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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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After a few moments spent easing herself into a state where she could consume the herbs, Laniva managed to stomach some of the herbal remedy. Perhaps she was being led on by her own hopes, but she could have sworn that she might have been feeling slightly better already. As she began to regain her composure, it sunk in slightly more who had offered her the herbs, and instinctively snapped back up, then into a short bow.

"A-ah...! My thanks, m-milady." She was halfway through the last word when she kicked herself mentally for falling back into her old habits. Laniva, you fool, this isn't the castle, you're a mercenary now, what are you doing...

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Her attempts at saving face were almost as cute as she was. With a smirk, Gean moved forward and lifted the blue clad woman in her arms. "If anything I wanted to know if Chris' claim earlier was true, and from the feel of things, he was right." Gean was definitely having fun here, and wanted to enjoy this as much as possible. "Now onwards to your room shall we? We promise only the most comfortable of rides on the Great Ship Aegean." A hearty laugh escaped her lips as she started towards the main ship.

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Nyx squinted at the lock, then spared the skinny lad a glance, then back to the lock. Then a loud THUMP resounded through the captain’s quarters as Nyx rubbed her forehead where she’d dropped it onto the table. Damn, this boat was messing with her.

”Ah, one o’ them fuckers…” Nyx replied quietly, not actually knowing the significance of that sort of locking mechanism. Certainly sounded fancier than anything she had to deal with before… Nonetheless, following his advice, combined with her own skill in picking locks, Nyx managed to pry open the lockbox for real! Go her!

”Hell yeah! M’the best, ain’t I, Syn?” Nyx pumped her arm in satisfaction before, as she is often want to do, practically draping herself over Syndra’s shoulder. “So, how’s ‘bout a lil’ reward fer ya girl Nyxie, eh Syn~?” 

Oh, Nyx, you tease. In all honesty, though, she’d settle for someone to share a drink or two with; much as Gean made for good company, she wasn’t much for the bottle, and Nyx figured she’d be too young to get into it too much anyways without being a little bit of a lightweight. Maybe. Gean did seem like she could hold her own in a lotta things… Hm. Something to think about this evening.

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"Good girl Nyx, hold still I'll make something for you." Syndra then proceeded to trace a line partway up her arm, ending at her wrist, and finally closed her hand into the shape of a fist. She then made a small incantation, and opened her hand and pulled the invisible line off her arm to reveal a rose made out of solid ice. "Of all the little 'magic tricks' I can do this one's still one of my favorites. Here you go." She then handed the artificial flower to Nyx. "Now then let's see what we have in here." The lockbox seemed to hold documents in it mostly, but they were written in some manner of code. "Damn, I don't know what to make of these." A half-truth, since it wasn't even the first Islexian-coded message she'd seen today, since she wrote the letter for her confidants before the fight and- Shit! I'd forgotten I put that in my jacket earlier. She put her hand over where she'd been shot earlier to feel if they letter didn't fall out during the fighting, and while she was relieved to still feel it was there, she was concerned if it was damaged as a result. I'll have to check that out later. This is more important for right now. She then turned towards the man who entered and helped them open the box. "I assume you want to know what's inside for yourself?" What interest do you have in some random group of Islexian pirates?

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It opened pretty effortlessly after his suggestion; the roguish woman had some quick hands, and quickly caught on to what she needed to do. "Surprising that a random group of pirates got a hold of a box like that. But I guess its possible that he jacked it from some unlucky ship that he and his crew got to." Fortunately, it didn't seem like either woman was interested in asking exactly how he knew how to open the box. If they weren't going to, he could just walk past it; as far as they needed to be concerned, he was just some performer, with a sword at his hip. Really blending in well, aren't you? "I would like to know. Figuring out how or why a random group of pirate got so many pure weapons, and so close to Glacies is mildly important. Something I can pass on to people both in Hecatia, and Glacies, when we get back." That should hopefully be enough. 


