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Mel the DM

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

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Unfinished Business

Spoiler

Lucille took a deep breath, fortunately she was feeling a lot better this evening having spoken with Seilan. Having someone to confide in and trust certainly made things easier on her. But with her starting to at least address some of her issues, there was still the crux the issue that brought her here. While it had been under orders, Lucille might have come anyway since Princess Tenebria, priestess of the church was present. Even the mere thought of the church left an acidic taste in her mouth. There was just one problem: The princess was entirely unlike what she had expected. While extraordinarily tall, as far as Lucille was concerned, even the mere sight of her magic had made the woman a shivering wreck with a stutter that would have made panicked Lucille sound coherent. She didn't seem like the face of arguably the most destructive, vindictive and evil force that Lucille had ever had the displeasure of being involved with.

Still, she was, at least allegedly, the princess and the priestess of the church. She had to know something; be it about what the church was doing with its experiments, both pertaining to herself and people like Ariana, or about the whereabouts of her family. If not her father and sister, than at least her mother. Her mind was made up. She didn't get to speak with her on that evening, getting promptly interrupted and then knocked out. She was going to get her answers this time, if she had any.

A deep breath, "Princess Tenebria, are you in there? I'd like to talk to you." Her voice hadn't quivered. She had to focus. As long as she was under the protection of the Demon King, Lucille would need to keep her composure. Make sure that she didn't do anything stupid.

"Hwah!?" was the panicked response Lucille received from inside the tent. The sound of some books dropping followed; some shuffling, lots of quiet mumbling. Finally, Princess Tenebria, child of royalty... And mess of an individual, poked her head out and stared meekly at Lucille. "H... Hhhhello. What, wh, what can I help you, with?" Certainly not the scourge of evil some in Vaia may have believed her to be.

Lucille blinked at the response. Yep, it wasn't just the heat of the moment, and the fact that Lucille had a spell point at her earlier. The Princess was just that jumpy. It was... annoyingly similar to how she might have reacted. She sighed, and then focused herself, "...I have questions for you. You're the Princess of Coteon, and a priestess of the Church. So if anyone's going to know something... It's you." Lucille's eyes narrowed at the princess. She felt like she was doing an okay job keeping calm at the moment at least, but she hadn't noticed that her gloved arm was already clenched tightly. "...What do you know about the experiments that the Church has been performing?" 

"... Uhm." Tenebria was a little terrified. All she knew about ant church experiments were that they were happening at all. She was never given details, and her discovery of their goings on was complete accident. 

"Would... Would, you believe me if I told you I don't... Kn-Knnnow, annn, nything about, them...?" That was the truth, but given the clenching fist and the scowl, Tenna had a feeling that she wouldn't be taken at her word...

"...Nothing? You know nothing?" Lucille's foot had begun tapping the ground. No, no... you should have expected that things weren't going to be this simple. Calm down... "...You know, maybe if you were anyone else, I'd believe you. But..." Lucille leveled her hand at Tenebria, "You're going to have to forgive me if you being the Princess of Coteon makes me not believe a word you're saying." Lucille ignored her own advice. Fortunately, no spell on her fingertips, but that was hardly a mercy for the princess, and she would know that.

"You... have three seconds to tell me everything you know, Princess. I'm really not in the mood to be lied to." In the back of Lucille's head, she couldn't help but feel that there were genuine words that the princess had said. But she had to know something, anything. 

Maybe if this had been that night again, or if Tenebria had been alone, in this camp full of monsters and enemies, she'd have covered behind Lucille's threat, but not this time! She grabbed the girl's hand and pulled herself out of her tent, scowling, huffing, standing her full height and looking down at Lucille!

"I-I, am beyond tired of, nnn-no one listen, ning to me, around here! I told you, that I don't kn, knnnn, know an, nnnn! Nything! About whatever the church is doing in regards to experiments on... On whatever!" Another angry huff, she threw Lucille's hand aside, folding her arms. "L-Look, missy! The only details I kn-know, concern, Ariana... because she shared them, to me. I'm... I'm just a figure head." Her gusto deflated with this admission, sighing and shrinking down some. "Just, a girl with, a decent knnn-knack for staves and magic, that the church calls the saintess... I don't, kn, know annn, nything about, what they're doing. I'm... I'm sorry."

Lucille expected a lot of things to happen with her pointed threat and not a single one was the Princess taking the initiative and almost completely batting her arm aside and towering over her. For a moment, she seemed like an entirely different person, before deflating back into something more resembling the woman she'd taken hostage. Were it not so incredibly infuriating to listen to, Lucille would have been impressed. Unfortunately...

"M-missy?" Lucille kinda looked at the princess, her hand exactly where it had been thrown. Albeit, flickering now. Lucille closed her eyes, "So... if I have this straight... you're just a figurehead. You don't know anything. Nothing." Lucille's voice steadily rising, "It has to be so incredibly nice to be able to be so blind about what's going on around you. To not know even a fraction of what's going under your damned family's nose!" Lucille managed to stay her hand, but she kept going, "To not even know about the twisted things they've done. Not even just to monsters, but to humans! To their own citizens! Nothing?!" Lucille paused to take a breath, and despite the anger and passion she'd just shown, her head fell along with her shoulders. "...Then why? Why... were they so adamant on taking you back? How... how can you not know anything..." 

This anger wasn't new. She'd gotten it from Xalrei already... Part of her deserved it, part of her was angry about it. In the end, she stood there and let Lucille get her frustrations out. "Because... Even if I don't kn, knn... Know, anything. I'm still blessed by Ilrios. They wanted me back, for my magic. Because of how easily I can perform healing magic. Miracles. I can... I can fix almost an, nything, so long as the person is still alive. A missing limb, a mortal wound, a long lasting scar... I can... I can, fix almost all of that. Save lives. I've... I've just, been saving the wrong lives. And been too scared to try and do annn, nything about it."

An awkward laugh, Tenna's face was anything but happy. "I guess I owe Xalrei, a lot, for nnn, n-not killing me when she, found me... And for taking me back without issue. Nnn... N-Now, I can help keep you all alive. And get back, at the church. I'm nn... Not blind, Lucille. N-Nor, am I an idiot... I don't want ann, nything to do with the church, ann-nymore. If, I can help you all see them burn... Then let's, have them burn."

Lucille was quiet for a good long while. Whatever had happened to the princess in... literally a day or two had almost completely changed the girl. Clearly still anxious, as she was stuttering quite a bit, but she hardly flinched from Lucille's outburst. But more importantly was hearing why Coteon still wanted her alive, "...Miracles? ...There's healing magic that strong?" Lucille's voice was still quiet, disappointment still incredibly evident, but there was intrigue in there now. Frankly, she'd met few truly talented healers while in Coteon. Most could do the basic healing of injuries and things, but what the princess was saying was well beyond that. Even Serena's healing magic paled in comparison to what the princess was saying she was capable of, and Serena was responsible for saving her life and arm.

"...Just my luck. I-I thought for a moment... I was even a step closer to figuring out... what the church wanted from me. About what they were doing those people... Where my family is..." Lucille stomped her foot, "I-I... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have... done that to you. I... just thought..." Lucille paused once she realized what she'd allowed herself to say, and quickly changed direction. "I should have known that church was after you just to use you... It's all they're capable of." 

"I-It's fine... I mean, it's... It's nnn, not fine what they're doing, but, I mean, b-between us it's f-fine." Tenna awkwardly corrected and spoke on things, gently holding her arm, not knowing what to say to Lucille. The church had likely done something terrible to her, but what, was anyone's guess. "Do... Uhm. D-Do you, have a scar, you want me to t-try and look at?" Maybe she could do something to help.

"I... If it's r-really old, I might n, not be able to help it much, but... Just, as a favor between us, I, I want to help if I can. I don't... I don't want to fight with an, nn, nyone here. The monsters are, they're still scary... But I can tell. They're really good people, undernnn, neath all the scales and f-fur. So... So if I can do something to help you feel better, or, or bridge this gap between us, I want to. Please. Ann, nnything... Oh! And. Uhm. I don't nnn... Need! To see it. If you, just point me at the area, I'll work my magic."

The princess was rather eager to assist with something, anything it felt like. It made sense to Lucille, especially since it seemed like it was almost entirely her own decision; she wasn't a figurehead anymore and wanted to distance herself as much as she could from it. It really was quite sweet, but Lucille's gloved arm had already been pulled behind her and held tight. To say it was a sensitive topic would have been an understatement.

"N-n-no... It's fine. I... d-don't have anything that needs to, or... can be looked at. B-But... um... there is... maybe something..." Lucille thought quickly about how to change the topic, on the one hand, she kind of wanted to have the princess try. She didn't need to see anything, so she wouldn't have to take her glove off. But something about having someone she hardly knew touching that arm, especially when she couldn't tell anything that was going on... It made her anxiety shoot through the roof. "Um... You were in the capital, r-right? Have... have you ever met a Knight Captain by the name of Rosaria Altair?" That would shift the conversation enough right? Hopefully. Probably? 

It was the arm, then. Tenna wasn't an idiot. The body movement, gloved arm, hiding it, and immediate change in temperament, told her way more than enough. She didn't even have to press to ask where it was... But there wasn't much she could do if Lucille wasn't going to hold it out for her.

"I... I think I, spoke with her. Once. I was ordered to see her regiment off on a mission. She... She seemed very, serious. Very... Duty bound. It was really intimidating, to have to stand next to her, but... Well, I s-saw her off with a smile, and... And she smirked back at me? It was odd. Comforting, but odd..." Tenna didn't know where Lucille was going with this, but hopefully it helped somewhat.

"And... Lucille?" Tenna sighed, she couldn't help herself. "I... I knnn, know the scar you're hiding is, your arm. I... I don't, n, nn-need to see it. Or even, touch it, but... If you d-don't want me to try... I understand. I want to help, but... if I force, that help on you, I'll just upset you."

