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An @Ejected and @Lionhearted Collaboration

Makyla had only just found the unopened package of red solo cups when a familiar sounding voice suddenly pierced through the air behind her; the young woman quickly spun around on her heel, bottle of liquor in one hand and a plastic cup in the other, to spot the dimpled grin that belonged to none other than Felix Brooks. Kyla momentarily found herself taking in the attributes of the man she'd known since her very first year of college: from his symmetrical, chiseled facial features and bright hazel eyes, all the way down to the skinny jeans he wore which accentuated the muscularity of his thighs. She wasn't very subtle about it either, taking great pleasure in returning his flirtatious energy. Makyla could see with her own two eyes that Felix was incredibly good-looking, and she could also tell that he knew it. "Well, well... look who's decided to grace us with his presence, tonight. The workaholic himself," Kyla said, flashing him a playful grin. "And, this? Oh, it's just a bottle of bourbon I fished out of the back of my liquor cabinet. Figured I'd share a little bit with all of my lovely neighbors."

“Hey now,” Felix began, but became lost in his tracks. A sudden inhale of surprise interrupted his carefully crafted retort, taken by her beauty as she turned to face him, evidently eying him, but without care of being caught doing so. His expression fell, not from loss, nor change, of his feelings, but rather from his increasing focus on her—Makyla Jones. It was astonishing to him that in one single movement could Kyla hold much of her personality within: her confidence, her charisma, and also her callousness. Felix’s dimple reappeared after shaking his head from thought, his lips stretching into a smirk, going back to her teasing comment, “I’m a busy guy, what can I say?” He lifted his arms into a shrugging defense before moving closer to the table to stand beside her, leaning in to whisper, “I’m pretty sure I saw you there, and I’m sorry I had to reject your request—I don’t normally do private gigs.” He ended his remark with a wink, patently joking about her appearance at the club. Felix picked up a solo cup, motioning with his forefinger in a demand for her to share, “Well, shit. I’m glad you remembered that this lovely neighbor, the loveliest in fact, is a whiskey guy. You know me so well.” He held the cup out in front of her, awaiting for it to be filled, his smile still apparent.

An involuntary shudder ran through Kyla's frame as Felix whispered in her ear; she simply brushed it off, being careful to maintain her calm and collected demeanor. In swift motions, Kyla then unscrewed the cap of the glass and began to pour a bit of the dark liquid into Felix's cup, a smirk making its way to her lips. Makyla had known for some time now about what Felix did when he wasn't busy with schoolwork or holed up in his apartment. In fact, Makyla had visited the strip club several times; she'd even been there recently with a couple of her girlfriends from the university. "See, why couldn't you just make an exception for little old me?" She asked jokingly before re-positioning the bottle over her own cup. "That's cold, dude."

Without hesitation, Felix sipped the liquor as soon as Kyla finished pouring, yet his gaze remained on her, watching her brown eyes dart back and forth synchronously with her controlled movements. Brown eyes were typically considered the most boring eye color, but Felix could’ve swore that Kyla’s were different. Perhaps it was just the glow from the golden rays of the sun that made them glisten fervorously, but the fire in her eyes was, undeniably, easy to depict. He broke his stare, leaning against the table, one hand holding his solo cup and the other placed in his pocket, adopting a nonchalant stance. Felix looked unto the horizon, “Well, maybe I could. Just for you.” He glanced at her for however long it took to give her a quick, sly wink and skirted his eyes back towards the horizon. Felix, apprehensive about the topic of his job, changed the subject, “I didn’t know Redwoods housed models like you. Let me know if you need help opening your window.” The joke stirred a cheerful grin, followed by his low chuckle, “But in all seriousness, it’s pretty cool that we’re neighbours. Let me know if you do need anything.”

"Knowing me, I just might take you up on that at some point in the near future," Kyla said with a chuckle before draining the contents of her cup in a few large gulps. The streak of fire that the liquor burned down her throat was a welcome sensation. She tossed her cup into a nearby trashcan following this, deciding that she'd better hold off on drinking any more until the party actually got started. "But for now, I'm gonna go see if Ritz needs any help over there. I feel a little bad for not helping set things up." As Kyla spoke, she began to strut away from the man; she paused momentarily after taking a few steps, however, to say one last thing in his direction. "Save some whiskey for the rest of the tenants, yeah?"

