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Hero, Don't Kill The Demon King! Chapter 1: Lives Not Yet Thrown Away

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Shizuka's eyes turned into confusion by Ayane's approach, but soon became surprise by the embrace from the princess. Without a second thought, she held her tight, almost with a fear of letting go, like she'd lose her again... like Shizuka would lose her purpose again.

"P-Princ-cesss..." Shizuka's voice trembled as the stream of tears continued, more fiercely than before. She got through. "I-I mi-issed yoou...! S-So much!!"

Before she knew it she full-on broke down. Her crying masked the words she wanted to get out.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Of course, Taliyah still needed her time after all that. Agni was her only support after all this happened. "Surely. If you have something to talk, I'll be listening, Taliyah." Giving her space enough to worry about her father's passing was good, but she also had more to deal with now. He'd follow along to wherever she felt comfortable talking.

 


Taiyou had gotten her answer from Shizuka, well enough, and observed the onis with a critical eye. That started out at a bad time, what with Ayane and Shizuka having a heartfelt moment, apparently.

"...Princess Ayane of the Kusanagi." Taiyou cleared her throat. "You've come this way to fight Ouka, if what I was to believe is true." She'd glare with a critical eye at the oni, but Shizuka, already made things fairly clear. "I have much I want to talk about what happened in Nanbu." She'd only had her own piece of the story, after all...

Edited by Xinnidy

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There was only a small blimp of worry and hesitance after the sudden slap coming form Shizuka, but when Ayane only went on to embrace the small maid Ren couldn't help the wide grin on his face as he too joins the hug and wraps them both in his arms.  "Well, that is definitely our Shizuka," he jokes, going over to ruffle the maid's hair as well before looking up at the newcomer.  Taiyou was it?  His grin lessens to one of his more reserved smiles, backing away from the other two girls but also staying close as he listens to what the other has to say.

Ukogi, as always, makes his way through the sky after the battle is done and over with.  This time instead of perching on top of Ren he finds landing on Shizuka's head, fluffing up his feathers and making himself comfortable.

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"It was a lot of healing... The fighting was bad enough that the general collapsed, and, well... things happened quickly, but there was a dragon. I saw it, I'm sure." That much he was certain of, at least. He sighed quietly, glancing over at Taliyah wrapped in the human's hug... 

"I can't say I expected any of this... that things were so personal. It feels as if the others knew, but I suppose they hadn't planned on telling either of us. I'm... at a loss at what to say to them. If anything." He absentmindedly tugged at the hem of his cloak. "That aside... more exhausted then usual? Did something happen when you were separated from the rest of us?"   

He couldn't help letting out a yawn, echoing hers. "Ah - sorry about that..."

Edited by mcd900

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A hug? There was certainly more going on here. What happened to 'none of her business'? The siren just couldn't help but watch on as the trio talked on. Clearly, something was going on. Perhaps Gabriela could meet the new person as well. If Ren and Ayane hugged her, she must certainly be a nice person, and someone they know. And the other, whose name was.. Taiyou? They didn't quite look as upbeat. Well, curiosity killed the cat, and Gabriela just had to find out what they were discussing. They wouldn't mind, would they?

The siren approached Ren. ''Hello Ren. I hope you're alright after that battle.... and that i'm not interrupting anything here.''

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It seemed like the fighting indoors had escalated beyond a point that anyone expected. Lucille had barely interacted with General Nessraya, but even her presence gave off a similar feeling to her mother. Lucille knew how capable her mother was, so for Nessraya to match that meant that she was exceptionally strong. For her to have collapsed at the end of it all... and then there was the mention of a dragon. There appeared to be so much that they didn't know...

Lucille sighed as Seilan revealed that he didn't know anything about the girl's link with the rebellion's leader, "It... seems like it wasn't open knowledge. I'm not surprised that they wouldn't have told us... we are humans, after all." The jab felt cheap with how accepting Lavinia, General Nessraya, and the Demon King had been, not to mention others like the Zombie and even the Siren in a roundabout way. The information was likely on a need to know basis, and knowing it, clearly, wouldn't have changed what they needed to do. Enough people seemed to know, and they fought him anyway. It was a battle that had been set in motion long before that moment, and nothing was going to stop it.

Lucille flinched as Seilan's musings turned to her. Lucille slid her gloved arm off of her lap, "Uh... I... may have lost my temper with the Siren from before. She... insinuated somethings and I lost it with her. Not to mention that... also happened around the time where Naomi showed up." There was a long pause as she tried to gather her words, "I'm just feeling overwhelmed with all of this. I've... never really been good when it comes to fighting, so being a part of such an important fight as my first... it's a lot for me." Leaving out the brush with Bolganone, and Naomi's death felt... off. She'd become so accustomed to leaving out parts and pieces of her tales that she didn't even need to think about it. It had been necessary to protect herself, so why now? Why now would leaving something out feel so foreign to her? 