Aegean didn't miss a beat, entirely unaffected by Marianne's attempt to quell her own embarrassment. She was then quickly, and effortlessly scooped into Aegean's arms. She most certainly wasn't joking about her own strength; carrying an axe around had some benefits it seemed. Marianne fidgeted in Aegean's grasp, her face slowly approaching the color of her eyes, as Aegean revealed a portion of why she offered, "I. Mmm... of course I am." Marianne simply shut her mouth after that, shrinking a bit, and allowing her hair to cover her face a bit. She knew trying any retort or anything at this point would just come out as a mess. She just needed to calm down a little; at least she wasn't anywhere as bad as either of the sisters. Though, in her embarrassment about everything happening, Marianne forgot that she was going to ask Aegean something. Instead, Marianne just remained quiet, kind of wishing that she'd just let Chris take her back. He'd practically seen everything so her being flustered wasn't anywhere near as embarrassing with him. She'd have to figure out how to return the favor at some point, and quietly began thinking of ways as Aegean bridal carried her to her current dwelling. ...Is this how Chris felt with Cinead carrying him? 


Tio blinked, and then chuckled as the seasick girl seemed to perk right up after consuming the herbs, and then went immediately into a bow, complete with "milady". "My... Milady is not something I hear often. Lady is usually as far as it goes. But..." Tio looked the cat over, tilting her head a couple times, "Aha... that's why I recognize your armor. That's from Kansei, is it not? That's really the only place I can think of where you would have picked up on knightly verbage, as a Clouded. I don't particularly mind if you'd like to call me that though... Milady Tio has a decent ring to it~" She quite liked titles and such, as far as she was concerned, they were a testament to how far she'd come from where she started. She was more than allowed to feel a little self important. "But, if you're feeling better... Um... Heck, it probably would help if I began learning your names, aside from just Renais..." Tio sighed, "I doubt that Commander Natalya, nor Davros, where ever he might be, will need our assistance for dealing with these ships. So I suppose we can continue assisting with medical things, and when that's over with... I can go back to sleep. Damned pirates attacking at the crack of dawn. How rude." 

 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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"The issue I have with that is while I do agree with you on that point, I don't see why a random traveling performer needs that information. Especially one that isn't a Clouded or Monster." Even still it wasn't like Syndra was prepared to do anything with it herself. "I'll tell you what. I'm going to go deliver these to our commander, if you want to go over them you can ask her, I'd just request I be there when you go over them. Not for nothing but we've just met, and I don't know exactly why it is you boarded with us towards Hecatia. Sound fair?"

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Oh, this was… definitely not what Nyx expected. She’d figured Syndra would have just rolled her eyes and gave her a snarky remark, but instead she made this frankly beautiful rose out of ice, and Nyx… really didn’t know how to react. So, naturally, she simply stood there admiring the faux flower while she turned so red steam was probably coming out of her ears.

”Syn, I-“ Nyx cut herself off as the skinny lad started talking, and the mood died out. Right, she forgot the lanky little chastity belt with legs was still here. Nyx had half a mind to toss him out, but he did help her get the box open, so… she refrained. Huh. Look at her, being a considerate adult for a change. But when he mentioned people in Hecatia to relay info to, it set off alarm bells in Nyx’s head - ones she didn’t know could still go off, given how long ago it was that she’d left this sort of thing behind.

”Wha’ kinda lads in Hecatia we talkin’? Y’ain’t wit’ any o’them traffickers n’ lookin’ t’stock up wit’ the girls in the Tigers, are ye?” Nyx leveled the man with a hard gaze, uncharacteristically serious. He’d struck a bit of a paranoid nerve in Nyx, intended or no, and now she wanted info and answers. “No ‘fense, lad, but m’not too keen on trustin’ anyone wit’ people in Hecatia n’I don’ know what they do. Not wit’ th’kinda people I know’re still snakin’ round them parts.”

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Chris looked at the pair with a blank stare, though mostly at Nyx for her oddly specific assertion. He couldn't exactly be sure how she would have come to such a conclusion, but it was a terrible one to have come to. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before reopening his eyes and returning her hard gaze. "...You know, I reeeally take issue that someone believes that even for a moment that I would be consorting with traffickers." His voice had taken on a lethal tone, "I suggest, for your well being, that you return that thought back into whatever warped recess of your mind that it jumped out of, and lock it away." His hand had gripped the hilt of his sword at some point during all of that. 

He paused a moment to let those words air throughout the room. Clearly he wasn't going to get that document without acquiescing something himself. "...To actually answer your question. I meant Lord Altair of the Constellation families, I don't think I need to explain that to someone who seems quite well versed in Hecatia, from the sounds of things. While it's not entirely unusual for Pure weapons to be out on the seas... the amount that's been seen recently is uncannily high. I'm sure he would like to know that the Islexians are becoming more and more brazen." Chris huffed, he was going to be bothered about that comment for a bit. His eyes then turned to Syn, "Lastly, I also take issue with your insinuation that such information wouldn't pertain to me simply because I'm not either a monster or a clouded. For starters, I'm not sure you can say that I'm not either of those things; you don't have a single clue as to who I am. But more importantly, I would think that as a Lufirian, it would be quite important to me." 

