woman like this is dangerous enough that even Manfred would not be safe. The fear was enough to cause the girl to nod. “That’s a first step, I’ll bring up to greatness yet.” With that the woman walked back to her seat, letting her grasp of the girl go. “Now that that’s settled, there is something I wish to discuss with you.” Annalie paused. “Do you not hate the fact that your house is one of the major houses yet does not get to decide anything? Does the fact that these incompetent fools run the country not anger you?” Dorothea looked hesitant to speak up. “I believe that the five houses have been overall a detriment to Feska…” “Then how would you feel about the Hohnsteins, or rather you taking a seat as one of the five houses?” With that one of the seats fell to the ground. “Then what would the other houses say?...” Dorothea was still unsure to agree. “In that case… We just get rid of those as well.” The other seats fell down one by one until the two occupied seats remained. “If they refuse to accept you then I will make sure we will be all that remains.” Annalie grinned. “But does that not sound so bad, now does it? Two houses instead of five in charge? No longer cycling the title of Herzog, just the two that share the title.” The Rednitz woman opened up her arms with a warm smile. This has to be a trap. “Will the other countries not intervene with a powergrasp like this?” The girl questioned the idea the other had. “No, not really. As long as we keep the trade flowing they do not care.” Annalie stood up triumphantly. “Now, will you join me in the making of a new age of our beloved Feska?” Dorothea nodded before standing up herself. “I will be a part of the new age of our beloved Feska.” After quite a hefty discussion between the two the plan was set in motion and Dorothea returned to her home at Linthlan.



Sorrows


Walking around her home gave her mixed feelings. On one hand it is still her home, the place she grew up in… but it is also a lot more quiet than she was used to. Out of curiosity the girl explored the rooms she never truly got to enter before. The room of her father was ransacked. The effort was made to make it look somewhat presentable, however it was obvious to the girl that something happened here. The pain from seeing her father’s room turned into something more akin to boiling anger as she entered her mother’s old room. Empty, it was as empty as could be. Did she know this would’ve happened and went back to those dirty Herbeumonts?

Then her brother’s room. Floris was always the goofy type, a child that never wished for the burden of ruling. To think they could take the life of such an innocent child. After looking around she stumbled upon a letter, did he mean to send a letter out before the attack happened? Filled with curiosity she opened the letter and noticed that it was addressed to her.


Dear Sister,

If you read this I will most likely have been gone for a while. Seeing how you are, you must have been sulky in my room. Well I have something to tell you if that is the case. First, don’t look too deep into my room! It is not yours even if I may be gone! And second, please don’t be too sad. I will still be able to see the incredible things you can do even if I won’t be with you anymore.

The reins of the family will be in your hands if my fears are true. But do not fret, you have enough people to push you forward. It is okay to ask for their help from time to time, you know?

We will meet again when your time comes, although I do not hope for a reunion before you can brag about all the great things you’ve done in life.

The best brother,
Floris.




Tears began to drip off the girl’s cheeks. “Floris.. You dummkopf… You should’ve said that with your voice, not with written words. I am not ready for this... Ich vermisse dich so sehr....”





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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Tackytaff
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Interlude II - A Year in Passing


Silas didn’t think it possible, but the following semesters were busier than even his first; desert excursions to dragon battles notwithstanding. Ahora was stubbornly good on her word for tutoring, to the point where her visits were met with nearly as much dread as excitement. But progress was made, only for more more work found awaiting Silas on the opposite side of literacy. He was behind. Well behind, as most of his Zenos were more than happy to remind him on a daily basis, along with diatribes of his good fortune for admittance and continued enrollment at the academy at all. As though the victory he’d carried through the trials had meant nothing.

In truth there were multiple diversions that kept Silas from focusing on studies. His extra-curricular activities found a sharp increase, along with a sudden change of direction in the new year. Not that his old habits could be entirely shaken. Before Caldares had chance to arrive, Silas had freed many possessions from his classmates.

Yuliya and Desmond had both been hit within the same week, the former as pre-work for Nox Arcanum, and the latter as pay off for the distraction that came the night of.







The empty plot that had held Moli’s for so many years was bought up by some wealthy noble who had sought to buy up and push out a third of Mudville. His ill-gone visit with Bianca had taught Silas that his home had already been lost to him once; when he’d run and not looked back. But too lose it again, have it reformed to serve the aristocratic class that had stepped on them for too long proved too much to bear. The Mud Rats hadn’t started as a movement, or even real group. First it had just been Silas, reunited with Ishto and a few other old friends, bitter and angry about the injustice done to them by the city, Moli, and just about anyone else who wasn’t them. They spent nights camping out the Mudville docks, relieving ships of construction supply deliveries as soon as they made it ashore. The deal struck with Desmond showed the first real increase in their efforts, but as the weeks went on, and more of the citizens of Mudville found themselves pushed or priced out of the only home they’d ever known, the rag-tag group’s numbers grew. Eventually it became rare for a night to pass where more work wasn’t undone than had been completed the day before on the newly funded-projects.

He may have been burning the candle at more ends than he had to light, but nodding off in class wasn’t such a problem when the teachers weren't expecting to see your eyes anyways.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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"Ah yes, Ersand'Enise!" exclaimed Count István, as if finally recalling something obscure. Yeah, Ersand Enise: that totally unremarkable place that's only the literal center of magic for the entire world, Rikard thought to himself. He pretended to have dropped something just so he could lean away and roll his eyes grandly. Lujza caught them and grinned. Rikard couldn't help but smile back. "I remember my time there," the count was going on, "They used to call me 'The Ace', haha!"

"Riki!" scolded the boy's mother from a few seats away. She was clucking with the other hens over there, or that's how Uncle Miklós would say it. "Riki, stop feeding the dog."

"I wasn't," the preteen answered sullenly, but then there was a glare from his father. "Well, maybe a bit," he falsely admitted, just to be done with it. "Sorry." He cast his eyes down. Sure enough, there was Büdös, staring up at him with big eyes. Now he actually wanted to feed the old hound. "He's well-fed enough already, Oruf knows," said father. Rikard turned his eyes back to the table and endured. At least the food was good. They'd pulled out all of the stops for the Count's visit, even varnishing the wood floors and hiring a few of the tenants to play the role of full-time servants, temporarily. They'd even gotten Márta, the miller's wife, to help with the food.

"So, Rikard," inquired the count, "How do you feel, being student at Ersand'Enise?"

The youth blinked. What a stupid question. "I guess I'll tell you when I get there." He shrugged, managing to keep most of the mockery from his tone. For a moment, the table fell silent. A couple pairs of eyes slid towards Count István or Rikard, in anticipatory horror. Then, the fat man burst out in a laugh. "Hah!" he barked, "Hahaaa! Truly spoken." He skewered another chunk of pheasant with his fork. "Trust you me, lad. It's like no place else, and I was happy to help out with the transportation." He shook his head. "Our very own local prodigy." - Here it comes, thought the boy - "Though I'd expect nothing less from the line of the paradigm himself, Esziram rest him." And there it goes. István made the sign of the Pentad. Rikard managed to mimic the gesture. He'd have rather been practicing his most recent new spell down behind the old stables where he'd set up a testing range, or in the village proper with Oszkár, Pál, and Zsazsa. However, this was a small price to pay, he'd been reminding himself, for the brand new robes the count had paid for, and for the passage chartered on a rather nice galleon. He'd been to the city and met with the tailor, and they'd been of a mind on the design. He looked, for the first time, a real thaumaturge and had been trying to balance his desire to wear the coolest clothes ever with the necessity of not wearing them out and arriving to the academy in threadbare robes.

Rikard schooled himself to act the part of the young gentleman for the remainder of the luncheon, for he owed the count that much, in truth. The adults continued to talk for long afterwards, resting their hands on their big bellies and discussing matters of business and state. He would not have to worry about those, he was glad. He would be a Zeno. He'd already decided it. Magic would be his purpose and he wouldn't have to worry much about people. Before long, he, Lujza, and Vendel had been allowed to wander off. "Okay, but lightning's too fast to sense," the lone girl among them was insisting, "So I don't see how you could shape or guide it."

"Well yeah," Rikard admitted. People had told him this before. He understood the sense behind it even if it didn't match his experiences. He could guide it just fine. "You just need to set up charges first," he explained, covering for himself. "and then it's all planning and reflexes."

