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Adrianna didn’t see it. Lionel seemed to think there was a big difference between not mattering and being useless. It was a nuance at best to her, and she shrugged noncommittally at his utterance. It just sounded like more complaining to her, and she didn’t care to provoke him further about it. She felt as though her point had been made.

Lionel at least accepted her point about Taliya. The woman was no saint, and she was glad at least he wasn’t so thick as to have missed that about her. His voice was thick with sarcasm as he commented on her knowing people well. “Well, some people wear their emotions and opinions on their sleeves.” She replied, glaring right back at Lionel. He was one of those types of people as well. He wore his thoughts, or at least what Adrianna assumed were his thoughts boldly upon his sleeve. He clearly felt as if he was better/smarter/more valuable than the people around them. He thought his pride and ego was more important than anyone else’s, and the group’s safety as a whole. Lionel made that clear when he forced the man to apologize to the trees. She didn’t understand why it had to be so hard, why the man couldn’t simply be polite to the group he was asked to escort.

Lionel then asked her about dealing with people and being civil about it. “Clearly not.” She mumbled at his complaint about not being diplomatic. She tensed as he again brought up her history with the Church. Why did he always have to be so crass? She didn’t like the idea of calling people dumb. Adults were the product of their upbringing, and in this world, rumor and fear spread much more quickly than truth and trust. “People are…ignorant because they are lied to for their entire lives. Magic being one of the worst.” Adrianna sighed, glancing back at the group before continuing.

“I mean, we are taught that magi once protected citizens of Adelon from beasts of the void, called heroes and revered as they brought peace among the races. Hell, the royal family is said to be a pure line of incredibly powerful magi still. And yet nothing is controlled by them. The Church controls it all, and to them, magi are a threat. I wouldn’t be surprised if they removed the royal family entirely, though I can’t imagine any of them lifting so much as a finger of resistance.” She was perhaps speaking out of turn about the royal family, and were she in their presence, she would likely have silenced her tongue for fear of losing her head. The things that came from her lips may have been somewhat common thoughts, but they certainly weren’t commonly spoken. Still, the fact of the matter was that no ruler in the last few generations involved themselves in the affairs of the Church. She had seen the King once or twice at large events, making a brief appearance, but they were more of figureheads than actual leaders.

“Magic is dying out, and one would think that the King would care. Maybe they haven’t even noticed and are just inbreeding to keep their own line strong.” She scoffed, looking ahead as she continued. Adrianna realized that she had gotten swiftly off the topic of Lionel’s question. “Sorry, I got a bit sidetracked.” She shouldn’t have been gushing to Lionel. He was probably the least trustworthy man here, at least judging by their conversations so far.

“My point is, I can’t blame people for not knowing. The Church has twisted people’s minds into thinking things about magic, about magi. They have made learning about it all but impossible, apart from pledging to follow their code, even though their code is what is destroying the very essence of magic in this world. The Church has us all turned against each other, and a dumb populace is a moldable populace.” It made sense for the Church to keep people from sharing too much information. That is probably how the Church kept the royal family so content, by sparing them from the pesky details like crime, education, and healthcare of the people of Adelon.
“If Jerard is a hunter, then Taliya has bigger problems than being desperate enough to send me to rescue you.” Adrianna said. He just needed help focusing on his task. If she wasn’t there, that poor sap would probably still be apologizing to trees. Of course, she hadn’t seen how complainy the group had been before she arrived, so she didn’t think they were terribly annoying at all. In any case, Lionel might not even know Jerard, but Adrianna knew he was quite involved in Taliya’s resistance efforts.

In any case, Adrianna was rather annoyed that Lionel had such little faith in her, and thought that telling the drivers to expect them was a poor idea. Next time she would just let them shoot Lionel when he surprised them. Don’t be like that. Then you’d have to heal him.

“Oh look. They didn’t kill us.” Adrianna donned a sarcastic voice after the wagon passed them on the road. “How fortunate we are.” Lionel really brought out the worst of Adrianna’s attitude. She had tried to be decent towards him, but he was just such an asshole.

“No, but these morons with us are killing me.” Lionel complained.

