Phoenix Wing Training Grounds->Phoenix Wing Guild Hall@BlackMaiden
While most might've thought that after having done various sword swinging drills for the last 4 hours, one might be deserving of a break. But not the man currently standing by his lonesome in the middle of the training grounds that belonged to the one of, if not the most prominent light guild going around, Phoenix Wing. Today was even meant to be a rest day, but his relentless and stubborn want to train would come as little surprise to anyone who knew the young man Cody Bloodstein. His work ethic was second to none once he set his mind on something, no matter how sore his arms felt after each swing, nor how much sweat he felt running down his face, drenching the ground as it dripped down with a soft plop
, he kept swinging all while repeating the same single thought."It's still not good enough. Faster, stronger, more. Don't stop."
He couldn't afford to slacken off, he knew this all too well. He was sick of being of little to no use when he was actually needed, the pain of failure a powerful fuel source as all the pent up frustration he felt from those moments drove him even further. He wouldn't fail anyone again, or so that was his goal. Some might call it impossible, but without setting a lofty height, how could one properly motivate themselves? And while his training with the blade had certainly paid passive dividends, especially his trip with his mentor James for several months, he knew this wasn't enough. Not even learning a 2nd magic was enough for the young man, simply just another thing to perfect in his goal to protect.
Even now, his body ached and screamed at him to stop, finding the well of mental fortitude he had built up over the last two years to be key in overcoming any aches and pains of such low intensity. It would only be another ten minutes though before even that sturdy brick wall would come crumbling down as if made of straw, finding that during one swing his sweat coated hands lost grip of his sword. Slipping from his grasp, he watched blankly as it flew across the training grounds, before grimacing as the air was soon filled with a sharp, metallic clang as it clashed heavily against a wall.
Ok, maybe that was a good sign to stop.
He wasn't even sure how long he had been at it for, what had felt like only a couple of hours to him had actually been over five. He looked over to where Ethel would normally be found watching him, though she seemed absent today. Or maybe she had already come and gone? He was unsure, he didn't claim to ever understand how that girls mind worked, nor did he particularly want to. With a sigh, he dismissed the lonely thoughts that began to cloud his mind. He definitely wasn't missing being told how cool his swordplay looked at all, definitely not.
Moving over to where he had flung Magia, he sheathed the blade before running some water, splashing it over his face as he reached over for a towel he had brought with him. Obviously the intensity of the training meant he needed something to wipe away the sweat, drying his face as he turned the tap off and looked skyward for a moment, a thought creeping into his tired mind. Had it really been two years? He wasn't sure why that thought had materialised, though he now moved his gaze down to his palm, where his guild mark was proudly presented and couldn't help the smile that crept across his face."Two years huh?"
Tracing the mark slowly, he couldn't help but reflect on everything that had happened since that fateful day. While he had wanted to join a guild, he couldn't help but pinch himself at the time that he had joined Phoenix Wing, who's reputation had only soared in the time since, though through no effort of his own. When he had joined the guild, he was so weak, so frail and so...idiotic. His actions only getting his fellow members in trouble. However, since he commenced his training with James, even Cody couldn't deny that he had grown stronger, even if he hadn't grown as strong as he would've liked, he pinned that on himself rather than his mentor.
Letting out another sigh, he let the towel hang from his shoulders as he began the short trek back home. His grumbling stomach finally getting through to him to show just how long he had been at it, deciding that maybe it was indeed time for a short break at the very least. For even though he was stubborn and knew he needed to keep training if he wanted to get stronger, James had also hammered in that breaks were necessary to rest and recover properly.
He had saved up some money from doing quests and bought an apartment on the outskirts of town, a fair bit out of his way but it was affordable and cozy enough. Plus the walk from the apartment to the guildhall he also considered part of his training, sometimes even running there if he felt like it. So he stopped off there, to briefly shower and get a change of clothes, before heading towards the guild hall. While he was perfectly capable of cooking himself, the food at the guildhall was simply better. Plus, there was a fair chance that he could dine and chat with James for a little. Or maybe find himself a quest to do, he was running short on funds so that wouldn't be a bad idea.
Oh, he could always go on a quest with James! That would be fun indeed. And if James was too busy, maybe he could try someone else? It wouldn't hurt to build a rapport with more of the members, like some of the newer ones seemed fun to be around at the very least. While these and many other similar thoughts filled his mind, he didn't seem to notice the time fly as he soon found himself out the front of the guild hall, taking a moment to admire the structure as he sighed once more, happily though. Nothing felt quite like home like the guild-hall, did it?
