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The Tea Room
A Community Discord

Order of the Hourglass (co-GM) - Main: Ayla Arslan, Secondary: Ashon'Amar'Loiyang, Maura Mercador, Taleja Drakenknecht. NPC: Oksana Levlytsar, and others.
Tales From the Realm of Laelilon - ꁲꂵꁲꋊꂠꂑꋊꈼ

Current TTRPG
(Roll20) Conan - Ivan, Cossack.

Current One-One Roleplay
None current.

Eldritch Escape - GM (1:1) - Daylight has not risen for seven days, and no one has noticed. Everyone seems oblivious to it, acting as they normally would. People are starting to disappear, but the news is silent. Bodies are appearing on the street, and yet people pass by without a second thought. Just when you think it couldn't get worse, you die. You are revived by your new companion, who calls themselves Bellwether. The thing that killed you? A monstrous Eldritch horror. Now, it's down to you to fight for your survival.

Potential Interests:
Currently interested in things that catch my attention. A little bit different or a spice to it.
Wuxia/Xianxia themed Martial Arts/Cultivation
Steampunk / Diesel Punk
Age of Sail (Discovery, Pirates, etc)
and more.

Most Recent Posts

Event: White Thresher | Location: Zengali

Ayla politely advised the messengers that they had the wrong person as she made her way to speak to the Marquis. Sometimes, they should shove the missives in her hand before she was able to advise them, and thus, did her duty to check its contents for who they were addressed to before handing them back. Even though she wasn’t able to glean all the details, she was starting to form a picture of who were people of interest.

As she approached the table where everyone was working, she was stopped by a guard before she reached the Marquis. She politely bowed her head in respect of his duty. “Our name is Ayla Arslan, we come representing Students from Thaumaturgy Academy at Ersand’Enise in providing support. We are here to make our introductions.” She smiled warmly towards the guard, simply doing their job, and hoped encouragingly that they would allow her to approach.

The guard questions the young girl at first, this is the first time he has head of Ersand'Ernise taking part in this hunt. "I ask that you stay here as we check if they are ready for your visit," the guard politefully asked but it was obvious a command. One of the other guards went to the advisor closest to the Marquis and after a few moments, the advisor waved for the guard to let the woman through.

"Thank you for your patience Lady Arslan," the guard steps to the side and gives the full path for Ayla to walk.

Upon approaching their table, some of the advisors close to the Marquis Dume stopped their work to watch the introductions. The ones at the end of the table though had to keep writing though they showed some acknowledgment of her with a brief head nod. The advisor that gave permission raises a hand to tell her to stop at a certain distance from the Marquis and then signals her to make her introductions. She has the Marquis's full attention and he doesn't look very pleased with her presence.

Ayla moved before the Marquis and curtsied before him in the appropriate manner. “Thank you for welcoming us during this turbulent time. Please accept our condolences for the blight affecting your people. Us students from Ersand’Enise couldn’t help but be moved to provide aid to this just cause.” She gestured towards the port below, referencing her colleagues. “Many of us have arrived from across the twin continents, eager to assist, and have already begun to provide their skills in your people's aid.”

“Are you and the other students merely here providing aid at the port or will you take sail with us against the beast?” Dume looked at the girl up and down, questioning why a child had come to speak with him.

Ayla smiled politely at the Marquis. “We will endeavour to fully support the removal of this creature from your list of priorities,” she said, allowing for a pause, “and assist with lessening others as well.” She gestured towards the port. “Your home currently has many guests, and as a gracious host, you have to contend with many interests and political considerations that arrive at your doorstep. The thing about us students is that we are promising individuals, mostly from noble families across the twin continents. Some nations are aligned with the Sovereign Pact, from a Central Alliance nation like myself, or aligned with neither.”

Her smile was sweet. “We are available to support you in dealing with this threat and further concerns you may have.”

Dume's initial thoughts of a child quickly changed when said child had much to say of his worries “I am well aware of my worries Lady Arslan, child of Torragon, and am more than capable of handling them. But thank you for the offer.” His face grew stiff when speaking to her, no longer seeing her as a child just making the rounds but the same as others with an agenda.

"You say that you come representing the students and that you'll help in various ways. Do you speak for all the students here?” Dume asked her.

Ayla bowed her head respectfully. “We recognize your skill in handling this difficult matter and hope to learn from your example. We come as a resource, and we will seek to demonstrate our value to you in the trial ahead.”

She listened to the question asked and smiled. “There may be others who have arrived, and we look forward to working with them. We share a common goal and an intention for there to be hope. Hope in dealing with this threat and a brighter day for your city and its courageous people.”

He had been held up, briefly, by the guards outside, but then they had recognized their social better and ushered him through. There were many men of importance gathered, and others of little. There came flowery words from Ayla, as well, that took up quite a bit of space without meaning very much. The Perrenchman certainly nurtured no grudge against her, but it reminded him of the vipers trying to elevate themselves through their social better. His goal was plain and his time spent listening outside had given him more or less the measure of his quarry. His footsteps sounded on the marble floor. A rapier hung at his hip. He came to a stop with a smart clack of his heels.

"Marquis de Zengali." The young man nodded in his host's direction, polite and businesslike, but did not bow. It was not proper for the son of a duke and *prince du sang* to do so before a mere marquis. "Lady Arslan." In any event, the Mezegolan did not seem much preoccupied with formalities.

"I am Yvain de Berbignon, and I so happen to represent those 'others' who my lady anticipates working with." He smiled agreeably, but his bearing remained intense. "We have come here, on behalf of Perrence and her allies Belzagg, Eskand, and..." He more or less smothered his grimace through his smile.. "the other one, to help you slay a beast and to ensure that no others follow in its wake. We are - all of us - capable thaumaturges who come prepared for a fight. We shall not require much but your consent and any resources you may see fit to bestow upon our effort." Left unsaid was the rest: I trust this is agreeable.

The Marquis had grown tiresome of this conversation with Lady Arslan. Double speaking and now he might have Ersand'Ernise solo actors in their port. He even ends up questioning if his own son sent word to a contact in Ersand'Ernise. But none of that mattered, the Marquis decided that he would cast Ersand'Ernise outside his port.

But first was tall gentleman, Sir Yvain de Berbignon. He came with purpose and clarity unlike the Lady standing before him. The Marquis was much more attentive to Yvain. It was like a breath of fresh air that tells you that the eggs had gone rotten.

"Well your service will be much appreciated," the Marquis silently gave a nod to Yvain.

"Your presence is permitted, of course,-" the Marquis gave a subtle glare at Ayla, "And as such, your group will be rewarded a case of mana shots for tomorrows hunt." The Marquis lips curled into a small smile, smiling didn't fit his face.

He turned to Ayla, "Lady Ayla," his voice grew serious, "Anything you have to say?" he looked at her expectantly.

Ayla noted Yvain's presence as he entered the discussion and politely bowed her head in his direction. She had hoped to aspire to something better and greater in their meeting, aiming to create a united front with her fellow students from both factions and beyond. However, it became clear that such an aspect was unexpectedly threatening to the Marquis. As the adage goes, ‘better the enemy you know.’ The idea of a third party, no matter how benevolent or well-meaning, was seen as an unknown.

