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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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Early May, 1218 PAF 

A quaint, summer breeze blew through the port town of Salna. One of the smaller ports that dotted the coast of Glacies, and certainly one of the quieter ones. Or rather, it tended to be so. Recently, Salna had been quite lively, but in ways that the residents hardly appreciated. Hardship was something that Glacians simply accepted as a fact of life. Salna was no exception; only being a town and stable due to their favorable location, but that favorable location turned into a curse as Islexian pirates sailed into port, and began to make a mess of things. Islexian pirates were hardly anything new, but Salna was so small that the people never thought that they would land there. It had always been thought of as something that happened at larger ports, where the pirates would try to intercept goods, and give the residents hell. Salna was hardly a place that saw large shipments, and was hardly lucrative, but they came all the same. What the people of Salna failed to understand was that hatred need not be logical, and the Islexians detested Glacies. More accurately, they hated what Glacies had done; both their refusal to join them against the Lufirians twenty-six years ago, and their subsequent alliance with the Lufirians. Any chance to get back at the Glacian “traitors” was worth it to some. 

The port militia was ill trained and prepared to deal with the pirates, and was easily overrun. The Glacian military, still in its infancy, was unable to respond in any meaningful time. Glacies had always been able to afford to be lax, due to its natural barrier of the sea. Unfortunately for them, times were changing; the Islexians were slowly gaining better mastery of the seas, and were becoming bolder. They were targeting merchant ships at a much greater frequency, and success rate. Without a proper military, Glacies had to fall back on one of the few things it always could rely upon, its mercenaries. Even before Glacies had become the magical haven it was nowadays, it was its mercenaries that gave the country its start. It would be those very same mercenaries that would come to Salna’s aid. They called upon a mercenary outfit from one of the nearby towns, a group called the Iron Tigers. Fairly well known for their stellar track record in dealing with Islexian pirates, they were the immediate choice. 

Salna’s faith in the group was well founded. The encounter was short and quick; the pirates were dislodged from their foothold, routed and then handed over to the Salna militia. While it was clear what would happen to the pirates, the point was moot to the mercenaries. They’d come to protect the town, and to collect their pay. The lives of the pirates who saw Glacians as less than people were no longer their concern, especially because the pirates saw the Iron Tigers as even less than normal Glacians. The Iron Tigers were also known for another reason; being one of the few successful mercenary outfits that employed humans, Lufirians, monsters and the Clouded, or those of mixed heritage. The Islexians saw the Lufirians, monsters and the Clouded as affronts to nature that needed to be eradicated. Pure, unadulterated hatred, a hatred that was shared with much of the continent, if more tempered in other cases. To be anything other than human was to be marked for death in the eyes of the Islexians. 

But that was neither here nor there, the Iron Tigers were mercenaries, nothing more, nothing less. With the job finished, they were informed that their payment would arrive at their base, once everything in Salna had been set straight again. Their commander was informed of both the sudden increase in Islexian activity, and the sharp decrease in any shipments from their chief trading partner, Lufiria. With all they could do exhausted, the Iron Tigers set out for their home base in a small town not too far from the capital, Halkeginia. They returned late at night, deciding to leave their formal debrief until the following morning and would use that day as R&R. But not a single one of the Tigers would have ever expected that this quaint mission would be their last before being handed a request that would change all of their lives. 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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"'...considering the circumstances, the port took minimal damage, and the response is considered exemplary.' That's what they gave on our assessment, along with all the gold they already paid us. Half already deducted for material costs as usual."

The Iron Tigers had gathered around their courtyard, on their boss Natalya's signal, to debrief their latest pirate encounter. It had been mostly usual fare as far as things went, but there was some added information that would possibly steer their actions going forward. More payouts, even if it meant more fighting, most likely. "Aside from all that, I've been told the pirates are getting more aggressive again. Lufirian ships haven't been seen near the coast in a while, which means something's up with our trade partner, and I probably don't have to tell you that's bad news for everyone. Long as you all don't mind decking more pirates, it should mean our business is secured for a while."

Natalya ran a few fingers through her long blonde hair, looking over the report for anything else she should mention. "Thaaaat should be it for that. Time to rest while we can, unless someone's got questions for me."

