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Allevent, Realm of Caith

Barberry, City of Guilds

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a part of Allevent, Realm of Caith, by Wrenn.

Barberry, City of Guilds

Wrenn holds sovereignty over Barberry, City of Guilds, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

411 readers have been here.

Setting

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A sunny port city, perfectly positioned with a natural harbor that promotes healthy trade and travel. The city has been built into the cliffed coast, giving Barberry a tiered layout that over the years its inhabitants have systemized. At the lowest tier are the docks, the warehouses, the poorest housing and various dens of ill-repute. Subsequent tiers climb from such levels as peasant housing, merchant shops, aristocratic dwellings -- although it is the second highest tier that has for centuries put Barberry on the map: Guilded Avenue.

Guilded Avenue houses the many dozens of licensed guild halls in the city, which range from small, niche service providers to the Master League (five of the grandest guilds, as much in charge of the city as the official government). Some guilds are for specialized professions such as blacksmiths, spellcrafters or mercenaries, while other guilds can have varied members that are united more by a mission or philosophy than a profession.

To be an official guild the guildmaster needs to buy a license from the city. Licensed guilds are ranked daily by prestige, which they earn along with coin by completing jobs for clients. The more prestigious the guild the better members it will attract. The better the guild's members, the more prestigious the bid it can accept. For this reason the guilds are quite insular and stable, making it a difficult business to enter.

On land Barberry is surrounded by gently-sloping meadows that give way to outlying villages and farmland -- it takes a good day's ride to reach any hillside or forest that can be described as wild. That does not mean that the immediately outlying regions of Barberry are always safe for travelers: the windy coast attracts many stannum-infused caithness, and the plains see their fair share of alumen-type caithness.
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Barberry, City of Guilds

Barberry, City of Guilds

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Barberry, City of Guilds is a part of Allevent.

1 Places in Barberry, City of Guilds:

4 Characters Here

Xioban Efialtis [13] "Purrfectly enchanting~"
I.S.S.A.C. [8] "I live to serve."
Arto Kelmt [6] "I'm here about the job..."
Jion Tane [3] "The road beneath me will show me the world around me."

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Character Portrait: Lysandra Teraviel
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Lysandra Teraviel




The distraught woman finally managed to compose herself in the dressing room, wiping the tears from her eyes and drying her hands on her old, torn clothes. The flask of liquid that she never asked for sat in the corner, oblivious to the myriad of emotions that the elf was feeling now. Despite the new robes, which fit her very comfortably and even did an exceptional job at hiding her arm, those nagging thoughts of doubt and paranoia continued to flit around her brain--had the tailor seen anything before the switch? What if that white-haired man was still waiting for her outside the shop?

A small knock at the door of the changing stall--the elf jumped at the sound and felt her heart begin to beat faster in her chest. "Ma'am, are you doing alright in there?" the tailor's voice called from the other side. "Is everything OK? I thought I heard some crying and I wanted to make sure--"

She opened the door after grabbing the discarded robes with her crystallized arm, the potion in the other hand. Her eyes were forlorn, yes, but for a completely different reason. "Yes, I'm fine..." her voice was soft, almost contemplative. "It's just... I've had these robes for a long time and now they're ruined..."

How easily the lie rolled from her tongue! Before she had begun her travels across Allevent, she never would have felt comfortable stretching the trouth to anyone, no matter how slight; yet now she felt almost a sort of compulsory need to do so in order to hide her arm. Perhaps this had to with her spending time among humans and other races away from the forests... Maybe this was a bad habit that developed out of necessity? Either way, the woman tried to make herself look as natural as possible--if the tailor suspected anything off about this statement at all, he might start thinking about other things: what might she be hiding from him?

The tailor took a quick glance at the robes in her hand before looking back up to the woman's face. "It's a shame, too--those robes looked well-crafted and cared for. It's understandable that you would be sad to see them go. I could always patch that tear up if you like, or I may be able to use it in the future as a display piece--"

The woman's face grew pale. Why would this man want her torn clothing? Did the growths leave any sort of residue or dust in the sleeve after all these years? Would he be able to figure it out just from that? If he did learn about something, would he take back the clothes he just sold her?

"No!" Startled, she took a few quick steps toward the door. She stopped, realizing that this probably would arouse more suspicion than anything else. "I... I mean, no, thank you..." she walked up to the counter and grabbed her change--a few small silver coins--and immediately left the tailor's shop, letting the door slam behind her.

This entire journey was growing more and more frustrating with every single misstep. First the spectacle with the fox and her sleeve, then the people getting close to her and trying to examine what happened to her, and then the whole thing with the white-haired man--it was all too close for her comfort. Luckily, there was no sign of the armored man who had led her to the tailor's shop, and that at least gave her a slight bit of relief--had he been waiting for her to finish her business, she probably would not have known what to do.

In any case, she glanced down the street toward a commotion in front of a tavern. Of course, she would try to stay away from the ruckus as much as possible--the tavern scene never suited her, especially with all of the drunkards that could potentially try to pry their beady little eyes into her clothing. She had learned that humans were very susceptible to the poison that was alcohol, and their inebriated state of mind often caused all sorts of bizarre and unwanted scenarios to play out. Thinking about trying to check out the situation sent a chill down her spine--perhaps it was the wind telling her that she should continue what she had set out to do in the first place.

She began to walk back up the street toward the plaza; away from the tavern and the densely-packed shops of the alleyway, away from the crowds of people that might have recognized her from before. Despite her new robes and her no-longer-torn sleeve, she continued to look suspiciously at any passersby, wondering if they could see through her robe, hoping that they would not recognize her from the commotion she had caused with the fox familiar. Her gaze fell to the flask of liquid in her hand--how would she ever be able to find that girl with the cat-ear cap now that she had run off into the crowds of people? What if she had seen something and brought it up as she tried to give the flask back? The elf shook her head as she attempted to brush away those nagging thoughts--there was a time and a place to worry about that, but this was not it.

The Imperial Archive came into view as the woman in red turned the corner--the stall owner was right after all. The building looked more all the more impressive with the setting sun off in the distance. Judging from the architecture, the woman guessed that this building was hundreds of years old--easily older than even she--but it still appeared well-maintained and cared for. She hoped that there would not be a large crowd browsing through the archives, especially if there was anyone that could have possibly seen her in the marketplace with her arm--especially with a group of potential scholars, she did not want to become the center of attention with such an... interesting condition.

Luckily for her, the halls were rather empty, and most that were there were too buried in their research to even glance up and give her the time of day. This was exactly the sort of environment that she was hoping to find. Browsing the many tomes gave her a sense of familiarity, something she had been longing for for nearly the past decade. After finding a few old leather-bound volumes that seemed to relate to the subject matter she was searching for, she carried them to an isolated table in a bit of a darker corner and began to read.

The elf sat and began to read, oblivious to the others in the archive just as they were to her. This was exactly how she wanted it--no one else meddling in her business, nothing to interrupt her from her research, no one to make any sort of comment or notice anything about her arm.

...so why did she all of a sudden feel like she was being watched?

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raruna (Runa) Leautia Character Portrait: Isengrim Lupul Character Portrait: Icarus Saerin Character Portrait: Zherynnia Analorum Character Portrait: Derithiue Qre Jedas Character Portrait: Lawrence Rivers
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So... basically... It was another escort job once more... Great... Marvelous... Fantastic... Wonderful... He could go on with the list of adjectives to attach to this mission he had already accepted without much thought. Well, beggars can't be choosers as they say! At the same time, this will be a good chance for him to redeem himself in some way. Although, he really didn't care about his reputation. Still, it was important for his chosen career and all. So... he cared a little bit. In any case, he studied another female joining the group who had a rather unceremonious entrance. Narrowing his eyes at this, he hated being interrupted especially when his questions was about to be answered. This woman was surely someone he dislikes much like the wench who butted in. Scratch that, make it two females as the content of the sack was revealed to them. In any case, he didn't know that it was a possibility to transport an living being in such a manner. Thinking about it carefully, he shall use the same method as well. It was less hassle and all.