“We can hear you!” One of the women called out in response.

“Oh, you can do something right? Well done!”

The exchange prompted Adrianna to ask about the people they were leading, though Lionel’s remarks were quite condescending. She frowned at his initial remarks and shook her head. “Every life matters, Lionel. Maybe you don’t think they matter to you, but that doesn’t make their lives worthless.” She hated to think what he would say about her when she wasn’t around. What’s more, with such a poor attitude, Adrianna couldn’t imagine what she was ever supposed to learn from him.

Lionel went on to tell her about a healer who didn’t know much about plants yet, a guard who lost control of his magic, a teacher, and another guy. Overall, they didn’t sound like bad people, and Adrianna shrugged. “They certainly could be.” She replied at the end, though her tone was genuine. Why Lionel seemed so eager to see all of these people as useless was beyond her. She considered how to challenge Lionel without being driven to apologize to a tree in the process, but Lionel spoke up, about Taliya this time.

She scoffed lightly at Lionel’s remark quoting Taliya, shaking her head in disagreement. That might have been a mantra of the resistance under the old leader, but Taliya was more interested in Magic as a weapon, and anyone who chose not to use it as such was the lesser for it. “I don’t know what you drugged Taliya with to get her to say that. All I’ve heard is, ‘If you aren’t going to help us fight, then get the fuck out of the way.’ ”

Turning to the woman near the back, Adrianna spoke up a bit, walking backwards for a few steps. “Miss, if you are looking to learn more about natural poisons and poisonous plants, there are some books that the healers keep that I am sure they would be willing to share.” She said before smiling brightly at Lionel. “But you also don’t have to learn how to kill people.” Of course, Taliya would be a little annoyed if the healer stayed in Mutebo and did nothing, but if she was a half-decent healer, she would be accepted. Hell, if she showed up when it was her shift, she would probably be favored over Lionel at the least.
One would think that the people they were escorting were being held against their will by how rude their exchanges with Lionel became. Adrianna kept her own mouth shut initially while the group complained about not taking more breaks. She wondered how long they had been making their way to Mutebo, and looked back a few times to try to gauge whether any others were injured. She was pretty confident they were all fine, albeit tired, and had her attention drawn to Lionel as he demonstrated a new side of himself, sparring verbally with one of the women.

He had a point about attracting beasts, but he certainly could have said it more eloquently. Adrianna sighed, and turned to step in and diffuse the situation a bit, when one of the other escorted people began to rant and rave. When he grabbed Lionel and the man continued to patronize the larger, stockier man, Adrianna rolled her eyes.

The two began to tussle, and Adrianna let them duke it out, but drew her staff in either hand as she stared down another man who nearly leaped into the action. The last thing they needed was a loud brawl in the forest. She was putting them away again when the other took the hint and Lionel finished putting the man back in his place. He insisted that the man apologize to the trees for wasting oxygen, and Adrianna couldn’t hold back her opinions any longer. “Now you are wasting time and oxygen, Lionel.” She said, shaking her head as she turned to the man rubbing his arm still. “Don’t go apologize to the trees. Or if you want to, do it while we walk. We are wasting time and daylight.”

Adrianna turned from the men and began to walk off. She heard Lionel insist that the man continue with the apologies, and she tensed, debating leaving him behind. Taliya told her to go and get him back, but she had made sure he was still alive. Couldn’t that be enough? She only took a few steps, but could hear that no one was following her. It made sense, really. Even though the people they were escorting wanted to move along, they trusted Lionel. He had kept them alive this long, though she really didn’t know how. Still, she would have loved to wound his pride by having all of them just walk away and leave Lionel waiting to be appeased.

She weighed her options for a few moments before stopping and waiting for Lionel to determine that they had wasted enough time and could continue. “Are you finally done lording over these people?” She asked.

"I don't know...Being a lord might be fun." He replied with a snarky grin.

"You may act entitled enough, but you have to be at least a little responsible." Adrianna said, holding her fingers a few inches apart. She shook her head at the thought of people actually relying on him for anything. Why Taliya had entrusted him with this was beyond her.