Felix didn’t know how to take her reply, so he simply gave a light chuckle and a shake of his head. He swished the contents of his cup, following suit with Kyla in gulping the rest down, and unlike Kyla, Felix winced in response to the burning sensation, humored that Kyla probably handles her alcohol far better than he does. As she pranced off, her steps seemingly placed strategically to provide a subtly apparent seduction over Felix, he gave a simple gesture as a reply: raising his solo cup in the air and giving a soft smile. “Save some whiskey for—,” he playfully scoffed under his breath as he turned towards the table to begin filling his solo cup with more whiskey. The way Kyla withdrew herself from the conversation left Felix with mixed thoughts, wondering if her added statements were a way of keeping him away—Felix began to think that he was starting to annoy her. He would’ve followed her to see if his help was needed, and also to see Ritz since he hadn’t seen him all day, but instead he would make his way towards the edge to get a little bit closer to the setting sun. Felix didn’t dwell on the thought.

Musician | Student | Apartment 3A

TIME: Present Day | LOCATION: Home — Around Town — Rooftop | INTERACTION: Ritz@rougeLily — Kyla@Ejected

“Sorry sugar, I can’t not have you on this week.” The woman’s voice was muffled by the sound of a heavy exhale. She was, no doubt, puffing another cigarette—God only knows how many she’s already had within the hour. “This is like the biggest time of the year!”

Felix sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “Meg, listen. I know I told you that I love working there—and I do, I truly do—but you can’t just spare me one night?”

“Sweets,” she paused, her New Jersey accent thick and her words scratchy, “It’s only this week and that’s it. I understand you have a life and all, but, shit, you’re being requested left and right. We need to be on top of our game and available to the customers.” Her voice crescendoed throughout her statements.

“Okay, okay, okay. How about this: just give me tonight off and I’ll be at your disposal all week,” Felix suggested, pacing back and forth in his room.

The lady chuckled, “I mean, sure, but the festival doesn’t really kick off until tomorrow.”

“Well, my landlord is kinda having this thing and,” he paused, still indecisive about whether he’s going or not, “I just kinda want to get on his good side, y’know? I feel like he’d be more inclined to help me out if something breaks or whatever.”

There was silence for a second or two before she responded jokingly, “Well damn, are you gonna suck his dick, too?” She let out a laugh, which eventually turned into a small coughing fit, as expected.

Felix cringed, “What? Gross. The man’s like forty years old or something.”

“What,” she exclaimed, “Don’t act like you haven’t gone for the older ones before. Which reminds me! Tara, for some reason, decided to text me about trying to hire you for who knows what. I guess she’s willing to pay double. Just figured I’d let you know.”

Felix combed his hair back with his fingers, the same expression of irritation resurfacing on his face, “God fu--, I knew that was a bad idea. Okay, whatever. Are we good with this plan?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever. You can have tonight off but the rest of the schedule stays the same. I gotta get going, I got shit to do. I’ll see you tomorrow night,” with that, she hung up the phone.

Felix let out a grumble, letting his body fall against his unmade bed. He closed his eyes, becoming lost in thought. The stripclub had him tied down, limiting his free time at night to do anything enjoyable. Since his start there, they’ve been racking in several more customers and eventually started seeing regulars. There was a sense of guilt, and distaste, in the thought of pleasuring that many people with their respective circumstances, but the money was too good to deny it. While it’d be customary, and much more comfortable, to provide services for your typical bachelorette party or girl’s night, much of his earnings have been from the married ones in unstable relationships. It seems even in Silvervale such people existed, but Silvervale, nonetheless, had always been such a beautiful and eventful little city to reside. However, this new job had him worried that he’d be painting a bad image of himself. Regardless, he figured his days here were numbered since this was his last year at the university—so might as well live a little.

Felix creaked open his window, applying a considerable amount of force to get the tall window open. He breathed in the wet air, enjoying Silvervale’s signature haze of fog that laid scattered across the streets and buildings, extending far past what his eyes could depict of the horizon. He stood there for a moment, hazel eyes absorbing as much of the view that was necessary to calm himself down to become ready to focus. Felix, confident in his body, didn't care if the passersby would see him in his underwear, leaning out his window as if posing for somebody across the way. He took one last deep breath, and with that, he took his seat on a simple folding chair, his beautiful, wooden cello in hand and a music stand placed strategically in front of him. With a soft stroke of his bow—he would then play.

A few runs and several mistakes later—ones in which could only be deciphered by strings players—he became distracted by the ding of his phone.

‘Yooo, Felix, you coming to Bert's party later? Do you have plans afterwards? I heard there will be some free drinks and stuff at some bars in Rebecca's Hole, if you'd want to get on that we could go. Also with some of the others too probably. Would love to bang with you. NO PRESSURE THOUGH!!’

