Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Pakde
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@wierdw
"She seem nice enough on firs' glance 'dou."

"She reeks of old hatred!" the girl declared tensly, then she looked down, and trembled again as if realizing that she might have uttered something she shouldn't.

"I--I am sorry. Thank you for helping me--" Her voice was muffled, and Jorry clutched the hem of her dress. "Your kindness will never be forgotten... I will do my best to be of use."

The situation became awkward and only eased up when Nina suddenly returned with a tray.

"Heeey, it’s lunch time!"

The three stared at each other for a moment. Bear was sitting on the floor and was in a deep conversation. It was impolite to interrupt, but the door was open and she did say she would return. Ugh!

"It’s heavy. Hurry and take it!" Nina grumbled, then Cedar stood and reached for a table so Nina could place the tray safely

The menu was soft bread, vegetable soup with chicken and colorful beans, fried potatoes and onions garnished with salt, garlic, and pepper, roasted beef with sauce and fruit cake as dessert. That was the usual in this inn. Plain and simple food but homey and wholesome.

"Dig in you two!" Said Nina, smiling, but soon she smacked her forehead after realizing how big Cedar was. "Err... maybe call me later if you need something else?" There would definitely be a call later, but Nina just put up the last defense from bankrupting her entire kitchen.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Remuri
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"Hmm? Me?"

"I suppose it's an old story now. Short version, my parents didn't want me to play knight. Gotta be all prettied up nice and tidy, you see? They're bad with their finance. Like, really bad. Who even hold a party every month? Not even the royal family throw around that much money. They're trying to marry me off to some upstart noble that's trying to establish their position in the high society."

"Ain't having none of that, yeah? What kind of life is that? Basically dead inside. Grabbed great-grandpa's sword and left with a few stuff I can pawn off easily. Never looked back."


***

"I don't really understand how nobles do such things like that. They are failure as a parents too. I going to outlive them too if that happened to my case. Even commoners are better than that.

Anyway... What about now? Do you have any plans after this mission?"
Chounan replied.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by wierdw
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Cedar sighed almost exasperatedly. He did NOT like the ... Implications... of the girl's choice of words, and felt it needed immediate, but gentle correction.

"Hey naow..." he said softly, but slowly. "Ain't nobody gunna be 'of use' 'roun' 'ere. I dunno w'at all's happen'd ta ya lil' miss-- But I only wants one thang from yas, and one thang only."

He looked her square in the face, gentle, earnest, but dead serious.

"I want ya's ta be yaself-- Knows yaself-- owns yaself-- decides fo' yaself-- and knows what yas likes, dislikes, and wan's fo' yaself. ... ... I kin tells this a big thang ta ask fer. .. .. Dun wurry 'bout it. I kin tells ya ain't ne'er done nut'n like at afore. But I'l be aright---'ats w'at I wants, and all I wants from ya. Nuttin' else. "

He gently put a hand on her shoulder, and leaned toward her a little, then tilted his head a little to one side with a soft, but tender expression.

"In return, I'll help ya when'er ya needs it-- anyway ya needs it. I's'l teach ya hows ta care fer ya own self. Hows ta protect yaself. How ta treat odder peoples, and hows odder peoples is SUPPOSED ta treat ya. ANYTHANG ya need. Hell-- Ya can live with me if'n ya wanna-- I'd be happy ta have ya 'roun'. But the plan is fer ya to come ta unnerstan' and choose fer yaself, an' be yaself. I don' wan' nuttin' else from ya. Ya dun has ta gimme nuttin', ya don' has ta do nuttin' else fer me. I don' wan' it. I want yas to live a long, happy, an' fullfillin' life, makin' ya own choices, and doin' what makes *YA* happy.--- ... Unnerstan'?"

He smiled at her again, and once more the sparkles in his brown eyes glittered at her.

"Bein' free ta choose be da birthrigh' of E'ERY thinkin' bein', lil' lady."

His head tipped down, and he chuckled.

"An 'at include you too."

There was a long, pregnant pause.

"Naow-- What' ya name?"
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Milkman
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For a moment Kaito looked around the table. He had sort of expected that Jazdia would have received some flak for bringing in an outsider but that did not seem to have happened. ”Ooh, you guys were talking about me? My timing seems to be impeccable. I hope Jazdia has told you guys some good stories about me. Anyway, I’m Kaito. I work for Jazdia.” Spoke the fox as he put just a little bit of extra emphasis on the working for Jazdia part. It wasn’t that he had problems working for the crown or anything but if some sort of conflict would arise, his loyalty was with the elf.