Well, it did not strike him odd hearing the languages spouting from this so-called Qi'jhariihl. Jedas had heard it from the books at his hometown about this girl's kind. Well, it was just the basic as he never had the patience for staying still and all. Well, maybe he could if he was bound or something. But for now, he looked at the seemingly younger girl who was obviously off to her own version of La-La Land. Well, he had those moments as well. It was more fun than this world apparently. Exhaling some of his smoke again, he listened to the details of the mission and the other facts needed to be known by them. Well the gist of it was to protect some harvester thing while making sure no thieves or bad guys get a hand on it. Simple enough and that is fine with him. Although, there was one detail he did not like...

Ship... specifically.... AIRSHIPS... Jedas was not a fan of technology as he had lived in a backwater country most of his life. So, it is not surprising if he hates such modern advancement or be at times in childish amazement of such achievements. For now, the airship was on his hate-list and believe it, this is not the only one on that particularly long list. Adding to that, this is one of the other things he would hate the newcomer of a woman. She likes interruptions and then she has a ship. This does not bode well for any kind of social interactions at all. He finished his cigarette and clucked his tongue at the mode of transportation as for the time reading and all. Well, the clock thing is fine by him although, he still hates reading all those numbers.

"Since, this is over... See you until then chaps. I'm leaving now!" Turning his back at them, Jedas waved his hand over his head and walked down the stairs. He needed to get some rest now which means looking for an acceptable inn. Well, he was still a bit hungry so, he might chow down on some food from the stalls at the marketplace. Without much of an interruption, he left the Pie and went on his way. Hopefully, he does not find trouble along the way in which he seemed to be a part of usually.

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Character Portrait: Aela
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#, as written by Byte
Whatever was happening in a rapid succession of actions and reactions, Aela just glared as the problem pretty much resolved itself. From the appearance of a species she had never heard of collecting her... familiar, to the other two finally leaving the scene and shrugging it off like nothing happened.

It was all far too hectic for the tribes girl to comprehend. She was glad that the fox creature hadn't been done any harm, and the white-haired man seemed sincere in his apology. An apology that, Aela, could only nod at, though she doubted that any of the participators in this situation had seen it.

“Yes? You're done butting into anything involving animals? Okay. How about we stop doing that, and- Err- Get right back on our own track? Sound good? Yes?” The voice, Jack, had remained silent during the entire crisis, and only just now had the courage to speak his mind.

“But-”

“Listen, lass. Exploring is good and all, but err- You might want to keep a low profile and just go on with your own business. Our business, in fact.” Jack butted in. As much as he knew Aela wanted to do some research in her own weird, little way, they didn't have that luxury in a city full of people who were, quite frankly, staring funny. “Tell you what, I'll answer any questions you have, after we've done a bit of research in the archive. Deal?”

The tribes girl nodded as she once again went her own merry little way, following the directions Jack gave her to find the humongous building that was; The Archive. A place where years upon years of research was stored, or so Jack explained as simple as he could.

Upon entering, Aela's eyes didn't know what to settle on first. It was bare with people, and the few that were inside hardly paid the girl any attention. It was, grand, to say the least. Leather-bound papers stored in shelves that seemed to tower up into the sky, people occasionally storing and taking what they needed from said shelves.

“Wow....” The tribes girl once again began a personal excavation, scurrying about like she had just arrived on a playground. She had no clue what to look for, but luckily Jack was there to help her out in every way possible.

“You need to find books about Cuprum, C-u-p-r-u-m. You know that, right?”

“U-huh...”

Scanning the shelves, Aela managed to find a big, brown-leathery book that stated the exact thing she was looking for. “Can't. Reach-” She uttered, jumping up and down in vain to reach the one thing she needed. But hey, she wasn't to give up that easily!

With utmost care, the girl pulled a few books from the lower shelves, stacking them on top of each other, and eventually, hop onto it.

“Watch it, lass. Don't want t-” Too late. Events were already set in motion, and not even Jack could do anything about the mess his little companion was about to make.

“Go- Woah!!!” Hastily, and not to mention recklessly, pulling the thick book form its shelf, Aela misplaced one of her feet off the stack of books. Which resulted in the unstable stack shifting slightly and crumbling to bits like a game of Jenga, no doubt acquiring unwanted attention from those around her.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow....” The tribes girl muttered, rubbing her bottom as she struggled to get up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raruna (Runa) Leautia Character Portrait: Isengrim Lupul Character Portrait: Icarus Saerin Character Portrait: Zherynnia Analorum Character Portrait: Derithiue Qre Jedas
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Lawrence followed Grim up the steps, still a bit confused as to what exactly she'd just jumped into. Who was the woman? And the girl in the sack? Why did they need a map? Her mind was spitting out questions too fast for River's to focus on a single one. She kept all this to herself, however, as she stepped around the corner and into a room. Inside the said room was the woman she'd seen earlier; a Dr. Serabel. There was also a young man who had shockingly white hair. That was another man she'd be working with; maybe he'd be easier to get along with than the One-Eyed Grim Reaper.

Lawrence stood a few steps back from everyone, observing silently. So this was an escort mission; just protect Dr. Serabel and the package? That wouldn't be too difficult. While they would be in a dangerous area, she was sure this lot could handle themselves. As she processed all of this information, Lawrence hardly noticed as the pirate woman and the One-Eyed Grim Reaper left. She scrutinized the girl that had been in the sack; the Qi'jhariihl. The girl had suddenly seemed excited, and Lawrence couldn't fathom why. Hadn't she just dragged from god-knows-where in a bag?

It was silent for a few moments, which was nice. River's looked at the people still in the room, her eyes calculating. She sized up the white haired man (had Dr. Serabel called him Icarus?), and decided that, regardless of his personality, he'd be good back up in a fight. His body was toned and his hands were callused in areas that suggested he was handy with a weapon. And though she'd basically already accepted, Lawrence felt the need to make if official. "I'll join you," she said matter-of-factly.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raruna (Runa) Leautia Character Portrait: Isengrim Lupul Character Portrait: Icarus Saerin Character Portrait: Zherynnia Analorum Character Portrait: Derithiue Qre Jedas Character Portrait: Lawrence Rivers
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#, as written by Wrenn
The small group slowly drifts apart, one by one, as each member announces their departure. Grim acknowledges those remaining with a gruff "Tomorrow, then," before striding out of the meeting room. The Applicator greets and thanks Lawrence for her addition to the group, but after only a few small exchanges she too bids them all farewell. With Raruna's airship as transport the mission will no longer be as grueling a slog as previously thought, but there is still plenty for each to do in preparation for tomorrow's departure. Some of you, like Runa, might be leaving to buy provisions, or like Jedas you might already be prepared and spend your remaining hours looking for food or the night's lodging. Whatever your activities, each of you will have an encounter.

The men are of nondescript appearance, with clothing that marks them out perhaps as a traveler, perhaps a laborer, but nothing so exotic or fine as to draw speculation. Depending on your activities in the waning hours of the evening, one of the men might sidle up to your spot at a bar, or perhaps be standing behind you in line at a shop -- maybe even simply approach you in the street in between destinations.

