Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Achronum
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Achronum The Pyro

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Clarissa commended herself for her restraint; the light in Jorah’s eyes as he realized Oskar was in attendance spelled trouble for the foreseeable future and made her want to introduce her face to the nearest solid object. Repeatedly. It would probably hurt less than the migraine she’d have by the end of the night and that was only if Joran and his accomplice were on best behavior. Goddess and Saints protect them. She would need all the help she could get.

“Authority isn’t a tool you typically deem necessary to make others accommodate your whimsies. You’d have tried to arrange this with or without it. And while I don’t think I appreciate the forum, I can’t find fault in the logic even if your maturity stayed stunted at 13.” Clarrisa sighed with a shake of her head. And of course, Jorah’s cavalier attitude won him the distaste of his peers within moments. Nathanael Gloucester was certainly making his position amongst the students very clear. Clarissa wondered if he planned to ostracize himself from the rest of the Deer so quickly. It was no secret Jorah and Oskar were partners in crime, that Jorah and Clarissa were practically siblings, and that Clarissa sympathized with the remnants of House Ordelia - Clarissa wouldn’t be accused of hiding her opinions on anything. Honesty was more important than the veiled politics of the older generation, and she wasn’t about to allow whatever that display from Nathanael was to disrupt the class any further. She came here to learn and the petty squabbles of their nation was not about to hinder her in her studies!

However… She scanned the room and her eyes stopped on the younger of the Daphnels in the room. Their rise to the Roundtable in the wake of House Ordelia’s collapse at the time made her dislike them immensely. Vultures, far too quick to feed on the carrion of a ruined House for her liking, but she grew out of that mindset. The Roundtable needed five Houses sitting on it for its precarious balance and leaving a void out of the sake of sympathy would have put the entire country in danger. Her opinion on the intensity of the punishment was another matter altogether, but with rumors scattering through the Alliance that Reiner may find himself in contest for the seat, it may behoove her interests to determine if he could really win it. House Edmund was already invested in the new Barony but if she could provide some direct assistance… Well, another thing to explore later. The consequences of that may prove the effort too costly.

Still, she needed a moment to collect herself. The sting of Jorah’s selection hadn’t soothed and she needed a moment away from the classroom to regain her composure over the situation. She could still feel the pressure in her chest and the irritation at the Professor for such a foolish choice, but she knew it would go poorly demanding immediately it be changed. So, it was time to deal with issue number one.

“Please don’t go overboard with whatever mischief you’re planning tonight Jorah, and maybe run it by the Professor so we aren’t in poor standing on night one. I’d like the other Houses to believe we have some decorum in the Deer. Though, I know you can only keep that facade up for so long so I won’t hold it against you after the first night.” Clarissa teased, patting him on the arm as a farewell and crossed the classroom.

“Nathanael, would you join me for a walk around the grounds? I haven't quite had the pleasure of exploring all of it and I haven’t had an opportunity to speak with you since last roundtable season. Plus, I have some concerns you are uniquely suited to assuage and would truly appreciate your assistance settling my mind.” Clarissa asked with a stiff edge to her smile.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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By all accounts, Jorah’s first and second acts as House Leader of the Golden Deer were going splendidly. Nobody booed, some people paid attention, and only one person got up and left! The mood in the room wasn’t exactly as awash with excitement as he would have liked, but there was a little bit of intrigue floating around, and he had to assume that the people who left quickest were simply eager to go spread the good news of Garreg Mach’s first proper Alliance bash. As far as Jorah was concerned, no tankards lobbed at his head meant this one was a winner.

Clarissa’s comment earned her a warm smile, especially since she was still raw from the news - and probably would be for some time. “You’re right, I would have,” he admitted readily, tapping his forehead. “But now, I can say it’s an official party.”

Unfortunately, Jorah didn’t get too much time to revel in his flawless exercise of authority. A chill soon crawled up his spine in the form of cool, simmering contempt that swept past like a cold wind. It wasn’t Clarissa; Jorah was intimately familiar with every species of her bad moods, and none of them were so malevolent. Instead, it came from one of his classmates, accompanied by a frigid whisper: "Authority suits you like a cold bath to a cat."

“Ha!” Jorah blurted unexpectedly, the comment clashing so much with the contempt with which it was delivered that it shocked him into laughter. He clapped a jovial hand on the other boy’s back as congratulations for the joke. “I know cats who’d sooner swim to Brigid than me be a House Leader, but hey!” he shrugged, still chuckling, “Some cats like to swim.”

He beamed as he appraised the newcomer: Nathanael Gloucester, son of the late Duke Gloucester, and not a face Jorah ever expected to see at Garreg Mach. Or anywhere, really, after so long cooped up in secret. He’d heard rumours that the boy was reappearing at Roundtable meetings as of late, but Jorah had never substantiated them - he avoided those things with all his might, and when he was there, he didn’t exactly take notes. But he was thrilled to see Nate nonetheless. With the state he’d been in after his father’s murder, the kid had Jorah worried that he’d never be quite right again.

Of course, the sour bent of Nate’s mood indicated that he might not be quite right, but Jorah wouldn’t hold it against him - sometimes he just had that effect on people.

Soon enough, more of his new subjects approached him, and another squirrely feeling threatened to ruin Jorah’s mood. This time, it came in the form of a stomach-churning anxiety that filled the space like a choking fog, thick and oppressive enough to drown out even Oskar’s famously bubbling enthusiasm. Jorah felt like the room was pressing down on him, his every move being scrutinized to the minutest of details - if he didn’t know any better, he’d assume Duke Riegan was standing behind him. Instead, the source was the girl on Oskar’s arm, whom Jorah had noticed before - Isolde Ordelia, daughter of the late Duke Ordelia.

Oh… oh no.

It was only in that moment that Jorah clued in to the reason Nate’s mood might have crashed - it wasn’t him after all, but Isolde. Well, that was unfortunate; he could deal with personally being a buzzkill, but that response from Nate was a little more concerning when it was aimed at such an unimposing girl. He sincerely hoped there wouldn’t be tension between the two of them for too long; certainly Nathanael’s feelings were… complicated, but poor Isolde was simply too cute to stay angry with, especially shrinking behind Oskar, and nothing that happened really had anything to do with her. As far as Jorah was concerned, that whole murder business was a long string of unfortunate events for all involved, and much too depressing to tolerate. Instead, he chose to hold out the optimistic hope that spending a year together would help both of them reconcile and cope with their respective pasts and let them leave Garreg Mach stronger and more compassionate people than they’d come in.

Of course, there was also a chance they’d try to kill each other, so maybe he should watch out for that. Or tell Clarissa to! She was the one with brains for politics, and healing magic if politics failed.

But in any case, that would have to wait: Oskar had a very important question that needed to be addressed. “Alright, if we’re going to be showing these people a sincere Alliance party, then you just tell me where and when so I can tell people.”

Jorah’s grin returned as his friend brought up more pressing matters, all too happy to leave all thoughts of murder and politics behind. “Hm, that would help, wouldn't it?” he replied, stroking his chin as he thought. He hadn’t really taken into account that he didn’t have a clue what sort of amenities the monastery offered, but he wasn’t that concerned; these things usually worked themselves out. But a meeting place would be a good first step - only, where?

After a moment, it came to him. “The Reception Hall!” He exclaimed, snapping his fingers. Of course! Surely Garreg Mach had a reception hall, right? Everywhere did! And even if it didn’t, it definitely had someplace that could reasonably be called a reception hall - he’d just have to figure out where it was. “After the last bell. Tell people to bring their dancing shoes!”

Clarissa made the crucial mistake of giving Jorah an inch, from which he fully planned to take a mile. “Your counsel is appreciated and I make no oaths to follow it,” he told her cheerfully, peeling himself away from his adoring subjects as she did the same. Her mood spelled danger, as did the ‘conversation’ she proposed with Nathanael, and Jorah wanted to be as far away as possible when it happened.

Besides, there was party business to attend to. Starting with… oh! Of course! The other House Leaders! They’d be the perfect vehicles to spread the word down through the other two Houses. Goal in mind, Jorah sprung out into the courtyard, on the lookout for anyone who looked a little bigger for their britches than normal.

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hero
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Adelaide's rebuke was sharp but Johann took it in stride. Better a woman to keep her wits about her than to fluff herself up and say nothing of true substance. He supposed there was the odd chance his father could have arranged such a situation for him to warm up his bride-to-be, but the much more likely explanation was that whoever was in charge thought it just made sense. And if it really was the work of his father, then he'd be disappointed.

He would wait for Rudolf to act before he as he had arrived first, but he had to admit the lack of grace was...confusing. Surely, the boy was taking the whole thing in jest. He wasn't sure if the Bergliez was awkward or nervous--personally, he would bet on both--and he kept his expression neutral. Less asset and more burden, this one would be. If he struggled kissing the air above a woman's hand then he was likely of little use in other areas.

"Maybe so, but I believe that skepticism is just fate's way of keeping us on our toes. Perhaps it enjoys a good debate as much as we do, orchestrating circumstances to keep us questioning and pondering its mysterious ways," He made an attempt to steer the attention away from the lad, demonstrating the proper way--no nose nor lips would grace Adelaide's hand as was proper and he didn't linger--and gave Widolaic a respectful bow.

