Other FULL Guilds of Atria: Phoenix Nest [T] [IC] Page 3

Started by Geras August 5th, 2018 10:21 AM
  • 71 replies


Believe in the you that believes in cheese

Age 26
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,306 posts
9.5 Years

The Gates of Greatness

Having said their goodbyes to the rest of the group, Myeloch, Rowan, and Boriel set off to the Magic Council’s headquarters. The aptly-named Crystal Tower wasn’t all that far from them, which only made its immense size that much more apparent. The closer they got, the busier the streets around them became, with countless people coming in and out of the building.

“Here we are!” said Myeloch, gesturing grandly at the tower. “You’ll be on your own pretty soon, so now would be a good time to get any last questions you’ve got off your chest.”

"Just one." Rowan said, unable to think of anything he hadn't already asked in the relentless grilling he'd already given both of them. "You gonna be watching?"

“Of course!” He answered. “Unless they pull me aside for an emergency or something, but I’ve done my best to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“You already know I won’t be there, but I’ll have Myeloch show me everything when I get back,” Boriel added. “Make sure you put on a good show.”

Rowan worked some kinks out of his neck and smirked. “Of course! What man wouldn’t wanna impress his pops and his boss? There may only be two people who’s opinions I really care about here, but that doesn’t mean I’m not game to get us more good jobs. I’ll dazzle’em!”

Myeloch clasped his hands together. “That’s the spirit! In we go, then.”

The group stepped through the tower’s grand doorway to find the inside even more crowded than the outside. It was a mix of average-looking citizens, well-dressed officials, and heavily-geared adventurer types moving past each other in a sort of organized chaos. And keeping the order were the Rune Knights, one of which was posted at just about every corner and doorway.

Along the crystalline blue walls of the massive entrance hall were a number of reception desks, whereupon visitors were directed elsewhere in the tower. Looking upward gave a clear view of just how high the building went, the distant ceiling framed by a great spiral staircase that travelled the whole length down. Fortunately the staircase wasn’t the only path up, there were elevators along the wall as well.

“Check in at one of the desks and they’ll get you all set up,” Myeloch explained. “You’ll get a registration number and a key to the room you’ll be staying in. The written exam is tonight, and when you pass you move on to the practical exams tomorrow.”

“I’ll be right behind you to formally accept my job, but after that we go our separate ways,” said Boriel. “Remember, your exam could be nothing like what either of us went through. Be ready for anything.”

Rowan nodded and with a slick two-finger salute, headed straight to the desk with the cutest receptionist. "Hello, Rowan Hoskel. I'm here for the S Class exams. I'd really appreciate it if you could set me up and then let me know if you're free tonight."

“Alright, wait just a moment please.” Her smile was sweet, but Rowan could easily feel the annoyance hidden beneath. She shuffled through some papers, wrote something down, and walked to the filing cabinets in the back of the room. She returned with a key that was attached to a numbered tag.

She put it on the counter in front of Rowan, along with a pen and an ornately-decorated document. The ink was blue and shone against the light. “It looks like your pre-registration checks out. You’ll be examinee number 24, and you’ll be staying in room 5224 on the 52nd floor. Any elevator will get you right there. I’ll just need you to sign here, the script magic will update the information within your guild mark for the proctors. As for me, I appreciate the thought but I’m not interested.”

"Yeah, you must get that a lot, sorry for carrying on the trend. I've got a bad reputation to keep up, after all." Rowan signed his name and slid the pen back to her - now with a rose from seemingly nowhere tucked into the clip. "Consider that my apology, I promise I'll have better manners next time."

While he did that, Boriel stepped in line behind him and Myeloch watched from the side. He waited for Rowan to finish, but something else caught his attention. Someone, rather, as he heard his name called by a familiar voice. There was a bit of commotion as the crowd made some space for the new arrival, Gryphon Gale’s Egan Lynch.

“Boriel Pelara!” Egan repeated, now in front of Boriel. His fists were clenched, and his expression was as dour as it ever was outside of publicity events. After some tense eye contact between him and Boriel, he bowed. “Please, fight me!”

“No,” Boriel answered.

Egan raised his head. “I have a reputation as one of the strongest wizards outside of the Saints. I’m familiar with most of the other S-Class wizards; their magic, their fighting styles, their habits. I know why they’re stronger or weaker than me, and what would need to happen to change that. But I know nothing about you outside of vague rumors.

“You’re an unknown wizard who beat me in becoming a Saint. I need to see what separates us with my own eyes.”

Boriel opened his mouth to speak, but reconsidered. He looked at Egan’s burning eyes, then over at Rowan. He sighed, then looked back at Egan. “I have no interest in fighting you. But if you can beat him at the Grand Magic Games, I’ll give you what you want.” He looked at Rowan again. “Sound good?”

"Without a doubt!" Rowan agreed, stepping aside the two and looking Egan in the eye. "I already told you last time, champ. You can't go at my old man until you beat me. Last time was just an introduction, next time we'll have a real scrap, as equals. Don't expect to be able to eclipse me with pure power again. In exchange, I promise not to lose to anyone until we can really settle things."

In a few short moments the three had already attracted onlookers, several of whom whispered about the impudence of some rookie wizard speaking so brazenly to Egan Lynch himself. Rowan paid them no mind.

Egan nodded. “If those are the conditions, there’s nothing more to say. But I never planned on losing the Games so this doesn’t change anything.” He held out a hand for Boriel to shake, and Boriel unenthusiastically took it. Egan held out the same hand to Rowan. “I take it you’re here for the exam? Guildmasters and other high-ranking wizards gather at the exams on the lookout for potential recruits and powerful threats. I’ll be watching. Become S-Class. Prove your words are more than just that.”

"If that's the condition, so be it. I always planned to knock everyone's socks off so nothing's changed." Rowan shook Egan's hand firmly, his cocky smirk softening to a friendly smile. He couldn't deny feeling some sort of kinship he couldn't identify with the Gryphon in spite of how big an obstacle he was. "It's a promise, and I've never broken one before."

Egan spared a final glance at Rowan, Boriel, and then at the disguised Phoenix guildmaster who’d been watching with great interest. Myeloch gave Egan a friendly wave, but Egan paid it no mind. He left with no more words.

Boriel shook his head. “It’s a miracle Saints get anything done with people like him around. Rowan, I’m going to accept my job then be on my way. This is your last chance to ask me anything for the exam you’re still unsure about. Myeloch will be here, but don’t forget that he’s never actually fought anyone. Not really, anyway.”

“You’re not wrong,” said Myeloch. He nudged Boriel with his elbow. “But you’re also being a bit of a worrywart. With how hard he’s been working and how hard you’ve been training him, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Only thing we couldn’t properly practice was antimagic, but we at least discussed the countermeasures.”

“There’s no knowing exactly what they’ll throw at me.” Rowan said with a shrug. “I think I’m about as prepared as I can be without knowing exactly who and what I’m gonna be up against. The best preparation is flexibility, right?” He threw an arm around Boriel’s shoulder and pulled him in for a side hug. “You’ve done more than enough. Go get your work done and I’ll make you proud. Next time you see me I’ll be one of the elite!”

“I’ll count on it,” said Boriel. He didn’t quite hug back, but he didn’t resist either. He gave Rowan a pat on the back, then pointed at Myeloch. “I’m counting on you, too. Get a good view.” He headed to the reception desk to discuss his job.

“Sounds like you’re all set, then,” said Myeloch. “Go ahead and get your stuff put up, and I’ll meet you when it’s time for the written exam. Which I’m still allowed to watch, even if it’s not as fun to see as the practical exam."

Rowan smiled and adjusted the bag hanging from his shoulder. "You got it, boss! Try sneaking a crystal ball in for the practical exam or something. I know someone as sly as you can find a way~" Then he was off, into the elevator and out of sight.

“It’s been five years and I’m still not used to it,” Boriel spoke, still filling out paperwork at the desk.

“Hm?” Myeloch raised an eyebrow.

“The whole family thing. I could tell he started doing it for Pat’s sake, but I can’t tell anymore. I thought I’d be better at this by now, but I still never know what he’s thinking.”

“Does it matter? Does it change how you look at him, how you do your best to support him and be there for him if he doesn’t mean what he’s saying?”

“No, I guess it doesn’t.” Boriel’s pen stopped moving.

Myeloch smirked. “...By the way, he put you down as his next of kin on his registration.”

“I see.” Despite the crowd, there was a moment of silence before the scritching of a pen could be heard again.

The elevator doors began to close when Rowan heard a woman’s voice on the other side. “Hold, please! Hold!”

With an inhuman reflex known only to true shameless flirts gentlemen, Rowan's hand blocked the doors and forced them to reopen. It was actually so close that his fingers got pinched, but some sacrifices must be made.

“Oh thank god. By which I mean you, o’ door holder guy. You’d think this many elevators would be enough, but it’s really not in a building with a hundred floors.” Stepping into the elevator beside Rowan was a full-figured woman with thin glasses and a grateful smile. Her sharp bob-cut was white, but as she stepped into the elevator he saw that it actually changed color depending on how the light hit it, going through every color in the rainbow. On her hip was a metal club, magitech judging by the various buttons and the seams in the metal. And in her hand was a key with a tag, much like the one Rowan was given.

She pushed the button for the 53rd floor, and the elevator took off.

Rowan’s eyes glinted, taking in all of it at once. “I never let a door close on a lady, especially a beautiful one~” He dropped playfully. “More importantly than that, it looks like we’re compatriots! You’re here for the S exams too, aye?”

“You got it!” She pulled back her sleeve to reveal a green guildmark, a stylized depiction of a woman and a tree. “Zaline Monsen, member of Lautela’s own Nymph Spire! You?”

He lifted up his own sleeve to show his own guildmark. “Rowan Hoskel, soon to be Phoenix Nest’s first S-class wizard! It’s truly a pleasure, Zaline.” He smiled a smile lacking the usual cockiness in spite of his words, this one was more boyishly excited.

Zaline’s eyes seemed to sparkle. “Wow, Phoenix Nest? Really? Wait, weren’t you guys founded like, a week ago? How’d you make the money to pay for a shot at the exam so fast?”

“Honestly, a bit of luck and and our founding being preceded by Myeloch and Boriel’s reputations.” Rowan explained. “Gryphon Gale paid us a visit to meet them, things got a little heated and we ended up having ourselves a competition. We impressed them enough for them to hand over a fairly big job, even though I lost to Egan.”

Zaline’s cheerful expression softened. “Egan, huh? That’s funny. Egan’s actually the one paying for me to be here. Our guild’s not doing too hot right now, so I’d never have been able to come here otherwise.”

Rowan stiffened, but less with surprise than simple amazement. “That’s good of him. He may not know how to socialize for his life, but he’s a good guy. I’m glad the champ isn’t just some terrible jerk who happens to be really strong. He’s a practical guy, if he’s sponsoring you then I’m sure you have what it takes!”

She shrugged. “That’s a nice thought, but practical was right. He paid for me to come in exchange for my help with a new spell he’s been having trouble with. Not sure how I feel about helping the guy at the top get stronger, but if that’s what I’ve gotta do for my own career then I’ll do it.”

“Good.” Rowan responded, finally letting some casual arrogance slip into his voice. “By the time we fight again I’m gonna be so much stronger than I am now it wouldn’t be any fun if he was the same as the first time we fought.” He smiled almost beatifically, thinking of holding up the GMG Cup in front of an exhausted and bruised Egan. “The stronger he is when I beat him, the better.”

She laughed. “Hoo boy, that’s a lot of confidence for someone who lost. That kind of confidence is good though! As long as it doesn’t get you killed, that is.” She leaned in and nudged Rowan with her elbow. “You’re not gonna ask about it? The spell, I mean. Get a head start to work on a counter?”

He poked her elbow in a ticklish spot and leaned in right back at her. “I’ll beat him because I have to, I’m not expecting it to be easy. As for that fancy spell, I was actually hoping to ask you about it over dinner.” He smiled his suavest smile. “This whole thing sounds like it involves way too much standing around and it’s not every day a noobie guild wizard gets to visit the capital itself. Combine that with the fortuitous coincidence of our meeting and I can’t think of any better way to spend this evening.”

“Hmm…” She put her hand on her chin, making an exaggerated thinking pose. “I’m gonna say no to dinner. And instead I’ll ask you to drinks. Alchemic brewing makes the drinks in Lautela one of a kind, but the stuff here’s not bad either. And not tonight, tomorrow. We can celebrate the exam being over!”

“Mmmm….” Rowan mulled it over. “Fine, but I’m buying! And we’re going to breakfast the morning after, if we can stand. Deal?” He asked, holding out his hand.

“After a night of drinks but before the promotion ceremony? You’re picking the absolute worst times on purpose, aren’t you? Sure though, it’s the least I can do if you’re paying for drinks. And you’d better not regret saying that when you’ve seen what I can handle!” She took his hand and gave it a firm shake.

“Well, maybe lunch then.” Rowan added with a lighthearted laugh.

The number displayed above the door continued to climb as they approached their destinations.

"Ever looking forward, ever thinking back. Everywhere you've been, everyone you've met was another step on your path, shaping your future even as they become part of your past. One must never discount the pieces that have made up your journey until now but to lose yourself in them would be equally great folly, instead let them hoist you up, carry you on until you find the strength to walk for yourself. So it is that I continue towards that endless horizon. Ever thinking back, ever marching forward, inexorable as the history that brought me down this road. This Lonesome Road."


Dapper bowler hat

Age 29
Arizona, USA
Seen 2 Days Ago
Posted 2 Days Ago
1,470 posts
10.3 Years
In an unusual turn of events, the entire Guild had left on assignment, leaving Sarah by herself. Well, Vor was still around, but the little kobold tended to keep to himself, and he'd barely spoken to Sarah except for when he'd been introduced to everyone. Sarah wasn't sure about him at first, considering him nothing more than a wild animal, but after a few days she'd gotten used to him. He was quiet, and a few of the others seemed to like him, especially Drell and Lina, who'd found him to begin with.

Her thoughts were only on the kobold because she saw him skulking around by the library, clutching a book and scurrying toward the training hall. He was also wearing different clothes than the simple brown pants she'd last seen him in. Somewhere he'd acquired a red robe and a pointy black hat. Such clothes weren't in style anymore, so it was an odd choice.

Her curiosity piqued, Sarah followed Vor, keeping her distance in case she startled him. She snuck down the stairs, noticing Vor left the door wide open, making it easy for her to spy on him. With some effort, he had managed to set up a target dummy. The book lay open on a nearby stool, and the kobold looked it over as he took a small pouch out from one of his robe pockets.

He traced a circle in the air, faint golden light surrounding his claws and leaving a faint after image. He reached into the bag and pulled out a handful of fine sand, which he then tossed into the air. The sand floated in place, surrounded by that same golden light. Vor dropped the bag as he held both hands out to the sand.

"Dust to sand to dirt to rock!" He moved his hands as he spoke, the sand gathering and compressing into three rough stones, no bigger than pebbles. He pulled back one hand, clenching it into a fist. "Magic Stone, fire, yes!" As he thrust the fist forward, the stones all rocketed toward the mannequin. One missed completely, another broke on impact, and the third left a dent in the dummy's head.

Vor cackled in delight at the results. "Ehehe, ehehehehe, yes! Not bad, but not great, either. Kobold requires more practice. Yes."

Sarah was impressed. It wasn't anything groundbreaking, but the little kobold had learned to cast a spell in the week he'd been here. She decided to leave him to it, and headed back toward her desk. She'd barely started walking when she heard the unmistakable sound of breaking glass.

She rushed back downstairs to check on the sound, seeing that Vor had again missed his target. The stray rock had smashed through one of the small windows at the top of the wall, leaving a hole and scattering broken glass on the ground outside. Not only had he missed, but he'd somehow hit the smallest window possible. "What the hell, Vor?"

He said something in his Kobold language that Sarah didn't understand, jumping in surprise when he saw Sarah. "Oh! Den Mother Sarah. You started kobold."

She quickly surveyed the room, not seeing any other damage. She raised an eyebrow at the name he'd called her. "Den mother? What's that supposed to mean?"

Vor shrugged, going back to the book. "There is no word in Kobold for what you do. Yes. This is the closest descriptor kobold could think of."

She let out a frustrated sigh over the whole situation. "Just call me Sarah. What are you doing in here?"

Vor didn't look up from the book. "Casting spells, yes? Myeloch said kobold could use any books in the library. Kobold is still learning. Yes. He must improve his skills."

"You should probably work on your aim, too." Sarah couldn't resist poking fun at the kobold, he was an easy target. "I'll go clean up that glass, and all the dirt you've been throwing around."

On the ground floor there was a small closet near the kitchen where she kept all her cleaning supplies. Brooms, mops, cleaning agents, that sort of thing. She hadn't actually gone in there lately, so maybe the hall was in for a good cleaning today…

However, when she went to open the door, it wouldn't budge. It wasn't locked, she could turn the handle just fine, and it was definitely a "pull" door and not a "push". Upon closer inspection, it appeared someone had tampered with it, the door itself was wedged in the frame. With a sharp pull, she managed to wrench the door open, and was immediately smacked on the shoulder by a broom that had apparently been leaning against the door.

More annoyed than actually hurt, Sarah glared at the door. Who would sabotage Guild property like this, and who would leave traps for…

"Vor!" Sarah slammed open the door to the training room, startling the kobold into nearly dropping his bag of sand.

"Kobold is innocent! He has done nothing wrong!" Vor dropped into a defensive crouch, his tail lashing warily behind him.

"I don't believe you!" Sarah stopped a few feet away, knowing better than to approach a cornered animal. "What did you do to the door to my broom closet?"

Vor smiled at that. "You found kobold's sleeping chamber! Kobold has built a nest for himself. Yes."

Sarah hadn't actually looked inside the closet. "What do you mean, 'nest'? Out of what?"

"Kobold assumes that because he is part of your guild, he has access to its resources, yes?"

Sarah eyed Vor suspiciously, but he didn't seem to think he'd done anything wrong. "Within reason. Why?"

Vor chuckled, proud of his accomplishments. "Kobold's nest is made of towels and bedsheets he found in closets. Yes. And some human foot clothing kobold recovered from washing room."

Now that Sarah thought about it, there had been a few complaints about missing socks recently. She didn't want to jump to the conclusion that Vor had stolen them, but at least she knew where they were now.

"Well, I'll need to ask for some of th-"

"And some other clothings kobold found in drawers, yes." Vor interrupted, rubbing his chin in thought. "Kobold likes the short pink pants. They are soft."

Sarah froze. Whether he knew it or not, there are some lines that one should never cross. "Vor…" she smiled sweetly at the kobold. "You're going to have to give some of those back."

Vor was suddenly nervous. Sarah's smile was unnerving to him, and there was a slight edge to her tone. He took half a step back, earning a glare from the woman.

"You will never take kobold!" He turned to run, but Sarah was surprisingly fast. She grabbed his arm, so Vor fell back on Kobold Tactics. "Pocket sand!"

He flung a tiny handful of sand into Sarah's face, forcing her to flinch and let go. He bolted for the window, parkouring off a stack of training mats and clambering up the wall to the small window. It was mainly to let in light and fresh air, and few of the other Guild members would even think about going through it, but Vor was small enough to slip through without issue, crawling out to the safety of the flower beds outside.

As soon as he emerged, he was entangled in roots and vines that sprouted up from the soil, binding him and dragging him back into the training room. Vor protested loudly in his native tongue, and Sarah was somewhat certain she now knew how to say "no" in Kobold.

Sarah gave him a moment to get it out of his system. She didn't speak his language, but his little growls and squeaks were oddly adorable. When he kept struggling, she lightly slapped him across the face, earning another "yes", but otherwise shutting him up.

"Let's take a walk, kobold. We need to talk." She took hold of the vines Vor was wrapped in, which had woven themselves into a rope. With his arms and tail pinned to his sides, he couldn't do much to resist, so she led him along like a dog on a leash. To his credit, he followed along without grumbling or resisting. He knew when he'd been bested.

Leading Vor back to his nest, Sarah actually looked the old supply closet over. It wasn't very big, but to a kobold it was more than enough. All of the mops and brooms had been shoved into one corner, and sure enough, there was a pile of blankets and sheets in the other corner with the odd sock here and there, and maybe an undergarment or two.

There was also a tiny stool and a tiny table next to the low sink, with some sort of science lab on top. Glass vials, a mortar and pestle, and a small burner shared space with various herbs and chemicals, some designed for cleaning and others he must have scavenged from town. The thought of a kobold with a chemistry kit was concerning to her.

Finally, there was a small chest containing various trinkets and treasures. Loose change and colorful marbles mingled with a wooden horse, toy rings, and an actual ruby, with several expended lacrima crystals scattered among them.

It looked like a mess, but it reminded Sarah of a child's bedroom. "Why here, kobold? Of all the rooms in this house, why the cleaning closet?"

Vor shrugged, oddly calm. "Kobold was told to pick a room. 'You can have any room you want', yes, 'as long as no one else claimed it.' Other rooms were too big. Kobold likes small spaces."

"And the door?"

"Kobold was told to make himself at home. Kobold homes are defended, so kobold set some traps. Yes. It was not hard. Kobold is sneaky, and humans are heavy sleepers, yes?"

Sarah frowned in thought, remembering how difficult the door was to open. There was no way Vor was stronger than her. "How do you get in and out? I've never heard the door screech like it did earlier."

"Ehehe…" Vor chuckled again. Man, that's kinda creepy… Sarah thought. "Kobold made another entry!" Even tied up, he was able to lift a secret panel on the door using his foot. To a casual observer, it was nearly seamless, about the size of a doggy door. Vor's efficiency and penchant for stealth was spooky.

Sarah brushed the feeling off. If Vor was going to do anything, he would have done it by now. He was mostly harmless, just in need of discipline and direction. "Fine. But since this is my house, let's lay down some house rules. First off, no traps."

Vor pouted, uttering halfhearted complaints in Kobold. Sarah ignored him, continuing on as if he hadn't interrupted. "Second, if you're living here, you help out. We're not just a Guild, we're… like your kobold clan, we all play our part. If you want this closet, fine. It's yours. But you need to accept the responsibility that comes with it. You're in charge of cleaning from now on. I'll help you out at first, but this is your job. Maybe some of your Earth Magic can help you."

Vor just nodded. He was no stranger to hard work. "Kobold accepts. He will earn the privilege of his desired room! Yes."

"Wonderful." With a flick of the wrist and an effort of will, the vine rope loosened and fell off Vor. Sarah gave him a genuine smile. "Then your first task is to disable any traps you've placed."

That earned her louder, fullhearted complaining in Kobold, which she swiftly silenced. "No complaining! My house, my rules, understood?"

Vor sighed, but obeyed. "Yes, Boss. Kobold will disable all the traps he has placed inside the house."

"Oddly specific…" Sarah looked at him warily. "Anything you want to tell me about?"

Vor let out a frustrated growl, which Sarah thought was oddly adorable. "Kobold will also fill in the pit traps he dug in the yard! Yes!"

With Sarah's help, Vor fixed the closet door so it would open properly again. She let him keep his secret door, though. After that, they fixed the Guild sign that Vor had rigged into a pendulum that would strike anyone at the door.

Vor stopped outside the kitchen door, looking reluctant for some reason. "What's up, kobold? You're not backing out now, are you?" Sarah was curious about this. In the week that he'd been here, she'd never seen Vor eat any of the food she'd prepared, or even go near the kitchen.

"Kobold said he would take down all traps, yes… but Sarah meant traps for humans yes? Not for vermin?" He laughed nervously when Sarah reacted in shock. "They stop the mice from eating your food, yes?"

"You put mouse traps in my kitchen?" Her shock turned to anger. "And you didn't think to tell me about it?!"

"Yes. But also no. If Sarah means the snapping brass bar, then no. Yes. Kobold has not placed any of those. Kobold has put sticky paper in your cupboards!" He entered the kitchen, going straight for the cupboards. "Kyah... no mice have gotten stuck."

"Of course they haven't, because there aren't any mice in my kitchen!" The very thought revulsed Sarah.

Vor shook his head, pitying Sarah's naive optimism. "Sarah is not here at night, like kobold is. He sees many things while you all sleep. Yes. Including mice. But kobold catches the mice!" He checked another cupboard, but again came up with no mice. "Kobold's traps are empty. He is disappointed. Yes."

"Well, that works for me." Sarah leaned against a counter with a shrug. "I told you there are no mice in my kitchen. Why would you want that?"

"Kobold was hoping for a snack. The mice here have grown fat from eating the grains in your pantry."

"You've been catching and eating mice?!" Sarah was baffled and horrified. Is that why I never see him eat with us? "Vor, you know that making food is part of my job, right? I would have fed you!"

Vor merely shrugged, trying to climb into the fridge to look for food. "Kobold does not like burnt food."

"Excuse you?!" Sarah was livid. She could accept the kobold not wanting to eat with the others, but saying he'd rather eat rat because she burned food was just insulting. "I don't burn anything!"

Vor successfully climbed the shelves, claiming an apple as his prize. He left the fridge door open as he cut the apple into bite sized chunks with his small dagger. "But that is Sarah's job, yes? She burns eggs, meats, even water for coffee and tea. Yes. Sarah is good at burning food, but kobold does not like food that way."

At this point, Sarah realized that Vor might not fully comprehend the language he was speaking, and perhaps his insult was unintended. "That's called 'cooking'. Food isn't burnt unless we cook it too long, or too hot." She closed the fridge door.

Vor slowly nodded, swallowing his pieces of fruit whole. "Cooking... Yes. Vor is smart. He learns. But kobold does not cook."

Sarah took a calming breath. She'd never heard Vor talk as much as he had today. Not that she'd really tried, but he wasn't just an animal that could talk, he was basically a person. A strange, somewhat feral person, but not at all like the stories she'd heard. "Vor, what do you eat? Maybe I could make something for you sometime."

Vor finished his apple, even the core and stem. "Kobolds eat whatever we can find, yes? Meats and mushrooms, mostly, but sometimes plant fruits and roots. Wild onions, cave carrots, yes. Kobolds can even eat leather or dirt if food is scarce."

He'd basically said he'd eat anything and everything, but from his list of specific examples, Sarah was already coming up with ideas. Perhaps a stir fry, or some sausage and mushroom ravioli, or that veggie and mushroom "survival burger" she'd read about…

While she was thinking, Vor started walking away. "Vor?" She called to grab his attention. "You shouldn’t have to place traps just to eat. Come help me make dinner later. I'll make something we'll both like."

He nodded, grinning a little. "Yes, Boss. Kobold would be happy to learn."



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Guild Wars Capital Atria, Thursday July 19th, X784

The Nestlings headed for the Imperial Grand Station, the time of their departure fast approaching. Fortunately they didn’t have to worry about the crowds much, who kept their distance from the group just as Drell had predicted. Lina initially took the lead, but quickly ceded it to one of her guildmates more familiar with the capital in the hopes that they’d know a more efficient route than “head to the statue over the station and hope the roads lead directly there”.

As they walked, they could overhear people talking about them.

“Isn’t that mark Phoenix? I heard they’re trouble.”

“I heard they’re basically another Silver Chimera, full of touched and Valbestians.”

“It’s probably dangerous to be around them, who knows what they’ll do?”

“What did you expect when their master does forbidden magic? Maybe he was good before, but now…”

“Forbidden magic!? Why hasn't the council punished him?"

"Maybe he’s too strong for them to do anything about it? That’s scary...”

“Who cares? I just hope they’re strong so we can see some new matchups at the games. Oh man, Boriel vs Egan? It’d be so hype to see Egan beat a Saint!”

The familiar insults were making Faye feel uncomfortable, although she should be used to it by now but back then the comments weren’t directed at her. This is how a city responds to something that is different than themselves. The always expressionless Faye was visually bothered by the ill-intended comments thrown at the group. Even when she could easily pass for a regular wizard, having someone like Drell along was bound to attract attention.

“I wish they would just shut up…” She whispered, rubbing her arm and keeping her shoulders high in anxiety.

“Just as friendly as the last time I was here,” Ith’Drell chortled, trying to lighten the mood. “I’m pumped, guys. Never been on a train, before. They got rocket boosters?”

“Unfortunately, no rocket boosters,” Prim commented, trying to keep her eye from twitching with annoyance and physically forcing herself not to put her fist through one of the onlookers. “Do you think anyone would notice if we tied them to the tracks? Also, take a left here, that way’s a dead end.”

Drell snorted, “Don’t let ‘em hear you say that, they’ll start thinkin’ you’re provin’ em right.”

“Let’s not draw too much attention to ourselves.” Faye warned them.

“Think the ship has sailed on that one,” Ephraim said as the Barts wove a beanie onto his head. “Anyone else want a hat? I can maybe get the guild mark on them if the Barts pull it off reliably enough. No promises though.”

“Please no.” Faye looked generally worried. A few of the Barts, which had already begun to jump towards Faye in anticipation, slowly scuttled away.

Lina gave a nervous laugh. “I wouldn’t mind a hat. I’m pretty fond of the things, if you hadn’t noticed.” She tapped the brim of her own hat.

“I bet the Barts are already thinking up how to combine a spider and a phoenix.” Pat forced out with a pained chuckle. He was resisting the urge to ask for one just so he could cover his face with it, anything to stop the cacophony. Rowan had trained him in how to handle crowded places, but putting it into action was so much harder than practice. The feeling that he was failing at something he should know how to do only made more waves of bad vibes radiate off of him.

“Just one or two of them? I promise, it’d be quick. Nobody would even know,” Prim continued, paying little mind to the discussion on headwear as she continued to glare at the rude city goers. It was only moments after that the blue haired girl felt two hands on her shoulders as she was gently pushed forward by her white haired friend.

“Hold out a little longer. We’re almost there. Let’s not make trouble now for Pat’s sake too.” Faye was right. This was going to be a disaster. Only 5 minutes since they parted way with the others and Prim was already feeling like punching things.

“Just a little longer,” Prim repeated, surrendering to Faye’s grip and gritting her teeth.

A pair of trembling hands clasped around Drell’s larger graspy-grabbers, stopping her to look down at a Pat with watery eyes and a trembling lip. “Drell, can I hold your hand? I need to close my eyes and concentrate, and I don’t wanna walk into anything.”

“Dude, of course,” said the larger phoenix, as though she would be insane to refuse. “Though if you wanna close your eyes, might be faster if I just hoist ya up for a piggy-back. If you’re good with that - Idunno, not sure if there’s a high-ground perception thing going on.”

Pat smiled with more ease this time. "As long as you don't turn 1000 feet tall like the time you arm-wrestled a mountain, it should be okay." He clambered onto her back with a little help and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, nestling his head onto one of his arms to complete the hug. "Maybe, my favorite song and some happy thoughts will help."

“Yeah,” Drell hummed. “It’s fine, I arm-wrestled that mountain while normal size. Don’t worry about it.”

Their worries eased ever so slightly as the station finally came into view. A series of massive stone arches formed the front of the building, with an equally-massive staircase leading up to it. The statue of an emperor atop the station looked far bigger up close, and just above the arches was a large clock. There were several booths for purchasing tickets just past the entrance, but as the guild members already had one they could skip the lines and head straight for their designated train platform.

The inside was almost a city unto itself, filled with stores, restaurants, and information kiosks. There were signs at every turn leading to each of the various train platforms bound for Atria’s major cities. And leading into each platform were warded doors, etched with runes and embedded with several lacrima. The wards were similar to Phoenix Nests’s own, meant to keep out anybody with malicious intent.

Though they were being stared at and gossiped about everywhere they went before, now nobody seemed to be paying attention to the Phoenixes anymore. In fact, everyone around them seemed not to be too concerned about anything. Ever since Pat had climbed onto Drell’s back, he’d begun to hum a tune nobody recognized, and now he was giving off so much contentment it seemed to be infectious, especially to anyone not used to it.

“You could sell that service,” Prim said to Pat, “I almost feel like I won’t strangle anyone if Faye lets go of me.”

"Nice try." Faye commented.

“Not sure he can hear ya, Prim,” Drell chuckled, slightly hushed. She hunched under the platform doors to make sure her passenger didn’t bonk his head. “Lil’ dude’s a bit zonked. I think… it should get a bit better on the train? Maybe?”

Prim changed to her bird form and flittered up onto Pat’s shoulder, pecking lightly at it to get his attention before changing back and returning to her placement in the group where she was walking. “I said you should sell this feel-good service of yours… poor word choice but you know what I mean.”

Pat grumbled and lifted his head enough to glare at Prim with a bolt of pure annoyance lanced straight at her before nestling his face back into his ride’s armored shoulder. Faye in turn looked a bit defeated as she was outwitted by a… bird. She forgot the blue haired punch lover could transform.

Elidyr had been quiet thus far, but now, perhaps bolstered by Pat's vibes, he decided to speak up. "That's actually really cool, Prim. You probably hear that a lot, but I'm kind of jealous. I wish I could fly like you do." Forgetting to keep a low profile, he summoned his large draconid wings. "I don't know if my wings are good for it, but could you teach me sometime? Maybe after we get back. F-forget I mentioned it, don't let me distract you…" As quick as it appeared, his confidence was gone, but his wings remained.

