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


  • 957

    The lakeside town of Shessalie Sunday July 1st, X784

    Guilds of Atria: Phoenix Nest [T] [IC]

    Overlooking Lake Cellis, Shessalie is a small town at the upper edge of Central Atria, its population only around 1,300 people. Its people have mostly lived a simple, self-sufficient life thanks to the bounty of the land around them, but it's begun to grow ever since the Burgess and Sons mining company established a presence there, and the town has slowly started progressing into the modern age. Most of the buildings are still completely made of wood and connected by dirt paths, but now most have basic things like electricity and indoor plumbing.

    Docks line the lakeside for the many boats crossing the lake, either for fishing, or to cut across to the mountains that house the mining operations. The town itself is unremarkable, but houses various craftsmen like the blacksmith and carpenter, and has services like an inn and a bathhouse. There are a couple cafes and restaurants, and even a recently opened shop for magic and magitech, though its selection is rather scarce. At the town's center is a fountain, this being where the townspeople congregate for the yearly festival at the end of autumn.

    Standing out from the rest of the town is the Burgess building, doubling as both a villa for the Burgess family and the headquarters for its operations in the town. the building is several times larger than any of the town's native homes, and has been gradually expanding. It serves as a permanent home for the servants who live there and Sarah Burgess, first daughter of the Burgess family.

    The nearest train station is at a town about a day away by carriage, but construction on Shessalie's own rail is underway.

    But of course, you haven't come for any of this. You're here for that building sitting atop a hill on the outskirts of town with a golden logo emblazoned on its sign: Phoenix Nest.

    The fledgling guild, Phoenix Nest


    The guild hall inside seemed to be set up like a tavern or restaurant, with tables in the main area and a bar in the back. The expensive-looking bottles lining the shelf behind the bar were a sharp contrast to the rickety-looking wood that made up the rest of the hall. A bulletin board labelled "Job Board" was posted off to the side with various papers pinned on it.

    On one side of the hall was a staircase leading up. Not much could be seen about the second floor from the first. The same could be said about the downward staircase on the opposite side of the room. And in the center of it all stood a small group of people, some of whom might be familiar faces.

    "Welcome, everyone, to what I hope you'll see as your new home!" Called the figure in the middle of the group, dressed in a simple robe. His long, gray hair was silky smooth and made in a braid that draped over his shoulder, reaching down to his waist. His face was narrow, his features soft, and his expression was comforting. Together with his calm voice he gave off a motherly aura, that voice being the only thing that made it clear he was born a man.

    "Or if not a home, at least just a place you can find comfort in," he added with a chuckle. "For those of you who don't know me, I am Myeloch Latare, great saint fallen from grace if the media is to be believed. But I don't think my past should matter here, nor should any of yours if you don't want it to. Here you can start fresh.

    Oh, and don't worry about any sort of entrance test. You're all in, if you want to be! Of course, it's not like I'm letting just anyone in, but considering the circumstances I've set up wards around the place that prevent anyone who'd harm the guild or its members from entering! And if anyone like that does make it in, these same wards will make sure they're swiftly dealt with. Though not dealt with in that way, I assure you I don't make a habit of hurting people!" Yet another lighthearted chuckle, though it didn't erase the weight of his previous words.

    "Unfortunately, I'm...uh... not actually here." He gave an apologetic look and a bit of nervous laughter. "Due to my... situation, the council has me on something of a leash. I'm speaking through a thought projection right now, which I can conjure up to talk to you all anytime! If you need to speak to me, you can ring this bell," he gestured to a crystal bell on the bar counter, "and if you'd rather speak in private I have another bell in my office. But don't worry! The other members will be more than happy to help, and in an emergency I can teleport here right away! Now..."

    He gave the floor to the rest of the group, who introduced themselves.

    "I'm Lina, Myeloch's daughter!" The energetic young girl announced proudly. "I'll be the one giving the grand tour! Well, as grand as it gets when the place looks like this, hehe. Don't judge though, I did my best building it." She was a petite girl with surprisingly bright eyes, considering their dull grey color. Her olive-colored skin was smooth, and her wavy red hair was cut just below the chin, the top tucked under a newsboy cap. She wore a button-up blouse, a skirt, and a tall pair of combat boots. She looked to be in her mid-teens, maybe 16.

    "I'm Sarah," said the next member in a tired voice. She looked much older than Lina, somewhere in her late-twenties. "Like the man said, don't worry about who I am outside the guild. Here, I kinda do a bit of everything. Receptionist, chef, bartender, you name it. I asked boss man for something to do and he gave it to me. I'll be the one to give you your guild marks, so just come to me when you're ready to commit." Her brown hair was tied in a ponytail, with a fringe covering one of her light-brown eyes. Her skin was pale, her dress was drab, and the rest of her was remarkably average.

    "I'm Boriel, I guess the guild's only S-class wizard right now," spoke the next one. He was a gruff man, maybe a bit older than Sarah. "That being the case, I'll probably be on jobs most of the time, but if you catch me while I'm here I'll help you out with whatever you need. Well, if its something I can help with I mean." He was easily taller than everyone in that group, packed with lean muscle and his tanned skin covered in scars. His long, messy black hair and stubble gave off a slovenly vibe for which his golden eyes seemed far too pretty. His outfit consisted of a plain shirt and pants, an open longcoat, and lots of seemingly random belts, all in black.

    "Aaaaaand saving the best for last, I'm Rowan!" The scarlet-haired young man next to Boriel spouted, harmlessly punching the shoulder of the gruff wizard. "I'll be making sure the old man here isn't lonely when I skyrocket to the position of Phoenix Nest's best wizard!" He announced. Everyone in attendance thought for a moment they could actually physically feel the confidence and warmth rolling off of him.The young boy standing next to Rowan was lightly bouncing on the balls of his feet, apparently requiring every ounce of restraint he had to hold in his excitement until then when Rowan leaned down and laid a hand on his shoulder. "And this is my little bro-"

    "I'm Patileer! Pat for short!" The boy burst out, interrupting his big brother and finally actively bouncing up and down as his garbled mess of an introduction escaped his mouth. "It'ssonicetomeetyouallandIcan'twaittobebestfriendsforeverrrrrrrr! And I'm going to be Phoenix Nest's next best wizard after my brother!" He finished, putting his hands proudly on his hips and puffing out his little chest.

    "Alright everyone," Lina called, "once you've gotten your marks you can follow me!"


    Main Story

    You've gone on Lina's grand tour and, whether or not you've found yourself disappointed, the fact remains that it pales in comparison to more established guilds. Nowhere is this more evident than the job board, where every request is along the lines of "Find my lost cat!" or "My stove is broken, please help!" with equally pitiful rewards.

    For now, you can either get to know your new guildmates, or check out the town. Or maybe you want to go ahead and take advantage of the guild's resources.

    And who knows? Maybe while you're keeping busy something exciting will happen?


    Sapphire Rose

    [I]Only thorns left on this rose.[/I]
  • 3,449

    Faye Aubrey

    Female | 19 | Wizard/Touched

    A JP post with Sephear part 1

    ?I?m leaving.? Faye said with a somewhat higher tone than she usually spoke with as she stood at the door. It was time for her to leave the ordinary, two story cottage she lived in with her father. Of course she would have to go downstairs first and through the store of her father if she actually wanted to go outside towards the big, angry world.

    ?Okay, dear. Please don?t forget the lunch box I made you!? A slightly slender man with a manly beard on his face came running towards her. In his hands was a small, cute package wrapped in a dark green cloth. Before he actually handed his daughter this cute little package, he leaped in to give her a warm hug.

    ?I?m so proud of you. I will always be so very proud of you. Take care and come back home anytime.? he spoke. He waited a few more second before letting Faye go and pushed the lunch package in Faye?s tiny hands. ?Off I go then. Thanks for everything, Dad.? Faye?s facial expression didn?t change much but it was enough for her old man to understand that she was trying to smile at him.

    Faye closed the door gently behind her and walked down the stairs. Before leaving the cottage completely, she took one more look around her. She had already stocked herself with enough lacrima stones for her weapons, yet she felt the urge to bring a little more from her father?s shop. She was going to be on her own now. A feeling that made her both excited but also very lonely. She was fearing what would become of her, she was going to a whole new town after all. One she had never even heard of nonetheless. Completely lost in thought and caught off guard, her father appeared behind her. ?Here, take a few more. Just in case.? he said as he filled her pockets with two more lacrima wind stones. ?T-Thanks, Dad?? Faye?s facial expression, again, didn?t change much but it was once again enough for her father to understand her gratefulness. She was his daughter after all. His only child and his pride. He couldn?t possibly not worry about her.

    Faye reached out her hand to the doorknob, for a second she was almost changing her mind, almost. Before she knew it, the door was already open. Her body apparently had already decided that this was the path she was going to walk. She was going to become a full fledged wizard and was going to join a guild in order to become one. A small piece inside her had also decided on this because her father seemed to like the idea so very much but that was enough to motivate the young Faye. There she went, heading out to the town of Shessalie, to join a guild with the name ?Phoenix Nest?

    Upon arriving in the town of Shessalie, she could already see some people making their way in the direction of a steady Hill. On top of that was a building with golden letters saying ?Phoenix Nest?. Of course those people were going to join that guild then. Hopefully Faye was not too late as it seemed to be busy, or so she thought. In actuality many of these people seemed to be heading towards town instead. So much for a busy guild but that didn?t matter to Faye. Something or rather someone she was interested in was the wizard supposedly leading this guild, Myeloch Latare. Upon walking inside the building, she found around 7-9 other wizards poking around. The main centre of attention was a slender old man and a small lady that claimed to be his daughter. Of course Faye had already met her before but it was still quite surprising that this old man had such a young daughter. It was almost unbelievable even. A few other wizard introduced themselves. A wizard with the name Boriel, a younger wizard yet still visibly older than Faye, with the name Rowan and a small boy with the name Patileer. It was a cunning name that Faye had never heard of before. She didn?t show any interest at all if you had to guess that from just looking at her face but she was in fact interested in the many new people here.

    After the small tour, Faye wasn?t disappointed but also not very excited about this building either. It was pale in comparison if you looked the other guild?s building that Faye had seen in magazines and such. Yet she felt like it could have the makings for a cosy guild. Faye decided to go upstairs after the tour and claimed a room that she believed wasn?t claimed yet. She unpacked the few things she had brought and readied the money she had gotten from her father to liven the room up. Faye was not much for furniture but she did feel like she could buy some better sheets and pillows.

    ?No way!? A voice whined loud enough for Faye to hear before even leaving her room. ?Now the the guild?s open I should be able to go on a job all by myself, right? Myeloch said they were all simple jobs! I bet he?d let Lina go on one by herself.? It was the youngest of Phoenix Nest?s founding members who had greeted the new entrants earlier, apparently having a disagreement with his older brother.

    ?That?s because Lina?s not a kid, she?s a teenager and she?s mature for her age, too. She?s been doing odd jobs around town since before construction even started on the hall.? Rowan replied slightly scoldingly. ?What have you done to prove you can be responsible??

    ?I helped Sarah stock the shelves! And I helped her move some boxes and paper, too!?

    ?Didn?t you spill one of the bottles and hand her a bunch of the wrong papers??

    ?...Think you?re so smart just because you?re the big brother super wizard...jerk.? Young Patileer sulked so hard it almost seemed as if the air around him physically darkened. Thankfully the strange sight lasted only as long as it took Rowan to roughly ruffle his hair.

    ?Aww, c?mon. Is it really that bad to have your big bro around on your first job?? Rowan asked, smiling apologetically.

    Pat?s pout waned and all the air he?d been holding in to puff up his face in an attempt to look mad whooshed right out of him, almost causing him to lose his balance. ?Fiiiine. But you better not do everything for me! I wanna do a job like a real guild wizard!?

    Rowan?s smile became a smirk as he straightened up and playfully slapped Pat?s shoulder. ?Wouldn?t dream of it, squirt! Jobs like that are beneath wizards of my calibre. When I save a cat from a tree or help an old lady across the street it?s because I?m awesome and it?s the write thing to do - plus cats are cute - not for the pittance these kinds of jobs pay.?

    Faye had heard all the noise from the new room that she settled in. As the curious person that she was, she went downstairs to find the two brothers fighting. They had introduced themselves just a little while ago but it was still refreshing to see them fight. It did feel like they were close. ?A? cat?? Faye whispered to herself. She didn?t know the job system here so this would be a perfect opportunity to let these two show her how it works.

    ?Uhm, would you?? Faye started but she hadn?t chosen her next words yet. ?I heard you?re?? Faye?s expressionless face made it hard to figure out what she was actually thinking. Faye was not a shy person, everything but that but she was lacking in communication skill when it came to talking to people. While she was thinking too much about what they would say, her mouth had already chosen it?s next words.

    ?I would like to accompany you on this job.?

    Faye was a woman of not many words, which had always bothered her slightly but she simply never knew what to say. This case was not any different. Even now she would fall into the depths of her mind, wondering if they would find her weird for not explaining more thoroughly why she wanted to join them.

    Pat began to bounce with excitement again. ?Okay! Oh wow! Finally -? Rowan interrupted him by pressing down lightly on his head and smiling welcomingly at Faye.

    ?We?d be glad to have you along, any member of Phoenix Nest is a friend of ours.? He explained. ?But we haven?t picked a job yet, I was just giving some examples. He held a hand out in the direction of the job board near the bar. ?You?re more than welcome to pick one out for the three of us and we?d be glad to accompany you. First, though...You probably already heard ours but might I ask your name, miss???

    Rowan?s words made Faye a little a shy. She coughed away her discomfort and looked them right in the eyes with her hazel colored viewers. ?I-I?m Faye. Faye Aubrey.? She said with an unbelievable straight poker face as she made her way to the bulletin board. ?Then how about this one.? Faye didn?t even look as she just aimlessly pulled a note from the bulletin board. ?Cat stuck in tree. Help.? She read and showed the piece of paper to the boys. That?s when it suddenly occurred to her what she had just read and took the paper away from their view. ?U-Uhmmm??

    Rowan smirked good naturedly and Pat blurted out his response. ?Wow, your name is as pretty as you are! And you?re funny, too!?

    ?A winning combination if ever there was.? Rowan agreed with a slight chuckle before leaning closer to Faye and gently grabbing the posted job from her. ?No need to be nervous, gorgeous. The quiet types have their own kind of appeal.? He teased with a slightly exaggerated wink, folding the paper into a little airplane. Sarah was arranging a few things over at the bar and he would not miss his opportunity.

    Faye wasn?t much for expressions but this did throw her off her comfortable stick. ?U-Uhm?? was all she could blatter out.

    Pat watched in childish awe as Rowan kissed the tip of his own finger and pressed the finger against the paper plane, causing a glowing heart to appear on it with no signs of ink and the air around it to fill with a rosy aroma. He threw the plane and it glided smoothly, landing perfectly on the counter in front of Sarah just as she turned back around to scan the guild hall. ?We?re off on a job, love.? He called to her. ?Keep an eye on the kids while I?m gone, aye??

    Sarah rolled her eyes, already entirely too used to Rowan?s antics but all the same she couldn?t resist a small smile. She waved him away in mock disgust as she took the plane and unfolded it to properly file it away.

    ?Byyyyeeeee Sarah!? Pat shouted. ?Bye, everyone else!? He continued, waving to everyone still in the hall. ?Have a good first day!? And just like that, he was off, running out the main entrance without stopping to think about the fact that he was the only one who hadn?t even actually looked at the job they were taking.

    Rowan rolled his eyes much like Sarah and smiled apologetically at Faye again. ?Sorry, he?s always like that. His energy will burn out enough to realize he?s got no idea where to go before he gets too far. Shall we, Faye?? He asked. Taking a few steps towards the door out of the hall.

    Faye watched the whole drama unfold before her eyes is dissarey. ?Ugh? you?re that kind of man.? she whispered quietly, feeling flustered still all the same. Her eye twitched as she tried to shrug off this conflicted feeling. It was obvious, seeing as how Sarah reacted, that this was normal for him. She sighed and followed Rowan outside. ?You do realize that that you?re the bad example here?? She told Rowan as she went ahead of him. She had no idea what their magic was but she would find out soon enough. Looking at Rowan made her feel slightly uneasy so she decided to just not look at him. The little Pat, however, was kind of cute.

    Last edited:


    Believe in the you that believes in cheese
  • 1,319

    A Job Well Done


    ?Oh, you think so?? Rowan confirmed with another lighthearted chuckle. ?You?re missing a little context there but still, if you think so that means you have a good discerning eye. Looks like we found a responsible new guildmate.?

    Faye ignored what Rowan said for her own good. ?I think the note said it was in the town center. I haven?t walked around town yet. Do you mind taking us there?? Faye asked the little Pat. The urge to pat his head was there.

    ?Yeah!? Pat agreed, his eyes practically sparkling. He spread his arms as if they were wings and ran happily towards Shessalie?s fountain, the town?s only real landmark. By the time the older wizards caught up he was circling the fountain happily, at one particular moment Pat hopped from the cobblestone path onto the side of the fountain and then back down again and Faye could swear that she saw a flower up out from between two stones when Pat?s feet left the ground.

    ?This fountain?s been here since this town was just a couple of houses out in the countryside if what I?ve been told is right. The place doesn?t have a lot of history but what there is to find is nearly all right here.? Rowan explained. It was a nice fountain. Smooth, well-shaped stone, clean, the water flowing through it looked perfectly pure and even drinkable but like the rest of the town, it was otherwise rather plain. Patileer finally slowed down and stopped next to Rowan, looking to him for directions. ?Alright, guys.? Rowan began. ?I?m just here as a chaperone, I?m not supposed to be doing any jobs for any of the newer folks right now, so what are ya?ll thinking of to find this cat??

    ?Maybe if we meow loud enough it will meow back at us?? Pat proposed.

    ?Sorry buddy, maybe if we were shapeshifters but all you?d be likely to do with that plan is annoy the neighbors.? Rowan shot him down.

    ?I think that would be rather cute instead,? Faye whispered to herself again but coughed at her own clueless words. It was like Rowan said, other than the fountain this town was everything but a high-end city. It brought back some memories from her hometown, however, the happy memories would soon turn into the sad ones before she left with her father for the big city. Faye tried to shrug off this feeling once again, it was all she literally did every day.

    Faye thought back about the question Rowan had asked. What could she do to find this cat? Faye thought hard and raised a finger to her lips. Faye's magic was darkness magic so it wasn?t really useful for finding things. She did have learned to look at the shadows of her surroundings. Fate hastily looked around on the floor around her near trees. She couldn?t see anything out of the ordinary, unfortunately.

    ?Meow.? Faye blurted out as she held a flat hand to the side of her mouth to make her sound louder. ?Meow? she repeated as she walked around a little bit more. She just thoughtlessly decided to go ahead with Pat?s idea. Though it wasn?t as Faye expected that the cat would meow back at her. She wasn?t looking inside the trees either. As Faye walked around more she heard some rustling from a tree next to them, also a tail moving swiftly judging from the shadows on the ground. ?I think it?s that tree.? Faye spoke as she pointed at the tree with another expressionless face but it was comical after the situation just now.

    ?Oooh, oh!? Pat blurted out, stopping next to Faye and looking up at the tree. ?There?s a lot of frustration up there! A little fear, too, more since we got here.? He saw a pair of pale amber eyes looking down at them from the cover of the leaves. ?Kitty! Here kitty! It?s okay, we?ll protect you!? The cat?s head poked out of the leaves and it looked down at them, it leaned forward like it was preparing to jump down but backed up at the last moment. The jump was just too far down for it to go and it wasn?t about to trust some strangers to catch it. Pat?s eyes teared up almost immediately upon the cat recoiling, and the air around him grew a bit colder and damp. ?Please, kitty? We?d never hurt you, we love cats!?

    Faye looked at goosebumps on her arms as Pat was getting more sad. The cold air around her made her even more visibly confused. ?What the?? Faye squinted her eyes at the cat and watched its behaviour rather than Pat?s.

    As if in response to Pat?s worsening mood the cat?s hackles lifted and its fur fluffed up slightly in fear. It hissed at the young boy and that was enough to force a sob out of him. Rowan looked around them suspiciously, on guard for something nobody else could guess at. When the cat only seemed even more reluctant to move Pat?s sadness at not being trusted was overtaken by frustration. The air warmed and a breeze began to pick up. Patileer pouted so hard and screwed his face up so much he looked as if he?d just drank pure essence of sour and he stamped his foot. ?Kitty get down from there right now!? As if on cue a powerful gust of wind blew from next to the tree, weaved through the leaves as if they weren?t even there and shoved the cat right off its branch with a yowl.

    Faye almost immediately responded with a cloud of darkness made from her fingertips at the area she guessed the cat would fall. The cat landed a little to the side of the soft looking cloud but the cat was okay nonetheless. Faye looked at Pat, wondering what his power was. ?Look, Pat. He got down safely, no need to be sad anymore.? she told the little guy, she could have thrown some kind of feeling into that but hey? What is empathy, right?

    The burst of anger seemed to have left Pat as quick as it had shown up and he beamed at the sight of the cat touching the ground safely.

    The whole magic gust stroke a nerve. Was he able to control the weather or something? That sounds like quite a dangerous kind of magic. ?We finished the job, now what?? Faye asked the slightly older her wizard.

    Before answering, Rowan turned his attention to the cat, which was backed into a corner by the tree, staring at the wizards with panic in its eyes at the strange circumstances of how it had come to leave the tree. Rowan stepped closer and knelt down near the cat, holding his hand out, palm up and just out of reach of its claws. The cat stared at his hand for a few seconds, hackles still raised. Then, inch by inch the cat drew closer and began to sniff his hand. When the little ritual finished Rowan very slowly began to rub his fingers against its chin, the cat pressed into him and he pets it more properly before finally scooping it up.

    The little furball was a mass of purring and relief and if Rowan?s smile was any indication he felt much the same. In fact, Faye didn?t just see the gladness and warmth on his face, it was almost as if she could feel it brushing against her own mind likes waves on a shore. ?Now we bring this little guy home, I?m sure his family must miss him. Thankfully I recognized the name on the poster, I?ve become acquainted with quite a few of the townsfolk since Pat and I came here.?

    The sensation of the warmth coming from Rowan made Faye feel a little uneasy yet quite warm inside herself. Watching the cat cuddle up to Rowan reminded her that if her cloud had been just a little bit more off, the cat would?ve come to his end due to Faye?s inability. She was filled with insecurities about her own affinity. ?That cloud was so much smaller than I intended it to be?? she thought to herself. It was another sign she could not control her power well.

    ?That was awesome, Faye!? The younger brother interrupted, running over and hugging the young woman around her shoulders. ?You saved the kitty!? Next, he jumped over to Rowan and began scratching between the cat's ears, which it certainly had no complaints about.

    Faye was left thunderstruck after Pat?s little hug. She was absolutely not used to this kind of behaviour. She was filled with more warmth. Though the feeling of unease wouldn?t go away. Why was that? Was it even unease? It was a feeling Faye couldn?t describe anyway. The more she got involved with these two the more curious she got about their magic too. Whatever it was, it was something interesting. Faye went against her own will and took a glimpse of Rowan?s face, he smiled slightly as he stroke his fingers through the fur of the little creature. Faye sighed and looked away from both brothers, while her cheeks turned slightly rosy.

    ?In that case, you know where this cat lives then?? Faye asked Rowan. The moment Faye wanted to come closer, the cat started hissing again. ?Okay, maybe not?? Faye decided. She didn?t want to make the cat feel even more uneasy. It did make her a little sad that the cat didn?t want her to come close and Faye couldn?t help but wonder why.

    ?Don?t worry, it?s a bit of a walk, you?ll have time to get him to like you,? Rowan assured her. ?All you have to do is relax a bit. Animals tend to be much more empathetic than most humans. Regardless of whether you chalk it up to a sixth sense, their sharpened primal senses letting them do things like smell fear or whatever, a lot of animals can sense when people are uneasy towards them. Cats especially tend to be like emotional mirrors, they often react with the same kind of feelings they sense from a person. In short, if you?re afraid of the cat, they?ll be afraid of you.? He began to lead the way towards the cat?s home but slowed himself down to stay next to Faye and keep her in reach of the cat. ?If you approach a cat with patience, confidence, and friendliness, more often than not they?ll act the same way towards you. Especially if you let them get a good sniff of your hand before you try to touch them~? He finished, holding the cat slightly towards the girl, which brought another pout out of Pat when the cat was out of his own reach.

    Faye was silent for a while. So cat?s were able to feel how she was really feeling? Well that?s inconvenient. Faye slowly reached out her hand to the cat while trying her hardest to think about nothing. It was really hard though as there was always some sort of insecurity but the cat accepted. He sniffed her hand and allowed Faye to pet him. Faye eagerly took the opportunity and scratched his ears thoughtfully. While her face was still expressionless, there was this warm fuzzy feeling Faye had inside. She was happy at least the cat accepted her.

    ? Thank you?? Faye said really quietly. It was obvious she didn?t want to repeat those words though.

    Rowan simply smiled wide again and said nothing.

    ?And here you are, Mrs. Nelson!? Rowan announced as the door to the house opened before the trio of wizards. The?ahem hefty woman who stepped forward squealed with delight and held out her arms, catching the cat when it excitedly jumped out of Rowan?s grasp and into hers.

    ?Oh! Th-th-thank you so much, mister Hoskel...I don?t know what to say!? She looked back into the house over her shoulder and shouted. ?Norman! Norman, Leonard is back! Get the children!?

    ?Oh, don?t thank me, miss.? Rowan began to correct her. ?All I did was carry little Lenny back here.? He stepped aside to reveal Faye hiding behind him and forced her to reveal her shyness head-on, pushing her softly towards Mrs. Nelson. ?This young lady was the one who really saved your precious fuzzball. Faye here is one of Phoenix Nest?s new wizards! She just started today, this is her first job and she?s the one who caught Lenny when he fell out of the tree he was stuck in.?

    Pat pushed at Rowan with a huff. ?Hey, I helped too! I wa-mph!? His voice was muffled by Rowan?s hand covering his face and forcing him to stand behind his big brother, out of sight for Faye?s moment.

    Faye didn?t know what to do and her usual expressionless face turned just slightly into one with a little bit of expression. One of a panicking person at least. ?I-It wasn?t just me! Little Pat here helped too?? Faye said but apparently, it was too quiet for the woman to hear. ?Oh thank you so much!? The woman clasped her hands while Faye just shyly looked at Rowan, hoping he would step in? but of course, he wouldn?t do that. This was probably way too funny for him. ?Y-You?re welcome?? Faye spoke softly while looking at her feet.

    Rowan stepped forward before Mrs. Nelson could get too far ahead of herself and cleared his throat. ?With that done, we should get going. Sorry we can?t stay for dinner, but now that the guild is finally officially open we?ve got to have all our new members ready in the evening for the...festivities.? He tried not to let too much mirth bleed into his mention of plans for the night but some slipped through anyway. He tugged just lightly enough on Faye?s shoulder for Mrs. Nelson to take the hint and let go of her hands. ?Just make sure Sarah gets the reward so she can give us our payment and we?re all square, have a good night~?

    ?Yes, yes of course!? Nina Nelson agreed. ?Norman will be over with the fee soon, thank you again!?

    Faye sighed in relief. Rowan really saved her there. Faye was a little awkward when it came to sudden interactions that she couldn?t prepare herself for. What a strange first day this was.

    ?Wooo!? Pat cut off the farewell, raising his arms and cheering. ?First job complete!? He ran in a short circle, his excitement almost making it seem like he was glowing. He grabbed Faye?s hand and pulled her in the direction of Phoenix Nest?s hall while Rowan looked on with amusement. ?C?mon Faye! Let?s go tell everyone we?re real guild wizards now! Ah, I can?t wait to see what Sarah makes for dinner tonight!?

    Faye was surprised when Pat grabbed her hand but was soon at ease. She had gotten a little used to Pat by now. He was just a child after all. ?Maybe this isn?t so bad after all.? Faye thought. The people here were kind and they didn?t seem to notice any difference in Faye?s appearance from a normal regular human. Faye reached with her hand towards the top of her head, right where her small horns were supposed to be and rubbed her hair more around so it was not accidentally visible. She was hoping everyone in the guild was as kind as Rowan and Pat were.

    Back in the building of Phoenix?s Nest, Faye turned to both Pat and Rowan. ?Thank you for accompanying me today.? she said coldly but did bow down out of respect. ?I have claimed a room upstairs and will be staying in this building.? Faye slowly came back up. I came from the city so I don?t have any connections here.?

    ?Nothing wrong with that,? Rowan assured her. ?Neither do we, besides what little we?ve made since Boriel brought us here. We?re orphans, so we totally get it!?

