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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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"Embarrassed...? That what this feeling is?" It was a foreign emotion to the lizard, yet another to add to her repertoire. "What cute mean?" He'd called her such several times, but she'd never asked for an explanation from him before. If he wanted to try this 'dating' thing she might as well get as much information out of him as possible in the meantime. He was good at gathering her armor, at least. She took the piece and placed it next to her armor. "Yes. Grelbiria gave me when we left to Glacies. When she left, she told me to take it with me. Said that it fixes itself as long as enough of it remains." She scanned the area, spotting a piece near her armor and moving it closer with her tail.

"Natalya probably knows most, she fixes armor for Tigers." She studied the smirk on his face, not as irked by it for some reason. "Why does seeing me make you happy? I know you explained it a lot, but I still don't understand."

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"Cute, means I think you're... Endearing. The way you act is... Mmmm... It means I think that you're... This is really hard to explain, heh. Geez..." As she finished picking up her armor, the rest of the group came into sight. It seemed they'd handled things on this end, with Tio interrogating what was left of the knights. Aly's newfound sister was peeking at them from behind... Someone-- Oh! That's the boy they had tied up... It's good to know he made it through this unscathed. Versaris smiled; things had gone perfectly, despite their opponent. "Cute means that I appreciate your mannerisms in a very endearing way, Aly. The way you carry yourself inspires affection in me... Why? Well, because I love you, that's why~ Explaining that again will just drive us in a circle... One leads to another, starting with how I feel about you." He was making himself blush, speaking about it so plainly, but she wouldn't get it if he wasn't so blunt.

"As for why it makes me happy, of course it would. Why would I ever want to see you harmed? Your armor keeping you safe lets me focus on the fight. So let's make sure it repairs itself properly, so it can continue its job." He ruffled her 'hair' again and leaned over to kiss it, passing her and moving towards Tio, now. "Looks like everything's in order... Aside from... The popsicle, over there." Versaris smirked at the captain, his hands frozen, either by Syndra or Alvira.

"Salutations, captain! This loyal 'dog' ran off to his 'owners' and made sure to bring them here on time. How unfortunate for you~"


"Sure thing~" Siorel was fine with waiting, especially if they had to confirm payments with the big wigs. Probably the green haired lady throwing all the big magic around. Whatever the case, she did her best not to chuckle at the other woman present talking about babysitting. "I might be fresh into my twenties, but I promise I don't need any sort of sitting. I don't know miss Natalya's age, but really, kids? I can take care of myself... Made it all the way here hitching rides~ This is just the next ride I'll put one hundred percent into." She was confident, that was for sure.

Edited by Mel the DM

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The captain's belligerent tone faded away, all too conveniently,  like he had something up his sleeve even now. Amateur. Alvira seemed to sense it as well, binding his hands in ice. "No need to apologize to me. Although I will say, you didn't go far enough." Syndra then took her arm that held the ice shards she made and began tracing shapes around the captain's legs. "Of all things I could and 'want' to do to you, know you're getting off rather light by comparison."  Syndra then snapped her fingers, shooting the ice shards into the ground near the horse's legs, then making chains of ice form,  attempting to tie the captain's legs to the shards. "Just in case you're faster with your legs then with your head. Next time, it you're planning on bluffing, don't make it so obvious." Then Syndra laughed. "Oh who am I kidding there's not going to be a next time." Syndra then went to leave with the others, and noticed Ingverd arrive with Aly. I guess he's the reason the Evokers showed up in the first place. No point in saying anything to him, I'm probably the last person he wants to hear from anyway. More important to her was what happened to Miria; who had been knocked out during the fight, and Nyxied; whom she hadn't seen at all during the fight. Both of them are fine, right? Miria got carried off, but Nyxied... maybe she was off fighting with the captain when she broke off to handle the other side of the battlefield.

Edited by Billy12510

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Cin stopped, closing his eyes and barely holding back and irritated sigh as Tanya called out from behind him. "I said I was fine on my own and I meant it. I don't need a babysitter." The words were harsher than necessary, and he immediately flinched at them, realizing the anger and frustration he'd forced down before were bubbling back up. He tightened his fists, digging his nails into the palms of his hands, turning them pale from the strain before finally managing to turn back to Tanya with a stiff, polite smile on his face. "I'm aware you were teasing, no need to worry. It was not any one individual of you, as I said, it was just a lot and I am tired." He could feel the fakeness in his voice, hoping that the cat who didn't know him very well wouldn't notice, or would chalk it up to tiredness. He just wanted to be alone. To be away from everyone he might yell at or hurt accidentally if he lost the tenuous grips he had on his temper and magic. "I'm just going back to the inn, no need to follow me. Your offer is kind, but really. I just need to be alone." He gave her another tight smile and a nod, before turning back around and continuing his path towards the inn.

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Gean responded back to Nyx's hair ruffling by sticking her tounge out at the bow woman. Tasha's reply to Siorel's introduction was expected. The group was a lot larger than when they had initially left Glacies, and they hadn't even made it out of Hecatia yet. Siorel didn't falter one bit though, so Gean left the matter at that. Elisa was here, so she and Tasha could handle things from there. 

Turning her head down to woman in her arms, Gean gave a slight bit of concern when Renais mentioned how tired she was. "If you need some rest, I can show you to the inn. We're sharing a room tonight so I have the keys right here in my pocket." Gean had a hunch that they were free for the rest of the night, so making sure folks were situated probably would be for the best. "I already took the left bed so you can have the right one. Oh, and we can check up on Miria while we're at it."

 

Edited by Bluemask 96

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Renais let out yet another sigh, resigned to her fate. "Sure, I'm ok with that Gean..." The pinkette got so comfortable she wound up snuggling against Gean a little, possibly on impulse. "We can check in on Miria too, but I have a feeling after I finish some things I'll be very tired so I'll just be in bed..."

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"You can clearly tell as much yourself." Ferid didn't even bother turning to face the incensed captain, instead focusing on Tio as the primary authority in the situation. "I only did what I felt correct given the conditions. If you still have questions, I will answer to the extent that operational security will allow me to. A concept this fool has clearly never heard of." He casually nodded toward Maraval, and observed the mercenaries as they accosted the captain and froze his limbs to an extent where struggling would be difficult. "Restraining looks to be done as well, but we'll make sure he doesn't try to escape. Come on." The tall man gave Noah's shoulder a quick pat, walking up between the iced knight and the Evoker, pointing for the other knight to stay behind his captain.

Another voice soon joined the group, one Ferid narrowed his eyes at. Hmm... No. It's too soon to ask. The mission takes priority, for now. Even without that bonus complication, this would be a long evening, and he wanted to be asleep already. No matter; lacking some hours of shuteye wouldn't slow him down. It wouldn't be allowed to.


"That's good to hear, and I'll keep that in mind. I'll probably have to go help Tio deal with the trek back up to the manse soon though, and she might not look like it at the moment, but she's pretty dead tired," Elisa replied, shrugging, but at least happy that the Tigers were mostly in good health after fighting the Knights. Certainly more of a worthy enemy, although this particular bunch seemed to be more on the lines of the people they'd already fought when looking at just their integrity. Artorius's recruits and not Celine's, most likely.

Being right nearby, she overheard the question of supplies come up with this new lizard woman potentially joining the Tigers. "You might be in luck, because I got a tip for a less purpose-tailored resupply location from the guy running our current resupply effort here. I haven't discussed it with Tio yet, and, well. I don't think she's going to have the energy to do that today, I know how she is when it's like this." She shook her head, looking toward the shine of her wife's crystals. "I'll go see if she hasn't managed to make the remaining knights surrender. Oh, and, be careful with the fox if she approaches you. There's something off about her." They could find out the centuries old part for themselves if they actually met, but Elisa only hoped that that would pass without incident as she walked to the main group.


Natalya chuckled at Nyx's insistence on that, as well as how quick Siorel was to assert her independent capabilities. "That's mostly just a joke about how I'm nearing my forties, and how most of the Iron Tigers are about your age." She casually pointed a thumb at Gean, "It's not a joke to Gean right here though, I've known the girl since well before she was an adult, yeah?" Thinking back on it, those cards were probably still in her pocket... hopefully intact.

A Late Birthday Gift

Spoiler

Gean walked down the hallway of the Lonely Stone. Thankfully Tasha and Nyx had already stopped by, and the bunny at the front counter told Gean which room Tasha was in. Checking her pockets briefly, Gean made sure her little "birthday gift" she had made for her boss was still on her person. "Good. I still have both of them." Having confirmed both cards, Gean slid them into her back pocket and continued on to Tasha's room.

Finally reaching the right door, Gean knocked three times. "Hey boss, it's Gean. I came to talk."

Natalya had gotten her things situated in her and Alvira’s room from the carts, but the latter hadn’t shown up quite yet. Alvira had much less stuff to chuck around, so she’d probably be fine even without the tiger helping her, making her answer to the now approaching Gean easy. “And talk you can,” she replied, walking over to the door and letting the merfolk inside. “If your topic’s anything like last time, I’m guessing you’d rather have privacy. Come on in.” Despite the implications, Tasha put on her best smile, not wanting her precious girl to feel apprehensive about speaking her mind.

Tasha seemed to be in a good mood. That was good. Entering the room, Gean made her way over in front of one of the beds with her hands behind her back. "First things first…" Facing the Tiger, she brought one hand out holding a card. On it in fancy writing was the words 'One free Gean pass. Anything you want.' "Happy birthday Mom. I missed getting something while we were in Eibar, but I'm hoping this makes up for it." Gean gave a sincere smile as she placed the card in Tasha's hand.

The tiger was confused for a second, wondering what this card was about, but the following brightened up her smile some more. “Come here, you.” She pulled Gean into a hug, petting her hair while giving the usual ample softness from the front, plus a little kiss on the forehead. “Thanks, Gean. Really, I couldn’t have asked for a better play daughter, even if you’ve still got some things you’d rather keep secret.” Her smile turned a bit cheeky, “Isn’t that right, Miss Levion?”

Gean was expecting the hug. She was even prepared for Tasha’s trademark headpats. It was the kiss on the forehead that blindsided her, reddening her face. Luckily the Tiger was built in a way where Gean could tilt her head down and her face could be completely obscured. She did just that as she returned the hug. Play Mom or not, The commander did mean a lot to Gean. “I don’t appreciate the way you said that.” The merfolk huffed from her hiding spot as Tasha teasingly said her last name. “But yes I do want to talk more about those secrets. And some things that happened back in Eibar.” Gean mentally steeled herself, hoping this conversation would not go the same way as the bathtime talk did.   

Tasha chuckled at Gean’s huff, but kept herself relatively serious. The earlier fib with Nyx in mind, she really didn’t feel like messing up again the same evening, and so there would be less questions and poking from her side, unless the merfolk prompted it. “I figured you weren’t here just to deliver a present, though I’d have appreciated that too. But if that was all you were looking to do, you could’ve just given it the same way Alvira did. You don’t fluster that differently whether I pat you in private or in front of people.” Still, a bit of a lighter tone would probably help in keeping herself calm.

Gean then pulled another card out of her pocket but with the same writing as the first. "I'm giving you this second one, because of things that happened on our way here." After handing the card over the younger lady continued. "So it seems Ingverd told the Evokers the truth about me recently. The other night I went and talked to Ms Tio and she brought up that she knew and asked me some questions, so I ended up telling her a few things I hadn't told you yet. I want to talk about those things now, but not before apologizing about telling someone else first before you."

The tiger tried to hide her disappointment, but couldn’t avoid a small chip in her smile. Then again, this wasn’t new at this point, and in fact, she’d almost expected it. “I’ll accept that, but I’d rather this didn’t become a habit,” Tasha replied, pulling some distance between them as she took the other card and pocketed both. “I get Ingverd can be very persuasive and the Evokers are my bosses too while we’re on this mission, but, y’know.”

“Well they’re the only ones who know right now, and I plan to correct that tonight. Anything you want to know, fire away. I’ll answer any questions.” Gean wanted to make sure this was the last time someone knew before Tasha. The feeling of hurting one of the closest people to hurt sucked more than any battle wound. Gean wanted to prevent that from now on however she could.

“That’s good to know, but there’s one problem about that. I don’t really know where I should start, so, maybe, you should open with something I don’t know yet?” Perhaps the simplest question she had would’ve opened the floodgates to something more specific, but Tasha wanted the initiative to be on Gean. If she wouldn’t, then that would be its own thing, though it didn’t feel like she’d be held out on.

“Well, let’s see… I’ve told you my name, where I’m from. We touched on why I’m no longer in Lufiria. I guess the next important thing would be who my family is, and who they know.” Gean pondered for a moment on how to proceed. “Ok well to start, my dad who you’ve met has always been a fisherman, even before we came to Glacies. Things get a little crazy once we get to my aunt though.”

“Mhm. Duncan’s a nice guy, though it did take a while to convince him it was okay for us to turn into a proper mercenary group when you became of age,” Tasha recalled, that having been a few years back by now. “Maybe if he’d have shown interest, you’d be my daughter for real, haha.” The joke was moreso to distract herself from whatever explosive facts Gean was going to drop. Lufirian nobles were, by all measures she’d heard when conversing with Iseria, not very comparable to the rest of the world’s in many respects.

“I… don’t know if he’d be able to handle you. Maybe? You and mom are kinda similar…” Gean thought about the idea, for probably longer than she should. Shaking her head from the idea, her dreads swished about. “Anyways, my Aunt Serena. She was of common birth like my dad, but she took to healing, much like my grandmother.  Then she joined the military… and took part in the Islexian Collapse. Kinda became a big hero for being a part of it. Now she serves as Lufiria’s Grand Cleric, one of their highest authorities.” Gean took a minute to let that sink in, considering this was only the tip of the iceberg with what she was going to share with Tasha. Best not to bombard her with too much all at once.

The Collapse. Of course. Natalya had heard a lot about it, but like most Glacians, she didn’t have much of a personal connection to what had happened. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the Alliance. “I heard all of the big heroes of that war got as much prestige and as many honors as it was possible for Queen Hilda to grant. Not too surprising with how badly Lufiria embarrassed Islexia and Hecatia, but you’re saying your aunt is a top government officer now?”

"More like she's the most influential healer in the country. Even Tio had heard rumors about her and was a little shaken to say the least. And then there's my uncle." Gean paused. Thinking about it, it still amazed her that the man had yet to find her at this point. "My uncle happens to be a prominent character in Lufirian intelligence. He also was considered a hero of The Collapse. He actually met my aunt that way. The point is, they both are big names back in Lufiria, though I haven't seen them in ages." That was a start. Where the two would go next would be up to Tasha.

“So you’ve got one of the most influential healers in the world,” Tasha began, correcting a little just by widening the scope. If she was that big a deal in Lufiria, she’d surely be one of the best in the entire world, no question about it. “and a sneaky type of about the same level of importance. Surely with you being family, they would be looking for you, considering you had to leave the country… and maybe not entirely to protect you?” But with Glacies being more closely partnered with Lufiria than any other country, it should be no problem at all to get an intelligence officer into the country for business that was certainly personal to him. They’d had more than four years of time, so what was the holdup?

"We thought so too. However nothing happened over the last 10 years. Not a mention or a person looking suspicious." Gean had woken up at least once or twice since their boat ride into the mainland thinking about her uncle showing up, or worse. "Well, to make matters worse, those two dancers we met on the ship had an idea of who I was. I don't know their relationship with my family, only that they have some connection." Gean was still uneasy about the two, considering how her first talk with Ingverd went. "That's all about my family though. Oh, there's my cousin Catherine. She was training to be a healer when I last saw her, so I wouldn't be surprised if she's become one too. Very sweet." Thinking of Cathy brought Gean back to her time at the fortune teller, which put a noticeable frown on the girl's face.

Despite the nice words, Gean didn’t look entirely happy to think about this Catherine. “Miss her that much, do you?” At least, not knowing any of the history between them, that much made sense to suppose. “If there’s nobody around to hound you, we can hope it’ll stay that way, even if we meet some people who do know you. But if they do show up and have a problem with you, they’ll have a problem with me, no matter how stupid that might be for me to do, alright? I don’t want you to think you have no options if your past comes knocking in a bad way.” Tasha crossed her arms, reflecting Gean’s expression. She knew that sort of pledge would put her at odds with some of the strongest people alive, but what kind of mom would she be if she didn’t try to defend her daughter?

