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Evander Fino Synesti

Hurdles and Naked Secrets

Location: Torragon Dune Sea
Peeps: Fiske Flachstrauch @jasbraq, Desmond Catulus @Th3King0fChaos, Pan [@Piroutte], Marci @Force and Fury

Chaos. A normative sight to behold now a days. His eyes lifted to the sky, always testing aren't you? Evander spoke into the wind of the rising dust.

Which god would listen?
Which god cared?

The sand storm approached, turning and twisting the hands of fate round and round. The party split in different directions, Evander looked ahead.

A test or a death sentence?

If he ran there was a chance he'd be caught in the storm. If he stayed and sheltered up, there was a chance it'd be awhile before the storm dissipated, moved on, or broke through. He had some knowledge in temporal, but his skills did not allow him to teleport. In the distance in front of the sandstorm was an old ruined house. If he was quick enough, he could seek shelter there. It lasted this long, it must be strong enough, Evander thought.

It was his second year at Ersand'Enise. If he learned one thing, never back down from a trial. Each one was only going to make those who accepted the challenge - stronger. There were too many forces he had witnessed last year that prepared themselves to take out the next. Short cuts and bow outs were not rewarded in this world. He bent his knees, lifted the heels of his feet, twisted his toes into the sand to get a strong connection with the sand. He decided, He decided, "I will beat you," before he launched himself like a sprinting hurdler at the Avincian Olympics.

Sky walking on air, pouncing from height to height, punching his way up as fast as he could. Reaching over 1,000 feet, he shot down at his target... fast. The winds had kicked up dust reducing his vision. The beginning of its wave consumed Evander into its fold while tossing animals and objects in his way. Evander's perceptive skill and nimble abilities helped him evade, landing in the ruins before the sandstorm completely embraced the desert with its overwhelming arc of shimmering sand.

Evander was now safe... for now...

His eyes scanned the new environment as the storm roared and raged with wrath outside. Feeling his way around, he uncovered a trapdoor. A door that took him into a cellar where he unlocked a hidden gate. A gate that revealed tunnels. Tunnels that revealed a city. A city that revealed a people, the Cazenax.

"They...are," Cazelui allowed. "They're Cazenax and one is King Stazen and... you're really not from around here, are you?" She let out a low whistle and her eyes seized upon the gathering.

After having emerged from a trapdoor, Fiske, Desmond, and Evander found themselves confronted by a Sirrahi. A slender less-appealing one than Selena Disska, but one none the less. Her reaction was as surprised as the four tunnel rats standing before her. She talked about the Cazenax, King Stazen, and for a long moment, they met the eyes of Potés-Palix.

She glanced down at the four and looked mortified. "Wait a second! You came from the tunnels!?" Hastily, she dropped into the midst of the group, thumping the door shut with her tail and brushing sand all over it. "Are you working with the Sirui Hé!?" she demanded.

They seemed stunned into silence, or else they did not know how to answer. Cazelui's entire demeanour had changed. She fairly bristled with fear and... something else. "Are you!?" she repeated, eyes large as people began to take notice.

"What is the Sirui Hé?" A response of utter confusion radiated from Fiske. "Please calm down.. I do not understand what you might mean."

Desmond realized something when Cazelui answered his question, 'Wait. Humans and Sirrahi interact here? That can't be'. In that same moment he realized this was something else as Cazelui nearly pushed them into the tunnel again as she slammed the trap door shut and now questioned them if they knew the...Sirui Hé.

Desmond took a second to try and think in her shoes, there may have been only once she has heard that name, so she may have messed it up. It could have been a different thing all together, but Desmond decided to air on the side of caution and assumes she meant the Sirrahi. It seemed Fiske was in the same slight confusion as he seemed to ask the question Desmond was thinking as he added in, "Do you mean Sirrahi?"

She was in a near-panic. "Sirrahi?" she questioned. "Is that another way to say it?" Her voice lowered. "The Free Partners: the liberators."

Then, there were voices, and fingers pointing their way. It was clear that these people were not human, even if they were something like humans. A preteen boy who seemed to be missing both legs squeezed out from between two others and scanned the new arrivals. Dozens seemed to regard the four with wonderment and then... a small, vigorous young man with bright red skin, gold hair, and luxurious dark robes joined them. "He is the king," Cazelui hiss-whispered. "Bow." She coiled herself atop the trap door and brought action to her words.

"And as I have long promised!" King Stazen declared, striding confidently toward them as the crowd parted, "Visitors from afar shall come to know our lands, to trade and exchange, to partake of our culture and traditions, to learn from us and to share wonders of their own!" Arbitrarily, he chose Fiske's hand to take and to raise, and the crowd cheered. Somehow, they could understand him. His eyes found theirs and issued something between a plea and a warning. They seemed to say, "just go along with it, okay? Work with me here!"

They bowed. Evander did not.

"Pardon my ignorance," Evander politely spoke with soft eyes. He would give this 'thing' the benefit of the doubt, a tact approach was best. "Cazelui graciously pronounced you as a king," Evander looked at Calzeui, then back to Stazen, "but, I am not familiar with your rule, would you be so kind as a merciful king to share your story and that of this prophecy you've foretold, so that I may be more inclined to bow my head as a Noble of Constantia and recognize your rule in full for what it is."

Evander's posture was warm, non-threatening, and with arms wide open. He was demonstrating friendliness, humility, and a nod to the standards that befit two 'Nobles' who meet at a similar social station. His motivation was to gather a better picture of this land, the people who stood in front of them, where they were, and who was about to start commanding their movement based on his own prophetic agenda.

There was silence, then...
He laughed...
And laughed...
Like a nervous fool.

Evander waited, patiently.

The snarl remarks blew from Stazen's mouth. He deflected by using the excuse of his current responsibilities, used his people as a safeguard, and then called their party late and rude. What did it matter when they arrived? It didn't. The loose words of a king projecting dominance by suggesting those he was addressing were in the 'wrong'. A little odd considering they all just met. A little odd considering he had just made grand proclamations to the crowd about their arrival. Evander was puzzled by this outburst. Was this king threatened by him? Taking a look at Stazen, I guess if I were him, everything would feel threatening.

Evander tilted his head at Stazen, "I didn't ask for you to educate me or for your forgiveness," Evander kept a firm gaze, "I asked for trust." The fact that this king couldn't see past his own nose was obvious, and that made Evander uneasy. There was a scent of insecurity wafting from Stazen's leathery flesh. How could he trust a king who felt the need to be defensive against a polite and warm 'visitor'. One, moments ago, he was touting in his own honor.

Of course as expected from the coward. This Stazen character never acknowledged Evander's question. Instead, he indulged himself in drink, but before he did, Pan tested it.

"Poison..." She let slip in the quietest of tones. The scent of the sweetwater had already begun to distort with whatever was inside and her trained nose could smell it. Her stomach burned but it wasn't due to the poison but rather the rapid burn of calories to regenerate the damage the poison was causing. It would eventually thin out but she'd need to eat a hearty meal soon as she'd be entering starvation soon. She backed away closing the cap, deciding against dumping it as it might have caused too much of a scene. Instead, she opted to detract more from the rising tension. "A sour cactus, your majesty. Our little one will need to buy a new one..." She turned, shaking the bottle and raising it. "Aaaah it was free at least!" The Cazenax crowd laughed. "We should go pay boy so he can buy new, fresh cactus, your majesty." She ran her thumb over the cap and considered... Well... she was right earlier... The foreigners would bring excitement.

"Thank you for sparing me a foul drink, Exquisite One." Cazelui bowed deeply before Pan and the king, but something was wrong. Marceline's eyes, meanwhile, found those of Evander and Fiske.

In the meantime, Stazen turned to his mother and whispered, "Find him, and bring him to the Omenaxan, alive, preferably." With that, he turned to the crowd. "Well then, I guess you get what you pay for, folks, eh?" He let out a laugh, but then he shook his head. "And we are told that the 'real thing' is better than what we can craft from the Vozas? Further proof, my friends and people!"

With that, a handful of figures slipped out from the crowd and began moving aggressively.

Evander puzzled at the word, Omenaxan, what creature inhabit the tunnel city that signaled to others judgment and punishment?

Marci glanced at Fiske and was just about to speak when four of the guards stepped forward, interposing themselves between the king, who was quickly moving along, and the group of four foreign teens. "It'll be easier if you answer some of our questions without making a scene," warned the old woman as they began to surround the quartet and their stuzé accomplice.

Pan would turn to eye the foreigners, narrowing her gaze in suspicion. She didn't anticipate this, instead wanting to insert her way whatever the foreigners were up to. Taking the drink was an innocent enough way to join in but now... poison? Who would have thought. Was Cazelui involved? The foreigners? Or somebody else? She'd linger close to King Stezan, her nose working to sniff out something she may have missed.... Nothing.

Fiske was starting to put one and two together around his scaley acquaintance. blending the trapdoor they arrived from with the rest of the ground, seeing as it seemed rather important to Cazelui. His gaze then turned to the old woman. softening his voice so it could mostly be kept between the two of them. "Questions to people that are from lands so far away that this nation was unknown to us." The Huulisch boy then pointed to his eyes and ears. "Even if I was not part of this, I think my abilities can be very much of use to catching the ones trying to poison your king."

Cazelui waved near-frantically for Pan to come over. They were at least acquainted, for what it was worth, and the cazenax slid in towards her warily. "The Omenaxan!?" she hissed. "What is going on? What's Potés gotten himself into this time?" She swallowed. "What's he gotten me and these humans into?"

Evander turned to the old woman with a perplexed look on his face, "it'll be easier if you tell us why you want to question us." The audacity of these people, first, his question was deflected, and now they expect him to answer their questions? Not until they start explaining themselves.

Pan kept a tight grip on the bottle of poisoned sweetwater. She thought about finding someway to figure out how it was poisoned but she only knew how to cook food, not really how chemistry worked. Her mind began to wonder who could help before Cazelui's hiss for her attention. Pan slipped to the side of Cazelui, cautiously. They were familiar due to Cazelui being the one to clean the griddles most times. She did good work and Pan had cooked for Cazelui sometimes as a means of thanks. Although there wasn't a strong bond to put her above suspicion. It may have been fair that Cazelui wanted to know what may have gotten unwittingly into but at the same time, why did she need to know. "How familiar are you with the humans and you didn't look like you were eager to take a drink. What are you currently into, Cazelui?"

Marci had been about to speak when Evander took the words right out of her mouth. "I, too, am curious" she added, "also as to what's going on here. It was difficult to miss the abrupt change in tone: from feted to questioned at the drop of a hat." Her eyes slid in Pan's direction, "Or a bottle, perhaps?" Cazelui was working to calm herself. How could this be happening!? She couldn't betray her people, but... "I met them when they came out of the Sirui Hé trap door that's literally right below me," she whispered, radiating anxiousness with every word and action. "I move, I get incriminated in whatever they were involved in, especially as a stuzé!

Whatever Evander and Marci had said, it was lost on the Dowager Queen. She regarded Fiske with narrowed eyes, which flicked the way of the other two and then came to rest on Cazelui who shrak back somewhat at her gaze. "It is as you said." She nodded. "Perceptive, I will admit, but how do we know that you and this stuzé -" she made a face of distaste "were not part of the plot?" She twisted to take in Pan. "Had this young lady - whose abilities are well-known - not gotten involved, my son would be dead or dying right now." She spread her hands. "I am not accusing you outright, but you are a new element appearing at a very precise place and time. You must admit that, were you in my position, you'd be foolish not to at least investigate the possibility."

Evander's brows furrowed, "Again, I am unsure of who your son is, and who you are." His lips pursed and mouth tightened forming a thin line, he was annoyed. "What would any of us gain from seeing your son dead when we don't even know who he is, seriously?"