Lucille's entire demeanor changed when the princess explained that she might have spoken with her mother. She let out a breath, almost as if she had been holding it in the entire time. "Oh... Thank goodness." If she'd seen her mother at the capital, there was almost no way that they would have to... encounter her any time soon. Even using the word encounter made Lucille feel sick. The very, very last thing she wanted to do was have to potentially stand on the opposite side of her, and still have the whereabouts of her father and sister unknown. "At least, I know she's alright... and not anywhere near us. We'd be in... a lot of trouble if she was." It was at that moment that Lucille realized that she'd never introduced herself to the princess, or mentioned why that information would have been important to her at all. 

But maybe she had already put that together, since the princess also immediately called out Lucille on her arm. Lucille shrank back, "O-oh, uh, I... I'm that obvious, huh?" She closed her eyes, and slowly brought her gloved arm in front of her. "I'm... sorry again. It's, It's both embarrassing and a bit of a sore spot for me. It's a pretty, really, bad scar. From, w-what the church, did to me. Well, n-no, it's not entirely from what the church did to me. I, I, I wouldn't have an arm if it wasn't for a f-family friend." Lucille opened her eyes, face warm from the anxiety of saying so much, but the following words surprised herself even more. "If... i-i-if you w-w-want to t-try..." Lucille held her hand out, shivering, "T-t-then, I... w-w-w-want you to... t-try." The intrigue had gotten to Lucille, if it was really possible... if she could really have her arm back... It was worth at least an attempt, and Tenebria didn't need to see the scarring beneath.

"... I'll try. You, you don't have to say more, Lucille. Please. You're hurting yourself, trying to explain this..." It was clear on her face, the anxiety something Tenna recognized from her own breakdowns. "Just try and stay still... This won't hurt. Promise." Tenebria closed her eyes, hands close to Lucille's arm, trying her best to avoid touching it. "Okay... Mmm." A strained look fell over the princess' face. Immediately, she began to sweat.

"Th... This, is r-really... Old..." The wound was too far back in Lucille's life to be able to fix the scar damage. She couldn't see it, but the feeling she was getting, was burn. Healing magic wouldn't be able to turn back the outside... But, the inside... Tenna focused harder, legs wobbling slightly, magic swirling out of her hands more as they began to glow gold. "J-Just... Just a little... More...!"

A final gasp left the princess, collapsing on her knees, exasperated gasps leaving her. Her eyes were wide now, the exhaustion clear on her face, sweat dripping down... But she smiled a little. "I'm... Hahhn... I'm, s-sorry, I couldn't... D, Do, more. The wound. It's t-too... Old, but... Y-Your, nerves. I f, fixed, them~ Hah... hehe~" She felt herself start to cry a little, wiping slowly at her face. "Y-You, you should be able, to feel, in that arm, ahh... Hah, hahhn... Again..."

Lucille had always been incredibly good at seeing magic at a glance; that had always been her talent more than anything else, and for once, Lucille had absolutely no idea what she was seeing. It was something... else entirely almost. Nothing that Lucille could pick up on, nothing that she could replicate. What... in the world? But a glance to the princess made Lucille's bewilderment change to concern as barely even starting the process was causing her to sweat. Healing magic was notoriously difficult, but... this was a step above. Lucille held off on saying anything, not wanting to break her concentration out of fear that something could happen to either herself, or the princess. She watched very closely, waiting for even the slightest sign that she was going too far. 

The princess's legs began to wobble, and Lucille was prepared to stop the princess, when everything stopped, and the princess fell to her knees. "Are you alright?!" Lucille finally said, kneeling down next to the girl and subconsciously placing her gloved hand on the princess's shoulder. Lucille had almost ignored what she was saying, and practically jumped backwards after putting her hand on Tenebria's shoulder. "What..." Lucille had felt the touch. Lucille felt Tenebria's shoulder. A moment past, Lucille could feel the brush of the glove on her skin. "...Oh my goodness. You, Y-you..." It was Lucille's turn to fall to her knees. "I, I, I can... feel my... arm... That's, that's, not... oh... my god..." It was only a matter of time before tears started falling. Lucille wiped her face with her arm, and she could feel it, all of it. Lucille couldn't find any words; there simply weren't any to explain what she felt in this moment. Lucille forced herself to her feet, only so she could run over and hug Tenebria as tight as she possibly could, "Thank you... Than--" She only managed to say it once before breaking down into tears. 

"O-Ow... It's, o-okay, Lucille..." The girl's crying was getting to her a bit, letting out a sniffle and some of her own tears, trying her best to squeeze her back. "I'm, just sorry I couldn't, do more. But. But I hope, you're happy with, that..." She swallowed hard, still spent. Regular healing magic was fine. It didn't take any effort on her part. This, what Ilrios had blessed her with... It was horribly exhausting. She could barely feel her legs, only really having any feeling because Lucille was hugging her. "Whatever... Wh-Whatever, they did to you... You didn't, deserve it. I'm, just glad to have taken... Some of that away."

Lucille felt like she could have cried for so much longer, especially after Tenebria returned the sudden embrace. But how on earth was she supposed to know that she, she could have arm back. Well, mostly, if what the princess had said was true. It was almost surreal. Though, she released the hug quickly after hearing Tenebria wince in pain, "I-I'm sorry, I just..." Lucille wiped her face, and took several breaths. "You... You d-d-don't have anything to... apologize for. I, I thought I'd never... be able to feel anything with my dominant arm again. You..." Lucille was fighting back more tears. "...You gave... that back to me...  Almost eleven years... eleven years since they almost incinerated my arm."

How she'd done it was completely beyond Lucille, especially for how long it had been this way. But she didn't care, she'd done it and that was all that mattered to Lucille, "...Thank you so much, uh, um..." Lucille had gone to use the princess's actual name, and realized that she hadn't gotten one from her, "...aha... I uh... don't think I have your name, or... really introduced myself?" Lucille shook her head, "I... I'm Lucille Altair. That's... also why I asked about Rosaria... she's my mother."

"It's, nnn, nice to meet you, Lucille. I'm Tenebria... I'll... I'll get back to you on the last, nnnn, n-name." Her family would disown her if they knew she was getting friendly with monsters, and the Church would demonize her if they knew she was using this power to fix one of their experiments. This is my life now... I suppose.

"It makes sense why you'd ask about her nn-now... She seemed, healthy, if it helps to hear. And... and really, you don't nnn, need to thank me. I'm doing my duty... For someone that deserves it." Finally... 

Tenna tried to pick herself up, but her legs buckled again, leaving her gasping. "I'll... I'll, uhm, get back into my tent in a b-bit. My legs are still, a little... Y-Yeah."

"Tenebria..." She held off on her last name. It was obvious what it was but, she was clearly making a point. A point that Lucille was now entirely willing to accept. "...That's good. I know there's no reason to worry myself about my mother... She's... something else. But that's neither here nor there..." Lucille thought a moment about what she was going to do about Tenebria. As much as she would have liked to, the only thing she would do by trying to help her up would be ending up in her position. She was much too small, and Tenebria was a... well built sort. She couldn't carry, or really help her up. But she couldn't just leave her. "Mmm... do you think you would be able to stand if I helped you? I can't exactly... carry you but, I can give you someone to lean on..." Her lower body was much, much stronger than her upper body, but it would be on Tenebria to do some of the work. 

"Oh. Y-You'd be willing to...?" Tenna held a hand out, preparing herself to move as best as she could. "Th, Thank you, Lucille... You're... You're a very, kind woman." They'd met in anger... But misconceptions died to truths, and Tenna slowly felt like she'd earned herself another friend in this camp.

Lucille took a deep breath, and readied herself. She took Tenebria's hand, "Alright... Tenebria, I'm going to pull you up on three, okay?" Lucille kinda hoped that Tenebria was strong enough on her own to stand up because, she was not going to be able to pull her up. "Alright... one... two... three!" Lucille pulled Tenebria up, barely getting her off the ground. So Lucille did the only thing she really could, she quickly moved to the princess's side, and caught her before she fell back to the ground relying more on her lower body to support the two of them. 

"Uh... not how I intended it, but I guess that worked out." She pushed up, getting Tenebria to a more standing position. "Hah... Think... you can walk back in like this?" 

"Mmn... I, I'll, mannn, nage. Thank you..." Lucille had a big heart, even if she wasn't as strong as she might've wanted to be. It was a kind gesture either way. The princess would be fine after rest... She gave Lucille a quick glance, then looked up at the sky, thinking to herself. 

Is this what I'm meant to do, Ilrios? Please... Tell me. You couldn't have given me this gift to help those who only try and hurt others... This, this has to be right. It has to. Otherwise, I...

No voice answered her... She hadn't been expecting it, so the question remained. Was this right? Tenna didn't know, much as helping someone like Lucille filled her heart with joy. Only time would tell.

Scars

Spoiler

That Lucille girl... She'd been hiding inside her tents or spending time singularly with Seilan the entire time they'd been traveling since Mixoco. It made enough sense, she was a human from Coteon that had just been forced to ingratiate into a force of monster, fight with them, risk her life... Lavinia was just happy that she hadn't come under serious damage during the fight. "Still..." I can't just leave you alone, my conscience won't let me. With a hefty clearing of her throat, Lavinia stood outside of Lucille's tent, fully armored and cloaked up to avoid the sun, arms crossed. "Lucille? May I speak with you?"

Lucille nearly dropped the tome in her hand when she heard the clearing of the throat behind her. She missed the movement of the armor, though, she couldn't be sure if that had been the wearer's comfort in moving, or her own absence of mind. All the same, she recognized the voice. She was confused for a moment; she'd learned that Lavinia was the captain of the Demon King's knights, which meant that she would have any myriad of duties to perform now that the King was present, on top of providing assistance to the General and Marina. None of which should have spared any time for her, and yet, here the vampire was. Her words still fresh on Lucille's mind.

"L-Lady Lavinia... Did you, you need something from me?" Now that they weren't in battle, Lucille realized just how tall the woman was. But despite it being the same person from that night, her hair was now as white as the tunic she wore. More concerning was the scar at her neck, one that appeared to go all the way round. She hadn't learned much about vampires, save the one story of the pure blood that her grandfather helped slay, which was proof of their durability. But all of it together made for a rather imposing person. Lucille's arm had long since been pulled behind her.

