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With her demonstration done, Fia quickly scooted over next to the man in armor. Fia had never met an oni before, and that alone caught Fia’s attention. But then when it came to his work with curses and cursed metal, she found someone truly special. Fia was aware of the possibility of cursed metal, but now she found living proof. Fia looked up at the armored oni with eagerness. Fia's eyes were as deep red as her dress, and a black ring surrounded her pupils. “You don’t have to worry about me, lovely. I would be most interested to learn more about how you wield your cursed metal.”

As the Sorceress,and wasn’t that a surprising thing, came closer to admire his armor, he couldn’t help himself but feel pride. The Scholar might have been a bastard, but the fact remains that he gave him a truly wonderful ability."I’d be more than willing to show you,Lady Sorceress.Hopefully i’ll prove to be up to your standards"

Before he could continue, the small red-head introduced herself, and his hypothesis proved half correct. For one, she was a noble, a very high ranked one at that. She did,however, seemingly come here because of her passion instead of any more pressing concerns. Being free and willing to follow what your heart tells you, she was worthy of respect for that.

The offer to bring them all to Helvetica after the expedition took him by surprise. Enough that Evelyn continued, explaining the usage of each of the items that the Roxas found. The generosity of it for one, but mostly because he never thought of it as a possible place to lay low. Though…he doesn’t have any plan after this expedition… he could try it, let himself become famous enough that nobody would try anything stupid, refuge in audacity and all that. "I might take you up on that offer, Miss Evelyn. i have heard much about Helvetica, and it seems a truly lovely place to explore."

"Does no one understand what the word investigation mean?" She set the pictures down, letting out a frustrated sigh before snapping her eyes to Gray Flame and giving him a glare as well. "FINE, FINE, fine, fine, fine!" Her magic flared around her in anger, silvery with amber flecks as it swirled and then settled. "Fine."

After Evelyn scryed the items, she scooped them back up. She paused at the bottom of the stairs, jaw clenching and unclenching. Loud enough for everyone to hear, before she disappeared; "Roxas. Healer." She then moved upstairs to put everything back. Damin might have been right, why did she bring herself on this expedition. Once upstairs, she put the chest items back, the flier on the desk and put the pendant, draft and picture back in the bedroom. She didn't come back downstairs.

But as soon as he finished, the Gray flame and Roxas discussion came to a close in a quite…Spectacular way. He could understand her frustration, after all she didn’t do anything wrong. Misunderstandings truly are a poison that slowly corrodes. Hopefully they can surpass this, and come out stronger as a party for it.

"With you by my side, Ser Forbann, we could take on an entire army! Pleased to work with you." He offered an appreciative nod, moving on to the next soon after.

Fortunately, the silence left by Roxas departure was broken by the fearless(Allegedly) old Human Knight. Looking him over, he couldn’t help but nod back"Likewise Ser Engelberd. Any army would be wise to fear us!" Misunderstandings aside, Engelberd was a fierce warrior, and he wondered who would win a fight between them.

In a fair fight, there were good chances that he would be able to take him, but he didn’t entertain the thought for more than a moment. If they truly fought to the death, The old Knight was wise enough to exploit his weaknesses to make the fight far more favorable for him.

"For me, I am Tillius Battakka." Tillius spoke, his tone seemed normal if not a bit low for an orc, but it carried underneath a gravitas befitting his status. "Unfortunately, I do not bring with me magic or technological marvels, only strength and techniques." He paused and laid a hand on his gladius to briefly indicate the gear he was using. "I was an officer in the Westernant Army, but in case you worry, I am now retired, and am merely an adventurer, just like everyone else. I am more than confident and honored to be serving with you brave comrades into the unknown."

Tillius left it as such, as he took a step back. His weird intonation in the last sentence might seem a bit out of place for an otherwise normal introduction. Maybe it was just orc speak, or military speak. But the Gray Flame might notice a glance to him from the orc afterwards.

Soon after Engelberd, the Orc spoke up. A fellow Military man, Forbann couldn’t help but stand at attention, or at least as much as he could while being seated, at his tone. He introduced himself as an officer, and he believed it, that tone was far too similar to the officers of the Tritagonian army, so much so that some old ingrained instinct came back to the fore, if only for a moment

"It’s an Honor to have you,Sir." his response was short and concise. The former officer was obviously displeased about something, most likely the misunderstanding about Roxas, and it was probably best not to aggravate him more.

His attention was once again taken by the Sorceress,Which for some reason stayed close to him for all this time,though he couldn’t tell you why. Maybe she didn’t know where to sit?

