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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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Posted (edited)

Renais was still a little surprised Alvira was so kind, she had a completely different image of her. She was more than willing to bury that image after what just happened. She simply gave a nod back to Alvira as she turned to the stoned man. "...how strange." Renais was so consumed by her own thoughts she had no idea how the man turned to stone, but there wasn't much time to try to find out how. She had a feeling it was a spell, and pretty much every spell had a time limit. So with that in mind she rushed off to find Tio before that time limit ran out.

Thankfully it didn't take long, she found Tio and Tasha. "Tio, Commander!" She called out. "I'm sorry if I'm interrupting anything important, but I think we have the leader...restrained? Well, more like turned to stone somehow." Renais would have hugged Tio on sight, but she got her hug out before hand thanks to the dragon girl. "...and this is less important, but when everything settles I need to talk to you and Elisa. When you have time anyway, I don't want to pull you away from important things."

Edited by TheRoon

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Tasha did what she couldn't and finished off the enemy soldier, Alriana letting out a huff more so at the fact that the man had managed to wound her than that she had been unable to kill him in retaliation. Versaris was on her near instantly, already pulling out medicine before she had a chance to object. "I'm fine," she managed to wince out between the pain of him treating the wound. "Not like this is your fault. I chose to fight them over here, even as reckless as it was." She didn't understand why he was apologizing, it's not as though he, nor the Evokers, were expected to participate in their battles. "Sixteen's probably just as fast. Maybe faster, she ran across the trees to help the wolf clouded the knights had." She was stuck in place until Versaris was finished, not feeling the need to waste medical supplies so she could be stubborn. "I need to pick up my armor, too. It broke at the start of everything..."

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Mikoto smiled and slowly let her wares fade away in small bursts of flame, folding her arms with a tilt of her head. "Well... Let's stop this little game, then. You can clearly tell there's weird things about me. Someone as strong as you are... Yes, I am quite 'removed', as you put it. Over three centuries old... Just trying to keep living after the death of my people. I've collected quite a few items over the decades... I can't exactly remember where I got all of them. However, I took a vow a long, long time ago, to never engage in combat~ So they're rather meaningless to me aside from defending myself. Better to sell them to willing and capable mercenaries, yes? Surely you can agree."

Sari finished applying the ointment, smiling a little and shaking his head. "I know it's not my fault, but I really wish I was here... If only to have your back at times." He sighed, but upon Aly's mention of needing to find her armor, as he stood up, his wrapped his arms under her and picked her up! "Alright! Let's find your armor, yes?" Without a single care, he started walking back towards the main chunk of the group with her in his arms. "I should ask her to do any running I need next time, if that's the case. Getting a little tired of being errand boy when these fights break out... But, I feel a certain sense of responsibility for this group, now. Gotta do what needs to be done... For now, at least. I'll make sure to show up one day and show you my cool side~"

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Nyx couldn’t help but make a face as Nattie brought up the regent again. Sure, she’d heard some things about him from others, but Nattie just coming out and saying it was another thing altogether. A small part of her was tempted to get some more out of her, but maybe it wasn’t something to poke at too much.

”Well, least yer doin’ good. Shit, should prob’ly make sure the lads n’ lasses in town’re holdin’ up after all o’ that shit.” Nyx seemed somewhat sidetracked thinking about the matter of the townsfolk, that apparently even an ex-outlaw like her had more care for than the goddamn knights. “Man, if’n I see the commander o’ them knights, m’gonna give ‘im a piece o’ me mind. That’s some bullshit them lads just pulled out ‘ere.”

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Laniva sheathed her sword, wincing a little as the blade slipped in less than smoothly. She sighed; this was starting to get old... and not just the blade. She snapped out of it quickly, though; Alvira was approaching her. "Oh, Alvira. Mm. You did good too, and don't worry about that last- h, hey, what're you...?!"

She ducked away from Alvira's hand, tensing up, startled. "D-Don't just do that...! You're not supposed to just... hahh..." She sighed, flustered, unable to figure out the words to protest properly, glancing away. "Mm. D-Don't worry about that last one... yeah."

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"O-Oh!" Alvira flinched back as Laniva panicked a little, blushing somewhat at the squeaking she was making. It was ridiculously cute. "I, uh, s-sorry." She held her claws behind her back so she wouldn't get the urge to keep going or try to pet her again. "I just... Mm. Well, Tasha doesn't seem to mind when I pet her, so I figured that... That it was fine for other cats, I, uh... I'm really sorry. For not asking... If..." Alvira gulped. That was wayyyyy too cuuuute... "If I ask... Do you mind if I pet your ears again?" Hopefully she'd say yes! Cat girls are just way too cute.

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"Y-Yeah?" Laniva paused, trying to compose herself, only partially successful. "I... I'm not her, okay? You can't just do that out of nowhere, I-I... hahh..." She sighed softly, crossing her arms. It was obvious from Alvira's face that she still kind of wanted to; she was holding herself back, if anything. 

"You... hahh, Alvira, really..." She mumbled a little. "Yeah. You can... if you ask first. I can tell you want to, so... go on. You can do it." Her tail flicked around slowly, a little awkwardly, anxiously.

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"R-Really!?" Alvira's eyes widened and brightened up, hopping up next to Laniva. She rolled her fingers a moment before reaching up and gently rubbing those ears, giving her one heck of a scritchin'. "Waahhh... They're so soft..." They were unlike hair, really. Definitely akin to the fur on an actual cat, the twitching accompanying them really setting the example. "Wow... Heheheh~ You're so adorable, Lani. This really fights against your tough knight vibe... It's good." She wasn't going to bother stopping until Laniva forced her to, really standing on her toes to stay up there. "So fluffy... I could do this all day~"

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"We, did it." It was still sinking in to Üllr. Usually fighting with humans meant finding a way to escape eventualy. He barely reacted to Sixteen's approach, turning towards her. "Ah. Yeah, thank you." After a blink and a shake of his head, he seemed to stow away what thoughts went through his head.

"I wouldn't have been free without your help. Does this group, uh, fight these bad humans a lot?" It was naturally piquing his interest. There were some humans in this group, but they fought for the Clouded's and village's sake.

The battlefield was stained with blood and the corpses of some of the knights at this point, a sobering visage over the village Üllr hoped would be a respite. "That man was turned to stone too..." Seeing Maraval like that after everything was equal parts relieving and frustrating. Üllr did want the man to see for himself how wrong he was.

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"No idea! But they all seem like really nice people, so I think they must. I only me them earlier today... I'm here because they were travelling with my sister!" Sixteen turned to point her out, spotting her in Versaris' arms. "There she is! The not-elf has her!" She waved over at them before turning back to Üllr, still gently rubbing at her eyes. "Oh! I did that! You wanna see!?" Sixteen's question was rhetorical, grabbing Üllr by the paw and pulling him along towards the stoned captain.

The spell had worked perfectly, the man and his horse encapsulated in stone, still in time. "It won't last forever. Prolly another minute or two before it wears off... You wanna take a little souvenir to keep~?" She smirked up at Üllr mischievously, raising an eyebrow. "See, see, everything's gonna turn back to flesh once the magic wears off, but if you, say... Tore off a hand before that happened... It's a lot easier to harm someone or something when they can't fight back like this. It's how I used to hunt to stay alive! Stone a bear or a deer, take its head off... The spell ends, free meal! SO. Wha'd'you say~?"

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"Your sister? Ah..." The grayscale woman out across the river. She was quite curious looking... Üllr wouldn't peg her and Sixteen as sisters, but then again, he barely knew what Sixteen was supposed to be.

"You did that? You can turn people to stone?" Üllr blinked in surprise, following her along. Even if that was temporary, that was an outstanding power, to be sure. "So he's coming back, hm..." That put Üllr's frustrations down. He searched the petrified man for his weapons. "I don't want parts of a lazy ass knight that tried to kill me." The thought of holding onto something like that failed to appeal to him. Animals were food, Humans and Clouded weren't. Why would he bother holding some meat that was going to rot? "If he wants to fight us after that, I will take a piece of him while he's awake."

"That sounds very good for hunting, though. You could hunt a bear and be fed for a while." Done with disarming the man, Üllr paid full attention to Sixteen, "...Ah, did sand get in your eyes?"

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"Mmmm, okay~ I like that. Very prideful... I know what pride is and what it means, even if I don't quite get where someone's supposed to have it, but I appreciate that you wanna beat him on even terms! He deserves that and more, Üllr." She nodded, quite satisfied with his reasoning and approach. She rubbed her eyes one more time and blinked a bit, finally stopping as he asked his question about them. "Oh, no, haha... If I use my magic too much, it hurts my eyes. That's where it comes from, after all... And magic circuits on such a delicate part of your body can be very fragile! If I use it too much, I could probably go blind. Gotta make sure to be sparing when I'm in combat." She didn't seem very fussed and it seemed like her eyes were already recovering. "Ohhh, I hope he's still angry when he wakes up~ He was cursing me down as I turned him to stone. I wonder what he's gonna say!"

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The conversation about pride kind of went past his head, with Üllr giving a slight tilt and a nod. "I don't need to care what he thinks, my life is mine. It's what gramps taught me."