"Opportunity seems to be the theme of the year; a unit system instead of the traditional House structure to unify the various students is begging for inter-country relations, isn't it?" He agreed with her statement wholeheartedly. "Many of the future Roundtable heirs, as well as Olivier of House Gaspard and Auberon of House Galatea, are in attendance. You'd have to be blind to not see the networking possibilities. Although with both the Gloucester heir and the remnant of House Ordelia attending, I'd think harmony among the Deer would be rare."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by webboysurf
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Nathanael Gloucester

Interacting with: @Achronum @Obscene Symphony | Location: Garreg Mach Monastery - Golden Deer Classroom

Nathanael's gaze sharpened as Isolde was dragged closer by Oskar. Given the latter's behavior, and their raport with Jorah, he was going to be another annoyance to deal with on a regular basis. But as Nate focused on Isolde, something didn't add up. He stared down the bridge of his nose at her, and she... did nothing. No, not exactly nothing. She was shaking like a leaf. He raised a single eyebrow as he lowered his head, staring st her straight on. She wasn't belligerent or indignant... she was afraid. Isolde Ordelia, daughter and heir to the traitorous snake known as Duke Ordelia, was afraid of the young son of the man her father murdered. This... wasn't right. He averted his gaze of her as she turned to flee.

Nate's mood soured, but not towards further contempt. The pressure in his chest spiked. Honorable men didn't make others quake in fear. That was reserved for monsters. Monsters like the one who killed his father in cold blood.

Isolation had not been kind to Nathanael. It certainly did not make him kind.

Jorah's sudden contact made the blood rush to Nathanael's head. He recoiled, clearly startled and borderline fearful. He had let his guard down for a moment. He took a half step backwards. Jorah had taken it as a jest... or at least, that's the way he chose to play his cards. A respectable choice, that let them both walk away with minimal damage. Of course, as Nate's gaze crossed over his fellow students, it was clear that damage had already been done. His face remained blank, nearly vacant as he kept the tightness in his chest under wraps.

This was fine. People were a distraction anyways. Besides, the more they hated him, the less they would hold back on him.

Of course, Clarissa's words were thinly veiled. To others, her words were not unreasonable: he would, most likely, by the first of those present to take the title of Duke and serve on the roundtable. It would make sense for the two to speak. But he knew her well enough: she wanted to know if he was going to be a liability. Or, perhaps more directly, she wished to correct his behavior before he sullied her reputation. He couldn't blame her.

Nathanael gave Clarissa a short nod, beckoning towards the door after grabbing his materials. "Of course... I understand. I will follow your lead."
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Asura
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Asura bitch you almost got blood on my timbs

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Adelaide von Hresvelg

Interacting with: @McMolly @Scribe of Thoth @Hero | Location: Garreg Mach Monastery - Courtyard

Adelaide offered only the slightest quirking of a brow in response to her betrothed's rebuttal. It was surely a bizarre way of voicing his belief, but perhaps conversation was not the man's strong suit. Or perhaps he was simply adept at shifting attention from his family's reputation for masterminding situations. Whether his presence was the result of politicking behind the scenes or honest-to-goodness chance, it mattered little. Fate was fate, and fate had dictated that he would be amongst her housemates for the remainder of the year. And as with most matters of fate, it would work to her advantage, one way or another. The princess withdrew her hand as he continued to mention the potential for 'networking'.

"It is a rare opportunity, indeed. Part of the advantage of Garreg Mach is the chance to mingle amidst nobility from both near and far. I am sure we will learn much from our foreign contemporaries."

The smile she flashed was one of agreement and reassurance. She certainly meant every word she said, of course, but the matters she desired to learn were perhaps a tad less than innocuous. If she were to rule over her subjects, they needed to know her, yes, but she also needed to know them. Who they were. How they felt. What they believed. The more she could discover about the men and women who would someday pay her fealty, the better she could function as their rightful sovereign. It went without saying that, as the head of the Black Eagles, she would dutifully acquaint herself with every one of them. But the Church's efforts to bring all the Houses closer together—to bring Fódlan closer together—allowed her to extend that reach all the farther. She could get to know the future rulers of Faerghus and Leicester. Their hopes. Their strengths.

And how best to best them, should the need arise. When the need arose.

"I do hope the disputes that afflict our neighbors do not bleed over into the school year too badly. It would be a shame to find themselves so fractured over matters of their sires. We should be grateful that Adrestia remains so unified, in comparison. No such strife is liable to trouble us."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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If Lienna butchered her first attempt at a noble’s greeting, Auberon didn’t show it; either she properly mimicked the ladies in waiting or he was just too polite to brush her off, either of which worked for her. For now, anyway. In any case, her gamble paid off as the House Leader rattled off the Faerghian nobles in attendance, of which only one name mattered to her: Lord Kellen Fraldarius.

Lienna poorly contained her shock, raising a suspicious brow. What on earth was a Lord doing at the Officer’s Academy? Wouldn’t he be much too old and busy running his territory? Lienna didn’t claim to know anything about how the ruling of noble houses worked, but this didn’t seem right. Or maybe something bad had happened, and the acting head of the family was only a teenager? She really had no way of discerning one way or the other; she barely knew the goings-on of house Gautier, and she lived in their territory all her life.

More immediately concerning was the confirmation that a Fraldarius was in attendance at all, and the fact that she should probably make an effort to get to know him - if he didn’t know of her already. She didn’t need to understand the dynamics of political intrigue to know that having an ally within her new extended family would be hugely important, but it might have helped to know how to go about it.

Could she squeeze more information out of Auberon? He seemed nice enough, if a bit stiff, but she was already looking at him with thinly veiled suspicion. She’d heard plenty about how highborn folk acted, how they never spoke plainly and were always plotting something behind the scenes. Despite having come to Garreg Mach to make powerful friends, it seemed to Lienna that every interaction held just as much opportunity to make powerful enemies, without any way to tell the difference. She couldn’t read the nuances of these people - for all she knew, every smile could conceal a knife behind their backs.

Ugh, her stomach was too sore for this nonsense. Why couldn’t people just say what they meant or shut up?

The tall, red-haired one seemed a little more normal - or rather, a little less noble - by the way he spoke. Lienna was pretty sure he was the simpleton who clapped when Auberon finished his speech, so she was expecting him to trip all over himself trying to appeal to the dear leader when he approached, but it wasn’t so. That was for the best - Lienna wasn’t sure she could stomach any suck-ups.

“Well met, Derec,” she replied cordially, borrowing his greeting. If she could go by the lack of titles tacked on to his name - or the deer-in-crosshairs expression written all over his face - it seemed like this one was a commoner like herself. Not that she was about to go advertising that fact. But she did wonder why he would come to Garreg Mach to begin with, and who was paying for it. She knew the Officer’s Academy was technically open to commoners, but even if they had the means to pay for it on their own, she couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to attend. If they didn’t have plans to join the upper class, as she did, what was the appeal? Was he trying to join the army? If the Gautier soldiers who traipsed through Hima were anything to go by, then surely the requirements weren’t that high.

And so, as with Auberon, Lienna was left with more questions than answers, and a healthy dose of suspicion left over for Derec. But now she’d been standing there like an idiot for far too long, and needed to come up with something - or else find a way to politely excuse herself to go nurse her growing stomach ache. Fortunately, although it wasn’t an excuse to leave, she could latch on to something Auberon said, speaking of a Blue Lions victory. She could always get behind winning.

“I think we have an advantage,” she agreed. At least that much made sense to her. “In Gautier, it’s a fight just to get by; if it isn’t just the cold out to get us, it’s wolves or bears or raiders from Sreng.” She crinkled her nose in disgust. “There’s no way a bunch of…” she was about to say ‘pampered brats,’ but she slowly thought better of it, “...students from the South will give a House full of Faerghians any more trouble than we’re already used to.”

Hidden 2 mos ago Post by ThatCharacter
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A small group of soldiers gathered outside of Garreg Mach, most in Gautier armour (if they had any). Standing apart from the group, two figures were staring up at the Monastery. Neither were wearing Gautier colours. The first, leaning on a spear, presented the spitting image of a soldier. His greying hair was cut short, and he had the stocky frame of one who was just as used to loading supplies as he was to seeing combat. He could be placed somewhere around forty, and even in such a casual posture his hand instinctively wrapped around his weapon, prepared to react at a moment’s notice. His brigandine, well worn, bore the emblem of the House of Fraldarius, though it had faded over time.

The other figure did not much compare. His dark brown hair was unevenly cut, and his frame was lean and wiry. The soldier stood half a foot over him, and in contrast to the calm gaze the older man carried, the other figure’s projected a great sense of unease. His uniform did not seem to properly fit, and it showed. The only piece of his outfit that the boy seemed at all comfortable with was the sword at his side.

The two stood in silence for a few minutes. Every once a while, the boy would pull his sleeves up, only to have them slide down again a few seconds later.
Finally, the elder spoke up.

“Time we’re off. Will you need anything, my lord?”

A grin broke out across the boy’s face.“My lord? Come on, Anton. You can’t say something like that and then leave!”

The soldier shook his head solemnly. “No no, master! Although we might have once been brothers in arms, you now attend Garreg Mach, esteemed institution of learning and…"


“And -- Blast it, I can’t keep it up.” A smile crept across the soldier’s face. “Do you think they’ll all talk like that in there? I can’t imagine it.”

“Me neither.” The boy said. His gaze returned to the imposing figure of the Monastery. “I truthfully have no idea what I’ll find in there.”

“Your sister did fine, lad. More than fine, in fact! You'll handle it well.” The soldier’s gaze was fixed intently on the boy.

There was a long pause.

“Did father say anything more to you before he sent you off to bring me here?” The boy’s gaze met the soldier’s.

“Nothing. I swear it.” The soldier put a hand over his heart. His mouth opened for half-a-moment, but something stopped the words from coming out. Instead, he let the hand drop. “We really should head off. The boys were eyeing the taverns and I’ll be damned if I’m covering their tabs.”

“Alright. Thanks.”

