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Lirrah had been hoping for a little more fanfare, a heartfelt declaration of protection, or even a mention of how cute and amazing she was and what a pleasure it would be to defend her. She had no right to expect it, of course. Not from someone of Velvetica's stature (social), in particular. Still, it was something. She smiled happily, her expression conveying that Velvetica's response was as pleasing to Lirrah as she could possibly have imagined.

All Lirrah really needed was Velvetica's word to do her best to protect her. Velvetica seemed the sort to put a lot of stock in verbal contracts (you shouldn't), and it would have been as good as the ink it wasn't written in that Lirrah would come back virtually unscathed. Well, she supposed it was hard to promise such things in times like these. Still, she was not expecting to be part of the battle plan. It was almost flattering, being treated as a mercenary asset. Like she was a real knight or something.

But real knights got killed.

Her eyes drifted to Guillaume once more, who was ecstatically hobnobbing with perhaps two of the most important and dour gentlemen she had been apprised of in the whole camp. How did a man that seemingly naïve survive this long? Perhaps she would have back row seats. Anyways, if she was on good terms with the knight, and he was on good terms with Cadmon, there may be some business prospects there.

Still, the business at hand was surviving. Lirrah gave Velvetica a polite curtsey, and smiled brightly.

"Thank you, lady Hraesleg. I will look out for any dangers that may come our way, and do my utmost with my meager compat abilities. Oh, and please feel free to stop py my tent more often! You have a standing 10% off 'Saving My Life' discount on any items you desire! I can get anything you want, lady Hraesleg. Anything."

Lirrah turned to the bowman next to her, who had asked about the battle plan. She supposed she would be grouped with him soon, and Lirrah hadn't had much of a chance to interact with many Elves. They seemed to be rather reclusive here, and borderline nonexistent back home. All she knew was that they apparently lived for a very long time. Maybe some of them had a lot of savings squirreled away, though she wouldn't assume. Either way, he was pretty and had a sort of austere regality to him.

Then again, a lot of the Lions were pretty. You wouldn't think it, but Ila-Nem were they pretty. Of course, Lirrah knew she was the cutest and prettiest, but a more insecure type would probably be grinding her teeth looking at everyone.

Well, maybe she felt a little threatened.

She smiled up at the archer and gave him a wink.

"My, you look tall and strong! I'm sure I'll feel safe with a reliable gentleman like yourself," Lirrah sang, pouring on the charm like strawberry jam on a dry biscuit, "Let's protect each other out there, shall we? I look forward to working together~"

What Lirrah meant by this, of course, was that the taller and stronger combatant should take some responsibility for protecting the shorter, weaker one. The way she said it, however, made it seem almost like an equal partnership. A joint business venture in which they'd both gleefully profit, when the reality was that she'd want Irian to do most of the tough work while she languished upon her own timidity and reaped rewards.
Lirrah parted with her customers, having sold a relatively good amount, and packed up before heading over to the briefing. The Demon woman, notably, seemed to be able to vanish rather quickly for one so big. If a Demon could truly just come and go as they pleased, it was perhaps a little bit alarming, but more in a cosmic sense than an immediate one.

Well, as long as her pastries were well-liked, she probably wouldn't be killed.

Lirrah heard Velvetica out, knowing that having her finger on the pulse of the latest goings-on was a great tool for a merchant, and also a fantastic way to not die. Lirrah didn't get get the Juyuem vitriol against necromancy. Though Ila-Nem also warned against their evils, it wasn't quite so ingrained in her people. Hadriyu were the more pressing concern, but perhaps one's scorpion men were another's necromancers.

Hadriyu were, by nature, monsterous Nem-killers. Was there something in the nature of necromancy that ensured a particularly monsterous person? If not for the mindless undead craving for flesh, eternal unskilled labor seemed a good business prospect. Though if that's what a necromancer wanted, they could just learn to make golems. It was probably that innate viciousness that could be pointed to in any civilized discussion about the subject: mindless undead were killing machines, and if a necromancer were to lose control, they would continue plaguing the world until dismantled.

Like a Hadrid.

Lirrah felt some degree of disgust well after anyone who actually despised necromancy, but she got there. Only, she looked as if she hated necromancers the entire time she was debating whether or not there might be any business viability. She knew her clientele. All the people around her hated it, so she hated it too. She looked just as disgusted by the mention of the dark arts as anyone else.

An easily-changing value system was yet another magnificent tool for a merchant.