Hearing about the tradeoffs of her magic right after was cause for concern, though. "It hurts? I see... be careful with that." Üllr accepted it quite easily, of course using her powers came with a cost like that. "Losing your sight is not fun."

"He cursed at you?" Üllr sighed at the predictability of it all, "Yeah, probably will be mad. I can knock him out if he comes after you without weapons." It would  be cathartic, at least.

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"I'm careful! I promise! Trust me." Sixteen smiled wide, some of her teeth pointed like snake fangs. "Alright! Whenever it wears off, we'll be ready. Ready to jump him and beat the crap out of him~! Hyahahahahaha~" She was quite pleased with the situation, claws at the ready, legs bending to assume a pouncing stance. Between her and Üllr, there was no way this captain was going to get off easily, or even get away from them!"

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If he was being honest with himself, there probably was a small part of him that was tempted by her comment about throwing her out. It was just a brief temptation, immediately tempered by the horror that he would consider doing something that could hurt her like that, but it was there nonetheless. He wanted to be alone. To not have people checking up on him as if he might be a danger to himself when all he wanted to do was... What do I want to do? Just sit here feeling bad, panicking at what I did? Feeling sorry for myself? The distraction of considering throwing Siorel out had distracted him from his panic just long enough that he began to see sense in her words. He would talk to the Evokers the next day. And after all, he had been hit twice by pure weapons. That couldn't be helping his magical abilities.

He slowly uncurled, looking over at the lizard next to him. "You're sure you're ok? That magic... Seeing you and Miria go down like that, it terrified me. And, well, obviously made me angry. I don't, think you saw it. I don't think Renais had managed to heal you by then but. I snapped his neck. The man who did this to you. I only remember bits and pieces of the end of the fight, but that I remember clearly." He shook his head, trying to keep himself from falling back into despair. Focusing on it wouldn't help. Focus on positives. "Oh, and I owe you a thank you. For helping Renais heal me like you did. From the pure weapons. That was really nice of you. I wish I could pay you back somehow." He was seated normally now, legs stretched out on front, tail behind, also staring up at the sky as they talked. As long as he kept focusing on other things, he would be ok. He had to be ok.

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Posted (edited)

"I'm glad that our rushing was worth it. The only thing I would have hated more than rushing to not be necessary at all, would be arriving too late." Tio felt her exhaustion coming on, but the spur of her duties was enough to keep her focus. As well as the constant stream of ever increasing annoyances. "Is that right? Detained his own citizens on no basis at all, and then attacked you all for even less. On top of that, referred to me and Elisa as floozies." Tio crossed her arms, the grip on them visibly tight. "Have we rescued the detainees? If this commander is still alive, I would ask you, and one of the detainees to come as we question him. There's a lot that you need to hea--" 

Tio flinched and turned towards the familiar voice calling her name. There was a small moment of relief; if Renais was alright, it likely meant that the rest of the group was fine. "Renais, I'm glad you're alright. You're not interrupting, go on." Then relief turned to confusion at Renais mentioned that they had the captain alive, but encased in stone. "...Stone? That's remarkably high level elder magic, who could have..." Tio shook her head, it didn't really matter at this point. Petrification magic had a fairly short time limit, and had only gotten shorter as beings grew more magically adept. "Well, I suppose this 'Floozy' shouldn't keep him waiting."

Renais then ended with a request, one that made the incensed evoker smile for a moment, "I'll decide whether it's less important or not, Renais. There are far too many things to do right now, but the moment I have time to breathe, I'll try to help in whatever way I can." Tio had glanced over Renais, noticing that even if she did appear in perfect health that there was something off about her. Similar to when they landed in Eibar. Something had occurred, and it was another piece of charcoal on Tio's burning flame. "For now, though..." The crystals behind Tio glimmered again, but for longer this time.  "Renais, could you take me to our petrified commander? I need clarity on events." 

Noah moved up alongside Ferid, "What are you--" Then the younger knight's eyes widened as he saw the stone figure they were approaching. Both Horse, and Maraval frozen in place. "...These mercenaries are capable of this? Just... who are they?" The fact that the Evokers were with them was confusing enough already, but this was even a step beyond that. He didn't need to know terribly much about magic to know that petrification was almost unheard of nowadays, and was even rare back then. Noah then noticed that there were two monsters close by to the statue. He didn't recognized the one with the long tail, but the other was the one that Maraval had taken special issue with.

"...Good to see that the boy managed to get away." A wry smile on Noah's face. He should, and probably could have done more when the boy was captured. A blemish that he was never going to get out of his cape. He looked over his shoulders and saw the other remaining knights with their hands over their weapons. "...Sir Gead, I think it will be down to us to approach with the wagons. I doubt the locals or the mercenaries will be too happy to see more knights, and the few that are left aren't comfortable. Perhaps we could entreat with the two before us, and see about speaking with their leader?"

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Admittedly, once Tio spoke it set Renais' soul at ease. The tension and terror from before had more or less left her, and she could finally relax for a few moments. "Mm...thank you, Tio. It means a lot." She nodded at the older woman with a small smile, and resolved herself to focus on the job. She turned to Tasha and nodded her head to her. "All of the Tigers are alive. We've had a few close calls, and rattled emotions, but physically we're all alright as far as I saw. That's all." She rose her head after her short report and turned to lead Tio off to the stoned commander. 'That being said, Cin did run off I think...I hope Siorel can keep him calm enough.' Renais was tempted to go after him, but decided to trust in their new friend.

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"I guess that makes sense, mmm..." Miria laid her head against her sister, "Okay, Gean." Keeping herself comfy in Gean's arms, her smile lit back up some more, but quickly retracted when she remembered, "Is... Cin okay? I heard him roaring and, didn't he storm off?"

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Posted (edited)

Gean paused briefly ask the girl in her arms ask a question. "Cin... is not in a good space right now. The knights had him a little more heated than even his fists when he uses his magic are. And I think he's coming to terms with that, or trying to figure out what that means for him going forward. I'm gonna talk to him later, just to make sure he's not beating himself up too much over all of this. Probably go find him after I get you to bed."

She had too many folks she was worried about. Miria, Renais, Cinead, Tasha and Aly who ran off to tackle the other group that showed up. Gean even wanted to check up on Sixteen with how she dropped near the end of the fight earlier. However the Seafolk was only one person, and she could only do so much.

Edited by Bluemask 96

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"You've already paid it back. You killed the guy, didn't you? People like them, going around brandishing pure weapons, doing it for the sake of some... Some misguided and bias fueled justice... They deserve all the karma that's coming for them. His just came today, by your hand. That's all there is to it~" Siorel didn't seem that bothered that Cinaed had been so vicious, shrugging along with her words. "So don't worry about paying me back, or anything silly like that. I'm just fine. It was light magic, nothing too serious. Little burn, but that went away as soon as Renais worked her magic... I need to make sure I thank her when next I see her. She's a real whiz with a staff! I was pretty impressed... You're all really impressive, honestly. I think I made the right choice. When..." Siorel sighed, curling up a little more.

"When I set off on my own, about a year ago... I didn't have much direction. Just aimlessly going towards... Nothing, really. I'd help out people that seemed trustworthy, as best as I could tell. Hitch some rides here and there, travel between cities... Finally met one of the knights of this group. His name was Ferid... He had a heart of gold, even if he was a little stuck on the letter about law. Still... Nothing like these people. Only travelled with him for a few days, but I learned enough. So... Seeing the rest of the Hecatian knights, acting like... Like we were cattle to be slain for sport, hah. It was only balanced out by all of you mercenaries. Standing up against them for what was right... Not for coin or payment. You just fought the law of the land because it was the right thing to do. How amazing is that?"

She let her legs flop out in front of her, leaning back on her hands a little. "I guess... Where I'm going with this, is that... No matter what you did today, the outcome was: you helped save me and several others from people that would have done anything to finish the job. Please... Take pride in that much, Cinaed. The rest can be figured out in time and with talks, but... Just, today. The present. It was a good thing. I promise..."



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Cinaed sighed again, looking over at Siorel and shaking his head. "Yeah. Renais is really impressive. She was scared of me, when we first met. So it's good to see her becoming braver. Though I think that was partially just her being afraid I would accidentally squash her or something..." He flopped backwards, laying out on the ground, staring up at the sky, tail uncomfortably squashed but he didn't try and adjust. "It's just. It's one thing to know something, another to actually experience it. I know that there are people out there who hate people like us. I saw that back in school. And I even knew that there would be people who would want to kill people like us just because we look different. But then we fought the Crows, and now knights! Knights of the realm who are supposed to be protecting people! Couldn't even put aside their hate to fulfill their duty, but rather just instantly assumed we were guilty. I knew going into mercenary business that I would kill people. I fight with my fists rather than a sword to try and negate that some but I still knew it would come, especially with my magic. But then I just. Casually snapped a man's neck. Without even thinking about what I was doing because I was mad." He shuddered, the memory pushing back up to the surface. "And. I knew I had a temper. It's why I started those little calming exercises with my fire in the first place. But to see it manifest like that... To lose control of my magic, of myself like that. Am I really in the right? Because right now I can start to understand why someone might call me monster." 