    Pat nodded vigorously. ?Or at least, we were! Now Boriel?s family...and Myeloch and Lina and Sarah all feel more like family every day!? For once a thought popped into Pat?s head that actually made him a tad bashful, looking at his feet. That still didn?t stop it from escaping his lips. ?Maybe someday...all of Phoenix Nest can be like a big family?? Rowan pat Pat on top of the head and the little guy jumped, apparently not realizing he?d spoken out loud. ?Eep!? His cheeks blossomed with the flush of embarrassment and the air around him grew noticeably hazy as if trying to hide him from sight. ?I-I-I I mean I just hope everyone gets along becauseit?simportantforteamworkinaguildandohmygoshohmygosh.? Without another word, Pat pulled the hood of the cloak he?d stolen from Roran over his head and ran straight to the brothers? shared room, the cloud of mist following him the entire way.

    Rowan chuckled heartily after Pat was out of earshot. ?Ah, what a sweet boy...too busy trying to be like me to even realize what a hopeless romantic he is...I can?t wait to see what kind of man he becomes when he grows up. Of course, first I?ve still got plenty of growing of my own to do. The path to world?s greatest wizard can?t be a short one, after all! All the greatest wizards we have right now are old farts for a reason!? That one actually got a laugh out of Sarah, who?d overheard from the bar. ?Glad you liked it, gorgeous! Just...don't tell Boriel I said that, aye??

    Faye crossed her arms and shook her head in disapproval. ?At least he isn?t a hopeless flirt like his brother is.? Faye commented with her straight expressionless face. It would probably be taken as teasing even though Faye was quite serious about that, Pat would grow up a good man the way he is now. ?There is no woman that?s going to be fooled by that behaviour.? Faye continued. ?I hope so at least?? Faye turned away from Rowan and watched the people that were occasionally walking by. It was quite a sight to see.

    ?...I?m going to do some sightseeing and train afterwards. I?m not going to be the world?s greatest wizard but I want to at least be able to make my father proud.? Faye made her way towards the door while waving with her right hand. ?Thanks again for today. I won?t forget this favor.?

    Once outside Faye stood still and kept wondering. ?Orphans??? Faye repeated quietly. Faye was a quite surprised to hear that from the two brothers. There was this sudden heavy feeling that Faye felt in her chest just thinking about it. She grew up without a mother which had troubled her for years and even now while she?s become an adult, it sometimes bothers her still. She doesn?t know whether her mother is still alive or what has become of her. Even so, she still had her father that she could rely on. He raised her the best he could. Rowan and Pat had neither. They probably grew up without a father or mother they could rely on. Even though Faye is not very good with empathy, she did feel sorry for them. ?At least they have this fella? Boriel?? Faye?s eyes drifted towards the sky and watched the clouds flying by. She had only just noticed how beautiful the weather today was.

    That?s when something occurred to Faye. It was such a beautiful day. Where did that gust of wind from earlier come from then? And why was it suddenly getting damp and cold at that time too? Faye started thinking more and more about it. She knew it probably had to do something with Pat?s magic but the curiosity she had in it kept growing. She also just remembered herself that she never saw Rowan use his magic other than that time he was teasing Sarah. It confused her. She had never seen anything like it.

    Faye shook her head. ?I?ll try to figure that out at a later time I guess.? she told herself and put both of her hands behind her head as she walked off in the direction of the town.

    Last edited:
  • 25,607
    Primilla and Patileer

    Falling Into You
    Primilla wandered lazily up the stairs, not in any real rush. She could have afforded to rent a place in town easily enough with the money she had saved, especially if her parents chipped in, but the thing about money was that you'd cease to have it if you spent it. She'd be perfectly happy in whatever Phoenix Nest provided as long as it was clean and had a comfortable enough bed.

    Finding herself in a hallway dotted by several doors, Primilla was left with a dilemma. Which room did she want? She supposed they were all much the same. Whistling to herself, she closed her eyes and swung a pointed finger up and down the hall. Opening after thirty seconds, she made her way to the door she found herself aiming at. Opening it and strolling in.

    The room wasn't bad at all. A queen-sized bed dominated the centre of the small room, a small wooden chest for storage at its foot. Along the right wall stood some simple wooden cabinet and on the left an empty closet with its door hanging open.

    "I thought they said the rooms would be pretty much empty. This is great!" Prim said happily, flopping comfortably onto the bed, ignoring that she'd left the door wide open.

    Upon leaving Faye, Rowan and Pat were heading towards the live-in rooms when Pat tugged on his big brother's shoulder and sped up a little bit. "Come on! Now that we finished our first job it's time for some rest! I'm gonna go take a nap!"

    "Your first job." Rowan corrected Pat, halting them both. "And we barely even did anything on that job, if you're that ready to slack off you'll never learn anything."

    "But I-"

    "Can always do some more later, fine, fine. Just make it a short nap, I'm gonna go get some practice in." Rowan finished.

    "Okay!" Pat agreed heartily, zooming off without a moment's hesitation. He ran all the way back to the room he and Rowan shared full throttle, failing to even notice that the door was already wide open despite Rowan having gone elsewhere and diving straight onto the bed...and the person he hadn't realized was there.

    Primilla was unceremoniously jarred from her daydreaming by the impact of another person jumping on top of her. She yelped with shock, flailing about underneath her assailant until they shifted their weight enough that she could get her arms under them and shove them off of her.

    "The hell?!" she accused, leaping to her feet on the bed, in a fight-or-flight position, legs flexed and arms wide and forward ready to grapple the attacker if they were making another move. Upon seeing the figure now on the floor though, she froze in place with her head cocked to the side. "The kid?"

    "Owwwwie!" The lump groaned, straightening itself back into the shape of Patileer and rubbing the sore spot on his head. "I don't remember the bed ever being so lumpy...or bouncy, it felt like it hit me when I-" His eyes made their way up to the top of the bed and he froze. "Eep! W-why are you in my room?" He asked, now sounding less hurt and more curious, trying to blink a tear out of his eye.

    "Your room?" Prim said, jumping down from the bed to land in a crouch next to the kid. Her head remained cocked to the side but dropping the reactionary posture.

    "Yes, my room...well, our room, mine and my big brother's." Pat responded, now resolutely pouting. "We've been here for a long time already. We even have a bigger bed than the other rooms because we have to share until I grow up a bit more…"

    "Oh… uh… whoops?" Prim offered sheepishly, jumping up to her feet and offering her hand to Pat to help him up. "My bad then! I didn't hurt you did I? I've been told I can be a bit overboard."

    Pat took her hand gratefully and sprang up with no signs of his previous pain or shock. "Wow, me too! A lot… especially by my big brother… but now I've got it in common with someone, cool! What's y-" The young wizard stopped in the middle of a word, staring curiously at the girl. After a brief pause he began to lightly smack the palm of his hand against his ear, as if trying to get out water. Suddenly he stiffened and seemed aware of the real world again. "Whoah! You feel weird!" He took a step back from Prim and closed his eyes, slowly she began to hear him humming, changing in pitch and tone multiple times. "Hm. Noooo, it's more like…" The experiment continued until he reached one steady tune and hummed it for a solid ten seconds.

    Out of nowhere Patileer grabbed Prim's hands in his and shook them happily. "I've never met someone like you before! You feel so strange… and you're super strong, too! What's your name?!" He was practically glowing! Wait, was he actually glowing?

    "I am weird!" Prim said cheerfully, allowing herself to bounce up and down along with Pat as he vigorously shook her hands. "I've never met anyone like me before either. Oh, but my name is Primilla - Prim in short - not Weird. Being called Weird would be weird."

    Primilla continued the enthusiastic shaking, not put out at all by how enthusiastic Pat was. Actually, his enthusiasm was kind of infectious in a way. It was just plain fun to be around. That being said, she wasn't so caught up in the moment that she didn't realise that she was jumping up and down with a human light bulb. She stopped mid-bounce.

    "Speaking of weird though, your eyes are orange now… and you're literally glowing."

    "Huh?" It took a moment before what she said properly registered and when it did Pat turned beet red. No, actually it was more like a steamed lobster… in fact he was burning up! The heat stung Primilla's hands just enough for her to let go of Pat in surprise and allow him to stumble backward and thump his rump right into the low cabinet on the wall. "I-I-I'm sorry! It's just meeting new people is a ton of fun and I'm so glad to have guildmates now and you're so unique and interesting and I got carried away and - and -" He stopped for a second and his mouth simply hung open while steam literally poured out and rose away, which seemed to vent just enough heat to calm him down and let him continue. "Please don't hate me." He muttered at the end, barely audible.

    Prim stood there unmoving for a second before suddenly erupting into a torrent of uncontrollable laughter as she watched Pat freak out and start billowing steam. She was practically in convulsions, almost missing the last quiet remark.

    "Hate you?" she said, shocked "Why would I? You're hilarious! Don't get sad or it might start raining or something." Genuine sentiments or not, she couldn't help breaking down into more laughter as she imagined a cartoony rain cloud appearing over the pair of them and bucketing down. "Relax." Prim added with a grin.

    Her words went through with shocking ease and Pat quickly regained his normal color, matching Prim grin for grin. "Okay! Hey, did you notice the training room when Lina brought the tour there earlier? I bet someone as strong as you could get a lot done there! Your magic must be cool, too!"

    "Uuuuuuuh -" Prim began "I don't know if my magic would really classify as cool to most but I like it anyway! I can show you if you want, I did see the room."

    "Ohhhh yesyesyesyes!" Pat chanted, bouncing once again. "This is gonna be great! I barely got to see any of Faye's magic at all earlier! Let's go!" Without waiting for a reply, he was off, charging away from the rooms and towards the training area at a nearly inhuman speed for a boy his age.

    "Wait that's not what I mea-" Primilla started to yell after Pat, quickly abandoning the idea as futile. "Oh screw it." She said to herself before taking off after the young mage, once again leaving the door wide open behind her.


    Believe in the you that believes in cheese
  • 1,319

    Punch this rock!


    Once Primilla caught up she was greeted with the sight of the room already in use. Before she even entered the room she could hear the telltale sounds of materials being formed or transported through magic and flying through the air. What awaited her inside was a veritable volley of spears and arrows appearing along the walls of the room and flying towards the center, right at Patileer's older brother, Rowan. Each projectile that flew towards the wizard missed narrowly as he weaved, ducked, dodged and bent, several coming so close it was impossible to tell if they missed by chance or not. Eventually it seemed dodging wasn't enough and Rowan bent his elbow to thrust his palm upward, allowing an arrow to pass through the gap between his forearm and shoulder while simultaneously breaking the haft of a spear, the longer half of which he used to smack several other missiles away just before the assault stopped.

    Last but not least, a large boulder formed in the area the previous attacks had come from and flung itself right towards the wizard. His eyes narrowed and he took a deep breath, holding his right hand palm out toward the boulder. Just before the massive rock struck, Rowan's index, middle and ring fingers clumped together and he thrust them the last few inches his arm could stretch into the boulder. It froze for a split second then shattered, raining down pebbles and debris around the arena. With his practice complete, Rowan bowed to an invisible opponent and turned towards the entrance. "Oh, hello there! We've got visitors here already? Good! I like that dedication!"

    "Your brother isn't half-bad." Prim said to Pat from her place next to the younger mage, genuinely impressed with the display. It looked to her that Phoenix Nest really was the right place to be if she had her heart set on making an impression at the Grand Magic games. She grinned sheepishly at Rowan as she continued. "Well I'm not sure dedicated is the word but yep, I'm here!"

    "Rowan's super strong!" Pat agreed heartily. "Pretty soon he's going to be the guild's strongest wizard! That's why I wanna be like him!"

    The big strong wizard in question scoffed. "Oh please, I've still got a long way to go!" He protested with a chuckle. "Who knows how long it will take to surpass the geezers. Besides -" He lightly punched Pat's shoulder. "You're stronger than I am! Even if I am still a better fighter."

    "Oh come onnnn~ No I'm not -" At the word 'not' Pat punched Rowan's shoulder in kind. Then Rowan wasn't there anymore. A quick glance showed the two younger wizards that he was slumped against the wall, trying to shake a bout of dizziness away. Pat positively squeaked in shock and remorse before running to Rowan's side. "I'm sorry! I meant to be gentle! I didn't mean to...ahhh."

    Rowan's hand rested itself on Pat's shoulder and he straightened himself up. "Relax, relax, I'm fine. It takes more than that to do me in!... Just don't ask me to do anything too delicate or precise for… let's say an hour."

    "Why'd you want to be like your brother when you can already blast him across the room with no effort?" Prim said, head tilting to the side again as she peered at Pat as though looking from a distance. "Isn't it better to want to stand on your own feet anyway?"

    "Because he's my big brother and he's super cool!" Pat argued. He seemed about to say more but instead he just looked down at the floor. "I may be strong but other than that I'm useless. I can't even use my magic when I want to. I don't even have my physical strength all the time. And Rowan's the only person who can teach me to get better! There's no one else to - sniff - show me…"

    "Seriously getting concerned about rain here." Prim said, elbowing the kid in the side as gently as she could. "Snap out of it already, relax. Your magic is impressive, wait until you see how weak mine is next to it. Geez."

    "OH! What's your magic?!" Pat demanded, drawing closer to Prim. "Show me! Show me show me show meeeeeeeeeeee~"

    "Sure, sure. Why not?" Without further warning, Prim's form was instantly replaced. Where a moment before a young woman stood, now a pretty blue and white bird flapped its wings in place in the air. A moment later, Prim was standing there, sheepishly rubbing the back of her head and displaying a cheery grin. "That's pretty much it. Not quite as flashy as yours but it's got it's perks!"

    Rowan snapped his fingers and nodded his head with a grin that mirrored Prim's. "Ah, I see now, that explains why you feel so strange. You -"

    "You're a bird!" Pat interrupted. "I thought that you felt familiar!"

    "Complex and intelligent like a human." Rowan continued as if he hadn't been cut off.

    "But with a steady, constant hum like an animal!" Pat said.

    Rowan stopped next to Prim and both continued in unison. "Nobody's ever really felt like you before! So utterly unique! You really are totally -"

    "Cool!" - Pat

    "Interesting!" - Rowan

    "And the bird you turn into is really cute!" Pat finished sweetly.

    "Not every day I get that reaction!" Prim exclaimed with a giggle "You pretty much hit the nail on the head though. Like I said earlier, I'm weird and I don't think there's anyone else out there quite like me. I do make for a cute bird though, huh?"

    Apparently after he'd said it out loud Pat had already moved on because now he was bouncing on his heels and biting his lip. "Heyheyhey! Prim! Show Rowan how strong you are!" Without waiting for an answer he dashed past both of them and to the room's magical interface. A boulder much like the one Rowan had shattered as they entered appeared in the center of the room and Pat pointed at it excitedly. "Punch this rock!"

    "Uh… sure, why not?" Prim said with a shrug. She walked up to the boulder and looked it up and down for a second. It might have looked for a moment like she wasn't sure she could do it but she would quickly put anyone's doubts aside. "Wanted to make sure I wasn't going to break anything else by mistake… I've got in trouble for that a lot in the past. This'll be easy."

    Without further pause, Prim pulled back her right hand, curling it into a fist as she did so, and then drove it hard into the stone. The minute her fist touched the surface of the boulder it exploded under the impact, dust and shrapnel scattering in all directions.

    "Demonstration complete, I suppose!" Prim smiled "Now it's your turn. You've got to explain that weird magic of yours to me. Why do you glow?"

    "Haven't you ever heard the phrase 'glowing with excitement'?" Pat queried. "That was me!

    "Had that part worked out, Pat. I'm asking why you literally were glowing with excitement." Prim responded, sticking out her tongue at the boy for good measure.

    "Our magic reacts to emotions to physically affect us and the world around us." Rowan explained. "It's basically on all the time and there's really no turning it off so it takes a lot of practice to control. Pat… well, he feels a lot and still needs a lot of practice on the control part so stuff like that tends to happen around him."

    "Makes sense to me!" Prim said "You'll get the hang of it when you grow up then. Awesome!" Prim ruffled Pat's hair for good measure "I still want that demonstration though."

    "We're a small guild and everyone seems nice so far." Rowan said. "So I'm sure we'll all become a tight little bunch before long, you'll see plenty, I promise."



    Magnificent Turnip
  • 693

    Also Saving A Cat But This One Was The First One Really I Promise I Started It It was Me
    Featuring Drell and Lina

    Earlier that day, before arriving at Phoenix nest...

    "Okay, so, uh, when you said you urgently needed help, uh, your tone kind of gave the impression that the situation was a little more dire."

    "The situation is dire! How will he ever get down?"

    "I mean, like... it's not exactly a wyvern attack or something, is it?"

    "I- oh, goodness- do you want to help me, or not?"

    "Well- yeah, of course! It's just... I'm not really sure how I can. It's, uh, not really my uh... area of expertise."

    A cat was stuck in a tree.

    "But you're so tall! Surely you could just-"

    "-I'm not that- It's not a sapling, it's a full-on tree! I'm not gargantuan, I just have trouble getting through doors, I don't have to look out in case I bump my head on the Sun, it's a completely different-"

    "-Okay, okay dear, calm down! I just... oh, I do worry for my poor baby's safety. George! Please come down, George!"

    The cat in the tree let out a noise that may well have been a valiant - if unsuccessful - attempt at an understandable reply. George, like most cats, could not talk. Unfortunately for the two below him, he also refused to come down. The older of the two, a middle-aged woman wearing a light cardigan, came up to the base of the trunk to try to gain a better view through the branches. She made a slight, half-hearted hopping motion before giving up and returning to her company with a pleading look, gesturing to the base of the tree as though it were an invitation.

    The older woman said, "Do you think you could, er, maybe-"

    "I, uh, I'm not sure where-"

    "-Climb it, maybe, with the, er, your claw-things? I'm not sure how predisposed you are, to, erm..."

    The one with the 'claw-things' gave the tree trunk a look of profound apprehension. Her hands and feet were, by most accounts, monstrous appendages - their digits ended in what could probably be quite fairly called claws, and they could likely be used to cling to the bark to a reasonable degree. She weighed the situation over in her mind, reaching one finger under her helmet to scratch at her head.

    "I dunno," she admitted, approaching the tree. "I could probably give it a go, but- oh heck no that'd be bad news real quick."

    The monstrous woman quickly stepped back as testing her weight against the trunk resulted in a decidedly off-putting creaking noise. She sighed as she adjusted her lifted visor - a strange-looking thing that had been made to fit over her elongated snout - and gave her elder a shrug and something between a smile and a grimace. She soon returned to pondering; seemed like the tree wouldn't take her weight. She was heavy enough as it is, and the plate armour certainly wasn't helping. She could potentially spend a while doffing it and then try again, but an idea occurred to her - something quick and dirty, but something that might just work.

    "Ok! I've got an idea," the younger woman announced, snapping her gauntleted fingers with a clang. "And don't worry about it, it's gonna work swimmingly. I've never failed a situation like- uh- there hasn't been- never- I've never failed at anything, er, in my whole life. It's great, it'll work, it's good."

    "I, oh... what were you thinking of trying...?" The elder asked, confused and perhaps a little bit frightened.

    "I'm going to do my, uh, my super, ultra, devasta- uh, probably no devastation, I- I'm gonna do a super-jump thing, is what I'm saying. Gonna jump real high real fast, and I'll try to nab good-ol' Georgie-poo on my way up."

    "Ok, I think maybe that could work... and on the way down?"

    "On the way down I will land in a, uh, superhero pose, because I'm just so great. Sound good?"

    "Well, if- if you're that confident, I suppose it couldn't hurt..."

    "Aaight, sweet, I'm goin'! I'm doin' it!"

    The younger one bent her knees, squatting down before a crackle of energy through her legs sent her rocketing into the air. The jump took her through the canopy, cracking branches and sending leaves-turned-confetti exploding outward from her impact. George screeched, jolting into action and darting away, evading the humanoid projectile who, having missed her target only to find herself disconcertingly airborne, promptly lost her balance and grasped for the tree to stabilise herself. She clawed with one hand at a branch which immediately snapped, then the other managed to snatch the trunk which swung her around the tree. It seemed to hold up under her weight for a moment before a sickening creaking sound turned quickly into a series of snaps.

    "Uh... all according to plan!" Came the voice from the treetop as the trunk bent and gave way, sending wood and plate-clad reptillian woman alike toppling to the ground with a resounding clatter. The older woman could only watch on in horror and silence. A mighty 'oof' was let out from beneath the tree as it made impact with the dirt, the general commotion startling a seemingly unscathed George who had made his way safely atop the bay of the neighboring house. The cat jumped down from the bay onto the tree, prompting another 'oof' of lesser might from the one below it, and ran quickly behind the legs of his owner who stood staring at the disaster before her.

    "Oh, my- are you ok?" The one in the cardigan asked, beginning to move over.

    "Yeah, I'm great- I- yep! Perfect! As intended!" The armoured one assured her from beneath the pile of branches, twigs, leaves and trunk. A large hand snaked its way out of the wreckage to present an exuberant thumbs-up.

    "Hey Mrs. B!" Drell heard a new voice from under her pile of tree-bits. "I wanted to knock out your job request real quick before any newbies showed, but it looks like someone already took care of that for ya. In their own, creative sort of way."

    "Oh! Hi there Lina," The older woman greeted the newcomer. "I was just, well- there was... yes."

    The one under the tree heaved the main portion off of her chest, which appeared to spook George the cat enough that he darted back inside the house. She shook her head a little and began to wriggle free of the arboreal prison, beginning to let off some kind of spiel as she did so.

    "So, uh, not only did I save your cat from the tree, I also made sure that he'd never get stuck in the tree ever again!" She paused to pull one foot free of a few branches. "That's like, some serious future proofing and- and, just letting ya know, I also slew the vengeful spirit that was residing within the tree. Real mighty, evil big'un. Got 'em good, though. It was a real- oh hey, uh, didn't see you there!" Pausing again upon seeing the new face, she brushed the last of the leaves from her arms and adjusted her visor. "So yeah, uh, anyway, the uh..." The monstrous woman finally trailled off as her gaze was drawn to the sheer mass of the felled tree before her.

    "Impressive!" The younger girl clapped. "Sounds like the job was a lot more exciting than I thought it'd be! I'm kinda mad I didn't get here sooner now, but at least it's done and George is safe. I'm Lina, by the way! Lina Latare." She held out her hand for a shake. There was quite a bit of pride in the way she announced her name.

    "Oh sh- oh! You're the- it's you!" The big, armoured reptillian's eyes widened and she broke into a wide grin as she took the handshake heartily. "Duke Ith'drell, the big uh- it's me! I saw the guild thingy, it's actually why I'm- oh, uh, sorry Mrs. B," Drell turned to her client, gesturing to the fallen tree. "Yeah, my bad about that whole thing, I dunno what you want done with it. I mean, I've got a li'l axe if you want me to chop it up for firewood or somethin'."

    "Hmm..." The older woman seemed to consider it. "Well, us and the neighbours were considering having a barbecue this coming Friday. I suppose we could use it then...?"

    "I'll help get this all cleaned up, as long as you let me stop by for that barbecue! As for the job reward, I guess you can just take it to the guild like you would have if the duke was gonna join the guild anyway. Speaking of..." Lina turned her attention back to Drell. "We're heading back there as soon as we're done here, no objections! A tough looking warrior type like yourself, and a duke at that, has got to have all kinds of awesome stories! And you've gotta let me have a closer look at that monster of a sword you're carrying, too!"

    "Well, of course, you know we're always happy to see our intrepid guild heroes," said Mrs. B.

    "Well jeez, now I've gotta join," chuckled Ith'drell as she drew a handaxe wrapped in cloth from her backpack on the floor. She lowered the sheathed blade off of her shoulder as she began to unwrap the far smaller 'weapon'. "Go ahead and take a look if you want! I call it 'Big Whap'."

    "Big Whap…" Lina repeated unsurely. "Not what I would have gone with, but it's not my sword." She unsheathed the "Big Whap", visibly struggling from the blade's immense size. Despite her trembling hands that struggled to hold it up (which was quite the feat itself, considering her small, petite stature), her eyes sparkled in awe at the sight of it. She promptly put it away before her arms fell off. "I can't wait to hear about all the enemies you've taken down with this thing!"

    "Now this is my sword!" Lina held out her hand, and in a flash of light appeared a greatsword that rivalled Drell's in size. However, Lina seemed to handle this one quite easily, even with just one hand. In fact, everything about how she moved it was odd, as if it barely weighed anything. The large lacrima embedded at the base likely had something to do with it. "I call this one 'Trial of Conviction'! It's a tentative name, but I can't think of anything else for it." A white light covered the sword, and it was gone as quickly as it had come. "I use requip magic, so I wanna collect as many badass weapons as I can so I'm ready for anything! I, uh, only have two right now, but I'll get there someday."

    "Woah, that's neat!" praised Drell, pausing in the midst of chopping up branches to stare in awe for a moment. "Man, I always thought requip magic would be super cool to have. Well, 'cept when I was a kid; back then I thought requip magic just made it so if you said a one-liner and it didn't go over well, you could try another one and nobody would think any less of you... back then, I thought it would be ultra cool to have."

    Lina giggled. "I like you, you're a funny one. Though I guess you can't just learn that magic, being… you know… touched and all." She got to work bundling the wood Drell chopped and putting it away. "But hey, if you make enough money maybe you can commission a spell lacrima from someone in the capital! It's not quite the same, but I'm sure it'll manage for your general 'quipping' needs."

    "Ooh! Then I could have a sword and an axe and a hammer! Man... dunno why, kinda weird, but it never occurred to me that they could make lacrima for requip stuffs. Guess that's one-a the many miracles of Central Atria at work, huh?" Drell, having made short work of the remains of the tree, made sure the finished bundle of wood was all neat and tidy by patting it on its top. "Welp, it was great to meet ya, Mrs. B! Glad to be of service; I'm sure if you ever need another cat rescued or a tree defeated in spectacular fashion, you know where to come: Big fire bird- uh, the dragon- uh, phoenix guild place- hall, the Phoenix Guild Hall! That's the ticket, I got it."

    The older woman laughed, "It will certainly be my first port of call, should I not be blessed with the immediate assistance of such helpful bystanders again. I'm sure George is very thankfu- er, wherever he's gone off to. Not up another tree, I hope- oh, there he is at the top of the stairs. Very thankful. I'll send Eric up with the payment once he gets home, okay Lina?"

    "That's great, thanks!" Lina replied before turning back to Drell. "And I was gonna wait until we got to the guild to show you this, but I really can't wait after all!" She held out her hand again, and like before, a sword appeared, this time a different one. "This one's my favorite! I pulled out the other one before so I could compare sizes with yours, just out of curiosity."

    This new sword had a curved blade with a straight back like a kriegsmesser. It was long, but was still a far more reasonable size than her "Trial of Conviction". Like her Trial, this one had a large lacrima at its base, this one a bright yellow color. Along the hilt were other, smaller lacrima that Drell recognized as energy lacrima.

    "I call this one 'Rage of the Heavens'! The other one is kind of just a big hunk of metal, as much as I still like it, but this one is just so cool and sleek. And look!" She pressed a button on its hilt and a surge of electricity coated the blade. "Isn't it great!? And if I ever need to, I can use up a bunch of ether to shoot out a bolt of lightning! And it's super satisfying whenever it actually hits!" She posed proudly with the blade resting on her shoulder, but let out a yelp when it shocked her, having forgotten to turn it off and leaving her clearly embarrassed. Drell yelped at the yelp, reaching over to grab the electrified sword by the blade and pull it away slightly.

    "Woah, ey," she said, a little panicked. "Careful- you good?"

    "Yeah, I just got a bit too exci- uh, you probably shoudn't- does that... not hurt you?"

    "Eh?" Drell tilted her head, slowly releasing her grasp on the sword. "Should somethin' be hurting me?"

    Lina tapped the flat of her electric weapon to Drell's arm a few times, a frown forming on her face. "That's actually really cool, but I don't know if I like the thought of people immune to my precious Rage's electricity. I mean, I knew there were gonna be people like that, but it's different seeing it. But I guess that just means if we go on jobs together, I can shoot all willy nilly and not have to worry about hitting you!"

    "Oh, right, I get it- pff, I mean..." the reptillian warrior exhaled haughtily, turning around to swing her backpack over her shoulder and pick up her weapon. "Electricity can't do nothin' to me. I don't mean to, you know, but I'm kinda like... the biggest baddest- just, like, one hundred percent invincible titan person. There was this one time where there was like, this big evil snake with a big axe that breathed lazers and it lazered a city and destroyed the city instantly, but then it tried me and I was like 'nuh-uh', and then I was totally fine and I just exploded it with my mind powers. It was pretty awesome."