Chris turned his back on both women, "If you would prefer that I see the documents under the supervision of your commander, and yourself, I don't see any reason to argue. But I wouldn't be making assertions without having the information to back things up. You don't know how lucky you might be to walk out of places if you're not careful." With that, Chris stepped away. He let his hand grip his hilt. A trafficker, how incredibly disgusting. He'd dealt with his fair share of them, all types, and every single one of them were awful. He'd seen too much with the people who fled over the sands. Probably the easiest way to have gotten him genuinely upset, but it was hitting him now that it would be quite difficult to see the documents at all now. "That went wonderfully. Of all things..." 

 

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Well, at least he wasn’t one of those trafficker types. But before Nyx could voice any sort of relief, he’d mentioned Lord Altair, and even she knew what that implied. Not that she had any time to offer any sort of reply in edgewise, as he’d taken off after some harsh words to Syn as well, and Nyx couldn’t help but scowl as the hand she held the ice rose in dropped to her side.

”Welp. M’gonna hafta stay on th’boat once we hit land, prob’ly, cuz m’pretty sure I just fucked up. Specially if he’s workin’ for the lord… hell, I just hope I ain’t fucked it for th’whole team.” She almost definitely did, but Nyx wasn’t going to worry Syn like that without an out. Nonetheless, she put the ice rose in her hair and turned around, making to leave the room. “Sorry I made ye waste some o’yer magic on me. S’real pretty, n’a lot more than a drunk like me should prob’ly get from a fancy lass like ye.”

And, with that, Nyx left Syndra alone with the documents in the captain’s quarters and began what seemed like an excessively long trek back to her own quarters. That box was open now anyways, and they’d found what they were looking for down there. Nyx had done her job. Now she just had to go get blackout drunk and forget this whole mess.

Boy, Gean was gonna hate her by the end of the night with how much she was going to be drinking.

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It sounded like a reasonable enough question, although even if Nyx was right and he was a trafficker he wasn't going to admit as much. Still, Syndra was far from ready to let this slight against her and one of her friends go.  Watch your back little man.. you're the one working without information here. Syndra let her rage cool just a little, there would be time for that a much later date, if it was truly deemed necessary. She'd been left alone by the dejected Nyxied, which was a shame, since she was really enjoying the company, even if she never got the chance to say it. That's fine, I can make it up to her later, there's plenty of rum around here these bastards are going to leave behind, surely. Since she was alone now though she decided to open her jacket and inspect the note she'd written. "That's a relief at least." While slightly damaged, it was only in the corner of the parchment, so the code was still legible enough. "Well then, time to finish up business for now." Time to find a nice bottle, and then hand these over to the commander, that bigshot performer might get to look at them, if I'm feeling generous, and he's willing to play ball with us.

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A head tilt met the 'hero' as she nearly choked on her food and struggled to both swallow her food and stand up. "It safe to use then? What if run out energy before battle done?" The girl had only been with them a short time, about a month now, but Alriana had still yet to really watch her during a battle. She'd handled herself fine today so there was no doubt she was competent, but the lizard still knew next to nothing about her fighting style or why she dressed up in gold armor only for battles. 

"I see... Take care self, yeah? Gean seem worried about you." Technically she'd done what was asked of her in finding Miria and the girl had said she planned to return to her room. "I go back to room too... Unless, you need something?"

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Luminous Night

Spoiler

It was a fine night for stalking about the ship, making sure someone not affiliated with the captain’s crew was on the night watch. Ingverd couldn’t sleep, anyway. He’d received some news, some troubling news, all to do with the individual he’d encountered earlier in the day. A birdie had told him where that person was sleeping, so with a final look about the waves off into the moonlit night, he stepped back below deck and knocked three times against Chris’ door.

“I hope you’re awake, Chris. There’s something the two of us have to discuss…” Hopefully Maria was elsewhere at the moment. If she didn’t know, there was no need to get her tangled up in this… And if she did, he didn’t need her playing guard for Chris’ secrets.