"Ah, good, you're alright." Lavinia's gaze mellowed as soon as Lucille came into view, letting herself into the girl's tent without asking, sitting down in an empty area and letting her hood down, an armored hand pushing some of her hair out of her face. "My apologies for letting myself in, but even for someone that can barely feel heat, the cloak and sun can be quite stifling, at times... How have you been here, in the group? Do you mind talking with me for a moment, Lucille?" She'd noticed the girl's arm hiding behind her, the move rather obvious and clearly indicating an issue... Not that Lavinia would pry. Everyone had a secret they didn't wish to discuss. So long as it wouldn't harm anyone, it was fine.

"It's been... getting better. It, it wasn't as difficult to start talking to people, sometimes. It's still... a little much for me, not even counting being, well..." She let herself trail as the vampire let herself in, which, was fine, Lucille had no intention of stopping her. In truth, once the confusion started to wear off, Lucille was happy that she'd even bothered with her. That, however, didn't stop Lucille from being cautious. Years of having to be vigilante, and distrustful on top of her general shyness made it difficult to stop, even when she knew that the vampire had no ill intent, and really did just want to talk. 

Lucille moved to her bed and sat down, and started bobbing her head as she searched for the right words. "N-no, I don't mind at all."

"Alright... Then, can you answer a few, serious questions for me?" Lavinia wasn't scowling at her or looking intense, almost a pout, really, putting this weight on the girl. "Mmm... I'd like to know your intentions from now on, for starters. It was difficult for me to trust Agni and Marina, initially, so I hope you aren't upset about my suspicions." Surely Lucille understood. Things needed to be made clear and Lavinia was here to make them as such.

"As well, how is your pegasus holding up? I've never even seen one, despite my century of living, so I'm unsure if it needs anything else compared to a horse... We don't really, have pegasi in Vaia. I'm not sure why, but that's how things are... Mmh, and finally... Please, tell me everything you're willing to share to me about the Church." The truly serious question, Lavinia's gaze finally becoming a bit more grave. "If you do intend to keep traveling with us, you must understand that you are making an enemy of Coteon. If you have any information; if you know anything that could help us, I need you to share it."

Ah, and there it was. No surprises here; General Nessraya had opened a similar line of conversation, but it had been more combat focused since they were before Mixoco. "No... It's fine, I was with C-Coteon until right before a pivotal battle, and have been with them for several years, if by force." Mostly truthful, Lucille hated having her loyalty or motives questioned, but she at least understood, both in this case and when the general had done largely the same thing. She took a deep breath.

"My pegasus, Villkiss, she's holding up just fine. She's not too different from a horse as far as needs are concerned; food, water, adequate rest." A small smile formed on Lucille's face, "She can be a bit of a mess sometimes, but otherwise, unless, you're riding, there really isn't too much to learn about them if you're comfortable with horses." Then the smile melted off of Lucille's face replaced with an uneasy frown. "...You, you have to understand that aside from things I'm sure you already know, that I don't know much about the church. Other than how crazy they are. I'm sorry, but I really don't want to talk about the church." Lucille averted her gaze from the vampire, hoping that she wouldn't push the point.

Doesn't want to talk, huh... "Mmm..." Lavinia felt a sigh building, pushing it away for the moment. Lucille wasn't hiding things to be difficult, it was clear by her body language that the girl was uncomfortable. "... Lucille, I saw you glancing at my neck when I decided to check on you," Lavinia began, switching the conversation. She pushed her hair out of the way and leaned her neck to the side, giving Lucille a better look at the clean cut outline. "I've had my head taken off a few times... After a while, it leaves a scar, despite how well I heal. The one on my face was actually from an arrow. It went right through me, so after it was pulled out, the cut it made on my cheek never completely recovered..."

She was going somewhere with this, even if Lucille was likely confused at this point. "I've got a lot more scars on my body. Several across my chest and stomach, a few more rings on my arms and legs, plenty scattered across my back... I'm telling you this, because I know how it feels to have my body changed, despite healers best efforts, to an unchangeable point. Whatever you're hiding under your glove, even if I don't feel the pain, I understand the emotions that it brings. When I look down at my left arm, I get memories of the time my hand was taken off... They aren't pleasant. So... Mmm. What I'm trying to say is that, you aren't alone, and I don't want to you feel like you must distance yourself from us. From me, at least." A soft smile, Lavinia hoped her discussion had helped at all.

"That you were unharmed when the battle ended gave me quite the sense of relief. If you don't want to speak to me of what the church has done to you, I won't press you for it today. I understand the pain of memories attached to scars, both physical and mental." She closed her eyes and let out a sigh, though her smile remained. "That said, with mental scars... Are you doing well, after... What happened, with your previous subordinate?"

Lucille listened quietly, and slowly turned her head back to the vampire as she changed the conversation, mostly. A lot of it was confusion; Lavinia had no way to know if Lucille was at all comfortable with the direction the conversation was going. While used to seeing it now, it didn't mean that she enjoyed it, nor wanted to hear about it. But Lavinia's explanation came with a point, one that made Lucille grab her gloved arm. It still surprised her to be able to feel herself doing so again, but it also further proved the vampire's point. Were it not for saying something, she probably would have never gotten that back. Her shoulders fell, sort of accepting that she had to say something, if not for herself, then at least because it could be helpful for them. Even if it was painful. "I... did really mean what I said; you all probably know more about what the Church has done. Especially considering people like... Ariana. As to the thing that happened, I'm, I'm doing better after that, after I talked with Seilan. But..." She paused a moment before pulling her gloved arm in front of her, "It doesn't do me, or anyone else that I'll be fighting with any good, to not at least, try, to explain. After all, in the eyes of the church... I'm another experiment just like Ariana. One with... an impressively strong affinity for fire magic."

That was enough to make her talk? Lavinia felt a little bad, like she'd coaxed things out of the girl, not her intention... But information was information, and looking a gift horse in the mouth was terrible praxis. "I... I see. You really don't need to tell me right away, if you're uncomfortable. I wasn't telling you about my scars to get you to open up about your own... I simply wished to relate that I understand a part of your pain. Please, don't let me guilt you. It wasn't my intention." Hopefully Lucille would take it to heart, Lavinia adjusting her sitting slightly.

"That, said... mm. Fire magic, is it...? Yet you didn't use a single spell like that in the battle... And panicked over the sight of that fire spell. I take it that, your scar... Is a burn, then. Mmm..." Lavinia had assumed it was a bad scar, but burn scars held more weight than cuts or abrasions; the pain of fire was one that eclipsed cuts or pierces. "I'm truly sorry, Lucille. I... I tried to equate our wounds, but... I'm so sorry."

Lucille tilted her head and sighed, "I know you didn't. I know you're telling the truth, but... What you said, kind of just confirms a point. It's not, guilt or anything, it's really just... knowing that you're trustworthy, and that you're not just here to figure out what, if anything, I know." She looked up at the ceiling of her tent for a moment, before dropping her gaze back to the vampire who had an apologetic look on her face, "It's... always been something I'm struggled with, opening up and talking to people, I mean. But everything that happened with the Church, and my time with Coteon... It's sort of, of..." She fumbled a moment for a word, "Conditioned. Conditioned me to be even more wary than I am normally. But... as I saw with Seilan, it's only made things so much harder for me. So... I need to try to be more open about things, and, I, I know I can trust you." Lucille started to feel a bit more at home with Lavinia, relaxing some.

"And, yeah. Fire magic. My family is known in Coteon for their mastery of it, as far as humans are concerned anyway. My... injury is related to that, since I was in line to succeed as the next head to the family despite not being of a main branch of the family." She paused a moment, and then waved her hands, "Mage families get pretty complicated all things considered. That's, um, uh, not really all that important." A bit of a deflection, but the full story of the scar itself was something Lucille was dreading bringing up again. It would still be an exercise to really be comfortable talking about all of that, especially since a lot of it was about herself. But there was something she could still say. "You, you have nothing to apologize for. It, It is a burn and... one that was inflicted by that very same spell. But, I, I didn't give you any other alternative, did I? It's... alright." 

"Mm... If you're saying so, I'll trust you Lucille. Conditioned, is it... So the church is taking humans that have the capability for casting, and putting them through rigorous experiments... But why? Can you tell me that much, Lucille? If you know. I know that humans have a much, much lower affinity for magic, so I can make assumptions, but surely you heard something... I can only hope." Lavinia sighed, another notch on the church's belt of sins. Lucille was too nice of a girl to suffer this.

"I, um... kind of wish I did. My parents might have known, but if they did, they never told me. But, yeah, the church was taking both human and monster, and experimenting on them. The only thing I really remember other then, then..." Lucille closed her eyes, and brought her arms in close. She shook her head, before slowly opening her eyes, "Sorry... I'm, okay. The only other thing I remember was them saying something about mimicking my ability. Both the tomeless casting, and my ability to nearly subconsciously do so. Other than that..." She shook her head, "They never said a word to me about it, and if they did, it's... probably buried somewhere with... any number of the horrific things I saw, and experienced."

"... Alright. That will do for now." Lavinia suddenly sat up and approached Lucille, giving the girl a tight, but gentle hug, a gauntlet petting her hair. "You've been through plenty, and I'm sorry that I made you go through it again. Thank you for trusting me, Lucille." Lavinia couldn't help herself, there were too many hurt girls in their group, seeing another was bringing on her instincts to try her best to care for them.

The vampire responded remarkably quickly with a tight, but warm hug. Under most other circumstance, Lucille would have reacted strongly to someone embracing her semi unannounced. But maybe it was left over feelings from when they'd first really spoken on the battlefield, but Lucille's magic didn't flare at her surprise. Instead, her surprise was fleeting, and Lucille returned the hug. It was very, very familiar feeling, even her chosen method of comforting was the same as hers. "Thank, Thank you..." Lucille just leaned herself into the hug, content to just be like that for a bit.

"Shhh... Good girl, good girl." Lavinia didn't quite understand why she was like this, sometimes. Her best bet was that it was due to having to raise Thesephine, but her maternal instincts flared up every time a girl like her was in distress. Slowly she let Lucille go, kneeling in front of her and smiling. "Feeling a little better? How about we switch this, then? You can ask me anything, Lucille. I'm sure you're confused about a lot of the monsters around here, and I'm convinced that anything you may have heard isn't completely true... So let me inform you on anything you want to know."