Gean looked at Tasha and gave her a small smile. Despite how dreadful the idea of her new family fighting her old one sounded, she was glad that there were people who were completely on her side. "Thanks Mom, but that's not quite everything. I do miss Cathy greatly, and I would love to see her again. However my frown comes from something that happened recently." Gean sighed as she leaned against the wall.

"Back in Eibar, I went and saw a fortune teller. I think a couple of us in the group saw her. But what I ended up seeing, well it just didn't feel like a fortune. It was too bizarre." Gean still didn't know what to make of that entire encounter, or how to approach it.

“Oh, you too.” Everyone had a slightly different experience with the hag, from what it sounded like. “Mine was pretty weird too, though I don’t think I saw anyone familiar other than myself. Made me look a heck of a lot more important than I think I am, either way, but I know some others saw some genuinely upsetting things.” Tasha sighed, bringing her tail around to play with the tip a little. “I don’t think too much stock should be put into those. Even if a fortune is true, it’s leaving out all the context. Maybe it won’t ever happen the way it looked.”

“Well that’s the thing, I wasn’t even in mine. I saw my cousin, and this person I had never seen in my life, who looked crazy magical. They were also staring straight at me, like they had noticed someone was watching them. Plus I don’t know too many fortunes where one hears a voice speaking directly to them. I don’t know, it just felt too weird to pass off. Like someone or something wanted me to see it.” Gean once again shook her head to get her mind off of what she saw, too many questions that she felt she wouldn’t get answers for. At least getting it off her chest to both Tasha and Tio made her feel a bit better.

“Enough about that, anything else you wanna know? I told you about my family already, but if there’s anything else you might be curious about I’m willing to share. Even if it’s not about my past.” Gean took a seat on one of the beds and crossed her legs, waiting for Tasha’s next move.

“How would someone even know they’re being seen in a vision? That doesn’t make any sense.” The thought of it alone was enough of a cerebral conundrum to figure out that the magically impotent Tasha just let it slide with a shake of her head. “Well, I do know most of what you’ve been up to since you came to Glacies and all. You’ve been with me for so much of that time…” A smile crept back to her lips, though in a way, it made the tiger strangely sensitive to what Gean thought about her in turn. She’d never spent as much time with anyone besides her parents than the merfolk, making her pull her tail in a bit closer with a small twitch of the ears. “Um, you don’t think it’s, weird, right? That I’m seeing someone your age, I mean.”

Well that was a curveball for sure. Tasha was rarely ever this… was passive the right word? Gean stroked her chin for a moment, to make sure she found the right words. “I was a little surprised at first, but the signs were already there. Considering how attached at the hip Vira has been, most people can tell how much meeting you has changed her. On top of that, a certain someone has been smiling a lot more, and as their ‘play daughter’ I couldn’t ask for a better outcome. Well, even then I don’t think my opinion would matter anyway in Vira’s world.”

Getting up and standing right next to the tiger, Gean leaned her head on Tasha’s shoulder and closed her eyes. “The point is, as long as you’re happy and you want this, I’m one hundred and one percent behind you. Go get her Mom.” Gean’s smile then turned into a grin. “I have to give Vira props though. This might be the first time I see you make a face like that. You don’t use um that often either. I wonder who’s fallen more?” Gean rarely got the chance to tease Tasha back, she would have to savor this moment while she could.

“Yeah, I don’t think she’s the type to worry about what other people think about her.” Or at least it didn’t feel like it at that point in time, though Alvira obviously held her as an exception. Girlfriends and all. “...And my point is that I care what you think, dummy,” Tasha mildly grumbled, letting go of her tail and giving Gean’s hair a quick ruffling. She was right about it being a rare opportunity, but the tiger didn’t mind, she felt it only fair if she was teased for her, uh, unconventional relationship. “Really, I was prepared to be ridiculed after I figured out it wasn’t going to just be a flight of fancy. I gave her a chance, she took it, and now she’s working on herself fast enough to make me feel like I’m not doing enough. But… I guess I’m doing enough just by being who I always am. Still weird to think about.”

"Tasha please. If just being you is enough to melt one of our resident ice queens, never change." Gean laughed as Tasha ruffled her hair. "I'm sure the others are fine with it too, and if anyone isn't cool with my mom being happy and in love, they'll have to answer to me." Gean put a bit of pride in her statement. It then hit Gean, her eyes widening. "Oh I almost forgot. There's this dancer in town, looking for people to travel with. I tried to tell her no is the likely answer, but she marches so strongly to her own tune that I couldn't stop from promising she'd be able to meet you at least." Gean then realized at that moment that she hadn't even given this Siorel lady her name. Something to fix later. "She's supposed to be putting on a show tonight, so we can swing by later if that's ok with you?"

“Heh. Then we have each other’s back, yeah?” As strange as opening up about herself to her ‘daughter’ felt, it made Natalya appreciate having had Gean around for as long as she has been. But she had just a bit of business left to mention. “A dancer, huh? If it was just my decision, you know me, but we’re not here just for that. Maybe she can put on a show for the Evokers too to convince them, but I’ll have to talk with the lady myself first. See what she can do.” The tiger untangled herself, stepping to the side to stretch her arms a bit. “...Mmmh~ And don’t worry, I won’t forget about those two cards you gave me. But for now, uh… I guess you can just relax with me until Alvira comes around? I’m gonna go to the baths with her once she does.”

Gean took her seat once more on the bed, now that talking was mostly done. "That sounds like a plan. It's still a bit too hot for me outside, so I'll stick around for a bit." Gean felt a lot better now, the stress she felt when the group was leaving Eibar was mostly gone. Figures talking to 'Mom' would do that. Now it was just time to relax and enjoy the brief time off they had.

She nodded to Elisa's offering of hope, and again to her characterization of the fox that had just passed by. Tasha hadn't seen it very well, but whatever she'd done to one of the knights had made them unwilling to continue attacking her, certainly a tough sell for people as prejudiced as they seemed to be. "Got it. Well, Siorel, you'll have to wait and see, but it's looking promising for you. I was told you'd have a performance tonight, but I guess that's out the window now, eh?"

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Maraval had gone to reply to the mutt, but the two mages next to him had other ideas. Maraval thought he had been clever, but the two women next to him made sure to put his illusions of secrecy on ice, literally. The man found his hands and legs frozen, not unlike the earlier stoning scenario. The man tried not to cry out at the sudden flash freezing with only his fortitude to lean on. He felt words, insults bubbling in his throat as the two women chided him for his foolishness. If I'd brought more knights, you damned hussies would be begging for forgiveness! Maraval focused on the ice about him. The ice on his hands was of pretty sturdy construction; if he bashed someone over the head with it, he could do serious damage. It would take time for that melt, and there was little he could do about it. The chains about his legs were much less so. Maraval felt like he could very easily break them, but there was little point in doing so. It was better for fools to believe that he had no chance. The effectiveness of magic always had three vectors to think about. The wielder, the environment, and the target. Both mages were clearly capable, and the night air had started cool, but it was still rather warm, and he was fairly adept at warding magic. 

Then, the dog from earlier returned with a grin on his face. It took all that he had not to return the bastard's tone. Then something the man said hit him, and everything started to fall into place. The look of realization falling across his was genuine for the first time tonight. "Owners... Then..." He looked at the green haired woman, and color started to drain. "...You're actually... an Evoker?" The two traitorous knights approached him as Maraval began to realize that his plan had suddenly been almost irreparably damaged. Even if he escaped, the word of an Evoker would be impossible for even Artorius to ignore, and to say nothing of what Celine would do to him. If unlucky, he would probably find himself on the bad end of the rumors... No... No, No, No, No, No, NO! There had to be something. Anything. He'd never be a knight after this. He'd never be anything after this. His wealth, his prestige, his future, all gone in flames. Unless... That was the only way. Wasn't it? If he could catch them by surprise, it didn't matter if they could vaporize him... a knife would always be faster, and the woman wasn't wearing any armor. The boy would have to wait. She, and the other one if she was here as well, would have to go. Was death better than disgrace? The knights probably felt Maraval shivering as they grabbed him. He had to do this, but if he failed, he would certainly die. Was death better than disgrace? Was death better than disgrace? Was death better than disgrace? ... ... ...Yes. 


Tio felt Alvira, and Syndra both react to the same uneasy feeling. Using their magic to restrain the man. About that moment, Versaris arrived, all smiles; seemed like things with Alriana were fine enough. "Yes, things are handled here." Tio looked back at Ullr, and his pocket... Snake? Lizard? The girl with the golden tail, as she seemed intent on staying with Ullr, and Ullr appeared to fine with it. Tio wasn't exactly keen on it, but she was not in a mood to argue. "I'm not fond of the idea, but I won't stop her. However, what is said in that room remains in your thoughts until told to everyone else." Tio nodded to the two knights as they walked by to gather their disgraced captain, when she heard the man start sputtering. She slowly turned to look at him seeing the look of realization on his face. She also noticed Elisa approaching. Good, that meant that there wasn't anything else pressing, so they could focus on this. 

"Is it finally starting to dawn on you? I suppose that you were just waking from your tomb so you didn't hear me introduce myself. My name is Tiora Anne Candialia, the Evoker of Light of Glacies. Aide, and Magistra to Queen Magnolia Iseria, and King Rufus Iscariot of Glacies. Acting on a formal request from the two of them. So that would make me one half of those magical floozies that you were so adamant weren't present." She smiled coolly at Maraval. "But don't worry about that. You and I will have plenty of time to get acquainted." Tio took a deep breath, and counted the heads for the coming excursion. Herself, Elisa, Sir Ferid, Ullr, the Golden tailed girl... with that number of people Versaris would likely be superfluous, and he already knew much of what they were going to speak on. 

"Versaris. I would like you to help the Tigers in whatever manner they might need, and hurry them off to sleep. This fight was unnecessary and exhausting, and we'll have to continue the course tomorrow. Elisa, myself, and Sir Ferid, along with Ullr and Alriana's sister will be enough to handle the interrogation. Hold off any report or anything to me until tomorrow; there's already too much for me to keep track of. I will relay what we know, and what we glean tomorrow as well. I would also tell Tasha--if you see her and I don't--to expect a messenger in the morning. We hadn't quite finished everything with Sarasin, and I expect that he'll want to meet the group who protected Liste from the machinations of rogue knights. He may reward them as well." Tio took a deep breath. Her voice was tired, and it was only going to get more so before the end of the night. "Alright... let's get this show on the road, so we can be done with it." Tio led the group back towards town, steeling herself for what came next. 


Persica jumped a little as Miria called out to her. "... ... ...W-what is it?" Persica felt her nerves resurfacing. Xanth sighed, and finally leaned off of his rest, before Miria's next words hit both his and Persica's ears. Persica blinked for a moment. She flushed a little, and then looked down as if she was searching for the words on the floor. Xanth walked up, and placed a hand on his older sister's shoulder. He smiled at her, and then smiled at Miria with a nod of his head. Persica took a deep breath. She was a human just like Nyx was. A human who wasn't out to hurt them, and in fact, had been part of an effort to protect their town. "Mmm... Ye... Ye welcome... Ye all were out there helping us... ... ... ." Persica scratched behind one of her ears, "I just... want te be sure that one of ye... didn't, uh, get hurt. I'm, uh, glad." 

Persica nodded her head, "Yeah... um, if ye need... anything, just, uh, shout." 




With the moon high in the sky, and the din of battle finally worn, the Tigers licked their wounds and used what was left of the gorgeous evening to recover. The Knights of Altair were a very different foe, and one that had tested them more than pirates, or the Crows ever could. Yet, they had overcome, and remarkably well. The night went on, for most, without issue. However, there was still much left unsaid from the evening before. Why the knights were acting the way they were, and what that meant for the Tigers' journey. There was simply too much to compact into the evening, and so it was left for the morning. 

Persica yawned as she looked over rolls, and things regarding the events of yesterday. Fortunately, the knights hadn't really gotten into town to cause any damage. The eastern part of town was an exception, but they hadn't done too much there either. The Tigers moved remarkably quickly, and the knights had focused on them. So far, it seemed like everyone was alright as well; she and Xanth had gone out to check on everyone. They were a little shook up, but everyone was basically saying the same thing: That they were alright, thanks to the Tigers. She wondered for a moment if Sir Sarasin was going to do anything considering that the mercenaries had protected Liste. It was about that moment that the door swung open, and a familiar butler walked in. "Oh? Sir Favio?" Persica's ears perked up, "What are ye doing down here?" 

The older man smiled and nodded his head at the innkeeper, "Ah, it's good to see you, Persica. I'm just surveying things as Lord Sarasin asked to me to do. But now the sun is rising and so I, and Lord Sarasin must do our part, and I must say... there isn't much for me to report on. The Evokers' escort are rather remarkable. Oh, yes, speaking of which, are you aware if Ms. Natalya is awake? I have a message to relay to her from Lord Sarasin request that she and her mercenary unit come to his abode. His messenger is to be arriving later this morning, and he believes that it is his sworn duty to at least give the mercenaries a proper thank you for protecting Liste, and I am inclined to agree."

"... ... ...I think some of them may be up? It was a long, uh, night so I don't expect many te be awake yet."

The older man shook his head, "It's not an immediate summons; with as little as I know about Lady Tio, I doubt that she is awake either. They can't quite leave without her. Lord Sarasin will be ready and welcoming, regardless of when they appear ready to arrive." 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Cinaed bit back a yawn as he sat alone at a small table in the dining room of the inn. In front of him was a medium plate with a few scraps of food leftover, the remnants of a decently sized breakfast. "Mmm, suppose I should go check on the wagons, since I'm up. Make sure we're ready to leave once everyone else is ready." Anything to avoid going back up to his room right this minute. There was someone up there that had left him feeling all twisted around every time they talked, and after last night, he needed some time to think.

Nighttime Visit

Spoiler

Siorel had left Cinaed alone after he'd asked until all the mercenaries finally settled down for the night. It might have been for the best to leave him alone completely, until morning came around, but she couldn't help herself. A chunk of worry mixed with a side of continued interest had her knocking on his door after the sun had gone down, gently swaying in place and hoping for an answer.

Cinaed had managed to escape Tanya and dodge any other potential people worrying about him, and had found himself in a small inn room by himself not long after the battle’s end. But sleep had not come. He’d swapped out his normal outfit for a pair of shorts, his usual sleepwear, but even though he’d tried, all that laying down had resulted in was tossing and turning. He’d finally given up, working instead on a new embroidery project, sewing by candlelight, not trusting his magic to hold steady enough to light the room after the incident during the fight. 

Eventually he had gotten frustrated with that too, the image he’d wanted to create refusing to come out right, and he’d pushed it aside, laying back down and staring up at the ceiling, left with his thoughts. As he was just about to try and sleep again, a quiet knock came at the door. He groaned, rolling out of bed and walking over to the door, expecting Commander Natalya, one of the Tigers or perhaps even one of the Evokers, come to scold him about his reckless magic. Instead he found Siorel, waiting quietly outside the door. “A-ah. Siorel. Do you need something? Did the Commander let you join the group or is this you coming to say goodbye or. Something?” Surely she wasn’t coming to lecture him. Not after the talk they’d had earlier. They’d settled things, right?

Siorel’s eyes widened at the image of Cinaed in front of her in just shorts. Shorts that weren’t that long, either… Given his height. At least they were baggy. She took a breath and a moment to compose herself, clearing her throat. “Well! The commander was on board with my sticking around… I just have to speak with the Evokers because Natalya was worried about payment~ Or, she has to, at least… So it looks like you’re stuck with me. Speaking of stuck… Mind if I stick to you~? Or are you gonna put on… Anything. Quite the show I’m getting right now, Cinaed…” She couldn’t help herself, it was rather enticing. “Geez…”

Siorel seemed startled by something, taking a moment to start speaking, but she quickly recovered, mentioning that the only hurdle left was convincing the Evokers about payment. “Well, I’m sure that between the Evokers and Ingverd, we can convince someone that you’re worth paying. Especially with how helpful your magic is in battle.” He’d been starting to lean against the doorframe when she continued, teasing him about being stuck with her, asking if she could stick to him, and then commenting on his current state of dress. Minimal dress. He felt his cheeks grow hot and managed to stammer out, “I-I, I was getting ready for bed when you knocked. And, well, I mean, what else would I wear for bed? I guess I could wear a shirt at night, because I don’t have the risk of catching it on fire like I do when I’m fighting, but, well, I’ve gotten used to not wearing one. It’s more comfortable. T-though, maybe I should change that. Start wearing a shirt more... Uhm. I can go put on pants though. If you’d prefer? I mean. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable or anything...”