    "Oh wow, that's so cool! So does that mean you use psychic magic, then?"

    "I mean, I guess. I can prolly do, like, all of the magics if I wanna- later, Mrs. B!"

    "Bye, girls! Have a great day!" The elder woman waved to the two as they began to head off for the guild hall.

    "You too! But yeah, like, I guess electricity is my main thing just 'cause I think it's the most cool. I could totally do the others if I wanted to, though. They're just not as cool."

    "Hmm… that doesn't sound right, but I don't know enough to say it's not. You're right though, electricity is definitely the coolest! What do you do with it? Especially considering you walk around with full plate and a greatsword."

    "Ah, y'know, most stuff," said Drell, waving a hand. "Electricity is pretty versatile. Actually, there is one- you know how electrical impulses can, like, contract muscles and stuff? 'S'why it's so dangerous if you're holding something that's shocking ya, 'cuz the shocking can stop ya from letting go so you keep getting shocked and it's just a bad time. Pretty rough. Buuuut if you can control it like I can, you can kinda... force it in all the right places, if you know what I mean. Gives good ol' Big Whap some real big whappin' potential. But hey! Enough about me, tell me all about you and your old man and the guild! I heard he's like, some kinda old big shot wizard guy, so the guild's gotta be super great, right?"

    "Well…" Lina hesitated a bit, twirling her hair between her fingers. "It's true that my dad's a big shot; former wizard saint, renowned researcher, hero who's even in the history books, all that jazz. He can restore severed limbs, wall off cities in an unbreakable barrier, and he knows pretty much every kind of magic. Everyone already knows how great he is. But right now the guild itself is kinda… well, you'll see when you get there. Just know that regardless of what it is now, I'm personally going to make sure that Phoenix Nest gets bigger and better than even Gryphon Gale. And we've already got some incredible wizards at the guild like Rowan and Boriel that I'm sure could even take on that laser-breathing axe-snake of yours, so it shouldn't take too long!"

    "Aaahhh, room to grow, right? I get that. I cannot wait to see everything and everyone, this is gonna be sweet."

    "You bet it is!" Lina answered with a wide smile.

    The two continued toward the guild at a brisk pace, sharing stories and gushing over their skills and accomplishments along the way until finally they made it to the top of the hill where Phoenix Nest proudly stood.


    supreme meme machine
  • 880
    ephraim thorne & the bart collection

    A sigh rang through the halls as Ephraim realized that, upon continued inspection, the tiny guild-provided room could likely house little more than Ephraim and Bartholomew's webs. Ephraim had already tried fitting in there, too. It was in his attempt, however, that he realized the flood of black spiders rushing to claim a new stake in their new home was far too vast. Once Ephraim spotted a stray pack of Barts scuttling up to the bed in an attempt to distance themselves from their gratuitously web-slinging peers, he gave up on any notion that he was going to be staying at the guild; if this was to be even a temporary solution, it was one that he sincerely hoped he wouldn't have to deal with. With Barts now receding from the recesses of the room and back into their typical places [his bag, his pant legs, his hair, the floor], Ephraim picked up his bags and turned directly out of the guild's meager accommodations.

    It wasn't as if he'd been expecting much, really, and despite Ephraim envisioning an idyllic guild life when he was younger, he had eventually come to the realization that it would never match what he had once expected. That said, he didn't expect to have to find lodging elsewhere, and it was more than a bit of a pain considering that Ephraim wasn't only looking for a place for himself, but also for the great mass of spiders which crawled about his clothes and his bags and across town in the same general direction. He knew Bartholomew wasn't comfortable with it, either; the swarm had become skittish after only a few minutes in the room, and had remained skittish as the pair walked back out the front door and out of the guild. Even so, the guild was nowhere near awful. It wasn't… exciting, sure, but it held… promise? It had… charm? It harbored a unique sense of… civic duty? For a moment, Ephraim found himself clinging to any justification for his being there; it was only when he took a moment to think about it that he decided that this was still definitely what he wanted. Being in a guild and going on adventures was his dream, even if those adventures seemed to mostly be mundane pilgrimages into the villagers' plumbing. At least the abundance of drinks was a plus, even if he was already trying to remove himself from any constant consideration of alcoholism regardless. Of course, that was if....

    Ephraim was lost in thought as Bartholomew scuttled forth. As Ephraim made his way through the town with an occasional glance in search of lodging, the Barts crawled into every nook and cranny: some slung from webs; others tumbled down drainage pipes and in between crates; a great deal clung to the insides of Ephraim's clothing; a few found themselves tidying up Ephraim's hair; and most notably, a small pack was seen carrying off a few of what may have possibly and unfortunately been a few of an inattentive shopkeeper's apples. [Ephraim eventually noticed this tomfoolery, but did little to correct it besides chastising Bartholomew later.] As Ephraim approached the town inn, however, the Barts scurried back onto Ephraim's person, hiding themselves to the common eye and dropping the apples they had yet to devour into Ephraim's bag. Sauntering up to the counter, Ephraim leaned in, put on his best "good Atrian boy" face, and asked for a room.

    Of course it was a difficult time. The girl at the counter called over her father, who complained about how Ephraim's spiders would be a nuisance and an issue at the inn. He seemed to be stuck on the idea that they'd have no choice but to engage in some pest control unless he could keep his pests under control-- a phrase which, after the second utterance, made Ephraim clench his jaw and narrow his eyes. Ephraim found that these reactions were simply knee-jerk reactions to a previous tenant, given that the last Valbestian who stayed in the inn let his small beast roam the inn, and found little issue with having it create several holes in the walls and steal a great deal of cheese. It seemed to Ephraim that there was no choice but to insist that Bartholomew would never do such a thing, was "well-trained," and, as he allowed a Bart to crawl up to his finger, listened to him incredibly well. The true test only arose when the owner asked that Ephraim bring out the rest of his "supposed beast" as well, to which Ephraim replied with stretching his arms out perpendicular to his torso and allowing the Barts to drop from his frame. It was then that the girl, eyes open wide, requested that he "please leave" because they "couldn't possibly care for so many of those… things." While this wasn't Ephraim's first arachnophobe [and likely not his last], he doubted bringing a Bart to the girl's face and showing her how adorable Barts were would be a good idea; instead, Ephraim countered with the fact that there was no care involved for them and that he could handle them all. He wasn't surprised when they expressed doubt regardless.

    Ephraim had already reconciled with the fact that living at the inn did not have to mean loving his landlord. That said, he was noticeably irked when they continued to express doubts after further persuasion, responding with a "well, if I showed you some of their tricks, would you believe me when I told you I had them under control?" The reply was a sigh of defeat, ending with a "no, but you can try."

    Ephraim grinned as most Barts stopped what they were doing and began to crawl up the walls, shooting webs and raising their forelegs to begin the process as Ephraim moved his hands up into the air. He yawned as he moved his hands from one side to the other, taking his time and working the spiders like clockwork; cotton-like strands worked their way around his neck and shoulders until within the span of half a minute Ephraim had a new scarf on his shoulders. The Barts began to settle down quickly thereafter, and those which had begun to wander off and scuttle around the room and up the stairs quickly returned to Ephraim's side. "It's a trade," he flaunted. "Lots of coordination involved. Not for beginners."

    The innkeeper rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Please leave."

    After a long day of searching, Ephraim returned and felt that he had failed to secure adequate lodging would be making the correct choice in saving money and staying at the guildhall. Upon re-entering the room and looking at it again, Ephraim sighed; as the Barts began to begrudgingly football-pile themselves into a corner at Ephraim's request, Ephraim sat on a crate he'd found abandoned in the hall, laid his head on his fist, and began to wonder how he would fit all of his Barts and himself in the same room.​


  • 957

    Phoenix Nest Welcoming Party! Phoenix Nest Guildhall

    Night fell over the small town, its residents finishing up their work and going home for a long deserved rest. Windows lit up in the darkness, the electrically-powered homes and the remaining candle-lit ones making an interesting contrast when seen from a distance. Shessalie can usually be described as a quiet place, but once the last of the fishing boats had docked, it fell into complete and utter silence.

    But it didn't look like Phoenix Nest planned to share in this peaceful atmosphere, as a squad of small plant creatures scrambled around the guildhall. They looked like large flowers, walking on their roots and carrying trays of food with the long vines they used as hands. Well, large when compared to normal flowers, as they barely reached a person's knees in height. Several of the first floor's tables had been pushed together into a single large one, and atop it was an impressive spread of food. A whole roast chicken, pineapple glazed ham, bread, salads, potatoes, pies, and much more formed a veritable feast.

    Slumped in a chair off to the side was the architect of this meal, thoroughly exhausted from trying to work the counter while cooking all day. Of course, much of the physical work was done by her minions, but keeping them active for so long was plenty taxing on its own. Near her, standing rather unsafely atop a ladder was Lina, who was hammering the last nails needed to hold up the banner she'd been working on. It proudly displayed the words "WELCOME TO PHOENIX NEST!" in a multicolored font. It didn't exactly look professional, but it could definitely look worse. And on the other end of the room was Boriel, his brow furrowed as he scanned through the various stations on the guild's radio.

    "Just pick something already!" Sarah complained. "It doesn't matter what, as long as you do it before the others get here. We have to look at least somewhat professional."

    "I feel like the music plays a big part in the type of atmosphere we're going for," Boriel answered without breaking his focus. "So we need to make the right choice. Although I'm probably not the best one to decide, since I'm... a bit out of touch as far as what's popular these days."

    Lina giggled. "Wow, I always thought Rowan was just joking whenever he called you geezer, but you really do sound like an old man!"

    "I doubt you're any better when a little town like this is the biggest place you've ever been." he shot back with a smirk.

    Lina prepared her own retort, which was cut short when she fell off her ladder and crashed into the counter. A hand rose up from the debris with a reassuring thumbs-up.

    "Well, if you're really stuck I can always turn into a bird and whistle all night. That's almost music." Prim said with a casual laugh, appearing from the direction of the guild's lodging. She took note of the impressive spread of food on the table, and of the flower minions wandering around as she made her way further into the room in the direction of Boriel. "Honestly though, all kinds of music are good music don't fuss so much. Phoenix Nest obviously knows how to put on a party, ease up."

    Paying little attention to what most would call "common courtesy" or "acceptable behaviour" Prim followed up on her statements by grabbing a breadstick from the table and munching down on it, all the while dancing around alone the music without a care in the world.

    "Hm. Can't argue with that," said Boriel with a shrug. He set the radio to something upbeat that matched Prim's dancing and took his place at the table.

    Just a short pause after Prim's arrival at the festivities, Rowan came as well, holding a limp, loudly snoring little brother. "Found him!" He announced cheerily. "I think all the little excitement of the day tuckered the little fella out but I know just the thing for it." He continued to walk closer to the bar until he was deeply mired in the aromas of Sarah's excellent cooking. Patileer's nostrils flared comically wide and he all but exploded out of Rowan's arms.

    "Food!" He shouted, running straight to Sarah and hugging her around the waist from her left side, grinning brightly. "Yaaaay! Sarah's cooking is the best!" Rowan smoothly slipped around to her right side and pulled her head into his shoulder for a side hug with an equally warm smile.

    Both brothers positively radiated infectious happiness and excitement. In moments Sarah felt more energetic and looked less haggard, mirroring Pat's smile in spite of herself and allowing the hug for a few seconds before good-naturedly shaking them off and shooing them away from her seat. "Well it'd have to be with all the practice this guild gives me! And you two are the worst about it." She added with a slight smirk. "So go sit down like good boys or no seconds."

    "Okay!" Both agreed simultaneously, even Rowan playing along with the faux scolding as they made their way to their own spots at the makeshift dining table, on either side of Boriel's chair.

    Faye came downstairs after leaving her self-assigned room. Only snorting lightly at the whole happening with Sarah, Rowan and Pat. She did seem to be a kind woman. Definitely looking older than Faye did even though she had entered adulthood herself. Faye took a look around the area where the tables were assembled but decided to sit down near Pat and Rowan, coincidentally also near a petite girl with blue hair. She waited with grabbing anything food related. She didn't want to come off as greedy and felt like it was more polite to wait for the others to grab something.

    Faye took a short glance below, at her chest and sighed in disappointment when she looked at Sarah's. Faye was almost completely flat, it would sometimes bother her. Faye did feel a little bit out of place, being near so many people that she just had met. It made her feel slightly uncomfortable.

    From upstairs there was a mighty thunk, followed by a rhythmic series of clunks before a reptilian face peeked excitedly over the banisters into the room below.

    "Aaight, I'm ready for-! Oh, It's dinner already..." Ith'drell seemed dejected for only a fraction of a second before a grin overtook her features once again, with a cry of: "Aaayyyyy, it's dinner already!" She hefted herself up a moment on the stair rail as though meaning to jump over it, before immediately thinking better of it and descending the staircase hurriedly instead. "Wassup guys? I'm, uh- it's me! Name's, er, Duke Ith'drell - sorry I couldn't be here earlier to introduce myself, got uh- getting that guild mark was a pain, 'cuz... well, ya prolly don't wanna hear the whole- ahh, whatever, smells good! Uh, food, right?"

    "I'd love to hear all about it, if you ever feel like telling, actually." Rowan chimed in. "I never get tired of stories and Pat wants to learn just about everything he can about our guildmates. Though...if anyone ever has any stories that aren't...child friendly, please don't tell him without asking me first."

    The Duke waved a hand, "Nah, you don't wanna hear that story; 's'boring and convoluted and just sorta complain-y, 'cause full plate's a pain in the arse to deal with and apparently I didn't even need it off but someone definitely had a problem with it before and- ey, jeez, there we go again - anyway, that story sucks, it's poopy. I got way better ones, don't you worry." She moved to grab a seat, testing its sturdiness before she put her entire weight on it. "If I can even tell them between eating because boy am I a hungry hit- uh, hild- harold- no- sure. Hungry harold. Hungry helga, I'll take that one instead, it's better."

    "Thanks for avoiding that little tale, since I'd rather not have to relive that whole mess..." Sarah chimed in. "You should all make sure to enjoy the food, though! This meal's special, so don't expect get a spread like this every night."

    "Your name is... Duke?" Faye said with a quite obvious surprised tone in her voice. It was a really odd name. Isn't it a title actually? What was more intriguing was Duke's appearance. Faye tried to not stare too obviously but seeing someone like Duke was not an everyday experience. Faye knew for sure now. Duke was a being like her mother. Something that regular humans and wizards call "touched".

    "Huh, didn't realize that was your actual name," piped Lina, dusting herself off after her little mishap. "Though I'm kinda hoping it's not so I can still say I've met a duke."

    "Woah!" Prim said as Duke ponked herself down nearby "You look... awesome. I am so glad I joined this guild." She beamed openly at Duke in a rather Pat-like manner, genuinely impressed with the visage that others might call monstrous or unpleasant. She kept the praise up for several moments before adding sidling over and attempting to stretch up to put an arm around Duke's shoulders.

    "Always cool to meet more Touched too!" She added enthusiastically.

    "Well heck yeah I look awesome!" Ith'drell agreed with fervour, "It's 'cause I'm awesome, thanks for noticing." She gave Prim a grin as she leaned over to help the younger girl reach around, at least to the other side of her neck if not all the way over to her opposite shoulder, and put an arm around Prim as well for good measure. She turned to address the rest of the room and said, "Friendly bunch, huh? It's great to meet ya all. Uh, Duke's kinda just a title, I got it when I, er, destroyed- er, liberated- saved a town- er, the world from, uh, the doom of... big, uh, big doom! Huge doom."

    Rowan leaned back in his chair while Pat bounced with anticipation in his own. "Duke feels a bit formal for one of our guildies, doesn't it?" The older brother spoke. "Would it be alright if I called you Drell for short?"

    "I mean, that is my first name, so, no. Absolutely not," Drell chuckled. "But no, yeah, Drell's fine."

    "Sounds like a thrilling tale. The Big Doom!" Prim chuckled gleefully, her tone a touch coy.

    Drell's short version of what seemed like an explanation for her name as Duke left Faye kind of impressed but sceptical at the same time. "Hey Drell, I'm Faye. Nice to meet you. Do you mind telling us the story of... liberating that town?" Faye asked kind of skeptically. She can't say she wasn't curious who she was dealing with.

    "Oh, uh- well, it's great to meet you too," Drell smiled, hesitating only slightly. "Uh, so I totally saved the world and also town from, uh- yeah, the large doom, I was there- I did it! Uh, right, so there was this huge doom - the first thing to note about this story is that there existed a doom, of, er, incredible size - and it was in this town but it was totally gonna be a danger to, like, the whole darn place of everywhere, and it was all like 'mwaaah', but then! I came up there, and I puffed out my chest, like this," Drell puffed out her chest. "And then I said to the doom supreme, I said: "Doomsday's too early- you're later-" er, it was, "Big doom? More like small-" agh, er, I said, "I don't think so!" and then I bashed its head with my giant fist and it went 'bwaaaaargh'," Drell punctuated the gargling noise by lifting up her hands and sinking into her chair. "It was pretty great, and everyone was like 'wow, you'd better be the duke now' and I was all 'all in a day's work for Doomkiller Drell' - oh, damn, that's a good one - uh, yeah, and it was pretty sweet. But then I just moved on because, you know, it's no biggie. Uh, Rowan, can I change my answer? I'm really feeling 'Doomkiller' all of a sudden."

    "What's a doom look like?" Prim asked with a cheeky grin plastered on her face, thoroughly enjoying Drell's storytelling.

    Faye facepalmed unnoticed at Drell's story. She felt kind of stupid for getting excited over some story she knew had every sign of being farfetched. "Yeah Drell, explain to us what a big doom looks like." Faye said with a raised eyebrow but was enjoying this nonetheless. There are all different kinds of people in this guild but that only makes things more interesting.

    "Well, since you asked," said the Doomkiller, leaning back in her seat. "The big doom was, like, big. Massive thing - like, the size of a town, it was next to the town and about the same size - and it had, kinda, these massive horns on its big fat head, and its eyes were made of lightning, and it breathed lazers just everywhere. And there was like this big load of really thick smoke that just poured off it and killed anything it touched - 'cept me, of course - and it was all red and scary and glowy and it had this huuuuge mouth with nasty chompers that went 'mnap mnap, bweeeh', and it breathed lazers just everywhere!" Drell paused for a moment, realising that she'd said that already. "And it kept saying stuff like, 'I'm gonna eat you for doom breakfast' which was kinda weird 'cause it was like, six in the evening. Buh eh, I thought to myself 'what am I, the mealtime police? Nah, I'm the doom police' and then I totally policed it. Like, with some serious bappin' right on the dome. But yeah, you know that part - anyway, whew, speakin' of mealtimes, are we, uh... is this fair game?" She pointed to the veritable banquet arranged on the table before her. "My stomach's rumblin' up a storm, but I don't mean to, uh, you know."

    "Considering I made it for you all, I'd be pretty upset if you didn't eat it," said Sarah. "So feel free, oh mighty doomkiller."

    "Oh, sweet, uh- so enough about me. What's up with you guys?" Ith'drell asked, beginning to grab whichever foodstuff happened to be closest and snapping it up in her jaws.

    "Yes, let's everybody tell us all some more about yourselves." Rowan encouraged while Pat nodded vigorously between monstrous bites of food and rapid chewing.

    "Sure thing!" Prim chirped happily "My name's Primilla Bellamy but you can just call me Prim. I was born in Valbestia but they kicked me out so I've lived in Atria for over half my life and I'm kind of a bird. Nice to meet you!"

    Drell paused in her chewing for a moment, glancing at the roast chicken on the table which had multiple portions missing from it. "Bird, huh?"

    "Yup!" Prim replied, flapping her arms like wings for a moment as if the pantomime was necessary to establish what a bird was.

    "Heh heh, hey, that's super cool!" Ith'drell took a drink nervously to swallow the rest of the food in her mouth before turning to the ham. Actually, better make it the bread, just in case anyone else happened to be also a pig.

    "I-I"m Faye Aubrey, I came from the city where I've lived with my father. Nothing else to add really." Faye spoke quietly as she sipped her drink in peace. In actuality she was really nervous to interact with so many people at once. Faye, however, was quite interested in what Prim said about being a bird. Then again, Prim was tiny and cute which Faye has a thing for so it might've been just that. Who knows?

    "Me next!" Lina raised her hand happily. "I'm hoping you guys haven't already forgotten my name, so I'll skip that bit! I use requip magic to summon my in-progress collection of badass weapons. Besides my dad being who he is, only other thing to say is that I grew up travelling from village to village in the empty part of Atria a tad north of here. At first it was just me and my dad, but eventually we picked up those bozos!" She gestured toward Boriel and the Hoskels with a grin.

    The guild talked and laughed as they enjoyed their meal. Some focused more on the meal than the conversation, but all had a smile on their faces. There was some dancing and singing, and even a couple party tricks. The party lasted deep into the night, until meeting an abrupt end.


  • 957

    Chapter 1: The Gryphons' Grace Phoenix Nest Guildhall

    Their night of merriment was beginning to wind down, and the Nest had somehow managed to tear through most of their sizeable feast. Lina stood up and tapped her fork against her glass of water a few times to get the table's attention (flinching at a disconcerting crack from the motion she hoped nobody would notice).

    After clearing her throat, she addressed her guildmates. "Tonight marks the official birth of this guild. Our guild. Nobody knows who we are right now, but with our heavy hitters being as incredible as they are, and the rest of us sure to follow suit, I have no doubt we're gonna hit it big. And by big, I mean really, REALLY big. My dream for this guild is for us to us to waltz into the Grand Magic Games come December and knock Gryphon Gale right off their stupid throne! Ideally with me in the lead, but I'll take what I can get as far as a victory goes.

    "Of course, I'm not gonna force anyone if they don't wanna shoot quite so high," She continued. "I plan to push forward no matter what, but it'd be nice to have some company, y'know? And if you don't intend to step into the arena when the time comes, I hope you're at least there in the stands cheering us on! So, who's with me?"

    "Me!" Prim cheered excitedly "That's what I'm here for, woo!"

    "Ayy, sure, yeah," agreed Drell lazily. "I mean, I've already won like a thousand of those so it might be a lil' unfair, but, uh, if you really want me to."

    Pat was standing in his chair, pumping his arms and whooping excitedly. Rowan lifted his tankard in a toast with his eyes closed and a relaxed smile while he leaned back in his own seat. "You already know where I stand on that, sweetie. But if you really wanna lead the charge I hope you're ready to overtake me first." He finished with a smirk and took another draught of his drink.

    "Well your kid brother just blasted you across a room so I hope you're ready to step aside to the rest of us." Prim teased, already feeling completely at home in the company of her guildmates.

    Faye choked in her drink when Prim mentioned that Rowan was sent across the room by Pat.

    At that Pat's merriment died and he plopped down into his chair in embarrassment, blushing hotly. Rowan chuckled as he picked his teeth. "Well there's a big difference between getting knocked around by the most precious thing in my life and some spunky bird." He replied with a lupine grin. "Feel free to challenge me any time you like, cutie. We'll see if you can match my boy's feat."

    "If I'm not going to get in trouble for putting a Rowan-shaped hole in the side of the building I'm up for it any time." Prim said, poking her tongue out at her senior.

    "Come now you two. If you want to fight do it outside... Or clean your own damn mess." Faye mentioned as she stuffed some roasted beef in her face with an almost bored face, she was getting used to the presence of these people little by little. "Do make sure to teach that ladies-man a lesson or two though." Faye tried to tease but let's just say that she's just better off not trying to involve with humor. Faye thought it was kind of adorable how Rowan called Pat the most precious thing in his life so kudos to that.

    "Don't go too far away though," Drell chuckled. "I wanna watch."

    "You all seem pretty carefree considering what a brash statement that was," Rang an unfamiliar voice.

    It was a woman's voice filtered through a metallic echo, coming from the door which was promptly thrown open. There stood a group of three who strode into the guildhall as if they owned it. On one side was the likely source of the voice; a woman clad head-to-toe in metal armor. But unlike Drell's, hers was sleek and form-fitting, with various lines that glowed a crystalline blue travelling across its jet-black surface. On the other side was an unassuming teenaged boy with round glasses, blue eyes, and neatly-combed black hair. A bracelet adorned his right arm with celestial spirit keys hanging from it, a single gold key standing out from the rest.

    And in the center was a figure unmistakable to anyone familiar with the world of wizards. His body was lean and toned, and he stood taller than his peers. His skin was dark brown, and his eyes were ruby red. His snow-white hair fell just past his ears. And most importantly was the guild mark on the side of his neck bearing a Gryphon. Even without his iconic flame armor, Egan Lynch's constant media coverage made him hard to miss, like him or not.

    "It's a lot more… modest?... than I was expecting," commented the younger Gryphon.

    "You mean pitiful?" added the armored one. "I expected more people, too, all things considered. Though I guess I can't blame people if they didn't exactly believe a flier announcing the return of the history's greatest wizard, who's been missing for decades, to some dump out in the sticks. Where is the big man, anyway?"

    "None of that matters," Egan cut in.

    "Aww, don't act like you weren't super excited to finally meet him!"

    He ignored her and addressed the Nest. "What does matter is that you'll all be representing him from now on. Everything you do will reflect back on him, seen by the public as the actions and the power of 'Myeloch's guild'. So we figured we'd come see it for ourselves; the ones who are gonna knock us off our stupid throne."

    Sarah glared at the intruders, whispering to Boriel, "Hey, uh… shouldn't we ring the bell?"

    "Not yet," He answered, watching the events curiously. "The fact that they could come in at all means they're not a threat, so let's just see how the kids handle it."

    Faye eyed the big man with the same hair color as hers. She didn't look all that impressed but he was somewhat right. They were going to represent this guild. She glanced at the tiny Prim and the young Pat and ended that glance with the also fairly young wizard, Lina. Lina had worked hard to gather this many members for this just started guild. Of course there weren't going to be many members but what could anyone possibly expect? Faye sighed and stood up, making her way in front of the wizard named Egan. She felt somewhat intimidated by being up there all alone but she wasn't going to show that obviously, especially since she's doing this for the kids. Faye just hoped they hadn't heard Drell's outburst about having won a ridiculous, unreal amount of tournaments as well.

    "We are well aware that from this day on, we bear responsibility for the name of this guild and it's our task to represent sir Myeloch's name to our best ability." Faye spoke loud enough for everyone to hear her, however, in her tone it was somewhat hearable that she had troubles with speaking so loud. Faye wasn't used to giving a speech. "My fellow members of this guild didn't mean any harm but we are not going to stand idly by if our honor is being trampled." With that Faye glared to the woman who had just called them all pitiful. After that she only looked Egan right in the eye. She was obviously tinier than him and she wasn't going to be intimidating but at least she tried. She didn't want to think about what could've happened if Drell had taken the lead.

    Before any of the visitors could properly respond to Faye, Rowan stood up with a welcoming smile worthy of the most gracious of hosts. "Oh, our first meeting with another guild, wonderful!" He approached their guests warmly. "So sorry for the paltry accomodations, we'd offer you some food but I'm afraid you just missed dinner." He scanned them for only a moment before locking eyes with Egan. "What luck to meet the star of Gryphon Gale so soon! Myeloch's reputation must not have waned much over the years if it's enough to bring everyone's favorite S-class star to visit a brand new guild. I'd shake your hand but you seem like you might spit on me for it." There was nothing but friendliness in his voice, yet slight undercurrents of menace radiated from him beneath the welcome. It was only then that his eyes grew sharp, though his smile remained. "You're right, there's not much to the place yet but if you're really aware of who Myeloch is then I should warn you of something you don't seem to be considering. If this is Myeloch's guild then every single person here is here because he thinks we deserve to be, because he wants us here. So if you're going to make any assumptions about us, make them based off of that little tidbit."

    "Didn't know you had it in you, Rowan." Prim teased, albeit a tad less loud than her earlier jibes. Unlike the other members of her guild, she remained completely at ease and gave the impression that she didn't much care that intruders had managed to enter the guild and interrupt their party a all. "Keep bringing out lines like that and I might have to start respecting you or something." It was only after ribbing Rowan that, still grinning widely, she turned a nonchalant gaze onto the Gryphon mages. "Are you three gatecrashers planning to join in the festivities or are you leaving? You're kind of boring."

    "Dunno about you, Prim," Drell murmured to the girl next to her. The large touched lady seemed a little confused, but happily continued to chew on a bit of pie. "I was just waitin' for them to tell us how many pet cats they needed savin' from trees. I was thinkin' they'd get around to it sooner or later, but your guess is as good as mine..."