The kitsune looked at the big orc, the doctor and the pale girl that had gathered around. ”I’m pretty sure that you’re madame Mathilda but from you two I haven’t catched your names yet.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by A5G
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"That's how nobles and monarchs stays in power, yeah? It's all in the blood, and that makes the blood precious commodity. I'm just an outlier that'd throw it all away to do what I want, most people ain't gonna toss aside stability for freedom. Even commoners do marry for convenience, more often than for love. That's the world we're living in." Bowl cleaned and bread consumed, Yvonne licked her lips to savor the last bit of aftertaste from the stew. It was actually real pleasant, she'll probably stop by this place frequently if she somehow ended up active in the area.

"After this? I'm a mercenary, bud. I'll spend some of the reward money on a nice little break, then back I go to the next battlefield. Conflict never ends, and with it the coins always flow." She chuckled darkly. "On and on again, until a grave claims me. Or maybe I'll luck out and live long enough to retire, who knows. People dont usually grow old in this profession."
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Pakde
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Jorr jolted slightly. The words were delivered slowly, but emphasis after emphasis made it sound demanding. She straightened herself in an apprehensive posture. If she was making a mistake, she would say sorry if she didn't do what she was supposed to do she would do it, if she had to be silent she--

"I want ya's ta be yaself-- Knows yaself-- owns yaself-- decides fo' yaself-- and knows what yas likes, dislikes, and wan's fo' yaself. ... ... I kin tells this a big thang ta ask fer. .. .. Dun wurry 'bout it. I kin tells ya ain't ne'er done nut'n like at afore. But I'l be aright---'ats w'at I wants, and all I wants from ya. Nuttin' else. "

Cedar's words sounded like nothing but pity. And for Jorr, her first instinctive reaction to it was to be wary. Decided for herself? What was that? The concept was strange as it was fearful to her. As far as he could remember, her life was always decided by others; by her parents, by the merchant who bought and sold her to a master, then to another, and another. She had experienced the pain of making her own choices and had paid dearly for it.

Cedar's words, though encouraging were full of rambling nonsense. Part of her wanted to defy it, screaming lies! at the top of her wounded lungs, but she had been so conditioned with years of servitude that the only thing that came out was the word "Yes."

Without 'master'.

"Bein' free ta choose be da birthrigh' of E'ERY thinkin' bein', lil' lady. " "An 'at include you too."

Is that a request or demand? She could not fathom, not now, not today. After what happened, she only wanted to be left alone. To weep a bit more, to think... what was thinking? To decide? The silliest phrase was somehow engraved strikingly in her mind. She looked at Cedar, and her reply came in delay.

"Jormungand..."

The name now brought up some mixed memories about her deceased master, yet she uttered it not because it was given, but because it was hers. "My name is Jormungand. Please call me Jorry"

It was the first thing she had decided, and she looked at Cedar and searched for approval, but she found nothing of sort. Only a thin grin from his elongated jaw. Did I do it right? Is it okay to ask for more?

"Cedar-- I'am--" she reached for the bread and showed it to him a like child showing off a handmade toy. "Can I have this?"

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by wierdw
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"You e't all yah want, miss Jorry. Yah the one it' for."

He chuckled bemusedly, and the sparkles glittered brighter.

"Poor Miss Nina'd be e't outta house an' home tryin' ta keeps ME fed! 'Ere only 'nuff 'ere fer you miss Jorry. E't ya fill. Ya'll needs it, cain't grow sumthin wuth nuttin'-- did da bes' I coul' when I foun' yas, bu't if'n I's gunna work more on 'at hole in ya fron', ya gonna nee' sum good food in ya."

He stood up from sitting on the floor, and made a polite bow.

"A feller I been travellin' with 'ese las' few days as a'ready paid muh supper tab. It'sa cookin' on da odder side a taown. I'mma go e't alls I cans, an come on back. If'n yas done 'en, hows 'bout we goes shoppin? 'At dress look fine on yas, but it ain't like yas picked it ou' yaself, an ya need more an one pair."

He giggled naughtily.

"Ain't like ya cover'd in fur like I's is! Cain't have ya goin nekkid."

And with that the bearman gave the girl a smile and a nod, then shuffled out of the room, then headed downstairs.