The conversations are similar: each of you is greeted politely, and each man introduces himself as Cortland, a colleague of Dr. Serabel's. How he knows of your association with the Applicator is left unsaid, but you may be able to deduce that he spotted you in the Ha'penny Pie, and must have followed you thence. Cortland offers each of you a small artifice which he calls a locator -- the lumen powered device is similar in size to a snuff box, and is little more than a metal box with a hinged lid, inside of which is the lumen crystal embedded in finely wrought glyphs, and a small button. Depressing the button, Cortland reveals, sends a wide-ranging lumen wave at a specific frequency which can be tracked via his receiver.

Depress the button once a day to reveal to him the airship's location, and you will be rewarded 500 marks, in addition to whatever you receive from Dr. Serabel herself. With that simple pitch as his job offer, Cortland makes to depart, leaving behind the locator and a small coin purse with five golden monarchs.



MISSION #001 COMPLETE!



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Character Portrait: Raruna (Runa) Leautia
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#, as written by Siryn
Her arms were laden with supplies, bags of random material, or so it would seem to those passing her. Rather, Runa had gathered everything she needed in the span of three hours. Cloth for sail repair, metal pieces that were mostly scraps from other ships or the like, bolts, screws and oils for all of her random repair needs. The sky pirate had the rest of the tools on her ship. So, with everything she could ever need, she started out of the city, back to her ship.

It was about halfway that she was approached by a simple looking man. She would have completely disregarded him had he not been staring right at her and his course of direction centered towards her. Slowing down, Runa peered up over the bags that she held tightly in her arms. One eyebrow raised as she watched him carefully. Did he wish to mug her? Well.. he would have another thing coming if he--

"Ms. Raruna Leautia. Pleasure to meet your acquaintance, I'm Cortland. I've something I need to give you in regards to Dr. Serabel," the man introduced. He wasted no time and produced from his pocket an odd looking device. Runa watched him carefully, though she liked the fact that he got straight down to business. What she didn't like was that he knew her name already and that she had seen Dr. Serabel.

"This is a location device, all you need to do is depress this button here," he clicked down a small button inside the box like contraption, " and it will let us know where your ship is. It is run by a single lumen crystal. Depress the button every day to reveal your ships location and you'll receive 500 marks," with that he put the receiver into one of her bags and pressed a coin purse right on top for her to see clearly.

Without much time to say anything to him, Runa was left dumbstruck on the street at what just happened. Her mind whirled around in confusion, shock, distrust and curiosity. Her gaze shot down to the purse and then to the device tucked away beside the cloth for her sail repair. With a disgruntled sigh, she continued on her way back to her ship. By the time she'd reached her little vessel it was already surrounded by other vessels. For a moment she feared that no one would be able to find it, but she quickly brushed it aside.

It was getting late in the day and she had a lot of work to do. The sky pirate figured she wasn't going to get any sleep that night as she climbed up the plank onto the deck of her ship. Dropping her load right in the middle of the deck she plopped down, legs crossed under her and picked up the box that was given to her by the stranger. Her eyes narrowed in, her lips frowning as she gazed at it with an incredulous look. Did she trust the man who so suddenly approached her? No. Was she curious as to why he'd given her the box? Yes. Did the money sound good? Well sure, but since when did Runa do things for money? Was it even worth it?

She didn't have an answer to that. They were supposed to protect Dr. Serabel and it seemed like a very bad idea to be giving out the ships location. Not to mention, it was her ship and she wasn't too keen on having just anyone know it's whereabouts. Runa made her decision then and tossed the box back into the bag. She would be keeping that in a safe place where no one could find it and accidentally play with the damned thing.

That aside, the sky pirate got to her feet, picked up a large piece of sail cloth and looked up to her sails that billowed, withering in the wind. A grin spread across her face as she watched the wind-whipped cloth above her. If anything, the trip should be entertaining to say the least.




Early that morning

Runa was tethered to the side of her ship, her body slung in a makeshift holster as she leaned in to finish patching a small hole along the hull of her ship. She'd worked throughout the night, fixing her sails, the broken hull and repairing her gears that worked the lumen's that lined the entire hull of her small craft. Those crystals were dull right then as they had no power in them, but once powered they were a brilliant orange color.

Her tools hung in her belt at her side and she frequently reached down replacing one tool with another. A soft banging sound was coming from the hull as she worked to fit the piece that she'd so delicately matched to the hole. Just small enough to fit, and just big enough so that it wouldn't come loose. All that would be left was to smelt the thing. A tool that she'd come by some time ago would do that for her and she pulled that out last. The crystal on the bottom was a ferrum and it's heat was just hot enough to melt metal together. Oh, the ingenuity of the Barberry city of Guilds.

Once she was finished with the last hole patching, she leaned back, pulled her hat off and wiped away the growing sweat across her brow. The cool morning air was refreshing to feel across her skin. Behind her there was a large military ship that had docked sometime during the night. It was of magnificent appeal and dwarfed her little vessel. Runa pulled herself up across the hull of her ship and jumped back onto her deck. Swinging around the melting tool in her hand she looked over her handy work. The sails were tied up neatly, patches telling of her recent repairs to them. Though, one would have to look really hard to see where her patchwork started and the original sail ended. Runa prided herself in that.

The ship was ready, her wares restored and all that was left was the merry men of Dr. Serabel's escort. Speaking of which... Runa dropped the melting tool in her belt, took it all off her waist and tossed it into a crate. Putting the lid on, she secured the luggage and made her way to the plank of her ship. Looking down she spotted the very woman that had hired them. With her was the irritating Grim who had scorned Runa the day before.

She frowned but pushed away the anger at his having been so rude to her. It was a new day, and that meant new starts. Her eyes shot about the docking yard, but didn't see anyone that was familiar. Her stomach growled then and she gave a look of surprise, her hand shooting down to her stomach and her cheeks taking on a faint blush. She'd completely forgotten to eat the entire night. With food now completely on her mind, Runa rushed across her deck, took the stairs down into the hull and went to her small kitchen. If she was hungry, everyone else was sure to be as well (unless of course they ate before heading to the ship) and in that case... More food for Runa!

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raruna (Runa) Leautia Character Portrait: Isengrim Lupul Character Portrait: Icarus Saerin Character Portrait: Zherynnia Analorum Character Portrait: Derithiue Qre Jedas Character Portrait: Lawrence Rivers
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Much like a child that had been left within a toy store alone, this is how the One-Eyed Grim Reaper could be described. His one good eye sparkled with great delight at the sights of various food arranged deliciously upon the stalls. He did not mind the clutter of people or the ceaseless voices of buyers and sellers. For him, this is his La-La Land and there is no way at the moment he would allow himself to wake from it. Within a few seconds, his arms were filled with various bags of treats and the same could be said about his mouth currently filled with some barbecued entrails of a giant sea worm. It was a fine delicacy despite the name adorning it. He continued to do such meaningless shopping and soon enough the money paid in advance for his mission tomorrow was gone.

A well-known weakness for this complicated mercenary, Jedas has no self-preservation in spending money. He shook the drawstring purse up and down once more but no marks came out. It seemed he had returned to his earlier situation again.

FLAT BROKE.

The difference he would probably sleep in some street corner or he could get into trouble and get thrown in jail. After all, he would need not worry about a lodging for the night. Although, he would probably be bailed by his client and that would be a cut to his payment. That is something he cannot afford. Releasing a long and heavy sigh, he continued to think about a solution for his current dilemma. "Oi, Mister are you going to buy or not?" Jedas glared with his one eye and placed his finger on his lips a gesture for silence. "Clam it! I'm thinking here okay!" The vendor of fruits shook his head in complete awkwardness and pointed behind the mercenary. "I have other customers, could you move to the side for now?" Jedas leaned his face closer to the vendor. "Why don't they move aside? I came here first. Got it." Somehow, this had caused some of the guards patrolling the area to notice. His second alternative of going to jail might come true soon enough. "Sir---" This was cut soon enough by a rather simple-looking man. "Excuse my good friend here." An arm was wrapped around Jedas' shoulder and then this stranger whispered to the mercenary's ears. "I want to offer you an additional job for 500 marks."