“Cinaed. Cinaed… Shhhhh.” Siorel hushed him and gently placed her hand against his stomach, taking a breath. “Nothing about this is making me uncomfortable. If anything… I’m worried you’re going to get uncomfortable the more I comment on it… Because I’m quite happy with how you look~” She’d caught herself staring at his abs, finally snapping up to his face with a blush and a smile. “So feel free to put more on if you want to… But I’m happy. Anyway… I just wanted to come and chat. See how you were doing. See how you’re… Managing, after everything. I, uh…”

She pulled her hand away, hiding them behind her back. “I realize that I can be a handful. I shouldn’t have piled onto you with the other girls… Not after the talk we had, not after the battle. I’m sorry. Really… I hope you can forgive me?”

“O-oh. Uhm.” He rubbed a hand across his face. This was getting complicated. He couldn’t tell how serious she was and how much was just teasing. But really, at the end of the day, he’d only known her for, well, a day. So it couldn’t be that serious. “I’ll just. Stay like this. I don’t really have anything besides some pants to cover up with anyways, so.” He shook his head, motioning for her to come in. “I figured someone would be by. Honestly, I thought you were the Commander, come to lecture me for my reckless use of magic, or something like that.” 

He moved back into the room, letting himself drop down onto the bed, a wry smile on her face as he considered her apology. “I’m. Well, I’m doing as well as can be expected, I suppose. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t get my embroidery to come out right, but hey, I haven’t set myself on fire again and only snapped at Tanya a little when she tried to check on me once I left the rest of you. So yeah, doing just great.” He shook his head, realizing how self-pitying that had sounded. “As for everything else, it really was just. Overload. I’ll be fine. I’m not used to people flirting with me. Or, well, giving me attention like that I suppose, since I don’t really think most, if any of you were actually flirting. Point is, I’m kind of an idiot when it comes to getting anything that’s close to romantic attention. I overthink it and freeze. Add in everything else that had happened and I just kind of shut down. But I wasn’t upset at any of you, so there’s nothing to forgive, really.”

“Oh? I’m not really flirting?” A part of Siorel activated at those words, her pupils thinning for a moment as she smiled. “Hmmmm…” While considering his words, she took slow steps towards him, placing a hand on his chest and pushing him back ever so slightly, before climbing onto his lap and staring at him. “What do I have to do to get you to believe that I’m not playing around, Cinaed?” She didn’t push further, sitting on him and tilting her head some, a bright smile on her face. “I’m glad your magic hasn’t flared up again… I was definitely worried that you were going to hurt yourself with that, but if it’s fine now, then I’ll calm down. As for the rest… Mmm. I’m a little too used to getting flirted with, so I probably lay it on when it’s inappropriate. Now, though… It’s just us. Alone in a quiet room… So it’s appropriate, right~?”

Suddenly, everything was going wildly out of control. Cin swallowed, hard, as suddenly Siorel was climbing onto his lap, staring up at him with a dangerously bright smile on her face. “I. You. That is, w-we just met. So I assumed it was just all teasing. I.” He suddenly had to look away, the warmth of her closeness adding to the heat in his face, and it all becoming too much. “I’ve just stopped using my magic. Until I can talk to the Evokers. Figure out what happened. Maybe I’ll just need to stop using it entirely, until I can get control of my temper. Which I do need to do. Need to apologize to some people because of it too. I’m a little too good at snapping at people I guess.” 

He was stalling, and he knew it. Right now he’d talk about anything besides the fact that she was on his lap, staring up at him, the two of them alone, shut off from someone accidentally stumbling onto them. “Inappropriate times, ha, yeah. I’ll probably just run away or something if you get too bad. Suppose I can’t really do that right now though without being rude and dumping you on the ground.” He swallowed, before letting out a small sigh and then adding, “N-not that I don’t. Appreciate this. But, I should be upfront. I. Mmm. I kissed Gean, about a week ago. I like her. I like you too, but, I mean. We only just met. Not that I’ve really known her for much longer, but a little longer I guess. She didn’t have an answer for me. Not then. Not yet. But I don’t want to lead you on, act like I’m fully available when she could turn around and say yes. That wouldn’t be fair.” He tensed, waiting for her to get upset, to leave, maybe even to smack him for not having said something earlier. He should have, he was now realizing, but he hadn’t really realized up until now that she was serious.

“Mmm…” So it was Aegean. What was important was that she hadn’t answered, so Siorel wasn’t stepping on any toes and ruining any relationships. Maybe budding ones, but it was Gean’s fault for beating around this bush when being honest would’ve been so much more worthwhile. “I can’t imagine why anyone would wait to answer you, Cinaed.” Without another word she leaned up and kissed him, holding it for a moment before she sat back down. “We’re even now~ Which means the choice is up to you… I’ll wait until you make it before I do more. How’s that sound?”

“Well, I mean--” Whatever he’d been about to say was cut off as Siorel kissed him for a long moment, leaving him stunned, completely unsure how to react. “W-why...” He’d just told her that he was in a complicated situation with Gean and now she went and made it more complicated? He slumped backwards, shoulders thudding against the wall as he stared at her, helpless. “I don’t... You just met me today? You saw my temper, saw me lose control of my magic, you don’t even know me. And now you’re just. Complicating... Why?”

“I don’t see what’s so confusing about this. I want to get to know you, Cinaed. You’re hot. In a lot of ways… You make me incredibly comfortable, you’ve been fun to talk to… And we all have our dirty laundry, so who am I to judge if you accidentally aired some of yours? Seeing your magic lose control just makes me concerned, not scared… Makes me want to help you figure it out, if I can. When I was asked to go after you, earlier… I honestly didn’t think I was a good fit for it, given a few things you already outlined. But I don’t regret it now, with how it went… Not in the slightest. Nor do I regret kissing you~”

She smirked again, gently tracing a finger across his chest. “You like us both. If Gean comes clean with her feelings, then by all means… I won’t get jealous and I won’t harbor any ill will. You were honest first, so it’s not a surprise~ But if she says no… Please let me know.”

“I.” When she puts it like that, it all seems like it should make sense. But I still don’t understand. Am I really just that dense? “I want to get to know you too. I just, well. Didn’t expect you to be serious. In pursuing me. Not this quickly. I’m not really, mmm. I had to do the pursuing in the past. That’s all.” He shook his head, flinching slightly as she traced along his chest. Not because it felt bad, but because it was all still so tangled in his head. “I’ll. I mean. I’ll need to talk to Gean now anyways. But I talked with her earlier today and, well. Got tossed in a lake, but that was because I was being stupid. But she said she still didn’t have an answer for me. So I guess just. Don’t expect any answer from me any time soon? I don’t want to push her into saying something she ends up regretting. In either way.” 

He gently traced a meaningless pattern on the bedspread, trying to collect his thoughts. It wasn’t easy, given the beautiful woman on his lap, but he finally managed to get everything at least a little more under control. “We can still talk, tonight I mean, if you wanted. I was going to try and sleep again, not that it worked very well the first time, but I don’t think I’ll be able to manage that for a while, given the mess you’ve made of my thoughts. I’d like to learn more about you, and I could tell you more about me, not that there’s much of interest in my past.” Maybe he could convince her to get off his lap too, if they were going to talk for longer. That would help with getting his thoughts untangled at least somewhat.

“Oooohhhh, talking~ I’m surprised you haven’t kicked me out yet, Cin. Guess I’m having that much of an effect on you… Good.” Without a moment’s pause, she laid herself down against him, gently hugging him and closing her eyes. “Mmm, what do you wanna talk about, then? Since you think your past is so very boring… Honestly, until today, I hadn’t met any dragons. Now there’s two in my life~ You’re both fire dragons though, aren’t you? Why does Alvira use ice, then?” It was a little curious. Maybe he had the answer and if not, there was plenty to talk about. “If you don’t know… Why not tell me about where you’re from? I’d offer the same, but… I don’t really remember my childhood.”

Instead of moving off of him, Siorel had taken the invitation to talk as an invitation to lay against him, almost looking like she was going to fall asleep. “I. Don’t want to be rude. And, well, I do want to get to know you. Uhm.” His thoughts had begun to get more tangled, distracted as he was by her snuggling up against him, but her questions about Alvira were enough to pull him back for at least a moment. “Well, it’s complicated, from what I understand. She used to use fire, but then. Something happened to her in Lufiria. I don’t know everything, but her mana got all twisted and now she uses ice magic. It’s a sensitive thing for her, caused a lot of problems, but. I want to help her figure it out. Her fire is still there, deep down. She just needs to figure out how to access it.”

He sighed, thinking back to their conversation back on the boat. She would get her fire magic back some day. He just knew it. Somehow. Wiggling a little bit beneath her, trying to get comfortable since it seemed like this was his new position for the foreseeable future whether he liked it or not, he smiled, thinking back to his family. “My childhood was pretty good. I grew up in Glacies, so while I had some issues with being Clouded, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. My dad’s a former mercenary, turned guard. He lost an arm on a mission and so couldn’t really keep being a merc. But guarding a university is easier. That’s where he met my mom. She was from Lufiria but when Islexia invaded, she got sent to Glacies. Her family... Well, we’re pretty sure they all died in the war. Otherwise they would have come and found her. So she stayed in Glacies and taught fire magic there. If I’m being honest, she’s the person I want to talk to the most about all my issues today. I just know she would somehow have the right answers... They were wonderful. I’m really lucky to have them as parents. So what’s your first memory then? If you don’t remember your childhood... Do you know why you don’t remember it?”

“Sounds like it’s pretty rough for her… I hope that can get fixed. Having your magic twisted is… Difficult.” She shifted a little against him, just a little. “Aaaaand it sounds like you had pretty great parents… I can’t really… Relate, but I’m happy for you. Mmm…” Of course he was going to ask about first memories and why she didn’t have hers. She sighed. “Mmm, if I said I don’t wanna talk about it… Would I get away with that? Or is it only fair since you shared some stuff…? Mm, I know why I don’t remember, but… It’s a little… It’s really, heavy.”

There was something different about the way Siorel was reacting to things, almost like she was subtly evading something, quickly turning into blatantly evading something. “Well, as I keep saying, we only met today. I suppose it wouldn’t be very polite of me to insist that you share if you don’t want to. I do want to know, some day. But that day doesn’t need to be today. I don’t want to push you past where you’re comfortable.” He hesitated before wrapping his arms around her in a gentle hug. “We can just talk more about easier things, if you want. Or we can be done talking. I could kick you out like you were afraid of, I do need some sleep after all. The fight tonight, well. It was a lot. And I have some big conversations in my future now because of everything that’s happened.”

“... My… Parents, sold me off, when I was a child. They couldn’t afford another kid… I was only a few years old. So I don’t really remember them… The rest, can wait. I hope that’s okay.” She squeezed him a little tighter, resting, trying to remain calm. “Mmm… Easier things. Sleep. Those sound lovely… I can stay here, right~?”

“Oh Siorel...” His heart broke for her, he couldn’t even begin to imagine what she must have gone through. “You deserved so much better...” The words were a murmur, barely audible and he leaned his head down, gently kissing the top of her head. Things were already complicated, what was an extra bit of comfort given to someone who truly needed it? He held her for a moment longer, tightening the hug to match the one she gave him, before releasing her. “W-well, for talking, sure you can stay here. But sleep... Surely you have your own room to sleep in, right? It’s. You said nothing more unless I gave an answer. S-so.”

“I don’t have a room~ Besides, it’s just sleep… Not gonna do anything to you tonight. Unless you want me to… Buuuuuuut I get the feeling you’re gonna wanna talk to Aegean first, so it’s just. Sleep~ That’s fine, isn’t it?” She’d expected the pity. It was welcome, but responding to it would make her keep thinking about it. Better to leave it alone and keep focusing on teasing him. “I’m sure part of you is already interested, hmhmhm~”

“S-Siorel!!” His face was burning now, the blush showing through even his dark skin, and he almost just picked her up and dumped her on the ground. He thought better of it, grumbling quietly to himself instead. “You can stay here for the talking part. But. If you’re staying in this room for sleep, you’ll need to use the spare bed. I can’t. Mmm. It doesn’t feel right to share a bed. Not with everything so complicated. Is that ok?” He couldn’t just kick her out of the room, and he suspected all the other rooms were full given the size of their group. But he also couldn’t agree to share a bed with her, not when he was still waiting on an answer from Gean. It wouldn’t be fair to anyone.

“Why~? You afraid you’ll do something? I wouldn’t mind.” She leaned up on him and almost kissed him again… but decided against it, rolling off of him and standing up. “Hahh~ Alright… Spare bed. Hmhm.” She slipped out of the door for a moment and brought in a small suitcase, resting it against the second bed in the room. “Hmmmhmmmhmmm~ Sleep wear~...”

She had gotten very close to him for a second, before finally giving him a break, leaving him alone on the bed, face burning and head a mess. He closed his eyes, trying to relax slightly, when she returned, talking about sleepwear. His eyes flew open at that before he shut them again, squeezing them tight. “I can leave. So you can change. Or I can just stay over here with my eyes closed. It’s up to you.” He really should just leave, but he was going to wait for any sort of response before he opened his eyes again. She was far too dangerous for his sanity...

“Siiiit tight, Cin, I’ll be done before you know it~” The sounds of clothes coming off and moving around hit his ears as Siorel did her best to change into her favorite set of sleepwear… There was a sudden shuffle on his bed as some weight hit it, Siorel’s voice close again. “Okay~ You can open your eyes.”

Cin sat up fully, looking over at the woman sitting next to him, decked out in a bright pink pajama set, complete with a teddy bear print. He couldn’t help but smile at the image, chuckling slightly as he commented, “Well you look absolutely adorable in those. They suit you. Well then, I suppose I promised you lighter talks. So what did you want to talk about then?”

“Mhmm~” Siorel laid down against him, cuddling up to his side and letting her tail droop off the edge of the bed. “Mmmm, tell me what your favorite embroidery has been? I don’t do a lot of creative sewing, just a lot of putting stuff together… The little designs and stuff are super cute, so… Surely you’ve had one that you enjoyed working on the most?”

“Hmm, I think my absolute favorite is the first one that I really successfully made. My mom had this dress that she loved, but it wasn’t anything fancy. So I did this design, simple really, looking back at it now. It was just some vines with small flower buds around the neck and the hem at the bottom. But the smile on her face when she saw what I had done, well. It just made it special. But the one I’m the most proud of is the one I just finished for Alvira I think. It’s got a lot more complicated elements than anything I’d done before. Both just in the complexity of the design and the fact that I was using metallic threads. Those are hard to work with if you’re not careful.” He adjusted slightly, resting slightly against her in return, enjoying the comfort it brought, even if he knew it couldn’t last. “I could teach you, if you wanted. How to do designs like that.”

“Mmm… I’m sure you could teach me a lot. But for embroidery, I wouldn’t mind learning how to do that kinda stuff… mmm… I’m sure Alvira will really… Enjoy her… mm…” Siorel was slowly passing out, cuddling against Cinaed. He was warm, the bed was warm, her PJs were extra warm… This was the life~ “Wanna do more stuff with you… Cinaed. Mmm… I haven’t felt this ssssssafe in a long, while…” Her eyes were closed and her breathing was slowing down… 

“Ok then, it’s settled. I’ll teach you that and maybe you can teach me how to dance. Get to laugh at me as I trip over my tail too.” He sighed as she slowly started to fall asleep against him. “I’m glad you feel safe... I hope I never do anything to ruin that feeling.” He reached over, pulling the blanket up and over her, trying to slowly shift away from her as he did. He’d get the pillow next, hopefully escaping before she fully fell asleep on him. Guess I’ll be the one taking the spare bed after all...