She sighed softly, especially as Yvain distinctly presented himself as part of the Sovereign Pact. This clearly identified her as being aligned with the Central Alliance, contrary to her intention. "We are all here to assist in this endeavour, regardless of factional lines. We represent students from Ersand’Enise, primarily from the Central Alliance nations, as our colleague next to us has stated. Your consent and any available resources or information you can offer would be greatly appreciated to allow us to operate effectively in dealing with this issue."

The Marquis weighed his judgement. She obscured herself as a neutral when she wasn't. Whether that was a lie, delusion, or genuine hope weighed on his mind. The Marquis was unashamed taking a minute or so of time to conclude his thoughts on Lady Arslan.

"The Central Alliance has done much to help hasten our readiness for tomorrow, and for a group representing a talented addition to their ranks, I thank you for coming. As such, I welcome you to Zengali, Lady Arslan. My aid will share with you the details and sleeping arrangements for tonight." Marquis Dume's kind words were laced with pity for the girl. One of the aids pulled out a scroll for Ayla and escorts her out of the Marquis's home.

Once at the gate, the aid gave Ayla a fair reporting of what they know of the beast. Around 34 alds long and it has attacked much earlier this year. The ferocity of its attacks are abnormally fierce but the resistance Zengali is putting this year is even more so. As for special resources, most have already been allocated, however there might still be some by night's end. He pulled from his satchel a small tablet of bronzed metal. Intricately designed with a symbol and some mezegolan words on it, similar to belzaggic. "This should act as prove for your party that you are allowed to receive special resources if available." He does a quick bow to Ayla and returns to his post.

Event: White Thresher | Location: Zengali

Taleja rolled up her letter and filed it away in her bag. Comte de Grasse certainly had a way with words; she had to give credit where it was due. Alas, she was here for work, so the poetry of the writing was not that important, but at least the gesture was silently appreciated. Upon hearing the news of sickness at the makeshift encampment, it was clear where her skills were best suited.

"If I may, I believe my talents are best suited to tending to the sick at the encampment," she politely bowed her head towards the other students, as well as the high nobility and royalty amongst their number. She gave a deeper gesture towards Princess Penelope and Yvain de Berbignon.

After excusing herself, she made her way to the destination. With her supplies, pets, apron, and plague mask, she wasn’t going to wait to be invited as she intervened on delivering healthcare to the desperate and in need.

As Taleja approached the encampment, the odour of sickness was as offensive and familiar as Perrench opinions of 'Crisians', yet more welcome. She steered herself to the area assigned as a makeshift infirmary and noticed an easily recognizable figure approaching.

"Lady Somia, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance," she bowed her head towards the figure. Then, she tilted her head towards the infirmary. "I would imagine there will be a number who could greatly benefit from your skills in flesh craft." She reached into her bag and brought out some anaesthetic. "I do have some spare if you require any."

A smell no less familiar to her than that of her own breath permeated these grounds, the smell of rot, pungent medicines and poorly kept equipment. Spare for the visibility of the sky itself the sounds and sights of suffering bore little dissimilarity to the holds of the naval vessels she once served upon during her tutelage. She approached not long after the woman adorned in the garments of a standard plague doctor, said woman addressing her work as they greeted her for the first time. It would seem as expected Trypano's reputation proceeded her.

"Greetings Lady Taleja, a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well." Spoken with the tone of a business negotiation, formality merely a side actor to the meat of her intent. She did not bother to correct Taleja on her title preface. As inscrutable as her expression ordinarily was below the hood of her cloak her expression was all the more obfuscated, what little to be seen simply appearing neutral if nothing else.

"I will note, all forms of medical binding involve the craft of flesh. We mustn't scare the laymen with needless semantic distinctions." She cast a glare to the scant few guards around their presence, wary of her intimidating and mysterious figure.

"My thanks in advance for the offer of anodyne for those who are suffering who may see my care. While I do offer my skills in excising the roots of malady I don't intend to ply my work on those who may choose to refuse it. I am simply along to discover more regarding the source of their suffering, both within and potentially without." She of course hinted regarding their business with the thresher. If any who suffered in these camps were aware of the beast or perchance even had a run in with the creature then it would benefit them to inquire.

"In regards to our ultimate task there is something I wish to discuss... In greater privacy, should the contents of our exchange prove sensitive." She hoped with this it would buy them both an excuse to head in and be able to talk away from the potential barrier of needless meddling from the laymen. After all, the contents of the letter and the matters that might pertain weren't a topic for just anyone to listen in on.

Taleja appreciated Trypano’s concern. “It is a shame we have to face discrimination and judgment from those who don’t understand,” she offered the woman a smile. “I, for one, admire your peerless talents. Your dedication, specialization, and singular pursuit of your craft are truly remarkable feats of a honed and diligent mind.”

“Yes, let’s make time for a discussion,” she responded to the other’s offer. “I feel that your insights would intrigue me.”

The guard's nerves were already fraying from the people slowly dying behind him and the sovereign pact showing up in the port unannounced. Now a pale, crimson haired, taller than yasoi, blood mage trying to 'treat' their injured.

Ignoring the high minded speech the 2 partake in, the guard stood firm, "The wounded inside are delirious so I will be refusing your services on their behalf, now be on your way." The guard kept his hand on his saber and turned to white haired woman, "I can permit you to go in, ask the nurses for the physician when you make it to the wounded."

"It would seem the local busybodies still find plenty of time to make other's matters their own." Trypano began to proceed away from the makeshift camp. Whilst the guards posed no actual threat to her the amount of fuss they'd raise was ill-worth the good she'd lend to the ungrateful lot.

"I'll be attending to matters elsewhere. We can talk elsewhere, either now or later should you decide to press forward with this venue" She turned to address Taleja, broadly gesturing to the camp as a whole before turning back and continuing on. Trypano continued, waiting momentarily to see if Taleja would bother to follow and inquire regarding what she had to say. If not, it scarcely mattered. Whilst the hope had been to do some good by the people first before moving to primary concerns this inconvenience had done little else but simplify her next objective.

It was time to go do... Something. Maybe fix a ship or something? Who knows. Very mysterious, yes. Definitely not blood magic.

Taleja bowed her head toward Trypano, “I will meet you with you after to discuss my findings. I feel that your input would be valuable.”

She then continued past the guard to inspect the wounded.

Taleja glanced towards the performer, her green eyes peering over the beak of the mask. Leon, who had somehow performed a miracle in front of them as if he were Oraff himself, shied away from tending to the others. A trick? She certainly had more questions than answers, more than what that boy would be willing to share, but she was not going to allow an opportunity to go to waste as she moved towards the green vile substance, taking a sample and placing it in a vial.

One thing was clear: she hadn’t come across anything quite like this before. The green 'algae' at first glance appeared to be alive and parasitic in nature, which would explain why the local medics were having such a difficult time handling this outbreak. She approached one of the available staff. "Excuse me, I am looking to assist with this outbreak. Are you able to provide me with a report of your examinations and attempted treatments, so I may provide assistance?"