He had a dinner date with a cauldron full of hearty pork and vegetable soup, and he did NOT want to be late.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Randomness
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Solomon Sparrow

Location: Hdur, Kindeance




With the plan finalized, the departure set, it gave plenty of time for Anderson to secure the horses and cart that was requested. In the mean time, now would be a time to prepare any supplies, and give those some time to rest. Hopefully, the healing magic would have finished its hob and restore those to peak condition if not already. The girl was still a concern, but they had confidence that whatever danger she posed would be contained for a while. Just as the meeting concluded, Jazdia’s shadow returned in time to introduce himself. He called himself Kaito, and as expected he was an underling of Jazdia. After his introduction, he understandably also asked for names. Solomon realized that while he was able to catch Veronica’s name in passing, he had yet to introduce himself.

“My apologies. My name is Doctor Solomon Sparrow, at your service.” he said. So Katio was a magic user of illusions and trickery. For a mission that relied on secrecy, this man seemed like an ideal fit. Why he wasn’t enlisted initially was an immediate thought, but it ultimately didn’t matter. Jazdia recruited him, and that was enough. It also put credence to the difficulty they encountered during their assault if his magic was not able to hide them. Looking forward, if infiltration was the plan, then his skill would prove necessary. If not for stealth, for distraction.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by wierdw
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Cedar came downstairs, just in time to see a meeting concluding. Solomon was talking with the fox-man, Kaito. He wondered what kind of plan was in the mix this time. Regardless, it would likely involve hard travel, but exactly when he couldn't say. He'd have to ask discretely later. For now, he simply strolled past, and out the door into the sunlit street outside.

Strange, he was fairly sure the windows had been OPEN when he arrived. No matter.

The sun suggested noon on this early September day, and he could smell the stew from here, reaching out for him, and practically pulling him down the street like the song of a siren. He did not resist.

A few minutes later, he arrived outside old Gerhard's farm once more, to the jubilant fanfare of the staff. Apparently, it had become a team effort, and having thrown in so much effort, they wanted to see the spectacle of him actually "trying to EAT all that."

He merely joked with them that they should get him a trough, and stand back, which was met with a counter-joke along the lines of "This *IS* a pig farm you know.", implying that 'it could be arranged.' He declined the suggestion, and asserted it was only a joke-- but to please bring him a large wooden bowl to use.

It turned out they didn't have one, but they did have a sturdy milk bucket, and he felt that it would be sufficient for his needs. Helpful as always, the gentleman that had sold him the food rolled up the well used and divoted wooden log that served as the farm's chopping block for splitting logs into firewood for him to sit on, and the show started.

...

...

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Lewascan2
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Location: Hdur, Kindeance.



Veronica had lapsed into silence after her conclusive acceptance of the Guard Captain's statements. Matilda's final word on the matter was all she needed to hear really. She wasn't sure if the elf's words to her were meant to be provocative, but she had no intention of humoring them presently. The matter of when the team left was the mandate of Matilda alone, not the vampire, and certainly not this elven upstart. So, she ignored the elf's attitude. It wasn't like her opinion really mattered anyway.

It was adorable that the elf thought she was somehow leading "people" in this operation. Although, it became sufficiently clear thereafter that Matilda did not seem to have as tight a hold on the reins of this operation as she should. Veronica could understand negotiation for the sake of the team's health and effectiveness, but the elf seemed more insubordinate than not. Then again, this operation being as "off the books" as it was, how much of a formal structure could she really expect. There was the King's orders, Matilda as a contact and, in theory, nothing more than that. A command structure might as well have been a suggestion.

Regardless, it seemed as though a plan had been finalized. They would depart shortly before midnight. Veronica nodded, despite wanting to shake her head. Even though such conditions couldn't have possibly been more favorable for herself, she was less confident in the capacity of her far more "living" members of the team. She certainly hoped they all at least planned on having a power nap before departure, or things might get ugly if they ran into trouble.

"Reinhold, Ingmar, and Bertolf. Witness to the kidnapping, if they're telling the truth. Reinhold even doggedly tracked them down to their lair, for... personal reasons."

Apparently, the hunters were active assets? So, this must have been Matilda's so-called "contact". Hopefully, that meant that this "Reinhold" would be the final nail in the coffin in terms of locating the Prince. Between the narrowed likely locations and his guidance, success seemed closer than ever. Veronica incrementally ratched up the sleeping hunter's survival on her protection list. If it came down to a fight before they could reach their goal, there was now clearly a priority for protection.

"This is lady Veronica. She's a covert operator that frequently works with the crown, and myself personally. I value her skills highly, especially in this kind of investigation."

Starting a bit from her thoughts at the introduction, Veronica only nodded, as she finally rolled up her marked map and slid it back into its case, screwing on the top. Not particularly one to revel in status and praise, she restrained a bloodless little flush at Matilda's words. "You flatter me, Dame Matilda, but I would be able to do little without the gracious confidence of the Crown. All I do is to repay our King's kindness." The corner of her closed mouth quirked upward.