With that, she began to walk once more, silently grateful when she heard footsteps behind her once more as the others began to follow. They went another mile or two before Adrianna heard something up ahead. It sounded like a cart and horses. She stopped, holding up a hand to indicate that the others should pause, and then turned to Lionel, mouthing “Do you hear that?” as she pointed in the direction further up the path.

He indicated that he had, and she gestured to the trees. “I’ll go check it out.” She whispered, and then drew her bo staff once more. Once they started to move off of the path, she darted to the other side and moved between the trees, then turned and quickly made her way to the direction of the cart. Surely enough, only a short distance later, Adrianna made out the cart, and its two drivers. One she recognized from Mutebo, and so she stepped out of the woods and waved. The driver brought the cart to a stop, and Adrianna spoke with them briefly, letting them know she was traveling with a group up ahead a little way, and to expect them shortly thereafter. They appreciated the warning, and mentioned something about Taliya being eager for their return.

Adrianna jogged back to the place where she had indicated for them to go off and take cover, and waved them out. “It’s just some folks delivering supplies from Mutebo. I told them to expect to see us so no one was spooked. Let’s keep going.” She said to the group before turning her attention back to the path. Going ahead to scout had slowed them down further, but hopefully they would get back soon, and Lionel wouldn’t pick any more fights with their charges. “So who are these folks?” She asked Lionel as they began moving once more. “Mages? Inventors? Protestors?”
Despite having asked about her combat abilities, Ethan didn’t seem to care much about her answer. Turning back to Ethan after she posed a question of her own, she found that he wasn’t even paying attention to her anymore. Though she was a little annoyed that she was putting effort into socializing with someone that was clearly only being polite before, Adrianna reminded herself that it was better to form less ties with these people. After all, they weren’t going to stick around when things got tough. They were merely people with whom she could share space while they went in the same direction.

Adrianna went her own way after the meal, thanking Ethan for treating her as the man went off with the others to train. She didn’t much understand the point of it. There was only so much they would pick up in the few days they spent here in Mutebo—it wasn’t like a few short days would turn them into hardened soldiers, ready to face whatever challenges they expected to encounter. But she barely knew these guys, and whatever was prompting them to put a crossbow in an 8-year-old’s hands instead of leaving her with responsible adults to raise was not her business.

When she was asked to go find Lionel and bring him back, along with his charges, Adrianna was less than thrilled, though she kept the majority of her complaints to herself. She didn’t know why Taliya would have trusted Lionel with such a task, or why she cared so much about him returning. She asked, but Taliya reminded Adrianna that she was owed a favor. “For what?” Adrianna challenged, crossing her arms. She hadn’t been in dire need of Mutebo when she arrived. She had come initially because she had helped one of Taliya’s men, and he wanted to return the favor. They should have been even.

She could have just left, and she seriously considered it as she wandered near the path from Mutebo in the direction Taliya had indicated. If she simply never returned, Taliya wouldn’t have to know why, and if their paths crossed again, Adrianna could have easily stated that she had been spooked by some armed travelers, and didn’t want to lead them back to the mage safe-haven.

As she walked, Adrianna kept her eyes and ears out for signs of Lionel, or whoever might have intercepted him, but her mind was coming up with elaborate reasons why she could get away with never returning. The sound of shouting tore her from her thoughts. She heard the word recklass, and moved closer to the yelling, keeping herself largely hidden until she verified that one of the voices belonged to Lionel, and he wasn’t actively fighting.

Adrianna emerged into the clearing where the group was situated, earning some gasps from a few of the people nearby. “It’s okay.” She said, putting her arms up defensively. “Taliya sent me.” She looked from the closest person to Lionel, who was sitting on a stump and eating an apple. He was also covered in blood and looked a bit bruised. She could feel how worn out he was, and though his injuries were not extensive, she had a feeling that he had already been healed a bit after…whatever altercation transpired.

Looking from side to side, Adrianna felt for any other injuries among the group, but didn’t sense or see any. Whatever trouble they had faced, Lionel had been the only one to look the worse for it, though the others hardly looked like fighters. “She said you were taking too long. I figured you probably got distracted fucking with people’s livelihoods. Seems I was right. Who’d you piss off this time?”