Fia Blackfire

“A bath sounds lovely.” she said, almost like she was never questioning the masked elf at all. She turned on her heel to face the tall armored oni. She clasped her hands together resting them on her cheek as she tilted her head. Fia gleefully spoke again with a sweet smile, “would you care to join me, darling? I’ll help you wash your back.”

He looked down at himself. His armor was still drenched from the thunderstorm before, which was still going strong. He himself felt wet, and now that he noticed, it was starting to become slightly uncomfortable.

Carnatia de Luson

Although...she turned to Fia, who was propositioning Forbann to take a bath together a few moments ago.

She coughed, her cheeks slightly tinged red, as she blushed, "Erm...yes, er...Lady Fia, if you have any intention of doing... ahem...licent—er..."

She stopped from saying 'licentious acts', considering the presence of Evelyn, who was but a child.

"...certain acts with Sir Forbann, then I believe it's common courtesy to have the rest of us use the facility first...yes? So if you do not mind..."

Her blush intensified at the rather awkward situation, before she composed herself by taking a deep breath, "I-In any case, I'm sure you do not mind allowing myself to use the bath first, yes?"

Certain acts? It was a bath, what would they do that would make her so nervous? Unless the Westernian bath customs were different when multiple people were involved? Well, not like it matters much, he very much doubted he could even make use of the cabin bath.

“I think you’re fine to go first, Carnatia. A bath wouldn’t go amiss, no,but unfortunately I don't think that most baths in Varenheim could fit me, especially the bath of a cabin in the middle of the woods.” he regrettably had to turn Fia offer down.

"So, unless you wish to use the thunderstorm to wash ourselves, I'll unfortunately have to decline." He joked, trying to abate any disappointment his rejection might have caused.

"I don't see that as a problem."

Came a bold, whimsical voice from the stairs. The Gray flame looked back and had his shoulder clapped by Vesemir.

"Why the tense atmosphere! Eh?" he cleared his throat and fixed his top hat before continuing. "Well. Tell ya, it' hard for me to disagree on these two young ladies' acute proposition. Why indeed *ahem* not claim them? If they are as powerful as Miss Evelyn concluded, then in my opinion, it is also a crime to leave them here in the dust while it can be used to illuminate one's why and help people."
Raising his both hands like some sort of arbiter, Vesemir shifted his gaze at everyone present. "To take or not take, it is an equally right proposition. Neither of us here may claim the authority to prevent any of us from claiming such items. And if morality is still holding you back..."
The archeologist took out a leather pouch from his bag and placed the clinking purse on top of the fireplace.

"Paid in full. The choice is all yours."

Well, that was one way to smooth things over. Forbann didn’t know how long such solutions would last. Hopefully enough to forge actual bonds with each others.

"Now we have finally seen eye to eye about that matter, I've something to announce to everyone," Vesemir spoke again, louder this time, not only to get everyone's attention but seemingly to deprive Gray Flame or Englebert a chance to discuss the looting kerfuffle again.

Between his speech, he pointed at the map at the table. Before gazing at Carnathia and Fia in particular.

"It is important, but I will be brief. So please stay a while and listen. It was decided that we are going to take a slightly longer detour first, toward the ruined town of Lassë and then to Ostianor slightly to the east. I think that's all for now. Any questions regarding those areas please consult with our expert, Mr. Gray Flame."

Respectfully, he beckoned at Gray Flame, who had been acting like a statue for the remainder of the exchange.

"As for now, please take a rest and don't hesitate to make good use of... well, the amenities we have."

He nodded. It was his expedition, and from what he gathered, his aim wasn’t to just reach Nuria, but to re-discover history. It only made sense to have a few stops to historically relevant places on the way.

Seems like a fine enough plan, Boss. Here’s hoping we’ll find what you want, eh?

Coming over to Roxas,still hunched thanks to his height,and sitting himself on the floor so as to be more level with everyone else, Forbann spoke softly."don't take it too hard on Engelbert. He's old for a human, and good chances are that he has those responses ingrained in him. If at least half the stories about him are true, he's probably trying to look after the party in his own way"

With that said, he spoke up for everyone to hear
"that said, Engelbert idea has merit. We are gonna rely on each other for the foreseeable future, so knowing what we can do is the least we should do. Let me reintroduce myself, i am Forbann Spiser,and if my height didn't give me away, i am an Oni"

Deciding a demonstration would be best for the next part, he put an hand foward,and he Shaped his gauntlet, the metal rising in a stalk and petal blossoming in his best approximation of a rose,glittering in the flames and sometime lighting itself with the sickly glow of the curse residing within it.

"I am a ferromancer,able to shape metal however i see fit.Unlike most ferromancer, i specialized in Cursed metal, and before you worry, it's harmless to anyone i don't wish harm to as long as i'm touching it

Reshaping the metal rose back into the gauntlet, he continued

"Much like Engelbard,i would do best when in the thick of it, though i'm more specialized for attrition fights than fast ones. Furthermore, i know curses and how to deal with them, even if i must admit my methods are...brutish, to say the least.

