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Mercenary on the Winds

Faith in the Spirits Arc 1: To Align the Stars

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And there he went. Not another noise. Just silence, and the waves on the ocean. Alvira clenched her claws into fists, shaking a little. A lot. She quickly hugged herself.

             See you in hell--"           "They're slavers and monsters and fiends--"        "Life gone that easily."         "You'll die like that one day..."            

"You killed him--"                            "Monster."                               "He was alive just like you..."       "Maybe Tasha was right."       "You're the worst for yelling at Nyx!"

                        "He deserved it!                        "You can't even be a proper dragon."     "Just another human--"                    "This curse will just get worse--"

Alvira turned away from the corpse, took four steps, collapsed onto her knees and threw up, slamming a claw into the deck to keep herself from falling over entirely. "F-Fuck... Fuck... Ghhh..."

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This thing in the chest… looked vaguely familiar. Admittedly, the hectic nature of the battle made it more difficult for Nyx to poke around in her own head to remember what it was, aside from some… odd-looking axe. She had half a mind to just toss it back in the chest, but maybe Nattie’d know what this thing was? She knew axes, right?

”Oi, boss.” Nyx grumbled out towards Natalya, still not keen on getting too close to the draconic grouch that… was now collapsing onto the deck. She wanted to go help, but considering how angry she’d been at her before, Nyx hesitated - it probably wouldn’t be good for her to try and drag Alvira over to the infirmary when she’d be liable to get out there too by the little dragon clawing at her for being a filthy human touching her pristine scales, or some shit.

”I foun’ dis ‘ere axe in tha’ chest back there. Y’know wha’ kinda weapon dis is?” 

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There was a silence that suddenly broke out. Usually that meant the fighting was over, right? The crackle of the fire surrounding Miria's blade silenced as well, and now it was just her, Alriana and Laniva already dipped.

"Okay, now to j-just..." Miria felt something go on, she quickly dove out of sight, into some barrels. Quickly removing the armor, it was taking its toll. Everything felt heavier, her legs were jelly and she was starving. She just needed a few minutes...

From her satchel, she pulled out some bread she wrapped up from the night before, and started to nibble away.

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Cinaed had been about to turn towards Gean and congratulate her on a fight well finished when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the ice wielding fire dragon collapse. "Ah hell, looks like one or both of you might be needed. I think that boss was using a pure weapon!"

He turned back and rushed over to the other ship, skirting around the vomit before kneeling down next to the incapacitated dragon. "Hey now, are you ok? We've got healers coming."

Edited by scorri

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Who...? Alvira's head was throbbing and spinning, results of her panic, the weapon's damage, throwing up, the ship's rocking-- too many things. She didn't know this guy's name, but she did recognize that he was the fire dragon from before... Half? He didn't have wings. She flapped her own weakly, slowly standing, still hugging herself. "I'm... I, I'm, fine... I don't... Don't need..." She was mumbling, probably not loud enough to hear. Her fire had died down with the end of the fighting.

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After the dust settled and the pirates were dispatched, Syndra began to examine the corpse of the pirate captain they had thought. At least he was bright enough to be able to tell I'm not a Glacian, although I'm pretty sure that was obvious. Hmm, I still don't recognize any of his insignias. Maybe he is just some random pirate captain trying to make a quick buck raiding Glacian ships. The only way to make sure is to inspect below deck. Before heading that way, she noticed Alvira in a state of shock. You're clearly not made for this kind of life Alvira, maybe it would be best if... She turned to face Natalya, "Natalya, I'm going to investigate below deck." And in a more whispered tone, said: "After we've cleaned up there's something I need to discuss with you. Privately."

As she was leaving she noticed Nyx walking over to Natalya with an unwieldy looking axe. The magically energy it was giving off was almost-instantly recognizable to her as another Pure Weapon, but why would Nyx have one? And if it belonged to the pirates why weren't they using it? She didn't sense the enchantment on any of the axes used by the ones she was fighting. She knew Nyx could be stupid but not suicidally so to just try and brandish it against her boss and Alvira, especially in the state she'd been in previously.  "When you're done monster hunting Nyx, come with me, I might need your help down below."

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What a thoroughly and completely repulsive person. This was nothing new for Natalya, they'd been fighting Islexian pirates for years now, and most of them held that kind of contempt for their existence. Alvira and Syndra were enough to deal with him, thankfully; she wasn't a fan of executions, even if she'd gladly have given one to this man if needed. "Good riddance..." A short glare at the fallen captain was all she'd have time for, though, as Alvira suddenly collapsed. The one arrow didn't do that much damage, did it?

Things weren't helped by Syndra and Nyx asking for her attention right as she was about to bolt over to the dragon to help. A nod was thankfully all that she needed to deal with Syndra, but her quip stopped the tiger from just brushing Nyx off, making her look at what she was holding, stepping close to the archer and speaking quietly. "If you enjoy not getting in trouble with several people here, you'll go put that in my room right now, and I'll decide what to do with it later. Frankly I'd prefer seeing it thrown where the peppers grow, but it's not a tactical impossibility for us to have to fight other Clouded at some point."

Ignoring whether Nyx would catch their drift or understand the Glacian idiom, Natalya cast aside what sudden tension there had been between her and Alvira, quickly coming to the dragon's side, who had now managed to get back on her feet. "Alvira, are you okay? You're going to need a healer for the shot you took. Renais! Come on, we've got a monster killer injury!" A swift call of their healer, who thanks to Cinaed seemed to already be alerted... The Evokers were present now as well, but she was reasonably confident they wouldn't be needed.

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Now you care. Alvira scowled, though she was still staring at the deck, trying to avoid everyone's gazes and attention. "I'm... I'm, f-fine. I'm fine. Just... Just let, me go lay down. Leave me alone." She was loud enough to hear this time, but she wasn't moving much, only barely starting to limp away from Cin and Natalya.

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Oh goodness, another tall, beautiful person to tease Renais in the form of Elisa. She simply groaned to herself, finding it harder and harder to deal with all the attention. "Aaaah please just..." She shook her head, trying not to let it get to her. She was on the verge of saying somehting when...

"Renais! Come on, we've got a monster killer injury!"

Oh thank god, duty calls. Which was of course a bad thing, but she took that chance to break from the group and run over to Alvira. "O-on the way!" She called out. In another moment she was knelt by Alvira's side. "I'm here Alvira, stay with us..." She held out the staff and began the healing process. Mending the damage from the wound as best as she could.

Edited by TheRoon

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Too late. Renais had been faster than the distressed dragon, closing up her wound. The feeling of comfort was in direct conflict with how she felt, making her face twist into a pained grimace, but at least not being wounded let her flap her wings hard and start hovering away from the group across the deck, back towards their own boat, with every intention to lock herself into her and Alriana's room until they were either attacked again or arrived.

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Cinaed settled back on his heels, sighing as he watched her flap away. Alvira, that was her name. He would have to remember that. "She's a stubborn one, huh? Barely healed and she's off... Good work though, Renais, yes?" He knew any further talking to her would just make her retreat back into that cloak though, so with an almost inaudible chuckle, he looked at Natalya instead. "Well then, boss. I know we weren't fighting near each other, but hopefully I showed my qualifications? Gean can vouch for me if you need it, but hopefully my work here today has earned me that spot in your group."

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Wait, this was… Oh. Well, now Nyx just felt silly, or as silly as she could feel on a normal day, anyways. Nonetheless, though she didn’t quite get the metaphor, she got the rest of the statement clear enough to head back down below the deck of their own boat and toss the axe into Nattie’s room - haphazardly, mind, but still.

Glad that she got that out of her grasp, wanting no part of those kinds of weapons, Nyx’s mind drifted back to the Clouded from all those years ago, back in that caravan. She hoped they were doing okay after they got free of that carriage, but some part of her doubted that. The underworld was full of some persistent shits, and Nyx knew they wouldn’t take it laying down.

Shrugging it off as something merely in the past, Nyx went off to find Syndra. “Oi, Syn.” She called out as soon as she found the other woman, winking at her with all the usual playfulness before schooling her face back to something vaguely neutral. “Th’fuck kinda pirates cart ‘round them kinda weapons? Sure as shit ain’t like anythin’ I e’er saw yer average thug swingin’ ‘round in my ol’ outlaw days.”

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"Ah, Alvira!" She called out as she rushed away from the group, she didn't even have time to inspect her to see if she made a full recovery. But if she had enough energy to hover away like that then she was probably better now. She just took a sigh and stood back up, trying to ignore Cin. "...just doing my job..." She mumbled to Cin, very grateful the battle was over. She had hoped the boat ride was near it's end, so she wouldn't have to deal with him.

But sadly...

"...eh?" She perked up. 'Showed...qualifications? For what? For...oh...oh no don't tell me-!'

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The dragon girl brazenly brought the pirate captain onto her, pure weapon in hand. A pure weapon was already a light to Marianne's fuse, but if only for a moment, she worried about the girl. From here, it wouldn't be too difficult to eliminate him with a simple purge cast. Chris would understand the situation, and even if he didn't... she was the one who was going to be feeling it. She took the hit and Marianne had just about finished, when two other mercenaries rushed to her side, and combined, the three of them brought him down with the annoying dragon effectively executing him. 

She breathed a sigh of relief, and cancelled the spell. It was an impressive display of teamwork, still a silly... Marianne felt herself waver a moment. "Oh, oh no." Marianne slowly just slid to her knees. "Oh, darn it, darn it, darn it... Sigh... Even that little was too much right now I guess... where's Chris and a sweet when you need one..." Still, everyone made it out alive, and that had been the entire reason she came out here. 


It sounded like things were over elsewhere. A little embarrassing to be so late, but it was early morning. Tio sighed as she looked over Laniva, "Hmm, not much to do magically..." She reached into a pouch and pulled out some herbs, "Here, take these. They should help with the nausea. I have plenty of these; I'm not much a fan of boats myself." 

Tio felt like someone was watching her, and turned to see the silver haired man, standing behind the pair. While used to being looked at, she couldn't help but feel a bit... concerned, especially with the beautiful sword at his hip. There it was again, that unusual magical energy, but at least this time, she was sure it was from him. 

Tio put on a smile, "Can I help you? The battle appears over and done with."

A pause, and then he returned her smile, "I was just making sure that no one else snuck up on you or your friend over there. Unnecessary, I know, but better that than nothing at all." He moved gingerly past the pair, still moving a tad slowly. "Now... where is she..." 