Edited by JakezuGD

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The proper night's rests and meals she'd been afforded for joining up with this mercenary group were leaving Alvira with more time to think and practice this curse upon her. She idly spun a cube of ice in her hand as Natalya spoke. The cube, sometimes a flat square, rectangle, large amorphous mass, was the most clean cut shape she could currently produce. She couldn't make it any smaller than a grown man's fist, and any attempts at doing so resulted in the magic crumbling... She couldn't figure out why. She'd definitely attempted to practice, when this first happened, and she'd spent hours, days, weeks, trying to get it to the same level of control as her fire... To no avail. It was a mystery she couldn't solve, but one that didn't need solving at the moment, much as it vexed and bothered her, especially now with all the newfound free time inside her head.

What mattered was that this ice was dense. It was durable. It didn't crack easily, and it cracked skulls easily. That was all that mattered at the moment, her new boss Natalya, finishing up her thoughts from the report. She'd not thought the tiger would be her boss; had anyone told her she'd be working for a mercenary group after failing to pass magic schooling, she'd have laughed until she cried...

Hasty Headhunting

Spoiler

With no big job going on at the moment, the Iron Tigers were just doing whatever secondary work they had or training while waiting for their next assignment to show up. Even if she was the leader, Natalya was no exception, turning to her seasoned hunting skills when able; it was good practice too, trying to get good shots on targets actually running for their lives. Better get the training in by securing some food or money than miss when her friends were in danger.

Just as she was about to pull the trigger, a loud crash rang out in the woods, startling both herself and the deer she was aiming at. That obviously wasn’t from her -- or anyone else -- firing, so what was that all about? Curiously but cautiously, the tall tiger approached the direction of the noise, rifle ready though not quite sighted.

“Hhh… hahh… Fucking… Had, to be a bear, didn’t it…?” Alvira was out of breath, a given, considering what she’d been fighting for a tense five minutes. In her hopes of finding a deer, even a boar or something that size, she’d run right into a fully grown brown bear, one that wasn’t exactly happy to see her. “When is a bear ever happy to see someone, though?” A wry smile covered her face, setting the ice she’d conjured down, for a moment. “Alright… Gotta… Gotta drain you. I killed you, so… Even if they probably won’t take game like this for much, I’ve still gotta try.”

The source of the commotion wasn’t too far away, though what it had actually been was unexpected to say the least. A dragon girl, and a now very dead-looking bear, as well as a conspicuous block of ice in mild weather. Regardless of how things had come to pass, Natalya probably wouldn’t be met on very friendly terms if she came in with a surprise of her own. “Hey, you over there,” she called out, lowering her gun and standing up straight, casually approaching the scene. “Was the big crash just now all you? Scared off the deer nicely.”

“Hh!?” Alvira spun around and at the same time, the ice on the ground veered into the air, flying at an unnatural speed into the space right above her open hand. A… A tiger. Not a human. She lowered the ice, but kept it conjured, scowl not exactly fitting her young, rather pretty face. “... Sorry. Didn’t expect to run into a bear… Can… I help you with anything, then?” It wasn’t weird for her to be out here; Alvira was far from the only hunter around these parts. “If there’s nothing… I need to drain and carve this bear. Probably take the better part of a few hours… Haul off what I can carry and leave the rest for the wolves.”

“I can help you with that, is what I was about to say,” the blonde answered with a shrug of her shoulders, slinging the gun on her back. “You might be strong enough to take out a bear, but like you said, takes a while to get the useful stuff from, and a pain to get that much back to town by yourself. So, what’s the plan?” While Natalya had paid attention to the fact she was dealing with an ice mage, that was a secondary concern for the moment. She’d been denied her own kill, so if she could get to know the girl a little and maybe get something for her trouble, it’d make her afternoon worthwhile.

“... I…” It wouldn’t hurt to have help dealing with this, but Alvira was fighting a lot of feelings still. Being near anyone… Even a clouded, would likely set her off. The day was young… I can deal with all of this can’t I? Can’t I… Maybe… I… Another glance at the bear left her sighing, the ice still floating about her hand slowly chipping away and disappearing into nothing. “Okay. Okay… I killed it. I get the best cuts.” That was her condition, giving this woman a serious stare. “It’s… Alvira. Alvira Sam’Tara Ho– vel Hozt.” Hopefully her name would be enough at the moment. She slipped a knife out of a holster near her ankle, starting to cut into the bear to drain its blood… “Mmmn.” Taking a step back, she held her hands out, closed her eyes… And a large, large slab of ice began to form under and lift the bear, holding it up off of the ground and keeping it relatively chill. “There.”