Marci looked with annoyance at Evander and gave him a small signal with her fingers. She knew that Fiske had already worked his magic and she had to trust it now. The lanky youth was quieter as he maintained the spell. "Seriously, this... snake person said he was the king around here when she almost fell on us, and he's clearly someone important." She rolled her eyes. "Does it really matter? They think we were in on poisoning him or something." She turned to the Dowager Queen. "Look, your majesty. I don't mean to sound rude or disrespectful, but we're complete strangers here. What possible reason would we have for getting involved in your internal politics? We were in the wrong place at the wrong time and you can see my friends here are completely clueless. Why would anyone want to assassinate him?" She blinked a couple of times and smiled helpfully. "We'd be happy to assist in finding the true culprit, though, as a gesture of good will." She gestured in Fiske's direction.

The Dowager Queen looked at Marci, at Evander, and at Fiske but, once more, her eyes settled on Cazelui. They narrowed. "Perhaps I believe you," she admitted. "You are hardly inconspicuous as assassins, after all." She was looking at the sirrahi, however, almost glaring. "You," she commanded, "move."

Cazelui bowed her head and stumbled for words. "I'm very sorry, your magnificence, if I've caused any trouble..." Then the others noticed it. She was drawing. She was doing it slowly, but she was drawing, and it was a lot. "For it certainly wasn't my intention. Truly, you must believe me when I say that I was innocent in all of this. Circumstances have conspired to make it appear the opposite..." Still, she drew, and it was clear that she was preparing for either a fight or a flight. "I was and remain a loyal subject. This was pure coincidence and ill fortune. I shall of course move, but -"

Then, the Dowager Queen brandished a wand. "I said move, demon!" It flared with energy and Cazelui let out a small scream, freezing in place and clutching at her chest. Robotically, as if against her will, she slithered off of the trap door and all around her who knew of its existence held their collective breath.

Pan had heard Cazelui talked about the trapdoor but from where she stood, she could not see anything. Perhaps if Cazelui moved and she opened her mouth to address this before the Dowager Queen graciously inserted her way into the conversation, bringing the foreigners along with. "A small thing, your grace. I was doing what any good Cazenax would do."

Then Cazelui was demanded to move and Pan's eyes shifted to the spot where Cazelui lay cowled, flinching slightly at the Dowager Queen's more forceful method of removal. The stuzé was removed and....

Nothing but the ground. At this point Pan felt a rush of confliction. Cazelui spoke sincerely and yet... it seemed like nothing was there. A lie or a truth? "What might you be expecting moving the coiled one, Queen Mother?" Pan asked innocently enough in a convincing tone to sound like she really had no idea what the Dowager Queen was intending.

Evander knew what he witnessed. He had faced it before... and always won. This, old woman used COMMAND magic. Evander noted.

The old woman seemed annoyed. She hid it well, but... very much so. She scowled, releasing Cazelui, who slumped over with a small yelp. "Very well then." The Dowager forced a tight smile and even inclined her head graciously in Evander's direction. "I appear to have been mistaken and you have my apologies for the inconvenience." She glanced Pan's way and her face seemed to say, "come now, girl, truly?" She may have missed the door thanks to Fiske's clever illusion, but it was painfully clear that something had been hidden.

She addressed the others. "We have guards on the job already, of course, but it would go a long way towards publicly demonstrating your goodwill and gaining our trust if you would join them in seeking out the perpetrator of this attempted regicide." She smiled and, while it was likely meant to be pleasant, it was not. "You will find such good faith amply reciprocated, particularly should you prove successful. One must always be on guard for the disruptive elements and desperate criminals within a society." She continued to regard Cazelui with suspicion for a moment longer before looking imperiously away. She did not see the way that the stuzé rose up momentarily and glared daggers at her back before shrinking away once more, rubbing at her chest.

Fiske, for what it was worth, was quick to agree, and almost obsequiously polite about it.

"Of course, your high ladyship" Pan nodded taking the hint turning back down to the bit of ground where Cazelui had coiled before continuing. "But seems like the slithering sort was merely cowering. Split tongues might not taste well but I hear they smell well. I know not the way Cazelui senses."

Evander looked over to Cazelui who he saw glare daggers at the old woman's back. He approached Cazelui, extended his hand as if to show her he was willing to pick her up from her coiled state. Then, he softly asked, "what was that about?"

As the foreigners offered to take on the case of finding the poisoner, Pan saw her chance to get more involved into this deeper mystery. She would not be on the outside of this for long, she declared internally. "Perhaps..." She stepped pursuing the Lady Dowager, gesturing for her to lean in. "I can keep an eye on the foreigners and the stuze. I'll see what I can find out. Best not to leave them to come up with their own conclusions." She said wily.

Evander looked over to Cazelui who he saw glare daggers at the old woman's back. He approached Cazelui, extended his hand as if to show her he was willing to pick her up from her coiled state. Then, he softly asked, "what was that about?"

She took the hand. "That woman," she hissed quietly, "She smells of sweat, and the bad kind." She shook her head tightly. "Blessing and curse of we stuzé: we never miss a scent, or even a scent within a scent." She rose until she was of a height with the humans and somewhat taller than the cazenax. "Thank you, chivalrous one." She bowed and managed a small, polite smile.

As the foreigners offered to take on the case of finding the poisoner, Pan saw her chance to get more involved into this deeper mystery. She would not be on the outside of this for long, she declared internally. "Perhaps..." She stepped pursuing the Lady Dowager, gesturing for her to lean in. "I can keep an eye on the foreigners and the stuze. I'll see what I can find out. Best not to leave them to come up with their own conclusions." She said wily.

The Dowager blinked. She did not like Pan. The little floozy had corrupted her son years ago. Nobody else saw it, but she did. She scowled. Still, the girl was almost certainly trying to curry favour, and that was near a bad thing, so long as she was made to work for it. "Yes, you go do that. Do not let them out of your sight."

Pan bowed reverently, though partially to hide her widening grin. "Of course, your reverence, I exist at this moment to save the King's life." She said plainly and without context, it would have meant nothing but it was the slightest jab given their history. It wouldn't have done good for either to call out attention to it either. What also would not have benefited Pan would be to call out the certain smell she picked up, weak, but it was there. With the Dowager's departure, Pan continued to work her nose taking the last bit of that certain smell before turning to walk back towards the foreigners.

With the Dowager's permission, Pan turned and wafted her free hand as she approached the foreigners. "We are innocent, yes? Good. Like it or not, I am here to watch and help. Now we find assassin and we are all go away happy, good-good?" She nodded to each of them, even Cazelui.

She pulled the bottle from behind her back and took a smell of the cap now that her nose palette had been cleared. Many years as a cook, she had spent learning chemical magic not for the fancy explosions or tricks but for the subtleties of tastes and aromas. This was an unintentional consequence as she smiled, knowingly. She gestured to the bottle. "You may be wondering how I drink and no sickness? Easy story. I am mana-glutton so I eat-eat-eat, nothing I can't eat."

With that, they started moving, but to where, Marci and the others had little idea. "So," the youngest member of the impromptu squad wondered aloud, "Any ideas where to look?"

What was four became five. Marci, Pan, Desmond, Fiske, and Evander. The party relied on Marci to find them a trail to track. She pointed east, away from the gate. The stuzé took the lead and they followed. Entering a bazaar of spieces, perfumes, smoke, shit, and sweat. The mixes of smells invaded the hairs of their nostrils. In this bazaar there were sirrahi, centaurs, imps, honred demons, golems, and beings of all kinds, oh my! What were all of these creatures doing in a place like this? Children dashed, vendors shouted, coins clinked, laughter split in dizzying directions, and there were exotic, unique, and tempting wares of all kinds.

Evander was rushed by a sirrahi who wasn't paying attention to their own nose. The two crashed and without pause, the sirrahi kept going while tossing some side apologies out into the air as he slithered off. Evander carefully took a scan of his surroundings spotting Desmond and Fiske trailing the tail of the sirrahi, and some cazenax staring at him. "Stupid imps," Evander said under his breath as the two bolted in reaction to Evander's gaze and forward motion, "fearful little tunnel roaches." Instead of pursuing them in a cat and mouse chase, Evander turned to tail behind his classmates.

There were two cazenax who didn't see Evander coming, two that would became alarmed when he made his presence known. They rose to their full height, shorter than Evander, they spoke in cazenax tongue. Evander realizing the conversation wouldn't go far, he tried asking using body language, "What are you two paying attention too?" He thought they were observing their party a little too closely. What he found out was that they were high, offering Evander to join.

Evander without thinking took hold of the strange rolled-up paper. He was in a foreign land, talking to strangers without an ability to understand their language. Maybe this was his gateway to understanding what the hell they might be saying, maybe he could get this stupid investigation over with sooner rather than later if he could understand Cazenax. What better way than participating in their culture. A logic he justified in his head as he slipped the rolled-up paper between his index finger and thumb. Softly raising the dead end to his pursed lips. He figured it wasn't poison since they had been smoking it. He took a drag, inhaling whatever contents were inside. The opposite end illuminated a orangish hue and settled on a deep red after he finished.

It was... pleasant enough, and even relaxing. The pent-up stress of the past day or so started to evaporate. "Me." One of the men pointed at himself. "see." He pointed at his eyes and then at the shed. "Stuzé" He mimed a snake. "Go. Bad." He shook his head. "You know human?" He raised two clawed fingers to indicate the number.

Evander could feel his traps, shoulders, and lower back ease with his exhalation. Smoke drifted from his mouth and nostrils. The taste of the contents inside the rolled-up paper tasted sweet, rather vanilla even. It was surprisingly enjoyable. His face felt relaxed, then he heard the Cazenax speak... no... he could understand them when they spoke.

"What is this stuff?" He pointed to the rolled-up paper.

Evander could feel his traps, shoulders, and lower back ease with his exhalation. Smoke drifted from his mouth and nostrils. The taste of the contents inside the rolled-up paper tasted sweet, rather vanilla even. It was surprisingly enjoyable. His face felt relaxed, then he heard the Cazenax speak... no... he could understand them when they spoke. "What is this stuff?" He pointed to the rolled-up paper.

"Stoagi," said one. "Bacas," said the other. "Bacas. Oasc." They nodded at each other and at him. They didn't seem to be very threatening now.

Meanwhile, a good ways away, outside of the city, a donkey walked in a straight line through the desert, pulling its wagon towards a specific destination.

Evander smiled and repeated, "Stoagi." and "Bacas." He nodded, "I like," as he puffed another hit, "Mind if I snag this one from you two?" He looked over to see Desmond and Fiske disappearing.

Evander smiled and repeated, "Stoagi." and "Bacas." He nodded, "I like," as he puffed another hit, "Mind if I snag this one from you two?" He looked over to see Desmond and Fiske disappearing.

They nodded and waved their hands. You. See. Stuzé. You. Come. Us. Okay?" Said one pleasantly. This was, apparently, a stakeout tradition of theirs. "Go. Small. House." One laughed. "Oasc," says the other with a laugh, slapping Evander on the back and motioning the act of smoking.

Evander made his way inside. Something strange must've been happening with time. By the time he made it in, Fiske and Desmond were crawling through a small door, piling up a stack of wood behind them. He was just on time.

Desmond looks to see Evander had somehow found them as he gestured for him to get to them quick, "Hurry up we are following someone".

Fiske began to slowly pull the door shut with the use of kinetic magic. "If you don't go fast we will leave you behind." The Huulish boy stuck out his tongue, a smug aura emanating from him.

Evander responded to Desmond, "My guy we're good, they only got one way to go, the same way we do." He nearly tripped as he followed the two through the door and chuckled out loud at the absurdity of chasing a stranger through a underground city. Fiske shot his tongue out with a quick lick of words. "We'll leave you behind." Evander tilted his head, raised his Stoagi as he passed Fiske with his mouth open and shoved the Stoagi in his mouth, "Chill, slow is smooth, smooth is fast, puff that and you'll see."

"I don't need that abfall! Smoke it if you'd like but leave scheisse out of my general area!" A face of pure disgust appeared on Fiske's face as he was offered a puff.

"I don't need that abfall! Smoke it if you'd like but leave scheisse out of my general area!" A face of pure disgust appeared on Fiske's face as he was offered a puff.

Evander shrugged, took another hit. His hand came down on Fiske's shoulder, with a polite smile Evander said, "Sounds like you might, but I'll respect ya'." He raised his hand and kept walking forward.

