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

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Border. He'd been here, just a few weeks ago, though at that time he'd been traveling with his group from Hwein. It felt a lot longer than that now, though, with how suddenly things had started happening once they arrived in Vaia proper. The town was still rather unfamiliar to him; when he'd been here last, they'd only made the barest of stops for news and supplies, and the officers had done most of the talking besides. As he idly glanced around, the rest of the group dispersing towards the various homes and shops around town, he heard Lucille calling his name. He gave her a short wave, walking over.

"Fly with you and Villkiss...? I'd like that, I think. I've always been a little curious..." Perhaps more than a little, admittedly, and he hadn't really anticipated ever having an opportunity. "It looks like everyone else has this side of town well-handled. Let's head for the other side and see if there's anything of interest there. I think last I came through here, there was an inn near the town gate."

"Shall we go, then? Lu-..." He cracked a bit of a smile; it looked like he'd have to get accustomed to it as well. "That is, Angelise?"

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Lucille giggled at Seilan's near slip, "Mhm, that's definitely going to take some getting used to." It was so very freeing to not need to be so uptight, and she was a little more than happy that Seilan took her up on that offer. "Alright then, let me help you on and... uh..."

It was at this moment that Lucille remembered Seilan wasn't a child. All of her passenger flying had generally been with a smaller child, so they'd sat in front of her since she could see over them and get her arms around them. Seilan probably had nearly a foot on her, and she would have her face smushed into Seilan's back trying to get her arms around. So he would have to sit behind her, which meant the only thing he would have to hang onto mid flight, if it was needed, was her. "Huh... I just realized that I've never flown where someone would be sitting behind me rather than in front." Lucille said with a tilt of her head. "It won't be a problem or anything, just a bit odd for a moment or two." Or twelve. She moved as far forward in the saddle as she could, and helped Seilan onto Villkiss. "There shouldn't be too much reason for you to hang on for this flight, but if you do, just, um, hang onto me. Try not to squeeze, alright?" Fortunately, her confidence in her riding was enough to mask her embarrassment. Though, admittedly, she wouldn't have minded the squeeze if it happened. "Just tell me when you're ready and we'll go... an Inn you said, right?" 

Lucille rescues Seilan and flies off to the inn at 4, 6! 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Apologies

Spoiler

With a sip of her water, Marina was thankful camp was finally up. She needed to wind down. Thoughts kept racing about the days prior. "Couldn't just... feel better, could you?" she sighed, and started pacing the camp, sipping away. Then, a small thing caught her attention.

The pegasus that belonged to that girl from before. Lucille, if Marina remembered. The pegasus I shot at. They were allies now, and with the stress levels from the Ithraxl situation 'settling down', maybe now was better than never. With a cautious approach, she held a hand out, upside down to the winged horse,

"Hi there..." Marina greeted softly, "I'm sorry about before. I didn't mean to try and hurt you... Y-You're very pretty."

Villkiss stood alone in the clearing. Having just been fed, she was just waiting for Lucille to return from where ever she'd gone. Then, she heard something. At some point, there was another girl, not her rider, standing in front of her with their arm outstretched. Fortunately, for said girl, Villkiss hadn't realized or known who exactly had fired at her, only that her rider acted quickly. 

Villkiss met the girl with a curious glance. Her tone of speech was soft, and apologetic. The past couple days had pretty much just been her, and Lucille, so seeing another person was a potentially exciting prospect. She sated her curiosity by moving towards the girl. She seemed gentle enough, quite a bit like her rider.

Lucille had only turned away for a moment or so to check on something. The day had been... long. Her thoughts were predictably, incredibly difficult to manage, between watching Naomi's blazing passing and just being around so many new people that she hardly know. Further augmented by them being monsters. It was exhausting. Maybe it was that tired haze that made her miss someone walking right up to Villkiss, and petting the mount. No... not someone... A person who practically made her blood start boiling when she realized who it was. It was the Hero. The very same person who leveled a pistol at her cherished friend. 

Words could wait, first thing was to get her away from Villkiss. She quickly tossed a bolt of lightning right at the girl's feet, "You have about three seconds to step away from Villkiss, before my next spell connects with you, Hero." There was little need to spare patience with someone who was willing to hurt Villkiss.

Marina jumped at the bolt, and her heart skipped a few beats. She carefully rose her hands up, backing away from the pegasus. She turned around to see Lucille. She took a deep breath, very clear panic in her eyes.

"I-I'm sorry...! I-I was coming to a-apologize...!" Now her hands were shaking. Wonderful...  "I felt really bad, it was stupid...! But... I didn't want you to run. I wasn't gonna try hurting her again, I p-promise!"

Closing her eyes, and taking a deep breath, she tried to keep calm, "I wanted to t-talk to you...! I owe you more than just an apology for your pegasus..."

Lucille walked over, and then stepped between Marina, and Villkiss. She was the shorter of the two, but Lucille was far too upset to care. "You have an incredible amount of nerve to so much as touch Villkiss." A glance at the girl, and listening to her speak... she was certainly scared now. Good, that's exactly what she deserved. "I think I'll be the judge of whether you were going to hurt her or not. If you're here to talk..." Her arm sparked, "I think you might start talking before I stop listening."

"O-Okay, okay...!" Her arms were still the air. She slowly stepped away from the two, keeping a distance, "I just... I'm sorry. Not just... for V-Vilkiss. I'm sorry I took what you were doing at face value, called you an idiot, when I didn't know why you were here." Who am I to judge, when I don't anything about what I want...? 

While she'd show the fear of being struck by her magic before, "Honestly, even then, I think I still deserve whatever you intend to shoot at me, it's only fair." She reached her arms out, eyes closed like she was bracing herself.

Lucille hesitated a moment after hearing the Hero's, admittedly, heartfelt apology. But more stunning to her was the fact that the Hero practically asked her to attack her. Just then, Lucille felt something push against her back, nearly knocking her over. "Ah! Villkiss?" She turned to face her mount, "What was that for?" Villkiss simply looked at her with measured eyes. A flap of her wings, before sidling up to her again. Lucille let out an exasperated sigh, and then relaxed slightly, "Alright, Villkiss. I get it."

She turned her attention back to the young Hero with her arms crossed in front of her, "You... couldn't have done more than taken what I did at face value. It doesn't really matter how stupid the words that came out of your mouth were. You know now, and you apologized. So... at least, for now, you don't have to worry about me zapping you."

Marina gave a sigh, and opened her eyes. It wasn't a trick. Marina escaped a punishment she probably deserved... again. She took a deep breath again. She still felt heavy. "I... thank you, Lucille." She couldn't bring herself to smile. She still felt pretty crappy over the whole thing. "Mm..."

She looked over to Vilkiss, and smiled, "Your pegasus is... really nice. I've never seen one up close before."

Lucille turned away from her, "Don't thank me. Thank Villkiss. I was probably going to shock you." That seemed threatening enough. Lucille really had thought about it but using her magic on someone who willingly made themselves defenseless? That would have gone against everything she told herself that she believed in. Her arm sparked again, she was still pretty upset, even if she was entirely in control of herself. "Oh, uh... don't worry about that. It's just... something that happens with me. I'm not going to attack you now, and that's a promise." 

She sighed, and then found a faint smile forming on her face, "Yeah... Villkiss is incredibly sweet. I'm lucky that she decided that I was her rider." That smile quickly faded, "One of the very few things that I have left..." She shook her head; no need to burden her with something like that. "Say... You have a name, don't you? It's probably easier for me to use that instead of Hero. That... just leaves a taste in my mouth." 

"Okay," Marina calmly nodded in response to Lucille's promise. She was thankful, as much as she was ready to take that hit. She didn't have to... And hopefully it wouldn't happen. She shuffled her feet a bit.

"Oh," her name. She never did tell the girl huh, "It's, M-Marina. Thank you, that... would be easier for me too," she spoke with her calm demeanor returning.

She referred to Vilkiss as one of the last things she had. Almost positively, one of Marina's companions would say to not worry about it, but, "If it helps you feel any better Lucille, I'll... do what I can, so that you and Vilkiss stay together. And that's a promise from me," there wasn't a hint of her earlier fear or hesitation in her voice. "If you're part of our company, you're my responsibility."

Lucille tilted her head at the girl's assertion, "...What do you mean your responsibility? Isn't... General Try-- Nessraya in charge?" Her promise lacked any of the girl's trepidation or fear from only a moment before. If nothing else, she was definitely completely serious. "You're... definitely an odd sort. A moment ago you were practically shivering, but now... You're worried about someone who didn't have any reservations about sending to a see a healer, and was going to harm your friends. But... I guess that explains why you shot at Villkiss."

Marina's face turned red at the reaction from Lucille. At least, the last bit. She lowered her head.

"Nessraya's my a-advisor. I'm technically the one who was given the leadership role to." He shuffled her feet again, but quickly reasserted herself. "I'm trying but... as you've seen, I've made poor lapses in judgement." A sigh again, "But I don't take back things like that. I mean it. Every person here, I'm responsible for."

Lucille blinked a moment, "Oh, uh... I'm sorry. I assumed again. You just... seem about as young as I am. But then again... you're also a lot younger than I would have expected from the Hero." Lucille then cleared her throat and placed her hands on her hips, "And... if you talk like that with everyone, then... I think you're doing more than a good job. A... good leader in my eyes is someone that knows that everyone they lead is worth protecting." Even if they're someone as pathetic as I am. 

Lucille began to pet Villkiss, "You don't need to worry about me, or Villkiss. As I'm sure you're aware now... Villkiss is very dear to me, and I'm going to make sure that I do my best to protect her. Another good quality in a leader is realizing where one has to put their effort... I can assure you I'm not who you need to concern yourself with." Lucille's gloved arm had drifted behind her back at some point. Lucille herself wasn't sure if she believed anything, aside from the part about leading, that she had just said. Fortunately, Marina herself seemed new enough at what she was doing that she would be able to slip it right past the girl.

Marina nodded, "Mhm, I suppose. I'm still only seventeen. It's all just... still a lot." She shook her head, "But I gotta keep fighting, I owe that much to everyone here after all that's happened." With a scratch to her head, she shyly turned away. She felt she's grown quite a lot since she first started, but only if she could just... stop getting so upset when unfortunate things happened. Shaking her head again, she returned to the conversation with the new girl.

"Thank you again, Lucille, but I will be keeping an eye out anyway. I have my... priorities, but I know where I need to put my attention, and where I want to is all." She gave a confident smile. "I appreciate the compliments, too, thank you. Seriously, I'm... not the best at seeing the good in me, so I'm glad someone can."