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Ah, when Lucille suggested that perhaps it had been because she and Seilan were humans that they hadn't known, that was probably the time to step in and gently correct. Grunting a bit as she pushed herself off the ground, Jade took the few shambling steps needed to come out from around the back of the tree where she'd been sitting.

"That's not... entirely accurate. One of the other humans was the first to know, if I remember right," the zombie explained. "I don't remember the General's reaction, but I do recall it having been quite the shock to the head of the Royal Guard when she found out. Ah... and this is obviously excepting Erephis, of course. Ithraxl's sister was the reason the rest of us found out Taliyah was her niece. I'm not sure what prompted her to have told Agni first, or if she'd have brought it up to the rest of us on her own, given enough time, but... I don't think it was really meant to be a secret. Not entirely? Just... an uncomfortable and unfortunate truth."

Her face slipping into a bit of a bitter frown, she continued. "That's... civil wars for you. Ugly. Divisive. Tragic. Personal. Thankfully this one was stopped while it was still somewhat a minor insurrection; put down before it embroiled the whole nation. But that doesn't ease the pain for those affected." A flash of realization crossed Jade's face, and she faced Lucille directly, apologizing. "...That's actually terribly unkind of me, isn't it? Lecturing you in this way after you were just forced to fight against your old unit? I wish I could have been of more help, but it was quite a chaotic time."

A moment's silent pause, then she turned her gaze to the other, and tried steering the conversation to a hopefully less dreadful path. "On the subject of family not being kept secret for any particular reason, though..." Jade's eyes narrowed slightly as she took in one last good look, confirming enough of her suspicions. Even having never met Seilan personally before arriving at Tepel, family resemblance, and stories from the elder about his 'baby brother' went far enough. "How is Dorren doing these days?"

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Seilan nodded quietly as he listened to her. Her explanation was a bit... hesitant, though he was unsure whether to attribute that to the stress of battle, or if she was leaving something out. Not that they were exactly terribly familiar with one another; he certainly couldn't blame her if that were all there was to it. "Fighting like this... it's not easy. Before this month, all I'd really done was chase off bandits here and there. And if she came after you, then... well, it's more than fair to have trouble." 

He paused for a moment to think on what to say next, but in his tiredness someone appeared before them from what seemed like nowhere. The zombie; he vaguely recalled seeing her cart in Tepel. As he spoke to Lucille, he couldn't help but think that she was remarkably thoughtful, not least in comparison to the other Vaians he'd met of late. It took a moment to realize the scrutiny he was under, and another to parse what she'd said; he hadn't expected to hear his brother's name here. 

"Dorren...? He's... he's doing fine. Just about ready to take over the shop... how do you know him?" In truth, he'd had little contact with home - even before the journey to Vaia, mercenary duties had kept him from much but the occasional letter home, and he couldn't help a a frown and a small pang of worry. If anything, perhaps she knew better than he did...

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"Yes... You do deserve some rest. I. Uhm. I had some things I wanted to talk to... Some of them are a little bit heavy. Is that alright?" She walked with Marina as she waited for an answer, getting into her lighter issue first. "So... Er, I... uhm, A-Ayane has, shown an interest in me. Physically..." She felt her cheeks reddening as she spoke, looking away from Marina. "Is... Do you, think that's fine? I, I spoke with Jade a bit, about it. She gave me a lot to think about... For us, and for myself. It hasn't been on my mind while the fight was raging on, but now that everything's dying down, I... Well..." A small station for rations had been set up, Ariana gently picking up a piece of jerky and tearing into it, letting out a sigh.

"I had to speak with you about it because I have your face. Even if I'm not you, your... Likeness, was taken from you, and used for me. So I... I was uncomfortable, or rather, I felt awkward over the chance I could make you uncomfortable, being with someone else while, having your face... What, do you think? Are you okay with things?"


Verah watched the humans begin to gather around the girl she'd been considering speaking to-- wait that one was green. So it was fine for the monsters to get all chummy and approach? Maybe she would, then~ Leaving them another few moments to talk among themselves, Verah slipped over, walking up behind Jade. Right in time for the mention of some Dorren? Not a familiar name, but names were good information. "Hello there! Apologies if I'm interrupting important conversations... but, with all of this group starting to get into comfortable little groups, you can't blame me for wanting to join one, can you?" A small bow, Verah then pushed a stray hair out of her face and gave them all a sales-worthy smile. "Verah's the name. I didn't quite catch anyone else's, save for the group that did the saving for us all locked up... You don't mind sharing, do you? Well, all of you, except for Jade, here. Pardon, I... Couldn't help myself, doing a bit of scrying and peeking as I walked over."