The boy took one deep breath, slinging a large pack over his shoulder and starting off in the direction of the Monastery. It was only after a few moments that he stopped in his tracks.

“Anton? Please tell them I miss them.”

Kellen Fraldarius should have known better than to expect a response. When he turned around, he saw that Anton, along with the guards who had accompanied him, were already riding off down the hill.

Drop off your belongings. Gather in the cathedral. Meet the faculty. Memorize names. Search to see if there’s anyone you recognize. Avoid making eye contact with anyone you recognize. The flurry of activity that accompanied students’ arrival at Garreg Mach was a bit overwhelming, but Kellen did his best to keep his head above the water. He was quite relieved when the students were broken off and sent to their respective houses, taking a seat near the back of the room.

From what little Kellen remembered of the rare stories Rhiannon would share, the professor seemed quite different from the usual crop. His casual attitude and warm introduction put Kellen at ease for the first time since he had arrived at the Monastery.

The revelation that houses would be integrated was a mild surprise to Kellen. He had rarely listened, but he knew that it was not normal. Still, the idea was exciting to Kellen, who’s only encounters with other nations had been the skirmishes with Sreng. Perhaps he might learn something new from all this.

From his position at the back of the room, Kellen saw a few students react to the announcement of the House Leader with an expected amount of tittering. When one – who Kellen perhaps unfairly suspected to be one of Lonatos listed on the board – turned to towards Kellen with a conspiratorial air, he was met with a blank stare. For that Lonato boy, this expression was a clear sign that Kellen was to be of no use to any planned campaigns to undermine the upstart House Leader. Such an interpretation gave far too much credit to Kellen’s social abilities.

Indeed, Kellen’s mind was far from the social hierarchy of his class, not that it was ever particularly attuned to such things. He didn’t even much care about the position of House Leader in the first place. Instead, it was the prospect that Auberon, someone who had known Kellen as he once was, was attending Garreg Mach at all that gave him such pause.

Back then Kellen had been keen to spar, mete out fantasies of the great exploits he would accomplish as he grew, and generally make as much of a fool of himself as he possibly could. Auberon and he had had occasion to exchange such tales and the occasional blow with a practice blade during occasions where the nobility of the kingdom had gathered for some event or another. The thought that someone knew that boy and would be able to compare it to this iteration made him feel sick.

It took Kellen a period that felt like hours and probably lasted no more than a minute to collect himself following this revelation. His plans for a school year where he could fade into obscurity were vanishing quickly. He was in no rush to end this period of obscurity, and sat in his seat for some time before he finally worked up the nerve to rise and take in his new group, albeit from a distance.

Assembled before Auberon were one – no - two commoners. Kellen felt poorly that he was so quickly able to identify those who hadn’t passed in the same circles as him,, but there was something in the way they carried themselves that indicated they had not spent time in the halls of power. Even someone uninterested in the procedures, such as Kellen, learned some lessons through osmosis on how to carry oneself, even if he fared poorly at putting them into practice. The thought that he would not be surrounded by the landed elite of Faerghus was a comforting one for Kellen, who had spent a great deal of time with soldiers of little standing over the past months.

However, as he took in the appearance of the woman who was introducing herself, he had a passing suspicion that she was not one to become a fast friend to share tales around a fire with. Lienna, from her introduction alone, was clearly intent on establishing her place in the nobility. He respected the effort, and knew the toll it took.

The other, a red-haired lad who identified himself as Derec, had a bit more of a sense of one of the soldier’s Kellen was able to get along with on the front. Derec Ballard. Not a name Kellen recognized, though that was no surprise.

After a moment of watching the trio interact, Kellen realized that the classroom has mostly cleared itself out. He approached the gathered students with trepidation. Lienna’s comments on Sreng didn’t assist, and as he heard her speak of Gautier he felt a shiver run up his spine. However, he had sat too long to avoid introducing himself.

“Erm, hello everyone. I’m Kellen.” He gestured vaguely towards the board before pushing his sleeves back up. “Fraldarius. It’s good to meet you. And good to see you, Auberon. Congratulations on the appointment. I’m not surprised.” He looked at Auberon in the eyes for a moment to make it clear he had no misgivings about the appointment. “And it’s good to meet you, Lienna. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Gautier, it’s an -” He paused for a moment to try and find words that rung true. “Impressive place. And good to meet you too, Derec.” He gave a quick nod to the assembled students, keeping his eyes low to the ground in the hopes that he could end this interaction as swiftly as possible. “I suppose they’ll want us to say hello to the others in our unit - but it's a pleasure to meet you all.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Hero
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"If you could have just a little--nay, just a sliver of professionalism so you could pretend you belong in the position of professor, I would appreciate it!"

Michail endured both the berating from Euphemia and the viscerating glare from Tomai, all but unphased with a small smile on his face. He lit up considerably, however, as the bell rung, signaling his freedom. "Saved by the bell! Time to round up the units, let's get this going," He hastily darted away, narrowly missing getting struck by Priscilla again as he cupped his hands around his mouth. "Azalea Unit, meet in the Black Eagles' classroom! Rose Unit, meet in the Blue Lions classroom! Poppy Unit, meet in the Golden Deer classroom!" His voice carried over any conversation, causing a guard across the courtyard to jump from the volume.

"What am I going to do with him?" Euphemia sighed, shaking her head. She paused long enough to catch Oskar chatting with a pair of girls, the two making eye contact before she gestured to the classroom. "Go on, you heard Professor Kalonic."

"I thought you were Professor Kalonic," He replied, a little confused. He didn't argue as her smile widened, jogging away to the assigned classroom.

Tomai decided to leave Michail to his shouting and chose to converse with Lysander and Kaira. He noticed Lysander was staring intently into the Blue Lions' classroom, and it wasn't hard to figure out what he was looking at. Derec Ballard was conversing with his fellow Lions, none the wiser to the professors watching him.

"So the rumors are true. How bold of Duke Charon," Tomai noted. "I take it to mean that Lord Ioannis took his plea to heart. But what coincidence would it be to have both heiress apparent to the Empire and the legitimized bastard of the Kingdom? Not to mention the heirs of the Alliance's roundtable."

Lysander frowned at Tomai, shaking his head. "We mustn't speak of this. The archbishop made that clear," Lysander reminded him. "The very least we can do is grant a year of peace and hope that the relationships built can withstand the incoming turbulence."

"And you don't believe the students won't also notice? The unit is made entirely of those in specific positions wielding certain abilities," Tomai asked.

"Regardless, we must do what we can for them," Lysander insisted. "No more, Tomai. Leave your concerns for later, please."

"They'll catch on, and when they do and start asking, I won't hold back any answers," He replied, taking a second to look at Kaira. "Don't let him fool you into taking on any more work than necessary."

"Anyone overhearing this conversation would think you thought me a villain," Lysander rolled his eyes.

"Enough," Kaira stated. "Lavender and Sirius will be here soon and we have three classes to explain things to. Let's get going, I'm sure the students are eager to be properly dismissed so they may go about their day."

Lysander took her words seriously and looked at Tomai, but the man was already crossing into the classroom. He let out a sigh and followed suit. Soon enough the classroom began to take their seats and Lysander stood in front of the desk, watching each student with mild curiosity. The other three professors stood close by, watching everyone settle down. As the last student took their seat, Kaira closed the door, joining the other three house professors at the front of the classroom with her hands together.

Lysander took a gaze at all of them before he cleared his throat. "Thank you all for coming. My name is Lysander Roland and I am honored and humbled to meet you all," He said with a soft voice, giving the class a short bow. "As some of you are already aware, this year the Officers Academy is choosing to--well, to be honest, this year I am choosing to do things differently. While tradition has long since guided our way, I feel that a little change can do no harm."

Euphemia frowned at Lysander, but he continued, "In truth, Fódlan is experiencing an instability that hasn't been seen in centuries. The Black Plague sweeping the Empire while they navigate relations with Dagda is enough to upset the balance, but both Kingdom and Alliance have had their fair share in trial and tribulation as well. Because of this, it is prevalent to do what we can for the people of Fódlan. For your people, for your brethren, to offer a hand to thy ailing neighbor as the scriptures dictate...the time will come sooner than later where faith and morality will be tested."

There was a heavy, odd silence that followed Lysander's words. Tomai let out a muted sigh, shaking his head at the dark haired man. As he caught his eye, he cleared his throat, a little concerned. "That was more ominous than intended! I sincerely apologize," He chuckled nervously, shaking his head. "What I meant is--what I mean to say is that now, more than ever, reaching across borders and taking your neighbor's hand is important. That is the reason we have split the classes into 'units' as opposed to separating them by house. By combining the three, it is my hope that relations between students will see through nationalism."

Another pause followed, but it was more comfortable and mostly because Lysander forgot what he was going to say next. He snapped his fingers as he remembered. "I thought I had more to say, but honestly, I think that about covers it," He said, missing Euphemia's facepalm. "Well, this group in particular does have a small advantage over the others. Lord Ioannis himself chose the members of this unit! That's neat, isn't it?"

"Yes, Professor, but I believe you had more to say..." Kaira piped up, trying to steer Lysander back in the proper direction.

"Did I--? I did. How bothersome, my memory is just not what it used to be," He sighed, trying to think. "This unit will be looked after a little closer than the others. Aside from a few heirs and royalty among you, some classes and missions will be handled differently. Students participate in requests given by surrounding villages as a way to both give back to the community and to give the students experience. In addition to those, there will be the odd mission here and there that will take you to the other churches to offer your assistance. Think of it as a trial for future generations!"