"Or you're just the chosen one," Vendel teased. "The saviour of his people!" Lujza giggled. "Hugo fuckin' Hunghorasz himself," Rikard concluded, knowing where this was headed.

"All hail!"

"Praise be!"

"Finally, he accepts his destiny."

"You guys can stop anytime now," Rikard groaned.

"As you command, Paradigm."

He shot out a tiny spark of electricity and zapped her for the comment. Lujza yelped and shot a playful glare his way. "Don't you fuckin' dare!" Vendel warned but, soon, he too was running. One last day, Rikard knew, with his brother and sister, with his friends. Then, tomorrow, as the morning dew still lay on the grass and Ipti gave way to Szun, a coach would pick him up and he'd be headed into Peskor. It'd be scarce more than a week and he'd be in Ersand'Enise.


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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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She was a girl, by the roadside, with a guitar slung over one shoulder, and a travel sack over the other. Kaureerah walked along under the early afternoon sun, a gentle breeze pushing puffy white clouds across the sky and causing the ocean to sigh and crash in the near distance. Carts clattered by along the Godsroad, and others walked it as she did. She twisted about for each, offering a smile and a wave or an extended thumb in hopes of catching a ride into the city. Down by the water, it was not quite warm enough yet for people to frolic among the waves, but that time was drawing near and she was glad of it. She had been a lonely eeaiko in there these past few months, all by herself.

In truth, it was probably still too cold for her present attire: a long, tasseled poncho, seasilk hose, and the sturdy leather boots that had carried her across a good portion of the Twin Continents. She'd been excited, though. The wind bit at her bare arms and caused her light, downy hair to stir like sea snakes about her head, but then came the sun, warming her, and Kaureerah was happy. She unslung her guitar and began to pluck idly at the strings, the beginnings of a song coming to her. She began to strum and hum and the people who always spared her at least a second glance - for many might see an eeaiko only a handful of times in their lives - began to take an extended interest. Then, the song was there, and she poured her particular brand of magic into it.

"Hello, Missus Sun, it's nice to see you here.
The world's just not the same without your light, I fear.

For when you glow, my spirit sings,
My eyes are bright with happy things.

The road that I walk is dappled and it's bright.
My worries and my fears fade back into the night.

For when you glow, my spirit sings,
My eyes are bright with happy things.

There are so many more who feel the way I do.
They walk along this road and they walk with me and you.

And when you glow, our spirits sing,
Our eyes shine bright like anything!
I hope you'd like to stay awhile,
And make these many people smile.

Missus Sunnnn!"


She strummed a big flourishing outro, spinning a complete three-sixty on her heel. That was when she noticed the chorus following her: a dozen or so people humming along, dancing, and snapping their fingers. "Ooh!" she exclaimed. "Thenk yoo, frens! Thenk yoo!" She blinked, bemused but pleased, and bowed. This seemed to happen from time to time: her music connected with people in an odd, welcome, and very intense way. It seemed warmer outside too, and even more so as a handful offered her coins. "You are a very talented young lady," one old woman assured her. "Almost made me want to go to work!" laughed a man, and Kaureerah blushed fiercely. "Almost," he assured her, and she snorted in laughter. "Noo mejeec es thet stroon, huh?"

"Sadly not," commiserated a young woman behind her, and the eeaiko twisted and smiled.

"Well, if you crack the case," another man - a yasoi - assured her, "You'll be a rich woman - 'least by yanii reckoning."

"Where ya headed anyway?" asked the young woman, twirling a little sack around her pointer by its string.

Kaureerah took a deep breath and smiled, ear to ear. "I cennaut beleev et," she admitted, "Baut te beeg peepool aut te Ecedemee hauv enveeted mee theer." She glanced up at the sky, still not quite believing it, but it was real. She was no more than two minutes from the gates and there was a goodly lineup. She came to a stop at the end of it, along with a few others. "Eye praumeess te Goods en te Aunceesters Eye well doo tem praud."


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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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It was dark and still in San Agustin de las Arenas. Scarcely a lick of wind could be found, nor a solitary cloud in the sky. Still, the palms whispered in the night. A spider spun its web silently amid the spines of a cactus. A scorpion made its way across an adobe wall. Then, a voice! It froze.

“Ricardo!” came the whisper: a hiss piercing the veil of quiet that hung over this place during the Hours of Ipte. It was Laelle. “Ricardo!” The scorpion skittered away.

A door squealed in high-pitched protest and a boy of about eleven peered out through it. “Ugh,” he groaned, rubbing at his eyes. “What?” Yet, he was alert, despite his show of annoyance: alert and ready to act.

“Did you feel it!?” Laelle demanded, her bright reddish hair thrown into a hasty ponytail. “The weird energy!”

He regarded her strangely.

“Reach out now: before it fades! It’s like what Jocasta and the Duke and those other guys used last year!”

Ricardo did as she asked, leaning on the doorframe, brow furrowed. Then, his eyes widened. “Whoa,” he exclaimed, “You’re right!”

She placed a finger forcefully to her lips and he made an unhappy face. “We don’t want people to panic, okay?”

“Yeah, but they should know!

Laelle shook her head. “They do,” she assured her slightly younger counterpart. “At least the Afortunado. I can feel them waking up. They’ll defend us if we need it.”

“You think it’s like… bad news?” the boy questioned anxiously, rolling a marble back and forth in his free hand, and the girl shrugged. “Hard to say,” she admitted. “I just wanted you to know and be ready.”

He didn’t seem quite sure what to make of that, but he thanked her. She moved on quickly to wake Amaya next, but the girl was already up and fitting an oversized hat to her head as Laelle crept up. The tethering had passed her ankles now and she was not exactly a silent mover.

“I knew they’d be coming for us,” the younger girl announced, doing up the straps on her ankle braces. “Ever since the king killed Duke Frannemas.” She shook her head, rising. “I knew it.”




Someone - or rather a group of someones - had indeed come for them, but they did not bring a threat. By the time that the six students from Ersand’Enise slipped in through the hidden gate behind the Red Tower, it was clear that the entire refuge knew of their arrival. For all that the Zenith was a truly eminent magus, she perhaps didn’t quite understand the full strengths of tethered. That, or she did not care.

Jocasta rolled silently through the halls of the place where she had spent about half of her remembered life: a place that still appeared regularly in dreams, but less so in nightmares than it once had. “Adorable little shits,” she whispered to the others who had come with her. “They’re all pretending to be asleep, but any half-decent chem or arcane can sense that they’re all alert.”

“Imagine sneaking up on tethered.” Isabella rolled her eyes, coasting along behind Jocasta. She was less garishly dressed than usual.

Marci snorted, glancing at Yalen and Jocasta. “Fear us,” she half-joked, but it was clear that she was anxious and trying to distract herself. Not a single one of them knew exactly why they had been summoned, not even Jocasta - a Tan-Zeno, now.

Then, they were at the lift and a single gas lantern flickered in the predawn gloom. A lizard, high up on the wall, shifted its oversized eyes to look their way and, deciding that they weren’t a threat, decided to stay put. The sextet rose, casting about with their magical senses and whispering amongst themselves. The lift creaked to a stop and its doors rattled open. A long colonnade stretched before them, a couple of lanterns dimly lighting their way. At the end was the room that had once belonged to Tavio Ortega. It was now Manuel Escarra’s.

A cool lick of wind filtered through the pillars and stirred the leaves of a potted palm, but nobody emerged as they drew nearer. There was, in fact, no sign of life whatsoever. Seated behind a desk inside, however, was the distinct energy signature of a human figure, waiting for them.

Striking out ahead of the group, forcing them to either keep up or slow her, was Marceline. The double doors were unlocked. She pushed them open, words already forming on her lips. Questions for her grandfather: the warden. Only… he wasn’t there.

Instead, it was Amanda. Marci skidded to a halt. Jocasta did a double take. The woman who had been so frail the last time that they’d seen her - great in spirit but on the verge of death - appeared… revitalized. Her elbows rested on the desktop, fingers threaded together and not in the limp sense that they did when she used magic to control them. Her arms were thick and full, her posture healthy. “Friends,” she greeted them. “It is ever so good to see you, but I would ask that we all keep our voices down during this reunion if we might.”

Marci stared at her mother, disbelieving, and Amanda’s eyes flicked up and down the youth as well. “...Mom?”