Lucille greatly appreciated the hug, a lot more than she'd let on in words. Though, the 'Good girl' was a tad annoying to Lucille. It reminded her of the propensity that people had at first glance to call her a child, or something similar. She'd never quite understand how people made that mistake continually, but that was neither here nor there. As Lavinia had a question for her, "Anything, hmm?"

Coteon's teachings of monsters were intentionally inaccurate, more so designed to stoke fear. As much as her mother tried, she wasn't particularly well informed herself. So there functionally everything she 'knew' about monsters could have been entirely incorrect, despite the offer, she wasn't entirely keen on admitting that. But there was that story that her grandfather always told. She'd always wondered about the validity of it all. The other question in mind was particularly more personal, and not something she should voice, ever, preferably. "So, there's this... story that my grandfather always told." She couldn't stop the revulsion of saying such from being evident on her face or in tone. "It was about... a vampire. Now, I know that vampires are particularly durable because well... they're, you're, undead. But the one he was talking about... he kept calling him a pure blood. I never quite understood what was the difference, or even if there was one, I wouldn't be surprised if that coward was making up terms just to make himself feel more important."

"Ah, purebloods. Your grandfather spun no lies in that tale. Purebloods exist. We have one in camp, even now... Bridgit." Lavinia smiled a bit, mentioning her step-sister. "I myself am not a pureblood. One changed me from a human when I was young... And the differences can be quite staggering, I assure you." Lavinia nodded, thinking for a moment. "Let's see... For starters, the sun. I don't wear all this armor and a cloak for fashion or comfort. The sun's rays can kill me, if I'm exposed to them for too long... Burn right into a crisp~" To example her claim, Lavinia leaned over towards the tent's entrance for a moment, sticking her head into the light coming from outside. Her hair began to smoke, and that was enough of a showing of that, pulling herself back in.

"A pureblood, like Bridgit, would simply be weakened or perhaps sunburned from direct exposure. They're also infuriating to kill. While decapitation won't instantly kill me, if you left me like that for a good hour, I would bleed out and perish. A pureblood, hah, no no. Even if you chop off their head, their body will keep fighting you. You need to crush or burn the head completely, or they won't stop. Genuinely difficult to put down, rather frustrating."

Lucille found her self a bit confused. Having to wrestle with the fact that her grandfather's fantastical tale might have actually had merit. Especially in the manner from which a pureblood had to be killed. Something that man saw fit to remind them all with glee. "So the chief difference is that purebloods are effectively immortal unless you destroy the head entirely? How... interesting that it all seems to line up perfectly." She popped out of her musing with a sheepish smile, "Oh, uh, sorry. I'm just... admittedly, I was hoping you'd tell me that he'd been making things up."

She cleared her throat, "So a pureblood is a vampire that was born a vampire? Not changed, or turned?" At the very least, Lucille was good at quickly picking up given information.

"Well... Yes. But only if they have pureblood vampires in their family. I could produce a child with a pureblood vampire, and that child would be a pureblood, but if I were to conceive with a human or another turned vampire, that child would not. The stronger blood takes precedence." Lavinia nodded, thinking a moment of her previous childbearing plans. Nessraya could help her future with Jade if they took it that far.

"As well, a pureblood's magic will be much, much more powerful, should they find themselves capable. I'm sure you're asking yourself, why would anyone want to be turned then, if we gain such a weakness? ... Well, in my case, it was for love. A bit, sappy and cliché, but it was the case." A wry smile had formed, Lavinia shaking her head. "I'm still nigh indestructible, though~ So long as you slide my head back onto my shoulders and apply the gentlest of healing, I'll be alright."

Lavinia realized that she hadn't completely answered Lucille, chuckling a bit. "Ah, as for where purebloods came from... The moon. Not, that they traveled here, but the Goddess of the moon, Nyx. The first vampires were born of her, and they have led the way to all the families that exist today."

Lucille was mentally taking notes on the whole situation, where purebloods came from, how more of them came to be, and how exactly blood worked in regards to vampires. That was another question all on its own; how exactly inter racial relations worked, not just between humans and monsters, but between monsters of other species. But she imagined that was a conversation much more depth than either of them were willing, or had time for now. Nyx was also an intriguing turn to the conversation; Ilrios was all that the church ever mentioned in regards to gods, so hearing this Nyx referred to as one piqued interest, but there was something more pressing forming on her lips.

She hadn't missed the vampire's solemn smile, and the shake of the head. "...For love, hmm? I, don't really find that sappy, all things considered. If, if it's the truth, it's simply the truth." Lucille hesitated a moment, she knew that smile, and for it to have followed such a statement... "Forgive me, for asking but.. you, you said, 'was' for love. Did... did something happen? You don't have to say, if you don't want to." 

"... mm. My, fiancé. He was killed by the previous hero." Lavinia looked away, leaning back a bit. "A vampire, especially a pureblood, can recover from almost anything... Almost. The holy sword... It, cuts monsters in a unique, magical way. No wound caused by the holy sword can be healed without their saintess. And... Roman got himself cut in half trying to stop the guy. Heh... Tried, playing hero and was cut down by one. Ironic! Ah, haha... I don't regret becoming a vampire, at least. And I'm not alone, anymore. I'm alright."

Lucille fell quiet. She'd expected something, but she hadn't expected something like this. Her fiancé, slain by the hero before Marina... and despite her insistence on being alright, she sounded anything but. She sounded more like how Lucille assumed she sounded like to everyone else, except all the time. "...I'm sorry. I, I knew better than to ask something like that. I knew better than to--" Lucille stopped mid thought, as she played back the vampire's words, "You, you said the... previous hero." It was less a question, and more of an acknowledgement of a strange coincidence. A coincidence farfetched enough that Lucille thought it best to leave it alone for now. There was simply no way it was possible. She moved towards the vampire, and returned the hug that she'd given to her earlier. "I'm... so very sorry about that, and just as sorry for making you bring it up again."

"Eh? Ah, haha~ I'm fine, Lucille. This was a while ago, and Jade has made me very happy since I've met her. I won't forget Roman, and what he did for me... But I'm okay. I'm moving on with my unlife. You don't have to worry." It was a bit reassuring to see the girl  so concerned, even if she didn't have to be. "Did you want to know anything else about us? Or other monsters? I'm fine talking, if you want us to continue... Or was I interrupting something important?"

Lavinia seemed to be taking it all better than it appeared to Lucille at first. Lucille quickly released the hug, a bit surprised at herself that she'd gone and returned the favor. "Mmm, I can't think of any other questions at the moment." Lucille lied. She had a myriad of other questions, but she felt like she'd spent all of her conversational energy already. There was also that thought now taking shape under the surface to content with. "Sorry... not particularly good with long one on one conversations. They're... exhausting." Admittedly, an ironic thing for someone with her aspirations to say, but it was something that could be worked on at least.

"One of those types, eh?" Lavinia wasn't bothered, some folks just ran out of the power to talk quicker than others. "I'll leave you to your things then, Lucille... Don't be a stranger. I can't think of anyone here that would bite, so try to get along with the others if you can." Lavinia pulled her hood back up, picking herself up off the ground. "I'll see you around... And, I'm glad to have someone reliable join us. We'll do our best to keep you safe, Lucille." With a gentle smile, the vampire left the tent, content with their talk. 

"I'll... I'll try. Thank you for coming to talk. Even if it doesn't really seem like it, I really appreciate it, a lot." Just like that, the vampire put her hood back up and vanished back into the camp. Now, once again, she was alone, but it didn't feel like it nearly as much. She almost regretted believing that Lavinia wouldn't have time to talk again and having just let that simmer the whole time since the battle at Mixoco. She acted so oddly similar to Serena in that moment that she could have almost mistaken Lavinia for her. She wondered if Serena was doing alright, she hadn't seen her since she had been rescued, and she saved Lucille's arm. Last she'd heard from her mother, Serena was somewhere back in Hwein. It was a fleeting dream but the chance to see her again... That thought of normalcy found competition in what she'd just learned about Lavinia. Her fiancé slain by the past hero, cleaved in two... verbatim how her grandfather described the death of the pureblood he'd helped to fell. In truth, her grandfather had only served as the bait, but it was his contribution that opened the door just enough for the hero to come through and finish the job. 

"That is... just a coincidence, right? There's no way that they're one and the same..." Lucille dreaded the thought that maybe, just maybe, the reason that her family had risen to prominence in Coteon was on the back of the death of Lavinia's fiancé. She turned and looked at her bag... Do I... still have that? She walked over, and began to rummage through it before pulling out a ring, a beautiful ring. Her grandmother, fortunately not as monstrous as her grandfather, had given it to her the last time she saw her before she passed away. She told Lucille then, that it had been given to her by her husband, the day he returned from combat. She said that he told her that he'd acquired such a beautiful and unusual ring by taking it from a fallen combatant.

 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Lucille nodded at Seilan's agreement, "Okay," She took a deep breath, she decided that she'd try to put the incident out of mind for now, and at least use this time wisely. It wouldn't do to be gloomy the whole time, especially because she was getting to spend some time with Seilan. "I think I saw something that resembled a clothing place when we were flying. It's not far at all from here, so we don't have to fly to it, walking should be fine." Lucille gave his hand one more squeeze before releasing it, as much as she would have liked to, they were barely more than friends and, Thesephine's little joke made Lucille a bit wary about the pair being a bit closer. Unsure what anyone else would make of it. Either way, she exited the wagon stop, as they discovered it actually was, and grabbed Villkiss's reins after giving the pegasus a gentle rub. "Okay, I thiiiiink it was this way." She began leading Seilan, and her winged horse around the corner of the establishment. Lucille hoped that aside from the necessary cover that she needed, that perhaps they would have something interesting. She loved her usual outfit, but she had very, very little in regards to a change of clothes as a consequence of her recruitment. But more important than all of that, Lucille hoped that if she did find something that it would even fit her. She did tend to have a bit of difficulty with clothing due to her lopsided proportions...

Lucille and Seilan move to 3, 8 and enter the clothing shop!