"Bridgit?" Lavinia hadn't quite understood the girl's sudden aversion to being touched, having been approached first... Had she been too hard on her? It wasn't anything she hadn't needed to hear. Good intentions were only as good as the words attached, if she'd meant well with how she'd acted... Something to discuss later. Pushing her now would result in an argument, one that neither of them needed, so exhausted from the day's work. "Oh, my dear sister..." With a tiny sigh, Lavinia turned to scan for Jade-- but found her busy, so she'd leave the zombie for later. That left...


"Mrrrhhh, I'm trying... That pendant Marina gave me kept me safe against the knights forces. Besides, you know how I get when I'm angry... It's... I'm working o it. I can't control myself completely, yet, but I'm working on it. At least I didn't hurt anyone I care about, today..." Thesephine sighed, letting the fairy hug her without any weight pressing against her, gently hugging her back as well. "We're gonna be in Hwein, soon... I hope everything with Yggdrasil goes well--"

"As do I, your highness." Lavinia was suddenly standing behind Thesephine, the medusa squeaking and letting Sollowy go, before turning to face her vampiric caretaker.

"I, hello, L-Lavinia. To what do I owe, your attention...?" Lavinia wasn't smiling, leaving Thesephine on edge.

"I was informed by Nessraya that you lost yourself in combat, again. Have our sparring lessons helped you with anything...? You cannot take to the field if your swinging and magic can harm friend along with foe."

"I, I'm working on it! Really! T-Tell her, Sollowy." It was a rather sore spot for the medusa, hoping that Sollowy would assist her with things.


"Oh..." Tenna wasn't that easily discouraged, trying to take Xalrei's claw in her hand-- though it was swiftly torn away from her. "E-Eek! I'm sorry, I, I just... I wanted to t-try! I, if we're ever, in a battle together, and y-you get hurt, I... I have, to be able to fix you up... Please. C, Can, I... Xalrei?" She couldn't imagine that her magic wouldn't work simply because Xalrei was a monster. Was it psychological? Did her dragon magic conflict with the natural healing magic that Tenna had been blessed with? She said human magic, not all magic, so...


"So curious. Well--"

"Do you mind, Asami?" Yui started, interrupting the fox. Asami growled, but sighed.

"Fine, fine... You'll explain it with less flirt than I will, anyway~"

"Ah, heheh. Mm. Bladen, yes. Were we to all gather, including Tamamo--"

"Yui!" Asami snapped, nearly wacking her sister across the head.

"Asami, it's fine. For us, anyway... Do not repeat that, Bladen, as I'm sure Asami has warned you. Our connection to her is currently blocked, likely Tamamo's own doing. So long as it remains that way, there is no fear in our using her name."

"... Wait, really?" Asami paused, shocked, closing her eyes... And finally chuckling, laughing even. "Wow~! What's she so afraid of!? Hiding are you? What a terrifying beast, hahaha~!"

Yui merely sighed at her sister's gloating, continuing on. "Yes, if were to all gather, with her there, it would spell the end for this world, surely. However, those of us that harbor no intentions of ever rejoining with her won't cause any problems. I am quite pleased to see Asami again, in fact~"

"Pfft."

"As for how she knew I was there... We can all sense each other. The closer we are, the stronger the sensation, and the more accurately we can point it out. Being in the same fort, I'm sure Asami knew right away that I was in there."

"I did, and it was frustrating. How did you allow yourself to be caught, anyway? Why were you even caught? You're a monster."

"Mmm... That Verah girl they locked me in with took exception to how some of Ithraxl's soldiers were behaving at a nearby village's tavern. I tried to heal the wounded while they fought, but... They collected us all up with her, claiming some nonsense of running the area."

"Well, that sounds about stupid... Hhhh... Does that at least answer your question, Bladen? And seriously, DON'T say that name. Yui is careless, even if she's right..."


Suki poked her head over Nessraya, staring down at the general, who seemed to be beyond tired. "Nessraya? I, get help? You... Very tired. Exhaust. No look, good." The wolf hadn't done much back at camp, only train her swings and see to supplies when ordered. Now that they were free to walk around, she'd been about to find Nisha, but had spotted the general and gotten concerned. "Need carry elsewhere? Anything from Suki?"


"... A-Alright, Agni." Taliyah took his hand and led him away from most of the groups, still within eyesight, and earshot if someone were to raise there voice. She didn't plan on talking loudly, a confused smile, still stuck on her face. "Okay... I... Uhm. Am... Am, I, s-still allowed to be, friends with, Marina?" She furrowed her brows, sniffling back more tears-- not that she had many left to let out. "I-I... I kind, I kind of hate her, right now. I know she didn't kill him. But she, she led everyone here, to kill my d... Hhhn... And... And they're all rejoicing, and she even, g-gave a speech. I just want to p-punch her. I feel horrible. We're supposed to be friends! I shouldn't... I'm, a-awful...!"