He closed his eyes, holding back, something. Tears, maybe. Shame, certainly. He flashed back to the talk he had had with Ingverd, back on the ship, where the man had scolded him for wishing that he looked different. Telling him that he was normal, that he was fine just the way he was. Contrasted with the last argument the two of them had had, where they both had walked away, tempers leaving a seemingly insurmountable chasm between them. He wondered if Ingverd would still think he was fine just the way he was if the half-elf had seen his display during the battle. "I don't regret fighting. Helping protect the people here. Don't take it that way. But. I don't know if I can be proud of my actions today. At least not right now. Maybe ever. If I have to become a monster to stop people..." He trailed off, unwilling to finish the sentence, knowing somehow that he was balanced on a cliff's edge and that admitting out loud the quiet thought that was dancing in his head might send him over the wrong side of that edge.

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Siorel wasn't sure what else to say to Cinaed at this point. He was very fixated on his anger, his temper, how he'd snapped. She didn't think it was a bad thing; if anything, he'd become better at killing these people because of it. Maybe there was some merit in his worry of hurting the rest of the group, but it hadn't happened. Would it ever happen? She didn't know. Neither did he. What was the use in worrying over such a maybe at this point? She let out a little sigh and flopped onto her back as well, rolling to the side away from him to avoid laying on her tail.

"If killing the bad guys and saving people means I have to become a monster, then I don't want to be anything else. I killed one of those knights too, you know? Threw knives right into his throat. Quickest way to incapacitate someone. Does that make me a monster? I'd do it again. Even if I was next to one of them. Stick them good... Anyone that's going to throw around words like they did, actions like they did, weapons like they did... They give up their right to respect and patience the moment they do. Their captain called us dogs, but he was nothing more than a rabid mutt. Makes me angry just thinking about it." She huffed; this was a circle. "Think of it how you will, Cinaed... But I still don't blame you."

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"I guess, at the end of the day, you're right. That I just need to focus on the fact that we all made it out alive and that the village is safe. And I just need to not use my magic until I get a chance to talk to the Evokers." It wasn't the deaths that bothered him, so her talking about killing a man didn't phase him overly much, though it was hard to reconcile the occasionally clumsy dancer he had enjoyed sewing with earlier in the day with this hard fighter laying beside him now. That was his problem though, not hers. He just needed to adjust how he saw her and accept that she hadn't been lying when she said she could handle herself. "I should probably head back soon, huh? Make sure people aren't worrying about me. Though from what you said about no one else coming to check on me, that might not be an issue, ha."

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Evoker Time


When the Tigers were a few days out from Eibar, and Cinaed was a few days out from his talk with Tio, the dragon Clouded made a beeline for Miria when the group settled down for the night. Crossing his arms as he approached the young woman, he mock frowned at her and shook his head. “Right then, it’s time to go. Come on.”

He held the serious expression for a second longer before grinning down at her. “Time to talk to the Evokers, I mean. We talked about it way back when on the ship, but things kept coming up. But now we’ve got time and space, so if they want you to do some of your magic, you won’t burn a whole forest down. So come on, lets see if we can figure some of this out, alright?”

"Huh?" Miria was in the middle of her book before she got interrupted by Cin. Was it finally time to hopefully figure out something about what she had? Miria stood up, and put her book in her pouch.

"Yeah." Her smile beamed. "Let's do it."

“Aha, eager as always. Alright, let us go find them.” Strolling through the camp, hands in pockets, Cin glanced down at Miria. “So I heard you had a pretty good arena run back in Eibar. Swept the whole thing, huh? Seems like I need to work harder if I’m going to keep up with you. I barely scraped through the arena with some lucky hits.” He spotted the two Evokers and nodded over to them. “There we go, do you want to explain or should I?”

“I-I, yeah. I did, actually, haha~” She spoke, with a mix of pride while also being humble. It still felt good, how she was able to blast through the arena gauntlet, even if it had already been a few days ago. Some validation that she was tough was… nice.

Then, there they were. These two ladies, who Miria had barely interacted with since the trip began. Some very strong, magical ladies. Miria took a deep breath, and approached. “A-Ah, good evening ladies.”

Tio had been scribbling away in a notebook, gently resting against Elisa as they sat together. Today, too, had gone without incident, and they were making great time. But between all of the navigating and conversations with the Tigers, she hadn't the time for note taking or writing much of anything at all. She didn't mind too much, but there was so much that she needed to make sense of. That unusual magical signature from Chris, Alvira's inexplicable magical flare and her Solara issue, Ingverd's talk and what he'd explained about Alvira, and Aegean… 

Though, her writing was interrupted by the sound of footsteps and a meek voice. Tio looked up to see Cinead, and the same girl from the clothing shop. Tio quickly realized that she didn't know her name. In fact, aside from their brief exchange in the shop, Tio was sure that they'd never been in the same place at the same time. Cinead was a little interesting though; she half expected him to be avoiding her after their conversation. Her annoyance with him had passed… mostly, but if their last conversation was any indication; this probably had something to do with the girl.

"Oh, good evening." She closed the notebook, and sat up straight. "Can we help you with something?"

Cinaed nodded to Tio as she welcomed the pair, as well as to Elisa who was next to her. He was still frustrated with Tio, their conversation still a little too fresh in his mind, but he couldn’t let that affect things now. This wasn’t about him, it was about Miria. If he focused on that, hopefully that would make things easier. “Well, I’m mostly just here because I’m curious, if I’m honest. But Miria, well, she’s got some strange magic that I couldn’t make heads or tails of, even with the training I’ve had. So, we figured that it would make sense to bring it to the two most powerful mages we know, and hope that one of you two might be able to help?”

Miria went to respond, however, Cin ended up speaking first. Honestly, it had only made her more nervous. She tried to keep herself looking like she wasn't scared of the two super powerful magic ladies.

"I um… I have this thing I can do, but… I'm not sure what it is. And, mmm, I was hoping one of you would be able to… help? I guess…" her boots shuffled a bit as she spoke.

Tio tilted her head. The girl seemed really nervous, and it also didn’t really seem like she would be able to explain what she meant by ‘thing’. Was she scared of her and Elisa? That wasn’t impossible; they were fairly imposing in a myriad of ways, and Cinead opening with acknowledgement of their magical power might not have helped things. But that would cause figuring things out to be more difficult than they needed to be. 

“Well, we should be able to. Or at least give an idea; it might be a magical type that neither Elisa or I have particular experience in. But first, I think things will be made easier by knowing each other’s names.” Tio smiled, before waving, “My name is Tio, may I ask your name?” Tio leaned against Elisa, “And this is my darling, lovely wife, Elisa.” It would hopefully help to show the girl that there was little reason to be frightened or shy around them. Aside from their magical power, they were the same as anyone else. 

This Tio seemed… Normal. Despite all the hype of these two being immensely powerful beings, this Tio lady was welcoming, even officially introducing herself. Miria followed the wave with one of her own, and after Tio introduced herself and Elisa, "M-Miria. Miria Luna." And she did her best to just have her big shining smile.

Then, Miria took a deep breath, "Well, anyway. Uhh… So, I can do this." She demonstrated by removing her necklace, holding the gem in hand, and she was surrounded by light, and within seconds, she was armored. "I got this in a trade some time ago. And… Yeah."

Elisa had let her wife be the talker again for a moment, acknowledging the two who’d sought them out with just a quick nod before turning herself around. She gave a small giggle from being referred to so lovingly, and put an arm around Tio, for the moment just wanting to wait and see what this visit was all about. “Hi there, Miria~”

Her cheer was quickly replaced by surprise, seeing a suit of armor practically materialize out of thin air around Miria, and with it the girl’s traces of fire magic flared up enough to be easily felt by Elisa, likely Tio as well. But more importantly, Elisa recognized the suit of armor; she’d seen this exact person blaze through the arena in Eibar while she’d been watching from the stands. “Well, some things make more sense now! I’d been wondering who the mystery fighter who ran riot in the arena with a flaming sword was and all that, and by the way, nicely fought.”

But with that out of the way, the prevailing question once again became a matter of how. She cupped her chin while she thought on it, “I don’t think this is any type of magic I know of. And if it’s not known in modern teaching, it’s probably ancient to some degree. What do you think, Tio? You’re the expert here when it comes to that.”

Tio blinked several times as she watched Miria suddenly just became suited with armor by holding her necklace. She felt the pulse of magic from it, and traces of other magic, though neither were her affinity. But none of that was at the forefront of her mind. “...You. You got that. That.” She pointed at the necklace. “In a trade? From where? Who? Why? How?” The words just tumbled out of her mouth. She brought a hand to her mouth realizing that she wasn’t making any sense. 