Lysander seemed satisfied, taking a seat back behind the desk. The other professors avoided exchanging looks, but were a little more confident. Euphemia nodded, deciding to say a few more words. "All of us here--that is, Professor Michail, Professor Malathice, and myself included--implore you to reach out to us if you ever need a guiding hand as well," She told the class with a smile, though she noticed Kaira's deflated look. "And Professor Kaira, too, of course!"

Michail chuckled, deciding to join Euphemia. He motioned for Tomai to join him, but the man preferred to stay where he was. For now, Michail decided to focus on the students. "On that note, how about everyone here go ahead and introduce themselves?" He suggested. "I'll start it off. I'm Michail Kalonic, Knight of Seiros turned professor, and I'm from the Kingdom. I like horse riding and fighting, and I dislike people telling me what to do. Explains why I decided to teach, right?" He joked.

Euphemia was less than thrilled at Michail, but Lysander loved it. "That's a great idea!" He agreed, much to the chagrin of the blonde. "Oh, but I already introduced myself. Why don't the rest of you go ahead, that way each student knows us all?"

Tomai seemed to disagree, but relented. "Tomai Malathice. I like crest research. I dislike Michail," He replied plainly. Michail's smile never left his face, but he did look over at Tomai.

Euphemia managed to contain her grin as she decided to follow suit. "I am Euphemia Kalonic--the Goddess blessed me with only one brother but could only do so much with Michail--and I like books and nature. I dislike bugs, though," She stated confidently, giving the class a playful wink.

The three then looked to the green haired girl, who seemed to forget she was a professor for a moment. Considering the gap in age, it was probably understandable; the three professors looked to be from their mid- to late twenties, whereas Kaira looked more like she fit in with the students. "Oh! I am Kaira Simeon, and I like...praying? Oh goodness, I feel like I could give a better answer than that..." Kaira furrowed her brow, trying to think. "I like a lot of things, and I don't like some things, but that is...not very specific, is it?"

"While our lovely Kaira decides, who wants to introduce themselves first?" Michail asked as he smoothly transitioned attention to the classroom, looking at the students. "Don't be shy! Just stand up and introduce yourself! We're all going to be fighting together, so it's handy to match a name to a face when need be!"

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Unfortunately, Jorah barely had time to step out into the courtyard and begin his House Leader hunt before he was interrupted by the clanging of a bell. He would have assumed it was a church bell - and thus, safely ignored - if not for the very loud shouting of a blond armoured man and the tide of students receding from the courtyard back into the classrooms. Jorah didn’t really know what a “Rose Unit” was or whether he was part of it, but he saw Professor Euphemia disappear into the Blue Lions classroom, and that was enough information for him.

Jorah seated himself with his housemates and was immediately distracted by the professors - or, at least, two of the professors. Professor Euphemia, of course, was the star of the show, and the rod at her hip had Jorah’s mind going all sorts of places not condoned by the Church, but the green-haired woman up there with her could not be counted out either. Shy maidens were a dime a dozen back in Derdriu, granted, but something about Professor Kaira warranted further investigation, Jorah decided. Particularly, her proximity.

Between his ruminations, Jorah heard at least half of what was said: this was a special unit, they’d be off fighting for the Church, and of course, Fódlan was in existential danger. Now, Jorah was pretty sure Fódlan had been in existential danger ever since he was old enough to be dragged to the Roundtable - or at least, that was the vibe he always got from the Dukes when he went - so the words dribbled off of him like rain on a leaf, the future Archduke much more interested in the swaying of Euphemia’s hips than in securing the future of his country.

Fortunately, the droning didn’t go on too long. Instead, the armoured blond from earlier - evidently the Blue Lions’ professor - established himself as a kindred spirit and started a game of introductions that immediately displeased the angry-looking professor at the desk. The air of whimsical mischief emanating from Professor Michail was plenty to provoke Jorah to similar antics, although his version was decidedly more… performative.

Jorah leapt - literally - at the chance to set the tone, eschewing standing to instead jump onto his seat just as he had for his housemates. “I’d be happy to begin, professor,” he announced proudly as he turned to face the class with a cocky flourish, like a tavern bard drumming up an audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Jorah von Riegan. You may know me by my titles: Heir apparent to the Duchy of Riegan, House Leader of the Golden Deer, or as my father calls me, ‘lecherous rake,’” he offered the class an exaggerated bow. “I like tavern songs in good company and long rides in the woods - and I’m pretty fond of horses as well.” He punctuated that comment with a wink to Professor Kaira before shrugging. “I’m not too fond of bland food or instruments played off-key, but get me into a celebrating mood and there won’t be much you can do to get me out of it. I hope to see you all tonight at the Reception Hall for a proper introduction.”

Impression sufficiently made, Jorah let himself fall back into his seat, leaning back with a self-satisfied grin. His comment took Professor Kaira by surprise, but he was surprised in turn to find hint of coyness in that smile, just begging for further inquiry. Ha! Worth investigating indeed. He'd expected a flush of embarrassment and maybe even indignation, but it turned out he may have been too quick to judge. Either that, or they cut their "shy maidens" from a different cloth in Garreg Mach, which bade all the better for the many churched women that called the Monastery home. Maybe a year in its hallowed halls wouldn't be so bad after all.

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Clarissa halted halfway to the Archbishop. A frown and a sigh escaped as the bells rang. She’d spent too much time chatting with Nathanael and she missed her chance. Still, she permitted herself a moment to bask in the tolling of the bells. Hearing them was always a comfort, like a brief moment of sunshine on days the cold seeped wet and bitter deep into the bones. The sound drew her attention skywards. Her frown turned into a small smile, personal and warm. As a child, she always imagined the voice of the Goddess whispering in the bells of her church. It was a comforting belief and despite having put that away as a childish fantasy, the security and relief it provided still kept back in. Now, she heard it as the soul of the church, an extension of everything it stood to offer those who needed it most, a moment of respite in the chaos and confusion of the everyday.

She only lingered a moment though. The blond Professor shouting through the courtyard gave them their directions. Clarissa took a moment to consult the paper the Professor had left available for them and she barely resisted rolling her eyes. A significant portion of the future leaders of Fodlan were neatly crammed into one Unit. Whoever placed them together certainly wasn’t playing a subtle game; although, Clarissa agreed - the connections and bonds they forged here could only help raise Fodlan to greater heights. She just didn’t like being slammed together like dolls in the hands of a five year old. She spied Jorah heading into the correct classroom and briskly followed.

Clarissa listened to Lysander with rapt attention. She wasn’t off the mark. Lysander did want them to break tradition and connect more closely than they had in previous years. The solemnity he opened class with struck her and she could help mulling over what he meant. This impending discord and instability he believed they would face… Fodlan faced concerns at every corner, from the plots of vengeance and power grabs within the political landscape of every nation to plague or famine when the weather turned against them. What storm clouds had the Church seen darkening the horizon that they felt the need to point them out so vaguely? Still, she strongly agreed on one point: the time for tradition was over. As they entered a new era, they would have to adapt, grow, and shed the trappings of yesterday for the sake of the future. And if the Church believed something devastating was coming, then she would stand with their judgment.

Though, she wondered why the Archbishop felt the need to organize this Unit personally. If fostering unity between the nation was the Professor’s goal, it made sense to put anyone who would have even the slightest impact on national policy in the same Unit. Why did the Archbishop feel it necessary to involve himself in an easy task? The question bothered her but she’d put it aside for now. She’d ask Professor Roland after class.

The other professors proved an interesting collection. While she didn’t get much other than an obvious distaste for being here from Professor Malathice, she certainly agreed with his sentiments aboutProcessor Michail. Boisterous and sophomoric, she would prefer to impale herself on her own sword than have to deal with a second Jorah. She loved him to death, but he was a handful. Having another, who was in charge of her education and activities for the next year, already threatened a vengeful headache and a worse mood.

And when Jorah jumped onto the bench, she knew this was going to be a long year. It took everything in her not to slug him in the leg, but that would turn this into an even worse spectacle so she instead just seethed. He’d get the message, not that he'd care, but the second this was over, she was going to give him the talking to of his life. She sighed and stood, smoothing her skirt to collect her thoughts after Jorah’s circus act.

“Clarissa von Edmund, heiress to the Margravate of Edmund of the Leicester Alliance. I enjoy horseback riding, sailing, scripture reading, and engaging conversation over evening tea, but I loathe liars and the indecisive. Whatever distressed our Professor, the Goddess has put us all here for a reason. I am honored to have the opportunity to grow into those expectations with all of you and look forward to what greatness we can all achieve in the future.” Clarissa bowed her head and curtsied as she finished, settling back into her seat and subtly kicking Jorah in the shin for looking like the cat that got the cream.
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The Lions - his Lions - continued to impress, at least if Lienna was any indication. Auberon would've figured she'd be the least concerned with their performance, but maybe commoners had a spirit of competitiveness that languid noblewomen often lacked. Kellen's appearance only bolstered his good mood, and he offered his fellow noble a welcoming smile. Regretfully, it didn't look like they'd have much time to catch up - or discuss that terribly ill-fitting uniform - as the bell tolled just as Kellen had anticipated it would. Or maybe he and the academy staff just had the same idea. Either way, it wasn't a concern; Auberon would have all year to treat with his housemates and they seemed pleasant company so far. If the remainder of their unit held the same trend, his tenure at the academy would surely be even more fruitful than he imagined.

As unfamiliar faces began to trickle in, Auberon gave a quick bow of his head toward the assembled Lions. "We'll speak later. It's a pleasure as always, Kellen." He took a nearby seat at the head of the classroom and patiently waited for the professors to begin, offering only a few curious glances to the side rather than turning fully around. As Lysander started his introduction, the blond's attention snapped back to the fore, especially at the weight of the professor's words. Any misgivings he may have had about the class arrangement evaporated in the face of his explanation, rooted in benevolent charity as they were. Auberon certainly couldn't argue with the duty to help one's neighbors in times of strife, even if they were Adrestians, and it wasn't as if he could object to a grouping hand-picked by the archbishop himself.