As the room became intermittedly more crowded, Veronica quietly slid her stowed map back into her pack, observing the exchange between the now named Solomon and the boyish man with the annoying musky scent. The latter named himself Kaito, and Veronica's brow briefly pinched at a good portion of his introduction. So, it would seem the elf did already have her own web she was weaving within the team, in spite of the King's orders for secrecy. Yes, Veronica was starting to get a good idea of who was responsible for the bombings in the Capitol, and she wasn't a fan by any stretch of the imagination.

She restrained another frown at yet another new person who wasn't included in the team's original structure. Not only did they have some sort of "rescue" stashed upstairs, there was also this Kaito. Just what sort of careless web of security was this team weaving?! They were catching classrooms in this thing!

"I’m pretty sure that you’re madame Mathilda but from you two I haven’t catched your names yet.”

Though it didn't show in her expression, it almost felt a herculean effort to restrain any expression of her displeasure, as Veronica plastered on a measured -if pleasant- smile towards the newcomer and followed up on Solomon's initiative. "Veronica Blackwater," she responded simply. "I specialize in clandestine operations such as these. Information gathering is my forte." As was bloody slaughter, but that would become apparent in its own time. If anything, it might have gone without saying, considering the present company.

The sound of wooden steps protesting loudly briefly turned her attention to the… bear padding down the stairs. For a moment, in spite of having heard of his existence, she couldn’t help but discreetly stare a little out of the corner of her eye. The man-bear it seemed, however, was on a mission, passing through without a single word. As he opened the door of the inn, Veronica briefly dipped into the watery sensation of her magic, just in case the sun’s rays got lucky, before releasing it with the door’s closure once more plunging the area back into candlelight.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Remuri
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I see. 神様のお恵みがありますように... May the God be with you. Who knows, maybe twisted fate give you a better future.

Well then, want for another round? You should eat plenty for your recovery. Once you brought back into good shape, let's have some drink. I noticed you are a good drinker back then."
Chounan replied and smiled.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Milkman
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For a moment the fox observed Veronica Blackwater as he tried to get a bit of a read of her emotions. However the pale girl turned out to be pretty proficient at masking them. Not that it was too surprising for someone who was doing shady stuff for the king himself. The girl probably received pretty much direct orders from and directly reported to the guy on the throne himself. A loyal tool to the king was Kaito’s guess.

As Cedar made his way to the door, the kitsune noticed how just for a very brief moment her senses sharpened as she followed the movement of the bear. There was this slight change in her posture when the door was opened and it changed again the moment it closed.

”“Blackwater, eh? I’m pretty sure I've heard that name before somewhere not too long ago. Three, maybe four decades or so. There was this farmer who used a story about a certain Lord Blackwater to scare his kids into behaving. If you misbehaved he’d come out at night to take you back to his lair and feast on your blood.”

The fox paused a bit and gave Veronica a friendly smile ” It must be a total coincidence that you share a family name with a vampire from a folk tale. Just as the curtains happen to be closed in broad daylight for some added secrecy of our operation.”

Kaito could not help but wonder about the colorful cast of their party. The king certainly had gathered a bunch of outsiders and anomalies to search for his son. From a bearman to a presumably vampire to a mythical fox creature. Not to mention that the doctor seemed to have a funny smell around him. It sure made the orc and the elf look like normal ones.

”Anyway, since we’re departing half an hour before midnight. If there aren’t any specific questions you want me to answer I’m off to grab some extra food and take a nap.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Randomness
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Solomon Sparrow

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“I believe I know whom you are speaking of, Mister Kaito. He is more than the villain of folktales. I once had the pleasure to make his acquaintance. To say he was less than hospitable would be putting it nicely. Last I spoke with him, he was in search of something. A protege perhaps. I do not really know. He was cordial enough during my encounter, so I don’t think much ill of him. If I remember correctly, he probably still lives at the Tretagor convergence.” said Solomon, his head tilting to the side as he was attempting to remember details about the one time he had encountered Lord Blackwater. He then lookws forward, his head slightly shaking from side to side. “I cannot say what he is up to these days. We didn’t have much to offer each other to maintain communication.”

