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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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Miria nodded happily, "Alright! Let's do it then!" as she laughed, she turned to take the lead of the duo and began making her way to the arena. She took in her environment, taking some mental notes of what was on the way. 

"It's pretty here," she quietly spoke, as she turned to check and make sure Syndra was behind her, "Have you ever been to a place like Cerezia before? This is the first time I've been in a city this big."

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Syndra was tagging along behind Miria, who was busy taking in all of the sites as they were headed towards the arena. As for Miria's question, Syndra responded with; "Yeah I've been to a few big cities before. it's always an experience, taking in the sights and sounds of something new. I think the last time I was in a city this big... hoo it was a few years ago with a very close friend of mine." She was being vague on purpose; if Miria wanted to know more she'd tell her, but for the moment she was focused on finding places she wanted to visit after the arena. A city like this should have more powerful spells for purchase somewhere in it, and who knows what else I might find useful around here, so close to home.

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The merfolk found himself interrupted by an unusual looking girl on the wolf's back. She very quickly wasn't on his back, and was suddenly crawling. The man just blinked, tilting his head back and forth as he scanned the girl in front of him. She was definitely a monster of some sort, but she must have been one of the real rare ones because he'd never seen one like her. She was a cute little thing --in both senses of the word-- but she was just a little too bubbly, and he was on duty. 

"Uh." He paused a little on the introduction. It was a little strange to introduce one's self at a shop unless one was some hoity-toity noble, but they wouldn't come around here. "Ullr, and 16... okay, name's Armin. Yeah, we sell weapons." He stepped aside and showed off the wall behind him. On closer inspection, the wall was more of a fabric over a metal fence but there were weapons of all types adorning it. "We make, and sell all types, but specialize in heavier stuff. Swords, bows, gauntlets, if you can name it, we've probably got it. Even got some specialty stuff, but that's not kept on display." 

He studied 16's claws noticing the natural gauntlet like composition. The man whistled, "Those are basically natural gauntlets, damn. You might be able to use smaller stuff like knives, but... I'm not sure you'd need anything else with those." 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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"Well... They never told me to keep a low profile. Not exactly my style, but I could use a little more spending money." Marigold walked out into the arena, making the motion of cracking her neck, despite no sound. An old habit that wasn't about to go anywhere. She unclipped the axe on her belt and swung it onto her shoulder as the first opponent in the arena was sent out. Some mage. Mages were squishy. An announcer came over the air and called the first match, but Mari wasn't paying any attention. "Square up," she muttered, bending over slightly, before rocketing towards them in a single jump! Whether she was caught off guard or simply unprepared for such a quick assault, Mari's axe collided with the mage before they could conjure a spell, sending them to the ground.

The arena was dead silent as Mari returned to her starting position, free hand grabbing her axe wielding shoulder, pushing it back into place. "Swung too hard... Mmnnm..." A few claps finally started to sound as the match was called, healers rushing to the mage's side. Mari continued to not pay much attention, yawning a little. "I hope they're not all this easy."

Another mage, same story as the last. She sighed as they were put into the ground of the arena, another tense and slow clap from the audience. Was this against the norm? Did no one come around and clown on their fighters were often? She glanced around the place, wondering what they were hoping for. "Meh. More gold for me... Oho?" As she resumed her place on the other side once more, a dark mage came out to face her. "Another mage, huh... But dark magic. You folks are supposed to be sturdier... Let's see if it holds up!" Mari changed her tactics, darting left and right on her approach this time, strong and quick jumps carrying her across the ground... Maybe it was the choice of assault, but her axe didn't crush as hard this time, leaving her open to an attack from their dark magic...!

The spell caught her axe arm, crushing it swiftly, the axe dropping to the ground as she collapsed next to it. The announcer began to call the match, but the audience gasped... Marigold was back up, axe in hand. "Gotta double tap--" she called out as the axe came into the mage once more, sending them down.

She huffed... Taking hits isn't easy... And I don't think people here would take well to what I am if they found out... I guess I should play it up if I get hit again. She'd definitely have to. The next guy was wielding one wicked axe, leaving her sighing. "Okay... Remember what pain feels like and play it up." She'd been healed by the arena's healers, not that she really noticed, but nothing felt heavy anymore, so it was probably worth it. "One swing and then play up the counter. Okay. Let's get it..." She made good on her plan, her swing connecting as hard as always, sending her opponent reeling... For a moment. Whoever this Ramirez was, he was no nonsense, his axe coming for her arm--

"GAHHHH!" Marigold screamed out as his axe took her arm clean off, collapsing against the ground near it and balling up, squirming and tensing... The arena was full of shocked gasps and shouts, several of the healers coming over to help immediately, propping her up and doing their best to reattach the limb. "Hahh, hahh... Ghhhh..." She kept up her act until they were done, not moving her fingers yet to keep up the illusion of some kind of permanent damage. She hit the crowd with a thumbs up to try and calm them down; her arm was back on, things were surely fine. Ramirez was announced as the victor... And she walked out to the entry area, shaking her newly reattached arm. Coulda put it back on and took him out, but I don't wanna raise too many eyebrows. I won three rounds. It's money.

"Heyyyyy, manager guy," she called out, leaning onto the entry counter. "Pay up my three rounds."


"Food first it is~" Siorel clung onto Cinaed's arm as they walked into the city, more than happy to show to everyone passing by that they were a couple, even if it embarrassed the dragon. "What do you wanna eat then, Cin? I don't like heavy foods that much, but you're a big guy, so you prolly gotta put back a bunch... So somewhere that can tickle both of those? Maybe I can get a fish or a salad or something..." Fish sounded good and Cerezia wasn't too far away from the coast. Surely they'd have something... "In any case, I'm content to walk like this until you spot something, so don't mind me~" In an extra element of tease, her tail snuck around to Cin's and slowly started to wrap around it, holding on tight.

Edited by Mel the DM

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"Wow..." So it's been some time for Syndra. That makes sense, depending on how long she was in the Tigers. "That makes sense. I just grew up in Moranno. Tiny little trade town on the border of Kansei. It was small but it was always busy."

Miria started humming a small song, nothing huge, just a thing for her. Then, she continued, "Papa was a treasure hunter, he always liked finding knick-knacks and trying to sell them in our shop. I normally ran it for Mama once I was old enough. I needed a stool when I turned eleven, cause I couldn't reach the top of the stand." She giggled. "I miss it, honestly. Moranno was always so lively."

They continued to walk until finally reaching their destination. It's an arena, like most arenas look. She was ready and raring to go. "Aha! Here we are!" She turned to Syndra, a proud smile on. "Shall we?" She asked as she stepped into the arena.

Walking in, Miria was almost immediately overwhelmed by the sounds of the cheering and roaring. There was a fight! Maybe she'd get a good look at her future competition! Off she went to the stands to see what was going on. It was a pretty tough fight from what it looked like. A lady and another guy with axes. The lady went in for another attack, but the guy countered and lopped off the lady's entire arm. Miria's gasp was overpowered by the whole stand. However, said lady gave a thumbs up, and the healers were able to put her arm back on. Miria was astounded. She had no idea healing magic was that powerful. It filled her with so many questions, but(!), there's no time for it. If this lady was done with her fight, Miria was ready to go right in. As things calmed down, she walked out of the stands, and made her way towards the front.

Who happened to be there, but the 'arm lady'. Miria approached, and her curiosity got the better of her, "Are you alright miss? Did they put it back on right?"

 

Edited by Silver Gallade

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"..." Versaris excitement was blatantly apparent once she gave him her claw. The lizard had not anticipated just how eagerly he had been waiting for this and was all but dragged along behind the not-elf as he took her into the city proper. It was much bigger than the previous stops on their journey, more akin to their home in Glacies in terms of size. "Hmm... Lots can do... Haven't had book in while. Didn't bring with." Versaris was laying his affection on rather thick, but it wasn't as though she felt it was dishonest, either. She didn't really know how she was ought to act on a date, let alone receiving so much affection, so she carried on as usual. "You said you pay for today? Want eat good and go shop... Fight after." 

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Miria didn't pry any deeper into Syndra's tale, and instead talked about her own growing up a little. It made Syndra a little sad, not that there was something inherently sad about what Miria said, but that Syndra didn't feel comfortable enough in sharing in the same way. "You sure do sound really proud of your family Miria."

The two of them then found the arena they were looking for, and judging by the noise, someone was already making a bit of a ruckus. The fight currently going on seemed to be between two axe fighters; a man and a woman. As the lady was going in for a strike, the other fighter countered and cleaved her arm cleanly off! She seemed to be fine, going by the visual signs she was giving the crowd. The arena's medical staff patched her up and reattached it. After the fighters were cleared out, Miria sped off towards the counter, ready to throw herself into the mix. The lady who had emergency reattachment surgery all of a few minutes early was also there, shaking the reattached limb. Wait, is that safe to do? Miria already asked her if she was okay, so Syndra decided to ask as well. "Yeah, shaking it like that so soon, I guess you want to make sure they didn't screw it up? Although..." Looking at the woman, she was oddly pale, and didn't seem overly fussed about nearly losing an arm.  "Hmm... no, I'm probably just overthinking. Forgive me, it's a bad habit of mine. My name's Syndra." She said with a bow towards the axe fighter.

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Laniva listened to Tio's explanation, which was simple enough; they were ahead of time, staying at the Dusty Frontier, mildly unhealthy amounts of prejudice, pay... The pay was nice, but she was admittedly still considering taking some time by herself to explore the city. It was a good time to look through the shops. She hadn't minded Alvira taking her clothes shopping, but it was finally time for a new weapon, and it would be nice to take her time doing it.

She had hardly started to figure out the city's layout before she was approached, though - she almost felt the starry-eyed gaze before she saw the blonde woman waving, calling out, coming up to her. She cocked her head a little at her first question. "Ah, hey... er, yes? I am a cat clouded, yes..." It was an odd question - feline clouded weren't that rare, after all. There were a few with the Tigers right now, even. 