Chris was looking over his things. He hadn’t brought much from Lufiria as both he and Maria expected to be able to get what they needed without much issue. They often had the gold necessary to float on, and when they didn’t, the pair were clever enough to figure something out. Or Maria used her charms, that tended to work too. Speaking of, she’d left a bit earlier, probably to get some practice in, since she spent all last evening and much of the day resting. He sighed, he would have preferred that she just rested the whole boat ride and came back to it as they landed, but she was not one to be trifled with when she got an idea in her head. She was just like Catherine in that– A knock at the door, and a very familiar voice. A concerning voice. 

“...Yeah, I’m awake. It sounds important. The door is open, Maria left a little while ago.” No reason to play stupid with him. He wouldn’t be here if it was going to be that easy to mess with him. It’d be fine anyway; if he really knew, then the man would also know that he was taking a grand gamble. 

Ingverd wasted no time in opening the door and stepping inside, closing it quietly behind him. “Why are you here?” he started, squinting hard at Chris. “And don’t play dumb with a member of the Didarion family. You’re lucky that I’m on contract currently, else I could’ve received orders to try and drag you back… So I’ll ask one more time: why, are you here?” Things in Lufiria couldn’t possibly have gotten this bad already… But, there was no reason for Chris to be here without something serious happening there. Ingverd folded his arms and rested against the door, huffing quietly. “What a mess…”

“So I was right. You are a Didarion.” Chris replied, almost ignoring Ingverd’s actual question. “If you know who I am, then you also know that you don’t have anywhere near the kind of authority you’d need for that.” Chris stood up from his bed, and met the man’s gaze. “I’m here because I was asked to be. And, no, things haven’t gotten to that point in Lufiria to my understanding. Things are happening, but I’m certainly not at liberty to share that with you. Especially if you already don’t know.”

“So scary… Yes, Chris Safiric, normally I wouldn’t be able to sway you in any way possible… My parents work under the people backing you, I’m just the second son, who even am I to you, really?” Ingverd smiled as he waxed on, gently waving his hand in the air… And then his smile dropped. “Except for the next day or so of travel we’re still in Glacies territory, and my family or not, I am working directly for Queen Iseria. So unless you want me to send along a message and start an international incident, you’ll tell me exactly why you’re here. If she already knows, then that’s just fine! If not, let’s not wag our dicks for who’s got the most authority and just have a nice talk, yes~?”

Chris just stared for a moment, before starting to laugh. “Why didn’t I know that a Didarion was going to have something setup beforehand? Clever. But we both know you’re not going to do that. Glacies is on tenuous footing already… I sincerely doubt you’d throw away any good will you have left just to extract information here.” Mark sighed, and reached behind the bed, pulling out a dark blue sheathe. “Now that we’re on similar footing. A nice talk is what you wanted then, right? I’d like to know what’s going on here. I can assure you, at least for the moment, that my presence here isn’t anything malicious. Princess Shiva wanted information on things that were going on out here.”

“You want to know what’s going on here? You first. We’re not on equal footing at all, Chris… I’m here for a job. You know my family. We do the job, no matter the cost. So… If you tell me exactly what you’re here for, I’ll tell you what the Evokers are doing. That’s a fair trade, and if not,” with the snap of Ingverd’s fingers, a small black bird appeared in his palm, poking its beak around the air. “Off she flies. Clever little bit of magic. I can’t use most of the heavy duty spells, but messenger creatures, they cost little and accomplish a lot. Can’t control them once they’re out of a certain range, but, they listen to implanted orders… What’ll it be, then?” He was all smiles again, but suddenly held up a finger to add: “And, ah, haha, I’d suggest holding your threats. Nothing you do to me, not even death, will be more frightening than Jeremiah Noire.”

Well. It appeared that Ingverd was playing as hard as he possibly could. He was devoted to his job and that was admirable. He’d even mentioned Jeremiah. “Well… I suppose I will hold my threats in that case. Though, maybe you could explain to Jeremiah, himself? I do recall receiving a message from him not too long ago. He should still be in Glacies on business, if I recall. I’m sure he’d love to hear why a Didarion is threatening one of the royal family’s knights, but you did say to hold my threats, so I’ll stop.” Chris leisurely walked over to a desk, Ingverd’s presence seemingly not much of a bother to him. “I’ll play along then. Princess Shiva wanted us to investigate a disturbance. As it stands, we’re not to do anything aside from observe.” Chris shrugged, “There’s been rumblings that there are things going on in Hecatia, and we’ve received… information to be wary of that. Now that I’ve said all of that, your turn.”  