 

Even after his talk with Gean, and the resolution that had brought, he still needed time to sort out his head. It wouldn't do to go talk to Siorel when he was still feeling sad about how things had turned out with Gean. The relief was there too, but sadness had been the first emotion he had felt. Even though he hadn't lost her as a friend, rejection hurt. "Ahhh, I'm being stupid. Come on then. Time to do something useful rather than sit around and mope." Besides. Siorel is beautiful and wonderful too. I just want to make sure I start things off on the right foot with her. Make sure I'm not just using her as a rebound. Though after their time together last night, that wasn't really something he was too worried about. He really did like her, even if they'd known each other less than twenty four hours. Maybe I ask her to come with me to talk to the Evokers. She may know something that I don't about everything that happened, given how blurry it all is. And then after that, we can talk. That sorted, and conveniently pushed off to that coming night, he pushed back from the table, headed out towards their wagons. He stopped when he reached the lobby, noticing the innkeeper talking with one of the men of the town, and overhearing discussion about Tio. "Ah, good morning. Did you need us Tigers for something?"

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Miria had almost recovered from everything the night before. She was still sore, without a doubt, but she was able to walk herself around. She was starving.

Through some question asking, and some exploration, she found her way to the inn's breakfast area. However, it seemed to be... surprisingly empty. She remembered something from yesterday. Something about... lack of supplies. Her stomach growled, she could've eaten the table she was staring at all she wanted. However... she had to be the big kid. She took a far more reasonable serving of food. Some potatoes, some eggs, a little bacon.

And with her dish, she made her way to a public area, a few tables spread about the floor. Miria saw herself to one, and got ready, took a deep breath, and ate slow. It was still good, which perked up Miria some. Just had to savor her foodies, as she'd put it.

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"I--" Versaris had been about to mention something necessary, but if it could wait for the morning, then wait for the morning it would. I hope she's not against the arrival of certain Lufirian agents... "Understood, Tio. Take care of yourself, tonight... Let's get everyone going, Aly."




Alvira yawned her way out of her room with Tasha, closed slightly dishevelled, but on enough to be presentable. She stretched all the way towards the entrance of the inn, smelling something close to breakfast. "Mmn, food..." Tired claws rubbed at her eyes as she followed the smell... The presentation was a little sparse, though it made sense. Their supplies had arrived the night before and Alvira doubted there had been time to sort them out with the knights situation going on. Still, there was a bagel with her name on it... "Mmf." Bread, savior of many. Without much of an idea what to do other than sit around and wait, Alvira did just hat, giving a sideways glance towards Miria. I told myself I'd be better about humans... But my problem with Miria isn't that she's human. Not anymore, at least... Just don't have the mental strength to deal with her positivity. It's like there's always a silver lining with her...

"Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmorning~" Siorel had none of Alvira's hangups, walking right over to Miria and gently ruffling her hair some. "Good to see you two up~" She'd changed out of her pyjamas and was back in her black dress, leaving Miria to her food and finding a bagel for herself as well. "We're just waiting for everyone to wake up, then?"

"... Yeah. Seems that way... Siorel, right? Surprised you're sticking around with us after all that. It's not gonna get any easier, you know?" Alvira was a little confused by the woman's sudden interest in their group. She had to question it, even a little.

"I've got a few personal reasons, but mostly just want a nice and comfy group to travel with... I haven't ever had this many people to watch my back~ I'll make sure to do my best and watch your backs... Back. Heheh~"

"Pft... Mm. Well... as long as you're sure, it's your choice. Just don't regret it, is all..."

"I'll be fine~! What're your names, by the way?" She glanced expectantly at Miria, then over at Alvira. "I gotta start learning about everyone if I'm gonna be sticking around~"

"Ah, Alvira. No nicknames. Gean's been trying to get 'Vira' to stick, but I really like my full name, so..."

"Alvira it is~"

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Miria caught the side eye from Alvira, but even then, she simply responded with a small smile. Then there was a scared squeak when suddenly one of the newer people who helped them came in and started ruffling her hair. There was a tinge of red in her face, but she continued to eat while letting the two other ladies speak. She was invested in the talk, just wouldn't seem so at first glance with the way she was eating. Halfway into a third forkful, she stopped to speak up.

"My name's Miria. Gean calls me Cub, Nyx calls me Moonie, what ever works for you. Except for Moonie, please," She gave a small chuckle, trying to pass off the half-joking, half-serious comment. "I think, you also took a pretty big hit yesterday right? Are you alright?" The girl's head tilted.

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Tanya groaned as she came down the stairs of the inn, practically face-planting on the chair she’d found for herself. It was rough for her to sleep last night, and evidently had decided to flop and try and recover some of the sleep lost for varying reasons. 

“Mm… hi.” She groggily grumbled out. Her tail seemed to be rather puffed up; not from stress or fear, but simply from Tanya not having the energy to deal with it yet. “Ugh, I really should have waited to get up… is it just us so far?” She asked, voice evening out somewhat, looking at the sparse collective gathered in the little breakfast area so far. “You’d think the others in the group would be lighter sleepers, wouldn’t you?”

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Laniva stretched as she stepped into the inn through its front entrance, wiping her brow, catching her breath. Cin looked to be talking to some of the townspeople, but being rather distinctly less-than-presentable as might be expected after a run and some practice bladework, decided to quietly make her way to the inn's dining room instead, finding a few of the others already there and eating. Siorel in particular stood out, seemingly plenty energetic at this time in the morning, distinctly contrasting some of the other Tigers in the room. Doing her morning training routine had been rather difficult today, between the heat and the exertions of the day before, but that wasn't going to stand in her way... although she was rather more tired than was typical by the end of it. She mumbled out a "hello" and managed a brief nod before beelining it straight towards the food, taking a couple of eggs and some meat to a plate, flopping into a seat. 

It looked like Siorel was doing introductions and being subjected to some mild questioning, from what she caught entering the room. It seemed like not everyone had had the chance to speak with her yesterday; but she didn't put too much more thought towards the matter. Right now, it was time for a much appreciated breakfast.

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Gean loaded her things into the wagon she would be riding today. I was early enough that the Merfolk could be outside without the fear of absolute suffering, so she thought it would be best to get as much done now before she was effectively useless. Everything she would need was counted for, her axes, her shield, the ice containers she would consult with Vira abour filling later she was quite satisfied and ready to roll out. It also helped that Gean got some good rest last night, although not in the way she expected...

Pillow talk

Spoiler

The evening had settled in, and Gean was finally making it to her room properly. The baths here were just the thing she needed after all that heat, and especially after all that fighting earlier. No more people to see or things to do either. Well, that wasn't quite right. There was one more person to see before the merfolk closed her eyes. The person she'd be sharing a room with. A small smile crept onto Gean's face as she thought about earlier with Renais. Gean was half ready to apologize for being all over the healer earlier in the day, but she wasn't expecting the healer to snuggle her back. It took most of Gean's restraint to not take a page out of Cin's book and carry the smaller girl back to the in- 

Gean paused in the hallway, thinking for a second. Now Aegean you've always been a touchy person when it comes to people you care for, but you're getting awfully close to Rene doncha think?

Ok but that's just cause she's coming out of her shell right? There's nothing special about it.

Ok but this eagerness and worry seems a little strong. Shoot we were more worried for her than we were for Miria. And Miria was the one who fell in battle.

Mrrrr… thanks brain. We haven't even given Cin a reply to his feelings and we're already talking about if we have feelings for another person completely. 

Hey it's not our fault that Rene reminds us of her…

The clouded girl hadn't even noticed that she was back to walking. Her inner council raged on as she approached the door to her room.

The day was long, and the trials were even longer, but Renais found herself inside the guest room of a very nice place. From hell to heaven, the life of a mercenary was a crazy one. But at the very least the pinkette was mostly more settled than before. She sat on her bed with a deep sigh. “If only Tio and Elisa weren’t busy today, such an issue…” She spoke aloud. “I’m a little afraid…once I get to bed, will I see those visions again? I hope not.” She bit her lip. “Mm, what could they mean…?” The cleric held herself a little bit and tried her best to calm down, she hadn’t noticed Gean approach the door because she was so engulfed in her inner thoughts.

Gean shook her head as she turned the doorknob. Thinking was getting her nowhere, and no progress was making her frustrated. All those thoughts were put on hold once she looked ahead and saw Renais holding herself. The look on her face didn't inspire confidence either. "Hey, hey. What's with the worry Rene?" Gean put her bath items on her bed and took a seat next to the other girl. She went to put an arm around Rene, but thought that the gesture might be best for her right now. "You can talk to me if that'll help."

“!” The pinkette hopped a bit in place and turned to look at Gean as she took a seat next to her. “Ah, I didn’t hear you…dammit, my ears failed me again.” She grumbled. “If I’m absorbed in thought then my senses just fail me, they’re so sharp too. So frustrating…” After a moment the cleric took a sigh and shook her head. “...I’m sorry, Gean. I’m not taking anything out on you…” She was wearing a shirt and shorts, a simple outfit for bed time.

"Well I would hope you weren't, a bit late to be changing rooms at this point." Gean joked as Renais seemed to be returning to normal. Getting up, Gean made it over to her side of the room. No closets or extra doors to cover herself, so Gean began to undress. Switching to a large over shirt that came down to her legs. Gean got comfortable on her bed. "But jokes aside, what's eating away at you? Keeping it in like that is not gonna help you."

Renais kept her back to Gean as she changed and laid on her bed, even when she finished changing she didn’t budge much. “...I’ll be fine, as long as I make it to tomorrow morning…” She mumbled. “It’s not something I can just put on anyone…” ‘Alvira knows, but that was…mm.’ Renais turned her head to the side. “...more importantly, are you alright? The battle was incredibly rough the other day.”

Gean pouted as Rene seemed to dodge the question. “Like I said earlier, my equipment did more to me than any of the knights could. What I’m saying is…” And with that the mermaid was looking the healer directly in the face. “I’m not just ‘anyone’. I’m your coworker; your friend, at least I think so. Sure I may not be Tio or Elisa. I can claim to know the world’s mysteries or be able to drop rocks from the sky. But I’m a good listener, and you’d be surprised how much better one feels once someone lends them an ear.”  With that vent session out of the way, Gean sat beside the girl once more and crossed her legs. “The point is, I just want you to trust me a little more ok?”

Gean had a way about her alright, very tenacious and forward. But Renais didn't see that as a bad thing, she respected her for it. "...mmm, well…it's not that I don't trust you, I really do but…" She looked away from Gean. "It's just…I'm afraid. Something scary is happening with me, and I have no idea what it means. I told you I was missing five years of my life, and I thought it was not a big deal but…what if it is? What if I forgot something that might change me? I…just don't know, Gean."

“All the more reason to trust m-, well not just me but all of us. If this past of yours is truly something to look out for, then we’ll help you work past it. And if it compels you to do something you might regret… well then I’ll just stop you.” Gean’s response to Renais’ fears came without missing a beat. Like it was the natural response. Gean brought Rene close enough to let her rest her head on the Merfolks chest. “Remember all the people here to help you. Miria, Cin, Tasha, Vira… and me.

Gean’s face felt a little hot at the last statement she made, for some reason. She still had some doubts, but she’d have to work a number of things out before she could face these new thoughts. Still, the heat on her face and the closeness of the moment caused her to speak without really realizing what was coming from her mouth. “Y’know you remind me of someone from my past too.” 

Gean's words did settle Renais a little, it helped that her voice was strong and soothing. But what really helped was the soft and warm embrace. "..." She took another sigh and relaxed in her grasp. "I give up. You're hugging me no matter what I do. Frustrating…but I will make myself comfortable." She almost playfully said and snuggled against her again. "Serves you right, Gean."

Soft… Gean thought to herself as Renais finally gave in and settled in her new spot. Still a small blush on her face, she replied in an exaggerated tone "My plan backfired, whatever shall I do…" Making herself comfortable, Gean stroked Renais' hair as the two enjoyed the situation they were in. "I wasn't lying earlier. You do remind me of someone I once knew, my Aunt actually."

“You keep telling me that, yeah.” She spoke with a small blush on her own face. Truth be told, Renais enjoyed her position. A nice soft…heartbeat to listen to. She lifted her head a bit. “I’m not sure how I feel about that but…tell me a bit about her, would you? I’m curious.”

“Well, aside from her being a pink haired healer much like yourself…” Gean thought about it for a second, thinking about how best to describe this particular family member. “She’s confident. She’s beautiful. She can command a room at times, to gain their respect or laughter. She knows just how to pick you up when you’re feeling down. She has her sides that she tries not to show to anyone, but that just means if you’ve seen it you’re someone truly special. She… was my role model.” Gean was getting a little emotional at the end of her description. She wasn’t sure how much more she would tell. Both on how recalling those memories made her feel, and because of her past. However she knew if she was going to ask Renais to rely on her, that she should do the same. If the healer wanted to know more, Gean would tell.

There was something about pink haired healers that tended to stand out to most people, this wasn’t the first time it was brought up. That dancer they met at the ship did the same, and it got Renais thinking. “...and you say I remind you of her? I find that hard to believe. I’m not that confident, and I’d much rather leave the room than command it. I’d rather leave that to Tasha or Tio.” She noticed how emotional she was getting. “Hm…but you don’t have to tell me more if you don’t want to, if it’s painful or something like that.”

“Ok maybe not a one for one comparison, but the both of you are beautiful. I’m not budging on that one.” Gean was way too lost in her feelings to care about how that sentence might have come off. “I’m, it’s just- we parted in a way that wasn’t great, so thinking about it sometimes sucks. I’ll tell you about it one day soon. I can’t be telling you to rely on me and then keep my problems to myself” Pushing those memories aside, Gean got more and more comfortable till the two were nearly laying down. “For now, I think I’ll just enjoy resting with such a pretty girl in my arms.” Gean smiled as she wrapped her arms around Renais.

Being called beautiful and pretty really did a number on Renais, and she found herself laid against her, in bed. “........” Her expression was a bit…wide. It was difficult to describe, but she looked a bit nervous, even if she was still relaxed. “...Gean. You really make it sound like…mm…you might give a girl the wrong idea you know. You should be careful.”

“Maybe. If it’s too much or too far I can stop.” Gean slowly released Renais from her embrace, not completely letting go, but enough for the two to separate if need be. “Besides, if I were to do that I need to settle a couple of things first. I’m still not taking back the beautiful comments though. Sorry~” It looked like Gean would have some more talking to do in the morning, but that would be the price of listening to her heart here.

At this point, Renais had a bit of a red face. Even when she loosened her grip, she didn’t really move. “Mmm…” She pouted a little. “Everyone in this troop is so dam-” She stopped and restrained herself. “Ah mm…I mean thank you, Gean. Sorry.” She shuffled back a bit. “...the talk did help take my mind off things though. I was afraid of going to sleep tonight because of the vision I saw, but I think now I can rest easy until I see Tio and Elisa tomorrow. Thank you, Gean…”

“All in a day’s work for your friendly merc guild merfolk!” Gean replied with a slight yawn. “Guess it’s time for us both to get some sleep then.” Gean rose to get up and move to the other bed. “Mmm night Rene, sleep well, and maybe we can get some breakfast together in the morning.”

When Gean finally parted and made her way to the other bed, Renais realized she wasn’t quite done yet. She quickly reached for Gean’s hand and stayed on the bed. “...um, sorry.” She spoke. “I’m fine with sleeping in my bed, really. But…if I DO have that nightmare tonight…well…” She looked aside and bit her lip. “...can I sleep…in your be-” She stopped herself. “Don’t get the wrong idea, though! I just…feel safer when I’m close to someone I trust, I did the same with my sister when it was storming. I…well…” She let go. “Nevermind, forget I said anything…but thank you, Gean. Really.”

Gean stopped in her tracks as her hand was caught. She didn’t even turn around as the girl behind her rambled up a reason for the two to share a bed. As soon as Renais was finished though, the Clouded girl gave a short and simple reply. “Well we just can’t have that can we?” With quick steps, Gean returned to Renais bed and got herself situated for sleep, semi-inviting the other girl to do the same. “Guess the only thing to do is to stay near each other until the ‘storm’ passes doncha think?” Gean gave the girl a soft smile, hiding no secrets, just warmth.

The mermaid was incredibly understanding, not forceful but encouraging. Renais watched her with a small blush and nodded. “...sure. Just as long as you don’t think I’m a pervert, or weird, or anything like that. And I don’t mean anything by this I just-” She stopped for a minute, and realized Gean probably didn’t think any of that. She took a sigh and shuffled back near her. “I’ll shut up now…thank you, Gean…” She slowly closed her eyes and chanted the same phrase in her head, up until she finally gave out and slept. ‘Don’t. Touch. Anything. Don’t. Touch. Anything. Don’t. Touch…Anything…Don’t…’ Sweet dreams.