Still going tit-for-tat, they emerged into a midsized room with a low ceiling and three doors. There were two that looked relatively normal - one with heavy wear and tear and the other much less so - and a third that was smaller, barely larger than the one they'd come through. The room itself was quite dark, but... then they noticed the lighting. It was bioluminescent. Desmond, still high on his earlier triumph and master of mushrooms, was the first to investigate. It was fungus, and emitted a cold bluish sort of light. There was little more than a workbench, some crates, and some barrels inside.

Evander shrugged, took another hit. His hand came down on Fiske's shoulder, with a polite smile Evander said, "Sounds like you might, but I'll respect ya'." He raised his hand and kept walking forward.

The laid back version of the stuck-up prick still gave him the chills. "What?... What has this place done to you?.."

Evander laughed out loud at Fiske's comment and then stopped as quickly as he started; looked around, "Wait... where'd the snake go?"

Once again, they found themselves crouching, but this door, as well, had a rudimentary lock.

They felt the door was locked, Evander didn't hesitate; casually waving his hand, the door clicked open. He looked at the others, "smooth is fast." emphasizing his comment earlier to Fiske, "we golden." The door slowly breached open.

Evander made quick work of the lock. Beyond was a short crawlspace and then they emerged into a small room with a table, two chairs, and a bed piled high with bright white pillows and blankets. Light streamed in from a small, slit-like barred window at the top of the room, bathing swirling dust motes in sunset's red-gold light. A small travel sack lay on the floor by the bed.

Then, the massive piled of rumpled sheets moved and...


A young cazenax woman sat bolt upright in bed, tangled, sweaty black hair spilling down the sides of her face and over lean muscular shoulders. She let out a cry and quickly covered herself. "Néts lix nad!?" she exclaimed anxiously, wrapping herself up in the sheets and stealing a glance at her bag.

Then, she blinked and took in that her visitors weren't cazenax. She seemed extremely anxious. "Wh-who are you?" she asked, clearly uncomfortable, her eyes darting between them and the bag. "What are you do here!?"

Evander caught headlights as the nearly naked cazenax stumbled out of bed, "Whoa! Just passing through, looking for a friend." His hands came up waving to gesture they weren't a threat. Wait, why was he explaining himself? Evander switched gears and pointed at the travel bag, "Looks like you might be doing the same." He followed up with the same questions she had asked, "Who are you and what are you doing here?"

That was the beginning of the interrogation. By the end, lewd jokes were made, frustrations were ignited, and the party would find out this woman, Samaxi, was Potes-Palix. They would also discover leads that may have had a hand in poisoning the drink of the foolish Stazen. Without waiting any longer, the party would begin to follow up on those suspects who were listed by Samaxi.

Grillmasters, Talo-Tecazan-Mostix-Cazui, and maybe some of the Sirrahi who had reason to think Stazen was too slow.

Evander Fino Synesti

End of the Tunnel


Evander and Benedetto emerged from the portal. They found themselves in a room full of...


The soft sand beneath their feet nearly muted their steps. If not for the whisper of air slipping through cracks and the beat of their hearts thumping under their skin, they might have been disoriented to hear. Nothing. Of course, it did not take long before Benedetto broke the silence with his berating words, "Stupid girl, can't even get a portal right." He was referring to Jocasta. As Benny stewed in his defiance and profane attitude, Evander felt a vibration below his feet.

"Do you feel that?" Evander asked.

Benny replied, "Don't tell me you are losing it too! Do I have to carry everyone?" The earth shook and rumbled; tiny mandibles scraping and grinding against rock could be heard beneath them. A low, steady hum worked its way closer to where they stood and grew louder until a chunk of stone erupted as Threshers chewed their way through to the surface.

"No fucking way!" Benny shouted. He sent an atomic spell immediately in their direction. The Threshers were unphased. Evander followed Benny by sending shocks of lightning to no avail. The two casted and casted, hoping to put some dent in their numbers as more erupted out of the walls and floor. One whipped its tail as a cluster of barbs released in their direction. At the same time, Benny sent an atomic spell which sent the barbs in a flurry of different directions, each barb exploding in varying points of the room and knocking some Threshers back.

"That was too close." Evander said as he bit his lip. It was all too close.

Sweat beaded down Evander's brow. His face split between determination and a fearful realization. The Threshers were not stopping. With persistence, they came. Taking hit after hit in the face of Benedetto's atomic spells and Evander's lightning. Suddenly, one Thresher sliced its claw through the smoke and charged, attempting to cut Evander's abdomen. The tip scored, leaving a trace of blood across his flesh with a tear in his clothes. Followed by the Thresher's slice, another spit, but Evander's cape caught it as he dodged from the first attack. Lady Reshta looked upon him twice; twice death clutched at Evander, twice luck pried its hands back open. Evander did not want to trust Reshta a third time. He gained his distance, but his abdomen drew blood. Thankfully, the attack only scraped its mark on the surface, leaving his abdomen intact and his organs within his body. For now.

After leaping out of the way, Evander turned his head to Benny. A Thresher closed in and was about to whip its curled tail around to shoot another one of those clusters of barbed darts that they had avoided earlier. The darts would explode on impact if they hit.

"Benny!" Evander shouted, no time. Evander forced a small burst of kinetic energy at Benny to knock him out of the path of the Thresher's barbs. The barbs nearly missed Benny, "What the fuck did you do that for?" The wall caught the barbs and exploded, turning Benny's attention and Evander's to the newly formed opening. Benny didn't need Evander to answer his question.

Evander pointed at the opening in the wall, "We can't fight them with what we have here, but maybe there is another way through there!" He shouted at Benny over the chittering of Threshers as he pointed at the opening in the wall. Evander and Benny had a small window of clearing to get to the opening in the wall and exit. Once they arrived, Evander asked, "Can you hit the ceiling with your atomic?" Evander thought they could buy time to escape if they could bring the roof down on top of the Threshers.

"You want me to bring the fucking ceiling down on these assholes? Yeah, I can do that, but it's gonna take some fucking time, and I don't know if we have it!" Benny's eyes scanned the room, but the Threshers were closing in. "Fuck it," he growled. Benny drew as much as he could under the intense circumstances and time crunch, launching a half-assed atomic spell at the ceiling. Its volatile structure exploded before impacting the ceiling, causing an area of effect much greater than anticipated. Instead of a concentrated strike, the explosion disintegrated several critical stones across a wide spread, starting a chain reaction. The entire building began to shake as the load crumbled the supports in their area.

Benny realized what was happening and grabbed Evander, "Let's get the hell out of here before we end up buried under rubble like a couple of dumbasses!" Stones began dropping behind Evander and Benny as they raced down a dark corridor that Evander lit up with his Arcane gift. Nearly crushed by rocks above, Benny used his atomic in small doses to blast stones falling in front of them to clear the way, while Evander used his charges to burst stones into small bits that were dropping above.

"If this whole damn place comes crashing down, it's not my problem! I did my part in roasting those Thresher bastards!" Benedetto scowled as he fired another atomic spell, "In fact, it was your big idea!" He implied Evander's responsibility. Evander asked in sincerity, "Was there a better one?" Benny didn't have an answer, or he would have chosen differently instead of listening to a stuck-up Noble, "Fuck!"

The two pumped their brakes as rocks collapsed a few meters before them, sealing off their escape.

The two were stuck between rocks and hard place. They would soon be trapped and pulverized by the structure they were contained in. The two had no idea what to do as they looked at each other in that moment of, this is it.

Click. Creak. Thud.

The floor opened a hatch underneath their feet, dropping them down a trap chute door.

"Ahhh!" The two synced in their sound of surprise as their guts punched their hearts, anxiety sprawled across their nerves, and their senses dulled briefly as darkness overcame their sight. Then, the light at the end of the tunnel. Both slipped out from the top of a large room several stories high off the ground. If it were not for Evander and Benny's ability to use their gift in ways that could save their fall, it would have been their end or, at the least, broken bones.

The two safely landed in a massive room. Impossible to capture the scope of it with two pairs of eyes, and it was not illuminated enough to truly see what was there with them. The good news, they were no longer trapped by falling stones. The bad news, they were trapped in another room.

Evander said sarcastically, "So far so good, as planned."

Evander Fino Synesti

Pelova Fascino: 
Little Semers

Location: Pelova Fascino (formerly Moli's Emporium) Erasand’Enise

The night was filled with the sound of revelry, and the air thickened with anticipation. Mudville, a small town outside the city of Ersand'Enise, was hosting the grand debut of Pelova Fascino. This new fashion company promised to revolutionize how people dressed by representing some of Sipenta's most illustrious cultures. The owner, Yuliya, had spared no expense to make the event a spectacle, and the attendees arrived in droves, eager to witness the unveiling of the latest trends.

The line was monitored by one of Emiliano's men, a tall, broad-shouldered, big-headed Darrahnic who hailed from Virang. Albeit his frame intimidating, the gentleness in his eyes comforted the arriving attendees. Guards were stationed in various locations with and without identifiable attire. Some were to act as obvious deterrents, while others were to blend in. Two men in cloaks met in the fields adjacent to Pelova Fascino and between Miller's Hook.

"Non e un serpente." Evander stated unequivocally. Emiliano responded without hesitation, "Vive nell'acqua." The two reached out their hands and shook firmly.

Evander inquisitively asked, "Are the men in order?" Emiliano confirmed, "Like threads on a string, m'lord." Tonight's affair was important. Everything had to happen just as they debuted the Pelova Fascino fashion brand to some of the highest players in Ersand'Enise and abroad. Depending on first impressions, these sorts of ventures soared or burned as Icarus to the sun. People from all over arrived using the teleportation gates of Ersand'Enise, making their trip south, passing through the Seagate to the Pelova Fascino entrance.

"What about the little ones? Evander waved his hand low, signaling to Emiliano, the height of children. The network of Mudvillian children under Emiliano's influence was by the dozen. Some dashed around like squirrels on branches, others kept still in dark places eavesdropping on irrelevant and relevant conversations, and few found their magic in infiltrating other networks of adults and children.

Emiliano smirked, which would not have been visible to Evander if Emiliano was not a head taller than him, "The little semers are doing what they do best." He took a breath as he looked out into the lines of sowed land where crops would rise high in the coming season, "dispersed like seeds on this field, they grow and share their yield at unique lengths with mild tastes, they share with me a warning, there is a cause mixed in with the mud, and it does not wish to see your wealth step into its puddles."

Evander listened to the surprisingly poetic Emiliano, "Beyond a seafarer and a mercenary I see," he placed his hand into his pocket to pull out coin, "do find out who keeps the mud from drying and sowing new seeds." Evander extended his hand to place the coin in Emilaino's grasp. The two pulled back after their exchange; Emiliano bowed respectfully and turned toward Miller's Hook, while Evander turned toward Pelova Fascino's for the event.

Inside Pelova Fascino's show, the fashion was nothing short of breathtaking. Gowns flowed like waterfalls, their intricate embroidery shimmering in the light of the torches and lanterns. Accessories sparkle like stars across constellations, drawing attention to every curve and contour. All of it was designed by Isabella Lowell, a master of her craft, who had lent her talents to Yuliya's vision.

Yuliya, for her part, was radiant. She stepped onto the stage, her eyes glimmering with pride and toward opportunity. She promised to drive new ideas to inspire and uplift Mudville and the city of Ersand'Enise to show the world these were two great places to be. But then, something happened. A sudden gust of wind swept through the venue, rattling tables and chairs. In the midst of the chaos, a figure appeared. A ghostly apparition was hovering just above the ground. And it looked familiar.

Evander's eyes widened his heart still. He recognized the ghost, Hugo.

The ghost of Hugo hurled accusations at Yuliya, blaming her for his death. And then, he was gone. The crowd was silent, their faces etched with fear and confusion. Evander could feel a cold sweat drip from his brow, but he snapped out of it, reminding them it's a show. He stood up and began to clap, "What a heart-pumping end!" Others began to clap; some could not distinguish whether the ghost was real, honest, or an illusion to give publicity to Pelova's brand as a fashion show and a play. Ultimately, they erupted into applause, Yuliya giving her final remarks before closing out the evening as Evander's security graciously ushered the attendees out from the building.