“I wouldn’t take ‘em from who deserves them,” the tiger said back with a confident smile. At least the dragon wasn’t being territorial about her hunt, though something seemed off about her name. Much as Natalya had been around Glacian nobility, and the pattern following some of the families’, it struck her as… a bit forced. Oh well, no point in going after that for now. If anything, her thoughts were quickly shifted to how very convenient it was to have a carving table that also slowed down rotting, especially with something this big. “That magic of yours comes in real handy, huh? I’m Natalya Liberia. Lots of folks around here know me as the Iron Tiger.” Introductions aside, she had her own knife to pull out from her belt, albeit following Alvira’s directions in dealing with the large animal. Her kill, her choice on how to go about it.

With the bear bleeding, Alvira began cutting into other sections of it, starting to get pieces of its fur off in large chunks. “Natalya, right? This magic is nothing but a curse. I use it because I have to… And nothing else. Just… Hope the people around here aren’t picky about eating bear. Probably will be. Hh.” A disgruntled whine left her, not stopping her knife, the small coin more than necessary to keep her going. She had to worry about warm lodgings now… “Guess… You were just out here hunting, too? Really, am sorry about your deer. This guy, didn’t want to go down in one hit. Had to make bigger ice…”

Natalya went along more or less exactly on the opposite side. The girl certainly had a strange way of talking about her magic, but that seemed like a subject that didn’t need going into right now, just like her name was. “I know I wouldn’t be. Bear’s tough, but the taste’s good enough. Still, you thought you’d get a bear down in one hit, huh? Hmm…” If that was out of confidence in her strength and not just a bad assessment, Alvira seemed like she’d make a good fighter. And good fighters were what her business was all about. “I’m a hunter more as a side job nowadays. Mercenary work pays better now that there’s pirates to defend people against on the sea routes.”

“Mercenary work… Huh…” Alvira had considered it for a moment, but the thought of having to kill another person stayed her hand from signing up. An animal was one thing; people needed to eat. A bear could feed a whole family for an entire day and more if preserved properly. “How… How well does that, pay?” It wouldn’t hurt to ask about it, even if she didn’t have any intentions of venturing into the area, yet.

“Not great for me personally, but I take good care of my girls. Too good, if you asked some people, but what’s the point of employing people if you don’t keep ‘em happy?” The blonde let a small laugh slip, though she was perfectly genuine about that. She could skimp on any luxuries for herself if it meant her subordinates would rather fight to stay with her than go looking for better jobs. “If you can bash a pirate as well as you did this bear, I don’t doubt you’d make a fine mercenary yourself.”

Alvira froze a moment, looking up at the woman, her knife steady in the bear. “You think so… Huh?” Sure, this magic could be used for that. If it could kill a bear, it could kill a pirate. A person. A living, breathing… Alvira felt her hand shaking, taking it off the knife for a moment. “Hey… H… How do you deal with it? Killing. A person… The feeling that comes with that. The fear of having to do it… How do you deal with that?”

Aha, that seemed like a sticking point. Natalya took a pause herself, really thinking over her answer for a moment, though it did seem a bit obvious to her. “We’re not the type to take just any request we get, so we try to avoid any shady stuff. Knowing that we’re pretty much defending people from thieves is a big part of it. If we don’t kill them, they’d kill someone else in that same moment, maybe even someone we care about,” she calmly explained, adding a little sigh afterward. “Of course, getting them to stand down or delivering them to the authorities would be better, but Islexian pirates aren’t the type to go quietly. Especially when they see a bunch of Clouded.”

“No… They wouldn’t be. I…” Alvira wasn’t sure how much she wanted to give this woman she’d just met, but it would help frame things. “I’m, from Lufiria. I thought being in Glacies, would have been similar. Even here, though, there are folks who see my scales, my tail, my wings, and turn up their nose. Can’t fix everything…” She sighed. “Are, you offering, then? Natalya? Even if you say it doesn’t pay that well, it’ll pay more than cutting up a bear ever will… I need the gold. I can’t tell you, why. It’s nothing chasing me, or something that will get you into trouble… But, I don’t… I’m not here to make friends. I’m just desperate to make a decent chunk and then leave. Back to Lufiria.”