Tio didn't take her eyes off of him as she continued to help Laniva, she was definitely sure now that this man wasn't just some passenger. 

"Excuse me... if you don't mind me asking, what's your name? I didn't get either yours or your partners before you disappeared, and we haven't seen each other since then."

"Mine? Chris. Chris Safiric, I would prefer to be called Mark, but I'll answer to either. Whenever I find her... my partner's name is Marianne." He paused, before sighing, "Well, I guess I should go and look for her, perhaps check on the ships myself. Nice talking with you, Ms. Candialia." 

He disappeared from sight, and Tio sighed, "Who in the world are you, and what do you have that even I don't understand?" 


Chris looked over the ships for Marianne, but he was right to have been worried. He couldn't be sure, but it really did seem like that woman was so in tune with light magic that she could genuinely sense it, even while he was masking it. 

"Are the Evokers that strong? Can she really just directly sense it?"

He shook his head, and got back to looking for his partner, that was a bit more important to him at the moment. 

Edited by Mercenary on the Winds

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Aegean let out a heavy sigh, the leader of the pirates had met his well deserved end by Alvira's magic. She had become jaded to these pirate attacks at this point, the insults all the same. She was ready to thank Renais, and even congratulate Cinead on meeting Tasha's task, but Alvira collapsing afterwards had taken the attention of both of them. 

She was thinking about her next action when she noticed their mysterious dancer companion fall to the deck. A certain book worm was also missing from the group. Cursing her inability to be in two places at once, she did the next best thing. "Hey Aly, could you check where Miria is? I'm gonna help out the dancer lady." Before bolting off.

"Hey are you alright?" While it looked like she had no wounds on her, She seemed more drained than Gean was before Renais had healed her. "If you need help back to your room I have shoulder I can lend?"

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Marianne looked up at Aegean as the clouded approached, "I'm... okay. It's just leftover from a day or so ago. Haha... wasn't supposed to even activate my magic to avoid this, and I almost did anyway... sigh. I swear, there aren't many people who can both annoy me, and make me worry for their wellbeing in such quick succession... I guess I was the one who should have kept back, huh? I'll be fine on my own, really." Marianne tried to force herself to her feet, but quickly fell back down to the deck. "...Ha. I might need a hand after all. I--" 

"I told you that I should have gone." 

Marianne turned to see Chris coming towards them, an annoyed smirk on his lips, as well as his sword at his hip. Had he prepared to assist?

"Chris... haha... oops." Marianne's face reddened.

"What did you do, and are you okay?" 

"I, uh... one of the mercenaries seemed like they were in trouble so I was going to... cast, but they didn't need me to. It was a really bad idea on my end, but I couldn't just sit back and.." 

Chris let out an audible sigh, "I'm not surprised... you can't exactly leave things well enough alone." 

Chris looked at Aegean, "You all worked quite quickly. I can see that the reputation that your troupe has is genuine. I'm glad Marianne's worries weren't founded." Chris looked closely at Aegean once more--an attractive woman to be sure--but the feeling he got that he recognized her from somewhere was uncanny. "This may seem a bit out of the blue, but may I ask where you're from, uh... Aegean, that was your name, wasn't it?"

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Now Natalya wasn't getting anything out of Alvira either, giving her a lot of reason to be concerned about what she'd said previously. A sigh as the healed dragon flew off; at least she wouldn't be in pain from that arrow anymore. "And there she goes..."

Cinaed brought her back to the matter at hand, though. She could do her mom thing later when there wasn't a mercenary group to lead in the moment. "She's... She has issues. I'm trying to get her to feel better, but I think I overdid the scolding just now. Anyway, I keep enough of an eye on the big picture that I saw you fighting just fine, and I'm pretty sure that's what we had agreed on. So, welcome to the Iron Tigers... Cin, right?"

The rest of the matter was moreso about what to do about the two ships that held theirs as dead in the water as they could, but that was something she'd have to discuss with the ship's crew. "Anyway. Fight's over, and I can only assume Ingverd's going to show up soon, since he dashed into the other ship and we haven't seen any more pirates show up. I'll discuss the matter of what to do with the ships with our crew, since we'll have to at the least dislodge them from ours if we're going to go anywhere, but you can all rest up while that's going on."


Renais was cutely troubled by how Elisa had approached the group, but the quick resolution of combat and the subsequent ignoring of her presence told the strawberry-blonde Evoker that she wasn't really needed, like she'd suspected. Alvira's command of ice magic seemed fairly impressive, even if a bit crude... her grumpiness didn't seem to have changed, either, with how quick she was to try getting away from everyone following being healed. Really, with her seemingly unnecessary for the cleanup, Elisa figured she could just go back to cuddling with Tio, though the pretty man passing her by on the way did raise the relevant question to her mind.

That, and the fact Tio was looking more at the man than who she was looking after. "You looked pretty distracted there, and not for his good looks, I'd imagine. Figured something out?"

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Yep. The one thing she feared, he was joining the Tigers. Today was just full of surprises, too much for Renais. "..." She slowly backed away from Cin and Natalya and pulled her robe close to her. "Mr Cin...I am the g-group healer and...only approach me when you need my healing. Otherwise...otherwise..." She shook a little, it was impossible to hide her emotions at this point between all the teasing and her own personal fears. "Leave me alone!" She threw her hood on and ran off in the same direction Alvira went. Not because she was after her mind you, the room she shared with Miria was there. So wanted nothing more than to hide and keep to her books.

Well, other than locating her sister. But that was not an option at the moment.

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"Ah... I see. Well, I hope that she feels better. Though, good! I'm glad to join, Natalya. And Cin or Cinaed, whichever you prefer. Either is acceptable for me." He nodded to the rest of what she was saying as it was about what he expected from a battle's aftermath. But then, a quiet voice calling his name. Turning to Renais, smile on his face, he started nodding. It was obvious she was the healer. But then... Smile gone, watching as she ran away, telling him to leave her alone. With the way she had thrown her hood up and literally fled from him, all he could assume was that she hated him for some reason. He tried to keep his emotions under control, but couldn't help the quiet whisper that escaped his mouth as he watched the fleeing girl. "Wh-what did I do..."

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"Well considering where our foes come from it only makes sense that they carry those things around. Islexians have always had a deep-seated hatred the more... 'imperfect' members of our society. I just wonder how the got their hands on them. You found that axe in a chest so my initial thought is they were either given it by someone else or they ripped off some one else. So I asked you here to help me find something to that kind of effect. Knowing anything about other pirate activity might make this trip a bit safer and if we can wipe out a whole pirate's nest it should help that port town we left sleep easier. Failing either of those, I'd say we're more then free to help ourselves to any pocket change they left lying around. They won't need it where they're headed." Syndra then headed off towards the captain's quarters to begin looking. But before entering she said one last thing to Nyx. "Oh by the way, there was just one other thing I wanted to talk to you about but this is a bit more pressing to me, and can hold off until we've set sail again. And I already think you have an idea what it's about."

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No, she didn’t know what the other thing Syn wanted was about. But Nyx still got the rest of it down, and nodded before following Syndra to the captain’s quarters. Still, something about the whole thing with those anti-Clouded weapons left a bad taste in her mouth.

”M’not sure why people give so much a shit ‘bout how Clouded folk’re diff’rent than us that they gotta make fancy ass weapons t’kill ‘em. Hell, if I could ‘ave a tail, ‘d take it.” At the thought, Nyx smirked, darting in front of Syndra and swaying her hips from side to side. “C’mon, I betcha I’d look real cute wit’ a tail o’ m’own, eh Syn~?”

Nyx, you clown. “‘Sides, m’more int’rested in where th’fuck they came from, so we know if we’re in fer some shit when we ‘it port.” A rare moment of logic, but the battle seemed to have shaken most of the hangover from Nyx’s head. “N’if I mighta known any o’ these lads back in th’day. Prob’ly not, since I ne’er went out t’sea or anythin’, but who knows anymore?” Certainly not Nyx, at this point.

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The Golden Cub

Spoiler

Miria looked around as she made her way to the courtyard. It hadn't been very long since she had been recruited not too long ago by Natalya, but Miria felt it... difficult, trying to get along with the other ladies in the group. Not only just from Miria's natural awkwardness, but just from how different she felt amongst them all.

She needed a bit to clear her head. 

In one of the corners, she set up a couple of training dummies; she hadn't practiced in a bit. Maybe ridding herself of some excess energy would help. She brought a book as well, just in case.

Rustling her arms under her poncho, she removed the gem from her necklace. The thing that made her feel confident.

"Okay... Go." Focusing into the gem, she felt herself surrounded with light, before it dissipated, with her in her magic armor. The Lunar Gold.

Miria looked around her again. She forgot her helmet. Oh well, she'd just practice without it. It's not like her identity needed to be a secret around the rest of the Tigers. She got her sword ready, and got into a readied stance...

Things had definitely been shaking up in Aegean's life. There had been a decent amount of newcomers to the Iron Tigers, and while some were... more problematic than others, she trusted her boss's intuition when it came to these things. She would play along nice give space when needed.

For now, it was time to check her equipment, maybe find Nyx to get a bite to eat, and see if Tasha needed help with anything. Just needed to cross the courtyard to get to her room first.

Seeing a bright light shine in the courtyard was not the first thing she expected when she reached the entrance, nor was seeing one of their newest, and probably their shyest, recruit remaining after light subsided. Donning a striking gold armor Miria cut a very different figure than her normal shy demeanor would suggest. Mouth agape at the sight, Aegean quickly strode towards the smaller girl, eager, but only with two words on her mind she could force out between her racing thoughts.

Things had definitely been shaking up in Aegean's life. There had been a decent amount of newcomers to the Iron Tigers, and while some were... more problematic than others, she trusted her boss's intuition when it came to these things. She would play along nice give space when needed.

For now, it was time to check her equipment, maybe find Nyx to get a bite to eat, and see if Tasha needed help with anything. Just needed to cross the courtyard to get to her room first.

Seeing a bright light shine in the courtyard was not the first thing she expected when she reached the entrance, nor was seeing one of their newest, and probably their shyest, recruit remaining after light subsided. Donning a striking gold armor Miria cut a very different figure than her normal shy demeanor would suggest. Mouth agape at the sight, Aegean quickly strode towards the smaller girl, eager, but only with two words on her mind she could force out between her racing thoughts.