Upon hearing that, Jedas removed the man's arm. "Talk." The man nodded and gestured for him to go somewhere else which the Grim Reaper followed as the vendor released a sigh of relief. As for the guards, they continued with their patrols for it seemed the brewing trouble was quickly resolved. "I am Cortland a fellow colleague of Dr. Serabel. It is an honor to meet the infamous One-Eyed Grim Reaper." Jedas was not impressed with this Cortland person at all even when it was clear the man was getting to his good graces. For now, he listened. "The mission I am giving you is this." A small box was shown to Jedas which he eyed with scrutiny. "What are you going to propose to the Doctor? Man, I suggest a more direct approach. The last one I helped killed each other you know." Cortland as he called himself was not sure whether the Grim Reaper was truly an idiot or acting as one. Whatever the case maybe, he shook his head vigorously. "This is not a ring. It is a locator. Depress the button here." He demonstrated. "Once a day and it will give me the location of the ship. After that, you will have 500 Marks." After the presentation, the man gave the device to Jedas along with a coin purse. "Until, then." The man soon disappeared with the crowd of the market while Jedas looked at the tracker box in his hand.

"Well, I guess I can confirm this with the Doc. He is her colleague and all... After all, he didn't tell me not to tell anyone." Jedas went on his way with a smile as his problem of where to stay had been solved. He has now money. It seemed that Lady Luck liked him very much today but at the same time, it worries him. The fact that misfortune also follows one who had received great luck is quite true. He experienced such instances. Truthfully, it was more like his fault than an accident or bad luck. However, he would never admit that. For now, he went to search for an Inn to prepare for his mission tomorrow. "My agenda for now, a good night's sleep!"

One more fault for Jedas, he is not really an early bird. He woke up looking at the rays of the sun entering his room. "5 more minutes..." As he turned his back towards the window, he caught sight of a clock with its hands denoting 10°30'. "I have to be at the docks at 09°30'? right?" Finally realizing the time, he quickly jumped to his feet and gathered his clothes that were scattered around the floor. For anyone's information, he sleeps half-naked. Anyway, he grabbed all his stuff and quickly left his room while making a mess by bumping into furniture along the hallway. Soon enough, he made his way to the docks while panting heavily. It was safe to say he had arrived after everyone else already did. He looked at the gathered group and took a deep breath before speaking. "A man needs some relaxation, right?" Then, his stomach roared for he had yet to eat any breakfast in his hurry. "So, when are we going to eat?" Disregarding the fact, he had made everyone wait for him.



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Character Portrait: Isengrim Lupul Character Portrait: Icarus Saerin
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The large crowds had dispersed by the time Lawrence left the Ha'Penny Pie; while there were still people milling about, most were safely in their homes or quickly on their way to getting drunk. She could hear their loud laughter and singing from several pubs near her. Lawrence never particularly liked pubs; though she did have a taste for a good glass of beer, the way it affected her mind left her a bit uneasy. Being completely in control at all times is something she nearly worships and alcohol isn't worth giving that away, even if only for a night.

Lawrence had already booked an inn previously in the day, and slowly made her way there while replaying the day's events in her head. It was all very strange and spontaneous. Generally, she'd spend days thinking over a job, calculating the risk, the time it would take, the supplies, the victim and their crimes... River's had never just taken something on like this and it made her feel a little different. Maybe it was possible to change after all?

These thoughts were cut short when the assassin noticed a man walking straight towards her. Her hand instantly went to the dagger she had hidden in the folds of her clothing. She assessed him as he approached - he was of average build and height, not particularly strong or weak. However, the way his eyes took her and their surroundings in belied the fact that he was very aware of what was going and had no fear. Lawrence couldn't tell if he posed a threat, so she stopped walking and let him come to her, moving her jacket back to show her firearm.

"Ah, Lawrence Rivers," the man said as he stopped a few feet in front of her, "It's nice to meet you."

"You have me at a disadvantage," Lawrence replied, "You know my name, but I don't know yours."

"My name is Cortland; I'm a colleague of Dr. Serabel's. I actually have a small...side job, for you." River's tensed as he reached into a pocket, but what he pulled out wasn't a weapon but some sort of small device. "Easy now, Miss Rivers, it's only a locator. It's charged by this lumen crystal here. All I need you to do is press this button every day and we will know the location of your ship. And here is 500 marks upfront." He pulled out a pouch that was weighed down with coins and placed them, along with the locator, into Lawrence's hand.

Lawrence glanced at the money and the locator, a bit puzzled. When she looked up, Cortland was gone. "That was a bit odd," she muttered to herself. How did he know her name? And how had he found her? Perhaps he'd followed her from the Ha'Penny Pie. But why hadn't Dr. Serabel told her about this? It was a lot of money to simply push a button, it must be for something rather important. But why would they need to know where their ship was; hadn't Dr. Serabel said it was a secret mission?

Making a mental note to ask Dr. Serabel about it, she stuffed both items in two of her many pockets and continued to her inn.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lawrence woke at dawn, weak sunlight just barely reaching through her window. She stretched thoroughly and swung her legs out of bed. Groaning, she placed herself on the still cold floor and began doing crunches. From there she moved onto sit ups, push ups, pull ups, punches, kicks and then hurried outside for a run. When she was finally done, she felt invigorated and ready for the world.

River's bathed quickly, then changed into a pair of almost-tight black pants and a loose, white blouse. She slipped her feet into her black boots, then wrapped her holster around her hips. After cleaning the weapon, she placed her firearm inside of the said holster, and quickly adorned herself with throwing knives and her two favorite daggers. Having not unpacked yesterday, all of her clothing, supplies and other weapons were still in her bag.

Lawrence made the bed and cleaned up the room till it looked like it had before she entered. Cleanliness is a bit of an obsession of hers. Carefully slinging her bag over her shoulders, she made her way to the docks. It wasn't too long until she saw the many ships and picked out the one she needed. The white-haired man from before was standing just inside, saying something to Dr. Serabel. Lawrence nimbly climbed aboard, and approached the doctor and Grim. "Good morning," she said curtly.

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Character Portrait: Xioban Efialtis Character Portrait: Lysandra Teraviel Character Portrait: Aela Character Portrait: Adion Volf
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Lysandra Tereviel




The elf buried her face into a tome, attempting to absorb the information from the literature. Even if it had nothing to do with anything that she wanted to research, she felt strangely at home in the archives--there was an eerie sense of calm that she felt when she could isolate herself from the rest of the world. Whether out in the wild or lost in a book, pushing herself away from any potential... mishaps was the best way to go.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw someone walking toward her wearing thick wolf pelts--something that seemed rather out of place in a library. The elf ignored this newcomer, assuming that he would be doing his own research as she was; minding one's own business was the norm in a library, so why was he so intent on sitting close to her?

And then, the strangest thing--she saw this newcomer reach into his bag and pull out a small glowing crystal before setting it on the table next to her. She froze, feeling the skin grow cold as her face paled. What was the purpose of this particular action? Did he know about her condition? Could he have seen something at all? Were these new sleeves not nearly as opaque as she had thought? The elf looked down at the fabric of her new robes, a look of panic in her eyes as she found that her clothing was completely opaque. There was no way he could have seen anything, so why did he place a crystal on the table as if he did? The elf cautiously turned toward the newcomer, recognizing the race. She had seen a few of his kind wandering the forests before she began travelling the land in search of answers.