“I could try,” Prim replied, ignoring Pat’s irritation, “It’s kind of a natural thing for me though.”

"Y-yeah, and for me it's...not." Elidyr scuffed his foot on the floor, regretting saying anything. "A-and your wings are feathered, and mine are leathery… probably too different for you to be a good teacher. Don't worry about it, I'll just keep using them as shields. I don't think I'd know how to handle flying anyway…"

The others followed closely behind Drell as she went through the doors, but just as they stepped through they heard an explosion.

A cloud of smoke hovered over the train platform, a crowd of bystanders huddled in a circle around it. It slowly cleared to reveal a pair of wizards, locked in combat. The first was a tan young man with his head shaved on the sides, the hair on top drooping down over one of those sides. He looked down on his foe with sharp green eyes, his confident grin showing off fang-like teeth. He wore a loose-fitting tank top that showed off his toned and tattooed arms, and more importantly, the black guild mark on his shoulder. He was unmistakably Silver Chimera’s S-Class wizard, Tiran Enabosk the “Rebel Lance”.

Across from him was a girl who looked a bit younger than him, maybe in her upper teens, but she was just as confident. Her sienna skin and black hair were offset by her violet eyes and the splashes of hot-pink on her outfit. Her curly hair was short with a pair of braids hanging to one side, each decorated with white beads. She wore her jacket draped off her exposed shoulders, one of which bore a pink guild mark. She was a member of Starlight Siren.

The Siren flipped to a page in the spellbook floating beside her and shouted, “Chains of Fate!”

Tiran shone with a violet light. Brilliant chains erupted from his body, anchoring themselves into the ground and dragging him down with them. The ground cracked under the crushing weight of the chains as they forced their victim to his knees.

She whistled, impressed by her own spell. “Wow! Hell of a burden you’ve got there, beastie boy. Can’t wait to peek into your mind and see what that’s all about.” She pulled out a pen and began drawing runes in mid-air with it.

Before she could finish her spell, a beastly roar came from the train. A bolt of lightning crashed down on Tiran from above, blinding the crowd in a flash of light. Next thing they knew, the chains were cinders at Tiran’s feet. His hair now stood like a mohawk, his entire body crackling with electricity. And at his side was his faithful companion, a tiger made entirely out of lightning.

He burst out laughing. “You really psyducked with the wrong guy, and you’re really about to regret it!”

“Stop.” Another voice came from the train. Out stepped a giant of a woman, towering over the two combatants at well over seven feet tall. Her arms were like tree trunks, with a body to match. She was pale as snow with lavender hair and eyes. Her hair was in an updo, and her outfit exposed the guild mark resting between her shoulder blades. She was yet another S-Class wizard, Starlight Siren’s “Colossus” Rhea Tavidell.

“What, they got you babysitting now, Tavidell?” Tiran mocked. “And whaddya mean 'stop'? She’s the one who started it!"

"I know, little punk pulled the same thing on me. Kicked her ass for it. But she's my guildmate, so I'm not letting you lay a finger on her."

One could almost see sparks as the two sides glared at each other. Tension grew. The crowd backed up but didn't peel their eyes away from the scene. The Rune Knights posted all over the platform watched, but did nothing.

Something flew out from the cluster of Phoenixes and onto the platform, rolling and stopping almost between Tiran and the Sirens. It was Pat, still humming as he rubbed his eyes and stretched. Only after a good long one did he open his eyes and look around him, smiling at each of the three wizards in turn. “What’s all the commotion about? I thought train platforms were for getting on trains, not fighting.” He said cheerily, emanating strong waves of calm friendliness and inner peace.

“Pa- wha-?” Ith’Drell did a double take, checking over her shoulder to be sure that Pat wasn’t actually there any more. She called out and trotted up to the commotion. “Hey hey, uh, Pat, you gotta-” The big, armoured lizard paused to raise her chin to the other wizards gathered around her guildmate. “‘Sup- you gotta stick with the group, dude, can’t have anyone getting lost and missing the train or something.”

“But this is the platform, this is where we were going to get on the train, Drell.” Pat said, matter-of-factly as if he hadn’t intruded on an inter-guild scuffle.

Yeah, but if they don’t know you got on the train with everyone else they might go looking outside the- look, just stick with the group, okay? It’s convoy rules.”

“More importantly,” Prim interjected, catching up to Pat and Drell, “That was interesting. Why’d you all have to stop the show?”

Faye held her hand on the lacrima that summoned her weapons when needed meaning she stood ready to immediately butt in and grab Pat if those two from Silver Chimera and Starlight Siren would even think about cranking a hair on that little boy’s head. “Is this really the place to settle quarrels?”

Tiran looked at Faye with annoyance. "This ain't the place to be startin' quarrels either, but someone here didn't get the memo." He snarled. The white haired girl didn’t seem all that interested though and rolled her eyes.

The younger Siren crouched down and ruffled Pat's hair. "Relax, kid, we're just having some fun! Besides, wouldn't it be totally boring if you only did stuff in places you were supposed to? Don't act like you've never eaten in the living room." She turned to Rhea. "You too, Rhea. It's fine, I've got this!" The attention made Pat smile like a much younger boy.

Rhea rolled her eyes. "You most definitely do not 'got this'."

“I dunno about right here,” Drell hummed. “Maybe, like- there’s probably whatever.” She shrugged, gesturing to slightly further into the middle of the platform with one hand and holding the other out to Patileer. “C’mon, dude. Let’s watch. Kinda wanna see this.”

"Hold it." The crowd and even the Sirens seemed to be calming down, but Tiran was another story. He glared at Pat now. "Don't think I can't see you trying to psyduck with my head. That might work on your kind, but it'll take more than that to control a Valbestian. Stop that muk now and I might let it slide."

“Oh, I’d never try to control anyone!” Pat assured him cheerily. “I was just trying to make everyone feel better. Fights are fun and all, but I don’t want one happening here, so close to the train. Especially not wizards as strong as you and Rhea, mister Tiran. The trains or even the line itself could get damaged and we need to use one, we have an important job to go on and if we got stranded here it’d be ruined!” He hugged just above the waist of the younger member of Starlight Siren and swayed back and forth with her a little bit. “That’s why I couldn’t just sit back and watch.”

Ith’Drell lifted her visor, then used that same hand to wipe her brow with a sigh. “Ah, boy, aaight, guess we’re doing the responsible thing. Yeah, we’ve gotta not have the trains exploding, or anything-” She turned briefly back to her group to shoot them a hushed “Do trains explode?” before turning to Tiran. “Uh, dude- hi, don’t worry about the head-mess stuff, I don’t- I think that just, like, happens. Like a passive thing.”

Tiran looked at the two incredulously. “I- do you really think I’m stupid enough to blow up the train? Anyway, I don’t care what you call it, it needs to psyducking stop.” He sighed. “Look. You’re Phoenix, right? I heard the rumors about your guild. I don’t want any beef with a guild that’s taking in Valbestians and sticking it to those Gryphon psyducks. Just stay outta my head and there won’t be any problems.”

Faye sighed. “If he could do that, he would’ve done so. Our little pal here doesn’t know how to shut off his magic yet. He’s still in the process of controlling it.” She tried to explain. “Deal with it a little while longer until we leave. Which… we can once you’ll let us.”

“Yeah, exactly,” Drell agreed, shutting her visor again. “It ain’t a big thing, just, like, resist it or something. Ain’t hard. He doesn’t mean anythin’ by it - and I don’t with the train thing, either, like; dude, I’m only like ninety percent sure I won’t break the thing by stepping on it, I don’t know trains.”

“Sounds like bullmuk, but if it’s not then he’d better learn quick. Let’s go, Ralga.” Tiran’s tiger casually sauntered into the train, unbothered by the drama. Tiran followed after it, stepping through the open train doors.

“Hey, you already forget we were in the middle of something?” taunted the younger Siren with a smirk. She pushed Pat gently aside as she flipped through the pages of her book once more.

Tiran looked back at her with an eerie calm on his face, then at Phoenix Nest. “You’re all new to the whole guild thing, right? Little open secret in case you didn’t know; you can get away with a lotta muk if it’s between guilds. Government’ll do anything to keep the games hot.” The electricity around Tiran’s body began to crackle and surge.

It all happened within seconds. In the blink of an eye, golden spears of solid lightning rained down on the Siren. Blood trickled from her shallow wounds, each spear narrowly grazing her. They dug into the ground around her, trapping her in place.

Rhea reacted immediately, her face turning red with her boiling blood. The ground began to shake, and everyone on the platform felt themselves struggling to stand as their bodies grew heavier and heavier. The crowd began to panic, and the platform’s many Rune Knights finally rushed in. They surrounded her, and she stopped her magic.

The other Siren, meanwhile, was laughing with glee.

Faye stared at the whole situation. Not sure if she was impressed or annoyed they tried to ruin the platform for the train to depart from. There was one thing she was sure about at least. She had a lot to learn judging from this… “Engagement”. Drell, who had plomped onto her behind, tapped Faye on the side to get her attention.

“Yo let’s be real though,” the lizard chuckled. “She kinda had that coming, right?”

Faye folded her arms. “Hmph… I guess a little.”

Ith’Drell snorted, “Yeah, a little. Juuust shy of literally explicitly asking for it.”
“I like these people,” Prim added.

“I don’t like Tiran, he’s mean.” Pat huffed, crossing his arms. “I like Rhea and her friend, though~ Rowan’s gonna be so jealous when I tell him I met two Starlight Sirens, especially Rhea!” That triggered a metaphorical light bulb and reached into his bag to grab a fairly large green book with elaborate gold filigree around the borders and approached the women once again. “Miss Siren, we haven’t been properly introduced yet!” He said to the younger one. “Can I get your name and maybe an autograph?”

By then the spears that had been pinning her down had faded away. “Hold on a bit, kid. Just gotta take care of a couple things.” The first of these aforementioned things involved her writing something in her own book, paying no mind to the few drops of blood that stained the page from her still-open wounds. Next, she grasped the locket hanging from her neck.

She closed her eyes and spoke. “Mother’s Embrace.” With those words, a dome of soothing light appeared around her. Slowly, her shallow wounds began to close. The healing dome disappeared as soon as the job was done, and she reached down to sign Pat’s book. “There we go. Didn’t super like the thought of bleeding all over some kid’s stuff. And lucky you! You’re now the proud owner of an autograph from Natalie Oaks, soon to be Siren’s second best wizard!”

Natalie looked at the rest of Phoenix Nest. “I say second best Siren, but I really mean second best wizard, period. I’m going to take Rhea and I to the top no matter what, even if that means taking on wizards way stronger than me. Which, speaking of, you guys didn’t happen to bring your Saints, did you?” Her eyes glimmered with excitement.

Pat smiled at the name in the book, then shook his head at Natalie’s question. “Nope, Boriel and Myeloch went with my brother. He’s taking the S class exam! He’s pretty set on being the best, too so you’ll probably have to fight at some point...I’m sure he’d love the opportunity - that reminds me!” Pat held the book out towards the S class giant this time. “Rhea, can I get your signature too? My brother Rowan’s a big fan of yours and I wanna make him jealous!”

Rhea had just finished dealing with the Rune Knights, and held in her hand a ticket they’d given her for her actions. She looked at Pat, then back at her ticket with a sigh. “Maybe not right now. If you’re here, though, then I’m guessing you’re all headed to Lautela too. We’ll be on the train together for a while so just come find me later, alright?”

“You are? That’s great!.” He put the book away and looked at his favorite redheaded girl. “Lina, which car is ours? Let’s go and pick good spots!”

“What?” Lina snapped to attention, having been completely lost in her thoughts. “Oh, uh, I think the sleeping cars should be towards the um… mid-back? Maybe? Whatever, we’ll find it. Let’s just get in the front here and work our way back.”

Drell turned her head around and said, “Wait… we could have just-?” She blinked and shook her head as she stood. She held out her ticket. “I don’t have to give this to someone, or anything?”

"No, you just sit down and wait for someone to check on you. They occasionally check tickets, so don't lose it." Faye spoke and followed Lina to the wagon. Drell boarded too, beckoning the others to follow.

Seeing that the show was most definitely over, Prim shrugged and followed on behind Drell and Faye. “With any luck, someone will provide more entertainment on the ride over I guess.”

“Last call for boarding on the 5 PM train to Lautela, the train will be departing shortly,” came an announcement on the PA.

It looked like everyone who’d stuck around for the fight had gotten on already, and that Phoenix Nest were the last ones left. The rest of the guild members rushed into the train after Lina. And soon the doors closed, and they were on their way.

I'll put something cool here eventually.


Believe in the you that believes in cheese

Age 26
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,306 posts
9.5 Years

The Gates of Greatness

The elevator reached on the 52nd floor, Rowan’s stop. Zaline sent him off with an energetic wave. “If you see anyone who looks like fun you should invite them to the thing tomorrow! The more the merrier, y’know? We can meet up in front of the tower right after the exam and I’ll pick out a place.”

“Will do, long as they can hold a candle to you~” Rowan turned to give her an easy wave and an even easier smile as she disappeared from his view. Quite regrettable, that last detail.

The elevator doors closed, leaving Rowan alone. He found himself in a hallway that looked much like a hotel, the hall’s sides lined with numbered rooms. To the right, the hallway continued until it turned a corner. And to the left was a window from which he could see the vast city below. Even this high up the tower, he still couldn’t see the city’s end. Soon the sun would begin to set, and when night fell it would be time to begin the exam.

So many different emotions coming from different rooms in every direction. Excitement, dread, anxiety, confidence, fear….hope. Those were the most prominent, as well as all too predictable. He felt something else, though. Something deep, dark and in constant motion, like an ocean trench. He felt himself being pulled towards it as if in a trance, but before he could get too far he shook his head and stared down at the card and key in his hand. This is no time for distractions. Until this is over, nothing else matters. Other than the next few chapters of ‘A Midnight Hunt on the Moonlit Coast’! But that’s just to summon sleep~

He began searching for his room among the many. 5201, 5202, 5203… It seemed his was still a ways away. He turned the corner, and immediately found his eyes drawn to the flowing, absurdly long black hair turning the next corner ahead. Despite his determination mere moments ago, his curiosity was piqued, and just like that he followed the hair.

Turning the corner, he found himself faced with the owner of the luxurious locks. They turned around to face him upon hearing his footsteps. Rowan found himself in front of a large man nearly a foot taller than him. His rippling muscles were on full display as he was shirtless aside from his simple leather harness. His piercing eyes were a forest green, and he lacked any facial or body hair at all. On his chest, right over his heart was the familiar mark of a Gryphon Gale wizard. He gave off a serious, yet calm feeling.

At his side was a magical beast. It resembled a horse, but with much, much more hair than normal. The hair was smooth and fell gracefully to the horse’s sides, but it was to the point that the beast itself could barely be seen underneath it all. This beast’s emotions were a bit more turbulent, and Rowan could tell that it would be trouble if it wasn’t being kept in check by its partner. He was able to feel the wordless exchange of emotions constantly happening between them.

“I know you,” he said. “You’re Rowan Hoskel, correct? Of Phoenix Nest?”

Rowan tilted his head with a genuinely curious but otherwise blank smile. "Yes, I am. How can a member of Gryphon Gale I've never met recognize me at a glance?"

“Egan told me about you,” He answered, still not showing any strong emotion on his face. “He mentioned you at the guild, and I inquired further. It was not hard to guess the slender, red-haired S-class prospect in front of me was the same Rowan. Especially after being told he ‘has hair like this’” He put his hand over one of his eyes to mimic Rowan’s fringe.

“Did you require something from me, or were you simply searching for your room?” As the man spoke, Rowan could feel the horse sizing him up.

"To be honest, I followed your hair. It was an interesting sight, between that and your friend there you make quite the visual impression. Valbestians are always so intriguing. Your partner feels particularly… tempestuous. May I ask your names and his species, since you already know who I am?"

He gave a wide smile that Rowan could easily see as genuine. “I am pleased to hear our hair has made an impression, we take great pride in it!” He raised his hair, clearly manipulating it through magic. His beast did the same, only instead of a gentle lift it pulled the hair on its head into the shape of a single long horn and hardened it. Rowan was now able to see its white eyes with spiral pupils glaring right at him.

The Valbestian paid it no mind and continued speaking. “I am known as Kubra, and my partner is called Epludo. He is a girdmane and his behavior is normal for one. He will threaten, but he knows better than to act on it. We are pleased to meet you.” He bowed his head.

“Girdmane...on the nose but not in an offputting way.” Rowan thought out loud. “Well, Kubra, Epludo, it was nice meeting you. I’d better get to my room now, but I hope whatever business you’re here for goes well. If you’re here for the exams too, then I’ll see you on the field.”

“I shall see you at the exam, then. But are you certain you should be so openly friendly with one such as I?”

“Why not? You’re no enemy of mine. Rival, maybe, but who says rivals have to be jerks to each other? I’ve got too much work to do and the world will throw enough enemies my way no matter what I do. Why waste energy finding more people to grind my teeth at when I could make friends instead and balance the books a bit?”

His expression changed. “I wonder if you would feel the same if you knew who I truly was. If you knew of the people I have killed. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. The history between our nations may seem distant to one as young as you, but that is not the case for many or perhaps even most others.” There was no joy in his words.

Rowan’s own expression grew cold, almost wolfish. “What’s any of that got to do with me? You didn’t kill anyone I know. I’ve seen my fair share of hard things, done my share too. Plenty of good people have blood on their hands. Life’s too hard, complex and fickle to judge anyone by anything other than your own experiences and intuition. Mine tells me I’m not looking to pick any fights, so don’t go making assumptions about how I might feel and I’ll give you the same courtesy. If we end up having to scrap, I’ll worry about it then, sound good?” At the end he returned to that easy smile as if his previous look had been an illusion.

Kubra stared at Rowan a bit longer before letting his face settle, the absent emotions slowly filling back in. He chuckled lightly. “Forgive me. I shall soon be entering the public eye and I know my past will not stay hidden to the world for long. I was simply curious to see how someone might react to it. You hold an interesting position, and I thank you for indulging me. Farewell, then.”

During the exchange, Rowan noticed that Epludo’s hair had softened and once more fell gracefully at his sides. He let out a snort, then went off ahead of Kubra to what was probably their room.

“Take care, hopefully I can see you in action sometime.” Rowan offered a friendly wave and turned back around the corner to his hallway to search out his room. Gryphon Gale has quite the eccentric gallery...but it takes all kinds. Nobody ever got to the top by being normal, and if that tracks with us too I guess the Nest is on the path to greatness. He let out a hyperbolic sigh and smiled to himself as he checked room numbers.

It had been a long time since he was really...alone with his thoughts. He was always catching stray feelings, sometimes so open it was like reading minds so in a way he was never completely alone with his thoughts...but for the past few years there was always someone familiar nearby, a rock in the waves. This was the closest he came to really being alone. Calming, yet bittersweet.

Without any other distractions, finding his room was simple enough but Rowan really wasn’t sure what to do with himself. It was too early for bed, but going out to do much of anything would be irresponsible. Can’t risk getting into trouble or getting tired out doing something stupid… He could read some more, sure, but what else? Oh, Zaline, you were supposed to protect me from boredom and indecision… But you’ve provided me some of the best motivation to kick ass I could ask for, so I’ll have to forgive you.

He fell backward onto the sinfully cushy bed after a good shower and stared at the intricate ceiling. Maybe if he went looking he could find Myeloch, or even follow Boriel around for a little bit. Rowan grabbed the “help” he’d asked Lina for from its spot against the bedside table, holding it above his head and looking at the golden Phoenix his guildmate had emblazoned on it. For a few seconds his hair flickered between its usual red and a familiar brilliant blond, and he smiled softly at Lina’s handiwork. “Proper rest is the foundation of the path to victory...Alright then, tomorrow it is.” It was set down and Rowan closed his eyes just like that, drifting off to an easier and more peaceful sleep than he’d had in years.

"Ever looking forward, ever thinking back. Everywhere you've been, everyone you've met was another step on your path, shaping your future even as they become part of your past. One must never discount the pieces that have made up your journey until now but to lose yourself in them would be equally great folly, instead let them hoist you up, carry you on until you find the strength to walk for yourself. So it is that I continue towards that endless horizon. Ever thinking back, ever marching forward, inexorable as the history that brought me down this road. This Lonesome Road."



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The Magic Council Thursday July 19th, X784

The elevator climbed higher and higher, leading the Phoenix Guildmaster to the tower’s highest floor. It wasn’t unusual for the council to summon him like this, but he really wished they wouldn’t. Especially when most of the time there was no good reason to, considering he had a perfectly functioning communication lacrima they could contact. But he knew he wasn’t in a position to defy them, so up he went. He had a couple of hours to kill anyway while he waited for Rowan’s exam to begin.

The elevator slowed as it approached its stop. Myeloch made sure to undo his disguise before the doors opened. He could feel the heavily-warded council room from here, but there were a few security checkpoints he had to go through before he could get there.

After what felt like forever, he finally reached his destination. He opened the doors to find an unpleasant scene awaiting him.

“Your mother was right, you’re nothing but a useless fanboy!” Shouted the ever-so-delightful Councilman Gregory Argyle. That scowl and those bulging veins on his forehead were a sight Myeloch was very familiar with. Perhaps he’d have more of his hair left if he wasn’t so angry all the time.

“Is that all you needed of me?” Asked the current subject of his ire. Myeloch didn’t recognize the man at first, but it was easy to deduce who he was. His dingy robes and over-the-shoulder braid, along with his wooden staff and soft smile were eerily reminiscent of himself, but the main identifier was the unicorn guildmark on the man’s cheek. The man was the master of the newly-created Crimson Unicorn guild and the son of Gryphon Gale’s master, Izan Avila. Myeloch hadn’t seen Izan since before his disappearance, when the boy was barely above knee-height. He never expected that child’s admiration of him to escalate to such a degree.

“Yes,” spoke the elderly woman next to Argyle, Councilwoman Sena Cain. “While your decision is unfortunate to hear, we cannot force you to choose otherwise. You’re free to go.” While her demeanor was nearly opposite to Argyle’s, the two shared many of the same beliefs. They tended to take the lead in council discussions, and were responsible for much of what magic’s role in society looks like today. Izan nodded and turned to leave.

“Am I interrupting something,” asked Myeloch.

“Nothing important,” said Izan. “Councilman Argyle is just a little upset that his prediction magic could be wrong.”

Myeloch smirked. “That sounds like him.”

“By the way, it is an honor to see you again, Master Myeloch. Hopefully next time will be under better circumstances.” Izan bowed, and left the council room. Various council members began to speak in his wake, perhaps discussing whatever it was Izan had been summoned for.

Argyle grumbled a bit before turning his attention to Myeloch. “You’re a terrible influence, Latare. Maybe he wouldn’t have refused a position on the council so quickly if you hadn’t done the same.”

Myeloch chuckled. “That was a long time ago, not that I wouldn’t refuse again now. But you don’t need to ask ‘maybe’, do you? I’ve no doubt you factored that into your simulations, so you know that’s not why he refused.”

“And I don’t suppose you know why?”

“Not a clue.”


“On to the matter at hand,” interrupted Cain. “We called you here to ask how your project is progressing.”

“Were my assistant’s reports not enough?” Myeloch asked.

“Cut the bullmuk, you know it’s not enough!” Argyle was already beginning to raise his voice. “How the hell is she going to know what ‘good progress’ looks like when she doesn’t know what any of it’s actually for?”

“In a way, none of us can really know if we’re on the right track,” said Cain. “None of us except you. We only want your assurance that the current pace is enough. If need be, we can increase funding to the research base, but we need more information.”

Myeloch shook his head. “Unfortunately, I can make no such assurances. You’ve all seen my memories so you know just as much as I do on the matter. While I’d certainly appreciate more funding, it can’t come at the cost of the country’s safety. Not when we don’t know what could be lurking in the shadows.”

The other council members spoke up.

“I’m still not convinced this entire ordeal isn’t just some trick.”

“Yes, one of them would have no trouble fooling even our best readers.”

“But what about what Councilwoman Cain saw with her magic?”

“That’s still not enough to guarantee everything he’s told us is true.”

While they debated amongst themselves, Myeloch took a look around the room. He could see the dark of night beginning to settle through the translucent, crystalline ceiling. But it was hard to take comfort in it with the bickering council in front of him, and the Rune Knights behind him watching his every move. Among them were even members of the anti-magic squad, bearing their signature weapons made of that jet-black stone. The floor around the council was covered by a multi-layered magic circle, carefully sized to encompass the council members while staying outside the anti-magic knights’ reach.

Argyle and Cain soon managed to calm the council members down before continuing the discussion. Cain cleared her throat. “Despite what you say, you don’t seem particularly concerned.”

“You even had the nerve to ask for a day off,” added Argyle.

“We’re in a testing phase at the moment, so I’d only be of marginal use anyway. Besides which, I still have a responsibility to my guild. You wouldn’t want my Nestlings to run around completely unsupervised, would you?”

“Speaking of those hooligans, do you think they’ll be able to help with the plan?” asked Argyle. “You’ve got another Saint under your belt, and I see you’re already trying to make an S-Class.”

“When the time comes, that’ll be their decision,” said Myeloch.

Cain sighed. “When the time comes, we’ll be needing all the help we can get. Until you can assure us otherwise, I’d like you to keep that in mind.”

“Understood... I assume that was all, so I’ll be taking my leave.” Myeloch gave the council a smile and a wave before heading for the exit.

“Don’t forget for a second that we’re watching you!” Argyle called after him. Myeloch ignored his words, and the gates to the council room closed behind him.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The Journey to Lautela, and Minor Theft Thursday July 19th, X784

Phoenix Nest stepped on the train and flashed their tickets to the train staff onboard. The first section they saw was coach, where numerous people sat in rows of chairs. Several of them already had their complimentary blankets and pillows out and were attempting to nap with their limited space. The Nestlings shimmied their way through the center aisle and headed deeper into the train.

The next section they saw was a lounge car. It was much less crowded, and was adorned with plush chairs and warm lighting. The windows here were bigger, and there were windows on the ceiling too where one could see the stars after night fell. On one of the sides was a counter with a bar. Several people were already sitting in the lounge, including a few standouts.

Tiran was here, and beside him was a girl with the same guild mark as him. Her steely-gray hair was tied in a loose ponytail that hung over her shoulder, and her face showed a level of disinterest to rival Faye. On her lap was a creature that looked like a smiling grey slime, its small body bearing a metallic sheen. They also noticed a woman with blood-red hair and a crimson guildmark on her chest just below her collarbone. It depicted a unicorn, and it certainly didn’t belong to any GMG regulars.

Ith’Drell raised a hand in greeting but kept moving. Ephraim tried to corral his Barts into remaining as orderly as possible on the way through but the Barts, seeing Tiran and still giddy from Pat’s radiating emotions, threw them freshly knitted, gray and gold hats. Some started to pool around Tiran’s feet, giving him a hat with the word “champion,” misspelled as “chapyon,” on it. Ephraim sighed when he noticed and was quick to apologize. “Sorry, sorry. They’ve never met a celebrity before. You’re a real inspiration, sir,” he said; and to the Barts he said, “come on, come on,” as they hopped onto his clothes and wove themselves new pockets on the outside of his bag.

Moving on to the next section, they found themselves in a dining car. There were several small tables and chairs, with waiters waiting diligently. It was like something of a mini-restaurant. Notable people in this car were Rhea and Natalie sitting together with Rhea busy scolding her guildmate; a lean but muscular man with a hawkish face and short, spiky hair with a guildmark belonging to Silver Spirit; and Gryphon Gale’s newest member Simon Jules.

Simon had changed his look from last time he was at Phoenix Nest, keeping his round glasses and neatly combed hair but now wearing a sleeveless blue shirt and a somewhat familiar-looking silk scarf. On his right arm was the bracelet bearing his keys like usual, but his left arm had what looked like a full sleeve of leather armor. He looked at Phoenix Nest a moment, but quickly looked away.

Prim waved at the Gryphon, grinning mischievously. Drell gave him an awkward smile. Ephraim deftly pretended to be too busy rummaging through his bag, and the Barts raided the floor for crumbs. Faye didn't spare him as much as a glance. Pat waved very warmly at both Rhea and Natalie, then somewhat more reservedly at Simon as they passed the other wizards.

Further in they found the private rooms, There was a narrow hallway through these cars along the far side as the rooms themselves took up most of the space. Their tickets bore the number of their designated room so it didn’t take long to find it. Their room was an extra large one. By the door handle was a lacrima where they held up their ticket to be checked, unlocking the door in the process.

The room consisted of about four bunk beds to fit eight people, and a single desk against one of the walls. There was a large window, though at the moment it was hidden by curtains, and another door that led to their own bathroom.

Another thing the Phoenixes noticed was that Elidyr was already inside, wrapped in his wings. He glanced up when the door opened, and looked very relieved by their arrival. "You guys are okay! Sorry I wasn't there for you, I didn't know how to handle a fight between S Rank wizards. I didn't want to be in the way…"

With everyone inside, Elidyr's wings retracted into his back, revealing that he was holding two armfuls of snacks and drinks, presumably from the dining car. "I wasn't sure I could help in that fight, but I did grab some food for the trip! Figured I could at least do that."

“Oh, neat!” Ephraim beamed. “I had completely forgotten to pack food for myself--I was too busy trying to feed my small crowd instead.”

“Did you get anything good?” Prim asked, walking over and starting to rummage through Eli’s collection of snacks. She stopped, picking up a box of trail mix. “This better not be bird seed.”

"It's… probably not…" Eli scratched his head in thought, taking some meat jerky for himself. "I think it's like dried fruit and nuts, with some little candies? I didn't ask, I just grabbed them on my way through."

“Dude, nice!” Drell praised her guildmate, prominently displaying a vigorous and resplendent thumbs-up. “Don’t worry about the S-Class guys; wasn’t really a fight, more just kind of, uh… aggressive posturing, I guess?” She shuffled over to the wall to make sure everyone could have space.

“Food!” Was all Pat said before digging in.

“And thank god for that,” said Lina, breathing easy for the first time since the train platform. She threw her backpack onto the nearest bed, the same bed which she then collapsed face-first into. “For a sec there, I really thought we might end up fighting Tiran. Which would have gone terrible by the way, since people aren’t kidding when they say he might be stronger than Egan. Tiran loses to him mostly because it's a bad matchup.”

Ith’Drell waved a hand dismissively, “Naaah, I could take ‘im.”

“I would love to see that,” Prim commented, returning the trail mix to Eli’s supply of snacks and continuing to dig around for something more interesting.

“You and me both,” Ephraim said. “He’s so badass. Wish he could teach me a thing or two.”

“Definitely. Out of the big three, I think he’s got the coolest attacks.” Lina turned to a more relaxing position. “I just realized, with all of us in the same room like this it’ll be like my first sleepover. Never got to have one growing up. What do people do at those, anyway?”

“You’re asking the wrong person with me,” Prim replied, “Me either.”

"I… don't think I know what a 'sleepover' even is." Eli fidgeted, wishing Prim would just pick something.

While the guildmates were talking and discussing what a sleepover was, Faye climbed into a bunk bed and dropped her stuff on one of the top beds. "This is mine." She said quietly and laid down on her back.

“S’not a huge thing, don’t worry about it,” Drell chuckled, sidling over and dropping her backpack and sword down. “Just a chill time, usually. Hang out, talk, eat snacks. Play a few games. And, uh- sometimes, people even sleep, if you can believe it!” She paused to chortle and tapped one of the bunk beds. “Anyway, uh, I call a bottom bunk. ‘Cause, I dunno if I trust these things and I might not even fit up there anyway.”

"Oh, then I've done that before!" Elidyr dropped the snacks onto the bed, jumping off and onto Drell's arm, then swung up onto the top bunk above her. "It's kinda like when the young wyverns would all get together after a hunt, sharing in the food. And I call top bunk, I guess."

Pat looked dejectedly at each bed, growing more distraught with each one. “Wait...these are all so small! Does that mean I’m gonna have to sleep alone?”

Faye heard the rustling of the snacks falling on the soft mattress, that reminded her of something she meant to ask. "Elidyr… where did you get those snacks anyway? Was it on a car with… several price tags displayed on them?" Faye sat up and asked suspiciously. If she remembered correctly from her previous train rides, there was a section with snacks which you had to pay for.

"I… think so." Elidyr peered down at the snacks from his perch. "What's a price tag? These were just sitting on a cart in the food car."

Ith’Drell had to blink in silence for a moment before putting a hand to her temple and letting out an, “Aw, psyduck.” followed by a sigh from Faye.

Lina raised an eyebrow. “Weren’t you trying to watch your language around the younger members?”