"So, so, COOL!"

What were those footsteps?! Miria turned around out of fear and suddenly, here comes someone booking it towards her. It was... Aegean, if Natalya told her correctly. She dropped her sword, and started to back up, tripping over a bench behind her with a yelp.

However, she picked herself back up when suddenly, Aegean was saying 'cool'.

"Cool? R-Really?" Miria was caught off guard. She was embarrassed, thought that this approaching individual would laugh at her, but she hadn't. She was being complimented. Slowly, she started standing back up.

Miria had faltered upon hearing that her guest had announced herself, but Aegean could not stop the course she was on, she needed more info. This was too exciting to slow down.

"Is it all magic? Does it repair itself? Where did you get this from? Does it fit on top of your clothes? Or is it a full outfit change? Why the light?"

Finally pausing to catch her own breath, she reached out a hand to the smaller girl. "You just willed a suit of armor on using what I could only assume is some secret family magic. If that isn't cool I don't know what is." Having finally come down from her excitement, Aegean extended an arm out to help the girl to her feet.

Miria was dumbfounded. She just... kept going. So many questions in such a short amount of time. Soon, she reqched a hand out so Miria took it and pulled herself off the ground, "Well, uh..."

Just take it slow, she won't mind, "Well, actually..." Miria started by pulling on her collar to show its tight fit. "I think it just... sorta, magically changes clothes. But it tightens up so I can't really see under it. But, it's comfy." Next, she took off her left vambrace and pauldron. "The most I could see, is that it's not complete. But, I'm not sure how to make it work. But it's fairly protective, and it seems to fix itself over time."

Focusing again, there was another brief flash, and after, Miria's gem was in her hand and she was back on civilian attire. "I'm not sure why it flashes. It just does." Then, a blush. Cool... This cool, clouded lady just called her cool.

"I-I... Thank you Miss Aegean, I-- I'm glad you think it's c-cool..."

Aegean's brain felt like it had been hit with a Bolganone. This was something straight out the dream of a 5 year old, and yet she had witnessed it right before your eyes. By one of her guild mates nonetheless!

"If it weren't for the fact that you just blew my mind in several ways, I'd cry over you calling me miss. Aegean is fine, or you can just call me Gean."

It seemed that the excitement had finally worn off. So. Aegean took a seat on the small stone wall near the training dummies. "So how are you adjusting to the Mercenary life? Everything in the guild to your liking?" Call it a bad habit, but she always wanted to know how here guild mates were fairing.

 

"Gean... Gean... Got it!" Miria smiled. Making sure she got that on lock meant a lot to her. "Sorry, I'm... just trying to be respectful," And her face redden slightly.

And then, her asking how she was feeling so far in regards to the Guild. "It's... it's fine. It beats fighting bandits alone." Her smile perked up. "I feel a lot safer thanks to the rest of you, thank you for asking." Then, a small smile, "Just... wish I was back at home. Just... y'know, I can't. I have to be here."

Those words from Miria cut deeply, although she couldn't quite share the reason for it. Snapping out of it, Gean closed the distance and gave the girl a hug. The next words out of Gean's mouth were both for Miria, and for her younger self.

"It's always rough to be away from home, and those there that give it that feeling. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that while you may not be able to go back, you can always find a new home. Maybe one right here." If Tasha was good at one thing, it was always making the Iron Tigers a welcome a warm place. Aegean now wanted that same ideal for Miria, and she would do whatever she could to help make that a reality.

"W-Wha--?" Miria was taken aback by the sudden hug, but she was quick to pick back up and return it. It was... warm. She can't remember the last time she hugged someone. It was probably Mama, as I was leaving... She didn't want me to go despite how much danger I put her in. She held tightly to Gean, it felt good to embrace someone else. 

She had a small smile as she listened to Gean explain what she thought. The Tigers like a new home... Maybe Miria would like that. Like a family away from family. "That's... I like that, just-- Too early to look that far ahead, in my mind. But... thank you for the thought anyway Gean. Mm, you're really nice."

A soft smile grew on Aegean's lips as Miria returned the hug, she hadn't completely warmed up to the idea, but it was a start. "Well the offer is always open my little golden cub. If you ever need someone to talk to, don't hesitate to come find me." 

Finally breaking the hug, the taller girl stepped backed and put her hands on her hips. "Now I was gonna figure out how to spend this day off, but I think you've given me that answer, how about we go grab a bite to eat?" Nothing like a hearty meal to raise one's spirits. "And maybe after that you could show me how you and that armor fight?"

"Golden Cub?" She thought about the name. Maybe... she wasn't the hugest fan of being treated like a child but... it was cute. She made a small laugh with a light blush. "I... I like it. And o-of course, if I need some help, I'll come running," She assured Gean, with a slight tease in her voice. It was nice... just having a friend to talk to.

Miria was about to reply that she wanted to get to her training, but she was interrupted by a light rumble. "Well, I guess you're right, some food sounds really good right about now," She laughed, feeling comfy with this girl, "Actually, I saw this place once. Did you know they boil small things of bread and put sauce on top? That sounds sooooo delicious!"

"Ah yes, Tessa's shop near the east market. Then we shall start our day there. Onwards! The stomach waits for no one!" Seeing the girl relax put some energy into Aegean. Maybe this is how Tasha feels when she brings someone new onto the team? Maybe this is how she felt with Anna? 

Regardless, Aegean was sure of one thing as the two stepped out into the town. She hoped she could do whatever she could to keep the girl smiling as she was right now.

A Night on the Water

Spoiler

The a random shift forced Miria out of her sleep. She sat up, and wiped some sweat from her face. The last time she was on a boat, something similar had happened. The moving of the boat and the water occasionally making it rock kept Miria from good sleep. I already miss my bed from back at base... Carefully, she got herself out of bed, didn't want to wake Renais. She got her pouch, and took out a small handheld candle and her book. Maybe sitting up top and reading a bit would calm her nerves. She slipped out, and made her way to the deck.

Making her way to the deck, she noticed someone standing at the top. She didn't notice initially, it was too dark. Walking up carefully, not wanting to startle the individual, she was able to identify the person staring out...

"Ingverd? It's late, what are you doing up?"

Hearing footsteps, Ingverd sent the bird in his palm off across the waves, turning to see Miria and giving her a smile. "Miria, what about you? I'm just admiring the scenery and keeping watch... Shouldn't a young lady like yourself be getting proper rest in case a fight comes to greet us?" He stood up proper, leaning his back against the boat's railing. Miria was a curious case. He didn't quite get how her ability functioned, but it didn't seem to be causing any harm to her life, so he would just watch over it, for now.

He noticed the book in her hands, giving it a curious glance. "Doing some late night reading?"

"Oh, w-well..." She looked out a bit, noticed there wasn't any land for a bit. It was... still an alien feeling to her. "The last time I had to get on a boat was to leave Morano. Um... seafaring and sleep don't work with me, I suppose." She answered honestly. "Maybe... I'm thinking about home, but..." Miria made a sigh, leading from the front, next to him, starting out, book still in hand.

Turning back to him, she had a small smile, "Yeah, actually. I was hoping to get some reading in, then hopefully get tired enough to fall back asleep."

"Sleeping up here won't make it any easier, so I hope you go back down once you've tired yourself out more." She really was far too innocent. Ingverd threw caution to the wind slightly, reaching over and giving her a gentle pat on the head. "Makes me wonder why someone like you joined a mercenary outfit. Do you like fighting, Miria?" He'd ask what she was reading after, but this was important to hear.

"Well, of course, I meant... ahh, never mind," She gave a small smile, hoping he was just teasing her. She took the pat on the head with grace, with a small blush.

Then, an expected question, considering everything. "Do I...? Well, I think that's a loaded question," she started. "I don't really like fighting, no. But, I feel like, I should. To help do good, like a hero would, y'know? So I taught myself to fight." She wasn't sure if he understood what she meant. But she assumed he'd press her on anyway. 

"Like a hero, is it...?" Ingverd couldn't help but scoff, trying to make it a chuckle to not offend her. "Ahhh... Well. It's a lofty goal. Not only do you have to make the people accept you, you need to be strong enough to back it up. This isn't some storybook tale, Miria... Killing pirates won't lead to saving towns, cities, leading wars, becoming respected by the world's leaders... But..." Ingverd sighed, smiling wryly. "I suppose, it doesn't hurt to dream big. You fight with a sword, yes? How's your sword arm?"

"Well, I knew that." She plainly answered in regards to the storybook comment, "But that's why I wanna try. I wanna be a real hero. And I'll put the effort in that I need to so it can happen." While her smile was wide, there was a fierceness in her eyes. Though it calmed once the next question was brought up.

"Mhm... Well, I think my sword arm is doing good. I hadn't had the chance to try practing yet since being on the boat, but, let's see... I did some quick physical training right before bed."

"Doing good, is it...?" Ingverd got an idea in his mind, pushing off of the boat's guard rail. "Alright. Go and grab your sword. I'll test you." He took a moment to unfasten his sheath from his belt, keeping his weapon sheathed, but holding it out to use. "I'd like to see if you can hit me, even once." Her enthusiasm meant little to him; he needed to see just how hard she was training herself and how good her stance was. If it needed pointers, he could give them. Uncharacteristically charitable of you, Ingverd... Well. She's got the spirit. Maybe if you set her on the right path, she can at least avoid getting gutted by a pirate.

"Grab my sword? A-Alright." And with that, Miria quickly hopped off. A couple minutes later, she walked back up to him, sword in hand.

"Okay," She got into a readied stance, "O-Oh wait! I have one more thing, if that's alright. And we'll be good. Is that fine, Ingverd?"

He waited, idly spinning his sword, throwing it up into the air and catching it. She returned quite quickly, leaving him smirking, but apparently there was one more thing she needed... "Sure, sure... Go ahead, and once you're done, strike at me three times. I won't counter. And feel free to unsheathe your sword... I'm confident enough that it won't be an issue."

"Well, okay..." Then, a deep breath. He's confident. Maybe... Either she learns something, or, she can look really good to Ingverd. Reaching into her cloak and holding out her right hand, the one normally holding a vambrace and pauldron was now holding her gem. There was a small burst of energy, and her eyes widened, focused. A flash of light, then...