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Amera smirked, carrying the succubus along. "It's because you've got big tits." She grinned in her teasing, cocking an eyebrow down at Nashwa, making sure to look only at her face lest the woman become afraid of something less than savory again. "Not fat at all, so don't worry about that~ Just surprised they don't weigh as much as I thought they would. Mine can get pretty hefty in the bath sometimes, and you're... Well." Amera shrugged gently, trying to avoid disturbing her carry. She listened as Nessraya managed to prod some of her information out of her, nodding along slowly.

"Sounds like you're up shit creek without a paddle... So to speak. You've been met with good fortune now, at least. We're all headed to Hwein, and if you're a succubus, you've probably got as much magic as Ness has. We can always use more mages... Damn Coteonese don't know how to handle themselves with a bolt of lightning comes their way, heh~ Love to lean back on their light magic, though... Mm, well, point is, another mage is fine by me. And I'm sure fine by everyone else in the group~ 'Specially a pretty one! So welcome aboard, if you wanna come with us, Nashwa." Amera was easy going as always, kicking the door to the inn open, as gently as one could kick a door open.

"Heyyyy, inn keeper! One room for the three of us... Just for a bit, not staying the night."

"Hwh, huh, wha!?" The disturbed elf running the counter brushed a sudden strand of long blonde hair out of his tired eyes, thin, angular face turning to face the sudden noise and request. "I, whh... G-General, Nessraya? I, yes, uhm. Just for a bit? I, er... Don't, make a mess." His sunken eyes didn't make much more comment, returning to a letter he had been writing before being disturbed as he was.

"It's not for what you think," Amera scoffed, hoisting Nashwa up the stairs with her. "Alright, let's get you fixed up, and solve this magic problem!"

"F-First on the right!" the elf added, making sure they knew, so he would known which room to have looked at later.


"Date..." The word sounded so foreign. Even making their vows, Thesephine recalled that the two had not been on a proper 'date', as one might define a date to be. Plenty of time spent together, yes, but that was simply around the castle, never alone together, out on a town, eating at a restaurant, seeing a play together... This would be her first date. The snake was going to do everything in her power to make sure it was perfect!

"Right! Date. Let's get some clothes, then!"

With a confident march towards the vendor, Thesephine stepped inside and--

"Oh..." There was already several folk inside; Marina, Gabriela, that... Human, they'd picked up from the fort, the one that ran after Ayane and Ren like a puppy dog... And Thesephine could hear the sound of wings flapping behind them. "On... On second thought, let's come back." Right as Lucille and Seilan arrived, Thesephine was already walking away with Sollowy in tow, just a little disappointed.

"Well... It makes sense that it's so full. There's a lot of us... Mmm... H-How, how does food sound instead, Sollowy?" It'd be inn food, but surely, the inns would be much less busy...


Mariette was surprised and pleased by Marina's tolerance and positivity, smiling behind her long hair, nodding gently. "Of, of course. I'll stitch something together for you... And a nice dress. Mmmm... I can see it already. Okay... Please give me an hour, and feel free to look around while you do so." She skittered back over to her counter, climbing over it, as Shizuka, Seilan and Lucille, all visited in quick fashion. She froze a moment, nervous about so many customers, all at once, and so very human... Marina had been nice enough that she could hold onto some of that comfort, finishing her crawl behind the desk and giving a gentle wave to the three.

"H... Hello. If you need clothes... Please, don't be afraid to ask for specifics. Else... The store is, yours to peruse."


"Alright... Least one of you is willing to accept the cost at face value." Renald squinted at Nisha. She had a point, but he valued his work way more than that... Though, he cursed himself for not using a steel bow as the frame. He couldn't just upsell her that much... "Mmmh... Twelve hundred. I put a lot of work into that..."

Tenna, meanwhile, was trying to right herself from hiding behind Xalrei, slowly becoming less of a shadow behind her. "Uhm... Y-Yes. She has. I hope, that she's been doing well... I... I'm, I'm doing, alright. The... The people here are fairly terrifying, but, I-I'm, I'm getting a better. They aren't scarier than, than Xalrei, and I've been getting a lot better at handling her, so... Mm. I'll overcome it. Surely..."

Taliyah was also peaking out from behind Agni at this point, though she was all smiles, no fear. "It's nice to meet you, Princess! I hope you can get over that fear soon... You don't seem like a terrible person, unlike the folks from the church you run."

"Oh... I, I don't run it, I, I uhm..." There was no easy way to clear that up, Tenna stammering over how to explain things.

"You don't? Mmm, well... I guess that doesn't matter. You feel like Agni. Like a human that cares, so... You'll manage."

"Ah... Thank you. Taliyah."


"My queen? Princess? Priestess? My owner~?" Mae rifled through some standard and some ridiculous suggestions, giggling to herself as she finished. "Then, let us see to your new weapons, Priestess. I will be happy to carry anything you need, even a hefty spear."


"Well... More fight than I expected, at least." Asami sighed, bothered that the stupid wolf had managed to put on a good show. Hopefully Bladen would put on something similarly entertaining~ "Off with you, then. Get in there and have a good time..."

Suki had come up into the stands now, holding a new pouch of gold, a small smile on her face. "Ah! Bladen! Asami! New friends! I do well, yes?"

Verah huffed at being referred to as 'new friend', walking over and giving the good girl some pets on her head. "Yes, you did great~ Who knew you had that much fight in you?"

"Eheheheh~" Suki was all smiles again, more than happy to receive such praise. "Youuuu, you all fight too? I watch! Cheer on!"

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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Much as she would've wanted to just ignore Amera's comment, Nashwa couldn't help herself, adding a quiet "...Pervert." after the end of her explanation, stopping her hand and just holding onto herself again. At least she wasn't being pushed more than that. Moreso, it felt like the cat liked listening to her own voice, with how she went into a short ramble, and just... kind of led things along for the three of them. "I'm, not actually that good at magic... Can shoot a hole through a moving target, though." She tugged on the sling of her shotgun a little, just as Amera simply kicked their way into the inn.

Honestly, the succubus thought she'd be let back on her feet outside, instead of... this. Embarrassing as it was, struggling against the cat's hold would probably just have ended badly for both of them, so she only untangled her tail, since they were about to get to their room. Thankfully, Amera handled the expected misconception before she herself had to do anything.

Though... Solving her magic problem reminded her of the solution previously offered by the beastkin lady. That discussion had to start from somewhere, and she'd prefer something other than the topic she expected would be coming up. ...Hopefully after the primary problem was already dealt with. "Speaking of, what was the whole blood offering about? I... I thought only vampires did that."

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"... Eh? Seriously...?" Amera looked down at Nasha like she'd just acted confused about basic math. "Our magic is in our blood. If we're not gonna fuck or smack lips, how else are you gonna get enough? You could try and pull some out with a hug, but considering I'm still standing just fine, figure you don't really know how to do that, or you'd have started already... Seriously, what backwater did you grow up in that you were never taught any of this? Buh..." The cat shook her head, kicking down the first door on the right, as instructed. It wasn't very ceremonious, but Nashwa was let down onto the bed, with as much jiggle as her clothes would allow.

"There... Okay, Nessy, she's all yours to start teaching... If you need my body or my blood, just say so."

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The cat wouldn't have yet known why, but the part about Nashwa's upbringing stung quite a bit, overshadowing the discomfort presented by the, alternatives. Downcast as she looked to the wall, she still kept her body tightly packed on the bed, as if trying to hide. "That's... mmm." A short pause eyes closed, before she'd actually answer the seemingly-rhetorical question. They were just by each other now, nobody listening in... hopefully. She never liked talking about her parents as a cause of anything negative, but it was crucial in understanding how she got into her situation, and would be an easier explanation for much of it. "I'm, a war orphan, I guess would be right... The people I know as my parents are a human couple. I learned magic the human way, and, well, not many other succubi in Hwein to teach me... or everyone assumed I knew already, or couldn't help."

She wrenched her gaze back to Amera and Nessraya, legs shuffling a little. "So, um... Please, teach me everything you can."

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Lucille quickly parked Villkiss off to the side. She saw the Demon King and her confidant do an about face as it appeared they were about to enter the establishment. Lucille couldn't help but feel that their, well, no, her little outburst had something to do with that. She sighed and shook her head a little, before heading inside. With as quiet as the city had been, she had expected the clothing store to be no differ-- Wait, the place was actually bustling. It appeared that they weren't the only people who had the same idea, Marina and a human that Lucille didn't recognize were inside perusing. The other girl was dressed... oddly, it was a very unique sort of style and one that Lucille couldn't place, only that it didn't appear to be Vaian, nor Coteonese. But those thoughts would have to wait as the two monsters in the building were more... pressing. Lucille never had a problem with spiders, though, that was because they tended to be much smaller than she was. The arachnea behind the counter waving at them was, a lot larger than any spider she'd ever seen. Ooooooookay... She'd felt her body tense, and felt like turning around, but the white wings of Gabriela were tempering her anxiety. 

The pair had at least gotten an to an understanding, but Lucille still wasn't much of a fan of her reasoning for her antagonism. Perhaps if they spoke more, things would be fine, but that was neither here nor there at the moment. Lucille still felt like she had something to prove, so, she was going to. She waved back to the arachnea, and took a deep breath to sort out her words, and hopefully mask the trembling that she already felt in her throat, "Hi," Lucille's voice was a little high, but no sign of the trembling, "Um... You wouldn't happen to, to have any covers or something for traveling through the wastes, w-would you? And, uh, well... m-maybe, a tunic and/or skirt and tights in my size?" That somehow went better than Lucille expected, she'd drawn her gloved arm behind her, but at least she hadn't shrank behind Seilan, or fled. 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Bladen grinned at Asami and gave an 'I know, I know' gesture. About to head over, he stopped as Suki arrived. "Hey! Great fighting for sure. You did wonderful out there. Now... Lets see if I can do as well as you, alright?" He gave her hair a quick ruffle before heading down to the sign in area. "Bladen Eloy, here to compete."

Bladen fights in the arena!

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"It was your idea... your suggestion, even. How about I meet you in the middle? Eleven." Nisha countered. She could afford twelve if it came to it, but if she could save a bit of gold, it couldn't hurt.