Amanda nodded.

“Mom how!?” Marci demanded, rushing forward, and perhaps her speed caught Amanda by surprise.

“It was just like you said: white aberrations, mija.” She backed away from the desk, ‘on two’, no different from Jocasta and Isabella, and embraced her daughter. “I was on the brink. Almost choked in my sleep three months ago, just after your Caldores visit. I’d made my peace with Lady Ejerran. Then, a few big ones appeared. We tried to treat as many of us as we could, but those of us ‘on zero’ took priority, for obvious reasons.” She released Marci and regarded the others. “So here I am, with a second lease on life.” Jocasta was rushing forward too, positively unreserved, Isabella also a victim of that same joyous disbelief. “I had always intended to surprise you,” Amanda admitted, hugging Jocasta as well, and then any others who cared for a similar embrace. When they were done, she motioned them away from the desk and all seven of them proceeded through the double doors. “Might we walk and talk? ” the oldest of them prodded. “I find myself very eager to be on the move these days. I spent five years sitting there like a piece of furniture, you know.”

There were no objections raised and, if there had been, she’d have disregarded them anyhow. Then, it was Marceline who spoke. “Umm… say, Mom?”

“Mmmhm, Marci?”

“Where is abuelo?”

For a moment, Amanda didn’t speak. She merely coasted along at the head of the group as eyes wandered across the refuge in the minutes before the sun’s light first started to make itself known upon the horizon. Then, her hands took hold of her wheels and scrubbed what momentum they had. In an instant she turned. “That is part of the reason you have been called here,” she admitted. “Something strange has happened.”

Marci’s face became a mask of alarm, but her mother held up a hand to forestall any comment. “He is okay, so far as I know. He is out right now, investigating the… occurrence.”

“Occurrence?” demanded Jocasta. “What kind of occurrence? His letter contained next to nothing!”

“Chela,” the older woman chided, “You know I would’ve told you if I could’ve. Lower your voice, I pray.”

Jocasta swallowed and nodded. “Right. Sorry.”

The unmistakable feel of a sonic dampening bubble took hold around them, and Amanda regarded those gathered. “One week ago, Warden Escarra was out on patrol. He likes to join them once a month, as if he’s still a ranger.” She set her hands upon her wheels, nervously, as if about to start pacing as Jocasta often did, but then she seemed to think better of it. “Things have been tense these past few months, since the good duke died. Sancho has been eyeing this land for reasons unknown and there is every chance he will disband this refuge. We continue to exist in a sort of legal limbo, though we are, de facto, an independent state. This is a guarded independence. We are strong. We have been scaring interlopers off with the advantage of our range, but they are many and we are…” She reached up, momentarily, to brush some stray hair from her face, and shrugged. “Few, as you know.” Amanda pursed her lips. “There are a couple areas within a day’s ride or less from us that may be used as staging for these sorts of assaults. One of them is the cliffs that you can see from the walls, and the other is the lost city of Zarfan, in la Garganta del Ejerran. So, we patrol them.” Now, she began pacing, and the others fidgeted in restless response.

“So, what did he find?” Jocasta prodded, and Amanda shook her head. “We aren’t quite sure, but it’s activity: there in the lost city.” She regarded them steadily. “You were all there last year, I believe, at least briefly. It is a strange, haunted place,” she warned, shaking her head. “Many of the people of this land maintain it is filled with the spirits of Zaqhory murdered in the conquest. Others say it is the haunt of bandits, or has been taken over by demons, or is perhaps home to a vast colony of sand wyrms or even something worse.” She came to a stop, resting her hands on her wheels and gripping them tightly enough that her knuckles showed white. “I do not know which - if any - of these is truth, but the Warden found activity when he went there: he and the two Afortunado - Oscar, whom you know, and the youngest one, Laelle, who I believe you also know - sensed movement inside and… something like people, they said: people or monsters. The Warden returned those two to the refuge and set out with most of our rangers. We are vulnerable right now should we face an attack, but this bore investigating. To my knowledge, that is where he is right now. You’ve been called here for two reasons: to join him in investigating and to help guard this place while the rangers are away.” Her speech concluded, she regarded them all with a sense of grave purpose. “So long as you are willing.”



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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by McKennaJ71
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Niallus Saberhagen







As life for the school was coming to an end for this year. Students already set off on their own little journeys during these months until school started once again. The time had come for Niallus to spend some time back home. He said his farewells to his friends. While getting himself ready he felt a sense of joy, just from the things he had done in the short time from coming to Ersand'Enise. He said goodbye to a few others who were still around, saying he'll see them all in the next school year.

As he was about to set off from his dorm. Waiting for him was Ingrid, wanting to spend some time with him before he uses the portal to travel to Meldheim in Eskand. At this point I don't think they cared about keeping their relationship a secret. As they got to the portal to take Niallus home, Ingrid didn't want him to leave, holding onto his hand. He reassured her that he'd come back to her. This seems to put her mind at ease. Just before stepping through the portal, he hands Ingrid a small box, curious what it is, she opens it. Inside was a pendant with an amethyst at its centre. Ingrid's light up with joy, she looked so happy by how lovely it looked. Wasting little time, she takes it out of the box to immediately put it on. She gives him a parting gift too, a nice lovely crafted dagger, to help keep him safe. Attached to the hilt was a note. Ingrid told him that the dagger will keep him safe until he comes back and to read that note once he's home. Niallus was happy about his gift, so after one last hug and a kiss he stepped through the portal back to Eskand.

While coming through the portal in Meldheim, he was greeted by some people who worked at his family estate, as they were here to pick him up, under the order of his grandfather. As the carriage got closer, he could see his family estate, from looking out one of the windows. It had been a few months since he left home. Nothing much had really changed, but he had changed himself. Reunited with his Eskandish friends Sven, Marlijn and Owain. Rekindling his friendship with his childhood friend Ingrid, who he is now dating. Even made some new friends. Had some crazy adventures that he could tell his grandfather when sees him. As the carriage came to a stop, some workers opened the door for him to get out. A few soldiers that have been trained by his family in combat, then again even though Niallus family is small, the amount of soldiers that they train makes up for it. Even some of the other Noble families hired them to help with escorts and just as bodyguards. Amongst the soldiers to greet him was his Grandfather.

After spending some time with his grandfather, sparring with some of the soldiers. Some didn't think much of him. Niallus went to his room to relax, greeting some of the servants as he walked past them. Inside his room, he opened up the letter that Ingrid gave him. All it said was to arrive at the hot spring that was half a day's journey from his family's estate. It even had a date on it of when he should leave, which was set a month from now. It even had how long he'd be there.

Until then he divided up his time. From sparring with the new recruits to help train them. The other part of his time, he was being trained by his grandfather on how to use dark magic. There was a catch however, since his grandfather was getting on in life, he would only be able to teach him the basics on how to draw from the void. Learning how to draw in theory seemed simple, but applying in practice was a different matter. A month almost passed, he slowly started to get the hang of it. But he needed to have a break, luckily the time he was supposed to meet Ingrid.

While spending time with Ingrid at the hot spring. They were able to be themselves, a couple. People often asked if they were together, they didn't seem to mind letting strangers know they were. They seemed to enjoy the days together. But sadly the time came where Niallus and Ingrid had to part ways once more.

When Niallus returned home his Grandfather was suspicious at first but considering how hard he was training to get this done, he didn't mind the boy wanting to get away and relax. Niallus went back to training feeling more energised with his training.

The second month seems to pass, watching his Grandfather train some recruits, while he trained with them. Throughout that time Niallus got a bit taller, making him about 6'5. He didn't even notice at first, until someone mentioned it. With only days left before he had to head back to Ersand'Enise for school, Niallus managed to get the basics for Dark magic done. With that being said, Niallus bid farewell to his Grandfather for now, and returned to Ersand'Enise.