As the light dissipated, the girl was clad in a golden outfit, covered with armor, the familiar vambrace on the right side, but something more articulate on the left. The only thing missing to this armor was a helmet, but it didn't bother Miria. She got into a prepared stance, seemingly more focused, more determined than before. Running forward, she at first gave a downward slash, followed by an upward one. Circling her blade around, she then went for a leftward swing.

Quickly after, she held her stance firm, still focused in case he went for his own attack.

What could she possibly have to do before a little practice-- "H-Hey, what the fuck--!?" Ingverd had seen a lot, met a lot of people, killed a lot of people, and dealt with a lot of magic. None of that could have prepared him for the sudden flash of light and golden armor now adorning Miria. Between his earlier spook talking to Chris, and this, he'd stumbled back, taking a lot of force from her first strike. He'd done his best to parry the followups, but the third struck clashed against his sword and he stumbled onto his behind, staring hard at her.

"Well! I can't say I was expecting that! Learn something new every day..." Brushing himself off and inspecting the fresh cut along his dress shirt, he sighed, brushing it a bit. "Get that sewed later and replaced once we hit land... Alright! Now that I've seen your little trick, one more time, one more time. Goodness... Try that right in front of the pirates. It'll blow their minds."

He stanced up again, waiting for Miria to strike at him. No more surprise transformation flashes.

"Haha... Alright," It always felt different like this. She seemed so much more confident, so much stronger than she was. It felt good, surprising Ingverd, but now this was the real thing. "Okay, Ingverd," No tricks, All your own skill, Miria. You can do this.

With that, another charge. This time, a rightward slash, an upward one, followed by a downward slash.

"What even is that-- Questions later, focus, now." His eyes were different this time, cold, calculated, watching her movements. Her style was self taught, so she claimed, but every style held facets of another. There were only so many ways you could swing a sword. Deflect the first one, clash the second, parry the third-- Not completely, the sword cutting through his clothes and a little into his arm. He flinched ever so slightly, stepping back and waving a hand over the wound, beginning to close it. "Really going to need new clothes at port... Miria! You've got some serious promise. One more time~" This is a trade, after all.

Miria returned to her readied stance. It was a good feel, she was really making it work. She had to be calm though, let it get to her head and it all goes south. "Okay, one more," She had to keep focus. A couple pats to her head, getting her to keep up. This time when she charged, she started with a jump slash, quickly going to a slanted slash at fourty-five degrees. Finally, almost like the whole world had slowed down, she placed down a foot, lifting the other, using the momentum of her slash, to make a three-sixty spin slash.

What an odd style... But it's mine, now~ The jumping slash was avoided entirely with a sidestep, Ingverd parrying her slanted slash to the side. The spin was a new one, but with a swing of his own against it, the force knocked the sword right out of her hands, leaving him standing there, smiling. "Promise, but not all there yet... Mmm, Miria. What do you say to proper practice every now and then? You've got a lot of force behind your swings, but all these wild motions... They leave you quite open. I'd have killed you by now if I was swinging back." He smiled as he said that, but it was cold, terribly cold.

"I think you've got a good foundation, at least... More than good enough for killing pirates. Maybe your lofty dreams of becoming a hero aren't so silly~?"

It felt good in her movements, but he really showed how much more skilled he was. With a clang, Miria's sword was ripped from her hands. It was then, he asked to properly train her, throwing out a comment that sent a cold chill down her spine, "I-I... Of course," You fool, reckless idiot. You got cocky, your footing was off, and you're acting too wild for your own good. 

She quickly went to retrieve her sword, returning and setting it down, with a sigh. "Thank you, I appreciate... I think that was a compliment?" She asked, slowly catching her breath, "And I mean... I did do some small work, hunting down and either taking out small groups of bandits, or catching thieves. Just... I think aside from--" She stopped, a pause as she was reminded of him. She shook her head, "You're one of the first organized fighters I've actually sat and fought."

Since it had been received well the first time, after reattaching his sword to his belt, Ingverd approached her with another pat on the head, chuckling quietly. "Then you've only got up to go from here, no~? With... Whatever this, magical apparatus is. Is this armor...? Is it made of actual gold? Gold is terrible for armor, and you're still alive, so it can't be actual gold... Paint? Bah, magic always makes no sense. Even my own."

Returning to his spot on the boat's guard rail, he gave her another look over, nodding. Well, that all decides that. Little sister for you. You're too innocent for me to be comfortable flirting with, so I'll focus on keeping you safe and well trained~

"A-Ah... Well," She was being asked so many questions at once. She took it, one step at a time,

"Well, from what it seems like, it is? It's gold only in color, and it's partially armor, then has the armor around it," She motions to the left side, "The chest despite seemingly looking plain, is also fairly sturdy," She gave it a couple of knocks, something was clearly under it. "I've tried to take it off after getting it turned on but," She tries pulling the collar, not tight to the point of choking her, but it was clear it was secure.

"I'm, honestly... not sure what it is. I got it from someone who approached my trade stand about a year-ish ago. Said-- he thought I'd like it, and it'd work for me, unlike him. At first it seemed like just some gem. Then, later that night, I was in this. Except, missing some pieces it looked like," motioning to the right arm, where she was wearing her vambrace and shoulder normally. "So I saved up to at least protect those spots, tried to make the pieces gold like the rest of the suit. I have a helmet too, just... left it in my cabin. I practiced by myself some, and started asking around, and taking care of bandits and thieves that bothered Morano. It was... nice. Lunar Gold, that's what I called myself, trying to hide my identity," She had a soft smile as she told the story, but it started to falter.

"Then... I got overconfident, and made a decision that forced me to leave home. Brought an assassin into my home. After I killed him, I realized... I had to leave home, because someone I made enemies with would find me out eventually. So, well... I met Miss Natalya later, and, here I am." A sigh, turning to Ingverd,

"Sorry. You didn't need to hear all that."

Well, well, well, well... I'll write all that down later. Information for free, goodness, what an open girl. Need to nip that habit... "Quite the tale... Though, your actions were smart. Us shady types love to use family members against those we're targeting, after all... You hero types break down rather quickly, seeing a love one lose a finger or two~ Ahaha... I digress, good call! Your magic suit, is... Still, rather odd. Have you let anyone else try it, to see if it would work?" Lunar Gold... He'd heard rumors in his circles about a name like that. Miria really had made a name for herself, in the wrong places.

"I, uh... well, right." She wasn't sure if he was trying to help her feel better in his own way, or he was just teasing. Teasing, in an odd fashion, at least for her. It made Miria uneasy. "Mm..." She shook her head, turning back to staring at the ocean,

"I haven't asked anyone about it it really, no. Well," She focused against, and with a smaller flash, she was back in her civvies, the gem in her hand. She took one look at it, took a deep breath,

"I mean, would you like to see if it works with you?"

Ingverd tilted his head... Shrugged, pushed off the rail again, approached Miria... Gently, he took the gem, closed his hand around it... It was magical. That was all he could tell, feel, and happened. He didn't transform, no flash, no nothing. He dropped the little stone back in Miria's hands, shrugging. "Looks like it's only for you, Miria~"

"W-What?" Only for her? "I... That's weird, I guess. Is that some magic thing? Someone uses a thing once and suddenly it only works for them?" Miria probably read something about that once. It was odd. Even then, Miria wasn't sure how much she believed that was possible. Maybe it was some ancient magic. She shrugged, slipping the gem back into her necklace.

"The main drawback is... I don't have a lot of magic, so, extensive use makes me hungry. And sometimes physical fatigue. Actually..." Reaching into her back pouch, Miria pulled out a piece of wrapped paper. Revealing some bread from dinner. She started biting at it. 

"Cute." He smirked, a small guffaw of a chuckle leaving him. "I've seen a few things that do that, yes. Spirit binding, or what have you... Only a few things, mind you. Clearly this is very important magic, Miria... So take care of it. It wouldn't do to let shady figures touch it, hold it, or even run off with it, yes?" He hoped she was learning from their talks; he was the shady individual in question. "That said, I do hope swinging your sword about tuckered you out some... Sorry about your reading, but, you should be getting to bed, yes?"

"Of course. I'll be careful, Ingverd." Miria nodded as a follow-up. It was made a bit clearer with his final comment. Whether it was an examination or he was just playing with her, it was hard to figure out. But there was a modicum of trust, she felt. When the bread was finished, she wrapped the paper and placed it back into her pouch.

"I'll... I'll try getting back to sleep, yeah. Sure. Thank you for the help tonight. I won't disappoint you going forward. O-Or for the Ovogers." She had a smile as she picked up her book. "You should get some sleep too. Good night," she finished as she made her way back to her cabin.

"Good night, Miria! Sleep well, our little hero... Hahh." He saw himself on the deck as she left, slowly laying down, staring up at the stars. "A hero... Eh? And whatever... Ovogers, was... Ovogers... Ovoker... Evokers? What, really, Miria? Goodness. You become less and less attractive with each moment~" He didn't mean that as an insult, by his own metrics. It was a good thing for her, really. "Okay... I'll give my body a moment to rest, and retire after that... And as terrifying as it is, I should send a messenger off to Jeremiah. Especially since he's so close nearby~ Hopefully... He can give me just, a bit, more... For this trip."

Book Club

Spoiler

The night was starting to settle on the ship as it went along it's path, and it seemed like things were getting quiet. A perfect time to read thought Renais, as she sat back in her bed with the blanket covering half of her body as she settled down for the night. She had changed into her shirt and shorts before hand and resolved herself to eventually drift to sleep as soon as she finished another chapter in a novel she bought at the library the other day. The cleric was quite engaged in the story, she practically shut out her surroundings as she continued on her thoughts. The only sounds she made were small hums as things got more and more interesting...

If one were to look at the cover of the book, they would find that the title printed on it was 'To the Heavens'.

Miria made her return to the bunk. Doing a little reading and walking helped calm her nerves some. A sigh of relief, she sat on her bed, removing her poncho and hanging it on the bed frame, followed by removing her boots.

She was ready to continue reading 'Lord of Braves', but she turned and noticed what Renais was reading on her side.

"Hey, Renais? You like To the Heavens?" She asked inquisitively.

"...." Well, she knew this was unavoidable. Miria was a friendly type after all, time to resort to the special tactic known as: the cold shoulder. Without looking at Miria she turned a page and simply responded with. "Yes." Then went back to being silent as she continued with her story.

Good luck, Miria!

"Oh..." That was an expected response. And quick too. She wasn't the most sociable. Her and Miria were vastly different people in that regard. But... Miria wasn't done trying just yet. "Well, um..."