"Wh--" Lucille paused a moment, her petting also frozen by the acknowledgement of new information, "You're... you're seventeen? And... you're in charge of this... army?" Suddenly a bit more of the girl's naiveté made sense, because she was actually still a girl. And suddenly her anger at Marina felt a bit more excessive. Learning that Marina was still a child made her feel a lot worse about how she treated her.

"I... hadn't realized. I... honestly thought that you were my age or older. I wasn't expecting you to be so much younger." That warranted a tad more respect from Lucille. Marina wasn't running away from what she thought to be her duties. That alone was something admirable, and it sounded like Marina herself didn't really see it that way. How ironic, huh, Lucille? 

"I-I am, yeah..." That wasn't something Marina expected. There was such a sudden shift in Lucille's tone, Marina wasn't sure how to approach it. "I..." What do I do?! She calmly approached the panicky girl, and reached out a hand. She recognized something was off with the gloved hand so she patted her left shoulder.

"It's fine, you didn't know... But it doesn't matter, I... shouldn't have done something so drastic," She wasn't sure how much that would actually work. Calmly she... went straight it for a hug, trying as best as she could to avoid the gloved arm.

In that moment of thought, Lucille guessed that her emotions were on display more than she thought they had been. Because Marina went right in for a hug, right after she patted her shoulder. Lucille let out a high pitched noise, and a jolt immediately ran up her ungloved arm. She whirled her head towards Marina, "Are you okay!? Uhhh... D-d-don't do that without asking! I could have shocked-- I didn't shock you, did I?" Her voice was higher now, clearly panicking a bit more now, but she hadn't pulled away from the hug. "I-I... Just... be more c-c-careful when you do that. Please." 

She took a deep breath, "...Sorry... I, um... wasn't ready for that." 

Marina quickly backed away some, she didn't expect such a reaction. In all honesty, that was was probably due to the reactions from other people before. She shook her head, "No no, it's fine, that was my fault. I should've asked. I-I'm sorry." She checked herself quickly due to the electrical sound she definitely heard. "And no, I'm alright, thank you. Sorry." She nodded, "I'll... I'll ask next time. Promise."

Another pair of deep breaths later, Lucille calmed down some. She quickly clasped her hands together, "Sorry, again." Probably a bit frightening to have her react so strongly. Lucille knew that she would have been freaking out a little if someone she tried to hug acted like that. "It... It's been a really long time since someone's done that to me. I-It was a bit of a surprise to me... and as you can see, my... magic sometimes manifests when I'm upset, surprised or embarrassed... stuff like that. It's... not strong; you'd probably hardly notice it, but... I'd prefer not to do that to anyone." 

Lucille felt her embarrassment mounting. Really no reason to not explain what had bothered her so much, that Marina felt concerned enough to hug her. She sighed, "I'm... really sorry that I acted like that towards you, at the start. Anyone with... eyes could have seen that you weren't going to hurt Villkiss, and that Villkiss was comfortable with you. I... i-i-it's just easy for me to lose my temper and hold grudges. You made a split second decision, one that I'll never agree with, but you had to do something. ...I just felt... really bad that I acted that way to someone younger than me. Someone who... really just didn't know what to do in the moment. Especially when I didn't really know what I was doing."

She shuffled in place, "I-I-In any case... as long as you let me know... I'm perfectly fine with you hugging me. I'm just... I'm sorry." 

"It's okay, Lucille. Promise," She answered, with a warm smile. "I still was the one who provoked you to begin with. I'd probably freak out too if someone who tried hurting my companion was suddenly being buddy-buddy unprovoked. Don't worry about it," and she followed with a nod. "I'm just glad we could... clear the air. It helps me clear my... anxieties."

She did a small kick in the dirt, and a deep breath. "In that case though, could I... t-try again?" She asked sheepishly, as she held out her arms.

Somehow, their positions had flipped and Marina was the one assuring her that nothing was wrong. In fact, not too long ago, Lucille was prepared to harm Marina. Was she being too soft on her? Lucille thought for a moment on it, and decided that it was simply too much effort to remain angry at someone who clearly had few other options, and probably wasn't in a head space to explore the others. Far too sweet and genuine. "Yeah... I think I'm... a lot happier with this outcome than what might have happened if I didn't listen..."

Lucille smiled, "If you'd like." She didn't have to admit that she was excited to actually have someone who wanted to hug her, and had no ulterior motive. There had been no shortage of soldiers who wanted a "hug". But there was something Lucille needed to address, "Also... if you need someone to talk to about your... anxieties, Marina... I'd be willing to listen, and as would Villkiss, I'm fairly sure." 

"Mhm," Marina quickly agreed. Maybe this was a small thing she needed. A small victory, for at least a moment, Marina felt eased. Sure, it'd probably pop back up within the next 24 hours, but for now...

"Thank you," she said as she approached again, and gave the girl a hug. It was nice, she was soft... "I really appreciate it."

And then another thing she addressed, "I appreciate it, Lucille, just... maybe, later, okay? I'm... I'd feel bad after all that, then just... I pool all of that on you. Or on Villkiss." She had a nice smile. This was a nice feeling.

"Mmm..." Marina went in for the hug, and it was wonderful. Lucille kind of wanted to stay like that for a while. Make up for the almost three years where she had been starved of meaningful contact. It... really has been almost three years, huh? It would be another two months before that milestone was crossed. How ironic that her birthday coincided with every event that had all but ruined her life. The month of July was just a curse given temporal form. But that was something she could worry about in the future. The world was difficult, Marina was currently soft, and warm, she could enjoy that for now. 

Lucille pushed the pair apart a bit so she could see Marina's face, "That's fine, M-Marina. No reason to rush, or anything. We've only just really met." As much as it felt wonderful to be like this with anyone, it also felt so weird to her. After being so conditioned to be so incredibly guarded, Lucille was surprised at how easily she was able to talk with Marina. She wasn't anxious anymore, and she wasn't stuttering her words as she would be normally. It was kind of like before all of this happened to her, back when she began to teach others magic at home as a way of getting past her anxieties. 

"I'll be here to listen, if I can."


Admission

Spoiler

Lucille was walking by herself, again. It was getting into the evening, and she was dreading it. The first evening had been fine, since she'd been able to start sleeping in the company of people she thought she could trust, but now she was semi alone again. Bottling it up had been her method of dealing with everything before as it was the only thing she could do. Everyone in her former unit either wanted her dead, or would have laughed at her before telling her to go find someone else to cry to, or both. That, so far at least, didn't seem to be the case with this group. But habits die hard, and this one had been drilled into her for several years. 

Of course, the other problem was that Lucille didn't want to impose on anyone. Jade had her wares to focus on, Lavinia was the King's head knight so she already had more than enough on her plate, and Seilan seemed to be important enough that he was party to strategy meetings. General Nessraya too, was self explanatory; she was still probably recovering from her injuries in the recent fight, and then had to be council to Marina for the upcoming trek to Hwein. None of them needed to spare time just to hear the complains of a girl who shouldn't even be here. Come on, Lucille... do you want to ask someone for help, or don't you? She was going to have to do something, or by the time she was actually called upon to help she'd be half dead from lack of sleep, and then she'd really be a bother.

Now the question was: Who? Or, really that would have been the question, if Lucille hadn't already made her mind up. The choice was obvious to her; Seilan had been attentive and was pleasant to talk with. He would definitely be the easiest to talk to, and hopefully just talking with someone would make it easier for her to talk to others. Ah... there he was. Seemed like he was on his way back from somewhere. Now or never, she supposed. Lucille felt even more anxious than usual, a feeling of butterflies. Don't think that way... You've just met him. Don't do that to him, or yourself... She shook her head and walked over. 

"H-Hi, Seilan." Her gloved arm was already pulled behind her. No turning back now. 

Seilan yawned as he walked back from the night's strategy meeting; it had been particularly dry tonight. Things had been markedly less exciting now that the assault on Ithraxl's fort had passed. Despite seeming to be little but checking in, it had felt as if it had stretched on and on... ah, but it was over and done with now, at least.

It wasn't unfamiliar by now, the waiting. Battle, important as it was, was only a small fraction of a mercenary's time. Marching, guarding, waiting... still, this was the first time it was getting to him. Hwein, home, seemed just ahead and so far away all at once. That aside... Ah.

"Good evening, Lucille." She seemed almost to... waver, for a moment. "Sorry if you've been looking for me... I figured it seemed you needed your rest the other day, and the Vaians have really kept me quite busy since then." He found himself apologizing; he felt a bit... responsible. He had wanted to speak to her, having felt quite out of place among the monster majority. Though they'd spoken only here and there as of yet, he'd found it pleasant nonetheless.

Hmm...? It was subtle, the way Lucille drew her arm behind herself. He might not have noticed, had his curiosity not been sparked before by her spark of magic and their conversation about her casting, among other things, but the way she carried herself... Ah... well, it could just be something she picked up, or something about being a pegasus rider, or... something like that. 

"Oh, uh," Lucille was already floundering a bit harder than she would have expected. Lucille, just calm down, and talk. You'll be fine just... Do what you have to do. "Yeah... That fight took a lot more out of me than normal. Being... able to sleep was helpful at least. It sounds like you've been busy... Looks like it too." There. That was a decent start. She hadn't even had a spark happen despite feeling incredibly anxious. But she was definitely going to have to ease into this. Fortunately, Seilan had given her something to latch onto. 

"I forgot to ask last time. Are you a strategist of some sort? I'm... beginning to understand that this is an odd unit, but it's surprising to see that the Vaians include you for their strategy meetings. Oh, uh, I guess I kinda got ahead of myself... I was looking for you, but only just now, really." That was a bit of a lie. Seilan had been difficult to find all day, even if she really hadn't been going to more generally populated areas of camp. That probably had a role to play. 

"Ah, good... I'm glad I wasn't keeping you waiting, then." She was clearly stressing about... something, though he couldn't place it. Best not to press her for now, then. He paused for a moment; both to consider how to respond, and to give her a moment to breathe - it seemed like she could use it...

"Not a strategist, exactly. I have a little knowledge of strategy, learned about it some, but mostly the Vaians keep me around as a representative of Hwein. I'm not so much making plans as telling them what they need to know about Hwein; what Coteon's been doing, who's in power, and so on." He shrugged slightly. "To be honest, I wasn't in command of our mercenary group from Hwein. I just happen to be... what's left." He suddenly stopped speaking; for having tried to think about what he was going to say, he certainly had stumbled quite a bit...

"Oh." Lucille's question seemed to take Seilan down a less than desirable route. Thinking about it, she did remember hearing last night that Seilan was from Hwein, and, in retrospect, that had to be the case since the only other possibility was Coteon. "I... didn't realize," She wandered a little closer to the man, "That makes sense, knowing what's going on in Hwein is important if they're going to make plans for driving out Coteon." Her voice hung on Coteon longer than perhaps necessary, disgust and animosity evident. Her next question was obvious, but judging by how quickly Seilan stopped speaking; it clearly wasn't something that he wanted to talk about. But she couldn't just leave that there. 