Taking another moment, he would push open the doors and could immediately feel the buzz of excitement in the air. It was packed, as usual, but there was a certain...atmosphere about. Something was happening, you didn't need any special senses or super computer IQ to work it out. And when Damian grabbed the microphone, well that only confirmed it.
Wait, Damian? When had he gotten back? While Cody couldn't exactly say he knew the man personally all that well, his reputation amongst the guild was very strong. He and another S-Class in Penny had gone off travelling together, so Cody hadn't seen much of either the last couple of years, so their return was news in of itself. But what followed was almost as big.
A festival? A parade? Even a Exhibition match between the S-Classes? Well, this was all a bit of a shock to the system to Cody. He wasn't against the idea, in fact he among others were certainly in favour of it, the excitement in the room swelling to fever point it seemed. Many were cheering, many raised their hands, many did both, others simply smiling and excitedly chatting amongst themselves. Ah what a time to return indeed, he was glad he had decided to come back to the guild hall. He would've missed the announcement if he hadn't.
Spotting James, he took a step towards his mentor before someone else caught his eye. Or rather, the movement of the exceed on the table. Was that....yes, it was. Standing dumbfounded for a moment, he soon mentally snapped himself out of his stupor before energetically making his way over. Even though his body was sore and tired, just seeing the person in question again was enough to fill him with energy as he stopped short of the table that Amaya and Ceclia sat at.
Now he hadn't only come over here upon seeing Amaya out of impulse, but uh he didn't actually know what to say at all as he sat down across from her. Would she even remember him? Regardless, he should say something right? Yeah he should."Been a while Amaya, how was your training?"
With a sheepish grin, he awkwardly fumbled about with his hands as he tried not to stare at her. "And uh more importantly...how have you been?"
"I-it's not funny Rajah!"
Came an annoyed remark from the water dragon slayer as she and her winged partner made their way back to Magnolia, puffing her cheeks out. Jasmine had gone on a Job to deliver a package to Hargeon Port, and while that was a trip that took a long while by foot, Jasmine had no choice to. Being a dragon slayer, she couldn't handle any form of transportation as things stood, developing a debilitating case of motion sickness just at the thought of going by carriage or train. And while she could see the funny side of the situation, having spent a whole four years living as a travelling merchant with her 'parents' only for her magic to resurface two years ago and now she was unable to set foot on one without becoming a vegetable.
But what she didn't find funny was Rajah's constant need to remind her of how pathetic it was!"I'm just saying Jaz, we could've had this job wrapped up in under a day! But instead it's taken us five!"
The exceed moaned, making exeraggerated movements with her arms to showcase her annoyance at the situation. Not that she had sore legs or anything, she had flown the entire time after-all with seemingly little effort. So Jasmine wasn't sure what her problem was!"W-well if you had just carried me-""You know I can't do that Jaz, it's beneath someone of my station to carry their servant around.""A-and I keep telling you I'm not your servant!"
How many times had they had this argument? Probably the entire two years that she and the exceed had none one another. That's right, even when they first met, she refused to carry the actually quite small Dragon Slayer. At first, Jasmine let her excuse of being too small slide. But now, even she was getting annoyed with the exceed's complaints. If she had such a big problem with them taking so long, then she shouldn't be so lazy!"A-and besides Rajah, we only took five days because you spent two whole days wanting to explore the port and eat fish!""Hmph, you should be grateful I even let you have some.""I paid for it!""And as my favourite servant, so you should. And as do I, I pay you with my beautiful, graceful presence every day! Bwahahahaha!"
Seeming quite proud of herself despite how flustered the blonde was getting with the argument, Rajah let out a bellowing laughter that filled the air with her mocking tone."J-just forget it..."
Rubbing her temples and letting out a heavy sigh, Jasmine could only shake her head as Rajah looked smugly down upon her. She knew better than to try and argue with the exceed, she had a skull thicker than the earth's crust. But Rajah was adorable, and most of the time tolerable at least so Jasmine didn't mind her as company, though some would find their relationship to be far more bizarre just that of 'the odd couple'.
Jasmine just wanted to get back to the guild hall and report back that the Job had been finished and she had gotten the payment from the client, go home to the dorms, have a shower or bath or whatever, then go to sleep. The job had taken way longer than it should've thanks to Rajah, no matter how much she complained that it was Jasmine's own fault. While she couldn't deny that walking there made the trip longer, she wasn't the one wasting time!