    As the remarks went on, a small cadre of spiders stealthily lifted some food items off the table and fled the spread, though they seemed to glance at the newcomers and their guildmates as they did so in fear of being caught and tried for their transgressions. It was to their relief, then, that the two groups seemed too intensely focused on each other to watch the Barts dart away from the event and deliver Ephraim his dinner; the young man had arrived just in time to listen to Gryphon Gale call their guildhall "modest" [an adjective he was unable to refute] and had silently watched from the stairwell ever since. In an effort to not enter a discussion he knew little about, Ephraim elected to instead keep his mouth occupied with the better part of a dinner roll before he could say something brash.

    Lina's eyes had been darting back and forth between her allies and their designated enemies, frantically trying to figure out how to handle this ever-worsening situation. "S-so, uh, there you have it! The guild doesn't want you here if you're just here to talk down to us!

    The armored woman burst out laughing. "These guys are hilarious! Doesn't look like they like us very much. Though at the moment nobody really cares what they think, do they?"

    The younger Gryphon didn't seem to take the Nest's verbal lashings quite so well. He stepped forward with balled-up fists. "Hey, we were just-"

    "Calm down, Simon," Egan grabbed his shoulder to stop him. Simon took a step back and sulked with his arms crossed while Egan addressed their hosts. "You're all certainly bold enough, but that doesn't really mean much in the comfort of your own home. But no, despite how it seems, and despite what one of my guildmates seems to think, we didn't come to talk down to you. We actually came with a gift, though at this point I'm wondering if I should even give it to you."

    "It's actually something the missus in the back might know a thing or two about, as a member of the Burgess family," Armor girl chimed in.

    Sarah sighed. "Not really. If it has to do with the company, then it's none of my business."

    "The company you just mooch off of so you can live in that glamorous mansion completely free? Right, of course."

    Sarah shot her a nasty glare. "Okay, now that's none of your business. Who even are you?"

    "You're pushing it, Harmonia," Egan scolded. Harmonia put her hands up in a disarming gesture. Egan groaned and continued where he left off. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a piece of parchment, unfurling it for all to see. It was a job request that read:

    Mining operations in Shessalie are being forced to stop by a swarm of magical beasts. Our guards are capable of repelling the swarm, but they return every day. Please investigate the cause and put an end to it. To avoid panic among the townspeople and shareholders, this has not been made public, so please keep things discreet.
    REWARD: 600,000 J

    "This request was delivered solely to our guild. A simple request, and once it's done we'll leave. But as Harmonia has so… eloquently… put, this guild currently has no influence. Your request board is proof enough of that. It's a situation unbefitting of a guild belonging to Myeloch Latare, so I figured we could lend you a hand and give the job to you. You'd get all the reward and the credit, and it'll put you in the good graces of Burgess Mining, one of the largest companies in Atria. Assuming you can complete it, though that shouldn't be a problem for Myeloch's chosen.

    "Though if this is all too 'boring' for you, we could just have a little match instead. Face us in battle, and if you can prove your strength, we'll use our own influence to spread your names. Though there's only one person in this room I'm interested in facing personally." His gaze rested on Boriel, who stared back with equal intensity.

    "Doesn't that sound fun?" Piped Harmonia. "I'm especially curious to see how our four-time GMG champion fares against your thousand-time champion." She struggled to hold in more laughter. Drell shot her a pair of finger guns.

    "I think she'll do better than you." Faye snapped at Harmonia but soon regretted that, it was an impulse. Faye was not too keen on fighting them if she was going to be completely honest. Even though she looked somewhat calm on the outside, her panicking got worse with the moment on the inside. Faye couldn't control her magic well enough to fare well in battle against wizards supposedly better than them, at least, that is what she thought. If it was a battle without magic then sure but otherwise it was a big hell of a nope. "What unexpectedly considerate of you." Faye crossed her arms in annoyance. She was not sure whether they should take the job of a guild they were rivalling against. Especially since they seemed to be looking down on them even when they said they weren't. On the other note, it could be a good opportunity to get their name out there. Before Faye knew it, she was lost in thought.

    "I really wanna talk 'n' stuff," Drell burbled quietly, desperately trying to keep her mouth as closed as possible. "But, like, I'm still eatin' this bit of pie. There's only a smidge left, c'mon guys."

    "You can have mine, Drell." Rowan replied, stepping back to the table and deftly sliding his plate over to her out of pure generosity and not at all to keep her mouth too full to talk anymore before Gryphon Gale left. After, he turned back to Egan and this time his friendliness was genuine. "Sorry about that, being new means having more to prove, right? Can make folks a little over-eager to answer any challenge, but it puts me at ease to see that two of you are mature." Besides the minor nod to Simon he spoke as if Egan's two compatriots weren't even there. "That makes it all the more generous that you'd give us a chance to make a debut worthy of Myeloch's guild. It may be a bit presumptuous of me considering the big man's not here right now, but I'll gladly accept the job if nobody else has any objections. As much as I'd like watching you and my pop fight it out I'd rather get our guild some money and fame."

    Faye sighed in relief when Rowan slid his plate over to Drell. It was as if he was reading her mind. As long as Drell was occupied with food she at least wouldn't say anything else that could possibly to trigger these guys. "No objections here." Faye raised her hand only slightly as an answer to Rowan's question.

    Ith'drell garbled something that sounded like it could have been a complaint, but her mouth was full so the noise that came out was completely unintelligible.

    Prim shrugged nonchalantly at that. Either way there was good potential for increasing their recognition and finances.

    "I'm good with whatever way we go on that one."

    Drell let out another indecipherable noise before grunting irritatedly.

    Faye, who had absolutely no idea what Drell was trying to say, pretended that she understood what Drell was trying to say. "Drell agrees with us." Faye said with a still expressionless face. Drell grunted again.

    "Yay! A real job! Thanks, Gryphon Gale!" Shouted Patileer, who'd been oddly quiet throughout the entire exchange so far. It was clear now that this was because he, too was still eating - finishing up his fourth course, in fact.

    "Aww, no takers for the smackdown?" Complained Harmonia. "What a bunch of sissies."

    Simon furrowed his brow, and grumbled something under his breath.

    A chair scraped across the floor as Ith'drell fidgeted angrily in her seat, pointing to her mouth and trying to enunciate something that sounded suspiciously like an obscene way of saying she was still eating.

    Egan, on the other hand, gave Rowan a smirk. "I don't feel the same level of magical power from you that I do from your 'pops', but something tells me you might be an interesting opponent after all. Which makes your decision that much more unfortunate."

    He closed his eyes pensively. "I've decided that I'll give your guild this mission on one condition. Just as you seem to hold your guildmates' best interests at heart, so too must I. After dragging them out here for a job I could have easily completed by myself, I can't let them go home empty-handed." He rolled up the job request and stowed it away.

    "I'll take this back with me for now, and we'll return to our inn in town. If you want it, come find us before sundown tomorrow. Once there's a fight between your ranks and ours, you'll get the job. It doesn't matter who, how many, or even the outcome. All that matters is that we gain something from it that helps us grow stronger, and hopefully you do, too. Considering everyone's confidence earlier, it shouldn't be too much to ask. But if the sun sets and nobody's shown, we'll finish the job ourselves and be on our way. Until then, farewell, and I hope we'll be seeing each other again soon." With that, he made his way to the door.

    Harmonia pumped her fist in excitement. "Nice, Egs! I'm pretty curious about that skinny one who got all up in your face, but I think she's probably more Simon's speed." She followed after Egan, but not before glancing at Faye from over her shoulder. Her glassy helmet covered her face completely, without so much as eye holes, but it wasn't hard to imagine her expression from the aura of smugness she radiated. "And that lizard of yours had better not choke to death before tomorrow, either!"

    "Skinny one...?" Faye raised an eyebrow as Harmonia left the building. It then occured Faye that she could've referred to the fact Faye has nothing there and looked slightly disappointingly at her chest. Drell, meanwhile, had given up on trying to pronounce words. She let out a long and irritable groan that lasted several seconds.

    "Despite what metal-head over there says, don't expect me to be a pushover," said Simon. "The fact that I was able to get into Gryphon Gale in the first place is proof enough of that." Having said his piece, he rushed to Egan's side, walking in a suspiciously similar way to the older Gryphon.

    "So... can I go then?" Prim asked, sounding more like she was asking about a social event than a sparring match.

    "Everyone who wants can go!" Rowan blurted out as soon as he was sure Gryphon gale were out of earshot. "But I don't know if all of us will get the chance to spar, we have no clue how many potential opponents we'll have. What I do know is that Egan is mine." At that the air of responsibility left Rowan to be replaced by a radiant aura of pure excitement and satisfaction everyone could feel so clearly that it was almost like it were Pat speaking. "This is great! We've only just started and we've already got a real job and the chance to duke it out with the number one guild!"

    "I would be careful with saying that, Rowan. Those guys are strong." Faye said softly. She didn't want to let her fellow guild members know that she didn't actually want to fight but she also didn't want to look like a coward. "If I get a chance to give Harmonia a good beating, I would do it. Otherwise I don't really care if I would be against Simon." Faye crossed her arms. If she had to choose between Pat, Prim or her being beaten up, she would prefer it to be her.

    Rowan shook his head and tutted in mock disappointment. "Their strength is exactly why this is great! Weren't you listening to what their star player said? We haven't been called out for some street brawl, this is sparring to help both sides grow." He smirked and leaned towards Faye theatrically, clasping his hands. "and if I get hurt, you can just nurse me back to health, right? As long as sweet girls like you and Sarah are around I can fight with courage~"

    "Keep dreaming." Faye sighed as she gently pushed Rowan a little bit away from her with a face ever so expressionless but with slight shaded cheeks. She could see Sarah shaking her head in the distance as well. "Fight with courage so you can show Pat how it's done instead." Faye commented under her breath.

    "I swear," Drell blurted out, gasping for air as though she'd just been diving. "Did nobody get that I was still eating? They just come up while we're eatin' and leave 'fore I can even get a word in? Like, how even- I wanted to ask about the-" She gave up with a sigh.

    "They were never gonna stay long anyways, Drell." Rowan said comfortingly to his armored guildmate. "Since they want us to earn the job I don't think there's much you could have asked them today anyways, we'll learn more when we go see them tomorrow, and I figure it's what would have happened anyways."

    Pat was resting his chin on the table and dozing off, the excitement from the day having now been replaced by the stupor of a full belly and so remained quiet.

    "Yeah, fine, it's whatever, I guess," huffed Drell. "Good riddance. Rude-ass garbo poopy-people - well, mainly just the, er, what's her name, Harmonia? More like, uh, just harm. 'Cause, uh... something." She trailed off, hushing her voice and jabbing a thumb in Patileer's direction. "Dude, what the fuck, your lil bro's adorable. That teeny sleepy-head blasted you 'cross a room?"

    Rowan grinned wide at the praise for his brother, not showing the slightest bit of shame or embarrassment at the reminder of the punch. "Oh yeah, he sure did. If we're just talking pure power Pat's a lot stronger than I am. He could probably do it to anyone here, it even happened to Boriel once." As several gazes moved over to Phoenix Nest's resident S-class wizard and Boriel's own eyes widened slightly at the sudden attention. Rowan chuckled. "He used to not be very good at handling kids~"

    Faye was a little speechless upon hearing that. That made it a lot less funny that Rowan was blasted across the room. Faye was a little curious to what magic everyone uses.

    Boriel gave his own chuckle. "Hasn't happened since, now that I know what to expect, but it's still hard to believe it happened at all. Our opponents should be glad he isn't more disciplined. Speaking of which, I was considering offering to take them on myself if it came to that, but it looks like you'd rather take matters into your own hands. Good."

    Lina gave a deep sigh of equal parts exhaustion and relief. "I'm just glad it turned out more or less alright. It's hard to keep your composure when the famous guild that's all over every issue of Sorcerer Weekly just waltzes through your front door, especially when it immediately escalates into an argument with your own guild… But knowing them, there probably wasn't any way to avoid a fight, so this is probably the best case scenario."

    She held out her hand, summoning her curved sword "Rage of the Heavens" and resting it on her shoulder (this time remembering to keep the electricity off). "Though if we have to fight anyone, I wanna blast that Harmonia's stupid ugly face! Well, I assume it's stupid and ugly. Or… uh… it will be when I'm done with it? Yeah, that works."

    Faye agreed with Lina when it comes to how this all turned out. They probably would've tried to get them to fight anyway. "I think they're testing us to see what they can expect from a guild that was created by Myeloch so fighting was unavoidable." Faye said as she drifted back to thinking and had been staring at her own hand. She was able to at least cover some body parts with her magic and sometimes her daggers but it was still hard to keep that up for longer than a few minutes. At any rate, she would have a great disadvantage against anyone of that Gryphon guild. Knowing that frustrated her a little which was why she suddenly made a fist with the hand she was staring at. "Is it possible... they are trying to find out what kind of magic each of us possesses?" Faye asked as she lifted her head.

    "Oooh, ya know..." Drell put a hand to her chin. "That's an interestin' theory, Faye. Try'na get a sneaky leg-up, huh? Wonder if fightin' em but refusing to use any showy-magic-surprises would annoy 'em a little... well, that and interrupting their mealtime. That's, uh, we should do that. Maybe both, but interrupting their mealtime for sure - we gotta pounce on them the second they take the first bite, just to really stick it to 'em for being such roody-doodies. Heck, I still ain't even had dessert yet."

    "I feel we should give them a pass on the dinner interruption on account of the really good job they're going to give us, I'm not sure you guys appreciate what a good deal this is for us." Rowan added. "As for the bit about our strength, I say let'em see! They may be our competition, in a sense but they're not our enemies. They don't really have anything to gain from knowing what we can do, by the time the Grand Magic Games come around we could all fight entirely differently." Smooth calm dominated his countenance. "Besides...don't dare to think for a second you can afford to hold back. This may more or less be a friendly bout between two guilds, but Gryphon Gale didn't get to be the strongest guild in Atria by messing around. I guarantee if anyone who goes up against them doesn't try their best, they'll get their ass kicked. That Simon fella was right that even just getting into Gryphon Gale at all counts for a lot."

    Gryphon Gale's challenge was at the forefront of the guildmembers' minds, be it from excitement or anxiousness. It was the strongest guild in Atria, after all. But it was late, so the guild soon finished its meal and went their separate ways.

    The Sun Rises over Shessalie Monday July 2nd, X784

    Even before the sun had finished its ascent into the clear sky, the town was absolutely buzzing. Most of the commotion was centered around the inn, with word spreading that members of Gryphon Gale had come to stay there. Fans eager for an autograph from the Blazing Knight himself and curious residents alike surrounded the building.

    Phoenix Nest's fated encounter was fast approaching. The guild's malleable training hall, as well as the nearby mountains and forests could all serve as practice grounds to warm up your bodies. Or if the mind is what needs sharpening, the library has many useful texts, and a walk through nature or a trip to the hot spring might be a good way to relax. The shops might have things that could give you an advantage, be it a weapon, lacrima, or magitech item. And as always, the job board has work, pitiful though it may be.

    Alternatively, you might prioritize the mission over the fight that rewards it. Surely there are members of the mining company that could offer further insight into the mysterious monster swarms, and by the sound of it, the site of the swarms itself is currently out of use.
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  • 957

    A Night to Forget


    The previous night...

    Patileer rolled over in bed, one foot thrusting out and kicking the blanket off of the bed. Normally he would have bumped into a certain brother of his before he rolled over too far, but tonight he was the only one in the room. The other Hoskel sibling stood atop the roof of Phoenix Nest's hall, staring up at the stars, contemplating something, a crimson book with gold filigree and no title on the cover held tight enough in his right hand to turn his knuckles white.

    "Having fun with the guild yet?" came the gruff voice of a familiar darkness wizard. He stood beside Rowan and joined in the stargazing.

    Rowan's posture and voice were uncharacteristically stiff - or at least what would be uncharacteristic were he speaking with anyone else. "It really is nice...It's like this place has come to life for real now. It'll be really good for Pat. Not having anyone else around a bit closer to his age was hard on him." He allowed himself a restrained laugh, covering his mouth with the back of his hand. "He has a hard time being himself with Lina, guess he likes pretty little redheads… What's your take on it all?"

    "You should hope your bad habits aren't rubbing off on the boy," Boriel said only partially serious. "As for the guild, Myeloch's built a good place for everyone to grow. Whether they actually do is up to them. Part of me is still a bit unsure with how hard to read that man is, though. The way he left after setting things up, knowing what kind of impact his name has… It's not that I don't trust him, I know he's a good man. But I don't like feeling like I might be a pawn in some master plan, something beyond my sight. Or maybe I'm just too used to being in control, and being a good little guild wizard is getting me antsy. Either way, I doubt this is what you called me here to talk about."

    "Honestly there's not all that much too it." Rowan responded. "You actually just summed up my own feelings almost to the letter, besides the bit about being in control. I just… I expected to be more comfortable with all this. They mostly seem like good folks but I don't know if I'm ready for all this yet." He looked away from the stars and to his adoptive father. "Pat wants this guild to be a big happy family and I want to give him that but I - the very word still makes my stomach turn." By the time he finished speaking he was clutching his book tightly to his chest as if it might try to fly away at a moment's notice.

    He glanced at Rowan's book with a frown, but quickly focused on the boy's eyes instead. "If you don't want to see it that way, you don't have to. Not right now, at least. I know you always want to do what you think is best for Pat, even if it comes at your own expense, but he's in good hands here so maybe it's time you focus on yourself a bit. Whether or not time helps you feel better playing into Pat's fantasy, I think as long as you can be happy, he'll be happy too."

    "Maybe you're right…" Rowan muttered. After a moment he shook his head as if to fling something off of it and turned to hold his book out to Boriel. "Has any of it stuck yet?"

    "No… But I feel like I'm getting closer, like it's taking away a little bit less each time."

    It wasn't exactly what Rowan hoped to hear, but it was something and that brought a small smile to his face. Seemingly rid of his melancholy, Rowan stepped closer, squared his chest and thumped his own fist against it. "I'm gonna make you proud tomorrow. Those guys from Gryphon Gale are going to see Myeloch still knows how to pick'em and even if I can't beat him I'll push Egan far enough to make clear he's still years too early to take you on."

    Boriel chuckled. "I'll be looking forward to it. You know full well what a monster he is, but I know you wouldn't have challenged him without a plan." He gave Rowan a pat on the back. "Just don't push yourself too hard."

    "As much as a newbie guild wizard can plan around fighting the star of the Grand Magic Games." Rowan said sardonically but not rudely. He stretched, yawned and began to walk to the edge of the roof. "I've got to work off some more of this energy before I can get back to sleep. Think I'll go gather some wild herbs and veggies for Sarah's stock. See you tomorrow p-Boriel. Thank you." He leaned forward and dropped into the open night without awaiting a response.

    Boriel stepped to the roof's edge as if he was going to call after Rowan, but decided against it. He just stared at the dark woods below, pensively and silently, before going back inside with a sigh.

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  • 957

    Breakfast with Spiders Phoenix Nest Guildhall

    It was a quiet morning in the Phoenix Nest guildhall, all things considered. Sarah sat behind the counter reading the morning news while she waited for the guild members to wake up and ask for breakfast. Lina had already scarfed hers down and left on her morning exercise routine. Boriel lingered in the library, searching intently for something.

    Faye slowly woke up from a nice and cosy dream she was having and buried her face even futher in the too many pillows laying on her bed. Her hair was a mess, and with that I mean even messier than usual. She brought one of her hands to the top of her head, to the spot her horns were supposed to be. In her dream they had disappeared but she let out a slight sigh as her horns were still there. She got up and made small clumsy steps towards a mirror to brush and shape her hair to something more decently but messy enough to keep her horns hidden. "GRMBL..." as Faye made her way back to her room to change into her casual attire, her stomach made the noise of a dying whale. "Time to get breakfast I guess..." Faye whispered. She changed as quickly as possible before her stomach would make another embarrassing noise like that.

    "G-Good morning..." Faye greeted Sarah as she stumbled towards the counter. "Can I... have breakfast?" She asked. She knew Sarah was in charge of the kitchen but it still felt weird to ask her for food.

    "Sure, what do you want?" Asked Sarah without even looking up from her paper. Rustling could be heard from the kitchen, likely her plant minions preparing to make whatever Faye decided she wanted.

    "I recommend a veggie omelet, myself!" said Lina as she trotted through the guild's door, wearing a tank top and shorts and glistening with sweat. "Sarah keeps all sorts of plants growing with her magic to use as ingredients and seasonings, and she can work some real… uh, magic… with them. I'd join you for the meal, but I'm just popping in real quick to get my wooden sword for practice swings."

    "Ooh, oh, can I come?" Pat blurted out from his usual spot at the table. "I need to get some practice in too! Everything's always more fun when you're around, Lina~" He finished sweetly, beaming at her.

    "Sure!" she smiled back. "I mean, you don't use a sword so we'd kinda just be doing our own things, but extra company's always welcome! What about you, Faye?" She turned to her other guildmate. "Got something planned before the big event later?"

    Faye turned to the two youngsters, both energized so early in the morning. "M-Maybe later, I want to do some groceries before I go to that "Big event"." Faye spoke. "I want some stuff to decorate my room with..." she added softly. She turned back to Sarah to give her the order for breakfast that she's been waiting for. "I'll take a veggie omelet, please." Faye was still slightly tired but she had to get stuff done today. Of course she wanted to train but not until later today probably. The kind of training Faye wanted to do required her to have at least decent sunlight.

    Ephraim emerged from the stairwell with his lack of meaningful sleep written all over his face. It had taken him all night to get Bartholomew all settled in, and despite having gotten a solid few hours of rest, it wasn't enough to offset the sudden lack of energy which had befallen the young Valbestian. As if to punctuate his slow movements towards the table and several people he had only gotten glances of earlier, he sat down in a chair, put his head in his hands, looked far into the distance as if to recall the horrors of the previous night's "tribulations" with Bartholomew, and said, "If we're serving breakfast to everyone, I, too, would like a veggie omelet." As a few Barts emerged from his scarf and began to painstakingly fix his hair, Ephraim sighed. "Make that two."

    Seemingly out of nowhere, Prim arrived and perched herself on the chair next to Ephraim. In stark contrast to her fellow guild member, she looked as bubbly and full of energy as she did at any other moment.

    "I'll second that order," she said jovially. "Need a full stomach so I can keep my strength for pounding Gryphon heads later." Prim said this despite there not being any real decision as to who exactly was going to be facing off against the opposing guild. Instead of continuing on that tangent however, she instead turned to Ephraim and began to stare intensely at his head with her head cocked.

    "Alright, four of the exact same thing coming right up," said Sarah, finally putting her paper down. "Not sure if everyone's just going with the flow or if Lina's pitch was that good, but either way it's easier for me." She headed into the kitchen, leaving the guild members to their own devices.

    "Your personal groomers are interesting," she eventually commented after several moments of deafening silence.

    "So that's what I've been feeling!" Pat blurted out, suddenly staring closely at the Barts on Ephraim's head. "Normally I can't feel anything from bugs but your spiders are different. Each one is like a tiny buzz of static, so are the other spiders I noticed last night. Are they yours too?" He cocked his head, mirroring Prim. "You should introduce me to them all some time! I wanna know what they're like together!"

    "Well, I can definitely take some time out of my morning to introduce them right now, if you'd like. This is Bartholomew," Ephraim explained, carefully lifting a Bart off of his hair and showing it off in the palm of his hand, "although, it'd be more appropriate to say that it's a Bartholomew." The Bart beamed up at Pat and Prim, although upon looking at Prim, it seemed to tremble a little bit. "What's important is that all of these little Barts together are one creature, whose name is Bartholomew, and that none of them are mine. I guess to most Atrians, Bart might seem like an out of control infestation, or like a bunch of pets which belong to me, but Bart is really more my partner than anything. A special partner, yeah, but still its own thing." Quietly eyeing a few Barts covertly crawling out of the kitchen with an egg and witnessing a singular Bart veer off into a completely opposite direction for seemingly no reason, Ephraim cleared his throat and added, "I can definitely show them all off for you later, but for now let's stick to the ones in my hair."

    "This had better be the last time they do that or I'm getting Myeloch to put a few extra wards on the place!" shouted Sarah from the kitchen.

    Faye froze at her seat upon hearing the word "spider". She slowly turned to the boy with sleek black hair and Prim before deciding just staring in front of her is probably a far better idea. Yes. Faye is terrified of Spiders.

    Noticing Faye's concern, Ephraim spoke up quickly. "Right, I don't believe we've all formally met quite yet. My name's Ephraim, I joined yesterday, and although it may seem like I didn't, I saw some of what happened at dinner."

    "Nice to meet you... hey why's he looking at me like that?" Prim said, leaning in closer to the Bart "Weird little guy. You planning on burrying Gryphon Gale under a bunch of 'em?" Ephraim chuckled and shrugged in response.

    "Hmm..." Lina put a hand to her chin as she tried to picture it. "I'm not sure that's the best idea, at least if the Gryphons I know are anything to go by. I haven't seen the younger two in any issues of Sorcerer Weekly, so I don't actually know anything about them. Maybe you'll get lucky and they're also afraid of spiders?" She couldn't help but glance at Faye as she said that. "Oh! What can your partners... or I guess partner, do, anyway? Valbestians only bond with magical beasts, right? So that means they oughta have cool magic of their own!"

    Faye couldn't help but glare slightly at Lina. Faye didn't like her fear to be exposed on the very first real day. Though... As long as they stayed away from her there shouldn't be any problems.

    "And here I thought you'd never ask!" Ephraim smiled as more Barts began to crawl out of his sleeves and pockets and make their way up to Ephraim's shoulder. "See, they can't do much right now because I've got so few of them down here, but with just these I can do a good deal." Ephraim twirled his finger above him and the Barts in his hair immediately jumped and shot their webs, while some Barts on his shoulders directed their craft with their forelegs. The threads spun from the spider's webs quickly came together in a swirl and gleamed in the sunlight, creating a beautiful image as the threads began to overlap and tighten around each other. While it was clear that it was certainly not instantaneous, Ephraim had a slightly sloppy, but cute hat sitting upon his head within the second, complete with a small tuft on top.

    Faye let out one of those rare snorts upon seeing the hat. "What happens if one of them dies?" She asked curiously although it might have been a rude question.

    Ephraim scratched his neck sheepishly in response. "Uhh, it's hard to say? I, um, don't like to think about it. I've only had a few-- relatively speaking-- die on me because they're pretty tough. Usually they come back in a matter of days and seem good as new, and I've seen some hatch out of eggs before, so my guess is that Bartholomew just... pops out new ones." The Bart formerly on Ephraim's palm used this chance to skitter off onto the table and quietly keep watch for food.

    A procession of thunderclaps from upstairs signalled the waking of Ith'Drell, who opened the door to her room groggily and let out a Yawn of Champions. As she set about the slog of journeying down the steps, she took her eyes off the bundled sheet she held under one arm to spy Ephraim - a face she didn't recall seeing at dinner last evening.

    "G'mornin' all," said the pseudo-reptile. "There a lotta spiders around this place, or's it just me?"

    "You're imagining things," Prim immediately replied, a mischievous grin on her face.

    "Eh, yeah prolly," Drell slurred. "Wonder what I can get for brekkie, uh- hey, wait up just a minute!" Her eyes landed on the Valbestian boy at the table, being close enough now to get a better look at him. "Ah, yup. I definitely haven't been introduced to you yet, bud, I-" She paused to yawn. "Oof, sorry, uh yeah- I'm Duke Ith'drell, but you can call me Doomkiller! Or, uh, Drell, I haven't been callin' people out on usin' Drell but Doomkiller's probably the awesomer one of the two - it's whatever though. What's yer name, pally pal?"

    "Aaannndd the peace and quiet is gone." Is what Faye thought. These little spider guys were interesting fellas. Faye still doesn't want them near her though.

    Ephraim waved from the table. "Ephraim Thorne, nice to meet you! The spiders are mine, so feel free to flick 'em, but please don't squish 'em." A few of the Barts still nested in Ephraim's hair bit him in response. "Is Doomkiller more of a name or a title?"

    "Drell kills dooms!" Pat exclaimed excitedly, wiggling a piece of bacon in front of a Bart he noticed on the table.

    "Fu- uh, heck yeah I do - it's a title, yeah," Ith'drell smiled, plodding toward the kitchen. "I'll tell ya the story over breakfast or somethin', once I figure out what we got, uh... and I'm not much bothered by the creepy crawly thingies as long as stuff ain't crawlin' on my face. So long as they ain't crawlin' into any squishy grooves without me noticing or willfully jumpin' into the oncoming path o' my shoes, your eight-leg-lads'n'ladies are good as gold 'round me."