Her gaze shifted up, no longer eye to eye for a moment; then back, as she asked her next question; Laniva spent at least a moment flabbergasted, still just holding her head cocked. There was an odd sense of being aware that she was probably thinking, but simultaneously not really having any idea what any of her thoughts were. "Er... p-pet...?" Her voice was a pitch higher than she remembered. "A-Ah, I mean... t-that's not really, something, um..." Forward...? I-Is she... "Usually that's something people who are closer... um, do, miss..."

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Siorel immediately clung onto his arm, flustering Cinaed more than a little. It seemed like any chance she had, she would find a way to be touching him as much as possible. A theory that quickly gained support when, as she was talking about where to eat, her tail started to wrap around his. He could feel his face burning as he tried his best to pull his tail out, not quite willing to have that right now. "Y-you're going to make me trip if you do that. Come on. Can't walk right if we're all tangled up... Uhm. As for food, fish sounds good. If I'm going to fight in the arena, I don't want anything too heavy either. S-so..." He quickly looked around before spotting a small cafe. "We could try there. See if they have something quick and easy. Like you were suggesting earlier..." How is she so good at throwing me completely off kilter like this? It's not fair...

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"Good food, shopping, then a trip to the arena... All of that can be arranged, happily." He smiled and walked her into the city with a destination in mind. Cerezia's View, one of the only fine dining establishments in Cerezia that would still serve Clouded or further, given Alriana's case. He quickly introduced himself to the waiter present with a request of table for two, taking Alriana inside to sit down proper, idly flipping through a menu. "Feel free to order whatever it is you'd like... Steak, a good fish, chicken, something less meaty... I'll be going for a clubhouse, so don't wait up for me to order~ As for your shopping after, what were you interest in, Aly? Clothes, weapons, rare trinkets? I know Cerezia rather well, but I do need an idea of which route to plan first, hmhm."


"Mmm?" Two ladies... Viewers from the crowd? They seemed worried about her arm-- Wait, fuck, can healing magic put limbs back on without issue!? Fuck! I've been like this for so long I forgot... Ahhhh... Well, whatever, can't dial it back now. She pulled up her recently dismembered arm and gave them both a thumbs up with it, leaning it on the counter while she waited for her gold. "Right as rain. Nice to meet you, Syndra, and miss excited... You can call me Mari. Figure you're up for a round of all that after watching how violent they are? Really should have someone tell the fighters to tone it down some..." 


"Well. I, I mean... Yeah, sure! But... Just for a moment?" Syta felt herself turning a little red, especially with how desperate she was. 

Can you not just find a stray cat in the city somewhere!? This is pathetic!

Sh-Shut up! A stray would probably run away! Me and her, we speak the same language. There's a mutual understanding here!

She's only understanding that you're CRAZY!

Syta shut out Kisara again, clasping her hands together. "Please?"


"You know, most women aren't interested in quick and easy, Cin~" She laid on the teasing further, giving his tail a squeeze before slowly uncoiling hers from it. The grip on his arm wasn't going away, even as they made to sit down. She let go for a single moment to bring her chair next to his, going back to squeezing anew. "Hokay~ You order first. I just want a nice pan fried fish..."

Edited by Mel the DM

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Syndra was still behind her, showing some extra worry on if shaking the arm was safe. Miria never thought about that, she was too busy thinking about if it worked fine. And she didn't even introduce himself! "Oh, um, I'm Miria. Nice to meet you, Mari. Haha, Mari, Miria, they're almost the same~" She thought it was funny, at least a little. She started a bit at the arm again, then at the desk. "Yeah~ The last town I was in, I was able to make my way through the arena we were in, so, I'm feeling good about this one~ You did good, it looked like. Any tips before either of us go in?"

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The fighter introduced herself as Mari, and reassured them that her arm was fine. Syndra gave a chuckle at the suggestion that the arena fighters should 'tone it down' saying; "If they did that I doubt anyone would pay to see the spectacle of people dismembering each other. Not that its my place to try and tell the owners how to run this arena." Miria seemed jazzed up to take on the arena even after seeing what they'd done to Mari, but Syndra felt less confident. Even though she did clear out the arena in Eibar, she didn't accomplish it without a little bit of luck, and if she made it against the one who took out Mari, she didn't think she'd fare any better.

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"H-hey, you were the one who suggested something quick. I'm just listening to you!" He grumbled quietly as he sat down, freed for the moment from her tail. She was still clinging to his arm though, making it difficult to do much of anything. "Siorel, you know I'm not going anywhere, right? You don't have to cling on to me every second. It'll make it pretty hard to eat for one thing..." He awkwardly perused the menu, hoping that she wouldn't take it too badly. "I mean, it's not that I don't like having you close, I just do occasionally need my arms, heh." He laughed, hoping she would take the words as they were meant to be, a light joke. "Mmm, I think I'll go with the steak salad. A little bit of protein before the arena can't hurt, right?"

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"Armin. I'll remember that. We are travelers. Just got here." Üllr wasn't that acquainted with most other clouded types, gaze spending a bit to study Armin's features. "Mmm, don't you use magic, Sixteen?" Her claws were more unwieldy than his by far, but Üllr was pretty confident she didn't need a weapon as well. "Weapons take time to get used to, gauntlets are easier, but I don't think they fit your hands." Maybe daggers, but Üllr agreed with the blacksmith on the sharpness of Sixteen's claws already.

"I wanted to see gauntlets. I borrowed one and it felt good to use." With few more words to add, Üllr walked towards the counter, standing beside Sixteen.

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Gean was getting ready to wander on her own before Tio spoke up and laid out their current game plans. Gean had taken notice of her wardrobe change, highlighting her assets. If she wasn't happily married she'd definitely cause a stir around town is what the mermaid thought. Gean did heed their employer's advice about sticking together though, problem being was that she had just sent Miria away. Most of the other's were pairing up and venturing out anyways. Thinking about what to do, amongst the other invading thoughts in her brain she saw pink.

Well it wouldn't hurt to try, maybe it'll take your mind off of things and you can just enjoy being around her. Taking a moment to gather herself, and hoping that the lack of sleep she had wasn't too obvious, Gean approached Renais and tried to muster up her usual cheeriness. "Excuse me mademoiselle, but would you be interested in a bit of company today, maybe see the sights and try some food. I hear it's bad luck for a lovely lady to venture alone." Boy really laying it on thick aren't you Gean.

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Laniva blinked at the woman, ears flicking slightly in confusion, apparently no less motivated for being told how unusual a request it was. "Um... w-well..." It... it doesn't seem like she has any other intentions... it feels like she actually just really, earnestly and honestly, wants to... pet me. If I just let her, maybe she'll stop asking...? 

"This isn't really something you usually ask cat clouded to do... I-If you have to, I suppose I can, um... make an exception. J-Just this once, um, miss... w-what's your name, anyway...?" Weird time to ask... usually supposed to start with that, but I guess she's... um, very focused... 

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Posted (edited)

"Ah? Advice?" Mari scratched at her head, not really sure what to say. "Uhhhh... Don't die? Dunno what you want me to suggest, heh. It's a buncha fights; you know how to fight if you're here, so just fight like your life depends on it. There's no trick to an arena. Just be stronger than the other guy~" She shrugged, smirking. "Guess I'll stick around and watch if you're going in next... But ehhhh... Don't let them take off those arms of yours. I've got a little trick to getting them back on properly. Healers can't really fix you that well." She turned back to the counter, waiting for the arena handler to give her out what little gold she had made.


"Ohhhh, you don't want me on your arm... I see, I see~" Siorel let go of him and slid her chair away some, sticking her tongue out at him. "I, want, an omelette. There! Mind's made up~ I'll just get a nice omelette and eat it and be satisfied with... Egg." Content already, Siorel leaned back in her chair and flopped a little, staring up at the sky. "Mmm... Weird to be in a city again. Not alone this time... It's not a terrible feeling, but it is weird. Er, ah, sorry, didn't mean to sound like I was complaining. The Tigers are super nice, it's really good to be with you all~ Just, looking back on... Life. Heh."


Sixteen clacked her claws against the counter and looked at them, tilting her head a little. "Uhhhh, hmmm... I guess so! I just used them to hunt animals, but I guess... Huhhhhh..." She actually hadn't thought to put them to use against people in a combat situation. They were mostly used for their sharpness against things she'd turned to stone or in self defense, but... "Whoaaa... I guess... Wow, yeah, I could totally just leap on someone, huh..." Sixteen was looking at her claws like she was figuring out some great realization, before blinking and cluing back into the conversation. "Yeah! I do use magic! This kind!" Her tail pulled the tome Syndra had given her up, taking it into her claws, flipping it open, and finally producing a small sphere of Flux. "See? Isn't it cool? I think dark magic is super cool."


"Oh, uh, really? Well... Er, sorry, but thank you for agreeing anyway! Must mean you're extra nice, huh?" Syta didn't bother waiting, hands up and on those ears. Her smile instantly widened and brightened; they were so soft! A little petting here, a little scritch scritch there... "Wooooowwwww... Your ears are wonderful~ So soft... So fuzzy, hehehe~" Syta was having way too much fun, she'd already forgotten that Lani had asked for her name, she was just lost in those ears...

Edited by Mel the DM

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Tio's new outfit would have had Renais acting up in her mind, but she did her best not to stare and instead set her eyes on the sky as she listened to the Evoker's plans. Truth be told, her thoughts were set on certain things that had happened recently. 'What should I do...I'm a little afraid to venture out into town, in case I run into music, but I still need to ask about Liza. Mm...' Renais wasn't sure how to go about things, but before her plans could form a certain tanned mermaid approached her. "!" Once again, the pinkette was so lost in thought she failed to notice Gean. 'Dammit, I really am too stuck in my head...' 

She mentally sighed to herself before she turned to Gean. That being said, she wasn't upset at Gean. "...have you taken drama classes, Gean? You certainly sound like a stage actor right now." Though Gean might notice it did get a small smile from Renais. "I wanted to ask around about my sister, but I think after the other day it'd be best to be with good company. So yes, I'll take you up on that offer...milady." That last part was a little out of nowhere, at least Renais thought it did. It seemed like Gean might have struck a chord in the cleric though.