There was a noticeable flinch in Ingverd’s smile; he hadn’t been informed that Jeremiah was so close by. Perhaps it’s best we left so quickly. “Thank you for playing along… The Evokers are being escorted through Islexia and Hecatia to search for an envoy that Glacies sent to Lufiria, who never came back. Our goal is to find them… And the Iron Tigers are hired hands should we face too many numbers.” Ingverd gently pet his bird, rather calmed by her presence. “Your turn again, Chris~”

“...What?” There was no masking the surprise in Chris’s voice, nor on his face. “They… should have arrived by now. Hmm…” Had the Islexians gotten the envoy? That seemed rather unlikely; he’d never personally met Iseria, but he’d heard a great deal about her. She wouldn’t have sent someone who would have gotten caught. “I’ve already told you as much as I can. Like, I said, if you didn’t know prior to this moment, I have no obligation to tell you. It’s a mission that only a very select few have been informed of due to the gravity of it. You, and the Didarions are not on that list, and frankly, I can see why.” 

“I’ll take that as a compliment… And if that’s all, then I’ll save the rest of our mission for myself.” Ingverd gave the bird a pat, letting it dissipate in a gentle puff of black smoke. “A pleasure meeting you, Chris,” he began with a bow, smiling wide, “I hope our ‘friendship’ can continue to be beneficial for as long as we know each other. Best of luck in Hecatia… Maybe we’ll run into each other again. If I don’t see her tomorrow, give Maria my regards, yes?” 

Chris’ last comment did sting a bit. His family’s reputation among those who knew wasn’t exactly pleasant; the Didarions had a tendency to get information at any cost, and use it to complete their jobs to perfection. Spy work just isn’t appreciated the same as it used to be… A hand on the door, he turned to leave. “So long, then. Sleep well… And thank you for treating with little, lowly me~”

As quickly as he came, the Didarion vanished back into the night. He handled himself decently well. He couldn’t be sure if the man picked up on just how close he was to not walking out of that room, but thankfully it never came to that. He didn’t want to test how effective the cleric’s healing was just yet; it would have been rude to hurt himself again after killing one of her employers. But that was something he could worry about in the future, more pressing was the news that the envoy hadn’t made it. Things just kept piling up. “...Is this what Mercuria meant? What a mess. But… this doesn’t change things. We’ve got to figure out if they’re really here or not. I hope the princess has heard about the envoy… leave it to her to come up with the plan that has her go off on her own.”

There was a pit that was starting to form in Chris’s stomach. A Didarion, the Evokers, and a missing envoy on top of all of this… He couldn’t help but feel that something was terribly wrong, but he had neither the answers, nor the ability to figure out what. He could only hope that this group found the missing envoy, and that things hadn’t happened the way he thought they had. 

Ingverd left the room, took a few steps… And then collapsed against the wall, panting hard. “Gods. Gods, I’m alive. Hah…” The killing intent leaking out of that man had almost matched Jeremiah’s, and with the tension having worn off, it was really hitting him. “Not enough to stop me, though. Hah… Haha. Ahh… Second son, Didarion family… If destiny is real, I just have to kill it. This isn’t my life… And I won’t let it go on like this.” He picked himself up off the wall and continued on towards the deck once again.

A Glint of Cold Steel

Spoiler

Chris needed to wait a moment or two. As far as he could tell, Ingverd appeared to practice with his sword towards the evening. Perfectly sound as summer was around the corner, better to practice with a cool breeze. He’d dealt with the pirates on the other ship effectively all by himself, and not even a scratch on him. Since boarding the ship, Chris had to practice all by himself, and admittedly, he didn’t like to. Going through all of the motions, and finding the proper form was all well and good, but an actual fight was quite a ways different than practice. Should be about now… Chris grabbed his sword, and headed towards the deck. If everything lined up as it had, he should be… right there, on the deck. He was already into his practice, so Chris thought it best to watch until addressed, he was relatively hard to miss.