During their argument, Magnolia had began to creep into view. They would only be about another hour or so, then Jasmine could sit back and relax for at least a few hours. Unless Jamie needed her to man the bar again. She found herself unable to refuse any requests from most individuals, let alone the guild master. No matter how mundane it might be or how tired she herself be, such as cleaning the guild hall, taking over the bar or even helping out in the kitchen. Hell, sometimes she asked to do it or started doing it without being asked. All she wanted to do was help out wherever she could, it was the least she could after everything the guild had already done for her."H-hey, Jaz, whats wrong?"
Jasmine had come to an abrupt stop, and that was when Rajah saw the man sitting in the middle of the path sharpening a sword. "Huh? Who the hell do you think you are fuckface? Get the fuck outta the way!"
Her tone changed quite considerably, where-as she seemed to be more teasing Jasmine, now she was full on just mad and annoyed at this man."Well, well, well. Thought we could hear some lovely ladies bickering...but who would've thought it was just one girl, and a flying furball huh boys?"
The man shrugged, sighing as another dozen or so random generic bozo's
bandits walked out from their respective hiding places. "Eh, only one little girl boss? Why we bothering with this? I know ya gotta a thing for blondes, but come on."
Came the complaint from a man to his right.
Now that Jasmine thought about it, there had been a Job posted to deal with some bandits in the area. Would she get in trouble completing a job she hadn't taken? Though this was purely self defense. Irregardless, to think they would operate so close to Magnolia? They were either incredibly brave, or insanely stupid. As the men bickered amongst themselves, Jasmine stepped forward and brought her left forward, showing the men the back of her hand; and more importantly, the Phoenix Wing mark that shone a brilliant gold in the sunlight."I-If you know what's good for you...l-lay down your weapons. I-I'm a mage from Phoenix Wing, s-so come quietly and I-I'll put in a good word with the Rune Knights...or umm...something."
Her tone tailed off near the end, becoming quieter as the men stared blankly at her, before erupting into laughter. One even wiped a tear from their eye."You? A Mage? Girlie, we don't care if you're a mage from some pathetic light guild."
Jasmine's eye twitched slightly at that comment. "We'll just deal with you and be on our way. Or we could return your deal...you give yourself up quietly, and we won't be too rough on you."
A sneer followed the bandit's comment as their boss continued to watch her silently."Bahaha!"
A loud laugh escaped Rajah, drawing the attention of all those present."And what's so funny cat?!""The fact you think that you mere pathetic humans think you can challenge me...The Goddess of all creation, Rajah! bahahahaha!"
With another loud laugh, each and every word that came forth from the orange exceed was drenced in arrogance, a condescending look in her eyes just pissing the bandits off further. And in fact, more taunts and insults continued to spew forth from Rajah much to the horror of Jasmine."R-Rajah! I-I can deal with this, so please...be quiet!"
Jasmine knew that if the exceed opened her mouth any more, then a fight would be unavoidable. So she would need to act quickly, because even she could tell that these bandits weren't going to leave her alone or come along quietly...but it had been worth a try. She still had one more trick up her sleeve though. Bringing her hands together, almost as if she was praying, she felt magic welling up inside her.
Having heard enough dribble from Rajah, the bandits soon froze as a sudden....calmness overcome them. Soothing waves, the smell of water, began to overpower their senses as they felt their consciousness slip away. One by one, they dropped to the ground, with only the leader managing to overpower the sensation that threatened to overcome their weak physce."W-what did you do girl?!"
He seemed infuriated by the development, weakly getting up yet he seemed unable to muster any real...anger or venom about his words, almost sounding half-asleep. Jasmine seemed startled as her hands moved to the pendant around her neck."R-Ryujin...it...it didn't get them all. W-what do I do?"
The man looked puzzleded as Jasmine seemed to be talking to herself, nodding as if she had received a response. "I-I'm sorry...b-but you asked for it!"
Confused even further by her sudden apology, he blinked as suddenly Jasmine was in front of him, grabbing the front of his shirt before showing strength beyond that of her small and petite frame, lifting the much larger man up and over her head and slamming him against the ground. Having the wind knocked out of him, he was fully awake now as he gasped for air before feeling Jasmine sit atop his abodmen."T-this won't hurt a bit.""Wh-what are you-"
Confusion spread across his face as Jasmine placed her hands on his chest, he was knocked out cold almost immediately as he felt all his strength leave him. Exhaling deeply, Jasmine could feel her heart racing a mile a minute. That could've gone so, so, so
much worse. Shooting a sharp glare up towards Rajah, who was too busy smugly telling the bandits that's what they got for messing with her, she let out a sigh before opening up her backpack and pulling out some rope. She didn't even bother asking or telling Rajah to make herself useful and help her tie them up, it was pointless. Not only did Rajah not know how to tie rope, she wouldn't listen anyway. And even if by some miracle she did...she would just mess it up.