“Huh?” Drell looked up at her. “Oh- muk, sorry. I mean-!” She covered her face in her hands for a second. “Uh, we gotta do something- like, go get a staff person and pay for these, or something like that.”

“I admit I don’t really want to give these back,” Lina said with a frown, “but we really should... It’s a mystery why our guild has the reputation it does, really is.”

Pat stared at the snack cake package in his hand and squinted in disappointment. “Why don’t we just pay for them?” Lina scrunched her face at the idea.

"Pay?" Elidyr was confused again. "Wait, is this more of that 'jewels' thing the people in town talked about? Because I don't have any of those."

Faye facepalmed and started counting the amount of cash she had on her. "We can't leave this unpaid. I'd like to be able to get back to Shessalie thank you very much."

“Okay okay okay,” the largest Phoenix said, thinking. She turned to the desk at her side and pulled open one of the lower drawers, pleased to find nothing inside. “Nice! Right, okay, Elidyr-” She pulled a few empty drawers out of the desk and dropped them in the middle of the floor, then started rummaging around in her backpack. “Put the snacks in those, for later. Nobody eat any more of ‘em yet. We gotta pay for- uh, okay- you and I, Eli, we’re gonna go on a little trip out, ‘kay? Can you show me to where the cart was you took the snacks from? We can head over, I’ll pay for the stuff since it’s for all of us, and I can fill you in on the jewels stuff. Sound good?”

"S-sure, sounds good, I guess…" Eli dropped down from the top bunk, staring at the ground as he felt all eyes on him. He quickly moved the stolen snacks to the safety of storage, unable to look anyone in the eye. "It was back this way, j-just after the car with the couches. Or… before it, going back…"

Faye had this surprised look on her face as Drell started to fix the situation or at least came with a plan. Drell being responsible and reliable, who would've thought?

Lina stood up and stretched. “I guess while you do that I’ll take a look at the magazines I saw in the lounge. It’s been a while since I read anything except Sorcerer so it’ll be a good change of pace. Maybe I can find some more info on sleepovering, too.”

She gave a quick wave and headed out the door. Or, she would have if she didn’t stop at the sight of a familiar face waiting on the other side when she opened it. It was Simon Jules, hand raised as if he was just about to knock. He and Lina exchanged a few words before he stepped aside for her to pass.

He stepped into the doorframe, silently frowning and playing with the end of his scarf. He cleared his throat, then abruptly lowered his head in a bow. “I’m here to apologize for my behavior from last time! I... left a letter, but I’ve realized that was a cop out. I have to say this in person or it doesn’t mean anything.“

More surprises for the Phoenix nestlings. Or so Faye thought. “I don’t think we’ve seen a letter but I guess that’s fine. I appreciate it that you came to tell us in person.” Faye said with another expressionless approach, shifting her gaze to her teammates.

“You’re making a big deal of nothing,” Prim waved him off. “You’re too uptight.”

“Is that Simon?” Drell wondered aloud, rising from her backpack with a wallet in hand. She turned to face the Gryphon and gave him a wide grin as she waved away the rest of the conversation. “Yeah, yeah, it's fine, don’t worry about it- it’s good to see you, dude.” The Phoenix paused for a moment, remembering how she’d seen him on the platform and in one of the previous cars. “You the only Gryphon here?”

Simon looked back and forth between the Phoenix members, struggling to keep up with them all. “I can’t let myself forget my moment of weakness or else I might sink back into it. That’s why I kept this scarf from those spiders, as a reminder. I even had it enchanted to protect it... I think it’s reasonable, at least. As for the other Gryphons, they were either busy or not interested.”

Ith’Drell nodded in understanding, one side of her mouth twitching in sympathy.

“Hi, Simon!” Pat exclaimed, bouncing in place. “Have you become better friends with Cancer yet? Or any of your other spirits?”

Simon twiddled his scarf a bit more. “It’s a work in progress, but there’s progress nonetheless.”

“Dude,” said Drell. “I dunno what those spirit things are, but I wanna-” She hesitated. “Uh- hold- ah, yeah. You know, you’re welcome to hang out with us and everything, right? More the merrier and all that stuff- mind if Eli and I squeeze by for a sec, though? We gotta go pay for the snacks we got before someone gets antsy.”

“Oh, um, right, of course.” He stepped aside to make room.

“Thanks. C’mon, Eli.”

Eli followed behind Drell, nodding at Simon as he passed. "N-nice to meet you…"

Pat bounced up to Simon and grabbed his hand without waiting for acknowledgement. "It's good to see you again! I bet Rowan would love to see what progress you've made but he's taking the exam right now."

“I think Rowan is more interested in other things.” Faye joked underneath her breath and hid her face inside the book that she had brought along and taken out of her bag while the others were talking.

Prim laughed in response to that. “She’s got your brother pegged, Pat.”

“He takes his work more seriously than you ever take anything, Prim. And both of you stop being so mean! He’s taking that test for the whole guild!” Pat complained, pouting heavily.

“Don’t worry, Pat. I’m just messing around.” Faye waved her hand up and down.

Simon stared at the guild members in front of him. “I wasn’t expecting this kind of reception after everything. We’re still rival guilds set to fight at the games and this won’t change that… but I still appreciate it.” He paused for a bit, closing his eyes as he considered his words. “But there is one more reason I came here. I wanted to ask if you’ve noticed anything odd from your master or his daughter.”

“You’ve met us,” Prim commented, “You’re going to have to be a little more specific than that. Odd is what we do.”

“I agree with the bird.” Faye let out. “We don’t do normal.” She flipped a page as she continued reading the book she brought.

He hesitated. “...A better word might be suspicious. Or maybe unnatural.”

Faye looked up from her book, getting a bit suspicious herself. “May I ask why you want to know about master Myeloch and Lina?”

“Speaking of suspicious,” Prim added smugly.

“Aren’t all powerful old people weird?” Pat queried. “Especially when they’re wizards? All I know is Myeloch and Lina are the nicest people in the world and Myeloch is super smart.”

“That’s the impression I got too,” Simon said. “Or something similar to it, at least. Suspicious and unnatural are the sorts of things Master Avila says about Master Latare and Lina. She doesn’t trust them, and often goes on about how he’s up to something and keeping secrets, or how she’s suspicious about Lina’s very existence. It’s difficult to believe after meeting them, and strange when our masters were supposedly close friends when they were young.”

“I’m not gonna say that I don’t understand why your master doesn’t trust it. I’ve been wondering about Lina myself. However, she’s our teammate and we value her privacy as well as our master’s.” Faye closed her book and got out of the upper bunk bed. “So no, unfortunately we don’t know anything but Lina is a good girl and master Myeloch has nothing but been kind to us. I don’t think your master has much to worry about.” She spoke, coming closer to the others.

Simon frowned. “I doubt that’ll change her mind, but I hope you’re right. And even if you’re wrong, I suppose I have no business prying into your guild’s private affairs.”

“It’s not prying, there’s nothing wrong with being curious.” Pat said warmly. “I want to learn more about a lot of people.”

Faye put a hand on Pat's head and petted it softly for a bit. "A little bit of suspicion never hurt anyone. As long as it's only a bit." The white haired girl walked past Simon and the others towards the door. "I'm going out for a bit." Were the last words she exchanged before leaving the cabin.

“I should be going too,” said Simon. “I’m going to try working on my magic more before we get there, and if you intend to stand any chance against the S-Class wizards here, I suggest you do the same.” Simon bowed one last time before he left the room.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The St. Freilah Express Thursday July 19th, X784

The sun had set over the speeding train, and soon there would be stars twinkling above for passengers to gaze upon from the comfort of the lounge car. Or perhaps they would prefer the open air of the observation car at the back of the train. While a number of passengers had already gone to sleep for the night there were many more taking advantage of the train’s accommodations.

Word spread fast among the people about the famous wizards joining them on the train. All sorts of things were said about each and every one of them. And just as much was said about the incident that occurred on the train platform before boarding.

People talked about Tiran, who was wearing a knitted hat with the word “chapyon” on it, and about his beast Ralga who’d taken a diminutive form to occupy less space. Some mentioned his companion, GMG regular Nilli Uniel who was known for her lone-wolf attitude. They talked about Rhea, who refused to let her rambunctious guildmate out of her sight.

They also talked about Simon who’d been seen practicing with his spirits, and of the Silver Spirit member who was also a GMG regular. And there were a few knowledgeable passengers who talked about the wizard they’d never seen, and the bladeless sword hilt she carried that they recognized as a relic.

And of course, they talked about Phoenix Nest.

The train wouldn’t reach its stop until around noon tomorrow, so there was plenty of time to kill. One could take this chance to get to know their guildmates a little better, they could try and train for the upcoming job, they could scout out their soon-to-be opponents in the hunt for the wetland relic, or they could simply enjoy the ride and all it had to offer among other things.


The St. Freilah Express, Key Locations:
  • Coach, the section of the train populated by the average citizen. A good place to hear gossip or rumors.
  • The lounge car, featuring comfy chairs, large windows, numerous magazines, and a bar
  • The dining car, home to the train’s own on-board restaurant
  • Private rooms, where the guild wizards would be staying the night
  • The communication car, containing a small number of full-sized communication lacrimas to make calls to anywhere for a small fee
  • The observation car, an open car at the back of the train for sightseeing

I'll put something cool here eventually.


Age 24
Seen 53 Minutes Ago
Posted 2 Hours Ago
22,288 posts
8.4 Years
Primilla Bellamy and Faye Aubrey

Observation Deck
Prim closed her eyes for a moment, enjoying the feeling of the night air against her skin. While she wasn’t about to admit it, she was a lot more comfortable out on the observation deck than she was in the cramped cabins and hallways of the train’s interior. She didn’t pay it too much mind, but she supposed that was the bird side of her.

Mild claustrophobia - not that Prim would ever describe it as such - aside, she was feeling a degree of excitement. Ever since her adoption, she had never really travelled overly far from the capital until she had moved to Shessalie. She had hardly been south at all, certainly not anywhere near Lautela. She was looking forward to seeing a new and interesting place… and to the adventures said new place would bring.

“Didn’t I see you come in with Phoenix Nest?”

Prim turned around to the source of the voice. It had come from a young man with a hawk-like face, piercing green eyes and short, spiky hair. A ring of keys, not unlike the one Simon wore around his wrist, dangled from his belt next to what looked like a metal rod in a holster. On his sun tanned left arm was the phantasmal shape of Silver Spirit’s guildmark. That was all Prim needed to see to know that this was not going to be a pleasant conversation.

“I’m part of the guild, so yes,” Prim replied, pulling up her sleeve to display the blue Phoenix Next guildmark on her left shoulder. She let her sleeve drop back into place, already feeling her body preparing for a fight.

“So it seems,” the man replied, “I’d heard that Phoenix Nest was a second rate guild full of freaks, savages and monsters but you and a few others seemed normal enough. Then I caught that little hint of Valbestian in your accent. Guess the descriptions I had heard weren’t far off after all.”

Prim immediately found herself struggling to resist the urge to punch the other wizard off the edge of the observation deck. She counted it as a point in her favour that she hadn’t done it already at that point.

“Better to be a guild of misfits than a xenophobic gang that just masquerades as a guild,” she sneered, “Silver Spirit must be getting pretty stupid to willingly be sending someone around on a train full of people who’d like to see you tied to the tracks.”

The Silver Spirit’s hand drifted to his side, towards the keys and the metal rod. Prim caught the movement in her peripheral vision, but refused to break her eye contact with the man - even though this meant looking up, since he was a good five or six inches taller than her.

“Is that a threat?” he asked, his eyes narrowing.

“Of course not.” Prim smirked, taking a step towards the wizard, “I’m just saying, if it came down to it, I’d race Tiran for the honour.”

The Silver Spirit laughed mirthlessly, ignoring the disconcerted looks of the few other people on the observation deck, who were now getting a sense for the tense atmosphere they had found themselves in. “What exactly are [i]you[i] going to do to me? A lowly Valbestian who doesn’t even have a little pet with her?”

“Keep running your mouth and you’ll find out,” Prim responded, clenching her fists and moving closer still. Out the corner of her eyes, she noticed a few people scurrying to get off the deck, no doubt fearing a re-enactment of what had happened on the platform earlier.

She isn’t going to do anything.” With the speed of light, Prim’s white haired and older teammate stood between the two. Some of the observants seemed to be frozen in place and whispered to each other, wondering where the girl came from. “At least, not yet.” Faye brushed a few strands of hair out of her face and faced the Silver Spirit who was taller than her but the height difference was at least a bit less noticeable than with Prim. “How about you pick a fight with someone of your own height? Buzz off.” Faye warned.

“Where’d you come from?” The Spirit sneered at Faye.

“More importantly,” Prim added, “Why are you standing in the way? It makes punching people rather difficult.”

“That was the whole idea, Prim.” Faye sighed and shrugged, though her gaze quickly shifted back to the young man in front of them. “Let’s not try to cause trouble on this train. We still need to arrive at our destination.” The hybrid touched spoke reliably and responsible but was quickly annulled once she opened her mouth again. “It’s also not my fault you are not good at detecting presences. I was here the whole time.”

“Well that’s no fun.” Prim rolled her eyes.

“What can I say,” the man interjected, “Humans attract less attention than beasts. Then again, how human can you really be if you’re throwing your lot in with this one, the spider freak and a giant reptile?”

“Now can I hit him?” Prim snipped.

Faye gritted her teeth all the while keeping an expressionless face going on. Different emotions were stirring inside her mind though. She felt flattered she passed for a human even though being cursed with her touched features but felt agitated for his words. She couldn’t describe this feeling but her urge to punch him in the face grew along with Prim’s.

“They’re more human than you are with your prejudices.” Faye’s usual expressionless gaze turned a bit more violent and piercing. “If you want to fight, sure. Let’s do so in the future. I’d really like to catch my destination without pebbles on the road trying to pick fights.” Faye turned around and grabbed the arm of her younger team member. “We’re going, Prim.” she pulled her along. This was probably the first time anyone saw Faye annoyed besides that fight with Harmonia.

Prim considered resisting for a moment, but relented nonetheless, allowing her guildmate to drag her past the Silver Spirit. The wizard himself just kept smirking at them as they went.

“We’ll get him next time. He’s going to get this back tenfold.” Faye whispered towards Prim.

“You have no idea,” Prim replied, “I’ve been listening to assholes like that most of my life and now that I don’t have to worry about other people’s reputations so much, I’m not going to take it lying down.”

“You don’t have to but let’s at least try to arrive in Lautela safe and sound.” Faye sighed again, her anger not yet subsiding but she tried to make peace with it, putting the emotion in a box and closing the lid. Something she always did with feelings she didn’t want to feel.

“Okay,” Prim grinned, “I admit it might have been bad if I’d derailed the train. For a second there though, I thought you were going to punch him instead, and that’s not cool, I have dibs.”

“Yeah yeah…” Faye brushed off the comment like it was some dust on her clothes.


Magnificent Turnip

Private property what the heck are you doing here get out
Seen 16 Hours Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
659 posts
8.4 Years

Woah Hey Woah Get A Load Of That Guy Who Was At The Cart Wasn’t That Crazy?
Featuring Drell and Elidyr

As the two stepped out into the hallway, Ith’Drell realised she hadn’t really interacted much with Elidyr alone since they’d met a couple or so weeks ago. Besides the initial friendly ‘hi, what’s your name, what do you do, what do you like, et cetera et cetera’ she couldn’t remember a one-on-one conversation they’d had other than the occasional greetings and pleasantries. She was about to take a step when she realised that she didn’t actually know where the younger Phoenix had got the snacks from, so he should probably be the one leading her.

“Uh, right,” she said. “Snackward, right? Or, like- you know what I mean. Lead the way, dude, we’ll see if we can find someone who can sell us the things we got properly.”

"Yeah, right…" Elidyr dutifully stepped forward, leading the way back toward the dining car. "I don't really get it. Sarah makes us food at the guild, and we can have as much as we want. But in the market- or on a train, I guess- we have to 'pay'?" He traced a hand along the decorative trim on the wall.

“Right, well-” Drell followed after, pausing in her speech to formulate her thoughts. “There is some kind of paying going on there, it’s just kinda automated with the guild agreement stuff. I’ll tell ya how that works when, uh… well, when you’ll know how it works when I tell ya. You know what currency is, dude?”

"Yes. Currents are when something like air or water flows in one consistent and particular direction." Eli knows the word, but doesn't know what it has to do with food.

Drell’s smile froze, but to her credit she kept it up. “Not quite the same kind of currency I’m talking about,” she said. “Ok, let’s start from the top. You know trade, right? Like one person has four apples, another person has four potatoes, person one- uh, the people figure that it’s better to have two apples and two potatoes so they swap a bit, yeah?”

"Okay… I guess that makes sense. They share their food?"

“I guess,” the larger Phoenix scrunched up her face a little. “But it’s a little more than that. Some new person could come to town with a load of fish, and then they could swap apples and potatoes for fish. Or some guy with a load of materials could come by and the first person could be like ‘ey, if you build me a house, I’ll give you like five hundred apples’ or something. It’s trade! People got stuff that other people want, people want stuff that other people got. And it ain’t productive to just try and kill everyone else and take it or whatever- instead we get society and stuff and it’s cool.”

"Oh…" Eli thinks it over. "So currency is what I have to trade in order to get what I want?"

“You’re catchin’ on quick, dude,” Drell praised with a grin. “People kind of realised and agreed that if you just have a load of apples, ya know, not everyone wants apples and just trading with stuff can be wonky, so then big power people threw up this whole currency shtick where we have representative trading lil dealies that you can swap anything for and you can swap for anything! If, uh- that makes sense. That’s currency! Or money, or however you wanna call it- our one is jewels, these things I got here,” She jangled a few coins and bills out of her wallet to give Elidyr a look. Eli looked a little dazed, trying to keep up with the explanation, but barely had time to look at the jewels as Drell kept going.

“There are some other currencies, I think - there were, at least. But these are the ones we’ve got. Aaaand if ya just take stuff without trading then it’s kinda mean and bad and called stealing and you can go to jail for it and things like that- but! But, uh, we caught it quick and it was an honest mistake and we’re, like, still here and have the intent to pay and everything so it’s fine. And lucky for you you’re just out here with the squad and I’m sure as heck not going to dig into ya for it - jeez my mum woulda kicked my ass if I did anything like- uh, yeah. Saves trouble if ya just do it the regular way, though, right?”

Eli nodded, staring straight ahead. "I… I t-think so. I did something wrong, and I'll get punished if we don't fix it. R-right?" He clung tightly to her arm, looking a little scared. With her rambling ceased, Drell managed to notice. She stopped walking, gently held Elidyr by the shoulders and lowered herself to one knee so she could look her guildmate in the eyes.

“Ey, hey hey hey- it’s not that bad.” She paused to chuckle. “Would be, maybe, if we just, like, totally booked it out of the train and ran. But we’re still here and it’s all good still, the fixing of it is just, like… uh, how do I put this? Like… we acted early enough - thanks, Faye - uh, that, we kind of don’t have to- like, the fixing of it isn’t retroactive, or anything. Like, we’re in the middle of the purchase- uh, we’re in the middle of the trade, still. We just need to make sure to do it right, and it isn’t that hard - don’t worry about it, m’kay?”

Eli looked Drell in the eyes, getting more anxious the longer she talked, but started coming around at the end there. There was a slight rustle of fabric as his dragon tail emerged, which he wrapped around himself and held onto, like a child holding a blanket for comfort. "M-m'kay… l-let's go finish the trade, then! Maybe… maybe you should do it, and I'll watch, and learn?" He looked hopeful at that.

“I mean, if you really don’t want to do the trade I won’t force you, but like… buying stuff is pretty neat. I mean, I guess it’s the freedom of choice and the getting of the stuff that’s the neat part, but if ya learn to do it here you can buy your own stuff later. I promise it’s, like, so easy - the people you give the money to tell you everything to do. If ya want to try it out… now’s the time, and I’ll be right here, yeah?”

"Oh… sure. I g-guess I should do it… Fix my m-mistake, right? But… can I borrow some jewels? I don't have any…"

“Yeah yeah yeah, I got this thing-” Drell waved the thought away, handed him her wallet and stood. “And dude, remember: almost mistake. Haven’t made it yet. Trade still in progress, yeah?”

Eli laughed nervously. "Haha… yeah! It's a learning opportunity! I'm learning something! Can't be wrong if I learn, right? I'll do good, I promise." He held the wallet tightly, his tail lashing slightly behind him. "It's just up ahead. The car with all the food in it."

“Right. Let’s see if we can find someone near some trolleys. Oh! And, uh, I should tell ya- open my wallet up real quick and have a peek. Not all the things in there are the same value - they’ve all got what their value is on them, don’t worry. Push comes to shove just give them a single really big-value one and they’ll give you the difference back.”

"Oh! That's good to know, thanks! I'm not real good with the numbers, so I'll just do the big ones." He led the way again, back toward the dining car. He seemed a bit confused when he looked around, but kept walking. They made their way out of the dining car and into the lounge, and there Elidyr stopped.

"That's the cart I got the food from. But that bored looking guy wasn't there before." He pointed to a snack cart, where a stoic faced man dressed like a butler stood by. Apparently people didn't want snacks in a restaurant, so they moved it to the lounge. "I don't think I can… no, I can. I can handle buying snacks. ...right, Drell?"

“Right,” Drell nodded in affirmation. “Might help to let ‘em know we moved the snacks over to our room already, because they might not know where the snacks went yet, but once they’re on the same page it should be smooth sailin’. All good. I’ll be right here, too, bud.”

"Okay…" Eli let out a breath, steeling his resolve before marching up to the cart. "Excuse me, sir? I… I'd like t-to buy some snacks?"

The attendant nodded at him, offering a slight smile. "Of course, young sir. What can I interest you in?"

"Oh… no one's ever called me 'sir before…" Eli glanced back at Drell, who flashed him an encouraging smile and a glorious and majestic thumbs-up.

"Well, I kind of… already grabbed them? There was no one at the cart earlier, and I wanted to surprise my friends, s-so I just… grabbed a few. More than a few. I grabbed a handful." The attendant's eyebrow slowly lifted as Elidyr tripped over his words.

"An armful?" Eli was starting to shake under the scrutiny. "Two! I grabbed as much as I could carry! I'm sorry! I didn't know! I have money, please don't be angry!"

Ith’Drell, sensing her guildmate’s rising tension but not wanting to spoil his independent transaction, gave the attendant an awkward smile and mimed some calming hand-motions. She kept glancing between him and Elidyr and nodding her head in the younger Phoenix’s direction.

The man glanced at Drell, nodding slightly. Eli didn't notice, being too busy panicking. "I see. We just thought the engineer grabbed them. He does that sometimes." Eli looked surprised, even looking at Drell to make sure he was doing this right. The older Phoenix gave him yet another thumbs-up of equally grand proportions.

"No need to worry, young sir. Simply pay the 5,000 jewels and everything will be square."

"F-f-five… thousand?" Eli went pale, grabbing and stroking his tail nervously. "Um… excuse me for a moment?" He shuffled over to Drell, unable to look her in the eye. "Drell… do we even have that many jewels? It's not that big a wallet…"


“-Yup!” Drell nodded, grinning through gritted teeth. It wasn’t a lie - she had the money, thanks to the guild giving her a budget to cover expenses - but the price was pretty steep by her standards and it was taking all of her power to avoid noisily reacting to it in some way that would accidentally freak Elidyr out. “It’s all in there, dude, don’t worry- just pay the guy, it’s fine.”

Wordlessly, Eli returned to the cart, pulling out a bill and handing it to the attendant. He swiftly plucked it from Elidyr's grip, handing back a bill of smaller denomination. "Your change, sir. Enjoy your snacks." Elidyr nodded, turning back to Drell.

"And sir? In the future, try to avoid this scenario. Others might not be as understanding as I am." He frowned sternly at Eli, conveying extreme disappointment.

"I will! I'm sorry!" Eli scurried over to Drell, hugging her tightly. "...can we go back to our room now?"

“Thanks, dude,” Ith’Drell called to the attendant with a slightly concerned frown, giving Eli a quick pat on the head and ushering him back towards the dining car. “Okay, we- wait,” She stopped in her tracks and turned a bit to look at the attendant again. “Dude, could you not? That’s like… intense. Like, you’re not even looking at me but I can feel it.”

The attendant bowed his head to Drell, making his expression neutral. "Very good, ma'am. Do stop by again if you're still hungry."

“Oh, for sure, dude! C’mon, Eli...” Ith’Drell nodded politely, then began to walk off with her friend.

Eli muttered something under his breath as they walked away.

“Pff, yeah, right,” Drell scoffed once they were on the other side of the door. “Five kay jewels for that bunch of snacks? And you were worried they’d think you were robbing them, that’d be rich. Yikes. You okay, buddy?”

Eli thought for a moment, then nodded. "I don't think I like buying things from people, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. I've had harsher punishments before. Maybe he's just had a bad day?"

Ith’Drell shrugged, “Eh, could be. It’s whatever, to be honest. I guess he was kinda right, or something - try not to take stuff without paying first, because then it’s harder to give them back after you realise they’re trying to rip you off...” She paused. “You know about getting ripped off, right? I mean, it’s not literal- just, a bad deal. Right?”

"I… I can imagine. I've seen it, and it's not good. Ripped off just means not getting what you're owed?"

“Yeah, yeah, basically. Just checking, ‘cause, well, you know.” The two stopped speaking as they split up - Drell had to navigate the dining car extra carefully to avoid bumping any seats. “I don’t feel too bad about it ‘cause it’s guild expenses anyway, I guess. Money ain’t comin’ out of my pocket- oh, uh, speakin’ of, that is my wallet though, so gimme.”

"Oh, sure, here." Eli jumped over the seats to get to Drell, falling into step behind her and handing over the wallet. "I don't wanna keep it, anyway. Maybe if I had one of my own, but I doubt I'll need that. Or want it. I'll just keep letting others handle money for me, or just make do without."

“Uh- thanks- uh, sure, I guess you can… probably do that. I dunno, helps to save up and have some of your own, ‘n’case you wanna go anywhere or something. But I guess you can worry about that when you’re older or whatever.”

"I guess so. Sometimes I feel like such a burden, but you've already taught me a lot, you know? And Lina's always so nice, I bet she'd help me out if I asked. Or I could ask Sarah, or Rowan, they're pretty smart…" Eli grabbed Drell's hand as they walked. "I'll figure it out, don't worry."

“Wasn’t about to,” Drell chuckled, giving her guildmate’s hand a little squeeze. “You’re a smart enough lil’ dude. And you got us, to boot. You seem pretty set, if ya ask me. Went way better than my first purchase, I’ll tell you that much.”

Eli looked up at Drell, curious. "Was it bad? What happened?"

“Okay,” Ith’Drell began. “So I was beset by dragons and money was my only weapon - they were ghosts, too, the dragons were ghosts…”
Woah holy moly this boi's got a funky new signature


Believe in the you that believes in cheese

Age 26
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,306 posts
9.5 Years

The Cobblestone Garden Path to Greatness

The dark of night fell over Atria City. Or rather, it would have if it were any other city, but even at night the Capital shone brightly. Among the brightest buildings was the Crystal Tower, in which powerful wizards were gathered to prove themselves worthy of the title “S-class wizard”.

A still-disguised Myeloch fetched Rowan from his room when the time came, and the two descended the crowded elevator to a lower floor. They exited to find a crowd of fellow examinees waiting to begin. There must have been nearly 200 of them, if Rowan had to guess. Standing along the walls around them were several Rune Knights and various self-important looking people. Considering Egan was among them, he knew these were the masters and other high-ranking wizards who’d be observing them.

In the crowd, Rowan was able to spot a number of cuties, but also a few familiar faces. Kubra stood toward the edge of the crowd, with Epludo nowhere in sight. The latter had probably stayed behind. Towards the middle was Zaline, who was staring longingly at a photograph. He didn’t need his magic to tell how smitten she was with its subject. Off to the side, almost in the corner of the congregation was a tall person with a glimmering river of green hair so shiny it looked as if pure emerald had been spun into the finest of threads. She was a woman, but Rowan could only tell that because a certain one of her prodigious curves pushed the hair outward once it got low enough.

A familiar pang of feeling shot through Rowan like a hot spike and his temple clenched painfully, but he couldn’t nail it or its source down, too many people too close feeling too many things.

“You doing alright there, buddy?” Rowan heard with a pat on his shoulder. It was Zaline, who’d come up to him.

“Just a bit of a headache.” Rowan waved off her concern. “How about you? Seemed like you were looking real hard at something earlier.”

A smug smirk adorned her face and she shoved the picture in Rowan’s. Once he stepped back enough to actually look at the thing, he noticed it featured someone he’d seen before. It was a young man with big brown eyes, a wide smile, and short, green hair spiked up. His crop top showed off his abs, as well as the guild mark on his hip that matched Zaline’s own. He’d seen him recently, in the pages of the latest Sorcerer Weekly.

“It’s my boyfriend Faris, the most amazing person I’ve ever met! I carry this around for luck… and also to show off. I promised him that the next time he saw me I’d be S-Class.”

Rowan screwed up his face for a second, then laughed in self-mockery. "Hahaha! Would you think less of me if I told you that's the last thing I wanted it to be?" He wiped a tear from his eye after the fit subsided and gave Zaline's shoulder a hearty slap. "I'm happy for you! Let's kick this test's ass, get drunk, then sleep it off and show you off to your man!"

She smiled at Rowan. “Yeah! ...Think we can still be friends?”

“Of course!” He assured her with a gentler pat on the shoulder. “What kinda loser misses out on a chance at making a new friend out of jealousy?”

She gave a sigh of relief. “Would you believe me if I said I have a hard time making friends? Though that’s less because I have a boyfriend than because of who my boyfriend is. Everyone back home stays away from him, and me because I’m with him. I never really know what to expect when I meet someone new, but I always hope for the best.”

Rowan smiled deviously. “Really? Maybe I should talk to Faris sometime… I know a thing or two about that kinda stuff. We might have more in common than I thought. Forget those other people, Zaline. They’re either losers, cowards or jealous pricks. And you don’t need any of those in your life.” He puffed out his chest and nodded. “Now that you’re stepping through the Gates of Greatness you’ll make real friends, the kind that matter!” Rowan’s hair turned that brilliant golden sheen, along with his eyes and he let out a puff of air from his nose that visibly steamed. “Friends that stick with you and remind you of what’s important!” He flared his nostrils over and over as if he could wiggle them.

She giggled. “Hoping for the best doesn’t always work out, but I think it went just fine this time. That hair trick’s pretty neat, by the way.”

He returned to normal all at once and poked the side of his own head. “I wish it was a trick, the real trick is keeping it from happening. It does that all on its own. My eyes are like mood stones and my hair is like….mood...hair.”

“Oh wow, I’ve heard of wizards who can maintain passive spells subconsciously but I’ve never met one before. My hair thing’s just from dye I made with alchemy magic.”

“Who cares? It looks great anyways. Magic color-changing hair is overrated. Epludo’s hair is way more impressive than mine.” Rowan praised the Gyphon he’d met earlier.

“Never heard of him, but I’m definitely curious now.” Zaline’s eyes wandered and they settled on the doors to the exam room that they were all waiting to finally open. “You know, I think I’m gonna review a little more while we wait. Just in case.”

Rowan tapped his head again, this time with a smirk. “I got it all covered on my end, been living in our guildmaster’s study for the past week, practically. I’ll be sending you good vibes the whole test so ace it! As for Epludo, you’ll know him if you see him.”

“You know what? I should be more confident like you. Master Melidor taught me personally, after all!” Despite her words, she pulled out a notebook from her bag and started flipping through it. “But I’m still gonna review. Just in case. You probably don’t need it, but I’ll wish you luck too.”

“Neither of us do, but good luck anyways.” Rowan responded.

Soon, the doors everyone had been waiting for finally opened, and out stepped Rune Knight Vice Commander Winnifred Tulles. She ushered in the examinees and directed them to their assigned seats. The commotion from moments ago had died down completely, everyone’s faces now tense and focused.

“Guess that’s our cue,” said Zaline, putting away her notebook. She and Rowan made their way inside. Winnifred guided them as she had the others, making sure to give Rowan a quick wave when it was his turn.

Inside was a massive room with hundreds of sturdy-looking desks, lined up perfectly in rows. The observers gathered in chairs that lined the walls of the room. Among them were Myeloch who gave Rowan a thumbs-up, and Egan who looked at him with what he might call a glare if he didn’t know that was just what he always looked like. At the far end of the exam hall was a stage with a long table, and two large pillars of everyone's favorite light blue crystal at either side.

And standing at the center of that stage was a tall, slender woman with flowing gold hair and ivory skin. She had honey-colored eyes one wouldn’t expect to be capable of making the harsh expression she wore. But most importantly, she wore a blue and white long coat, decorated with a gold trim and an ankh symbol, marking her as a high-ranking Rune Knight. She was, in fact, Rune Knight Commander Milla Cavan.