Musical Memories

Spoiler

Stupid me… why on Amaranthe did you let Renais out of your sight? Tio hurried herself down the hallway towards the guest room. Her knowledge of the manor remained as sterling as ever even in her exhausted state. She could have guessed that something like this was going to happen from the information that Renais had given them when they had spoken earlier. Fortunately, there were other Tigers with her at the time she decided to try it, so the timing could have been much worse, but this wasn’t much better. Tio formed her staff as she hurried her into the room. The suspects were about as expected; Aegean, Miria, and the aforementioned Renais, who was out cold. 

Tio clicked her tongue, before moving over to Renais, and placing her staff over her. It may not have been her expertise, but healing magic was an interest of Tio’s. Fortunately, it didn’t seem like there was anything physically wrong with her, but there was something that Tio hadn’t noticed before this point. Tio looked over at Aegean for a moment before focusing back on Renais, but the oddity wasn’t subsiding. Huh… That’s… odd. Tio gave Elisa a glance. A glance that indicated that there was something strange here. “Elisa, could you make sure that Renais’s magic is alright? Perhaps wake her gently with your magic?”

Tio turned to Miria and Aegean. “Did either of you see what happened? Was Renais just playing the piano, or was there something else that she had been doing?” 

And in came the Evokers. Miria quickly stood up, not necessarily out of fear, but more respect as she moved the chair she was on to the side. This way it was just easier to get around the room.

"I…" Miria turned to Renais, still confused about everything that had transpired. Then, Tio asked for Elisa to try and jolt Renais awake.

"Really, nothing… happened? Renais sat down, started to play, then suddenly just…" and she made a motion with her hands like one was planting into the other. "I… I don’t know?"

Gean had returned to somewhat of a resting position once the Evokers had arrived. "I was attempting to get some rest, so I too didn't see what happened. I can confirm we were the only ones in the room." Gean took a glance at the girl next to her in bed. "I'm guessing this is tied to the music giving her headaches thing, so best case scenario we find out the cause. After she's ok of course." Memories or not Renais' safety came first.

Gean still had a tired look on her face, but she told her body to suck it up for now.

Elisa was about as good with healing as Tio was, but in cases like this, she had an edge that she’d never seen anyone else utilize. It helped that she was maybe even more concerned for Renais than her wife, moving over to the pink-haired girl with a quick nod as soon as she was prompted. “If nothing’s physically wrong with her, that’s probably it…” She held a hand over Renais to make sure she wasn’t accidentally linking with someone else, and had a small frown. “Her flow seems alright, but it’s, uh, chaotic. I don’t know which way her circuits normally go, so I’ll just have to give a shock surge.”

Asking someone else would’ve been futile when she was the only person she knew capable of determining such a thing, so the only thing left to do was to do it. How does this even happen to you like that… Is music somehow making your mana flow reverse direction? Either way… Sorry, but there’s no gentle way of going about this. A visible glow lit between the two women as Elisa forced her mana into Renais, the inrush gradually righting her flow.

Renais was more or less a sleeping beauty, much like a fairy tale princess, waiting for a kiss. Well sadly for her, no kiss came, but a small burst of mana surged through her body instead. “!” Her eyes shot open as the jolt rushed through her body and she sat up fast and took a breath. “A-ah! Haah…” She shook her head as she slowly took in the situation, she turned her head around the room to see Gean, Miria, Tio and Elisa over her. “...oh.” She backed up in the bed a little with a sigh. “...whatever happened…I’m sorry to worry you all.”

“Welcome back to the land of the living. It’s good to see you.” Gean was the first to speak after Renais awoke, trying to give the girl some assurance. Whatever trick Elisa pulled seemed to bring her back to the group, which meant they could move onto other matters. “Any idea on why you conked out on us? Me and Miria heard you playing something quite skilled before you dropped.” Gean didn’t want to pressure Renais, but she knew that if they didn’t work now no sort of progress towards solving this problem would be made.

Elisa had done her magic, and suddenly Renais was awake. Miria was filled with a certain amount of relief. However, with that relief came extremely stressful concern. She got up and approached the duo, and crouched down so that her face met Renais’.

“Renais, are you okay?” She took her wrist to feel her pulse. It seemed she was okay. “Are you winded? Did you eat good this morning?” She then felt her forehead, “Did you catch a cold?” Everything seemed good physically. Of course she was. From what it looked like, Renais’ ailment was magic-related. But may have been mostly for peace of mind for Miria that something wasn’t wrong that she could find. She removed her hand from the pinkette’s forehead.

“Do you need some water, or a snack? Anything?”

Tio smiled as Renais jolted awake. A clever little pulse of mana into a magically adept person’s circuits was a fairly safe way to wake a person, with a few caveats, none of which were present here. Gean, and Miria were both quicker on the draw with questions, so Tio instead focused on Elisa. She leaned over and whispered into her wife’s ear, “Did you notice what I noticed? Her mana… it’s… less like yours or mine, and more like…” She looked at Aegean, saying the last part without saying it. “I hadn’t noticed before now, but…” 

Tio cleared her throat, before leaning away from Elisa’s ear, and returning her gaze to the lucid cleric. “Renais… I’m sorry, I should have been a little more vigilant. Though, this isn’t the time for me to be down on myself. This… happened because of the song you played, right? Did you remember anything?” Tio wasn’t sure if Renais would be open with much–she was a guarded sort, shy, quiet and this was certainly a little embarrassing–but they couldn’t have this happening in the future. 

Seeing everyone around her was a bit unsettling, Miria and Gean being as helpful and concerned as usual didn’t help. Tio brought Renais’ attention to her, she was awake and not hampered by early bird issues. “Tio…mm…” She looked aside with a sigh. “...I shouldn’t even attempt to hide this, you all know something happened.” She clenched her fist around the blanket. “And frankly…what I remembered scared me, it almost felt like I had lived another life.” It was the one thing Renais feared, and it was staring at her in the face.

Elisa nodded silently to Tio, knowing what she was getting at. She could determine the qualities of someone’s mana while she was linked with them, as she’d done before to raise her suspicion regarding the fox, so something like that was much easier to pick out. Though, that could be left as silent knowledge for now. “We spoke of that before, didn’t we? No matter what you remember, the you that you are now will be the same Renais we’ve come to know so far. If anything, you’d be better able to understand why these things happen to you, and we could better help you with them. But if you’d rather keep what you saw to yourself, we have no right to pressure it out of you,” she asserted, giving a look to the others around them. All of them just wanted to help, of that Elisa was certain, but she wouldn’t allow anyone to pry into something they weren’t given permission for.

Gean sat back, Tio and Elisa had a point. Sure she wanted Renais to make some progress around this, but pressing her could do worse around the matter. Funny, her world was near crashing down on her and the main priority on her mind was the person next to her. Gean hoped that wasn’t too obvious. Gean was also curious about what the two older women were whispering. It seemed they had found out something, but were sticking with the path of client confidentiality. This gave Gean a feeling of anxiousness. She wanted to do something to at least assure Rene. Placing her hand on the closest fist. Gean looked the other way. “I already told you last night, whatever happens I’m with you. My thoughts echo Elisa’s, and if you want to lock this away then it’ll be good as forgotten.” 

Between Gean and Elisa’s comforting, and reassurance that Renais will still be Renais, she closed her eyes and nodded. “...thank you all.” She took a moment to breathe as she recollected herself. “...that imagery of the flames is very clear now. I see myself on a ship on fire, there’s bodies everywhere, sounds of combat…and two people calling my name.” She looked at Gean and Miria. “I called out to one of them, I called her sister…but it wasn’t Liza. She had pink and red hair, it was almost like I was looking at myself.” Her eyes went a little dim. “...and…that’s it.”

Miria kept a hold of Renais’ hand as she took in everything that was being said. It was good seeing Renais have so much support. Especially when it came to what happened to her. Was it more of her memories coming back to her, it seemed, at least to Miria. Her grip tightened a bit, but she was quick to loosen it. Someone else, that wasn’t Liza? The brunette took a bit to think. 

“Well… That’s just a thing to ask Liza about when we find her, right?” Miria asked, trying to be positive. “As for what I can see, that means there’s another part of your family out there, just waiting to find you again. But that doesn’t change that Liza’s still your sister.” She kept her smile. “And just like Gean, no matter what, I’m still your best friend. And I’m here for you.”

Tio tilted her head at Renais's explanation for her sudden syncope. A ship of fire? Had Renais been involved with an incident of some sort? No, of course she had been, she wouldn't have forgotten something like this otherwise. The woman she called sister in the memory… Red and pink hair could at least put the woman as tangentially related, but hair color was hardly a good determinant of relationship. Then again, Tio knew well that blood relation didn't exactly make you family either.

"Be that as it may, Renais." Tio's voice taking on a softer, caring tone. "Even if the woman you called sister wasn't Liza, does it change how you feel about her? Even if you may have been forced to forget your past because of what happened, Liza is as much of your sister as this mystery woman would be. That said –and I hate to press you on this– but, are you sure that is all you saw and heard?" Renais wasn't exactly the most forthcoming girl, and this was obviously a traumatic event for her. So much so that she had forgotten it. "If you would prefer not to say, I would like you to tell me plain. But, that memory, and everything within it; you get to decide what you want to do with what you know now. We can't help to the best of our ability unless you allow us to do so."

“...no it doesn’t change how I feel about Liza.” She spoke back with closed eyes, agreeing with Tio’s solid points. “I still love Liza as a sister, because I truly believe she is. Though…it does make me wonder how much of this she knew.” She opened her eyes and looked aside. “And no, I don’t remember anything else I’m afraid. I don’t even know who the other person next to my…other sister was, but I think it was a male voice.” She looked back at everyone in the room. “...I think tapping into these memories is really scary, I want to know more though. That being said, I don’t want to try pulling more memories out until we find Liza. So she can at least be by my side as we do. So that means…I have to avoid music, I can’t even practice tome casting. It’s a little frustrating but I think that’s what I need to do for now.” She took a sigh. “As for my other sister…I don’t know what to make of this at all. I need time to process, I think…”

Poor Renais, Miria was gentle, rubbing the pinkette's hand. Once again, Miria was lost on things to say. In reality, there wasn’t anything she could do, and she felt a little bad over sitting here during this conversation. Mostly for, Renais definitely didn't want this getting out. 