"Hello. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about you and your people?" the vere asked. The woman in red remembered that the few that had come to their tribe were also wanderers--archivists for their race, they called themselves. They asked all sorts of questions to the various tribesmembers--everything from culture to crafting, from hunting to dancing. She had no idea why the elder members were so open to them in the first place, but she could not imagine what had happened to the information that these past vere had gathered from their tribe. Had they onlynow realized that their information was possibly outdated, or did they perhaps lose their entire record on the elves? In any case, she was in little mood to do any talking, especially to nosy archivists that she thought knew too much already.

"...is this what your kind does?" she asked, avoiding eye contact and trying to keep her voice down as to not draw further attention to herself. This was proving to be somewhat difficult, as a few wandering eyes had followed the wolf-creature for the sheer novelty. She did her best to attempt to keep her voice steady but was finding it more and more difficult to hold back her apprehension. Did she sense fear in her tone now? "Do you always go around asking random passersby for their life stories? What if--"

A loud noise interrupted her train of thought as her attention snapped toward a young girl sitting on the ground, surrounded by a pile of books. After getting a glimpse of the interrupting force, the elf had a sickening revelation: this was the same girl from the market who had thrown herself in front of her to save the familiar that had torn her sleeve! What was she doing here in the archives? Was she spying on her? Had she suspected something and followed her here? If she had been attempting to remain hidden, she had obviously failed; however, how long could she have spent studying her from afar?

Shutting her book and placing it on the table, the elf hastily grabbed the flask from the floor and stood up from table, quickly making use of the distraction created by the fallen girl and ducking around a bookcase out of view of the vere and other onlookers. She could feel her heart pounding in her throat as she ducked out of the archive, frustrated and disappointed that she could not be left alone to her own devices. Why did everyone seem to be so interested in her on this particular day? Why had the fates conspired to make her feel more alone than ever before?

The streets were eerily empty outside the Archive, almost as if something had chased the masses away. The elf did not seem to mind nearly as much, despite the fact that her nerves were still spiraling out of control. She had to keep her cool, though--she couldn't let anyone see her falling apart like this: not here, not now. Once she was outside the city, it wouldn't matter anymore. She would be away from these people and she could get away from this awful place; away from prying eyes and curious noses trying to force themselves into private matters.

You knew this would be a bad idea... Why did you decide to go back when that girl followed you in?

How was I supposed to know that she would want to follow me? What if she wasn't there because of me at all? Maybe she wants to do her own research...

How can you be sure? What about the vere asking questions? Don't you think he was a little bit
too eager to get your story?

I was never planning on divulging sensitive information, especially when I don't even know myself... It's not the right time...

Don't you see? It will
never be the right time to tell anyone, least of all a vere with no sense of personal space!

...perhaps I
was too harsh... If it's what they do--

Does it matter if it's what they do? If they find out about your condition, they'll never leave you alone... No one will ever leave you alone after they find out...


The elf appeared visibly stressed, her face still pale and her pace quickening as she barreled down the empty street. She was so focused on trying to avoid any potential route where people could be hiding. Would it be better to stay out in the open? At least there she would be able to find her way out of the city, but she would draw attention to herself being the only one out and about right now. On the other hand, if she were to duck into an alleyway, she could maintain an element of stealth at the expense of being utterly and hopelessly lost...

Before she could make that decision, she noticed a figure sitting alone in the plaza, the setting sun outlining the silhouette. The most striking feature she noticed were the two cat-like ears atop her head poking out from a cap. She stopped, recognizing this figure from before as the owner of the familiar that had torn the sleeve from her old robes. The elf was about to walk in the opposite direction when she remembered the weight in her hand. The flask! This girl had forced it into her arms after apologizing for the foxarms after apologizing for the fox's behavior! Unfortunate that she had no extra money on her, otherwise the elf would have relinquished the sum given to her.

Slowly, cautiously, the elf made her way toward the girl, keeping her bad arm behind her back and holding the potion with her other. She felt ridiculous, willingly approaching someone that might have actually seen something she shouldn't have. In fact, it had been her ineptitude that caused her to panic in the first place! Shaking aside the negative thoughts, the elf finally approached the girl, unsure of whether she had actually noticed her approach.

"...I believe this belongs to you..." she finally broke the silence, placing the flask on the cobblestone ground next to the frazzled-looking girl.

If she says anything about your arm--

She was too busy trying to run after her familiar!

How can you be too sure? Perhaps she's more observant than you think!

If she has, then I merely turn around and walk away...

You know it's never that simple, right?

Nothing is ever simple anymore...

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Character Portrait: Xioban Efialtis Character Portrait: Lysandra Teraviel
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#, as written by Igari


XIOBAN EFIALTIS




She was on her knees, seated somewhat helplessly on the ground as she looked around her current position. Her eyebrows were furrowed, lower lip jutting out and trembling slightly as she fought back some tears. She was alone. In a city. Alone--city. These were two words that did not belong in the same thought pattern. Being in a large city such as Barberry was troubling enough and took much courage from the summoner to even bear to walk its streets for a single day of the week. But at least then, she had Xerxes by her side. Even if he was a snarky piece of work, her familiar was her familiar and brought the comfort of home with him. Now that he had left his usual place upon her shoulders, she felt almost abandoned and most certainly lost. She was doing her best to keep herself together but her composure was slipping.

She had spent an hour or so fruitlessly searching around to try and locate Xerxes after he had scampered off. The destruction left behind by the large metal creature was far too disorderly for her to make heads or tails out of and there was no scent for her to follow. And unfortunately, the pandemonium and disjointed movement by the city-goers had marred the scent she perhaps could've hoped to pick up on. All of this compounded with the fact that she had, just until recently, been carried by that... thing... had stacked up and now here she was, on the ground and mewling like a small kitten.

"Murr..." She sniffled, wiping her nose and sighing deeply. A few pattering footsteps from over her shoulder made her tense and she fought the urge to straighten her ears upright in fright. Who was approaching her now? Somewhere in her mind, she could almost see Xerxes having that smug look on his face, reprimanding her for her lack of courage. It was not that she was scared, just... social situations really weren't her thing! And after the invasive looks she had been receiving as she had searched, she couldn't say she was all that eager to try conversing with another.

She saw the edges of the approaching figure's shadow overlap her own, contorting a bit as the person seemed to lean down. "...I believe this belongs to you..." The voice that greeted her ears was low, a bit hardened but definitely a woman's. There was a light clink as she saw a flask being put on the ground out of the corner of her eye. The color of the potion was instantly familiar to her--this was one of hers.

Instantly, she swiveled her eyes to meet the stranger's to see who was going about returning her merchandise. Had she not sold it effectively enough? No one had ever returned anything before...

Yet the woman that fell into her line of vision was most certainly not one of her regulars. She frowned a little as she gazed at the other, trying to place them. Her eyes flickered over the red robes and the long blond hair--yet it was the pointed ears that brought it all together. This was the elf! A bit of color returned to her cheeks as she processed this, chest feeling a bit less constricted. She was alright with elves, elves were kindred spirits. And the posture this woman had wasn't threatening so it would be alright to relax... a little bit.

She looked between her potion bottle and the woman, trying her best to get on her feet. She was proud of her wares and was a bit embarrassed to be caught in the position she was in. Even if she was feeling desolate, she had to do her best to be polite.
"Mew, I'm sorry--I didn't mean to be so rude earlier." She said slowly, raising her eyes to match the gaze of the elf. Judging by the condition of the woman's sleeve, it was evident that her money had gone to good use for repairs. She decided not to bring that up--best to leave that in the past. Xerxes was always causing so much trouble.