"Just a moment," a pleasant voice rang from inside the tent, the flap rolling up as Taleja approached. He could be seen wrapping up a green, slimy heart. He tuned to greet her but his face started to turn. His connection to the gift was being strained, and he could only guess it was his new guest.

As she made her request, he kept a hand on the knife he had used earlier. "I am unsure that a woman like you would provide much help here." He seemed worried about having a venomhand 'treating' the sick here.

“A skilled alchemist and medicine woman?” came Taleja’s reply with a soft smile. “Don’t let these noble looks fool you; I am quite versed in the treatment of ailments which go beyond simply using magic, nor beyond getting my gloves dirty in the process.”

She looked toward the heart being wrapped up, giving a solemn expression. “What was their name, and have we informed the family of the passing?” She expressed that empathetic understanding toward the man, “We always strive to do the best for those in our care.”

She held her gloved hand out towards him. “Taleja Drakenknecht, at your service.”

Taleja's distraction from Safiri's main issue had little effect. He was ever watchful of her without his gift at hand. Neither did her acclaimed credentials have sway on him though he did note them. However, when asked about the victim, Safiri acquiesced. "Sir Esuperio Julio, sailor for the Sant'Agata della Compagnia Rossa supporting fleet. He died last Lepdes," the doctor took a moment of solace for the man he couldn't help. "We have, but it will be months before the letter makes it," Safiri looked back to her now judging her offer. The wound tenders are scared to touch the men, and many of the binders are busy repairing sails and ships.

He replaced his own gloves and snapped on a new pair, reaching out his hand for hers. "If you feel confident in your ability, then let's get to work," setting aside his immediate concerns for her nature for another set of hands.

Taleja solemnly smiled as she took his hand and shook it. “I am eager to get started. It would feel like a dereliction of duty if I didn’t provide assistance, given the bravery of those here, like Sir Julio.”

“Outside my skills as an apothecary, my level in the gift is journeyman Chemical, and adept in Binding and Atomic, Master Physician?” She followed the man’s lead, questioning the name following the lack of introduction. “I would appreciate a rundown of what we know about this plague, as to where I should get started.”

Safiri went over to the open cabinet and pulled out the records he has been making over the week and a half. He laid them out in chronological order for each patient to show the progression it has taken.

"We'll start with Sir Julio then," Safiri plucked the case file from the table and put each page on the table


Brought in with the rest of the injured. On the boat, he was confined to the lower levels. A mild fever, increased perspiration, light discolouration on the skin, and various shallow infected and uninfected lacerations. Some history of pneumonia and weak heart as a young boy by his own account. We'll provide basic wound dressings, binding, and a mild stew for him to regain strength.


Most wounds were easily mended, and most infections could be cleared out with a simple unity of chemical and binding. One wound on his out hip seem specifically resistant to this form of treatment. It doesn't look particularly dreadful but, but the wound is starting to give a light green hue to the area. Sir Julio reports he is feeling stronger, which is good.


Various remedies and treatment were tested on the wound today, none of which seemed particularly effective. Even simply eradicating the infected flesh with binding was of little help, like it was resistant to Oraff's blessing. Sir Julio was well enough to walk again. His colour had returned and he has quite the appetite. Some nurses reported that he talked about feeling sharper than normal, more aware of his surroundings.


The infection has started to spread further into the body without much warning. Sir Julio's strength has diminished, though he was still speaking as he was still fine. His senses still seem to be perfectly acute. The green hue as taken up to his mid-section on his left side and to his left leg down to the mid-thigh. More severe treatments will be used.


Sir Julio is bedridden, worse than when he first arrived. A mossy slough had grown across the green area, and we are having it scraped off every few hours. No treatment seems possible. We can sense the infection has made it into the blood. We have informed Sir Julio, and he has asked for an easy passing and a clergy member to see him and write a will for his family.


We continued treatment to help him pass in comfort. His eyesight had gone, but he was able to sense abnormal things. He could 'see' people moving about, the clamouring of the port, the singing of his people, and the gentle sloshing of the ocean. He passed relatively comfortably and peacefully, Eshiran guide his soul.

Taleja mentally reviewed the journal entry as Safiri spoke, noting the inconsistencies. From the first review of the notes, it appeared that this disease was what impeded their full recovery. The rapid deterioration of the host after initial success was peculiar. It was clear whatever had infected them possessed manas and resisted magical interventions by the physicians.

"In nature, parasite infection can cause a similar presentation,” she paused as she considered it further. “They often enhance or alter host behaviour," Taleja said, her tone grim. "Some can live in harmony with the host, like the tongue-eating Louse, others are more hostile, like the Cordyceps fungus. Sir Julio seemed to host the latter."

Safiri considered her words, scratching his chin. "I'm open to all ideas at this stage. No matter how unusual," he said, returning the case file to the table. "I remember studying this parasitic fungus in my texts. How does it relate to this?"

"Hypothesize this," Taleja began. "The patient's rapid recovery, except for the affected area, and heightened senses. The parasite would want the host to travel back to their home. They might have been driven towards settlements for sustenance, such as the noted increased appetite. With the host's deterioration, it could cause further contamination, infecting others before succumbing themselves." She gestured to the green slough secreted from the wounds. "That could be a contagious agent."

Safiri grimaced at the thought. "That's quite the imagination. Fortunately, Cordyceps isn't part of the local flora," he remarked, as he shook his head to rid himself of it, and moved away to pick up the wrapped bundle.

Meanwhile, Leon's lyre continued to play its sweet tones, as it miraculously healed more of the patients within the tent. As the sonic magic resonated at an ethereal frequency, as the green tint drained from the affected bodies, the ‘algae’ dissolving into green pools on the beds. Medical staff rushed in to assist the patients, supporting them away from the beds and the area, to clean them up.

Taleja tilted her head questioningly as she noticed Safiri pause at the other table, “It was a theory, and given its apparent vulnerability to sonic magic. We should consider taking up musical instruments…”

She noticed him raise his finger toward her, denoting silence. Taleja watched, puzzled, until she noticed Safiri's gaze fixed on the twitching, agitated, and shifting bundle on the table. "Is that the heart?" she asked softly, as her green eyes noticed its strange movements.

The cloth around the heart grew damp, as it appeared to flex, as it attempting to bounce, then it pounced at Safiri. The physician was unprepared as it instinctively moved to hit it back down. The bundle showed unusual kinetic strength, as it flexed again, hurling itself toward him again. He struggled as it forced him backward, grappling with it to keep it at bay. “Help!”

Reacting quickly, Taleja knocked over a small crate, spilling its contents, and prepared to use it to trap the writhing bundle.

The bundle continued to pulsate within Safiri’s hands, as the cloth began to give way, the throbbing green muscle dropping to the force as it shed the surrounding cloth.

Taleja forced the crate down on it, trapping it underneath as she held it down. She could feel the heart within slam against the walls of it.

"What was that?" Safiri exclaimed, terror in his eyes as the box thudded with movement.