Similarly, the mention of royalty evoked a curious arch of the brow. There certainly wasn't a Blaiddyd in attendance and the Leicestrians arrogantly thought themselves too important to swear fealty to a liege, so that could only mean a member of the Imperial Family graced Garreg Mach's halls this year. Auberon was slightly tempted to turn around and take a guess, but Michail suggested a way to remove any ambiguity, albeit in a bit of an unorthodox manner. He must've been skilled indeed to make up for his lack of decorum.

The student that followed, unfortunately, had even less. Was it truly necessary to stand on the chair? He wasn't that short. The announcement that he was the House Leader of the Deer of all things raised the situation from odd to alarming. As much as Auberon would've liked to further vindicate the decision his ancestors made to split from their house and swear vassalage to the Kingdom of Faerghus, he wasn't quite willing to believe that no one from even the godless wastes of Leicester was a more suitable pick than House Riegan's court jester, though this Jorah might've won the position through his relation to the highest noble present as Auberon had. It certainly made the blond's own status feel far less of an honor, at any rate.

The woman who rose next was so utterly Jorah's opposite that Auberon nearly assumed he misheard when she mentioned her lineage. He sincerely hoped that the Riegans were managing a zoo in place of a family rather than the alternative of Clarissa being the sole island of sanity in a sea of Alliance eccentricity, otherwise Professor Roland's wish for friendly international relations looked poised to collapse before they'd even begun, to say nothing of the Adrestians. But it wouldn't do to speculate so judgementally in the Goddess' halls; Auberon would know them all by their actions soon enough, as would they know him. It was only right that he put an exceptional foot forward to introduce Faerghus to the other houses.

He stood, posture impeccable as he turned around to address the room behind him. Making the same speech twice always made him feel uncreative and boring, but he supposed introductions were important enough to repeat. "For those outside the kingdom, I am Auberon Casimir Galatea, heir to the Countship, appointed House Leader of the Blue Lions, and bearer of the Crest of Daphnel. For Professor Kaira's sake, I'd like to note I also enjoy prayer, along with the feeling of a weapon in my hands. Sometimes both at once." That sounded a bit dark in hindsight, but did the Book of Seiros not state that the sublime sword of the Goddess was entrusted to the faithful so that they might ward away evil? A prayer on one's lips with every swing seemed fitting enough to him. "I'm pleased and humbled to be working alongside you all. As Lady von Edmund said, the Goddess has brought us here for a reason, and I can think of no better compatriots than those She deems worthy of undertaking a task in Her name."

He dipped his head in a minimalistic bow toward the class before he returned to his seat. Clarissa was right, of course. The class roster was not coincidence but divine providence, worked through the mortal instruments of the Goddess here in the Church. Even the most... challenging among them had a place, and if a man could not better himself in the heart of Garreg Mach, where could he?

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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Lienna had scarcely finished her sentence when another student approached, looking meek and out of place. One look at his kicked-puppy demeanour made Lienna write him off entirely as neither threat nor asset, content to keep her attention on people who might possibly matter until he opened his mouth.

Lienna nearly did a double-take at his casual drop of the name “Fraldarius,” her shock coming out a second time as a raise of her eyebrows. That was Lord Kellen Fraldarius? Her first intuition was right; something bad must have happened in Fraldarius for that pipsqueak to carry the title of Lord. Hells, he could hardly carry the jacket he was wearing. His insecure posture and the poor fit of his uniform only emphasized his diminutive figure, and although he was still taller than Lienna was, he looked more like a lost child than a lordling.

She nodded in acknowledgement of his greeting, but she was a little too much at a loss to come up with a reply before a crowd of new students started filing through the door. Probably for the best; “impressive” wasn’t the word she would have used for Gautier—except maybe that it was impressively cold, dark, and shitty—but whatever term she might have come up with to describe her desolate homeland was probably better left outside of polite company.

Then it was time for introductions. Again. The first one to go did nothing for Lienna’s rapidly souring mood. She’d seen plenty of his type among the Gautier soldiers in Hima, and most likely, her long-disappeared father had probably been one of them: nothing but crude jokes and half-truths, a walking hazard to poor and desperate girls hoping to run away from Hima on somebody’s arm. All they usually ended up with was one less meal in their stores and another mouth to feed growing in their bellies. The way this one carried on, there were probably as many blonde, red-eyed children running around the slums of Leicester as there were fatherless redheads in Hima.

The next girl spoke like a benevolent queen from a storybook, and paired with Auberon’s repeated introduction to match, Lienna was quickly losing interest. Goddess this, Goddess that – did Auberon see the same Kellen she did? And did Clarissa not hear her House Leader just now? If this was the best the Goddess could come up with to safeguard the future of Fódlan, then maybe she’d have been better off seeking a rich husband on some other continent altogether. Then again, that was one point in Gautier’s favour: it was far enough removed from the world that she wouldn’t really notice if the rest of Fódlan went up in flames, and as long as her own bed wasn’t on fire, she wasn’t too concerned about it.

No one from the Empire deigned to speak up yet – maybe they were so accustomed to having their names and titles called out by heralds before them to remember they had to do it themselves – and at the risk of letting this charade run on too long, Lienna opted to go next. Granted, she wasn’t quite sure what to say. The others listed their titles. Should she? Did she have any? And what of likes and dislikes? She had a list of dislikes a mile long, but it had been years since she gave much thought to things she liked—her primary concern had always been things she needed. Ultimately, she’d have preferred to wait until the end, but the pain in her stomach was quickly turning into hunger, and no way was she waiting for Kellen to drum up some courage.

Hasty decision made, she stood as smoothly as she could manage, her posture stiff as she did her best to emulate the form of the others in the room. “I am Lienna Orhneaht, future Countess of Southern Gautier, and also a bearer of the Minor Crest of Gautier,” she began, taking Auberon’s cue to mention her Crest. “I like hearty meals and warm fires, and I dislike the cold. I hope we can all form lasting bonds this year, for the good of Fódlan’s future.”

She nodded to her classmates to conclude her introduction, sitting back down about as smoothly as she stood. Fine, it was the same ‘for the good of the continent’ line everyone else was parroting, but the rest of it was inoffensive enough, and it was more polite than saying ‘I hope to make friends I can count on for favours later.’

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Mcmolly
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Widolaic von Vestra

Location: Garreg Mach Monastery - Classroom

Viddle had been through her fair share of icebreakers and introductions as she’d circuited the various courts of the Empire. She’d heard no small number of bold, heroic claims of glory, or suave attempts at mingling, or curt and unaffected dismissals. The nobility in Adrestria could at times be stuffy and overly formal, but there was a familiar comfort in being around countrymen, even those you didn’t particularly like.

It was clear to her that comfortability was continent-wide, simply by its absence among the students who introduced themselves here. It reminded her less of the socialite’s dance of a court, and more of the guarded, gaudy masks worn at Ulrich’s estate in the earliest years of his game. And how could she blame them? As exciting an opportunity as this academy was, who wouldn’t have doubts being surrounded by strangers from foreign lands. Many of them might be like her, never having stepped foot outside of their own countries. A degree of sympathy was in order.

The leaders of the other Houses introduced themselves. Auberon seemed knightly much in the same way Johann did, which was to say, outwardly. Where Johann had a myriad of dependable rumors supporting his character, she had no such network prepared for the Galatea heir. Was his piety a front, or did his beliefs lean closer to her dear cousin’s?

Conversely, the leader of the Golden Deer, Jorah, was much less reserved, which she almost instinctively took to mean the opposite. But she stopped herself there—she had promised herself she would not be unfair. Instead, until proven otherwise, she would take his joviality at face-value. Something told her levity would be a precious commodity within these walls, and she was glad she wouldn’t be attempting to distribute it alone.

Though they were not house leaders, Clarissa and Lienna were intriguing nonetheless. Viddle found the Edmund girl to be endearingly straightforward, almost soldierly, but was pleasantly surprised to see the sort of fluster and exasperation the Riegan heir afflicted her with. Lienna, on the other hand, seemed starkly out of place. She liked warmth, she disliked cold, she hoped for things that sounded like they had been written out for her on a card. New to the noble stage, perhaps, but unshaken by it. Hopefully she would not be overwhelmed; Viddle doubted the courts of other nations were any kinder to newcomers than the Empire.

A part of her thought she ought to wait until Adelaide went, but when her cousin did not move to introduce herself, Viddle decided she would go ahead. Standing, she smiled to the others and gave a polite bow of her head, hands clasped together.

Hello! My name is Widolaic von Vestra, but most just call me Viddle. I hail from the Adrestian Empire, and bear the crest of Lamine. I’m quite fond of magic, but I’m even fonder of conversation. I think most of all, I’m excited to meet so many new and interesting people, and it’s my sincerest hope that we might call each other friends by the end of all this. Please, consider my hand always extended.” She nodded, content, and started to sit before jolting and rising quickly back up. “Oh—and I very much dislike insects.

She sat down again, smile still lingering on her face. Frankly, she didn’t think she could do away with it even if she wanted to.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by ThatCharacter
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Kellen Fraldarius offered his House Leader a brief nod following his hello and as the other students of the “Rose Unit” began to trickle in. He wasn’t especially hurt by the lack of reaction from Lienna, who didn’t seem much interested in Kellen – a trait that left him feeling more positive about her, not less. He looked quickly at Derec, wondering if he should say anything further to his peer but settling against it as the other students filed in.