All these nanbu folk, all gathered up... Ahhh, I could enact Ouka's ambitions right now. They all think they're so safe, but a quick knife... They're so lucky that I had my vision~ So long as they don't bring harm to the one I love... I won't hurt a single hair on their heads, no matter how many times that bitch orders me to. The silent watcher, mere steps away from Ayane and Ren, continued to look over them all, grin plastered to her invisible face. "... Heh." She couldn't help herself, letting out the smallest of chuckles while they spoke, taking several steps away, should they have heard her above the din of their conversations. Not yet... mghn, not yet~ Mae, you should really go... Ahhh, but they're right there... This is torturous.


 

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"I mean, sure. That's fine," she first answered. Truly to her, heavy subject matter has been just been topics for weeks. She'd like to finally have her mind rest easy, but... she was a listener. And... this wouldn't be the only heavy stuff she should be thinking about.

However, it started with something simple. Love. Okay, an understatement considering her own experience. Marina grabbed some bread from the station as she listened, nibbling as both this, and other things weighed in, while sitting in her mind.

"Well," she started, before swallowing what she was eating. "Sorry, um, well, I don't have any problems with it, Ariana." She smiled.

"I want to make something perfectly clear, okay? You don't bother me, at all. Sure, you may have my... features, but you're Ariana, and I'm Marina. If you lo- have feelings for Ayane, I'm happy for you. Honest."

Marina let her smile go a little wider, "I appreciate you coming to talk to me, though." It was honestly somewhat cute, to her. More of this feeling of sisterly care that Marina was excited to have, even if she would be true to not applying it as much as she could. 

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"O-Oh." Ariana hadn't been expecting that to go so smoothly, but taking a moment to register that it had... Only one hangup remained between her and completely accepting Ayane's feelings. One that she needed to overcome by herself, as best as she could. "Alright... That, that's really good to hear. Promise. Uhm. The, the next subject isn't as kind and happy, though." She cleared her throat, arms crossed, leaning against the table just a little. "Why don't you have the holy sword on you? And... Even if you did, would you have been able to use it?"

A serious question and a serious stare, eyes locking onto Marina. "I understand not using it against monsters as they normally are. If you have to fight, they deserve to die fairly. That... I think the spell failed." Ariana looked away for a moment, swallowing quietly. "I've... Seen, similar magic before. Things that I don't want to speak about, not... Not yet. That spell failed too. So seeing this incomplete dragon... I know that whatever they're doing isn't perfect yet. What happens to us when it is perfect? Can you wield the sword? Because if not..." She unfolded an arm and held out her hand. "Give it to me. It'll attack me, because I am a 'monster'... But even if I have to hurt myself to use it, I can't sit idle with things beyond men and monsters coming to bear."

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Marina smiled at Ariana's first response. However, it was the next part that caught her off guard. The sword... that stupid sword.

Marina took in what was explained to her. Very valid points all around. She knew that either Ithraxl wasn't the first to do something like that, or it wouldn't be the last. Then the last part. Give it to her.

"Give me a moment, if that's alright. Let me process." She turned around, taking munch out of her bread. With a sigh, she turned back to Ariana.

"To answer your first question, I loaned it to Jade. For a favor, and she wanted to see it." That was one, "And no, even if I wanted to, I don't think I would've been able to."

A sigh, "I understand your concerns, but there are things about it that I have no understanding of either. I don't know why it doesn't work, and it started to hurt me too. So if we run into something like that, but perfect... I don't know."

The final part. Giving the sword to Ariana. "...and lastly Ariana... No. Even as much as I want to. Especially since I don't know what is wrong with it. Regardless of the reasoning, it's my responsibility, and I don't want that on anyone else."

Marina gave a tired huff, "If it'll help you feel any better, I have an idea... And I'm gonna see what I can do. But I know one day I'll have to use it again. Just... please understand."

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"Marina..." Ariana sighed, closing her eyes. Marina was being stubborn about this, which was a given, but did she really understand the gravity of things? "I... Fine. But if it comes to blows, and you can't bring yourself to, I'm taking it from you. The church might've made it and given it to you to kill monsters, but that was their mistake... If you actually can get it to work for you. It doesn't have to kill monsters." That was all she had to say about the sword. Marina would succeed, or fail, and Ariana would be there to pick up the slack if the girl couldn't manage it. "Mmm... Sorry for such a heavy subject, but it's, very important. Thanks for listening."

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The Zombie practically appeared out of nowhere to correct her. Revealing that it was another human by the name of Agni who received the information first, and the others only learned through happenstance. She looked over at the girl once again, to see a human now hovering about the girl. Was he the person to whom the zombie was referring? More than likely considering what girl's night had been like. Unfortunately for Lucille, the Zombie's spiel didn't stop there; instead latching on to Seilan's musings about how personal things had been. The mini lecture served as little more than a grim reminder of Lucille's uncertain future. A future in which she could end up in the same state as the lizard girl. Then almost as soon as the zombie began she quickly apologized for the speech. "Oh, uh... It's alright... and if it wasn't for you, Lavinia and the... siren, I definitely wouldn't have made it out of that battle, so please don't apologize for that." 