Taleja’s green eyes glared with intensity at the box beneath her, before they flicked toward the physician. “Time to find out.” The woman’s sumpfkrake began to uncoil as they descended her arms to help secure the box to the floor.

“Destroy that vile thing,” Safiri expressed in great disgust.


Safiri reluctantly accepted.

"To imagine..." Safiri's horror was palpable as he surveyed the remnants of the irradiated sample on the floor. "...that such a thing would exist," he murmured, sinking into a chair with a pained expression. "We regularly have scavengers, fishermen, even pirates visit our docks. If this thing spreads out of hand, it could cause untold destruction. Apocalyptic, even."

Taleja swiftly scooped the remains into the incinerator using a pan and brush. The tent buzzed with activity as other medical personnel worked to dispose of and destroy all potentially contaminated items. "This is one aggressive species of mana slime," she remarked, her tone grave. "It was agitated by the Lyre."

Safiri nodded grimly. "These are not new to us. Whirlpool mana slimes are common in this area. They sit passively, slowly consuming dead vegetation and animals," he explained, his gaze drifting to the incinerator. "But this? This is something entirely different."

Event: Castaway: Scallywags | Location: Waters near Mehameha

Kerplunk! Splash!

Maura breathed out as her head resurfaced above the water, cannonballs whistling over her head. “Silvestri, my fee just went up!” she yelled out, though it was uncertain if the Zeno would hear her over the chaos. The students found themselves dropped in the middle of the water, caught between crossfire. Thankfully, her chair floated, allowing her to assess the situation without too much scrambling. Her crates had made it through safely so far, and she would be very unhappy if anything happened to them. She glanced at the ships—three of Virangish colours and the unmistakable Blue Adam, the pirates of the Dami's eyes far from home in these waters. The land was distant, with the closest being the wreck itself.

“Everyone, head towards the beach by the wreck. We need to prevent either of them from approaching and try to create a stalemate between them so they will withdraw.”

She looked around and spotted Zast swimming towards the pirate ship. She shrugged, admiring his bravery. “Make sure they withdraw!” she shouted after the Cazenax.

On the other side, she watched as the Raffie and Ren head over towards the Virangish ships. It is clear that some appear quick to forgo their task to side with their individual interests, but that is not going to deter her from the task at hand.

“Kaureerah, we need to get the crates to the shore! Once we hold the beach head, we can get to work.”

The five of them at least, Mahal, Kaureerah, Tku, Marz, and Maura, will do Zeno Silvestri proud as they made their way toward the closest beach with their equipment and crates. Guiding her chair towards the shore, she used her gift and redirected any incoming cannonballs to give them a wide berth using her magnetic and kinetic magic.

Character Draft for Review:

Looks like an interesting set-up.

I can write with different goals and lengths in mind, based on the setting and inspiration, from cheeky short posts to multi-post short stories when the inspiration hits me. Feel free to check my post history for writing samples.

If you want a recent post where I was experimenting with different styles, can view this one.

I am interested in being the healer, since my last healer didn't get much of a limelight, though tempted to make a hybrid healer / strong one in the vein of D&D's cleric or a recent inspiration "The wrong way to use healing magic" anime, where the MC is trained to build their body up using their healing magic to accelerate the process, so they are better able to rescue their comrades on the battlefield with strength and speed in a rescue capacity. Makes for a more 'paramedic' type healer opposed to casting from distance type.

Event: Act Six: Missions | Location: Ersand'Enise

Ayla had advanced to the next round of the Tan-Zeno process, but the victory felt somewhat hollow. Tannifer had hit a few nerves, and she was eager to prove her worth. The task related to the sinking of a Revidian ship seemed to be just the right fit. Cross-factional troubles requiring a touch of diplomacy? Check. A rampaging animal requiring a gentle touch to subdue? Check. This had all the hallmarks of another Ayla success she loves to do, or more accurately our success. With the others who had signed up, there was Leon, the great performer; Ciro, the friendly merchant; Trypano, the brain in a jar; and Roslyn, who when it comes to anything bad, she wouldn’t do that. This could be a potential recipe for something beautiful.

Taleja walked, the heels of her boots clicking on the floor as she dressed down into a far more functional outfit for the trip and grabbed a travel bag filled with prepared supplies. As she took note of the task at hand, learning what she needed. It seemed to be simple enough to formulate a solution if you removed any unnecessary variables. However, from one glance of her green eyes at her travel companions, it was clear that unnecessary variables would occupy most of this trip.

Though positively with the beast master, Zarina, on their side, dealing with the creature would essentially resolve itself in her care. An obvious delegation. As for Rikard, she knew he was a simple boy when it came to these things, an effective hammer for any nails as long as he kept his eyes on the task. The group's biggest problem was the Perrench, who would undoubtedly use every opportunity to make the situation political and all about themselves. They were unreliable and foolhardy, each of those present already having a reputation for it. It was awkward enough that she had already felt their eyes on her and heard the mutterings under their breath at her presence. Two out of five; she had worked with better odds than these before.

Ashon looked toward the flyer as he scratched his head. It seemed there were those from his homeland with more bennies than sense. Apparently, this situation would be of great import to the academy, and Penny took an interest. It made sense for him to watch out for his fellow Yasoi, as this is an opportunity to create new beginnings and take root in Ersand'Enise. It also brightened his mood to see Seviin here, wanting to help out. Despite her background and odd character, but he couldn't exactly dislike her attempts. Besides, he couldn't leave her unescorted, as he doubted her goodwill would be appropriately returned with ruffians around. He would have thought Esmii would have attended as well, but she seemed to be nowhere to be found.

What surprised him more were the other characters involved. Why were they so interested in the affairs of the Yasoi? Or were trinkets and baubles dangled in front of them motivating them so much? Even more surprising was the likes of Dorothea and her known dislike of his people. At least Xiuyang made sense; she had always been a Suunei, though her temperament had changed a little since their visit to Yarsoc, and her fascination with her 'saviour' was a cause for concern. Another surprise was Oksana, who seemed to be hanging around the academy more, even when her people had returned home from the trials.

Regardless of their intentions, he will aim to preserve his people.

Oksana watched as the man disappeared. It didn’t make sense for her to try to lean in, as she was still working on her letters. The others provided useful information for the task at hand. It seemed a refugee, someone like her but a Yasoi, was engaged in charity work, but some troublemakers had kidnapped the do-gooder. The fact that she was here without any real source of income and being rewarded for her good deeds made it simple enough for Oksana to sign-up. Knock a few heads together, perhaps make these bandits lose a few teeth, and they would certainly think twice about attacking any innocents in the future. She smiled warmly towards the rest, as she cracked her knuckles, not that she heard it of course, “Save do-gooder.”

Maura hummed as she was asked to intervene in settling the dispute in Kiluaho. Her background would lend her some authority in that area, as a judge of all things mercantile. Most importantly, she would be going on the mission with Kaureerah again! She would have loved Penny to join as well, but she was absent in the morning. There was also Tku, who kindly lent her his tusker kites; they would likely prove invaluable for this mission. Marz would certainly have the know-how to work with the various materials they come across and could jerry-rig solutions to problems.