Lionel responded noncommittally, and no one else seemed to want to add anything to enlighten her further. He asked if she wanted to fix him up, and Adrianna stared at him for a moment before letting out a deep breath and walking over to him. Even though he had already healed himself a bit, she could still tell that the blood on his clothing wasn’t his. Interesting. Perhaps he was more competent than he let on. “Sure. That’s my job.” Adrianna placed her hand on his shoulder, the one he had just put back in place, and took a few long slow breaths as she concentrated on sending her energy into his body to take away the aches and bruises. There wasn’t anything life-threatening to heal, but he was going to be a lot more comfortable for the rest of the trip. For his own magic, though, he would need to rest, something Adrianna was sure that he knew.

“Need to sit and rest for a while longer?” She asked when she was done. She wanted to get back as soon as she could, but she didn’t want to escort these people back herself to get the task completed sooner. As much as she didn’t like it, that meant working with Lionel for the time being.

Lionel, fortunately, seemed eager to get moving again once more anyway. Adrianna shifted her pack as Lionel rounded up the group, and moved to the front to lead them. If her magic had been something combat oriented, she might have moved to the back of the group, to help respond with magic to an attack. Since most of her magic was healing, and her actual combat skills were close combat oriented, she moved up front with Lionel to lead the way back to Mutebo.

If he had complained and wanted her to go to the back, she would have, but he said nothing, so she figured it was fine. Still, she didn’t exactly have anything in mind in terms of small talk with the man. She could chat with some of the people they were escorting, but they had already formed their own tight-knit group. You don’t need to constantly try to make friends. Adrianna reminded herself, walking quietly beside Lionel.
Hey all, I just got back from a rather exhausting trip, and I am still catching up on work stuff. I hope to post by Friday evening! Thank you for your patience.
I believe that Norman's goal is to help prevent Cecil from needing repairs so often. I haven't been around long, but does Norman think that the others need protecting by Cecil? I imagined the idea was that Cecil could throw it up without expending his own energy to protect himself from attacks, and then take it down to launch his own. Maybe if Cecil grabbed Amune he could pull her in as well if that is what you want?
@Mogtaki I didn't think you would mind if I jumped in. I didn't have any other posts to do. :)
Even though Adrianna had interrupted Nymira’s conversation with Kensen while waiting for their food to be prepared, they still ignored her. It wasn’t a big deal. It was better to be ignored than despised. As they were conversing, though, a word Kensen used to describe Nymira rolled about in her mind a few times. Had he…called her Princess? She was a bit slow on the uptake, because they had moved swiftly past that and were going on about differences between their lives here and in Dimuran homes. Even if she had wanted to have a conversation with Ethan, or either of them, it would have been impossible with their bickering, and so she found herself continuing to listen.

In truth, it offended her that Nymira suggested they weren’t capable. If they were not capable, then why hadn’t the Dimurans come and taken over the lands? She was tempted to interrupt and ask as much, but Kensen was already answering her, suggesting that the Murans had different goals. She couldn’t really compare the two, and so stayed silent. Though she desperately wanted to remind Nymira that she could not even bandage her own wounds, which was a bit of a mark against her so called “capability.” She had been so prideful about not wanting to be healed, and yet she had no skills with keeping herself upright after injuries. Was it assumed that all Dimurans on the battlefield simply fought until they collapsed? Adrianna honestly didn’t know much about the Dimurans, or their royalty, but she didn’t like anyone making such generalizations.

Nymira asked Kensen about the inner cities, and Adrianna wondered how many of them he had been to, compared to her. She had no reason to think that Kensen was uninformed, but the fact that Nymira was going on about Adelon as a whole when she had not been to them was laughable. She scoffed, realizing that Nymira had not even been to any of the cities she already proclaimed to understand and turned to her own food, pushing aside a piece for Ethan when he finally tore his eyes away from the food being cooked. Kensen only had hearsay, but Adrianna didn’t bother to interject to talk about it. They would find out for themselves if they stuck around long enough.