@Silver Fox@hatakekuro@CitrusArms@Sho Minazuki@MarshiestMallow
Magnolia->Phoenix Wing Guildhall
After having dropped off the bandits at the local Rune Knight garrison, or whatever was the eqvuivalant in Magnolia and managing to get a payment for a job she hadn't even accepted, she made a beeline for the guild so she could uh...explain that she had already done the job so they should take it down. It wouldn't be long before the girl was pushing open the guild hall doors, just in time for a loud cheer to burst forth and nearly blow her ear drums out. Letting out a scream, she dropped to her knees and covered her ears, visibly confused as a pained look crossed her features.
It had been so loud and unexpected she couldn't stop herself....now she knew the guild hall was normally pretty noisey, but not that
noisey. What was going on to make everyone so excited? Had someone started another brawl? She sure hoped not...."Oh come on Jaz, don't be so pathetic! It was just a little noise!"
Rajah shook her head disapprovingly as she fly into the guild hall, leaving the shellshocked slayer outside.
After a minute or so, Jasmine eventually moved her hands away from her ears and began slowly creeping back inside, first peeking her head through the door, before finally feeling safe enough that she could enter without her eardrums bursting again. She would have to find out what made them so excited...."PENNY!
" Well, that was certainly one thing she thought that might generate some excitement, it certainly filled her with such as she couldn't stop the beaming grin from forming as she ran over to Penny and joined in the hugging melee, not noticing at all everyone else in the vicinity as she nuzzled against Penny's shoulder...and was that tears?"I-I missed you so muchhhhhhh! S-so much has happened!"
Yep, those were tears as the younger girl sniffled and bawled her eyes out. That was at least till she opened her eyes and saw Nolan....then she went as pale as a ghost and frantically tried to hide behind Penny.
Ethel had woken up rather early this morning, being careful not to wake Nolan as she made her way out. She usually left early in the morning, but unlike usual she wasn't off to go and bother Cody during his morning training. Well, she had watched him for a while but decided it was best to leave him to his own thoughts. Besides, she had a fairly important task to do today, the beginnings of a smile threatening to grace the girl as she bent down to Chu, the fluffy abomination happily munching the small crushed crystals in her outstretched hand. This was the last of her crushed lacrima supply, so she would have to go and pick up a new batch from Jarvis, although any lacrima would do his magic was exceptionally handy for this. Wiping her hand on her shoulder, she picked up the still happily munching Chu and put the little furball onto her shoulder. After it would scurry and hide down her cloak as she would bask in the sunlight for just a while longer, before dropping off from atop the random house she had decided to perch herself atop of.
There was no one beneath her when she dropped to scare the living daylights out of today though, so that was a nice added little bonus. She wasn't sure if Jamie or Jarvis wanted to hear another complaint of such nature about Ethel, there had already been at least 7 this week alone after all.
Though with her hood currently up, everybody milled about their business as per usual, paying no mind to the hilariously short young lady as she weaved her way through the masses. Not even a glance went her way, something that wouldn't have bothered Ethel anyway as her cloaks ability would've made the opposite rather worrying. Did she even need to cloak her presence amongst the crowd? Well, probably not. But Ethel preferred to go about things with as little fuss as possible, and this certainly aided in that regard.
Normally she would be arriving shortly at the guild, but instead she decided to take a more scenic route. She didn't really have any plans later on, bar talking to Jarvis about her lacrima restock, so she decided she had plenty of time to kill even after spending a good couple of hours watching Cody. With nary a thought, the girl completely vanished from view. Normally this would startle the crowd around her, but with her presence already obscured, none knew she was even there anyway. She would reappear a moment later outside a bakery, a purse of coins soon following in her hand. After fishing out a few coins, she would push open the door to the store, taking a moment to bask in the heavenly aroma of freshly baked bread and other goods."Ah, little Ethel is back again huh?"
Came the husky voice of the man at the counter, who was currently polishing a mug before shooting the regular a toothy grin. "Whatcha after today little miss?""I already told you..."
A sigh escaped Ethel as a hand found itself on her hip, her face unmoving as she stared at the man. "My name is just 'Ethel'. Ethel is just Ethel, not little Ethel, not little miss. Ethel is Ethel."