The deck was empty in the evening, save for the ship's hands keeping the boat moving. He wouldn’t have noticed anyone else coming up on him so quietly, but the pressure coming off of Chris was impossible to ignore, glancing back at the man. “Ahh… To what do I owe the pleasure, Sir Safiric? Come to silence me over my questions~?” He joked… But if Chris wanted him dead, it was probably an unavoidable conclusion.

Chris sighed as he walked forward, “As I’m sure you know, if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t be talking to you. In fact, things would probably be over about now. So please, don’t assume my intentions like that. I already told you that I’m not here for anything particularly nefarious; just a mission that Princess Shiva wants us to look into.” Chris then put a hand on his scabbard, “But… I am here to ask you for a practice bout of sorts. You handled the pirates from earlier remarkably well, a lot better than the people from the… Iron Tigers? I really should remember that name as of now. I’d like to see that sword arm of yours for myself. Always a good reason to cross swords with someone new, might learn something interesting. Is that alright with you?” 

Ingverd tensed up. Not due to any worry that Chris would ‘slip’ and an ‘accident’ would occur, just the thought of actually crossing blades, practice or not, with someone of his caliber; it was leaving the man a bit rigid. “I… Of course. I would be honored. I simply hope I can hold any level of skill against you… Shall we, then?” It took him a few seconds to shake off his apprehension, taking up an unfamiliar stance to most… Given Chris’ reputation, he likely recognized it. 

The stance was unusual, but it was very familiar to Chris. The fact that he was using that stance proved that Ingverd was no joke. “Aha… I guess that makes perfect sense. But for him to have taught you personally… I’m going to have to watch myself then.” Chris quickly drew his sword, a pretty looking teal colored blade and took his own stance, a relaxed looking sideways stance. Not too uncommon amongst swordsmen. “As the person challenged, you have the first move.” Blade in his left hand, it would be interesting to see how he started his assault… or waited for him to make the first move. 

“How gracious.” Ingverd’s body tense for a single moment, before his entire frame dashed forward. Anyone else wouldn’t have been able to follow his motions, but he hesitated for a single second upon getting close and seeing Chris’ gaze still focused on him. Dangerous, aren’t you! Their swords clashed for a moment, but their gaze being locked meant Ing had the advantage. His ruby eyes flashed for a moment– he was gone! Chris wouldn’t have had time to stop the sword now coming for his back…

He moved quickly, just like his teacher. It wasn’t hard to follow his movement, but that appeared to be what Ingverd wanted. Blocking his first strike was simple, but Ingverd was long since gone. Chris saw his eyes shine for a moment. Chris stepped to the side. There was exactly one place that Ingverd would strike–the safest place to target another combatant was from behind, or a blind spot–but… Chris misjudged how quickly Ingverd had moved. Ingverd’s blade hit cloth, and nicked skin. A strike that definitely would have killed anyone slower than he had been just now. “Aha… I didn’t realize that we were going right for the killing blows.” A twirl of the sword, and a smile, “I did say you get the first move. Was that magic you used just now?” 

His blade was knocked away, but he’d felt it connect, shocked he was skilled enough to even make contact, but far from strong enough to genuinely hurt the man. “Even if I went all out and tried to kill you, I wouldn’t manage as much as an open wound; we both know that… My magic is my own secret, isn’t it~?” Whatever Chris was about to release on him, he knew he wasn’t prepared. He just had to do his best to take it, and survive.

“Right, right. Have to keep your own secrets every now and again… Jeremiah would be quite happy to see how you’ve improved. That is who taught you, right? That man has way too many talents… But that’s neither here nor there, you graced me with a taste of your own magic, so I guess…” Suddenly Chris was in front of Ingverd, blade drawn, hardly any time for the elfish man to react, “I should do the same.” Chris swung his blade being sure to stop the sword right before it connected with Ing’s being. “...Mmm, nope. Not fast enough to have seen that coming.” He brought the hilt of his sword up, and tapped Ingverd on the shoulder. “No wonder the pirates weren’t able to so much as touch you. That’s not just Jeremiah’s training… even have the skill to mix in your own magic. But now that we’ve got that out of the way… perhaps we can just leave things to swordplay?” 

Their differences were made clear in but a single moment, Ingverd freezing up completely, not even mentally able to tell himself to block the warped strike. Luckily, Chris had been honest, and wasn’t about to kill him… Ingverd felt his shoulders drop, unable to hold back laughter. “Good, Gods, Jeremiah never trained any of us for someone like you~! No wonder we stick to spying, hah… What a mess, what a mess, what a mess…” He was laughing, but his mind was racing, trying to come up with any solution for magic like that. Your reaction time, instincts, everything would have to be at their peak. “What a monster you are… It’s a wonder there’s even worry about Lufiria floating about with how powerful you are. Hah… Well, for terrifying me beyond my wits, I suppose I can grant you the smallest gift.”