She had to think of something, maybe she'd open up if a bit if she asked the right questions. Maybe... "W-What's it about? I've seen it a couple times, but... I've had other things," She held up her book.

She kept her eyes on the page. "...nothing interesting..." She kept going along. But after she said that, something came to mind. If Miria were to pay attention she might notice Renais' eye slowly roll toward her. '...Tio said to try...mm, maybe...' After another moment she cleared her voice. "...well actually, I do find one character in this story interesting." She began as she looked back to the book. "A man who lost everything to a great dragon."

"Oh, I see," She took notice on Renais's eyes moving. A small progress. "Well, I think I read something like that once, too. A man was afraid of losing his wife, so he turned evil to learn the power to save her, then... in a rage, he lost her anyway." It was a tragic story, sure, but Miria had a big smile. It was nice talking about the stories she'd read with someone who may know what she's talking about.

"I think I did a report on that book at the academy, the husband felt quite a lot of regret." She spoke as she turned the page of her book. "Just same for this man. To the Heavens is about his journey, as he became a knight for his country and was tasked to hunt dragons. Practically his dream come true..."

She looked back to Miria. "He killed the one who ruined his life, and in that moment he believed he had finally gotten what he wanted. But by doing so he was given a curse...and he became the very dragon he thought he killed."

"A book report?" Maybe a school thing? It didn't really matter, she knew what Miria was referring to. That was nice. Maybe there was a crossroads somewhere where the two of them could compromise. Her smile lightened.

Then said smile quickly dissipated as she heard the story, "B-But there's no way that's how it ends, right? Just because he became a dragon, doesn't mean he's evil," She responded with confidence. "At least, I assume so. Or, if he did, maybe he was the really villain after all?" She shook her head, "S-Sorry, I like to ponder how a book will turn out, and you're not even finished reading."

Renais took a bit of a pause to read ahead. She was quite energetic, like a fire cracker. The cleric was on the last page of the book, she now knew the ending...but she couldn't help herself. "Oh my!" She gasped out with some dramatic flair. "It can't be...the knight turned dragon now turns his flames toward his homeland! He intends to set it ablaze, as his mind is consumed by the fury of the dragonic soul!"

Gasp! "Oh no!" Miria exclaimed, almost jumping off of her bed, "That's so sad! How could he?!" Her hands covering her mouth, Miria's eyes were wide. "That poor knight, hopefully, t-there's someone there to stop him! That'd be the worse, to be defeated and killed, but having all of that weight on his shoulders to pass on with..." It would've seemed funny to anyone else around, Miria had such a care for the characters in a book, to this much degree that she'd fear for them. "I... Goodness, that's... that's heavy."

Oh goodness, Miria was more into this than Renais expected. Such spirit! She felt like she couldn't disappoint her, so she kept going. "Well luckily for the audience, there was someone to stand before him. The knight had a friend, it was a warrior he had met not long ago. They had quested together for a brief time, and the warrior was determined to free his brother in arms." The girl shifted on the bed so she was out of the blankets, and sat on the sheets cross legged.

"The warrior did his best to subdue the dragonshifted knight, and through a hard fought battle the knight had regained his human form." She kept the drama going of course. "The knight had realized that revenge was not the way, and after a good talk with his warrior friend he had come to a decision...to retire from knighthood to take a journey. Resolved to help people who have need of him."

So he did survive the ordeal! Miria's face was mistified and full of awe, as she clapped when Renais finished what the story. "Yes! Yes! That's wonderful!" Realizing how loud she was starting to get, she calmed down some. A few deep breaths, "That's good." She returned to a calm smile.

"Sometimes, something dark and sad is good, but I think, it's when the things go to worse, but you see the hero overcome their trials is the best. I'm so glad the knight-- well, former knight gets to live happy."

Renais watched Miria a bit, and...well she couldn't help but burst out in laughter. "Mm...well I may have embellished the tale a little, but my sister taught me that showmanship is part of the fun." She closed the book and set it aside.

"The ending was somewhat predictable given how revenge tales go, but I won't lie I was attached to the characters. I can see why the novel won an award..." She giggled again. It was clear Renais had a blast retelling some of the tale.

"Aha," she started to laugh along with Renais, but perked back up once she explained why she went all in on the storytelling. "That's fair, it was really fun to listen to. You sister sounds like a fun lady."

A small comment on the predictability of the tale, but that made sense. Sometimes stories just end up that way, and Miria liked that. "Ooh, it won an award? It sounds really good, yeah."

"It did, yes and..." She slowly settled down, as she realized her quiet act was more or less no more. "Mm...well I will admit, I did go a little overboard." She leaned back in the bed "It's getting late, I shouldn't be so loud. Sorry about all that."

"Hah, no it's okay. That was... really nice." She smiled as she responded. She sat back down, a sigh herself. The energy seemed to be calming down some.

Admittedly, "Actually, you're always so quiet. It was, a nice shift. I appreciate the effort Renais, thank you." There was a small bit of red in her cheeks.

"...it's nothing." She looked aside. Miria was cute, though she could tell she had a very innocent aura about her. "The quietness is a front more or less. I won't be with this group forever, so I thought it wouldn't do to give people someone they'd remember. I still have my own mission after all."

"Ah." Was her initial reply to Renais reasoning for being distant. That made some sense in Miria's mind. But that also posed a small problem Miria thought of, "Doesn't it get lonely though?"

There was a pause, but she went to rephrase, "Er, I mean-- Well, I was by myself for awhile too. Still would be, if not for Miss Natalya. It wouldn't hurt to at least be friendly with your coworkers, I think. And even if you make a friend, I think friends would understand having to let go of each other for a long time. If t-that makes sense." She also turned away, blushing some more, "Sorry, I started rambling."

"Ah, well..." She paused for a moment. Truth be told, Renais does like being around people. It's just difficult to do that right now. "No it's fine." She shook her head. "You make some valid points. When I was in school I had quite a few friends...though a good portion of them really stuck by me for some less than savory reasons." She lifted her head up to Miria.

"Nothing dangerous, just...well never mind." She took a sigh. It was mostly people attracted to her beauty, it was a little annoying having to deal with the stares. "Someone recently told me that I should open up more, but I will admit it's difficult...not knowing who to trust with my real self."

"Ah," Miria responded as she listened. An unsavory history making it hard to open up. Miria understood that to a degree. Up until meeting Natalya she never wanted to make connections in fear of them dying by her. "That makes sense."

However, she gave a returning smile, "Well, for what it's worth... I trust you. And I can wait for when you're ready to trust me. I like the real you, and I hope one day you're comfy enough to be you."

"...hmm..." She watched Miria a bit closely. "Well, you know some of myself now. You're a very open person, but I'd like to hear something about your life at least." She pulled her knees up a bit. "If you don't mind that is...as you can tell I do enjoy listening to stories."

"Oh!" She wasn't sure what to talk about. Maybe... hold off how she got here for later. Take it slowly,

"Well, I grew up in a small border town in Kansei called Morano. It was tight-lit and everyone knew each other. I mostly grew up helping my parents with their trade stand. I'm pretty good with words when I'd like to." And she gave a small laugh.

"I didn't have a lot of 'friend' friends though. Mama and papa always had something for me to do, almost worked me to death," and she started giggling thinking about it. Talking about her family was fun. 

"Hm...you're also from Kansei." She took note of that. Miria was indeed extremely normal as she expected. "I suppose you must have had a very busy childhood then, though that does wonders for one's own work ethic when they grow up. I know my sister did her best to make sure I always worked toward something."

"You're sister sounds like a smart lady." Miria giggled as she laid back in her bed. She thought about it for a bit,

"Mama and papa always just wanted me to help with the store. None of this hero stuff, 'put the book down and get back to work sweetie', that kinda thing. They never wanted me going off on crazy adventures, to follow what I wanted and be a hero..." she pulled out her necklace, pulling off the mysterious gem that gave her power. "Then I found this. Hah, life throws curveballs sometimes..." Her smile turned to a frown but quickly back to a smile, and she turned back to Renais.

Renais stared at her as she looked at her necklace, then rose a brow when she shifted her smile to a frown. It was brief, but she took note of it. "...so why did you leave your home then? It seems like you like adventure, did you want to make your own story? Your own mark on the world?"

Miria's body started to shift uncomfortably. "Well, uh..." She took a deep breath, "Just a warning it's, a little rough."

Another deep breath, "To put it as brief as I can, my... 'reputation' as Lunar Gold, my name for in this," she shook the gem a little, "ended up in the wrong places. I... I ended up bringing an assassin to my home. I was able to kill him but I almost lost my family. So... I left. To protect them, and maybe learn more about this gem and be stronger. So I could safetly protect them, y'know. I was... I was happy just sitting in Morano and being a local hero. But... I wasn't confident enough for that."

That...was completely unexpected to say the least. Renais watched Miria with widened eyes after hearing that tale. "...mm, my deepest apologies..." She spoke out. "I had no idea...it must have been difficult to get through but at least they're alright for now." That being said Renais did have a lot of questions, but after a story like that she decided to withhold them.

"It's okay Renais. You didn't know, and... I felt comfy telling you." She smiled at her. "Yeah, that's kinda why I can keep my mood up. It would suck if I was just being a sadsack all the time cause I left home. I'd rather leave an impression of like... I was happy, ready to smile when needed... maybe not as shy, but like-- it'd suck to be sad. Mama and Papa would have the biggest fit, I got to go on an adventure and I was acting like that," and a small laugh escaped her. 

"Hm...happy and ready to smile..." She repeated as she nodded. 'Miria came off as naive, but...maybe there's merit to what she's saying. She's very proud, and confident in what she wants. Unlike...' She looked aside for the moment and cleared her voice. "Thank you for telling me."

"Of course. Just thought... If we were gonna be friends, you could know about me." She smiled, with a tinge of red in her face. "Sorry, if I'm jumping ahead," she turned away.

"B-But...! If you need anything, I, well... I'll be here for you. I've got your back, okay?"

Well, perhaps she wasn't as confident as she thought. Or maybe she's also putting up a front. 'How interesting...' "...sure." She responded with a slight smile. "I suppose there's no harm in keeping tabs with you, since you seem to understand."

Miria turned back around, "R-Really?!" Then she calmed down. "I... I'm glad." Her smile was back and beaming, she didn't need her armor to glow. She sat back up. 

