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The prince muttered a curse and sighed, whipping the reins of his mount to coax more speed as the expedition neared one of the posts on the outskirts of their home territory. "A terrible foe..." His brow furrowed in thought for a few strides of the horse before he gave another look over his shoulder, as if the enemy dragon was on their heels, "Controls shadows and breath can't be stopped... We'll need to get the drop on him for anything to be effective. And, assuming we can pull that off, we'd have to have something that will shut him down immediately... Permanently. Can you replicate your mother's seal?"
The engineer dashed to her side, dropping to his knees beside her, eyes darting to her hand over her heart, brows furrowed in concern, "Captain? What is this?" He cocked his head to the side slowly, as if the angle would help him see under her hand. Reaching out slowly, Sebastian let his hand hover over hers, silently asking if she could reveal her wound to him.
"We're always in danger, Sykia. This whole expedition to find your mother, to find you..." He shook his head, trying to think of the words, "We've made a deal now, and you've already paid a portion of your share throwing... Whatever it is off of our trail. I won't be a very good king one day if I start squelching on my debts now." The prince gave the horses another few minutes to catch their breaths before signalling for the entirety of the expedition to pick up the pace and press for home. He pulled her arm around himself tighter, "Now tell me everything you know about this 'thing', I assure you a prince is not powerless."
The young man gulped audibly, his eyes silently screaming he wasn't comfortable with this request, but his firm lip saying he would try. He waited for the collective of the crew to disperse a bit, making his way towards the captain's quarter, rapping lightly at the door with his gloved knuckles. "Uh... Captain? It's Sebastian..." he said meekly, unsure if she heard either his knock or his call. Checking over his shoulder, he saw that he drew a few curious looks from the others, but no one seemed to be paying him an unusual amount of attention.
Kendrick felt a shiver run down his spine that urged him to press his steed forward with more haste. He dropped the scepter into a holster affixed to the horse's saddle and rested his now free hand over Sykia's, ensuring she was still holding onto him as the throng fled. One by one, the horses of the expedition began to tire; he could feel his own breathing hard in exhaustion. Mercifully, he signaled to slow to a trot, knowing a full stop was out of the question. He leaned back, turning his head to whisper in the disguised dragon's ear, "What did you sense? Are we yet safe?"
Sebastian's eyes followed the captain as she took her leave, noting her somewhat broken and tired speech. It seemed unusual, though he'd just met the woman, perhaps she was always like this. He shot a glance towards the warrior-cook beside him and leaned over, one eyebrow perked up curiously, "Odd? Eh... Is that something we ought to worry about?" In all honesty, he didn't know what he could do if Iris told him to go help, he was new after all, but he figured from her little interview earlier that she was someone that not only had an ear to the ground about the captain and crew, but also wasn't afraid to step in when she thought she had to.
Opening his eyes for the first time in a long time, he spotted a woman standing casually just a few steps away. She wasn't overly short, perhaps a head shorter than he, nor was she intimidating, though the expression on her face seemed oddly serene given her surroundings. She bore no armor nor weapons, but her bearing was of such confidence that he doubted she had any concern for threats she might encounter out in the wilderness alone. She was neither thick nor thin, but the curves of her body would certainly turn some men's heads. Her skin was as pale as milk, giving off a soft glow in the ambient light of the forest, contrasting starkly with her deep, auburn hair that came down just to her neck in waves. Her dress was of a crimson so dark it looked almost black, with what appeared to be some sort of corset above the waist, four sturdy buckles keeping it in place and a skirt with large frills hanging halfway down her thighs, only revealing a peek of the skin beneath before her long boots began. In addition to the skirt, a half-dress, of sorts, hung down, adding a bit of elegance to her shape that just a skirt wouldn't do. A thick, but short, coat covered her shoulders, the front held in place by a fine wooden ornament of unknown origin, coming down in long sleeves that had frills hanging past her fingers.