“Better here than anywhere else in Axios. Part of why I made the Iron Tigers is so people like us could have a steady job where they can be sure their boss isn’t out to pin them to a wall.” Though she was back to carving, the tiger was more than skilled enough to keep the conversation going, what with her years of experience. Alvira was receptive enough to the idea, so why not? After all, she definitely fit that secondary goal well, and strong mages were always going to be a great asset against just some pirates. Maybe she could freeze entire ships someday… Or just iceberging them would be fine too. “Long as you’re not doing anything illegal, I don’t really care what your goal is, or whether you’re a powerful noble or Jane from next door. If you can bash someone’s skull in to keep the skulls of others unbashed, you’re welcome to join.”

“I’m… Just, trying to do right by my family.” That wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t the exact truth, but it wasn’t a lie. “If that’s fine by you… And… A-And you’re, fine if I’m shaky, the first time I have to k… Handle, someone. Then… Then sure, Natalya. Just… Be glad, you’re Clouded. If you were a human, this ice might’ve made its way into your head at some point.” She sighed, letting the tension leave her, hand going back to her knife and working on the bear. Breathe. Just breathe… This is fine. This woman seems nice enough… She doesn’t want you to do anything but toss this worthless ice around. No problem. Make some gold, save it up, leave. Simple…

This girl was really something, huh? Both afraid to kill someone and at the next moment saying she might’ve attacked, were the tiger a human instead. There probably was a whole story much too long for a casual carving session to go over behind all of that, so just like those few other things before, Natalya would let it be as it were for now and just keep going. “Scary. But hey, family first people are alright in my book. I’ll spare you the formalities for now and just take you to our main quarters once we’re done with this bear.” It’d take a good while still, even with two people going at it. “Everyone’s nervous when it comes to their first real combat. So, if there’s nothing else… Welcome aboard, Alvira.” The dragon would get a wide smile, and with it, a hope she’d at least get along with everyone.

“Oh…Quarters?” Alvira perked up, tail raising behind her some. “That sounds like warm beds and maybe even a meal… That sounds wonderful. I haven’t slept in a warm bed in almost a month… Heh~” Perhaps the first and only real smile Natalya would see on Alvira slipped into her mood, though it quickly disappeared, going back to the bear. “Let’s, take care of this, then. And… I’ll follow you back after. Forget, forget selling the bear. Take it back to this, group of yours and… I’ll cook it tonight. Might, not be able to use fire anymore, but I still remember how to cook.” She didn’t catch herself idly mentioning her old magic, too excited about a proper rest and some good food. The future finally looked a little bit brighter.

And there she said it, the first thing to really give Natalya a moment’s pause, her smile very quickly turning into a concerned stare. “A month? How the hell are you not-- nevermind. I’ll hug you warm tonight if that’s what it’ll take to get you a warm bed.” As suddenly involved in Alvira’s well-being as she wanted to be, the tiger just nodded along to everything else she said, not exactly questioning any of it. This girl was getting a warm meal, a warm bed and a good night’s rest, even if it somehow killed Natalya to provide them.

“Wh, no hugs! L-Look, lady, I appreciate the generosity and the job offer, but I’m not here to make friends. Keep yourself at an arm’s length. I stay warm because I’m a fire dragon, can’t you tell?” She huffed… Hopefully there would be no more talk of hugs or any physical contact; Alvira wanted a bed, some bear stew, and nothing more.

An out-of-place pout quickly flashed on the older woman’s features, but gave way to a neutral shrug. “I figured, but I might as well offer a warm and comfy night to a pretty girl who says she’s not had one in a month,” she simply noted, acknowledging that Alvira was fairly fetching to the eye. Not for her herself, really… but she was sure there would be many who definitely wouldn’t mind having her around. “But, well, still have to get this thing carved up. I’ll shut up if you’d rather not hear any more suggestions like that.”

“You’ll shut up because I don’t want to hear you call me pretty anymore,” Alvira growled, but the blush on her face told a different story. Her fellow students at Solara Academy had treated her so poorly, having a pretty woman compliment her so flatly was affecting her more than she wanted. She quickly shrugged it off and focused on the bear. If she was gonna get her own bed, hopefully it meant her own room. She could deflate there.

Much as Natalya wanted to poke at that somehow, she’d already agreed to shut up, and so a slightly smug smile was all that the dragon’s obvious blush would receive in return. There were better ways to take compliments, but this wasn’t the time or even close to the place to try and correct that. Either way, the motherly blonde’s goal for the rest of the day was clear: get Alvira everything she wants, and get her settled in as the newest Iron Tiger Mercenary.