"I... I'm glad. It's just... it was still lonely feeling, only Gean. So... it's nice."

That smile was so bright it could melt an ice cube. She looked aside a little, and tried not to look directly at it. "...I'm not ready to open up to everyone, I still might be gone at any point. Keep that in mind." She laid back in her bed. "I have to get some sleep in, if I keep talking with you at this rate we'll both see the sun before we get any rest..."

"Of course," her smile died down, not because of her comment, Renais' next point was correct. They really should get some sleep. "Yeah, you're right. Goodnight Renais," Miria licked her pointer finger and thumb, and reached to put out their lanturn candle. Laying back into bed, she turned over towards the wall. Miria believed she'd sleep soundly this night.

 

Edited by Silver Gallade

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Alvira continued her flight to the other boat, her wounds no longer ailing her, but the rest still a problem, stumbling as she landed. Still, she did her best to get to her feet, making her way into the hold, and into her room... She collapsed onto her knees once more, focusing as hard as she could to not make another mess in her room. Her claw shot up and fished out her necklace, clutching it again, the symbol of a red dragon curled around a burning pyre, hugging the flames. "I'm... I'm, fine...!" She was desperately trying to convince herself, slowly sitting up, crawling towards the bed, landing against it. She curled up onto the floor, squeezing it tighter, nearly hard enough to pierce the softer skin on the palms of her claws. "I'm fine... I'm fine... I'm..."

At some point she'd started crying, not the quiet tears she'd shown Natalya, but choked sobs, sliding down to the floor once more and curling up. "Alfinn... Algena... I miss you both, so much. I don't want to be here. I don't want to kill anyone. I don't care if they deserve it... I just want to go home..." She didn't have a place to call home, really. 'Home' was her siblings. Her family. She'd been away from 'home' for too long now... The weight of everything had decided to come down on her, her mind not strong enough to keep all those thoughts at bay. "Fomalhaut. I don't, h-have anyone else to turn to. Please. Please, just a little longer. Please... I need the strength. Anything. A sign. A d-direction, just... Anything... Please..." Her body was slowly starting to warm up from all of her casting, at the very least. A small comfort that reminded her every time: her fire was still there. She just didn't know how to get to it...


A quiet whistle came from the boat to the south, Ingverd wiping his sword off on a small piece of cloth that he quickly discarded off of the boat once he was done. He was rather covered in blood splatter, though he seemed completely fine, sheathing the weapon and looking the group over. "Mmm... Looks like no one's worse for wear. Physically." Natalya would be the place to start, slowly approaching the tiger, as their troublesome dragon flew off, the lovely little healer running after her... Or simply away, as well. "Looks like I missed quite the party! I hope everything went well enough, then? Natalya, Cinaed. You're free to inspect the southern ship for supplies at your leisure, should we need anything... And you won't have to worry about anymore pirates. Hmhm~"

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"I suppose if everyone thought as naively as you do about that Alvira wouldn't have a reason to snap at you over these weapons. Hell they probably wouldn't exist at all." Besides, you're fine just as you are Nyx... good lord why am I even thinking about that? I don't have time for it right now. Although...  "Let's just... focus on finding out their last location alright Nyx? There'll be time for this kind of talk later."  Despite Nyx's... playful attitude, she did seem to be taking this task somewhat seriously, and that was enough for Syndra. Oh lord I picked quite the character to ally with on this one. Aw well, at least I won't be bored to death.

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Having gotten things sorted in their room, Tio mentioned to Elisa she had one thing that she wanted to do before the pair turned in for the night. The combination between being on a door, and her being a terrible morning person meant that she likely would have forgotten if she left it to tomorrow. The possibility of them not being here tomorrow was also possible, if implausible. Judging by the little she'd seen of the rosy cleric, if she was going to be anywhere, it was going to be in her room. She didn't seem like the type to be out on the deck as the cooler evening air drifted in, and as the sailors and others roamed. Fortunately, the room that Tio saw the cleric enter earlier wasn't far from their own; so if Elisa wanted to pop in to see what was going on it wouldn't be too difficult, but for the moment, she didn't want to completely overwhelm the poor girl. She'd probably explode if both of them were standing outside her door.  No guarantee that she doesn't explode, anyway...  

Tio knocked on the door, "Hello? Is anyone in there?" She hadn't needed to guess if Renais was inside. Her signature was fairly easy to pinpoint as a decently strong cleric. 

Renais was indeed inside. Being on a board a ship was a lot less private versus being in a relatively trusted mercenary headquarters. So Renais felt the extreme need to keep to herself moreso than usual due to the amount of sailors were about the deck (oh and a scary/hot dragon man, but you know). It appeared Miria wasn't back yet, good news for Renais. She had the room to herself. She took a sigh and was about to lay on her bed until...

Knock knock

'Ugh, why am I popular today of all days...' Granted the first meeting wasn't too bad, but this being a ship...well she didn't hesitate to put on her hood as she approached the door. She heard the voice, but she didn't quite take in who exactly owned it...until the door had opened. "What can I do for-" Was all she could get out, as the cloaked and hooded cleric looked up at the last person she expected to ever be directly in front of. "........"

A literal statue Renais was, as if the Evoker herself casted a stone spell upon the pink haired girl.

Oh, yep, probably a good thing I didn't bring Elisa to start. She might have actually just died right then. Tio took note of the now frozen girl, she had her hood up again; a usual trait of hers. Admittedly, Tio had only seen her with it off back at the base when she'd been so incredibly excited. Tio always got a kick out of being acknowledged like that, and the girl's clear panic was no exception, if a bit more endearing than most. 

She stifled a little chuckle, "You know, if you meet people with your hood up all the time. People might start it think that the cloak is a part of you. May I ask your name? You already know mine, but I'd like to do introductions proper." Tio cleared her throat, "My name is Tiora Candialia, but I would vastly prefer it if you called me Tio." 

"...."

She had so many questions, too many. But none of them were forming properly in her head, all that was going through her mind were sirens, the sound of smoldering flames and-

'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!'

Renais was more than just starstruck, she was smashed by an entire meteor. "Mmhgh..." Was all she could get out, at least as a quick response. She took a minute to pull her hood back and pat her own cheeks. "...aaah..." Yes, this was indeed real life. Not some fantasy. She took a breath and looked back at Tio, more than a little embarrassed. "...my deepest apologies miss Tior-mm...Tio." It was strange calling her by a nick name, but if that was the wish of an Evoker who was Renais to deny such a beautiful woman? Indeed, she was quite a looker. A good thing Renais was already embarrassed, otherwise the blush might give away something else.

After another moment Renais composed herself, enough to carry on a conversation with one of her idols anyway. "Mm...once again, my apologies. It's uh...not every day I speak with such a celebrity." She straightened herself up, as he robe covered her torso. But the hood was still off. "My name is Renais Silvavolke, it's truly an honor ma'am..." She took a bow to Tio.

The cleric pulled her hood back, and Tio started to understand why she always had it up. If Renais had wanted, she very easily could of had people's attention. Unfortunately, such attractive features also worked against you, if one wasn't interested in such attention. Tio, herself, saw no reason to hide, but she was neither the cleric nor a normal person. Being considered one of the most powerful mages gave her words a lot of weight. Well, more weight than a mage normally would. It took her a moment, a lost word or two, and a near slip of her name, but Renais found some composure.

"Renais... what a lovely name. It matches you quite well." Tio met her bow with a curtsey of her own. Never was much of a fan of bowing. "I wanted to apologize for our prior meeting. I really didn't mind the outburst earlier. Just, well, work." Tio fluffed out her hair before continuing, "It's always quite nice to encounter an enthusiastic fan, and bonus for working alongside her, and being cute." That last bit had been unnecessary, but today had been all work. She was allowed to tease a little.

Well, composure was a funny thing. Sometimes it didn't take much to crack it, and in this case she was losing it again. Being complemented by Tio of all people made Renais flush even further, which she didn't think was possible at this point now! She looked down with widened eyes and an even wider frown. "Mm...I wouldn't say I'm cute...especially compared to an absolute bom-MMM!" Oh boy, she nearly let an inside thought out as she practically bit her own lip.

'Stupidstupidstupidstupidstupidstupid!'

She cleared her own voice, and looked aside. "Err...at the risk of ah...I mean...what brings you here anyway, ma'am? Are you looking for my commander? I could point her out to you." She was still confused as to why the woman decided to visit her, but she had to admit she was curious too...unless she was just lost.

Tio couldn't help the sly smile that crept across her face. It seemed like the quiet cleric certainly had some louder thoughts that she chose not to voice... most of the time. But, she didn't want to be party to a murder, and if she kept going this route, someone would definitely be dying today. This much seemed to be just enough especially since they'd only just met one another. 

"No need to downplay yourself. The radiance of another star doesn't change the brilliance of one right next to it. And, no need for a ma'am, I may be older than you, but again, we're all on the same footing currently. Just think of Elisa and I as other members of the troupe." Had things not gone the way they did at Solara, she'd definitely have ended up in mercenary work, or so Tio thought. "I came here, first to clear up things about our first meeting, and then... to talk, really. Not too different from anyone else; I enjoy talking with new people, and especially those who have a high opinion of myself and Elisa. It's interesting to learn why. If, that's alright with you." 

This woman certainly had a way with wordplay, it was almost as strong as her spells. I guess you don't get by on a title like Evoker without some weight behind yourself. Renais only respected that more...and feared it. "Mm...of course it's alright Tio." Boy did she have to force that to be natural, calling her by a nickname of all things. Being complemented wasn't helping either, but she had to stay calm or they'll never be able to talk normally.

With that in mind she took a breath. "...I apologize for that outburst earlier. I wasn't mentally prepared for two women who inspired me to appear out of nowhere, it was quite mystifying." She relaxed a little again. "This mission must be absolutely important to ask a mercenary group for assistance." She knew the Iron Tigers were getting more famous, but she didn't imagine she would be in a situation like this.