The ability to sense ether is a skill shared by nearly all high-level wizards, and thus is one possessed by nearly all sitting in the exam hall. Sometimes a powerful wizard will use techniques to suppress their ether, keeping their true power hidden from those around them. Milla was not one of these wizards. It was as if her power was overflowing, a body blessed with so much ether that it felt like it might flood the room if not contained. If Rowan didn’t know better, he’d think Milla was the most powerful wizard he’d ever seen.

Once all the examinees had been seated, Winnifred hurried to Milla’s side. As the commander watched over the S-Class hopefuls, Winnifred watched over Milla. Unlike her visit to the guild, she gave off a professional aura with her serious expression and her stiff posture. But Rowan could sense her true feelings, her emotions feeling much like Zaline’s had earlier. She shuffled just a tiny bit closer to Milla. Must be nice. He thought ruefully.

As far as Commander Cavan, though, Rowan could sense nothing. Rather than lacking emotions, it was like his magic was simply incapable of reaching her. Milla held out her hand, and a grid of light began to form around the exam hall, each of the desks being contained in one of its squares. The ether contained in the lacrima pillars flowed into Milla as she cast her spell without her even touching them. Walls of translucent energy shot up from the grid, encasing each of the 200 examinees in their own cube of Milla’s magic.

Suddenly, Rowan was cut off from not only Milla’s emotions but the entirety of the rooms. Try as he might, his magic wouldn't reach past Milla's walls.

Finally, Milla spoke. Her voice boomed throughout the hall, unwavering and unkind. “You’ve been encased within walls of my ether stagnation spell. No magic can pass through. You will be unable to use magic to cheat, and any who try will automatically fail. You are free to use your notes, they will not save you if you are unprepared.”

Winnifred smiled at the examinees as if apologizing for her superior’s attitude. Exam attendants passed each desk, handing the sealed pages of the written exam and a pen to each wizard. They walked through the ether-nullifying walls with ease, possessing no magic of their own.

“You will begin when I tell you to begin,” Milla continued. “If you try to start early, you automatically fail. Are there any last questions?”

Rowan simply shook his head and pulled out his favorite quill.

“Very well. Begin!”

The written portion of the S-Class exam had ended. There were many disheartened faces among the wizards coming out of the exam hall, but there were just as many with a confident smile and a spring in their step. Whether or not they were right to feel the way they did would be revealed the following morning, when the test scores would be posted up for all to see. Only those who passed will be able to continue to the practical exam.

Zaline had to stretch her body after sitting down for so long. “I thought I wasn’t gonna make it… I spent too much time on the early questions like the one about the theories on commonly used runes, but somehow I managed to catch up.” She looked at Rowan. “How’d you do?”

“Oh, I aced it.” He said matter-of-factly. “I’ve been preparing for this in one way or another pretty much my whole life, even when I didn’t think I was. My brain’s one of only two real strengths I have as a wizard anyway… So I better have done well.”

“Nice!” She held her hand out for a high-five. “So what’s the other strength?”

He looked into her eyes with his own burning with a fire so hot she began to wonder if that strength was heat vision. “I’m unbreakable. The most stubborn son of a rattata you’ll ever meet. I pursue the things most important to me without ever slowing and I’ll let nothing stop me. Eventually, I will always get what I want… as long as I keep my aims in the realm of possibility.” The fire seemed to extinguish all at once and though it didn’t change color, his hair suddenly looked to hang limply from his head, as if it had died. “Some things… you can never have, no matter what, and those things it’s better to just not think about.”

Zaline was speechless as she let the words settle in her mind. The sounds of the crowd leaving the exam room around them seemed so loud over the pair’s lingering silence. Eventually Zaline found the words that had been eluding her. “...Sorry, I was just thinking about… well, about a lot of stuff. It sounds like you’ve got a history but I won’t bug you about it ‘till we know each other a little better. What I will say is that you’ve definitely got S-Class spirit!”

After a short silence, Rowan smiled at her again, back to normal all at once. “You do too, you’ve even got something more important than that~ So, how do you like to unwind when you’re fresh off of hard work and waiting for news?”

“Off hard work and waiting for news? Can’t say I’m in that specific situation very often. As far as work if I’m not on a job or collecting reagents, I’m testing concoctions or practicing magic. I go out drinking if I need to de-stress, but I don’t think that’s a good idea right now.

She crossed her arms and tilted her head. “I might sleep early so I can get in a good warm up before the practical exam, actually. Since that test could be pretty much anything, I have to be ready for anything.”

“Would you like a hint?” asked the black-haired woman who suddenly appeared next to them. It was Myeloch, his expression the same as ever.

Zaline jumped back with a yelp, her hand already hovering over her weapon. She was quick to calm down though, and greeted the newcomer with a smile. “Talk about light footed. So how do you know anything about what the exam will be, anyway?”

“You don’t need to worry about that,” Myeloch smiled innocently.

Rowan couldn’t resist the laughter that creeped up on him or the toothy grin that followed it. “She’s obviously very wise and sneaky to get the jump on us like that. I’m sure she has her ways. I, for one would love a hint.”

“I’d suggest not getting your hopes up,” said Myeloch, “since calling it a hint might be overselling it a little. But from what I’ve seen, I’m fairly certain they’ll be sending you on an actual S-Class job for the exam.”

Zaline’s jaw dropped. “An actual- no way! What exactly did you see!? And do you know her, Rowan?”

“Tough to say, she certainly seems familiar, but maybe she just has one of those faces.” He said impishly. “First S class job in the exam, huh? Sounds like a blast.”

“Well, ‘actual’ in a manner of speaking,” Myeloch clarified. “It seems the council has been cooperating a lot with Gryphon Master Yvonne lately, so I poked around to see what they’d been working on. Master Yvonne uses her magic to alter the properties of the world around her, but it seems she’s helped them create a room that can project an entirely new world of their own making, just as real as this world.

“The exam often features a mock S-Class job, so in a way this is just a more involved version of that. But the worlds that are being projected come from Master Yvonne herself. Knowing her, it’s more likely you’ll be sent on a full-fledged job she’s been on in the past rather than anything fabricated solely for testing purposes.”

Zaline raised an eyebrow. “‘Knowing her’? How do you know Master Avila so well?”

“I like to stay well-informed,” Myeloch answered matter-of-factly.

Rowan yawned and shrugged. “Avila’s a big deal, a lot of people must know her, right? I just hope they hurry up and move us on. I can’t really relax until I’ve passed the exam.”

“You’ve got a point, I guess I haven’t looked into her all that much,” Zaline conceded. “Alright, I should head back to my room for that early start! You should probably do the same, Rowan. Sleep now and tomorrow comes that much faster.”

“I’ll be taking my leave as well,” said Myeloch. “I’ll be back here in time for the exam. It’s a bit tougher to contact me outside of the guild if something comes up, but I think you’ll be fine.”

“I can find both of you if I need to. I’m used to you by now, Boss and I’ve got my new Besty’s signal locked in.” Rowan finished sweetly, winking at Zaline and steepling his hands under his chin. “See you when I see you!” He gave a little wave and left without waiting for a response, just like he always did.

"Ever looking forward, ever thinking back. Everywhere you've been, everyone you've met was another step on your path, shaping your future even as they become part of your past. One must never discount the pieces that have made up your journey until now but to lose yourself in them would be equally great folly, instead let them hoist you up, carry you on until you find the strength to walk for yourself. So it is that I continue towards that endless horizon. Ever thinking back, ever marching forward, inexorable as the history that brought me down this road. This Lonesome Road."



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Truth or Dare and the Threat of Hair Thursday July 19th, X784

After finishing their evening business aboard the train, the Phoenix Nest guild members finally gathered in their shared room to settle in for the night. Or they would have, if some of the members weren’t intent on keeping the night going. After all, who knew how long it would be before they were all together like this? Not including times when there were more important things to do, such as a job where they’d be in constant danger.

One such Phoenix was Lina, who held up a notebook. Flipping through it, she passed mostly sketches of her weapon designs, but she finally landed on a page filled with freshly-written notes.

She cleared her throat. “Alright, in my research I found that at a sleepover, you’re generally supposed to do stuff like doing each other’s hair, pillow fighting, and gossip. Lots and lots of gossip. Mostly about romance, but other stuff seems to count too. Looks like a good way to get people talking is through Truth of Dare, but I’m open to other suggestions.”

“Nobody is touching my hair,” Prim stated obstinately, “But I’m game to mess with other people’s.” With that, Prim started edging towards Faye.

“Oh hell no.” Faye immediately tried to ward whatever Prim tried to do off like a cat being spray bottled. There was a good reason why she was not going to allow that.

“Honestly,” Drell grinned, lying on her bunk with her boots off the edge. “Even I probably wouldn’t let Prim touch my hair.” Many of the Barts on the floor seemed to agree, rushing to an unusually large bundle of quilts beneath one of the bottom bunks as Prim came ever closer.

Prim changed to her bird form, shooting past Faye’s swatting hands and changing back to her usual self behind the other girl, plunging her hands into her mop of hair. She opened her mouth to say something back to Drell, but froze when her hands found something harder than scalp.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Prim commented, “I’m amazing at this sort of thing.” Prim said to Drell, choosing not to comment on anything at that moment.

Faye who was so dead set on not having anyone touch her hair only moments ago seemed to be frozen in place as she felt the hands of the younger girl slide towards her horns and then stopped. Her eyes were slightly widened while she was having an internal panic attack. On the outside it wasn’t very visible though due to her mastery of the pokerface.

Pat for once did a good job imitating his big brother, sliding between the two as Rowan often did with people and smacking Prim’s hand. “Don’t touch people who don’t wanna be touched! Or I’m gonna start bringing a spray bottle everywhere I go.”

Faye sighed in relief. She almost wanted to hug Pat for helping out here like a real champ but she was immensely bothered by the fact Prim felt something she should not have felt.

Elidyr quietly raised a hand. "You could do stuff with my hair, if you want. There's not a lot of it, but… I don't mind."

Prim gleefully trotted across to where Elidyr was and immediately began to fiddle with his hair, attempting to bunch it into numerous tiny clumps.

Ith’Drell chuckled. “Whatever you do, just don’t go using the lil’ bottles from my backpack for spraying!” She remembered for a second to not laugh as she added, “Seriously, though, don’t; it’s acid. That’s bad.”

“What kind of acid?” Pat queried.

“Don’t remember their proper names, I think they’re labelled or something- there’s, like, half proper acid and half big corrosive alkaline stuff. It was like… sulpho- hydry, uh, something. Anyway we don’t need those for a sleepover!” Drell raised one finger prominently in the air and closed her eyes. “I sanction no, uh, chemical experiments, at this sleepover.”

“But why do you have that acid?” Pat prodded.

“Killin’ stuff that’s weak to acid- sleeeeepover what’re we doing?”

“Let’s play games! I haven’t gotten to sit and play games with friends since -” The warmth and excitement everyone felt from Pat was broken with a thick wave of cold quiet like a bucket of water being dumped over the mood, before the warmth quickly resumed. “A long time! Games games games!”

“Like I said, I’m open for suggestions.” said Lina. “But I do kinda wanna try Truth or Dare. Just to make my first sleepover the sleepoveriest sleepover I can make it.”

“I’m up for it,” Prim replied. “I’m usually up for a new experience and I can’t say I’ve ever tried that before either.”

“Truth or Dare’s a classic,” Drell weighed in.

“S-Sure I guess…” Faye replied a little unsure. She tried to regain her composure from earlier but she was visibly uncomfortable.

"What's 'Truth or Dare'? I've never played, but I'd like to learn." Eli looks around, actually a little excited to learn something new.

Drell took a snack out of the drawer and inspected it. “Ok, so, we take it in turns,” she began. “If it’s your turn, you ask someone ‘truth or dare’? Then they pick. If they pick truth, you ask ‘em a question they have to answer truthfully. If they pick dare, you dare ‘em to do something and they gotta do it. Simple as.”

“AND if you don’t wanna do what you’ve been told,” Ephraim said, rolling out of an otherwise unsuspecting pile of cloth from underneath one of the bunks with a bottle of wine, “you drink. Except, um, Pat. And Eli too. You two can just drink juice.”

“Oh sh-” Drell cut herself off, remembering what happened earlier. “Eph, damn dude, is that-? Like, uh, what I think it is? I’m not sure if- okay, okay-” She lightly slapped her head with a dopey smile. “I’m realising that I have, like, barely any idea how old you guys actually are.”

“Well, I’d say I’m old enough,” Ephraim began with a grin, “but I will add the caveat that no one has to drink much or at all if they don’t want to. Mission tomorrow and all that. But I figured it wouldn’t be as fun if there weren’t stakes involved!”

“Hey, I’m a strong young man!” Pat complained. “I can drink! Rowan’s not here to see!”

“I mean, the aim of the game is to not drink, dude,” said Drell, stretching her arms.

“And Rowan might not be here but I am, your brother will strangle both me and Drell if we let you drink the juices of adulthood.” Faye’s voice could be heard disagreeing on the drinking as well. “I’ve never had alcohol by the way and I sure am not starting now. I’m probably a weak drinker anyway. Can we do this without for the sake of the minors here?” the white haired girl pointed at Pat, Elidyr, Lina and Prim.

“Well, that’s disappointing…” Prim muttered.

“Yeah,” Lina agreed. “Never had wine before so I kinda wanted to try it.”

“Couldn’t strangle me,” Drell grinned, finishing her stretch. “M’neck’s too big.”

“... You know what I mean.” Faye folded her arms.

“None of them would be minors in my tribe, and only two of them are minors in Lautela,” Ephraim said, recalling a guidebook he’d grabbed earlier, “but this is all fair-- I’ll keep it to myself if no one else wants any.”

"... what?" Faye who never shows any emotion on her face seemed honestly surprised for once. "... dare I ask what the minimum drinking age is in your tribe?"

“Approximately the same as the walking age officially! But most people didn’t allow their children to drink too much alcohol until they were 15-16ish? There weren’t strict rules on it, really.” Ephraim looked away for a bit. “I mean, it was just up to the parents at that point.”

“Aaight,” Drell exhaled. “Let’s play clean. Probably best not risk even the little chance of someone getting shi- uh, what’s the-? Drunk, that’s it. Big mission in the morning and all. Who goes first?”

"Someone who's played before, so we can see how it works?" Eli offered, idly playing with one of his new hair decorations. "How about you, Drell? You pick someone."

“Me? Uh- dang, I ain’t thought up anything good yet, but all right, uh… Eph, you know how this works, right? Truth or dare?”

“Yes, I guess I do!” Ephraim faked a bow. “I would be honored. I’ll do a… dare.”

“Okay… uhh, gimme a second-” Drell glanced around the room rapidly for ideas for a while before her eyes lit up as she eyed the snack pile. She pulled out what appeared to be a small pastry sealed in plastic and tossed it gently to the floor in front of Ephraim. “Dare ya to unwrap and eat that. Mouth only, though. No hands. No Barts either, that’s cheatin’. I mean I guess you don’t have to eat it if you don’t wanna but, like- the unwrap is the challenge. The eatin’s the reward!”

Having expected a different sort of dare, Ephraim moved his head closer to the pastry. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried that. I’m not sure if it’s… possible. But I’ll give it a shot I guess!” With that, Ephraim put the pastry wrapper in his mouth and began to grind the wrapper between his incisors. His mouth began to taste like plastic, and he scrunched his eyes together at the taste. He let out some feeble attempts at speech with the plastic in his mouth. None of it was intelligible. He shook his head lightly and bit the tip of the plastic wrapper, grunting and pushing his bottom jaw out to attempt to push the pastry out of the wrapper, but instead it began to smush out the other side and fall out of his mouth. Ephraim’s cheeks flushed. For someone who tried to amp up the game of truth or dare, he sure was failing at the base. He was almost certain he would’ve just taken a drink over his struggling. Nonetheless, his guildmates cheered him on.

“Go! Go! Go!” chanted Lina and Pat, already getting swept into the mood.

Eventually, after a solid minute of continued effort, Ephraim managed to sink a small hole into the wrapper, and began to enlarge it at inchworm pace. Noticing that he had technically unwrapped even a small part of the pastry, Ephraim spit it out of his mouth and pointed at it. “Okay, so, if I had given it a bit longer, it would’ve been open. Technically speaking, it’s unwrapped! Partially. I think,” Ephraim said between audible breaths, “I think we should probably keep the game moving.”

“Yeah, yeah- I count that as a win,” Drell agreed.

“I could have watched you do that for an hour I think.” Prim laughed, “I’m down for keeping this moving though. Bring it on people.”

“Well,” Ephraim said, “I suppose it’s my turn to choose. Normally I’d use a bottle, but I guess this does make things more interesting... Prim! Truth or dare?”

"A bottle…?" Faye repeated quietly.

“As tempted as I am to go all in on a dare,” Prim replied, “Kinda curious to see how the other direction goes since we haven’t had one yet. So, truth.”

“Mmmm… this category is usually more fun if we have burning questions. Which, in fact, I have one.” Ephraim looked over the whole crowd expectantly, before turning back to Prim and asking, “on average, if any, how many insects do you eat a month?”

Prim blinked, taken completely off-guard by the question. “I feel like I should be more offended than I am. As far as I know, none. No accounting for anything dumb enough to climb into my mouth while I’m asleep. Arachnids on the other hand…”

Prim looked directly at the clump of Barts and smiled mischievously. They scattered instantly, and Ephraim rubbed one of his temples. Oh god, he thought, I completely forgot there was a difference.”

Eli lightly punched Prim in the arm. "Be nice to the Barts, Prim. They're our friends, too."

“I’m sorry Prim, the question was kind of mean.” Ephraim gave a somewhat uncomfortable smile. “It’s your turn, though-- who’s going this round?”

Prim waved him off. “No worries. So, who’s feeling brave?”

Faye was curious about this game but wasn't about to volunteer considering what Prim had possibly felt earlier on her head. There was no way she could risk any questions that could raise suspicions. She was terrified, in fact, and because of that she glanced over towards the others.

"I'm letting you do my hair, so… I guess that makes me brave?" Eli volunteered.

“I’m also pretty brave,” Ith’Drell offered, afraid of dropping Elidyr in at the deep end with the guild’s resident representative for the power of chaos.

“If you’re both up for it, why don’t you both pick then?” Prim grinned.

“Ya can’t have two at once,” Drell jokingly protested. “It ain’t anarchy. Your turn, you pick one.”

“Sure, sure.” Prim shrugged, “What’ll it be then, Drell?”

“What’ll what be?” Drell shot back, punctuating the phrase with as much sass as she could manage.

“Are you taking Truth or Dare? Is your head as hollow as your helmet?”

Somewhere on the other side of the room you could hear Faye snort followed by a quick cough to regain her poker face.

“Actually,” Drell pouted. “My helmet has, uh, pretty significant padding- I’ll take truth because I value everyone’s continued safety-” she finished by bursting into a chortle.

“Did you really fight a big doom?” Prim grinned. “The rules are sacred, remember.”

“Big doom status is pretty open to interpretation,” the reptile grinned back, eyeing Prim from the side. “So, yeah, I fought, like, plenty.”

Prim laughed at that. “I’ll take that. Your turn.”

“Oh- yeah, uh… damn, my brain has like, zero ideas- Eli, truth or dare?”

"Me?" Eli was both nervous and excited. Nervocited. "I guess… I'll take dare?"

“Uh… can you eat anythin’ weird, Eli? Like, I knew a good few people who can eat stuff most people can’t- this ain’t truth, I’m just tryin’ to get a dare idea going, sorry,” Drell laughed. “I’m outta practice.”

"Probably." Eli thought about it. "There were all kinds of weird things in the Mistlands, and I ate some of those. What do you want me to eat?"

“Didn’t see much plastic back up North,” Drell pondered. “Actual- wait, what is it with me and eating plastic, today? This is dumb. I’m dumb. Uhhh- I dare you… to… uh… mess with Prim’s hair? Uh, yeah- uh… that was a mistake. Oh well.”

"Okay! Fair is fair, Prim." Elidyr checked to feel what Prim had done to his hair, just for comparison.

“I will punch you directly through that wall if you touch my hair,” Prim interjected. “I thought you were all about safety, Drell?”

"Please, Prim? I don't wanna lose on my first turn! I promise I won't mess with it too much." Eli pleaded, his tail lashing slightly.

Faye shot a quick glare in the direction of Prim. “Didn’t I tell you to not damage the train?” she reminded her.

“Oh, I get it,” Drell drawled, her smug grin widening and her side-eye gaze intensifying. “So you’re all for going into everyone else’s hair, but the second it’s your hair on the line it all shuts down? Man, thought you had a lil’ more courage than that, Prim.”

“I have plenty of courage,” Prim said, “I also have enough smarts to know when I’m being goaded. He’s welcome to try. I’m just saying, if he does, he’s going through a wall.” She poked her tongue out at Drell.

Lina quietly summoned her long sword and gently put it on her lap. "I want to make it clear that I'm very willing to zap someone if I need to in order to keep this train not-broken. Nobody in specific yet, just putting that out there."

“I’m not perturbed,” Prim said, thinking she was calling a bluff.

“Oops, fun’s over,” Ith’Drell barked. “Prim doesn’t want her hair touched! Fun’s cancelled! Sorry, guys. Oh, father, why can’t we go out and play anymore? Sorry, children; Prim has this thing, with her hair…”

"I guess I can offer my hair if you really wanted to keep the dare," Lina said. "I'm also a little disappointed since I wanted to try zapping someone other than myself for once. Just a little."

Eli sat down with a huff, grabbing a bottle of juice with his tail. "No, it's fine. I'll drink the fail juice. Do I still pick someone to go next?"

“Oh fine!” Prim’s resolve dissolved at that point. “I didn’t sign up to be guilt tripped, just get it over and done with - and make it something I can fix.”

Eli perked back up at that, dropping the bottle. "Thank you!" He gave her a quick hug. "I'll make it look pretty, I promise. My mom had pretty hair, but she kept it short, like mine. I won't do that to you, though."

Eli tried to style Prim’s hair, but had no idea how. Eventually he figured it out, giving Prim two cute little tails on the sides of her head. "There! Like wings! You like it?"

“It’ll do,” Prim said, forcing a smile as her left eye twitched suspiciously. “Now it’s your go.”

“Ayy, all’s well that ends well, right?” Drell laughed. “Seriously though, nobody give Prim a go or I’m psyduckin’ dead as- uh- uh, language, sorry. Uh, just dead.”

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Truth or Dare: Simulation and Suffering Thursday July 19th, X784

"Join the fun, Lina! Truth or dare?" Eli kept a friendly arm around Prim’s shoulders, proud of his handiwork.

"Hmm… Truth!" she answered.

"Okay. Truth…" Eli took a moment to think it over. "So… I know we're all like a family here, but you know how some animals form bonded pairs, and stick together for life? Is there anyone you really like, and want to bond with?"

Ephraim and Ith’Drell shared a quick look of baffled amusement.

Lina stared at him with wide eyes as she tried to parse the question in her mind. She stifled a laugh before finally answering. "If you mean like a crush then not right now, no. If you mean like actually wanting someone to be my uh, life partner, I don't think I've ever felt that about someone."

"Oh, okay. I bet it'd be easy to find someone, though. Lots of people probably have a crush on you, since you're so nice, and smart, and pretty..." Eli noticed the looks he was getting, turning a little red. "What? T-the book said to t-talk about stuff like this! It's your turn, Lina!" And he hid himself inside his wings.

Lina chuckled at the boy’s poor attempt to hide his feelings and turned her attention at someone who was a little better at that. “Alright Faye, truth or dare?”

Faye folded her arms and thought a little. It was Lina, probably the safest person to give her a dare of a question. "Hm…. Truth." She went with eventually.

“Okay, tell me one thing you’ve fantasized about,” Lina asked.

Faye was quiet for a bit. You could visualize her jaw drop except that it didn't actually happen but it was a question she didn't expect nonetheless. "Uh… can I still go for dare?" She asked with a straight face. However, that's not how the game worked and she knew that.

Faye sighed and answered, ultimately deciding that it could be something small as well. There was no way she could bring up one of the heavier topics. "... Finding the cutest pillows and sheets for my room. Preferably in pastel colors."

“Pastel colours, ey?” Prim commented wryly.

“Didn’t take you for a home decorator,” Lina said with a smile. “Or at least not one devoted enough to fantasize about it. You’ll have to show me your room some time. But for now, you’re next!”

"Oh… right." Faye replied, shying a little bit away from Lina's excitement. "Uh… Pat. Truth or dare."

"I've got nothing to hide anyway, so truth is boring. Dare!" Pat challenged.

Faye nodded and thought for a little but it was actually hard to come with an innocent dare but she eventually thought of something that could be hilarious to watch due to the completely different view he has on this person. "Pretend to be Rowan for 2 rounds."

Without any hesitation Pat put on his best playful smirk and sharpened his gaze. “If that is your wish, my dear, but try not to swoon too hard~ Can’t have you falling out of the train~” As Pat finished a rose appeared in his hand from under his cloak as if out of thin air, and his hair reddened to match it. Faye could only raise an eyebrow at this unexpected development.

Lina giggled at this smaller replica of their guildmate. “He’s a little too good at this, don’t you think?”

“It’s bizarre,” Prim agreed.

"It's… I think I regret this." Faye replied.

Ith’Drell finally let out a colossal snort of laughter, having held it in valiantly for several seconds. “I can’t-” she exhaled. “The rose- the rose, just- the more I kept looking, it’s just too good- guys, please, blast through these next two so I don’t die, thanks.”

Faye shook her head and turned towards monstrosity she created. "Pat, it's your turn."

“Hmmmm.” the younger of the Hoskels practically purred, eyeing up first Faye then Lina. “So many ideas come to mind, all sorts of fun. Buuuuuuuuuuuut Drell!” He tossed the rose right to the Duke herself. “Truth or dare?”

Faye was very visually facepalming.

“Man, me again? I’mma get a million turns,” said the reptile, making no effort to catch the flower that bounced softly off her snout and fell comfortably atop her chestplate. “Uh, let’s go dare, dude. I’m ready.”

“I dare you to give us a demonstration of what you losing a fight would look like, and make it good.” He said, keeping up the smirk and looking as friendly as possible despite it.

“Uh, right,” Drell nodded, scrunching up her face in thought. She heaved herself up and shuffled over to the end of the bed, leaving the rose on the pillow. “I’ll, uh, try it as best I can with the limited room we got.”

Once the big lizard had got off the bed, picked up her blade and got her guildmates to give her enough room, she immediately dropped her weapon and fell to one arm and one knee with a heavy clunk.

“No!” She lamented, “Not like this! I can’t… I can’t go on, it’s too much for me. Pat…” She looked up at the young Hoskel’s eyes, a silly grin battling simulated sorrow for control over her features. “I know I’ve never lost a fight before, but… when you said those words to me; ‘lose the fight, or you’re dumb’, it... it broke my resolve. I’m defeated.” Drell bowed her head, either in shame or to hide a dopey smile. “You win, Patileer. I’m beaten.”

Prim applauded.

“So tragic…” Lina pretended to shed a tear.

"So cool…" Even Elidyr was impressed, peering out from behind his wings.

Pat crossed his arms and seemed to grow a bit taller, almost to Rowan’s height and began to laugh like a supervillain while his cape came alive and waved behind him in an imaginary wind. “Bwahaha, and so the Duke falls! No match for I, the invincible King of Lions! From now on, you shall serve me and together we will take the world! Nothing will stop our combined might!”

“Uh, sure,” shrugged Drell.

Faye threw one of the candy packages near her towards Pat to hopefully calm him down. “Annnnndddd… Continue.” She said facing Drell.

“Faye, darling you don’t need sweets to woo me. My heart is already yours!” Pat gave an exaggerated swoon and tossed a new rose over his shoulder at his candy-weaponizing guildmate.

“I don’t think I like this anymore,” Lina said, despite her smile.

Faye could only show a somewhat disgusted expression. “I… regret this. Give us Pat back…” She almost whined.

“My adorable little brother may be the cutest boy in the whole wide world.” Pat declared in a fatherly tone, hugging himself as he said it. “But you sent him away for two whole rounds so I’m afraid you’re stuck with me~”

Faye facepalmed.

“Aaight, Faye, you want Pat back?” Drell shot her a grin. “Truth or dare?”

“Ugh… Dare.” She reluctantly replied.

The big lizard shot her a pair of finger guns and said, “Dare ya to mess with Prim’s hair- I’m kidding-, be as expressive as possible for the next two rounds!” Then she put her sword back at the foot of her bed and climbed back into the bunk, exclaiming, “My work here is done.”

Faye’s eye twitched for a moment. “... As expressive… As possible…?” She repeated quietly. “I’m not sure if my face can do that but uh… I’ll try.” the white haired girl looked honestly exhausted but took a deep breath nonetheless. What would be most expressive? is what she thought. The moment she let out a deep sigh was the moment a new Faye stood before them. She decided to become a combination of Lina and… Prim?

“How about this?” She said with a big smile all across her face and her hands clasped together.

“Having fun?” Prim asked.

Faye’s big smile twitched and the longer she held it up, the faker it became.

“Woah, whaaaat?” Ith’Drell hollered, back in place in her bunk and resting her head on one arm. “Where’d Faye go?”

“How long should I keep this up my dear friend, Drell?” Faye made a peace sign with her hand and held it next to her head like those girls she saw in the city earlier acting all cutesy. The embarrassment overtaking her.

Drell snorted, “Oh my g-” She composed herself, a single finger gun accompanying her answer. “Two rounds, dude. You got this, I believe.”

Pat’s facade fell to pieces at the same time he did, rolling on the floor, holding his sides in pain and cackle-gasping harder than he ever had. His hair and eyes rapidly changed color the whole time, treating the Phoenixes to an Aurora Patealis

Prim leaned in closer to get a look at visible strain Faye was experiencing. “I’m a little weirded out by this, but I have to admit it’s worth it to see your face turn this colour. Who knew Faye could be this adorable?”

“She’s always been adorable.” The Rowan voice came back for a split second before laughter overtook Pat again.

“Maybe,” Prim commented, now also succumbing to laughter.

Faye’s smile turned meaner with the moment. Adapt and overcome she kept repeating to herself. She took back her composure and now held her hands against her cheeks, imitating another cute expression she saw the girls in the city do. “Aren’t you all having fun? Can we please continue?” She asked as nicely as she could.

Lina put her hand on Faye’s shoulder. “T-this whole thing was my idea, and I’m sorry it’s come to this. Stay strong.” She held her other hand over her mouth, hiding an expression that would surely betray her words.

“PRIM! Truth or dare.” The white haired Phoenix pointed at Prim holding her hand in front of her mouth and winked.

“That wink, what are you trying to do to us?” Prim teased, “Dare, of course. I’m not missing out on that.”

Faye suddenly had a mischievous smile spreading across her soft pink lips, something that was very unlike her. “Do you know what homicide is?” She asked. “Well, it’s not that. You’re going to have to act like a turkey!~” Faye spoke, clapping her hands and smiling.

“But we already had a Rowan impression,” Prim quipped, “Sure, why not?”

“Ooooooooh,” Drell laughed.

“She meant the dumb kind of turkey not the delicious kind.” Pat said, still catching his breath.

Faye felt her eye twitch again.

Lina raised an eyebrow. “I’m not sure that came across how you meant it to.”

Prim cleared her throat, tucked her arms into her sleeves so they more resembled a turkey’s wings and proceeded to start strutting up and down the available space unabashedly. She made a point of leaning forward slightly and very deliberately picking her feet up higher than necessary before placing them back on the ground. Occasionally she would mimic ruffling her feathers or would let out a not entirely inaccurate turkey noise impression.

“Still not the most embarrassing impression performed tonight,” she commented happily.

“Are you sure, though? It seems pretty embarrassing to me.” Faye commented.

“Honestly,” Drell chuckled. “I’m almost too impressed to laugh.”

For some reason Pat only mildly chuckled and the first person to look in his direction saw him stuffing something in his cloak.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Truth or Dare: A Warm Nest Thursday July 19th, X784

“So, Ephraim’s not done anything in a while,” Prim said with a smirk, “You know the drill, truth or dare?”

"Mmmm, I did a dare last time, so truth," Ephraim replied, semi-distracted by an unruly Bart pulling a stray thread from his pant leg.

“How’d you end up partnered with the Barts?” Prim asked, genuinely curious.

Ephraim’s eyes lit up immediately and the Barts began to move to his hands. “Okay, so.” With semi-theatrical flair, Ephraim and the Barts pulled a large tapestry out of Ephraim’s bag, undoing some of the pockets within in the process. The Barts on Ephraim’s hands, semi-guided by Ephraim’s fingers, folded and unfolded the tapestry until only one row of it showed, with colorful, vibrant threads showing Ephraim, in several scenes, standing over a blade of grass, picking up a spider, and taking it home to show to his parents. The Barts began to run over and tap excitedly over every part of tapestry with them on it. “I actually only met one Bart at first, and I had no idea what I was in for. When I first found Bartholomew he was just one small little spider-- or, well, I’d only found one of his spiders. I definitely felt like he was my partner-- I knew that I wanted to bond with Bart, I guess-- but just the one Bart didn’t visibly do much magic, and was more just a regular ol’ spider. I’d brought him home and showed my parents and they weren’t very excited either. At that time, I guess I had a feeling that there was more to it.