_____

Listening to Nashwa and Amera's back and forth as they entered the inn, Nessraya gave the keeper an appreciative wave before disappearing from view into their room. As shocking as it was, what Nashwa was saying made sense enough based on her condition.

"Right... where to begin. First off... from what you said earlier... you can't sustain yourself with regular food. We can taste and enjoy it, but we don't burn calories like Amera here would. We feed off of magic directly. There are several ways to harvest magic... direct infusions, drinking blood... these are more common in succubi that are too young to feed... traditionally. I don't need to tell you what traditional feeding is, even if you're squeamish about it." Nessraya began, looking Nashwa over, reaching down to her and lifting a lock of her hair, fingers tracing across it.

"See here? How the pigmentation changes in your hair? It's a telltale sign of malnourishment in succubi. Given you didn't know you could drink blood, and have been avoiding sex... I would say that the reason you're still alive at all is that you've been instinctually harvesting magic from slain enemies. You don't need to consume the blood directly if you kill them, it begins to leak into the air... the fact that you've chosen to work as a mercenary is likely the only reason you haven't starved to death. Still, harvesting magic in this matter isn't good for your body. It's designed to feed through sex. we can absorb magic from blood and air, but our bodies are less efficient at taking it in, that way. That's why most succubi stop once they reach maturity. It will keep you alive, but you'll get malnourished, like this." Nessraya explained, letting Nashwa's hair fall back to the bed as she floated back slightly.

"As for your magical ability... while it isn't unheard of for a succubus to lack magical talent, it is quite rare. The more likely explanation for that, too, is your malnourishment. Your body is in survival mode, pulling in magic from corpses and what you can draw from the air, because it hasn't been properly fed. In the same vein, trying to expel magic to cast spells would be in direct conflict with your survival instincts... an adept mage can force through this in dire circumstance, but especially a succubus with less training, and without guidance from someone who understands her body... the result of attempting to cast would be diminished returns at best, and a failure to manifest as worst."

 

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Nashwa paid rapt attention to every word Nessraya said. This was her chance, her first ever chance, to finally understand more about her body, what was happening to her, and everything in between. And though a slight blush made its way to her cheeks from the caressing of her hair, she didn't look away like she usually would have. "I see..." It all made a lot of sense, being put like that. All of her hair had been blazing red -- like the very tip of her ponytail still was -- back when she still lived with her adoptive parents, and had only begun turning black at the same time the issue of her leaking magic first manifested. Ironic that the profession she chose just out of desperation ended up being the likely only thing that had kept her relatively sane and healthy all these years, well, for a succubus completely denying what she was supposed to be doing. She wasn't ready to believe it the first time around, but... now, it was being said by who she considered the foremost authority on succubi by virtue of being one herself, and in seemingly very good health at that.

"...mmm. W-well... I, think I'll need some time to myself, before I can... Try, doing things the, um, r-right way." Her nerves were back in force from having to think about it, but at least she could say what she meant to. Though, bringing her mind back to the latter part, she cleared her throat a little. "But if that's the case, then... I think attending magic school only brought the problem about quicker, since I was actively using my mana to practice. And it makes sense why things began getting worse during my studies..." Nashwa's tail flopped impotently on the bed, barely minding that she was putting weight lopsidedly on her wings. Tired and senses dulled, she really, really just needed to get at least the in-between solution to get out of her current peril. "You, don't think that this whole, leaking, thing, is just my body trying to make up for me not being... 'A-active'?"

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Without another word the Oni princess put down her money and took her Brave Sword. She inspected the blade, and gave out a fairly impressed hum. "...Vaian steel never ceases to surprise me." Ever since she came to Xensat she had always come across some interesting sword or two, some that rivaled her trusty eastern blade. This one was very nice though, even with her current collection. She put it on her belt soon after and turned to her cat companion. "I believe we're done here, unless you wished to purchase something." She gave a small glance to Taliyah as she spoke to Ariana.

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Marina had something picked out that looked actually really cute! The arachnea took it and told them to wait an hour. Meanwhile, Marina asked another question. ''Oh sure, we can find something nice for you! Perhaps if we can't buy it now, we can at least get ideas. And.. no, I don't really think I want anything new right now, haha.... I have a lot of expensive clothing in my bags already, and I should probably save some of it... plus, clothing for me needs to be tailored for my wings, and I don't know if we really have time for that, y'know?''

While she was talking to Marina, another group entered the building. Seilan, Shizuka and.. Lucille. While they weren't antagonistic to each other on a large scale anymore, things were still awkward, and understandably so. They would have to get to know each other better if they wanted to get along more.. but for now, it was best to just give a simple greeting. ''Hello everyone. I hope you find some nice clothes. The tailor here is really talented.''

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Xalrei hadn't been too terribly focused on Tenebria hiding behind her, attention on the haggling between the shopkeep and Nisha, but that changed rather quickly. "The Hel you mean 'handling' me, huh?" She suddenly interjected into the conversation with a huff, turning around enough to stare at Tenna with arms crossed. She probably hadn't meant it in the way her unfocused mind had immediately jumped to, but it would be far from the last time she misunderstood Tenna.


"Clothes should be fun, get to see you in a bunch of new, things..." Sollowy's words slowly came to a halt as Thesephine stepped inside and revealed just how busy their group had made the vendor. She couldn't find herself disagreeing as Thesephine pulled out of there fast, heading off to get food instead. This was their first real date, away from the prying eyes of that stupid court of nobles and their nosy servants; she wanted it to be at least a little private. Thessy probably shared her desire for privacy a little, too.

"Food sounds like it'd be nice while we wait for it to clear up, Thessy. Get a nice meal before we're back on the rations. I know you've been missing your castle meals. Even if inn food won't be able to compare to it, sharing a meal with you will be nice." She gave her snake a reassuring squeeze as continued to be 'tugged' along towards the inn, hoping the clothes shop hadn't been too much of a letdown.

Edited by Ursali

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Bladen stepped into the arena floor, shield on his arm, sword in his hand. He took a long deep breath, preparing for battle. It was for show, for coin, true, but it could still help him grow, it had to. He glanced up into the stands, spotting Asami and the others in their small group preparing to cheer him on. He could do this. Time to fight.

His first opponent, one of three humans that he'd seen Suki fight, joined him on the battleground. This wasn't one he could win with flight, not easily at least. That gun was accurate enough that if he tried to launch himself up, he would get hit. His best bet would be to close the distance... Right then. The signal for the start of the fight came and Bladen immediately dashed in. A swing of his sword connected solidly with the human, but he had been a second too slow as a bullet ripped into his arm. But he was close enough now. He quickly used his shield to bash his opponent's rifle up and away, causing the man's second shot to go wildly into the sky. Two quick strokes with his sword and then man fell to his knees, the match finished. One down. Six to go.

After a quick patching of his wounds, he found himself once again facing a gun, this time a revolver held by a wolfman. A quick fighter then, but hopefully not too damaging... The round started and in he went. It went quickly this time. His shield protected him once again, and a few quick moves with his sword later, the match was over once again. He was starting to breathe heavier at this point, the unfamiliar weight of the shield on his arm starting to drag again, much as it had at points during their last battle, though it was much heavier than that one had been. This is why I do this. To train in as close to a real battle as I can, force myself to my limits and see how far I can go.

Next up was another human, this time with a sword, gleaming dangerously in the man's hand. The first two battles had been relatively nonthreatening. This man though... Bladen knew he had to end this quickly. Shield up, he moved in, slashing down against the man's side, leaving a deep cut. He barely managed to get his shield up though as a crushing blow came in return. He couldn't stop it, not fully, but he was able to deflect it from a body blow into a deep cut into his upper shield arm. The combination of the wound and the weight of his shield left his arm dangling by his side, useless. He quickly pushed back, leaping into the air as his wings burst out, spreading to their full length and carrying him up into the air. Without thinking about if he could do it, he raised his arm in the air, glowing light gathering around his sword and hand. The swords of light he was slowly becoming more and more familiar with gathered. He chopped his arm down at the enemy in front of him and they shot down, piercing his legs and bringing him down. He slowly lowered himself down to the ground, a small grin on his face. Though he still could not fully summon his magic on command, he was beginning to understand what it felt like when his magic was ready to show.

Another round of healing as he considered his next opponent. He wasn't entirely sure what they were, but he did know that their gun was slow but dangerous. He would have to move quickly to avoid that shot, because if it caught him at point blank range... He shuddered, knowing it would hurt. Wings flexing behind him before slowly folding in, still at full size, he settled into an attack stance. Something was odd though. Almost as if... He shook his head, no time to think about it, it was time to fight. He quickly delivered a hard blow to his opponent. As they raised the gun, he quickly ducked, once again using his shield to knock the gun askew, resulting in the shot firing down into the dirt. As he did, he could feel it once again. The glow around his hand started, but rather than fly off this time, he held his ground, swords appearing behind him. He slashed down with his sword, glittering golden swords following.

Another win. Three more. The elf with that brave sword and then the two fist users... A quick glance up at Asami for the first time since the matches had begun, and he nodded, both to her and himself. He could do this. He put his shield and sword down for a brief second, shaking out both arms to bring some life back to them, before picking them up and settling into his ready stance. Sword vs sword, time to see how he fared against this elf. He nodded to the man as they began their fight, circling for a few seconds, each trying to read the other's strength. Finally, Bladen jumped forward, landing a solid blow on the elf's leg, but before he could react he was smacked hard by the returning blow. Brave sword... shield up! A clang echoed through the arena as Bladen barely managed to deflect the blow with his shield. A quick grin was all he allowed himself before bringing his sword down once again, leaving the other sword user on the ground.

The next match went quickly. Though she was fast, her fists had basically no effect on him. All it took was two return swings and the battle was over. And all that left was... The hellhound. He'd watched her fight with Suki. She was fast and hit well. And was able to weather more hits than it seemed like she should from a first glance. He needed to finish this quickly. If he let it drag on, she was going to win. That much he knew. As he considered his options, he suddenly remembered a move he'd only done once.  A diving slash, strong enough to break even the enhanced armor of the Hero clone. If he could do that...