Once she was finished speaking, Lirrah timidly approached her. Velvetica was yet another person who was kind of scary, though by no means tall. Lirrah knew, however, that she was good-hearted. Even if everyone told her not to spend time on bandits, she could not ignore those in front of her.

Lirrah understood this value firsthand.

"San'yashu, lady Hraesleg," Lirrah greeted her softly. It wasn't really something she wanted a lot of other people to hear. She looked up at the woman, eyes glistening innocently, and briefly wondered if the fact that Lirrah had to look up at her when they spoke made Velvetica feel tall.

Lirrah hoped this was the case.

"I would not dare ask you to leave anyone pehind on my account, nor ask for anyone to escort me to home camp. You need as many people as you can get to deal with these awful necromancers, so... I was actually thinking I would like to help you more! To do my part for Velt," she lied as naturally as she breathed, "I wanted to pring some items along, and maybe help keep an eye out. My eyes are very good in the gloom, and I am an expert at avoiding danger! Only... I do still get scared. May I count on you, again, to see me through the night? E-even though I am weak... I would like to do something."

Lirrah turned her meek and cute act up to maximum. If this didn't make Velvetica want to protect her with everything she could, Lirrah didn't know what would.
Lirrah's cheeks reddened slightly as the knight loudly exclaimed his love for her pie. Of course, Lirrah knew it was the best. She had made it. However, the sheer robust earnestness with which the man conducted himself was almost an embarrassment. She had heard, around camp, of one who went by the epithet 'The Sincere'. She didn't have near enough knowledge to say for certain, but if the title was not ironic, she could guess that it applied to this man.

But he was definitely hiding something.

Lirrah knew that the more outwardly honest someone seemed, the more likely they were to have a skeleton in their closet or two. Or maybe it was a manipulation tactic? Well, it didn't matter for now. Lirrah could not be confounded so easily, anyways, and it probably had nothing to do with her besides. Whether he accidentally shoplifted once or routinely killed people in his basement, he liked her cooking and his money was good. Lirrah put a bright, cutesy expression on her face.

"Thank you so much, mister knight! I'm so glad you like it! Please come pack to the Matayannah Trading Company at pase camp for home cooking at its finest! I love having customers as enthusiastic as you!"

Lirrah noted, during her exchange, that Velvetica was meeting with some of the people who had been sent to scout. An announcement would likely be made soon, so it was probably time to start packing up her goods. She smiled sweetly as the Demon woman, with a strange joviality, explained how dire it would be if her friends were to show up for food. Lirrah swallowed.

And the woman patted her head.

Lirrah figured that many Nem would be borderline offended by the gesture, as infantilizing as it was. Then again, many Nem did not purposely put on a cute act to sell more. In truth, Lirrah had been patted so many times that she had considered selling them if she could word it in a way that didn't make her seem scummy. It was a part of building rapport, it was a tool in her kit, and she really didn't mind being fawned over. Adorability was a weapon, in its own way, and it was likely the reason she was here at all.

Lirrah wondered, briefly, what the Demon woman would think of her ambitions. The lengths she would go to stand at the top of the-

Ila-Nem, it was like being trapped under the massive paw of some great beast, and she was but a mouse. Lirrah's cheeks reddened a bit more, and she shivered.

"W-well, thank you so much for saying so~" Lirrah tweeted, turning her cute up a few notches, "I have spirit in apundance! I think you and I are speaking of different friends, though. I more meant comrades in the immediate area. Perhaps your Hundi friend, if the occasion takes her!"

Lirrah beamed up at the woman, punctuating her request with the world's most honey-soaked giggle.
Lirrah practically jumped when she was addressed by a newcomer, her nerves already agitated by the presence of the world's tallest demon. When she looked up, however, she was greeted by the sight of the sort of person that might be described in a heroic storybook. Tall, golden-haired, with a sort of reassuring joviality.

Lirrah had read one or two of the more popular Veltan stories to get a sense of what does well over there, though she had not grown up with them. She was neither starry-eyed nor enthralled, but his presence was nevertheless a comfort. She forced a smile up on her face, which was almost indistinguishable from her genuine one.

"A-ah, yes, this is our first meeting," she replied, producing a mutton pie and indicating a price of 1200. As she leaned over to give the man a ticket for a pastry later, she added in a conspiratorial whisper, "I certainly would have called for help myself if my voice hadn't gotten stuck in my throat... ahaha..."

She quickly turned her attention back to the demon woman (not that she had left Lirrah's vision since she showed up) as she took the Hundi's money. Perhaps the demon's summoner? Either way, the Hundi quickly busied herself with the knight. They seemed to be on good terms. Lirrah had yet to clock all the dynamics in this location, so it was good information to have.