“But then,” Ephriam continued, unfolding more of the tapestry, “more spiders started to show up at my house. They didn’t really do much either, but it was quickly becoming a problem, and it was really confusing for me because I’d already named the one, but as more and more came in I realized they were all part of the same creature. Eventually I lost count of how many spiders I had in my house in Valbestia. I actually found most of the Barts in woods and mountains when I was moving with my parents to Atria, and that’s when their magical abilities became much clearer. Until then, the best we’d managed was to make maybe two very small hats in a day.” Ephraim grinned. “But I guess the best answer is ‘it’s really hard to say,’ because, I swear. It feels like every time I look around there’s more of them. It was uh… definitely a process.”

Faye, still in the middle or her act, clapped excitedly. Although she was visibly getting tired.

“Probably a good thing none of you are arachnophobes, huh?” Prim remarked. Faye immediately shot a glare in her direction.

Lina sat at the edge of her bed with wide eyes. “That’s so cool. How does it feel, suddenly getting access to another being’s mind and magic? Though I guess there’s no obligation to answer if you don’t want to, not being my turn and all.”

“No, no, it’s okay!” Ephraim hesitated. “It was... overwhelming. It’s almost like... suddenly having a piece of someone else’s mind in yours, I think that’s a good way to put it. I got used to it, but for the first few moments it was a bit messy to distinguish whether or not I was thinking something or if it was the Bart’s feelings intruding instead, though I was probably overthinking it! Getting a hold of Bartholomew’s magic and learning to work with it was just awesome though, because like, I was suddenly aware of this huge store of extra power and could begin to use it to move the world around me, and… well, I could spend all day describing how all of it feels now.”

“Wow…” was all Lina could say, her mouth agape.

"I… think that would be nice." Eli spoke up, slowly spreading his wings so he doesn't accidentally hit someone or something with them. "My magic lets me change my body parts, and even grow new ones. But it doesn't tell me how to use them, so I… just have to figure it out. Wings aren't really shields, but… I don't know how else to use them…"

“Have you tried, you know, flying?” Prim asked a touch incredulously.

Faye got a little quiet. The whole time she thought she was the only one struggling to take control of her magic while her whole guild was filled with people trying to learn exactly that.

“Brushing against the thoughts and feelings of another is a strange process.” Pat thought out loud. “It can be symbiotic, parasitic, or even a brutal invasion, all depending on context and consent or lack thereof.” He was staring at the floor in contemplation of something far off for a bit before moving on to the other topic. “Prim, it’s not as simple as trying to fly. You combined, body and soul with a bird. Ellie can only take the body, you inherited the feeling of flying, the instincts to fly, and scientifically speaking, flight is very complicated. The three of us should actually get together, I think I might have an idea for how we could help Elly give flying a shot.”

After he finished speaking everyone was left with a strange feeling, and after a moment they realized that Pat’s voice no longer sounded similar to Rowan’s, in that last speech what they heard was Rowan’s voice exactly.

"I… I'd like that… I bet Prim would be a really good teacher. Because I have tried, but it didn't really work that well…" Eli retracted his wings back, offering Pat a small grin. "And you're really good at impressions, Pat."

“Creepily good,” Prim added, “And sure, I can help you out some time.”

“Impressions?” Pat’s voice cracked all at once, everything about him returning to normal and he collapsed backwards onto his bed. A moment later he sprang back up and looked around. “Aww man, did I fall asleep? I didn’t miss any cool dares, did I?!” Then he gasped and covered his mouth. “Oh no, I stopped my impression!” Pat’s hair turned a duller shade of blue and he slumped over with matching, sad eyes. “When did I stop? Has it been two rounds yet? Did I fail the dare? Aww, I should just jump out the window right now.”

Faye raised an eyebrow. Something about what happened just now was very very odd.

“Um… anyone?” Prim asked, looking about, confused. Faye raised a hand, her face even more red than it was just now thinking of a certain possibility. Ith’Drell shrugged, confused but more amused than perturbed.

“Magic really is amazing, isn’t it?” Lina said softly. She got up and picked up a box of what Elidyr had dubbed the “fail juice” from the snack pile, tossing it over to Pat. “Oh, and I’m glad to see you back to normal again Pat. No jumping out the window though, please?”

“Ooookaaaayyyy.” Pat acquiesced, still sounding depressed.

“Yes, please, otherwise you’ll miss the rest of the game! After all, it’s my turn to choose, and therefore, Lina’s turn to do something. Lina,” Ephraim said, raising his arms and corralling the Barts around him into a frenzy, “truth or dare?” Pat immediately perked up at Ephraim’s choice of target.

“I did truth last time, so dare!” she answered.

“Okay,” Ephraim said, “I dare you to... well, just hold on just a moment.” The Barts quickly began to pull discarded Phoenix Nest™ hats out of Ephraim’s bag and create new ones, until there was a small assortment of beanies, sagging top hats, and half-decent baseball caps. “I’ll be honest, I haven’t figured out how to give them the sort of… structural integrity that you’d expect. But I dare you to balance all of these on your head until the end of the game! And if you fail,” Ephraim continued, watching the Barts spin some of the scratchiest threads they’d yet managed with the utmost glee, “you have to wear this itchy wool sweater for the rest of the night!”

“Hey I said I like hats, but not that much,” she joked, already reaching for one of the hats. “Am I limited on what I can wear under the sweater? I’d rather be hot than itchy.”

“Mmmmm.” Ephraim mulled it over for a few seconds. “Well, at least have your arms exposed to the sweater for like, an hour. Otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a dare. There wouldn’t be stakes!”

“Fine, fine.” She began by solemnly taking off her own hat. She set it on her bed and gave it a pat before facing her adversaries. She decided to put on all the beanies first. They fit snugly on her head, each one easily wrapping around the next. By the time she finished they’d begun pushing outward, making Lina’s head look like a mushroom.

Next, she tried putting on a baseball cap, only to find that it didn’t fit very well over the stack of beanies. She got down on her knees so she wouldn’t have to bend down when she picked up subsequent hats. The baseball caps piled on, and as long as she didn’t move too much she found she could keep them in place easily enough.

But next came the top hats. “How the hell am I supposed to stack these?” she cried. But she continued her endeavor. Up went the first one without too much trouble. Her stack wobbled dangerously with the second. And by the third, she found herself unable to even reach the top of her stack.

“...Am I allowed to have someone else put this on for me?” Lina asked with a strained voice. “T-the dare was just to balance them, right?”

Ephraim laughed. “I mean I’m tempted to say no because you asked, but sure.”

“I’ll do it! Me, me, meeeeee!” Pat volunteered, frantically waving one arm like a student all too eager to answer a question up on the board.

“This is amazing,” Prim said, turning to Ephraim, “I approve.”

“Well, you know, I have good ideas sometimes.” Ephraim couldn’t help but relish in the spectacle he had brought on, and grabbed another pastry as a decent popcorn substitute.

“Too bad Myeloch’s not here to see how smart his daughter’s got,” Drell chuckled. “Look at the size of that noggin’! He’d be so proud.”

“Sure, Pat, do it! Quickly! But also gently! But also hurry!” Lina chose to ignore her other guildmates, keeping still the best she could.

Pat nodded vigorously, his hair turning a bright, foxy orange and clambered to the bunk above his with an arm full of tophats. He began to gently place them one at a time, carefully leaning off of the bed and trying to have them as centered as possible. “I’m not sure how many of these we can even do before they hit the ceiling, this train’s not all that tall.”

“Just jam as many on as you can,” Prim said.

"It's no use trying to stack more. It's not like we can go through the roof." Faye commented as well. Her cutesy girl facade was slowly fading but she tried her best to keep smiling and taking on ridiculous poses.

The stack reached as high as it could, very nearly hitting the ceiling. Lina was perfectly still, knelt down with her arms out at her sides for balance. "... Let's finish this up please. This is good enough, right? It's my turn now, right?"

"Just keep it steady…" Eli watched, careful not to move too much, lest he disturb Lina's balance. "Who are you going to pick?"

"Pat, truth or dare!" she called.

Her words reached him just as he finished setting the last hat and the instant it was in place Pat jumped at the question and lost his balance with a “Wha?!”, falling into the tower of headwear and, ultimately, its foundation Lina. Hats rained throughout the Phoenix car, donning all bare heads and blinding any unlucky enough to look up at the wrong moment.

"Careful, Pat!" Eli cried out, but it was too late. He tried to leap into action, but a top hat landed on his face, blinding him and causing him to trip.

Lina rolled Pat off of her with a groan, then looked pleadingly at Ephraim. "That wasn't my fault so it doesn't count…right?"

“I say it’s a win because we all had fun!” Drell exclaimed, muffled. She had reached out of the bed a bit to provide something of a buffer to her falling guildmates, and now her snout was buried under a little mound of hats.

Prim shook off the hats that had landed on top of her. “Good enough for me.”

Faye in the meanwhile only slow-clapped. “There was an attempt.”

Pat spit out a tiny hat he didn’t remember being in the tower and stared at the ceiling. “Why would you call on someone in the middle of something like that.”

“Yeah, yeah... I’ll take the stupid sweater,” Lina said. “So what’s it gonna be, Pat?”

“Truth.” He responded, sitting up properly and brushing a hat off his shoulder.

“I’m a little disappointed we haven’t had more romance talk despite it apparently being key to the experience. So Pat, describe your ideal partner.”

Pat opened his mouth and froze, eyes darting around the room before finally locking themselves on the floor at his feet. “S-s-someone nice….and-and really pretty…” as his face reddened his hair started to rapidly shift colors like a roiling sea with rainbow waves. “Someone who’s strong of heart and mind. Someone who always pushes towards what matters to them and fights any odds they have to to get it.” His eyes began to change colors too, melding in a slow, confused muddle like oil pouring into water. “S-someone like-like-” He began to feel dizzy, he couldn’t believe Lina of all people was the one to ask him this question and when he looked at her his face reddened more and forced him to look away..

When Pat stood straight up and crossed his arms dramatically his eyes looked unfocused. “Someone voluptuous with charm that knows no bounds! Only the best for me! Bwahahaha!” He shouted and cackled, his vision swimming, then he began to sway and stumbled, now officially overheated in his attempts to divert.

“I think you nearly killed him,” Prim commented.

“... And he’s killing us with his emotions going about.” Faye commented while trying to shake off the overabundance of warm feelings that were coming over them. “We won’t press further, Pat. So please… uh… turn that off?”

“It’s kind of like when you’ve been in hot, steamy water too long,” Prim agreed.

“Pat!” Drell shouted from under the mound of hats she hadn’t bothered to remove herself from. “It’s okay, Pat, it’s fine!”

Lina stood up and put her hands on Pat’s shoulders, trying to gently guide him to the nearest bed. “Geez, I was a little bitter about the hats so I just thought I’d tease you a bit. Take a seat and drink some juice. We should probably make this next one the last one before it gets a bit too crazy.”

At the contact literal steam billowed out of Pat's ears and he wriggled out of Lina's reach only to fall face-first on his bed and say no more.

“Why would he drink the juice?” Cried Ith’Drell, still not removing herself from the hat-pile. “He won the- he did the truth! No juice!”

“It doesn’t have to be the juice, some other kind of juice works. And besides, he probably still has juice from the Rowan thing.” She picked up a juice box for herself and began sipping. She gave Ephraim’s wine bottle a glance, but looked away just as quickly.

“Victory juice!” The great lizard announced, muffled.

When he finally rolled over, colors back to normal and breathing slowed down, Pat grabbed one of Elidyr's juice boxes and drained it. After dropping the crumpled box from his mouth he let out a sigh that was accompanied by a puff of smoke. "Ellie, truth or dare." He asked meekly.

"Oh, it's me? Uh…" Eli removed the hat from his face, looking around at the others. "I'm not good at impressions, and don't want to make more of a mess, so I'll go with Truth."

Silence ensued for a solid minute while Pat thought without success. Finally he started to hum to himself and wriggle, then opened his eyes and gasped. "What was it like where you came from? And how much do you like being in the guild compared to it?”

"Um… I moved around a lot back then, avoiding storms, going where the research was." Eli looked at the floor as he thought. "Back then it was just me and my mom, so it could get kinda lonely sometimes. Not like here." He glanced up, looking between Pat and Drell. "I don't know about a lot of things, but you guys are all really helpful, and I like having friends that don't just leave. It's like I have a family now."

He laughed nervously, turning a little red. "I know it's silly, but I kinda like it! And the weather's nicer here, too!"

Despite being the one who asked, Pat stared at Elidyr in awe. Suddenly his eyes filled tears and his hair turned cotton candy pink all at once as he jumped out of bed and wrapped his arms around the victim. "Oh, Ellie, you're so cute I never wanna let you go! I know exactly what that's like! Let's stay together forever and be the bestest most asskickening family-guild of all time." He swung the hug back and forth while cheer-crying, drowning the car in a deluge of doting on sweetness.

Elidyr let himself get grabbed, too stunned to resist even as Pat swung him around a little. "I'm c-c-cute?" Pat's infectious emotions washed over Eli, along with the desire to just hug everyone in the room. His large wings popped back out, wrapping around both Pat and himself. "Okay! P-Phoenix Nest! The best family I could ask for!"

“We are pretty great,” Prim said.

“The best!” Agreed the mountain of hats.

A light chuckle could be heard from the white haired silent mouse with horns. Lina smiled at the scene, but said nothing. Ephraim felt quite overwhelmed by the emotions in the room, but he couldn’t help but grin and say “yeah, the best.”

“Get over here!” Pat shouted happily, grabbing one of Elidyr’s wings by the stem and sweeping it around the room to gather up his guildmates for a big hug.

“Group hug!” Announced the pile of hats with plate legs coming out of it, materialising scaled arms from the depths and holding them out blindly and invitingly.

Lina shrugged before going all in on the hug.

“Sure, why not?” Prim shoved the nearest person toward Drell before hopping into the growing mass of people herself.

"I-I think I'll skip." Faye, who was the one being pushed by the blue haired troublemaker, said while trying to escape.

Eli opened his wings wide. With one arm around Pat and another around Prim, his oversized wings reached out to encompass everyone else. "This game is weird. But fun!"

“Fun, and nice,” Ephraim said as he came into the hug as well, navigating his way between Eli’s wings until he felt comfortable. “Cozy, too.” Groups of misguided Barts hopped onto the guildmates as well, quickly making themselves comfortable wherever they landed.

“Aaaayy, it’s the crew!” Cheered the muted voice beneath the hats.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Lautela, the City by the Wetlands Friday July 20th, X784

Lautela, former center of the Lautela city-state, is the smallest of the empire’s three great cities. But while it pales in comparison to Gildas or the capital, it is still an impressive place with much to see. As the train approached the city, the guild wizards were quick to feel the warm, humid air typical of the South but familiar to one of their team members that grew up here. They passed vast fields of crops, Lautela being a major producer of food in the empire with alchemy helping the crops be stronger and more nutritious than anywhere else.

The first thing anyone visiting Lautela will notice is the great tree that stands at the center of the wetlands. Despite the wetlands being several miles away from the city, the gargantuan tree can be seen clearly from not only Lautela, but every town and village in the region. Several times taller than even Atria’s Crystal Tower, this tree is the centerpiece of many Lautelan legends. It has been called many names like the “tree of life” or the “world tree”, but the locals have taken to calling it the Spirit Greatwood. The rest of the country tends to call it the “great tree” or “that big tree in Lautela”.

Lautela’s reverence of this tree is rooted in the fact that they hold tightly to their traditions. Traditions born in a time centuries past, before their conquest at the empire’s hands. Even less traditional Lautelans will still show some respect for the Greatwood or the wetlands, and will participate in the city’s Day of Remembrance.

The train finally entered the city, soon to reach its stop at the station. Compared to the capital this city was quaint, its buildings smaller and more crowded. Tall buildings could be seen in the distance, but they didn’t reach nearly as high as a skyscraper would. The streets were more narrow and winding, with fewer cars than in the capital. The level of influence alchemy had on the city could be seen in the places lining its streets. Breweries, pharmacies, restaurants, beauty stores, and of course potion shops were all greater in number and size than their counterparts; especially magitech stores, which were few and far in between.

Finally, the train slowed to a stop having reached its destination. The passengers gathered their things and hurried off the train, including Phoenix Nest and their fellow guild wizards. The tension was palpable as the inter-guild group gathered outside the train’s doors, passing glances and glares between each other. Hands gripped weapons or hovered close to them.

But they would have to put up with it until the representative they were waiting for arrived to guide them to the client’s home.

“Nice weather,” Prim chimed in sarcastically, taking in the scenery from her place among her guildmates.

“It’s been a while.” Faye spoke quietly and rubbed her arm a bit. She felt a bit uncomfortable being back here.

“You’re from here?” Prim asked.

“... I was born and raised here.” Faye replied to her guildmate’s question, conveniently leaving out details.

“Well with this humidity, no wonder you left.” Prim grinned, “Otherwise, it seems nice enough.”

The white haired girl shrugged. “You get used to it.”

Pat was excitedly flitting from wizard to wizard, greeting and introducing until he reached the Sirens, where he simply beamed and waved.

He got a sense of each one’s emotional state as he approached them. The Unicorn woman was bursting with barely-contained excitement, brightly reciprocating Pat’s greeting. Silver Chimera Nilli, meanwhile, harbored a well-hidden fury raging beneath her poker face as she ignored the boy. Her metallic slime hid in her bag, but Pat could feel it staring curiously. Simon, Rhea, and Natalie all acted as expected, and Tiran was significantly less hostile to him than before.

"I don't like this…" Elidyr quietly complained, sticking close to Lina and Drell. "The air feels wet, there's too many people, and I'm pretty sure everyone else here is older and stronger than me. I should have stayed at the Guild with Sarah…" Lina gave him a reassuring smile, though it was clear from her wandering eyes that her focus was on the other guild wizards.

Ith’Drell gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Sounds to me like you’ve got a load of experienced friends to watch your back, dude. Not sure what to do ‘bout the air, though. Knew it got hotter the further South you went, never really got ‘humidity’ or whatever it is, though.”

“Not surprised it’s too complicated for one of you,” a voice interjected, the Silver Spirit from earlier passing by the group and walking off to a nearby location to stand alone. Drell didn’t seem to notice, and instead exchanged a few pleasantries with Simon.

“Are you sure I can’t punch him, just once?” Prim asked, turning to Faye. The two heard Tiran chuckle at the suggestion.

"Not yet." The only one that seemed dressed to this humidity replied. Although Faye was obviously getting more annoyed with the guy.

That very wizard was the last one Pat reached before returning to the group. “Why does someone who gets so flushed and excited every time he looks at a Valbestian try so hard to be mean to them?” He asked, all innocent curiosity. “Are you trying to cover up your fetish? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, you should just be honest instead of mean.”

Faye seemed to be almost facepalming at the sight of Pat approaching the very man that she and Prim had deemed trouble last night. She watched the duo from a distance and was ready to intervene when needed, much like the situation at the train station in the City.

“With brains like that you could be a Valbestian, kid,” the Spirit snapped back. “They’re repulsive savages who should stick to the crappy little tribes they come from. They should take the Touched with them too. Now run along back to your nest if you know what’s good for you.”

He promptly turned away from Pat, making it clear that he had no intentions to further discuss the matter with him.

Faye seemed almost furious and approached the duo, grabbed Pat by his hand and gently pulled him along with her back to the group. “Don’t talk to him. He’s trash.”

Pat didn't budge. "There's something else there mixed in…fear. Makes sense, most prejudice comes from fear but…man, fear and lust pointed at the same thing. You know, you should really see a therapist." He then let Faye start pulling him away. "I hope you get over your issues before it makes your guild think less of you than they already do, good luck!"

As they walked, Faye seemed in a much better mood thanks to Pat. “You got him good.” She praised him.

"I wish I could take away that fear." Pat muttered, almost sadly. "That kind of fear makes monsters of cowards, it's just lucky he's a weakling."

While that was being dealt with, Natalie approached Simon. She seemed to be asking him a few things before then turning her attention to Drell. Then, she pulled out her spellbook and pointed a finger at the armored Phoenix.

“I was right, you’re the one who’s supposed to be really strong,” Natalie shouted. “Fight me!”

The big lizard frowned in confusion, then she laughed, “Oh, right, I remember you- uh, later, maybe. You know there’s, like, a time and place for that sort of thing, right? Now and here ain’t it.”

Natalie stared blankly at Drell. Then she began flipping through her spellbook, but she soon felt herself sliding back. Her feet lost contact with the ground and she flew through the air, until Rhea caught her. She found herself suspended above the ground by Rhea’s grip on her head, a grip that was slowly tightening.

Rhea shook her head. “Sorry about her. Again. Let’s hope she’ll learn with a bit more discipline.” Natalie helplessly tried to pry herself from her guildmate’s grasp, to no avail. “She does have a good sense for strength though, so you must really be something.”

Drell exhaled through her nose, welcoming the boost to her ego. “I mean I am, like, the strongest and most epic, so…”

“You can’t fight with everyone all the time, silly Natalie!” Pat called out to her. “Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance, I’m sure we’re gonna fight a lot of other guildies. I’m sure my brother would fight you if you asked!” He radiated excitement at the idea, already playing things out in his head. “Though knowing him he’d probably try to fight Rhea first…”

“I’m not sure fight is the word you’re after…” Prim muttered.

Ith’Drell snorted, “Prim, behave, jeez.”

“She’s just jealous because nobody cares about fighting her.” Pat countered with a smirk.

Drell blinked, “Uh… Pat, behave, jeez?”

Natalie’s body went limp, and Rhea finally dropped her. After lying on the ground for a bit, she sprung to her feet and dusted herself off, acting as though nothing had happened. She picked up her book telekinetically, the others noticing from the glow on her rings that she was using lacrima to do so.

“I’ll hold you to that offer, kiddo,” she told Pat. “And I don’t see the issue with what I do, either. We’re guild wizards after all, we need to be ready for anything on a job! And also I wouldn’t have to do it like this if more people wanted to fight, but whatever.”

Rhea put her hand on her guildmate’s head again, but much more gently this time. “She’s desperate to get stronger and thinks experience is the best way. Considering her memory magic she might be right, but I don’t want her to ruin our rep in the process either.”

“I like her,” Prim said with a shrug.

Faye stood next to Lina and Eli and watched the bunch from a distance. "Don't you want to get to know the others better, Lina?" She asked, wondering why she had been so quiet.

“Huh?” Lina blinked. “Oh, sorry. I was just, uh, thinking about stuff. Still trying to take everything in, with the capital, the other guilds, and now being here. I might still need a bit but don’t worry, I’ll try to get some good info afterwards.” She gave Faye a thumbs-up.

Ith’Drell rubbed her brows, “Uh- Natalie, right? You know you can still fight other guild wizards without, like, goading ‘em to fight you at the train station, right? It’s not about guild wizards gettin’ stronger and guild wizards being ready for whatever, it’s about Joe Regularguy and Sammie Not-willing-to-get-caught-by-a-fireball and the fifty other bystanders who have to deal with there being a wizard fight in the middle of their day. And that ain’t even counting property damage. Just ain’t right, yeah? I’m sure plenty of guilds are up for scrims or somethin’, just get it organised and away from people who don’t want nothin’ to do with it. I mean, that’s the main reason it’s bad- it’s still just rude either way, but whatever.”

“That’s a luxury you won’t always get on a job,” countered Natalie. “It’s important for wizards to be able to fight and protect the people around them at the same time. What are you gonna do if there’s an urgent mission and you’re forced into that situation, like a dark wizard or a beast popping up in the middle of town?”

“She’s partly right, but she’s mostly just making excuses to try and sway you,” said Rhea. “Don’t listen to her.”

“I volunteer.” Prim grinned, “But yeah… safety for civilians… right.”

Natalie’s eyes sparkled. “Really? If it’s that big a deal I’m sure there’s a slightly less civvie-filled place around where we can go.” Rhea’s grip tightened. “...But we should probably wait until after we accept the job, yeah, totally.”

“Thing is you ain’t even really right, though…?” Drell chuckled. “The way to prepare for that situation isn’t to create that situation, that’s just dumb. I mean- look, the Phoenix Nest training hall is, like, super epic, and it can whip up a situation like that for sure - I’ll speak to Myeloch after we come back from this and see if we can set up a scrim thingy.” She paused, then blinked and held out a hand. “Oh, uh- I’m Doomkiller Duke Ith’Drell by the way, it’s cool to meet- I mean, I guess I’ve had more awkward meetings, haha-”

Natalie’s expression soured, then lightened immediately after. “So you’re saying you’re down if we do it at your guildhall, right? I won’t let you take that back.” She shook Drell’s hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Doomkiller,” Rhea said. “They call me Colossus, Rhea Tavidell if you didn’t already know. I’m sure you can guess where my epithet comes from, but I’d be interested to hear about yours.”

“She killed a Big Doom, obviously.” Prim chuckled.

Boy was it big!” Doomkiller laughed. She looked up at Colossus and squinted for a moment. “Speakin’ of that, how the-?” She used a hand to draw a quick line between the top of her head and Rhea and, sure enough, didn’t manage to clear the latter’s head by several inches, as was usually the case with other people. She readjusted herself, stood on her tiptoes as best she could and tilted her head up as far as possible. Then, she snapped her visor shut and quickly measured from the tip of her armoured snout instead, struggling not to giggle in the process. “Wait- ayy, there it is!”

Rhea chuckled, while Natalie tried to stand on her tiptoes to compare herself to the giants before her. “I figured there was some doom killing involved,” Rhea said, “But the fun of a story isn’t what happens, it’s how you tell it! We Sidians love a good heroic story, especially from the mouth of the hero in question. We should share stories. I don’t want to be interrupted by work though so it’ll have to be some other time.”

“Ah, yeah, I getcha,” said Drell, stepping back and lifting her visor again. “All the more reason to set up that scrim thing, I guess!”

Faye, who was listening in on the conversation, crossed her arms. A light chuckle could be heard from her mouth but her expressionless face made it less obvious that it was actually her.

"You're gonna be surprised, really…" she said, looking away from everyone in the group. Drell's stories were always very over the top. It amazed her how many people still believed her regardless.

“Drell is a great story teller!” Pat shouted with a happy hop. “ She tells’em every night at dinner! And at breakfast! And lunch!...And between them...and, well all the time, kinda! Her stories are always super fun! Rowan used to tell good stories but...now I can never get him to tell any of his anymore. I bet he’d make an exception for Rhea and Natalie, though, he always says it’s more fun telling them to pretty girls.” Pat kicked the ground thoughtfully for a stint but continued before anyone else could interrupt. “Do all the other Starlight Sirens like to fight too? I feel kinda left out, I’d like to try my hand at someone...but maybe someone weaker than you two, you’re real strong.”

“You can get anyone there to fight you if you pay them enough!” chimed Natalie.

“Most of the Sirens are in it for fame and fortune so we’re a bit of an exception,” Rhea explained “But they’re no less serious about what they do than any other wizard. They’re out there fighting tooth and nail for their dreams, just like us, and even if we’re after different goals I respect them. Well, except for one. Your brother is actually starting to sound like him, and I’m really hoping I’m misunderstanding…”

“Is flirting all that bad? I don’t think a lot of couples would ever happen if nobody spoke up and made a move.” Pat said with a tilt of his head. “I think too many people just sit around and let everyone be just friends.” He said, sounding distressingly adult in that moment to those who knew him well.

Natalie frowned. “It’d be one thing if it stopped at flirting. Or if he stopped at all.”

Rhea sighed. “At least he knows what’ll happen to him if he goes too far. And he’s a talented wizard regardless, something our team for the Games unfortunately needs or I’d be less forgiving of that insufferable idiot. Let’s talk about something else.”

"He sounds like a pain in the arse." Faye commented, finally coming closer. "Just like that brother of his." She pointed at Pat shortly before ruffling his hair and disregarding his pouty face while she did that. "But… I guess he can be nice. Sometimes." The last bit came out a bit more quiet but a warm feeling enveloped her, one Pat could probably feel.

"I'm Faye. Shall we go meet the client? He or she must be waiting for us." The white haired girl asked the group.

“Sounds good to me,” Prim piped up, “Can’t stand around talking forever.”

As if on cue, a man approached them in full formal dress, complete with a bow tie and a black tailcoat. He was an elderly man, but he stood tall with refined poise. His long gray hair was tied into a low ponytail, and he wore a leather eyepatch.

He stopped in front of the group and bowed. “A thousand apologies for my tardiness. Good wizards of the nation’s guilds, I am Zereus Lee, humble servant of your client Lord Quail. I ask that you follow me. My master awaits.”

“A butler with an eyepatch? Awesome!” Pat giggled appreciatively. “C’mon guys, I’ve gotta meet whoever would have a servant as cool as this guy!” his excitement showing but making his white haired friend facepalm at his words.

“Yeah,” Ith’Drell agreed. She spoke hushedly to the guild wizards next to her. “Damn, dude. You know, I’ve never been sure whether full plate counts as being overdressed or underdressed...”

Pat rubbed his chin and looked up at the sky contemplatively. “Maybe it only counts in something where armor is relevant? Like if you’re supposed to be a living practice dummy it’s underdressed but if it’s light sparring it’s overdressed?”

Drell hmmed, “Can a living practice dummy really get more dressed than full plate? Fully encased in metal, I guess?”

“You wear so much armor that you can barely move! Then you look like a clumsy snowman with legs!” Pat sounded far too excited at the idea. “If you even tried to walk you’d just flop over but that’s okay because dummies aren’t supposed to move!”

“I would pay good money to see Drell do that,” Prim added.

“How good’s good money?” Smirked Drell.

“Don’t do it, Drell.” Pat whispered. “She might record you with a lacrima and try to make it look like you losing a real fight.”

The big lizard scoffed, “Nobody’ll believe it.”

“If you’re all done, let’s go.” Faye sighed and walked up towards the butler with the eyepatch to follow him. The members of the other guilds following close behind.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The Pig Lord's Hall Friday July 20th, X784

The guild wizards were led to a horse-drawn wagon large enough for all of them. They got on and began their journey through the city, able to take in the sights and sounds of the city up close. Just like in the capital, there was all sorts of commotion as they passed through. People cheered for their favorite GMG stars or whispered things to their nearby friends. There were also a number of people who greeted Zereus, who seemed well-known by the community.

For the most part the city was more of what they’d seen coming in on the train. Stores aside, they also saw various stands selling things, with hand-written signs advertising their products. Further in they noticed several historical monuments, statues of Lautelan figures scattered around, and old preserved buildings. Lautela’s flag was often seen hanging alongside the Atrian flag wherever it could be found.

The wizards on the wagon kept quiet or otherwise did their own thing. Ralga had turned small once more and decided to nap on Tiran’s lap. The Unicorn had her nose in a book about relics, while Natalie and Rhea discussed epithets. Rhea seemed to think Drell’s would sound better as Doomslayer instead of Doomkiller, with Natalie asserting that it didn’t matter, saying there was less value in a self-chosen epithet and thus it should not be purposely changed.

Faye listened to the conversation but occasionally stared off into the distance when looking through the window, as if she was recalling previous events in the past. The fact that Prim had touched her horns the night before also was still lingering on her mind although the younger girl had not acted indifferent towards her.

“Lost in thought?” Prim asked, sidling up next to Faye. “I wonder what could be on your mind. Maybe we should talk about it later.”

“Hmm…” Faye sighed, knowing full well she was going to have to explain things.

“You always find things in the most unexpected of places.” Prim chuckled before turning her attention to the sights around her while her white haired friend next to her felt a chill running down her spine.

Eventually they reached Lautela’s most popular locale; Memorial Park. Reaching nearly three miles across, this park at the city’s center was where Lautela Castle once stood. Kept eternally vibrant and green through alchemy, it is always full of people. Ponds and creeks, trails and fields, and frequent city events are only some of the things keeping people busy. It is also the site of the city’s yearly Day of Remembrance.

Eli stared out the window, getting as close as possible to see every detail. "There's so much green… I've never seen so many plants in one place before!"

“Then we should bring Ellie to a forest some time!” Pat said.

Unfortunately there was no time for the guild wizards to go sightseeing, and thus Zereus continued toward their destination.

Finally, they reached it. A garishly extravagant white-and-gold mansion near the edge of the city stood before them. They entered the property’s glittering gold gates, passed a fountain in the courtyard featuring a statue of the mansion’s portly owner, and stopped in front of the mansion’s entrance.

Zereus got off the wagon and handed the reins to another butler who’d come to meet him. He stepped up to the door and clapped his hands twice. A handful of maids rushed out to open the doors. The massive things roared as they slowly moved, but the maids didn’t show a single sign of struggle. They held the great doors open for the wizards to enter, as gestured by Zereus.