But the zombie had shifted targets once again to Seilan mentioning a name that seemed to give him pause. But before Lucille, or anyone really could say anything more, another monster appeared from behind the zombie. It was one that she didn't recognize, something that would happen often, but the monster was... peculiar. While the exhaustion clearly wasn't helping matters, Lucille couldn't quite tell exactly what they were. Other than that she was blue, remarkably bubbly for what had just transpired, that the zombie's name was Jade, that her name was Verah, and that she had been scrying. That last one put Lucille a bit on edge. Lucille's gloved arm was already out of sight as her gaze remained fixed on the newcomer, "Verah... is it? Well, um... my name is L-Lucille." 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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It doesn't have to kill monsters. 

Marina understood that at least a tad thanks to the fortune teller, but she still wasn't positive as to what that meant. Or what was to he done. She knew there'd be things that she may have to draw against. It was only a matter if she could or not.

"No, I understand your concern... Thank you for bringing it up to me." As much as she didn't like it, it made her feel closer to Ariana knowing her worries about her. "If push comes to shove, and I can't do it... I won't argue with you. But I'll... I-I'll want it back." She shook and held her head. She saw a nearby stump and took a seat. Either a stress or exhaustion headache... or stressaustion.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"Oh, Suki. Mmm, you aren't wrong. It was a hard fought battle, and I'm well and drained. I should be able to walk fine, I just need some rest for the time being." Nessraya responded, looking up at the curious wolf and reaching up to pat her between the ears. Most beastfolk wouldn't take too kindly to such a gesture aside from an intimate setting, but Suki wasn't the sort to get hung up on that sort of thing, and the temptation was always there.

"I simply need to rest and find a chance to recharge my mana... but I can't really do anything about the latter until we've wrapped up here and properly made camp for the night. Though if you're still interested in helping then, you seem more than energetic enough to not be burdened by it." She continued, letting her hand linger atop Suki's hair for the moment.

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The maid had a tighter grip than Ayane remembered, she was caught be surprise when she returned the hug with some fierceness. "Alright now...I'm not going any-!" And it only got worse when Ren joined in on the fun. She gagged out in shock as she looked back at Ren in annoyance. "Alright alright...thank you, Ren..." Though despite the annoyed voice, she still had a small smile. Ayane enjoyed be around people she cared for, her family was one of her biggest motivations after all. Perhaps her biggest weakness as well but regardless...

"?" The reunion was cut short by a newcomer, a...shrine priestess? "...ahh." She eyed her back. "Shizuka mentioned a Taiyou...that must be you then." She stepped forward, not noticing Gabriela approach her cousin. "You are right. I came all this way to find and slay Ouka." She paused for a moment. "...we were caught off guard, and our entire empire collapsed in her trap. Now my cousin and I have lost our humanity." She clenched her fist on her side.

However before she could continue, she noticed something...a small giggle. "?" She rose her eye toward where it may have came from. "...a moment." She put her hand on the sheath of her katana. "Watch my maid, miss Taiyou." She took a few steps toward where she believed the giggle came from with steeled eyes and her grip tightening on her sheath.

Edited by TheRoon

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"Hmm... oh, yes. I have been fine, yes. My body will do its heal over time." She gave a smile, patting the wraith on the back. "You are quite admuring I believe. I'd like to fight like you if I was possible."


She wasn't gonna go away. That was right. Cause Shizuka wasn't going anywhere. Not until Ouka is defeated... until they've found Yukari... until she can help avenge Shin...

She let go of Ayane, her crying calmed down as she wiped her face still sniffling. As much as she blushed on Ayane's comment to protect her, Shizuka was quick to whip out a dinky hunting knife from her back pouch.

Not that'd help very much... 

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From Asami to Yui, the explanation... bounced, was the best way to describe it, back and forth. Talk of all the sisters gathering, to a connection, to it being blocked, back to the connection... If it had continued on much longer, he was sure his head would have started to hurt. Two main things came out of it though. A reminder to never say, never even think that name, the name he shouldn't even know, or else it would somehow make things worse. Give her power, from what he remembered of their last talk, though it still wasn't clear exactly how. And the second... "Wait, connection? So you all know where the other is? That's... convenient. Does it let you know if one of the others is hurt or something like that? Useful, if so. Though I suppose if, uh, she has you blocked, you can't use it to avoid her."