Well, whatever was realized from these talks could be addressed later. For now, grabbing whatever she could to eat and relaxing before the Evokers came to pick them up would be for the best. Gean returned inside, only to be greeted with the sight of a elderly man talking to the innkeeper, talking about the local Lord wanting to meet the Tigers. Cin had also showed up at that time, seeming to had just finished breakfast. "Ooh we're meeting a big wig? Will there be food?" 

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"Look what the cat dragged in~" Alvira joked at Laniva's lethargic appearance. It seemed she wasn't a morning kitty... Still wanna pet those ears though. She ignored the thought enough to focus on her bagel and not harass the poor cat so early.

"Miria it is," Siorel said with a smile, giving small waves to the rest joining them. "It's starting to look like I'm the only morning person around here... And don't worry about that, Miria, Renais is a fantastic healer and did a wonderful job patching up all of that. Not even a mark left~ Byyyyyy the way... Has anyone seeeeen Cinaed? He wasn't around when I woke up..." Hopefully he wouldn't be too difficult to find, but if he was busy, she could wait.


Affection And Memories

Spoiler

“What a day…” Versaris yawned as he approached Alriana’s room, knocking gently on the door. He’d come clean about a lot of information this day, both to her and the Evokers… It would likely spell trouble for the future, but for now, he was quite happy. He’d even managed to admit his feelings for Alriana, even if she didn’t understand them yet. She does understand them a little, though… Gods, she was adorable. I thought I’d fallen in love with her already, but that blush sent me to the stars… Versaris waxed poetic in his mind as he waited for the lizard to answer, hoping she’d be happy to see him… And perhaps open to speak more on something.

Alriana had taken to lazing about in her inn room after the many events of the day, feeling truly tired for the first time in awhile; her attempt to hold off the knights, while it had gone smoothly, had made her fight much harder than she was used to. At the knock on her door she rolled over in her bed, staring at the source of noise. “Door not locked.” She answered after a moment of silence. That was good enough for an invitation to enter.

"Door isn't locked…" Convenient, if not a little worrying after the day's events. Sari opened it and smiled at the sight of Alriana sprawled on her bed, closing the door behind him and resting against it for a moment. "I see someone's comfortable… good. That might make this a little easier… Alriana, do you think you'd be willing to talk to me about… Grelbiria? I just wanted to know a few things… Things you might know."

Alriana studied Versaris’ face as he asked his question, still refusing to sit up. She didn’t sense any ill-intent from him, though she was curious about why he suddenly had taken an interest in her caretaker. “What you want know? And why?” When asking such basic questions there was no need to expend the effort to form her sentences properly.

"Mmm, well… There's so much I don't know about you. So much I want to know, but you can only tell me what you've been told. That, and knowing what she looks like, at least, might help me find her. Surely you want to see her again, yes?" Hope she wanted to. He stepped away from the door and moved to the bed, sitting next to her. "So… I was hoping you'd be able to tell me that much. An appearance and full name. Anything I manage to find out about her, I'll let you know immediately."

“Mhmm… Want see her again. Want know why she left.” Aside from the note the woman had left explaining that it was in Alriana’s best interests if they separated, the lizard had no inkling of Grelbiria’s true reason for leaving so suddenly. She stared up at the not-elf as he sat on her bed, aware of how much bigger he looked from this angle. “She’s tall, about your tall. Skin same color, with long white hair. Eyes red and blue. Full name Grelbiria Hyl’Sin. That what she told me.” She stared into his eyes, serious. “Make sure tell if learn anything.”

"Of course. She's basically your mother, right? I wouldn't withhold any information." Even if it was to hurt you… I know you'd be upset if I tried to coddle you from the truth. He smirked and gently placed a hand on her stomach, idly rubbing it without much thought. "I can't say that I've ever met someone that looks like that… Though, that is a strikingly similar resemblance to myself… Dark skin, white hair and all." The eyes were curious. Heterochromia lent itself towards more powerful mages than the everyday more mundane individuals… "Hmm…" Maybe Jeremiah knows something. Or the Evokers, given Alriana was dropped off in Glacies.

“Mhhm, better not.” As his hand met her stomach it immediately took her attention, staring at it and furrowing her brow. A claw came and grabbed his wrist, holding the offending hand in place. “Why touch?” Ever since he was forced to confess his feelings, Versaris had gotten a lot more touch happy, and Alriana couldn’t say she was a big fan of the attention. “Must be coincidence, unless last name also Hyl’Sin.”

“Uh–” She’d grabbed his hand, a frown on her face. He slowly pulled his hand away, assuming she’d let go, smiling a little sheepishly. “Last name is Didarion, so it’s probably just a coincidence. As for the touching… Mmm. Sorry. Bit of a bad habit… I, just appreciate physical affection a lot and you’re quite soft and alluring. Is it annoying? I can try to tone it back some, I just…” 

He sighed quietly, blushing a little. “I just want to be close to you. Hold you and touch you. Maybe a few other things… As long as I’m still being honest.”

True to his assumption, Alriana let his hand go as he pulled away. Even with his further admission of his wants she would not be moved, yet at least. “It is annoying. You touch weird spots. Not used to being touched. Head fine…” She almost let that sit, before adding after it, “sometimes. Nowhere else fine until I say so.” She let out a tiny, quiet, huff. “What other things?”

“Heh… Until you say so, then.” She was a little peculiar, but at least she was being honest. That blush he’d seen had been genuine feelings, then. “We can’t do some of them if you’re against me touching your body, so those will have to wait. If your head is fine… Would you like to try kissing, Alriana?” Her teeth were a little frightening, but her face was too cute to ignore. If she was willing to try, he’d swallow that fear in an instant.

“Mrr…” A tiny grumble left her lips, staring up at the not-elf. She didn’t trust those things he said they couldn’t do without touching her; Versaris, despite his honesty, was still quite suspicious in her opinion. Especially after what Sixteen had said in the baths. “You said kissing for if both people like each other a lot. Not sure if I like you a lot. That’s what the date is for.”

"Hmhmhm…" You seemed to enjoy getting the affection, so for the moment, that's good enough for me. He leaned over her and planted a kiss on her forehead, sitting back up and then laying down himself, satisfied. "Just some for you then, Aly. I can wait~"

As the kiss was placed on her forehead the lizard felt the return of the fluttering in her stomach, the slightest pink tinting her usually gray cheeks. “What, you do that for?” Came her question with a half-hearted huff. If he thought to provoke her into kissing back he was sorely mistaken; she had received the definition of kissing from the not-elf himself, and with that as her definition her course of action was set.

“I already know how I feel, so it’s fine if I kiss you, right? I’ll just avoid your lips until you’re aware of your feelings… Since your head is still fine. Sometimes~” He chuckled a little and fished his own book out of his shirt, a quill following. He had a few things to note down as long as he had the time to relax and do so. “A big part of affection,” he offhandedly mentioned as he began to note things down, “is being content simply showing it to your partner. It really is fine, if you don’t kiss me back, Aly. I just enjoy showing you how much I appreciate you. That’s all.”

“Mhrr…” A tiny growl of annoyance left the lizard, feeling as though she was being made fun of, even if she wasn’t sure that was what was happening. “Appreciate too much, more like.” She wasn’t one to pout much, however, her curiosity quickly being grabbed by the notebook he’d pulled from his clothing. “What you writing, anyway?”

“Curious?” He flipped the book over, notes on the day’s proceedings, now Grelbiria’s name, with the names Tio and Jeremiah next to it with question marks. “It’s a journal to make sure I keep my memory sharp and my proceedings in order. If I’m going to help you find her, I need to ask a few people if they’ve ever met her or seen her. Give me some leads, you know?” He flipped it back around and started to add a few more notes.

“As for appreciating you too much… I don’t think so~ I think I could be doing more, but I’m a little afraid that if I pile on more affection, you might go as far as to bite me… I’ll take that chance another day, but not tonight.”

“Mhmm…” Alriana looked over the notes he’d made, more so curious than actually caring about what was written down. The only thing that did stick out to her was the mention of Jeremiah, the man that Versaris had said taught him everything. “Jeremiah… Is your teacher close? Or is the note for much later?” Once again her curiosity struck, though if this Jeremiah actually had some of the answers she was looking for, than maybe she ought to care a little…

“Mrrh. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t…” She definitely would if pushed far enough, though the point when that would happen was for Versaris to discover. 

“Let’s hope you don’t, Aly. I think your teeth are quite impressive. I’d rather they point at people you hate…” Hopefully I never end up on that end of your enjoyment list. “Jeremiah should be here soon… I let him know where we were heading because I had to speak to him about Aegean and Alvira,” he mentioned without details, “so I can ask him about Grelbiria as well. He’s above me in the chain of command, so he has access to more. Whether he knows or not, or whether he’ll tell me or not, remains to be seen… Just have to ask~ If he doesn’t know anything, it won’t stop me. Just be a bit of a speed bump…”

He glanced down at Aly again, taking a moment to speak. “... Would you… Like to come over here and… Hug, a little? Perhaps?”

“Better not annoy too much then,” she answered with a brief huff. “About Gean and Vira? Why do you have to speak about them?” Now he’d really peaked her interest with what he’d let slip, turning her full attention onto the not-elf. Why would he need to speak about those two? What does he know– What is there to know about them? She was hardly in a position to judge the extraordinary, but nothing had struck her as such about her fellow Tigers.

Her internal musings were interrupted by Versaris’ next attempt at physical contact, the lizard looking at him with a question in her eyes. “Why would hug? Am feeling fine, you feeling fine too…”

"Because it feels nice to cuddle… I'm not going to do anything unless you give me permission, so you really don't have to be so apprehensive. The last thing I'd want is all my trying to be close to you to go up in smoke because of some silly impatience…" He let out a little sigh, shaking his head some.

"Let's just say that they're surprisingly important people back in Lufiria, and I need to ask Jeremiah what should be done about that. No harm will come to either of them if I'm right about their lineage, so there's nothing to worry about. Not that I can think of, anyway…"

“Mrrhh… If you break up Tigers, will bite for sure.” A tiny growl accompanied the promise, Alriana’s tail flicking ever so slightly. She didn’t know what to think of what had just been revealed to her, though she was at least somewhat confident that her threat would keep Versaris in line.

“Mhhrr… Pushy…” Another grumble left her lips, shifting her position some. “Fine. Can try this cuddle thing… Do it.”

“Cuddle thing? Heheh. You really are cute, Aly.” He shook his head and sat up, slowly making his way next to her, gently resting against her on the bed. He still had notes to write, so he’d hug her after he was done, for the moment simply enjoying being up against her. “Mmm… I trust Jeremiah, but if he ever tries to do something that will break us up, I’ll stand against him… I don’t think I can defeat him, but I won’t let him do what he wants without a fight. I’m sure you won’t either.”

The notes he was writing now had to do with who he had to talk to once he was done with his current work. Natalya, the Evokers, also Jeremiah… This is gonna be a lot of work… But It’ll be worth it. A glance to Alriana at his side really drove home how worth it all this would be.

Alriana didn’t dignify his cute calling with a response, merely turning her attention back to her book as he repositioned himself on the bed to lay next to her. “Better get strong enough to win, then. Said you were going to do anyway, to escape family.” She hadn’t missed his specific inclusion of separating him and her, and not the Tigers, but she wasn’t in the mood to call him out on it. She’d just hold onto that for later, when it would suit her better to bring it up. It wouldn’t be the first thing she held onto regarding Versaris; his race, in that he was not a half-elf, was still a card she had yet to play.

“... Mm. Yeah. I will… Strong enough to escape them, keep the Tigers safe, and keep any trouble that comes after you at bay. Heh… It’s nice to be so motivated, for once~” He set his notes down and leaned into her, giving her a light hug. “Make sure to keep me in line, Aly.”

“Mrrhh, don’t do things that make me have to do that.” She answered with a final huff, settling into the bed now that he had, presumably, assumed his final position. The hug didn’t feel bad, but it was still an unusual sensation for the lizard, physical contact not being something she was very much used to.

"Probably not, Gean," Sari said as he approached the two, giving both the seafolk and Cinaed a wave. "We'll make sure Miss Natalya gets your message, sir. As for Tio, if she isn't up in the next few minutes, I'll go rouse her and her wife myself. I'm sure they'll be upset at anyone that does it, but I can handle their ire~" He smiled, hoping that was enough. "Cin, Gean, doing well this morning? You seem rather chipper this morning, but given your physical prowess, being morning folk doesn't surprise me all that much... I'm more surprised the rest of the Tigers aren't. You think we should see to them as well? Oh, yes, since I'll be telling everyone, might as well tell you both first..."

He bowed a moment, clearing his throat. "Versaris Didarion, at your service... heh, mmm, just uh... You can call me Sari if that's too much of a mouthful. Trying to do more of this transparency thing... Starts with using my real name."

Edited by Mel the DM

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"Awwww." Gean whined as her employer approached and burst her bubble. She had looked into the dining area earlier, so she was aware how minimal breakfast would be. Before she could complain more however, Ing, or rather Versaris here reintroduced himself to her and Cin. He even made things easier for Gean and prepped a nickname for others to use. Gean shouldn't have been surprised that Ingverd wasn't his actual name considering his talent for acquiring info, their previous talk showed the girl that the man clearly worked in intelligence and espionage. It was surprising that he would reveal it to the Tigers, aside from Tasha being on good terms with the queen, no one here was anything special. Well, scratch that. Plenty of the group's members were special cases, just nothing put out in the open. Speaking that did bring one thing to mind that Gean did want to address.

"Well then Sari, it's a pleasure to meet you. Is there any moment when I can speak to you one on one by the way? There's something I'd like to address." Gean still didn't want to talk to openly about her past, not in public. She would eventually sit down with Cin and some of the others who didn't know yet, but that could happen later. "As for the others, I'm sure at least Miria has gotten up to eat, and Lani has probably finished her morning training. I can check up on Nyx and Rene for you though."

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"Hahah, good. I like Miria too." She had a soft chuckle. With the comment about not being morning people, Miria's laugh continued, "I'm not actually this bad, just, well, yesterday took a lot out of me. And I'm starving." She took another bite from her food. "And it's not a lot right now. Hah, I would normally already have ran a little bit to start the day."

And a question about Cin. Thinking about it, the last time she saw him...

"Sorry, I don't really know about Cin. I, well, got tunnel vision after I got... well, incapped. And then, I was out the rest of the night. Sorry,"

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Favio turned as it appeared that a number of the Tigers were in fact awake, and quite attentive to what was going on around them. First was an impressively tall, and well defined dark skinned dragon--judging by the scales and tail--who was perhaps a tad underdressed, but it was summer. Then, a seafolk clouded--it had been many years since he'd seen one of the seafolk, especially in-land--with a fairly bubbly personality. Her scales seemed a little familiar, but he hadn't the faintest idea why. Lastly, was an elf, who seemed to be either a vice-captain of the outfit, or tied to the Evokers in some manner, which he confirmed by offering to rouse the two. Favio shook his head, "I'm sure that won't be necessary. By the time the totality of your party arrives, and we reach Lord Sarasin's manor, I'm sure that Lady Elisa will have roused her. Lady Tio may throw a fit; she and Elisa were awake quite late discussing adjustments to the route to my understanding, so she'll not be happy to be awoken." The elderly man turned to Aegean, "And, Lord Sarasin did suggest that there would be some food. Now that the supplies have arrived, he can afford to be a bit more liberal with things."

The man looked over the group again before nodding, "Lord Sarasin will be doing it himself once you all arrive, I'm sure. However," The elderly man gave the group a sharp bow, surprisingly so for his seemingly advanced age. "On behalf of Liste, I thank you for your assistance in dealing with the knights from last night. Things would have gone far worse if you all hadn't stepped against their misdeeds." 

Persica nodded from her seat, "Ye all did us a real, uh, big favor." She smiled, happy that Sarasin had roughly the same idea as she was having. The Tigers deserved a little something for their flawless defense of Liste, and rescue of both the captives and supplies. 

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Cin jumped slightly as Gean showed up behind him, seemingly out of nowhere. He turned to look at her, a small flash of emotion skating across his face for the briefest moment, remembering their talk from not that long ago.