“If you would follow me, please,” Zereus said. “Milord awaits us in his conference room.”

The wizards were led down a long corridor, with deep red carpet that was probably more expensive than the average person’s house. Prim looked about as they followed the butler along it, unperturbed by the scale of the structure, being from a fairly wealthy family herself, but rather bothered by how garish it was. Ith’Drell’s gaze wandered the place, astonished, either at the place itself or the sheer audacity of the architect who created it. Even the interior walls were a bright clinical white, decorated with gold wherever it would fit. Glittering chandeliers loomed above, the owner’s face etched in semi-transparent gold on their underside shining like some kind of disturbing sun. Even more bizarre though, were the paintings.

“Is it just me,” Prim commented, a little too loudly, “Or are all of these paintings exactly the same and all of them the front of the house we are literally standing in? That’s weird even by our standards. I’ve counted fifteen so far and they’re still going.”

Drell seemed to be struggling to speak, but she let out, “Haha, yeah, I know that place.”

Faye on the other hand, seemed more bothered by the many statues of the owner himself. All made from seemingly expensive ores and some even decorated with expensive gems. “What a waste…” She murmured to herself, referring to the amount of jewels these extravagant items must have cost.

“Is there even a point to making statues of yourself? Just buy a mirror.” Prim agreed, catching what Faye had been looking at as they finally left the hall and stepped into a larger room. “Also, I counted forty-two of those paintings. How long was that hall?”

“Too long.” was the only answer that Faye thought was applicable to the situation.

"Why is the carpet so dusty?" Elidyr paused to crouch down and get a closer look. "He has all those ladies to open a door, couldn't one of them… wait, this is gem dust. This carpet is literally covered in crushed ruby!"

Pat had never seen such wasteful decadence in his life. It felt like every square inch of the house radiated pride and self importance, as if it were alive and had only those two feelings in its entirety, It was so intense he actually felt a bit queasy and remained silent while they walked the halls.

The long hallway led to a lobby, filled with yet more garish oddities. A solid gold rocking horse, the underside studded with gemstones that prevent it from actually rocking. A transparent globe housing a suspended packet of potato chips. An entire wall covered in abstract clocks, none of which the group could use to accurately tell the time. A skateboarding tortoise with the name ‘Craig’ painted on its shell. A kangaroo animatronic. A statue depicting the same kangaroo animatronic. A small magical hologram depicting both the kangaroo animatronic and the statue of the kangaroo animatronic. As the group continued on their journey through room after hallway after room, the ridiculous extravagances only continued.

“You see these kinds of places around in Gildas, but I didn’t think anyone would actually live in one,” said Natalie.

“Only an Atrian could be so vain,” muttered Nilli.

After what felt like forever they reached the aforementioned conference room. In the center was a long table, solid gold and able to fit more people than anyone would reasonably need. And at the head of the table was the owner of the mansion, the self-proclaimed Lord Quail. Self-proclaimed as there was no such thing as lords and nobles in modern-day Atria.

The wizards had already seen plenty of the round, mustachioed mogul from their walk through his manor. He wore a large, bejeweled crown and various other pieces of jewelry. But it was clear to the more experienced wizards in the room that they were set with not only gems, but with lacrima as well.

Zereus instructed the wizards to take a seat wherever they’d like along the table and left them to take his place at Quail’s right side. On Quail’s left side was a tall woman with long cyan hair, a serious expression, and three swords on her hip. And behind him was a row of stone-faced maids, awaiting their next order.

Quail stood and welcomed the wizards with open arms. “Guilds of Atria, I welcome you to my beautiful home. I hope you enjoyed the decor, I’m sure there are treasures on display you’ll never see again in your entire lives! Ahohohohohoho! But you’ve come for business so let’s get to business, shall we? As they say, time is money! Ahohohohoho!

“You’re here to retrieve a relic that’s causing trouble in the wetlands. A lot of my businesses rely on things you can only gather from there, so if people can’t get in that means I’m losing money. Me losing money is inconceivable. So I decided to make an investment in calling you all to get this fixed promptly, so I can get back to not losing money.”

“So how are you so sure it’s a relic anyway?” asked the Unicorn woman.

“I do as the council does, of course! Using various methods I’ve gotten my hands on one of their relic detection devices, and whatever’s in the middle of the wetlands matches the aetheric signature of a relic. Though now that it’s public there’s a relic, it’s extra important you get it to me quickly. The council rules that whoever finds a relic is allowed to keep it if they decide it’s not too dangerous and I would very much like to add it to my collection. Did anyone else have questions before I continue?”

“What does this relic do?” Faye asked out of wild curiosity.

“Costs me money is what it does,” Quail muttered, his face souring before returning to his jolly demeanor. “It’s hard to say what any relic really does until it gets analyzed, but so far this one is making all the beasts in the wetlands very big and very angry.”

Elidyr stopped looking around the room at that, pushing forward to whisper at Pat and Prim, "You think it's like what happened with the Rock Drake?"

“I don’t know, but the drake seemed normal size to me,” Prim replied, “Very kickable.”

“I hope not…” Pat deflated as he said it before bouncing back just as easily. “But either way we’ve gotta stop it! Animals have feelings too! And feelings always echo and imprint on other feelings! If this keeps up the whole ecosystem of the Wetlands will get thrown into disarray and it’ll end up overflowing into societies too!” He had his arms up dramatically like wings, taking a deep breath as he finished. “And that’d suck major bigtime!”

Quail’s gaze lingered on the young Phoenix boys. “...Lee, what magic do those two use?”

“My apologies sir, I do not know,” answered the butler. “My knowledge on the Phoenix Nest guild is limited to their more prominent wizards.”

“Well it must be strong if they think they can fight S-Class wizards over this relic. I doubt the first Saint would be stupid enough to send them here without telling them what they’d be in for. Make a note of them.” The assembled Phoenixes all shared a knowing glance.

“Right away sir.” Zereus pulled a small notebook from his jacket and began writing in it. Except that there was no physical act of writing at all, the words appearing on the page magically. The skritching sound of an unseen pencil was the only sign anything was being written at all.

Drell put an armoured claw to her armoured chin and asked, “Any people been near this relic? Like, do we know it’s just the beasts going crazy? ‘Cause I don’t want me and a good dozen powerhouse wizards goin’ loopy dangerous, if ya know what I mean. Like, not even a little loopy.”

“That depends on your definition of ‘near’, I suppose,” Quail answered. “Nobody’s been close enough to actually see the thing, but the researchers and gatherers working in the wetlands were just fine after evacuating. The ones that made it back, at least. But you wizards are supposed to have ways to deal with these sorts of things, right?

“The problem is getting worse, and if you won’t do it I’ll have to request the council find the time in their oh-so busy schedule to take care of it. Which will cost me time, money, and my chance at my relic. Not to mention their solution is usually to chuck Rune Knights at a problem or just make an S-Class do it anyway, or seal off the entire wetland for an investigation if they can’t do that. THEN I WON’T BE MAKING ANY MONEY, NOT TO MENTION HALF THE PEOPLE IN THIS DAMNED CITY!”

Quail’s face had turned beet-red. Zereus handed him a handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his brow. After a bout of hyperventilation, the man gradually calmed back down.

“Point being, I’d much rather risk you. It’s nothing personal, and you’re free to leave if you’re not feeling up to it.” Quail ordered one of his maids to bring him something to drink as he slumped in his chair.

The big lizard glanced at the other wizards as she tried not to laugh. She managed a nondescript exhale. “Dude, it’s fine, you can chill, jeez. I’m just, like, you know- getting info on the job? Like, seeing what the situation is so we can be prepared? You know, like-” She paused for a moment. “I dunno, every job I’ve ever done or seen or heard of?”

“Yes, yes, of course you are,” Quail said, clearly annoyed. “I’d just prefer you word it in a way that won’t possibly scare away the others. Though I suppose with two S-Classes here I didn’t need to worry about that.”

“I’m not feeling particularly frightened.” Prim shrugged.

“Probably because you’re already a feral animal,” the Silver Spirit from earlier remarked from the other side of the table. Prim felt the familiar urge to punch rising, but managed to keep her attention on Quail… just.

“We’ll be assigned a guide, right?” asked Rhea. She looked to Phoenix Nest. “If you’ve never done a job in the wetlands, Nymph Spire usually sends someone with you who knows their way around. They might know a bit more.”

“Yes, but we’ll get to him later,” Quail answered.

Faye turned to Rhea. “I’m able to be a potential guide as well. I grew up here and I can’t imagine a lot has changed since then.” She said. It was also a sneer towards the people living here as she can’t imagine they would have changed their ways of racism.

“Okay, getting back on track... Where was I again?” Quail looked to Zereus for aid and completely ignored Faye’s existence, much to her annoyance.

“The contract, sir.”

“Yes! The contract.” Quail cleared his throat before addressing the wizards once more. “I promised 200,000 J to anyone who came to accept the quest, but I can’t have you just running off with it afterward without doing your job. Nor can I risk one of you trying to take my relic for yourselves. So I’ve prepared a legally-binding contract for you to sign. You’ll get your advance payment when you do. Ladies?”

Several of the maids pulled a scroll from their aprons to hand to a wizard. It was more or less what Quail had described, if in a far more dense and wordy format. ...Both parties are bound to the terms and agreements within this contract upon signing… The contract is rendered null and void only on an agreement by both parties… The employer promises to pay an advance fee in the amount of 200,000 J to the signee upon signing of the contract… Upon retrieval of the article, concerned parties are obligated to return it to the employer on pain of reprisal…

Rhea and Natalie were quick to sign the contract, as were Lina and the Unicorn. Simon took the time to pore over the text a bit more. Tiran moved to sign his, but Nilli grabbed his hand to stop him.

“There’s magic in this contract,” she stated with a glare in Quail’s direction.

“Yeah, you see it all the time for higher-end jobs,” countered Tiran. “Wizards of that level can do all kinds of weird muk to these things, especially when they use script magic like the psycho Siren and eyepatch over there, so the clients protect them.”

“So you’re just going to trust him?” Nilli’s harsh gaze turned to Tiran.

“I’ve done jobs for this guy before,” assured Rhea. “He’s a bit… eccentric… but he’s always kept his word.”

“I can’t find anything wrong with it either,” said Simon. “He’s bound by this too, so as long as we do the job properly then everything should be fine. We have enough influential witnesses here anyway if he tries to pull something.”

“He’s not lying.” Pat spoke up above the rest. “He’s just concerned about his money and impatient for us to go. He hasn’t done anything to it other than make sure we can’t take the money and leave him high and dry, just like he said.” He spoke matter-of-factly, then began to fiddle with his hair. Drell stopped reading the contract and turned to him before shrugging.

“Damn, alright, good enough for me,” she said, signing it.

With Pat's seal of approval, and following Drell's example, Elidyr signed his name in precise calligraphy, then handed it back to the maid.

Prim grinned, also gladly signed the contract. “A magic contract just keeps things interesting.”

Faye on the other hand was a bit hesitant. She had no ill intent but she didn’t want to be bound by a contract, especially since she knew the very nature of the people living here. Upon seeing her comrades sign, she decided to sign as well.

In spite of his words, Pat only signed his own contract after all of his guildmates signed theirs. Beaming at the maid he handed over the paper and gave her a finger-fanning wave.

Quail clapped. “Wonderful! My maids will bring your advance right away. I suggest you use some of it to prepare if you haven’t. What’s-his-name should be able to tell you what you need. I look forward to working with you all!”

The maids did as they were told and left to a room behind Quail, quickly coming back with small yellow envelopes to give each of the signees. Opening them revealed a stack of 10,000 J bills, that if counted would total 200,000 J.

Then, Quail addressed Nilli. “It’s a shame you’ve refused, and that you had to make that little show of it. I’d like to say the offer’s still open if you change your mind, but with these wizards I don’t imagine it’ll take long to retrieve the relic. But you’ve come all this way so I’d feel bad if you left empty handed! I’ll give you this, it should be enough for a soda. Ahohohohohoho!” Zereus flashed a 100 J coin and tossed it her way.

Nilli swatted it aside, the coin making a metallic clink against her hand. “I don’t need your charity.” Light glinted off her hand, now a metallic silver to match her slime. It had grown in size, her fingers having transformed into wicked claw-like blades. Quail’s swordswoman eyed her, but did nothing.

With all eyes on either Nilli or Quail, few noticed the coin land on the carpet near Eli, or him crouching to retrieve it.

“So who exactly is this what’s-his-name we’re supposed to ask?” Lina interrupted.

“Right, him.” Quail was unenthused. “As your guide, Master Melidor sent over the half-breed. His father was a Valbestian spy so I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him, but Melidor assures me he’s at least good at his job. I told him to show up around this time and wait outside.”

“Of course you wouldn’t trust anyone that’s not your own kind.” Faye sneered sarcastically, having had to keep her mouth from running far too long.

Quail scoffed. “More slander. My companies employ all kinds of people, and you can look around to see who I’ve allowed into my home. As for the half-breed, did you not hear the spy bit? I take it you don’t know how the Nymphs almost collapsed because of him either, do you? That boy is cursed. I could go on and on about the people he’s ruined but I believe you have a job to get to.”

"The fact that you keep calling him a half-breed is insulting. He's a person, not some kind of animal. No matter what his father did." Faye commented right back, crossing her arms and basically glaring at the man she had just signed a contract with. She stood like that for a few seconds before she shook her head, sighed and turned around. "I'm done here. Let's go do this job guys. The sooner we find this thing the better."

Quail looked Faye up and down as she turned her back on him. “Actually, if you get bored of guild work you can always come work for me as one of my maids. A fiery one like you would be a good way to spice up my collection. Ahohohohoho!” He praised her attitude, despite extending no such offer to the similarly outspoken Drell and Nilli.

Ith’Drell snorted, “Think I’ll take whatever a ‘half-breed’ is over full pedigree gross - let’s get goin’, guys.”

“Before one of us murder our employer, you mean?” Prim commented, too busy scowling at Quail to actually look at Drell.

Pat, meanwhile, was, in fact, in the middle of kissing one of those very maids’ hands while Quail was distracted. “You girls deserve so much better. I bet you could make great money in any guild without working for someone so...like he is.” He made sure to keep his voice low, then finished with a wink and skipped by his guildmates, grabbing Faye and Prim’s hands as he went to pull them along. “Come on guys, let’s get going! If Rowan finishes his exams and gets home before us we’ll never hear the end of it!”

The other wizards in the room were quick to follow suit, leaving Quail behind and slightly offended.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The Edge of Greatness

The examinees got an early start, most of them rushing for the site where their scores would be posted even before the sun rose. It was a huge board designed to display whatever was on the lacrima inserted within. They stood in front of it with weak knees and pounding hearts until one of the tower’s staff approached it, a lacrima gently cradled in his hands.

He replaced the lacrima in the back of the board with the one in his hand. The board’s display changed from a recruitment ad for Rune Knights to a list of the examinees’ scores. Immediately, there were countless sighs of relief or defeat. Cheers of joy and cries of despair. Many of them immediately began heading back to their rooms to pack their bags with heads hanging low.

Rowan had scored highly, just as he expected. Zaline and Kubra had also scored highly, though not quite as well as Rowan had. And the top scoring wizard was another member of Gryphon Gale: Siren, one he’d never heard of before despite his research on his guild’s greatest rivals. There was no other information about them and many other examinees reacted with confusion and conspiratorial muttering.

But for those who passed, this was only the beginning. After a very brief congratulations, they were split into groups with each group being led to a different floor, Rowan finding himself separated from the examinees he’d come to know at the tower. They found themselves in front of a large and menacing door. In front of it stood a Rune Knight with a pitch-black weapon.

The Rune Knight began his explanation. “You will enter this room one at a time for your practical exam, the people who scored best going in first. This phase will occur entirely within this room, and you’ll know whether you passed or failed before exiting. Nothing else about the exam will be told to you before entering. Now, Rowan Hoskel, enter!”

The examinee in question nodded and crossed the threshold, outwardly deadly serious for once.

Through the door was nothing but blinding light. Rowan couldn’t see, and soon he even lost track of the people behind him waiting for their turn. But when the light faded, he found himself somewhere familiar. He stood within the first floor of the Crystal Tower.

A crowd of people went about their business just like the last time he was here. Waiting in lines at the reception desks, or zipping to and from the elevators… And despite what Myeloch had told him, everything about them seemed real. He could feel their touch and their warmth as they brushed past him, and most importantly, he could feel their emotions.

One person’s emotions called out to him louder than the others’. It was a young woman at the reception desk, her desk being at the edge and labeled “restricted”. Accordingly, she had no line. She looked frantically throughout the crowd until she spotted Rowan, and gestured him toward her.

He raised an eyebrow, but approached the woman, the hairs on his neck prickling the entire time.

“Good, you’re finally here,” she said in a hurry. “The city guard won’t be able to hold much longer. You already know Fort Alden is under attack, but we’ve identified the culprits as an alliance between the dark guild Ash Gargoyle. The commander is at their base, so just fend them off the best you can until backup arrives. They’ve tamed a number of wyverns, and their numbers are more than we initially thought. Is there anything else you needed to know?”

"What kind of forces do we have at our disposal?" Rowan asked, knowing better than to acknowledge he was in an illusion.

She hesitated. “...Priority has been given to the base assault. The vanguard defending Fort Alden will be you alone. It is a frontier town, after all…” She shook her head and regained her composure. “The city guard is a force of 500 men. I don’t know how many remain, but a frontier town’s guards are strong. If you can rally them, they’ll be a valuable asset.”

“Any vehicles at the ready?” He queried as he began to plot the route in his head.

“You’ll be teleported to the city’s outskirts. The most we can send with you is a horse and carriage.”

“No need, the outskirts is close enough. I’m ready to go.”

“Very well. I wish you luck.” She inserted a lacrima into a slot on her desk, and pushed a button beside it. On the floor in front of the desk was a magic circle, inside of which Rowan was standing. With a flash of light, he was gone.

He arrived at a horrific sight. The walled city of Fort Alden stood a short distance away, ablaze. Pillars of smoke billowed from all over, wyverns swooping down with flames spewing from their mouths to create ever more. Arrows soared up toward the wyverns to no avail, as the wizards mounted on top easily swatted them aside with magic.

Debris fell from the massive watchtower in the center. Designed to see high past the city’s walls, the burning structure now threatened to fall and crush those it was created to defend. The smell of smoke, ash, and foul burning flesh wafted along the wind.

And even from here, Rowan could sense the terror radiating from the inhabitants, as they fled for their lives from the burning buildings or the bandits gleefully chasing them. The men were slaughtered where they stood, and the women and children were bound and thrown into wagons, their fates uncertain.
Rowan looked on at the carnage for a moment, then closed his eyes and took a deep breath. ’Find your center, do not let your own emotions be unsteadied by those of others… Be the driving force and guide the power that those emotions bring towards your own purpose.’ What would you do if you were still here? The echoes of past horrors faded away and Rowan’s eyes opened, firm and freshly steeled for the trial ahead. The green of those eyes cooled to an icy blue, the same blue that overtook his crimson hair. The sigh that left him was a frosty mist before he took one more breath and sprinted towards the fort.

Once he was almost to Fort Alden’s gate, Rowan’s feet began to leave behind bits of frost and once he hit a satisfactory speed the ground beneath him was coated in pure ice and he began to skate. Faster and faster he went until he shot through the gate and into the fort leaping into the air and spinning as he soared, scattering sparkling frozen wind around him, putting out the flames on some nearby buildings. When he landed Rowan slid on more ice as if surfing, ducking under a thrust from one of the invaders' spears, then grabbing it and spinning it, knocking down his attacker and several others who had been putting away some prisoners. He quickly cut the bindings of the women and children and knelt down beside the most held together of the older women and offered her his softest smile.

“I hope that’s a bit more comfortable. Do you know of any good hiding spots where you and the others here might take shelter until things calm down?” Though he asked her, his attention was already on searching through the emotions and sounds around the Fort to try and figure out where to find some of the fort’s guards to bring together for the fight.

The woman wept at the sight of the guild mark emblazoned on Rowan’s shirt. She clutched his arm. “Thank God, we’re saved… T-they got the manor, th-the barracks, and the vault. M-maybe the church is still safe, I don’t know.”

Rowan continued his search as she spoke. He could tell that many of the guards were probably just as afraid as the citizens and he had a hard time distinguishing the two, but he was able to spot a handful of more resolute souls scattered around. Most of them were closer to the town’s center.

His decision was quick, but not what anybody could call simple. Without any warning Rowan hugged the woman, putting what he’d thought up in his training with Lina to practice. He siphoned the terror and misery from the woman, using her as a focus to spread his influence further and do the same to all the nearby women and children, replacing the negative feelings with will to live and warmth for their friends and family. “Everything’s gonna be okay. Wait about 40 seconds and then go down the same street I’m about to, okay?” He waited for her nod, then dashed off in the direction of the more scared guards he’d felt.

He found a quintet of frightened fighters past a tight cluster of still-burning houses and sped up more and more, his hair alternating between a bright yellow and a mossy green. The closer he got to his targets the faster he ran until he sprang up above the fighting and yelled “Banish your fear!” And when he landed in the center of the group of guards he did just that, the impact sending out a shockwave that pushed the fear right out of the guards and transferred it into the men they were fighting. One by one the attackers faltered, then fled with an unnatural sense of horror, screaming as if about to be eaten by monsters.

“Men of Fort Alden!” Rowan shouted over the heads of the guards, interrupting the cheering that had begun at their survival. “You’ve fought well for your families and your charges, but the fighting is not done yet and neither are their struggles! In a moment a group of women and children will arrive, accept no fear of defeat and get them to safety! Gather up any scattered warriors you find along the way and consolidate your strength. If you can get enough by the time the innocents are hidden away, leave them a few guards and send the rest to the center of the fort!” He figuratively and literally radiated confidence and fighting spirit, pouring his magical power into lighting a fire in their bellies. As soon as he finished speaking, he was off again, skating along a path of ice his own feet created as they went.

“Sir, yes sir!” shouted one of the guards with a salute. The other guards were quick to follow suit. As Rowan dashed away he could hear them trying to rouse their spirits. They clanged their weapons on their shields and chanted in unison as more and more of the scattered men gathered into a unit.

Wyverns are apex hunters within their environments, and so feral they can never truly be completely under control unless it’s by a Valbestian, but I don’t feel any around here. Wyverns are also excellent at zeroing in on fear in their prey...

As he neared the heart of Fort Alden, Rowan picked up more hardened soldiers along the way, doing his best to inspire and embolden each one with his magic, and once he reached the center, he gathered them all around him. “Alright, men, now we begin to fight back! I want each of you in pairs, a veteran and somebody a little more wet behind the ears. Hide in some of the nearby wreckage and wait for my signal. When you hear me shout, it’s time to collapse together back here and start moving through the rest of Alden, sticking close to one another and picking off what’s left of the attackers. Their cohesion will be gone, I promise. And I’ll support you once I set them to disarray.”

“You heard him, men!” shouted a grizzled older guard. He glanced at Rowan as he moved to rejoin his troops. “We’re counting on you, S-Class.”

While the guards made the way to their positions, Rowan knelt down and closed his eyes. He summoned back all that fear and torment the women and children had felt, wincing as it coursed through him, then channeled it out of him and up into the air, filling the sky above the Fort with the fear of those on the edge of death, with little hope left in their hearts, all leading straight to him.

The result was immediate. The wyverns overhead went berserk. Some of the smaller ones turned tail and ran, taking their riders with them. Others turned on their riders, and anything else they could get their fangs and claws on. The few wizards who could fly did so, fleeing for their lives, while yet more plummeted to the ground. Crashing down with a sickening thud, they struggled to drag their battered bodies away from him.

In the midst of this chaos, Rowan was able to sense a few people who weren’t as swayed by the surge of terror. Two of them weren’t far, probably having been knocked off of their wyverns with the others. But the third was now the only one who remained mounted. Rowan saw them in the distance, and he could tell they were looking at him too, before they began to fly toward the far edge of town.

Something was strange about their wyvern. It was as if there was a filter around its mind holding its emotions back. Rowan felt the same thing from one of the two people nearby. They felt almost numb, in stark contrast to the other person from whom Rowan sensed an odd combination of fear and glee in equal measure. He also sensed that they were gradually approaching him.

The results had frankly been a bit more than Rowan bargained for. Am I finally really getting stronger? He looked at his hand for a moment, then heard a loud screech. A surge of bloodlust exploded above his head and warned him in time for his hair to turn bright orange and for him to limbo-lean under the talons that closed around where his head had just been, grabbing onto the ankle and being whisked into the air. Rowan hung on awkwardly to the wyvern as it bucked, flailed and screamed in frustration, almost losing his grip several times while he channeled every bit of calm warmth and welcome into its heart that he could. When the beast finally relaxed and he was able to clamber up its body Rowan was more than thankful the riders had saddles for their mounts.

It wasn’t anything compared to a Valbestian bond but Rowan’s magic allowed him to ride the wyvern as if they’d been partners for years, so it was only moments before he landed back at the center of Fort Alden and let out a roar of victory in sync with his new friend. The guards heard him and charged from their places, booting any stragglers still stumbling away back to the ground and rounding them up. Rowan got with the grizzled veteran who’d relayed his orders earlier and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“I don’t have the authority to make this official obviously, but whatever you were before, you’re the captain of the guard until this is over. Round up the enemies we have here and interrogate them. Don’t be so thorough about it that you’re vulnerable or the group is stalled too long. Finish off anyone who you can’t get anything out of but could still be useful to the invaders if they were rescued and save yourself at least one prisoner. Keep up with the orders I outlined earlier and have your most charismatic or your most brutal subordinate keep questioning your last prisoner along the way, if those are the same person, all the better. I’m going to do what I can to make sure the enemy can’t rally and make a comeback, once I’ve done that or undeniably failed, I’ll link back up with you all and we’ll finish this together.”

Seeing the pitiful state of their foes, the guard opted to divide his troops into three groups. He sent two to take care of the rest of the town, while his group finished taking care of things there in the town's center.

Before the guards could be happened upon by whoever it was Rowan had gotten the attention of, the wyvern shot back into the sky and straight for the strange wizards he’d sensed. He kept letting out waves of challenging aggression the whole while, practically broadcasting his position to anyone with some magic or a hint of empathy.

From up in the air, Rowan was finally able to get a view of the wizards. The one who remained mounted continued toward the edge of town, a hood keeping their face hidden. But the other two had already begun making their move.

Rowan saw the second to be a muscular man with a twisted, ear-to-ear grin on his face. He charged through the town’s center chasing after Rowan. As they ran their body changed, growing larger, hairier, and even more muscular. He sped up, now running on both his feet and knuckles, and standing at over twice his original size. The man-turned-giant-ape leapt, soaring through the air toward his target. Which was not Rowan, but one of the other wyverns still in the sky.

The last who’d likely had their mind somehow manipulated walked into the town’s center, also hiding their face under a hood. They spawned a spectral blade to float at their side, a weapon larger than even Drell’s Big Whap. It began to spin like a power saw, and tore through the base of the already-damaged watchtower. The massive flaming structure that once stood so proud buckled, and finally came falling down over Alden in Rowan’s direction.

He tore through the air under and then past the tower, falling off the wyvern’s back long enough to kick the tower towards the wyvern the ape was targeting, then dove straight towards the one who’d cut the tower down. The ape grabbed hold of the wyvern’s neck, only to be swept up by the falling tower moments later. The tower hit the ground with a thunderous boom, kicking up a wave of dust and debris from itself and the buildings it crushed underneath.

Rowan could feel the hearts of the guardsmen sink as they watched the destruction. But they were also quick to rile themselves up and press onward.

Though already getting tired from the pace Rowan had been working it at, the wyvern managed to avoid each cut of the spectral blade that came its way until it was low enough down for Rowan to launch himself right at the man. It was no attack, however. Rowan simply skidded to a stop in front of the man and smirked at him, hair bright orange again and irises turned a sparkling gold.

“Sup? Care for a dance?”

Rowan’s opponent said nothing. Their blade was still on its way back, but the dark wizard summoned six more of these swords around them. Each spun as quickly and dangerously as the first, before hurtling at Rowan. Two of the swords remained at their summoner’s side to serve as defense.

The phoenix deftly dodged strike after strike, each time by the skin of his teeth. He never avoided anything with more than the minimum necessary gap. This kept up for almost a solid minute with Rowan keeping his senses probing around him, knowing that tower couldn’t have been enough to bring down the ape man. Finally when one attack from the emotionless man seemed like it might hit, there was a flash of light and the spectral sword went flying. A blade of Rowan’s own had materialized in his hand. The longsword was mostly unadorned and rather plain aside from a gold crossguard with a green gem in the middle and a glowing Phoenix emblazoned on the sheathe but it worked just fine against the attacks coming his way.

“Ah Lina, you never let me down.” Rowan praised his benefactor, wishing he could give her a hug and embarrass her in front of their guildmates right then and there.

Rowan’s foe didn’t react. They held out their hands and mumbled, “...Eternal Bladefall…” It was a woman’s voice. Her seven swords each split into four smaller swords. Now twenty-eight, the weapons spun like before and surrounded Rowan, hurtling toward him at once. Even the ones that had been defending.

The Phoenix twisted and contorted his body in ways that seemed beyond human flexibility as he continued to avoid each attack, throwing in a few parries with the sword, some of the dodges even left him in poses that looked out of a ballet. Each time the sword made contact with one of the spectral blades, its own blade as well as the gem glowed a tad brighter. The attacks came closer and closer, rips and tears showing themselves all over Rowan’s clothes, some of which revealed small cuts in the flesh beneath.

Rowan however now saw a vulnerability in the woman attacking him. He still didn’t feel any emotion from her, at least not the way he normally did. But he felt a strange pang, an echo, if you will. He even felt as if he saw a small light on her...perhaps this really was mind control and whoever she used to be was still in there? He honed in on that feeling she gave off stronger and stronger, until the moment he felt his new weapon had gathered enough energy from her attacks.

Finally after a particularly close call from one of the ghostly weapons slashing at where his neck had been a split second earlier, Rowan jumped forward, spiraling just over the next attack coming his way and swung the sword down towards the ground, creating a huge shockwave on contact that simultaneously knocked the woman’s very sharp assistants away and propelled him at her. No grisly impaling or gruesome decapitation awaited his opponent, however. Rowan blasted past her defenses and simply poked his right index finger into the spot on her chest where he’d seen the glow, felt that strange echo and said a single word. “Shatterpoint” Then turned his finger like a key.

A ray of light burst out from the woman’s back, the beam a prismatic swirl of colors. Shining cracks stretched outward from the glowing point he had touched. The myriad blades fell to the ground and dissipated, and she followed suit. As she fell to her knees, her hood fell back and Rowan could see her closed eyes. They slowly opened and settled on Rowan, whom they looked at in wide-eyed terror.

She dragged herself back to get away. “No no no this is all wrong! The dream wasn’t supposed to end until the mission was over and we were safe! W-where’s Nightmare? What did you do?”

Her back hit the wall of a ruined building. With no escape, she summoned a blade in her hand and pointed it at her foe. The small, deformed weapon she held was pitiful compared to what she’d just now been unleashing against Rowan.

Whatever Rowan was going to do with her, it would have to be quick. He didn’t need his magic to hear the other dark wizard tearing his way through the fallen tower.

Rowan slowly walked towards the woman, shaking his head sadly as he lazily dodged each desperate swing of her ethereal weapon. “I’m sorry, you’ll feel better soon.” He continued to walk until he reached her and avoided the sword one final time to hug her like the woman from earlier and siphon away all that terror. “Now sleep.” And with no warning he slammed his fist into her solar plexus, then pinched a spot in her neck when all the oxygen was forced out of her, putting her lights out. He hid the woman in the corner of a destroyed building and stood out in the open, watching the fallen tower with his arms crossed.

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

Faris Fol, Sentinel of the Wetlands Friday July 20th, X784

The group exited the mansion, finding a person waiting for them outside. They’d seen him before in the pages of the latest Sorcerer Weekly; the first Atria-born Valbestian, Faris Fol. He was sitting atop a lizardish toad creature that had a veritable forest of fungus on its back. There were all kinds, from large rock-like mushrooms to little glowing ones in various colors. The man himself was lightly-dressed as usual, with a pair of chakrams on his hips and a pair of rune-engraved gloves.

“Glad to see you made it out of there with your sanity intact,” Faris said with a chuckle. “I’m Faris by the way, and I’ll be your wetland guide for today. I practically live there, so you’re in good hands. Do any of you already have experience with the wetlands, or swamps and marshes in general?”

“Sanity intact? Dunno, man,” Ith’Drell laughed, rapping on the side of her helmet. “Think it might be slippin’ after the fact, y’know? But yeah, I’ve done some swampy jobs before - up North, not down here. Uh, good to meet ya, by the way. I’m Duke Ith’Drell - uh, Doomkiller, also.”