A connection that lets them sense where the others were. Such a useful thing, though possibly annoying at times too. "Can you block the others out? I mean, obviously the connection can be blocked, but can all of you do it? Not sure why you would, exactly, but maybe there would be a reason. And you say... those of you who don't want to rejoin. Does, does that mean some of your sisters do want to rejoin with her? I suppose that would make sense, in various personalities, some would line up with her... Still..."


Astraea had been nervous the entire battle. Kept away from the fight, away even from the King and her fight, safe with their supplies and tents, she had been left with no choice but to wait. It was only the second time she had really had this experience, waiting while people she had grown to like did something that was risking their lives. She had dreamed about battles before, but this was different. There, she had been an observer of a show, watching the players rise and fall, not knowing their names or their lives. Here, she waited behind the scenes, hoping that the ones to fall would not be her companions. Her friends.

She had almost been too scared to join the others, falling behind as they met up with the rest of the group. And from there, she hung back. They all had been through so much, risking their lives for this fight... While she had sat idly by, safe and sound. Would they want to see a wayward star right now? But then she spotted one familiar face, a small vampire heading away from the rest of the group. She looked... unhappy, or at least Astraea thought she might look unhappy, and that simply wouldn't do. Heading over, trying to catch up, she finally called out, "Friend, Bridgit, wait. I was hoping to talk to thou, uhm, to see how thou has fared, in this battle? Unhurt, I hope? I would not want to see my friends injured..."

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When Seilan confirmed her strong suspicions, but more importantly told her his brother was indeed alive and well, a peaceful and relaxed smile slipped across the zombie's face. While Jade had had no real reason to suspect otherwise, it was always good to know for certain. And that he'd be taking over the shop, settling down and not having to be on the road as much, well, that was as close to most merchant's dreams as any. Sure, the travel could be exciting, but it was much less reliable. And certainly more dangerous. Her thoughts wandered temporarily to wondering when she would be able to settle down and build a brick and mortar establishment, before she recalled that the mage's question, honest confusion evident in his voice, still needed answering.

"Oh, we met on several occasions when I was still alive. It would probably be a bit of a stretch for me to call him my rival?" Jade paused and tilted her head, trying to figure out if that were actually true or not. Maybe she had thought of him that way without fully realizing it? "Anyway, I obviously haven't really been in position to visit Hwein recently, so..." She shrugged, trailing off and leaving it at that for the moment.

Her lull was quickly filled by an unexpected party, who somehow knew her name? Slowly, Jade swivelled to face the newcomer. Blinking slowly, she asked the horned woman in the white dress, "Where did you come from, again, Verah...?" Lucille hadn't been bothered by her lecture, rather seeming eager enough to leave that conversation behind and taking this opportunity to go ahead and follow the suggestion for introductions. Probably for the best, there, truth be told? And maybe the zombie would have been more accepting of things herself, if she hadn't been the one singled out to be used as a form of unearned familiarity. It was hard to say, but for the moment she was on her guard.

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His reaction is instant upon seeing Gabriela, the deep relief turning to sudden happiness at seeing his girlfriend before moving away from the little huddle and going over to give her a hug as well.  "Gabriela!  You don't know how glad I am to see you," he says, gently pulling away to look at her but still holding the Siren close to him.  At her wary comment he simply blinks before shaking his head and motioning towards Shizuka and Ayane.  "No, not at all.  We're just getting acquainted with a friend of ours from the homeland.  Gabriela this is Shizuka, Shizuka this is Gabriela...my girlfriend," he offers in greetings while pressing his lips against Gabriela's temple. 

Of course, all this happens as his cousin gets to talking with the priestess, but when she starts to move away from the group he can't help but let confusion twist at his lips.  "Ayane?  What's wrong?"

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"Rival...?" He never said anything about a rival... not that I remember, at least. Not that he'd been home much, if at all, when Dorren was doing most of his traveling. It was rare for his leave from school to line up with his brother's brief stays at home, so he'd never really been able to get a full story out of him. Still, she seemed rather content, even though he'd answered her rather curtly. Perhaps they really did know one another. "Right, it'd have been a poor idea to pay a visit given the state of things... if all goes well, though, perhaps you might have an opportunity soon." An opportunity for himself, as well...

Ah, but he was getting too lost in this conversation, and perhaps being a touch rude. Introductions, first. "Ah, Verah. I'm Seilan, by the way. Glad were we able to be of some assistance to you." She was rather cheery for having been imprisoned until recently. Scrying and... peeking. Well, it had been harmless enough for now, he supposed. For now. Unless she started doing something odd with her scrying, there was no reason to intervene, at least. He caught a bit of what might have been apprehension from Lucille, though he was hardly surprised; she'd likely rarely been around monsters, after all, so being on edge was to be expected. Hwein had been plenty diverse enough for him not to be surprised at unfamiliar forms anymore. He was curious, admittedly, but asking directly felt... off the table. "Any plans for your newfound freedom?"