But here the girl was, just trying to comfort her best friend, aware that the most she could do really was… exist. For not only her, but also Gean, which may have added more on the mermaid's plate too. Miria got comfortable in her seat, leaning her head against the side of the bed.

Tio frowned at Renais’s decision. It was hers to make, Tio accepted that, but how she was going to go about it was if not heavy-handed, nightmarishly difficult. At the very least, she wasn’t running away from her memories. It was more than she could say about people like Cinead with his emotions regarding Versaris. She replaced the frown with a quick smile, the frown having been so faint that none of the others would have noticed, “I imagine that Liza probably did know quite a bit about this. Seeing how it’s currently affecting you, she might have known that your memories would do this to you. It would seem that finding her would be the next step in figuring out your past. Knowing what your other ‘sister’ looks like is also a strong step in the right direction.” 

Tio then looked down at her hand, and noticed that it was clutching the side of her dress. She chuckled to herself, and then sighed. “Renais… I wasn’t going to say anything. But, I think exhaustion is making it harder to mask my own feelings. You said a bit ago that you passed out when you walked past the music room at Solara, right? There was little you could have done to avoid that, but you found yourself in the infirmary anyway. All this to say… I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid your memories. It isn’t possible for you to completely avoid music; cities, villages, homes, even individuals on the battlefield, music can exist everywhere. I understand that you want Liza to be there alongside you, but you also have to realize that you’re also responsible for the Tigers, as well. If something were to happen to you, who could possibly take your place as healer? Elisa and I are here now, but we may not be within earshot at all times, just like last evening.” 

Tio looked away from the cleric, clenching her hand again but for an entirely different reason now. “Sorry, I just needed to say that to you. If that’s what you decide to do, then no one else has the right to stop you, but you do need to consider the people that are relying on you. Who knows what you’ll encounter in the future?”

Gean kept quiet as Renais dove into what she learned, or rather, remembered. Her reaffirmation of Liza being her sister did put a smile on Gean’s face, being familiar with the subject of being family without sharing blood. Then Renais made a decision about going forward. Gean wasn’t in full agreement with the choice, but she had intended to stay silent. Silent she was until Tio spoke her mind about the matter. “Tio does have a point. Music isn’t something one can easily cut out. Don’t forget we have a dancer in our midst now, and dancing and music go hand in hand. Plus you were fine the other day when we played the grass whistle at the lake, so maybe it’s not all music, just specific instruments or songs. I would say sleep on it and give it some more thought, and if you still decide to avoid it we can plan around that later when everyone is much less tired.” Gean felt like she was overstepping just a little but it was better to be honest now than later.

“...argh…” She rubbed her hair a bit. “Then what should I do, carry earplugs with me everywhere?! My sharp senses is something I pride myself on, and all of that can be shot down by some random passerby whistling! It’s infuriating!” She took a breath as she realized who she lashed out at. “A-ah, I’m sorry Tio…Gean…everyone I just…mm…” She shook her head. “...no you’re right, it’s not something I can avoid. For all I know I could have all my memories back before I even catch word of Liza, I just…don’t want it to get to a point where I might question who I am right now.”

Tio blinked as Renais appeared to lose her composure for a moment. Normally, it would be nothing more than an annoyance; Renais's sudden frustration was reasonably justified given her unique circumstance. Yet, Tio let out a tired sigh, and slowly crossed her arms. "I understand how frustrating this must be…" Tio paced herself, a tiny bit of her wanted to be blunt with Renais. She already knew what she needed to do; the option to wait until she found her sister was fanciful at best, and the other options would affect herself negatively, impose on the others, or both. However, Renais's quick apology and acknowledgement of the reality of her situation had Tio’s eyebrow raised. 

“Aegean is correct, at any rate, we have some time to figure things out. For the moment, avoiding music wouldn’t be too terribly difficult, but as we begin to make our way towards cities, or even as Siorel performs, it will become more and more difficult to avoid, and evermore pressing that something like this happens because of a choice that you’ve made.”

Tio let her hand twitch, before deciding to continue. “The last thing I will say on the matter is: You may have to trust us to be your support in the event that your memories are thrust upon you, Renais. None of us may ever reach how close you are with Liza, but if it does come to that, just know that everyone here will do their best, same as she would. Believe in that, and who you’ve become; your past matters, but who you choose to be now, and what you do in the present in spite of that is what matters now.”

Gean was not expecting the sudden outburst that came from her bedside partner. Tio responded back and seemed to handle things mostly, but all this did was leave a pout on the taller girl’s face. She quickly wrapped Renais into a hug. “And this is why we all need some rest. We’re all very tired and definitely need some clearer heads. Plus I told you yesterday night. If it comes down to it I’ll be there to stop you from doing something you regret. Now no more fussing over the matter.” Sure Gean might be a little too close right now but Renais brought this on herself.

Tio handled the speaking fine, as usual, but this whole matter left a wholly sour taste in Elisa's mouth. The one problem aside, even if Renais was willing to control her outburst and apologize, her mindset wouldn't do at all, and the strawberry blonde wasn't going to mince words after how many times she'd already said it to her. "Dummy. You're more than your past, everyone is. The only thing that matters is growing in spite of it. If you let your future be shackled by who you used to be, that's a bigger problem than anything else I could imagine, because it's something in your own power to change. If I'd have thought like that fifteen years ago, I'd never have left Kansei, met Tio, or become an Evoker." The very thought of the self-indulgent garbage she might have become repulsed her, enough to make her stern about the matter.

Gean and Tio’s words were a nice softener to Elisa’s straight forward approach. It may not have been something anyone else wanted to say, but it was something that got Renais’ attention. “Mm…I’ve been shackled…?” She repeated and looked down a little, and just leaned back in Gean’s hug. “No matter what happens I’m still Renais, and Liza will always be my sister...thank you everyone. I shouldn’t let this get to me, I am Renais Silvavolke and nothing will change that. And I’m sorry for what happened before.” She nodded her head at the Evokers, then to Miria, and then to Gean…but realized she was hugging her. “...you’re doing it again…” She mumbled with narrowed eyes.

"You brought it on yourself this time." Gean huffed. "But enough talk! I am sleepy and tired of banter! Let us make use of the small time we have." With that, Gean released Renais and returned to a sleeping position.

Tio found herself both surprised and not at Elisa's response to Renais. She wasn't at all surprised that it happened; Elisa herself also had to be coaxed out of that line of thinking. What was surprising was that it seemed tempered. Tio had expected a little more from that, but the similarities between Elisa and Renais were definitely playing a role here. Much of it was what she wanted to say after Renais's outburst, and Aegean appeared to be done with the conversation herself.

Tio took Elisa's hand, and squeezed it. "I do think that we are about done here. Aegean's right, we should be using the rest of the time we have to rest. I'm glad you're catching on Renais. Now, all of you should try to relax, and if something happens, just come find us. We'll be in our room." Tio gently tugged Elisa's arm, and leaned on her back. "Come on dear, we have to go and get ourselves taken care of."

 

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Gean wasn't really expecting to get a yes. Renais seemed to be in her head, much like Gean had been. So when she got a compliment, confirmation, smile, and a bit flirting back... well she turned away for a moment to feel her face. Ok I really hope I don't look like someone who's had 6 hours of sleep over the past week. 

"Great! Great." Gean turned back towards Renais trying to think of a plan for the day. "Well it sounds like we should see the sights then, this place definitely seems big enough, and who knows what we'll find." Taking Renais hand Gean began in the first direction she turned towards, but not before waving to the others. "We'll be heading out. See you at the inn tonight."

As the wandered through the town, Gean thought of things to say while they traveled. "Um, so how you've been, anything in particular you wanna get in town?"

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"So you're saying something like that's happened to you before?" Syndra was dumbfounded at Mari's comment. Normal humans aren't capable of just re-attaching their own limbs, not without a great deal of magical talent. Just what are you Mari? The advice she'd given to Miria and her made sense at least. Just don't die or get jacked up beyond healing capabilities. "Either way, thanks for the advice. I guess you plan on going in first Miria?"

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"Ah. Just got here, huh? Guessing since you're saying "traveler" you aren't with the Knights, or the mercs that are amassing about? Well, I say amassing, but they're really just kinda all over the place." The merman shrugged, "Anyway. Gauntlets, right? Seems like you're a brawler." He scanned Ullr quickly. The blue wolf was messy, but there was clear tone to him. Not tall, but his build implied some degree of speed, and his claws were wicked looking, though not anywhere near as intimidating as Sixteen's. What an odd name. "Yeah, we have gauntlets. Iron, Steel, both are around, and," Armin leaned him, "We've got some new stuff, real weird ring like things, you use 'em like gauntlets, but you can throw 'em too. Heck if I know how they work, but you seem pretty competent, maybe you can find a little success with 'em."

Armin had focused mostly on Ullr, but Sixteen's surprise at realizing the effectiveness of her claws was odd. She very quickly jumped back in after examining her claws, showing off her magic with a dark sphere. "Whoa. Dark magic, huh? Don't see that much out here. Don't really see magic too much out here, actually. Magic's over my head, really. Best I've got is some spheres of water, but nothing real interesting. Maybe you could see about popping into the bookstore, and talk to Taka. Crazy old coot from Mura, but he's got some weird stuff in there. Anyway, weapons." 

Armin turned, walked behind the metal fence, and pulled two gauntlets off the fence. "Iron and Steel. Both quality make. The throw-y ring things you'd have to talk to the old man about them; we only got a couple made, and he wants to be sure he's not giving them out to undeserving people." Armin straightened as he heard a deep voice call him from the back. "That's him actually, I'll be back, look around until then. Don't mess with anything though; Balsa will make you pay, monetarily, and physically." He smiled, and then disappeared behind the metal fence. 