Elidyr looked over the toad lizard, curious about the fungus, but was noticeably pale. "I was really hoping he kept saying 'wetlands' because the air's so wet… we're really going into a swamp? I don't know if I can handle a swamp…"

“I’ve only been in a swamp once, and not for very long.” Pat said thoughtfully. “But don’t worry, Ellie! You can adapt to any environment, so you’ll be super fine!”

Faye stared at Faris from head to toe, trying not to be too noticeable in the act of doing so but wondering why he looked so familiar to her. The name too was something she definitely had heard before. She chose to remain silent, something she did best.

“Can’t say I’ve had much experience with swamps, not since I was a little kid anyway… I think,” Prim answered. “Faye here says she’s from around these parts though, so I’m sure she can show me around.” Prim accentuated this by slipping from Pat’s grasp to move to his other side and put an arm around the taller girl’s shoulders.

Faris looked at Faye. “Oh really now? Most of our homegrown wizards tend to stay here, Lautelan pride and all that. But things have been pretty rocky these past few years so I don’t blame anyone for leaving.” He turned his attention back to the group, but found himself doubling back to Faye who felt uneasy and rubbed her arm as she looked away from him.

He realized he was staring and quickly got back to his explanation. “Anyway, having some experienced bodies makes things easier. It’s a bit difficult guiding a group of people fighting each other to be the first one at a relic. Which I told Lord Lard-ass, but he wouldn’t listen. Fortunately they’ve narrowed down where it’ll be pretty well. I’ll be guiding you as close to there as I can, then all I can do is stay in the area to make sure everyone’s safe.

“You’ll need to be prepared if you’re going into the wetlands. If you’re walking, that means waterproof gear to keep both water and bacteria out. You’ll find plenty of places here that sell alchemically-treated clothes for that. You’ll want pants, boots, gloves, and a jacket. You’ll also need a walking stick or some other way to check the ground ahead of you. Sometimes the water will suddenly get deep, or there’ll be extra-soggy mud you can get stuck in. Take it slow.

“Or you can do what I do and travel through the trees! It’s faster, but some of the beasts up there can be territorial. If you don’t have a way to spot them ahead of time or don’t already know where they nest, be ready for a fight. I’d rather it not come to that, but at this point the relic is hurting the wetlands more than you guys probably will.

“Besides that, make sure to take plenty of water, some food in case it takes longer than you expect, and some bug repellent. Like the clothes, they sell it everywhere here. But… while you can easily find these things at chain stores, I’d appreciate it if you found someplace local. I’m sure they’d appreciate it too.”

“We should have asked Myeloch for some sort of bug repelling, de-humidifying lacrima.” Pat complained with a pout. “I bet if he doesn’t have one he knows how to get one. I hate bugs! They mess with my magic!”

“I don’t think he just keeps those around but he easily could have made one,” said Lina. “I’m actually surprised you guys haven’t asked for more.”

“I actually have two tiny bug repellent lacrima’s that my father sent me for me to test. Care to take one with you?” Faye asked both Lina and Pat as she guessed Pat would probably stick around Lina.

Lina smiled. “If you’re offering I’d be happy to take one!”

“We’ll meet up on the edge of town facing the wetlands in… let’s say two hours,” said Faris. “I’ll have transport waiting. But there is one more thing you need to know.”

His smile faded. “We’ve narrowed down where the relic is, sure, but that place is actually the area around the Spirit Greatwood. If you end up going into the Greatwood itself, you may encounter certain beings that live there. Beings like nymphs and dryads that the council might classify as magical beasts, but that we Lautelans revere as spirits. If you do see one, get away. They can be mischievous, and hurting one will invoke the ire of the wetlands’ guardian. I don’t know if any of you can defeat the guardian, and I don’t want to find out.”

Faris perked back up, not wanting to let the dour mood linger. “For now though, just worry about getting ready. I’ve got a few preparations of my own to make, so if you see me around and have a question feel free to ask! Or ask now, if you’ve already got something in mind.”

“Ya say they can be mischievous,” Drell piped up. “You mean on a good day, right? Without some relic thing maybe messin’ with ‘em? Don’t s’pose you’ve got better info than fuc- guh, uh, freakin’, king of the spheres back there.”

Faris furrowed his brow. “Man, he really didn’t tell you anything, did he? We got word this morning on the samples we took. The relic’s doing something to the water, and through it all the life that relies on it. Their bodies change to become bigger and stronger at the cost of their minds. Why the ancients needed a relic like that is anyone’s guess. I probably don’t need to say this, but don’t drink the swamp water or eat any plants and creatures that might be affected. As for the spirits, on a good day is right. Some will just play pranks while others might try and keep you as a pet or ornament. I can’t be sure, but since spirits don’t eat or drink they shouldn’t be affected by the relic.”

Drell nodded and said, “Nice. That’s a relief.”

"You said going through the trees is what you do?" Elidyr looked nervous to ask. "Is that an option for us, how do you do that?"

Faris shrugged. “I jump through branches and swing across vines, mostly. It’s usually dense enough in there that it’s an option. We can make tall mushrooms grow from the ground or trees if I need some extra reach.” He patted his beast’s head. “Get creative with your magic and I”m sure you can figure it out!”

“Not a problem.” Prim grinned. Faye on the other hand shook her head. “Sometimes I wish I could just fly too.” Faye commented.

“Who wouldn’t?” Prim laughed.

“I could fly, I just don’t wanna…” Ith’Drell mumbled. She shook her head and piped up as she began counting on her fingers. “Uh, right, so - bug repellent stuff, we have a lil but could get extra. Waterproof stuff - you guys should get it I guess but I think I’m good. Big pole - I got one, but we could get extra. Food and plenty of water - got some, should make sure we’re topped up. Aaaand maybe some extra rope or a couple teleport lacrima or something, just in case. Are there any specifics that are important for the creatures around the Greatwood?”

“The area around the Greatwood is where life is densest,” Faris explained. “The creatures there are usually the crafty sorts. They’ll try to stalk and ambush prey or lure them in with deceptive sights. Giant ‘gators, will o’ wisps, fisher spiders, carnivorous plants... Always stay alert. I feel like these types might be easier to handle if they’re afflicted by the relic. Then you have the beasts with exceptional magic.

“If you meet an illusion-making shifter cat, use wide-reaching attacks to get a hit on it and disrupt its magic before taking care of it with something stronger. If you find a swamp amalgam, know it won’t die until its core is destroyed. And blight toads like my partner are capable of growing mushrooms that release poisonous or debilitating spores. I’m hoping afflicted ones won’t have the sense to do that, but if they do you can clear them out using fire. Just stay clear of the spores when you do. There used to be dark wizards who would hide in the wetlands to conduct experiments, but while the wizards are gone I can’t account for any missing experiments.

“As for the Greatwood itself, If you keep your distance from the spirits they’ll grow bored and leave you alone. Do your best not to harm the tree, as that can provoke the spirits. And you already know what can happen if you harm them so just run away if things go wrong. You might not be able to prevent damaging the tree if you have to fight there, but as long as there’s no ill intent toward it they’ll forgive some minor damage.

“I don’t expect you’ll find anything hostile in there that hasn’t been dealt with by the spirits in some way. I can’t say the same for the water at its base, but if you’ve made it that far you’ll be fine. And the top is where the guardian lives. I hope the relic isn’t up there, but if it is I hope you have a pure heart or light feet.”

“Well, damn, nice- you know your stuff, dude. Well, if it’s true, y’know- you seem like you know what’s up, I trust it!” Ith’Drell chuckled. “Right, this mission seems like it might be pretty comfy after all. Are we gonna get lunch before we head out, or…?”

“Are you buying?” Asked Lina jokingly. “I’ll pass though. Gonna find something quick to eat so I can spend as much time as I can working on my new weapon. I’ll need it considering I haven’t actually tried it out with the lacrima it’s supposed to have.”

“I could go for-” Pat started and then stopped abruptly just as he stopped staring out at the horizon to look at Drell. Then he turned towards Lina with a small frown and opened his mouth only to close it again without saying anything. He glared at the floor a while before ultimately rolling his shoulders and grinding his teeth. “I’m gonna take a look around town and try to...get a grasp on what I need to do.” Frustration peeled off of Pat, more subtle than his usual emotions, as if it were hiding underneath a layer of other feelings, and he split from the group to roam Lautela without another word.

"Um…" Elidyr scuffed at the floor with one foot. "I'm going to go to the store, pick up some supplies. Bug repellent and stuff. I'll be back, in… an hour? Shouldn't take too long, I suppose…"

The guilds wizards went their separate ways. The two Chimeras left together, an argument brewing between them. The Sirens discussed a bit of sparring, and set off for a good spot to do so. And as for most of the others, they either left without a word or went to prepare for the job. Just as Faris explained, it would be two more hours until the relic hunt truly began.


Lautela, the City by the Wetlands, Key Locations:
  • Nymph Spire guildhall, home to the Atria’s largest alchemy lab
  • Lord Quail’s manor, home of the client
  • Potion shops, selling everything from healing potions to bug repellent
  • Gear shops, to buy arms, armor, and protection from wetland elements
  • Magic shops, selling lacrima, enchanted items, and enchanting services
  • Magitech shops, selling appliances, magitech items, and other modern wonders. Selection is limited, and locations are few.
  • A variety of other stores to suit one’s many needs, be they food and drink, a new look, or knowledge
  • Scenic locations such as Memorial Park and places where one can view Lautela Wetlands through a telescope
  • Communication booths, booths housing communication lacrima that can be used for a fee

I'll put something cool here eventually.



Age 24
Everything's bigger here, apparently.
Seen 3 Hours Ago
Posted August 10th, 2020
906 posts
9.6 Years

The Darkest Depths Friday July 20th, X784

His name was William Alexander, newly minted captain of the guards assigned to this expedition. As of just last night actually, when the former captain was dragged away by a horde of abominations. The wave of claws, maws, and tentacles had taken all of the other guards too. This was actually only William’s first time as a bodyguard for a border expedition, so making captain was pretty impressive.

Regardless, Will was adamant in his duties, only flinching when there was a thump against the barrier protecting them. Which was often, as the barrier was surrounded by monsters doing their best to break through. He continued to patrol the perimeter for cracks, giving the researchers a shaky smile every now and then to keep their spirits up. After all, the distress signal had been sent. It was only a matter of time before they were saved.

A long-fanged troll bashed its face against the barrier next to Will. Yup, only a matter of time.

Will reflected on his training. On all the methods he was taught for taking down these terrifying monsters with nothing but his sword, shield, and his wits. On how little it actually served him in his current situation. It was always on how to handle a horde of little guys or one big guy, so a horde of them both was a little beyond him.

“How’s the barrier holding up?” asked the head researcher, startling Will and causing him to trip on a rock. He sprung back to his feet and dusted himself off. “Thank the Emperor we had one of the nanocite prototype generators for this, but even that has its limits.”

Will gave a frantic salute. “The perimeter is holding, sir! Er, ma’am! Boss?”

“Sir is fine,” said the researcher. She did her best at a reassuring smile. “I’m sure that’s what you’re used to.”

“Sir, yes sir! The barrier remains intact, there’s nothing to worry about! Actually, there’s a lot of things to worry about, but the barrier isn’t one of them. Sir!” His eyes wandered back to the monsters along the barrier. And the impenetrable darkness behind them, outside the reaches of their camp’s lighting. He wondered how miners managed to be underground so long without going insane.

The researcher patted him on the shoulder. “Keep up the good work, then. Don’t worry, we’ll make it out of here. The council won’t abandon a research team on Emperor Arvis’ watch.” Will gave her another salute as she left, keeping inside how bad he felt having to be comforted by his charge.

It had been nearly two days since the expedition was suddenly swallowed by the earth, trapping them all deep underground. It was a place unlike any they’d seen, filled with hideous abominations that Will hesitated to call mere beasts. His gaze drifted to the one-eyed creature that had climbed to the top of the dome-shaped barrier, trying to dig its claws into it. This barrier really was incredible, though he wished the council could provide them more than just one.

He sighed. This was every Sidian boy’s dream, the chance to be the heroic knight and bring his sword down on the legions of evil. That opportunity was the entire reason he took this job. But instead he was cowering behind a wall with those legions staring down at him mockingly. It was incredibly frustrating.

He looked at the troll from before, still pressing its stupid face against the barrier. He stuck his tongue out at it, knowing it couldn’t do anything about it. He chuckled. Then he drew his sword and pointed it at the troll.

“What’s wrong, hideous creature? Terrified of my power, no doubt. Run while you still can, it’s clear you are no match for the mighty, noble, and incredibly dashing Sir William!” He struck a pose, putting a hand on his hip. The troll raised its fists and pounded on the barrier, to no effect. William laughed and put away his sword. His mood raised a bit, he continued his patrol.

Or he would have, if he didn’t hear the sound of cracking glass.

He whipped his head back to see the same troll, joined by its fellows. Large, beaked monsters with bony hooks for hands. Countless kobolds. Tiny floating eyes things, vaguely-humanoid bear creatures, and other more indescribable horrors. All began to gather around the same spot, growing more and more aggressive. The one-eyed creature up above stared at him, with others crawling up beside it.

Will couldn’t speak, the words failing to lift past the lump in his throat. He raised his sword toward the widening crack in the barrier, his gauntlets growing damp with sweat. He grew dizzy, but did his best to hold a firm stance. The boy prepared not for battle, but for death.

The beasts hollered and growled in their excitement, creating a chorus of impending doom. Will could no longer hear if the researchers were saying anything to him. He couldn’t even hear his own thoughts. There was nothing except the swarm of monsters before him.

An ear-splitting howl tore through the mayhem. Rather than a howl, it was closer to a scream of agony. The creatures turned to face the source, only for a whole crowd of them to be swatted aside by a great black mass. Finally, the new arrival stepped into view.

It was a monster on all fours and over twice his height, its entire body a pitch-black even darker than the cavern around it. It had two great horns, a wolf-like maw, and six beady yellow eyes. Its back was covered in countless, writhing tendrils, and its hands ended in huge claws. In one of its hulking arms was what Will could vaguely describe as a sword; a mass of black even larger than the beast wielding it.

The creature let out another shrill cry, and tore into its prey. The one-eyed creatures leapt toward the dark beast, only to be skewered by the tendrils on its back. The tendrils whipped around, stretching to impale or smack away anything that got close.

One of the trolls was stabbed in the shoulder, but continued its charge against the beast. The beast’s empty hand grew in size, enough to grab the troll like it were a toy. It howled as it smashed the troll into the dirt, dragging its face along the stone floor before tossing it aside.

The beast swept its giant blade across the battlefield, knocking away another crowd of approaching monsters before turning its attention back to the troll. It raised its blade and slammed it down upon its victim over and over and over until it was nothing but a bloody mess on the ground.

A kobold flew through the air at the beast, being grabbed and torn apart as soon as it got within range of its tendrils. A member of the horde took this opportunity to launch a fireball at it. There was a flood of light from the great explosion as the fireball detonated, stalactite falling with the rumbling of the cavern. The crack on the barrier grew.

Will blinked, trying desperately to regain his sight after the sudden flash. He saw the dark creature, with half its face melted off. The darkness composing the rest of its face rose and swirled like a thick black smoke, and the damaged parts began to reform. It looked at the being that dared attack it and let out a roar.

If the beast’s other victims were any indication, the fireball-thrower was not long for this world. Will looked to see what manner of monster this soon-to-be corpse was.

It was one of the guards that was taken last night.

Will’s body moved before he could think, stepping through the barrier and placing himself between the dark beast and his comrade. His armor rattled with his trembling body. He raised his unsteady shield, and stared the monster down.

“R-r-run!” That single word was all he could manage between his panicked gasps. The beast took a step forward. His eyes stung from the sweat, his vision blurred. He heard the crackle of his comrade forming another fireball. His heart pounded against his chest, threatening to burst. The beast leapt straight at him.

Everything went dark.

Years of training were the first to kick in. The sounds of passing footsteps, voices, the crackling of a campfire, all being recorded in William’s mind. He counted them, trying to figure out where he was. What was going on. His back was bare against the hard stone floor, with a thin blanket between it and him. He could tell he was back in the research camp. That he was safe.

With his adrenaline faded, he could feel the pain in his legs, the churning in his stomach, and his spinning head. His eyes fluttered open, taking in the sight of the head researcher seated beside him. She was talking to someone, though his addled mind struggled to make out her words. His eyes drifted to his other side and saw a stranger. A stranger...?

Will’s sprung to a seated position.

“Oh, looks like he’s up!” said the head researcher in surprise.

Will didn’t say anything, and just stared at the stranger. He had long, shaggy black hair and unkempt stubble that suited his dispassionate glare. His bright golden eyes held a familiar eeriness to them. The man was dressed in all black. A black shirt, black pants, black coat, and lots and lots of odd, random belts. Also black. He looked back at the slack-jawed Will and held up his hand. On the back was a black guild mark of a bird.

Tears welled up in William’s eyes. “We’re saved!” He leapt to embrace the wizard, their savior. The man didn’t react, pretending like Will wasn’t there, and continued talking with the head researcher.

“Are you sure? We don’t know what’s down there,” said the wizard, taking a sip from a coffee mug without taking his eyes off the researcher.

She raised an eyebrow. “With all due respect, Mr. Pelara, I have a hard time imagining anything in there stands a chance against you. Not after a display like that. And between the possibility of the others being alive and the chance at a new discovery, I think it’d be a waste not to.”

“The others…” William muttered. “The others! The monsters, and Jesson, and, and, and that [I]thing[/]! What happened?”

Mr. Pelara put down his mug and finally pushed Will off of him. Will saw his shadow, flickering from the light of the campfire, as it shifted and creeped up the wizard’s body. It shrouded his head and one of his arms, and they turned pitch-black. His face transformed, growing horns and a wolf-like maw. The arm swelled with muscle and his hand grew claws. It was smaller, but it was undoubtedly the beast from before.

William stared in silence. “What? No! But that means… But Jesson…?”

“I knocked him out,” answered Mr. Pelara, letting his monstrous body parts fade away. “I would have knocked you out too, but I didn’t need to. His mind’s been altered by whatever is behind all this. The same being that’s commanding all those other creatures.”

“Then…” Will looked to the head researcher.

“The others might still be alive too,” she said. “With a Saint, here, we might be able to save them all, and take out whatever’s causing all this. There are magical beasts unlike any we’ve ever seen here. With the Mistland border being what it is, we might never be able to make it back here. So I want to make the most of it now.”

“And I think you’re risking everyone’s lives for nothing,” countered Mr. Pelara. “There are forces in this world with power beyond our reckoning. Beings that tower over you or even I. We can’t forget that, lest we become lost in their shadows.”

Will clutched the Saint’s hand. “Please! I’m begging you, if there’s a chance we can save everyone I want you to… to at least consider it. I’ll do anything! Just… please…” He grit his teeth. He’d wanted nothing more than to leave this hellish pit, but now that he had the chance he didn’t want to take it. He couldn’t, not with the weight of his shame threatening to crush him. This could be the chance he needed to redeem himself.

“Isn’t there anything in that ginormous bag you brought that could help you?” Asked the researcher. “You said it was extra supplies for our trip back, but we’re a small expedition team, not an entire village.”

Mr. Pelara scowled. “I meant what I said. And you, boy. Do you really think you can do much after what you saw back there?”

William backed off, wanting to argue but wondering if he even had the right.

The air hung heavy over the trio. Several times did William take a breath, ready to bring up a point only to relent at the sight of Boriel’s piercing glare. Eventually, he did speak. “...Where’s Jesson?”

“In that tent over there,” answered the researcher, pointing to the tent in question. “Boriel was pretty rough with him, don’t know when he’s going to wake up. It actually hasn’t been that long since the whole barrier thing. And don’t panic when you see him chained up. We still don’t know what happened to him.”

William nodded, silently standing and walking over to it. He didn’t make it far when the screaming began. Other researchers rushed out of the tent in terror, Jesson following after them. William rushed over to his companion in equal parts relief and concern.

“Jesson, what’s going on?” he asked, grabbing a hold of his arm.

Jesson swatted Will’s hand aside. “I don’t have time for this, Will. I’ve got to get back!”

“Back where? Talk to me, Jesson!”

“Master’s not safe, I need to protect him!” Jesson stormed past William and through the camp. He froze when he saw Boriel, who was slowly approaching him.

“I should have known that wouldn’t be enough to hold an expedition guard,” said Boriel. From his back spawned a set of shadowy tendrils, just like the ones he used as the dark beast.

You,” growled Jesson. “Master knew someone would be coming for his life. I won’t let you get the chance.” Sparks popped at his fingertips as he began to gather his magic.

Boriel took another step forward and fell, sinking into his shadow like it was water. It darted along the ground, reaching Jesson in an instant. Black tendrils shot up from the ground. They wrapped themselves around Jesson’s wrists and ankles, and one of them snaked its way around his throat.

The Wizard Saint slowly rose up from the ground behind him. Jesson struggled to get loose. The sparks in his hands swelled into a pair of fireballs, only for Boriel’s tendrils to tighten in the same moment. Jesson screamed in pain, and the fireballs withered into nothing. And soon, Jesson returned to unconsciousness.

William was speechless. Boriel continued to wrap his tendrils around Jesson until his entire body was tightly bound. They split off from Boriel’s body, dropping to the ground along with their captive. Then they began to twist and morph until they’d turned into chains. William looked up at Boriel with desperate eyes. Eyes searching for guidance, reassurance, something. Anything.

Boriel sighed. “I’ve changed my mind. This being is intelligent. It’s gathering strength and eliminating threats. There’s no telling what will happen if I let it be. And if it was expecting me, I can’t be confident we’ll get away at all without a fight. We haven’t seen your other comrades, so it still has forces to use.”

“Then…” William asked hopefully.

Boriel held out his hand, curling his fingers like a claw. “It dies today.”

I'll put something cool here eventually.


Age 24
Seen 53 Minutes Ago
Posted 2 Hours Ago
22,288 posts
8.4 Years
Primilla Bellamy

Somewhere in Lautela
Prim found herself wandering Lautela, having realised a little too late that she had actually forgot to ask for directions to the sorts of places she needed to go. On the plus side though, this had provided her with an opportunity to see more of the city and really take it in.

Lautela was like nowhere she had seen before. A full-fledged city that seemed to almost be being devoured by nature. The wood and brick townhouses that made up much of the architecture she had seen were packed close together, but huge swathes of greenery still managed to fill the space between them, poking out between structures. Everywhere Prim looked, she was seeing trees, shrubs and flowers. Lautela was unique and beautiful and enjoyable to look at.

Unfortunately, the humidity counteracted it’s charm rather heavily. The air was thick with moisture, the sky so grey and dense with clouds that it looked like they might solidify under the pressure of being pressed together and fall on the settlement below and the humid heat was becoming increasingly sticky and unpleasant.

The narrow streets that jammed pedestrians and street peddlars together between buildings wasn’t helping matters either. It seemed like every few seconds a hand clutching a bottle of water was thrust into Prim’s face, evidently her discomfort was visible enough to make her seem like easy prey for sellers, much to her irritation. She was beginning to wonder if the intention of forcing people into such thin streets had been to maximise the impact of the humidity for some reason.

“It’s becoming clearer every second why Faye got the hell out of here.” Prim grimaced, sidestepping another street vendor. The mention of her friend drew her thoughts back to the older girl.

She knew what she had felt on the train ride, Faye clearly knew it too. That was a conversation that Prim was very eager to have, if only because her confusion was starting to become bewildering. She couldn’t understand why Faye would have been hiding something like that. She struggled to empathise with the idea of people hiding their true selves in general as someone who was defiantly herself under all circumstances. This went a step further though, Prim couldn’t understand why she would be hiding something like that from the guild. The same guild that contained not just her, but Drell of all people. It made no sense. It was so confusing that it was frustrating.

She is definitely going to explain herself in the very near future because my head is going to explode if she doesn’t.

Unfortunately for Prim, she didn’t have time to spend puzzling over the Faye situation. She was ill-prepared for a mission in the Lautelan swamps and only had so much time available to her to find what she needed. She briefly contemplated asking for help from the locals before immediately rejecting the notion and pressing on, eventually finding herself on a street that seemed to be lined with various stores and boutiques. Even in Lautela with plants growing everywhere, this was a comforting and homely location for Prim.

Thankfully, clothes and other supplies suitable for a swamp expedition seemed to be in abundant supply. Although, unfortunately, there was not nearly enough white and blue present for Prim’s tastes. Although, given her circumstances, she supposed she couldn’t afford to be too picky.

Steeling herself for imminent disappointment, Prim made a B-line for a store chosen at random. It was… different. She supposed that the appropriate term would be general store, but that wasn’t quite right. It was almost like she had walked into an establishment that existed specifically for people in her situation. Most of the store was set up like a typical clothing store, but the entirety of the left wall was covered with supplies for surviving and exploring the nearby swamplands. Canvas backpacks, ponchos and raincoats, insect repellent, tents and sleeping bags - even a handful of small ration packs. It was too specific to be a general store. It was like someone had taken a wall of a fashion boutique out and replaced it with one lifted from a camping supply chain.

“Okay Lautela, maybe you do get me after all,” Prim commented, chuckling to herself. Fifteen minutes later, Prim was fully stocked for the upcoming mission. She slipped a pair of dark leggings purchased from the store on under her skirt and pulled a white and blue poncho over her head. She also doused herself in insect repellent before dumping about eight more spray bottles into her bag along with the additional rations. Lastly, she made a point of finally conceding to the various street vendors and adding several more bottles of water to her supplies.

Alright, one problem sorted. Next thing on the list is Faye. Still no idea what the hell is going on with her. She shook her head as if to physically shake her confusion away and began heading back in the direction she hoped would quickest lead her to the meeting point for the mission.

Sapphire Rose

Only thorns left on this rose.

Age 24
Over the hills and far away.
Online now
Posted 25 Minutes Ago

Faye Aubrey

Female | Wizard/Touched

Old starts and new beginnings

As Faris was done explaining the ins and outs of the mission, everyone went their own merry ways. Faye was among those leaving but with a very specific location in mind. Faris had just spoken about a lacrima store that was located within the town. The white haired Phoenix was wondering whether this store happened to be in the same building her father’s store used to be and thus made her way towards that specific area.

It was strange to walk the streets of Lautela once more. From the old houses that seemed to have had some maintenance over the years to the clothes shop with the same squeaky door whenever someone entered, it was all still there. Just when Faye turned around the corner of the street, she heard voices behind her. “What is she doing here…?!” She heard them say. One of them was a familiar face. A woman, somewhere in her forties with brown hair and some gray streaks that gave away her age. The touched girl remembered her because she used to be a friend of her mother. She never knew what happened between the two but the woman suddenly stopped visiting at some point. It was just before her mother left the town for good and left her and her father behind.

As Faye walked the path towards her father’s old store, she felt more eyes dropping on her. It felt embarrassing to be stared at, as if she was an animal at the Zoo. That embarrassment is a feeling that never changed over the years but Faye walked quickly to get rid of it and the people that had figured her out.

After she passed a big brown building with a wolf statue on top, a smaller building was revealed. It had big windows and a wooden door in the center. The wooden store sign was still the same except that it had a different name on it now. She could faintly see where the F of “Fidelis” had been which was the old name of the store but other than that, it seemed to be a completely different store now even though it sold the same items as before. It’s new name was now “Proditio”, something Faye found funny because it meant “Betrayal” in the same language as Fidelis which meant “loyalty”. “What a coincidence…” Faye sighed, feeling a bit uneasy about entering but gathering her courage to still do so. Even the inside of the store looked completely different. As if “Fidelis” had never existed at all except for the faded F on the sign.

A tiny bell over the door rang as Faye stepped inside, alerting the shopkeeper to her presence. He greeted her, knowing nothing of her history with the place. But before she could look at his wares, she heard the bell ring again. Already tense from being here, she was quick to see who this new arrival was. It was Faris.

“Faye, right?” he began. “Sorry about this whole, uh, following you thing, but I had something I wanted to ask you.”

“Go ahead.” Faye replied shortly. Not exactly on edge anymore as soon as she saw the face of Faris but still very much curious to why he feels so familiar.

He paused a moment, considering his words. “...It’s a bit of a long shot, but there’s this girl I knew who used to live here. She had a… mixed heritage. We weren't particularly close, but our struggles were fairly similar so I always felt a sort of connection with her. I was wondering if you knew her, and if you did, if she’s happier out in the world. Away from here.”

Faye was quiet for a moment as the realization of who Faris was crossed her mind, or rather, she already knew but needed confirmation. The kind that he just gave. Faye glanced at the shopkeeper who was doing his own thing but occasionally shot a glance in their direction. The girl then turned back to Faris and signed with her eyes towards the door, meaning that they will talk outside. The tiny bell rang for a third time as the duo left the shop.

“You’re that guy, right?” Faye asked her spiky green haired companion. “I mean, I always saw you around getting into trouble with the town’s people while you didn’t do anything much.” The girl rubbed the back of her head, being flustered with how rude she sounded.

“Yup, that’s me!” he laughed. He stepped into the shade of a nearby tree and sprinkled a dust-like substance from his fingers. His blight toad stepped out from behind the tree and let out a low, rumbling noise. A firm, rock-like mushroom burst from the ground Faris had marked to serve as his chair. “Glad to see you caught on. Before anything else, though, I wanted to apologize. I should have been there for you back then, done more to help. But in those days I only really cared about myself.”

Faye held her other arm and rubbed it while glancing at the floor. “Uh…” For a second she didn’t know what to say. “I mean… In that case I should apologize as well. I was too absorbed with my own problems and even though I knew you were struggling as well, I guess I was afraid you’d judge me as well so instead I just watched from a distance…” Faye glanced up but realised the last part of her sentence sounded awfully like stalking and even though Faye usually had a stoic expression on her face, this time she seemed a bit more embarrassed. “Uh… Not in a weird way I mean.” She sighed and regained her composure, occasionally glancing at the toad that Faris had brought along. His partner, probably.

“To answer your question, I’ve been living in the city. No one knows who I am over there so… I’ve been doing well. Although I’m living in Shessalie now at the guildhouse of the Phoenix’s Nest.”

“That’s good to hear,” said Faris. “I was worried when I stopped seeing you around. Try not to feel guilty on my behalf though. I’ve got Valbestian blood, so as long as Merry here’s still kicking I’m never really alone. It felt like it was us against the world in those days, but it wasn’t so bad with my best friend beside me. What’s it like at Phoenix Nest? They treat you well? Have… have you told anyone about yourself?” He glanced at her arms, covered by her gloves.

“They treat me well but they don’t know of my heritage yet… Except for one guy. He accidentally found out when he barged into my room. He’s… a weird one but he’s kind. He promised not to tell anyone else. I don’t want them to know for now.” The corners of Faye’s mouth curled up just enough to be able to be identified as a smile but there was some sort of sadness to be read from it as well. Maybe even regret. Faye honestly didn’t know how she felt about all of it. “A-Actually… the blue haired girl you saw earlier also found out recently. I think she did at least... She’s also touched but bad with secrets. I can only hope she’ll keep it to herself.” Faye rubbed the back of her head while being slightly worried. Prim was someone who the girl identified as “Won’t spill the beans on purpose but will definitely accidentally spill it out.”

Faris smiled. “They seem like a good bunch. There’s a sort of relief, isn’t there? Meeting someone who knows what you are, who you are but accepts and appreciates you regardless. I’ve had my fair share of trouble in this city, but it’s also where I met the woman I love. Someone who loves me as I am, including the Valbestian side that’s a fundamental part of me instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I might not understand how you feel, hiding yourself like that, but I hope you can find someone like that too. Whenever you feel ready to tell them the truth, that is.”

Faye felt it sting when Faris mentioned pretending a part of yourself doesn't exist even though it's a fundamental part. She knew he was right, yet the fear of being cast out and abandoned once again was greater and not overcome easily. In a sense, she envied him. "Someone who knows what you are, who you are but accepts and appreciates you regardless…" Faye repeated his words quietly, all the while staring off into the distance. There was an image of a certain person coming to mind.

"Seeing those cute little horns is gift enough for me~"

Faye suddenly remembered the first words that she heard after that same person found her out. She felt warmth enveloping her and as she assumed it was just from the friendship this person had given her, somehow there was something else mixed into it. Something she couldn’t recognize with her lack of understanding of her own emotions.

Faye turned back to Faris with a warm smile spreading across her soft pink coloured lips. A rare sight for anyone who knew the girl with the poker face. "I hope I can find someone like that too."

Faris couldn’t help but stare. “That’s a new one! Maybe you’ve already got someone in mind?” he teased. "T-That's not-" Faye tried crawling back on her actions. "It's not like that…" she tried to assure him but the more she thought about it, the more her cheeks were starting to turn red. Even more odd things for Faye.