Early Morning Confessions

Spoiler

Cinaed slipped out of his room, leaving Siorel and her teasing words behind him. He’d rather hoped that the lizard was a late sleeper, but he’d been given no such luck. He sighed, leaning against the wall for a long second before straightening and heading down the hall. The night before in his attempts to find his own room, he’d noticed the room that Gean had left her things in, so he headed down that way. Pausing outside the door, he took a deep breath, and then quietly knocked. “Gean? Can we talk?”

Gean stirred at the knocking at the door. Slowly lifting her head up, she realized she wasn’t alone in the bed. After taking some time to become fully conscious, Gean remembered the events of last night, how the mermaid helped Renais to fall asleep. It was then that she realized who exactly was knocking at the door. Only fate could come up with this kind of timing. Gean made an effort to get up without waking her roommate and made her way to the door. She made the choice to answer in her sleepwear, nothing immodest was showing out from the large shirt she was wearing. Opening the door, Gean greeted Cin as she stepped out into the hallway. “Good morning big guy, sure we can talk.” 

Cin flushed slightly as Gean opened the door in what was obviously her sleepwear, but there was nothing even hinting at indecent about it, so he simply nodded. “Cool... Uhm. There’s a place downstairs, away from people, quiet. We can go there.” When there was no objection, he started off, trying to rehearse what he was going to say in his head as he did. When eventually they were alone and away from someone waking up and walking into the middle of their conversation, he turned back to her and took a deep breath. “Right. I want to start this by saying that everything I’m about to tell you, doesn’t change anything about what I said that night. And I’m not here looking for an answer either. I just need to tell you something important.”

Gean followed Cin's lead while stifling yawns. Once they made it to their destination, she found a clear spot and sat down, crossing her legs. Cin started with some preemptive statements, which the merfolk had come to expect from the dragon boy. She gave him a nod, to show that she was listening in.

She wasn’t talking, but that could just be her being tired or just not wanting to interrupt him.Right. Where to start... “Ok. Mmm. Last night, after everything that happened, I went back to my room like I said I would. She came by later, to check up on me. She tried to apologize for her part in my overload and I told her it was fine. That I knew you all were just teasing me and that there was nothing serious in it.” He glanced over at her, nervously. “But. She said she was serious. That she wasn’t just teasing me, despite us having just met. So I told her about us. How I had kissed you and was waiting on an answer from you, to try and explain. So I didn’t accidentally lead her on. B-but. Her response was to kiss me. And to say that if you said yes, then great, she would be happy for me but if you said no, I should come tell her.”

He swallowed, trying not to jump too far into theoreticals, to not assume she would immediately be done with him. “She ended up staying in my room, in the spare bed, because she didn’t have anywhere else to go. But nothing else happened.” There, everything was out now. Just stay calm. Explain your thoughts and then let her figure out where to go from there. “I’m not telling you this to try and rush you into an answer or anything like that. Rather, I just wanted to tell you because you deserve to know. I know I didn’t do anything wrong, it was all her actions, but I can’t hide it from you either.” There. Now it was up to her.

Gean sat back and listened, giving full attention. "You know, for all of that you just sprung on me, you never said who 'she' is." Gean already had an idea of who Cin was talking about. Yesterday's events made it clear who had come crashing into the boy's life. Well, like he said Gean had no desire to fault him. She honestly expected him to be looking for an answer at this point. "Hmmmmm." She closed her eyes and leaned back on her hands, thinking.

“O-oh. Ha. I guess I did.” He’d been meaning to explain more about the timeline originally but had decided against it, and seemingly had forgotten to actually explain who he was talking about when he dropped that portion of his explanation. “Well, I suppose I narrowed it down with everything else I was saying, but. I’m talking about Siorel. I don’t really get it, why she’s like this already, but, well, I suppose I don’t need to get it for it to be true.” She wasn’t answering, or even looking at him at this point. Don’t panic. If she gets upset, she gets upset. You did nothing wrong.

"Yeah I figured it was her. Look at you being such a lady killer~" Gean responded with a smile on her face. "Thank you for the consideration Cin. I appreciate it." Gean sat forward now. Cin said he wasn't looking for an answer, but the merfolk had an inkling that wasn't completely true. "So, how do you feel about this? You told me all about what she did or said, and you told me about why you felt you needed to tell me. But…" Gean's smile remained on her face, with no underlying emotions to be found. "Something must be eating at you if you had to call me out first thing in the morning. So what's up Cin?"

“I’m not...” Cin sighed, knowing it was going to be pointless to protest. She was going to be herself and tease him, even when it was a situation like this. “How do I feel? Confused. I still just don’t understand why she did all this, or anything. As for why telling you so early, it was because I didn’t want someone to notice her coming out of the room I was sleeping in and start talking and you overhear.” He leaned against the wall, trying to sort through his thoughts. “I’m trying not to overthink a lot of this, but it’s hard not to sometimes. When we talked yesterday, and you threw me into the lake, I realized that you were right. I tend to jump to conclusions fairly easily. So I’m trying not to do that here. But I did think that if you’d heard about it from someone else, and I hadn’t told you, you would have assumed some things. Because, well, she did sleep in my room last night after flirting with me in front of you. So I just wanted to make sure everything was clear so you weren’t spent worrying about it or trying to rush to an answer just because Siorel is doing what she’s doing.”

"Well you can rest easy now. If my smile was proof enough, I'm not mad at all." Gean rose from her spot but didn't close the gap yet. "And just so you know, I already figured she had gotten particularly attached to you. Given how she was glued to you last night, before and after the fight with the knights. I had no intention of rushing things just because she swooped in while I was being indecisive."

"That being said, what if I had an answer regardless of that?" Gean looked him in the eyes somewhat.

Well, this was going better than he had expected. She wasn't bothered at all, or at least didn't seem to be. He could admit that it wasn't surprising from an outsider's perspective. Even Alvira had thought something was going on from a small interaction. Still, the smile was there, things were going well. "That's fair. I guess maybe I'm the only one that didn't see it coming..." He sighed, shaking his head. "Glad you aren't rushing it, but if you have an answer I obviously wouldn't object to hearing it. Especially since no matter the answer, I'm going to still be in your life, right? I promised to help face the things that are making you scared and I'll do that as a friend or more. So yeah. I'll take an answer." He smiled at her, happy to be with her even if he was still internally worried. 

"Wow, such a trustworthy ally." Gean chucked at Cin's reaffirmation of support, another invaluable ally in her corner. "Well then." Gean tried to straighten up, while still keeping serious. "I'm not gonna say anything sad like 'I'm sorry' or 'It'll never work'. You're too much of a good person for that, and I'm glad to have met you. So I'll say this instead." Gean got closer to Cin and put a fist on his chest. "Go get that dancer, big guy!" It may not have been the most graceful answer, plenty of people might have done it better. But Gean had come to a decision, and she wasn't going to keep Cin waiting on her any longer. The fact that there was someone out there who was ready and sure about him was just a bonus too.

Cin let out a breath that he hadn't even realized he had been holding. There was the answer. It was strange. The first feeling was sadness. He really did like Gean, as a friend and the potential, the hope for more. So having that hope taken away hurt. But right on the heels of the sadness, perhaps even stronger was relief. Relief that things seemed to be working out ok. That she wasn't upset and still wanted him around. That he could go back to Siorel and give her a straight answer now too. He still wasn't sure if that was going to work out, but he could give it a try now.

He put a hand on her shoulder, looking down at her with a small smile. "Thank you. I'm. Well, we'll see what happens with Siorel. I have a lot of things that I need to figure out too, but we'll see how that goes. And I do mean it, by the way. I'm your friend no matter what. And I hope that you can find someone that makes you happy, even if it isn't me, alright?"

"Cin please, this was all it took for me to stop being your friend, I wouldn't have offered to introduce you to the tigers in the first place. Tasha is basically my mother at this point." Gean gave him a teasing pout, but one that wasn't serious at all. "Besides, someone needs to be there to knock some sense into you when you go overboard. In that sense I gotta be there for you." It was back to teasing him again, something that had become a worthwhile pastime for the mermaid. 

"While I still have you here though, I did want to talk about something else though." Gean dropped the playful act now, stepping back a bit. Cin's… moment, from the fight yesterday had come back to the girl's mind now that the other matter was settled. "Yesterday, when you had your outburst… If you don't want to talk about it I can drop it here, but I was worried about you. Especially when you ran off. I was the one who asked Siorel to follow you, since I knew Miria needed to get to a bed asap." Gean stopped there, worried she might be pressing things a bit.

Cin laughed as she teased him, holding his hands up in mock surrender. "Fair, fair. I'll give you that. I do need someone who is willing to throw me into lakes when needed and though I can think of a couple who would be more than willing to try, I think you might be the only one who actually physically can." She ignored his comment about her finding someone, which was fair. But instead she turned to more serious topics.

"Last night... I don't know what happened. I fled like that because I was scared. My magic, I couldn't control it. You've seen those calming exercises I do with my fire. They started as a way to help me control my temper. When you're as big as me, you can't have a temper that flares out of control all the time. So my mom taught me that as a way to keep myself in check. But last night. Last night it did nothing. If I tried, it just started to turn into that mess again. Something snapped in me last night Gean, and I'm afraid I'll never get it whole again." He took a shaky breath, before admiring, "I'm scared. Scared of my magic, the one thing I was always able to count on. I'm going to talk to the Evokers about it but. What happens if next time I lose my temper, someone I care about gets hurt? Or I set fire to a nearby building? I almost set fire to the bridge last night. So until I get this figured out, I'm just. Not using my magic. I can't risk it."

Well at least he was being honest here, and Cin's fears were entirely plausible. He had found something new about himself that he had no clue how to control or stop. How much he would hinder himself in future battles by closing off his magic was up for debate, but his fears were plausible nonetheless. “I don’t know if shutting off your magic is the best idea. With a trip like this, our skirmishes will more than likely grow more and more challenging. At least until the Evokers, Tasha, or Ing say otherwise, I’d recommend against dousing the flames completely.” Gean look him in the eyes, kept her smile, and crossed her arms. “And if you do lose your cool again, well we’ll just have to stop you. Simple as that.” Gean did quite know the full scope of Cin’s uncontrolled powers were, but she was still confident that together the Tigers, and especially the Evokers, could keep Cin from doing something he would come to greatly regret. I just had this same conversation last night didn’t I? The feeling of Deja Vu was not something Gean expected to have this morning, but she accepted it nonetheless.

“If nothing else, I’m not using my magic until I talk to the Evokers. I plan on doing that tonight, before you worry more. It might have something to do with the pure weapon attacks I took. Those can mess with your magic circuits, so maybe they made something go haywire. Hopefully we don’t get into a fight before then, right?” He smiled, though it was somewhat half-hearted. “And if we do, well, I’ll just have to trust the rest of you to cover my less than stellar performance. As for you all stopping me... If it comes to that, I appreciate you being willing to do so. For now, I guess we just hope it doesn’t come to that.” He started to sigh, but it quickly turned into a yawn. “Mmm, well. I should probably go find some food, unless you have more questions. You might want to get some real clothes on before you join me there though. Might give some of the other Tigers a heart attack dressed like that.” He grinned and held out a fist. “I’m glad I met you, Aegean. If nothing else, you’ve made my life significantly more interesting than it was before.”

“Most of the other tigers are taken, like mother’s, or like sisters to me. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind me walking around in my sleepwear. Then again if my current outfit has the power you’re speaking of, I might need to keep this trick up my sleeve for the future.” Gean felt a mischievous grin growing on her face. Well, potential future flirting aside, Gean happily took Cin’s thanks. “Anytime big guy, making things interesting is my specialty y’know? Well, besides smashing people in the face with an axe. I’m pretty good at that too. As for what I’ll do, I think getting my stuff ready for when we leave is what I shall do. Maybe I’ll catch you when I’m done, if a certain lizard doesn’t have your hands tied by that point.” Cin didn’t realize that now, Gean had a whole new way to tease him, and she wouldn’t let this pass by. 

“Ah, fair, fair. It is powerful though. You’ll have to remember.” He shook his head, chuckling quietly, nodding along with her comments until she brought up Siorel. “A-ah, I. Mmm, guess I have left myself open to teasing about all this, huh? Though, I’m not going to tell her right this minute. Even if I’m ok with it, I still just, want a little bit of time to think through this. Process my feelings, all that. So breakfast. Then maybe I’ll talk to Siorel, maybe I’ll wait a little longer. We’ll see. I don’t want to go to her all sad because you said no, you know?” He stretched, stifling another yawn. “Besides, I’m pretty hungry, and I travel light, so food and then packing.”

“Well if that’s your plan I won’t stop you. And yes, I will tease you forever, just because you said you’ll stay by my side. You cannot escape me now Cinead, this is your fate.” Gean played up her laughter as she proceeded to the exit. “Talk to you later Cin.” With that said, the girl strode her way down the hallway, a bit of pep in her step and a song on her lips.

But then, he smiled at her and things snapped back into place. She was his friend. Nothing was every going to change that. Not a gentle rejection or the dark past she kept hinting at, no. He was there for her and she was there for him.

"Hey Gean, have a good morning so far?" He chuckled, before suddenly Ingverd, no apparently Versaris appeared, with a promise to wake the Evokers if needed and a new name. Or perhaps an old name, depending on how you looked at it. He smirked slightly and returned the bow, "A pleasure to meet you, Versaris Didaron. I am Cinaed Astuikami, also at your service." He straightened and chuckled. "It's good to see a different side of you though, so I'll do my best to remember the change. Apologies if I mess it up occasionally." It seemed like the group was needed up at the mansion, perhaps sooner rather than later, for what besides a thank you wasn't entirely clear, but that was an easy enough place to start towards. "I suspect a group is probably gathering in the breakfast room, and the others are still asleep. Do you want to go and try and wake the Commander, Sari? Or perhaps you Gean? She should be able to get the rest of the group moving quickly enough."

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Posted (edited)

"Hmm?" It seemed things were still going to be resolved later today... not that Üllr would complain, after a fight like that. "Okay." He figured he'd have to look for a place to sleep today as well, but if the village or Sixteen's group appreciated the help, it could probably be covered.




Piggyback

Spoiler

Sixteen was curious. Too curious. The new fellow they’d collected, Üllr, was sticking in her brain. He was rather short, for what she remembered of males. He was covered in fur. He had paws and claws almost like her, except his were fuzzy instead of scaled… They were still similar in size. It made her feel warm…? I’m not sure what the sensation is… It’s similar to when I finally met Alriana. Our similarities made me feel… Included? Like I wasn’t so different…? Mmm… While she tried her best to figure out the sensation, she continued to make her way towards the room Üllr was staying in, finally standing in front of it. Her tail was twisting and curling behind her, matching the confusion in her mind. “Mmm… Üllr?” She knocked on his door, hoping he was still awake.

Having a room at all was a nice boon, compared to his years of getting what shelter he could. There was an enjoyable silence to be had in the dead of the night, after a chaotic day like that one. Üllr was still getting in his mind that he was picked up by that group, that he could have food, shelter, even the promise of some coins as his "payment" –stuff that was fairly foreign. It gave a new sense of security… a bit of peace, not having to worry about tomorrow too hard, nor going to bed on an empty stomach.

Not expecting visitors at all, Üllr turned to the door with suspicion at the noise, until his ears picked up the familiar voice coming from outside. "You… Sixteen, right? Something happened?" He had no idea what being called at this hour could mean, yet.

“No. Nothing happened.” Did something have to happen for them to talk? She was confused again, second guessing her bothering him… She shook her head. “I, uhm… I just wanted to talk? I think? I don’t know. This is all new to me… I’ve spent so long hiding away from people. Until I met my sister today, I hadn’t talked to anyone… Humans are scared of me. Even other monsters looked at me like I was a freak. So… It was… There was… This feeling… I don’t know how to explain this feeling? You talked to me. We had matching hands! In size. And claws… It was… Mmmm…” Sixteen whined, spinning in place, tail crinkling into different shapes. “I don’t know how to explain it but it made me want to talk to you more…”

"Just talk? Okay…" Üllr didn't know all that about social interactions and what was standard, truthfully. He didn't care enough to worry about it either. "We are kind of alike. Claws aren't common, so it's nice to see someone like me too." He could grasp that much, feeling less alone in the world was a good thing. He remembered as much from his own experience with his grandfather. "I guess you look a bit different. I haven't seen anyone like you. I also haven't seen anyone like me." He opened the door, taking a better look at Sixteen. "I don't think it matters a lot. Even humans are a bit different from each other." With a shrug, he took a step back, giving her space to come in.