Felix smirked, letting out a soft chuckle before his fingers tapped swiftly along the iPhone screen: ‘Sorry Ritz. I don’t think it’s ideal to bang your roommate one month into moving in together. I’m very flattered though!’

Within the same instance he received another text.

‘*Would love to HANG with you, ugh flimsy ass auto complete, I AM SO SORRY!!’

Felix let out another chuckle, a smile stretching across his face to reveal his dimple, mumbling to himself, “Cute…” He sent out a reply: ‘I’ll be going to Bert’s party, but I’m not sure if I’ll be up to going out after. We’ll play it by ear. I guess it depends on how drunk I get! ;)’

Another run of the piece and he was ready to stop. He set his cello down on a stand that displayed it in the corner of his room, moving to finally throw on some clothes. Something about having the day off encouraged him to dress himself with clothes other than sweatpants and sweatshirts, but he was still too lazy to dig out an outfit from the bottom of his drawers. Felix managed to throw on a pair of medium-wash, slim jeans, which accentuated his thick, muscular thighs, though they were a tad too short due to his tall stature. He sported a plain, v-neck t-shirt just beneath a black sweatshirt that had the university’s logo printed on the front. He then decided on his simple, black adidas sneakers, and finished off the look with a silver watch. Felix kicked around the clothes that were accumulating on the floor already, noting to himself how messy he was able to make his room in just a few days. He was not one to maintain a spotless room, though it always smelled good from his cinnamon apple candle that he had lit at almost all times. The scent shed onto his clothes, but was masked by a cologne that he was sure to spray on himself before he went anywhere.

Felix went about his day off casually and nonchalantly, valuing each moment of relaxation he could before his upcoming busy week. This entailed: going to Bert’s to grab a coffee and lunch, walking around town and browsing several different window shops, occasionally stopping to help the community set up for the fair—putting his handiwork skills to good use, taking photos of Silvervale’s otherwise eery ambiance becoming welcomed by tourists, and enjoying a few long hours in the library and the music store. Although Felix had normally been a people person, he has become increasingly introverted, enjoying the solitude and peace of doing things on his own, but this would come to an end once he was satisfied with his alone time.

Felix made his way back to the apartment building and grabbed a few liquor nips from the cabinets in his kitchen. He looked around for Ritz but didn’t see any signs of him, perhaps he was already at the party. Felix made his way on up, passing by a few unfamiliar faces on the way up. Before he was even a step onto the rooftop, a familiar voice rang in his ear, causing a smirk to build on his face: ‘I brought some booooze!’. Before confirming the source of the voice, he was immediately taken aback by the beautiful sunset, choosing first to enjoy the scenery before engaging in conversation with anybody. Felix moved towards the edge, paying no mind to any of the faces he’d past on his way, snapping a few photos on his phone to capture the moment. He glanced in every direction, from the mystifying, dark, and cloudy edge of the eastern sky, to the pink and orange hues peeking through an overcast of fluffy clouds on the western horizon. The transition was beautiful and severe, almost opposite from one side to the other. Before becoming too lost in the view, he turned to the crowd, every person somehow glowing in the dimmed, golden hour from the sun.

Felix took a deep breath, cracking his neck as if it would help him prepare for the social activities of the night. First things first, he would approach the woman whom, no doubt, had the familiar voice. Although he was eying her from the back, he was certain it was Kyla from school. She always had a way of putting herself together, looking damn, near-perfect in anything she wears, but for a moment, Felix finally considered that it wasn’t the clothes that made her look good, it was her that made clothes look good. For a moment, one could hear him mutter a soft ‘Damn…’ under his breath before actually speaking up. Felix brushed his hair back, his voice picking up a charismatic, masculine tone with a tasteful amount of rasp in his words, “Whatcha got there?” He would hope that she'd turn in time to catch the dimple of his smile, finding a sense of mild fulfillment in being flirtatious with Kyla.

This seems like fun! Hopefully my character will fit well into this. Let me know if you want me to change anything! I think I left things a little vague, so let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything.

Tara could feel the ground beneath her turning into thin ice, any movement resulting in shattered ground, only for her to be drowned in defeat with her unsuccessful attempt at gaining their trust. On the contrary, she did succeed in hiding her frustration towards the nobles, though their propositions were valid. Tara knows all too well the desire to keep the royalty of one's city safe, thus, her true frustration was aimed towards the false crime that got her here in the first place. But even with her companion's added persuasion, they were still not swayed to believe that their intentions were just. They spoke too fast for Tara to properly defend herself against their accusations, but she knew that she wouldn't get far with anything she had to say.

