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Snippet #2739320

located in Aires, a part of Birthstone Spirits: The Second Revival, one of the many universes on RPG.

Aires

None

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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Ryou’s eyes widened fractionally at Angela’s sheepish admission, and his grin shrank by a few molars. Those were the only signs he let on that he was surprised, quite the feat for a man so confident in his earlier assertion.

“Many pardons, Miss November. Maybe I am getting on in years, looking for familiar faces in pretty new ones,” warm laughter bubbled up again as he glanced over to Kibi. “It looks like I owe you an apology, Kibi. It looks like I am getting old.”

He was taking his error quite well, turning to the rest of the assembled group. Jules thought he noticed Ron slinking off to God-knows-where in the midst of the commotion, although Ryou didn’t move to stop him. Either he hadn’t noticed or the academy’s owner had that all-seeing, all-knowing teacher thing going on.

“And Dorian is… ah!” Ryou stopped, directly facing Dorian. While one could hope that he would have figured it out eventually (Dorian was such a typical Halesian name), the way Jules was pointing at him certainly helped speed up the process. The two may have been almost-friends, but Jules sure as fuck wasn’t about to risk being mistaken for the March Warrior first. He didn’t need to be the next victim of Ryou’s charm. The man was like a glitter whirlwind, all flash and enthusiasm, and Jules did not have the patience for that right now.

Dorian glanced at Jules sharply. Betrayal…!

And then the room was silent, Ryou observing the soldier with a slightly tilted head and an uncomfortably intense gaze and Dorian staring back, vaguely wishing, as he so often did these days, that it was a little cooler.

“Not to be rude, but you’re not exactly the March type. Are we sure?” said Ryou after a moment.

And Dorian knew at least that fact to be true. The stories of March that his grandmother had told him painted an enthusiastic figure, bursting with vivacity and sunlight. Their mood was flippant and inconstant, just like their month. Here sweet and warm like a lamb, there a roaring lion, passionate and bold. Dorian, on the other hand, appeared to be what would happen if March had an evil or at least lesser twin, the cold night to that warm day. All icy, still waters to March’s tumultuous, joyous waves.

“Yes,” Dorian finally said, and because it was the only thing he knew to do, he fished the aquamarine pendant out from under his shirt and held it aloft.

What happened next was a blur of movement as Ryou surged towards, now standing a bit too close for any normal person’s comfort (this meant, of course, that he was infinitely too close for Dorian’s). Jules flinched to one side while Dorian’s hand twitched towards his empty sword sheath on instinct.

The sudden movement was over as soon as it began because with fingers hovering over the pendant cradled in Dorian’s hand, he stilled, not even breathing. There was a moment of silence before Ryou’s fingertips wavered and he pulled his hand back to his chest as if the very proximity to the pendant had left him burnt.

“Yes. Yes, I see that now. What is your full name?”

“Steinsson Dorian.” It was like a switch had been flipped. Ryou was suddenly back to his original state, a grin settling on his face.

“Steinsson? Oh, I suppose we have another big buff Halesian here. Whatever am I to do?” He laughed, the sound booming and warm and rich. It didn’t quite reach his eyes, and Jules, who knew a thing or two about acting (and even more about escaping an emotional moment while surrounded by large, judgmental crowds of people), noticed.

But they were apparently wasting no time with Haru stepping forward, no doubt returned from doing something incredibly important like ensuring that the Month Warriors would survive another day. Jules didn’t bother to suppress a groan when Haru mentioned an initiation. Dorian was just relieved that Ryou’s attention was off of him again, now turned on their red-headed guardian.

“Really, Haru? Are you trying to rush me in my own home?” Ryou scoffed, although the false-indignation was shattered with another laugh. “But you are right, as always. I’m afraid all of you have some time to go before you can settle in for the evening. If you would- ah!”

He paused, eyes flickering in a new direction. Jules followed his gaze to see Alina’s retreating back (maybe she’d finally grown tired of them) and someone that, to his surprise, he actually recognized.

“You!” Jules spluttered. It was Septimus, the hero of the hour for both Jules and Heather. Of course he’d be there now because apparently nothing was ever pure coincidence in Jules’s life. In the light of the day, he seemed almost like an average person, not the humble yet noble figure he’d encountered the night before. Just human, and… Jules winced. Injured. It wasn’t like he was bleeding everywhere, but he’d been clearly roughed up. Something akin the guilt welled up in Jules’s stomach. Had that been his fault after he and Heather unintentionally started the fight?

But he pushed that and the lingering embarrassment of randomly shouting out down, although his face did flush an interesting shade of red.

“You’re here. I… Are you…?”

Ryou seemed to take pity on him.

“You know each other? A lovely coincidence,” Ryou hummed as he began to move forward and out of the barn. “Septimus, follow, please. I seem to recall that these are not my only new students who have yet to enjoy my initiation.”