Then there were those she didn’t know much about. Mahal, from Palapar, could be useful in negotiations or as an interpreter. And there was knock-off Ayla, Raffie; Maura didn’t know much about her other than the fact that she loved her cats.

As for the others, she was less sure about them and their motives. Zast was certainly an unsavoury character, a charlatan. Fiske, once an innocent boy, was becoming more wayward every time she saw him. Ren looked like a Virangish Evander, with the snotty personality to match.

In preparation, she enlisted helpers and puppets, probably, to begin dismantling the Schwarze Alice into transportable pieces for the portal trip. After all, for the pirates and salvagers of Kiluaho, nobody expects the Torragonese Submersible! Our chief weapons are surprise, fear, ruthless efficiency, and an almost fanatical dedication to the pentad.

ꁲ ꂵ ꁲ ꋊ ꂠ ꂑ ꋊ ꈼ
ꋖ ꂑ ꂵ ꈼ
Day 1 [Night]
꒒ ꂦ ꀯ ꁲ ꋖ ꂑ ꂦ ꋊ
Lock and Key [Somerset]
ꌚ ꂦ ꐇ ꋊ ꂠ ꋖ ꌅ ꁲ ꀯ ꀗ

Amandine found herself amidst a scene that felt oddly familiar, surrounded by a motley crew that could easily pass for a circus troupe. The presence of the massive, armoured beast-like figure next to her only added to the surreal atmosphere. In her mind's eye, she couldn't help but envision Maltar donning a top hat and large hoop, commanding the beast to perform tricks, with Gus playing the role of the bumbling clown, Budi as an exhibit, and Torsten as the imposing bouncer. Dorian seemed like the perfect ringmaster, and Faline, with her air of elegance, fit the role of the glamorous assistant seamlessly. As for herself, she resignedly joked that she could serve snacks, envisioning herself selling popcorn to the audience.

However, Amandine's amusement quickly faded when she realized that the plan involved raiding the ruins of her ancestors. It struck her as a simplistic solution to a complex problem, one that seemed to prioritize disturbing the dead over finding more practical solutions. "Isn't it ironic," she remarked dryly, "that our kingdom's go-to solution for every problem seems to involve disturbing the spirits of the past and antagonizing the living?" With a touch of sarcasm, she suggested, "If we're in dire need of Dragonian artefacts, why not pay a visit to the Emperor's treasure vault instead of rummaging through ancient ruins? We might have better luck finding what we need there." Her suggestion hung in the air, "The Dorado tribe supposedly possessed a stone that could turn lead into gold. It's likely sitting right there in the vault." she shrugged, expecting to be met with mostly indifferent expressions from her companions.

Setting aside her reservations, Amandine approached the book laid out on the table, flipping through its pages to gain a clearer understanding of the task they were signing up for.

Event: Tan-Zeno Interview | Location: Ersand'Enise

Event: Tan-Zeno Interview | Location: Enise'Ersand

Event: Part Two: Kryzhana Fortetsya | Location: Vossoriyan Tundra, 8-6 years ago

Oksana and Metel continued their arduous journey south through the expansive taiga, navigating the rugged terrain and surviving off the bounties of the land. The keen sense of the elk, drawn to the sweet allure of snowberries, became their guiding compass in this vast wilderness. As the time blurred into days, perhaps weeks, the duo unexpectedly encountered a seasoned hunter accompanied by his son and daughter.

At the first sign of humans, Oksana and the elk mirrored each other's skittishness, both reacting with instinctive fear that drove them to bolt at the mere hint of contact. Shouts and pleas from the bewildered family fell upon deaf ears. However, a turning point emerged when the family cleverly baited the duo with food. The irresistibly tempting rations proved too much for the hungry Oksana to resist.

Amidst this interaction, Alina, the daughter of the hunter, exhibited a warm and welcoming demeanour. Her earthy green eyes held a gentle invitation as she introduced herself to Oksana. Through a series of gentle gestures, Alina coaxed Oksana to join them. Further introductions revealed the hunter's name as Andrei, and his son as Kirill, an unpleasant boy.

Oksana, with Metel, found herself accompanying the family to the great Sich of the south—the formidable Kryzhana fortetsya.

There have been many nights since Oksana first joined them in the Sich, and adapting to a new life proved challenging for the girl. Nighttime, in particular, posed difficulties when her mind settled, and demons crept into her thoughts and dreams. To ease her anxieties, she often shared the bed with Svetlana, her newly adopted mother, and Alina. In moments of fear, loneliness, or night terrors, they consistently provided comfort, embracing her in a warm manner that restored her sense of security.

Her favourite part of the evening was a tradition involving oral histories and lullabies, frequently repeated and sung at night, passed down through generations. While some stories were pleasant, many served as advisories, cautioning about dangers lurking in the wild. One such tale, "Bayu Bayushki Bayu," warned of the perils of wolves, urging children to tuck in tightly, lest a wolf would bite them. As Svetlana sang the lullaby, Alina, gripped by fear, tucked up against her tightly. Meanwhile, Oksana, simply feeling the rhythmic melody, found the experience soothing and comforting. Being close together like this became a favourite nightly ritual.

Over the last two years, the Kryzhana Fortetsya Sich has experienced exponential growth in size. Oksana was not the first, and far from the last, of the refugees who made their way in this direction. Many from smaller settlements and nomadic groups found themselves compelled to move south due to the aggressive actions of Borislav and his people. The pursuit seemed relentless, driven by a goal to eradicate their way of life. With nowhere else to turn, the ice walls of the Sich became the last beacon of safety and hope in the south.

This influx of refugees resulted in heightened tensions as life within the Sich was forced to adapt. A new class system emerged, distinguishing between those who were originally present and those who had earned their membership, giving the former a certain level of superiority over the latter, the new refugee underclass. While Oksana, adopted into one of the original families, technically shared in their privilege, her status as the "brudnyy" (dirty outsider) and her strong-willed spirit marked her out for ridicule among her peers.

“Oksana! Wait!” Alina hurriedly followed after the upset girl, gesturing wildly with her hands in an attempt to capture her attention. Tears welled in Oksana's eyes as she stormed off toward the forest by the Sich, her usual refuge when she needed to escape.

Eventually, Alina caught up, firmly grabbing hold of Oksana and pulling her around, stomping her foot on the ground. “You don’t run off, okay?” She gestured emphatically at her feet, signalling to stand still, then moved in for a comforting hug. Oksana meekly reciprocated, muttering apologies as she embraced Alina. “My brother is a svynya, he is only jealous,” Alina reassured her, running her hands through Oksana’s hair while softly singing the lullaby her mother had taught her. The gentle rumbling of her voice provided comfort, gradually easing the distress.

The two of them sat together on a log by the forest, Oksana reaching for Alina's hand and squeezing it. Life had been challenging, and the ache of missing her parents persisted daily. Yet, with her new family, it was bearable. She turned her attention to Alina as the other girl spoke animatedly. Oksana focused on Alina's lips, observing the rhythmic and gentle movements as they formed words. The topic shifted to boys, and a pang of sympathy for Alina swept over Oksana. The family, being among the eldest in the Sich, carried expectations of Andrei becoming the successor, and marriage proposals were already circulating for the children.