While she didn't sound annoyed, the man did crack a grin and waved at her."Yeah yeah, I know little miss. But you're little, and a miss. It would be rather unprofessional of me to just call you Ethel, you are a customer after-all.""Really?""Yeah, really.""I...see."
Mumbling to herself after the brief exchange, Ethel made a mental log of this discussion for later use. Though there was every chance she would probably just end up forgetting it entirely. it would still make a good reference for the next time this cropped up."Eth...I mean I'll just have the usual."
Catching herself, she fished a few jewels out of her purse and placed it on the desk, the man looking down at the currency before swiping it off the bench and dropping it into the till beside him."Not a problem...though you gave a little too much again. I'll just throw in a few extras, but you really should learn to count better little miss."
Shaking his head, he bent down with a small paper bag in hand as Ethel just returned his statement with a tilted head.
She knew very much how to count, she wasn't sure what he was talking about. Actually, this reminded her of the other day when Nolan had asked her to go get some groceries and said something about how the money spent didn't add up, and that she was hopeless with money or something. She wasn't entirely sure what he was going on about, but maybe the incidents were related?"Here ya go, and don't forget to say hi to your guildmates while you're there....and recommend them to the store."
She wasn't given long to dwell on her thoughts, snapped out of her little daze by the hulking man mountain in front of her trying to hand her bulging paper bag back to her. With a grateful and understanding nod, along with a brief sure, she took the variety of sweets and left the building. She had a few more stops to go before the guild, so she popped the bakery treats into her requip pocket dimension and went to her next stop.
Her errands had easily burned through at least a couple of hours by the time she found herself pushing open the doors to the guild, a pastry in her mouth as she glanced about the building. The place was starting to fill up by now and there was a fair amount of mages in the building, some she recognised, some she didn't, and some she just couldn't think of their names. Now, her only business here today was with Jarvis, but still instead of making a beeline to the guildmaster, she went and found a seat as she continued to munch away at one of her pastries. She still had so much time on her hands for the rest of the day that she didn't feel a particular need to see Jarvis immediately, maybe she would browse the available jobs on the board as well? It had been a good couple of weeks since her last job, so she should probably go on one at some point.
And she would do just that after finishing off her little treat, though nothing on the board really caught her interest despite a thorough half hour search of every available job. Maybe she should find someone to tag along with? If none of them were particularly interesting to her, it might be funner to do one with someone else. Should she ask Nolan? She wasn't sure if he would be busy or not, but it might be worth a shout. If not, she could always ask Cody or even someone else entirely.
Though her attention now shifted to a commotion beginning to form. Something or someone had seemed to stir up the guild, a visible excitement about the inhabitants as Ethel took a moment to study those around her. Yep, it was definitely excitement. Of the good variety as well, as she began to push her way through to try and find the source of the commotion. She could hear the loud voice ringing throughout the guildhall, but well her short stature made it very difficult to try and look over other people to see who was speaking.
Oh, they were on stage now. That would help. And oh, it was uh...um.
David? No...Daniel? No that wasn't it either. Tilting her head, she began to scratch away at her milky blue hair as she racked her memory for the name of the mage on stage. He was really important too, but bloody hell what was it? Declan? Damnit what was it....Oh right, Damian! That's it! Like a light bulb going off in her head, she nodded approvingly as the guild suddenly began to cheer. She had been so caught up in her thoughts, she had barely registered what Damian had been saying, looking around mildly startled as the guild began to mumour and chatter like schoolchildren amongst themselves.
Spotting Nolan amongst the group near the stage, Ethel instead began to make her way towards the door. He seemed busy catching up with some people that Ethel could recognise, but once again couldn't quite place so maybe it was best to ask her him about going on a job. And the place was getting a little crowded and...excited for her liking, she needed some fresh air otherwise she was going to be overwhelmed by the overflowing emotions in the room. On her way past, the name drop that she so just happened to hear caused her to stop, casting a glance towards the pudgy young man that spoke Nolan's name.
She would've walked straight past without acknowledging him otherwise, but now she turned and took a few steps towards D'angelo, bringing her hood down before brushing some hair from her face. "How do you know Nolan?" She asked, her piercing crimson gaze focusing intensely on the taller boy. It wasn't a glare or anything of the sort, but just a cold and detached look. He seemed to have some reason to be seeking out Nolan, or at least Ethel assumed he did, so she was trying to see if she could work it out. which in all honesty, was hopeless for someone like Ethel. But hey, at least she tried!"Because he's up front..Ethel can take you to him if you wanted."