Was he inviting her in? That’s what stepping out of the way meant, right? She perked up and smiled, rushing inside and settling onto the floor in the middle of the room like a cat, spinning around on all fours for a moment before sitting down. “Mm! Well… It’s mostly the scales and the tail and the turning stuff to stone… It really seems to get them spooked for some reason. Maybe it’s just all the different stuff combined together in one person… For whatever reason I just leave them on edge, but I don’t leave you on edge! Or the other people in the Tigers… It’s a really, happy feeling. I think that’s the right emotion.” She nodded, glancing up athim, wagging her tail into several patterns while moving it left and right. “What about you, Üllr? How have people treated you? Hopefully not like that awful captain… You’re another clouded, right? Same as most of the people in the Tigers…?”

 

"Mmm, yeah, same as most, I guess." He didn't really think about it in the rush of things, but most were really like him in the group, quite distinct in their features. That was probably why he felt more at ease, too. "Hmm… Humans treated me awful. I was born in a human tribe, but they thought I was… a bad thing. They just made me hunt for them, called me a dog." His face turned to a frown as he thought of his past again, little need to infer how it was upsetting. "I just thought all humans were like that. Except for grandpa. He took me and ran. Running away was much better."

 

He shook his head some, trying to take his mind away from the bad thoughts. "Grandpa always told me to go find people like me… I thought we were too few, too rare. It's nice to be here." He slowly walked to the center of the room, sitting on the floor beside Sixteen.

 

“H-Huh?” Sixteen listened to him talk and a weird feeling overcame her. Th-This, this one is… It’s sadness, right? Ohhh… I don’t like this feeling… But I don’t think it’s a bad thing…? The way Üllr spoke about humans made her frown, sniffle a little, and as he sat down next to her she sat up and hugged him, swallowing hard. “I’m so sorry Üllr… I, uhm. The people that made me wanted me to do the same sorta stuff. Hunting and fighting… But… The one in charge of me. Dale. He treated me well. He was always kind… I guess, kind of like this ‘grandpa’ you’re talking about? What was he like? Oh! Uh–”

 

She pulled herself off of him, realizing she’d hugged him out of instinct over the emotion. “Sorry! Sorry… Dale told me I was, too touchy feely too… He said that I shouldn’t hug just anyone unless I was really close with them or they were family, but you… You looked so sad talking about your past. And hugs are meant for comfort. I just… I wanted… mmm…” She fizzled, sighing quietly. “I don’t know. Feelings are still new for me… Ones that aren’t anger and fear, anyway… Mm… No one will treat you badly ever again. I won’t let them.”

 

Üllr was surprised by the hug, to be certain, though not weirded out enough to push her back. It seemed like the story hit a note with her as well. Üllr could understand that. "Touchy-feely… because you hug a lot?" Not questioning it much, Üllr gave more headspace to her previous question. "My grandpa was… he was smart. Taught me a lot. He liked talking a lot about the soul… souls? Said we all have one. Taught me to fight better, too. Said my fists needed my soul, too." He paused a bit after that, "He liked making things sound hard for me to figure out, I think." He snickered.

 

"It's ok. I can fight now, I won't let humans do that to me again." It was a great feeling to have someone care about his issues like that, for sure. Üllr didn't want to burden Sixteen with all that, though, he couldn't just live relying on others. "People treat you badly too, right? We won't let anyone do that to us again." Hoping to cheer her as well, Üllr spoke with confidence, and a light smirk.

 

"Fists needed your soul…?" She didn't understand that one. She even fought with her claws sometimes and the idea was lost on her. "Mmm… I think I have a soul? Dale was talking about it one day… He was saying that creating us physically was the easy part, but… Something about… Needing a life… I didn't really get it so I didn't pay attention to it. I'm here now so that's what matters. Mmmm, yeah."

 

She didn't give it much further thought, smiling wide at his claims. "Yes~ No more mean humans. The ones in the Tigers are all nice, though… I'm still scared of them, but they're nice. They haven't tried to do anything to me and that Syndra lady even let me have her magic! I appreciated that a lot." Sixteen nodded as she sat up a little, crossing her legs. "So… Do you have any goals, Üllr? I found my sister and I've made some friends, so I don't really know what else to do with my life… What about you?"

 

"I think everybody has a soul, don't think you wouldn't have one." Shrugging the innocuous (to him) question, Üllr kept eye contact as she spoke of goals… truthfully, he wasn't much farther than her there, taking a moment to reply, ear twitching in thought. "Hmm… goals? I want to get stronger so strong humans don't chase me. I wanted to get to a place where Clouded live a good life, and then I got here. Now I want to help you guys for saving me." If he could think hard enough, he could find himself goals, even if they were a bit scattered. "Maybe I could find out about dad, I never knew about him until grandpa talked about it one day…."

 

"Your dad?" Sixteen didn't have parents in that way, though she could grasp the concept. Alriana has a mom, though. An intense wave of jealousy ran through her in a way she didn't understand. It left as quickly as it came, so she tried to pay it no mind, nodding at his ideas. "I'm sure we'd all be able to help you! I think the Tigers are escorting the fancy magic ladies to Lufiria, but after that, maybe we can all go on an adventure for each other's sake! I think that'd be fun… Mmm~"

 

She swayed a little as her eyes dragged up to his ears, staaaaaaring at them. "Can I… this is a weird question… Can I touch your ears…?" She looked down at his face from them, a bashful smile on her face. "They just look so soft… You can touch me back in return if you'd like."

 

"Eh? Hmm, wouldn't know where to start, not worth worrying others." Üllr shook his head, not wanting to give it that much thought. "Thank you, though. I have time to figure that out. Escorting the magic ladies can be the goal for now." Nodding, Üllr felt more assured, sitting upright, and keeping his smirk.

 

Until Sixteen gave a surprising question, of course, met by an equally puzzled look. "My, ears?" Tilting his head and twitching that ear again, Üllr gave the question a genuine thought. "...Sure? Soft, huh. If you're curious, I don't mind."

 

"Ooohhhh…" Sixteen leaned onto her claws and knees and scurried behind Üllr, then sitting on her knees to get a good vantage point. "You've got a lot of hair too! Just like me~" Sixteen's pink locks were dragging along the floor a little, more than long enough to reach it when she wasn't standing. "Thennnnnn… Thank you for permission~" With the tiniest pinch! She began to gently rub them to get a feel for his fur. "Whoooaaaa… Üllr, you're wayyyyy soft… This is so nice~"

 

"Ah…" Üllr felt a bit inadequate at the hair comment, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why. "Yeah, it keeps growing… doesn't bother me, but grandpa always said it was long." Looking down to the floor, Üllr let her examine his head at her decision, until a pinch brought a whine out of him. "Hn." His ear reacted with a small twitch, sensitive as it was. "Soft huh… scales are interesting. Your hand feels chilly, a bit nice…"

 

"If they're too cold, I can stop…" She wasn't squeezing hard, applying the gentlest pressure she could against the soft bits poking out of his head. "So soft… She ended up leaning against him, giggling a little. "This feels… Nice? I haven't ever had a friend before… I had family, with Dale and Alriana… But friends… None until I met the Tigers. You're the first person I've had so much conversation with." Returning the favor for his ears, Sixteen slid her tail in front of him, wiggling it ever so slightly. "If you wanna feel my scales for yourself, you can."

 

"No, it's fine." Getting used to the ear handling let Üllr relax, just appreciating the weird, chill yet smooth feeling of the scales, closing his eyes for a moment. "Friends? Yeah, we can be friends. That sounds nice." His grandfather always did want him to have friends, that word wasn't unfamiliar to him. The more he thought about it, the more Üllr was thankful he tried to sneak into this village –even with the racist human fiasco.

 

"...Your, tail?" Üllr opened his eyes again, watching the tail sway with interest, reaching out a hand to touch the tip. "Huh…" He exercised caution, assuming it was just as sensitive, feeling around its size with furred digits, making sure to keep the nails away.

 

“Friends…” Sixteen got stuck on the word for a minute. “You’re my first friend…” She melted a little, resting against him, head on top of his, fingers petting his ears some. “Mmm… Friends~” It had the best ring to it, enough of a positive feeling that she barely felt him touching her tail, the smallest flinch following. “Th-The tip is a little sensitive, Üllr. Be careful…”

 

“Mmm…” The petting wasn’t unpleasant, Üllr’s ears twitched in response again, and he relaxed, still sitting upright, eyes half closed. “Got it…” Running a hand along those scales was nice. They had a pleasing texture, solid. “First friend, huh? Me too… well, I guess grandpa was also a friend.” He chuckled.

 

“Ohhhh… Family can be friends too? I thought they were just family… Mmmm, second friend, then. Alriana was my first~ mmm… Or second? I guess that’d make you third… Was Dale my friend? I dunno… He was like… A caretaker.” Sixteen leaned into him more and slowly closed her eyes as Üllr rubbed along her tail, slowly falling asleep. This was beyond comfortable.

 

“Yeah, I think so, anyways. Some family is family, and some family, friends. I think so, anyways.” Üllr didn’t try to think hard about it, it just felt intuitive to him. He didn’t know his father, so he had no idea if he was a friend or not, but his grandpa was. “Second or third is fine, still pretty early.” He couldn’t help a chuckle. She seemed sleepy. He didn’t mind. “Same to you.”

 

“Mmnmnnnn, friennnnnnd…” Sixteen melted further onto Üllr, her arms sliding off his ears and over his shoulders, resting against him as she crashed asleep. The day had been too exciting and exhausting for her, using her magic as she had and fighting alongside the others in that battle. The good news was that she was sleeping with a smile, content with all she’d accomplished…

 

“Mmm… eh…?” Slowly, Sixteen had stopped petting his ears, and drooped over his shoulders. “Ah…” Üllr didn’t expect her to fall asleep so fast. She must have been tired from that day. It made sense, with all the effort she went to help him, and the eyes thing. “Mmm…” Slowly, as to not wake her up, Üllr turned around, picking her weight –surprisingly easy, he was used to carrying weight. Making sure not to move her much, Üllr put her onto one of the two beds in the room. “Goodnight, Sixteen…” Pulling the blanket over her, he stepped back, going to his own bed.

 

A soft mattress… he’d only enjoyed that twice or thrice before. It would be a nice night of sleep.

As the morning came, Üllr was slow to get off his room. Not without reason, firstly because it was hard to get such good sleep in his life, secondly...

"Hah..." Not minding his manners, Üllr came down the stairs carrying a sleepy Sixteen on his back. Noting the gathering as the group seemed to congregate to eat. On tables and everything.

Neat.

With a quick look, Üllr tried to keep people's faces in mind. Most of them were easy to remember from yesterday, the tan elf man seemed to be talking about the magic women. Üllr's attention lingered on him for a moment.

"Good morning..." He mumbled, looking back to his sleepy backpack, "Everyone's up. Well, almost, I think." Üllr wanted to go ahead and grab some meat for himself, but that'd be easier to handle with a woken up Sixteen. She wasn't a burden as far as weight was concerned, but still kept his arms busy.

Edited by Xinnidy

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"Of course, Gean. You're free to speak with me alone whenever necessity dictates. I'm sure Alriana would be relieved to find a moment away from me, hmhm." He couldn't help joking gently about the lizard's grumpy nature. It was part of what made her so irresistibly adorable, but it was also genuine annoyance at times. Really hoping that playing 'Ingverd' didn't sour things too much...

"I'll let Elisa handle her wife then. Thank you for the alert..." Sari's voice trailed off as Cinaed reintroduced himself on a whim, providing his last name. "Would-- would you excuse Cinaed and I for a moment? You as well, Gean, I need to speak with him alone..."

Without a moment's wait for the dragon to confirm, Versaris grabbed his arm and pulled him away, leaning in close to whisper. "I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you don't know any better since you're from Glacies, but... That name. Astuikami. It's on quite the watch list in Lufiria. Crimes against the crown." He was deadly serious, watching Cinaed's expression the entire time.

"I'm warning you because I trust you. You're far too nice and well meaning to be some government agent... Unless you've managed to pull the wool over even my eyes, in which case, bravo. The point is... Don't say that name out loud, especially the closer we get to Lufiria. I need to talk to Alvira about the something similar; can't have her going around she's a part of this 'Sam'Tara' family..." He sighed, hoping Cinaed would be able to handle all this.


⁸Mmnnhghhhnnn..." Sixteen whined as she was hauled into the breakfast area like a sack of potatoes, slowly opening her eyes as the smells hit her nose. "Mmnnhnn... Goo' morniiiiing..." That was all she was gonna be able to manage until she ate.

"Boo~ Guess I'll have to wait for him to come back." Siorel sat herself down and spied the wolf boy coming in with the snake on his back. "Heheh... Cute."

Edited by Mel the DM

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Tanya’s eyes narrowed as she looked over towards Siorel - not out of malice, mind, but simply because it was like looking into the sun, she was so bright this morning. “I’m not usually this bad in the morning, but when I can’t sleep half the night, it gets kinda hard to be cheerful.”

Really, Tanya didn’t even know why she had such a hard time sleeping last night. She just did. And it messed her up pretty good.

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Cin found himself suddenly pulled to the side by Ing, no, Sari, away from even Gean, to suddenly have information about his last name dropped on him. He frowned, not really understanding. "I. Can certainly withhold my last name, I trust you enough to listen to what you say. But this doesn't make any sense. My family... They all died, Versaris. My mother was sent away, to try and keep some of them alive, but she was the only one from what she told me. The rest of them, they never appeared again after the war. They never came to find her, they left her alone. The only reason they would have done that is if they were dead. Why would they still be on some watchlist?"

He shook his head, not denying the man's words, just confused, when suddenly he paused, considering. "Ah. Hmm. Can we talk about this more, later? I'll give you the quick summary now, but I suspect that you might want to talk more after... And I needed to talk to you anyways. Tomorrow, maybe. I need to talk to the Evokers tonight and that one is urgent. Ugh. After the fight with the Crows, I stopped by the fortune teller. She showed me... It was my family. My grandfather, others, all with my golden scales. Welcoming me, happy to see me. And then it changed. A man with red hair, standing over their corpses. Their burnt corpses. Fire dragons that had been burnt to death, completely destroyed, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that is an almost impossible task." He ran a hand through his hair, trying to think. "I'd assumed she'd somehow shown me the past instead of the future. But now... Well, now I don't know what to think. Except to wonder why, if they really are alive, did they just abandon my mother in Glacies..."

Edited by scorri

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Nyx slept like absolute shit. Admittedly, part of that was because her mood was shit for most of the night; forcibly leaving herself to be alone throughout that stretch in order to sort her thoughts ended up doing more harm than good. But really, after what she’d heard last night, from the two people she was closest to, promising openness and then still leaving things tucked away? Not to mention the sheer scope of what she’d been told, too, about both of them, and whatever gaps she’d had to fill on her own…  Well, it didn’t leave the archer in a good mood.

A Trio of Runaways

Spoiler

Syndra walked up towards the door to the room the innkeeper had told her Nyx was staying in. Although she was normally a composed woman, her heart was caught slightly in her throat, her thoughts racing. Since the journey had begun, Nyx had been someone that showed an interest in her, and that was without knowing who she really was. That was the issue though, Syndra knew she couldn’t keep those secrets, not when they were getting closer and closer to home How’s she going to react to finding out the woman she’s been chasing after is an Islexian? I know that I’m nothing like the people we’re going to be fighting, but would that even matter? Still, she had to eventually tell someone, so it was better to get in front of it now and clear up anything about who she was, hopefully Nyx would understand. Syndra knocked on the door. “Hello? Nyx? It’s me, Syndra, are you in there? I wanted to talk to you about something… important.”

 

Nyx was still dead tired from the fight, and all the running around that came with it. Not to mention there was a lot on her mind lately, what with having been recognized from that fateful night. Granted, it was by someone she’d saved, and not from whoever may have hired her that night and subsequently probably wanted her dead, but still. Maybe she’d think a little clearer with a bottle of… No. No, she’s trying to stay off the booze. Before she could entertain any more thoughts of the sort, Syn had evidently chosen to pay her a visit. Still, the mage was fun to tease, so… “Nae, s’nobody in ‘ere but dem chickens.”