"Hmph. You did have Duggars check you in and everything, so I suppose that it's fine that you've misspoken." A tall, and wide, dark skinned woman rose from behind the desk, an unamused glance on her face. Her dark hair was neatly done up, and her attire did little to mask her rotund figure, a dusty dress with old leather armor over top. "Oh, right. More guests." She nodded at Miria and Syndra, "I'll be with you in a moment." She placed a bag on the counter, and then looked at Marigold. "I guess the girls are gonna see a pay increase if they're patching you up as well as you look now. But that might be more of your resilience, Sakaim had you flat on your ass, and you just got back up. Ramirez took that arm of yours right off, and here you are. You won three, so that's 1800 gold. Not a bad showing, but I can't say it's not what I expected. Need to be a lot tougher to get through the arena here, love."

She turned to Miria and Syndra, "And that goes for the both of you two. I'm guessing you're here to watch because you're both not making it far looking like that. Oh, right. I'm Luia Carava. Family owns the arena." 

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"Don't die... well, that'll be easy for me." Miria answered with a smile. "And as for the arms, I got my own thing my arms will be safe from. I'll be fine~"

Syndra suggested she should go first. Or assumed, either she gave a raise of her arm, flexing her muscles, "Yeah! I'll go first, that way you'll know what you're up against, right?" She asked, with her usual glee.

It was then that the lady who seemed like the proctor of the whole arena, she brought Mari her gold, and then directed herself to her and Syndra. Miria gave a confident smile, "No ma'am, I'll be going in, full force. I'm tough as nails~"

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"Um... yes, really, it's..." Laniva trailed off, murmuring some kind of explanation as the woman started petting her, her expression forming something between relaxed and confused. Her eyes closed instinctively, though she was doing her best to otherwise maintain her composure - nice as it was, she was still rather aware of the fact that they were in the middle of town. She was less so aware of what the woman was saying; some kind of praise or something for her, from the tone of her voice, she might've even been giggling, but she wasn't exactly paying attention. 

It felt as if it was continuing perhaps longer than she had expected when she'd been asked. Is she just... fixated, or is she choosing to just keep going...? Laniva mumbled something vaguely questioning, a little incoherently.

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Cin sighed slightly, shaking his head. "That's not what I meant and you know it. I just want to make sure you don't feel like you need to do that." Siorel quickly decided on eggs, before moving on to more thoughtful comments. "I've never really known much besides a city, honestly. You don't need to apologize though, I would rather hear about things like this, you know? I'm glad that you have us this time around, but it's ok to have feelings and share them. It's good to have you here, for the record." He smiled at her and reached out and gave her shoulder a gently squeeze. "I know I'm happy to have you as a part of the Tigers."

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Alvira listened intently to Tio's words, making a moment to mentally note where they'd be staying, where to avoid, and to not go alone. She didn't know if she'd keep to that, but she'd try to meet up with Tasha later, at the least. Hearing Tio did bring up memories of their recent talks, though...

Magical Mystery

Spoiler

Alvira slowly woke up, glancing around the room… This was Sarasin’s manor? She didn’t quite recognize the place, but it was fancy enough to be. A look to her left– “Tasha?” She was surprised the tiger was still there with her, figuring she’d have important things to take care of before they’d have to set off again. It made her blush, slowly hugging into the woman and sighing. “I’m sorry for passing out. I know we should be going, but it… It just, hurt too much.” 

Alvira tried to think back to the moment, but a twinge of pain set her off that track. Whatever it was, it was buried, and surfacing it forcefully was just going to hurt her more. “I had… Flashes of memories. I can’t remember my life from below age ten… It’s all gray and hazy, so I think these memories are things I’ve repressed for one reason or another, starting to come back with names I recognize… I don’t know what it all means, but… Whenever all the memories come back, I’ll be sure to tell you. Today… Today it was, everything I told you before I fainted. I can think about that snippet. It seems like, if it’s come back, it doesn’t hurt to think about anymore… but forcing things out, that splitting pain comes back to me. I don’t wanna pass out again. Not when we need to be leaving…”

She hugged Tasha tighter, sighing louder. “There is one thing I’d like to do before we leave, though… One thing I can try to address. It’ll involve talking to the Evokers, but, I’d like it if you were there with me. You think we can do that…?”

While she'd brought Alvira back inside to rest, even knowing she was likely not going to be in prolonged trouble, Natalya couldn't just leave her like that. She was their commander, sure, but there were others having issues that needed to be taken care of as well, and most things besides that were already settled. "You said something like that back in Eibar, didn't you? I didn't expect remembering would be that… Dramatic." The tiger returned the hug, softly rubbing Alvira's back, having mostly calmed down since. "Yeah, of course. I'll do anything at all you want, if you think it'll help you along." She tightened her embrace, "I… really don't want to see you in that much pain again. I know you can't promise it won't happen, so all I can do is be there to help you if it does."

Tasha slowly let her girlfriend go, having agreed to what she'd suggested. There was something else that had happened in between that seemed related, though, so she might as well bring it up. "Renais collapsed while we were outside, too… Not in the same way, but after she'd played something on Sarasin's piano. I don't know if she's up yet; I was going to check after you'd woken up, but the Evokers were tending to her, so we'll see either way soon enough."

“She did?” Renais had mentioned that she was having issues with her memories as well… Just what are we repressing that’s causing us such pain? This is serious… I really hope the memories come back soon, and in full. Alvira frowned a little. “I’ll try to be more vigilant. I can’t be collapsing like that in the middle of a fight. If I start feeling that pain again, I’ll do what I can to avoid focusing on it. Stay conscious. Mmm…” She let go of Tasha and got out of the bed, brushing her clothes off, giving her face a gentle slapping. “Alright! I’m good. Let’s see if we can do something about my magic… Do you mind showing me to where the Evokers are right now?”

“I’m not exactly sure where they are, but someone on the way will know,” Tasha answered, getting up and walking up to Alvira, taking her hand. “Just lean on me if you’re still feeling disoriented, alright?” She gave a small smile, and led them on.

As it was, Renais was up and about by that time, and the Evokers had gone back to the room they were in for the night. Asking the cleric for what happened could wait for later, since any more delays to their departure wouldn’t be looked on nicely. With a firm knock, Natalya called into the room, “Tio, Elisa, can we have a moment? Alvira has something she wants to ask of you before we leave.”

Today felt like it was so much longer than it had actually been. Tio had learned enough to last her for a good day and a half, and she’d only been awake for a couple hours at best. Half awake even. Renais’s collapse was taken care of, and they had gained yet more information on the party they’d chosen to escort them. The sheer implausibility of so many intriguing people being in one mercenary group was becoming more so by the minute. They had a short moment to gather their thoughts, and their small belongings, before there was another knock at the door. A quiet defeated whine left Tio’s lips before turning, “Yes, come in. We’re just gathering our things, has something happened?” 

Alvira had also fled the room after revelations had been made, and she hadn’t returned. Natalya had chased after her. At the very least, she would also be able to hand off Sarasin’s extra funds, and perhaps check on Alvira. 

“Hey…” Alvira poked her head in. Tio looked exhausted, Elisa looked… alright, given how the morning had gone. “Uhm… If you’re worried about my moment earlier, this isn’t about that. It’s not something that anyone here can solve, I think, so… I just have to deal with it as it comes. This is about my magic, actually.” Alvira gave Tasha’s hand a tight squeeze before letting go of it and stepping into the room proper, focusing on Elisa. 

“I talked about this with Tio before, but… My magic is still… here. Whatever’s giving me control over this ice, it’s not, coming from me, I don’t think. That’s why I can cast those ice spells without taxing myself in any way, and if I force it, I can still produce a small flame… I was hoping, since you specialize in anima and fire, that… I could try and cast the spell, and you could see where the blockage is, or even what’s causing it. I don’t know if you can fix it, but at least knowing the cause might mean I can find someone that can… Eventually. Is that alright, Elisa…?”

Elisa held a small awkward smile knowing that they were sought out again, on the one morning neither of them really wanted to deal with any of this. But, things came as they came, and she at least was nice and awake, given that the things they were particularly needed for this time seemed to be more the strawberry blonde’s wheelhouse. “That’s about what we thought it was, but it doesn’t really make sense how that’s happening. I have to use a technique I practiced for years to get that to happen, and I can’t do it at a distance… But I can at least try that. I should be able to tell if there’s an issue with your mana flow or a larger magic circuit problem, or try to use some of my own to correct things. Somehow I doubt it’s a simple flow issue though.” She stood up and stretched her arms a little, taking a step past Tio. “Well, simple or not, just have to do what I can~ You’ll have to be close to me, though, but other than that, whenever you’re ready.”

“Alright… That shouldn’t be a problem.” Alvira stepped closer to Elisa, a little awkwardly, not sure how close she had to be, just trying to stand arm to arm with the woman. “Okay… Gonna focus, then.” Alvira held her claw up, palm open, eyes shut… She knew how fire was formed, she knew how the spell was cast… She just had to focus on that. The sensation of casting it flowed through her as normal, but with one eye creaking open slightly to stare at her palm… Nothing. She kept focusing on it, trying to keep a stream of the magic going, hoping either something would form, or Elisa could tell what was going on…

Tio’s head tilted slightly as Alvira began to cast–she could feel that she was–but there was nothing forming in her claw. There was a movement and focusing of magic, but nothing was happening. It didn’t feel like the one time from their practicing of incantations and sigils either. There was an unmistakable burst of fire magic then, but that had been stifled by something. She needed more information to be able to draw any sort of conclusion, and she wasn’t sure how Alvira did what she did back then, and she was even more unsure that Alvira even realized it. She kept an eye on Elisa; she’d seen her perform the magic countless times, but it never made her worry any less. 

"...Huh. That's weird." Tio may have been able to sense the intent and directing of the spell, but Elisa's linking with Alvira revealed to her that… nothing was wrong. At least not obviously so, but at the same time something was obviously wrong. "I don't think I can see anything out of the ordinary, other than that nothing's actually happening over your palm. Mana flow is normal, and I don't see any bigger issues with your circuits either. Somehow, it's like your mana is just… disappearing, before it can form into fire." There were a few questions that raised for Elisa, chief among them the simple 'how', but she'd just have to choose some more actionable ones. "There isn't any difference to when you cast something else, right? Anything other than basic ice, anyway."