“I’d, I’d need to look at it, but that’s almost definitely not magic in a modern context. The necklace is definitely an artifact of some sort, and the magic itself is…” She gestured at Miria, “I, just, don’t know anything that would allow one to just manifest armor like this, and… I can’t quite tell where this magic is from. It’s not yours, but it’s reacting to you. You got this in a trade? Unbelievable.” She turned to Elisa, “You, saw this?! Why didn’t you tell me?!” She paused again. There was no real way Elisa could have known then, especially with how Miria had been a ghost up until this point. “Well… I can try to explain this, but, goodness, this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” 

Tio began wracking her brain for anything she’d read or studied that aligned with what she was seeing. There was a small inkling forming, but she’d need more time to develop that theory.  

There was a light flush of red in Miria’s face. Being so quickly complimented, especially by such ladies, was great. It helped her feel better about the situation. Elisa didn't seem to know what Miria's armor was… then came Tio, who seemed to… know, but also not know. So many words, too many questions…

"Uhhhhh…" Miria took a deep breath. There were so many questions. She'll answer the best she can.

"Like a couple years ago now. I was watching my papa's store, and this man tried selling me this necklace. In his words, 'I haven’t been able to make this work, maybe a cute little lady like you can find some use in it.'" She had a weird, seller-like accent when referring to the man she met. "I didn't know him. He… gave it to me, then I never saw him again. I took it home, and… after some effort, I… well, I had this." She motioned in a way to emphasize on her armor.

Cin couldn’t help but chuckle at the reactions from the Evokers. It seemed like he wasn’t the only one confused by what all Miria could do. Speaking of all she could, he called out, “Miria, come on now, don’t hold back. You and I both know there’s more that you can do. They’ve seen you set fire to your sword apparently, but why don’t you show them the little trick you showed me back on the boat?”

“Hey, I only saw her fighting with the armor on, it’s not like I saw that happen right in front of me,” Elisa retorted with a small pout to her wife. “I didn’t even know if she was one of ours at the time, even if it was likely.”

But, with Tio thinking about it, she had a moment to turn her attention back to Miria and Cinaed, and especially what she said about the circumstances in which she got her strange necklace. “Suspicious. If the guy knew what it was capable of doing, I’d say giving it to you was purposeful, but how he’d be able to tell that you could use it is beyond me. You don’t seem especially magically inclined as you normally are.” Elisa’s cautiously curious look gained a raised eyebrow as Cin said there was still something Miria hadn’t shown.

“It was given to you purposefully?” That set off more than a few bells in Tio’s head. Either the man who had given her the necklace was just that, or he had known that Miria would be capable of using it. Which also meant that he knew what the necklace was. Even if she assumed all of those to be true: Why would he have given it to Miria? Tio closed her eyes, relaxed, and allowed her hair to slowly change to its vibrant green. Elisa was right that Miria wasn’t particularly magically inclined, and the necklace was definitely magical in origin. So there had to be a particular reason that Miria was able to use it, and the man who gave it to her wasn’t. Figuring out what that was would give them a basis to work from. 

“Hmm…” Tio opened her eyes, “Elisa’s right that you’re not particularly magically inclined. I can’t say for certain without knowing this man, but there had to be a reason that it works for you, but wouldn’t work for him. Perhaps it has something to do with this other ‘trick’ that Cinead mentioned? As I said, the magic being used isn’t yours. The necklace is reacting and using your magic, but the actual phenomena–the armor that you’re wearing–is something entirely removed from you.” Tio then smiled at Miria, “All of that said, seeing this trick would probably help us get a better grasp on your magic.”

Miria wasn't sure how to react to the questioning. It was mostly… well, the same stuff. This individual she encountered before, and Cin suggesting showing her… weird magic. With a sigh, Miria began to explain, "Well, I never saw that man again after I had gotten this necklace. And to be honest," she scratched the back of her neck, "It didn't bother me. I just, wanted to be a hero. And this power gave me the potential, so I did exactly what I thought was right and started to help people."

And as for the other thing. "And as for the other thing, mmm, just… don't freak out, okay?" She motioned around the group so she was in a more open spot, behind her. Focusing her energies, Don't mess this up, don't mess this up…! There was a roaring explosion, fire erupting from behind her. By the time it was finished, there was some trembling in her legs, and she started to breath heavily. Finally focusing to retract her armor, she was surprisingly still standing.

She reached into her pouch, and pulled put a wrapped up piece of bread, and began munching. She needed the energy, and she'd listen to the Evokers speak.

Elisa could tell without looking that Tio was focusing her magical powers, but glanced anyway to momentarily lose herself in her wife’s beautiful green hair. Slight spacing out aside, she too was interested in seeing what this trick was, and she had to admit that Miria was adorably innocent in just wanting to help others with the power she was given.

But, well, she couldn’t possibly have expected the girl to just… explode behind herself? That was obviously a magical explosion, and the specific power of it would’ve placed it around the level of an Arcfire, which was really rather strong for someone with no trained magic power to speak of. It only made sense Miria would be exhausted after that. “That, uh, that’s probably the weirdest Arcfire I’ve ever seen. And that’s coming from someone who usually fights by turning her spells into spears. How are you even able to do that, and couldn’t you have done it with a weaker spell to not wear yourself out?” Though Elisa was obviously dumbfounded by all of that, she had a feeling Tio would be, uh, less composed about it.

Tio smiled at Miria’s, frankly, adorable decision to use this necklace to help people out as best she could. Judging by the armor, it could help her do just that. That smile turned into intrigue when Miria gestured behind her, and warned the both of them not to freak out. “Miria, dear, I don’t think there’s too much you could do to…” Tio’s sentence trailed off, as she noticed something faintly. There was a pulse of magic, and then almost immediately there was a large, fiery explosion behind Miria. Was. Was that an Arcfire? 

Almost immediately, Elisa confirmed Tio’s thought, as Tio just stared blankly at what had just happened. “...What.” Was all Tio could manage before she looked at Elisa in complete bewilderment. “Now, I know what the spell is. That’s simple enough. But I have, several, questions. Firstly… How in the world did you manage to cast the spell behind you?! That’s… not even an errant spell. It was, somehow, cast fine as far as I can tell. But, but…” Miria’s explanation for the wobbliness also indicated that the spell was just about all of her magic, which also showed Miria’s magical capacity. 

“Is. Is that only spell you can use? I caught a couple things from your usage of that. It’s using just about all your magic for that, which is why you’re wobbly after using it. But more importantly, you’re somehow using Arcfire, and whatever just happened with it behind you, makes absolutely no sense. When did you even discover you could do that? How?” The Tigers were just getting stranger and stranger at this point. Magic was a strange and wild thing, but this was out of the ordinary even for that. 

Miria quickly devoured her bread, hoping to keep herself off of the ground. That, and she hoped to answer as quickly as she could. "I-I, uh… well–" She had to think,

"I guess first, I… found out by accident. I remember doing some quick training, and when I focused, and moved myself a certain way, I remember where I was being slightly on fire, and… I was suddenly with a family friend who found me out cold. I don’t use it very often, for obvious reasons. I'm not sure I can do other spells, and… I found out I can keep myself from wearing out faster by, well, eating all the time."

“So now you see why I thought she should talk to you.” Cinaed leaned against a tree, watching the spectacle, laughing to himself internally. “But hey, at least you didn’t collapse this time Miria. Does that mean you’re getting stronger? Last time I had to carry her back to her bedroom, to be clear what I’m talking about.” He looked over at Tio, one thing from her comments standing out. “Is the fact that it showed up behind her such a big deal? I mean, I can make fire appear on my hand or in the air in front of me. I’ve never tried to throw it behind me, but it feels like I should be able to do that. Still, it’s all a little bizarre. Between apparently casting Arcfire and this suit of magical armor, something strange is going on.”

“Well, I have little doubt that you’ve actually used magic, and from the sounds of things; Miria does not. So you should be able to control where the spell manifests. Judging by how Miria just casted, she doesn’t know how to control it. But the spell was still cast appreciably well, and Miria knew exactly where the effect would be localized.” Tio was still reeling from the nonsense. Had it just been a wild spell, things wouldn’t have been surprising and confusing. But there was absolutely no randomness.

Tio sucked in a breath before turning to look at Elisa, “Elisa, there isn’t a spell that would strictly localize behind you, is there? I can explain the rest of things. Well, I can mostly explain. I don’t understand how she would have simply skipped to arcfire, but the spell itself is at the limit of her magical capacity, and the way she’s casting it puts way more of her magic than necessary into it.” She looked at Miria, “I’m almost definitely sure that if we figured out exactly how what you’re doing casts the spell, and refine it, you’d be able to cast it without completely exhausting yourself after a single use. That said… considering how odd it is that your spell manifests specifically behind you, I’m unsure that you’ll be able to control the location of the spell.”

Tio cupped her cheek in her hand. The spell had only confused Tio even more in regards to the armor. Artifacts that reacted to a person’s magic, and released its own weren’t too uncommon. There were more than a few such artifacts from the time of the Holy Lufirian Empire, and some even before that. But an artifact manifesting armor was rather fantastical. The spell and enchantment on the necklace had to be incredibly strong as something like this should have depreciated after the first couple usages. But it sounded like Miria had been using it for a while. “I can pretty safely say that the necklace, and that armor, are ancient in some manner. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some prototype magical weapon that the Holy Lufirians were creating. But if it was the Lufirians… I don’t think Miria would be able to use it.” Unless, of course, we have another Lufirian runaway. I doubt it, but with how this group has shaken out… “I could probably come up with more if you’d let me look at it for a little bit.”