Ingverd leaned against the edge of the boat, motioning for Chris to come closer. “You wanted to know more about my magic, yes?”

Chris cocked an eyebrow at the offer, and walked over alongside the man, “I’ll… take you up on that, Ingverd. But before that, you’re not exactly correct about something. I’m a good swordsman, and my magic lends itself well to how I fight, but I’m not exactly ‘powerful’. Put me up against any of the generals, and I wouldn’t last very long.” Chris thought about that a little more, “Well… Virion, and Obehi for sure, they’d probably just obliterate the entire area, not a lot of good my magic will do against that. But enough of that… I didn’t really understand how your magic worked when I saw it, your eye flashed, and you vanished… though I can’t decide if it was an illusion, or actual teleportation.” 

“Terrifying… You’re all monsters, aren’t you?” He shook his head, sighing. “Anyway… I charmed you. Ancient magic. Your strength and any resistance won’t do anything against it… But it only lasts a second; I’m not very strong myself. Still, with enough speed, it’s enough to get the upper hand on someone… Have you ever heard of Incubi, Chris~?” Time to see how much the knowledge from Altair mixed in with Lufiria’s.

“Incubi? I’ve heard of them, but they’re incredibly–” Chris stopped himself, and then a look of surprise crossed his face. “...You’re not an elf then?” Even being from Lufiria, and from one of the most diverse cities, if not the most, in all of Lufiria, it was rare for Chris to not have at least met or seen a particular race of being. Incubi, and their counterpart succubi, were much harder than most having gone nearly extinct through the countless purges that have taken place in the twelve hundred years since the 2nd Axios Record. “No wonder I couldn’t figure anything out. That’s… frightening magic. With your kind of speed and refinement on your bladework, there wouldn’t be a lot of people capable of keeping up with that.”

“Not an elf, no… It's a wonderful cover, though. Hmhm. We’ll see if I get to that point… As, I’m sure you’re aware, Didarion family members don’t have the longest life spans. None of us really, make it to realizing our magicks. Even my parents aren’t much better at it than I am… Perhaps one day I will truly get there, and I’d love to know what I’m capable of, but… Facing off against you, it’s quite daunting. Even Jeremiah… The distance is, staggering. Any pointers?”

“Pointers, huh…” Chris thought for a moment. Though, quickly one thing stuck out to him with all of the absurdly skilled or talented people he’d met had. “Other than the obvious, honing your skill, looking for ways that you can use your talents to their fullest. Honestly, I think one of the most important things is having something that you’re striving for, or want to protect. It sounds incredibly cliché, but the simpler way of putting that is having a genuine reason to want to further your abilities.” Chris looked up at the evening sky, Ing had chosen quite the evening for practice. He sighed, and continued, “For example… that trick I pulled on you? It’s very short range teleportation. I can’t use it on other people, with other people, and traveling through things is a matter of life and death, so I don’t do that. But in a short ranged engagement like a swordfight? Movement like that is horrifying, add in the reflexes that having this ability has given me, and it makes me very hard to hit, and very hard to defend against. …I learned how to use things this way to help out my mother at first, and then it became my hometown, and now it's extended to my friends, and Lufiria.”

“So I just need to develop some sort of superpower and use it to protect my family, eh~? Pfft, hehahah… Ahhh… No, you’re right. I… Just, don’t have anything worth protecting, right now. How enviable that you have such goals, Mark.” He smiled a wry smile and sighed, shaking his head. “I… Am here because I was paid to be here. Get the job done, go back to Glacies, wait for my next set of orders. All painfully trite.”

He was whining now, he’d already realized, shaking his head and smiling for real. “I’ll just have to find something, then~ Who knows! Maybe the Iron Tigers will change my life, hahah~” He doubted it. Almost completely, but meeting this man face to face and seeing his strength, it really opened up Ingverd’s world view. This was just supposed to be another mundane escort through to Lufiria… Hopefully he could hold out the hope that it would become something more, with time.