"Well, you've... done what you could, in their place. You secured their help for Hwein. I'm sorry... about the others." She paused a moment, to think about what she'd just said, and then chuckled to herself, "Here I am, wanting to talk, and now I'm just pulling up bad memories for you." And for me... 

"No, no - it's okay, it..." Seilan cast his gaze off to the side, broadly fixating on a patch of grass. "It happens. In this line of work, at least. It's not, not something that doesn't... no, that's..." If he'd been stumbling before, he'd properly tripped, now. He sighed, a bit deeper than he'd meant to, shoulders falling a little, before looking back at her. "...Thanks, for saying that. I mean it. I... know things haven't exactly been easy for you, either, so... it's very kind of you, Lucille." The events of those two weeks weighed on him, perhaps a bit more than he'd realized; though, perhaps just a little lighter, now. "No need to be hard on yourself for my sake, alright?"

She certainly hadn't come to him to hear him brood, though, so this was as good a time as any to change the topic. "And, ah... you wanted to talk about something, right? What did you want to talk about?" He had a bit of an inkling that it wasn't exactly the cheeriest of topics, either; while he couldn't quite place it, he felt as if seemed to be eating at her.

For a moment, Lucille saw Seilan's rigidity break. Whatever happened to his company weighed on him. In a manner of speaking, it was the complete opposite of her own situation. She had felt freed by the vanquishing of Naomi's unit, but Seilan felt it weighing on him. "...They haven't been. But, I don't know. It's a bit hard for me to not feel a little responsible... Having fought with Coteon. I wouldn't be surprised if..." She trailed off, she didn't need to voice that thought, for either of their sakes. "Either way... You... should take your own advice too. Don't be so hard on yourself, either." 

That thought voiced, Seilan had changed the topic, and well, Seilan seemed down enough, that perhaps the both of them could use someone to talk to. So... H-Here goes nothing. "I-I," She paused, took a deep breath, face already reddening, "I wanted to a-ask for you help with... something. Something that, I didn't really tell you the truth about last night. B-B-Being honest... I can't really sleep because of it." A spark ran up her arm. Just... keep going... "I w-w-wanted to ask you because I... f-f-feel like I can t-trust you." At some point during all of that, Lucille had closed her eyes. On some level, she realized what this might have sounded like. She didn't want to see what happened next, or perhaps it was her doing everything she could not to shiver.

"It's not your fault. You're not fighting with them any longer, there's nothing to feel you should take the blame for." Though she cut herself off, he understood well enough what she'd been about to say; enough to not make her say it. "And... ha. I suppose I should, shouldn't I."

As he listened to her speak, hesitating as she was, it became apparent that what she'd sought him out for was serious. He'd suspected as much - noticed her nerves - but whatever this was, it meant a lot to her. "The truth...?" He wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Even though she was about to tell him, his mind promptly set about what she might have meant. At the edge of his mind a vague shadow of a thought began to form, that she might - no, not so. It was something to help with, not... anything else. His gaze caught the spark as it moved along her arm, not lingering, though she wouldn't have noticed anyways, not with her eyes closed.

He did his best to keep his voice level. She was having enough trouble as it was... "I'll gladly help, if I'm able. What, ah... is it?"

Lucille was just waiting for the laugh, or Seilan mistaking it as a confession, which on a certain level, it was. But not in the way that it may have sounded like, even if, on a deeper level, Lucille was feeling a certain way. They had only just met, and spoken what, three times? Enjoyable conversations to be sure; it was rare for her to talk with someone who enjoyed magic on a level that wasn't simply just the power of it, and even rarer for it to be someone that she found attractive. Wait a minute. 

Lucille's popped open an eye when she finally heard him speak, after what felt like an eternity, "...R-really?" There was no masking her surprise. Old habits and conditioning were hard to break, even more so for Lucille. But for a moment, that affirmation spurred her onward. "I-I told you... that we fought my former commanding officer. Naomi, and the r-rest of her unit. S-s-she was a powerful f-f-fire mage." A deep breath, and a spark up her arm, she continued, "I... I had to be the one to stop her. S-she was going to kill s-s-someone if I didn't. But, B-b-but, the way she... died. I-I-I'm sorry, this probably d-d-doesn't make any sense. But... I-I-I'm t-t-t," Suddenly words weren't forming anymore. Her tongue was stuck. She was so close, if she wasn't able to say anything to someone she clearly liked and felt like she could trust, would be able to say anything to anyone else? Lucille, if you don't say it now, you're never going to, and you're going to see it, alone, for the rest of your life. She tried for a bit longer, before Lucille stomped her foot in frustration. "T-t-t-t-terrified!" She practically shouted it, sort of like she had dislodged the words from her throat, "T-t-terrified... of fire. I-I-I had to watch h-her burst into flames, just, just like back then... or like I almost did." Lucille took a step back from Seilan, wiping her eyes preemptively. She could already feel her tears starting to fall, "I, I'm s-s-sorry to just drop, all of that, but, but I... can't be alone right now."

He waited, patiently, letting her speak. It was plain to see how much Lucille was struggling with this, and it wouldn't do to interject, lest she have more trouble saying it all afterwards. Admittedly he had questions; but there was a time for them, and it wasn't right now.

He was... unsure what exactly to do, suddenly feeling very aware of himself, as she took her step back. I should... say something, at least... "I... ah. I understand, I think, mostly." Enough, at least. "I can see why that would... would be disturbing, I'm... sorry you had to see something terrifying like that..." He'd healed people before who were afraid of fighting, of the battlefield, of being hurt, spoken to them and eased their worries; but this was different. He could tell from how much this was hurting her that this was something deeper, something not so easily solved with reassurances. And it was best not to press her with questions about her fear, else he might make things worse; that would be up to her to share.

Caught somewhere between a want to console her and a lack of familiarity, he shuffled a little, almost offering his hand unconsciously. "It's okay to be telling me this. I can't imagine that it would have been any good for you not to have told someone, so... I don't mind. Really."

"And, ah... I can keep you company, for as long as you need it. If you want." That- that didn't sound odd, did it...? Don't want any... misinterpretations, right now...

There wasn't anyone else who was particularly trustworthy to her right now. Except for himself. Yes, perfectly reasonable.

There. She said it. She might have been shivering, and on the verge of tears, as well as her face was about as bright as her usual hair color. But she said it. Now she just needed to calm down enough to explain anything else. She was sure that Seilan was going to have questions; any sane person would, especially with as haphazardly as Lucille had gone through it. 

Seilan sounded, rightfully, a tad confused and hesitant. The young man appeared to understand that whatever Lucille was talking about wasn't something he could just reassure her through, if at all. But he shuffled closer anyway, offering some consoling words, and his... hand? Then it was followed with Seilan accepting her request. 

Lucille froze for a moment, unsure what to do. Her arm sparking quite frequently now, "R-r-really? You, y-y-you'd..." Lucille couldn't find any words all of the sudden, and not just from her panic or embarrassment either. She really guessed right about Seilan. In a moment, Lucille surprised herself, and probably Seilan, by running over and taking Seilan's hand. "T-thank you, so, so much, Seilan. I-I... just need a m-m-moment. I k-k-know that didn't make any sense... B-b-but just let me." Lucille realized she was speaking a little too fast. "I, I-I-I'm sorry..." Seilan couldn't have possibly known how much that meant to her. Lucille got quiet, and just squeezed his arm tighter. Fortunately, Seilan felt like a stronger mage than she was, so her intermittent sparks of energy wouldn't have bothered him, she hoped. For a moment, Lucille didn't really care, or think about obvious this may have looked to anyone who might have seen, or Seilan. She desperately needed this. 

She'd taken his awkward gesture surprisingly well; a lot better than he'd expected, actually. He was dimly aware of the sparks running up his arm, and what felt like a sudden rush of warmth to his face, and... blinking a little, he let her hold his arm. "Ah, s-sure... take your time, Lucille. There's no rush."

It felt like her demeanor had suddenly changed; still anxious, clearly, but it was impossible to miss how thankful she was between her words, and... how tightly she was holding his arm. To feel like she hadn't had anyone she could talk to in this group was one thing, given how recently she'd joined, but to react like this to a small gesture... that loneliness probably stretched far beyond the brief time they'd known one another.

She hadn't understood what he'd said in... a different way than he'd meant it, not that he would've... that aside, he was content to give her as long as she needed. Not having known what exactly to say earlier, seeing how this helped her was something of a relief for him, even as it was for her.

That someone might have seen them... wasn't entirely lost on him, but he pushed that aside. It wasn't as important as this.

Lucille held onto Seilan for a bit longer. Longer than she would have, but about halfway into her impromptu arm glomp, she realized exactly what she'd done. She had no idea what she was supposed to do; she didn't want to just freak out, back away and apologize, but the current state of affairs, while pleasurable, was embarrassing. Seilan seemed to take it well at least, even with her magic still flaring every now and again. 

Now there was the other issue: What was she going to say? Seilan had agreed to stay with her, at least for the moment, but the point of this was to talk about what was bothering her. This was nice, Lucille wanted to have time where she was allowed to not have to be so guarded. Her heart pounding out of her chest might have signaled to Seilan otherwise. Lucille took a deep breath, and did her best to calm down enough to form coherent sentences. "I, I'm sorry about j-just... doing that. I, um, it's been a long, l-long time since I've just been able to talk to someone. And well... I already don't like being alone." She looked up at Seilan from his arm, "I want to t-talk about what happened, and m-maybe a little about why f-fire sets me off so much. If... that's alright with you." Lucille looked around, and her face got warm again, "...Though... probably not h-here." 

Looking up at Seilan, his neat hair that fell just in front of one eye, but the one eye she could see... It was a beautiful green water color. Lucille could have looked into those eyes for the rest of the-- Wait, wait, wait, no, stop, Lucille... He's cute but don't... stare like that. You can't, you know you can't... Of course, Lucille still hadn't let go of his arm. 

Ah. Lucille was... she was quite... attached, which... which was actually quite nice... that aside, it was becoming obvious, even to himself, that his blush was intensifying rather quickly. He was made all the more aware of that fact as he looked back at her, and how she was looking quite intently at him - ah, she can probably... probably see...

"That... I don't mind, not at all. I, ah..." Between the sparks from her arm and how tightly she was holding him, his mind kept realizing exactly how close they were, racing from thought to thought, a total disconnect from the near-calm words he spoke (near? no, far from that). "You can tell me, Lucille. As long as there's something you want to talk about, I'll listen."