When Kellen had realized the joint class would be meeting in the Blue Lions classroom, he had hoped he would be able to reclaim his seat near the back of the class. Unfortunately, it had been taken up by another student, and for a few seconds, Kellen found himself unable to select where he should sit. As he saw students start to stare, he found a sudden reserve of resolve and planted himself in the nearest empty seat. In his hurry, he didn’t realize that it was that which was so he found himself taking a seat that an elegant looking boy had appeared to be approached. As he made eye contact with him, Kellen saw that he did not appear to be focused on Kellen, but on the occupant of the seat next to him.

Naturally, Kellen looked over to see who it might be, only to realize that it was the Crown Princess of Adrestia. Kellen was by no means a bookworm, but even he had seen images of Adelaide von Hresvelg. As the other student found a new place to sit, Kellen’s mind raced with what would be appropriate to say. As it did so, he tried to pay attention to the Professors’ presentation.

A change in tradition made some sense, particularly with the state of the Empire, Alliance and Kingdom. The grim warnings of the future to come – and Kellen and his fellow classmate’s role in it – might have once fallen on deaf ears, but for some reason they stuck with Kellen. ’The time will come sooner than later where faith and morality will be tested.’ Kellen wasn't sure how much he liked Fodlan's odds at passing that test.

Shaking his head, Kellen brought his focus back to the class. Archbishop Ioannis had specifically put together this class? This time, Kellen did turn around in his seat to look at his classmates. A first look didn’t present anything that made them stand out from the other students he had seen in the courtyard. The Professor had previously mentioned royalty and heirs, and Kellen supposed that made some sense, given he was seated next to Adelaide, but Lienna, not far from him, had little claim to either. Frowning slightly, he puzzled over the issue but was forced to snap back to reality when introductions began.

The first student to stand was Jorah. In comparison to his own House Leader, Jorah seemed to be taking the role of House Leader as a free pass to push the envelope as far as he could. He smiled a bit at the introduction, reminded of his brothers and their boasting. Following him was Clarissa (Kellen mouthed the name to himself several times to commit it to memory), who introduced herself eloquently and seemed nothing like the caricatures of Leicester Nobility that some in Faerghus chose to propagate.

Auberon and Lienna were next, and both spoke of bonds that could be built over the course of the year. As they introduced themselves, Kellen did his best to pay attention and nod along, though the gesture was so minute as to be indistinguishable from a frozen posture. As Lienna sat back down, Kellen remarked on the subtle difference of his two classmates’ introductions. Both had the airs of a nobility – but while Auberon came by it honestly, Lienna was still build herself up. Still, she appeared to be taking to it faster than Kellen, despite far less time to learn, he guessed.

Widolaic, or Viddle, from the Adrestian empire, was next. Kellen had heard tell of Empire’s sizeable struggles with the plague gripping their nation. But Widolaic’s introduction made Kellen believe, for a half second, that perhaps the rumours had been overstated. Whether it was the kind introduction or the smile, Kellen suddenly felt himself to be empower to speak. He looked to his neighbour briefly before rising to speak. As he felt his knees straighten, he realised that the feeling was fleeting, or, more accurately, fleeted.

For the many times he had had to introduce himself today, Kellen had expected he would see some improvement in his abilities. It was a naive theory. As he began to speak before the group of assembled nobility (he couldn’t yet conceive of them as his classmates) Kellen felt his stomach clench. “Hello, I’m Kellen…” For some reason, he could never get out his last name without hesitation. ”Fraldarius. I’m Faerghus – from Faerghus, sorry. And I’m part of the Blue Lions.” He wiped his brow with a too-long sleeve. “I’m looking forward to learning with you all. I enjoy…” What did he like? The past year spent with his uncle had involved precious little recreation. And while he might have once said fighting, that was not longer true either. “I don’t much like surprises.” The words came out unintentionally, and a bit quieter than the rest of his stumbling introduction. Afraid of embarrassing himself further, he bobbed his head up and down, cleared his throat, and settled back into his seat, staring straight ahead so as to avoid looking at Adelaide, Auberon, or anyone who’s mere facial expression would serve as judgment of Kellen’s introduction.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by webboysurf
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Nathanael Gloucester

Interacting with: @ThatCharacter | Location: Garreg Mach Monastery - Classroom

It seemed the circus was going to be a never-ending show.

Nathanael used to enjoy pleasantries like this, especially when they involved such levity. In the present day, however, such an embarrassing display of social unawareness and a lack of professional etiquette in all parties was enough for the cynicism to return to his mind. It was one thing to consider it a challenge to improve one's skills under an untrained leader. It was truly a full on road-block to learn under so many.

Of course, Jorah took no time to once again embarrass the Leicester Alliance. Nathanael's face formed a deep frown upon his introduction, a clear sign of his discontent. He flashed a look in Clarissa's direction, broadcasting clearly the strain he would be under to follow her desire in playing nice with someone so unbelievably frustrating. Of course, he was not particularly pleased to be playing icebreakers. It was always an awkward affair, in his mind. And full of unnecessary information. He knew who the majority of the people in this room were, by reputation alone. At least now he knew Jorah liked food, Auberon was a zealot, and Kellen did not like surprises. He wasn't sure how he would have survived without such crucial information.

Play nice... stirring the pot will make enemies, not allies.

Nathanael took a breath, lifting his head high and regaining his composure. They were just being friendly, not unlike he once was. Nor his father, even if it did not save him in the end. Nate lifted his gaze, noticing the break in introductions after Kellen. His eyes narrowed in on the man's expressions. It was hard to not piece together his nervousness. Nathanael took no hesitation in standing up as Kellen sat down, giving him a stoic nod. His gaze drifted among his classmates as he spoke plainly. "I am Nathanael Gloucester, heir of the Duchy of Gloucester." He paused for a beat, weighing his options. He had satisfied his basic requirements, but the last thing he wanted was another scolding from Clarissa. It was a waste of all their time. "I am quite fond of histories, and enjoy studying new sword forms." He gave a nod, his body instinctively beginning to sit down at his seat once again.

He did, somewhat unexpectedly, pause halfway. His calculated gaze lifted to settle on Kellen. The man was a bundle of nerves, but he was part of this unit. Nate stared at him as he spoke, his tone still plain and even as he offered, of all things, a joke. "I... am also not fond of surprises."
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Asura
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Asura bitch you almost got blood on my timbs

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Adelaide von Hresvelg

Interacting with: Everybody & Nobody | Location: Garreg Mach Monastery - Classroom

In truth, Fódlan is experiencing an instability that hasn't been seen in centuries.

There was something profoundly amusing, hearing those words leave the lips of a ranking official of the Church. As if every single soul that shared the room did not already understand that. Her beloved Adrestia suffered worse of all, that much was true, but in the face of such calamity, the inhabitants of Fódlan's other so-called nations bickered and battled with themselves over the scraps of land that they had stolen from her ancestors. The Church was a profound force for good, that much was true, but it could only do so much to unify. There were those lords who paid only lip service to the Goddess, pursuing their selfish ambitions to the exclusion of the common good. Even worse, there were those within the Church itself who sought to stymie progress with their idealism. Adelaide considered Lysander Roland one of the latter category.

Surely, it was the kinder category for one to belong. But it was still an unacceptable stance. A weakness. Fódlan did not need friendship, for the reaching across borders and ideology to try and form a cohesive whole. That way led only to conflict of opinions, compromise, and fragile bonds that were ever only one generation, one falling out from shattering. What Fódlan needed was a firm, guiding hand. One leader, with one vision, and one purpose. There was a purity in such an arrangement. That much could be proven by the very foundation of Adrestia, blessed by Seiros in the name of the Goddess. Anything less was a corruption of that divine inspiration.

It was with such thoughts swirling about her mind that Adelaide watched—with an almost predatory interest in her eyes—each and every one of her would-be classmates stood and declared their names and titles. It was an eclectic mix of individuals, to say the least. Some were quite bold, like her fellow house leaders, while others seemed so nervous as to make her wonder whether their lordly fathers had instilled any leadership skills in them, to begin with. She cataloged each name, face, and personality away as the introductions seemed to ripple through the seats until, eventually, the flow reached her humble little perch nearer the back of the room. Without hesitation, she gingerly pressed her seat backward, sliding out of it and standing for all to see.

"Good day, esteemed classmates. My name is Adelaide von Hresvelg, Crown Princess to the Adrestian Empire, and inheritor of Saint Seiros' own Crest. It is an honor and a privilege to make your acquaintance, and I am eager to serve as a representative of not only House Hresvelg, but Adrestia as a whole."

The confidence that seemed to ooze from her very pores came easy with the statement, and Adelaide offered a polite bow of her head as she introduced herself, continuing once she had risen back to standing.

"My interests are multitude; I am as fond of swordplay as I am song, as interested in strategy as I am dance. The one thing I cannot stand, however, are those too meek to seize their destinies. Such uncertainty is beneath those of our station."
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Hero
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The variety of introductions had each professor mentally taking notes; even Tomai was already noting who would become a potential problem down the line. Lysander remained perfectly pleasant, giving each student his complete attention. The majority of students were self assured and knew their future roles in Fódlan, and any rough around the edges could be smoothed over well enough. He exercised a cautious optimism, knowing that at minimum the Archbishop would be pleased. He did, however, watch the Imperial princess with open curiosity.

Adelaide’s introduction was followed by Johann, who only stood once the princess was seated. He flashed what he hoped was a friendly grin at the room at large. “Greetings, one and all. I am Johann von Aegir of Adrestia. I squired under Lord Klaus von Arundel and thus my interest in chivalry and knighthood was sparked. I don’t care much for cowardice nor dishonesty, either,” He gave Clarissa a small nod of acknowledgment before retaking his seat.