He glanced back at the group, merely slowing his pace rather than stopping. “If all of you will join me? Keiran, this is the event I was telling you about. I’m sure you’ll be excited to finally take part.”

And then he was out the door, expecting them to keep up. Dorian followed swiftly, leaving Jules to linger for a moment before hurrying behind. Things happened here either at an achingly slow pace or all at once, and he wasn’t quite sure which this particular venture was going to be. Also, where had Ron wandered off to?

Interlude


Before we can answer that particular question, we must pause and answer one posed earlier. Why, indeed, had Ryou not seen fit to stop Ron from meandering out of the modified barn? The answer is simply that he didn’t have to.

The library Ron reached was an interesting building, more solidly built than perhaps any other structure on the small campus, save for the armory. The room he wandered into was lined with neat shelves containing scrolls and papers, most loose and relatively new in terms of creation. This was the reading room, a place for the more casual scholar within the academy. Here you could find basic answers regarding Aires. They were the text books, if you will, of the basics one must know before being flung into the midst of the various countries and conflicts. It was a plain room and, indeed, no match for the great libraries of Earth.

Look closer, however, and you might note a strange patch on the floor, located in a far corner and nearly pinned in by low shelves. That patch let out a creak a little louder than expected when stepped on and was paired with several indentations, including a small hole. A key hole.

Ryou was many things, including (on occasions featuring particularly lovely people) a fool, but one does not become successful by placing one’s most valuable possessions out for every snot-nosed brat and belching warrior to put their hands on. Hidden below this particular room was the real literary treasure trove of the academy; ancient scrolls stored neatly next to leather tomes and bound manuscripts older than almost anyone could imagine. Only those with express permission from Ryou (or Alina if Ryou couldn’t be found) were allowed in that ancient library. These were the scholars of the Academy.

Two such scholars (or, in reality, one scholar and one helper) suddenly rose from the trapdoor, the tiny hinges moving silently. The first person to climb out was a boy, even younger than the youngest Month Warrior. He had sharp features, a hawkish nose, and his skin and hair were the color of freshly fallen snow. He was followed by a tall scarecrow of a person, lanky and tall with untamable black curls for hair. A single sharp scar stretched from cheek to cheek, crossing over the bridge of their nose.

It was only after the door had been shut and safely locked that the two seemed to notice Ron.

“Sorry, what are you doing here?” It was the scarecrow person, voice rough but surprisingly high. Their gender wasn’t immediately apparent, and they seemed pleasant enough. “Don’t mean to be rude. I don’t recognize you is all.”

The white-haired boy jerked at the older person’s sleeve to get their attention, moving his hands in a flurry of quick signs. The older nodded in understanding.

“I got ya’. Whole bunch of new ones these days, eh? Right, then.” They turned to Ron once again. "Sorry, but you’re not allowed to be off on your own yet, being new and all.”

The boy signed something again, nose wrinkled, and his companion laughed.

“And not smelling of skunk weed as you are! Good point, Mori,” The other snickered. The young boy, now known as Mori, looked smug as the scarecrow person gave Ron a crooked grin.

“So, I suppose I’ll be escorting you out then, if you don’t mind?”

End Interlude


Even if Ron did mind, the duo swiftly, courteously, and effectively escorted him out of the library and back to the group.

There was nothing that needed to be done about Ron, apparently, because Ryou’s students were as efficient as Haru had hinted at earlier when telling them about the academy.

“Dae and Mori,” Ryou offered by way of explanation to the group as he waved the pair away to go enjoy their dinner. “My students are very conscientious, as you can tell. Now that we’re all here…”

They walked for maybe twenty minutes, the neat area of the academy slowly transforming into thick woods filled with trees and ferns. It was colder for a time, the canopy growing overhead blocking out the sun’s last rays as it began its descent. Ryou walked on purposefully, unheeding of tree roots and ferns that threatened to trip up the unwary traveler. It was only when he took a sudden left that the daylight was returned to them.

He’d brought them to a clearing on top of a cliff, plush green grass thriving under the warm sun. From here they could see other densely forested mountaintops as far as the eye could see. At the bottom of the cliff was a large body of water, clear and blue and deep, lined by the cliff walls apart from a patch of land some ways off. It was the only way that led back to the surrounding forest.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Ryou. Dorian had to agree, if only because he’d never seen moving water that clean or quiet.

Ryou made his way to the cliff’s edge, pirouetting to face them as he reached the lip.

“This, my students, is your initiation. It is a ritual all of my students have completed. Consider it a learning experience. All you have to do is take a leap of faith into the waters below-“

“Nope!” Jules was pale with fear or rage or both. “No thanks. I’ve done a lot of weird shit in the past few days, but I’ve drawing a big, fat line at jumping off a cliff.”