... but this was the reality. As the woman finished, Alvira let her magic dissipate, gently approaching her boss with her arms folded, trying to peek over at the report, rather blatantly. "So... We're, just resting in town, then? Until we get orders or a request to head out? Shouldn't we be looking to procure a boat and chase some of them down? If we find a smaller vessel... I could try and stop it in the water. We keep someone alive, I encase them in ice... Make them speak before they lose all feeling in their body." Alvira had feared killing, or worse, before she'd done this first job of theirs... But the sensation left her feeling surprisingly numb. Clearing the port was just another thing she'd needed to do to make coin and keep on living. Maybe it'll hit me later... Or maybe I've already ran out of the compassion necessary to be hurt by this. I... am afraid of either outcome.

"What do you think, Tasha?" It was her choice, in the end. It wouldn't be a terrible idea... Probably. Loathe as she was to admit it, even the humans of this group could handle themselves.

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Alvira was an odd one, for sure, what with her not usually giving much regard to anyone besides Natalya herself, where she was comfortable enough to call her by nickname, at that. And this suggestion was just another one of those odd things. "Denied. We can't afford a warship, and even if we did, we'd have to hire a crew for it too, if we wanted to be confident in fighting the pirates out at sea. Besides, who'd be paying us? We're mercenaries, not the military, unless the Queen herself wants to payroll us," the tiger rebutted, pulling the report back toward herself. "If you want to read the report yourself, I'll pin it on the board next to my office."

She looked past the dragon over to the others, a slight quirk in her brow. "Anyone else, or is one of you going to surprise me and say they're a practiced naval captain?"

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Alvira growled, but relented, not bothering to push for either the report or the boat chase. It wasn't her place to question or fight back on those things; she didn't have the knowledge to know how to work a solution for them, so waiting for orders it was. "I'll... Look at the report later, then. Natalya." Switching back to her full name was an unconscious defense mechanism, Alvira hadn't yet picked up on it. She'd just started doing it when she wasn't completely happy about decisions, without vocalizing those thoughts. She'd already received enough from the woman to afford questioning her command and getting kicked out.

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A stifled yawn had escaped Aegean lips as her boss gave the debriefing on their most recent contract. The report was fairly normal, until they got to the part about increased pirate attacks. While any news about pirates would delight her and her axe arm on a regular day, this gave the girl more worry than anything. I hope dad's fishing trip has already ended. He barely makes it by when trade is booming. I'd sleep better if he got a decent, more importantly if he made it back safely.

 It was while she was in the midst of planning a quick trip home that Alvira stepped forward, suggesting they take an active approach. Aaannd shot down. If Tasha is anything, she's by the book when it comes to work.

 "While I agree with our Ice queen on this one, no pay means no move. May as well rest up before something does happen."

If anything she thought to at least write to her father and check on him while they had this time off.

Edited by Bluemask 96

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Nyx, admittedly, was trying to listen intently to the boss’s report - much more than she usually would! Not that it really registered much after a time; upon hearing the word “pirates” fall from Nattie’s lips for what felt like the hundredth time in the last few days she unconsciously tuned out and made the executive decision that her trusty bottle was more exciting to study at the moment. Look at the way the booze sloshed around in the bottom, but she never spilled a drop…! Technology is amazing.

Though tuning out she was, Nyx did register the increased worry on Aegean’s face - and considering that she actually liked the kid, that concern snapped Nyx out of her boozy haze, if only for a moment, to place a comforting hand on Aegean’s shoulder. Then she took another swig and the moment was gone - just as everyone in the group had gotten used to.

“Chill out, Frosty! Them lads’ll come runnin’ wherever they hear th’clinkin of coin. N’if th’boats ain’t gonna start sail in’ again, they’ll come ‘ere for a scrap. I say we hunker down n’whoop their asses if they try’n dock, catch ‘em by surprise.”

Another swig, mostly because that was a lot more words than she’d have liked to blurt out with no prior consideration. “‘Sides, then we can loot ‘em fer their supplies. Betcha they got plenty’a weapons n’ale fer us to help ourselves ta, as a lil’ bonus, eh Nattie-poo~?”