He couldn't help but meet her gaze; the way she was looking at him, it felt almost... wrong, not to... "R-right. We... here's probably not a place for a talk like this..." 

In a camp like theirs, it was hard to suggest a good place to talk quietly that wouldn't seem... no, it was fine, he'd let her decide, nothing strange if it was her choice. He settled instead for setting his free hand on one of hers, giving her a gentle squeeze as she held his arm, feeling a little more comfortable doing so after seeing how she hadn't exactly held back. "Okay... where to, then...?"
 

Lucille practically watched as Seilan's face also started turning red, and, while he hadn't been calm the entire interaction, she was finally starting to notice that it might not have just been apprehension and confusion. ...Oh. A thought snuck its way in. What if... What if he also... Fortunately, for Lucille, Seilan's agreement that they probably shouldn't talk here, out in the open, about her secrets, snapped her out of it. 

Seilan then laid his free hand on Lucille's gloved arm, and she assumed that he squeezed it a little. She could only see it happen. She couldn't feel his touch. Hadn't been able to for almost eleven years at this point. It was frustrating that she couldn't feel Seilan's simple gesture, but... perhaps that was something she should tell him as well. He might have noted that she was unusually calm given how high strung she'd been in regards to everything else.

"Um, uh..." Seilan's question hit, and then Lucille realized that there was really only two plausible answers for a private conversation, either Seilan's tent, or her own. That, on top of embrace that the two found themselves in right now would have made this seem much more intimate than it really was. But honestly, to Lucille, it might as well have been with how close she kept her secrets, and if she hadn't been sure before, she was positive now that she could trust Seilan, and that she may have liked him a little more than that.

A deep breath, "...I think your tent might be the closest. I-I don't think anywhere else will be private enough. I'm... not really ready to have anyone else know, yet." Inside of the anxious woman were now two competing thoughts, one that would have been overjoyed if Seilan actually did feel a similar way, and the other the abject terror of realizing that if she let herself further that feeling, she would be putting him in harm's way, just like her parents, her family, and her home. For now, she just needed to tell him about that night. Everything else would follow if it was meant to happen, just like it always had.

"Right, okay. We can talk there, that should do..." Despite letting her make the decision, Seilan found himself no less calmer for it, though he suspected it would've been much the same if she'd picked... well, the only other option. By contrast, she was seeming quite focused now, after her brief moment of... well, her reaction, and he hadn't quite thought through how felt about it, though it was plain enough even to himself that... ah, he was all over the place, now. Actually, if anything, she seemed to be calming down, even as his mind seemed to keep spinning.

He was already talking again, before he'd really thought about it; on some level he must have realized he'd be gazing at her a little too long, otherwise. Not that she wasn't doing... well, just about the same thing, but... "Let's go, then. I don't think either of us are much in a hurry to stand in the middle of camp much longer." 

Much as the two of them heading for his tent could be misinterpreted, there was little else to imagine if anyone were to look at them now, close as they were. Though, really, they only had themselves to blame... their closeness was, after all, rather mutual.

That closeness was also leaving him a bit... mystified. Walking with her so... attached - not that he minded, she could the whole way back, if she liked - well, it was a rather unfamiliar situation, to say the least. He gave her a short nod; then, after a moment, shifted the arm she held, just a little, as if to guide her. "It's, ah... this way..."

Seilan appeared to be fine with the idea. His tent was both closest, and probably would have been the most comfortable for him. It was the least she could do for him giving her the chance to talk about what happened, and well, just being with her. It seemed like he was a bit nervous as well, and that was also helping to calm Lucille just a bit. She'd have to be to explain what happened, since that was all going to be... painful. "Y-yeah, I think we should probably go... before someone sees or says something." In actuality, Lucille didn't believe for a second that someone hadn't seen or heard, especially when she had practically shouted not too long ago. 

Seilan shifted his arm slightly, and began moving towards his tent. Lucille released her grip on his arm, since it would be difficult to move with someone clinging onto him. She remained very close as he lead the way back to his tent, and was quiet for a majority of the trip to his tent. She was thinking about ways to ease into the more... difficult parts of what she wanted to explain. Well, their conversations had really started from their shared magical experience, and a lot of what she was to explain also related to that magic. She also wanted to know if Seilan really wasn't bothered by her magic flickering. It would make her feel more comfortable about embracing him like she'd just done, "Um, Seilan. I know I s-surprised you by grabbing your arm like that but, but, my, uh, magic wasn't bothering you, right? I've... always had trouble keeping my thunder magic completely under control when I get anxious or upset. It, happens sometimes with magic... outside of my main affinity."

Their walk back to his tent was a quiet one; he spent most of it split between the distinct awareness of how close she was at his side, and occasionally glancing around for any onlookers in the camp. He hadn't seen anyone, but that didn't really mean anything - he'd been rather absorbed, earlier...

Her question snapped him back to the present. "Hm...? No, not really... well, I noticed, but it's no trouble. Magic tends not to be troublesome for me, generally. It has... something to do with my magic - I can't cast most magic, but in turn it affects me less. My mentor was rather focused on teaching his techniques, so we never determined the full reason behind it, but it's been of use. As long as I understand what it does for me, it's enough, at least until... well, until things calm down again." Her sparks had worried him, with how many there'd been, though evidently Lucille had been more concerned about them than he had. "Thunder magic in particular is fine, since I have an affinity for it... well, if you can call it that. So, ah... don't feel as if you need to be wary on my account."

He was mostly being honest, though in truth with how she'd been clinging to his arm and what she'd been asking of him, the sparks had been... something less of a concern.

Lucille got the answer she was hoping for... and a lot more than that, as her interest was immediately piqued. She always understood magic to be far more varied than the, admittedly, limited usage that was employed. This was quite a bit more unique. "...So it's like a barrier of sorts? That's... interesting. Magic can be used like that, but, having it perpetually active? I wonder if that has something to do with why you can't cast most magic? But... I'm really glad at least that my flickering doesn't bother you..." She flinched, and then started shuffling in place, "Oh, uh, sorry, got carried away again..." She hadn't realized that they'd stopped moving and were in front of a tent, which meant that is was their stop. 

"...But I guess that's a good way to lead into this... since my own magic is involved." Lucille popped inside the tent. It was... both shockingly and not-so-shockingly similar to her own. Nothing but a bed, a desk, and some assorted equipment. She took a deep breath, and looked at her arm to make sure that she wasn't still flickering. It was more of a formality than anything; she wasn't going to be able to stop herself from losing some control once she started talking. "...Um, I'll start explaining, but... Could you sit with me? This is... not going to be easy. Otherwise, I think I'll start with what happened last night, and w-w-why fire magic is such a problem for me." Lucille decided it was better not to dump everything on him all at once. Especially with how... bleak things got. Her stutter had already come back just from thinking about it.

He listened as she thought out loud about his... condition. It was rather heartening to hear her curiosity piqued, and he found himself smiling a little as he listened, though she cut herself off before long. As they entered the tent, he was a bit relieved that he'd habitually kept things in order; it would've been rather embarrassing had things been a mess. He sat down, leaving some space for her, letting himself relax on the (relative) familiarity of his bed, just a little. 

"I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on my magic, though unfortunately it'll have to wait for another time. Start when you like; I'm listening." It was plain enough to see that her nerves were starting to give her some trouble, made even more obvious by her look at her arm. "...Take as long as you need, Lucille. I'm not going anywhere." 

She fought her former commanding officer, a fire mage, and defeated her herself; she's terrified of fire and fire magic, and something happened during the battle that's haunting her... He knew enough to have a vague understanding of what had happened at the fort. What he still knew little of, though, was her deep-seated fear, and only Lucille could fill in what was missing. What puzzled him the most was what she'd just mentioned, offhandedly. It has to do with... her own magic?

Lucille took a deep breath, and sat down on the bed next to Seilan. "Okay, here goes." She laced her fingers together and placed them on her lap, "Alright, so, I, I mostly told the truth. About the siren setting me off, and having to fight Naomi and... how she died. But after Naomi died, I... freaked out. I-it wasn't entirely just because it was fire. A lot of it was, w-was..." She paused took a deep breath, she hadn't even really started yet, and she was already starting to panic, "Because of the spell t-that she used. B-Bolganone. O-one of the most powerful fire spells. It, it was the spell that crippled my dominant arm." She showed Seilan her gloved arm, "I-I-I'm right handed. I d-do everything left handed because well... I-I can't feel anything with my right hand anymore. I, I-I-I... was made to use Bolganone a-a-against my will, by the church when they, they c-c-captured me." She placed her hand back in her lap, but now it gripped her skirt tightly. "T-the truth is... I'm not a t-thunder or, wind mage... my, my a-a-affinity is for fire magic." She paused again, glancing over at Seilan, "They, T-t-they almost killed me with their experiments... E-e-every day... Trying to figure out why I c-c-could use fire magic so easily." She was breathing hard now, trying to fight back tears. "E-every day just... reminding me... about what they did... to kidnap me..." Lucille was managing, not well though, as evidenced by her flickering starting to get worse, but she didn't have to. She just felt like she needed to say it. "W-w-watching Naomi d-d-die that wayitremindedme... of b-b-back then. B-both about... what... directly happened to me and, and, and..." Lucille stopped cold before she could finish the sentence, she brought her arms in tight around her, and began shivering, "I-I, I can't..."

Seilan listened, patiently, as she explained. About why it was that Naomi's death had bothered her so much; about what had happened to her arm and hand; about how the church had kidnapped her, forced her into experiments. It... gave him pause. He had known that Coteon - the church - had committed terrible acts in the name of their own ambitions. He'd seen as much, back home. What they'd done to innocent monsters, guilty of nothing but living. He'd seen it here in Vaia, too; a chimera of the church's own making, mind warped to be their tool.

And yet, somehow all these things felt as if they paled in comparison to what he'd just heard. He found himself struggling to find words to say. It felt like anything he could think of saying would be insignificant compared to what she'd been through, what she was still fighting with even now. There... must be something I can say. Something I can... He sighed softly, looking at Lucille.

After a moment's consideration, he pulled her into a hug, only managing to quietly get a brief "I'm sorry" out at first. He didn't know how much time passed, afterwards; it could have been seconds, minutes, more, as he worried about how she'd respond to his sudden embrace, not even registering the sparks coming off her arm. Eventually, though, he found some semblance of composure, and continued. "You're... safe, here. And... I know it must be hard, even just talking about it, so... thank you for telling me."

She'd never explained anything to another person outside of her family. Even in the eight years that had passed without Coteon's interference, the only people who knew anything regarding her past, or her affinity, had been her immediate family. It had been... so much harder than she thought it would have been, even with Seilan right next to her. She shivered, trying not to panic more than she already was. Seilan hadn't said anything, and Lucille was too absorbed to even spare him a look. 