Once back at Ersand'Enise, meeting a few of his friends. Once he got settled back, since he never told Ingrid that he came back, he figured to surprise her. Niallus found Ingrid in the library, with a pile of books around her, lost in her own world. Eventually she sees Niallus, with sheer joy she runs up to him giving him a hug and a kiss, his height wasn't noticeable throughout his time away, but when standing in front of Ingrid he's roughly the same height as her. Didn't matter that she welcomed him back with another kiss and hug and suggested that they should go to Zenobucks.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Ti
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Event: Coldfire Training | Location: Zenobucks HQ, Zazzy's Dorm Room | Starring: Ayla @Ti, Dorothea @Jasbraq, Zarina @Yummyyummy




It is time for class! The girls made their way to Zenobucks headquarters, also known as Zarina’s dorm. They found a cool corner within the room which was converted into a make-shift classroom. There are plenty of pots ready for boiling on the side and available for practice.

Ayla was excited to find out more about her family history as well, the fact the book was apparently written by her great-great-great… grandmother was certainly a big thing and she hoped to examine it more. She went toward the front to help herself to an ‘Ayla’, preparing one for Dory and Zazzy for when they turned up.

It was a MESS. Monkeybirds were waddling about, chanting tunes and repeating words they had just learned like human toddlers, albeit with an avian pitch and often a lack of context understanding. However …

“Squawwk! Kitty cat! Kitty cat! Cooking cat!” called out Nehk-butt, the most social of the Monkeybirds and definitely understood what she was saying. She slapped her dragged towel onto the wooden floor as she called out, “Yes, that is kitty cat, Nekkie. Here.” a small bowl with a piece of pork was served, and the bird eagerly dug in. Zarina then set her hands on her hips and addressed Ayla, “Ready to learn? Where’s your friend, Dory?” she asked while tidying up the remaining planks of woods that were to be placed next to the pots.

Dory huffed and puffed as they finally found the dorm she was going to meet. ” I’m right here. Sorry if I’m late, I had to do a little errand,” The girl smiled towards the others before jumping on Ayla. “Ready to learn, Ayla?”

Ayla was caught off-guard as Dory pounced upon her. She stretched open her arms as she happily received the girl, and brought her in for a hug. “Hola Dorada!”, and pecked her friend upon the cheek, giggling in excitement of the moment. As Dory resumed her proper position, she turned to Zazzy, “We should be ready now. Now show us the book.”, stretched her arms out toward her in that teasing ‘give me’ manner. In the moments where Zarina busied herself with the preparation, she turned toward Nekkie, “Hola soy Kitty Cat, what is your name?”, and leant forward to pet the Monkeybird as it enjoyed its pork treat.

“Kitty cat! Kitty cat! It’s a Kitty cat!” repeated the avian, flailing her arms in excitement when Ayla gave her attention. Clearly she didn’t truly understand speech yet and merely repeated terms that were triggered by certain things, such as Zarina educating the bird on Ayla being Kitty Cat, “Kitty cat! Dewie! Kitty Cat!” she raised the ‘dewie’ which happened to be her old, used towel she dragged around.

Zarina emerged from her bedroom where the Froabas eggs remained under the sun, “Yeah, got it.” she waved the booklet in her hand and posed it on the main table by the large Mammoth wool bed sprawled in the living room. Both girls could freely take a gander, “Dory, welcome.” Zazzy gestured toward a chair, inviting her guest to sit, “Nekkie! Not on the table.” she shot her index finger right at the bird, causing the hyperactive Nehk-butt to freeze and then waddle away.

Ayla giggled at the sight of Mother Zarina with her Monkeybird children, standing up to greet her friend warmly as she gave her a hug. “Enjoying motherhood?”, she smirked wide as she moved upon her tip-toes to give the tall girl a peck upon her jaw. Zarina’s lips puckered up, and her eyebrows cocked, “Y’know, I’m never going to judge housewives ever again.” Ayla then snatched the booklet from the table with a twirl as she moved over to the seat again as she pulled the old letter from her bag as she brought it side-by-side to inspect the hand-writing. “They look pretty similar, we think”, she held the documents together and squinted, “Could be the real thing. Now we are even more excited to learn.”

With the booklet on display, they look at the various diagrams. The strangest concept was that the base ingredient was water to create fire, or specifically, causing it to erupt into flame without the use of arcane magic. The result is a blue flame which appears invisible in daylight.

”Water to make fire? The only thing close to something like that that I can think of is steam… but steam is nowhere near fire.” Dory rubbed her chin as she tried to make sense of said concept. ”Do excuse me if it will take me a while to get the basic of the spell right.”

The animals were eventually dismissed into Zarina’s bedroom as they were about to do a few experiments, some of which could harm the critters. The hen of the coop sighed in anticipation for the later hours where the room would need to be completely cleaned in order to be remotely habitable. She joined the two and sat on a chair in reverse, arms crossed and her chin over her forearms, “It’s, like,” she addressed Dory’s concern, “you transform the water into something that can catch fire, and the specific method makes it invisible, and kinda ‘cold’, I suppose.” Zarina pointed toward a small splinter of wood, and suddenly it began to evaporate.

“So, does the booklet have your blessing, O’ heir of Hetraxa?” Zazzy smirked over at Ayla, “The spell doesn’t work too well when there’s too much water, however. It still needs to heat up a little and water doesn’t actually ‘burn’.”

Ayla studied it further to understand it better, “It is more… you are burning water without using heat.” She pointed to a diagram of a triangle which shows the fundamentals of fire being Heat, Air, and Fuel. “So this is conventional thinking and this makes sense, right? You set something alight, like wood, and it burns. It doesn’t burn when in water instead of air.” She points to the other side of the page, “This spell completely takes this idea to the next level. It turns water into self-reactive air, which creates an Air which burns itself like a fuel which creates the heat and fire.”. She pours further through the pages, “It is self-containing. So the fire only lasts as long as it is cast. Obviously, if you do it at something flammable, that would cause a secondary fire.”

She closes the booklet as she put it down, “It does make sense… during the Attack on Red River, the accounts report how she turned the sea into fire and burnt the Zaqhorian fleet to ashes. It sounded cool when we were young, a pretty tale but clearly not possible, right?” She pat upon the booklet in a knowing manner, “Perhaps she actually did it after all.”

“This spell really is that powerful? To reduce a whole fleet to ashes…” The Feskan began to let her mind drift with the information presented. “So this is more similar to the touch of corruption spell we learned in the Chemical classes, is it not? Although this one feels more specialized. I am interested to see how far the Arcane school can push this spell further.” It seems as if the moment she could relate the process to something more familiar, she instantly got more excited about it.

Ayla paused for a moment as she considered it. “Why… yes, it is a lot like Touch of Corruption! We didn’t think of it that way, but you got it spot on. It turns the water into a reactive gaseous acid which spontaneously combusts. You are a genius, Dory! Perhaps that is the missing link in this unorthodox thinking.” She laughed loud and happily, and hugged the girl next to her.

Zarina’s gaze shifted between the two girls, lagging a bit behind when it came to all this brain work, “Yeah, that.” she wagged her finger toward Dory and forced a confident smile, “Sounds like you ladies are catching on quick. Good, less work for me~” with that same finger, she tugged the booklet closer to take another gander at it, “... What’s the touch of corruption again?”

The girls started to explore the finer aspects of the magic through the best method possible, practice. It was slow-going at first, especially as the temptation to use arcane to heat up the water was overwhelming. “No, don’t try to burn the water.” “But wouldn’t that make it easier?”. What made it even confusing was how the flame was invisible, and that took longer than expected to notice, as the girls weren’t thinking to account for it. After getting used to spell and seeing it in action, they start to experiment, coming up with new and creative ways.

The pots were coming to a nice boil as the blue flame sat upon the surface of the water, bringing it to the ideal temperature for coffee. Not only they practised for strength, but for control, being able to keep it stable and holding. Zarina rewarded the pair, not with an Ayla, but the Spratz Queen herself brought them all a special treat to go with the beverage.

“The Spratz certainly makes the bitterness of the coffee flow like silk.” Ayla nursed the cup in her hand after the long day they have spent getting the basics of it this far. “Right?” Zazzy was indulging in moderation - a first for those who hadn’t noticed her drop addiction-caused drinking. Had she gotten over it somehow? “The stuff’s still hard to sell ‘cause of the price. Literally selling our souls for this.” she gave a judgemental but clearly exaggerated and humorous glare toward Dory, the Spratz trader herself. Dory smirked in a rather smug manner. "Something so delectable should come with its fair price, no?" The Feskan shrugged as she thought more on that question. "Not really something I can change as I am now." She sipped upon the cup in a refined manner.

Now, it was practise, practise, practise, in their free time for the girls to perfect it.