"Really, it's not a problem, honest." Tio offered a warm smile as proof, and then it turned a bit neutral as Renais's musing turned toward their mission. "Well, yes. It's paramount that everything goes well. As I'm sure you know, Glacies is rather reliant on our alliance with Lufiria. Specifically because of that alliance, as a matter of fact; Mura, Karavel and Islexia refuse to trade with us. Many of the integral parts of Glacies's economy either on trade, or on the new technologies that Lufiria tends to produce. Losing all of that... is crippling for Glacies." She sighed a little. This wasn't exactly what she had in mind when she came to speak with the cleric, but Tio was one to follow a road to its conclusion. "If I can be a bit honest for a moment, Elisa and I are exceptionally powerful and talented mages, yes. But we're still as human as they come. Our magic can't exactly hold out forever, and both of us have to rest at points. So having capable mercenaries at our sides to cover the areas that Elisa and I may lack in only makes sense. For instance... if someone came after me in the morning, and Elisa wasn't around, I wouldn't put up much of a fight. My magical capabilities had to hit me somewhere." That was how Tio justified her terribly lethargic mornings. Whether it had any merit to it or not was anyone's guess. 

She took a deep breath to gather her thoughts. "We were informed that the Iron Tigers had slowly been proving themselves the most comfortable against the Islexian pirates, so the choice, I think, was a no-brainer. We ended up getting a strong group... and quite the attractive one."

Renais listened closely to her words, and a lot of what she said more or less checked out. It appears that there's some important political business riding on the line, which makes a lot of sense. It made her wonder what was going on in Lufiria. "Hmm...troubling news indeed..." Tio going forward with how even she and Elisa have their limits...surprisingly put the cleric at ease. Renais had a tendency to put certain people on pedestals, and her sister was an example of it. Though after hearing about her injury it made her think that not all heroes are invincible, some are just human.

"I understand, ma...Tio." She corrected herself. "I'm a recent graduate. While I may have passed with high marks my magic isn't quite to the level as you or miss Elisa. But I will give this mission my all." Despite her personal mission to find Liza the pinkette at the very least wanted to help her idols at a time they needed help the most.

Tio laughed, "Well, of course not. Elisa and I have had much more time to hone our particular specialities. If you passed from Solara with high marks, it's really only a matter of time--so long as you keep honing your craft--that you would reach our level." Tio waved her hand, almost absentmindedly creating a glowing sphere of light in her hand, all different shades of light dancing around together. "Contrary to a very, very annoyingly popular belief: Magical talent is not something that's preordained by birth. Sure, there are mages that have an easier time, or more natural magical power, or what have you, but the most powerful mages have been and will always be the ones who continue to look at magic as something unmasterable, something that you'll be learning about for as long as you live." 

Tio paused, realizing that she'd gone on a bit of a ramble. Renais's thought wasn't even really much about what Tio had spoken about. "Haha... oops. Magic talk always does that to me. Well, pushing past that. I have confidence that with you and the Iron Tigers at our side, we won't have anything to worry about." Tio let her head bob a moment, before formally deciding on her next course of action. "Now then... What exactly was this about an 'absolute bombshell'?" Tio leaned against the frame of the door. It was a tad--very, very mean to start teasing the young cleric, but well, it was late. 

She stared at the sphere in her hand in awe. While Renais wanted to be a knight at first to join her sister's side her body had other plans, she was too weak to really handle heavy armor and weapons. But she saw it as a blessing, as magic caught her interest very quickly. The things people could do with magic were quite wonderful. Healing wounds with a simple staff wave was so astounding to her. It only fueled her thirst to learn more. "...always strive toward a goal. That's what one of my teachers told me." She spoke as she looked from the orb to Tio. "So I will continue to push my studies forward."

She didn't seem to mind the ramble, if anything she enjoyed it. Tio could probably see the stars in her eyes at this point. Renais was enjoying herself. "...if you ever want to talk theories or anything with me I will always keep an open ear." She began to smile a little. It was almost like talking to an instructor. Renais was at ease.

...that is until 'absolute bombshell' came up.

"?!" The inquiry, along with the door frame lean, caught Renais off guard so bad she stumbled back with a gasp and hit the floor with a grunt. "G-G-GUH!?" She quickly scrambled back on her feet, once again back to being flushed. "I...I never said that! Not at all!" She stumbled out her words. "You heard nothing! Nothing at all..." She waved her hand, trying to dismiss it as quickly as possible.

"Well, no, you didn't say that. You said 'absolute bombsh--MMM' or something to that effect." Tio couldn't quite mimicked the younger woman's squeal from that moment, but she tried anyway. "It is somewhat simple to logic your way to your finished sentence though; given what you were to talking about then." Tio giggled to herself, but with Renais panicking once again, that fun had been exhausted. But it was something she could poke at every now and again, to keep Renais on her toes. Tio stood back up with hand covering the wide smile on her face, "I apologize... somewhat, I couldn't help teasing you about that. If it's a problem, I can tone it back. It tends to be a little pastime of mine. It's enjoyable learning about how people... react to certain things." Tio had definitely hit the weak spot, that was the most Renais had emoted since she'd opened the door. 

"Aaaaaaaanyway. If you really want to talk the theory of magic, you should speak to Elisa. She's much more versed in that than I am..." Tio sighed, swaying back and forth, "It's really impressive how talented she is at that sort of thing. I understand a lot of it, but she delved far deeper into things than I thought humanly possible... Oh, uh... haha... Now Elisa's gotten me doing it too." Tio felt her face warm, "What I mean to say is: Don't hesitate to ask Elisa or I about magic related topic, the both of us would love to talk magic with... anyone really. This is what we both love to do, and want to share it with as many people as is possible. That's why I became who I am today. 'Always strive towards a goal', right?" Tio echoed Renais's teacher, but added a wink at the end. 

"....."

This woman...my goodness. Heroic titles and accolades certainly hid personalities well from the public eye, it almost felt like she was talking to a school friend. The amount of teasing and the fact Tio had her personality down was enough to earn a pout from Renais, well a little. She still kept it mostly to herself out of respect, but Tio could tell the knee jerk reaction was very obvious. Of course, she was still as red as an apple.

"...duly noted, Tio..." She mumbled. The offer was nice, she had to admit. "Mm...my inner thoughts are a little...unrestrained, to put lightly. I'm ashamed...I shouldn't think such thoughts about a woman who has a partner, I'm sorry." She looked aside. "My sister always did tell me I had a wild imagination."

Tio could see Renais's annoyance with her prodding. It might have been a little much to start out with. Oh well, the first step tended to be unrefined; the following steps needed to be cleaner.

"Aha. See? It's working just as intended; you didn't have any problem just calling me Tio just now." She flashed a triumphant smile. Her teasing did have a point, most of the time. People had a tendency to envision her as some regal figure, above normal people and, for a time, Tio tried to emulate that. At least, until she met Elisa, and decided that that was far too much work for little benefit. It wasn't so long ago that Tio was student herself, and before that... 

"It's alright, I don't mind so much. Words and thoughts are words and thoughts as far as I'm concerned." She paused, "To a point, I've heard some colorful things. That I'd like not to hear again." Tio resisted a prime opportunity to tease the cleric more. She'd gotten the admission that she wanted, no need to bully her more... yet. Something more interesting had come up anyway, "A sister? Aha, I suppose I shouldn't think that people are an only child without knowing for certain." There you go again... Not everyone has been... Tio shook her head, that past was over and done with. "Seems like your sister knows you quite well." 

Ah, a method to her madness. It made sense Renais had to admit. At the moment she didn't view her as Tiora Anne Candialia the Evoker, but as Tio, a very playful woman. At least for the most part. Renais still held a little respect for her, but she respected herself enough to finally open up a little. "Words and thoughts huh..." So in that moment she did something the probably didn't expect.

The cleric started to undo the knot on her cloak and after a brief few seconds...the cloak was off, her shield was finally down. "I hope you don't mind me getting more comfortable, we are in my room at this point." She tossed it on her bed and cleared her voice. "My sister's name is Elizabeth Silvavolke, a knight of Kansei. She's my other inspiration, strong, confident and reliable... someone I wish to be in a few years perhaps."

Oh? It appeared that Renais had finally gotten some degree of comfort, removing the cloak that had shielded her. The outfit beneath was similar to what Solara student wore, a neat blue ensemble with a decent length plaid skirt, or rather she remembered it being as such, Renais's skirt appeared shorter. The cloak was definitely a shield, Tio concluded; protecting the outside world from her beauty, and in turn, her from unsavory types. 

"It is your room after all, I'd be more concerned if you weren't comfortable. Now then... a knight? I'm guessing your sister didn't take to magic? Not that it's uncommon that mages become knights, there is a general tendency to go in one direction or the othe-- Silvavolke. Oooooooh." Tio clasped her hands together, as she finally put two and two together. "Your sister is the Platinum Valkyrie? I've heard about her, but didn't learn that she had a younger sister. Well, if what I've heard is true, I can see just why she's another inspiration of yours." 

She wasn't surprised Tio had heard of Liza, she had gained a pretty good reputation by this point. "That's right, I'm her younger sister. I actually wanted to be a knight like her but I didn't have the physique for it. So I decided to take the magical route and we planned to work together after I graduated."

Before she continued she looked to the side and put her right hand across her stomach as she held her left arm. "...yet here I am instead, with a mercenary unit. That's because my sister went missing not too long ago, with no word of communication to me. That's why I joined the Iron Tigers, to find Liza."

Tio's eyes narrowed as she listened, "...Not a word to you?" That lit something inside of Tio. Unless there was an incredibly pressing reason, disappearing without even a word... "So that's what's brought you here, huh? To search for your missing sister." Tio's playful nature had all but disappeared. If it was the same person she'd heard about; something just happening to her was unlikely. No, this was a choice of her own making, something pressing had to be involved, right? To just leave one's family behind... what if something happened to them?

Tio sighed, realizing that she was starting to rile herself, "Well, a mercenary force is a good way to cover a lot of ground, and Commander Natalya seems like she'd devote quite a bit to help you out. I'd do what I can, but I'm not sure I'd be of much assistance, since I've never met your sister. But searching for family is an admirable reason to reach beyond what you thought you were ready for." 

Tio had unconsciously crossed her arms during all of that.

Renais looked back at the older woman. "Mm...truth be told I wasn't planning on staying with the troop for very long, I only joined because I needed some backing while I sought out my sister. I trusted the Iron Tigers more than most other mercenary units." While it was true there were bigger units, Renais didn't feel comfortable with the idea that a recent academy graduate was working with a group of older strangers. The Iron Tigers at least had a bit more of a trusting aura, even if she resolved not to get to know most of the group.