Miria took in Tio's words regarding all this. The potential to make her magic work the way it's supposed to. Maybe, if what she says is true.

Then, there was her armor again. An ancient Lufirian technology. That made… some sense to Miria, but it was Tio's offer to observe her necklace, if she could have it. Temporarily, but Miria instantly hesitated and backed up some. "But uh–" Quick, an excuse…!

"But what if, I-I need it, we get attacked, or something…?" Her question was clearly farcical, but she did feel an amount of fear without her armor. It helped her be the asset she was to the Tigers… but, she had asked for this. She shook her head. "Sorry, um… of course." She gave a small, nervous smile, removing her necklace, handing it over to Tio. "Just, if I can have it back as soon as you’re done?"

Miria didn’t appear to like the idea of her looking at the necklace. Her reasoning appeared to be obvious; the necklace was her way of contributing to the Tigers, and being without it meant that she was vulnerable. Tio couldn’t help but empathize a little. She’d felt that way about her staff, and tomes so many years ago. Magic was quite literally all Tio had back then, and being without it was horrifying. She was long since beyond that, but it was something the older woman understood. 

Tio took the necklace, “Don’t worry, I won’t be keeping it too long. You’ll have it back before this conversation is over.” Tio whispered a word or two, and two balls of light formed around her. She brought both orbs of light close to the necklace as she looked over the necklace. Searching for anything obvious on the necklace. As expected, her magic wasn’t reacting to the necklace, so it wasn’t attuned to Light, and it wasn’t attuned to fire, either. Even if Tio wasn’t a fire mage herself, she’d been with Elisa enough to pick up on the signature. Tio relaxed, and allowed one of the balls of light to envelop the necklace. 

“Hmm… Yeah, there’s a trick to this one. It doesn’t react to me, or my magic at all. The magic is attuned in a very specific way, and I don’t particularly have the expertise to tell you where it’s attuned. I’ve never seen the method in which it's attuned either, so that further confirms that it’s ancient in some manner, but how ancient is beyond me.” The ball of light formed again over the necklace. “What I can say for certain is that Miria’s magic is the reason that the necklace reacts to her. So whatever her affinity is, happens to align with the necklace, which we can narrow to Dark, Earth, Thunder, Wind and Water. I’m fairly sure that we could narrow that further and remove Wind and Water as possibilities leaving just the first three. Elisa could probably check to see if it’s Thunder, but neither of us have the experience to test either Dark or Earth magic.” She handed the necklace back to Miria, as promised. “Figuring out about your other magic would take some time, and preparation, since it appears to wear on you.” 

"Ah yeah sorry, I could have told you that about the fire bit at least." Cin had wandered closer, interested in the discussion and inspection of the necklace. "First thing I tried to do when she used the armor was figure out what it was, but since I only have an affinity for fire magic, all I could do was rule that out. That's why I was so surprised when she managed to use a fire spell as strong as the one she showed you guys." He shook his head. He'd realized it was powerful but he'd been so caught off guard he hadn't realized it was an arcfire. Sloppy of him that first night. He would have to do better with all the weird magic that seemed to be popping up in the party. 

"Still, if we've limited it to earth or dark, why not ask Syndra? Given her dark magic use, she should be able to give the final verdict. Either it's dark and she can sense that, or it's earth and she can't. And knowing exactly what affinity it is could maybe help Miria here to figure things out a little bit more." He couldn't help but reach out and ruffle Miria's hair with a grin. "And then maybe she won't be nearly draining herself every time she fights."

“Mmm, I don’t know of any, but it wouldn’t take much for me to come up with one. Ooh, how about something to just make you look menacing?” Elisa immediately began thinking of what she could do that would have some sort of use casting only directly behind yourself, though the issue obviously was that that had nothing to do with how Miria was casting Arcfire like that. Then, a pause while Tio went over the issue of the necklace as best she could. Something about her reasoning seemed very slightly off, and that’s what the strawberry blonde would hone in on, making her own attempt to get to the bottom of this. “What if even that’s still thinking too simply about it? It’s obviously using Miria’s mana to create fire magic, but going on that track of thought could be a red herring. If we think past the affinities of magic, what’s ultimately the structure that lets all of us use magic if we train to use it?”

Tio obviously knew the answer to that, and so Elisa would just get to her point. “It might have nothing to do with affinity alignment, and instead be a circuit-synchronous pattern. The problem is, as far as either of us know, those are purely theoretical, because there’s no record of those having existed, and we can’t make them ourselves.” And it raised a further question of how the hell the guy who gave Miria the thing knew she could use it, if it was that sophisticated and selective.

Miria tried her best to make sense of what they were talking about. To her this was all magic mumbo jumbo that she didn't understand. Miria was just… a girl, who came across magic armor. At least, that's what she assumed. Or understood. As she heard more about her armor and its uniqueness and its inability to react to anyone else, it brought her back to her parents and their revelation.

What am I really?

She took back the necklace, quickly reattaching around her neck. "Um… there's a small thing. I think, it might help. I'm not sure, but," Miria took a deep breath. She believed the Evokers were trustworthy. "I don't know where I come from. Like, my mama and papa told me before I left home that, they found me at their doorstep and raised me. I don’t know anything else aside from that though. I don’t get any of the magic stuff you're saying, all I know is I can use it. And make explosions."

Elisa did have a point. Their line of reasoning, while strong, was also potentially simplistic with the almost unlimited possibilities of magic. A circuit-synchronous pattern did make sense in this scenario, but as Elisa mentioned, there wasn’t a single record of them, and it wasn’t possible to create them with the understanding that they had now. Such a pattern would resonate not with a person’s type of magic, but with the mechanism that allowed a person to use magic at all. “Hmm…” 

Miria then spoke up. Revealing that she had no idea where she was from. No idea who her real parents were. Tio clicked her tongue. That opened up any number of possibilities. Almost too many for Tio and Elisa to handle on their own. “It does open the scope of what we could be looking at, but on its own it isn’t too helpful, unfortunately. Don’t worry about that though. This is Elisa and my speciality; if there’s something to find regarding your necklace and your magic, we’ll find it before long.” 

Tio then, finally, turned to Cin to address his idea. “While I can be sure of your skill with fire magic, I can’t say the same for Syndra’s dark magic. I guess if you think she can manage it, it’s worth trying.” Tio couldn’t exactly hide her disdain at Syndra being mentioned. The woman hadn’t really proved anything aside from how annoying she could be. Speaking of which, Tio could only raise an eyebrow at Cinead considering the viewpoints of others. Considering that he had been completely unwilling to do so before. Though, that probably had more to do with the topic of that conversation. Even with that understanding, it was still equally as annoying for her to have been almost completely ignored during that. Oh well, it wasn’t her place to have gotten involved in the first place, and the topic was Miria’s unusual magic tonight. 

Tio returned her attention to Miria. “Either way… refining how you cast that Arcfire of yours should let you start casting it without completely depleting yourself. Even if the spell is a bit much for you, getting you to be able to controlled cast should fix most of the problem. That’s not really something we can deal with tonight, or tomorrow. It would be something we would work on over a period of time, if that’s what you would like.” Tio exchanged a glance with Elisa. You and I are going to have a lot of things to talk about.  

More pondering, thinking. She frowned a bit regarding how her admittance of her origins hadn’t helped, but quickly returned her smile once Tio said they'd figure it out. Maybe it'd… help her find out more about herself. Or if it mattered to her.

She wasn't blind to Tio's seeming negative attitude towards Syndra. Miria hadn’t known her that well, but she seemed nice to her. Maybe this little sidequest will lead to a new friendship. Or even better, maybe Miria could use dark magic! Maybe! There was a lot to think about. However, as of right now, Miria was offered the chance to hone her magic, maybe improve it.

"I, uh– Yeah! Of course! If I learn how to use my magic right, I don’t have to worry about putting myself as much at risk. Sure, I gotta get stronger physically," she motioned, jokingly showing off her muscles. "but, learning to maintain and use my magic, I can do that too!"

“Hmm, that’s fair. I don’t know her level of skill, maybe she can’t detect it.” Tio clearly seemed to have some emotions about Syndra, but Cin could somewhat understand that. His talk with Syndra had been perfectly friendly, but something had just seemed a little off. “Getting Miria some control would be good though. I can’t always be carrying her back to her room.”

He paused and then looked at Miria. “It doesn’t really matter who you are, you know that, right? It might help if you have some sort of heritage, but at the end of the day, you’re you. As for the magic stuff, I can try and help teach you some things, if you want. Just the basics of using magic, that sort of thing. Nothing too fancy.”