But almost as quickly, she felt herself being pulled into a hug. She paused for moment, as she listened to him apologize, and then after a moment of warm embrace he continued on, "'You're... safe, here. And... I know it must be hard, even just talking about it, so... thank you for telling me.'" At that moment, the tears started to fall, and Lucille pushed herself into Seilan's hug, arms slowly wrapping around him, as she softly sobbed in his arms.

She was crying, now; and as Lucille's arms found their way around him, any worries he had about being too brazen faded away. He still wasn't sure what to say, or even if he should say anything at all, so he remained quiet. More than anything else, right now... she just needs someone she can trust. So...

It was a thoroughly unfamiliar situation for him - not unexpected, given how reserved he typically was - and yet, despite that, he felt almost confident that this was the best way to help her. It felt... right, even. So; if this is what she needed right now, then he would keep holding her close, until... until it wasn't. How long that might be... didn't matter to him. Not in the least.

Safe. That had been a word that she wasn't sure she'd never really be able to believe in again. She was alive, but as long as the church existed, she had become so absolutely sure that she would never feel safe again. But as she sobbed against Seilan's chest, if only in this moment, she actually did believe him. She did actually feel like she was safe. Safe here in the group, but particularly here with him. That had been a reason why the tears began, and continued; she could actually believe it.

Lucille's tears continued for a while longer, before Lucille got very quiet. Between her panic, and her exhaustion from being unable to fall asleep normally, Lucille had worn herself out. Her sobs had been replaced by rhythmic breathing, with her head resting against his chest. She'd only regret one thing about the scene, and that was that she'd fallen asleep before she'd gotten a chance to say thank you. 

They stayed as they were for some time before Seilan realized that Lucille had become quiet; long enough that he wasn't sure whether it had happened a while ago or just brief moments before. He slowly leaned back against the tent wall, resting on it gently. Any more and he'd have disturbed her sleep, which she needed badly after everything she'd been through since the battle. If she woke up worried about where she'd fallen asleep... well, that was a problem for later.

Hopefully she'd be able to carry herself a little more easily, having shared some of her burdens. She was sleeping rather calmly, at least, with no signs of any bad dreams or the like. That was good enough, for now. He closed his eyes; he ought get some rest of his own, after all.

 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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A Flight on My Mind

Spoiler

It was eating her up inside. Lucille's intense reaction during the latest battle was... hard to think about. Gabriela hit a nerve she really shouldn't have come near. She could wait it out, but that will only cause more problems later down the line. It was time to apologize to Lucille now.

Flying around the tents, she was searching for the correct one, and after a bit of searching, there was Lucille's tent. ''Breathe, Gabriella. She is not gonna be happy to see you, but she deserves this.'' with that, she stood outside Lucille's tent and spoke. ''Lucille? Are you in there? It's me, Gabriella. I... I want to talk, please... No, I want to apologize to you.''

Lucille flipped the pages of the tome, the same wind tome that she'd used to deal with Naomi. At least it was easier to think about now, thanks to Seilan. Still... that had only been one part of that night. The other was... the Siren. She'd heard Marina call her Gabi when she asked her to join their group that split from the main force. That thought immediately ruined her mood. First calling her a coward, and dismissing her fears when they first met, and then referring to her effective captors as friends. She hadn't the foggiest idea what it was like. What she'd gone through. 

Unfortunately, her thoughts seemed to have manifested the woman out of nowhere. Seemingly asking to apologize. An immediate flicker of magic, she already wasn't fond of the woman from their first interaction, but their second poured cement into those thoughts, "Hmph... You're assuming I want your apology. A lot of people I still don't know in this camp, and you're still probably the last person I want to talk to." Lucille sighed, "But... It wouldn't be right for me to not at least hear what you have to say. Especially... since I... still... have to... thank you." Getting those words out was harder than it needed to be.

Gabriela swallowed some spit she got from listening to Lucille. ''I.. I understand that Lucille. And... you have no reason to thank me. Any good I might have done was overshadowed by the nasty things I said... and it was only because of my own weakness that I even said those.. things in the first place.'' She closed her eyes. ''I... don't think you're a coward at all. Far from it, actually. And it was precisely because of that that I felt like.. like I had to antagonize you. Please, accept my apologies.. or don't, that's up to you.'' she opened her eyes again, looking at Lucille's eyes instead.

Lucille's arm flickered as the Siren said that she had no reason to thank her. Lucille was going to cut her off before the winged woman revealed the reason for why she was seemingly antagonistic towards her, now staring directly into Lucille's eyes. 

Lucille paused a moment, gathering her bearings before she did or said something she'd regret. It rarely worked. "First of all, don't tell me whether I have a reason to do something, or not. That's almost literally the exact same thing you're trying to apologize for... amongst other things." Lucille huffed, before crossing her arms, "As much as I don't want to say it, you're a pretty big reason that I made it out of that fight okay. Whether or not it was because you cared, or felt bad, or it was just a job is, to me, irrelevant. You still did it, and it helped keep me, and everyone else, really safe. So you deserve thanks for that. So... Thank you." 

Then Lucille's eyes narrowed, "But as to the other thing. Thanks for explaining why, but no, I don't accept your apology. Calling me a coward is one thing. A stupid thing, especially considering that I don't think you have even the slightest idea what the Church, or Coteon are capable of. But calling those people my friends after anything I said? And afterwards then telling me you said those things because of your own insecurities?" Lucille was now directly in front of Gabriela, quite visibly upset, "I already told you that if you said another word to me it wouldn't end well. If I didn't have a reason to thank you, I'd make good on that."

Her words cut deep, that's for sure. Things got heated, and Lucille got rather close. ''I understand.'' She then spoke plainly. ''I didn't think about what to say, that's for sure, and well, that's why I came to apologize. But I believe there has been a misunderstanding here. I don't know exactly what the church, or any of those knights that came to attack us did to you, but I certainly know about other things the church did, and I also know I will kill every single one of those scumbags should they come near.''

Gabriela took a step back. ''You haven't seen another siren... in Vaia at least.'' she sighed. ''The church.... with the help of some.. traitors, they brainwashed my entire clan and turned them into their own personal slaves.. from what I hear from princess Tenebria, they are called 'angels', and work to fulfill the needs of the Coteon people living their disgustingly careless lives while they have been robbed of their own self. If they are capable of that, those monsters would be capable of anything!'' She took a deep breath. ''Sorry... I got a bit heated there. There I go, being argumentative again.. I suppose I should let you get back to.. whatever it is you were doing, yes?''

Lucille paused a moment as Gabriela got quite visibly upset at Lucille's assertion that she had no idea what the Church was capable of, and what she heard was... troubling. Her anger at the church was fairly standard for monsters, given everything that happened, but her particular situation... sounded eerily similar. Lucille held herself tighter, "You knew all of that... and you still..." Lucille's arm started flickering more frequently. She was about ready to boil over. The nerve of this woman. But... Lucille would have been lying to herself if she didn't understand how she felt. More than a little of Lucille wanted to just lash out, but it wouldn't have helped either of them, and the last thing she wanted was to have to explain to either the General or, god forbid, the king, why the siren was inches away from death. Just... think about something else for now. She took a step back from the siren, and took a deep breath, "Never mind that. ...You're right. You're the first siren I've seen in probably... twelve or thirteen years. I didn't really know they were called sirens back then. But just looking at you, and hearing you call them that... They were definitely sirens." 

Lucille had never quite understood exactly why the 'angels' as they were so called were held in a higher regard than the other monsters. The ones they paraded through the streets, revealed their primal natures... tortured in hopes of mastering their magic and abilities. "...So the Church took your home and family too. Why am I not surprised? There isn't even word to categorize them properly." Her temper turned on the church instead of the idiotic siren.

Gabriela looks forlorn in no particular direction. ''I know, the irony is not lost on me. I know the way I acted towards you should have been with compassion, as the church did horrible things to you, beyond my imagining... there is no excuse, and I understand that you probably want to hurt me very much, and after this whole thing is over, you can do whatever you like.. but for my family, my clan... I need to get my revenge on the church first.''

Thinking about what Lucille just said hurt to think about. ''I understand that for the people of Vaia.. and probably for you as well, those angels seem perfectly normal and happy. I understand that they don't mean any harm. But.. I just cannot let go from that burning.. anger I get for the church.... and the traitors who sold them out!''

Gabriela took a deep breath once again. It was all she could do to stop herself from getting emotional again. ''These past decades I have been dwelling through Vaia looking for whatever happened to my clan, with no idea what the wide world was like.. and now that I know, I need to finish what I started. I'm not asking you to ever speak to me again after this.. just.. I want to be able to fight together on the battlefield. Your magic is very impressive, and... we share a common enemy. What do you say?''

Lucille mentally groaned, Gabi was now the second person to have offered to take her anger head on. Of course, it wasn't nearly as direct as Marina's, since she at least mentioned that she at least wanted to destroy the church and the traitorous sirens who put her family at risk first. Still, that always seemed to have a way taking all of Lucille's steam. It was difficult to stay mad at someone being so earnest and willing to take whatever came their way. It also seemed like she was beginning to understand why Lucille had been so upset and only seemed to get more so as the siren explained.

Lucille sighed and put her hands on her hips, "You're making it very hard to never to talk to you again." Lucille said with a huff before relaxing a little. "I don't really understand what's going on with the rest of the sirens, but as long as you're against the church, I'm not really sure it matters to me right now. I'm not going to let how I currently feel about you bring down anyone else." That was about as cordial as the entire conversation had been the entire time. "I'll do what I can to help out, but I'm only doing it because it's the right thing to do." Lucille had subconsciously drawn her gloved arm behind her at some point. Her current dislike of the winged woman didn't appear to overcome her understanding that the siren's tale was very painfully similar to her own. If nothing else, she was fighting to make sure that no one else had to endure what she'd gone through. As much as she didn't want to admit, that applied to the siren too. "I should... probably know your name if we're going fight together."

Oh, right, a name. Gabriela had never even told her her name. She had only been referred to by the girl as ''The Siren.''. ''Right, introductions. That is probably a good idea. My name is Gabriela, as you know, a siren. If you ever have need of me, i'm probably taking a roost somewhere up high or with the oni's, with my boyfriend, Ren.'' Gabriela gave Lucille her first genuine smile. ''And... thank you for listening to my story, Lucille.''

Gabriela was the siren's name. The nickname Marina had given her made sense now. "Gabriela... Simple enough to remember." Lucille tried to relax some since it appeared that they were coming to somewhat of a resolution. Though, Gabriela did mention a boyfriend, an Oni named Ren. She wasn't entirely sure what an oni was just yet, she'd probably have to talk with one of them eventually. She dwelled a bit long on the boyfriend part, and then her thoughts drifted to Seilan and how maybe they cou-- Lucille felt her face getting warm as she shoved that thought back down. Pulling herself back into the real conversation with Gabriela's smile. 