Some attendees were leaving with Pelova Fascino's clothing, some praising, and some still questioning what just happened. A room divided, maybe, but Evander was not about to let the house follow. He immediately approached Yuliya and Isabella, who were gathering to debrief about the evening, "Yuliya, was that a part of the show?" Evander asked rhetorically; he knew it wasn't, "You might take offense to this; I don't think you are strong enough to have killed Hugo, at least not alone." He smirked, "To me, this feels more like a message to break the reputation of Pelova Fascino before it gets off the ground; otherwise, why would Hugo's ghost have waited this long to accuse you and why on the day of Pelova's opening and not a place where there would be more witnesses?" The whole thing seemed ridiculous the more Evander spoke about it out loud. Then he remembered Emiliano's warning, may those little semers yield something worth biting.

Setting Sails: 
All Aboard to Sirrahi Land

Location: Docks of Ersand'EniseErasand’Enise

Evander, a Marquis of Revidia, stood tall and proud on the docks, his eyes fixed on the galleon before him. His father, a strong Duke of Revidia, next to the L'anguila himself, sent Evander one ship. The ship kept a crew of 50 to 75 men, and at the front was a powerful figurehead carved into the shape of a dragon's head - the Black Devil. The ears of it looked to outstretch like wings as if ready to take flight. Evander paused at the craftsmanship as a sailor drew down the bridge to allow access to the deck from the dock.

"Is that you, Lord Synesti?" The sailor croaked in a harsh voice, the result of smoking tobacco on long voyages through a pipe he carved years ago. Evander took a heavy step on the bridge and walked across to meet the sailor's gaze arm's distance away, "Captain Marsilio Baresi." The two stood in silence with straight-laced faces. And then, the two cracked into laughter, "Oh how you've grown!" Marsilio embraced Evander as if they were kin. The formalities broke quickly as Marsilio grabbed the shoulders of Evander with his barrel hands, pushed him slightly back with a firm hold, and repeated himself while adding, "...into a fine man!"

As a young kid, Evander could remember having toured Captain Marsilio's boat quite a few times. He was one of his father's most trusted and experienced captains. Marsilio's family traced back to the Synesti's rise in power during Revidia's emergence. They were cast from a line of shipbuilders, traders, and navy raiders. The Baresi's were loyal, stubborn, and hardy. Preferring hard work over political maneuvering, they had no issues hooking into the curtails of the Synesti's to move to the social status they have today. A symbiotic relationship as the Synesti's had no issues with the Baresi's consistently birthing children who managed to be some of the most competent sailors of Severna and possibly abroad.

Captain Marsilio took a step to the side as he wrapped his gigantic arm around the shoulder and neck of Evander, his bear paw cupping the outside, making the head of Evander's shoulder seem small. He guided Evander along the side of the boat and to the back where the Captain's quarters and wheel were located, "Ya' know, it's been twelve years since we've seen each other. I remember when you played on these very decks., do you remember?" The two passed sailors tying rope and smiling as if they knew Evander already. Evander could feel the strength of his friend's arm lying heavy on his back, "I remember you, and I remember Stefano. Wait, where is Stefano?"

The two stopped as Marsilio let his arm cascade down Evander's back and dropped to his side. Evander could not help but see Marsilio as a mountain . Marsilio sighed, which Evander perceived as a gust of wind, heavy and somber, "She took him." Marsilio then looked at the stairs. They stood at the base and stepped up. Evander knew what he meant, She, was the ocean.

The two reached the Helm. Marsilio's gloom overcame him as he opened up about Stefano, "I know ya, and your gonna ask, before ya do, I'll share with you. Stefano and I were making a trip to Belzagg, got attacked by some pirates, Weggos sort, we managed to defend our vessel. Still, Stefano took a knife to the neck by a pirate who called himself Sanka, soul of the Weggosi coast, woulda had him... but... he had Stefano in the heat of battle, used him to get close to the edge, cut him, and dove in." Evander felt a bit of sadness introduce itself into his heart, and then it transformed into a rage, "What in Ahn-Eshiran's name, what were they after?"

Marsilio shook his head, "The egg of a Black Devil." Evander understood the implications of a pirate leading a Black Devil in the Ensolian Sea, "How long ago was this?" Marsilio replied with some angst, "Three years ago, if it hatched and took to him, it'll be a problem if it hasn't become one already somewhere we have not heard about yet." Evander sighed, "Another freedom-preaching fanatic standing on sand castles instead of cornerstones." The two nodded as they turned to the deck, where they both could see Marsilio's crew of fifty, busy as ants, scurrying up and down the rigging, tying ropes, and hoisting sails. Evander was in the presence of skilled sailors, men who knew the sea and its ways, men who stood against men and beasts alike.

Marsilio's barrel chest rose as he inhaled deeply, filling his lungs to total capacity, "Aye men! Be respectful to our guests and greet yourselves before we set sail!" The deck ceased to move, all eyes facing the Helm, all eyes on Evander, in unison they shouted, "Aye, sir! Welcome aboard the Devil's Revenge." Marsilio turned to Evnader with a smile; Marsilio would find that Weggosi one day and take his life for Stefano's.

After the greeting from the crew, another figure came up to the Helm to pass along a letter, "From Harrachara.". The figure turned to leave, and Evander opened the envelope. It was an invitation.

Into the Fire

Location: Dune SeaTorragon

He could see the desert drawing toward him as if he had tugged the scene to his face. The gate opened into the barren sands of Torragon's Dune Sea; without missing a step, Evander landed effortlessly. His acrobatic talent instinctively kicked into gear when he needed it for those split-second saves. His feet crunched the sand below, and he stood upright to gain orientation of the situation.

The heat of the Dune Sea was nothing compared to what he remembered when meeting the Sirrahi. This place... had a sun that was rejuvenating Evander's mana and triggering memories of Toleus' arrival. This isn't the place, but it feels like it. The Sirrahi... the desert... the mission... if he was going to get close to them again, this might be it.

The others: Desmond, Tku, Benny, and Fiske, all arrived with Evander, appearing in front of Yalen and Isabella. Immediately they were warned of the Sand Wyrm that bore down the necks of Zarina, Ayla, Jocasta, and the rangers they came with. Without a second notice, Benny yelled out his intent to initiate the battle against the Sand Wyrm, "Eat shit, Worm! The calvary is here!"

Evander turned to face the Sand Wyrm in the distance.

"What in Eschiran... so that is a Sand Wyrm." Evander had only heard of these mighty beasts in the books. Never had he set eyes on one. It's hulking size was more than he could comprehend, not to mention there was probably more of it burrowed in the sand beneath all of them. The sheer force of the Sand Wyrm's presence was that compared to a titan. Waterfalls of sand cascaded down its side as it shifted its own weight from side to side. At the moment, it looked benign, but for how long?

Evander spoke out loud, "The Sand Wyrm does not look to be attacking, I don't think attacking it would do us good if it is not seeing us as a threat." The size of it was all Evander could focus on. It would kill most of them, if not all of them by the time the battle was through.

Evander Fino Synesti

Nox and Days:
Winter Break with Family and Lost Children

"You want to what!" Duke Foscari charged his voice loudly as he heard his son request a ship to sail to a non-existent place on a seemingly fake map. The Duke's chest heaved, inhaling and exhaling deeply to regulate the emotional resistance stirring in his gut.

Evander firmly stared at his father, "I want to go here, with your ships." He planted his finger down on the map laid out on the family table back home. Evander wasted no time on Winter break to get a set of plans rolling.

The fucking audacity of this child. Duke Foscari's nostrils flared, "Do you have any idea what you are asking?" Evander nodded, "I'm asking you to trust me." The Duke jerked his head away from his son, Fuck! His son purposely trapped him between a rock and a hard place. Evander knew he was his father's legacy, and he knew that in order to keep Evander on the path set before him, he'd have to appease the boy to some extent.

Duke Fosacri pinched his lips together, released, and spoke through his teeth with some restraint, "One ship, one crew, one trip." Evander nodded again, "You have my thanks." He turned to face the door and exit but was stopped by his mother entering the room, "My sweetheart!" Her arms were wide to embrace her only son. Evander reciprocated the hug. She released and stepped back to size up her young boy now grown into the man her husband and she could be proud of.

"Came back from school with demands and a head on your shoulders?" she smiled, "don't press your father too much, he's getting older, and his heart needs to rest more often than he'd like to recognize." Mihaela looked to Foscari as he showed disapproval at her comment but was powerless to say anything. Evander's parents, albeit, luckily, found love in their marriage.

Evander smiled back at his mother, "I wouldn't ask for his help if I did not feel this to be important to securing our family's future." His mother's face transformed into a surprised look, "Well, if I did not know any better I'd say Ersand'Enise may have taught you to take initiative, but I think that was already bubbling in you before you left." She looked at her husband, "he sounds like he wants to take on more responsibility, what do you think?"

The Duke gritted his teeth a little, "growing up isn't what I am afraid of, it's this idea he has in his head about a place that doesn't exist!" Evander turned to him, "Let me fall on my own sword." His father stepped forward, "that's what I am afraid of, you're too important to be falling on anyone's sword." At that moment they shared their respect without words. Duke Foscari pulled out one of the chairs at the table, "Fine." He sat down, "What else do you need?"

Mihaela and Evander smiled.

Hours Later...

"Slow down and take it from the top, please." Celestina sat poised and prepared to listen to her brother's cascade of mental energy pour from his lips.

"You see I arrived in Ersand'Enise, and..."

"Boom! She's ambushed by commoners, the stupid lot, anyways Penny grabbed the kid and we shook him up to find out what he knew about the stolen goods," Evander continued while Celestina's eyes widened, her mouth dropping at certain points in her brother's story, and at certain points, she felt annoyed at the fact she had to play house far far away.

Evander threw his hands at her as if he was casting an electric spell, "Thirty-four of these monsters came at us and we survived." He dropped his head, "some of us survived." He recollected the memory of Manfred being cut down and resurrected, it was the first time he really processed what happened to Manfred, and he remembered watching Manfred die. He remembered... Dory... she spoke to herself, then he was back!

Evander glazed at the realization that Dory might have done something to bring Manfred back from the dead, and not in good way. Celestina pushed him out of his thoughts with her hand on his shoulder, "You okay?" Evander replied, "Celestina, do you know anything about Time?" Celestina was confused, "I know it sucks." Evander laughed out loud at her response.

"I miss your candor, Celestina." She smiled, "I miss your curiosity Evander." Evander continued to share with his sister about the experiences he had at Ersand'Enise, and she shared her experiences as a princess becoming a Queen.

Nox and Days:
Synesti's Lost Children

Tears burst from Finn's eyes, chomping down on his lower lip. It wasn't manly to cry. His fist clenched until his knuckles turned white. How dare they. He felt pain stir in his gut. Nauseous and alone. Right when it appeared their fortunes were rising, those bastards reminded us where we sit in their hearts. Finn raised his hand to slam it down in the mud. He was kneeling in front of Moli's Emporium, the place where his father lost his life in that horrible fire months ago.

"'ello lad, you okay?" A hoarse voice scraped at the child's ears. Finn lifted his head from his sunken depression, "No." He observed a man dressed in garments fit for a pirate step beside him. The man knelt down to meet Finn, "ya' know, I know a little something about losing something dear."

Finn could not help but burst into an emotional wreck as the man said loss. "I want to kill every last one of them!" The man raised his hand onto the boy's shoulder, "wow boy, who's they?" Finn sputtered and spit, "the Elites, the Nobles, the problem!" He shrugged the man's hand off.

"Ahh, you'se think these nobles did this do ya?" The man asked. Finn tilted his head, "Yes, who else would it have been?" The man looked the boy in the eyes, "Thieves, in fact, commoners, like us." Finn was confused, "Why would commoners do this, why would our own do this?" The man stood up, "because at the end of the day, there are forces from all walks of life making decisions for their own gain and end up hurting others along the way.... noble... commoner... yasoi... eeaiko.. the whole lot of them."