In a moment of realization, Oksana noticed Alina's smile brightening as she spoke about becoming a real sestra. Oksana's eyes widened, contemplating the possibility of Alina proposing her pairing with Kirill. She playfully stuck her tongue out with an audible "yuck." Alina's giggles resonated through her body, their vibrations serving as an unspoken language of their kinship as Oksana smiled warmly.

As dusk settled, Oksana and Ailna began their journey back to the Sich. The air grew cool, as Alina pressed herself against Oksana, seemingly cold. Oksana, who was concerned, removed her outer layer of fur, intending to help shield her from the cold by wrapping it around her, when she felt Alina’s hand grab her wrist. To her surprise, Alina was not shivering, she was trembling. It wasn’t a chill, but sheer fear that had seized Alina’s body - she stood frozen in fear.

Oksana scanned the surroundings, as she felt Alina’s startled reaction. She looked in the direction she pointed as the cause of her fear materialized: a pack of wolves.

With urgency, Oksana grabbed Alina’s hand and pulled, signalling her to run, as she attempted to drag her along. The girl stumbled behind clumsily, slow and unsteady. As the pack closed in, and Alina fell behind, tripping over in the snow. The lead wolf prepared to pounce on the defenceless girl as Oksana, without hesitation and in a split-second decision, threw herself at the beast. Chomp. Oksana cried out in pain as the wolf’s bite sank into her arm, the warmth of her blood oozed from the wound as her saturated leather and furs failed to fully withstand the ferocity of the attack as the jaws clamped onto her arm. As the wolf tore at her, she reacted swiftly as she struck it hard on the nose, forcing it to release its grip as she dislodged her arm from the jaw.

The wolf backed away as the pack circled around the two girls in a menacing ring. Oksana clutched her wounded arm, freezing the wound. Alina, frightened, leaned against her, scared. Oksana began to conjure a spear made of ice to hold with her hands as she spoke softly to Alina, “When we move, they will move. Make a signal, and make it big.” Alina nodded as she understood, and followed tradition, and used her own gift to send a smoke flare above their heads into the dark sky, signalling for help. It erupted into a radiating light, as below, the shadows of the wolves twisted as the pack closed in on their prey.

Oksana wielded the ice spear in her hands, spinning and twisting to ward off the approaching wolves who moved to evade its sharpened point. One, being grave, ignored the spear as it lunged at Alina, bypassing the spear. “Nyet!” Oksana broke the ice spear into two, using one half to stab the wolf in the leg, to tug it away from the other girl, then stabbed it in the back with the other half. As the wolf was pulled away, another charged Alina from the other side, toppling her over. Alina threw snow at its face as it tried to snap at her, whilst Oksana rushed to her aid, and kicked the beast away, by booting against its ribs as hard as she could. With her back turned, Oksana found herself a victim as one leaped on her back, as it wrestled her face down into the snow. She pushed against the ground as she rolled with the wolf, pushing herself onto her back, as it lost its grip, then it scurried away. Another wolf approached the part as she grabbed a hold of a stone, and threw it towards it to deter it from approaching closer.

The wolves regrouped, but this time, arrows and shouts disrupted their advance. Men from the Kryzhana fortetsya charge forward, frightening and driving the wolves away. The two girls were rescued from the predatory pack.

Svetlana attended to the two girls, Oksana using her knowledge of healing from her mother, helping out as Andrei paced in frustration. Svetlana shook her head at the pacing as she sat down with the two girls, speaking to them softly, with concern in her voice.“I am so relieved you’re both back home. What happened out there?”

Alina spoke nervously, her hands gripped tightly together on her lap. “It was terrifying, Mama. We were walking and lost track of time when I heard the howling of the wolf. When I tried to tell Sana, they had already started to surround us.” Oksana simply had her head down; her thoughts were filled with guilt. It was her that put them in such a dangerous situation. It was her fault, and again, she was powerless.

Svetlana’s expression softened as she smiled, moving to place herself between the girls as she held onto them. “It is okay; take your time. We’re both here for you.” She and Andrei exchanged an unspoken expression toward each other. “How did you manage to get away?”

“It was Sana; she stood so brave as I sent the signal, trying to keep them away.” Alina spoke fondly as she looked across at her ‘sister’, who appeared to be in a world of her own. Svetlana squeezed tighter on the girl, as if to gesture, thank you. Andrei was going to say something when he felt Oksana’s eyes on him, watching him. He decided to simply leave the girls alone as he exited the room.

After the conversation, Svetlana tucked the girls into their bed as she eventually retired to her own bed to be with Andrei. “She could have been seriously hurt,” he grumbled as he started to express his frustration. “They are both alive and with us now,” she spoke softly to him. “It is that girl’s fault; she constantly gets Alina into trouble.” Svetlana turned her head as she stared towards him in a more stern manner. “You were the one who did the right thing and brought her home. Do you see how protective of Alina she is? Our daughter couldn’t have a better friend.”

“It is more that Alina is protective of her. The way Kirill speaks, her reputation is being tarnished by the girl.” Svetlana stared at him. “Is this your concerned father's voice, or are you worried about your prospects of becoming the chieftain?” He looked back at her, held that gaze for a moment, then relented. “If we can secure a good marriage for her, it is all but done.” Svetlana elbowed him as she turned her back towards him. “Good night.” He frowned. “I am just looking out for us.”

Days passed with Alina in a state of panic, relentlessly searching for her missing necklace. Oksana tried to assist, but their efforts were in vain. It was during the search that they had a revelation: "The wolves! It must have dropped there." Despite warnings against exploring, Oksana offered to go alone, but Alina insisted on accompanying her.

Journeying back to the forest, they reached the fateful spot. The snow had come and gone, and in the waning moments of their unsuccessful search, Alina heard a sound. She signalled Oksana, who conjured an ice blade and cautiously approached. Oksana vanished, leaving everything silent, causing concern. A rustle in the bushes preceded yapping sounds, and Oksana emerged, holding a wolf pup by the scruff, the necklace in its mouth. Smiling widely, she handed the pup to Alina, saying, "He looked after it for you." Three more were yapping at her feet, "No food, pups are hungry." Alina looked at the pup as it gnawed on the elk antler necklace futilely, giggled, and gently tugged it away.

They discovered that the wolves' den was nearby, and they had young to feed. Oksana felt some kinship with the creatures, knowing the pain of losing her own parents. After coaxing Alina to help nurse and feed the pups in their absence until they could leave on their own. Though her arguments for bringing them home were dismissed, this new routine became a regular occurrence, and the wolf pups grew in size.

One day, Oksana had returned from one of her trips and began to change into her indoor clothes. Alina rushed in through the door, alarmed, "Sana! The wolf pups!" She tugged at the deaf girl, who was perplexed, and hurried back into her outerwear as she followed her. They made it outside the walls to find three teenage boys throwing rocks at the wolf pups, who must have followed Oksana back home.