Derec figured since he was the last Lion he may as well stand. However, he noticed that Isolde had also stood, the pair looking at one another in surprise. The redhead retook his seat, gesturing for her to go first. This seemed to embolden her, but a good few seconds passed, the blonde girl’s eyes darting all over the place. “...Isolde von Ordelia,” She managed to sputter out, a bout of nervousness gripping her. “I like knitting and sewing and…I don’t like this…” Her words got quieter as she slowly sank back down to her seat, eyes trained on a spot on the desk in front of her.

The awkwardness following Isolde’s introduction hung over the classroom. Taking pity, Derec stood up again, clearing his throat loud enough to get everyone’s attention. "I'm Derec Ballard," He introduced himself with a smile. "I like making weapons and accessories, and as for dislikes, I prefer cooler temperatures and don't do as well in the heat. I look forward to working with you all."

Derec’s introduction was punctuated with a clap from Michail as he stepped forward. “Wonderful! Now we all know each other a little better!” He grinned at the class, placing his hands on his hips. "I, for one, am looking forward to our year together! With all that out of the way, you’ll all be dismissed. Feel free to get comfortable with your dorms–the assignments are on the bulletin board outside–and dinner will be–”

Tomai did a double take, giving Michail an incredulous look as he continued to speak. “What–no,” Tomai interrupted the knight. “There’s still a student who hasn’t introduced himself.”

“Huh?” Michail paused, looking around the room, counting each student. “Oh, only eleven. I must’ve missed someone…?” He seemed a little confused, his hand coming up as he silently recounted the students.

Tomai bit back a comment and motioned to the student in question sitting towards the back. Michail followed his motion, looking back at him with a confused expression. There was a moment where Tomai looked like he was going to keel over from disbelief, but he composed himself, instead gesturing for the student in question to get up.

Rudolf shakily stood from his seat near the back of the room, even paler than normal after that withering ordeal. As if it weren’t obvious enough that he didn’t belong here, the Goddess seemed eager to remind him every chance She got. The room was full of men and women of confidence and decisiveness. Even the outliers - an irrelevant Fraldarius some ways down the line of succession and the daughter of a traitor barely clinging to what remained of her aristocracy - had excuses; they could settle for a meek, invisible existence. Count Bergliez could not. The princess seemed to agree, given the scathing attack she put forth in her introduction, targeted or otherwise.

Rudolf almost thought he was in the clear when their knightly ‘professor’ - he used this term lightly - began to wrap up the introductions before Rudolf could even muster the courage to rise from his chair, but even that small solace was denied to him when Professor Malathice forced him to stand up.

"Uh," he started lamely before clearing his throat, giving the room a moment to settle their eyes on him properly before he started talking. "I’m Rudolf. Uh, Rudolf von Bergliez. Of the Empire, as you can probably guess from the… yeah. Bergliez. I like-" Saints, what did he like? He blanked on every preference he’d ever had, short of the intense dislike of whatever this was that he shared with the Ordelia girl. His mouth floundered open once or twice, as if words would come easier if he just started to speak, but they never did.

"Uh. Sorry," he finished quietly, then shrunk back down in his chair, hopefully to be ignored by the congregation again for the rest of the year.

“No need for apologies, we’ve got the rest of the year to get to know each other better!” Michail grinned, ignoring Tomai’s exasperation.

Lysander nodded in agreement. “As Michail mentioned, dorm assignments are on the bulletin board. Our offices are located on the second floor and are always open whenever needed. I believe Professor Kalonic wished to speak with the House Leaders for a moment, but everyone else is dismissed,” He stated. “Enjoy your evenings!”

With the dismissal of the students, the courtyard got a little busier as conversations blended into one another. The only exception was a very loud Oskar Goneril announcing Jorah’s party. Tomai decided to take the nearest empty seat and flipped open his book, diving into the text and showing little interest in anything else.

Euphemia perched herself on the desk, crossing her legs and waiting patiently for the trio to make their way to her. “I won’t keep you long, but House Leaders have a few more responsibilities in addition to their schoolwork. The first is a weekly report with your house professor on your classmates’ skills. Every Monday, you will let me know which skills your classmates want to work on, and in turn we–that is to say, all of your professors–will ensure each student is educated properly. Most nobles usually have some idea on reports and the like from watching the adults in your life, but aren’t aware of the actual paperwork behind it. This will be excellent practice and help me judge how you would watch over your own troops, so to speak; if there are any faults or mistakes, I will correct them, so feel free to do your best and don’t be afraid of any slip-ups.”

“The second is a mandatory monthly conference with the other house leaders. Facilitating relationships between the future leaders of the Empire, Kingdom, and the Alliance is a cornerstone in diplomacy, so this will also be good practice for the future. This will also be the time where your problem solving skills will come in handy, as any inter-house grievances or issues are to be solved there,” She tapped Priscilla against the palm of her free hand. “The last will be deciding which students will be assigned to which tasks. The Officers Academy is indebted to Garreg Mach for their donations, and so we return the favor with community service. The students help by tending to the horses in the stables, picking weeds from the fields, and assisting guards with watching the skies on pegasi and wyverns. Keep in mind that students cannot opt out once they're chosen and will lose their free time on Saturdays to complete these tasks.”

The blonde looked at each leader. “That is the sum of your responsibilities. Are there any questions?” She asked. “If not, then that’s all from me. I’ll be looking forward to working with you this year!”

Michail followed the crowd outside but paused when he spotted the young Archbishop crossing the courtyard with the current Captain of the Knights of Seiros, a tall, olive-skinned woman named Kalliope. The height difference between the pair was staggering despite Ioannis’ headpiece adding a good amount to his height. He diverted his path towards the pair, catching the tail end of their conversation.

“If you truly feel that the Western Church no longer requires your services anymore, then I welcome you home,” Ioannis told her. “I imagine your knights will be pleased.”

“Some more than others. I need to ensure no slackers were born while I was gone. Lady Arianthe mentioned she would come soon as well,” Kalliope said, eyes focused on any who wandered too close.

Ioannis stopped in place, surprised. “Lady Arianthe will come here? What a pleasant surprise, she didn’t mention that in her last letter,” He said. He followed Kalliope’s gaze to Michail, who stopped and bowed before the pair. “Ah, Michail, I meant to ask how your first day as professor went.”

“Good evening Little Archbishop, Captain,” Michail greeted the pair.

“I think it would be best if you weren’t so casual with the Archbishop, Michail,” Kalliope raised an eyebrow at him.

Meanwhile, the Dining Hall was bustling with servants coming in and out of the kitchen. On any other day, a horde of students and church goers would likely stampede into the room and form lines, but as today was more relaxed, it was mostly stragglers and the hungry that decided to answer to the bell's summons. Word about a party in the courtyard had spread, and it spread fast–while there were some who preferred to get settled, some were curious to see the many nobles of the Rose Unit. The idea of putting a majority–if not all–the nobles into a single unit had spread faster than the party rumors, with whispers on the Archbishop's decision floating around.

Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Obscene Symphony sea wench

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Jorah openly winced when Clarissa kicked him, but even his new bruise couldn’t dampen his spirits – especially because his friend’s simmering anger did wonders to balance out the anxious sea of discomfort lapping at the edges of his psyche, courtesy of all the nervous nellies in the room. Now of course, it wasn’t on purpose; he’d never take advantage of Clarissa like that, he preferred to bother her for his own entertainment. But it was a happy accident all the same.

In contrast to the lacklustre attention he’d been paying for most of the morning, Jorah listened closely to the introductions of his peers, eager to finally drink in some new faces. After Clarissa was Auberon, who reminded Jorah of a stained glass saint, both in form and in manner. But as opposed to the many straight and narrow nobles he could name (his father chief among them) Auberon carried a comforting air of sincerity that endeared him to Jorah more than he’d expect of one of his ilk. In an intriguing contrast, Lienna held herself just as stiffly, if not more so, but a coldness rolled off her that Jorah might have compared to the shrewder Lords of the Roundtable if it wasn’t seasoned so strongly with fear.

Widolaic was much bubblier than she looked like she should have been – Jorah couldn’t tell if he was letting the stories from Adrestia get the better of him or if shifty faces just ran in the the Vestra family – and Kellen’s introduction made Jorah wish he could go again, if only to recover from the secondhand embarrassment the little lordling inspired. Apparently Nathanael took pity on the boy and went next, and Jorah commended him for choking back his simmering disdain for the sake of another.

Rounding off the group was Adelaide, the third and final House Leader, who felt like what he initially expected from Auberon: superior, calculating, and utterly secure, like a mountain lion sizing up her prey. He’d met many of her ilk before, and had great fun antagonizing them – she’d be no different. Finally, Isolde’s introduction was almost as painful as the waves of anxiety wafting off her like acrid smoke, and Derec was… fine. His little twinge of nervousness was probably attributable to public speaking, but who could blame him? Unlike Jorah, not everyone was a natural entertainer. But he could learn. Starting tonight!

Head back in his party, Jorah was ready to continue his preparations when the uglier Professor Kalonic’s dismissal was rudely circumvented by Professor Tall Guy’s insistence that they missed somebody. Jorah followed his gesture with naked incredulity to find, with some difficulty, a shadow of a boy at the other end of it, rivaling Isolde in insecurity and dread. What a weird kid. He was deeply uninteresting, but because of that, also intriguing – he seemed to blend into the very walls, both visually and emotionally. It took a great effort to pinpoint his aura, and even then, Jorah struggled to tell where his vague discomfort ended and the general vibe of the room began. It reminded Jorah of reading a dry old tome, eyes roving over the same sentence ten times before he finally nodded off at his desk. That was hardly worth keeping him from his party!