“Mmn… I don’t think so. Light, I have to use a conduit, so there’s no real, formation of magic on my end… And the ice, is just…” She paused her concentration on the fire spell and formed a perfect square of ice without issue, not even strained for a moment. She tossed it aside, the spell fizzling, magic this time, the ice disappearing quickly… “I’m sure you felt that… Or rather, didn’t. When I go to cast fire, the sensation of my mana leaving me happens like you’d expect; even I can feel it, but with this ice, it just… Leaves me. I can form it and can have control over it, but I can’t feel it coming out of me like my normal magic.”

She took a deep breath and focused again, closing her eyes. “I’m gonna put way more into this… I managed to make a fire the other night. It was just candle sized, but… It was my flame. I could feel it. So I’m going to…!” Alvira took a deep breath and focused, putting enough magic into this fire spell to make an elfire, the strain hitting her immediately, a bead of sweat leaving her. “C-Come on…!”

Alvira’s explanation was strange, just like it was when she’d mentioned her ice back when they’d arrived in Liste. Magic was drawn from its caster, and without particular artifacts, items and very specialized spells, this was a fairly hard rule. What was more was that earlier she’d also manifested the real form of ice–an impressively high level magical skill–with hardly any thought or challenge. There was a way it made sense, but there were an incredible number of logistical things that would make it almost implausible. 

Then Alvira decided that she was going to try to put more into her spell. “I’m… not sure this is a sound idea since you’d collapsed not too long ago.” As long as Elisa was about, if something did happen with the spell then she could easily handle it, but Alvira collapsing again, or something else was a different matter. “Elisa. Keep a close eye on the spell, just in case. Earlier, when Alvira and I were practicing incantations and sigils, there was a moment where it felt like she was going to cast a fairly strong fire spell. But… as you surmise, the magic vanished before anything happened. It might happen again here.”

Alvira’s explanation certainly matched what Elisa felt, or the lack thereof. Her forming that ice had absolutely no effect on her mana, as if its entire existence was something wholly removed from the dragon despite being called forth by her. She’d have to talk about that with Tio to make any sense of it, even with them already having spoken briefly earlier over the topic. But for right now, the strawberry blonde had more pressing matters to think about.

“I agree with Tio, but I’ll make sure you don’t overexert yourself. If anything… let’s see.” Elisa took a moment to align the link flow while Alvira was putting her effort into the spell that wasn’t coming out. It wouldn’t be nearly as good a match when their mana types were different, but she could still give the dragon a good push. “Just keep your focus, I’m gonna give you a boost. See if you get some flames going with that!” Close together as they were, the glow of Elisa’s mana flowing into Alvira wasn’t that easy to notice, but she would definitely feel it hit her.

“I’m… Plenty focused, trust me–” As soon as Elisa’s magic hit her own, the spell burst out of her claw, the elfire properly glowing and crackling. She’d done it! Even if she needed some help, this was her flame… Alvira felt herself about to smile, cry, squeal in excitement, but the flame suddenly disappeared and a shock of cold hit her entire system, her body freezing up for a moment before she stumbled to her knees, taking a deep breath. “Hah! Hahhh… Wh-what… What was that…?” Something has robbed her of her magic in that moment, the fire disappearing, everything Elisa had put into her fading as well… That frigid sensation left her slowly, her body’s temperature returning to normal… She looked over at Elisa and Tio, hoping for some kind of explanation, before sitting up on her legs, giving Tasha a worried look.

There was a burst of flame as Elisa added her own mana to Alvira’s, and a beautiful elfire appeared. The make was of a much higher level than Alvira’s ice or light magic. Her focus was impressive especially when another mage’s magic was coursing through her, and one that was much more powerful than she was. Then, Tio felt it. She wasn’t sure what it was, but her reaction was immediate, her staff appeared next to her. Alvira found herself on her knees, and the flame that had been created vanished. Not dissipated, but vanished. There had been a presence then, a murky, inexplicable presence. “...What the heck was that?” Tio scanned the area, looking for anything out of the ordinary, but found nothing at all. It had only been there for an instant as if it were latching on to Alvira’s flames, taking their energy for itself, before vanishing once more. It was a cold, frigid wave, one that made Tio shiver, but… there was a familiarity with it. 

“Elisa… did you–Elisa?!” She’d focused on Alvira’s reaction, but Elisa had recoiled, hastily stepping back from Alvira. Now Tio was on her feet, scanning the area more thoroughly. That feeling… it was only for a moment, and… I can’t be sure, but it was… just like back with him. The silver-haired… What was that?

For a moment it looked like things were fine, and Alvira certainly looked to be better with fire, but the breakthrough was short-lived. Not only that, but whatever had happened felt to Elisa as if her linked magic was being pulled away from her, making her hastily break concentration and step back, the arm that had been closer to the dragon recoiling back as if pulling away from an extreme temperature. She was fine… yet it didn’t feel like it. “I’ve… never felt anything like that before. Like wherever she’s getting that ice from is eating her fire magic… And tried to take mine while at it. I know that doesn’t make any sense. But with everything we know so far, and what I felt, that’s all I’ve got.” Even though exertion took a lot of effort to exhaust Elisa, physical or magical, she found herself steadying a quickened breath out of shock. “What the hell is going on?”

Though she’d been just looking on for a while, what with being magically inept and not having much to contribute, Natalya didn’t take long to come to Alvira’s aid after she’d been knocked down. Before she had a chance to ask what was wrong, Elisa gave an explanation. “I’m going to take your confusion as a sign that nobody here knows what to do about that,” the tiger commented, giving her girlfriend a concerned look and grasping her hand.

"I'm sorry," she offered, having recovered from the sensation quite quickly. It was almost like a slap; the sensation had stung brutally for a moment, but anything residual was dull and fading. She was cold, though. Much colder than before. As Tasha came over, Alvira slowly stood herself up with the Tiger's hand in her grasp, squeezing it tightly, trying to get some of her warmth. "I… I wish I could tell you more. All, all I remember is– And this is clear as day… My siblings and I were traveling between cities in Lufiria when we were caught in a mana storm."

She sighed, looking at her other claw with disdain. She focused for a second and a brick of ice formed without any effort– worryingly, the residual cold lingering on her seemed to fade as she 'complied' with this magic and cast the ice instead of her fire… "From what I could tell, their magic wasn't affected. They were and still are very young… My sister is only eleven, my brother six. Their magic hadn't developed enough to suffer whatever has me, or, or I took the brunt of it since I was more compatible or… Or something. I just remember us hunkering down in a nearby cave to weather the weather, and when it was over…" She let the ice brick collapse to the floor to punctuate her point, sighing heavily. 

"It didn't even hurt. It was just… Just, swapped? Replaced? I can feel my fire, even now. I'm warm, this magic– normally –doesn't chill me, at all, let alone so furiously… It's… Like, there's something living between where my mana starts and where it's supposed to come out. But it doesn't eat the fire mana unless I try to cast fire… Nor do I start getting tired or anything negative if I overuse the ice or ignore my fire for a time. Ugh…" Alvira had so many clues and no answers. It just didn't make sense! Not even the Evokers seemed to understand what was going on…

"I thought… Maybe it was just some weird, magical blockage, that Elisa had helped me break through, but… After that… I just don't know anymore. I'm sorry. Sorry for, the scare, the mana spent, your time… I'll… I won't bring it up again. Just… Give up on my magic ever changing back." Alvira felt her face scrunch a little like she was going to cry, biting her lip to stop the emotion from leaking out. "Thank you for your time."

“Hold on Alvira.” Tio reached a hand out to stop her as she continued to look around. There was nothing, and she was sure that she wasn’t going to find what exactly she was looking for but she needed to be sure. Once she was as satisfied as she could possibly be, she looked at Alvira, “Natalya is unfortunately right. I don’t know exactly what is happening here, but… There is a little something I can offer here. This happened because of a Mana Storm, and we know that your magic is still present, vibrantly so. I can’t say I know what it is, but… for a moment before you collapsed then, the presence that I felt, I felt something similar before.”

Tio looked over to make sure that Elisa was doing alright before continuing. “It’s funny that we’ve mentioned him quite a bit today, but do you remember the silver haired man from the ship? That magical signature? He gave off a similar one, and from how he reacted to me… I think he knows exactly what it is. It’s not much to go on, but I think there’s something there. Judging by what you’re saying, what you’re feeling… I think it’s possible that the mana storm may have tethered you to something.” 

Tio put a finger to her lips. Tethering, or magical linkage was a very rare, and understudied area of magic. It wasn’t common knowledge, nor was it something that most mages could even readily do. The seeming limitations of the art outweighed the incredible applications that the magic had. It was Tio and Elisa’s secret, something that they had been working on together for years. “Tethering is a very, very difficult magical art in which two, or more mages can link their magical flows together, allowing the group to call forth much more magical power than they would be able to on their own. There are a wide number of limitations, but one such limitation is why I think that there is still a chance that your magic will return. I think we can agree that this ice magic isn’t yours, it likely belongs to someone, or something else. Well, tethering between two entities with vastly different levels of magical power… the stronger one will overpower the weaker one, and their magic will be the predominant one. Of course… this is a theory since I have no idea what would have been tethered to you, but considering what mana storms are capable of–seemingly anything at this point–we can guess that it is a remarkably powerful entity, and what rules that Elisa and I know exist may not apply.”

“That said…” Tio took a deep breath, “If it is tethering, then perhaps there is a way to fix this. A tether is generally a two-way magical ritual, which means it can be broken. In the event that it is… we would need a way to break the link. Elisa, and I would have to figure out if it is, since, other than perhaps the silver haired man–whose name escapes me–we might be the only people with any information to take action with. So… please don’t give up yet, Alvira.”

The man with silver hair? Alvira remembered him from the moment with his dancing friend. She owed her a serious apology, better than her one from port… That was beside the point. "I think his name was Chris. Chris and Marianne… I didn't really speak with him much, just… Had a moment with his lady friend and apologized to her before we parted ways. Even if he knows something, there's no telling where he is by now…" It was hard to hold out hope, but at least this was something. Something more than the nothing she'd had moments ago.