As the battle started, he launched himself into the air. It was a tricky move. The reason it had worked so well the first time was Xalrei had been providing a flanking move. To do it by himself... He risked her dodging and him face planting right into the arena floor. As he twisted, readying the strike, he felt it, once again. The warmth of his magic flowing through his body, collecting in his hand. He knew this was it. He could do this. He flung himself into the twisting dive, swords popping out around him and flying past him, slamming into the hellhound. At the last second, he flared his wings, stopping his fall but allowing his sword to continue with all that momentum. It slammed into the hellhound, knocking her down to the ground. He hovered there, three small swords of light floating around his head, waiting for the counter. It took a second for him to realize one was not coming. He had done it. He had won.

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"I hope they do too, since Shizuka here is going to help Bridgit find a cloak," is all Ren says as he slides on up behind said maid, using her as an armrest as he grins brightly at Gabriela.  Where did he even come from?  "Hello dear, having any luck finding what you're looking for?" he asks the Siren, ignoring Seilan and Lucille for the moment to pay attention to his girlfriend.  In fact, ever since this trip he's...worried, that maybe he hasn't been paying enough attention to Gabriela.  With worries plaguing his mind, it's easy to discard others for the sake of accomplishing goals.

That being said, Ren wants to do right for her.  Hopefully later on they can have some time together to talk and grow closer.


Bridgit felt aimless for a while after Ren and Shizuka left, but seeing Astraea kneeling on the ground brought the young Pureblood out of her thoughts as she quickly hurried over to the girl with worried haste.  "Are you okay?  What happened?  Did someone hurt you?," her questions escalated as she fusses over her friend, offering her hand to help the other stand up.

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Ember watched the Fallen's trek through the arena with great interest, watching as he felled combatant after combatant; finally he had made it to the end. Ember walked out to meet him, ready for a good fight after he'd put on such performance. She saw him fly up into the sky and ready his sword. Daring, and risky. Exactly the kind of moxie she wanted to see from an opponent. She braced herself, ready to dodge out of the way and lay into him once he'd missed. She saw the swords forming too late, stagging under their assault right into his diving attack. She crumpled with a barely audible whine.

"Urgh, what the Hel kinda magic was that..." Ember groaned as she sat up, rubbing where the swords had slammed into her. She stood with a grunt staring at Bladen. "Well, it wasn't much of a fight, but congrats on beating the arena, boy."

Edited by Ursali

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With the strength of Lavinia's pull, and how Jade's own mood was trending, the perfect play would have been to roll into it, be pulled across the vampire's lap and straddle her face to face. And in fact, if they'd been seated on a park bench, or the edge of a bed, or anything similar, she would have gone for it too, but the backing to the carriage compartment of the wagon thoroughly prevented any such undertaking from being remotely comfortable, if at all possible. Instead, she settled for worming her own arm behind Lavinia's back, bringing her hand to rest on the far side of her waist and squeezing in time with the pressure applied to her from the arm wrapped around her shoulder.

When the hug eased off, Jade twisted her torso, and stretching up just enough to make it work, lightly kissed the side of the vampire's neck before settling back down and resting against her shoulder. "Mmm," she intoned, the murmur carrying a trace of disappointment. The knight was right, of course, and she couldn't very well argue, but... "A real holiday, that would be perfect, yes..."

"So long as we don't end up some 'for want of a nail' story. I already..." Regret, no, that's too charged a term perhaps. "Mm, let's just say, lately I've been finding it harder to keep from getting lost wandering along corridors of what ifs." What if I hadn't been a coward that night... "There always seems to be other business in the way, though."

Speaking of other business, the vendor... No, she was in no hurry. Until Lavinia pulled away, they were just gonna stay here like this. Yes, it stood between them and the now agreed upon date at the arena, but...

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Agni stood proud of Tenna, being able to watch her interact with Taliyah fine. Both so shy... "You should make some time to see Marina if you can while we're here Tenna, and if you need help with the monsters, you can always ask for help." He felt a sense of pride, seeing Taliyah perceive Tenna as one of the good humans.

He smirked, "If you haven't seen any scarier than Xalrei, then you've met quite a friendly bunch." He couldn't resist the jab. "Hmm..."

"I'm thinking about visiting the arena soon. I can't say I've been able to put myself to the test much lately."


"Just. Taiyou. Lady Taiyou." Dealing with Mae certainly teeth-gritting sometimes. With a huff to her step. "This is just a business walk."

Trying not to let it get to her, Taiyou walked into the building --quite busy, at that time. Several members of the crew were in the armory. "Huh. I never stopped to look how different the southern weapon's make are." She mentioned, walking to the balcony, stopping right before, as another customer seemed to haggle with the shopkeeper.

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Amera nodded along as Nessraya explained things, the older succubus knowing much better how this was supposed to work. Everything she'd said had made sense, but it didn't answer one thing: Nashwa's leaking lustful energy. It wouldn't work on any monster, really. Almost every monster could process magic to a basic extent, so they'd be able to tell what it was, ignore it, and either tell her to shove off or let her know what she was doing, even if it wasn't on purpose. So... While she didn't have an answer for Nashwa on what was causing the leaks, she could at least try and offer to solve some of this.

The cat sat down on the bed next to Nashwa, crossed her legs, and leaned towards her a bit. "So! While Ness thinks on why you're leaking so hard... How do you wanna solve some of this? You could have some of my or Nessraya's blood... Or some kisses, or more. Neither of us are gonna push ourselves on you, like we said, but if the situation is as dire as Ness is saying... Mmm. This is tough. Really don't want you to die or keep suffering this, but even a succubus deserves consent." Amera sighed, shrugged a bit of a smile and stared at her. "I can prick my finger. Dragon tinted beast girl blood. Nice and electrifying~"


Ariana shrugged and smirked, having enjoyed Ayane doing something as mundane as purchasing a weapon. It was oddly pleasing to see her doing normal things, from how fight hungry she'd normally be, or that rare moment of intimacy that he gotten them so close. "My swords are doing fine and I don't have the gold for something new. What would the lovely lady Kusanagi like to get into now?"

Renald squinted harder at Nisha, but relented, leaning back and closing his eyes. "Fine. Eleven hundred. Only because it's you and only because I know you're strong enough to make it work, but you make sure you tell folks where you got it from. This is one of the first working prototypes made in Vaia, so..." He was a stickler about that, wagging a finger at Nisha, giving her a cocked eyebrow stare.

Tenna actually managed to giggle at Xalrei's reaction, taking it as bashful rather than angry. She'd seen Xalrei angry, this was nothing. "Just good at being around you without getting scared, silly... You've already shown me your scariest, so, it was kind of like... You shocked the fear right out of me. Nnn, N-Nothing you do will be as scary as the day we met." She said as much with a smile, slowly nodding to wards Agni's words. "I'll try and speak with Marinn, na at length, I just... She's, been busy and I don't want to impose on her." A lie, mostly. Tenna didn't want to deal with her own feelings. Making friends with monsters was far less scary than being alone or even close to Marina.

Taliyah perked up at the sound of arena, nodding. "I think you'd do great, Agni! You're a good fighter, and this close to the border, I'm sure they won't boo you for being human. I think it's a fantastic idea~"

"Mmm... The arenn, na, huh...?" Tenna gave Xalrei a look, tilting her head some. "Think you'd wanna go too...?" Tenna wasn't one for bloodsport, but, since this was controlled, the least she could do would be to offer Agni and Xalrei some motivational support.

Mae peeked into the armory, tailing after Taiyou, before smirking a bit. "Looks like we managed to run into Princess Kusanagi despite my best efforts, Mistress Taiyou~ As for the make of these weapons, you'd be correct. lances are meant for stabbing and horseback, not cutting, and swords are meant for slashes both ways, making them easier to wield for beginners. The katana of Nanbu require a very professional hand to get perfectly right, after all... Especially if one wishes to perform anything beyond a simple swing~"


"Mmm..." Lavinia mirrored Jade's noise, pulling her closer, the kiss against her neck having spurred her emotions on once again. "What if, we... Put other business aside for today, park the cart next to the inn, and spend this hour enjoying each others' bodies?" Lavinia was dead serious, looking down at the woman against her shoulder with a lusty glower. "You really had to go and kiss my neck, didn't you...? There will always be another arena... Perhaps, there will be another, better time for the both of us, but you've turned me on... I'm not going to mince words, Jade: I really, want to fuck you. Right now."

A low sound akin to a hiss left the vampire, using all of her restraint not to push Jade into the back of her cart and solve their cowardice from last time. "Tell me no and I'll bury this until a better time, but if you feel the same, you know where to take us. There's two across town, right next to the arena. Perhaps were we to finish in time, we could manage a stop there after..."


"H-Hey... I'm not missing them that much." Thesephine pouted over Sollowy's claims, huffing as they made their way inside the nearest inn. "Besides, inn food is still real food. It'll be way better than jerky and flat bread, at least..." She sighed, giving a small wave to the inn keeper-- the same tired Elf --before she dragged Sollowy over to the eating area, sitting down and waiting for the fairy to dislodge herself.

The inn keeper didn't quite realize who had walked in until she was sitting down, nearly collapsing behind the reception desk. "Oh Hess," he murmured, fishing the menus out from beneath the front desk, approaching them with the best bravery he could put on. "I... miss... uhm, ahem, D-Demon, King, y, yes, er... H-Here you, you are."

"Oh, thank you~ Mister...?" Thesephine hadn't bothered to ask the nervous and sleepy elf his name.

"C-Carowell, miss. You, uhm, you, j-just call me back over when you're ready."

"Of course, of course... Treat me like any other customer, yes? As best as you can. We're just here to eat..."

"I... That, will be difficult! But I will do my best... yes." He wandered away again, gulping quietly.

"What a nervous fellow... mmm, what would you like then, Sollowy?"


"Tights... In, your size?" Marietta gave Lucille a once over... Blushed slightly, and then shook her head. "No. Skirts, yes. But, uhm... Any tights would have to be custom made. And, and tunics, yes. Everything is on the shelf, and there are changing rooms, and... Yes. If you need help. Just ask." More people had entered, Marietta losing her composure, shrinking behind her clerk desk. She started working on Marina's request already, getting to spinning her silk, hoping she wouldn't be spoken to again.