Solomon leaned forward in his chair, his eyes looking intently at Kaito, “Not any questions relating to the mission at hand. I am curious, however. Jazdia spoke of your mastery of illusory magic, with whom did you study?” Solomon’s voice didn’t carry any hints of interrogation, rather, he seemed to have genuine intrigue. The study of magic wasn’t a well distributed occupation, so to have someone be a master in the school of illusion was impressive.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by wierdw
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Despite exuberant cheering and being pressured to eat more, the poor bear was experiencing the strange mix of sensations that frequently accosted him this time of year.

Being physically stuffed to bursting, while remaining ravenously hungry.

Well, at least the mind-altering edge had been taken off.

He had polished off a good 2/3 of the cauldron by himself, but the large quantity of water in the stew had bulked it up. He would have practically sloshed when he walked, causing him to have a rather profound need to find the little bear's room. (Do bears go in the woods? Yes. Yes they do.) Given that he could not physically consume any more, but would certainly be able to finish it in a few hours, he asked if they could move the remainder to the inn, where the rest of the group was holed up.

"better check with them on their end first-- They aren't usually keen on outside food being brought up."

In hindsight, it seemed like a sensible enough objection, given the nature of their business, but on the other...

He looked at the cauldron with a sad expression. He REALLY wanted to eat the rest of it, but was already suffering the effects of fluid overload.

"I'ma go fin' out 'en" he moped.

"You SURE you can't finish it Mr Bear?" chortled the farm-hand that had sold the lot. "Eyes too big for your stomach?"

Cedar rolled his eyes at the comment. "I saids i' woun'na be all at oncet! Dayum! Ain't no ways 'at whole thang gonna fit in muh gut!"

"I dunno, it's pretty close! You got most of it in there!"

The entire crew got a chuckle out of that at his expense.

"Let us know if they say it's OK Mr Bear. We'll hold on to it a bit longer until then."

Cedar thanked them kindly, stood up, and immediately had to lean on his walking stick. The need to find a secluded tree was very pronounced. He waved at the farmers, then started hobbling down the road, before dipping to the side into a densely wooded copse of trees to see to his business. One of the farmer's dogs had followed him in curiosity, but took off terrified the moment it caught wind of what he was discretely letting out back there. Cedar chuckled at the dog, finished his business, then sauntered back onto the road, and toward the inn.

The sun had moved noticeably in the sky, and he guessed it was early afternoon.

Feeling like a new bear, he went through the door.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Pakde
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Not long after Cedar left the premises, a man walked in.

"I don't know we have a guest," he said, walking closer to the currently most populated table. A man of the same age as Jazdia approached with a carefree smile. Just by looking, he seemed like a good man who got along with women. He had a handsome face and droopy eyes, with masculine, chiseled features. His slightly long black hair had smooth waves and his eyes were the usual brown. His elven characteristic contrasted with his plain, natural attractiveness. One that does not showy and easily forgotten but still very pleasant to look at.

His traveling outfit uniform was worn-out, a ranger tunic like Jazdia wore, but his was adorned with ornamental plaid cloth hanging from his belt and a silver patch on her shoulder with a symbol of an eight-pointed compass in a circle. His voice was cultured and smooth, and he gave off a completely different impression compared to the brusque attitude that seemed to be the trademark of his fairer counterpart.

"Miss Jazdia. What a pleasant surprise!" he greeted, though, with a hint of sarcasm. The elf smiled back, but the man smooth yet evasively turned to Matilda.

"Wilyadin is the name, but folks often call me Baker. I am so happy one of the king's retinue visited my humble establishment! I should offer a handshake but that's not how an innkeeper expresses their hospitality. Ninaa!"

"No need to shout, I'm right here like I always am. How'd your meeting with the Guildmaster go?"

The owner wagged his fingers. "Tut! Tut!" Now is not the time. Have you prepared the food? Rooms and bed?"

Nina pouted, such a poor sight for a cute young lady. "I have! But we need to cook the stew again!" across the table and counter that separated the common room from the kitchen she showed the now-empty pot and placed it back on the stove. "If you have time to dally you should help me! I've asked Nob to fetch the grocery, we are short-handed at the moment!"

The owner glanced at her and chuckled "I am sure you can manage sweety! I have a matter to discuss with one of our guests!"

"But, Fatheeeerr!"

Ignoring his 'daughter' plea and possibly underestimating the possibility of having cooking utensils thrown at him, the Baker continued. "I am very tempted to ask what's the occasion, but I guess I will invoke the old saying that ignorance is bliss." He shuffled his gaze on Matilda, then to Veronica, Solomon, Kaito, and lastly Jazdia.

"I assume your visit is not coincidental, eh Boss?" he said, still smiling.

"No, not really." answered the elf after a long and heavy sigh. "I need to take some of your old equipment with me. Could that be arranged?"