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Syndra wasn't paying much attention to the captain's report, she was more concerned with "who" they had fought. I doubt they were anything more then standard ocean scum, if they were after me,  they would've better trained and better equipped. And I'd have heard about it from Alistar or Ryfia. I should still be safe for now. While the knowledge of more pirate attacks was troubling, she was more then ready to go after them again whenever they were called upon. "If there isn't anything else on the docket I'll be retiring to my room then. Do call if something changes."

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The news of increased pirate activity did brought a look of concern to Miria, despite her attempts to avoid exchanging looks and staying face first into the book she was reading. She wasn't the best at having help from others, comfort or otherwise. Even if her worry was more or less fabricated cause she understood what being pillaged was like, by sea or otherwise.

Normally, this was something she'd deal with on her own, at least, she believed she was that good. However, she was a mercenary now. An Iron Tiger, and all that. Cautiously lowering her book from her face, closing it with her finger still on the page she was reading,

"I'd like to see that report as well, whenever we're all good to dismiss."

 

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As much as Alvira didn't want to make friends with the women here, there was one in particular that she had been doing her best to avoid so far. As that one's voice sprung up with intent to read the report as well, Alvira felt her tail slowly start to stand on end, goosebumps popping up on her skin.

"N... T-Tasha, are you sure I can't just take a quick look through the report right now? Just a skim? I'll be fast... Won't keep you for more than a minute. Promise..."

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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A certain cloaked figure stayed in the back of the group, far enough to not be near specific individuals but close enough to hear the information out of their tiger leader's lips. The cloak did a pretty good job of covering her up all things considered, the hood was over her head well enough that you would have to get in close to see the girl's pretty eyes and strands of pink hair slipped out slightly. Though she did wish it were a little longer, you could still see her bare legs and skirt. But this wasn't a time for fashion of course.

Natalya's report told a story of the local pirates getting aggressive yet again, which of course was an issue for the group. Talks of establishing some sort of warship of their own came up, but it was swiftly shot down. Of course, they were just a mercenary group not a military regiment. Truth be told however as seriously as Renais was taking this talk she only wanted to be cut loose for a break to gain information about her missing sister. She made it as clear as possible that she would not remain with the group long term, she only joined to get around the land much easier to find said sister. So of course during meetings like this she does the same thing: stay in the back huddled up in her cloak and not speak a word.

'This group is too rowdy for me anyway...even if some of them are rather impressive in the looks department...' Well rather, if any words were spoken no one outside of her own mind would hear any of it. 'Please get on with dismissal, I can't wait any longer...'

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Aegean felt a hand on her shoulder, only for the owner of that hand to start downing what could probably be the 3rd bottle of the day. As much of a whirlwind Nyx was she did have good intentions. Most of the time. The best response Gean could give was a smile back.

A few more responses sprung from the group, most just ready to be dismissed. One however she wasn't expecting to hear pipe up did. "Something finally catch your attention, golden cub?" Whatever Miria was reading, it definitely held her interest for most of the debriefing.

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Satisfied that Aegean was feeling better now, sort of, maybe, Nyx had an important decision to make. Did she put down the bottle and be a proper good influence on the younger folks in the troop? Or did she keep drinking and make an effort to cause problems on purpose?

Naturally, Nyx chose to cause problems on purpose, as she usually does.

The unfortunate recipient of said problems was the little bundle of rags hiding in the back, even with Nyx fully aware that she freaked out at the mere sight of her. That was part of the fun, though; scaring the piss out of the kids in the group was one of her favourite pastimes! Sure, Nattie would be a little bit pissed about it, but Nyx knew she’d get over it. She always did, after all!

“Boo.” Nyx whispered to the little ragamuffin in the back, at least having some tact and keeping it down. After all, she was only a bottle and a half in today - pretty restrained of her, if you asked her! “Y’gotta quit yer bundlin’ up like that, kid, or we’re gonna start t’think yer an enemy healer cuz we don’t recognize ye.” Oh, Nyx; always so considerate of others’ feelings. “‘Sides, how’re ye gonna snag yerself a fine lad or lass if they can’t see how cute y’are under all them rags, ay Rennie?”

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"Huh? Uh... Miss Aegean, well..." Miria felt a slight flush in her cheeks. Maybe it was the nickname, or just her obvious distraction of her book, but regardless she felt slightly embarrassed. Slipping her book down to her lap, she replied,

"I-I mean... I don't know. Maybe just worried. Reminds me of home, raids were just common, and I-- y'know..."