"D-Don't thank me yet. You... you can thank me when I've decided to accept your apology." Why was it so hard to stay upset at people who weren't the church? "Anyway... If you ever need me... I'll probably be in around my tent. Not a lot of places for me to be otherwise.''

Despite the cold words, Gabriela felt like she and Lucille.. may understand each other a little more now. She felt good. ''Ah, right, my mistake. I'll remember your tent. It was easy enough to find from the sky anyways. Speaking of..'' Gabriela turned to leave. ''I'll let you get back to your business, and I will certainly remember what you told me today. Stay safe, okay?'' with a little wave of her hand, Gabriela took flight once again, with a relieved mind this time.

-

A girl's day out? And Marina was the one to suggest as such? It seems there was hope for this girl yet. ''Hello Tenna, hello Xalrei. I'd be delighted to join you if it would please you. Would you be alright with that, Xalrei?'' The siren and the dragonewt had talked a little bit and she seemed cool, but Gabriela was also aware of Xalrei's dislike towards humans. Perhaps having another monster along in the Siren would ease Xalrei into going along with the three of them.

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Ariana certainly had a way of catching Ayane off guard, though to be honest Ayane wasn't trying very hard to hide her intent. "Mm..." She simply nodded. "Yes, I'd like that very much Ari...thank you." She was still incredibly new to a relationship like this, but she was determined to make it work. "...ah Shizuka." She turned to her maid, a bit concerned for her still. She wanted to spend time with Ari, but Shizuka was penniless and nearly defenseless.

"I'd like you to find someone to spend time with yourself, for a while at least. But that said..." She approached her maid with a pouch in hand, and she started to filter through the contents. Once she was satisfied she took some of the contents out and put them in her bag. "I can't leave my maid without offering her a late paycheck." She took Shizuka's hand and put the pouch in it. "Thank you for all your hard work, Shizuka. Enjoy yourself." With a nod of the head she turned back to Ari. "Well then, let's go." She lead along and left Shizuka before she could decline or return the money.

Ayane moves 12, 8

Ayane hands Shizuka 1000 gold out of her own pocket change

Edited by TheRoon

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"Sure thing, Aya~" Ariana couldn't help a smirk at the oni's behaviour, it was so shy and sheepish compared to how she usually was...

Ari moves to 13,13

Sneaking past the demon king, Verah gulped hard as she moved to 8,7

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A new town, new shenanigans, to be sure. Taiyute had to figure out something to do. She wasn't the best at it, so she'll just hang around. Nisha was heading off to do her own thing. Maybe she wouldn't mind a companion.

She caught near the end of the conversation when she had finally reached where Nisha had gone. "A friend, yes?"

Yeet to 7,12


Suddenly, Shizuka's hand was full of money. A gift from Ayane... Shizuka teared up some, but she cleared her eyes, and suddenly they were beaming with energy.

"T-Thank you Princess! I'll... I'll figure out something to use it with! Promise!" And off she had gone, leaving the two to themselves.

Shizuka moves to 12,16

"Hello?"

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"Oh... A human?" The lizardman inside turned to Shizuka, narrowing eyes at her for a moment, before sighing and shaking his head. "Mm. Is there anything that I can help you with?" He looked half-armored, nothing military, definitely a mercenary if anything. "I saw that group come into town... Odd to see a human in Vaia. Especially with recent events."

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Well, here they were, the last civilized stop before the wastelands. It had been years since Jade had last traversed them, but she didn't expect they'd have changed much in the intervening period. Especially not when considering they'd persisted in their current state for some dozens, hundreds?, of years by now already. Many of the others had already begun dispersing, focusing on whatever tasks they had in mind. That was fine, as a zombie she had become accustomed to losing out in physical initiative. Lavinia, however, was still nearby, perhaps waiting on her before making a move, so she aired her thoughts.

"I'd been thinking of picking up some caparisons for the mounts. Since the wastes aren't your typical scorching heat, swirling sand desert, the extra layer shouldn't be much of a detriment. Most importantly, they'll help to cut the reflection of the sun off the pure white of the ground. If we only had to worry about the rays beating down from above, that would be one thing, but as it is, I feel more comfortable getting them proper coverage instead of just relying on parasols or the like. I imagine something like that to be available at the Vendor, and if not, at least some raw fabric that could be purchased to produce them should be. Care to join me, or did you have anything else on your mind?"

The merchant figured that once business had been wrapped up, it would be easy enough to change focus to pleasure in the time remaining before they left. Not that there was a ton of options for that either, here in Border, but...

Jade rescues Lavinia, moves to 4,8

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"Of course not~" Nessraya teased, waving at the pair as Amera dragged Suki away, the latter whining at the prospect, despite being taken where she wanted to go all along. A bit of a short attention span on that one, but it was charming in it's own right. Now then, time to move on with her own business.

____

"Just part of the deal, in the end. Oh well, at least it won't be too short a night." Nisha chuckled, turning around as the door closed, only to run into Taiyute. She didn't know how much the genasi had caught, but evidently it couldn't have been all that much if friend was her takeaway.

"Mmm, friend is a strong word. He's one of the border guard, we had a little bit of a run-in the last time I was in town."

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"Oh. Sorry." Agni didn't expect that bad a reaction from Taliyah, retreating his posture a little. "I didn't mean to surprise you. I was thinking just those same lines of thought. I'm sure we could find something fancier than what you've been using, as a gift." He gave her a slight smile. Something to brighten the mood. "And you might say you don't need more clothes... but it's nice to switch things up every now and then."

Agni to 12,9, enter.


"Ah! Ugh, I'm not... honestly." Taiyou sighed as her, admirer, interjected herself into the trip unprompted, as almost expected. "Hmph, well. Then you'll be carrying bags alright..." Taiyou started walking forwards... until she quickly stopped in her tracks, she grumbled. "Mrr..."

Truth is, she had no idea where to go, she didn't have many chances to just walk on her own before. She walked into the first place that caught her mind. "Now what kind of establishment is this...?"

Taiyou moves to 15,16.

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"Coverings for the nightmares sounds like a good idea... And something for myself and Bridgit." Lavinia gave Bridgit a quick glance, nodding. "I'll make sure to pick you up something comfortable, covering, and fashionable, alright Bridgit?" Hopefully she'd appreciate the gift, so long as Lavinia could pull through on finding it. Pulling herself onto the wagon, she got comfortable next to Jade, letting the zombie take off. "And I won't lie," she began, now that they had a moment to themselves, "I've been meaning to find a way for it to be just us for a while, now... Hopefully this is good an excuse as any~" A small smile, Lavinia pressed up against Jade just a little, resting against her softly.


"M-Maybe... Ahhh, o-okay! Okay. I, I need to be nicer to myself." Taliyah slapped her cheeks gently, following after Agni. It really couldn't hurt to have some more things to herself.

Taliyah to 11,11, follow Agni inside

"O-Oh! Hello Ayane... Are you here for some weapons too?" She gave the oni a gentle wave, following after Agni. The armory was about as smokey and metal smelling as she'd expected it would be, but it was surprisingly well kept. Maybe they had a lot of time to clean here? A cat seemed to be working the desk, sharpening the edges on a dagger. He didn't pay any mind to Agni and Taliyah as they entered, focused on his work.

"Hey." He did at least acknowledge them, though he didn't look over.

"H-Hello... A-Agni, you wanted a new weapon, yes? Can I help you, pay for anything? I really don't mind." She didn't have much gold on her, but if she could help at all, she would.


"Of course... Mmm... Hmhm, do you want me to help you find your way around town, Taiyou? I could carry you. I'd love to carry you." Anything to get hands on her... It seemed Taiyou was going to check on the locals first, Mae idly following after her.

Mae to 15,15

"Hello! Who are you?" A young cat boy sped over to the door, staring up at Taiyou. "Can I help you? My dad's off at work, he left me to watch the house... You're with the group that just came into town, right? I've never seen so many people stop here! It's crazy!"

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"Ah... mm," Shizuka had a modicum of fear in her eyes when she saw the lizardman. It reminded her of... She shook her head. He wasn't attacking her, she wasn't about to be locked away again... hopefully.

"R-Right sorry, erm..." The poor maid did her best to latch some words together, "I am... N-New here. I was hoping I'd um, ah, could get some... information? Like, on what's here, or what's there to do? Mm... I'm sorry, I-- I don't normally ask for things l-like this..."

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"S'not a problem, miss." The lizardman walked over to her, about a foot taller than her, arms folded. He looked her over before he smirked, shaking his head. "Don't exactly look cut out for the arena... But there is one, if you're brave enough. An armory, a vendor, for weaponry and sundries... A few inns and a wagon seller. Border is a tiny place. About ten of us live here, permanently... Maybe a few more, maybe a few less. I don't stay often, this is just my place to stop whenever I pass by. Anything else you're looking for, tiny human? Specifics might help me point you... To one of the buildings around here."

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"If you could, we'd like to see what wares this border holds," a voice calls out from behind Shizuka, the blonde tresses of the Pureblood placed in neat identical twintails as she floats over with a flippant air to her.  Ren is just on her right, looking over to the maid and offering a grin and a small wave of his hand.  "Maybe something that can benefit my kind during battles?" Bridgit emphasizes while waiting for an answer, letting the peculiar parasol she is always holding twirl and protect her from the sun.

Ren to 12,15

Bridgit to 11,15

Edited by sweet podado

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"Oh, aye... Wares are simple. The armory is an armory. You get weapons there, what else would you expect? Heh. The vendor has a bit more than sundries, at least... The arachnea that runs the place spins clothing made of her silk. Should be good enough to keep you nice and warm, when the winter comes back, or she can weave you something breezier, for crossing the wastes and facing the summer." A glance at Bridgit was all the lizard needed to understand what she'd meant. "As for you, your parasol should do... Lest a blast of wind takes it. Would a proper lady like yourself suffer a cloak?"

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"I don't know what sort of business I'd have here, I didn't even stop here last time. Just flew right passed..." Sollowy took advantage of being just behind Thesephine to rest her chin on the Medusa's head and float behind her like a cape. "We could go shopping after we're done with the wagons though. Have a tiny little date? That sounds like it'd be fun..."

Sollowy to 9,9.


Xalrei hadn't been too keen on being dragged along with Marina in the first place, so when Gabriela showed up for previous plans with Marina the dragon nearly let out a sigh of relief. Only for Marina, and then Gabi, to try to drag her and Tenna into their little outing. She couldn't picture herself having a girl's day out with this crowd, and not just because there were a couple of humans in the mix. She glanced between Marina and Gabriela, only hesitating for the sake of the Siren's feelings. Gaze cast aside, she answered, "You can go one without me. Girl's days out aren't really my thing..." A horribly concealed lie, but it was what she was going with as she awkwardly excused herself from the conversation and stepped away. 