The elven owner flinched, but his jolly persona remained unchanged. "Goodness gracious, how long has it been? Ten years? And Your P's and Q's have not improved a bit. Of course, I still have them, and I will lend them to you if you have the password~~"

"Those are the property of CSA, and can be recalled or confiscated if needed."

That cheerfulness faded almost instantly. "But you disbanded it... have you not? And you are retired. Then by what right do you demand me to surrender my mementos?"

Silence, while Jazdia kept her deviant look, other patrons also looked at him uncomfortably. Then, a smile cracked on his face. The amiability returned, but this time it was laced with cautiousness. "Of course, I was just messing with you. You can use COMMS. Anything else is off-limits though. This is Kindeance. If you want something, you have to offer something else in return. Well, let's have it settled then. Ladies, and gentlemen, please enjoy the food and drinks... and atmosphere." He bowed, and as the man straighten up, he winked at the other two ladies.


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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by A5G
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"I hope that wasn't a curse you've just said." Yvonne looked curiously at the foreigner, wondering whether it's a simple greetings or the most gratuituous curse words in that language. Certainly wouldn't be the first time someone get convinced that a hilarious insult meant "pleased to meet you" or such benign things. She wont be repeating the words to anyone else, for sure. Well, more like she cant. That went by too quickly for her to catch anyway. "Drinks, eh? It's a promise then!"

Next was another elf, huh. And the owner of the establishment no less. How far did Jazdia's web spread out? It felt like too much of a coincidence if a thread of it happen to touch Hdur out of all places. Yvonne certainly didn't see many elves innkeeper around at all... though to be fair, Lucas in Rascade was not an elf. Probably got a variety of staff around.

Eh, none of her business. What she cared about, however...

"Nina, girl! Get me a second bowl, yeah? That was some good stuff."
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Pakde
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Enjoy the food. And they sure did.

There were already several empty bowls on the next table, and another came after Young Nina scrapped every bit of gravy from that old pot and had it delivered with an unrelaxed smile to a young lady that looked... very hungry. The owner blinked, mentally wondering who would pay for all of this, but soon realized that the crown's purse was nearly bottomless and his ex-boss was no pauper either.

The ex-boss in question impatiently tapped her wrist.

Located in a chamber next to the kitchen was another room. Unlike the rest of the inn, the room was brick-walled with smooth plaster made of white concrete. The place was lit by an expensive crystal lamp that radiates soft white light, and inside, there was a large metal cupboard, a large table, and several chairs.

"Interesting friends you've got there." the elven owner began, while Jazdia followed behind him. The door was not closed, either to avoid prejudical opinion or to invite anyone concerned and let them know that there was no state confidentiality being discussed here.

"You could say that."

"A druid, a noblewoman turned mercenary, another mercenary from a foreign land, both known for ruthlessness on the battlefield. A strange doctor with interesting stories centered around him, a Pale Lady from far away province, and King's Right-Hand woman herself--" Baker counted. "One could put them all in one room and nobody would find it strange, but with you in the mix? Now that's a different story. Especially after that failed assassination attempt."

The elf woman shrugged. "Well, it seemed you did your homework, I thought you don't really care. I already know who they are, so why bother telling me?"

There was a brief pause and Baker turned at her. "Let us say it was to express my congeniality, if that's not enough for you, just an old habit that dies hard."

"Congeniality?"

"They are not very solid, hmm?"

"Naturally."

"There was clearly a division. It wasn't natural at all."

"It was intentional."

The innkeeper opened his cupboard, revealing another containing a combined lock, then he continued without looking back. "Intentional? So it didn't end well, I presume? Looking at your bandages."

"This part was the result of holding back..."

A metal drawer was now placed on the table. Inside were numerous containers made of glass to separate a variety of trinkets. The Inn Owner selected a silvery piece of jewelry that looked like a compass with a brass lid, while Jazdia chose an earpiece.

"Was it D-1M or DM-3?" he asked, referring to the device model Jazdia picked. "I believe that is D-1M, you have to channel magic into it. Ancient model, you know old man Anderson wouldn't let me take anything newer. Up to seventy kilometers range, that transceiver still uses universal frequencies, so we can pair it with the Commpass."

That commpass was the bras trinket Baker holds. He opened its brass lid and spoke "There is something important I wanted to ask."

The words were received clearly by the D-1M earpiece, but it was not its only gimmick. When Baker pressed another button, the Commpass rewound the words faultlessly.

"There is something important I wanted to ask."