She went to take another breath, about to apologize again and take her potion back from off the ground when she was interrupted by... clanking metal. But it was not like the clunks from earlier made by the large metal creature--it sounded different... Yet still off-putting. She looked a bit past the elf with narrowed eyes, pupils dilating into slits once more for more efficient eyesight. She caught sight of guards, still a safe distance from them but they were wandering into the area. She tensed up--why wouldn't they leave her alone? She had done her best to avoid them and they still followed after her!

She slid her eyes back to the elf, unsure of how to proceed without seeming too panicked. "E-Erm..." She stumbled. There wasn't a lot of time and now that she thought on it, staying in one area wasn't that smart either. She still had a fox to find. Mustering up her strength the best she could, she tried to speak to the woman again. There would be no point in trying to think of a lie and besides, those felt tart on her tongue. The elf seemed to be a little flustered herself; perhaps they had something in common--at least for the time being.

The elf noticed the panicked look in the girl's eyes--stranger still how the dilated like a cat's, but she thought better than to bring it up at this time. The clanking grew louder and louder behind her, and she turned her head behind for a brief second to catch a glance of half a dozen armor-clad guardsmen heading in their direction. Her face paled--this day was getting more and more exciting, which was the exact opposite of what she wanted. Had someone alerted the guard about her condition? Did they think she was dangerous? If the vere did notice something... She let out a hurried breath, looking back toward the girl with the cat-eared hat atop her head... although... she shook the thought from her mind; there were more important things that were happening around her, whether or not she wanted them to directly involve her.

"Purrhaps we have a common point of interest?" She suggested the best she could, gesturing towards one of the alleyways. "I do not normally mewr... travel in the streets directly." She didn't want to be too presumptuous, but lingering wouldn't be good for either of them, it seemed. She bent down quickly, depositing her potion into her pouch and taking a few steps forward. She looked over her shoulder to signal to the other woman but again tried her best not to specifically direct. Elves were an independent race, much like her own, and one of the only reasons they had been able live side by side for so long was mutual respect. She squeezed into the alley carefully, working her way around a sharper turn and into a back area of the city.

Still, ducking around behind the scenes... She already knew her weakness for getting lost, especially when she was stressed. She looked behind her again to make sure the elf was still following her and stopped gradually, regarding the woman.

"You don't... happen to mind fur, do you?" She asked shyly, trying not to scare the woman off too much with the question. With as touchy as things were, the wrong combination of words would be enough to make either of them feel distinctly uncomfortable. She closed her eyes, focusing on the feel of her familiar and reaching out towards Xerxes.

Hopefully he would be able to sense her plea for assistance. She really didn't want to be here any longer.

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Character Portrait: I.S.S.A.C. Character Portrait: Arto Kelmt
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This wasn’t starting out as a very difficult job. Arto was feeling pretty good about it so far. The Golem left quite a trail in the city. What one could call a “warm” trail, heated quite a bit by the disgruntled victims of the destruction it had caused piling up complaints for the guards who, unlike Arto, were obligated to stop by and address the needs of the citizens. Cracked pavement, broken walls, although mostly no completely collapsed structures. He wouldn’t be the one to try and be optimistic with the owners of damaged property and to remind them of things such as the value of not being crushed to death. Mostly because it was none of his concern and he had a bigger runaway construct to fry.

Would this unofficial job he took upon himself proceed as successfully as it had begun? Well no, and in fact negative factors began piling up just about ten to twenty minutes following the swift and promising start. For one thing – he wasn’t quite catching up even at a fairly brisk pace – the thing’s steps were still wider than his and he’d given the Golem quite a head-start. Clearly those who gave him the job wasted quite a bit of time figuring out what to do, where to go, when to start, bickering with the barkeeper at Ha’Penny Pie and more. In fact, didn’t that alchemist look more than a little incompetent? Well, that wasn’t much of Arto’s business either. What did a competent alchemist even look like? Then there was this whole “what to do when you find the Golem” thing that thankfully didn’t need to be addressed immediately. Not while all he was doing was follow the less than subtle evidence of where it was heading. But it was there, looming at the horizon, for now a shapeless silhouette of a pain in the rear that the oddjob-boy could only imagine, but soon to shape up into the outlines of a possibly haywire piece of Caith-powered artifice with enough strength to crush through stone and no qualms against using it to plough through the City of Guilds.

That was the problem with taking on jobs so hastily. No guarantees, only about as much professionalism as he himself brought into the picture and no one but himself to scold later when things end up less rewarding than expected. At least logically he’d be the only one deserving of scolding. Not that it would prevent him from later mumbling things about all the others involved. So right now he was generously dispatching mental remarks towards the alchemist, the guards, the Golem, the girl that woke him up from the dream back at Ha’Penny Pie. If he knew more about those involved in the incident they too would likely get some custom-tailored snark as well. And so he walked on driven by the poorly worded request of a stuttering oaf, accompanied by a couple of stone-faced brutes in clanking excuse for body armor, following a big pile of animated scrap. Yup, Arto definitely had a penchant for painting the best possible picture of the circumstances in his mind. Good thing that didn’t prevent him from following the line to the originator of this hassle and the key to justifying it at least a bit by fetching him some cash and supplies. It just made him carry out that job with a less than enthusiastic look on his face.

As if remaining an element of him that would constantly work to prevent his growing dissatisfaction from jeopardizing him and his assignment, his mind managed to trace a pattern and switched his attention to it, feeling like an instant switch of thought-process to a more productive route. If the Golem were really haywire and rampaging, what was to prevent it from just going forth in a straight line through buildings, walls and whatever else? What damage he noticed clearly indicated it had no problems with it, so why would it alter its own route? In fact, it almost seemed as though the damage was done during failed maneuvers, perhaps while trying to make a turn too sharp for its weight to handle. The further he moved along the more evidence supported it. The trail now went in a “homestretch” to the open gates and through them, rather than through a wall. Perhaps this thing wasn’t so haywire after all? There had to be some kind of logic… Perhaps it was following something?

“Hey, wait! It’s dangerous! A Golem just went this way!” The still somewhat wide-eyed guards warned him as he walked through the gates.

“Yeah-yeah. I’ll bring it back soon.” Arto uttered dismissively which frankly made the guards grow a bit pale. They probably weren’t sure if that boy bringing it back was such a good thing. And if it was going to follow him in the same fashion that it had gone through the city in then it would most certainly NOT be a good thing.

Whatever the guards he left behind his back thought, Arto thought it was about time he got closer to the damn thing. His stroll through the city switched to a stroll outside of it and his surroundings changed from a cityscape to an idyllic landscape. Lush plant-life (albeit trampled here and there), fresh air (albeit with a growing echo of someone’s monotonous calling of "Xerxes. Xerxes. You come back here--Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes. Xerxes.") – what’s not to like? And finally he was close enough to see the source of the trouble. A Golem lumbering about in circles with its hands outstretched towards whatever it was chasing – he couldn’t quite see it from there. It… seemed relatively harmless. At least it was probably not on a seek-and-destroy kind of program and wasn’t inclined to attack him… probably. Still, the loop it was caught in, both a literal and figurative one, had to be brought to an end. Arto couldn’t think of anything better to do than calling out to it.

“You there, Golem! What are you doing?” He addressed it loud enough to be heard over its own strange monotonous chanting. He held his hand close to the holster of his weapon. All that would ensue depended on his “quarry’s” reaction…

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Character Portrait: I.S.S.A.C. Character Portrait: Arto Kelmt
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I.S.S.A.C.