Xalrei to 7,6.

Edited by Ursali

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"A little date, huh... Here, at Border? You could've picked a better place." Thessy giggled, though, unbothered by the suggestion, or by the action of Sollowy resting on her. She'd begun doing it when they had time to themselves, flying along behind her, not getting pulled along, but pretending to... Thesephine wouldn't ever admit it, but she thought it was incredibly cute, and it set her heart soaring whenever it happened. "Sure, sure... We'll get something to drink and eat after we're done here, okay?"


"Ah, X-Xalrei... I..." Tenna watched as the dragon ran off, giving a glance to Marina and Gabriela, before heading after her. It didn't take long to catch up once Xalrei slowed down, Tenna gently poking at her arm. "I, uhm... A-Are you, okay? It... It, was too mann, nn, ny humans, wasn't it...?"

Tenna to 6,6

"Is... Is just, one... Fine?"

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"It not like we have options. Would you prefer the wastes?" Sollowy huffed and pouted, but only slipped her arms over Thessy's shoulders to secure her position. "Mhm. That sounds nice. Maybe go do a little shopping too. It'd be fun to at least try on outfits with each other, even if we don't find something we like. Might as well enjoy our reprieve as much as we can, right?"


Xalrei had expected at least one of them to go after her, not even surprised that it was Tenna who had. That didn't stop her from pulling her arm close and away from her touch, however. "It's... More than just that." She associated going out like Marina and Gabriela wanted to with her friends. The friends that were now dead or severely wounded because of her. Even if it was with just Taliyah, Gabi, and Bladen, Xalrei wasn't sure she'd be able to properly enjoy such an outing without getting depressed and feeling guilty. Nor did she want to admit such a personal thing to Tenna.

"I... I guess, since you're just going to follow me anyway."

Edited by Ursali

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"I suppose I wouldn't mind trying on clothes... Not that much really, manages to catch my attention, or accommodate my body." Thesephine flexed her new wings and swished her tail for emphasis, sighing just a little bit. "Well, maybe we'll find something... A skirt or a dress... Those can be messed with to work around my tail and wings."


"More than just, that...?" Xalrei didn't explain further, so pushing would only hurt things. The dragon didn't seem to mind her coming along, at least. With a nervous glance back at Marina and Gabriela, Tenna waved, and smiled, to show that things were okay. "Then... Xalrei. What, would you like to do while we're here? It seems like, there isn't much, but... There must be a few things that you could enjoy. So long as you're happy, I'm happy." That was how friends were, in the princess' mind.

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A sigh, "Well, that went about as expected," Marina disappointedly replied after Xalrei Tenna had left. She shook her head, it wouldn't help to start up another one if her sad fits. Gabi was here.

She saw Tenna wave, so Marina gave her a light wave back. "She's such a sweetheart. I hope she's okay." Turning back to Gabi, "Well, guess we can have our clothes hunt, right? Let's do it." And Marina took the lead.

Marina moves to 4,9

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Player Phase/Turn 2!

An elf spawns on 7,17

"Goodness... Finally, caught up to them." The well endowed women strolled into Border, huffing quietly, finally taking a moment to rest upon spying the group. "They really couldn't wait for me... I suppose not, but it's good that I caught them here at Border, rather than having to chase them into the wastes, goodness... Fyl! Come on, now! They're here..."

Meridrya pushed a loose strand of her teal hair out of her face, adjusted her dress, and shook her overcoat a little. Something else shook with it... Much different to her sister, Meridrya sported incredibly long hair, down past her waist. She was much taller than her gremlin of a sibling, standing at a comfortable six foot. Well endowed by birth, an hourglass shape, a beauty mark just below her left eye... A natural beauty, through and through. Though, while beautiful, all elf... She shared not her sister's tendency for sexual promiscuity. "Honestly... Needing me to come and look after you, dear sister, what are you getting yourself into~?" Not that I'm here for JUST her, but... I'm sure she'll be happy to see me~

iKd4r78.png

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Lucille and Seilan Visit the Inn

Arms splayed over a table in the inn was a very, very tired-looking succubus, seemingly with all of her belongings right next to her, gun on her back, and in a position to be looking out toward the town gate. But right now, she was doing nothing of the sort. “Seven days of absolutely nothing… At this rate, they’ll be in Hwein before I can even leave…” A heavy sigh left her. She barely had the energy left to keep working for her food, and to make matters worse, she could feel her urges flaring up badly. No, she had to stop that from happening. But as time passed, she had fewer and fewer options left open to her… and then, she could hear a pegasus touch down outside, making her lift her head toward the door to see what the unusual ruckus was about.

The flight was short and simple, barely a couple moments before Villkiss touched down in front of the Inn that Seilan had wanted to check out. She turned and looked at her passenger with a smile, “How was it? I know it wasn’t much, but, it doesn’t really take much to get an idea.” Regardless of his answer, it had been rather enjoyable for her. Though, the flight had put some thoughts in her head. She’d taken the alias and hair color so as to not stand out, but Villkiss brought with it some challenges. Pegasi were very rare on the continent, and practically only Coteon employed them for the most part. So that plus clearly being human would definitely draw attention. But unless it became a problem, she wouldn’t pay it too much mind. She was more interested in spending time with Seilan. “Shall we go inside?” A bit hesitant to leave Villkiss on her own for a moment, but Villkiss was a smart girl, and Lucille wouldn’t let anyone get far if they tried anything.

Brief as though it was, the flight was a brand new experience nonetheless. Seeing the town from the sky, even only momentarily, put things in a different perspective. It felt in one moment as if he understood that Border was in a sense large, with as many people there as there were; and yet, it felt small at the same time. He dismounted Villkiss, a bit awkwardly. “Being in the sky, up above everything, is quite the feeling. I enjoyed that, I think.” He nodded in response to her other question, walking to the inn and pushing its door open. As he stepped across the threshold, he became distinctly aware of a... pressure, of sorts. He glanced at Lucille to see if she’d noticed the same, but more noticeable than the pressure was the exhausted-looking figure slumped over one of the inn’s tables. With nothing else looking out of place for an inn, it seemed likely she was the source of the magical sensation. He turned to Lucille with a quiet whisper. “As far as ‘anything of interest’ goes, she seems as good a place as any to start.”

Good, he’d enjoyed the flight. There was a little bit to get used to, but if he continued, he would be fine. But upon walking inside the Inn, Lucille felt something… well, she didn’t really know how to explain it, other than something was definitely happening here, and that it was magical in origin. She turned, and caught the glance from Seilan, clearly he had noticed it too. Then Seilan whispered to her about the figure that was leaning on one of the tables who, on a further glance, seemed to be looking up at them. “...It certainly can’t hurt.” Lucille kind of faded behind Seilan, concerned or not about the exhausted person, she still wasn’t the best around this, and if they were the origin of whatever this pressure was, what exactly was the reason behind it. A deep breath, “Umm… Hello? Are you the only person here, and… are you alright?” Lucille felt a bit silly the moment the question left her mouth. Admittedly, she hadn’t looked very hard for anyone else; she was a little too focused on whatever this feeling was. The question was already out there. Really nothing she could do about it now but navigate the response.

Two humans, great. Well, both actually great and not so much, but she’d find out soon enough whether the latter was true. Humans did mean there was a much higher chance of them being headed in the right direction… although the awkward moment of staring they had wasn’t particularly promising to start with. “Let’s go in order… No, but people don’t like to hang around me too much, and yes… kind of. Just… really tired.” The succubus gathered herself a bit, enough to bring her arms together and rest her head on them with a sigh, tail lazily hanging off the side of the seat. “I’ve been looking for a way back home to Hwein for a week now… but not a single damn wagon or convoy wants to take a succubus in that direction, not when things are like they are.” Just recalling how boring and occasionally infuriating the past days had been put her usual scowl back on her face.

“Home, to Hwein? If you’re traveling alone besides shared wagon trips, I’m not certain that’s exactly the best idea, given the current state of things. Even if you are armed.” Had she been human, he likely wouldn’t have said as much, but the occupation looked rather unkindly on monsters in particular. Average merchants could hardly be blamed for not wanting to carry someone who was essentially an enemy of the (current) state into its borders. He crossed his arms. Still, she could hardly be any friend of Coteon’s. “That was... rude, sorry. Let me try that again. I’m Seilan, and this is...” - he paused for a moment - “...Angelise. We do happen to be with a group heading for Hwein, though personally I can’t say whether we might be able to take you with us. I don’t exactly have the authority to make that decision; though I might be able to put in a good word for you, depending.” Something in his mind was hinting that she might be of help. “Armed succubus from Hwein” in particular was ringing distant bells, bells he suspected ought to be a fair few stones’ throws closer, but he couldn’t quite place her…

Things started to fall into place, slowly. The woman was trying to find her way back into Hwein. Seilan’s objection was about what she might have said, if she had the moxie to have spoken up before him. A monster riding back into Hwein with merchants while Coteon was in charge was effectively putting a kill order on them. Seilan explained that they were going to Hwein, but Lucille's current focus was on the woman’s tail, and what she had just offhandedly said. Her understanding of succubi was extremely limited since her formal introduction to them had been just a week ago. But the odd pressure really was starting to mildly annoy Lucille, “This may seem… odd, but do you know what this… I don’t really know how to explain it other than its magic, sort of like,” Lucille bobbed her head back and forth as she thought for an example, “Kind of like a haze. We’ve been feeling it ever since we walked in here. It’s… kinda… offputting actually.” Lucille looked at Seilan and kind of gathered that he was thinking about something now.

That was about the expected rebuttal. After all, she’d heard it all along the week from everyone she’d managed to ask, and one she personally knew to be true. “I came here from Hwein about a month ago... you think I don’t know what kind of shitstorm I’m willingly trying to get myself into?” A discontented, slow wag of her tail was all the movement that would elicit, though. And the lady of the two would confirm that they were being affected by her usual issue more like monsters typically would, rather than humans. “...I don’t know how to explain it either. All I know is that, well, if either of you was your average human, you’d probably be trying to hit on me right about now. See why people don’t like hanging around me?” She briefly raised her hands in a half-shrug. Either way, they’d introduced themselves, so it was only courteous to do the same. “Seilan, and Angelie… Too long. You’re Ange now.” If only she wasn’t as tired and brainfogged as she was. “My name’s Nashwa. Mercenary of some thirty plus years, from Zahual.”