The crowd CHEERED!

"Can you BELIEVE this!? Our latest champion, Ember, already dethroned! Give it up, for BLADEN!"

A loud roar washed over everyone, Asami having already left the stands waiting in the reception area to receive him. Suki was still watching from the seats, tail wagging furiously.

"Bladen, so strong! He beat all! So cool!"

"Yeah," Verah chimed in, smirking, "he's pretty cool... Figured he wouldn't get too far, considering how meek he seemed traveling here, but... Maybe he's just not good with the fox."


Meri and Fyl watched as the general departed towards an inn, new friend on tow. The elf, rather amused, watched with a cocked eyebrow, slowing following after them. It looked as though the King was making her way towards that same inn, so this would be a two birds, one stone situation. "Come on, Fyl~ We can say hello to Thessy before we surprise my sister. Shall we?"

Carowell was well and truly done with new folks, so when Meridrya and Fyl entered after the King had, he straight up ignored them, continuing to prep every cooking method he could in the attached kitchenette.

"Well well... Such hospitality. Thesephine~! It's wonderful to see you. Again. Couldn't wait for us to catch up, could you?"

"Meri-- geh! You're here already!?" Thesephine's dreams of a proper food date were dashed, quite suddenly, the elf approaching the table, all smiles.

"Well, I followed as soon as I could. There was no way I was going to forget why I was sent along with you, after all... And surely you won't either. I saw my sister come in here, I assume she's upstairs...? That definitely feels like her."

"I... I didn't see, so... Maybe?" Thesephine hadn't really focused her magic either, so it was anyone's guess.

"Do you mind if Fyl and I stay with you until she arrives~?"

"... If you must. But, at another table! I... I-I'm, having a date with Sollowy."

"Oh, my! How cute... Enjoy~ Come come, Fyl." The elf giggled once again, leaving the two to their chairs, pulling up one several away and relaxing into it. "Ahhh, young love..."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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"Haha... Not surprised." Lucille sighed, she hadn't the time or the money for custom tights, but this was the common outcome. Ever since she'd physically matured, finding tights or, Ilrios forbid, pants, was incredibly difficult. Lucille was small, and fairly athletically built aside from her very generous hips and all that came with that. She'd shocked more than a handful of people who'd believed her a child by doing nothing more than placing her hands on her hips. Whatever she may have lacked up top, her bottom more than made up for, or so she'd been told a number of times. It was at that moment that she realized that her request and the seamstress's response might call attention to herself, and that Seilan was standing behind her for once. She started to flush as she thought that she probably, no, definitely, definitely wouldn't have minded if Seilan had noticed. 

But suddenly out of nowhere, literally nowhere, a horned man appeared from behind the uniquely clothed girl resting his arms on her head. He, too, was oddly dressed; his clothing was more in line with the girl's than anyone else's. He was horned, but unlike the horned monsters that she'd seen up until this point, he seemed almost entirely human otherwise. Equally as important, he addressed Gabriela as 'dear'. So, either he addressed everyone as such, or he and Gabriela were quite close. But that was enough of that, he was turned away from them for a reason, so it made no sense to involve herself. That... would be nice...

She looked over her shoulder at Seilan, not entirely willing to turn all the way around and reveal the blush forming on her face, as well as, well. "I, I'm going to look at the tunics, and well," She led her head bob a little, "Skirts. Don't really have the money, or time for custom tights." That I'll probably wear out in like a month, anyway. Lucille also remembered that she needed to retain some of her gold because she still need to thank Seilan, twice really. Both for helping with the tent when she passed out after the Mixoco battle, and then for... letting her fall asleep in his arms. His soft, warm, strong... Tunics. Go look at the Tunics for the moment. Lucille moved over to the Tunics quickly, looking for one that matched her aesthetic. She sighed internally, more and more she was realizing that she really did enjoy being with Seilan but, she couldn't quite overcome the worries that came along with that. If it happened to her parents, and to so many others, even if Seilan was a fairly competent mage, despite what he said of himself, it could and likely would happen to him too. 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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"Ah haaah, well, thank you, uhm, Ember, right?" He'd heard the comment about his magic and wasn't exactly sure what to say about it. The small swords of light still floated unnoticed above his head as he offered the hellhound a hand. "Sorry about that... The magic, well, I only have so much control over it. Or at least over when it comes out like that. But I saw you fight against Suki and I knew I couldn't let you get your claws on me... Can't deny the strength you've got there."

He glanced back up at the seats, waving to Suki while noting Asami's absence. "I've got to go meet up with the others in my group... I suppose you have to stick around the arena in case someone else makes it through the gauntlet? Otherwise I would offer to buy you a drink as an apology. That attack... Useful in the real battles I'm fighting, but it feels a bit cheap to have used it this arena. It didn't do much for either of us in terms of honing our skills."

----------

Astraea had been so lost in her thoughts that she nearly jumped out of her skin when Bridgit called out to her having completely missed all sounds of her approach. "Ah, yes, well, no, uhm." To try and give herself a moment, she shut her mouth as she accepted the hand up. Straightening, she gently brushed the dirt off her hands before gesturing to the vast emptiness in front of them. "This is... This is me. My core. Thine world, it is not mine. And my dreams are lonely and empty for the first time ever since landing in this place. This waste that steals magic, steals my very essence, it is simply my life now. The Darkness that hunts me, the family I have lost forever, this... Empty. So too have I been left. I have thou, of course, and others in this group, but it is not... We cannot share cores like I could with my people. Cannot share my very essence with you in our dreams. What else can I do but hurt in such a life?"

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As the cat sat beside her, Nashwa slinked back a bit, not exactly wanting to be in close contact... even if it was going to be necessary. "I-I, I'm, going to pass on the, 'more', for now..." She tried to avoid Amera's gaze, still beyond flustered having to think about it. Eventually, she'd have to overcome her aversion and do things like she's meant to, but this wasn't going to be that day. And she'd definitely prefer to do so with someone used to handling succubi. The first suggestion would have to do, figure other things out later when she wasn't deathly tired.

The mention of dragon blood came as a surprise, though, and got the younger succubus's attention back to Amera. "Dragon-tinted, huh... Reminds me of someone." Hope that dumbass hasn't gotten herself in trouble. A tiny smile cracked across her lips, although much as she would've liked to think about her friend instead of dealing with the situation in front of her, she couldn't keep ignoring things any longer. "I'll take your blood. All I need is enough to, well, not die while I get... M-mentally prepared." That same smile turned sheepish with her admission. Things would go better than she expected them to, they had to, if there was any truth to what both Nessraya and Amera were saying.

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All of a sudden the star is pouring her fears and nerves unto Bridgit, having the Pureblood blink in sudden surprise at being told such things.  Things often left for close friends so they can properly help or deal with such emotions.  Right now, as she helps Astraea up the vampire doesn't move her hand away and keeps holding onto the other's.  A sudden softness is found in her expression, using her other hand to cover the top of the other two in gentle reassurance.

"I can't say I'll be able to help with that...but I can understand somewhat.  My family is quite small really, only Lavinia actually.  My parents as well as my brother...they...." she composes herself, jaw set with a firm but still soft expression.  This isn't about her, this is about...her friend.  Right now what Bridgit wants to do is help her friend first and foremost.  "Do you think that, if you tell me more about them...it'll help?"  There's a soft smile on her lips, tilting her head to the side.

"I'd love to know more about your family, if that's alright with you Astraea."

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Being called lovely certainly was a step up from cute, it was nice but it still made her blush a little. "...the arena I think sounds fine." She spoke as she put the new blade with her growing sword collection. "Then after perhaps something to eat, I didn't have much planned today." She lead out the door to make her way toward the Arena.

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"Understandable, Princess. Marina won't be any less busy whenever we hit the road again, but you'll have enough time." Agni figured it'd cheer Tenebria up, reaffirming his stance just once more before dropping the subject. "I suppose I won't be booed, not that I minded it last time." He chuckled, shaking his head. "I beat them and had the audience swallow their boos dry." A clear smirk ran across his face.

"Did you attempt it last time, Xalrei? Surely you can show the princess a good performance here as well." Making it a competition could be fun, he figured, should the dragon take the bait.

 

"That's true. Their lances will take getting used to. They're also heavier." Taiyou noted, after Mae's recount of the continent's weapon designs. "Still, I suppose they have longer reach..." She had to think of it as tradeoffs. Some opponents in these lands donneds themselves in too much metal to make cutting as reliable.

And of course, a familiar face was more welcome to her than to Mae. "Ayane of the Kusanagi." Taiyou nodded, making her conversation brief --it seemed like Ayane was quite preoccupied with this other person... whose name eluded Taiyou at the moment. Hopefully she would not mind. "Found a blade worth purchasing?"

She... seemed to doubt her appraising skills, as far as these weapons were concerned.


"Ah... both of them went there, huh?" For a scouting captain, meeting the King and General Nessraya all at once was a bit nerve-wrecking, but nothing *too* unmanageable. Fairies were good at going with the flow. "Well, it's not every day I get to surprise a general~" With a cheerful tone, Fyl followed Meridrys in, skipping in the air.

It was very curious to see the Demon King just... casually eat in a modest-looking place, though Fyl wasn't alone on that, considering the bartender's reaction. It was also curious to see another fae sitting with the Demon King, --a Gathlain, at that, could something have happened to the Great Tree?

Ah, no, that was a date. Oh my.

"Hmm~ Ah, nice to meet the big cheese in the flesh!" He didn't know what he expected, he didn't have a script prepared in case of very casually meeting the monarch of his country, so he just blurted out the first thing that came to mind, and promptly followed Meridrys before any reply or further embarrassment could take shape.

"Mmm... very young love, yes." Fyl pulled this chair quickly, leaning onto the table. "A Gathlain, though... they're so entangled with Yggdrasil for a moment I thought the King was dating the whole tree." A quiet giggle followed, Fyl lazily flapping his wings. "Well, I'm sure that'll be its own drama when the nobles start giving opinions about it... but the fairies won't gossip much. Faes helps faes."

"...Anyways, what do you think your sister is up to?"

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