The largest teen picked up a hefty rock as he advanced toward them, causing them to step back. "You filthy beasts! You will suffer like your parents did!" he bellowed. Using both hands, he hurled the rock towards them, prompting whimpers and hurried movements. "Stop it, Kirill! What are you doing? These pups aren't to blame for what happened!" Alina rushed ahead of her brother, positioning herself between them and the pups.

"They're part of the same pack, they deserve it!" He went to pick up another rock, but his sister stepped in the way, preventing him from throwing it. "No, they don't. They lost their parents. We've been taking care of them, feeding them. They're innocent."

His eyes gleamed maliciously, "Innocent? Wolves are never innocent. You're just soft-hearted, always trying to save everything, even that brudnyy." His gaze shifted to Oksana, another 'rescued' by his sister, as she approached the pups, gently shooing them away. "Maybe so, but I won't let you hurt them. They're not the enemy; they're just trying to survive."

He spat toward his sister, "Survive? You're being stupid, and I won't stand by and watch you make that same mistake again!" He pushed Alina over and out of the way as he approached the creatures.

Oksana sensed the change in the wolves as they began to growl. She turned her head to watch Kirill push Alina over with a rock in his hands. She yelled out as she went to charge him, keeping her head low as she tackled into him, causing him to fly backward. She moved between herself and Alina, checking on her.

Kirill was assisted by his friends as he brushed off the snow. "You all saw that, didn't you? She attacked me." His grin was wide, "That was a mistake, brudnyy mutt. One that was a long time coming."

Alina tugged on Oksana as she was able to stand. "Let's go; he is trying to provoke you." She tried to soothe her as Oksana began to relax slightly and slowly lower her guard.

"Don't think it will be that easy this time." He began to use the gift, summoning a ball of fire in his hand as he pointed it toward the wolves. "Goodbye, Mutt." Oksana ran to intercept, but it was too late; he had turned, pointing it toward his own sister and released it. Alina cried out as Oksana only saw red, drawing from the flame.

Kirill laughed as he watched. He knew it was large enough to cause a scare, but his grin continued as he noticed Oksana heading towards him. "Take care of her. Let's see how good she is when the supervisors are not watching."

His friend Bodgen charged towards Oksana with a stick, intending to strike her. Oksana formed a blade with ice as she countered his attack. The impact caused the stick to snap and go flying as she followed up with an uppercut punch.

Dmitri bound some rocks together and cast them towards her. They thudded into her back, and she rolled onto the floor, creating a wall of ice behind her to stop the assault. The boy tried to knock down the wall with his rocks when suddenly hands grasped his ankles and pulled him down into the snow. Oksana popped out from underneath him and delivered an elbow drop.

"Kirill, stop, it has gone too far!" Alina's words seemed lost to the wind as Kirill fired a hot plume of fire towards the direction of Oksana. She created a shield of water, turning it to ice as she used it to push away the flames while slowly approaching him. The pair locked in a song of ice and fire, the heat of the flames licking past dangerous levels. Oksana conjured darts of ice as she tilted the shield upwards, creating an opening to impale the boy's feet with them. As Kirill cried out in pain, his attack halted, Oksana charged forward and barrelled into him, knocking him on his back as she jumped on him.

With her tormentor underneath her, all she could envisage was Borislav's face as she laid into him, raining blow after blow with her fists. Alina ran up to Oksana, attempting to pull her away, as she fought back, tears in her eyes as she continued. The fighting had attracted attention, and guards came to the scene, tackling Oksana and dragging the distressed girl away. Alina stayed behind with her brother, those green eyes of hers watched her get taken away.

Oksana was held in a secure location behind a locked door. She had not seen or heard from her family for a couple of days, as her only contact was the shifting of the guard and when she brought some food. The guards had spoken, but she was unable to hear, a fact they misunderstood, as this made them talk more freely with each other, thinking she was unable to follow the odd phrase as she watched their lips. Kirill, despite being beaten black and blue, was otherwise unharmed and recovering. The wolf cubs were not found, presumed to have left the area. It was when Andrei came himself that she knew the outcome.

The man came alone, not a trace of Alina or Svetlana having accompanied him. He looked towards her, then sighed, shaking his head. “You are not to return to our home; you are not welcome.” Oksana could feel her heart skip a beat, her pleading quickly silenced as he raised his hand. “Kirill is my son and heir. You are not. That is all that needs to be said of that decision.” Tears rolled down her cheeks, the droplets crystallizing as they reached her jaw, falling like tiny gem droplets.

He turned as he was about to leave, “My daughter and wife would never forgive me if I allowed something to happen to you. Despite your age, you will join to serve the guards on the wall. A roof over your head, food, and an important position in the Sich.” He walked out, as the guards came in to bring her to her new quarters.

Alina was gone.

Event: Small Steps, Graceful Strides. | Location: Enise'Ersand

The events of the revolution were certainly a turning point in the history of the world. Who would have thought Upta had been a Grand Demon who had taken over the academy? It seemed that this fact alone had essentially excused all of their actions and transgressions in the form of a general amnesty, though the repercussions and very real consequences were still sorely felt by everyone.

Even with all this, Ayla found parts of herself very excited, simply buzzing with excessive energy. She couldn’t exactly put her finger on the pulse of the matter, but a little positivity in this dark time was surely needed. She remembered that warm smile that spoke from the heart as she held the girl’s hand, of someone who appeared to understand. She picked Asier up in her excitement, swung him around, and then put him down on her bed as she grinned from ear to ear. She had finally done it; she was about to make friends with a Yasoi! Casii, Ismet, Tyrel, it had all failed horribly. Well, Jamboi technically counts, kind of, but everyone is Jamboi’s friend, and he wasn’t the kind of boy you would invite out for some coffee. No, this is going to be her new friend, a tall pretty girl with white hair and a good heart. A good, normal friend to go out on dates with—no weird awkwardness, no boys involved, and especially not pretending to be a boy and unintentionally getting introduced to her parents as a potential suitor again. She brushed her hair for the nth time, put it down, then clapped her box of treats, picked up a bottle of wine, and took that long moment to breathe and settle back into being herself again.

One downside of the revolution was certainly the damage done to the green spaces. Thankfully, Ersand’Enise had some trained gardeners, but the scars on the land would take time to heal. It gave her some anxiety, especially as she knew Yasoi loved nature, but she hoped she chose wisely in choosing the arboretum. After all, they could always go for a walk instead. She decided to bring out her flute as she played, waiting for Seviin to appear as Asier lounged nearby.

Seviin didn't so much arrive as she appeared, leaning almost impishly against a nearby tree trunk. "Sorry," she began. "I've been here for some time and missed you, and then your playing was so nice that I fear I was entranced." She pushed off and strode forward, smiling shyly. "Might you forgive me, Ayla?"

Ayla’s playing almost came to an abrupt stop as Seviin arrived. The girl clearly looked pleased to see Seviin before her expression dropped for a moment, and her eyebrow raised. “Forgive you? We certainly do not. You have done nothing that requires our forgiveness.” Ayla smiled impishly after the comment as she went to give Seviin a hug. “Thank you for patiently waiting for us. We are very pleased that you arrived.”