    Ephraim simply grinned in response. "I'll keep an eye out for them, but they're usually pretty good about staying out of trouble. ...uh, lethal trouble, anyway."

    The door to the kitchen opened with several familiar plant creatures spilling out of it. They carried their fragrant dishes to those who'd ordered them, save for one who quickly scurried back into the kitchen only to return with a pen and pad. It held these up to Drell, the pad itself only reading "Order?"

    "Hope you all enjoy! Or if not, that you don't blame me for the recommendation," Joked Lina. "As much as I'd like to stay and chat, I've gotta get to my training! Wouldn't want to cool down too much before the real workout begins." She gave her guild a wave and a smile before jogging up the stairs.

    "Ah, wait for me, Lina!" Pat shouted, running after her with the bacon still in his hand and now a Bart dangling from it. Just as he reached the door he skidded to a stop and set the bacon gently on the floor with its Bart. "There you go, sorry, little buddy." Then he was gone, leaving the Bart to appreciatively watch Pat run away before skittering away to share the bacon with its other bodies.

    "Oh- uh- bye, Lina- uh, and Pat!" called Drell, blinking at the plant. "Uh, oh jeez- I, uh- how can I-? I haven't seen the menu yet, plantie-plant boy, I can't just- uh breakfast! I want breakfast?" The plant creature paused, likely awaiting a command from its master, before writing an explanation on its pad on how making a full menu was too much work, and to just ask for whatever she wanted. If Sarah was willing and able to make it, she would.

    "Maybe it's edible," Prim joked, poking lazily at one of the Barts cowering on top of Ephraim.

    "Heh, the menu is the food you get," Drell chuckled. "The illusion of choice... bu-uh, sorry- porridge?" She turned to the plant again, shaking her head to help her focus on the topic. "Uh sure, porridge, I guess, pretty standard - didn't realise the world was my oyster over here. Kinda put me on the spot, heh." The plant nodded and ran back into the kitchen.

    Before long, Drell's food arrived as well, and the guild enjoyed a meal as they got to know each other better. Or at least the guild members who were there. Getting along would serve them well in their new life, as some of them would learn sooner rather than later.


    Magnificent Turnip
  • 693

    A Plan Is Formed And Enacted And Kind Of Changed The Plan Worked I Guess But It Turned Out Kind Of Weirdly Well Maybe Not But Just Read It And Judge For Yourself I'm Not The Boss Of You
    Featuring Drell, Ephraim, Faye, Prim, Gryphon Gale, Myeloch and an overabundance of Barts

    "Aaight, so, I got this plan - genius plan, just so's ya know - uh, and it's real big and it's basically the ultimate revenge plot. And I figured, like, hey, we could make it, like, a team building thing or something? Maybe? I dunno to be honest, we can do whatever- buuuut if you guys are super-cool enough to help, I was thinkin' we should give the Gryphon Galey Goolies a taste of their own medicine. And we're gonna go see 'em anyway, but I figured we should pick our time real shrewdly, make sure- aah basically what I'm sayin' is we should go and take a sneaky-peeky at them and jump in with the important stuff the second they start eating. But I mean... I'm big and heavy and loud, so I'm not really the, uh... reconissance specialist? Heh. But uh, yeah... what do you guys think? Wanna have a bit o' fun?"

    Ephraim grinned as the Barts seemed to rile themselves up at the idea. "Sneaking up on them when they're most vulnerable, huh? Well, sure beats fixing someone's leaky pipe. I'm in-- and, I got just the sneaky boys to do the job."

    The sun continued its downward arc toward the mountains as the people of Shessalie went about their day. Most of them, at least, as some chose to loiter outside the town's inn in the hopes of catching sight of members of the famed Gryphon Gale. Rumors buzzed about why they had come, but these spectators didn't actually care, only really wanting to meet celebrities. The innkeeper had already kicked out several for disturbing his guests. They still did their best to peek through the windows or sneak in through the back, to no avail. It appeared that the Gryphons were staying in a room on the newly built third floor of the inn, making it that much more difficult.

    "Hey, psst... Eph... " whispered Ith'drell to her Valbestian partner in crime. Well, pseudo-crime. She yawned, slumped against a tree. "Just, uh... Just let me know when a good time to go in is, and I'll get to it, I think I'm just gonna, uh... nap or something."

    Ephraim shrugged. "I'll let you know a little beforehand. Bart's got eyes everywhere, so it shouldn't be too long now."

    The Barts had already quickly infiltrated the inn, and a few stayed behind to let him know when the others were done. Getting the group to settle in the previous night had him wishing that he'd slept in that morning; that said, sticking around was certainly worth sticking it to the innkeeper who denied him lodging the day before. The Barts already in the building had split off into several factions: one group had headed into the upper areas of the inn, nesting themselves in bedposts and perching themselves on walls; another set countless small, weak, tripwire-like threads in doorways and the dining area, and reinstating them whenever they were pushed away. All the Barts had already been instructed on who to look out for-- and what guild mark to look out for, in case of unexpected guests-- and so only left tripwires alone when those people had passed. Some groups stalked specific members of GG to ascertain their position, and a final set left to the kitchen to raid keep an eye on the food before it was brought out and harass remain aware of any other patrons of the inn.

    It was odd, then, when the Barts returned to Ephraim confused about whether or not the investigation had been completed, seeming as if they wanted to bite him into attention but also unsure as to whether or not their job had been done. Noting their confusion, Ephraim leaned in as they began to attempt to explain the situation using as little silk possible. They first dropped a brown thread onto the grass with two small lumps of white next to it, and then a singular Bart ran away from the brown thread and then left a small heap of black and blue thread underneath itself. Ephraim scratched his hair, and called some other Barts over.

    "Seems like they're eating," Ephraim said as some Barts ran out of a drainage pipe with an estatically scavenged chicken wing, "but... I guess they're missing someone?"

    "And what the hell are you two doing." Faye asked just below the tree as she had just walked by. She had her arms crossed and looked kind of not amused.

    "Buh- oh, uh, hey- whuh?" Drell hesitated for a moment, half phased-out from dozing and half deliberating on who to address first. "Uh, hi Faye. We're waiting for our eight-legged recon to let good ol' Ephraim know when the Gryphon chumps are eating. Y'know, so we can crash in - as a form of super noble revenge. Man, have you seen some of the stuff this guy's lil' Barto boys can do? It's pretty, uh... gnarly? Imagine that gnarly is still a word that people use for a sec so I can describe it as gnarly. Ok? It's gnarly." Ephraim nodded.

    It was at that moment that a small blue bird flittered down from the tree, landing amongst the Barts and sending them scattering-- much to Ephraim's immediate dismay. It hopped after the nearest one, prodding at it inquisitively with its beak, inadvertently interrupting what may have turned out to be an ethics lecture. The Bart (with the help of another) spun itself a small blanket in an instant and began to hide within it, trembling as the rest of the Barts in the area began to quickly group up from a distance and close in.

    Ephraim groaned at the sight as he ran in to shoo away the bird. "No, no, don't do that! I know you might want to eat them, but it wouldn't be the first time they'd eaten one of you, either."

    "You're going to do... what?" Faye asked as she climbed up the tree to get a view of what they are looking at. Faye was a pretty good climber so that wasn't too hard for her until... she saw one of Ephraim's spiders and nearly slipped. "Wait... they've eaten an entire bird?" Faye repeated what Ephraim had just said. Faye attempted to pick up the bird to keep it as far away as possible from the little spiders.

    "At least twice. Probably more."

    The bird turned to look at Ephraim, head tilted curiously to the side. Then, too quickly to really follow, morphed into Prim, sitting in a squat position by the spider with her head still cocked in the same position.

    "Something tells me the've never tried their luck with one quite like me. Found out why they're scared of me by the way."

    Faye backed off immediately. "Woa..." she said with a straight face.

    "No kidding," Ephraim said as he plopped back onto his tush. "I mean, I don't doubt that they haven't tussled with somone like you, buuuut I'm not 100% sure what was in Bartholomew's diet before I found them. Either way," Ephraim continued, leaning in and quizically looking at Prim, "turning into a bird? That's a new one, but keep on doing that and you'll give my poor Barts a heart attack."

    "Oh, it's fine," Prim said, waving her hand dismissively, "They just have to get used to me! I'm sure they can manage. So, what's the plan? Are we making mischief? I love mischief."

    "Yoooo... did you see that?" Drell gaped. "Prim was a bird!"

    "I did tell you," Prim giggled "Don't be so shocked."

    "Saying 'I'm kind of a bird' and literally being able to shapeshift into a bird are a couple degrees of separation from eachother, Primmo," the armoured lady grinned, sitting up.

    "I never thought I would have to agree with Drell, but she's got a point here." Faye agreed with her face as stiff as always. "Anyway, what is happening here?" Faye turned her face towards the window of the Inn that the tree was close to and only saw a bunch of Griffon people eating. "And you want to disturb them while eating, Drell...?" Faye raised an eyebrow.

    "Hell yeah, you're right on the money, Faye," said Drell. "Though we got actual business with 'em, so it ain't just for rude-venge. There's just the rude-venge bonus."

    "Okay, but what are we actually doing?" Prim asked.

    Ith'drell reached into her helmet to rub the back of her head. "Uh... honestly didn't have much of a plan besides just going in there as soon as they were busy eating and trying to talk to them as busy-like as possible while they were still chewin'."

    "Ephraim should flood them with spiders or something," Prim offered.

    "I would, but--" Ephraim sighed-- "as much as I'd like to ruin the innkeeper's day, I don't know if we want to, uh, tarnish the guild's reputation by having Phoenix Nest be 'the guild that infested the local inn in record time.' Although... the entrance would be pretty cool..." Ephraim thought about it for a moment as he came around to the idea. "If we can keep the rest of the inn unaware of the fact that we're only flooding the dining area, I could do it."

    "Where's the fun in caution?" Prim asked, starting to poke at a Bart with the tip of her finger.

    Faye shrugged and sighed at the same time. "Just make it quick. Before they notice us anyway." Faye spoke as she was still sitting on a branch. Technically... She would be the first they would notice so Faye jumped down and landed almost perfectly, using her own magic to wrap her feet up until her knees with black magic to nullify the impact.

    "Oh, uh- yeah, you're right," said Drell, lifting herself from the ground with a mighty heave. "Aaight folks, vengeance calls."

    Prim giggled, rubbing her hands together with mischievous glee.

    Ephraim found it hard to not begin to share Prim's enthusiasm and to disregard the possible issues with the guild's image. "Fine, fine," he said, feigning discontent in his tone but unable to hide a smile on his face, "we'll flood the inn." Through no shortage of hand movements and small nudges, he began to coordinate Bartholomew's movements into pipes and gutters towards the entrance of the inn's dining room, although it was difficult to do so and still maintain a level of secrecy at the same time. Ephraim looked back at the others with a slightly nervous grin. "Alright, I'd ask about who's making the momentous entrance first-- besides the Barts-- but I imagine Drell would like to leave an impression. Am I right?"

    Drell shook her head and shrugged, "Huh? No, that's silly, why would I-? Last one to the inn's a dork!" And with that, she took off toward the inn at a very brisk walking pace.

    "Now we're talking!" Prim laughed with glee as she trotted after Drell.

    Drell and Prim entered the inn to a scene of rapidly escalating chaos. The entry hall filled with people fleeing from the adjacent dining room, screaming and shouting for help. The inn's counter was unmanned, the girl who normally stood behind it standing on top of it as her eyes darted about the place in fear of a hidden terror. Her father could be heard in the other room, likely attempting to deal with the source of the commotion. Amidst the cries of the entry hall refugees, he could be heard shouting something about a "goddamned Valbestian".

    Huddled in the corner was another familiar figure, Simon of Gryphon Gale. He had yet to notice the Phoenix girls, what with his face buried in his knees. His companions must have stayed in the dining room despite everything.

    "Lookin' good!" Prim said to Simon, grinning and giving a thumbs up.

    "Aw jeez, the spiders," Drell murmured; this whole spider-flood plan had caused a little more commotion than she'd originally intended, and in her haste to get going she'd pretty much forgot it was actually happening. Were the Gryphon Gale members even still eating? Well... one of them, at least, wasn't. "Uhh... you...? Oof. Uh, you guys... ok?"

    Simon poked his head up to see the source of the voices. He then sprung to his feet, abruptly shifting gears as he pointed at them with one of his keys. "I don't know how, but this is all you guys' fault, isn't it?" he accused, glaring menacingly. He might have looked threatening if not for the fact that he was a few feet shorter than Drell and still trembling from the incident. His other hand pulled a marble-sized lacrima from his pocket and held it near his face. "Get over here," he told it. "They finally came."

    "All me? Dude, I wish I had spider control. It's- uh, what I mean, of course, is I do have spider control but didn't use it in this instance- seriously, dude, you ok? You look shaken up. Your guild buds in there?" Drell jabbed a thumb at the door to the dining room.

    "Couldn't have been me," Prim said smugly "They try to avoid me for some reason."

    "Hmph. I guess it doesn't really matter. We'll find out if you're lying during the fights, which'll be a good chance to pay you back in full," he threatened as he slowly backed his way up the nearby stairs. "You're lucky Egan isn't the type to hold a grudge over something like this, though facing him at all will be more than enough payback. He's in there with your master, and Harmonia should be there soon too."

    "Master?" Ephraim said, as he strolled in with a bite of an apple. "Damn, if I had known he'd be there, I wouldn't have caused so much trouble. Can't imagine this'll go down well, since I haven't really uh, met the guy...." Ephraim sighed and whisked his right hand emphatically to catch the attention of some Barts. "Anyway, hi, spiders were all me. I'm sorry for the trouble, even if you had it coming." The Barts dropped a small scarf onto Simon before returning to the larger group. "Here. A consolation prize. For when we win."

    Faye stood in the door opening, trying to avoid any spiders as much as possible. "We might've overdone it." she shrugged. "This was just payback for disturbing our dinner last night and for your rude little lady friend." Faye stroke the hair out of her face and glared at Simon. She probably shouldn't be provoking but ah what the hell. Faye was just glad Blanche wasn't here and also wasn't at the diner last night. She probably wouldn've found all of this barbaric.

    "Eh, yeah this might be kinda just a li'l bit out of scope," Drell shrugged, worry creasing her features just for a moment. "But it should all be fine seeing as nobody really got hurt, right?" She paused for a second and blinked before continuing more quietly, "Uh... nobody got hurt, right?"

    "I dunno," Prim said "Is our arachnaphobic friend over there hurt? He looks a little worse for ware." She idicated Simon again, looking at him mischeivously.

    "That's enough!" Simon threw the scarf to the ground with all his might, causing a soft thump as it hit the ground. He pointed his key at the group once more. "We can do this here and now, agreements be damned!"

    "Now now, there's no need to do anything rash," spoke a familiar voice as Myeloch Latare stepped into the room. He held out his hand and in it appeared a potion. The instant he uncorked it, a soothing aroma filled the inn, and the panicked townspeople quickly began to calm down. He flashed a smile to the group of young wizards. "Why don't we go back and finish our meal? It wouldn't do for the food to go to waste. The rest of you are free to join us!"

    Simon, now a bit more level-headed, grumbled and lowered his key. "Alright… If they get rid of the spiders, I'll go back peacefully."

    Myeloch was already halfway to the dining room. He looked back at the others. "Shall we?"

    The situation had been de-escalated, but it had not been forgotten. Fact and fiction alike had spread about the incident, and a few of the townspeople were giving the Nestlings dirty looks, much like the ones Simon was giving them from across the dinner table. Next to him was Egan, his face scrunched in a different expression.

    "I wasn't the one who unleashed a horde of spiders upon innocent townspeople, but as the one who invited you all here I'll have to apologize for the incident regardless." He pinched the bridge of his nose in his disappointment.

    "Sounds like I missed a hell of a time." said Harmonia next to him, clad in her armor as always. "I could have guessed that little Simon would be scared of spiders, but man do I wish I'd gotten to see it!"

    Myeloch merely wore his usual smile. "I'm just glad they didn't do anything before I could tell them the little Bartholomews were harmless. Well, in this situation at least." He turned his attention to his guild. "So, what brings you here before the others?"

    "Payback for ruining our food." Faye whispered under her breath and glared at Harmonia, loud enough for some to hear. "Curiosity, sir." Faye answered to Myeloch with crossed arms as she sat back in her chair.

    "Payback for how rudely our meal was interrupted," Prim said plainly with a shrug.

    "Yeah..." Ephraim nodded. "Originally we were just here to interrupt them as rudely as they did us, but we may have gotten... carried away."

    "I mean, it's not strictly that...?" Drell shrugged and sent a glance the way of her guildmates. "We kinda all decided we were going to take you up on that offer of a job 'n' fight, and you said to come find you so here we are. We were planning to show up during mealtime and leave before ya finished, because apparently that's just the standard for that kinda thing - that's all kinda gone out the window now, though, and now the whole situation's sorta devolved into a big heapin' helpin' of chaos to the point where I'm not even really sure what we're doin' anymore and-"

    "Wait, really? I just thought messing with them sounded like fun," Prim cut in, legitimately surprised by this new information.

    Drell snorted as she failed to fight off a grin, "Prim, please, I'm tryna do a, uh-"

    "Try harder?" Prim suggested.

    "STOP- aaight, so this has got kinda rough and stuff and I guess we're rivals or something or whatever but I never really got the whole rivalry thing anyway and I don't want bad blood because bad is in the name of it so it kinda goes without saying that it's bad-"

    "As bad a big Doom?" Prim cut in yet again, this time with mock shock and horror.

    "Badd-er, uh, worse, is the word, I think - I just think we got off on, like, the wrong foot. Like, eight whole feet, all of which were wrong, so, uh-" the big, armoured lady thrust a big hand out towards Simon and smiled a big smile. "It's a pleasure to, uh- is 'pleasure' the right-? Uh, the name's Duke Ith'Drell, it's great to meet ya. Meeting is what we're doin' right here."

    Simon looked at Drell's hand and his face contorted in anger. He stood up and slammed his palms on the table. "After what your guild has just done, did you really expect us to just forgive and forget!?" A brussel sprout from his unfinished meal rolled onto the floor, not much of a loss when he hadn't taken a bite since returning to it.

    "Yikes!" Ith'Drell let out, her smile barely wavering as she angled her outstretched hand more toward Egan.

    "Simon." Egan addressed his guildmate, who was quick to listen. "In a battle, the one who wins is the stronger one, regardless of anything else. You know this. They've employed a psychological attack against you, their enemy, to improve their chances in battle, and if it results in your loss then it is proof that you are weaker than them. Keep that in mind." He didn't look at Simon as he spoke, focusing more on clearing his plate of the steak that once adorned it. Once that was done he took Drell's hand and gave it a firm shake.

    Simon fell silent, mouth hanging open in disbelief before he slumped back into his chair to sulk.

    Faye let out a small snort, listening and quietly sipping the tea in front of her she seemingly got out of nowhere.

    "Ayy, that's what I like to- fu- enemy? Psychological attack?" Drell's brow furrowed in half-confusion-half-mirth. "Dunno what kinda operation you think we're runnin' here - in fact, don't think there was much of an 'operation' to speak of. 'Mess' is probably a better word," she chortled. Ephraim shook his head off to the side in disagreement, but remained silent and pensive.

    "Wow Egan, you're in a good mood today, letting this slide so easily," said Harmonia as she leaned back in her chair. "You were that happy to finally meet your idol, huh?" Unlike the others, she had decided to skip dinner.

    "Oh my," piped Myeloch. Egan ignored her, while Myeloch finished his own meal of assorted greens.

    Harmonia reached across the table for Drell's outstretched hand. "I don't know about calling us rivals since that would imply you're even in the same league us, but I'm always happy to have another punching bag!"

    "I'm kinda starting to like her," Prim voiced nonchalantly, ignoring the tension in the room, "We'll have to see about that punching bag thing though."

    Drell's arm met Harmonia's with a clang. "Easy fix: don't call us rivals, dude. And that's Duke Punching Bag to you, yeah?" She turned again to Simon, arm still outstretched. "Aaight dude, what you want? You want me to buy ya a drink? Stand in spiders? You want to psychological-attack me? I'll take it, it's whatever."

    "Oh she means it." Faye sighed as she shrugged her shoulders, kind of surprised Drell is able to do something in return for others. "Look dude, it wasn't anything personal. Just a little payback. If you want to take it out on us, you can take it out on us on the battlefield." Faye spoke to Simon, already regretting her words.

    "You mean he can try," Prim chimed in happily.

    Ephraim built up his nerve and stepped in before Simon could say anything, shaking his head at Drell and allowing himself to get in between the two. "Actually, whatever it is you want from Drell, I'll do instead. Bartholomew is my partner, and I led him into this inn. Granted, you're still taking this way too seriously, and I stand by you all somewhat having it coming, and I don't really regret it all that much, to be honest-- but I'm in control of Bartholomew, so I should be held responsible for your anger."

    Simon walked right up to Ephraim and pushed his finger into the Phoenix's chest. He looked him in the eyes and said, "You don't get to decide how much things are supposed to matter to me. Not you, nor anyone else." That said, he took a step back and a deep breath. "But Egan's right. I shouldn't let this get to me, lest I lose before the battle's begun. Your reckoning comes later." His balled-up fists made the statement questionable, but regardless he sat back down and continued poking at his meal.

    "And now you get an idea of what we have to deal with back home," Harmonia informed them. Simon scowled, but he managed to keep quiet. "And you can be sure he's not the only Gryphon with a twenty-foot stick up his ass."

    Drell shrugged, "Welp, ya can put on the record that I tried."

    "Well, now that that's settled we can get back to business," Egan spoke. "What's left of it, anyway. If that red-haired boy hasn't changed his mind then we have at least one fight for sure. More would be welcome, but one is all I asked for. I'd have asked your preferred arena, but it seems Myeloch already had one in mind. We'll be doing it at your hall's training ground. So unless you have anything more to say, we can get started now and worry about the rest later."

    "This might be a good chance to get information from them before people start going unconscious," Myeloch added cheerily.

    "I'm good," Prim chirped, "Just tell me when I get to hit things."

    Drell took the short silence that followed as an invitation to speak up, "Aaight, I gotta ask, like-" She gestured wildly at Harmonia. "Is that, like- I mean, what is that? Uh- not you, the, uh- is that even armour? Because it's... I mean it's throwing up a lotta... interesting questions? For me?"

    "Pretty cool, eh?" said Harmonia "It's a magitech suit built by Cassius Burgess, brightest mind in the industry right now. I wouldn't exactly call it armor though. The metal is thin and light so it doesn't do a lot of protecting. It does a number of other things but it's mostly made to enhance my magic. The glowing lines are actually liquid lacrima, flowing throughout as both a power supply and as an easier way to pack a few extra spells, and the whole thing's enchanted to sync with my body as if it were part of me. It's actually a prototype I'm testing, so don't expect to see a bunch of them walking around the Capital."

    "Aaahh, dude, that's like... that's bananas," the big, armoured lady responded, nodding sagely. "Tech's gettin' crazy here in the capital. Heck, I still think winches are awesome."

    "Yeah, that's about the reaction I expected."

    "Oh but uh, speakin' of bananas, hey... check this out-" Drell's hand had snaked its way behind Myeloch's head. The mischievous smirk on her face abruptly fell the moment when, instead of her hand passing through his form harmlessly, she found herself prodding her Guildmaster in the back of the head. "Ey, wha- wait a sec! You're really here?"

    "Yup! I'm really here," said Myeloch, ever smiling. Drell offered her hand to shake, which he happily accepted. "I can't be here all the time with everything the council asks of me, which I can't exactly refuse in my situation, but I figured I should make the effort to be here for this little bout of yours. In part because I want to see what my Nestlings are capable of, but also because I know the Gryphons can be a bit…. eccentric. Yes, let's go with that. I know full well the sorts of wizards old Master Yvonne likes, so I thought it prudent to come, just in case."

    "I have nothing but respect for our master," Egan chimed in, "but a mantra of 'strength at any cost' is sure to attract a certain crowd. And our master is happy to receive them if they're willing to work hard."

    "So... about that bout?" Prim slipped in casually.

    "You're right, we've wasted enough time." Egan stood up, and his guildmates followed suit. The three were different in their own ways, but they were all equally eager for the upcoming battles. "Onward, to Phoenix Nest!"

    "Onward indeed. Is everyone ready?" Myeloch asked. He didn't wait long for an answer before summoning his staff and bathing the group in light. When it faded, they saw not the inn, but the guildhall instead. "Don't worry, I left another me behind to pay."

    He gestured to the stairs leading down into the training field. "Shall we?"
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  • 957

    Sparks fly! Phoenix Nest VS Gryphon Gale: Round 1 Phoenix Battlefield

    The two fighters stood in the middle of Phoenix Nest's practice arena, magically altered into a vast battlefield several times its original size as it dug down into the hill that the guild called home. The competitors' respective guilds watched from the sidelines, differing in their expectations but with bated breath all the same. Thanks to the wards protecting the guild and its members, at least from serious harm, the fighters would be able to go all out. Boriel stood with a small gun made from his magic, whose sound would mark the start of the match.

    "So, think he stands any chance at all?" asked Sarah, visibly concerned.

    "To win?" answered Boriel. "A small one at best. I'd say he's just as skilled as Egan, but it'll take more than that to overcome the difference in raw power." Sarah furrowed her brow, not liking that answer.

    "You're saying there's still a chance, though." Lina said defiantly. "Power isn't everything in the world of magic. There are wizards who are living proof of that."

    "Power isn't everything, huh?" Prim said from nearby, "Couldn't agree more."

    "Uh, yeah," Drell weighed in. "You've got to have, uh, 'The Sauce', as well. I, uh, I think they call it 'The Sauce'..."

    "I'm sure it'll be an exciting match regardless!" said Myeloch. Lina stayed huddled next to her father, though she had yet to say a word to him. "Rowan's always been a talented boy, even before Boriel took him under his wing. Or so he tells me. I'm certain he has plenty of this 'Sauce'." Drell let out a 'wahey'.

    "Don't disappoint me," Egan challenged, his expression and tone serious as ever. As if to contrast his cool demeanor, Rowan could feel the temperature rising, and in the next moment Egan was engulfed in a pillar of flame. The pillar quickly dispersed, leaving behind an Egan clad in his signature armor of fire. It covered his body from head to toe, the rising, flickering flames all across the suit giving it an intimidating edge. He lowered his body into a fighting stance and awaited the signal.

    "I'll do my best." Rowan replied happily. "Gotta put on a good enough show to pay for that job, right?" Waves of excitement came off of Rowan strong enough for Egan to read them as easily as any book. The red-haired mage took a deep breath and the air of excitement seemed to vanish just like that, replaced first by calm emptiness and then, slowly rising into a fae sort of amusement. Rowan lightly hopped back and forth on either foot as if trying to get his blood pumping but something was off. His steps were too light, it seemed as if he descended to the ground after each hop with an odd slowness and no dust was even stirred when his feet touched the ground.

    After a few more hops Egan's opponent ceased the warmup - or whatever it was - then stood on his tip toes and held his right hand out. palm up as if asking for a dance as he waited for his adoptive father's signal.

    "Here it comes." Prim said, she was getting excited now.

    The seconds felt like an eternity as the combatants faced off, until the gun finally popped.

    Bright, flame-colored orbs immediately formed on Egan's back. They grew by the moment, crackling with energy until they exploded and sent the Gryphon rocketing toward his foe. He was on Rowan in an instant, more fiery orbs already on his arms. He let loose a barrage of punches at inhuman speed, each strike punctuated by a small blast to send his fist forth and another to bring it back in an unending loop.

    "Kick his ass," called Drell. "Kick eachother's asses!"

    Each attack that came was avoided with only the slightest of room to spare. Rowan's movements almost seemed unnatural as he tilted his head or contorted his body away from each strike until after bending backwards underneath a particularly fearsome straight Rowan backflipped. The instant his feet touched the ground he sprang high up into the air, laughing almost giddily.

    "I knew this was going to be fun!" He shouted, hanging in the air as if levitating. Rowan's arms moved quickly but steady as a stone; his left hand pointed down at Egan and right wound back over its paired shoulder, rotating sideways with its palm flat like an imitation of a simple spearhead. Rowan's face became a mask of grave seriousness and electricity arced along his right arm for a moment before a bright light flashed all along the arena and he lanced down at his opponent like a lightning bolt - though not quite so fast - sparks trailing in his wake.

    From the sidelines, Ith'Drell continued with what could be considered encouragement, "Uh, yeah! Continue to use, uh, your attacks, or something! Or don't, it's whatever!"