Finn felt even more depressed, "what's the point of all this then?" The man turned to square his body in front of the knelt boy to give him a few last words, [color=add8e6]"The one you make of it, depending on what you decide, you can one day make decisions and protect young lads like you." He paused to let the important silence set in, "I have work for young lads like you, the ones who want to make their life their own, interested?"

Finn felt an emotion he had never felt before about protecting others like him, that feeling combined with his hopelessness to help his mother make ends meet due to his father's death, he leaned in on the offer with interest.

"Does it pay?" Finn asked inquisitively.

"More than any other job you'll find in Mudville," the man answered confidently.

"Ok, what do I have to do?" The man did not answer, he reached out his hand. Finn snatched it with his own and was raised to his feet.

"Your job is to gather some of your friends who too might be interested in making some coin and meet me back here in four days, will you do that?"

Finn nodded, "How many?"

"However many you can bring." The man answered. Finn turned around to take off running down the streets of Mudville. The man turned in the opposite direction heading up to the Sea Gate until he approached a young man in noble attire and bowed, "M'lord". Evander replied, "Emiliano."

The two got right down to business with Emiliano briefing Evander on outcomes from their recruitment plan, "My men will be ready to present security when Pelova Fascino's site is completed, as for the children, their frustrations, hopes, and dreams are being redirected as we speak."

Evander smiled, "My father was right about you Emiliano." Emiliano's hoarse voice crashed back, "Eh, I'd be dead if not for your father, my debt was always going to be paid back until the end."

Evander Fino Synesti

Abberation Apocalypse: 
Lost in Time

The Silk Portal was announced. Ersand'Enise cheered. Evander stood still.

His thoughts rattled, high above on a balcony directly across from the Silk Portal. Imbeciles, they do not even know what they just did. Ersand'Enise revolutionized trade, politics, and travel all in one swoop. The implications of this would shock the very pillars keeping the world stabilized at this point. He settled his emotions stirring around the idea of how the world would change over night when most were not prepared, I guess, this was inevitable

His eyes drifted upward into the sky. What next? He asked the gods. Bringing down his bright blues, he continued to watch over the teams of the Trials as they waved, bid their farewell, and left through the multiple lesser portals in the square.

He made his way down the steps of the building. Crowds of students and pedestrians were standing in droves. As Evander passed through the crowds of people, he came passing by familiar faces of Team Mozaru; Trypano, Yalen, and Jocasta. It did not take more than three whole steps before a feeling of terror loomed over the square.

Out of thin air, a massive aberration materialized, followed by another, followed by a dozen... no... a hundred... no... a legion. Immediately in response to the growing fear of the invasion, Team Mozaru made their way North out of the square.

It was not long before making their way to Balthazar that Team Mozaru began to feel something a miss in the aether. Jocasta felt as if she was tickled and Yalen too. The two turned to Evander as if to say, are you messing with us? Evander had this look on his face that offered no reconciliation. It was someone else... TRYPANO! But, she too was as perplexed as the others until they felt it again. It was not until Jocasta felt it deeply, sensed it, and commanded the group to cleanse themselves. Something ephemeral, something otherwordly was snatching at their fabric. Until Jocasta and Yalen simply disappeared.

Evander having a gut reaction to see what had happened launched forward to where Jocasta and Yalen were standing until he too...


Abberation Apocalypse: 
Stranger Places

Black. White. Red. Green. Yellow. Blue. All the primary and analogus colors ripped by as Evander arrived on loose ground covered in sand. On his hands and knees, his gut shifted with nausea. He felt as if he had been launched by a trebeuchet. Feeling disoriented, a bit of spit tossed up and immediately dried on impact beneath the scolding hot sun.

His eyes fluttered. Rolling over, reality felt hazy at best with white and black fireflies dancing in his eyes. What happened? It's so hard to breath. His breath was shallow, the air thin and dry. If it were not for his Fireblood, he'd be cooking. Where is Ersand'Enise? Where are the others? Evander thought about Yalen, Jocasta, and Trypano. All four were walking toward Balthazaar Square before he witnessed Yalen and Jocasta simply disappear What was that feeling? Evander recollecting the tickling and poking sensation before they cleansed their body, Was this the work of whoever was behind the invasion? His sense of urgency pressurized, How in Pentad am I going to get back? Where am I!

Trying to take a deep breath which turned shallow, Evander settled his mind. I won't answer that question laying here. He rolled over to his chest, shoved his hands down into the sand, pulled himself up to one knee, and stood up. He coughed... again and again. In a small fit of finding his breath, he spotted water off in the distance, sand in all directions, clear skies, a hot sun, and five moons. Was I brought to a desert? His sense of direction eluded him. His first instinct was to move toward the water, but there was some other energy he was sensing in a different direction.

Raising one foot after the other, he decided to walk toward the energy he was sensing. Desperately fighting some vertigo to maintain a standing posture and trudging through shifting sand it was a less than optimal scenario to say the least. Sand started to creep into his shoes which rubbed against his skin, That's annoying... The energy grew closer as he confronted a dune. Before crossing over Evander checked the otherside by enhancing his senses to detect heat signatures.

There were ambigous forms moving about with a large radiance from a large interestingly shaped object behind them. Unable to tell exactly what these things were, he cautiously made his way to the ridge of the dune to observe. The shapes were revealed to be something akin to a snake, yet they were tall, and coordinating their behavior. What in Oraff is that? He whispered under his breath. The group of snakes slithered across the sand with the lead holding a device.

The lead snake placed the device down and the others followed to join in line. Their attention appeared to be at the moons. Ok? Friendly, maybe not... Evander felt hesitant to go down as a stranger and outnumbered. He looked back at the water scanning the endless miles of sand, Damn. Concluding, there was no other way to get back to Ersand'Enise except forward, these "things" may be the only life for miles, a distance Evander wasn't certain he'd live through if left to his own devices in a place he did not know.

Standing up, Evander made his way down to the snakes. His hands held high to show he came as no threat. The snakes broke into a frenzy, nerves rose.

Thump. Thump.

Thump Thump. Thump Thump.

Thump Thump! Thump Thump!

Evander's heart beat harder and faster as he approached. Swallowing each vibration back down to keep calm. He could hear his mother's voice Mihaela in the back of his head,

"Remain poised in the fretting of strangers, hold on to your judgement, listen to their expressions, sit with their angst, give them time to reveal if they are friend or foe."

Steps away, Evander introduces himself.

Abberation Apocalypse: 
Friends Over Time

Something swelled inside of Evander. Something in him felt different. It wasn't the vision of the gods, or the massive abberation he ate along with the others, no...

This feeling had everything to do with them. The Doge, legacy, Avince... it all seemed small. He held out his palm visualizing the grains of sand in a time before his. Evander's weight leaned onto his desk. He got up to touch three eggs that seemed to reduce his anxiety as they rested close to his burning fireplace. These eggs were of the Black Devil, and two Firetails. Enclosed in an iron heat chamber, each were preparing to enter the world under Evander's guidance.

The comfort of their touch was not enough. Evander's thoughts and concerns returned.

Sipenta. Sireena. Sirrahi. First, the Traveler, now a war over time. Time. Where to even begin.

Dipping his quill into his cup, Evander penned ink to parchment beginning with,

Dear Father,

Our family's legacy rides on the balance of something greater than the upcoming war between Parrence and Revidia. I'll say, the Doge's plan to attack with his experiments are trivial at best. Not in terms of challenging Parrence and their order, but in terms of a grander order there is a matter that has and will last longer than Revidia, Parrence, and all of Sipenta.

There are events that I need to share with you in person. Events tied to the recent disturbances at Ersand'Enise that I am sure you have been made aware of before I could pen this letter to you. Let us meet where night never sleeps.

The sooner, the better.

Your rising flame,
Evander Fino Synesti

He folded the parchment into an envelope and sealed it with his personal mark. Sliding the envelope to the side, he gently placed his index and middle finger on another sheet of paper of different quality. Casually sliding the sheet in front of him, Evander examined with focus, a map revealing his next objective, "Thank you Sireena Diska." He praised under his breath, a bit of gratitude, sadness, and excitement bubbled all at once in the pot of his belly.

Evander's head turned to gaze at the stack of books he could find relating to the history of Sipenta, Time, Myths and Legends, and rudimentary books on theories and applications of temporal magic.

"I'll see you again."

Making Friends of Enemies:
An Ingrid x Evander production

Evander entered the library of Eresand'Enise. Adorned with glass and steel spanning over 5 acres. The exterior of the building was sleek with long rectangular panels of glass that allowed natural light to flood into the interior.

He was greeted by a vast, open space filled with rows and rows of shelves. It appeared as if every book ever written was stacked on top of another waiting to cascade knowledge into all the students' faces. The shelves were made of light-colored wood and were arranged in a serpentine pattern, winding through the space like a river.

In the center of the room was a large atrium with a glass ceiling that reached up to the top of the building. The atrium was surrounded by a series of balconies where people could sit, read, and work on their studies.

Throughout the library, there were various seating areas. People could relax and read in comfort. Evander tried taking in the details of the endless space. Now standing in the center of the library he could hear a faint voice talking to herself. His eyes were focused upward at the atrium and declined to meet the voice.

"Ingrid?" Evander said under his breath. She muttered alone.

The last time Evander had seen Ingrid was when they crossed hairs at The Sideshow. I wonder what she's upset about. Evander did not particularly like Eskandr's. In fact, he detested their kind because of their role in accelerating the fall of Avince. However, politics and history aside, she was a woman, even if she was an exceptionally tall one.

Evander approached Ingrid with his hands visible. He plotted a smile on his face with perfectly crested lips from cheek to cheek.

"Excuse me, Ingrid," he said, "I couldn't help but notice you were talking to yourself." Evander paused, "are you alright?" He was now standing across from her on the other side of the table, "May I sit down?"

Ingrid had been intensely focused on condensing the subject matter into manageable notes and she had started to mutter."Take environmental energy and convert … various sources … heat… careful for…" A habit she picked up a few years ago from extended isolation was now rearing back up.

She was so engrossed that Ingrid was little aware of Evander until he made himself known. A slight blush of embarrassment went to her cheeks having it been caught, "Oh no, um," Ingrid struggled to explain what she had been doing, "I have a small habit of talking to myself when I get into a book." Ingrid didn’t seem openly hostile to Evander this time around, and more preoccupied with coming off as an insane woman.

Evander pulled out the chair he was standing behind. Sitting down, he leaned toward Ingrid before answering, “Me too.” He casually sat back as a smile crossed his face, “May I ask what you are reading?”

Ingrid appreciated him not focusing on her mumbling, Ingrid will allow him to take the seat. He proved himself nobler at the circus so his presence was less disruptive. Ingrid moved the book closer to him so she could read as well, “I’m studying other known radioactive materials and how to swirl the energy to cause the reaction chain. Surprisingly, light could be used to start it on the first few reactions,” Ingrid explained. “What of your studies?” Ingrid asked, seemingly curious.

Evander leaned in to read the title, “Vita Radium Axiom”. Leaning back he replied, ”radioactive materials and swirling energy huh?” It was a tad bit over his head except the use of light, “Interesting, I study light.” Evander raised his hand in a fist and focused his gift to create light inside of it. Gradually the light in his fist grew in intensity as rays found ways out of the palm from gaps in his fingers.

“And, fire.” He flipped his fist over, opened it up, and instead of blinding the light which most would have expected next, a short burst of fire flamed up and immediately dissolved into thin air leaving Ingrid looking at Evander’s eyes which were level with his palm. He chuckled, "Pretty boring stuff compared to what you are studying."

Evander leaned in again as he placed both his hands down on the top of the table, he asked curiously, ”Why are you studying hard to learn how to swirl energy and cause a reaction chain?”