Edited by mcd900

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Bridgit regains her composure as someone calls out to her, not wanting others seeing how hard the words from Lavinia actually hit.  When she notices it's Astraea a small and tired smile graces her lips before blinking at the sudden question laced with worry.  "Ah, nothing I can't handle really but thank you for asking," she offers politely while floating over to her.  It would do no one good if the Pureblood were to suddenly tell the newcomer how she fell in battle before getting healing from Seilan.  "How about you?  I hope you were able to stay safe while the battle went on?"
 

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It was early into their trek from Tepel to Mixoco, a few days into the first week of travel only, but one evening after dark Jade found Bridgit a bit apart from the others and invited her to have a moonlight walk-and-talk, to get to know each other better. Since the zombie was dating Lavinia, she figured it appropriate to work on building a friendly rapport with her younger sister as well. Depending on how things went, maybe she'd inquire a bit into the family history, or ask for advice on various matters. Who knows. Jade didn't have any particular set goal she was working for, this was more of just putting in the time so things in the future would be better. Anything more than that would be gravy.

There was the trouble of where to start though. Jade had already been brought up to speed on the vague generalities after they'd first encountered Bridgit at the ruins Morwen had been haunting, so it wasn't like they were starting off from square one. On the other hand, they certainly hadn't spent the kind of time together where they could be called 'close', not by any stretch of the term. Honestly, that was pretty much the reason behind tonight's walk, after all. But that did make they questions weighting most heavily on her mind--"How do you feel about me taking Roman's place," or "In a relationship with a vampire, ultimately it's best for the partner to be turned, isn't it,"--far too awkward to just up and ask. That didn't stop them from circling around and crowding out most of her other possible approaches.

In the end, she did hit upon an idea for what was hopefully a softer approach:

"This trip on the road these past weeks must surely be ever so different than life at Castle Tassion. If you wouldn't mind, I'm curious what a typical day there had been like. ...Before this most recent Hero's attack, I mean. What sorts of things did you and Lavinia do on the daily?"


While finally getting the chance to speak with her sister's intended, Bridgit is currently at a loss for how to start said conversation.  True that the proposition had been for a walk and talk, there's been much walking and not a lot of...talking.  She guesses this is mostly due to them not knowing how to breach a subject, or being careful with what to even say.

A little too careful.  Ugh, such is the awkwardness of first conversations with your sister's girlfriend.

Fortunately, it's Jade who breaks the ice and opens with a pretty tame question that Bridgit is content to answer.  "You could say that.  For one I'm spending more time with Lavinia than I had been at the castle," she answers first while reigning in the tone in which she says it.  "No fault in that really, since she is the Head of the King's guard and her knights.  Oftentimes I was left to my own devices, and when she had time I'd seek her out and offer my company."

Her fingers find a stray lock of hair, and she proceeds to play with it.  "As for her own pastimes...she trains, maintains her equipment.  When she's doing neither, she's either reading or writing in her journal." She keeps it to the point, voice clipped but more out of politeness than anything.  

"I suppose, given the time, she'd indulge me in my own requests here and there," she continues, her tone turning wistful at the memory.  "Most of them quite silly, now that I think on it.  I..." and here her voice drifts, before calling back her composure and closing off once more.

"Anything else you'd like to know of my sister?"


It was a bit surprising to hear that Bridgit and Lavinia were as far apart at the castle as the younger vampire was making it sound. The responsibilities shouldered by the head of the King's royal guard were truly a fearsome thing. That didn't bode particularly well for Jade going forward.

"Ah, um, no... I mean, thank you, yes, but... I didn't come to you today to dig up dirt on her behind her back or anything. I'll ask her myself about those sorts of things." If anything, the conversation so far only reinforced the hope to focus on the sister herself, fed into some of the zombie's slightly guilty feelings about lurking ulterior motives that really ought to be rejected. "It's kind of you to offer, and I appreciate it, but really, this time I'd intended to be just about us. Getting to know each other better, I figured, would be a good way to keep it from feeling like I was stealing your sister away from you, you know?"

"So, mmm, mind telling me about one of your 'silly little indulgences', why don't you? I'm quite curious now."


Bridgit can't help but pause in her step when the other reassures her about the reason they were having this conversation.  To say the pureblood finds this surprising well...let's see how this goes.

"You'd be one of the few then," she truthfully answers with an upper twitch of her lips.  For someone to be interested in her, in what she has to say about herself and not of what she may know about Lavinia, Bridgit's mood shifts to a lighter emotion.  It also amuses her to see Jade fumble a bit at the end, and seeing as she's actually trying the pureblood simply waves a hand at her with a small giggle leaving her lips.

"No need to fret.  I know where I stand when it comes to my relationship with Lavinia," she says while perking up a bit at the next question.  "Oftentimes Lavinia would stop me from going overboard, but there have been some cases where I have been known to...cause a bit of trouble," she emphasized while offering a more noticeable yet mischievous smile.