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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Sweat.

That was what made a great mage. Rikard's father was not a great mage. Had he been born a Hunghorasz instead of an Ambrus, he likely would have been an embarrassment to his storied bloodlines. This was not a problem that Rikard suffered from. He put in the work.

It was 3:30 in the Hours of Dami and he stood perched atop the parapets of Fieldgate Tower, a pencil clenched between his teeth, flipping through a booklet. Then, he found it and began writing:

Tellos 23, DZ55: Revised Hypothesis 11 12

This isn't Atomic magic, not exactly. There's no direct heat and the radiation doesn't seem to be destructive. The phenomenon should fall under magnetic, firmly, I believe. Current working idea is that the rays act similarly to that thermal spell. They excite matter and cause rapid movement of its constituent parts. This naturally generates frictive motion and, hence, heat.


The rays, however, didn't appear to have unlimited range or power. Depending on how much he poured into them, they could pierce perhaps a few inches. Why, then, were the inner reaches of larger things often hot? Rikard wasn't sure. A mystery is just a question that doesn't have an answer... yet, the young thaumaturge reminded himself. Soon it will, though. I'll bust this one open too. He hadn't been idle. He'd been actively experimenting, inventing, reinventing, refining, and revising theories and techniques. It was likely just a form of heat transfer, but he had to be diligent. Everything - everything - in the known universe had a mechanism, and it was his job, as a mage and a scientist, to find those and bring them to light. While it was true that there were many who were content to treat magic as some inexplicable force that simply worked because the gods said so, they were lazy and, when they spouted such gaff as if it were fact, they became something quite a bit worse: in a word, morons. No matter how high their RAS levels, they would never achieve all that much with magic. Hence, sweat. He'd scarcely known the ancient Paradigm - that colossal figure of magic with whom he shared an ancestry and a resemblance - but one of their couple of meetings had led to a conversation and the primacy of relentless observation and experimentation, the necessity of constant learning had been branded into a then eleven-year-old Rikard.




So, he stood here, high above most of the city, thaumaturgical robes fluttering in the nighttime breeze, and drew with an almost maniacal intensity from the energies about him, building an immense charge, controlling it, intensifying it, splitting it! The steeple of this old church had the unique misfortune of being constructed with a hollow metallic cap and, through previous experimentation and deductive reasoning, Rikard had correctly recognized that metal seemed to have the ability to deflect these unusual rays.

Sorry, Shune, but I'm doing this for SCIENCE, the youth thought. Of all the Pentad, I suppose you'd understand most. In this case, the steeple would serve to capture and contain the rays, bouncing them back towards the target. It was, in this instance, a rather nice pastry that Ayla had baked, but it had gone cold and was not near as tasty as it was when warm. Stuffing his pencil once more into a pocket, Rikard placed the dessert into its improvised cooking chamber through a ventilation hole. His watch was wound. His manas pulsed with electrical energies. He turned a small dial, depressed a button, and thrust his hands at the hole, releasing the waves that he had been practicing. One Hugo Hunghorasz, Two Hugo Hunghorasz, Three Hugo Hunghorasz... he kept time manually as well. He could compare. He could work on his accuracy. For twenty whole seconds, Rikard Ambrus acted as a conduit, pummelling the pastry with his energetic waves. Then, as he was finishing up nineteen, his watch let out a buzz and he stopped. From inside the metallic oven wafted a delectable smell. He reached out to touch the pastry and found it was quite hot. He counted again, to ten, and grabbed it. Moment of truth, he bolstered himself. He bit in and it tasted... quite edible, actually. It was even tasty: perhaps a touch soggy, but tasty nonetheless. The boy sat, cross-legged on the roof, and scarfed down the rest of the treat, dusting off his hands and clothes. He grinned uncontrollably and, for a moment considered standing again and shouting something like "Victory!" from his perch. People... probably wouldn't appreciate that, though. He settled for taking out his notebook and pencil and concluding his earlier entry.

At the risk of sounding utterly unscientific: fuck yes! It worked...
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by jasbraq
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Future plans



The boy was going through some of his notes, smiling confidently. “Martijn de Mol, can come in handy in future endeavors. Fiske Flachstrauch, current moniker.. nothing annoying with it yet. Leander Keraunos, potentially fun name although pretending to be a thunderchild was too cumbersome. Raghild Rauch, Kind of a weird experience… still surprised I was never exposed as a man. Oswald Osborne, What a fun name that was, just not fun when the church people aren’t so gullible. Reynard Danneman, potentially lucrative for later. And then we have…” The boy let out a sigh before ripping that name out of his notes. “Not like I’ll ever use this one again.” One by one he began to remove some redundant names.

The boy dipped a quill in ink and began taking notes whilst using his offhand to direct one of his knives to circle around. “Hmm, what about Isaac Lischka? A name like that would be perfect for when my current one becomes too risky to use. Maybe Gester Grappehaus?..” Fiske laughed to himself. “No, no, that sounds more like a joke name than the others.”

“Perhaps what I need are some more further reaching names. Manuel Amador doesn’t sound too horrid of a name to have. Maybe I should add something from the other side too… Osman Kocak, hah! That name might even sound normal to a Darhannic!” Then a sense of frustration hits the illusionist, sending his knife into the wall. “Belzaggic… Yasoi… No matter how great my acting is or my illusions may be… I doubt I can convincingly.. unless there might be another way. That may lead me towards more dangerous paths…” The boy looked determined. He will find a way to further his art.

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Hidden 7 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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I N V I T A T I O N S


A T R I O O F Q U A R T E T S

They started to appear - out of nowhere, and in the oddest places - invitations to a meeting with the Zenith. Some students received them. Many did not. Yet, at the requested hour, as Ipte slid towards Shune, they all gathered: all of them by the Forked Tower, a truly... eclectic group. It had been more or less a year since the last time they had found themselves here and perhaps their appearances were the clearest evidence that each had grown - or regressed - in various ways. They counted, among their number, a dozen in all: Abdel Varga, Ayla Arslan, Ingrid Penderson, Isabella Lowell, Jocasta Re, Kaureerah Wenhan, Maura Mercador, Niallus Saberhagen, Rikard Ambrus, Trypano Somia, Yalen Castel, and Zarina Al-Nader, plus a number of beasts. Those tethered who had walked with difficulty before now did so easily. Those who had not seemed to move easily, at least: their condition not worsened in the slightest. Conversations, teasing, and a growing murmur of questioning filled the otherwise still predawn air.

For some fifteen minutes, they stood outside, waiting and catching up, in increasing bafflement as to the lack of reception. Then, Rikard happened. First, he had plunged through the Violet Enclave's protective barrier. Then, it was his prerogative to touch the door handle of the tower. He disappeared. Within less than a minute, the other eleven followed, to find themselves divided into a trio of quartets, staring out into a vast and darkened chamber. This, then, was the Zenith's test. Those who had been called upon last year remembered something very similar from the late Paradigm. Initial blunders aside, most had proven themselves competent people before, and those who had not had the earlier opportunity proved themselves now. By various means, all three groups made it through the initial gauntlet, only to find themselves presented with the queerest of locks and the insistence that they utter not a word before a pair of great exit doors. Not a single one tried to blast through. Instead, they did what they had reliably done best, and solved the tactile riddle. Only then was the room beyond revealed...




T O U C H E D B Y G R E A T N E S S


All three of the groups palayed witness to the same thing: the doors slid apart and a room beyond was revealed. It was... the Zenith's office but... not. In fact, it was enormous. Claresse Upta sat at a table, petting one of the skuggvars, which rested peqacefully on the floor beside her. All of the other animals were about as well.

It was a cacophony of greeting for the first minute or so, people bowing, curtsying, addressing, or sucking up to the Zenith. A few were rather… short with her, but Claresse Upta was not necessarily one to take offense unless it was intended. It was only occasionally that she had to remind people of the power that her office carried. In any event, it was not long before she had them seated around the great table that had once been Hugo’s. She’d been loath to employ the same ‘idiot filter’ - one of the youths had called it - that the late Paradigm had, but at least it had gotten them to focus and think. The Zenith cleared her throat. "I think we shall begin now," she said simply.