“It’s the fundamental of what an Atomic spell called Infinity Loop, It allows for an unbelievable amount of energy all condensed in a small package. Being able to start it using a variety of methods is key,” Ingrid explained. “Their are a variety of ways to get to it but understanding it more in-depth means I can still perform under less than ideal conditions.” But that was enough of that. “What actually brings you to the library? If you're here just to read a bit of anything, I can teach you some of the core principles of Atomic, I know where most books are,” Ingrid offered.

Evander listened to Ingrid’s explanation of her studying Infinity Loop, ”studying how to pack a small box with a big punch…” he brought his right hand beneath his chin to cup it between his thumb and index finger, “...interesting.”

Why was he here? He answered, “To understand the relationship between Eskand and Avince.” Evander’s face became serious, ”But since you are here instead of a book, what do you think of this relationship, I’m curious.”

That was something that Ingrid didn’t see coming. Ingrid took a moment to think before speaking, "Well, Eskand just finished them off. They were falling and we gave the final push. And from that my home nation sprung up for a bit," Ingrid answered, unaware of Evander’s connection to Avince. Ingrid continued, "They were going to fall it was just a matter of who did it. It could have been anyone. But from their fall, many other nations rose up. For better, or for worse."

“But,” Ingrid paused, “Avince has stuck around in its own ways. The language we speak to each other is Avincian, the school still stands and you can see the roots of their nation throughout the continent. Even Eskand took parts of Avince.” Ingrid spoke her mind without much thought. It was obvious how massive the Avince empire was. It has been long gone and we still use its language. Architecture is still built with its principles in mind.

Evander tightened slightly at her comment about Eskand finishing Avince off, she was not wrong, but he did not like the comment either. Her closing statements made it confusing, was she admiring their legacy? He maintained his composure, “Your home sprang up?” Evander inquired, “Where in Eskand are you from?”

"Well, Eskand rose up and with that my family bettered themselves," Ingrid added for context. Ingrid stood up and looked around the library for a few moments before levitating a book over. Opening it she showed the southern coast of Eskand Ath, “Around here,” Ingrid pointed, "The land is full of trees and mountains from the dragonspire. It’s a beautiful place to me. Why do you ask?"

Evander watched as Ingrid flexed her gift a little before showing Evander her home, “I see.” He took his eyes from the book and brought them back to Ingrid’s after she asked him “why”. He answered softly, ”You don’t ever wonder where the hearts of your fellow classmates come from?”

"Sometimes," Ingrid answered. She leaned back, maintaining eye contact with him, and said, "I used to be more interested in their origins but realized that was only part of them. I just see their national identity to be another part of them.” Ingrid sighed as she added an addendum, "However I’m not so naive to ignore how others see nationality," Ingrid took some subtle looks around to see who might be listening in.

Evander nodded as if to agree with her, “Yes, it is only a part, and for some, it’s quite a big part, while for others it’s small.” He leaned back as she leaned back to give her space, “What about you, how do you see yourself as an Eskand?”

Ingrid thought again, these questions were making her think about what she should and shouldn’t say, "You know I can’t say. I love most parts of the culture. The people are much nicer than most think. But at the same time, the politics are tiring and some things are starting to regress for the worst." Ingrid sighed and looked towards Evander, "I’m sure you have things that you dislike about Revidia."

Evander nodded,”There are.” He thought of the Doge. A man he’d not dare call an enemy, but certainly no friend. A means to an end maybe. Evander asked one more question, ”How do you feel about Revidia?”

Ingrid's eye’s sharpened at Evander, but they softened as she shrugged, "I never had particular feelings towards them, maybe slightly positive as a trade partner." Ingrid tensed, "The Doge made the mistake of underestimating Eskand. And of his scheming, many people are going to die. At first, I hated Revidians,” Ingrid admitted, looking apologetically at Evander, "but that isn’t right. Most are just people trying to live like everyone else. It was the Doge that messed with that."

Evander sensed Ingrid’s instinct to hate Revidians. If he were being honest, he’d have been outraged if the Eskand had tossed their nation off the Five Thrones and replaced them with another. “What you say is true, I do not believe Revidians are to be blamed for the Doge’s actions, but as for people dying, both sides have a lot to atone for.” Evander lowered his head as if sad by the idea of violence, “What about you Ingrid? What are you looking for in this world?” He paused, “The Doge looks for power, King Rouis looks to maintain order, Eskand is fractured looking to reclaim its dignity, what is Ingrid looking for?” He repeated and emphasized once more.

"I wouldn’t say I’m looking for anything," Ingrid said. She closed the book on Eskand and flew it back to the shelf. Ingrid looked back at Evander, "I’m just trying to understand more things. Be able to speak to someone and understand their perspective and learn." Ingrid moved the book back in front of her, "But for that, I need to make money and learn other skills as well."

It struck him, Ingrid felt alone. There was no such thing as a person looking for nothing, someone was always searching for something. In her case, it was someone, and to understand their perspective. She was searching for words that would help her with understanding people. Evander nodded at her and stood up, “Well, you will not find the skills to speak to someone in that book, but you can find it in going for a walk outside of this library with me, are you interested?’

Evander stood up and reached out his hand like a gentleman. It was up to her to take it or not, but it was there as a gesture of respect.

An invitation for a walk is what she expected since the start and she had been ready to reject him outright. But surprisingly, Evander has been more enjoyable than she thought for a conversationalist. Her eyes seemed saddened, "I’ll have to decline, Evander. I truly need to study," Ingrid said before then flashing a smile, "But I would appreciate it if we could see each other at a later time." Ingrid hoped he would take her up on it.

Evander nodded, “Of course, continue focusing on what is important and you’ll reach your goal sooner rather than later.” He drew his hand back, bowed, and turned to go toward the Mythology and History section before exiting to head to the lake and read.

Common Ground:
A Desmond x Evander production

The Ersand’Enise courier showed up at their usual time. Passing out letters and mail to students from far away places, family homes, and between other students. Sworn to protect the words and gifts they carried on their travels was the honor of the Eresand’Enise couriers, an honor that was shared by some of the most talented professional mages of the time.

A neatly dressed courier approached the Noble Quarter dorm of Sven. Quietly the courier slipped new mail into the designated box. The home was registered to a renter named Desmond who for the first time may have received mail at this address. One neatly pressed rectangular-shaped envelope stuck out with a waxed seal denoting the sender was Revidian.

Desmond was given the mail by Sven when he made his return home. Upon reading the letter, Desmond found the following letter:

Dear Desmond Cautalus,

In Oraff's name - I hope this letter finds you well.

Your reputation precedes you. Congratulations on your victory as the new Champion of the Underground. I was not in attendance but heard through trusted sources you fought with skill and grit. Your conviction to never give up was most obvious to those who witnessed your feats. Well done.

Now for the purpose of this letter. I believe there is an opportunity for us to work together. I hear you are one to keep an eye out for work as a hired gun, a talent I am interested in. So, I thought it best to invite you in person over a glass of wine I recently purchased from you at the auction as a token of my goodwill and discuss what business may look like between us as a hired gun.

To that end, if your interest is peaked, join me at Dorm A10 in the Noble Quarters on Victendes on the 9th at 5:48 HO.

Desmond found himself in front of Dorm A10, it was a place with much grandeur like most Noble dorms. Multiple rooms, balconies, and even some small gardens for a single person and their servants that waited to cater to the whims and needs of their master. Desmond sighed as he adjusted himself one last time, making sure he looked as presentable as could be. His clothing was cleaned like always, his bathing rituals he now does every day, and he even decided to make sure he did his hair for this talk.

Once done with his final checks, Desmond made his step forward to the door and saw the large ornamental knocker on the door. The visage of the Black Devil was the largest feature of the Door knocker, yet there were many features within it that showed the amount of time and money that went into such a simple item such as multiple inlaid details of brass and gold to highlight scales and limbs, while within the open mouth of the Sea Serpent having a ring of gold inlaid with orange and red gems that shine. This intensely intricate and ornate item almost made Desmond hesitant to use it for its purpose, yet Desmond did so anyways as the large and gorgeous door seemed to have been made without a door handle at all.

Knock Knock Knock

Clicks and ticks. Clicks and ticks. The sort of sound Desmond would hear on his side of the door as Evander manipulated the iron pins in a certain order within the door using his magnetic gift to unlock it. Click.

The door slowly opened toward Desmond. There were no creaks, no signs of wear, and no loose parts. When walking into Evander’s suite he sees a large hearth with a fireplace. In front of the fireplace, there were two ornate dark wood chairs with red velvet cushions sown into them. The back of the chairs was open with two sea serpents entangled down the center. Between the chairs was a round dark wood table with two wine glasses. Underneath the chairs and table in the fireplace area was large orange and red area rug with the Synesti crest woven in it. The same type of fabric hung above the fireplace on the hearth as a small tapestry showcasing Synesti’s crest and motto.

Evander stood behind the chairs in the center of the room directly in line with the entrance. He casually waved Desmond in, “Welcome Desmond, I am happy you’ve decided to take me up on my offer,” his face cracked into a smile as he approached Desmond to shake hands, “did you arrive thirsty?”

Desmond noticed the furniture that seemed to have decorated Evander’s home, the gorgeous tapestry, the ornate woodwork of furniture, and the beautiful rugs and table. Yet what seemed to almost pull the room together was the man who had waited for Desmond. Desmond met the man’s smile with a warm smile and a shake of the hand, ”I’m thankful my reputation precedes me. And yes, I am quite excited to have a drink of the wine”.

Evander gripped Desmond’s hand firm with a touch of warmth, “Please sit down then.” He flipped his palm to face the ceiling while slightly curling a few fingers to emphasize his index which pointed to the seats. As the two rounded the seats to sit down, Evander picked up the Ellermane Blue, slowly he poured the Ellermane into two polished goblets. The sound of the pour could relax any wearying soul, and the aroma could be smelt even by those with the weakest of noses. All while pouring, Evander pulled in the heat from the room.

Once completing the pour, he raised both goblets handing one to the seated Desmond. Turning around he casually waved his hand to draw the curtains across the windows using his kinetic gift. The room grew dark and protected from the mid-afternoon sun. Evander sat, waved his hand back across, and the fireplace sparked to light up in flames.

Evander turned toward Desmond, ”I hope you do not mind, I find wine is better when enjoying it in front of a fire.” He raised his glass to toast Desmond. The clinking of the goblets and shared sip between acquaintances was to demonstrate what Desmond could expect from Evander if there relationship were to grow; the acknowledgement, the attention to detail, the comfort.

“Desmond, let me start by congratulating you in person on your championship. Not an easy task to compete at our age against some of the brutes that linger too long in places like that arena.” Evander drew up the goblet to parse a sip from the vessel. The goblet was as manicured as intricately designed as the rest of the Noble man’s dorm. Except, these goblets were made through a special process and craft. “I am curious to know, as a champion, what other dreams do you have?”

Desmond drank from his goblet and felt the atmosphere, it was one that was quite enjoyable. A calm fire, a smooth drink, and just enough light to feel comfortable. Desmond takes another sip as he says, ”I think the atmosphere is enjoyable”. Desmond listened to the lip service given by Evander as all Desmond did was smile and nod. Desmond took another sip of his goblet as then finally came the segway, as Desmond said with a light chuckle, ”Ah, becoming the Champion was nothing more than a small thing, all it was a is stepping stone to becoming more connected in the underground ring. My dreams are different, however. Furthering my craft, learning what interests me, and living a life I can be proud of. Those are my dreams and what I aspire for”.

Desmond spoke with a calm voice, this talk wasn’t uncommon, as people often wonder what the mercenary wished to do and Desmond was more than willing to answer. Once Desmond finished what he had to say he took another drink of his wine before asking his host, ”What about yourself? A man of your caliber must have aspirations of your own. So I am curious what you would need a Hired Gun for”.

Evander listened as the young man across from him dreamed a life he could proud of. A goal every man had at one point or another in their life Evander suspected. One last sip. He reached for the Ellermane bottle as Desmond reflected the question asked by Evander. Pouring a little more wine, he motioned the bottle with the tip toward Desmond as if to gesture, ‘want more?’