(( Alverdine ))

"I don't sleep, Raven," she said somewhat tiredly, the woman's voice matching the one he had previously only heard in his head. "At least, not in any way that you'd understand, yet." It was different hearing her out loud, gentler, less intense. Turning his attention away from the woman and towards his bags, he found her already standing there beside them, without having moved, as though she could place herself where she wished with a simple thought. The corner of her lip curled upwards slightly into sly grin, "This is... Somewhat of a figment," she started, answering a question he hadn't asked, "More than an illusion, less than reality... No one will be able to see or hear me but you, unless you make the sign and summon me properly. In this form, it won't take any of your concentration to communicate." She fell in step behind him as he made his way towards the springs, though he knew full well that she wouldn't have to actually walk anywhere, or even appear to him at all. "Now, I do have a question for you, little one," she called, despite her current form being noticeably shorter than him, "Why are you studying magic?" She didn't turn away as he prepared for his bath, but neither did she seem overly interested in it. She simply stood at the water's edge and awaited his reply.
Kendrick spurred his mount stiffly, but not cruelly, into a gallop, eager to be on his way. He wasn't exactly defenseless out in the wilds with his contingent of servants and men at arms, but he certainly felt more comfortable with the palace walls surrounding him and a standing army between him and any threats. A few of his hired guards matched pace with the prince, glancing over to meet his gaze before jerking their head towards the unknown man behind them. The prince nodded, brow furrowed in something akin to annoyance, what was he paying these men for if not to protect him?

The pair of guards broke off from the main group and turned around, guiding their own barded chargers to intercept the stranger. They kept their weapons stayed, but one hand rested on the hilts of their swords as they approached, "Halt! State your name!" they called, eyes warily looking over their pursuer.
Leaning against bulkhead, arms crossed over his chest, Sebastian patiently waiting for the regulars to finish their calls. He heard the crewmen from before, his first encounter with Glory's compliment. The man with the gearwork arm stood proudly, offering a hoot and pumping his mechanically assisted limb into the air. Jesse Thornburgh... he thought to himself, tucking the name away for memory later. He didn't know if he'd have to use it, but it was better to know than not know he figured. After a brief bit of silence, a few expectant eyes turned towards his direction, alerting him that it was his turn.

With a little shove, he pushed himself off of the wall and cleared his throat, tipping his head slightly, "Sebastian Benzie!" he called out just loudly enough for Avery and Dante to hear.
Alverdine stirred in his dreams overnight, trying to lead the young man down the rabbit hole of arcane possibilities. She pried into his deeper subconscious looking for his fears and his follies, with the almost altruistic intention of reshaping them in his mind, changing them from bad memories to good ones with the powers that she could teach him. His monsters and demons were seared by his gaze, burned away and fled from him in fear. His slips and falls, in public and private, were saved with a wave of his hand, cushioning his tumbles with a blanket of air or landing with catlike grace only to be received by witnesses with impressed applause. The objects of his affection swooned at his approach, hanging off of his every word as he wrapped them in a spell and lured th--The summon decided suddenly to withdraw herself, unsure whether or not bending others to his will would be seen as a good dream or a bad dream...

Morning came gently, with the sounds of verdant life rising around Raven gradually. The smell of dew and the blooming forest filled the air, with just a hint of berries to motivate him out of his hammock further. Morning sunlight slipped through the gaps in the trees to fall upon the underbrush in little beams filled with dust and specks of debris that meandered through the air. Greens and browns painted the world around him, with the occasional splash of red or blue or violet to catch the eye upon the petals of a flower or the fruits of a bush. Bird calls broke the calming silence every so often, short chirps and cheeps as well as long notes and songs orchestrating themselves around him. The air was crisp, but lacked bite or chill and there was no wind this deep in the woods to nip at him.

His new summon pulsed in his mind, sending a pleasant shiver through his spine like when one hears the perfect song to accompany their mood. "Good morning, Raven," she purred from within, "Did you sleep well?"
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