Tara decided to speak humbly, her unwavering dedication to the task would hopefully instill even the slightest bit of trust, "Although it is to my dismay that you all do not see the truth within our intentions, I respect your resolve as I, too, was once faced with decisions of the like. We will gladly accept your test and we will see to it that the citizens are cured." Tara gave a small bow in respect before turning to her companion and placing a gentle hand upon his shoulder, "Come. Let us see what plagues these people." With that, they were escorted back into the public.

Tara took a deep breath, the air escaping into a mist before her mouth. It was already so cold, there's no way the ill could survive the winter. She turned to her companion, "I would apologize on behalf of the Order for sending your aid to fulfill a task such as this, but it would appear that we were in the same boat--and I mean that literally." Tara let out a chuckle before continuing, "My name is Tarasynora, but you may call me Tara." She took a moment to eye over his appearance, her eyes darting from one elven feature to the next. Perhaps he would be familiar with the name as she was known by many of the elves within her homelands.

Tara could feel the eyes on her like thin darts, pricking at her skin unpleasantly, as they passed the nobles of Haev. The court was vaguely familiar to Tara, having spent much time in their embassy quarters during her visit, but the faces weren't so. Granted, when you travel the world with strict goals, you put little effort into remembering the faces you meet. Though, perhaps, they could be staring at her new companion that rushed to join her on her task. She peered over at him as they followed the leading guard, eyeing his rough appearance that oddly gave off a scholar-like persona. 'Apprentice'. Tara let out a sigh. Hopefully the Order didn't have intentions of passing on her knowledge--the circumstances wouldn't allow for proper training.

The opened doors revealed a quarrel between officials, all mustered around a table while their debates echoed through the room stridently like booming horns. Disputes between nobles used to be a regular occurrence for Tara, but that seemed like ages ago, and now her name is spoken plainly, without it's titles, unlike the Lords of this room. She decided to not dwell on her plaintive reminiscence and tuned into the situation at hand.

"Just because these outsiders have come here doesn’t mean we need to help them. Let them freeze for all I care, the Order doesn’t belong here."

The man, presumably referred to as Lord Turin, held a distaste for the Order, much like the citizens of Haev--perhaps it is his influence that conjures the customary hatred towards the Order. Unfortunately, Tara didn't recognize any of the nobles present in the room, so her standing was just as negligible as the rest of the Order.

"Leave them to die and then what Lord Turin? If they die in the Winter will they not send more men here? Will they not think that we chose to let them die? Perhaps they will wage war on us when they come back. Do you think we can survive a war when Vernthouth is in such chaos?."

The well-dressed man, Lord Erith, spoke perceptively. His propositions were valid and reasonable, legitimate thoughts of someone who potentially practices careful strategies. Perhaps he's one of the men that contributes to Haev's impenetrable forces--perhaps all of these men are, collectively.

It dawned on her, though, the situation going on within Vernthouth as he mentioned. Tara's mind shifted between it's files of information to think back to the rumored events within the major city. Vernthouth, alas, remains vulnerable within the ranks due to it's precarious security of the royal court ever since the fall of the King and his son. It's possible that the Queen struggles with the responsibilities of the vast city, especially with open borders that serve as a connection between the Southern Kingdoms and Weirn. Maybe there's more that had happened since the last Tara had heard of it.

It took a bit before her and her ally's presence were acknowledged. The room grew quiet, but became restless again as the King confidently approached Tara. Although his heroic presence nearly trampled Tara's, already crushed, noble stance, she remained stoic and stern. She focused more on the words he spoke, easily overpowering the squabbles that retorted out from behind him. He seemed desperate for the care of his son, and Tara was glad to help, regardless if it was for the order or not--but she did feel a sense of relief when he mentioned the debt he'd fall into with the Order. It'd be success with her mission.

Tara's response was almost immediate, her stance indomitable to the snarling Lord, "When I went on my voyage to master my magical affinity, I made an oath. It was not just to my teacher or to my city, but to myself, that I would value all life and exercise my knowledge the best I can to save the souls of this world. My travels changed me--turned me into a protector, fearless despite my inability to defend myself from harm. I became an advocate of peace in my lands, and while your contacts wrongfully believed the false crime that I was framed with, I still stand as that same woman, regardless if I am stripped of my noble influence." Tara paused before continuing, her voice resembling the same noble confidence as the rest of the room, "Believe what you may, but even if I so happened to have slain my own father, it was for the peace between our races. Don't think that I do not still stand with the reinforced alliance between men and elves."
Imagine Lunearo being your grandpa. Birthday parties would be horrific.