"I've heard she was seen in Islexia actually, so your job offer was quite well timed." She took a sigh. "Still doesn't quite put me at ease all things considered...especially considering I heard she took a serious injury to her sword arm too..." Renais tried not to show it, but she was a little worried. If it wasn't for that injury she probably wouldn't be.

So it was more of a means to an end sort of thing. Suddenly her hesitance to let her shield down made a lot of sense. In the event that she did find her sister; not having any real attachment to the crew would make leaving them that much easier. It was certainly pragmatic. Her temper was starting to flare, so Tio needed to do something that would calm herself. Surely Renais's sister had her reasons for just disappearing, but leaving without even a small acknowledgement of her sister was unacceptable to her. 

Tio forced a laugh, "Aha, so that explains the cloak. I was beginning to think it was to hide your thoughts, but it's more to help you keep your distance. I don't think--" Renais then mentioned her sister's last location, and then her sword arm. "--She's last seen in Islexia? With, with a serious injury to her sword arm?" Tio had been caught so off guard that she couldn't properly hide her thoughts, "...She's in Islexia without telling you anything, and with an injury to her sword arm? That's... how irresponsible can you..." Tio's hand shot up and covered her mouth. Oh shoot. She laughed again, only this time it was an awkward one, "Sorry. Lost my cool for a moment..." Worry and personal similarities were never a good combination for anyone to deal with. 

Renais was glad she understood her situation. The cloak was a shield, to keep herself from drawing as much attention as possible. She was determined to focus on finding Liza. "That being said I seem to draw attention anyway. There's this drunkard in the group that just-" She held her thought as she noticed Tio was quite distracted.

"?" The cleric watched Tio mumble to herself, it was hard not to notice with how close the two were for the moment. "...Tio?" She tilted her head. "Is everything alright?"

"...Everything's fine, Renais. I just let my thoughts get the best of me for a moment." It was time to get the conversation back on track. Renais had done most of the work for her with the mentioned of Nyx, "I can... imagine as such. Nyx appears to be quite the intriguing person. I can just think to how she asked the dancer woman to perform. Unluckily, it seemed that she overwhelmed herself and had to decline. But I think you'd appreciate her dancing style." That was yet another thing she had to consider. Whatever ailed that dancer was likely a result of the mana storm, and the more information on that, the more to give Alvira. 

Hopefully that was enough to sway Renais from pushing the issue. It appeared that she'd only whispered her disdain of Liza's situation, so the caring cleric wouldn't be too concerned. That was good at least. Still, Tio was bothered that she'd also let her guard down a bit too much. Every time she thought that she'd gotten past it, something always seemed to bring her right back to that evening... She leaned back against the door frame again, trying to emulate that same level of teasing composure, "Say... how do you feel about the rest of the group? Just because your intent might be to leave when you find your sister, doesn't mean that you don't at least enjoy the group, right?"

Seeing someone else get lost in thought too put a smile on Renais' face. Despite the fancy title Tio really wasn't that different from an upperclassmen in her school, if a little older that is. It was very nice, and it was the first time in a long while Renais felt so at ease. "Mm...I don't dislike watching people dance. The academy had some on a rare occasion." Renais wasn't too bad at dancing, but she enjoyed seeing dancers more. Watching them move their feet, wave their hands, wiggle their hi-'Alright enough of that thought!' She mentally silenced herself.

"...the rest of the group?" She blinked. "Hm...well..." She put a finger under her chin as she thought. "...I feel I can trust you enough with this so...I find a majority of them quite beautiful." She blushed slightly. "A lot of older looking women, or at the very least...taller than me. It's almost an amazon unit if you ask me..." She took a breath. "I owe the commander for bringing me in. I know she only did it because she needed a healer, but I am still grateful. She's a very kind woman." She paused.

"Otherwise I've kept conversations with most of the team as brief as I could. Aegean seems like a very reliable woman from what little time we've spent together, Miria seems like she means well. She almost reminds me of a classmate in some ways." She took another moment to think. "Laniva seems fine, though we haven't talked much..." She liked the cat ears though they were quite cute, but comfortable or not she wasn't willing to admit that yet. "Syndra carries such a refined air, it's rather intimidating. Like a rose with thorns, but just like a rose she's also quite beautiful."

Then came the last part of her list, which was a group that was much more on the difficult side. "...I've already put out my opinion on Nyx. I'm almost convinced she fought my sister and...I'd rather not open myself up around someone like her." She folded her arms and looked aside with a slight frown. "...then there's Alvira, I don't know what I did to earn such ire. I've seen her around the academy, but I've never actually talked with her. I'm not sure she'd want to even give me the time of day. Whenever we have down time outside of battle she occasionally passes a glare at me, I swear she'd freeze my arm if I were to offer a handshake." Another huff.

"Aha, I feel the same. I was never very good at dancing--I know the basics and all, and it's something I wish I was better at--but it's so much fun watching someone who's really good at it. I hope that the both of our late arrivals are well enough at some point during the ride for a demonstration."

Tio sighed, before her smile widened at Renais admission. The Iron Tigers as a whole were quite the attractive group; Tio had to wonder if that was on purpose. Most troupes would have had difficulty getting anywhere near the number of women in one group. "You most certainly can. Gossip is one thing but secrets are another." Tio winked, "Not a word from me to anyone else."

Tio listened intently to Renais's thoughts on the group. As she thought, they didn't sound like the thoughts of someone who wanted to break away from the group the moment her objective was met. They were also about what she expected from the cleric. Syndra was probably the only one of the group that Tio didn't have a grasp on; she always seemed to be just out of reach. But the rest of them matched Tio's own thoughts. "Hmm... frankly not all that surprised about the people you named last. Nyx seems like she would be a reasonable individual, if she wasn't plastered all the time. Alvira... appears to have issues of her own that she won't say to others but projects them outwards onto them." There was one person missing from the group, and it was the one that Tio was most interested in. "What about..." Tio waved her hand almost as if she was searching for the name in the air before her, "Aly? I think that was her name."

Renais had to admit, she would like to dance with someone she cared for. Like Tio might with her wife. Maybe someday...though she was worried her perverse thoughts would be a repellant. But at least Tio was still here, she even agreed to keep this talk a secret. What a nice lady.

"I suppose I have a thing around intimidating looking people..." She looked aside. Nyx was one thing, but there's also that dragon man. "...I really should take a page from my sister's book and be more brave around them, if only I had the will for it, or the physique." She took a moment to take a sigh. "Alvira seems far less friendly than I am, but in an odd way I sort of get it. Maybe she doesn't want to get attached either."

The conversation eventually lead to the last member she hadn't commented on. "Aly? Oh, Alriana..." Truth be told she was slightly avoiding talking about the shark girl, because at this point she wasn't entirely sure what to make of her. "...Alriana is...a mystery. I'm not entirely sure who she is or where she came from, in fact I don't think most of us do, perhaps not even the commander. All I know is that she's very child like and innocent, outside of battle anyway. In battle she's terrifying. I tend to avert my eyes when combat happens anyway, but in her case I..." She cleared her voice.

"She asks me questions, mostly about why I hide myself in a cloak or keep away from the group. But she's very curious if nothing else. So I try my best to keep on her good side."

Renais's words had been... troubling. Not about Alriana as a person--what a lovely name--she sounded not too unlike some people that Tio had known. But the fact that no one seemed to know where she was from or what she was... it only seemed to further confirm her thoughts on the girl. She'd need to speak to Ingverd and Elisa later, and perhaps send a letter back to Iseria. If we're right... then keeping a very close eye on Alriana is paramount. Not just for the mission...

"Ha... she sounds like an interesting girl. A perfect fit for such an interesting group. And... I think you'd be surprised; there are a lot of people who are smaller than you who are quite outgoing. Heck, you're not that much smaller than me... in some respects." She couldn't resist. "But think of things like this. You don't need to become this outgoing lady if that's not something you're comfortable with doing. But staying so distant with everyone is only going to make your life much more difficult. Even interacting with your group sometimes will help you immeasurably. If for no other reason, consider trying so you can support they others as they fight. Supporting others is an important step to becoming a knight like your sister."

Tio stretched her arms, "Haha... there I go again on another long winded lecture. Maybe I should consider teaching in the future... Hmm... it's getting late. Is there anything you wanted to ask me? If not, I think I should leave you to relax."

She had to agree, Ariana was interesting. Though she couldn't help but be worried as to who...or perhaps what she was. But then her thoughts came to Tio's advice. "...hm." She pondered on those words for a moment. "I will take your words to heart, Tio." She couldn't help but blush at that 'smaller' comment too as she looked aside. "Maybe my sister would have an easier time here than me, but I think I will try. Thank you." She took a small nod.

"Ah, yes where did the time go..." She smiled a little. "I think this is fine for the moment, I should prepare for the night soon. But perhaps we could speak again? I know there's a lot I could learn from you, and I just feel like...maybe I could be myself. I feel easy around you." She twirled a strand of hair around her finger a little. "Almost like a si-mm." She stopped herself. "Ah, too forward of me. My apologies."

Tio paused for a moment. Genuinely caught off guard by Renais's unsaid words. It had been... nearly thirty years since... she shook her head. She'd already let that get the better of her once tonight, mistakes were something that you allowed once or twice. But... 

"Ha... No, no, it's not too forward of you. If it helps you to think of me that way, I don't mind. Of course we can speak again. We'll have many chances to do so." Tio wondered if there was a little too much enthusiasm in her voice just now. She cleared her throat, "Just come and find me if you'd like to talk. Usually not doing too much that would keep me away." She turned to walk off, and then looked over her shoulder, "Oh, and one more thing... I appreciated the "bombshell' compliment." She winked at the cleric, and then disappeared down the hallway. That was enough of a tease to leave her on. She needed to get her back with something after all. 

"Haha... like a 'sister,' hmm?" Tio sighed, "It wouldn't be too bad to be that again..." 

Tio had her way with Renais' heart alright, both in joy and shock factor. She noticed the tone of approval, and her small smile turned into a wide grin. Which quickly turned into an open mouth at the 'bombshell' retort, forcing yet another tinge of redness across her cheeks. The pinkette watched her leave as she nodded.

"Until next time then..." She closed the door and let out a deep sigh. "...my goodness...never meet your heroes, huh..." She put a hand on her chest. There were all sorts of feelings happening inside. For the first time in so long she had fun. "...I have to make sure this mission succeeds, whatever it takes." She nodded. Finding Liza was important too, but now she had a strong reason to stay and help.

Hero in a Mage's Garb

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