The golem noticed a flash of brown among the reeds and immediately began to follow it. Its arms stretched forward as it lumbered around the field after this sensation, knowing that the creature called Xerxes was also this same color. With each step, it flattened more and more of the plant-life around it as the creature continued to veer off slightly to the right. After a brief jog, it realized that it was back to where it started and continued to follow the path, moving in closer and closer to the center of the circle it was creating in the hopes of capturing the runaway creature.

"Xerxes. Xerxes. You come back here--repair my house. Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes." The golem recited this phrase over and over as it continued stumbling along its path. It realized that this creature was attempting to get away from it, but for what purpose? Xerxes had left the care of the other creature it had once carried in its hand, but that failed to give any sort of explanation as to why it continued to move away. Perhaps it was--

“You there, Golem! What are you doing?” a voice cried, interrupting its actions. Something finally clicked into place for it--that word... It had heard it once before--Golem. Was that what it was? How did this newcomer know so much about it when it barely knew anything about itself? It scanned the area and found the newest entity. It looked similar to the other place where they had all gathered around it, but this one was a different color than the others it had seen, something that matched the wide expanse above its field of vision. The newcomer's arm was reaching for something at its side, just in case--the golem could not tell what it was or what its purpose was, but perhaps this newcomer would use it and it would be able to see what it was capable of.

Before anything else could happen, though, a flash of brown darted out from the plants once again, this time heading back towards the buildings it had run alongside before. The creature known as Xerxes continued moving quickly toward the cityscapes, past this new creature that looked so familiar and plentiful earlier but now seemed strangely out of place out here away from the city.

"You there, golem. Xerxes. Xerxes. You come back here--golem. Golem. What are you doing. Aaaaaaaaah. Xerxes." The golem lurched forward and began lumbering after Xerxes, striding past the creature in the strange color without so much as a passing analysis. Its arms were outstretched toward the fleeing ball of fur, although somehow now it seemed to be accelerating faster than before. The golem was in absolutely no shape to keep up and eventually lost it inside one of the alleyways. By the time it managed to get to where it had last seen Xerxes, the brown creature was long gone. The alley it believed to have seen Xerxes run through was much too narrow for its bulky frame to fit through, so it merely stood there at the opening, looking inside and scanning for any signs of the animal.

"Xerxes. Xerxes. You come back here--what are you doing. Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes."

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Character Portrait: Xioban Efialtis Character Portrait: I.S.S.A.C. Character Portrait: Lysandra Teraviel Character Portrait: Arto Kelmt
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Image




The girl with the cat-eared hat turned toward the elf with the realization that her potion was being returned to her. She stared at the elf, scanning her figure and immediately making her feel slightly uneasy. She instinctively retracted her right arm behind her back despite the sleeve covering her... growths. It was more of a force of habit now than anything else, but especially so now because this was the person with the fox; even though it was missing for now, she had no idea where or when it would strike next...

"Mew, I'm sorry--I didn't mean to be so rude earlier." She said slowly, raising her eyes to match the gaze of the elf. Despite her harried expression from before in the marketplace, she seemed rather... lucid now. Perhaps it was just the fact that the square they were in was rather devoid of people, but it was eerily comforting that she did not have to look over her back every few seconds--

The vere--was he following her? He had been so interested in finding out about her history, and she had been rather standoffish in her approach, which was a faux pas on her part, she admitted, but still! Had she not been clear in the archive? What did she need to do to make it clear to him that she did not want to be bothered, especially when he was prying for details as he was?

Instead of the wolf, however, the sound of clanking metal rang through the air as the elf spied a few guards heading in their direction. Her face paled--this day was getting more and more exciting, which was the exact opposite of what she wanted. Had someone alerted the guard about her condition? Did they think she was dangerous? If the vere did notice something... She let out a hurried breath, looking back toward the girl with the cat-eared hat atop her head... although... she shook the thought from her mind; there were more important things that were happening around her, whether or not she wanted them to directly involve her.

"Purrhaps we have a common point of interest?" the cat-eared girl offered, seeing the rather concerned wide-eyed expression collecting on her face. "I do not normally mewr... travel in the streets directly." She gestured toward the back alleys before taking a few steps out toward the sidestreets.

The elf was hesitant at first, as well she should have been. She was an outsider to the city, someone that stuck out like a sore thumb as it was. This girl, who she had never met before earlier in the day, was now offering to take her into the dark alleys where she would undoubtedly be lost in the labyrinthine backstreets of the city. Still, it was better than potentially being stopped by the guards for fates-know-what--if they wanted to bring her in for analysis... she shuddered at the thought. With nowhere else to go, she reluctantly followed after the girl into a more... desperate part of town.

She ran after the young woman, ducking around the corner of a building and out of the sight of the pursuing guards. Around another corner, and another, another still--where was this girl taking her? Did she actually know where she was going? What if they got lost in the streets and the guards still ended up capturing them? Suddenly, the elf had a very uneasy feeling about following after a complete stranger down a dark alley despite the alternative solution...

After another few minutes of ducking around corners and navigating the maze of streets and alleys, the girl with the cap finally stopped. The elf was most definitely out of breath--she could feel her heart pounding in her throat, both out of fatigue and out of fear that someone would still be able to navigate the path they had taken. She could feel her right arm throbbing slightly; a quick glance at the sleeve betrayed no outward signs of protruding crystal growths nor any textural abnormalities, so there was that, at least... If this other girl had not seen anything before (although she was doubtful of this), she certainly could not see anything now.

...but if she had seen something, why wasn't she trying to verify what she thought she saw in the marketplace?

"You don't... happen to mind fur, do you?" the girl asked somewhat hesitantly. What sort of question was that to an elf? Her people hunted for food and used the skins of their prey as clothing; however, they did try to create as harmonious of a relationship as they could with their forest. She respected the life that sprang from the loins of the earth and only thought the best of them--well, her familiar was an exception to the rule, now that she stopped to think about it...

And then she remembered--on top of everything else, she owed this girl money for her new robes! The elf cursed her luck as she realized that she had little need for currency anyway, living mostly outside of the city. When she did force herself to go into the city, she normally was able to get by without it, but now... Now she had to repay her somehow, but with what? She was unable to get a job anywhere without risk of exposing her deformity, and even if she could find such a line of work, she was not willing to forego all of her research in order to live with a bit of coin to her name...

Suddenly, a brown blur skimmed across the ground and leapt onto the girl's shoulders, pawing at her hair. "Xerxes!" she cried out, evidently surprised at the creature's sudden appearance. "Xerxes, don't you ignore me!" The elf immediately noticed that this was the creature that had bit down on her sleeve and had torn her old robes. Even more unsettling was the fact that it seemed more intelligent than she had given it credit for from earlier--

And then it hit her: this 'Xerxes' fox had bitten down on a crystal. Would it think to tell the girl about what was different about her compared to every other being it had ever encountered? Would the cat-eared girl just abandon her in the backalley if she found out?

"Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes." A metallic voice cut through her thoughts, followed by the sound of something solid rubbing against... brick or stone? The color drained immediately from the elf's face--what was this... this thing that was coming after her familiar? What did it want from it? Had she in fact been used by the girl and her familiar? Of course everything that she had tried to do today had been flipped on its head and been thrown back in her face almost as if to spite her--why not this too?

"I'm sorry fur this..." the girl meekly stated as she attempted to get the fox off from around her shoulders. The elf's eyes grew wide as she tried to take in all of these stimuli--the fox, the girl, the back alley, the... thing trying to come after them--yet even through all of these things that were potential dangers... the girl's tone was genuine. Despite the misgivings she had about the fox she "controlled", the girl herself... maybe she was not out to put her away at all; maybe she had not seen anything after all...