Another thing keeping him from his party was Professor Euphemia’s invitation to stay after dismissal, but his chafing under the bonds of House Leadership was considerably soothed by the comeliness of his captor. Out of respect, Jorah paid careful attention to the professor as she delivered her address – and even heard a few of her words, too. Reports, chores, meetings with the other Leaders, it all sounded like stuff that could be half-assed easily enough. Or, more likely, put off until Clarissa finally surrendered to doing it for him. That would be even better – she’d do a better job anyway.

The only question Jorah could come up with was “How do I get more acquainted with Priscilla?” but even he feared the wrath of a jealous Clarissa enough to keep his tongue in his head until the professor departed. But even those few minutes of professionalism wore him ragged, and as soon as Euphemia was gone, he was back to his old self again.

“Galatea, that’s that family that broke off from House Daphnel, right? We’re practically cousins!” he exclaimed by way of greeting, standing on his toes to clap a friendly arm around the shoulders of his taller Blue Lion friend. “So then, cousin, can I count on you to mobilize the Lions at my party this evening? I know our fair companion will do her part to get those inter-house relations rolling.” He punctuated his words with a suggestive wink at the Adrestian princess, but otherwise focused his attention on Abraham. Augustine? Whoever – he’d have time to get to know him at the party.

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Scribe of Thoth
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The rest of Auberon's classmates were - thank the Goddess - not nearly as interesting as Jorah, and that was by no means an insult toward them. Lienna apparently sported a Crest, which told him just about everything he needed to know about her situation, and Derec seemed to be some sort of craftsman. Maybe his family were quite skilled; it could explain his attendance if they were prominent artisans. Kellen wasn't much of a curiosity, but he apparently found the crowd much more intimidating than Auberon did and his fumble elicited a brief look of sympathy from the blond. The Gloucester seemed to have thought much the same, assuming that his punctuating statement was intended to be an olive branch and not a jab, anyway; the boy was stern enough that it was hard to tell the difference. Not like he had much ground to stand on in the latter case; their house sported a girl even more intimidated by public speaking than Kellen was.

The Adrestians were, surprisingly, unremarkable. Not to say that they lacked presence or that Auberon saw them worthy of dismissal, just that they acted wholly within expectations. Despite the rumors of succession troubles, the princess seemed as confident an orator as any emperor, Widolaic fit the mould of a typical noblewoman so well that Auberon could only assume she was anything but, and Johann could've been at home in any noble household in Faerghus with that speech. Excellent competition all around.

At least, that was his first thought, until the professors noted that they were an Eagle short. The Galatea heir twisted himself in his chair to get a good look at the last introductee, though he couldn't say he ever accomplished that. His eyes swept over the nondescript figure at least twice before his brain registered even a single facet of the kid's appearance. House Bergliez sounded more impressive in the storybooks, all things considered; Auberon would've figured he'd been fished out of some gutter rather than a prominent Imperial line. It rounded off the trifecta of terrible introductions, if nothing else.

With that out of the way, Auberon dutifully made his way to Professor Kalon- the female Professor Kalonic and listened attentively as she outlined their duties. It didn't seem particularly harrowing; he'd intended to keep an eye on his peers' training anyway and extra paperwork seemed hardly a bother. Regular meetings with Jorah sounded less pleasant, but it wasn't as if he couldn't stomach the man long enough to finish a simple discussion. Of course, that train of thought evaporated once Cousin von Riegan started getting handsy. They weren't even properly acquainted and he'd already thrown decorum to the wind. Was this normal in Leicester? Auberon was so preoccupied with the arm fondling his shoulder he almost didn’t catch the words that came out of Jorah's mouth. He wanted him to order the Lions to attend his party? Putting aside that Auberon had the strangest notion that their respective definitions of 'party' differed, was this even sanctioned?

Auberon's first thought was to answer with a decisive 'no', but he figured it would be a bit impolite to speak for his housemates, even if they did want to make bad decisions. He stiffly reached to grab Jorah's arm and lift it from around his shoulders as he took a step back.

"That depends, will I be subject to more strange touching if I attend?" Auberon asked flatly, "Calling it your party implies that it's not an official academy festivity and thus I'd have little authority to stand on in telling people to go, even if I wanted to. Who even allowed you to throw this party?" He didn't have high hopes that Jorah got approval from anyone, let alone someone authorized to do so, but he needed to establish whether blowing the Deer off entirely was vaguely rude or simply the wise and correct course of action.

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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Obscene Symphony
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Despite several attempts to pay closer attention and commit at least her classmates’ names to memory, Lienna’s attention began to fade as introductions wore on. Likely out of habit, the state of her stomach drew much more attention than the other students, especially when most of their titles and places of birth went over her head anyway. But ironically, despite her main focus being whether meals were set by schedule or available on demand, Lienna still had the presence of mind to scoff at a few select introductions – particularly, the nervous ones. Kellen performed as expected, but somehow, the other two made him look good; the Deer girl seemed like she’d crumple under a harsh look, and Lienna didn’t even turn around to look at the last kid to go, so unimpressed was she by his total lack of presence. Was this really the state of the ruling houses of Fódlan? She thought the problem with her landed classmates was going to be too much confidence, not too little. The world they knew was all guarded keeps, warm clothes, and full bellies, so what on earth did they have to be afraid of?

Dismissal couldn’t come soon enough, but Lienna managed to control herself enough not to get caught up in the melee of students rushing for – and then awkwardly shuffling out of – the door all at once. Instead, she got up and hovered near the back while Professor Kalonic began her spiel to the House Leaders, trying to give them as wide a berth as possible. The very last thing she wanted was to catch the eye of that blond Alliance wretch; something told her that her betrothal wouldn’t do much good if his type was ‘moving and breathing,’ and she didn’t want to have to resort to violence on her first day.

Rather than watch that mess unfold, she cast her gaze on the other professor; the tall one who called on the last Eagle to introduce himself. He was the one who said he liked “crest research,” and it only just now occurred to Lienna that she wasn’t really sure what that meant. Of course, she knew what a Crest was, but what was there to research about them? Some people had them, most didn’t, and nobles really highly valued them. Wasn’t that just about it?

The entire idea settled a stone of dread in Lienna’s stomach. Whatever “crest research” was, it didn’t seem good. Suddenly, her desire to leave was even more urgent, and she turned on her heel and made for the door.

Of course, she was barely one step into the courtyard before she was nearly bowled over, something jamming into her side and sending her stumbling.

“Ah!” the assailant yelped, also recovering from the impact. It was a young woman wearing an apron, scrambling to regain her grip of a large wooden bowl she held in both arms. The bowl was piled high with extravagantly colourful things Lienna could only assume were fruits, apparently stacked tall enough to obscure the other girl’s vision.

“Sorry, sorry!” the girl cried, expertly regaining her balance before her precarious tower of fruits collapsed. She leaned far enough to the side for Lienna to see her look of concern. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry I didn’t see you, everything is just chaos today!”

Lienna blinked at the girl, rubbing her arm where the bowl made impact. “Oh, I’m… fine,” she said hesitantly, although she noticed a crack splitting the side of the bowl down to the base. “Um, I don’t think your bowl is, though.”

The aproned girl’s eyes went wide, and she awkwardly turned the bowl in her hands, looking upon the crack with dread. “Oh, drat! This is for the party— I’ll need to go get a new one!”

“That’s all just for a party?” Lienna questioned.

“Yes! In the Reception Hall, after the last bell!” The girl replied hurriedly, “But they only told us an hour ago, and look where that gets us!” She huffed with frustration, but apparently remembered herself when she set her eyes back on Lienna. “Oh boy, but that must have been quite a hit to crack the bowl! Are you sure you’re alright?”

Lienna’s brow furrowed in confusion, but she nodded, dropping her hand as if to sell the idea. “Yes,” she insisted, “I think you guys need stronger bowls.”

“We’ll need a lot more than strong bowls to make a deadline this tight,” the girl sighed, adjusting her grip as she shrugged. “But, with the Goddess’ help, we’ll get it done! It takes more than a little scheduling error to beat the staff of Garreg Mach!” With that, her energy seemed to return to her, and she stepped out around Lienna into the courtyard – now walking sideways, probably to avoid another collision. “Anyway, gotta go! Sorry again!”

As the girl swept off at an impressive speed, Lienna noticed a spot of colour on the paving stones just shy of the courtyard. Despite the kitchen girl’s surprising agility, she lost one fruit in the collision after all. Lienna’s stomach growled at her at the sight of the fruit, and reflexively, she picked it up— it wasn’t until she was halfway to biting the thing that she realized how picking food up off the ground would make her look to anyone who happened to be watching.

Suddenly self-conscious, Lienna straightened like a rod, peering around in what she hoped was a discreet manner to see if anybody was looking. Fortunately, as far as she could tell, people were minding their own business. Still, for good measure, she made a show of dusting the fruit off with one of the tails of her scarf; maybe that way, she’d look less like a hungry savage and more like she just didn’t want to be wasteful.

Her facade didn’t last long, though. She probably ogled the fruit too long, but she couldn’t help it. It was unlike anything she could ever have even dreamt up back in Gautier; about the size of her fist, it was a deep, vibrant pink with soft green spines, a far cry even from the few rare Noa fruits her village might see on a special occasion. Stranger still, when she bit into it, its juices ran clear – lucky, since she didn’t anticipate it squirting onto her collar and running down her hand and onto her sleeve. She was so caught up in her first taste of something from beyond Fódlan’s borders that she forgot all about the handkerchief in her pocket; she licked the juice from her fingers instead, not wanting to waste a drop.

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