Her expression changed again for a moment as she recalled something. She went to collect her picnic basket and opened it up to reveal the macaroons inside. “Help yourself to one. We have brought plenty of food and drink.” Asier continued to lie on the grass, his eyes peeled open, only to yawn, and then appeared to continue resting as they closed again. “And this sleepy one is Asier; he is doing the important job of looking after the picnic basket,” Her voice purred as she teased the cat.

"These look... delicious," Seviin remarked, kneeling demurely once she had been released. "And so does *he*!" she squealed, holding a hand out towards the cat to help him acclimate to her. After a tentative peace had been established with the distinct possibility of petting at a later juncture, she reached for a macaroon. "I think I shall," she agreed to Ayla's offer, but then she paused. "Oh! Um... there aren't any... animal products in them, right?" The yasoi smiled uncertainly, fingers just about to grasp one.

The Puff-lion sniffed curiously toward Seviin’s fingers as she stretched them before its maw. It looked towards the digits in a wary manner, then moved closer to sniff at them, licking the tips of the fingers. After this brief investigation, it withdrew to continue snoozing, seemingly losing interest.

Ayla, on the other hand, was caught off-guard by the question about animal products in the food. She glanced toward the macaroons, saying, “They are baked with egg whites. Does that suit your palate?”

Seviin blinked. "Well, you see, it's something of a moral choice," she replied. "Mother Oirase created all and she gave to the yasoi - and to huusoi, of course - reason and empathy. Why is it that we raise some animals en masse to be slaughtered while, others, we give a nice comfy bed, all the food they could want, and plenty of petting?" She shook her blonde head. "It has always seemed an odd and unjust thing to me, so I choose not to participate." She seemed to catch herself there. "Egg whites are fine, though, so long as none of the eggs are fertilized, of course."

Ayla looked flummoxed at the sudden moralizing as she chewed on her bottom lip, her cheeks rosy, and she appeared a little flustered by the speech. She sheepishly offered the macaroons she had poured her heart into making once again. "Was that a rhetorical question, or do you enjoy sharing ideas on concepts such as these?" Ayla’s eyelashes batted gently as she ran her fingers through her hair, twisting a few strands. "We... have a reputation for wanting to enjoy long discussions on morality, philosophy, and history. We haven’t met someone open-minded enough to enjoy such deep, exploring, and intimate discussions with." Her heart thumped in her chest, and her cheeks almost went as red as her hair. "It's okay if you don’t. We just thought we should ask."

Her eyes did glance toward Asier, as she silently sent her thoughts toward him. "Sorry, little one, might have to wait until after the walk for your beef bully stick."

"I never ask a question that isn't meant to be answered," Seviin replied. "That I *do* believe there are right and wrong answers, not like some of these new Yan- *huusoi* and siisoi philosophers who'd steep everything in ambivalent shades of grey." She took a bit of the macaroon and smiled widely. "It's delicious, by the way! You are *very* talented." After finishing the treat, she swallowed and cleared her throat. "I simply don't believe that we are random things. The gods made us with intentionality and I intend to live in a way that reflects that." her eyes darted towards the treats once more and she smiled shyly.

Ayla took a macaroon and placed it between her lips, taking a bite as the other spoke. The soft shell melted within her mouth, and the vibrant taste of the fruit jam in the middle complemented the texture. “There are certainly black and white in the world, but instead of things being grey, we like to think of it as yellow, red, blue, purple, and orange. After all, there are at least five gods,” her voice a subtle purr as she playfully highlighted the difference, “and when they are in unison, we have our white, and when they are absent, it is a void.” She beamed brightly towards Seviin, using hand gestures to emphasize her points. “We live in a rich and colourful world, and you are right, everything is very intentional. Even the way we treat different animals, sometimes even different peoples.” She offered the box again to Seviin, shuffling it to encourage her to take the white one, or was it the red one next to it?

Seviin grinned wickedly. "You're my type of lil' ol' agitator." Daringly, she chose *both* macaroons. "And you're not wrong. The world is full of colour, verve, and option, but I think we have to pick ours: pick what matters to us, and champion it." She bit into the white one first. "That's not to say we can't change, but it should only be done for a truly compelling reason. Wouldn't you agree?" She flipped the other between her fingers nimbly and smiled.

Ayla gasped in faux terror, “Both? How dare you have more than one. You have a dark soul, Seviin, and we like it.” She giggled playfully, “The white reminded me of you,” she smiled shyly as she watched the girl bite into the treat and enjoy it. She then moved her hand to the other side of the basket, to the box, and pulled out a beef bully stick from under a blanket, “Since we are on the topic of being controversial. Macaroons unfortunately won’t feed him.” She cast it towards Asier, giving Seviin a look of playful defiance, as the puff-lion began to wake up, sniffed over towards it, and then began to bite and chew on it, his paws gripping it hold it as he savoured his treat.

"Provocative," Seviin remarked, averting her eyes. She finished the white macaroon, eyes roving about the Arboretum. "So, not to completely change the subject, but... to completely change the subject." She blushed. "I've made a rather big leap. I cannot countenance my people's violence, even if one buys the line that it is well-intended, but now I find that violence has followed me here." She swallowed and cast her eyes downward. "Tell me, truly, Ayla, for I feel as if we are just kindred enough that we may understand each other." She lifted her face towards the other. "What is Ersand'Enise like? What can I expect?"

Ayla smiled gently as she gazed up toward Seviin, pausing to reflect, “Ersand’Enise is full of diverse ideas and people. How else could two distant roses ever hope to meet?” She blushed lightly as she shared an expression of kinship with her, “Yet, amongst this diversity, things do tend to be relatively peaceful in general, recent events notwithstanding. We enjoy it here, making new friends, ones that otherwise never would have met. Maybe you'll find out not all yanii are bad,” she gave her a wink, and then held her hand, “and perhaps here you can lead by example, like the other night. Perhaps we can show others that we don’t need violence to solve everything.”

Seviin bit into the red macaroon, finally, and smiled. "I shall take you at your word, Ayla, for you have earned that much." She chewed and swallowed. "I know at least *one* huusoi who I will trust not to commit daily crimes against all that is holy and decent." She winked. All around them, nature was rebuilding, rejuvenating, with the assistance of people of all sorts instead of their indifference or even antagonism. It was... something new, something that would take time to get used to, but something that she thought she could grow very much to like. "I so ardently hope you are right, suunei." She finished the last bite, dusted off her hands, and began to rise. "Might you be willing to give your lost little foreign friend a tour?"

Ayla looked up at the tall girl and raised her eyebrow. “Not so sure about a little foreign friend, but we are happy to show around this really tall one.” She moved onto her tiptoes, as if trying to measure up next to Seviin, using her hand to indicate their height difference, grinning widely.

“Yes, let’s go for a walk, there are some nice woods nearby.” She held her friend's hand, her smile beamed as she walked, calling on Asier, who had finished his treat and came running after them.

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