    Egan's armor flared brighter than before as he took Rowan's attack head-on, the strike sounding like he'd struck steel. The force pushed him back quite a bit, but the weight of his armor kept him on his feet. There was a small hole in his armor at the point of impact which quickly repaired itself the surrounding flame. Rowan could sense a grin from underneath his opponent's helmet.

    "The guy can dodge, so what?" Questioned Harmonia. "Why hasn't Egan just blown the whole damn arena to hell, then?"

    Simon sighed. "Because then he wouldn't learn anything. Did you already forget why we're here? And on the off chance this guy can defend against it, Egan would have wasted a big chunk of his ether. Though I have yet to see anyone take that attack, Egan's smart enough to know those people are out there."

    The Gryphon repeated his attack, launching forth with an explosion and striking at Rowan, but this time more slowly. There were blast cores on his arms like before, but he didn't detonate them, instead letting them grow more and more as he charged them with ether. They hissed and crackled louder as they expanded, making the threat they posed very clear.

    The Phoenix's eyes widened as he began to dodge again, this time a bit more frantically. "Now now, just because we're at our Nest doesn't mean I can rise from the ashes if you disintegrate me!" Each attack came closer and closer to striking home and left Rowan without enough time to counter. "Listen, my friend and I will tell you why." He began to quote his favorite book, managing a few words between each attack from Egan while the air around them grew colder and the color of Rowan's eyes shifted. The emerald irises seemed almost to melt into a swirl of sea green and cerulean and electricity crackled around the wizard's arms again. "You've never heard - huff - of a kingdom...in...the sky!" At the last word Rowan pushed in, tilting his head and managing a milimeter or two of a gap between his face and the blast cores on his opponents arm, steam visibly coming off as the proximity scorched his cheek. Rowan brought his palms together as hard as he could while the energy gathered in his hands surged to them all at once, releasing in a conical blast of tempestuous wind, electricity and ear-shattering noise that could only be called a Thunderclap.

    At the same time, Egan detonated the bombs he'd been nourishing. The resounding boom melded with the thunder, filling the room with a deafening cacophony of destruction. Wind and flame collided, sending gales of heated air all throughout the arena. A cloud of dust and smoke swelled to the point that it would have consumed even the spectators, if not for the barrier protecting them.

    Prim clapped her hands to her ears to ward off the roaring sound but didn't take her eyes off of the scene before her.

    Drell took the silence after the momentary burst of noise as an opportunity to shout, "Embrace your differences and make up because friendship is the only true victory!"

    The first to be revealed, hot air lifting the obscuring veil, was Egan. He had been thrown back to the edge of the arena and the entire front of his armor had been blown away, but it was already beginning to reform. His expression was focused as he watched the field for his hidden opponent's next move.

    Dripping and sizzling sounds began to make themselves known as water fell on Egan's armor and immediately evaporated. Dark clouds had formed in the air above the arena despite it being indoors and were lightly raining on everything within the barrier. The rain continuously grew faster and wind picked up until the contained squall erased the rest of the smoke and revealed Rowan, kneeling across the arena from Egan, the front of his body covered in bruises and minor burns.

    Real thunder echoed through the room while Rowan staggered back to his feet, clearly wishing he'd had as much protection as his opponent. Now his eyes irises seemed to be moving as if filled with various liquids sloshing around and refusing to mix, greens, blues and ambers vying for the space as he grit his teeth. "Tempestuous Heart." He muttered as the wind and rain picked up further. For the first time in the match it was the Phoenix that went on the offensive, charging straight at Egan and beginning a flurry of wide sweeping kicks and palm strikes, each one flinging water onto Egan's armor and filling the air with more and more steam.

    Egan fended off the attacks, but he was clearly on the defensive. While his armor had been reformed, it lacked its former bulk as the flames fought to stay lit in the downpour. The consequences of this were clear as Rowan's strikes pushed further against the Gryphon's blocks. Yet in this tense situation, Egan spoke.

    "Gryphon Gale is not a guild for the strong. Rather, it is a guild for those who seek strength above all else. The pursuit of that strength is why we fight." Rowan could feel Egan's spirit surging with resolve as he spoke. "We may have different reasons for wanting power, but the ultimate goal is the same for each and every one of us Gryphons. So tell me—"

    Egan caught Rowan's next kick with one hand. "Why do you fight?"

    Rowan's eyes narrowed at the question. It didn't stop him trying to push through the defense but he didn't have a response ready either.

    The armor on Egan's body thinned further until it vanished completely. But in contrast, the armor on his arms and legs shone brighter than ever. It radiated such heat that the water around it evaporated before even touching the flames; flames that didn't flicker wildly like before, giving the armor a sleeker look.

    As if to further emphasize this new approach, Egan followed with a backflip kick propelled by an instant explosion rivaling charged ones from before. Another mid-flight explosion brought another kick not moments after the first from a completely different direction. It seemed he'd changed to a style focused on confounding his opponent, defying momentum with quick, trajectory-altering blasts chained together in a relentless assault.

    Rowan didn't seem nearly as capable at dodging as before, only managing to avoid two strikes before he was forced to parry as best as he could, his bones jarred and skin charred more with each attempt. As Rowan's frustration with the varied assault grew so did the volume and tempo of the thunder rumbling through the arena. More and more of the rain that fell on them clung to Rowan, none of it seeming to drip off anymore unless it was flung at Egan. One particularly fierce kick knocked away Rowan's left arm but before Egan could fire off another blast Rowan's right arm grabbed his ankle, allowing the left to circle back and join it.

    "I fight for my family!" The thunder boomed louder still. "And I'll keep getting stronger until I can take back what was stolen from them!" An electric screech sounded and the air above them seemed to split as it dropped a massive lightning bolt on both combatants, flashing so brightly that for an instant it was impossible to look at.

    The pillar of light consumed the fighters, if only for a moment. The roar of the thunder left quiet in its wake, the sounds of battle replaced only by the rain. In the next moment, Egan seemed to slump, his body scorched and his leg still caught in Rowan's grip. But in the next, Egan slipped out of his captured leg's armor and sprung backwards. The shining greave crumpled in the Phoenix's hands, compressing into the familiar sight of a well-charged blast core and exploding at once.

    Egan looked onward, unmoving even as he was caught in the fringes of his own attack. "While you seek to retake what you've lost, I seek the power to never lose again. You would have made an excellent Gryphon, but I'm happy to have you as an opponent instead." He stood proud, despite his burnt body and the patchwork look of his armor.

    Rowan had been flung back several feet by the blast and sat on his knees, connected to the spot where he'd been standing by a smoking skid mark. His legs wouldn't listen to him and his arms refused to raise even so high as his shoulders. He smiled painfully at his opponent and tried to stand but only managed to lurch forward and fall the rest of the way to the floor, trying and failing to push himself back up. "That's a goal I can respect." He grunted out. "It almost makes me regret that one of my goals is to break yours. One day I'm going to beat you... if I don't then I can't possibly... well, enough about that. This fight is yours."

    "What? Giving up already?!" Prim called indignantly.

    Rowan began to laugh right where he lay, loudly and freely. "You can call it that if you want." He called back in a jovial but strained voice. "But I see it more as taking a raincheck on round two for a while. I'd rather see what everyone else has than spend the rest of the day crawling at the champ as best I can." He laughed some more and began to rock back and forth before it became clear he couldn't even summon the strength to roll over. "Yup, looks like I'm a big, limp bruise that talks. Lina! Be a dear and help me up." The young girl rushed over to his side and helped him to his feet, although she looked fairly upset as she did so.

    "After all that big talk too." Prim poked her tongue out at Rowan. She then looked over at the other two Gryphons "Dibs on going next then since someone has to show Rowan how it's done. Any takers?"

    "I'll go." Answered Simon. "You've been nothing but big talk since yesterday. It's time to see if you can back it up."

    "Oh by all means show me, wise master." Rowan taunted gladly, leaning on Lina's shoulder until he'd managed to steady himself. He pat the shoulder that had supported him and muttered "Thanks, I can't imagine how hopeless this guild would be without you." Next he limped his way over to Egan and held his hand out, grinning from ear to ear as if his clothes weren't tattered and his body weren't covered in scorch marks and bruises. "Thank you for the opportunity - both the job and a chance to scrap with the champ. I'll put on a better show next time we run into each other, promise."

    Egan gave Rowan a firm handshake. "I'll be waiting. But you won't be the only one looking to surpass me. There's one wizard in particular who wants it more than anything, and it's by fighting wizards like you who try and exploit my weaknesses that I can stay a step ahead of people like him. So for that I thank you."

    "Right, until next time, then." Rowan nodded as their hands seperated. He limped his way to his guildmates with a pride in his bearing and gait that clashed with his torn clothes and battered body to slump down against the wall between and behind Pat and Myeloch. "I'll keep the bruises and the burns until we're all done here if that's alright, boss. If you have any spells that can fix my clothes in that bottomless arsenal of yours, though, I'd be plenty thankful. I was once told that getting your ass kicked is no excuse for looking shabby, it's a bit of a snobby sentiment but I can't say it didn't stick with me, I had a lot of respect for the man who said it."

    Myeloch chuckled. "Very well, then."

    "And uh, sorry I couldn't bring you a win, master." Rowan finished too quietly for anyone else to hear. His master stayed silent, giving him a reassuring pat on the shoulder as he stood to take care of the aftermath.


  • 957

    Brawl In the Ring of Bubbles! Phoenix Nest VS Gryphon Gale: Round 2 Phoenix Battlefield

    The transition between the battles made Myeloch's power evident. The burned and broken battlefield, littered with craters and soaking wet, returned to its former state in seconds. The similarly burned and broken fighters needed only to stand in one of Myeloch's magic circles to experience the same, their bodies (or at least clothes in Rowan's case) and even their ether restored. They returned to the stands to watch over their allies as two new wizards stepped into the arena.

    "So what do you think about this matchup?" Sarah asked her guild's sole S-Class.

    "Never seen them fight, so I can't really say anything," Boriel answered.


    Simon, youngest of the Gryphons, took his place across the arena from the blue-haired Phoenix he'd be facing. Contrasting Egan's cool, calm demeanor, he kept a scowl on his face and a fire in his eyes. His left hand rested on a short sword sheathed at his hip, and his right fingered at the keys hanging from his wrist. "I'll show my guild how much stronger I've become by taking you down. And when I'm done with you, I'll come for the spider guy."

    "Yeah, good luck with that one," Prim replied nonchalantly. Unlike her opponent, Prim wore a pleasant smile and carried no equipment. She stood on her side of the battlefield rocking lazily back and forth on her feet with her arms flopping slack at her sides. She wasn't putting on a confident ruse or attempting to mock or devalue her foe. Truth be told, her mind wasn't even really on battle tactics. She was basking in Myeloch's magic... or more specifically in the joy of knowing that no matter what she broke in the next several minutes she wouldn't be getting yelled at for it.

    Prim stopped rocking back and forth and cocked her head, looking at Boriel out the corner of her eye, keeping Simon in sight.

    "Ready when you are."

    Boriel fired his gun, and the battle began.

    Simon gripped his sole golden key and swiped the air in front of him, creating a circle of light. "Open, gate of the giant crab, Cancer!" Out of the circle stepped a massive creature, over eight feet tall and nearly as wide. In part, at least. The top half took the form of a person in bulky, bright-red chitin armor that faded to white in parts. A plate covered its face completely, leaving only a small, shaded gap for the eyes. Its left arm was normal, but its right was a claw as big as its torso. The lower half was essentially just a big crab, save for the head and claws. There was an audible thud with every step it took.

    "Careful, Prim!" Drell yelled. "He's trying to unlock your defeat! Heheheh..."

    Cancer seemed to mutter something under its breath, but Simon ignored it and hopped onto its back. He drew his weapon, and the two faced their shared opponent.

    "Oh hey!" Prim chimed enthusiastically, "Seafood!"

    Prim took off at a run, rocketing towards Simon at full speed. She reached Cancer in seconds, but as she pushed off her foot again, suddenly she wasn't standing there anymore and a small blue bird was hurtling past Cancer's head like a spear at a breakneck pace. Prim shot past Cancer and Simon both, the wind she brought with her propelling her forward and delivering a slashing effect in her wake.

    As Prim reached a point just past Simon, she was human again in an instant, delivering a powerful mid-air kick to his side.

    The hit landed and knocked Simon off his summon and onto the ground. Before Prim could follow up on the attack, Cancer's face plate split down the middle making a darkened T shape. It swept its head toward Prim, firing a beam of white, bubbly foam across the arena.

    "Keep it up, buddy, you're doing great!" shouted Harmonia from the sidelines through a pause in her laughter. Simon growled as he got up, and roared as he charged at Prim with his weapon drawn. With the press of a button, the hilt of his curved blade extended, turning it into a decently-sized polearm.

    Stuck in the air, Prim was left with one choice. Just before the blast of foam could strike her, she switched back to her bird form and flapped hard, pushing herself back and letting gravity do the rest. Quickly returning back to her human self, Prim landed with her momentum still carrying her back, causing her to skid across the ground. That was when she caugt sight of Simon rushing her.

    The Gryphon's weapon shot forward to strike Prim. Reacting more out of instinct that anything, Prim twisted uncomfortably to the side to let the blade narrowly miss her side. Then, before it could be pulled back, she grabbed its elongated handle and heaved it past her, not much caring if Simon remained attached to it or not.

    Simon tried to stand his ground, but the difference in strength was too great and he was thrown along with his weapon. While he tumbled on the ground again, Cancer launched another attack. A myriad of large bubbles spread from its mouth, floating gently through the air as they started to surround Prim.

    Prim didn't move, allowing the bubbles to float past her, anicipating an attack but not knowing what form it would take.

    "Does Crabsticks over there know how to do anything other than blow bubbles?" Prim asked, half taunting and half legitimately unsure of what to expect.

    "Even if he didn't, you still wouldn't be able to beat him," challenged Simon. In contrast to his earlier bloodthirst, Simon now kept his distance. He looked at her with focused eyes, watching her every move. The horde of bubbles floated along until they came to an abrupt stop, suspending themselves in the air around Prim.

    Cancer crouched down, then shook the earth as its massive body leapt high into the air. A foreboding shadow grew over Prim, making the spirit's mark clear.

    "Go, Prim!" Patileer shouted. "Show him who's the real meal! Crabs taste way better than birds so you've gotta be the one who eats!" Rowan shook his head in bemusement at his brother's words before raising his fist. "Come on, give us a show, birdbrain!"

    "Eat the craaaab!" Wailed Drell, echoing the younger Phoenix's sentiments.

    Prim let the shadow grow, watching Simon until the last moment when her head jerked up to take sight of the descending Cancer. She punched straight up, unrestrained. If Simon was going to issue that challenge, then challenge accepted.

    Prim's fist collided with Cancer's giant claw, the impact sending out a wave of force. The ground under the Phoenix cracked. Prim's knees bent as she held back the colossal crab, moments away from faltering when she finally managed to force him back. He landed on his feet a few feet back, already raising his claw for another attack.

    Lina cheered as loudly as she could. Less words than general noises of excitement, but excitement nonetheless.

    "Not impressed yet," Prim smirked. Despite that though, she knew her limits and while she didn't want to admit it, she didn't think she could take too many of those sledgehammer strikes from Cancer and still have the strength to fight Simon and whatever else he summoned after. So she did what she did best and went on the offensive.

    Even as Cancer raised his claw, Prim was rushing forward. The attack came down towards her, but this was as expected. She deftly sidestepped the impending crab claw of doom, Cancer's appendage struck the ground with enough force to leave a moderately sized crater where Prim had been standing and shrapnel flying through the air.

    Prim took her lumps from the shrapnel with a wince and leapt to Cancer's arm, immediately pushing off again to the bubble-free air above Cancer. She clasped her hands together and brought them down hard on Cancer's head. Cancer's upper half lurched down , but with his eight legs he was able to stand firm.

    Prim landed in front of Cancer, surprised at how easily he'd taken her attack and leapt backwards in anticipation of another attack. Unfortunately for her, that leap took her directlly into contact with one of Cancer's bubbles. The bubble didnn't burst as may be expected but acted more like a trampoline, deflecting Prim and causing her to stumble forward back towards Cancer.

    "What?!" She gasped at the surprise.

    Seeing an opportunity, Cancer opened its claw to clamp down on the little bird.

    With no time to do much else, Prim thrust her arms out as she managed to bring her momentum to a halt, catching each side of the massive pincer with one hand and pushing out against the crushing grip to prevent herself from being trapped in Cancer's grasp.

    "That usually goes a lot better!" She grimaced as she struggled against Cancer. She pushed hard, forcing the claw open further and then ducked down as the scissor slammed shut over her head. Then, she backed up, careful not to run back into another bubble. "At least the bubbles don't explode."

    Cancer looked over at Simon as if asking for advice.

    "Don't worry about me, just do what it takes to win," Simon told him. Despite staying on the sidelines, Simon was beginning to look strained, a bead of sweat sliding down his forehead. Cancer nodded and opened his claw in response. Beads of water formed that started to flow along the inside. Faster and faster they went until the inside of Cancer's claw was a thin, high pressure current.

    Simon looked at Prim with a smirk. "A hit from that could tear through even Egan's armor, which means you wouldn't stand a chance." Instead of attacking with his newly unveiled weapon, Cancer instead began blasting beams of foam down at her, thicker than before.

    "Yeah, that's not happening." Prim said flatly, jumping up to avoid the foam. She landed on top of a bubble, but this time that was the idea. Using the bubble like a springboard, she jumped up high, clearing Cancer entirely and landing behind him. She kicked at one of the spirit's legs, causing it to buckle and lose tension, catching it between her hands before Cancer could regain his balance with his other legs. Then, with a loud grunt of effort, she gave a mighty heave on the leg, hurling Cancer in Simon's direction.

    In an incredible show of strength she managed to toss the behemoth into the air. The field of bubbles stopped him from going too far, but only after popping a number of them under his immense weight. He faced Prim with his back to the bubbles to keep her from doing it again.

    "Forget the foam, just keep her there!" commanded Simon. Sure enough, foam coated the ground where Prim had been before she dodged. Cancer blew more bubbles around Prim, intent on trapping her. Meanwhile, Simon reached for another of his keys.

    "Open, gate of the pump, Antlia!" At his call appeared another gate, bringing forth a fluttering little spirit that looked like a strange cross between a bat and a frog with a row of metallic pipes forming a ridge down its back.

    "Hey boss," it greeted its summoner in an unfamiliar accent. "Are ya really gonna keep a silver and a gold gate open at the same time? I'm sure big and bashful over there can do the job just fine with the right push, bein' a zodiac and all."

    "You don't need to worry about any of that, just get ready." Despite his words, his breathing was becoming ragged. He leaned on his spear to support himself.

    "Well, you're the boss." Antlia landed and gripped the ground with its small claws, clearing its throat as it readied itself. There was a whistling sound as air flowed into it through its pipes, and it gradually began to inflate like a balloon. Before long it was more than twice its original size, and it was growing rapidly.

    "It might not be obvious, but even celestial wizards and other holder-types adhere to the four pillars," commented Myeloch. "If the wizard doesn't understand his spirits or shares a weak bond with them, their spirit gates will be inefficient, making it both difficult for the spirit to access their full power and overly taxing on the caster."

    "Now now, gramps. The difference in experience is part of the point here, don't say anything that might help your flock." Rowan chided with a good-natured smirk.

    "Keep me here?" Prim said with mock offence, tring to conceal her own slipping stamina with bravado, "Who do you think you're talking about?"

    Prim took a single step toward Cancer, letting her weight fall forward as though she intended to face-plant herself. Long before that could happen, she shifted to her bird form and was rocketing forward as fast as she could fly. She kept close to the ground, just barely high enough for her wings not to clip the foamy ground and shot underneath Cancer, between his legs. The cutting effect of her flight barely being felt against his carapace.

    She was at a field of bubbles now, and in her bird form hitting a single one would send her spiralling. Prim had practiced dodging through branches though, and this wasn't so different. She flapped hard, swirving around or over the bubbles in her way until she was clear.

    "Boss, you sure you still wanna do this?" asked Antlia in clear concern.

    "I am your master so shut up and follow orders!" Simon shouted.

    She flew forward several feet, shifting back to her human body with one arm and one leg on the ground. She pushed off the ground like an animal, keeping her momentum as she leapt for Simon, and thrust her fist forward as she closed on him.

    "Now!" He ordered. Simon gripped his spear tightly and braced himself. He made no attempt to defend. Prim's fist dug into his face, shattering his glasses and crushing his nose. And despite his best efforts, he only managed to resist it for a moment before being flung off his feet.

    But that moment was all he needed. Antlia had swelled exponentially, its tiny limbs barely visible on its massive, round body. In the instant that Simon held Prim back, it turned to them and released all of the stored air at once.

    It was like a cannon in both sound and fury, the concussive force being more than enough to send both young combatants crashing into the far wall. Antlia was not spared either, equal force in the opposite direction throwing it into the other wall, whereupon it shattered into shards of light, then faded into nothing.

    Cancer and his bubbles would soon share his fellow spirit's fate, his de-summoning making Simon's condition clear. But as long as the cloud of dust from their impact with the stone wall persisted, it would be too soon to crown a victor.

    As the dust settled, it revealed Prim in the process of staggering to her feet. She groaned, rubbing her head and swaying there for several moments like a drunk. She chuckled, turning to Rowan and flashing him her biggest, cheesiest grin.

    "That's one for Prim, none for Rowan." Then she promptly fell flat on her face and wasn't getting back up without some attention from Myleoch.

    Before anyone else moved a huff signaled the very target of Prim's jabs standing up and shuffling his way into the arena, having gotten enough of his energy back to move well enough. Rowan made his way first to Prim, picking her up by the ankle and draping her over his shoulder like a prize grouse. Next he strode to Simon and lifted him - with noticeably more effort than Prim - onto his other shoulder and shambled back to Myeloch. He dropped the combatants unceremoniously but not roughly in front of Phoenix Nest's founder and awaited their healing.

    Myeloch gave Rowan a soft smile. "I'll get them fixed right up." A tall wooden staff shimmered into existence in front of him, just as it had when he cleaned up after the last fight. It looked unremarkable, yet it radiated with energy. He tapped it against the floor and a magic circle formed around the fallen combatants, wiping away their wounds and fatigue.

    "You know, there's plenty of room in there for you if you've changed your mind," he told Rowan.

    "Before we leave." Rowan responded stubbornly. "Helps me ruminate on how not to let it happen again."

    "Fair enough."

    While speaking with Myeloch, Rowan could feel a hint of disappointment and frustration from the girl next to the man. When he met eyes with its source, Lina looked away, her lips locked in a pout.

    He simply smiled at her, closed his eyes and rested his head against the wall behind him, beginning to hum while he awaited the next match. Pat looked back and forth between the two in confusion.


  • 957

    The Calm Before the Storm Phoenix Battlefield

    With Prim and Simon back to full health, it was time for the next battle to begin. Or so it seemed.

    "Alright everyone," announced Sarah. "How about a bit of a break before we destroy everything again, yeah?" Down the stairs came a row of her plant minions, each carrying trays with different edibles on them. Freshly-baked cookies on one, sliced fruit on another, small glass bottles with various drinks on yet another, and so on. They gathered around the Nest members, while their creator turned to the Gryphons. "You all don't get any; not from me at least. Should have brought your own snacks. But I won't say anything if my guildmates decide to throw you a bone."

    "That's a great idea!" said Myeloch. "This is also a learning experience, after all. It would be good to discuss what you've seen so far and see what you can get out of it. It also gives me a chance to take care of something really quick." He tapped his staff on the ground, though nothing seemed to happen.

    "That's fine," was all Egan said. The Gryphons got together on the other side of the stands, though Simon kept his distance even from them to sulk in silence.

    Lina grabbed a little cup of fruit and sat down next to her guildmates. "So, what was up with that Simon kid anyway? He was really... just angry today. I don't remember him being like that yesterday, or at least not that bad."

    "I heard there were some bad kids and an adult out of her depth that made a bit of a mess for them." Rowan said nonchalantly. "And they got off real easy because their boss is a pushover." He bit into an apple and stared off into the distance while he chewed.

    Pat gasped dramatically and stared at his brother. "Who did it?! Where'd you hear about it?!"

    Rowan smirked and continued to chew to build suspense, only continuing when he finished competely. "Oh, someone I know followed them and watched it go down, that's all. So. everyone excited for the next fight? If there's any Gryphon I'd wanna see knocked down a peg, it's definitely that gal in the armor."

    "You're acting awfully smug for someone who lost," Prim said, poking her tongue out at Rowan and grabbing a slice of fruit from one of the trays, "What happened was we invaded the inn they were staying at, flooded it with Barts for a laugh and Simon is a bit of a wimp with spiders and doesn't have much of a sense of humour. It was great fun!"

    "And you're acting awfully confident for someone who got knocked out cold, by the guild's weakest member. " Rowan shot back, his smile remaining.

    "Actually I got knocked out by an exploding frog," Prim retorted "And I still won."

    "Yeah, kind of a weird account of the story, Rowan," Drell pondered with a hand to her chin and a sly grin spread across her face. "I was there and I sure don't remember an adult being involved. Though I guess some of the Barts are bound to be adults in spider-years. Uh, real talk though it was bad and there was way too much collateral damage! And uh- uh- by 'damage' I mean, uh, discomfort, heh, everyone's fine."

    "I would let you know that I'm a young-adult and I actually tried to stop them." Faye spoke before pushing small pieces of fruit in her mouth. "Well, sort of." She whispered almost immediately.

    Lina held her chin pensively. "I can definitely see Simon being anti-fun and an arachnophobe, but you guys aren't denying the spider thing which also sounds like quite the, uh, mess."

    "Making a mess was kind of the point," Prim responded gleefully

    "As for our friend 'metalhead', as Simon calls her, I'll take care of that!" Lina stood proudly, summoning a sword to rest on her shoulder. She deepened her voice in an attempt to sound more dignified. "As the master's daughter I cannot let such transgressions against our guild go unanswered! Or something along those lines, hehe."

    "With that kind of conviction, I almost feel sorry for them..." a sudden voice chimed in. A tall, blue-haired woman smiled at the group, placing her hands behind her back as she smiled at the gathering. By her side sat a rather large and imposing wolf. "It gives me a nice sense of pride to know I've joined such a strong guild."

    Pat shot out of his chair, having been too caught up in the discussion to notice the pair's entrance. After that he couldn't seem to decide who to stare at, the woman or her massive wolf. Rowan, for his part had no such indecision. "Ah, so you're what the old man was up to. I was curious what it was I felt. I can't tell you how lovely it is to have both of you here. Welcome to Phoenix Nest! I'm Rowan, the kid making googly eyes at you is Pat." At that Patileer looked away and sat down with a huff, cheeks reddening slightly. "Who is it we have the pleasure of being joined by?" Rowan finished.

    "New gal?" The reptillian woman cried out, leaning back in her chair an amount that was probably dangerous.

    "Rayne, it's a pleasure I'm sure," the woman responded. She paused long enough to give the smaller of the pair a quick wink. "It's nice to meet you both." The wolf by the woman's side let out a small yawn of sorts, before glancing up at Rayne somewhat expectantly. She sighed, rolling her eyes at the sight. "Don't give me that look... I didn't forget you were here. This here is my partner, Aurion."

    "New dog too?!" Clamoured the touched juggernaut. "Ayy welcome, I'm Duke Ith'Drell!"

    "I'm Lina," said Lina.

    "I'm Faye." the silver haired young woman introduced herself while staring at Rayne's scarf. "I see you're also a fan of scarfs."

    "The two of you certainly cut striking figures." Rowan said while Pat was left staring at the floor after the wink, the air immediately around him actually heating up alongside his face. "Aurion's an impressive guy if ever I've seen one, you must be Valbestian, then?" Rowan was radiating warmth too, but it was one of welcome, not embarassment. "Oh uh, Pat, don't hug the wolf." Pat muttered something about not being a child and it made Rowan's smile widen. "Are either of you hungry? There's plenty of food."

    "If you don't mind," Rayne answered, smiling as she took a seat close by. The smells being emitted from the food was enough to make her mouth water. Thankfully, Rayne was able to keep herself in check around her new guild mates."We're both usually out on our own, so it's been a while since we've gotten the chance to eat something that didn't require us to track it down first."

    "Phoenix Nest takes good care of its members." Rowan said. "Or should I say Sarah takes good care of us~ Who knows where we'd be without her~"

    "I know Pat's apparently out of the running for the wolf-hug, but am I still good?" Drell wondered aloud with a wry smirk.

    "Nice to see another fellow Valbestian," Prim chimed in, somewhat disappointed that the new arrival had interrupted her verbal jousting with Rowan.