“Even if we can’t really figure out how the necklace works or why it lets you do this weird Arcfire, if training is what you need, you’ve got some of the best teachers here you could have. Well… Maybe not pedagogically, but you’d have to go to Lufiria to find anyone more skilled in our respective elements~” Elisa was very confident in her skills, but with how she’d more or less stumbled into her position thanks to developing her unique ability and everything that came after that, she wasn’t exactly the best teacher of the skills. Though, that ability in itself was a very powerful tool for teaching, if applied that way…

Cinaed’s thoughts largely echoed what the younger Evoker had in mind. She had struggled with something like that long ago, after all, and meeting Tio in the course of correcting her issues was what ultimately made her reach the heights she was at now. “He’s right, you know? All you really need to do is make the most of yourself with what you’re given, or if you’re given nothing, find a way to get something. I could barely cast Fire 15 years ago, and, well.” She gave a wink to Tio, getting on her feet and holding her right hand out straight up. Without delay, a great fireball grew over her open palm, downdraft billowing her mantle until she let it fly high, dissipating in a stream of large sparks like a firework. “That much comes like second nature nowadays,” Elisa concluded her demonstration, patting her strawberry blonde hair straight.

Miria looked over to Cin as he explained it didn’t matter who she was. It was… warming. Not the same as he normally would do, physically. It was that extra assurance it was right of her to be in this place. A tinge of red broke out in her face before patting herself, trying to make it go away. He even offered to help her as well.

Then Elisa. She said something similar, regarding putting time into her training and making the most of her skills, with an example of her experience with magic, then a demonstration. A beautiful fireball, shot into the sky, and popping. The glow in her eyes would’ve been blinding if not for her looking into the sky, mouth agape, completely in awe. And some fear, as she knew she could just be erased if she ever made Elisa or Tio angry.

“Oh right!” I’m so stupid! Caught in the moment, how did I forget this?! Miria thought better to conserve her energies, but she thought an example would help. “Sorry, I did have another thing, I know I can do.” After grabbing her gem, and putting herself back in her armor, Miria unsheathed her sword, focusing until it was surrounded in flames. “I… feel dumb, I should’ve shown this earlier. But… yeah, I can do this too. I just… tried this and found out I could set my sword on fire.” And soon after, she turned off her armor, the flames disappeared, and she resheathed her blade as quickly as she could.

Tio smiled with a wave of her finger. “Elisa’s quite right. We’re both peerless when it comes to our respective elements until we bring Lufirian mages into the equation. We’re not teachers by trade, but I’d say we’re both capable of learning. I’ve always enjoyed helping others with magic.” She looked over at Elisa. She’d effectively been her first real student, and it had quickly grown to be so much more than that. Both Elisa and Cinead–surprising, once again on Cinead’s end–had said exactly what she was thinking. It might have mattered who Miria actually was, but in the end, she could only be her, and do what she could. 

“Most everyone is capable of using magic to some degree. Most of the art is refining what you’re capable of doing.” She paused for a moment to watch Elisa. The spell was controlled masterfully, and cast far faster than most people would be able to cast a spell of the caliber that Elisa had just released. Bolganone was typically regarded as the highest fire spell a normal mage could learn, and Elisa was doing it without a conduit. The dissipation of the fireball as it flew away was beautiful. Though, much of Tio’s focus was on Elisa’s fluttering mantle, and her physique underneath. Elisa was a different kind of soft, and it was one that Tio had no problem appreciating whenever she could. Well, most of the time, she had people that she was supposed to be helping at the moment. “Thank you, Elisa~” She cleared her throat as she refocused back on the actual conversation, and Miria remembered that she could set her sword on fire.

“Huh. That’s a nifty trick.” She watched for a moment, before Miria put the blade away. “Hmm…” Tio looked up to where Elisa’s fireball had deteriorated. If the necklace was the reason she could do all of this, then why was seemingly all she could do attuned to fire? Tio ran through several scenarios before stopping on one. The armor, while impressive, seemed to be incomplete. The suit was missing pieces, which, unless it was designed that way, was odd especially given the way that it manifested. “Elisa. Does the suit seem damaged or incomplete to you? What if that’s why all of Miria’s magic seems to be manifesting as fire? That is to say, I wonder if the magic would manifest another way if the armor were in a more complete state?” 

Miria nodded in response to Tio's first comment regarding teaching her. Miria was on board with it, as per usual. If she could hone her sword skills with Ingverd, it was just another day or two that could busy out. And to have such wonderful teachers, two of the most powerful mages in the world, at least outside of Lufiria.

Continuing to try and track and understand what Tio was explaining, Miria assumed anyone could really do magic if they wanted. Of course, she was able to make explosions happen.

It was the final thing that peaked her interest. Her armor looked… damaged? That was… well, a way to put it, yeah. Miria recognized when she used it initially that it seemed to be missing pieces, hence why she needed to wear extra armor. Even when not in her armor. "I never even thought about if my armor was just… broken."

Elisa didn’t miss her wife’s appreciation, giving her a quick smile, though swinging back to Miria when she said she’d forgotten to mention something. There it was, the trick Elisa had seen previously when she’d seen her fight in the arena. That the suit gave her the ability to use her magic in only these very specific ways interested the younger Evoker, and Tio had a possible explanation to that, one the strawberry blonde hadn’t yet thought of. “Incomplete is probably a better way of putting it than broken, since the armor isn’t, you know, broken. Could be that the trinket itself has worn over time, or maybe the synchronization isn’t perfect. Assuming it’s circuit-synchronous like I suggested.”

Speculation aside, it’d likely be impossible to figure out exactly what this thing’s deal was without some very intensive research on it, and Miria needed it to do her job. Plus there was the chance said research would end up being destructive to the item. Elisa was sure that wouldn’t fly with the girl regardless of circumstance, even if it’d only be a loss in function and not form. Researchers still had to respect the feelings of others, no matter how important their research could be, or they’d be accepting immoral means to an uncertain end.

“Well, it sounds like there’s a lot of areas to explore with this then, ey Miria? Figure out if it’s broken, how to fix it, and most important, getting you some control over your magic so you don’t collapse every time you try and use it, ha.” He ruffled her hair again, smiling down at her. “I better start getting my skills up to snuff too, otherwise you’ll be out here casting arcfires without breaking a sweat and I’ll be stuck with the basic fire spells still. The world won’t know what hit them once you get properly trained.” He looked back at both the Evokers and gave them a nod, lingering on Tio’s for a second longer. “Thank you, both. I know I’m really just here as an observer, but it’s been really helpful listening to you two discuss the problem and figuring things out. It’s, good to see how much you care about a group of mercenaries.” I need to get my head on straight. And then apologize to Tio, I think. I handled our conversation poorly. But. I need to plan it out, otherwise I’ll just end up in a mess like I did with Ingverd. Take my time, and then apologize. Nothing good will come from rushing it.

Incomplete, Miria let that sink in. Maybe, there was a way she could make it work to its fullest. Perhaps if she did train harder, work harder, studied her magic if she could… She cuffed the necklace into her hands, and thought about it. The ability to just make her life easier, not have to carry around extra armor, to just have a fully realized, magical set of armor.

“Yeah!” She responded to Cin with an excited tone. Her smile was big and beaming. “I got a lot of hard work ahead of me!” And she’d make the most of it. From sword training with Ingverd, to potentially magic training with the Evokers, and even her own personal training. She’d keep her dream alive, and make it real.

“Thank you Miss Evokers, really. I… I learned a lot from you both today.”

“No need for thanks, Miria. I don’t think we’ve really achieved all that much to warrant it. Not that I don’t appreciate it. Though, I do think that’s all we can achieve here for now.” Tio smiled at her. Miria warmed up quickly once Tio got her to relax. It reminded her a little of Elisa, though, her shyness was borne of a much different place. “If you need help with anything, regarding magic that is, don’t hesitate to come find either of us. If Elisa or I come up with something with your magic, we’ll let you know.” 

Tio then turned to look at Cinead, her smile a bit more measured, “Thank you to you as well, Cinead. You made a good decision deciding to guide Miria in this direction.” His words made her bristle a bit, but with what he had believed about Ingverd, it wasn’t much of a stretch to have extended it to them. She didn’t have to like the insinuation, but it was logical to make that jump. She’d just have to continue to prove him wrong, just as she had with everyone else. “Alright, the both of you should probably head back, and start considering getting some rest. Especially you, Miria. We still have a bit of a journey ahead of us, and many things to explore.” Many appears to be an understatement with this group… 

Tio looked back at her wife with a bright smile, “As for you, dear. You and I have some things to talk about. Perhaps a little more than that as well~” She added with a wink. 


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An Unusual Gift


(A day before Liste and Sixteen's reveal)

Gean wandered about through the camp, it was getting late, and she hoped to make it to her destination before it got too late. Tio was very passionate about her sleep. If Gean didn't catch her now, she probably wouldn't wake up until they were on the road.

Reaching the Evoker's tent, she cleared her throat. "Excuse me, Ms. Tio? May I have a moment of your time? That is, if you're available."

Tio looked up from the notebook as her heard her name called by Aegean. She’d gotten a lot more done today in regards to her notes, even if the number of things to keep track seemed to be increasing exponentially. Such as Miria’s almost inexplicable explosion magic. Elisa was off doing some testing of her own in regards to that, since she was the fire mage, and she was better at the invention of spells. The spell seemed to have similarities with her own personal spell, so she was away from the tent for a moment. 