"The destruction of Black Serpent was your doing, wasn't it? It's not a secret, that orc lady can glare at me until a pair of wings sprouts from my back."

"Something piqued your interest?"

"So you don't deny it."

"This is Kindeance. Information has its price."

"Fine. You can pick one more merchandise."

Jazdia plucked a plain ring made of carved green garnet and placed it next to the commpass.

"I thought you'd want something more... impactful," said Baker, leaning on his chair. "A dimeritium ring? So your next target is a mage?"

"This is for the girl upstairs..."

"Pardon?"

"Gerrald Grey." The whispered name spilled icily from her lips. "The girl upstairs was his most powerful slave. You asked about my injury, she was the one who did it."

Baker's breath halted at that explanation. During his career in the Organization, he remembered that not many people could give their boss a run for her money, but Jazdia's cold expression told him that it was not a joke.

Shuddered only slightly, Baker's face told everything, however.

"I shot her lung," Jazdia reported, answering his implied concern. "Missed a few centimeters from her heart. Her power was spent after rampaging that tunnel in response to her master's demise."

"So this will be another stray tiger you picked up. And I assume you want to house her here?"

"Only for a couple of days. The accommodation for her to stay here had been paid."
"Without my approval!"

"It was your fault not being present when we checked in. As far as the law concerned it was a valid contract..."

Baker rubbed his temple with a pained expression, crazy facts that not only overwhelmed but also were being hammered inside his head one by one. Jazdia let him savor the pain for a while.

As soon as he managed to regain his composure, the inn owner returned to Jazdia. "Not the information I wanted to know actually, but--what the hell! So, by 'was' and 'demise' you mean you killed her master?"

"That's right. Black Serpent is no more."

It might be good news for some debtors and small merchants in Rascade, but Baker was not one of them. His handsome features turned gloomy, and he stared across the doorway cautiously.

"This morning I rode to the capital after the Adventurer's guild notified me about the liberated slaves. Sadly two of them were dead." Baker paused and looked at his former boss keenly. "You know this, don't you?"

"Was the deceased someone you know?"

Baker's eyes narrowed kindly at her. "This doesn't sound like you."

---


Jazdia wondered what she used to sound like, she only remembered all her actions were based on principles, and yes, she fully acknowledged that Baker is trying to jab at her trademarked morals.

"Not directly... It was a daughter of a friend from the neighboring town." Baker gave up and both knew this 'friend' could be anecdotal, but the sternness in the Inn Owner's tone implicitly said that was beside the point. "I might not be the smartest agent in our now-defunct organization but I know collateral damage when I see one. It was the result of the raid, wasn't it?"

"Yes."

Silence fell. Baker, again, waited for more, but Jazdia's confirmation would only be that simple yes that seemed to have multiple meanings. The Inn Owner put the drawer aside and leaned forward. His eyes searched her.

"Who was it?"

The words came out sharply. But it was far from being galvanizing enough to make the elf in front of her waver. Jazdia knew where this conversation led to, and whatever reason Baker had to antagonize her and her team was probably warranted, but she simply had her own judgment. The murderer was a valuable asset, and he was needed.

"I am not obliged to answer that. It's already your second question."

"Wait! So Gerradl's slave counts too?"

"You asked, and I answered..."

Baker looked like he was about to petrify on spot.

"When I looked at that dead woman, I think about Nina's elder sister. God forbid-- I was glad it wasn't her, but I wondered what if it was her. I wondered how her family would react, I wondered how they would think after knowing the other slaves are liberated but not her. I wondered how they would take it she is dead by the one who was supposed to set her free. I wondered what the so-called liberators would think after that ordeal."

He looked at the doorway and grimaced with ephemeral disgust. "To think they would eat, drink and celebrate sickens me..."

There was a pause. Jazdia closed her eyes briefly and then glanced at him with a concerned undertone, signifying that both elves shared mutual sympathy, but hers was leaned more on reality.

"Someone will be held accountable for that unlawful killing, but that will not be not today." Jazdia rose up from her chair. Her mechanical tone showed neither promise nor irresolution, but her blue, brilliant eyes glanced with hidden anger. Though there was no threat in Baker's condemnation, It was important for her to make her point.

"You might not see me as a person who sees everything in the bigger picture, but this time I must." she said, reaching for the compass and the ring and securing it in her bag.

"Until when you will hold on to this pragmatism?"

There was more pause. And it was a question she intended to not answer.

"I can't answer that. Thank you for your cooperation, Captain Baker."