Forbann Spiser

"Indeed you are, Sir Spiser, please make yourself at home." Evelyn gestured toward the encampment, taking the initiative to invite the gentle giant into the group.

"Many thanks" He nodded to the red-headed child, and fully entered the camp. Looking around,he found a stump that looked tough enough to hold his weight, and sat himself.

Just as he was about to entretain himself with his Ferrokinesis, the masked elf came back to the now very snarky-looking child.

"Do forgive my presumptuousness, but if you're worried for my well-being, please don't. I'm very much capable of taking care of myself."

To give proof to her claim, Evelyn brandished her enchanted rapier from its scabbard, then began performing deft swordplay, showing off the results of her training, her performance further augmented by her equally-enchanted dress. She then finished off with a flourish, the tip of her sword ending up being pointed toward Gray's collarbone, "And this is but a small sample of what I can do, Sir Gray."

Her skill with the blade seemed adequate enough, even if the technique themselves were far too fancy,more akin to dueling moves.
What was noteworthy though, was that a child had such skills. Is she one of those fabled prodigies?

"Your skill are quite good for one so young!" He praised, Clapping his hands, the gauntlets Clinking togheter,but he soon continued, his first thought about her presence still in his mind.

"Though, if you'd humor me, why did you join the expedition? From what i gathered, the Twilight Lands are one of the most dangerous places a person can find itself in, so you must have strong reasons to adventure there" and to help cut any anxiouness that this question might bring the young Lady, and to sprone her, he revealed his own reason.

"I myself are here on a...Vacation so to speak. I never left my homeland,you see, and with all the problems brewing there, i though a change of pace was what was needed. And this job gave me both an excuse to leave and brough me to a place that,if nothing else, should be exciting to be in and were my homeland problems can't reach me."
Forbann Spiser

He wondered how he did it before, while he was in the army. Marching day after day. and to top it all off, he didn’t bring anything with him in his haste to escape. So now his feet were sore, he was hungry and sleeping on the dirt was starting to become easier, which he wasn’t sure was a good thing.

As he trudged along, the sun shining above and mildly cooking him inside his armor, he saw a commotion further ahead. A cart,tilted on the side of the road,a mule beside it and a man imprecating and a woman weeping.

They were so caught up that they didn’t even notice him closing in. After the tension most Humans feel whenever they interact with him, they told him of how something scared their mule, making it freak out and tilt the cart in its panic.

While the mule was calm now, the cart was far too heavy to put upright, and now they were stuck in the middle of nowhere, the closest city was days from there on foot.

Well, Forbann couldn’t help but feel for the couple. Helping them wasn’t too much of a bother,being an Oni does come with its advantages afterall, and in their gratitude, they offered to transport him to the next city over. Forbann’s sore feet were accepted, of course.

Over the journey, Forbann learned that the couple was going to join a caravan going to Valenheim, and when he confessed he was headed there too, the couple was quick to suggest to him to take up a job as a caravan guard,at least for the length of the journey. They could even put in a good word with the Caravan master.

Guarding the caravan wasn’t that hard, as except for one weak attempt by some bandits, the journey went smoothly. The caravan master was even cordial enough to point him where he should go to get to the rendezvous point.

Talking about it, it seemed that Vesemir was a fan of the outdoors as instead of finding himself at an inn or estate, he was faced with a camp outside the city.

Letting himself in, so to speak, he noticed that he wasn’t the first to arrive.

An orc taking the chance to sleep, an elf humming and carving, a strangely stoic human, an armored figure and a masked one together, and a man with half a goblin mask was talking to an elf that dresses as a stereotypical rich person.

And in the middle of it, a red-headed noble-looking child was seemingly speaking

"And the same sentiment goes to all of you as well, fellow adventurers." Evelyn declared to the group in general to finish her introduction.

Though he only heard the last part, he gathered that she too, was part of the expedition.
He wondered why though. The twilight land was no place for children, so she must have some reason beyond her. Maybe she escaped her noble family or something? No matter

“Well met. I’m right in assuming this is the Expedition rendezvous? If so, i’m Forbann Spiser and may we help each other in the Journey Ahead”

(Adrenal Boost:One Man Army going down to Slight Superhuman)

In Between Nico defeating what might have been one of the closest things to a god on this planet, and Quingshe literally ripping off mythology, Ernesto felt…Elated. He wasn’t even involved, and yet only witnessing these events made him have an adrenaline rush that he seldom ever felt. His NA seemed to have the same thought, powering up to a level he reached only once in testing.