Zarina was the first to offer a question, and not without a touch of sass, either. “So, what part of the world needs very responsible students like us to save it?” For a moment, the question hung in the air, with precious little in the way of response until everybody was suitably…behaved. Then, from behind a bookshelf, emerged the group’s secret thirteenth member: Marceline Hohenfelter, also known by the name Escarra. Far less ‘tethered’ than many may have remembered her, she pranced up and seated herself close to the Zenith. She was immediately joined by Zarina who teased her fondly… at least until the Zenith cleared her throat.

"Ahem," She began. "I understand that, for many of you, this is not your first such scenario. You undertook a task for the late Paradigm sometime last year. This is... relatively similar to that. There are wounds in the world and I ask you to help heal them. For this, you will gain, much as you did previously, rich rewards, both moral, monetary, and in skill and ability."

From the students came precisely the chorus of affirmatives that she’d expected. Jocasta, seated at the opposite head of the table, crossed her arms and nodded, ready to offer a strong hand of assistance should it have been required. In the event, it was not.

"Simply put, there are two situations which will require a... practiced touch," the Zenith admitted. She paced about her desk and plucked a globe from it. There was a surge of magic and it was suddenly immense: hovering in the air before them. "Is anybody here particularly familiar with ReTan?"

Maura raised her hand first. "We studied it in class and the current governor of Longwan Island is, well… me. My classes keep me at Ersand'Enise mostly, so there hasn;t been much opportunity to take advantage of it."

Claresse had gotten an answer she hadn’t even asked for. This was why you let others speak.

Ingrid raised her hand as well. "I can speak the native language and have a device to translate things for others."

Abdel sheepishly raised his hand, although when Maura took the initiative, he had a bit more confidence, “Yeah, I took classes too. I vaguely remember some in my past life, too.”

Last was Zarina, lazily raising her hand. “Abdel's probably talking about those in Virang. I've dealt with them a few times myself.” Then, she shrugged. “I only know some phrases and formulations, probably specific to that group, though.”

"Most all of you involved with this possess relevant skills and aptitudes," the Zenith confirmed, "and it is just as well. Envoys of the twin emperors of ReTan have reached out to us.” There was a note of almost… pride in her voice. "They wish to deepen our trade relations and, for some of you, this could prove very lucrative indeed." Her words garnered… more or less the reaction she’d been expecting. They would do the job, one way or another, and even if they somehow fouled up, all but Jocasta were ultimately replaceable. A pang of guilt struck her at the rather jaded thought. Bright young things. I do hope you all gain and come back safe.

A series of eight folders fluttered off of a nearby bookshelf. They placed themselves, open, in front of Ingrid, Niallus, Trypano, Yalen, Maura, Abdel, Kaureerah, and Rikard. "The issue is that there is a cancer growing in their society, melodramatic as it sounds to say so." Murmurs and excited whispers rose and she allowed them a moment.

It was Yalen who put an end to it first, and he did so by asking the Zenith precisely the sort of question she’d have asked were their positions reversed. "Is there a particular reason why you need students like us and not your official envoys?"

"If I had to take a guess it would be that official envoys would cause too much attention," Ingrid cut in. "They'll probably want someone from the outside to help, and be more discreet with this matter,” agreed the boy who’d spent half of their breakfast draped all over the tall Eskandish girl. Was it… Niallus?

Claresse decided to reward the students for their deductive skill. In some ways, it boded well for them. "Agents of the Traveler are at work, and ReTanese authorities have reason to believe that a particularly capable one is at work in the capital of Wánggǎng. People over there know who the government's agents are, and this terrorist has been utterly ruthless to date. They are far too frightened to speak out." She shook her head. "The government of ReTan also wishes to make a public show of its allegiance with Ersand'Enise should you succeed. Should you fail, not being known Zenos of the school, this can be easily swept away." She sighed. "I know that it doesn't sound very good, but that's the practical side of the matter."

"We aren't public figures, that much is true. However, I have reason to believe the Traveler knows who some - if not all - of us are. We should be careful not to place too much faith in our anonymity. Who knows what kind of plots that traitor has cooked up?" Yalen was sharing his thoughts out loud while halfway through the mission folder.

Ingrid was even more explicit. "Do you have a list of what kind of crimes they've committed?" she inquired.

"We don't presently have much," the Zenith allowed, "though I have been informed that they are spreading illegal magics with wanton disregard for public wellbeing and have been actively working to cause instability and overthrow the government. They have been actively murdering public servants." She cleared her throat. "You will have contacts on the ground who will have more accurate and up-to-date information."

…Niallus looked at the folder. "Do you have an idea if there are multiple agents or just one?" It was question period now, even though the information was in there had they bothered to read carefully enough. This one: he was dense, but Claresse was patient - nothing if not patient. "There are multiple throughout the country," she replied, "but you are concerned with one, specifically." She sat herself again and a second set of folders fluttered free of the shelves. "Time," she recommended, "may be of the essence here. I advise that you say your goodbyes. If you have anything left to retrieve, Tan-Zeno Re should be able to help you. For the rest of you," she concluded, "we have another matter to discuss."

That was their cue, and they knew it. The Zenith took a step back to allow them their goodbyes and final preparations, placing Jocasta at their disposal for any last minute forgotten items. In the event, there were none. With but a bit of focus and an outline drawn with the tip of her finger, Claresse opened a rift between their location and the capital of distant ReTan. One by one, they proceeded through. Then, she remembered something. "Ah, right!" interrupted the Zenith. "Actually, I'd like you to stay back for a moment, Brother Castel. I will ensure that you catch up to the others shortly." She regarded the portal for a moment as she closed it.

"Is something wrong Zenith?" Yalen clasped his fingers together.

"Possibly, though we know vanishingly little," Claresse conceded, "and it pains me to admit it. We have, however, received a rather cryptic letter from one Manuel Escarra - I believe you may know him - requesting the presence of Zarina, Ayla, Isabella, Jocasta, and..." She twisted to face the girl beside her. "You, Marceline."

"Mister Escarra? Truly?" Yalen's eyes widened.

"Yes,” she confirmed. "I thought it might be a good idea for you to be aware as well, Brother Castel."

"Perhaps the Duke's demise has shaken things up in Torragon."

"You could very well be right."

This seemed to send a ripple of worry through the youths gathered, and Claresse found herself less immune to it herself than she’d have liked. In particular, Zarina's expression furrowed as she heard the news. “Something wrong with the Refuge? Someone making a play now that the desert's anyone’s playground?”

"There's a possibility," Zenith Upta allowed. "Though, as I said, they've been very tight-lipped. We know… much less than we’d like to."

"My mind won't be at peace after receiving this news,” Yalen declared. “If I can spare some time, I would like to investigate the refuge before proceeding to Rettan."

In their various ways, the others made their agreement known, though some with far less sobriety than she’d have liked. "Do not hesitate to reach out for support should you require it," the Zenith assured them. "Tan Zeno Re is, of course, connected to this matter and will be there to assist you. Brother Castel, I trust your betrothed should be able to bring you to Wanggang when needed." There followed a pregnant silence. "Is everyone present prepared to depart?"

"I am ready,” confirmed Yalen, “but, if possible, I would like someone to inform my relations of my departure. Captain D'aureville of the Century in particular will want to know my whereabouts."

The Zenith inclined her head graciously. "I shall have someone see to it."

Jocasta nodded as well. "I'm ready."

Marceline was visibly nervous. "But don't we know anything else?" she prodded. "Is Abuelo alright? Madre?" Her eyes darted Isabella's way. That was someone she knew: someone she trusted, and it was she who spoke next. "That prison is the last place I want to go back to, but I suppose I could go say hello to my old friends."

Ayla looked toward Marci, giving her a soft smile, attempting to be reassuring. "Perhaps the news is for our own ears only," she tried, but Marci didn’t seem to be buying it. "But... my mom..." the younger girl mewed, swallowing. "I haven't seen her in a while and..." She breathed in and out.

The way that they all came together to comfort her, then, was heartwarming, but Marceline was eager to go and it was something that Claresse couldn’t blame her for. Even the Zenith had once had a mother. She inhaled once and, when she exhaled, a new portal opened. It beckoned to them and, beyond, they could almost feel the desert wind and dust of Inner Torragon rolling through. It was night and the moons hovered peacefully over adobe walls and endless dunes.