 

"Yeah just us hens clucking about." Gean call from the other bed in the room. She had swung by Nyx's room after the battle had ended, and was just relaxing quietly in the room when Syndra knocked. The mage and the archer had definitely been growing closer recently, so Gean figured the two might want some alone time. Getting up, the younger woman here opened the door, both to let the mage in and to leave if needed.

 

“Well you’re seemingly in high spirits aren’t you.” Syndra’s double meaning wasn’t backed up by any kind of odor of alcohol. If she hadn’t recognized Nyxied’s voice she probably would’ve thought she had the wrong room.  There was, however, the other voice Syndra heard. It sounded like Aegean’s. That both complicated and simplified things. Complicated in the sense of what Syndra wanted to divulge, but on the other hand considering how close Aegean and Nyxied were, it was probably for the best that she was here to hear it. When the door opened, Syndra’s suspicion was confirmed. “Well hello to you as well Aegean.” Aegean had opened the door for her, so she walked on into the room. Sitting on the bed Nyx was on, she told Aegean. “You don’t have to leave just because I’m here, matter of fact you should probably stay here. I think you’d like to hear what I was going to say too.”

 

Well, Nyx certainly wasn’t about to kick Gean out for Syn’s sake, so hearing the mage decide she was fine with her being here made things easier. Nyx leaned against the mage who’d decided to just plop herself on the bed, evidently happy that she had the extra support and comfort. “Shit, ye tryin’ t’propose so soon? I mean, ye, I accept, but damn, dunno why ye’d be so insistent that Gean stick around. She’s already got plenty o’ mums, so… uh, ne’er mind.” Nyx rubbed the back of her neck, which she realized was a bit of a pain to do while still leaning against Syndra, though she still made no effort to move off the mage. “Took a lil’ bit of a hard shot durin’ th’fight, n’now m’prob’ly a lil’ bit loopy. Wha’s up, Synnie? Ye feelin’ ight?”

 

“Yes, that’s it, you guessed it. I’m proposing. Let’s just leave and run away. No, I’m afraid that’s why I’m here right now. I’m afraid it’s…” Syndra let out a long sigh. “Where to start… Well, I suppose I should ask, is there anything about me you’d like to know more about?” It was rare that Syndra let herself be vulnerable, but with Nyx she felt like could be more open, much like how she was with Ryfia back home.

 

Gean wasn't expecting the offer, much less the recommendation to stay. Despite the following flirting between the mage and the thief, Gean figured she should come back in. Closing the door and taking a seat on the opposite bed, Gean figured the best thing to do was just listen for now.

 

Well, so much for that. Syn seemed a lot more… melancholy than usual, even for her. It honestly had Nyx a bit worried, but then she… just asked if there was anything she wanted to know about her? Huh. Well, now that she mentioned it… “Well, there is one thing. Wha’ was that ye’d mentioned back at th’ bar in Eibar? Y’know, when we were talkin’ wit Fe n’shit. Somethin’ bout a lad ye were s’posed t’get hitched wit, before ye came ‘ere?”

 

Right out of the gate, Nyx brought up Syndra’s fiancée. “I don’t mind telling you about him. He’s a man by the name of Yuuta Valore. The son of a ‘noble’ family.” Syndra paused and sighed. “An Islexian noble family. One with great wealth and access to natural resources. And if I were to be married into them, the idea would be that my family would gain access to those things. That being said. My name is Syndra Belrose, daughter of Nicolas Belrose; a high-ranking Islexian Warlord and out and out bastard of a man.” Syndra leaned backwards into the bed, arms outstretched. “Sorry for keeping that a secret for so long, but I didn’t know what else to do with something like that.”

 

Gean blinked. Nothing seemed to change, so she blinked again, a bit more forcefully this time. "Wait. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute." Gean held her hands in front of her face and closed her eyes. No matter how she tried to twist her thinking, no matter how she tried to assess what she heard from a different angle, there was no way to explain what she heard but as either a terrible surprise, or a sick joke. Knowing who she was talking to, the latter was more than likely a pipe dream.

 

"So… what I'm understanding is, I've been working with a secret Islexian noble, who's run away from some engagement? On top of that, we're finding this out while we're, a band of mostly Monster and Clouded mercenaries, currently on a mission that will take us through Islexia and Lufiria?" God is this how Tio and Ing felt? "Ah. Whooo Ok then! Nyx you sure know how to choose them!" Saying Gean was floored would be an understatement.

 

Nyx, in contrast to Gean’s reaction, seemed largely nonplussed. Sure, it was probably a bigger deal than she seemed like it was, especially given that Syn made a big show of coming up to tell her this stuff. Though, in truth, Nyx found herself not really caring; partly because she knew Syn wasn’t the kind of person who’d be… well, like that, and partly because Nyx had her own skeletons in the closet. Skeletons she apparently now had to drag out and throw at Nattie later. Dammit. “Aight, so yer dad’s a fuck and yer engaged to a fuck. Ain’t th’firs’ time I went’n flirted wit a gal who turned out t’be engaged.” Damn Marianne and her cute everything too. “Yer nae yer dad, and we’re nae goin’ t’Islexia anytime soon, so why th’fuck m’I s’posed ta care, exactly?

 

Syndra was both surprised and not surprised. Sure, Aegean’s reaction was to be expected, but Nyx’s on the other hand, well it certainly brought more than a smile to Syndra’s face. She laughed and said, “Thanks Nyx, I needed that. Unfortunately to answer your question, I can think of at least 20,000 reasons why. At least at last I’d heard, that’s how much money my father’s paying to have me brought back alive. I’m mostly concerned that since we’re headed that way we’re going to run into my family. Not that I have any issues fighting them, just…” She looked over at Aegean. “I just know what’ll happen to someone like you Aegean if we fail against people like them. If you’re not lucky, they might keep you alive as a servant or a pet.”

 

Syndra looked back up at the ceiling after saying that. “The whole reason I think this all happened is just to punish me, because I’m someone in Islexia who actually sees the, if you’ll forgive me for using the term, “impure”, as people. I mean, what’s the difference between someone like me and someone like you Aegean? We both feel the same emotions, communicate in the same ways. The only difference is who we came from, but why’s that supposed to define everything about who you are before we’ve even met? It’s bullshit!” Syndra sighed again. “Sorry about that, thinking about home tends to get me worked up. Where was I again?”

 

Gean was not surprised, but still annoyed by Nyx's brushing off of this. Things were already risky on this trip, and now there's apparently people who could be tracking them down to find Syndra. To be fair, Gean didn't really have room to talk, with her past seemingly over the hill. "Well you told us about your past, and who you are. You also told us we might have Islexians on our trail to track you down." Gean was wondering what forces were managing Tasha's recruitment luck that multiple unique characters could end up under her employment. Letting out a sigh, Gean laid back on the other bed, letting out a large sigh. "What's next or the share list?"

 

Well, Nyx didn’t quite see what the big deal was. Considering how strong the Evokers were, and how tough the Tigers themselves were, they could probably trounce any clown that tried to mess with them. And dealing with dickheads and racists was something she had plenty of experience with, for good or ill. But if it was full disclosure time, and she’d already agreed to tell Nattie about this later anyways… 

 

“Well, uh, my turn I guess. I used ta be an outlaw ‘round dese parts. Pretty big, too; they used ta call me th’ Empress o’ th’ Underground. Hell, only reason I ain’t still is ‘cause some dumbshit tried t’hire me t’escort some caravan that was haulin’ Clouded like they were some cargo, n’I didn’t take too kindly t’that. Nearly died ‘cause of it, til some wandering healin’ folk saved my sorry ass. Course, it was some fuckin’ years ago, n’th’ only person who recognized me from way back then was th’innkeep ‘ere ‘cause I saved ‘er life, but… ye.” 

 

Nyx leaned forward on the bed, voice dropping an even lower octave than usual, “So trust me when I tell ye tha’ I truly don’ give a flyin’ fuck who yer pa is. Far’s I’m concerned, he’s just another fuckin racist, n’I think we’re gettin’ pretty damn good at killin’ dem kinds’a fuckers lately.”

 

Syndra was surprised Nyx just came out and told her about her time in the underground. She knew Nyx had said something to that effect back in Eibar, but didn’t think she’d actually open up about it. Still, even though she was confident about their odds about fighting her father, Syndra knew better. “I appreciate your bravado as always Nyx, but believe me when I say we’re not ready to fight them all, at least not right now. It’s not just my father we’d have to worry about. There’s my two older brothers who are all just as capable of getting in our way. My mother’s also fairly competent, although I think she could be persuaded to see things my way.” Syndra then playfully started rustling Nyx’s hair. “I am happy that you’re so enthusiastic about all this, we just need to be patient.”

 

There was one other thing still nagging at Syndra, and since Nyx was willing to bring it up, maybe she had an idea. “So you remember that chick who ran the Crows? The one with the underground connections? I’d have figured the underground would have attacked us by now to recoup some of their losses, so I asked Sir Cinaed to help watch for them. I was wondering if maybe you had any ideas on who to look out for Dame Nyxied, that is if you’re comfortable sharing.”

 

Nyx did vaguely remember the one who ran the Crows, but only insofar as that they killed her. Otherwise, she shook her head. “Nae, she didn’t ring a bell when Fe told me ‘bout ‘er. N’honestly, I don’ remember much o’ them days, specially ‘bout th’whole caravan thing. Dunno who hired me, an’ I don’ care anymore.” She did nonetheless try and wrack her brain for something that may have helped, but after a moment, sighed and threw her hands up. “Shit, even if I try, I can’ remember shit. Sorry bout that.”

 

She didn’t try and touch the bit about not just going after Syn’s asshole family and the lad she was engaged to, either. It ate at her, the feeling of knowing she was flirting with yet another engaged woman, albeit with this one wanting out. Nyx started wondering if maybe she was just desperate for a companion, having flitted around for so long on her own. Something or someone to anchor her to the world before she drowned in both regrets and alcohol.

 

“Well, odds were it was a long shot anyway. Don’t feel bad about it. We’ll just have to be careful while traveling.” Syndra felt Nyx was concerned about… something that wasn’t what she asked about. “Come on Dame Nyxied, out with it. I know there’s something else rattling around in that head of yours. We’ve shared so much already, what’s one more thing?”

 

Nyx huffed, both slightly annoyed that she’d been caught in her thoughts, and that Syn kept calling her Dame like that. She was definitely not Dame material; not now, not ever. “Ah, jus’ some personal shit. Nothin’ ye need’a concern yerself wit.” Despite her annoyance, though, Nyx kept her voice calm, relatively speaking. Idly, though, she turned towards Gean, and gears started turning. If Syn was some fancy noble, and Nyx was… well, Nyx… what did that make Gean? “Oi, kid. Y’feel like sharin’ wit th’class too? Might as well try’n complete our lil’ trilogy o’shit.”

 

Gean had chosen to remain quiet for a while. A lot of information had been dropped onto her lap, and none of it warranted confidence. At this point Gean wondered how many of the Tigers didn't have a mission jeopardizing secret. She was also a little annoyed with how Nyx was brushing off the severity of things here. When you're dealing with a warlord, you're not just dealing with some person like a crook of the streets, you're facing someone with influence and power, and definitely someone with forces backing them up. However Gean also knew that explaining that to the lady would be a massive headache, so she chose to save those words. Syndra knew the gravity of her being here, and that's what mattered more.

 

It was then while she was thinking about the stakes here that her play mom called her out. Gean let out a heavy sigh, this wasn't quite how she wanted to reveal her past to Nyx, but now that the spotlight was on her, it wouldn't be kind of her to withhold it from someone so close to her. "Fine. Guess I'll talk since I'm not the only runaway in the room." Sitting up, Gean took a deep breath before she spoke next. "Long story short, I'm a Lufirian who left my home ten years ago because my family was framed for a crime we didn't commit. I'm pretty sure there are people after my whereabouts, although I don't think they know my exact location as of now. There's more to the story, but I'm not quite ready to go deep into details, at least not tonight." That's where Gean was leaving things. She had already explained a lot to Tasha earlier today, and wasn't keen on a repeat performance.

 

“Yeah, Natalya really needs to look into her onboarding process if we all just slipped through the cracks like this.” All jokes aside it was just another thing for the group to look out for. “Unless whoever’s pursuing you is wickedly strong I don’t think we’ll have to worry about them while we’re in Islexia.” Syndra then pressed into Nyx and said “Besides, we’re not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, right Nyx?”

 

Nyx let out a snort at Syn’s joke, but her focus was soon back on Gean. She… hadn’t expected her not-so-little girl to be a runaway noble of all things, and to still be hiding things from even her pseudo-mom. And it… kinda hurt, all things considered, that she’d still been left out of knowing these things. Then Syn said her name and she snapped out of the brief haze she’d let herself fall into, and weakly laughed. “Aye, aye… ‘sides, we’re a pretty tough bunch; m’sure we can handle ourselves pretty good, ain’t we?”

 

Thing was, Nyx was starting to doubt that, on top of doubting that the two Tigers she was closest to actually trusted in her the same way. Shaking her head, Nyx abruptly stood up and made for the door. “But m’still a lil’ dazed from tha’ hit I took earlier, so m’gonna go fer a walk n’ clear me head. Ye two should ‘ave a lil’ chat while m’gone; y’know, bond like them other fancy nobles do n’shit.”

 

Gean could only sigh as Nyx left the room, the look on her face clearly telling how she felt about the news she just found out. Once again, Gean had hurt someone she cared about, and no matter how many times she did it, it sucked the same. She would have to do something about this situation, but not now. 

 

Turning back to Syndra Gean reflected on her earlier comment. "I'd love to say that you're right, Syndra, but the people I'm thinking about are nothing to scoff at. Some might be as strong as the Evokers, or stronger. I don't think they'll catch up to us soon, but a run in feels more likely than not. I'm just hoping we can keep things peaceful. Oh and for the record I'm not actually a noble, just noble-adjacent. My aunt was promoted to noble status." Gean threw that out there. It felt like this was the first time she and the ice mage were alone like this. 

 

Nyx had left the room, visibly hurt by the news she’d heard. Syndra was torn between chasing after her and staying put. Both didn’t feel like the right choice. Aegean was the only other one in the room now, and while Syndra was sure Nyx would come back eventually this was also the best chance Syndra was likely to have to speak with the mermaid one on one. “Is that the case? Your aunt must be talented then. Wait, she’s not the one coming after us is she?”

 

"No, if it's anyone, it's probably my uncle. And I have a feeling he's still looking for my father who's still in Glacies at this point." Gean didn't want to even think about the possibility that Serena was on their trail, she'd rather face more pure weapons. "Have you told anyone else about this by the way? It's probably for the best that Tasha knows at least, so we can plan for the future. I'd also tell the Evokers, but if I recall correctly you're not on real speaking terms with them."

 

Aw shit, Syndra had forgotten about Tio. She had planned on apologizing to her after the misunderstanding in Eibar, but given recent events Syndra was also likely the last person she’d want to speak to right now. “I actually think I had a productive conversation with Elisa, but I still need to apologize to Tio. As for the Commander, she was next on my list after talking to you and Nyxied about… well, me. The problem with that is she’s not really an easy person to get ahold of these days. You’re right though, I do need to tell her.”

 

"I can tell her you want to talk, best times to speak to her are usually around early evening when she's logging in her journal. Just for the best to get that out of the way sooner than later. Trust me." Gean got up, and made her way to the door. "I'm gonna go take a bath now, today's been a lot. I want to decompress." Before opening the door, Gean paused, looking down. "I- I don't think Nyx will want to talk to me right now, so it's probably best if you talk to her when she comes back. If she's not absolutely plastered when she does." With that said Gean left the room. 

 

“The evening. Alright, I’ll look for her then.” After that, Gean left to go take a bath. Syndra was alone. She took off her suit jacket and lied down on the bed. This was the right thing to do right? I couldn’t just leave them in the dark forever. Aegean’s probably right but why would Nyxied want to talk to me? I’ve been hiding just as much from her… Still, Syndra didn’t feel like leaving, so she reached into her bag, and pulled out the bottle of rum from it. “I’d planned on sharing this, maybe I’m better off draining it completely by myself.”
 

Now, Nyx simply took a swig of water - because, despite everything, she was still trying to stay sober, even if she could really use a drink right now - and took a spot at a table in the corner of the little breakfast nook, trying really hard to keep away from people this morning. After all, if even Gean and Syn could hide some crazy dangerous shit, who’s to say everyone else wasn’t, too?

Edited by MRDRHAWK

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