“Oh no, you wouldn’t need to develop anything. You already have something that most would consider a superpower, so your joke is a bit misplaced.” Chris finished speaking and watched as Ingverd ricocheted between self-pity, and then perhaps a forced smile. It was a familiar sort of look, one that Chris knew quite well. Ingverd and Tanvir probably would have gotten along quite well in that regard. “Considering that your employers are the evokers, and the tigers are such an… odd group, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t have some effect on you… in one way or another.” Chris thought to ask Ingverd something, but hesitated a moment. He figured if things went well for the group, it wouldn’t be too hard to find her again. “Well, I think I’m not doing much more than holding you up at this point, Ingverd. Maria is probably wondering where I am, I should head back.”

Chris gave the man a wave, and started on his way back when he stopped. Curiosity slowly got the better of his judgment, “Ingverd… do you know anything about Aegean?” A bit of a risky ask, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, or at least that’s how Chris thought it went. 

“Take care, Mark… Try not to keep her up too late tonight.” Ingverd was about to return to his practice, when Chris asked him one final question. “Aegean…? Why do you… Oh. Hoho. She’s from Lufiria, isn’t she?” He smirked and cocked an eyebrow back at the man. “I have no idea who she is… Other than who she claims to be. All the information on her goes cold about ten years back… What am I missing that you know, my new friend~?”

Chris felt his blood run cold for a moment as he slowly turned around to face Ingverd. His face with unmistakable surprise written on it, “ten… years ago. That’s what you said, right?” Now it all seemed to make perfect sense why he recognized the name, why it felt like he’d been told it several times before. Because he had been told. “...Yeah. There’s a good chance that she’s a Lufirian. As for what I know… that’s… I can’t tell you that. That’s a matter of national security. But I can tell you that if I’m not just remembering things wrong… You might end up seeing Jeremiah after all.” With that Chris turned, and walked off. He was feeling far less calm than he seemed. There was absolutely no way that he just happened onto the same boat with one of the missing links from that night. He could just go on and try to take her in by force but… there were still too many variables. Not to mention, that he felt like Princess Shiva would be furious with him pulling a stunt like that on a Glacian vessel, even if it was her. No, doing anything to capture her was an asinine move for an incredible amount of reasons, Ingverd being at least six of them, and the Evokers being another forty-seven. Shouldn’t do anything until I’ve told those two… they should decide what they want to do, and not anyone else. 

Something was there. Something important. It’s always hardball… “Mark!” Ingverd called out, chasing after him, the man luckily stopping in place, perhaps only for a moment. “Look… I’m, not going to ask you this as a member of the Didarion family. Not for Jeremiah, or for my work… I’m asking you this as Versaris Klir, please. If there’s anything you can tell me, I need, to, know. We’re going our separate ways after this; if this is enough to surprise you, and it comes at us when you’re not around, it’s either we rely on Tio and Elisa, or I have to step up. I need to know what I’m dealing with. Please.”

“...” Why did you stop? You don’t have to tell him anything. Not this. Chris turned and looked over his shoulder, mildly surprised that he’d elected to call him Mark, and to have used his real name. Versaris Klir, he’d have to remember that. “...I’ve heard the name Aegean twice. Both times it was in the context of a childhood friend of the royal Shiva sisters… a childhood friend that disappeared ten years ago, after an assassination attempt on the older sister. Frankly, that’s all I know, and that’s more than I’m supposed to know. Don’t mention that to anyone. Not even Aegean.” Chris unsheathed his sword and swung back in Ingverd’s direction, sending a sharp gust of wind back his way. His voice had taken on a much more serious tone, “That was a warning, and proof of my intent. Say so much as a word to anyone else about this, and I will actually follow through. …Have a good evening, Ingverd.” Without another word, and a near silent sheathing of his sword, Chris was gone.  

There was that killing intent again, Ingverd frozen, though he was smiling a bit this time. It was an instinctual reaction, his fight or flight was firing and he couldn’t pick flight with so much on the line. “... Yeah. Promise.” Which means I try and find out who she is without mentioning this specific information. Easy. Sorry, Mark, but this is my job… Even if I don’t tell Jeremiah, if she’s some secret princess, I need to know who’s coming after us. “Sleep well, friend! Don’t stay up too late…” Off he went… leaving Ingverd relatively alone on the deck again, a few of the ship’s hands looking over nervously. “Back to the sword… For now.”

 

Edited by SnakeMomMelissa

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