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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by dragonpiece
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Breakfast With Upta


A normal day of training with Niallus was interrupted by a surprise letter from Zenith Upta. Upta didn't mince words and got to the point. A very different style to Hugo's delivering vague messages via crow. Though Ingrid could appreciate it as she did have a few items that she could bring.

She dressed herself up, donning her new dress and wearing some jewelry, it was a breakfast with the Zenith after all. She was a little more than just excited. Upta was a brilliant mage who rose to the title surprisingly quickly. She is beyond talented and to get on her good side would greatly benefit any developing mage.

Arriving at the Forked Tower she saw many familiar faces, some new ones, and one that she knew well but couldn’t see with all the armor she had equipped. Of course, she had some equipment of her own, some she would hope not to pull out. The most surprising person there was what looked to be a little Hugo. Looked just like him and with all the shenanigans that have happened with people hopping through time to come back as younger versions, Ingrid couldn’t help but speculate.

Things kicked off in a big way with Rikard, the Hugo look-alike, stumbling through the perimeter of the Forked Tower. He didn’t get hurt so Ingrid confidently strolled in to be zapped by the forcefield. Some healing later for her and Niallus and they could all make their way in. Quite a few of the tethered noticed that their range had been slashed. It was unnerving but with what the Forked tower is, Ingrid wasn’t surprised.

It seemed that the Zennith had a proclivity for games much like the paradigm did. Figuring out who was around you, doing math problems, and even a counting game. All of them were fun and maybe it was just a good day but Ingrid was having a surprising amount of fun and doing things well if she says so herself. She even earned a head pat for Tan-Zeno Re which Ingrid couldn’t help but be excited about.

The conversations they had over breakfast were what Ingrid expected for the most part, there were missions that needed to be done for the betterment of the school. Unlike Hugo who mainly kept us in the dark, Upta was more straightforward and appeared more genuine. Perhaps they had grown strong enough to where they could learn the hidden dealings. Ingrid’s mission they were to go to Rettan and hunt down a Traveler agent who had been messing with the government and committing crimes. Ingrid fretted that a fight in such a city could turn into a bloody mess but with her training in binding and consciousness of her actions now she should be fine.

Her team going with her was nice. She had her lover Niallus and her good friend Trypano with her there. Yalen was coming and he had her Scepter of Ahn-Shune, Ingrid was thrilled to see just what magic Yalen chose to learn with it. He was such a good soul so Ingrid was happy it went with him. Ingrid knew little of Kaureerah or Rikard. They both interested her but Rikard much more. Maura and Abdel were less fortunate picks in Ingrid’s head. Maura and Ingrid weren’t on the best terms, mostly one-sided at this point. Abdel she had no issue with but it seemed they had gotten closer so it could be a choosing-sides situation. Hopefully not but you never know.

With the mission decided and people grabbing any last items, Upta connect two spaces and sent us on our way, Ingrid walked through.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by YummyYummy
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The Gods were mere people with too much power. The great Vashdal some demystified frosty entity that walked among men with the powers of a God, but not an actual God.

Blood stained Zarina’s hands and now she was to be wrangled by the one she considered a close friend, and yet was the most cautious of.

What she saw through the eyes of the giver of choice was both glorious and terrifying. An empire reaching its apotheosis. Whether it’d be her coffee business, or a violent uprising spearheaded by that monster she and her friends unleashed. With Zarina standing complicit in both.

All of this was enough to be content with their own misery and permanently withdraw without having to put effort outside of their own little bubble. While Zarina Al-Nader did withdraw into herself, the home and relations she had cultivated prevented the easy way to be taken. No, she had far too many things that mattered in her life, like the blue Monkeybird nestling on her lap as she worked on number crunching. There were so many creatures she had given a home to and looked up to her for care.

And then there were her friends. Ayla, Yuliya, Yalen, Kaspar, Jocasta, Marceline, Maura, the Tethered and even her own sister Ysilla. They mattered too much to just sideline, and they wouldn’t let her get away with it. To reconcile all of these with a need to keep herself in a den for most of the day, Zarina purchased a home almost on a whim - although her knowledge of markets had grown enough to make one wonder if she did this all on purpose.



A comfortable home with multiple bedrooms, stables, spacious rooms, etc. Everything one would need for a menagerie and to live with multiple people. As well as a backyard with plenty of open fields and a barn, made by Abdel as part of his renovation project, that housed Zarina’s growing dragons. As she went to feed them and cleaned their den, she’d find a note like so many others have. An invitation to the Forked Tower, not all too dissimilar to something that happened a year ago …

With a few of her friends, she set off on Riesco, clad in her platinum armour with only her helm removed and her main weapon locked onto Riesco’s plated saddle.








Characters Involved: Amanda @Force and Fury, Jocasta, Ayla @Ti, Yalen @Pantothenic, Isabella, Marceline, Nibbler, Riesco.

After a set of games more complex than the first one by Hugo and the group being divided, they would all end up in Zenith Upta’s chamber. A briefing had the summoned group split into two groups, with Zazzy’s being composed of: Jocasta, Marceline, Isabella, Ayla and a temporary Yalen. The details were vague and the undertones of the Refuge being in potential danger prompted pessimism from Zarina, but she kept it to herself, opting to instead offer a comforting hand to Marci in her time of worry.

As they stepped into the portal, there wouldn’t be a Royal Sand Wyrm to greet them like before. No, instead there were Froabases hovering the land as if surveying it. Intimidating to some, but for Zarina and like the others that had been here before they were very recognizable. Enemies turned tamed guards of the territory with the Alpha female roosting on a small plateau near the Refuge itself.

Once in the Refuge and the animals parked with the dromedaries, they would be greeted with curious ‘eyes’ of the residents. All drawing to get a view of the newcomers, a good majority of which was recognized by the little denizens. Zarina mustered a chuckle in response to Jocasta’s remark on the snooping.

They congregated in the warden’s quarters, only to be greeted not by Manuel Escarre, but the daughter Escarra - Amanda. Alive and her body functioning beyond what was normal of a Tethered. It was as Zarina’s friends said, the white aberrations worked and practically brought Amanda from death. Nibbler hopped off Zaz’s pauldron to explore the warden’s desk and take a few sniffs from Amanda. Zarina expected the worst, and it seemed fate wasn't going to be cruel to them today. She smiled briefly at this reunion.

“Ruins of old Zaqhoria.” Zarina spoke up once Amanda had briefed them and instructed them on their roles, “We’ve seen this before.” her eyes purposefully shot glances at both Jocasta and Ayla. The armoured Virangish crossed her arms in metallic clangs, “And I will warn you all again: Nothing but death awaits in these ruins. Expect only horror in lands where the dead cannot truly find rest.” she solemnly warned, “Not just to the trespassers, but as the words of old say, to the whole world.” she did not need to say more. They had seen the undead, the emaciated bloodsuckers and the monster that cursed Zarina.

Still, as final as her words appeared, she continued after a sigh, “But your father probably knows this better than anyone else. So, if he thought it wise to take the risk …” the Al-Nader gritted her teeth, clearly hesitant, “We may as well be the ones to go there. However-” her tone rose significantly, “I fully endorse condemning such ruins when we're done.” they’ve already let one monster out.

“Who do you want here, right now? Ayla and Jo’ are best suited to come along to the ruins.”
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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A Cryptic Message



Desmond had spent much of his year in Ersand'Ernise quite productively. He had constantly been putting things into motion, funding new ideas and projects that will eventually bear fruits. Yet there were times he needed to let off steam. Most of the time it was him doing as he pleased, yet on days when he needed to be in the Arsenal, he had often gone to the river near Blackfield Arsenal and ate there. At one such time, while catching a quick bite to eat and idly inspecting one of his rifles, he noticed something sticking out of the end of the barrel. It was...a paper.



A smile grew on Desmond's face, as he knew what this meant. A new adventure awaited, and he was wondering when they were going to be called on again.

Upon the day when the message asked them to meet Desmond steps through the portal to Hogh Munkhelad, a place he was mostly used to at that point. When he entered he waved hello to the people he cared for as multiple were people he had worked with before, or he had some relations with.

However, he had a few new members join him on his adventure, first was Henry the giant happy Dragonhound with his favorite stick. Billium, the cute Fireboar with a happy attitude, likes to play with most animals he sees. Then Desmond's newest companion, Ani, the Firetail dragon whom Desmond had caught from the wild, tamed, and now lives with him as one of his lap dragons, she is a diva and knows she is the most beautiful dragon here.