Lirrah gave the demon woman a big smile, still forced, and still almost indistinguishable.

"T-thank you. I, ah, make all the food myself. C-cooking and selling! My skillset is hardly suited to compat. I'm just a weak little Nem~"

Lirrah didn't mention that she wasn't bad with a bow or a sling. She doubted that would be enough for the woman to take an interest in her, but the further beneath notice she was on that front, the better. If this was a woman who only enjoyed a fight against those with combat ability, Lirrah should be safe with her... probably.

"Ah... and if you like the pie so much, please do stop py the Matayannah Trading Company tent at home camp, and tell your friends. I am sure to put my nerves aside if we get more acquainted~ I really do appreciate your custom!"
Lirrah looked up, wide-eyed, at her newest customer. Her first instinct was to run and hide, but she was stuck to the spot. As her brain processed the fact that there was, indeed, a gigantic demon woman standing in front of her, a few extra pieces of information clicked into place.

No one seemed to be panicking, at least not any more than one would panic before a confrontation. Some were maybe uncomfortable, but they weren't drawing their weapons. Searching her memory, Lirrah alighted upon a tidbit she once heard about a demon that she might see around one day. Apparently, one of their finger-wigglers could summon one, and she usually did this on the front lines. Since Lirrah tended to stay at base camp, it figured that she wouldn't have seen this woman before.

Lirrah had honestly thought it might have been a joke.

But even so, they didn't mention how damn big she was supposed to be. Ila-Nem, this demon was as tall as three of Lirrah standing on each other's shoulders! And so red!

After standing dumbfounded for almost a minute, she managed to drag herself back to reality. If she was going to go near the front lines to help, she couldn't let things like this freak her out.

But she was so big-

"Puh-puh-pweased tomeechu!" she found herself stammering like an ignoramus.

She looked around in a panic, and bolted back into her tent, quickly bringing out a few fruity pastries in her tiny, trembling arms. She was good with diplomacy, but not with bravery.

She wanted to tell the woman [on the house], but there wasn't a single bone in her body that would allow her to string those words together in that configuration. As if on instinct alone, she blurted out the inflated price she charges everyone.

"S-s-six hundred each! D-don't tell anypody I let you have some! I m-mean, i-if that's OK with you!"
A good deal below the crimson flag of the roaring lion was a much smaller, much lower-budget flag emblazoned with the image of a melon-cake that said "Matayannah Trading Company". It was just under this flag that Lirrah had set up shop, standing behind a long table full of snacks and confections. The tiny Nem was nearly obscured behind all of her offerings, but her honey-sweet smile and loud pink hair could not be ignored.

"Treat your nerves with something tasty! If it's the last thing you eat, make it something good! For our amazing soldiers about to join compat, we have a special deal for you! Purchase a savory snack now, and receive a free pastry to enjoy after your hard-fought victory!"

Lirrah had been scolded before about loading soldiers up with candy pre-combat. Adults can make their own choices, she had thought, and whether it was a good or bad one wasn't her problem. Though Lirrah still believed this, that scolding gave her the idea for this special: incentivize purchasing a snack better for your stamina now by throwing in a sweet for later.

The deal was not only cost-effective for her captive customers, but it had the added benefit of inspiring them: they need to live through combat so they can enjoy their free pastry. Sometimes, even something as small as the promise of a free sweet can have miraculous effects. Lirrah knew better than anyone that great things can come in small packages.

Also, such a deal would spare her from further scoldings. By meanies.

Lirrah gestured grandly to the goods laid out before her. She had bottles of nuts and dried berries, some quality meat pies, and a selection of jerky. All of which could be eaten immediately, or taken on the march to eat later. With each purchase came a claim ticket for one pastry, which she would provide when they returned. Her pastries couldn't last in a soldier's luggage, so this system was in place to maintain the standard of quality that she held herself to.

And so she didn't have to waste any of her pastries on someone that didn't come back. It was more economical like that.


Absolutely! Send me any language ideas you have. I like making sure my names fit for the culture and the character. Maybe some Nem-specific swears too lol

Thank you very much for the information! I'll get to work on something tonight-ish.

Is there any real life analogue for their food and/or naming conventions that I could take inspiration from? I'd like to give her a name that reflects the region she's from, and maybe come up with my own dishes as well. Spiced crab and melon paste is a good start, though. Pragmatic, flavorful, and communal dishes come to mind.

Oh, and since she'll have been in Velt for a while, she'll have wanted to learn their food too. Any small information about that would be appreciated as well.
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