As the two refilled, Evander answered, “Aspirations of my own?” He thought for a second. “In a sense.” His eyes fixating on the flames and sound of crackling wood from the fireplace, “Something is coming Desmond, something that will risk the lives of the innocence, it feels like more than a war…” His eyes drifted down.

“...a culling perhaps?” The memories of the Laughing Sanguinaire killing wrecklessly, Sister Cadence’s warning of an Arch-Zeno traitor connected to someone called the Traveler, the list of Reshta, and finally the effervescent joy of sharing joy between a Belzogg girl who lost her balloon. The last image, the one of the little girl shattered in his head to reveal his imagination and prediction of fire and the dead cut him deep. The prediction of war between Parrence and Revidia felt as if it would end up in more than simply two nations fighting, it would be a war of attrition that would drag in all of Sipenta’s natural forces to collide with innocence caught at the center.

Evander gradually turned his head toward Desmond, “Your aspirations are your own, I can respect that.” He paused while keeping his gaze connected, “I am learning mine have never been my own. At first, I rejected it. Then, I accepted, in fact, I have found it more fulfilling to align my aspirations with something more than myself, I honor it.” Evander broke eye contact to look up at the family crest woven into the tapestry above the fireplace and then back down to Desmond, “Why do I need a hired gun?” Evander smiled, “I think you mistake the purpose of my invite. I do not need a hired gun, I want someone who understands that when the world begins to crumble…”

“...all that will be left are those who wish to keep it burning and those who wish to rebuild.” Evander leaned in, “I am looking for those who value life over death, who seek to leave this world a bit better than when they came into it, I am seeking someone I can trust to protect those who will be caught in the middle and fight for those who will be ready to rebuild a world after it burns.” Evander’s intensity rose slightly to emphasize the gravity of his statements, “I do not need you Desmond, I wish to honor you, and help you with crafting a life you can be proud of.”

Evander leaned in a tad closer, “Do you understand? In times of chaos, trust is the only currency, I wish to give you mine in exchange for yours, to prepare for what will come.” He softened his gaze, leaned back, and swirled the contents of his goblet cupped in his hand, “the question is, what path will make you more proud, preservation or destruction?’

Desmond listened to Evander as he spoke, he had a seriousness to his tone, his voice was calm and clear, and his words carried the weight well, as Desmond could feel the weight of ideas, and feelings, and it even invoked memories from not but a few days ago. Desmond kept himself calm, a light smile that never left his face, as he lightly sipped from the goblet, Desmond was finally asked a question, ‘what shall he do’. Desmond took one last sip of his wine as he said, ”I understand, thank you. What path shall make me proud? I wonder.” Desmond said as he looked up lightly and thought about what it would mean, what would he be doing. Desmond thought for but a minute as he finally sighed as he looked back down until finally he looked back up and leaned forward to Evander and said, ”I believe…I believe I would like to follow a path I haven’t yet. I think I’ll give my trust to you. Whatever that shall mean”.

Evander looked at Desmond with eyes like that of a friend. Their moment was true, a mutual adoration of strengths and a complementary understanding of how they could enrich their world together rather than separate. Evander leaned into meet Desmond, the silence was booming of reverence and he held out his hand to shake Desmond’s once more.

“Desmond, we will make this world our own, please stay as long as you’d like.”

Desmond had a smile lay on his face once more as he saw Evander’s eyes, as he took the outstretched hand, Desmond shook his hand as he said, ”I would love to stay, however I do have other work I need to attend to. Me and Brother Castel are cleaning the sewers today. I can’t let him do it by himself, he’ll hurt himself all too easily”. As Desmond began to rise he looked to Evander and said with a smile, ”I would love to speak more some other time, I will bring more wine next time, it was good”. And with that farwell, Desmond headed off, slightly changed.

No Pedals:
Only Thorns


Roses and Neskals began every time the same way. Evander demonstrated his nimble and acrobatic-centric skills throughout the entire series. He dodged Neskals in hair-shaving fashion, hit competitors with sniper-like precision, and out-maneuvered teams to tear down their Roses. Team Mozaru outperformed the rest, and it was noted in the championship round.

Real History:

Evander’s feet crunched the earth below as he approached the Proving Grounds. A tight pull in his chest alerted his awareness. The force of the pull felt as if it were coming from the Statue of Emulus, who stood as tall as the height of the Avincian Empire he had founded. He gave into this otherworldy pull on his body and he arrived at the base of Emulus.

“Amazing.” Evander had a sense of wonder about the statue. His eyes were drawn to the intricate details engraved in the stone from Emulus’ spaces between each toe to his broad shoulders and thick muscular neck. He marveled at the craftsmanship of the armor and sword. He imagined the stories and civilizations that made Emulus who he was to Evander’s history-tracing his fingers over the contours, appreciating the art, culture, and beauty of the past sweeping over him.

Evander could feel his ancestors standing behind him for the second time since his attendance at Ersand’Enise. After having made one full circle, he stopped, stepped back, and looked up at the founder of the Empire, “abyssus abyssum invocat.” (sea calls to sea). Bowing his head only to see a plaque at the base near where he stood.

Curious, Evander knelt down to inspect the plaque. Discovering a strange marking, he follows it until he cannot. Extending his hands to grab the smooth cold plaque, he peels it up and over onto the other side revealing a faint scratching upon the stone, “Would you like to know the real history?”

The real history? Evander was not certain by what was meant. He looked closely at the stone. Beneath the scratching was a depiction of a dragon burning a village. Below the scratching was more words, ‘it was no man to found an Empire, but a beast. Fire fueled by blood, all came to pay tribute to their new Emperor.’ The message was unclear to Evander, he pontificated for a moment. A beast founded Avince? He saw in the corner of his eye some further scratches, ‘There are two doors to two rooms, one with fire, one with water, which do you choose?’

This would begin with the first of four clues. Not long after Evander began scratching his own head after examining the vague clues of a bigger puzzle scratched on the statue, Zarina and Abdel joined. The two walked over to a different statue, and over time, the three of them pieced together the full puzzle. A vault was unlocked beneath the last statue with their final clue. Within was a book containing the spell of Bloodwarping. The three decided to form a study group to learn the spell. Zarina was naturally apprehensive at first until she wasn’t having been persuaded by Evander.

The three would agree to keep the book between themselves because if it fell into incompetent hands, there would be more trouble than there already was at Ersand’Enise.

Give Them A Show:
Not An Excuse

As the sun began to set on the day of the Championship round of Roses and Neskal, Evander stood before the closed gate separating himself and the prize for victory. Surrounded by his teammates, Yalen, Jocasta, Trypano, and Carm, there was no way for them to lose. They had overcome and managed to be top contenders since the beginning, in Evander’s mind, there was no losing.

He had been preparing for this moment for weeks, honing his skills and studying the tactics of his opponents. His precision and skill in fire and magnetic began to expand as he tested himself throughout Roses and Neskals. Evander recognized his opponents were formidable, each a skilled magician in their own right. But Team Mozaru is…


As he stood before the gate, he closed his eyes and focused his mind. He drew upon the magical energies from his environment. The torches flickered slightly toward him as he pulled in their heat. His hands were to his side with his palms facing the gate. He continued to draw and channel his Gift into the palms of his hands. He was not only here to win, but he was here to give these people a show, to remember… his name.

A faint glow began to emanate from his palms, growing brighter and brighter. The gates opened and he led team Mozaru out onto the field as his palms projected a profound blinding light in the direction of the arena. The blinding light forced people in the stands to reel their sight slightly back as they gawked in awe at the aura Evander created around himself. The other teams would not be able to directly look at him as he entered.

Now at the center of the Roses and Neskal arena, he raised his palms and clapped them together to release a burst of fire which shot into the air, followed by a bolt of lightning up the center to disperse the flames in a crack of fireworks. The crowd of more than a thousand people erupted into cheers as Evander performed in front of them. Some would think his entrance was ridiculous, while others might have found it artistic and in the spirit of the show.

What was certain, Evander was here to win.

No Pedals:
Only Thorns

Evander approached his Noble quarter room. Placing his hand on the frame, he slid it down and back up. The click of the door unlocking was subtle but obvious. He used his magnetic gift to set a pin inside the door that kept it from opening. Unless one precisely knew how to play with it, it’d prove a little difficult to open. Evander intently pressed his feet on the floorboards in front of him as he entered his room. His face twisted into a scowl as he passed his private fireplace, he casually waved his hand creating a spark in the stacked firewood which shortly transformed into a beautiful display of burning wood. The crackling of the wood soothed Evander’s ears, yet his recent loss at the Championship of Roses and Neskals boiled infuriation inside of him.

The loss was more than his heart could take. There was no one around, and he let it all out,“Horse shit!” Evander spouted profanity.“Fucking cowards ganged up on us.” His blood raged. His heart pounded louder and louder. The veins in his neck were more pronounced, and the heat coming off his body increased. Between the heat from the fireplace and the heat from his own body, he was beginning to feel the final seconds of Roses and Neskals all over again.

The teams were let loose, except they all focused on team Mozaru. It was practically a fight to stay in it for most of the match. In the end, they fell far short of victory.

Evander paced the room with infuriation. Unable to calm down with clenched fists his body was subconsciously drawing in heat. His ring grew in color emanating a blood-red hue from the cracked veins across the surface. He marched to his desk with a temperature that would rival a fever for the average person. Arriving at his desk he finally let out a frustrated roar,“non ducor, duco!” (I am not led; I lead). He brought down his fists with the meat side down like a hammer on the wood below.

Upon contact, both fists flared up engulfing his flesh into flames. Evander surprised himself, eyes widened, expecting to feel pain from the long duration he allowed the flames to burn, instead he felt…


Mesmerized by the flames that seemed to temper his excitement, but careless to stop the fire engulfing his fists from spreading onto his desktop. Evander realized it slightly too late as he backed away from the desktop and drew in heat to extinguish the flame. The burn marks on the desktop were already singed into place, it was okay because he learned something new.

Evander knew fire could not burn him as easily as others, but he had no idea he could manage a constant flame on his own flesh for a long duration. The anger that drew him to this realization was no longer present, it was replaced by his curiosity. What else could he do with this talent? What did this add to his existing strengths?

Fields of Fire:
May Oraphe Keep Them

Location: Fields of Fire
Mood: ”Rise of the Saturn” by Titan Slayer
Current Event: Fields of Fire
Interaction: @Force and Fury, @Dao Ma, @Pirouette, @Jasbraq, @Th3King0fChaos

The Queen, Maerec, Camille, Arsene, Hildr, and the Perrench army stood steadfast against the Dragon, who reigned with tyrannical judgment as king of the sky. The Dragon did not slack in its breadth of attacks as it swooped and swayed, casting a dangerously hot inferno across a scorched earth like a blanket covering a bed. The men cried out in terror, their swords and shields no match for the Dragon’s fiery breath and sharp claws.

It was Maerec who knew that if there was to be any gain from this situation, he had to move fast. Spilling his plan to the rest, the Queen’s army mobilized to strike the Dragon precisely against its tough armor-like scales. Meanwhile, Maerec would be launched into space as a rocket on takeoff. In a flash of brilliance, Maerec was hurled to the Dragon’s leg, where he captured its ankle. Hoisting himself up, Maerec began to navigate its physical frame, all while doing his best to stay on.

The ground force was left to wear the Dragon down physically while Maerec subdued it mentally and emotionally.

Caelum took this opportunity to conjure a large thunderous spell as Maerec distracted the Dragon after successfully mounting it. Drawing upon his holy powers divined by Oraphe, he raised his hands and began to recite an ancient incantation.

As he spoke, the sky grew dark, and a lightning bolt cracked, striking the Dragon with a mighty force. The Dragon roared in anger and pain, writhing its body from the discomfort of the onslaught below and the mounted nuisance above. The sporadic shifting of the Dragon caused Maerec to slip, falling, he casted his kinetic tricks to recover and leap back to the Dragon’s body.

Caelum continued to cast his spell, summoning forth more and more bolts of lightning to strike the Dragon from the sky. The Dragon tried to dodge the lightning, but the Paladin was too skilled and powerful. Soon, the Dragon was struck repeatedly, each bolt weakening it further. These attacks only infuriated the Dragon to the point where Caelum was its next target.