Oh, that was a... it sounded like there was some hurt and resentment in there. Jade had to admit to being a little surprised that a pureblood was the one left as a satellite in orbit, she'd been under the impression that Lavinia had been marrying upward, so that the former farm girl from Hwein had achieved so much sway really spoke to both her skills and to how well Vaia rewarded merit. Or perhaps just to Bridgit's young age? A quick bit of mental math would have had her just barely born at the time of the disaster. And with all the upheaval that ensued... hmm.

Well, at least little sister had confidence in one thing it seemed, and was willing to trust Jade had no intentions of being a homewrecker. Full details of any of Bridgit's misadventure were not forthcoming, however it became abudndatly clear she was quite the prankster. "Ah, I see... I dare say my own hobbies must seem dull in comparison then. Sewing rarely stirs up a fuss, and reading even less so... though, way back, before I died, when I was engrossed in that one book of logic puzzles and slacked off on my chores, I did earn quite an earful. Heh." Remembering the sound of her father's voice berating her was surprisingly nostalgic, almost to the point of homesickness.


While Jade tries to downplay her own likes, Bridgit's eyes catch a spark at the other's interests.  "You may be right about sewing in general, although i do commend those that take it up as a livelihood.  I will admit that I'm more interested in the end products more than anything, but respect the effort put in said work."

Now, onto the fun part.  "Still, now that you mention puzzles..." she lets the sentence trail off, smile ever present as she looks at the zombie.  "That's more up my fancy.  I would also get quite the reprimand when I lacked the attention in my studies and focused on more frivolous activities," she pipes up with a bounce in her step.

"Although, I...do prefer jests and japery more than anything else.  Being prim, proper, listening to my elders," she drawls and lets out a sigh, as if the pureblood finally dropped the invisible weight on her shoulders.  "I am trusting you with this because I see you as someone good for Lavinia for a very very very long time, but...it's tiring, to put up a strong mask and keep people just at length where they stay acquaintances and nothing else."

She takes an unnecessary breath, but it helps her stay calm and continue with her thoughts.  "I do apologize for thrusting my troubles onto you.  I will admit I'm no good in socializing, but I'd like to think that we can...maybe...." At the end her words end up as a soft muttering, fingers tangling tighter in her hair as she looks away.

"If...it's not much trouble..." If I'm not a burden or a nuisance....


It felt like Jade had finally broken through. The cagey, cautious, half-answers had evaporated, and clear communication was rolling in. The zombie nodded as Bridgit bounced off the springboard she'd put out there, and while it was entirely likely the sort of puzzles each of them preferred might not overlap perfectly, it was certainly something to start from. And as the vampire continued, mentioning jests and japery, that brought yet something else to mind, and Jade carefully saved the idea until her hopeful future sister finished speaking, loathe to interrupt now that things were finally flowing freely. Smiling, she sprinkled in a few 'mhmm's as appropriate, and then Bridgit seemed to pause, trailing off, hoping for validation, acceptance.

Leaning over, she reached and arm out and putting a hand on the other girl's shoulder gave her a reassuring squeeze, as they walked side-by-side. "No problem at all. In fact, you just gave me a wonderful idea. I quite enjoyed some comedic plays, back in Hwein. Maybe we could..." Then it was Jade's turn to falter, realizing as she was now, they'd probably be denied entrance. "...Find a similar sort of playwright here in Vaia. There has to be someone good around, right?"


As the conversation continues and lulls into a comfortable rhythm, Bridgit knew then that Lavinia had chosen well.  When Jade didn't seem to interrupt and merely responds with her own little sounds of affirmation, instead of sounding condescending or seeming to brush her away Bridgit knew she still had the zombie's attention.  The thought only seem to cement as Jade places a hand over her shoulder, which in turn gives way to the rest of the tension she's been feeling throughout the walk.

"Plays?  Oh, that's actually a splendid idea!" she offers, the note of childish excitement at the end prominent as the pureblood feels her smile widen.  "We could scour the area and ask around.  Who knows, maybe we'll find something you could enjoy with my dear sister~," she then adds, daring a giggle to slip in genuine mirth.  It doesn't bother her to bring up her sister this time, if only because Bridgit knows now that Jade is willing to put the effort to not only be with Lavinia but also learn more about herself.

It's a wonderful feeling.  A bit scary, but wonderful all the same.

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Gabriela gives her boyfriend a big hug and tender smooch in return. After that difficult battle, it was nice to have someone she loved with her again. This time, he had company too. A friend from their homeland, huh? Well, it would be a shame not to get to know them, in that case.

''Hello, my name is Gabriela, a siren! Charmed, i'm sure!'' Gabriela did a little bow towards the friend in question, whose name was apparently Shizuka. ''If you're going to be with us from now on, I hope we can be friends.''

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