Then suddenly, Nyx started with Renais. She perked up her poncho to her face, and gave a small giggle.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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The poor thing. All she wanted was to be granted the freedom to seek out her sister's whereabouts. Yet here she was, confronted by a certain...drunkard. She knew this moment would come sooner or later, but truth be told she had hoped it wouldn't come at all. 'Ugh god this woman...she could snap me in two. I need to act carefully....' Her thoughts on the matter aside she did her best to keep a professional appearance as she looked up to her squad mate.

"Miss Voleuse was it? It appears you are not injured physically in any apparent way. Since that is the case I request we keep conversations to a bare minimum unless you require my healing, I've made it as clear as possible that I would only be with your group for a short while..." She inched away from Nyx. "There's no point in getting to know someone you may never see again, correct?"

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Aw, that’s adorable! Lil’ Rennie thought that would deter Nyx from talking to her. If she’s really a Silvavolke, she’d’ve at least heard of the former Envious Empress, and of her tenacity. Hell, she even stared down death itself before, and death didn’t want her!

“Maybe, but I like ye, so I’m gonna help ye come outta yer shell a wee bit. Prolly not gonna do much good wwith the big sis thing, though; mosta the lads I’d get the juicy sorta info from are lookin’ t’dodge ‘er, not find ‘er.” Then again, the head of a Silvavolke would probably fetch a pretty penny on the black market back home… but, no. That ain’t her racket anymore.

“N’quit thinkin’ I’m gonna fold ye like a pretzel every time I come near ye. M’an ex-con, now, so I got no beef with yer sis or anyone else ye know. We’re partners now, you n’ I! N’ye can call me Nyx, for starters.”

Maybe she would also leave out that she might have met her big sister years ago and thought she was hot. Mostly because that might’ve just been a tree with a particularly thick trunk. Huh, maybe ‘Gean and Nattie were onto something about her drinking less after all.

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Laniva sighed slightly as she listened to the debriefing. The increase in pirate activity was good news for her, all told; steady work, and simple enough as it came. It wasn't the rather rowdy drunkard who'd taken it upon herself to 'dote' upon the notably shy cleric. Letting her hair loose from its ponytail, she sighed once more.

No, the trouble was that her sword had seen but two battles, and yet there was already a notch in its edge, close to the crossguard, where she'd driven a pirate's axe aside rather too roughly for the weapon to handle. She couldn't complain about the weapon, of course; basic as it was, it had still been very kind of Natalya to offer her it to her when she'd responded to the job notice fully armored and weaponless. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that it was rather flimsy... though, considering how unkind she'd been to her training weapons, perhaps the fault was in part hers. She slid the blade back into its sheath and slowly ambled over to the small group forming near their boss.

"Question. You said Lufirian ships haven't been seen near the coast in a while? As in, none at all? That sounds like more than just pirates' work, chief. Even if there are more than usual."

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Alriana listened with silent interest as Natalya gave them their debriefing, her claws idly tracing the nicks and scratches along her armor. She hadn't taken much damage today, a fact she was silently and stoically proud of, so it would likely be gone in the morning. The implications of Natalya's words were not lost on her, though she lacked the perspective to determine how important those implications were. The fact that there would be more pirates to fight was enough for her; she was content to leave the big picture thinking to the more vocal members of the group. It was more interesting to watch them form and voice their thoughts than to come up with her own. Most of the time, at least.

Edited by Ursali

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Natalya sighed just a little at both Alvira's sudden apprehensiveness as well as Nyx starting to make a bit of a scene, as usual. The way this group got along together was strange to say the least, but it couldn't be helped with how different they all were, and how new to the group some were. "Look, she's not going to read it all day, so just go take a look when nobody else is. Doubt everyone's going to stay at base all day either."

Laniva, at least, seemed to have an actual new question to approach with. "That's what they told me. Far as I can tell, that means Lufiria's stopped trade with Glacies entirely, which is a pretty big problem, with how much we rely on them for technology. Their ships are definitely powerful enough that they wouldn't be stopped by a bunch of pirates, like they haven't been so far. Just have to hope that doesn't cause problems for our supply chain." She wasn't too concerned, being as she herself was the only one who used guns, a Lufirian technology they had managed to adapt and produce in Glacies thanks to their trade agreement. Not nearly to the Lufirian standard, but enough that their production was mostly self-sustained. "It'll turn into a bigger problem if the pirates start attacking deeper into the Altair Channel... I'm sure the Queen has a plan to deal with it, though. She always does."