Everyone save the bear was still in the common room when Jazdia exited from Baker's warehouse and climbed upstairs. Slowly but surely she opened the room where Gerrald's former slave was resting and found her sleeping soundly. She could feel her chest tightens, not because it was wounded but rather a newfound sympathy.

The girl remained undisturbed, her face was much more peaceful now, but her breath was still short. The elf held the ring and channeled some magic into it. The ring slipped onto the girl's middle finger easily, and then with a simple touch and magical command, it turned invisible.

——Who… is to blame for this?

Jazdia closed the door and walked into the neighboring room. What Baker said, and the living irony rested just by the next door pounded her head mercilessly. Perhaps a warm bath can ease it up a bit.



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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Milkman
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Milkman

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Before Kaito had the opportunity to answer Solomon's questions a man walked in. He immediately grabbed all attention and started to shout some commands to Nina. Judging from the fact that he was an elf the fox figured that he’d be some old acquaintance of his boss.

For a moment the fox felt a slight discomfort about this elven man’s presence but he could not really place where it was coming from. Maybe it was the way he was talking to Jazdia? However she seemed to be just as cold and distant to this man as she was to pretty much every other person.

For a moment Kaito’s eyes followed them as they entered one of the back rooms. However he turned his head quickly around again to the others at the table. Whatever Jazdia and the other elf were going to discuss wasn’t his business. But it was still interesting enough that the fox turned one of his fluffy ears towards the open door before continuing to speak with Solomon.

“Oh? Is he actually real? Didn’t expect that. Scary. I better be on my best behavior. Don’t want to get sucked dry.” Spoke Kaito with a big smile.

The doctor’s question about his magic took the fox by surprise. Not that Jazdia had shared that information but the fact that Solomon seemed to be under the impression that you needed to study in order to obtain magic. That is probably the case for humans but not so much for him. “My magic? I’ve not studied with people in particular. It’s something that comes natural to me. More of a family thing really.“ Kaito paused a bit as he created two small illusionary knights performing a jousting match on the table.

“Of course you still need to practice the craft intensively. Mostly by opening yourself up to all the possibilities. Training your creativity and visualizing the details in your mind.” As the kitsune spoke those words he expanded the illusionary spectacle with rows of cheering crowds. Those with a keen eye could recognize many of the people they had encountered so far in the crowd. There was a tiny constable Delving, a tiny Gerald and some tiny soldiers and of course a tiny Jazdia, Yvonne and Chounan.

Kaito turned towards the doctor. “So what is your story? There is more to you than just being a doctor, right?”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Randomness
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Randomness Of Ridiculous Awesomeness

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Solomon Sparrow

Location: Hdur, Kindeance




“So you were born with natural talent?” pondered Solomon. Though he admitted he still practiced using his magic and expanding his imagination. Still, Kaito’s demonstration was very detailed and though the size was small, he could see the individualism in each illusory figure. Solomon already didn’t take Jazdia’s claim as inflation, but he firmly believed in Kaito’s ability. “That is impressive. I look forward to working with you.”

Solomon turned to look at the door Jazdia and the inn’s host had walked through, the same door Nina brought out trays of food repeatedly throughout the day. Solomon didn’t catch everything they said to each other. Beyond the host’s initial introduction, Solomon only caught a bit of their conversation. He seemed to know Jazdia and she knew him. A history existed between them, and he did not want to interrupt. Though he caught a bit of their conversation. Somewhere in the kitchen is probably where he kept whatever the comms was.

Solomon turned his head again, the hood over his eyes shifting. His gaze went back towards Kaito as he asked a question in return. “Indeed, my friend. I am more than a doctor, though I spend a lot of my time as such. No, I am also a researcher of sorts. There is only so much magic and medicine can heal. Such as how despite Cedar and my efforts, Yvonne still requires rest, or the girl upstairs is still in poor condition. I am studying methods and means to go beyond what conventional casters and doctors can provide. One day, I might even be able to bring those whose life was taken early back to their loved ones. Ah, but such a day is still far off into the future. For now, I take it one step at a time. It might not hold a candle to Cedar, but my work is honest and I am proud to lend my hand.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by A5G
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coGM

A5G

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[NPC Post]

Matilda watched impassively as the baker introduced himself. She kept her silence through the exchange, eyes narrowing with mounting paranoia as it passed. The knight waited for the two elves to finish, but Jazdia went upstairs instead of returning. That suited her just fine. Briskly following after, Matilda spared a glance to ensure no one followed before disappearing from the common's view.

"I will not pry into your past, or your network." The orc caught Jazdia before the latter entered a room. "But I require your words that it will not negatively affect the mission at hand."
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