"What could I possibly be tethered to that could produce an infinite supply of the ice spell? I've done some seriously stupid experiments… Like, just, filling an entire room with this ice to see if there was a limit on what I could cast. I didn't find one… I'd have to be tethered to something ridiculous, like a G–" Alvira froze, eyes wide, giving what was meant to be a throwaway comment some serious thought. If not for her nightly worship of Fomalhaut, it wouldn't have ever crossed her mind.

"... Am I tethered to a God?"

Tio fashioned herself a woman of science, not particularly interested in the idea of gods, or higher beings. She learned about many of the religious sects, more interested in how magic was interwoven into their ideas, but the concept of a god was always something alien to her. The Holy Lufirian Empire destroyed churches, and religious houses, and tried to institute their own religion before they were defeated by the six tribes who sought to erase the stain that Lufiria tried to impose upon the world. Yet, sects continued to exist, such as those in Lufiria, or Mura. Always in service of a higher power, such as the legends of the Three Angels who descended during the Axios Record. The thought never would have crossed Tio’s mind had Alvira not uttered the words. “...” Tio just looked at Alvira, stunned. Even the most powerful mage in the world wouldn't allow for near infinitely creating ice magic at the level that Alvira was suggesting. If it was a tether… 

Tio brought a hand to her face. Of all things, of every possibility, and with everything she knew about what was going on; the sheer implausibility of Alvira’s magic, and the uniqueness of the magical signature… All of it most cleanly pointed to something well beyond most normal things. “...well, fuck. I almost can’t believe that I’m saying this. But… considering everything else… Perhaps we are dealing with something that we might be able to term as a “God”. Or at least something beyond the scope of our current understanding.” A God or some higher, more powerful existence would explain why if she was tethered, why the things she was tethered with weren't nearby. “Well.” Tio looked at Elisa, the sheer disbelief, and exhaustion rife on her face, “The, the good news about that. Is that. Regardless of the strength of one side of the tether, it’s still possible for a tether to be broken. Assuming that it is. A. God. We need something that would either tether you to something else–not necessarily as strong–or something that would just cause the link to break, which could be done with enough magical energy. Of course, I have no idea what that would entail if the mana storm caused you to tether with some higher being.” Tio sighed, followed by a small whine. “Nevertheless! Elisa, and I will try to help, and figure out if his line holds any water…”

 I want to go to sleep. I want to go to bed. I'm so done with today.

Alvira didn't expect her wild suggestion to hold any water, glancing between the three women with worried eyes, finally settling on Tasha with a whimper. She didn't want to be right. This was far beyond anyone's scope to deal with if it was true…

"Fuck… Ugh… I mean… If I'm right, at least that gives us an explanation… Even if it doesn't help solve anything."

As ridiculous as it sounded the whole time, all of that both made perfect sense and none at all. There were religions all around, though not a single unifying one, but the little Elisa had had to do with them, all of their gods seemed to just be figureheads to worship for symbolic or historic reasons, not… Real things that existed. “I might be limiting my output right now, but from the little that I felt, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t stand a chance trying anything against that even if I wasn’t… If this is really happening, our research isn’t as new as we’ve thought it is, is it?” She looked over to her wife, who again had come back around to her exhaustion. This clearly wasn’t something she wanted to even entertain, much less accept as fact, but they didn’t have any better information to go on. Nor even where to begin aside from asking Chris, if they were to ever cross paths again.

The strawberry blonde gave her own sigh, turning her attention back to Alvira. “This is getting way out of hand, but if you want, I could at least go over the basics of how the tethering concept works. I can do it with anyone -- like just now -- but Tio needs to be more intimately attuned to someone if she wants to do it, and I’ve gotten a good amount of practice actually using it. …It’s pretty useless in a diagnostic sense when I have no idea where or what the other end of the tether is, though.” That, and even theoretically they hadn’t figured out a threshold where a tethered person’s mana would be able to completely overwrite someone’s natural affinity like that. And the questions that raised were ones nobody needed to hear right now.

Natalya was only getting more confused by all of their speculation. Now there was a chance that Alvira’s magic problems were because a God was taking over her magic? She just shook her head and pulled the dragon close to her, stroking her hair. “Even if things are that crazy, I’ll still be here for you, Vira. I might not know a rat’s ass about how magic works, but anything that’s important to you is important to me.” She let out a dry chuckle, maybe not the most uplifting thing she’d ever said, true as it may have been.

“I cannot believe that I’m actually entertaining this thought. A God, or a higher power… surely I would be laughing at myself over this.” Tio chuckled blithely before sighing again. “It does seem like tethering isn’t something new at this point. I suppose it’s unsurprising what with how little we seem to know about the past, but that is… frustrating. Perhaps informing Alvira of how it works is a good idea. More minds working towards the same goal is almost always a better endeavor, and perhaps it will be our avenue to figuring this out. You and I will probably have to do some testing of our own. We might have to use our tethering in the future anyway, considering that we know dangerous elements are approaching.” 

Tio turned, and bowed to Alvira. “I’m really sorry that we weren’t much help Alvira. It’s terribly frustrating but there is so little that Elisa and I know about what’s going on here. We will do our best to support you and figure things out, but if it really is a God… Elisa and I may not be anywhere near enough. I’m sorry.” 

“I, mmhhn…” Alvira flushed a little as she was pulled into Tasha, not good at dealing with such a show of affection in front of the two most important magic wielders in Glacies, but it was greatly appreciated despite the embarrassment. She pried herself away only a little, letting Tasha continue her affections, not wanting to make the Tiger feel ignored when she was doing her best. “I wouldn’t mind hearing about tethering properly, Elisa… And don’t apologize, Tio. If that’s really what’s going on, I don’t think anyone here could solve it… But if I hadn’t come to talk with you both, we wouldn’t have gotten here. I rode a little wagon of emotions there, but I think I’m okay now. I’m much better off knowing there’s a cause than it just being an unfixable random issue.”

She nodded, smiling up at Tasha, with one final question on her mind. “This… This might, sound crazy. I don’t know how much stock you both put into religion and the Gods and all that, but… I’m, devout in my worship to Fomalhaut. He’s a God that a lot of dragons, especially fire dragons, put their faith into. There isn’t any organized religion surrounding him, or places of worship, it’s just… A quiet thing most of us do. And… Well, the day after our first battle on the boat on our way to Eibar, I was feeling pretty desperate so I… Heh. I kind of sound silly, talking about this so normally in front of people so focused on practical magic…”

“I put, my everything into prayer after that and, when I opened my hands, there was a little flame there. Like he’d spoken back to me in my worries and given me a sign that things weren’t cemented the way they are. If… If I tried to speak with, or commune with whatever I’m tethered to… Would that be a good idea?” She looked between the both of them, trying to read their faces. “From everything I know about Fomalhaut, he responds more easily in Lufiria. Something about, Gods and their domains, and Lufiria being a much more magical place. If he can reach me all the way out here, even weakly, if I’m tethered to this… Being, surely it would be easier to contact it…?”

“I, uh…” Tio’s face bounced between serious consideration, and outright confusion. Communing with the Gods… if it was actually possible, then it was at least a place to start. The logic was sound at least; if she was tethered to this existence, perhaps she could contact it. The actual question then was would it be a good idea to do so? Tio looked at Elisa, back to Alvira, back to Elisa letting her head fall into her hands. “I, suppose. That. If you were going to try and contact a higher being, being tethered to it would make things easier. Admittedly… I can’t tell if the existence would be hostile, or not; it doesn’t seem like it is trying to actively harm you, and other than blocking your fire magic, it has been a relative boon. I can’t say that I’m fond of the idea, nor do I know if it would work, but it is a possibility. If I were to take a step further… perhaps even trying to speak with Fomalhaut may offer some clarity–perhaps this being is of the same caliber as he is.” Said all with her face still in her hands.  I can’t believe I’m saying all of this. 

Elisa could easily tell how far Tio’s confidence and credibility were being stretched, and to be fair, she herself was having a hard time believing this line of investigation. But, she wasn’t quite as distraught as her wife, for many reasons, not the least of which being that she’d always been willing to try crazy things. “W-well, I can’t say I’d ever have considered that… It’s better than literally nothing, either way. Who knows? You miss all the shots you don’t take.” At this point, she was starting to feel like she’d have to give Tio a therapy session after all of this prep and crazy stuff was over with, considering how she looked. Though there was something that she now recalled, looking at Tasha huddled over Alvira. “Was that what your business with us was? Renais said you wanted to speak with us at some point.”

Crazy as it sounded, if it worked, Tasha wouldn’t be one to complain. Things were winding down, but Elisa brought up something she’d almost forgotten herself, what with Alvira’s sudden collapse taking priority. “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I saw it happen, but it happened to Alvira, so I should let her talk. Again.” The tiger loosened their hug some, letting them both face the Evokers properly again. “If you can, tell them what happened with Mikoto, with as much detail as you can.”

It seemed like a unanimous “yeah, go for it, I guess” from the Evokers, which Alvira couldn’t especially blame. They seemed like quite the practical folk, so this talk of worshiping beings that couldn’t be proven to exist, was… Alvira wouldn’t hold it against them. “Oh, the fox lady?” Alvira nodded. “Yeah, I wanted to talk to you all about this, I’m pretty sure that’s what Renais meant… The fox lady was another issue, I think. I, uh. She showed up right before we hit Sarasin’s manse and offered us a bunch of insanely rare goods and products… Said she was a merchant, but her wares were just… Out of this world. She had so many magic tomes on her, stuff that I’d only ever read about. I think those gauntlets she was carrying were glowing, too…”

Alvira shook her head. “Ah, uhm. It was all insanely priced, but she offered us a discount if we… Gave up some of our life force…?” She realized how dangerous that sounded. “I feel fine. I don’t think anything that’s been going on has been because of that, but, I… Gave up a year for a price cut to one of her wares. So did a few other people… She called it voima. This… Swirling gray vortex of energy was pulled out of us and she took away a drop of it. I can’t exactly say I understood what it was, but, if there are side effects, they sure take a while to kick in. I just felt… Really tired, initially, but I recovered in minutes. Said she could only do it once per person… Maybe you two know more?”