“I won’t lie though, it’s not easy. Both of us have gone through a lot because of it, especially living here. I used to catch myself thinking how much better off she’d be without me, and I had to remind myself that it wasn’t my call to make. But it’s been worth it. The world’s not some fairy tale, but that doesn’t mean there’s no happily ever after. You just have to reach out and grab it for yourself.”

He chuckled. “Maybe it’s too soon to be talking like that, but I’m pretty optimistic about this whole thing so I’ll stand by my words.”

"Being optimistic is fine. I'd be worried if you weren't to be honest. You never stroke me as someone to go down easily without a fight." Faye replied. Although she started wondering…

"How did the people in town react to you two getting together? I mean… Did they… Did they start casting her out as well? Were they mean to her knowing she was dating someone that didn't fit their standards?"

“That’s right. She says it just makes it easier to cut out the people who aren’t worth it, but I can tell it hurts. But no matter what I say, she chooses to stay with me. So I do my best to support her, and to help this city in the hopes that they’ll see me in a better light. Maybe if I keep at it I can make a difference. And the next time people like us come along they won’t have to worry about any of this.”

It pained Faye to hear that Faris’s girlfriend was also going through the struggle non-Atrians did. The discrimination and the abandoment… The white haired girl sighed. She knew it and yet here she was asking for confirmation about the obvious. She didn’t even know why that mattered to her at all. Faye was quiet for a moment before she opened her mouth to speak again, however, no words would come out of it. Not until moments later. “I admire you.” She suddenly said. “My dad and I chose to run away from it all while you’re trying to change their minds. I admire that.” She spoke. “I truly hope that you’ll get there.”

Faris struggled to find his response. “...Man, I’m not usually one for heavy talks like this... I'll tell you what, though. We’ve both still gotta get ready for the job, so let’s pick this up some other time. Zaline’s off taking her S-class exam so she should be back in a few days. Zaline’s my girlfriend if that wasn’t clear. I’d like you to meet her, so if you have some free time we should do something with the three of us!" He said.

Faye showed a tiny smirk. "Sure. I'd like that." The Phoenix thought it was quite coincidence since she knew Rowan was also taking the S-class exam right now.

"Or maybe four if you’ve got someone you wanna bring by then,” Faris teased again.

Faye's smirk turned into a painful expression rather quickly before turning back to her usual emotionless expression. The one people were more familiar with. "Keep that up and I'll tell Zaline that you used to throw mud at people."

Faris put his hands up defensively. “Okay okay, I’ll stop. You know those people deserved it though.” He stood up and walked over to his blight toad, Merry. With a snap of his fingers and a grumble from Merry, the mushroom he’d been seated on withered away into nothing. He pet his partner’s head and climbed on its back.

“I’m heading off, then,” Faris said with a wave. “I’m glad I got to see you again though, and I hope it’s not the last time I do.”

“It was good to see you too.” Faye waved back at him. “Let’s keep in touch? I’d like to know how your plan to quell the racism here is going from time to time…” Faye said just before he left. “Sure. That would be fun.” Faris shot a last smile in her direction and then wandered off while Faye stayed behind and crossed her arms, feeling quite satisfied.

It was weird but she felt awfully comfortable around him, as if they had been friends since forever but only just now confirmed their friendship. Even though they hardly talked back then… Was this the connection Faris was speaking of earlier?


Magnificent Turnip

Private property what the heck are you doing here get out
Seen 16 Hours Ago
Posted 1 Day Ago
659 posts
8.4 Years

Finished That Cool New Weapon But Wait Someone Else Is Here With Also A Cool New Weapon Actually It's Old
Featuring Lina, Drell and some Unicorn guild person - they're not a main character, do they get to be here? Fine, you can be here this time.

The guild wizards had been given time to prepare, and Lina was going to use as much of it as she could on perfecting her spear. She already had a name in mind too, but she’d have to wait until she was sure it worked as intended before christening it. After a quick trip to one of the town’s lacrima shops she emerged with a wind lacrima. A rather expensive one at that, costing nearly all her reward money that hadn’t been spent on the spear itself. Everything that was left went to buying what few components she could find from a small magitech store, then she got to work. Ith’Drell, who came along to purchase utility lacrima for their trip into the wetlands, found that all responsible thoughts quickly vacated her brain the moment that chatter over a cool new weapon began.

The two travelled to the peaceful Memorial Park, opting to use a picnic table as an impromptu workbench. With a flick of her wrist Lina summoned the incomplete weapon to hand and laid it on the table. The level of requip magic she possessed could only summon one weapon at a time, so she pulled the tools she’d need from her backpack. The spear was pretty much complete aside from the lacrima, so these would mostly be for adjustments in case anything was off.

“Spears are great,” Drell said for probably the fifteenth time. “Polearms in general are great. Ancient weapon, the spear. Persisted through time because it’s just that good. Can’t go wrong with pointy bit on a stick.”

“For sure,” Lina agreed as she carefully installed the wind lacrima. “I mean, I’ve always been partial to swords, as you know, but spears- or, uh, polearms in general but particularly the cutty stabby ones- are a close second. There’s just so many different kinds of each, all with their own specialty. It’s like a dream for someone who uses requip!” She made sure to secure the lacrima in place then held the weapon up in awe, eager to test it.

“Requip is a dream, dude,” the big lizard beamed. She took a step back and eyed the newly finished spear appreciatively. “Kinda wasted on swords, if ya ask me, but I guess the style points are worth it.”

“Oh they’re absolutely worth it,” Lina said with a grin. “Still trying to figure out how I can use that lacrima I got from the mine in one, but right now it’s all about this baby right here! Let’s hope my calculations were right.” She gripped her now-complete spear at the ready, fingers hovering over the buttons in anticipation.

“Go!” She pushed a button and a blast of wind shot back from several holes in the spear, propelling her forward in an instant. She glided like an arrow for several yards crashing face-first into a nearby tree. A cat flew from a branch above and fled into a nearby house.

“Lina! Oh my g- Lina!” Ith’Drell laughed, sprinting over. “You okay? You good?”

Lina fell to the ground and burst out laughing. She tried to reassure Drell, but couldn’t get any words out properly so she just gave a thumbs-up. Her face was red and a bit scraped from the impact, but she was otherwise fine.

“I think I’ve mentioned by now that I’m pretty sturdy,” Lina said after her fit finally died down. She picked up her spear and brought it back to the picnic table. “Looks like I overdid it on the draw, but all in all I’m pretty happy with the results! I probably killed the charge with that, but knowing it’s even capable of blasting me across a room is such a relief.”

She opened up a hidden compartment just below where the lacrima was set and began prodding its insides with her tools. “I’m thinking of calling her ‘wings of rebellion’. What do you think?”

“Relief? Relieved you of the burden of standing on your own two feet I guess- heyoooo! Uh sorry, right- uh, wings of… rebellion? Dude, that’s psyduckin’, uh… rad.” The big lizard plopped down next to her guildmate. “Any other applications for that wind lacrima? I mean, epic dashes face first into trees are a pretty good starting point, but- oh! You could use it to suck the air out of people to make them winded! Then it’s, like, easy pickings for the actual spear part- or! Or you could make a tornado. Put the spear- Wings, in the tornado - make a tornado of tornados…”

“No sucking, unfortunately. This lacrima is designed to blow, and it blows real good. I could probably rig this to do like a wind blast attack, but I wouldn’t really call that a tornado. I mean, I could totally use this lacrima to build a tornado maker thing, but it’d end up being a lot less spear and a lot more big functional box that does a thing.”

“Oh, just blow? That sucks,” the reptile grinned. “But what if, you did a really powerful blow- and then, like, the blow is hard enough that it pushes the air away so it creates a vacuum, and then it, like, simulates suck?”

Lina stopped working to think about the question. “... I... I think at that point it’s probably easier to just buy a sucking lacrima.”

“I guess,” Drell admitted. “But then you don’t have the moment of ‘ha, they can’t suck! That’s a blowing lacrima!’ and then you just, like, do the blow anyway. That extra effort? That’s the element of surprise paying dividends, dude. Icing on the cake. Cream of the crop, and whatever and all that stuff.”

“Okay, I’m curious now.” Lina set aside her tools and instead pulled out her notebook, the poor thing nearly falling apart from use. She flipped to a page with various diagrams on it and held a pen to an empty spot in the corner.

“Say I’ve got a lacrima that’s capable of transmitting ether to a distant source,” she explained. “Like, I’ve attuned this lacrima to a magitech lamp at home and by using this lacrima, I can turn that lamp off and on all the way from here. Which is, of course, what the one I got from the mine machine does. What would you do with it? I was thinking I could make like big battery pack with it to power something huge that needs a ton of ether, or with something small like knives that I can’t fit a lot of energy lacrima into.” Lina looked at Drell in anticipation.

“Oh!” The elder Phoenix perked up immediately, and Lina could almost see the lightbulb that appeared over her guildmate’s head. “Mess with enemy magitech. Mess ‘em up.”

“Oh! Oh! I could have like a throwing knife with ether displacement or ether slowing magic! Throw it at someone and activate it remotely like a bomb so I don’t mess my own stuff up, and it would work on wizards too! Sounds like it’d cost a fortune to find a lacrima like that, but that but I can get it easy if I win this relic hunt.”

“Oh oh oh- what if, hear me out: do an extra powerful ether transmission, like - you transmit it so fast that it pushes the regular ether out, over a guy- like, you create an ether-vacuum.”

“Does it work like that for ether too?”

“Not sure but I wanna find out!”

“If you get the prize and help me out, I’d totally build you an ether cannon.”

Drell’s face scrunched up, considering the offer. “Ehhh, I dunno about the prize thing. I mean, I could just whoop everyone’s ass and take the thing, but I feel like a team-up-split-the-reward kind of situation is the more sensible thing to do. As much as I want an ether cannon.”

Lina shrugged. “That’s fair. Offer’s still up if one day you happen upon a fat load of cash.”

“Or,” the armoured lizard said with a sly grin. “Maybe we can bug Myeloch about getting a communal ether cannon. For the good of the guild!”

“It might actually work. He doesn’t usually tell me no when I ask for stuff.”

“Ooh, is that magitech?” asked an approaching voice. It was the scarlet-haired Unicorn who’d be joining them on their job. She looked a bit older than Sarah, and had quite the spring in her step. She held out her hand. “Hi, I’m Aja by the way. Aja Karisi of the brand new Crimson Unicorn guild!”

“Hi, Duke Ith’Drell!” The big lizard introduced herself, able to shake the Unicorn’s hand without standing up. “Doomkiller, nice to meet ya. Well, again, or whatever.”

Lina shook Aja’s hand. “I’m Lina Latare of Phoenix Nest, and this is absolutely magitech! Are you a fan too?” She stepped aside to better display her spear.

Aja tilted her head. “In a way. It’s more like I’m fascinated by it. I love watching its advancement and how, despite that, it still doesn’t compare to the relics that have been around for over a thousand years. Doesn’t it make you wonder who could even make those? Where all that knowledge went? By the way, do let me know if you’ve got any juicy info on relics and the ancients and all that, I’d love to hear it.” She held out the relic that had been resting on her hip like she’d been waiting to show it off. It looked like a sword hilt, but the blade itself was no bigger than a letter opener.

Lina frowned. “Relics are cool, I guess. I just prefer being able to build, modify, and upgrade. You can’t really do any of that with a relic.”

“Can’t, or won’t? Eh?” Drell snorted. “Or is that illegal talk? I’ll shut up I guess.”

“If you know how to build a relic I’d be very excited to hear!” said Aja with genuine curiosity. “Though that might very well be illegal.”

“I guess modifying and upgrading might depend on what the relic is since there’s all sorts of them,” Lina said, “But what are you gonna do to something like a celestial spirit key? The wizard can already use its magic for themselves just fine to do whatever they need.”

Ith’Drell shrugged, “Dunno, never got my hands on one. Maybe use some, like, ether-siphoning magic and use it as a freaky battery? I guess maybe it’s not such a huge thing, but authority’s always been super antsy about anythin’ relic related. Still, even if I felt like pissin’ off the council, don’t think I’d be making any relics - that’s more my folks’ area of expertise.”

“Your folks can make relics?” asked a wide-eyed Aja.

“Come to think of it, I don’t think you’ve told me much about your family,” Lina mentioned.

“It hasn’t come up, I guess?” Drell pondered the statement with a claw to her chin. “Guess it’s only fair I tell you ‘bout my folks if I already met your dad, huh? They’re pretty great - dunno if they actually made any relics, but if anyone could, they could definitely do it easy peasy. They’ve probably made like a thousand, or something - they run a shop up North dealin’ in adventuring gear. My mum’s a big ol’ dragon - she does the forgin’ and craftin’ stuff. And my dad’s a mighty bolt of lighting! He does the tippy-top enchanting and all the lacrima, and some funky alchemy stuff. I never learned any of the alchemy stuff - I think I tried to drink a potion or two a few too many times.”

Aja tilted her head again in doubt. “Dragons and relics, eh?” Drell nodded profusely.

“I’m guessing they made your gear?” asked Lina. “What kind of neat enchantments do you have on it all? And I heard a lot of northern smiths use the parts of slain beasts, does that affect what you do with it? Come to think of it, I haven’t really gotten to see you in action, huh?”

“My gear?” Ith’Drell chuckled, unable to hide a grin. “Uh, mainly just the plate. I guess my lil’ handaxe is mum’s work too, but it’s just, like, two seconds’ work; ain’t exactly one of those things you put effort into - still, er-” the big lizard slung her sword out from around her shoulder and onto her lap. “Big Whap’s all me - flattering that ya can’t tell the difference, I guess, but it’s not near the same level. It gets the job done, I guess, but I’m, like, a passable smith. And I sure ain’t no enchanter like m’dad.”

Lina looked Drell over with this new context. “We’ll have to compare notes sometime! I made my weapons myself, but not without ol’ Aldahan watching over my shoulder and pointing out when I mess up. And I’m sure smiths in the north have different techniques they use, especially when they’re dragons.” She chuckled.

Aja watched the two discuss and pouted.

“Oh, for sure,” Drell chuckled with her guildmate. “I mean, when you don’t care about fire and you’re strong as heck, you can just, like, reach into the forge and bend the metal with your hands if you want, which looks really cool- that’s kinda just the base of it though. Mum’s got a load of neat techniques I probably would have learned if I stayed on at the shop instead of, uh, well… this.” The Phoenix shrugged, then rapped on one of her gauntlets as she continued. “It all comes together in stuff like this. It’s deliberately not too flashy, but when you get into it, pretty sure by anyone’s metric this suit of plate is crazy. Best armour money can buy, I’d say, for sure-” she stopped for a moment, her eyes widened and she shook her head. “Actually, I don’t even know if money can buy armour like this. Bespoke job for a specific build playing to its strengths, unusual materials, enchantments the likes of which you’re probably not gonna get on any piece short of one being made specially for family-”

The Doomkiller paused, as if at last noticing that Aja was there. She snorted. “Woah, hey dude- my bad, I was gettin’ kinda a little too into it. ‘Sup? Did you want to talk about the job, or something?”

“No no, go on.” Aja sounded offended. “Showing each other all your cool stuff but not asking about mine. It’s fine.” She turned away, watching them expectantly from the corner of her eye.

“Right. Uh…” Lina looked at Drell with uncertainty. The big lizard let out an amused snort.

“I mean, uh, you kinda just... waltzed on in h- I-” Ith’Drell shrugged and gestured exaggeratedly at Aja’s person. “Whatever- woah, what about all of your cool stuff? Why don’t you show it to us? That sounds like a cool idea I just came up with right now on my own!”

Aja faced them with wide eyes and a wider smile. “Wow, I’m so glad you asked!” She held out her weapon once more. “This is my precious relic known as the Mimic Blade! It was discovered in the year X721, one of two known in the world.”

Aja continued her seemingly-prepared presentation with no regard for its length or her listeners’ attention to it. “The blade’s full form actually generates additional amounts of the copied substance, which implies that the magic within… and if we compare it to records of the X755 border expedition conducted by… which is odd when you consider how most weapon-form relics are under the council’s watch, meaning…”

Lina looked at Drell again, this time as if pleading for help.

“Anyway, look!” In one swift motion, Aja slit her wrist with the blade. Blood poured from the wound, painting the ground below. But in moments, the bleeding stopped, despite the wound still being wide open. The blade, meanwhile, had grown in size and taken on the blood’s crimson hue, its surface reflecting the sunlight like it was liquid. “Mimicking this normally wouldn’t do much good, but it does wonders with my blood magic!”

Showing off, Aja transformed the cruciform sword into a curved one, the blood weapon shifting into floating liquid then to firm solid. Then it became a morningstar, and then a whip, and then a scythe. She wiggled the scythe’s shaft like a snake to further flaunt her magic.

Drell put a claw to her chin. To her credit, she’d listened to most of it. “How sharp can you really make blood? How solid can you make blood? Apparently there’s iron in it, but iron isn’t top tier.”

“To be fair, Egan seems to be doing just fine,” Lina commented.

“Blood’s just lukewarm though,” the reptile hummed.

“It’d be nice if I could use maker magic on that level, but the relic’s actually doing most of the work.” Aja changed the blade back into the cruciform shape. “It’s got a… let’s say a base toughness and sharpness. I’m not actually using much ether to keep it like this, so when I change it up it’s mostly about maintaining the properties it’s already got. I could mimic something else like a tougher metal and use my own blood for my magic, but I usually pass out when I do that and miss the fun.”

Ith’Drell laughed, “Haha, yeah, that sounds like-” She suddenly stopped, eyes wide and staring at nothing in particular. “Wait… couldn’t you use it to, like… replicate high-quality lacrima… or other gems or something…?”

She nodded. “Yes. Shame I don’t have any. I could go for a lacrima that just starts gushing blood everywhere, that sounds super useful.”

The big Phoenix blinked twice, then shrugged, “Ya know… I’m glad I live in a world where people find a matter replication thingamabob and just use it to make a cool blood sword mace whip thing. I think. Maybe.”

“Aren’t relics great!?” Aja asked in earnest.

Drell shared a slightly perturbed glance with Lina and answered, “Yeah, sure.”

She clapped giddily. “I’m so glad you see it my way. I’m happy to go over all the other pieces in my collection too, though they aren’t as exciting as my blade. I think a good place to start would be my brew-” She stopped her explanation abruptly to pull a mini comm lacrima from her pocket. “Yeah, master?”

There was a brief conversation before she put her lacrima away. “Looks like I’ve gotta go, I promised my master I’d visit the Nymph hall while I was here. But come find me another time if you want to hear more about relics or the ancients or whatever. Bye!” And as soon as she’d come, she was gone.

“Uh, bye, I guess!” Ith’Drell waved after her.

“She’s definitely, uh, passionate,” said Lina. “Is that what we sound like when we talk weapons?”

The big lizard thought about it, “You know, usually I’d be like ‘oh, haha, yeah I guess’ but in this case…? Nah, she’s crazy, dude.”

Lina chuckled, but kept her mouth shut and got right back to work. The two settled into comfortable silence for a while before Drell broke it again.

“Y’know, I said I already met your dad and everything, but I dunno if I- like, he’s weirdly open and super secretive at the same time. I guess it’s just ‘busy’- I just realised I don’t know what the guy really does besides council this, council that and sending illusory clones all over. And heck if I know what council this or that actually is.”

Lina answered without looking away from her work. “Magic research, I’d say for all counts. He’s always been trying to discover new spells, new ways to improve existing spells, or find new things about magic as a whole. It sounds like that’s what he did before I was born, and it’s what he’s been doing ever since… ever since I’ve been old enough to take care of myself, more or less. Can’t say whether the council wants him for something in specific or just to advance general research, but he’s not really in a position to say no.”

“That makes sense. I mean, how else would he figure out how to do all that crazy crap? I guess if he’s devoting all that time to it- feels good, y’know? Put the time and effort in, get results, and all that.”

She smiled softly. “I remember before I got into swords I did a lot of research too. I wanted to help him with his work, you know? Of course, I never stumbled on any grand discoveries but it definitely helped me appreciate magic more. Like how hard people like the S-Class wizards and Saints had to work to get where they are.”

Ith’Drell nodded, “Yeah, I been there. It’s cool to go into something like… different, but, I guess, with elements of what your folks do? It’s like a different perspective… you know, come to think of it, I-” the elder Phoenix paused. “Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever heard mentioned- uh, are you OK talking about your mum? I don’t know if it’s, like, a thing- it’s fine if you don’t wanna.”

“It’s fine,” Lina said, holding that smile. “She was a soldier, way up north because she deserted during the war and was in hiding. At least that’s what dad tells me. I guess he met her when he was travelling up there and they hit it off. I don’t actually remember much about her myself, that whole part of my life is a bit of a blur.”

“Soldier’s interesting,” Drell smiled back. “What for?”

“Atrian vanguard against the Valbestian forces. Apparently she was good with a shield.”

“Shield, huh? That’s a- oh!” The big lizard snapped her fingers. “You should see if you’re good with ‘em! By, uh, getting one. You should get a shield, is what I’m sayin’ - only reason I don’t have one is the plate.”

Lina shrugged. “I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned but they’re not really my style. So I say, but I basically use my greatsword as a glorified shield anyway. I want to modify it so I can adjust the feather lacrima’s output more precisely. Maybe I can make it more shield-like while I’m at it.”

Drell shrugged back, “Oooor you could get a shield… might help to have a smaller one, too.”

“I guess… But I’d have to think of something neat to do with it.”

“Something neat to do with a shield… maybe- oh, sh- uh, shoot, we gotta get something to eat before we run out of time,” The armoured Phoenix sat up and began gathering her things. “Let’s get goin’, think up cool shield stuff and try to not get it messed up with our food orders. Gonna ask for a sandwich with retractable blades.”

Lina hesitated. “Oh, uh, I was just gonna grab something small from a convenience store or something. Don’t wanna be too stuffed for when the action starts.”

“Yeah, we should find somewhere to pick somethin’ up and go,” Drell agreed. The two set off in search of food, eager to fill their stomachs before their imminent trip into Lautela’s wetlands.
Woah holy moly this boi's got a funky new signature


Believe in the you that believes in cheese

Age 26
Seen 1 Week Ago
Posted 1 Week Ago
1,306 posts
9.5 Years

Frustrated Phoenixes

“Thank you!” Pat almost shouted, beaming at the pretty lautelan shopkeeper, too happy at the deal she gave him to even be annoyed when she ruffled his hair. He made his way out of the store with a small personal bug repelling lacrima and, perhaps more importantly, a pair of little enchanted earplugs. They block out the obnoxious buzzing and some of the other annoying background noise one is prone to hearing in the swamps without making you miss anything that may actually be a threat. The boy strolled down the street humming happily for a minute, his bag of ‘loot’ hanging from his shoulder, then stopped suddenly, furrowed his brow and turned to the left.

After a bit more walking Pat stood near a group of people and listened to them talk, then shook his head and left. Next he sat on a roof for nearly half an hour, watching the sky. Everywhere he’d been anybody he got too close to had watched him, feeling the frustration rolling off of him. He felt the same stares at his final destination: a big tree on the edge of town. Pat hung upside down by his knees from a tree branch, swinging a bit every once in a while to keep the blood from rushing to his head, but just like everything else it was no use in the end. Anyone who looked at the boy this time could all too easily see the wrinkles on his forehead and the occasional twitch of an eyebrow.

“Are you alight?” A familiar voice spoke to him. A familiar voice that belonged to one of his comrades. One that was less inclined to speak than the others but had been opening up little by little lately. Forgetting to react, the voice rang in his head again. “Pat? Do I need to come up there?”

Pat’s eyes shot open at the voice and his legs slipped, dropping him unceremoniously straight to the ground. “Ow! Why would you go and mess with a man’s concentration like that?!” He got up quick enough, rubbing a dirt-dusted red spot on his forehead, scowling petulantly as his eyes settled on Faye. “I bet I was almost there too, I’m sure I was about to become a master llama dude!” The frustration cleared from his face after a bit more grumbling and he looked at his guildmate more curiously. “So what’s up?”

"Er… sorry I guess." Faye apologized and tried to help the boy get back up on his feet. "People in town have been talking about a boy seemingly frustrated near the big tree. Since I was done shopping, I came to see what it was about." Faye rubbed the back of her head. "I came to see if you could use some help or something… why did you look so frustrated?"

“No, I’m not - I was just….nnnnnng - argh!’ Patileer scrambled his hands through his hair and growled, then shouted in exasperation. “Because of my stupid brother!” He angrily squeezed his temple. “He tells me I need to be more self-sufficient, and that all my strength won’t mean anything if I can’t get some sort of handle on it and *use* it instead of just being a vessel for it. But I can’t just focus on anything like it’s the entire world the way he does!” Next he threw up his arms. “I always get distracted by something, my feelings jump around like they have minds of their own and every little thing that happens to or around me changes my mood like it’s nothing! Nobody else has to go through it and it makes using my magic so...so hard!”

Faye was silent and blinked a few times. Crossing her arms in the meanwhile.

Pat fell backwards and stared up at the sky, just breathing and making annoyed noises for a bit. “So I’ve been trying all the things I see him do to relax and ‘find his center’. He spends a lot of time staring up at the sky… but I just ended up watching the clouds and thinking about what shapes they looked like. He slinks around and eavesdrops on people so I did that, but then I just got lost in their words and they noticed me and looked at me funny. He also likes to hang from places and relax in weird positions so I went all bat-boy on this tree but then I just kept feeling either hot or dizzy and having to move… and now you’re here. No matter what I do I just can’t focus and control my magic. If this keeps up I’m gonna be a burden on the guild!”

Faye sighed. The words he spoke and the troubles he had with his magic were all too familiar for the white haired girl who had struggled with her own magic her entire life. She climbed up the tree Pat was in with much ease as she was very agile and sat down next to him on the branch. "I don't think your brother meant for you to copy his actions. See, you two are entirely different people with different personalities. You won't be able to control it by doing what Rowan does. Take it from someone who can't control her own magic as well." Faye said. She held out her hand in front of them and summoned a small black ball. Although it was supposed to be a round ball, it kept shifting in size and form. As if the ether was running rampant in a small container and tried to break free.

"Do keep this secret though but it seems like I'm not able to use my magic because I don't know what I'm feeling. Or something is withholding me from doing so. I haven't really figured it out yet. When I'm angry I'm suddenly able to draw out much more power." Faye let the shadow ball she had made disappear and turned to the younger Hoskel brother. "I've seen Rowan cast his magic multiple times. He draws his magic from the emotions he's feeling and to me it feels like he's sometimes using someone else's emotions to empower his own. I'm pretty sure he eavesdrops on people for fun." Faye said, showing the same pokerface as always.

"... or wakes them up really early every morning before he does his training for his own enjoyment." She added, slightly irritated.

Pat finally smiled, then laughed at Faye’s pouting. She always had something to complain about when Rowan was involved, it was part of what he liked about her. “You two really get along, don’t you? I’m glad someone besides me understands fighting for control. It’s still really frustrating though. Rowan and I have the same magic! The only real variable is our personalities and experiences, and it makes me feel like a failure.” Pat’s hair and eyes both turned a sad, envious green. “I can’t use the same tricks he does to get control over my emotions, I have to find my own way...but Rowan had eight more years with our teachers than me and there’s nobody around besides him who understands my magic! Even Myeloch hasn’t been able to help me...not that he really has the time for it if he knew how.”

Faye blinked again with her hazel green coloured eyes and pointed at Pat. "You did the thing." She said a bit surprised. "You know, with the hair. It changed colours." Faye repositioned herself a little so that she could better face the younger guildmate. "Controlling your magic was never meant to be simple. Although I get how you're feeling. Why don't you try casting magic from the way you're feeling now?" The girl referred to his hair and eye colour. She had seen Rowan cast different kinds of magic whenever his hair colour changed.

“I’ve tried that but it’s not definite enough… I can’t settle on a path to shape the feelings when there’s this much and they’re all slamming into each other. It just…” Pat furrowed his brow and little bubbles of magic actually came off of him like a boiling cauldron until finally one big bubble popped and it all stopped. “Fizzles out!” His hair next turned pink and his eyes mismatched with a harsh yellow as he sighed. “The only time I can ever really do much with my magic is when someone near me is in trouble, or I’m completely overtaken by a single emotion, like anger or something. Rowan said I can’t just let the events around me dictate how I use my magic like that, and that always relying on other people for my power is a crutch. I just don’t get it.”

"Sounds like you have problems with keeping your emotions in check." Faye commented. That too was an all too familiar problem. "I'm not sure if I can be of any help, I'm a mess inside after all." The girl sighed and shrugged. "However, what I've been told a lot is to hang on to the strongest emotion you're feeling and keep that emotion going. Don't be embarrassed and allow yourself to… feel." The girl scratched her chin. "Of course I don't understand yet what that fully means but… My father likes talking like he's in some mystery. I'm sure you can figure it out though. You're smart." The girl added but quickly had an idea that she thought could be of help. "Have you ever thought about thinking of certain situations during battle that can make you feel a certain way long enough to cast a spell?"

Patileer blinked several times, stared at Faye for five seconds, then blinked several more times. “Emotions from memories?...” He closed his eyes and racked his brain, trying to think of a strong memory. He didn’t remember much from back home…and not all that much happened until he met Boriel...then Myeloch and - suddenly his eyes shot open, glowing a rich pastel pink that quickly spread to his hair…and then the tree? Yes, the tree he’d been hanging from grew taller, fairer, its bark taking on an ethereal beauty like old stories of the spirit world - and its petals were the same pink as Pat’s eyes and hair! The tree on the edge of Lautela had become a Fairy Blossom tree, lending an air of tranquility and happy warmth to the entire area around it, even the grass and flowers around it began to change, growing more colorful and vibrant until it looked like Faye and her guildmate were in the middle of some mystical glade.

Faye clapped and whistled. "That's some magic you got there." She said. She was clueless to what could have caused this sort of reaction but judging from the color it looked like Pat might have some strong crush on someone. "Did you just think of a memory? Was I actually useful for once?" Faye asked rather surprised.

"You're always useful, silly Faye!" Pat half laughed, half shouted, hugging his perplexed guildmate. His hair quickly returned to normal as the spell faded, but the changes it made to the foliage remained. "You're always trying to keep everyone around you happy and safe, even if you do it with cold words and frosty expressions. You're one of the nicest people I've ever met!" She could tell he was being completely serious, the warmth radiating off of him wasn't part of a spell, it was just his affection for her.

Faye felt a bit embarrassed from the sudden hug but patted the head of the younger boy. "... You're kind." She said, being fully aware that her expressions weren't the nicest ones around but it was nothing she could do against. She was just thankful she had guildmates that understood.

It was then that she had a sudden flare of a memory that reminded her of how Rowan said that she couldn't fool him either with those expressions and thought of her as a total sweetheart. It embarrassed her even more but what's more is that even her face was turning bright red. These two Hoskel brothers were such a handful.

Faye took a deep breath regained her posture. "I think it's about time we return to the meeting spot. The mission will start soon."

"I think," Pat began, letting go of Faye and sounding more contemplative. "If our magic really is similar in its emotional attachment maybe you should try the same ideas. Maybe if you can think of strong memories you can call on the emotions they contain. If you could analyze those memories and sort of label them ahead of time by how they make you feel, you could just pick whichever one fits what kind of spell you want best in the moment. Maybe it would work better for you than me, maker magic is always kinda vague and weird, at least that's what Rowan says. I don't read as many books as him, so I dunno about other makers."

Faye showed a soft tiny smile at the younger Hoskel. "Unfortunately, it's not that simple for me." She said, resting a hand on his head. "But don't worry. I'll figure something out eventually." She assured him. She couldn't tell him that the reason she's a mess was mostly because she couldn't identify her own emotions yet. She knew the simple ones but she locked away the rest when her mother left her behind. "... Eventually." She sighed.

Pat smiled back at her and completely blew off her doubts. “You’ll get it! And if it’s hard on your own, the guild will help you. That’s what guilds are for! And we have Myeloch, the smartest wizard ever!”

"... thank you." Faye said a little embarrassed. She then got up and jumped off the tree to make a perfect landing on the ground. "Shall we go meet up with the rest? Or do you want to stay here for a little while longer?" Faye asked the boy who was still sitting on the tree branch. He wasn’t quite as graceful in the dismount, but he landed on his feet and didn’t stumble.

“I’ve got everything I need, I think!” Pat grabbed his bag from where it rested against the trunk of the tree and hoisted it over his shoulder. “Including my guildmates!” He finished with a smirk and a quick squeeze of Faye’s hand before he started walking ahead, humming a happy tune.

"Ever looking forward, ever thinking back. Everywhere you've been, everyone you've met was another step on your path, shaping your future even as they become part of your past. One must never discount the pieces that have made up your journey until now but to lose yourself in them would be equally great folly, instead let them hoist you up, carry you on until you find the strength to walk for yourself. So it is that I continue towards that endless horizon. Ever thinking back, ever marching forward, inexorable as the history that brought me down this road. This Lonesome Road."