Tio had wanted to speak with Aegean, to see if she knew a bit more about what Ingverd had said, but things hadn’t lined up. And now that she was here of her own volition, she had something specific that she wanted to speak about. Considering how almost poorly her talk with Alvira went at the end of their training, she didn’t feel the most comfortable trying that again. Oh well, it will just have to wait until an opportunity presents itself

She closed the notebook, “I’m not doing anything particularly of note, Aegean. Is there something you needed from me?”

Gean let out a small sigh of relief at the mage's response. Stepping into her tent, she found Tio looking at a notebook. "Um, well more like a query if anything. It's actually kinda silly thinking about it, but you're the only person here who might have an answer." She scratched the back of her neck. "Sorry I'm rambling right now."

Tio turned to face the clouded woman, and noticed that she seemed a little off. At least compared to the confident, vivacious person that she had been whenever she’d seen her. “A query that only I might have an answer to, hmm?” Tio placed her hands in her lap, “Alright, consider me intrigued, Aegean. And I don’t mind the rambling; it’s something I fall into as well, but, not the point. What’s your question?” 

"Ok then." Gean took one second to calm herself before continuing. "So back in Eibar, I visited a fortune teller before we left. I don't normally put stock into things like that, but my curiosity got the better of me. When I sat down though, what she showed me wasn't something from my past." Gean took a pause. "I saw someone I knew in a place I had never seen before. Even more so I saw her standing next to a person with pink and blue hair whose magic power was unlike anything I had ever seen. You've traveled to many places outside of Glacies right? Have you ever met a person like that?"

Tio listened intently to Aegean’s question, making notes on particular important beats in her head. The question however, was a bit more nebulous than she thought, “Hmm… Well, I can say that if it was Divination, which it sounds like it was, it’s very likely that it was of the future. Practitioners often have a certain period that their magic tends to; rarely if ever can someone have complete mastery over Divination, or so it goes. Sounds like the one in Eibar tends towards the future.”

Tio stood up from her chair, waving a hand, “As to the more important question… I have traveled to many places, in fact, I’ve been to all of the countries; including Lufiria. I’ve met people with pink and blue hair, but I can’t say I’ve met someone with both, and certainly not as you’re describing them. Is there any more you could provide on their appearance, or maybe who was with the person? If it was a vision, there might be something with the person in question that could help.”

Things just kept getting stranger and stranger. There would definitely be something to put in her notebook after this.

Well on the bright side of things, Tio was able to give her more context on what she saw. Even if she couldn't give Gean an answer as to who the mysterious woman was, she was willing to help narrow down who it could be. "Well the weirdest part was that it felt like the person was looking at me. Like it didn't feel like a, I think you said divination? Rather the woman was contacting me through the orb itself." Gean still was weirded out by the whole thing. "And then there was a voice. It felt like there was a voice calling out to me. But me and the fortune lady were the only people there, and I know for sure it wasn't hers."

Tio’s eyes narrowed at Aegean’s continued explanation. “You heard a voice?” She crossed her arms, and leaned to the side. Divination wasn’t known for its visions to allow for messages and such due to its nebulous nature. What kind of magic would you need for that? “You’re absolutely sure that you have no idea what the place was that this woman was in? I can’t imagine that someone would just be able to contact you like that without some understanding of who you are… Not to mention the kind of magical power needed to do something like that.” She looked at Aegean, “If it’s not prying too far, what do you remember this woman saying? Are you absolutely sure that she was speaking to you?” 

Gean felt just the tiniest bit of pressure coming from Tio as she fired off her own questions. She stopped making eye contact with the woman but continued on. "I'm very sure I've never seen a place like that before. It was an altar underground, but surrounded by endless water from what I could see. There were no visible entrances or exits, and some floating structures, I think they were pillars."

"As for the voice, it seemed like she was speaking to me. Or rather, I could hear the voice directly in my mind. That and the fact that she was staring right into my eyes felt like enough proof for me. As for what she said, it's a little hazy, but I want to believe she said 'offer myself to her'." Gean wasn't comfortable enough yet to mention her name. She felt Tio was a good person at heart, but she wasn't ready to share everything with her. Especially after her conversation with Tasha.

“‘Offer yourself to her…’” She rolled her eyes back and forth, almost as if she was searching for the answer somewhere in her head. This was all rather fantastical, and that was saying something coming from her. Aegean did stop making eye contact with her, so there may have been more there. Pressing didn’t seem worth it at the moment. But the area she described… it wasn’t like any altar that she’d ever seen, or heard of for that matter. Water seemed to imply it had something to do with that, and the colors mentioned seemed to align with that.

“Mmm… I can’t say I’ve ever heard about a place like that, nor have I met anyone like that.” She cupped her cheek with her hand, leaning into it. “I wish I was of more help, but there’s simply not enough information to work with here. The only thing I can maybe say is that this figure might have something to do with water, what with the area you described, and her appearance. A priestess of some sort, perhaps. But without anything else to work with, that’s all bluster from me.” 

All of this after Ingverd telling me about what Aegean’s family has been a part of? Are the planets aligning or something? This is just a coincidence, right? There can’t be any overlap between those things… Ughhh… None of this is making sense! 

Well it seemed that Tio didn't have the answers Gean was looking for. "Well, thank you anyways for the attempt. I was a shot in the dark in the first place." She looked down, a little sad that she didn't get the answer she thought she might have. That's when she noticed her necklace and started to twirl it around her finger. "If that's all, I'll let you return to your night. Wouldn't want to prevent you from getting your beloved sleep."

“...You, do realize that I don’t go to sleep nearly this early without being tired, right?” Tio had a little frown on her face, before sighing. “You’re really not cutting into my sleep. Well, maybe I should sleep a little earlier, but, too much to do, and not enough time.” Tio did feel a bit bad that she couldn’t provide any answers, or even a direction really as to what happened to Aegean. It seemed like Aegean was expecting a little more of her. Then, Tio noticed the necklace that Aegean had started playing with. Tio leaned a bit closer to the necklace; she noticed that when the necklace swung closest to Aegean herself, that there was a glimmer of magic. 

“Strange… Aegean? This might sound a bit strange, but may I see that necklace for a moment? Do you… notice that it faintly shimmers when it's close to you?”

"Eh?" Gean looked back up after being asked about her necklace. "Uh sure you can see it. I honestly don't notice most of the time. If I touch it I'm usually just fiddling with it." Gean took the necklace off, being careful to not get it tangled in her dreads. Once free of her hair, she handed it over to Tio. "It should just be a normal necklace right?"

Aegean handled the necklace over fairly easily compared to the rest of the talk. And almost immediately being placed in Tio’s hands, the necklace visibly started to shimmer. “I… wow.” Tio brought it closer, and started examining it. She closed her eyes, and made a small ball of light in front of her, before placing the necklace next to it. “...Aegean, where did you get this? This is… well, you’re right that it’s a normal necklace, on the surface. But this gem is filled with delayed magic; or magic that’s planted for use later, under specific conditions. And whoever made this… is very, very magically adept. Something like this would be uncomfortably expensive, and just it’s… make, is well beyond a lot of similar magical pieces like this.”

Tio turned and looked at Aegean, both bewildered and excited to see such a well crafted magical artifact. “How on Amaranthe could you have come by an artifact as well made as this?” 

Tio took to the necklace like a moth to flame, inspecting it closely. Apparently the necklace was equipped with some magic, and was worth far more than Gean had assumed. Tio then pressed her on where she got it, which brought back that hesitancy in Gean. However, she had already dodge some of the inquiries on her fortune, she couldn't quite keep that up. "It's actually a necklace from my mother. I… have seen her since I was young, but my father gave it to me right before we left Glacies. He told me she wanted me to have it when I was ready 'to stand on my own'."

She got it from her mother? That’s… Tio looked back at the necklace, and then back at Aegean. She remembered when they met; Aegean appeared stunned and concerned about their trip to Lufiria. Then Ingverd’s conversation from a couple nights ago, and now this necklace. Something like this, crafted to this degree, and able to remain hidden for this long, could only be made in Lufiria, especially if it wasn’t made recently. It wasn’t a confirmation of everything, but it was growing to be strong evidence.

“Aegean.” Tio said, letting the ball of light fade, and handing the necklace back to Aegean. “I’m quite sure that you know that magical artifacts are my specialty, right? The quality of this artifact is beyond what’s usually possible in the alliance. We’re really only starting to be able to master things like this. Which means, either you’re lying to me, or this necklace is from Lufiria. I’m noticing that you’ve been a bit hesitant; you never told me who the 2nd person in the vision was, and you seem to at least have an idea of where this necklace really came from.” Tio relaxed herself and then smiled at Aegean, “If you can’t tell me, just say so, but please don’t try to step around it. I’m not nearly as airheaded as I may look.” 

"Well for starters, mam. I was telling the truth that the necklace was from my mother. And while I'm not comfortable sharing everything yet I will confirm that it's probably Lufirian in origin. I myself had not seen the necklace before that night with my father." Tio's last few words have Gean enough information that she could put some pieces together. "And since we're talking about not being an airhead…" Gean paused. "I would prefer not to divulge some things, but it sounds like you know some of those answers anyways." Gean wasn't completely sure, but she had a hunch that Tio knew she was Lufirian.