'Would this even be enough to be on par with them?' He mused. 'Probably not' He concluded, but that isn’t what was really important,was it?

He should definitely try to get a spar with Nico and, if he could swing it from her, make Quingshe create another mythological creature he could battle with.

“Qingshe here, requesting a headcount. What’s happened? Is everyone alive? Intact? If you’re in a position for it, we should begin the evacuations immediately,” the Snake of the Zodiac said, concern in her tone. “I would aid you, but I’m going to be busy trying to blunt this storm,” she admitted.

Fumbling with the radio, he responded “Ernesto here, just witnessed your little theatrical stunt. Everyone seems fine-ish enough. I even saw Cristina again. I’m going to help with the evac now. My power isn’t gonna last long, so i better get moving” he admitted, without any enemies or Quingshe little theatrics pumping him up, his NA was already depowering at a fast rate.

Fortunately, he should have more than enough time to help.

Closing the distance less than a second, Ernesto fist pick-up was Nil, who seemed to be shell shocked from something.The poor girl didn’t even resist or react much.

After securing her, he could move on to the actual PoWs. His current power wasn’t gonna last much time, but his speed and strength should be able to bring a great number of them to safety.

'Well,All things considered, this could have been a worse first mission.'

Shaking the dizziness out of himself,Ernesto looked around, finding himself alone in the destroyed bunker. A wave of disappointment fell upon him, as he understood Huo Ren escaped him.

As his Warform fully repaired itself from Huo Ren's previous volley, he jumped, landing outside of the now useless bunker, observing the situation.

He wasn’t in the Mirage space anymore, and Huo Ren seemingly took the chance to once again put his Sun in the ai-

A distant sound, closely followed by a mountain in the distance being flattened by explosions. Surely the work of Quingshe.

‘...I wonder how it would feel to be hit with one of those’

The other members of Task Force Obsidian were all engaged in combat too, seemingly with some new Chinese Arm Masters though she couldn’t see Cristina anywhere. Probably exhausted after keeping up the Mirage Space. As regrettable as losing out on the fight, he should probably go find her and at least make sure she’s safe.

His musing was interrupted, as multiple shells and bullets hit his form, the explosion uselessly trying to break through his warform.

It seemed that Noel's curse was cut short, and some people survived it.

Though, they could have chosen a better target. Oh well, Cristina will have to wait. Not everyone can survive a tank shell afterall, and they are gonna wise up sooner than later.

And so, Ernesto moved. His feet brought him to the closest of the enemy combatant in moments, his claws backhanding the first of the fifteen soldiers this side of the Mekong.The other didn’t fare much better. Running was futile, he was too fast. Fighting wasn’t much better, as nothing they had could even hinder him. In under ten seconds, the fifteen combatants laid on the ground, dead or unconscious.

Another Tank shell exploding on him with unerring accuracy made him remember his work wasn’t done.

‘Spread the feets, bend the knees, inhale’

Ernesto jumped, the ground cracking from the force,as his body crossed the river in a matter of seconds.

Landing on one of the offending tanks,he dug his claws under the turret cap,easily tearing it away and throwing it at one of the APC’s, making it tilt sideways.

Instead of the crew he’d expected, he found the tank empty inside. Probably an Arms master power then. Means he’d have to completely trash them.

Jumping off the tank and kicking it off into the river, he continued, moving towards the tilted APC. Tearing it in half was easy enough, and even if the Noble Arm power somehow persisted, it couldn’t accomplish anything like that.

As he finished with the APC, one of the tanks rammed him, probably as a desperate way to hinder him. Flipping it, he tore through the underside, and rummaging in the insides, he quickly found one of the yet unexploded shells.

A small amount of pressure later, and the tank was a smoldering wreck. Removing his still pristine arm from it, he turned to deal with the last remaining vehicles, which stopped shooting at him for some reason.

…Was that APC trying to hide behind one of the still conscious PLA grunts? and was that tank Quaking?

Ernesto shook his head. Huo Ren must have hit him harder than he thought if he was seeing things like that.

'And now I'm disappointed again.' He sighted. This mission turned out to not be such a glorious an experience as he hoped.

Oh well, disappointment or not, he still had a job to do. He could already feel his power waning now that fire-boy wasn’t in the field anymore, best he started to hurry. He didn’t fancy having to swim back through the Mekong to reunite with the rest.

(A minute later)

As he once again cratered to the ground, he could feel the Warform leaving his form, returning him to his normal height.

'What was I doing before I got distracted?AH! Cristina!'

Looking around, it seemed like she was still missing, though the Forest fire and Nil being on the ground was new.

Well, not like he had any ideas on Cristina whereabout anyway, so might as well go help her and Martha and see if they knew anything about it.

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