    "Blanche would like you so much..." Faye let out a small noise that sounded like a sad form of snickering as she thought that. Although Blanche hadn't shown herself before the other members yet.

    While the guild gathered around its new members, Boriel went over to Myeloch to discuss something, too quiet for the group to hear. Sarah sat back with her eyes closed, resting a bit after exerting herself from manipulating her plant minions. The minions remained active, but had stopped moving and were now just particularly fragrant tables.

    After the Nestlings excitedly exchanged greetings, Lina spoke up. "Y'know, seeing so many faces is really heartwarming, but it also got me thinking. Why did everyone decide to join Phoenix Nest? No pressure if you don't wanna tell, but... It was easy for me since I have my dad here and I don't really have anywhere else to be, but you guys came from all over. You had to leave your homes and families to come here of all places, and that feels like a big deal to me. So I'm curious."

    "Oh that's easy," Prim said brightly "Like six other guilds told me to screw off at the door and I thought you were cute, so why not make this number seven?"

    "O-oh, cute, huh?" Lina thought about that for a moment. "I get that a lot from the townspeople, but it's mostly the doting older folk so hearing it from a guildmate feels a bit different. Well, besides Rowan."

    Faye thought for a second. "I wasn't actually planning on joining but... my old man got so excited by hearing the name of your father, I figured it would make him proud to join this guild." Faye hid her face somewhat in her scarf. "My primary reason is that I kinda want to find out where the heck my mom is." She added with a softer voice but loud enough for everyone to hear.

    Lina didn't respond, her expression turning somber.

    "Well that doesn't make me sound very noble, does it?" Prim said with false offense, "So I guess I'll add that I want to win the games at the end of the year... I don't think that helps much does it?"

    "I dunno... I guess I've always preferred things like this that are smaller in size," Rayne commented. "I've been alone with Aurion for so long that I started to miss that whole community-vibe."

    The wolf in question glanced up at Rayne as she spoke, his ears twitching as he did so. Not missing a single beat, his partner reached down and began to scratch his head. Aurion let out a pleased groan at the gesture, his tail wagging back and forth as Rayne did so.

    Lina smiled at the two. "Honestly, I was disappointed in the low turnout on the first day, but hearing that makes it feel a little better."

    Drell rocked back and forth on her chair and spoke, "Seriously waiting on a verdict for that wolf-hug. If I make that my reason for joining, does that improve my chances?"

    "I wanna hug him too!" Pat blurted out, finally unable to resist the temptation and taking a step closer to Aurion.

    Rowan pinched his temple in half-feigned annoyance. "Thanks a lot, Drell. Now I have another problem to deal with."

    Aurion glanced over at Pat, the wolf growling everso slightly as the boy began to creep closer. Rayne smiled at Pat, taking notice of the hairs on her partner's back starting to stand on end.

    "I probably wouldn't do that," the woman spoke. "The last person to hug him without warning still hasn't gotten used to only having one leg."

    "Gonna count that as a 'maybe later'," said Drell, hopeful.

    "Better keep Pat away from him then." Faye sighed in annoyance towards Drell's "hopeful maybe". "I swear you're going to get in trouble at some point." Faye turned her face to Drell.

    The guild members enjoyed their short break, chatting about various little topics, before a familiar voice obscured by metallic echo interrupted them.

    "Are you kids done with your little snack time? " Asked Harmonia as she approached the group. "We came here to fight, so I'm getting bored just sitting around. Simon's moping certainly isn't making it any better."

    "If you're that eager to lose, I think we're just about done," said Lina. She jumped from the stands and into the arena, Harmonia close behind. As Lina took her place, she looked back at her guildmates who would be cheering her on. Myeloch caught her gaze and waved. She then faced her opponent. While she couldn't see Harmonia's face, it wasn't hard to gauge her emotions. At least that helmet would spare her from having to look at the countless smug sneers the Gryphon was sure to give throughout the fight.

    Sarah looked down at the combatants with concern. "You trained her, right?" she asked Boriel.

    "A little," He answered. "She prefers to train on her own. She only really comes to me when she wants to test out something she's been working on."

    "Uh huh. So do you think she has a chance?"

    "Like I said last time, I won't know for sure without seeing them fight. But if Harmonia really is stronger than Simon, then Lina will probably lose."

    Sarah's frown deepened. "Well she looks excited, so hopefully she has a little fun with it at least."
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  • 957

    Bullets and Blades Clash! Phoenix Nest VS Gryphon Gale: Round 3 Phoenix Battlefield

    As the chunks of rubble returned to their places, two new combatants entered the arena. On one side stood the young Miss Latare. New to her outfit was a belt that hung from her hip, holding up a leather bag and a holster big enough to hold a pen. Across from her stood the sharp-tongued Harmonia, her every feature save for body shape hidden by her armor.

    "So, the legend's little girl finally leaves her daddy's side," Harmonia taunted. "Let's see how long it takes you to regret that."

    Lina smirked. "Maybe I will. But I promised my guild that I'd pay you back for what happened yesterday, and I'd look pretty bad if I backed out now." She summoned her greatsword, easily pointing the behemoth at her metal-clad foe.

    "Payback for what, being honest? Didn't know that was a crime these days, but in that case I look forward to my punishment, oh righteous judge."

    "Cut her head off!" Prim shouted at that, grinning mischievously.

    The starting gun fired, and the battle began.

    "Arms: Type-03," Called Harmonia. She held out her right arm and it was shrouded in a blue glow. The coat of light shattered to see it replaced with multiple gun barrels aligned in a circle. They began to rotate, quickly picking up speed until they fired, unleashing a hail of bullets upon her foe. "Bet you've never seen a gun like this before! Hell, it wouldn't have surprised me if you'd never seen any gun before."

    Lina held out her weapon, and with the flick of a switch it fell, digging into the ground and leaving cracks from its newfound weight. The broad blade covered Lina completely from the bullets that harmlessly collided with the immovable object. "Whole lotta good those Capital toys are doing you!"

    "Hah! Says the girl cowering behind her slab of metal," the Gryphon mocked. "Come on, they're just ether bullets, they won't hurt that much. But if you really don't like this one, I've got plenty more. Type-06!" Her shoulders took a familiar glow, becoming a pair of much larger barrels. With a great boom they launched a barrage of shells that fell upon Lina.

    With a grunt of effort she pulled her rooted weapon, angling it down over her head. She crouched under it as the bombs fell, flames and smoke blooming around her on impact.

    "Augments: Type-01," called Harmonia, transforming her feet into wheels that propelled her into the smoke. Lina was launched out the other end of the cloud, hitting the ground behind and tumbling several more feet. Harmonia walked casually after her, her body back to normal.

    Lina pushed herself to her feet, scratched and scorched but otherwise good to go. She summoned her curved sword and charged back into the fray. She reached her foe in moments and delivered a slicing storm of electrified blows, each being evaded with ease.

    Harmonia continued her verbal jabs, even as she ducked and dodged past Lina's attacks. "You know, I'm really more of a ranged fighter, but it's just so satisfying going into close range and showing fighters like you how little of a chance you stand." She sidestepped another slash and countered with a kick to the gut, followed by an uppercut to send her to the ground. Lina was quick to get up, only meet with a foot to the face. She fell, and got back up once more.

    "Maybe try hitting her?" Prim said, much quieter now.

    "Well, that's enough of that," said the Gryphon. "Arms: Type-07." As Lina closed in, she thrust her palm into the girl's stomach. An ear-piercing crack and a flash of light blasted her across the battlefield. "It's shotgun in my hand. Isn't it great? I definitely wanna try it on bird-girl at some point."

    Lina clutched her abdomen, struggling to find her breath amid her coughing and the cackling of her foe. She re-summoned her sword and used it to help herself stand.

    "Daughter of the best and this is all you've got?" Harmonia said. "Genetics really fucked you over, I almost feel sorry for you. Almost. Maybe I will after I shoot you a few more times."

    "What makes you think this is all I've got?" Lina countered, back on her feet and in her battle stance.

    "You mean besides the whole getting your ass kicked thing? Well, there's a spell just about every high-level wizard has that lets them detect the levels of ether in a being. Helps them get a sense of what they're up against. And the fact of the matter is, you've got so little there's not much you even could do. Types like you tend to make it up with close combat skills, but we saw where that got you. All that's left is what is frankly the smallest pool of ether I've ever seen in a wizard. So small, in fact, that it's almost as if–"

    Harmonia's words were drowned by roaring thunder as a bolt of lightning blitzed at her. The blinding flash faded to see Harmonia leaning to the side, having narrowly avoided the strike. On the other end of it was Lina, blade pointed at her opponent and still crackling with energy. "Damn. Thought I could catch you monologuing. You really do talk a lot." she said. The sparks faded, and she hastily pulled marble-sized lacrima from her bag to replace the ones in her hilt.

    "Like it wasn't obvious you were waiting to pull something. You don't seem like the type to just stand around and let me tell you how worthless you are, no matter how true it is. I'm getting bored though, so let's finish this." Harmonia called for her gatling gun and fired.

    In a repeat of the battle's beginning, Lina summoned her greatsword. But this time she charged forward, forcing her way through the torrent of bullets with her blade. They pushed her back, but she pushed harder, slowly closing the distance.

    "Really? That's your big plan? Ammo: Type-11." Harmonia's bullets turned a deep purple. Their heavy precussion against Lina's blade was far beyond the old rounds, stopping the girl in her tracks. "I wonder how much punishment that sword can take, hmm?"

    The greatsword regained its weight, planting itself allowing Lina to hold her ground, but more importantly being the perfect pole for Lina to vault over. She flew toward Harmonia, swapping to her curved blade mid-air.

    Harmonia raised her own weapon, only to be met with Lina's sword spinning at her and the one who threw it close behind. She avoided the blade and instead took a kick to the face from Lina, who finally landed her first clean blow.

    "Hell yeah, that's more like it!" Prim's commentary continued.

    Harmonia was thrown back. Lina didn't let up, intent on siezing her chance to turn the tides. But she never reached her foe. Harmonia held out her left arm, the one that hadn't been transforming, and fired a shot from her palm. Lina's head jerked back, the chunk of lead responsible falling from her forehead, flattened from its impact with her skull. Specks of blood dotted the ground, and Lina fell.

    But even that wasn't enough to take Lina out. She struggled to stand, still dazed from a shot to the head. Her vision was blurred and her ears were ringing, blood still trickling from her forehead.

    Harmonia walked up to Lina and stepped on her head, pushing her face into the dirt. "You're gonna lead them to the top? What a joke. You know, I hate people like you and that lizard. People who spout empty promises and self serving lies with nothing to back it up, not realizing what it could do to the idiots who believe your bullshit. So if you say you're going to bring us down, I want you to know exactly what that's going to take."

    "From the one who needs fancy magitech to do anything?" Prim jeered from the sidelines.

    "You really just let that happen?" Sarah glared at Myeloch. "She's your daughter!"

    Myeloch's expression didn't change. He faced her with that slight ever-present smile. "It's because she's my daughter that I know she wouldn't have wanted me interfering."

    Harmonia walked away, the battle won and her point made. She turned her back on the defeated. Then the defeated spoke.

    "I.. am the daughter... of the world's greatest wizard. I'll show you and everyone else... that it'll take a lot more than that to take down a Latare." Lina slowly crawled to her feet, staggering and swaying the whole way up but ultimately standing once again.

    Harmonia faced Lina, apparently done with her jokes. "Guess I didn't beat the lesson into you enough the first time," she threatened, and pointed her rifle at Lina. In that moment, she stopped. Her body became coated in the familiar interlocked hexagons of a Myeloch barrier. A number appeared in front of her. A 60. 59. 58. Counting down the seconds before her eyes.

    "The wards on this guild will take care of anyone with the intent of hurting my guild," Myeloch explained, calm as ever. "You're not raising your weapon just to win a match anymore, so they've declared you a threat. A word of advice; you don't still want to be a threat when that timer hits zero."

    As Harmonia struggled against her bindings, Lina fell, the adrenaline that kept her going finally passed.

    The timer continued counting down, then disappeared entirely as Harmonia was freed from her prison. She took a deep breath before turning back to the group, back to her old self. "Damn, I was having fun with that one at first but finishing it like this kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Anyone else up for a round or two?"

    Faye felt something boil inside of her just watching this fight. Knowing full well she is not in any circumstances allowed to interfere in this "mock-up" battle, she fought back against the anger stirring up. Her face, however, was still as cold as an regular winter night with her eyes as empty as ever. "Is there really nothing we can do?" Faye whispered almost desperately to herself as she saw poor little Lina getting beat up after beat up. The fight had only lasted moments but it felt like hours. Watching Myeloch interfere before Harmonia could harm Lina any longer didn't calm Faye down by one bit.

    "Can we really just let her walk away like that?" Faye spoke in disbelief for anyone to hear standing near her. "Nay, if she is begging for a match, I will give her one." It was the first time for Faye to show a little bit more emotion in her words, an angry one. She stood with her foot on one of the barriers of the arena that was supposed to keep bystanders safe from the fight. Faye was not one to be looking for a fight, especially ones she knew she could not win but as the words had already left her mouth, so had her reason.

    "Faye?" Drell murmured, surprised at her guildmate's conviction. "You, uh... you wanna show Harmonia what a real 'friendly tussle' should be like, huh?"

    Faye could only answer with a small nod while still standing in position to jump down on the field.

    "Ay ay ay-" the warrior in plate raised a hand and stood, approaching Faye. "You sure? Like, a hundred percent? I mean, dude, I know what happened down there - I saw it too - but I mean... in spite of that, keyword friendly tussle and, uh - ey, no offense, but you ain't lookin' so friendly right now, yeah?"

    "What's the problem?" Asked Harmonia. "If she wants to fight, I say let her. As long as she doesn't suck, she won't end up like daddy's little princess over there. If you really don't trust your own guildmate then you're free to come down too so you can babysit her. I'll just take you both on."

    "Wasn't talkin' to ya, ya tin-foil wearin' chimp!" Drell called over her shoulder, before realising something and turning to the others present. "Wait, are teams a thing? Like, we can do a teamy thing? 'Cause that sounds way more fun than straight-up duels, don't ya think?"

    "The details of these battles are up to you," said Egan. "If Harmonia agreed to it you could bring your whole guild against her. I'm sure she'd learn something from the experience."

    "Hey, I said I'd take them both on but I'm not fighting the whole damn guild."

    Faye grinded her teeth as she listened to Egan while still glaring at Harmonia. "I'm done talking. Let's get this over with." Faye made a jump over the fences that were keeping bystanders away from the fight. She hovered a hands in front of her a summoned two daggers with wind lacrima's equipped from the requip lacrima given to her by her father.

    "Uh, didn't get an an answer, Faye- ah, screw it," Ith'Drell shrugged and followed her guildmate into the arena.

    "Woo!" Prim cheered the new challengers taking the field.


  • 957

    Faye Aubrey

    Female | 19 | Wizard/Touched

    A JP post with Geras and Turnip

    The field readied for its next battle, and Harmonia entered it for hers. "Two in one day, aren't I a lucky one?" she said. She faced her opponents, far more tension in the air than before. Lina had been healed, but she had gone back to her room for the moment.

    "Uh, Myeloch?" Drell turned to the stands as she slung her sword off of her shoulder, her cheeky grin ever-widening. "Can we shrink down the arena a lil? Harmo's standin' all the way over there and she can attack at range and I don't feel like it so, like, that's cheatin', I'm pretty sure."

    Harmonia scoffed. "Says the supposed thousand time champion in a 2-on-1 match."

    "True, that does sound annoying to face, but the field is about the size it'll be in the games so bear with it please?" Myeloch pleaded cheerily.

    Faye stared at Drell. Not glaring but staring before shaking her head. Faye had watched the fight and had a few things up her sleeve for Harmonia. In fact, she was the perfect opponent to see if her training had bore some fruit over the years.

    "Eyy, c'mon, this fight sucks- this arena sucks, this place sucks, you suck, I suck- I'm out, see ya arena, see ya Phoenix Nest, see ya world, I'm goin'," chortled Ith'Drell, unsheathing Big Whap. She then jabbed a thumb to her chest as she addressed Harmonia. "Don't worry 'bout it, thousand-time champ over 'ere's gonna go easy on ya - you two rookies gotta learn somethin', yeah?" She tossed the scabbard to the side of the arena and added, "Uh, don't let me leave that there."

    It seemed Harmonia didn't have much else to add to the banter. Taking the silence as a cue, Boriel fired the starting gun.

    "Put her in a body bag!" Prim yelled at the sound of the gun, offering encouragement or something along those lines.

    "Arms: 04! Ammo: 15!" Harmonia wasted no time, transforming her right arm into a cannon and blasting the ground beneath her. The shell burst into a cloud of smoke to hide within. "You should know that I don't underestimate my opponents. The redhead was just so weak I couldn't not play around with her. We'll see whether or not I need to bother playing it safe with you two either."

    "We'll see." Faye spoke, focusing on her hearing as the smoke made it hard for her to see where Harmonia was. She had a very useful tool for such situations though.

    "I'm goin' in!" Drell announced, wasting little time in flicking her visor down and charging with reckless abandon. "Uh, arms: on shoulders. Ammo: sword?"

    Faye jumped in after Drell and swung her daggers as she made a landing. The sudden movement of the daggers activated the wind lacrimas, causing them to shoot two decently powerful whirlwinds towards the smoke Harmonia had created. The smoke cleared as quickly as it had appeared, revealing an empty field. Their foe was not around but above, falling from the air above with her cannon aimed directly at the two.

    "Big Whap toe-bip!" The reptillian cried, thrusting her sword up to try to catch Harmonia's feet. Rather than commit to her attack, Harmonia kicked off of the blade's side. She landed having avoided a toe-bipping, but had ended up closer to her opponents than she'd like.

    "Nice one, Drell." Faye complimented her for the first time. She charged in at Harmonia and while doing so wrapped both her arms in a black transperant substance to give her a nice old thump across her face, Faye made it look like that at least. She kept her arms ready to jump in defense mode when necessary.

    "Arms: 07!" Harmonia's right arm returned to normal, though the Phoenix girls knew better. She smoothly avoided Faye's strike and countered with her palm, releasing a shotgun blast on impact just like the one that sent Lina flying earlier.

    Faye's face was usually stiff and expressionless but this time a small minuscule smirk appeared on her peach colored lips. Faye grabbed Harmonia's arm and the shadows enveloping her own arm extended to Harmonia's hand, completely nullifying the blast that Faye had seen take out Lina earlier. "I'm probably the worst kind of opponent you could have for your fighting style." Faye claimed as she kept Harmonia occupied and did not let go of her hand at all. "Drell! Your turn!" She shouted.

    "Hell yeah! That's the stuff!" Prim cheered from the sidelines.

    "Faye?! Why didn't you tell me you were epic?!" Ith'Drell clamoured as she doubled back on her previous charge and readied herself for another attack. "Big Whap side slam but cautiously because I just know you're gonna heckin' try something!"

    "Armor, eh? You really think I'm not prepared for that when I'm in a guild with Mr. Armor himself?" Harmonia chuckled. A section opened on her left arm and it ejected the casing from the bullet that finished her last match, following up with the mechanical clacking of a new round being loaded within. "Max Enchant!" The glowing lines along Harmonia's left arm shone brightly, and she put her palm against the arm Faye was using to restrain her.

    "Wasn't expecting anything less." Faye said as she locked Harmonia's left arm with the her own left arm that she had countered earlier, making her aim towards the ground. As Harmonia was about to fire, Faye did not know if she was fast enough to completely deflect it. She let go of Harmonia afterwards and jumped a little to the back to not be hit by Drell's sword.

    "Really, not gonna-?" The reptile hesitated only slightly. "I mean that's fine, I can just- Disabling Prototype Exploitation Attack!" Drell's cautious side-slam swung behind her and around, and as she turned she switched her grip on the blade to drive the cross-guard into Harmonia's right arm, where she'd seen the gauntlet change shape.

    Harmonia fired. The bullet emerged bathed in magical energy, looking more like a beam of destruction than a simple round as it tore into the ground, sending chunks of dirt and stone flying. Faye was lucky to have avoided taking that to the arm, though she wasn't quick enough to avoid all damage. Between her hasty redirection and the bullet's enchantments, the attack still managed to graze Faye's leg.

    While the Gryphon's attack had mostly failed, she was finally free, just in time to see the armored giant coming at her with a murder stroke. The cross-guard dug into Harmonia's arm, piercing the metal before sending her tumbling across the arena from the force of the attack. She was quick to get back to her feet, bright blue liquid trickling down from the hole in her right arm. "Well, that was almost worth it," she said, taking her injury rather well.

    "Augments: 01, Arms: 06!" she called, summoning her wheels and shoulder mortars. She drove backwards, still facing her foes while she pelted them with etherial bombs. Her arms were otherwise occupied. She created a small flame in her left hand, which she held over her other arm to seal the wound.

    Faye, still having her daggers moved her shadows from her arms to the edges of the blades, turning them from normal daggers to katana swords. "Drell, we need a plan." Faye said, finally properly communicating with her battle partner. She brushed the small cut on her leg that had started bleeding, only slightly though. She sighed in relief before turning her face back to Harmonia, she definitely didn't want to have taken that hit, neither does she want any of that in the future. Her wish was not granted though as Faye tried her best to avoid as many of the bombs Harmonia was throwing at them but also tried to get back closer by jumping towards her little by little. Her guildmate seemed far less concerned about the danger of Harmonia's artillery; she jumped up into the the air and raised a hand to strike one of the aetherial bombs.

    "The plan is," she said. "I spike this-!" The bomb exploded on impact, sending Ith'Drell flying back towards Faye with a resounding duo of 'oof's - one from the explosion and another on impact with the ground - though the armoured reptile seemed more dismayed with her plan's failure than any injury. "Yoooo, that would've been so cool if it had worked though," she lamented, still sliding on her back before slowly coming to a stop.

    "Actually I think I might have an idea to make that work." Faye tried to get herself back on her feet. That failure must've looked really clumsy. Faye didn't have a lot of time to think about how so she just did. With her now katana' she jumped into the air and activated the wind lacrima's by swinging the swords around, creating several gusts that would deliver the etherial bombs back to their owner.

    The blast of wind sent the myriad bombs flying in every direction, some falling toward Drell and some even hitting the barrier in front of the spectators. Fortunately a number of them flew toward Harmonia just as Faye had intended.

    "Just in time. Arms: Type-04!" said Harmonia, lifting her crudely-repaired right arm. But nothing happened. "Fu–" Her voice was drowned out by the explosions as she was enveloped in flames and clouds of dust.

    Ith'Drell chortled as she rolled to her feet, a proximate explosion staggering her as she shielded herself from it with one arm. "Ow, yikes. Too many bambs."

    "This is why you should try getting strong instead of relying on magitech to do it for you!" Prim jeered, enjoying the sport of poking fun at the other guild almost as much as the spectacle of combat.

    "Fine then, we'll try something else," Harmonia said, still obscured by the dust. "Augments: Type-02. Max Enchant!" Even without properly seeing her, Drell and Faye could see that familiar glow from what could only be her other arm.

    "Yo Faye, next time she calls out her arm-stuff we gotta just bombard her with random numbers," the armoured lizard suggested, rolling her shoulders as she stepped between her guildmate and the Gryphon. "I dunno if it'll actually change anything but I think it's worth a shot - or, uh, heheh, worth messing up a shot, eyyy! I'm here all week! I'mma charge in three, 'kay?"

    "Do whatever suits you. As long as we get to have a proper revenge for what she did to Lina." Faye said, shrugging. Some of the bombs still somewhat hit her but mostly on her undefended legs. She kept her poker face throughout the fight, although it did hurt. "Whatever she is loading now, I don't like it. Prepare yourself." Faye moved her katana daggers in front of her and held them crossed.

    "This ain't about revenge, Faye, jeez, it's a friendly tussle-"

    Harmonia fired, the force of the enchanted bullet blowing away the dust as it sped toward Drell. It moved at a blinding speed, traceable only by the trail of light it left behind. The resounding clang that followed signalled the interruption of the Phoenix's words, along with the herculean 'OW' that came shortly afterwards.

    "That's my head, you dumbass!" Drell cried in indignation. The bullet had punctured the steel of her helmet and sent the touched warrior reeling backwards. "Now I've got metal under my scales, it's- dude, I'm mad. Argh, I'm so mad."

    Prim's running commentary was momentarily halted as Drell's discomfort resulted in her giggling uncontrollably.

    Faye's eyes were a little bit widened as she saw Harmonia shoot but was too late to warn Drell, the shot was just that fast. "Wait that didn't go through your skin?" Faye asked Drell instead of asking if she was alright. Drell was already throwing tantrums so that would probably mean that she was fine.

    "It kinda- it- does it matter?" Drell put a hand to the puncture in her helmet as she snapped at Faye. "It hurt like hell and that's my head and my helmet and- oh, you've done it now, you tin-foil tech tool- uh, turd- for- agh- aaaagh!" The armoured reptile turned back to her opponent, shaking. She threw back her head and let out what could only be described as a roar. The sound of a beast unleashed; a wave of noise whose impact brought with it a form of primal terror- and then Drell shot out a pair of finger guns. "AAAaa-eyy, did I getcha?" She poked a finger through the convenient new hole in her helmet to scratch the back of her head as she looked across the expressions of the rest of the room. "I mean, can't help feeling that getting got with that is kinda insensitive, honestly, but it's whatever- CHAAARGE!"

    Drell charged.

    "Finally ready to fight again?" In the time the Phoenix girls were talking, Harmonia had ejected her casing and loaded another round, her left arm still bright with her spell. With the dust cleared, the pair could see a magic circle in front of her face, its details changing as they moved.

    Harmonia raised her right arm at Drell. "Come on, Arms: 03, Ammo: 11!" Finally, the arm worked and transformed into her gatling gun. She let out a little cheer, and let loose a barrage of the heavy purple rounds Lina was unable to charge through at the currently charging Drell. She held off on firing her left, waiting for her chance use it on Faye.

    The Phoenix girls had been too distracted to be able to give a nice counter attack. Faye pushed Drell aside so she wouldn't be hit, or at least, not fully hit. Faye immediately jumped away with her fast reflexes and made sure to keep moving so Harmonia's left hand would have a harder time to lock her as a target. Drell, who had been pushed over and had decided to just lay there when trying to get up made her dizzy, grunted in frustration.

    "Uh, rude-" said the armoured lizard. She lifted Big Whap to interpose itself between her prone form and the hail of bullets that was sure to come. "Aw, crap, we forgot to do the number thing. Next time."

    A simple adjustment on Harmonia's part sent the heavy bullets crashing against Drell's blade. A similar motion with her other arm targeted Faye, the magical circle in front of her face changing accordingly. She fired, the enchanted bullet rocketing right at Faye's chest.

    Faye who had thank god expected Harmonia would pull a dirty trick like that, tried to get away. As Faye made a fast charge, the bullet hit her in her right arm. Her face only shifted for a moment to someone that was in pain before quickly keeping her poker face up. She glanced at her arm and tried to move but it refused. "Okay, now I'm angry." Faye said with still a poker face but her eyes showing a little bit of fury.

    It was impossible for her to keep up her shadowy katanas like this so she chose to turn one Katana back into a dagger. The black substance that had surrounded the right dagger moments ago shifted towards her right arm to serve as a support so she could use it again. Holding a dagger in her right hand and a katana in the other she started moving again. "Drell, we're going with your ridiculous plan! Let's mess her up." Faye said as she tried to get closer to Harmonia at this point. Ith'Drell rolled and tried to stand as the relentless barrage from Harmonia's gatling gun pelted against her blade and armour.

    "Ay yo Harmonia why you gotta fight so boring?" The reptile glanced to the side, partially to look to the others and partly to prevent face-on impacts from the incoming bullets.

    "Seconded!" Prim agreed, having finally recovered from her fit of laughter.

    "Gotta make sure I can win first," Harmonia said. "It's kind of an important thing, considering it's the whole point of going to the games." Having pinned down Drell for a bit, she changed focus to the rapidly approaching Faye. She loaded another round in her left arm and aimed her right at the ground in front of her. "Ammo: Typ–"

    "Three, eighty-two, five hundred, a million and two- one- nine-"

    "two, seven, thirteen, twelve, thirtysix hundred!" Faye yelled after Drell, dodging bullets coming her way.

    "Shut it! Ammo: 29! Wait, shit–" Harmonia noticed her mistake a second too late. She had already begun firing, her gatling gun unleashing a string of deafening pops as it shot out a flood of confetti. "...Really, Cass? Did I need this?" She groaned, and focused once more on the fight in front of her. But in that moment of distraction, Faye had closed the distance between them.