Tio’s eyebrow rose. It shouldn’t have been surprising; Aegean seemed like she had a good head on her shoulders, but it was impressive nonetheless that she seemed to pick up on her underlying information. She sighed, “Well, I’m almost sure that it's Lufirian made. And, yes, I do have some advanced knowledge of who you are, Aegean. You can rest assured that the only people who know this are myself, Elisa, and Ingverd, as well as whoever you’ve deigned to tell.” 

She sat back down in her chair, looking up at the taller woman, “As I said before, if you can’t say, I would prefer it if you were upfront with me. You have your reasons, and I’ll respect that. But, you can’t ask for help and then mask what could be important information. That really only hurts your outcome. As for how I know, I’m sure you can figure that out already. I had a hunch, but we’d never spoken much, so it remained that.”

Tio pondered a moment, and decided to shift the conversation a little. If Aegean wanted to speak on it more, it would be up to her to go in that direction. “Well, about the necklace. It seems to have a very, very high quality enchantment on it; the magic in this necklace is very strong, but the enchantment constrains it and keeps it from all seeping out at the same time. Magical artifacts tend to lose their imbued magic over time, and the quality of the enchantment is what determines its effectiveness, and longevity. This one… with as little time as I had it, seems to be of a defensive nature. It’s currently in an inactive state, so the magic inside isn’t really doing anything. Not exactly sure what exactly that entails, nor how the magic is released; I’d need more time with it to tell you that.”

Gean relaxed just a little at Tio's admittance. "Well if Ingverd is in that group, he probably told you plenty. So counting you three and Tasha that's 4 people in on the truth." Gean ran her fingers through her hair. She wasn't expecting people to find out this quickly, but she knew the best thing was just to accept that this was inevitable as long as she was on this trip. "Sorry about that earlier. It's just. I've kept my past a secret for so long, it's hard letting people know. Especially when I consider what I might be involving people in. As long as it's between those who know, I'll try to answer what I can."

Gean listened closely as Tio explained more about the pendant. Whatever magic it is, it was defensive in nature. "I'm guessing whatever it's supposed to protect me from, I haven't run into it yet." Gean put a finger to her chin. "In fact I think I know who made the enchantment, but they're probably someone I won't come in contact with. As long as we keep within the confines of the mission." Or we all will be in big trouble if I do.

Tio shrugged, "It's really not a problem, Aegean. We all have secrets that we'd rather keep to ourselves. But importantly, to that last part, you should let others know. It may feel like you're imposing on them, but if it were to come to pass and no one was ready, things could be far worse. That said…"

Tio leaned forward in the chair, "It would probably help to have some idea of what we're dealing with. You say that you might know the person who made this? Even if there is little chance that we run into them, being prepared is preferable." The fact that Aegean might have known who made the enchanted necklace was simultaneously intriguing and concerning. Tio had a million questions, but for the moment she needed to focus on the important things. "But maybe it would be better to start with the other person in the vision; maybe that will help in figuring out our mystery woman."

"Well, if I'm gonna do that, you might wanna sit back." Gean had an idea of what Tio's reaction might be soon, and wanted her to sit completely first. For her own safety, and Gean's own sanity.

"So the other person in my vision is also related to this necklace. She was a rose haired healer, and her name is Catherine Noire. My cousin."

Gean picked the necklace up and held it near her face, letting the magic simmer just a bit. "As for the owner of this magic, the only person I can think of to make it, was Serena Noire. My Aunt, and the Grand Cleric of Lufiria." Gean mentally braced herself for whatever Tio said next.

Tio could have only wondered why exactly Aegean would have asked her to sit back. There wasn’t much that she could have said that really would have. “...Hold on a second.” Tio could have sworn that Aegean just said the ‘Grand Cleric of Lufiria’. Lufiria was a very secretive place, if mostly because the rest of the world despised them. But at least in magical circles, there was mention of the Grand Cleric, or, at least from what anecdotes said, the most powerful cleric in recent memory. 

“...The Grand Cleric of Lufiria? You’re saying… that not only is this necklace probably crafted by her. You’re also saying that she’s your aunt?” Tio paused for a moment. She expected that there was something in Aegean’s past that they might need to watch out for. The Grand Cleric of Lufiria was not something she considered at all. There was the other name too, Catherine Noire, Aegean’s cousin. “Okay. That’s a lot. Oh boy… Hmm. Well. If this Catherine is related to you… is it possible that the voice could have been speaking to her?” 

Tio closed her eyes, and pinched the bridge of her nose for a moment, before reopening them, “You say that there’s very little chance that we would encounter her. But in the event that we did… she wouldn’t be hostile towards us, would she?” There really was very little chance that they would encounter someone that prominent in Lufiria, or at least, as a group; Tio and Elisa might cross paths with her once they entered Lufiria. But Tio needed to know what to expect if they did encounter someone of that caliber.

Well Tio took that news just they way Gean thought she would. "That's why I told you to sit back." Gean then shifted her weight and put her hands on her hips, her head pointed at the ceiling of the tent. "I thought about that, but it still doesn't explain why the voice was looking at me, nor the fact that I could hear it in my head. Maybe because we're related?" The whole thing was still confusing to Gean.

"Hostile to you? No. She's a fairly sweet and charismatic person. Now, to me, who she hasn't seen in ten years…" Gean shuddered to think about the prospect of an angry Serena. "Ms Tio I'm going to be completely honest with you. I appreciate you giving the Tigers this chance, and even more so not throwing me out the second you found out the truth. But if we ran into my Aunt, and wanted to take me…"

Tio’s eyes narrowed. Aegean let her sentence trail, but she already knew exactly what she was going to say. It was uncomfortably similar to what Ingverd had asked. There was a key difference however. One that made Tio’s next words all but certain. “You don’t have to finish that sentence. The answer is no, by the way.” Tio stood up, and her hair shifted to full green. She kept her activation perfectly under control, as to not alert Elisa or any of the other magically sensitive members of the Tigers. 

“I appreciate the thought, and honestly, if I were anyone else, the correct thing to do with the stakes of this mission would be to do as you ask. However.” Tio’s staff appeared behind her, and separated into pieces floating about her in a circle. “That’s not who I am. You, and the Tigers are our escort, that much is true. But as the Evoker of Light, currently acting as an emissary to Lufiria, I also have my duties to protect whoever I can. Glacian, Hecatian, Lufirian, even Islexian, it doesn’t matter. So I won’t be just handing you over, or leaving you to your fate. If your Aunt has an issue, she can take it up with Elisa and I, and then Iseria if it gets that far. I’m not going to stand by and let family fight against family without doing what I can. Hope you don’t mind.” 

Tio huffed, and waved her hand, reconstructing her staff and then making it disappear. That last part wasn’t necessary, but the words had been said. There was almost no chance that they’d run afoul of her; Tio’s limited understanding of Lufiria suggested that someone of that medical skill wouldn’t be able to leave the country on a whim. It was still a little worrying that they might be approaching conflict with the Grand Cleric of Lufiria because that could very easily spiral into real problems. Even if Tio was just going to play a deterrence to out and out battle between Aegean and her Aunt, that would be enough. If she was as charismatic and sweet as Aegean said, there probably was a way to keep things from escalating in the event any of this ever occurred.

Gean wore her surprise all over her face as Tio stood up, and her hair changed color. Gean wasn't as versed in the ways of magic as others were. However even she could tell how much power. Giving out a huge sigh and holding her head she resigned. "Ok if you say so chief. If you feel so strongly, I'll work with you the best I can." Gean was slowly realizing that nothing on this trip would go to plan for her. Whether she'd be able to come to terms with this fact was still up for debate.

Tio crossed her arms, and then sighed at Aegean's resignation. Family fighting against family was already reason enough for her to step in. "If she's as reasonable as you say then we should have nothing to worry about. But I am quite tired of people immediately trying to become a martyr before exhausting every other possible Avenue. I won't stand for it, and I know the other Tigers won't either."

Tio then started thinking about how exactly to tackle this. There was no way that this one group just so happened to have so many important elements in it. Alvira, Alriana, and now, especially Aegean with a connection to the strongest cleric in Lufiria. Did Iseria know more than she let on or was this all entirely just a twist of fate? Seems like Elisa and I will have some work to do later…

Finally Tio spoke up again, "Does Commander Natalya know this all at least? I doubt this connection will come into play, but having precautions in place would be a good idea. I'll be keeping an eye out, and if you need help with anything, I can attempt to help." She then cracked a smile, "Just as long as it's not something physically strenuous. Not exactly much help in that regard." A bit of a lie, Tio just didn't want to have to do anything like that if she didn't have to.

"She knows a fair bit, but not the full details of my family name. I'll sit down with her soon on that." This is the second time you've told someone before her. Way to go Gean. "I'll remember to keep you in mind when I'm not lifting boxes then. If you ever need me too, feel free to find me." Gean placed her necklace back on her neck and began to walk back out of the tent. "Have a good night Tio. Hopefully sleep goes well for you."


Edited by Bluemask 96

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