The woman’s anger flared further, and Adrianna nearly smiled as she realized that Kensen was definitely getting to her. They bickered like an old married couple. She lost track of the point, though, as Nymira began to talk about how the clans decided things, and continued eating her meat. When everyone had their food, Adrianna tore off a piece of what she had gotten to share with Ethan, since he wanted to try multiple things. As they walked, Adrianna fell into step beside Ethan, who asked if she had been getting into trouble during her journey. “Not…particularly.” Adrianna answered. Was he wondering if she was going to put them in more danger? Or was he trying to gauge if she was capable with a weapon?

He answered the question a few moments later, saying that they were definitely getting into trouble when they traveled. “Ahh… Well, no. I can’t say I have run into much in the way of Church or monsters. A few bandits, a batch of slave traders, some general scoundrels, but nothing terribly interesting.” She answered.

“Some healers fight with their magic. I…can manage a few light-based attacks, but I’ve never been too pressed into a corner for that. And I have my own closer combat weapons.” She transferred the skewer to her left hand and pulled one of the pieces of her bo staff out of its sleeve on her right hip. “I keep a two section bo staff. So I can wield it with one hand, or link it together with the other and have a larger beating stick.” Adrianna spun the staff through her fingers quickly, and then twirled it around her body quickly and with very little effort. She had decent strength for attacks as well, but as she was eating and they were walking, she wasn’t going to do a full demonstration. Adrianna slid it back into the sleeve and resumed eating. She didn’t think she needed to tell him about the dagger she kept in her boot, or her proficiency with a bow. None of them were carrying them, so she doubted she would have the opportunity to demonstrate it.

“So…is it just the Church that has been attacking your crew? Or monsters as well?” She asked. “Could it be because of your company?” She gestured with her nearly finished skewer to Nymira. Though the woman was annoying, Adrianna was attempting to refer to the woman’s royal title, and see if she could learn more about her company in the process.
I am going to skip this round. @shylarah you're up.
Adrianna saw Ethan’s face light up at the mention of the meads that the pub had to offer, as well as Nymira’s death glare towards him immediately after. Her brows furrowed in confusion, but she didn’t inquire about it. This group had been traveling together for quite a while (at least she assumed) and they clearly knew each other well. Besides, Ethan was an adult…at least, he looked like he was probably an adult. If he wanted to have a drink, that was his prerogative, and if he chose to listen to Nymira, that was his choice as well.

They made their way to a place Kensen had picked out. Adrianna had been there a few times, but the guy who was usually in charge of cooking occasionally set the food on fire and left everything blackened. Fortunately, he wasn’t the one cooking this time, which meant there was a chance that the food would be decent. “Depends on the kind of meat you like.” Adrianna replied. “I’m a fan of venison, so I would go for that. It is rich, and much leaner. I don’t care much for fat.” The loins would be quite expensive, because the cut was so good, but the steak was a fair enough price usually. The stew meat and roast cuts had already been sold off to make stew with one of the other vendors no doubt, but there were some ribs and the osso buco cuts of the venison, along with some beef, poultry, rabbit, squirrel, and other animals.

She picked out a smaller cut of venison steak for herself, since he was treating and she wasn’t terribly hungry anyway. “Why don’t you try some of my venison, and then pick out some beef for yourself, so you get to try both?” She offered, gesturing to the prime rib cut. “That one would be good, it is very tender, and works well over dry-heat like this.” She explained. Of course, he could get whatever he wanted, but she was happy to offer her opinion since it was requested.

While Ethan was still deciding, though, Nymira began to complain about laziness. “I’m sorry?” Adrianna asked, confused for a moment whether the woman was even speaking to her. “I am not sure that I understand what you mean by calling these people lazy.” Adrianna replied. “I would say that they are efficient, in most respects.” She imagined that the woman was complaining because they had someone else cooking their meat, but that was ridiculous. It was good to have specialists. Otherwise, everyone would end up being mediocre at everything. She agreed that there were problems with the Church’s control, but trying to break everyone apart and make them fend for themselves would make them all weaker as individuals.
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