    Faye made a cross with her arms before striking with both her dagger and katana. It took a lot of aether to make her numb arm as well. Still both weapons hit Harmonia"s armor with a huge impact.

    Harmonia defended with her left arm. The blades sliced through the thin metal of the suit, spilling more blue liquid and digging into Harmonia's arm before stopping against something underneath. Faye could tell it was hard, maybe even metallic, but she definitely wasn't cutting into flesh. Faye tried to wriggle her dagger out of her arm but it seemed to be stuck.

    "Enjoy the one time that'll ever work. Arms: 08!" She spoke the number slowly and clearly to avoid anymore mishaps. Her right arm transformed into a barrel that would more accurately be called a nozzle, and she pointed it at Faye even as Drell approached steadily.

    A jet of flame erupted from the nozzle to envelop Faye in an inferno.

    Faye, who was still wiggling her dagger out of Harmonia's arm finally succeeded, however, due to the slight panic Faye was feeling, her magic became unstable. She could not use it to nullify the inferno Harmonia shot at her anymore. Faye instead crossed her arms in a quick reaction and activated the wind lacrima's in her dagger and shadowy katana. She slew with both swords, trying to blow the inferno away, successfully for some part but Faye's left leg still received some burn marks. "Tsh..."

    "Time's up, now you gotta face my-" Drell stomped forth and declared her intent, upon Harmonia now. Her left arm crackled with electricity as she raised it above her head. "BIG MASSIVE LIGHTNING BOLT FROM THE SKY ATTACK!"

    Harmonia glanced up, ready for whatever the heavens could possibly throw at her - and promptly found nothing. A mighty clang rang out as Big Whap swept the Gryphon's legs from under her. She made a couple of revolutions in the air before crashing to the ground, and as she regained her composure enough to brace herself to take or avoid the follow-up she noticed that that, too, wouldn't be coming; her reptillian opponent had fallen to her knees, far too busy convulsing with laughter to be a threat.

    "That has never," Drell squeaked out in between wheezes. "Ever worked on anyone- oh jeez I can't breathe..."

    "You know what? Screw this, I quit." Harmonia stomped over to her guildmates, not even looking at Faye or Drell anymore. "I know what I said but you can have your stupid win. It's not worth putting up with all this bullshit anyway."

    "After all that talk?" Prodded Simon. "What a joke."

    "Shut it, loser. At least I didn't knock myself out with my own spirit like a moron!"

    The pair got into a heated argument that Egan did nothing to quell. He instead faced Phoenix Nest as a whole, and bowed. "Thank you again for the matches. I will use what I've learned here to grow stronger, and I expect the same from my guildmates. Make sure you don't fall behind. There will be no holding back at the Games."

    While rather abrupt, Egan made his exit, still ignoring his bickering brethren. Once they noticed him leaving though, they were quick to follow suit. The pair each glanced back at the Nest one last time before walking up the steps and out of view.

    Before the Gryphons were even out the door Patileer was already running into the arena whooping and congratulating the victors, not even giving Drell a chance to stand back up before he jumped and hugged her around the shoulders, sending her straight back to the floor in a giggly lump. "That was amazing! You guys showed that jerk Harmonia she's not so great! You didn't even have to actually finish her off! I can't believe she fell for that!"

    Rowan strode much more evenly onto the battlefield, lightly resting a hand on Faye's shoulder for a moment before withdrawing it and offering her and then the cackling mess of Ith'PatDrelleer - or whatever someone might call the tangled pair of goofballs - a warm smile. "Congratulations, I definitely didn't expect that to be how anyone would take down a member of Gryphon Gale, but that might have been even more fun than watching her get her butt kicked."

    "Yeah, that's another win for us!" Prim said gleefully, "Now if only Rowan had lived up to all his big talk..."

    "Well, we can't all choose the easy road and get ourselves knocked out by the enemy's weakest link." Said big-talker teased back with a good-natured shrug. "Some of us actually work hard."



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    Nighttime over Shessalie Monday July 2nd, X784

    The sun had fallen, and the moon was rising to take its place. The Gryphons had gone back to their inn, with Egan reminding the Nest that his business in town wasn't over until the job was complete, the job that now lay in the Nest's hands. Tomorrow they would meet with the client, and finish the job if all went well. Maybe now is a good time to prepare, or maybe it would be best to get some rest instead. Of course there are still the guild's other jobs to do as well, as paltry as they may be.

    As for the town, they have not forgotten the incident at the inn. At this point, the majority of the town has heard some form of what happened. There are those who are still upset with these new ruffians of a guild, the innkeep in particular. What can come of those meant to solve the town's problems if they are just as quick to make them? But others have become fast fans of the Phoenix. These people saw the incident as a declaration of war against the Gryphons, and are proud to see their town represented by a guild that isn't afraid of those at the top; an aggressive, defiant bunch like Silver Chimera. They await their next stunt with bated breath.

    As for the Phoenix Nest members, Myeloch disappeared, presumably back to his business with the Magic Council. He made sure to remind the guild about the crystal bells to contact him if they needed anything. Sarah seemed tired after the day, and went to nap in the kitchen. There would be no great feast like yesterday, but she might still be willing to make the guildmembers something to eat if they asked. Boriel continues to search the library for something, and Lina has apparently gone into town.


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    Believe in the you that believes in cheese
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    The heated battles between the guilds had finished, but the night was still young. As the townspeople milled about, Simon sat by the fountain in town square looking rather mopey. Next to him was an odd spirit, small and humanoid in shape but with paws and a head like a snowman. It imitated its master's pose, keeping its head as far down as its long carrot-like nose would allow.

    "Ah, there you are, I was worried you'd be gone already." Simon's attention was drawn to the same Phoenix who'd fought against Egan earlier. Rowan brushed one of his bangs from his eye and gave the Gryphon a smile he couldn't quite read. "You and I need to have a chat."

    He looked up at Rowan in annoyance. "What do you want?" His defiant confidence from eariler was completely gone.

    Rowan's smile didn't falter at the hostility. "I really didn't expect the least experienced Gryphon to be a Celestial Wizard...and with one of the Zodiac Keys, no less! I have a request for you. Allow me to speak with Cancer. If you do, I might be able to help you in a small way in return."

    Simon raised an eyebrow. "What's this about?" he asked. The small spirit at his side made a noise with the same inquisitive tone.

    "I used to know two very experienced and powerful Celestial Wizards." Rowan explained rather casually. "One of them had a Zodiac Spirit too. As I'm sure you know, all the Zodiac Spirits know each other. From what I remember hearing when I was a kid they're kind of like...an elite order of knights for whatever kind of society they have in their world. I've been wanting a chance to speak to another of the Zodiacs for a long time now. If you let me talk to Cancer a bit, I could give you some tips about how to grow stronger in your particular school of magic, tips from that old friend of mine~"

    The boy scrunched his face in thought. It took nearly a full minute before he mustered a response, following a defeated sigh. "If this'll help me get stronger, I'll do it. I can't complain about the how in my position... Cancer doesn't talk much, and even then he's not good with new people, but you're free to give it a shot."

    In one smooth motion he lifted his arm, gripped his golden key, and swiped it aside. The familiar shining gate appeared and out stepped Cancer. Upon seeing Rowan he stood between him and Simon. When Simon told his summon that there was no danger, Cancer instead hid behind Simon. Or at least tried to, being over twice the boy's size.

    "Shy, huh? I guess that's natural for a warrior with a shell." Rowan shook his head in mock disappointment, then straightened his back. "Cancer...can you tell me anything about the constellation that disappeared from the sky?"

    Cancer sprang to attention. He stared at Rowan in disbelief before for the first time allowing his faceplate to open all the way. Underneath was the unblemished face of a youthful man, with no facial hair or even eyebrows. His skin was pale red, and his irises were black. He spoke, his voice slow, quiet, and a bit shaky.

    "Do you know where he is?" he asked in a hopeful yet hesitant tone. "His stars grow dim, but they are not yet gone. We must find him before they truly fade away!"

    A rare look of profound sadness overtook Rowan's face at Cancer's words. "No...I...I hoped you might know...I have no idea where he is."

    "...I see." Cancer took a step back and partially closed his faceplate, concealing his expression.

    "What are you talking about?" asked Simon. The smaller spirit next to him tilted its head in confusion.

    "The gate of the lion." Cancer explained. "We twelve Zodiac Spirits have always looked to the most courageous of our ranks, Leo, to guide us in times of need. His strength, kindness, and wisdom gave him an air of regality second only to the spirit king himself. He was far more than I could ever be. But one day he said he had lost something precious in this world, and that he needed to find it. That was the last time we saw him.

    As you know, we spirits need ether to survive, just as you. But rather than using this realm's ethernano, our bodies take in the celestial light of our homeworld. This is why we need help from summoners like you if we are to stay in this world for long. But Leo is here alone, and every moment he spends here weakens him further. I don't understand why he won't come back, even now when his life depends on it…"

    Cancer fell quiet. Simon frowned. "...Two years, and this is the most you've ever said to me…" he said before joining his spirit in silence.

    "How often have you tried to start a conversation with him?"

    Simon got defensive. "Hey, I talk to him all the time! He just... doesn't really talk back."

    "I'm not trying to insult you." Rowan said softly. "It just ties in to that advice I offered. Celestial Wizards and their spirits share a deeply symbiotic relationship. Understanding your spirit and fighting smart helps to make the best of their abilities but that's only part of the equation. The more you bond with your spirits, the easier it is to keep them in our world and the more power you can draw out of them, and them from you." He smiled up at cancer, then looked at Simon sympathetically. "You're right to take responsibility for your own loss, but the thing is, Simon...You didn't lose because you were too weak. You lost because you didn't make good enough use of Cancer. He's one of the strongest of all the spirits, a newbie, even an exceptionally strong and talented one shouldn't have been any match for him. You two were completely out of synch in that fight. If you really want to take the next major step towards getting stronger, really put the work in to get to know this big guy, I'm sure his shell's not as hard to crack through as you think - metaphorically, at least."

    He tried to argue but the words escaped him. "Why are you helping me? We're enemies, and what's happening now doesn't change the fact that I intend to crush your guild at the Games. Being someone who lasted as long as you did against Egan, I know you're smart enough to realize that."

    "Because you helped me." Rowan replied plainly. "And even if I hated your guts I'd want to help Cancer. My family has always had great respect for the stars and their spirits. Besides, beating your ass wouldn't hold the same value if you weren't the best you could be" He finished with a wink.

    "We'll see if you're in such high spirits next time our guilds cross. Egan will… no, I'll be there to kick you into the dirt." His words were harsh, but there was life in his defiant smirk.

    "...I do have one last question for you though...for both of you. Have you ever heard...of a Kingdom in the Sky?"

    The Gryphons let the question stir in their minds a bit before answering.

    "No, I can't say I have," said the summoner.

    "The phrase could potentially be used to describe our kingdom of the stars, but I somehow doubt that is what you meant," spoke the spirit.

    "I thought that would be the case." Rowan replied, his smile turning sad while he looked up at the stars again. With a flourish of his hair, Rowan turned towards home. "Thanks for the help...take good care of each other. If you let anybody else beat on Cancer like Birdbrain did I'll be coming to ring your bell, Simon. Cancer...try your best, yeah? Be a little more open with him, you need each other. You know Leo would want you to be giving everything you've got to surpass him and you can't do that without Simon. I guess that's all, toodles, gents." He finished, beginning to head back. "OH YEAH" Rowan burst out, coming to a sudden halt. "And put some flare into your summoning! Don't just call his name and 'poof" Cancer into existence! Where's the showmanship? That classic 'Ding Dong!'? I expect your summoning to have some style next time I see you."

    "...Ding...dong?" Simon repeated unsurely. Cancer said nothing and just looked down in thought. The two were quiet as the Phoenix walked home, each left with a lot to consider.

    The moon continued to rise, the stars around it shining brighter as the sun fell further and further away. The townspeople were going home now, the lights around the town fading. Instead, Harmonia stood on the inn's roof to watch the celestial lightshow, despite the fact that the inn had no roof access and she probably wasn't supposed to be there. It was time to wind down and get comfortable, yet even now she wore the weaponized suit of magitech.

    "Oh hey, who'da thought you liked to look up at the stars too." A voice seemed to whisper into her ear, dripping with malice at the same time as she felt a light tap on her back.

    Even without a face to read, Rowan could sense the jolt of panic. It was strange, then, that Harmonia's body didn't react all that much. She quietly calmed herself before acknowledging him. "Oh, it's the Nestlings' other clown. What do you want?"

    Rowan ignored the jab and stepped forward to join in her stargazing. "Not much, just a bit of a chat." She felt nothing in his tone or his presence whatsoever. So much nothing, in fact, that it was almost like a void instead of the absence of something. His voice remained eerily calm as he asked. "Do you enjoy hurting other people? Your guild seeks strength above all else, why is it that you seek it. Is it so you can grind other people beneath your feet?"

    Harmonia was clearly confused and a little annoyed, but she played along. "If someone pisses me off then yeah, it feels good to knock 'em around a bit. That's not why I want to be strong, though. Not really, anyway. It's so I can be free. So I can hurt the people who piss me off. So I can say what I want. Do what I want. Strong enough so I can be me, no matter what."

    "I see." He replied, sounding thoughtful. "Freedom is an admirable goal." There was a long pause, filled only with silence and the twinkling lights above them. "Might makes right, is that it? Then let me make something clear to you." Just like that the peace in the air was shattered, but not by Rowan's words. Harmonia began to feel a fear more primal and intense than anything she could have imagined, yet not her own fear, she could tell. The feeling swelled until it was accompanied by the sounds of pained screams and loud crashes in her head, echoing louder and louder until she detected something underneath the fear. Anger...rage? No. Hate...a spiraling, all consuming passion of despair and hatred bubbling up from - from where? The feelings collapsed in on themselves then sharpened until they were like a blade pointed at her throat and she couldn't help but turn her head to look at Rowan. Tiny bits of frost had formed on the ends of his hair and the look in his eyes was exponentially colder. "If you ever so much as try to treat one of my guildmates like that again - if you even think about doing that to Lina again. I will kill you. It doesn't matter if I have to do it in your sleep, it doesn't matter if I have to wait until I'm strong enough to burn your entire guild to the ground - even if my own tries to stop me... I will end your life without a second thought, without a shred of guilt." His words were pure venom, every single syllable punctuated by that invisible blade of the purest hostility pointed straight at her.

    Metal clattered against wood as Harmonia shook in terror. She gripped her knees and took a deep breath. Slowly, the terror faded. In its place was sadness, which soon, too, faded. "You wouldn't be the first to want me gone. You probably won't be the last, either." The last stop on her roller coaster of emotions was indignation. "Sometimes I wonder if that might be for the best, but if it does come to that I'm sure as hell not giving you fucks the satisfaction of doing it."

    She stood and made for the roof's edge, speaking without looking at him. "Say whatever you want. I'm done being cowed into submission. What about you? You gonna make good on those threats?" Her fists were clenched. She was tense. For all her usual confidence, she was truly unsure of what Rowan would do next.

    Rowan examined her coldly. "You've felt this before." It wasn't a question and he didn't elaborate. After a few more seconds - that felt like an eternity - of the tension, all the feelings coming from Rowan vanished at once and he sighed. "Don't misunderstand me. I said if you ever tried to treat one of my guldmates like that again I'd do it. It wasn't a threat, it was a warning. There are some things you don't want to do, swear to yourself you will never do...then the moment comes and there's no thought, no choice to be made, it just happens. That's why I had to stop my little brother from going at you like a wild animal... Y'know, I'd really like to hear your story one day, when I can share my own... But I have to know. If you're so afraid of being weak, so afraid of being helpless and trapped... why would you want to make make someone else feel like that?" As he spoke the last words, Harmonia felt something new. One of the most advanced tricks Rowan was capable of. Everything Lina felt flowed directly into her as if they'd been linked when it happened.

    Harmonia kept quiet as the feelings flowed through her mind. From the nervous excitement of Lina's first battle, to the self-doubt and desperation approaching her first defeat. Without words Rowan had only her own emotions to gauge anything from. Annoyance, frustration, and eventually anger. The same things she felt during the match, but they felt different somehow. Despite Rowan's best efforts, Harmonia held her ground. "I don't regret what I did, and I won't apologize for it. If you've got a problem with that you can stab me in my sleep or whatever. Otherwise, just leave me alone."

    "Not everyone's your enemy, and not all problems can be solved by strength." Rowan said to her in closing. "I hope we can speak again one day, when we've both grown some more."

    She muttered under her breath, "This was a mistake," her words tinted with the sadness from earlier before jumping down from the roof. Before long, Rowan stopped being able to track her emotions. He was alone with the stars.


    Sapphire Rose

    [I]Only thorns left on this rose.[/I]
  • 3,449

    Faye Aubrey

    Female | 19 | Wizard/Touched

    Hot springs fanservice featuring Lina and Drell

    Within the Phoenix Nest guildhall's basement lies a magic circle imbued with teleportation magic. Stepping inside it leads to a hidden location nestled in the Collean Mountans, to a natural hot spring. A small building, about as shoddy as the guildhall itself stands to greet new arrivals, there to shelter them if they happen to come during unfavorable weather. A wooden wall splits the spring in two, with curtains marked "men" and "women" lead to each half from the building.

    Faye stood in front of that building with a towel resting on her shoulder. She was doubting whether she should really go in or not. She really wanted to but on the other note, if someone was already in or was to come in while Faye was washing her hair, her horns would be quite visible for all to see. Not to mention the few off-white scales she has on her lower arm.

    "..." Faye sighed. Hot springs are relaxing, and relaxing is something that was a must after the battle of today. She threw a glance at her right arm and clenched her fist. This was the arm she could not move anymore previously today. It was all thanks to Myeloch's magic circle she did not receive any scars as a memory of Harmonia.

    Faye finally decided to enter the hot springs area for women but not before undressing herself in the dressing rooms. Just in case somebody would get in, she clothed her lower arm with the scales and left a little towel on top of her horns. The two little bumps were just slightly visible but not enough for people anyone to notice if they did not knew there was actually something beneath that towel.

    The sizeable spring was surrounded by stone. Above the enclosure was completely open, a view of the stars unlike anything that could be seen from the capital. And yet, the first thing to catch Faye's eye was the sole other figure in the hot spring.

    Eyes closed at the edge of the water was a familiar red-headed girl. Upon hearing Faye's steps, Lina shot to attention. "Oh, Faye, it's just you. Sorry, I'm uh... little on edge. I came here to relax, but I guess that part's still a work in progress."

    The door crashed open suddenly and violently behind Faye, rebounding against the wall twice as a humungous form clattered its way from beneath the restraint of the comparatively puny doorway. Duke Ith'Drell, still clad in plate from the aftermath of the 'friendly tussle', promptly barrelled her way toward the hot springs with extreme fervour.

    "Yoooo, nobody told me we had hot springs! Heckin' sweet-" noisily gallivanting over the rocky terrain, she made to cannonball into the nearest pool of water before spotting Lina already in, deciding it would be dangerous, and transitioning the boisterous move into something that would probably be better described as a crumple.

    Faye sighed as she was startled from Drell's sudden entrance but of course did not show that besides the little jump she made. "Yes we did. It was on the tour." She said as she closed her eyes in slight annoyance as she entered the spring and sat down close to Lina. The hot water on Faye's skin gave her a short state of euphoria. Her body felt instantly better and the relaxing feeling this hot spring gave Faye, left her defenseless.

    "The tour? Ohh," the great lizard seemed to have a kind of epiphany as she lifted her visor that had become closed during her impromptu tumble. "See, I thought Lina said 'not-springs'."

    "I can see how you'd confuse them," said Lina. "Not that I know what a not spring even is."

    "Oh, I mean it's pretty simple - you know what a spring is, right?"

    She raised an eyebrow. "Um, yeah? I'm pretty sure."

    Drell grinned, "Well, it's, uh, not that."

    Faye tilted her head. "Guys... please?" Faye stopped them. Although she said not much, it was obvious she meant if they could please be a little bit more quiet.

    Lina gave an apologetic smile. "Sorry, I guess you guys had a rough time of it too, huh? That's fine, we can just chill out in this, uh, not-chill spring."

    "Aha, sorry Faye," Ith'Drell chuckled. With a clank she shifted, having finally adjusted from the attempted-cannonball calamity into a comfortable position. "Uh, dunno about 'rough'. I guess it'd probably have been more fun to fight the giant crab - I mean, she was crabby, but that ain't really the same thing."

    "I still can't believe we won though. Even though it was because she pulled out due to the mess we were creating instead of actually making progress in actually defeating her." Faye crossed her arms and looked up to the sky. The stars sparkling in her hazel eyes.

    Lina's eyes widened. "You won? That's awesome! I was worried about how our guild would look after my...er... performance, but two wins against the top definitely ain't bad! So what was the grand strategy that finally took her down?"

    Drell snorted, "I played the 'hey, look over there' trick and she fell for it, and I guess she was taking it so seriously that she got mad and left. Dunno if it counts as grand. Was funny, though." She gave a glance to her ally in battle. "Faye and I were kinda pushin' her buttons, I think. Dunno how fun that woulda been without the teamwork, glad you could put up with me, dude!"

    Faye shrugged. "I tried to take her on seriously but I'm not as tactless as fighting a battle I cannot win. In the end I just wanted revenge for what she did to you, no matter how." She spoke to Lina, in a quiet voice, a little embarrassed too. She glanced at Drell, the crazy armored female who had put up with Faye's hot-headedness as she jumped into that fight with Harmonia without thinking. "It's you who I should thank. I jumped into that fight without a strategy. Not only did you provide us of one, you joined me without knowing my abilities. This could've gone downhill really fast."

    "Psshhh, nah," Ith'Drell waved it away. "Myeloch's a big boy wizard. And I'm, like, super-epic, so... I mean, yeah, we went into it kinda wonky. But where's the fun in avoiding wonk the whole time?"

    Lina sunk herself a little deeper into the spring. "Wish I'd been there to see it, I would've loved to see that jerk look dumb. Thanks, though, for helping us save face. Not sure I like the idea of having you trying to get revenge for me, though. I don't mean to sound ungrateful but kinda feels like having other people clean up my mess for me, y'know?"

    "I know I said revenge but please do not see it like that." Faye tried to reassure Lina. "Yes, it was unpleasant to see you get knocked down like that but I think I was mostly angry for how she treated you and thought it was completely normal... and could get away with that. Her attitude is what annoyed me, I guess." the outside breeze was making her feel a little cold, she lowered her body a little more into the hot spring water.

    "Dunno why any of us are the ones who have to save face, anyway," Drell said with a frown, unclasping the lower half of her helmet. She wriggled her head out of it and sat it down beside the spring. "Maybe it's just me, but I dunno where that kinda animalistic attitude belongs in a profession where you're s'posed to be helpin' people."

    "You've got a point," said Lina. "Beneath the glitz and glory of the Games, guilds are there to help people. But on the other hand, it's the biggest guilds, the ones with reach and resources that are able to help the most people, and they only get that way through their fame. Or maybe I'm projecting. I really do love helping people, but personally, what I want most of all is just to be really, really cool."

    "I do not think a guild has to have fame in order to help people." Faye removed a strand of hair out of her face and adjusted the towel on her head a bit. The heat was making her hair moist so it was good she decided to use that towel. "If you work hard, you'll still get to help people. Fame is not needed." She kept going on. "I don't know anything about being cool though, so can't help you with that. I think you should just try to be yourself. Don't become someone you are not." Thinking about it now, that might've sound a little harsh.

    "I mean, speaking as someone who's kind of an expert in super-coolness, condsidering how super-cool I am," Drell weighed in, placing a hand to her chest. "Helpin' people's a pretty good way to be super-cool. Kinda hard not to be super-cool when you're helpin' people. And you guys all seem pretty cool to me-maybe not as big-massive-epic as I am, but y'know know it is." The touched warrior's brow creased as she removed her gauntlets and placed them beside her helmet. "Now, takin' a friendly tussle super serious to the point you wanna badly hurt someone for no good gosh damn reason, now that- that ain't super-cool at all. And bein' on the other side of that sucks bigtime, but it ain't anythin' to be ashamed of, dude. It's not uncool, it's just a bummer."

    Faye smirked slightly at the words of Drell, though trying to hide it the best she could. It was a faint change in the corners of her mouth instead of the empty look she always has.

    "Well it definitely is a bummer, but I guess you're right," conceded Lina. She stood up. "I've been in here for a bit so I'm gonna get out before I overheat. But thanks, though. Both of you."

    "Take care." was heard from almost under the water, though Faye did get up again. It felt like the foggy mist in the hot springs was getting slightly worse so it was hard to see anything. Faye just guessed Lina was already gone.

    "Dunno what I really did, but no problemo. Everyone leavin', huh?" Ith'Drell commented. "Feels like I only just got here. What about you, Dragonface, you goin' too?"

    Drell's clearly-sentient helmet, who just happened to have Drell's hand atop its visor, spoke a series of jabbering noises that sounded like they came from its owner but definitely didn't because that would be preposterous. Its jaw flapped up and down as it spoke - of its own volition, obviously.

    "Dude, you can't say that," the armoured lizard balked. "That's, like, scandalous! Or something, I dunno."

    Faye stared with widened eyes at Drell and was silent for a moment or two "... what did it say?" She couldn't help herself asking. Of course it was Drell speaking for the.... uhm.. helmet but the curiosity was still there.

    "Huh? You didn't hear?" Ith'Drell smirked. "Dragonface said: 'Bahbabhabahabahabah'-" she cracked herself up in the middle of the repeated jabbering and shook her head at her own silliness.

    Faye had those same widened eyes she had earlier. For a second she thought Drell truly had gone mad but as Drell laughed herself Faye starting relaxing again as well. One thing that struck a nerve of curiosity was how different Drell looked from everyone else. Of course she knew what Drell was but she also knew her mother still had human features. Drell looked different than that. "Drell... are you a touched?" She just flat out asked without considering if it was an appropriate question or not.

    "Eh?" The giant armoured lizard cocked her head at the question. She gave Faye a lopsided grin. "Nah, dude, I'm just what happens when you teach a croc to read- of course I'm touched, look at me!"

    "Uh yeah... sorry that was stupid." Faye admitted. "What I meant was, were you born in the Mistlands and did you grow up there?" She reformed her question.

    "Heh, not quite Mistlands proper," said Drell, scratching the back of her head. "But yeah, I'm a northern gal. I think good ol' Total Mist is a little too funky for, uh... well, for the most part even just being in, let alone living and growing up in. But, uh, actually I do have a house there. And on second thoughts, yeah, I did grow up there and it was awesome. When I was born it was like, a gigantic ether explosion and everyone looked at it and went 'uh, jeez, that's going to become, uh... someone awesome, I guess' and they were, like, totally right or something."

    Faye leaned backwards against a rock. Drell's way of talking was tiresome to listen to but that's what makes Drell who she is. "I see..." she responded. "What are the Mistlands like?" Faye was already not expecting Drell to be serious but she started getting the hang of deciphering her speech.

    "The actual Mistlands? I mean, uh... well, the mist kills ya, basically," Drell chuckled with a grimace. "Not me, 'course, because I'm epic, but uh, yeah, in general it ain't a good idea. Apart from all the death, I guess, even the area near it is basically funk-central. I saw a lemon-tornado, once. Like, not a tornado with lemons in it, it was actually just one lemon. The whole- instead of being made out of air, the tornado, all of it, was made out of one lemon, all stretchin' back and forth and everythin'. Weird as heck. Well I- I dunno, you guys down South have got, like, those boxes with voices in 'em, so maybe it ain't so weird, you tell me. Got any lemonados?"

    "...We do not got any lemonados." Faye stated. The Mistlands sure sounded like one hell of a place, if Drell was really serious about the lemonados. Faye never actually got to ask her mother about the Mistlands so she wouldn't know what it's like.

    "I'm going back to the guild. I don't want to stay out too late." Faye stood up and made her way out of the water. "Thank you for the talk." She said without turning around.

    "Ay no worries, always cool to hang with my new guild buds. I'm gonna soak a couple extra minutes - come get me if you guys go anywhere, yeah?"

    "Sure." Faye went back inside the changing rooms where she had a change of clothes ready, just her pyjama's actually. She left the towel on her head and the bandage around her arm as she went outside, she did not want to get caught at the last checkpoint and so she proceeded towards the portal that would bring her back to the guildhalls. Upon arriving Faye noticed that the guildhalls were dark, only slightly lit here and there by a few lacrima's. Of course Faye wasn't one to mind the darkness, it was her affinity after all. She sighed, neither in relief or in disappointment but in fatigue. It had been a long day and it had started to take a toll on Faye. She made her way upstairs where she just crashed into her bed after closing the door towards her room.