Desmond took notice of those around as he began to sit down to start checking what he brought with him, yet he began to hear someone speak out, Evander. Desmond took notice of him and instantly took notice of the conversation that he had made with Dory. More like accusations and aggressive prompting. He asked multiple questions upon what Dory has done, how did she bring Manfred back to life from death, and in that moment a fight began. Manfred stepped forward to defend his lady's honor as he went to punch and Evander dodged as they began to fight.

Desmond saw his animals instantly rear up and were prepared to attack, yet he let out a quick and sharp whistle that only his animals could hear as they heeled as Desmond stood up and checked with Dory. She seemed shaken as he spoke to her, yet in that moment, they felt Benedetto appear and showed that 3 men, the 2 nobles were nothing to the commoner with 9.0 ras. Desmond and Dory sighed in unison, as the possible bloodbath was averted. Once it was done, Desmond comforted her a bit more until Manfred returned.

As the fun came to an end, people returned to some of what they did, yet before anyone got comfortable, a bird flew by and grabbed their attention.

Desmond stood and marched forward with the rest of the group, taking command over his animals once more as they went into the great unknown.




They appeared in a dark and empty place, as Desmond, Ashon, Evander, and Ymiico. Here Desmond and Ashon began to rib and make fun of Evander. Desmond had no clue for why Ashon had such beef yet Desmond wished to poke back at Evander in a way where only words could be played. Desmond wanted to poke and prod him, as he was trying to either make fun of him or make Evander swing. Yet Ashon seemed incredibly vicious and yet, Evander only made a few snide remarks back. Small and simple things.

Even with these opposing forces, they were able to perform the puzzle and meet the expectations of the eminent Arch Zeno Karan Harrachora, whom was playing with Henry by throwing Henry's favorite stick.

Yet even with this funny scene, when it was time for business, it was intense. Missions were given, as 2 sets of groups left. Leaving a strange band of people, their mission? Rescue a group of people consisting of, Isabella Lowell, Zarina Al-Nader, Marceline Hohenfelter, Ayla Arslan, and Jocasta Re from what is a fate that was certain death.

Isabela and Marceline may not be the strongest, yet as tethered and decent enough mages they are hard to beat. Ayla Arslan was a skilled mage, and with some time and assistance, she has shown quite some growth as a mage.

Yet why send Evander, Desmond, Tku, Fiske, and Benedetto. Desmond may be a strong combatant and an intelligent man, yet his RAS was nothing special. Tku was an average mage with no background in combat. Evander and Fiske were both strong individuals yet fighting was the least of the priority. Benedetto was the only one who could possibly swing on the same level as Zarina Al-Nader who has Dragon blood running through her, and Jocasta Re who by all intents and purposes was on the path to becoming as strong as Hugo within her life.

What could go wrong?
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Hidden 7 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Ti
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Event: Stepping through the Portal | Location: Ersand'Enise | Starring: Maura @Ti, Abdel @YummyYummy



Life was, overall, good for Abdel. He made new friends, got two jobs he enjoyed and was beginning a third that hit another passion of his, and had a girlfriend. Well, they became a thing around the break of Caldores. Both had gone their separate ways to reunite with families, one at the Refuge along with other Tethered youths with his two big adolescent Skuggvars and infant Wyrm, and one back to Varrahasta. Still, they met up to see their respective homes before eventually tackling the start of the year with optimism.

The young man, not even fifteen as the school year commenced, had continued tracking low-grade criminals associated with Traveller activity or other illegal works. Inside the cap of one of the marks, after a frisk, he’d find the following the note:



Surprised but aware of what this might be, his first instinct was to approach someone like Yalen or Zarina for better insight, but eventually he opted to find his partner instead, with his intimidating critters in tow. He knocked on her door, unable to hold back his smile.

Maura was preparing to get ready herself. The letter said to be outfitted appropriately, to meet the Zenith?! She was going through her wardrobe to find her best dress, jewellery boxes open and gold cast upon the bed. What is a suitable gift… is this about the trade company?. There are hundreds of questions going through her mind, no, thousands, the unexpected invitation was overwhelming. In the middle of her preparations, there was a knock at the door as she made haste to throw something on clumsily and did not have enough time to fix her hair. The door opened as she was in a somewhat dishevelled state to be greeted by no other than Abdel. “Oh… you cannot be seeing me like this”, she closed the door as she began to blush red. What if he doesn’t like me any more after seeing me like this? Oh no, we just slammed the door on him!. She creaked open the door. “Close your eyes, then you can come in.” She peeked through the door to check, then brought him into the room.

What Maura would see by peeking would be Abdel with the most generic of dark tunics, baggy cloth pants and some T orragonese-style shoes. Typical, yet the fabric appeared of high quality - being friends with Isabella would do that to even the most fashion-challenged people. “Uhm, okay.” he complied, confused as to why girls were so uppity about these things. He stepped in, hand covering his eyes. Once he would have been one to try and sneak a glance, but he had since gained a little bit of class, “You’ll never guess what I found on some guy I caught.” he seemed excited to share his story, eyes still shut, leading him to pace around in the drawing room like a fool and bumping into some random furniture.

Maura rolled her eyes playfully as she whispered out: boys. She moved toward her vanity as she gazed within the reflection as she straightened herself out. Her eyes also followed the boy as he appeared completely clueless, unable to help but giggle at him. “A note from a special person!” Abdel boasted, “It’s in my back pocket if you can reach it.” he turned around to what he thought was the opposite of her. He was being honest with not peeking by even shutting off his drawing. After fixing her lip balm, she moved toward Abdel as she moved her arms around him, embracing him at that moment, an excuse for closeness as her hands roamed for his back pocket. “You won’t believe it, Ayla and myself received a special note as well, from the Zenith, even. We think she might have heard about how successful our business is doing and this is why we are dressing up.”. Her cute face facing up to his face, blushing and smiling fondly toward him as she snagged the note.

Abdel returned the embrace and opened his eyes to see his Maura all eager for some hugging, and looking bright as ever, “Look at you, so fancy.” she chuckled, before posing a kiss on her forehead as she inspected the note. It was the same as her’s, “I think …” he scratched his cheek, “It’s because Ayla was part of the last group, and I was involved too.” he paused for a moment, and then it hit him, “And she saw just how essential someone with your smarts would be if we were sent somewhere!”

Maura raised an eyebrow to him, “Who said flattery gets you nowhere. They don’t know what they are talking about.” Her gaze connected with his as she leaned up to place a peck upon his lips, her eyes widening as she realized her lip balm was now plastered upon his mouth. “Perhaps you should wash your face, we are off to see the Zenith after all.” She moved herself toward her seat, the new cushioning being a well deserved treat for herself as she made her way toward the door, waiting for him to catch up.

Abdel blinked post-peck, and his cheeks tightened a bit as he couldn’t withhold his growing grin, “You’re right.” he admitted, taking a couple of minutes in the lavatory to wash his visage before emerging, looking fresh with his hair damp too, “Okay, ready?” as they stepped out, Qadira and Dayanara were waiting for them, and Zorayas was lurking about as she usually did.

They would eventually reunite with their friends and face Zeno-crafted puzzles to prove their worth. Nothing they couldn’t get through, even if the couple was split.

Once through the other side, they sat down to tea and cakes, listening to the Zenith, and her request for aid. It seemed like their skills were in high demand, Maura, who has learnt Rettanese and Governor of Longwan, and Abdel, bounty hunter and investigator. The task before them was ripe with opportunity, especially as the offer of trade relations were on the table.

“This is the big opportunity we have been waiting for, the chance to get a slice of the Rettanese pie.” Her eyes sparkle as Ersand’Enise is never ceasing to be the place of dreams and opportunities, of what a stroke of Reshta to have been able to enrol. “Mmm, Rettanese pie.” Abdel oafishly daydreamed, “Just be sure your, ahem,” he made some air quotes with his fingers, “Rival -” he nudged his head toward Ingrid, “doesn’t try to swallow it all.” snickering ensued. Maura raised an eyebrow and smirked, “Rival? Please, we are not even in the same league.”. She moved her hand within his, her fingers spreading to encourage his apart as they interlocked, squeezing upon his hand.

The pair walked forward into the portal, stepping through into Wanggang, ReTan.



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