Lucille’s eyes narrowed a tad as the woman, now identified as Nashwa, immediately shortened Angelise to Ange without even asking. Normally, that would have bugged her a lot more, but on virtue of it being an alias, her annoyance was tempered somewhat. “...Normally, you’d ask to shorten someone’s name.” Lucille responded with a pout on her face, and then she sighed, “But I’m not going to fuss about it. But more importantly… this haze is coming from you?” She had explained it somewhat, at Lucille’s guess, they were protected since the both of them were proficient with magic. But it was what it supposedly did that had Lucille a little concerned. “...Succubus… and magic… I guess I should have put that together a little faster… So if it’s your magic… You could turn it off, right?” That also probably explained a bit why people might not be willing to take her across. But some thoughts were probably best left unsaid.

“Nashwa... wait, really?” A couple things clicked into place in his mind upon hearing the name. Now the gun made sense. Although... “From what I’ve heard... aren’t you supposed to have more armor? As in, a lot more armor?” The stories he’d heard of her were fairly consistent - one particularly creative one had described her as something along the lines of “a magical gunfighter in a roach’s shell’ - though he figured he’d keep that one in particular to himself. Her reputation as a mercenary alone was plenty of incentive to put a good word in to their leaders for her to join their convoy, though there were certainly some oddities to sort out first. And, well... if what she was saying about her issue was true, it might make things rather awkward for their group... though if monsters typically only experienced as much as he currently was, perhaps it wasn’t a problem for their group in particular. Lucille had asked a question before he’d properly thought through one of his own, however, so he left that particular line of inquiry to her.

“Would’ve had it a heck of a lot easier for the past 40 years if I knew how.” It had only been recently that she’d even figured out it could be turned off somehow, and not that succubi were normally like her. But without anyone to teach her how, she wasn’t going to solve that problem quickly, unfortunately. “Seems like someone’s heard of me before… yeah, why do you think I want to go back to Hwein anyway?” Being recognized made her perk up a little, pulling herself up to sitting straight. Nashwa always liked her exploits making her known, and in this case, she could use that as an in to get with the group they were traveling with. “That week ago, some rat bastards stole almost all of my gear, and according to the guards, they were heading to Hwein… so I’m looking to get back what’s mine. Even if it wasn’t damn expensive to begin with, that shield’s also one of a kind.” Arms now properly crossed as she explained, the succubus hoped that would be enough to convince them to at least point toward someone who did have the authority to onboard her.

“So you can’t… Hmm…” At worst, it would be an annoyance to constantly have to deal with this. There was so much Lucille didn’t understand; how it would work on them if they’d expended a lot of magic, how different it was for monsters, whether monsters with lower magical tolerance were more strongly affected, etc, etc. But Seilan now recognized the mercenary --apparently someone well known in Hweinese mercenary circles-- and she sat up at being recognized. “...So you’re after your usual equipment…” She then had a thought, Nessraya was both a succubus and powerful mage, there was a chance that she could maybe shed more light on Nashwa’s interesting problem. She turned to Seilan, “Hey, even in the event that we can’t bring her along, I wonder if Nessraya could assist with her other problem.”

“So it was stolen... I see. Well, as far as reasons for heading to Hwein go, that would be fairly compelling...” He turned to Lucille. “That’s a good idea. The general handles herself well enough, so she might have an idea or two about how to help. We’ll probably end up speaking to her anyway if we do want to bring her along.” He looked back at Nashwa, nodding. “Well, I should explain the situation, then. We’re currently traveling with a fair number of Vaians looking to drive out the occupying forces in Hwein. With your reputation I’d be surprised if they didn’t jump at the chance to have you along. Of course, you’ll likely be asked to fight as part of the group; though, I imagine that’ll be no issue for someone in our line of work.”

Nashwa just listened for a moment, though a couple very important details quickly made themselves apparent. She wasn’t quite so dull at the moment as to miss something as big as that. These two were with General Nessraya? There’d been almost nothing to do besides listening to talk about current events in the time she’d spent working and looking for travel, so of course she would know about what had been going on in Vaia recently.

“...Let me get the facts straight. You’re saying you’re with the general of the Vaian military? That’d make you… that group.” That complicated things a little, even if Seilan was there to pull a recommendation for her. With that sort of association, there was no way she could ever just peace out after forcible repossession of her stolen goods, meaning she’d be stuck with them until Coteon was ousted from Hwein, or face the danger she’d run away from but twinfold, if not worse. Then again, this was the only shot the succubus had, and she wasn’t about to admit defeat to a bunch of lowly larcenists. “Sure hope ‘Darkbolt’ Nashwa is a name that people beyond Hweinese mercenaries know… Take me to war if you have to. I’ve wanted to punt Coteon out of my home anyway, and if I get my stuff back in the course of that, all the better.” She couldn’t manage much of a determined look, but it was the best she had right now.

That seemed to be that. Should be simple enough to introduce her to the General, and let her deal with things. Admittedly the sooner she could get away from this haze, the better, Lucille thought. Though, so far, they had agreed on something, “Well, hopefully, we’re going to do just that. Hwein, and the rest of Vaia, aren’t Coteon’s playthings.” She overlooked the ‘Darkbolt’ name, she had no clue who she was and Nashwa seemed relatively pleased that Seilan knew who she was. Better to coast on his understanding. But on second thought there was something that still had to be dealt with, “That said.... You don’t look like you’re in any condition to do anything else but… sleep, honestly.”

“That’s settled, then. If you’d rather, ah... keep resting here, I suppose we could ask the general to come here.” She seemed less than entirely enthused at the idea of joining their group, but if she’d agreed, then she’d agreed. And personally, he shared her want to drive Coteon out of Hwein, so he wasn’t about to complain about having additional help to do it. ‘Darkbolt’, though... well, he’d heard that nickname here or there, among the others. Though it hadn’t exactly been the one of choice. Now, if that was what she wanted to be called, that was another matter entirely. “Well, I’ll leave that decision to you. Shall we go for now, then, Lucille?”

Although Nashwa didn’t give off the best of impressions how she was now, instead of silently accepting what they’d thought best for her, she stood up and slung the rest of her things on her back. ...A bit lethargically, but she did. “...Ngh. What, you think I can’t handle myself? I can find the general to bother on my own, not like finding someone like that would be hard…” The succubus rolled her shoulders a little and stretched her arms, wings unfurling ever so slightly from doing so, but quickly tucking them compact. “This… isn’t that kind of tired, anyway. I need action, not sleep.” While it made sense to her, her phrasing would be far too easy to misinterpret by just about anyone acquainted with a… more normal succubus.

Lucille couldn’t do anything but tilt her head as Nashwa reacted with annoyance as they were going to find Nessraya and direct her here. “Um… this doesn’t really have anything to do with handling yourself. I guess it wouldn’t be too hard for you to find her, but… it’s really not a big deal.” Lucille guessed that it was something to do with pride more than anything. Lucille’s eyes narrowed as she started putting two and two together, perhaps incorrectly, “...What exactly do you mean by ‘action’. I… want to assume that you mean fighting, but...” Her very, very limited understanding from what Coteon had spouted, it was very, very possible that she meant ‘action’ in the other way. She sighed, “Well… if you’re adamant about it, I suppose it’s not up to us anymore then.” Lucille turned away from the mercenary, “Did you have anywhere in mind, Seilan?” She wasn’t particularly a fan of how prickly the mercenary was now. She seemed oddly dismissive of their attempts of assistance.

“Hrm. Is that so. Well, that as it is, Lucille, I think the general should be able to handle any issues she’s having just fine.” It was a bit of a surprise that Lucille didn’t know what exactly Nashwa had meant, but given her upbringing... that aside, he wasn’t going to be the one to explain in detail. It would be rather... awkward. “We could pick up some supplies if there’s anything you need. If not, perhaps one of the other inns in town might be a good place to visit.” He was aware of an arena in town, though he figured Lucille really wouldn’t be the type to take part in such an activity, skipping that as a suggestion. “I’m sure you’ll get along just fine with the general, Nashwa. We’ll be taking our leave for now, I think.”

The succubus scowled a bit more at ‘Ange’’s wondering out loud. “What do you mean? Of course I’m talking about fighting… The heck else would a mercenary be looking forward to in their job?” Oh well, whatever. Whether they were thinking weird things about her now was besides the point, they’d decided to leave and go their own paths anyway, and the two were making plans on where to go next. “Hope so. If we’re going to be part of the same group, we’ll end up seeing each other later anyway,” she said back and went on ahead by herself, albeit with a fairly slow gait.

”...Er, right. Of course.” Had he assumed incorrectly, somewhere...? If it was battle she was looking for, she could simply have gone to the arena. If it wasn’t, well... like he’d said earlier, Nessraya would figure something out. Either way, it wasn’t anything they’d have to worry about. Their energies would probably be better spent exploring the town, rather than... pondering her needs.

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As much as she was still feeling terrible, Nashwa had to admit that her luck seemed to be turning around a little. Or even a lot. That this kind of group was passing through here right when she needed them to was a colossal coincidence, one that she'd have to make good on, and start doing so by finding the General. Hopefully an explanation of her situation and what she can offer the group would be enough to get her a ticket to Hwein.

That said, just a little ways from where she'd been, she'd already spotted a whole host of unfamiliar faces of all sorts of races. Some she couldn't recognize, maybe due to her slightly blurry vision, and wait, that was the Demon King herself, wasn't it? Of course, she'd never seen Thesephine in person, and not too often otherwise, but she'd asked around enough lately to know the appearance matched. If she hadn't believed Seilan and Lucille were for real before, that proved things beyond any doubt.

Although, having gotten a decent look at some of them... "Haha, what a colorful bunch... some of them look real hot too--"

In the blink of an eye, the succubus felt a pit in her stomach, an intense bout of nausea slapping her in the face, making her stumble to lean onto the side of the building she'd just left. She could only barely hold herself steady, her strong constitution doing nothing to stop her knees from trembling, bent over, just trying to calm herself down. "Deep... Deep breaths, Nashwa... Just... Focus. Damn it..."

Nashwa... tries to get moving, but only gets as far as 6,7.

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"Right then. Time to find a shield... Ah, there's Gabi." The siren seemed to be following after the Hero, but maybe he could stop her in time so he wouldn't have to deal with that right now. "I can meet you two at the arena if you want." He smiled at Asami, mentally hoping that she wouldn't spend time heckling that poor wolf before heading off.

He managed to reach Gabi before she headed inside, and quickly called out, "Oh, Gabi, a second of your time please?" He gestured towards the iron shield she still had on her after the last battle. "I'm planning on testing myself in the arena and I'm concerned that some of them might be... Challenging. So I want to try and go in with all my bases covered. So, err, what I'm asking is do you mind if I borrow that shield? Just for the arena, I can return it after of course."

 

Bladen to 6-8

Edited by scorri

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