A quick shrug, as Natalya placed her trust in Queen Iseria once more. She'd been around her enough when she was younger to know that nothing shook that woman.

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Alvira's tail sunk and she whined. Natalya was like this, so this week had taught her. The tiger's word was law, and it took serious logic to work around it. "F... F-Fine." She'd relent this time, it wasn't worth getting upset over. She'd just have to make sure that damn Miria girl wasn't around when she went to go and look at it herself. "Then... If you don't need me for anything, Tasha, I'll be in my room. I hope that's fine." She gave a glance back at the nonsense starting with Nyx, glad that Renais was even more drawn in than she was. Takes this sort of attention away from me. "You know where to find me, m... Boss."

Alvira flushed red and rushed out of the room, heading towards her own. You get positive attention from an older woman once and you throw her into that spot... Ugh. Ugh! It's their own fault for being such terrible parents...

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Ex-con or not being drunk in broad daylight wasn't giving Renais any confidence in the older woman. "...I appreciate letting me know you have no issues with my sister, but do you really think I need to get out of a 'shell'? No thank you." The pink haired girl knew of Nyx's reputation, she wasn't sure about this reforming business but either way she didn't care that much. She stepped away from Nyx to approach the group and finally spoke out. "Commander Natalya, is there anything else you need of me? If there are no injuries to tend to I will excuse myself."

Edited by TheRoon

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It was all Syndra could do to stifle her laughter at the scene unfolding around her. It wouldn't be the worst thing to just revel in the chaos of the moment right now, a break from the tedium of her studies would be a welcome change of pace. Yet the knowledge of Lufirian trade being halted posed an issue. Not to her in sense of supplies, any magic she could use was accessible to her right her in Glacies, but more so in what it meant was occurring back home. They couldn't be that stupid to try and poke Glacies any more then normal... oh who am I kidding of course they would, I know what that clan's capable of doing to get ahead better then anyone else... She had to contact Ryfia and Alistar again to see if they know anything about the incidents, but more importantly, just to make sure Ryfia's fine. She knows that both of them are resourceful enough to not get caught but the fear that it could happen gnawed at her even if she wouldn't admit it to herself.

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Laniva shrugged and crossed her arms, not fully satisfied with the answer she'd been given. Personally, she didn't share such a faith in Natalya's faith in the Queen, especially for how serious the matter might pan out to be. Still, there was only so much their group might be able to do about the state of things (not having a boat, or anyone worthy of captaining such a vessel, at that), so there was little use in worrying about it. "Hmm... is that so. Well, let's hope she does, then. For now, nothing to it but to take advantage of the steady work we'll be getting, I guess."

Glancing after Alvira as she ran off, then to Renais as she moved to excuse herself, she sighed slightly. Seems like it's either too friendly or not too friendly with this lot... well. As long as they keep fighting together as decently as things have been so far, that's fine. She raised her hand briefly in parting, starting to turn away. "I'm going to go clean up my armor, chief, unless you need me for something."

Edited by mcd900

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It seemed as though the time to disperse had already arrived, and yet Nyx had only started her usual antics. Something had set off Alvira as well to get her scowling and sulking off to her room already. She talked to her once before, but still wasn't any closer to understanding the dragon nor on good enough terms to try to walk back with her. Silently, as she was wont to be, she slipped out of the room to wander wherever her feet would take her. When not otherwise occupied with her business as a mercenary Alriana spent much of her time watching. People, clouds, animals, you name it. Even after all these years, the world hadn't lost any of it's luster to the lizard. If only Grelbiria was here to share the sights with her...

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Ah well, so were things going to be. Now that the actual information was over with, the others were starting to go back to doing whatever they had planned for the day, and that was just fine. Not that the Iron Tigers ever had had too regimented an attitude. All that Natalya really cared about was that everyone was present in the morning and back to base by the time she was going to sleep, and other than that, they could do what they wanted to. "If nobody's got anything more to add, everyone's dismissed for the day. Go have fun while you can, no knowing when we'll get our next job in these conditions, eh?"

Natalya fanned mildly with the report in her hand as she, too, walked away from the courtyard, toward her office. Long as Alvira and Miria didn't have a go at each other right outside, she'd try to use the day to relax. Mobilizing always took a lot of effort when you were both the commander and armorer.

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