With a final, deafening clap of thunder, the Dragon was…

Missed. The Dragon came down like a missile at Caelum’s position. Before his head was charred, the Queen had saved him with her powerful defensive spell. Maerec continued to press forward to reach the Dragon’s neck and head. Encroaching his will on the Dragon’s, the two dueled in a lane of minds while the others valiantly fought by barraging their Gifts and arrows under the Dragon’s belly. Another demonstration of the Dragon’s wrath captured the lives of many and threatened several heroes of Perrench, only to be saved by the Queen once again.

However, Hildr is battered away, and the mighty tail of the Dragon crosses Caelum. Cleanly sweaping Caelum off his feet, he crashes into the side of a tree and falls to the earth. His sight was fading, his perception was running out of thoughts and images, and he was soon absent-minded and asleep.

The battle raged on. When Caelum came too, it was Camille who stood over him. Rolling to one side, “To think I am supposed to be protecting you.” He smiled. He nearly laughed but contained the gesture because of the pain on the left side of his rib cage. They were not broken, “Oraphe and Dami alike seem to have favored us,” looking up at Camille while feeling for his ribs to pinpoint where they hurt. His armor, however, was in the way. He shifted his weight to unstrap himself using what kinetic energy he had left, dropping his plates to the ground, "Ahh, better."

He slowly raised himself, “Did we win?” Caelum looked over the battlefield. A magnificent sight to behold was his dear childhood friend proving his dedication to becoming the greatest knight Sipenta had ever seen. Like in the alleys of Solenne when they were kids, he found a way to keep those who could not help themselves alive by protecting them with sheer bravery and will. Under Camille's help, Caelum walked back to the ground party, reorganizing after the battle. What disturbed Caelum were the dead. Many Perrench would never return home after today. Their bodies were charred, torn, and mangled beneath the natural rage of the Dragon’s power. There was a reason to celebrate, yet, the win somehow did not feel as real as the losses. Caelum felt the climate of sadness that pervaded the fields of fire, "May Oraphe keep them," he said for only Camille and him to hear as he referred to the Perrench who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their life.

Evander Fino Synesti

High Stakes:
Ending In Secrets

Location: Proving Grounds, Erasand’Enise

He felt helpless…


Evander then blasted his name,“I AM EVANDER FINO SYNESTI, I WILL NOT FORGET WHO I AM!” A swelling of anger and heat, a surge of fire grew in him like a raging furnace about to explode. His eyes flinched at first, then widened as time nearly stopped from his perspective.

Evander released a heat wave combined with concussive force. The massive blast smashed Abdel, who stood in point-blank range of Evander’s fury. The boots of the Virangish paladin lifted off their heels as his body propelled back, hitting a stone wall.

Evander’s other ally, which he had climbed the wall, nearly took a hit too. Her quick reactions carried her behind the cover. Only her arm took a few ashes to the flesh. The menace who had appeared next to her was another story, unscathed and unbudged.

“You are mad!”

Shouted Abdel,

“The beast is tampering with your mind!”

Evander could not hear Abdel as himself. Instead, the illusion persisted. Abdel was a hissing Sanguinaire in Evander’s mind. He still stood in a dimly lit den in a Perrench architected manor, wait…

He scanned the room, noticing similarities to a story he had heard repeatedly. Her voice slipped across his back neck, filling his ear once more, Sebastian. Evander could feel the only heat in this room was coming from him, this isn’t real! It smacked him, the realization that he had been tricked into believing he was in the story of Aelis Clairmont.

Evander’s chin lowered. His forehead cast a shadow over his eyes. Then, he began to chuckle. The more he saw how ridiculous this scene was, the more he laughed. Evander saw everything around him for what it was, an illusion. The manor, the Sanguinaire that was Abdel, the fireplace, the den, his father, and his sister all faded as swiftly as they had all appeared. Evander raised his chin, opened his eyes, and darted his gaze like a laser directly at the fiend’s location, fully engaged in sensing the pathetic trickster.

“You are pathetic! You mock the name you carry; I thought Sanguinaires are supposed to be terrifying!” Evander spotted the Lxiang from earlier, “Instead, you are nothing but a coward hiding behind parlor tricks!” He extended his arm, grabbing the Lxiang with his magnetic gift and thrusting it above as a missile toward the Sanguinaire’s heart.

“Hey kid,” the Sanguinaire said, laughing.“Nice dragon pendant.” Avoiding the Lxiang cleanly, the Sanguinaire appeared in Evander’s face, “one problem….” He grabbed Evander by the collar, “I don’t like dragons,” he whispered.

With a burning spirit, Evander spits in the Sanguinaire’s face, “cry to someone who cares.” The Sanguinaire hurled the youth like scrap out of the arena. Smashing through a block’s worth of houses, Evander finally crash-landed on a sidewalk after passing through the last house. Dust filled his lungs, and pain shot up his nervous system, yet, his heart’s flame only burned stronger. Rising from the rubble, he raised his forearm to his cheeks to wipe across his blood-stained lips, followed by Evander’s grin. Taking a step forward, another surge of pain cut from toe to crown. Wincing, he would not show this fiend that it was winning.

Evander scanned the sky, “it’s about time you became something worthy to fight me.” He began to draw in energy from his environment as the creature taunted from a distance, “come out, come out wherever you aaarrre!” Throwing its arms open.

Evander walked into the open street around the bend of the last house he had crashed through. Standing at the end of the street in direct sight of the Sanguiniare, Evander shouted defiantly, “I’m not hiding; you are moving too slow! Come at me!”

Evander caught the glare of the creature. Suddenly, a flash of his dead sister and father crossed his eyes. The Sanguiniare tried to pull more tricks, but Evander wouldn’t have any. Shaking his head, it’s only an illusion. He dropped into a defensive posture. The Sanguinaire attacked by burning Evander.

The heat was felt as some of Evander’s hair began to singe, “cute,” Evander teased. He rotated his forearm and nothing else to show how casually he resisted the Sanguinaire’s attack. Evander absorbed all the heat from the Sanguiniare’s attack as an intuitive arcanist and fireblood. “Idiot…try harder!” Before Evander could counter, a bright light forced everyone to recoil from the fight.

There was a blazing touch warming his skin. Naturally, he began to draw from its infinite wellspring of heat. The enormous amount was like that of the sun on a smoldering day. Evander allowed the essence of this new player to replenish his soul’s fire while her showdown with the Sanguinaire began.

“You will depart,” or “you will die.”

The words of Solstice, a sun-blessed Zeno. “I’ll die, you stupid girl?” The sky wavered, and it began to dark, even though Solstice was at full power. From thirteen different directions appeared thirteen demonic figures. They brought their hands together in triangle formations, and from them leaped a storm of darts. Evander tried estimating, Dozens…no hundreds…no way…thousands. It was like watching what true power could achieve in a heartbeat. All of the darts converged on the supernova-like figure.

She was not impressed. Solstice evaporated many of the darts as if they had not even existed. Two made it through. One grazed her cheek. The other, she snatched out of the air. She followed her actions with a conviction to end this fight with the Sanguinaire six feet below.

The sky began to boil with fire, great arms of it shooting toward the Sanguinaire. He was too quick, and the arms were missed. Then she whipped them like snakes around the other way. He dodged. Three more arms of flames sprout from her, writhing and snapping like great tentacles. One washing over him. The Sanguinaire screamed, the other arm impaling his chest.

Solstice floats down, perching on a rooftop, still smoking, her fiery glow flickering and dimming in her eyes, “surrender if you wish to live.” Evander looked at Solstice,“Live?” He questioned, “He deserves no such option!” Evander, empowered by the arcane energies raging around him, took action to scorch the pathetic trickster.

He crisped the stone behind the Sanguinaire instead as the Sanguinaire appeared behind Evander,“Bad move, boy! Last move, boy!” The Sanguinaire swiped his claws to cut Evander’s head clean off his youthful shoulders. What the Sanguinaire did not account for was Evander’s skills in Zebaka.

Evander swiftly dropped his head, avoiding the strike while coiling to the side, bending his knees, and placing his right hand with his palm face down on the ground. He tried to sweep into an upward heel kick to connect with the Sanguinaire’s jaw. Too fast. Evander missed. The Sanguinaire was already attacking another party member, Ymiico. The Sanguinaire was dropped by one of Ymicco’s traps, stalled but not killed. Before the Sanguinaire continued his advance, he turned his gaze to Solstice.

The two fought in close quarters; another Sanguinaire tried joining to fight alongside Solstice. The number of powers on this battlefield was numerous. Evander readied himself to make another attempt at a decisive strike. Before he could, Solstice was ripped by metal threads, and a second powerful person joined the fray, Luna.

She took the fight to his blind spot. Her blade thrust deep into his back, seizing his body up. Finally, the Sanguinaire fell from the sky, crashing into the street below. Luna followed his fall, touching him. Something in that moment shook the Sanguinaire. Evander could see it in his eyes. He disappeared once more as blood gushed from his body.

Luna taunted him as the Sanguinaire had called out to Evander, “Come out come out whereveeeeeer you aaaare!”

The Sanguinaire tried running from her, but she had done something to him that none of the others would have understood. The Sanguinaire seized up, falling to the ground, screaming in pain, and clutching his head. Evander saw his chance. He conjured an arcane lance, heaving it at the down trickster.

Evander missed again as the Sanguinaire disappeared. Evander felt frustrated, but he did not break focus. The Sanguinaire reappeared, attacking Ymiico, but Yuli intervened, cracking him with heavy left and right hooks. A sudden thunderous command came out of nowhere, shocking the fighting to a halt.

Evander fell to one knee. His eyes shut momentarily as he resisted the command. He kept repeating his name, his origin, his story.

“Get out of my head!” He stood up, pushing the command away from him. When he reoriented, Sunny was attacking Luna.“Damn, they got her.” Whoever tried commanding the battlefield seemed to have contested Sunny’s will. Evander saw Sunny's power initially; he knew she needed to be stopped before pursuing the Sanguinaire. Sunny attacked her sister Luna. Evander recalled a tactic he witnessed during the Great Melon Derby. He pulled out the metal wires he had taken control over when Chad arrived at Zemana’s house. Tossing the wires, he extended his arm to control them. Using his magnetic gift, he closed his grip once the wires reached Sunny to wrap them around her. Evander failed to bond Sunny, but he did get her arm. It was enough to halt her assault, for now…

In the end, Sunny found her way free and tried punching Luna in the gut before Luna slipped into the void.

At this moment, Silas tried showing everyone where the Sanguinaire had run off to, but a loud COMMAND banged on everyone’s nervous system again.

Evander was not brought to his knees this time when resisting the mental hammer. He could recognize it, feel it, and let it pass over him…he just…shrugged.

“Stop playing games, show up or step off!” Evander shouted. Something was out there attempting to control the outcome. Were they defending the Sanguinaire? Or were they here to control it with those commands? Evander brought his foot back to prepare his stance defensively. Where are you? He could not sense them. Suddenly, his classmates all rose like puppets on strings rising into formation.

There you are! Evander locked onto a Dread Priest, but it was too late. All his classmates were brought to him, encircling him as meat shields, Damnit! What a coward! Evander grit his teeth, I can’t attack. He’s left no openings. Evander’s mind rolled in a thousand directions, his eyes darting from one side to the other to spot an opening he could slip an attack through, this isn’t over.

“We should talk,” said the Dread Priest.

Even if Evander had no choice, he continued to let on that he was ready to take this challenge head-on if the Dread Priest was pulling a trick. He began to draw in energy, speaking in a frustrated tone, “Then speak.”

Brother Wolf opened up with their plan to use the Sanguinaire to lure out a treacherous Arch-Zeno. Shortly after, three robed figures materialized. Evander asked Brother Wolf, Brother Flint, Sister Lumen, and Sister Cadence questions about the Sanguinaire’s consequences, the traitor among the Arch-Zenos, the Volti assassins, and the Traveler.
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