Birthday party with the risen dead. You say horrific, I say lively.
Sorry for the late response! I'm assuming that nobody would really go along with Tara since the task doesn't really require any assistance, especially given that she's the only one with restorative magic. Which is totally fine~!

Tara couldn't help but agree with Einarr, though she didn't voice her opinion on the matter. She responded simply with a somber expression and a soft sigh. Haev keeps their secrets secure, while the Order meddles within such secrets, and although their intentions are lawful, Haev seems to trust nobody and only extends a helping hand on their own terms. It doesn't help that the Order has chosen criminals to try and succeed in this task, though their distaste seems to run deeper than the mere fact that they're criminals. On the contrary, this could be their test for redemption–winning trust when the circumstances don't allow for it. Though, the Order could potentially have underlying goals in mind, especially since the chosen criminals are all competent people. The Order has always had an extraordinary prowess of strategy.

Upon being given instruction, it came as a relief to Tara. The compliment of being claimed as the 'best restoration mage' did strike a pleasant chord within her, the feeling becoming rather foreign to her ever since her downfall of nobility. Tara nodded in agreement to the task, grabbing her money and her emblem before leaving the tent. The cold, fresh air felt more freeing since she could now separate herself from her new allies and the Order, even though the moment could be brief.

Walking the streets of Haev stirred up distant memories for Tara. She once walked these crowded streets with silken garments warming her body, bodyguards guiding her path to her destination, and adorned with a noble circlet that indicated her rank. Now, she walks with cold chain mail adhering itself to her chest and stomach, heavy shoulder pads weighing her posture down, and leather pants that felt too thin to be considered defensive. The contrast was sickening to her–sad, and sickening.

Tara tossed her dreary thoughts aside, paying more attention to her opportunity–if it weren't for the order, she would've been dead. Perhaps this was an act of higher power to lead her to greater things. She kept an open mind and paid attention to the lessons as they presented themselves. Although, when she reached the steps to the castle, she felt defeated once more. Despite the cold air and the icy stone that encompassed the castle, it was still a hearth of nobility, a hearth that she no longer could appreciate. Oh how things can be taken for granted.

Tara didn't make it far before being stopped by guards, their sharp spears, undoubtedly created by the fine blacksmiths of Haev, crossed in front of her fiercely and authoritatively, "What business do you have trespassing on noble grounds."

Trespassing–Tara scoffed in her mind. She set her shoulders back and raised her chin, "My presence was requested by the King himself. My name is Tarasynora Illidove, I'm a restoration mage." Although she spoke her name with great fervor, she couldn't help but feel the emptiness within the words.

There was a second of delay before they became at ease, uniformly moving their spears to their side instead of the hostile 'x' that they presented. Perhaps the delay was a certain count to allow for such a parallel movement. "Please remove any weaponry that you bear before being escorted to the King."

Perhaps it was their eagerness for freedom that prompted their inclination to support the Order. Their confident introductions seemed, almost, competitive to Tara, their words clashing at each other like blades—it was to be expected from a diverse band of competent soldiers, all seemingly hailing from a past of great achievements and feats. Tara scanned the group as they spoke, trying to depict which of them would be like her: wrongly accused and not belonging to a pack of traitors and criminals. Destiny had a way of unfolding—cleverly, unexpectedly.

Still, though, she remained silent. Listening to their responses and turning the information over and over again in her head. It wasn't until the questions of her new allies arose that made the assumed scenario dawn on her. Tara spoke calmly, sternly, her voice mature and smooth, "Haev is an abundant city." Her voice cut through the conversation clean, finally making her presence known among the group. Strands of her scarlet hair fall forward to frame her delicate skin, "The city can provide so much to any Kingdom or Order they choose to affiliate themselves with, just like they have to some of the Kingdoms of Weirn in the past. Although, as we can all tell, they are not fond of outsiders and they are very selective of who they choose to ally themselves with. I could be wrong, but I presume this effort from the Order is the beginning of a long process to try and win Haev's trust. Access to their smiths, the Orimmir Mountains, and the location of their port would provide a great deal to the Order. Trust and alliance can be a difficult and complex task."

With her hypothesis laid out in the open, she still continued to juggle the information in her head. The Order was a strategic, third-party army of skilled individuals. The stories of Haev being near impossible to infiltrate bled true, so Tara couldn't help but wonder if this was just a more clever attempt at the possibility.
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