“...The kitsune from before?” Tio looked up from her hands. Renais had mentioned that Natalya wanted to speak with them about something. Turns out it was the woman that Tio had brushed aside the evening before. The Knights and the Tigers were far more pressing to her than any merchant could have possibly been at that point in time. Tio’s eyes narrowed as Alvira explained; fantastically rare weapons, and items, all in one place, and with a very, very concerning option for a discount. “She was…? Bartering one’s life force. For a discount. On rare weapons, and items “ Tio just stared. A long silence. “I’m so fucking done with today. Voima? Is that what she called it? Did she… explain what she was doing with this Voima, why it was specifically this that she was drawing from you? I can’t say that I’m looking fondly on the idea of taking the… lifeforce of another being without knowing exactly why. The number of positive goals there are… fleeting.”

Tio huffed, arms now crossed, “No… No, I don’t know much more than what you’re telling me. I’ve not heard much about Kitsune, nor seen one until meeting her, but everything you’re telling me makes Elisa’s distrust all the more warranted… I’d suggest a great amount of caution with her. Hopefully that’s just me being prejudiced, and tired. Voima is a new one to me, though. That will also require some looking into.” 

“Well…” Alvira was feeling pretty bad for Tio, but it wasn’t like she could just… Not, tell her these things. “I, if I remember correctly, she said she just wanted to live longer… That she was using them to extend her life? I don’t know what that means or if it’s worrying. There’s just… One thing.” Alvira sighed. “When, we approached her, I swore she had four tails, but… As we were leaving she seemed to have five. I don’t know if that means anything or if I even saw correctly. They were all pretty big and bushy and meshing with each other, so… I could’ve just miscounted.”

“Extend her life…? And she might have had more tails? Mmm…” There was so much. Too many things, far too quickly. “That’s… that’s fine. If you would… whenever she shows up again, if you would, provided you can, find me or Elisa, so that we could speak with her, I would appreciate that. Someone sprouting another tail… Wonderful. Wonderful! Wonderful. As long as you’re all alright, I suppose there isn’t much to do about it now, and I’d bet that she’s well on her way now. Which we should be getting to as well…”

“Elisa, and I will. Handle that. As it comes. If you would. Gather the others, and tell them that we’ve tarried long enough, and we should be heading on our way. If you have any other. Questions regarding your magic… don’t refrain from asking, it might be helpful. For now, we should also get our things prepared.” 

Despite Tio’s offering to hear more about her magic, Alvira was going to try and avoid bringing it up for a little bit. The woman looked exhausted and Alvira felt incredibly guilty. “Thank you. Thank you both, so much… For everything. Let’s go, Tasha…”

It hadn't offered her a solution, but it had been eye opening. She knew what was wrong... And her prayers the next night had confirmed them all but fully.

Bright, Burning Star

Spoiler

They were on the road again after stocking up and learning plenty at Sarasin's manse. Alvira had a lot to think about, both in regards to her magic and in regards to the potential God that was harnessing her for... Something. Maybe it just hadn't realized it was tethered to her? Surely a God would realize immediately and either remove the tether or make more use of it. They were mighty beings, weren't they? She didn't know. She only really knew about one and everything she knew about him was things handed down to her by other dragons she'd met in her travels through Lufiria. The time of her nightly prayer had approached, settling herself down near a tree they'd put their camp up next to. She didn't want to wake Tasha, especially if something actually happened, so she'd made efforts to pray away from her. "Okay... Mmm. Uh..." She didn't really know how to start, tonight. "I guess... Like normal. Fomalhaut. Ever bright and burning star. I give prayer to you, that you may see me through my darkest times. That you may shine your light on the path I must tread to make it through... And... If you are there... Could you speak to what I am tethered to? And..." She paused a moment, slowly forming a piece of the ice from whatever she was connected to. "If... you are there, this... Being that I have been put in contact with. If you can hear my voice, please, give me a sign. I did not tether myself to you of my own will, nor am I upset with you that we are connected... I just wish, for answers. For clarity. And... If this is causing you harm, distress or frustration, for a way to split away from this tether. Please. Either you or Fomalhaut... Give me a sign. Anything. Be it good or bad..."

Silence. A long silence filled the air. Then there was a weak warmth coursing throughout her body. Amidst the ice was a tiny, but vibrant flame. The ice and fire seemed to coexist for a moment, before the flame faded once more, leaving the ice alone once again. Though... the warmth from the flame hadn't completely vanished.

"Ah...!" Alvira tensed as she felt both temperatures course through her, neither harmful nor distressing... "Are you there...? Fomalhaut... Please. I know this is greedy of me. I know that I ask so much of you already... But... Anything. A sign, of what I should do. Either of you. A way to fix this... To solve this. But... Please, know that I will not lose faith, if you cannot guide me. You've already given me so much..."

The warmth inside Alvira swelled again, but only just. The flame appeared once more, but seemingly inside of the ice, a prison of frigid energy. The flame attempted to grow, and expand within the ice, but eventually the flame faded. The prison of ice smothered the struggling flame, but at first, it had grown. Then, a quiet echo. "...wer. P...er." Then the flame, and warmth disappeared from her completely.

"Huh...!?" Alvira was experiencing something tremendous! A voice! Something... Fomalhaut had never spoken to her before. What did it mean? 'Wer'...? 'P...' ... "Power?" What did that mean? Power? Not enough power? Her power? That frigid prison of ice, she could feel it inside of her, stifling the flame once more. She did her best to focus on it. Focus on what she could. With the fire gone, it was all that remained... Even if this hurt her, she had to try. "What are you? Who are you? Why are you connected to me, and why are you doing this? What do you need my flame for? Tell me! Anything...!"

Silence. Complete. Deafening silence. The echo from before had vanished, and nothing responded to her questions.

"Hahh..." I should've expected this... It's still a little disappointing, though. At least pain would've been a sign that this is a danger and is against me, or something, but... This silence, this absorbing my flame... It doesn't seem benevolent or evil. Just... Like this is natural for it. I wish I could understand... Alvira quietly picked her things up and took a deep breath. "Thank you, Fomalhaut. For everything and more... I'll be back again tomorrow night. Rest well, my bright, beautiful, burning star."

Fomalhaut had spoken with her. Talked to her. She'd heard his voice, after decades of worship and prayer... He was trying to reach out to her, even if it was difficult. She didn't understand what the issue was, or what this ice was, but she did understand that he was real. More real than he'd ever been with the flames and the brighter stars. It was amazing, but worrying. That prison of ice she'd felt completely surrounding her fire... It was such a neutral feeling. The cold never harmed her. It shocked her; surprised her, to be sure, but it never hurt her... So she didn't understand what its purpose was.

Hopefully Cerezia had a library or something she could look into. She knew that Tasha would be busy for a time with solidifying their stay at Cerezia's inns and dealing with some bookkeeping, so library it was. With her light tome in hand and her magic in mind, she went into the town in search of something that would pass for a library. Hopefully it would be bigger than the dinky place they'd had in Liste...

"Hmmm..." After enough walking around town, Alvira found herself standing between two buildings. The Knights headquarters, easily identifiable by the amount of armored folk coming in and out of it, and a smaller little wooden building that... Seemed to be the library? It didn't have a sign, but it was open and the windows had books in them... It was  a book place of some sort, so she went inside, tilting her head as she looked about the shelves. 

The library did have one attendant it seemed, a young glasses toting human. She idly approached him, playing with some ice in her claw, glancing at him to see if he was busy. "Excuse me? Do you happen to have any books on, uh... Deities? Perhaps ones related to ice or cold?"


"Well. You're a lot more welcoming on the eyes." Mari looked back at who she was being talked to by, talking her gold and giving the arena head a once over. "Guess I'll watch you two do your matches. Not like I got anything else to do around town for a while. Isn't like a bunch of Clouded mercenaries are gonna waltz on into Cerezia of all places... What a worthless job. Ah, well..." Mari yawned and walked off towards the stands, stretching her recently reattached arm some."


Sixteen nodded along, mentally noting down the name Taka. If there was more neat magic stuff in town, it would be worth looking for it, surely. She didn't interrupt as Ullr and the merman went about their moment on gauntlets, slowly stowing her magic and walking back over to Ullr, lifting up one of his paws and examining it. When the boy left them, being called, a part of her was incredibly tempted to follow after him, but she decided not to, since she didn't want to ruin Ullr's chances of getting something unique. "Your paws are really big, huh? How hard is it to use those gauntlets with them?" She idly traced some claws across his palm, examining it carefully.


Syta.

Syta was off in her own world, coaxed on further by Laniva's quieting down and closing of her eyes, seemingly enjoying the moment. "Who's a good kitty~ You are~! Yes you are~ Such a good kitty..."

SYTA! Kisara's voice rung out in Syta's mind loud enough to make the girl flinch, slowly pulling away from Laniva's ears.

"I... Ah... I'm, sorry. Really. I, uh... If I didn't introduce myself before, my name is Syta. Syta Fahn. I'm... Here on work. I just... Ah, geez..." She sighed, holding her hands behind her back, blushing hard. "I-I used to take care of the stray cats at home, and-- Uhm! Not that you look like a stray! Or anything! Just... I haven't been able to pet a cat in quite a while and your ears a-are just so soft, I... Thank you. Is what this is getting to. Th-Thank you a lot, miss..." She squirmed some, shrinking even further. "That must've been really embarrassing for you... But I'm really happy. My day just got one hundred percent better! So thank you, truly~"


"Yeah... I wish I had more nice things to say about my life, though. Unfortunately... This is the happiest I've ever been. I'm not exaggerating to make you feel good, either... Uh... Mmmm. No. I don't wanna spoil our day out today. I'll talk about more of this some other thing. For now! Let's get some food going~ Waiter! We're ready to order." Hopefully something nice and warm would cheer her up, leaning back in her chair and gently plapping her hands against her thighs.

Edited by Mel the DM

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