The fox had finally leapt from the girl's shoulders, bounding down the street they currently occupied toward the unknown. Turning around for a brief second, the elf was bekoned to by the girl as she followed the familiar almost blindly. Of course, the woman in red was not ready to trust her well-being to this person she had barely even met and was only relying on for these direst of circumstances, but... The threat of being cornered by what sounded like a huge creature that was coming after the girl's familiar was right in front of her. She could stay put in the hopes that it would go away in case it saw 'Xerxes' running away, but that was a lot to hope for--what if it didn't see either figure and assumed they still stayed back with her? And then what of her situation after they left? She would still be lost in the city with guards trying to find her...

No other options to go with, she bit her tongue and ran after the fleeing girl and the fox. This went against everything that she had been just worrying about mentally, but... there was no other reason for her to stay...

Another scraping sound against the stones that held these buildings together, another outcry of "Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes. Fffffffffnyah." The voice sent a chill down the elf's spine, and she suddenly felt the urge to run after the fleeing figures. Around one corner, then another and another--seconds turned into minutes as their footfalls echoed through the empty walkways, the beating of her heart pulsing in her ears.

Make sure that you keep the sleeve covered! Don't get careless now!

It is! Besides, there's no one else around now, what with that thing chasing after the fox--

And you're trusting this person, the one whose familiar got you into this panic in the first place?

Should I trust the guards instead? Would that be better for me?

...If she ends up betraying you, you only have yourself to blame...


After a few minutes more of running, the buildings thinned out--there it was! The plains were within her reach, and she continued sprinting ahead, closing in on the positions of the girl and her familiar. Never before had she been so relieved to see a sea of grasses before! She threatened to keep up with even the fox as she felt the plants brushing against her legs. For the first time all day, she felt relatively calmer. Anything to get away form the city would best for her--

What had caused the grasses to flatten? Someone--or something--had been stomping around in the fields, perhaps as a prank. The massive footprints, though, disturbed the elf slightly, as nothing human or human-like would be able to do anything nearly as destructive as this on their own--

What was the girl doing now?

The nekomimi girl masked her hesitance rather well--she had not fully expected the elf to follow after her. Or at least at such a close distance. She paused as they approached the flattened grass, noticing an indent some meters away. It looked almost like... She walked a little closer, slowly leaning forwards. She caught sight of a boy, black hair messily strewn across his face. He was clearly knocked out for the count and... were those claw marks on his cheeks? Xerxes had caused so much trouble today! She reached into her pouch, digging around in it until she was able to produce a green vial. She garnered they wouldn't have much time to stop and she wasn't all that eager to want to bring him along with them to begin with, but she felt she would at least have to make it up to him somehow. His wounds were partially her fault.

The two female figures ran for about another minute or two before the elf realized that she was running very low on breath. She took a bit of time to pause, feeling the sweat drip across her forehead. She never thought that she would have had to run so fast just to get out of a city before, let alone with a complete stranger that had an animal that had spontaneously decided to attack her and ruin her clothing. The things she did when there were so many people that might be coming after her! What did they want from her, anyway?

After watching the girl set the flask down by the fallen man she had failed to notice before, the elf realized that she should be a bit more thankful. She did, after all, owe her something for the gold she had been given, even though she was not entirely to blame for her earlier predicament, but what did she have to offer in return? Certainly not her bow--the ashen-gray weapon slung across her back was most definitely off of the table.

Mustering up her courage, she took a few tentative steps toward the cat-eared girl. "...thank you..." she spoke quietly but sincerely, partly because of her breathlessness. "I feel... I feel I must repay you somehow, but I lack the funds to do so..."

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Character Portrait: Xioban Efialtis Character Portrait: Lysandra Teraviel
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"Huehuehue..." the fox snickered as the elf watched on in surprise and confusion. Did that fox just laugh at her? It should not have been surprising in the least, considering the girl--Xioban, she had said her name was--had told her that the animal was a familiar, something much more intelligent than its appearance belied; she was just not expecting it to come across with such a caustic first impression: "If the stupid woman does not want hospitality when it is offered, then she isn't worth the time."

It was not the fact that hospitality was being offered that bothered her, although that in and of itself was strange enough for the elf--no, it was the unexpected openness that which she had been offered asylum in... well, wherever the girl in the cat-eared cap had offered to take her, she could not remember. That, coupled with her unease around the familiar--who continued to only assume the negative about her--caused her to remain silent and slightly bashful. If it continued ot think this poorly of her, it was no longer a question of if it let something potentially slip about what it bit down on in the marketplace, but when.

"Xerxes! That's a furry mean thing to say, purr." The elf took notice of the strange lisps that the girl was prone to letting slip every so often. There were a lot of things that did not quite add up about her--if she was peddling wares in Barberry, did she not have a home in the city? Perhaps she had come from Adelost--but why would she herself come to Barberry to peddle her wares when an entire city at her disposal could have found use for the vials of liquid she was selling? Where was she from if she left the city and was in no way thinking about returning? And the familiar--how in caith did one manage to stumble across one of those just willy-nilly? Only the most wealthy could have afforded such a luxury, and even then, familiars were few and far between to be sold; most would not agree to be viewed as such property, so how did this girl manage to befriend such a blasphemous creature?

...unless... Could she be--

"There are stupider, less uptight people to befriend, huehuehue." the fox's corrosive tone cut through the elf's thoughts one last time. "We're going home. I think I've had my fair share of sight-seeing for the week." With that last statement, the girl stood up, her lips pursed in slight embarrassment at the whole situation.

"Mewr..... I apurrogize.... but if you are still in the city, I always open my stall once a week." Another low growl from the familiar snapped the girl's attention back toward the impatient and inconsiderate fox, and she began to walk away from the direction of both Barberry and Adelost--

"Where is your stall?" the elf called after the departing girl, hoping to get the information before two of them left her sight. Either her question had gone unheard or ignored, for she received no answer in response.

The nerve of that familiar! Not only had it caused the entire catastrophic chain of events in Barberry to unfold, but it had the audacity to call her uptight! If only it knew the panic and paranoia its little stunt pulled, it might have been a bit more apologetic, but as it stood, there was nothing more she could do. There was, however, still the matter of how much it actually knew from biting down on her arm...

You're going to let that rat get away and blather to that girl about your deformity?

What am I going to do about it now?

You could follow them...

And what would that do, exactly? It would only make things worse between what little relationship the girl believes us to have--not that I'm looking to improve it, but--

Do you realize what that girl is!? She is
selde taure!

...if such a thing exists, then better to hide my deformity from the entirety of nature than pursue the matter further...

You know that as soon as one knows, they will tell the others...


The elf shuddered at the thought of all of nature knowing about her condition--what would they do if they realized that there was one among their forest-dwelling brethren was contaminated? How would they react? How could they react if they had ever met again and she--or any of the selde taure, if they did exist, for that matter--asked about what happened to her...

...could that have been the reason why the familiar ripped part of her sleeve? As a reaction to something it may have sensed?

No, stop your worry... They are gone--keep them out of your mind for now...

Yet she could not bring herself to do so--she had a debt to repay, whether the cat-eared girl had told her that it was unnecessary to return her money or not. Even though the elf herself had no need for money--despite the fact she required it to replace her robes that should not have been ruined in the first place--she knew that she had to repay this Xioban character... even if it meant having to deal with that upstart familiar again...

...but where to come into coin? The elf would not dare to even think about venturing back to Barberry at this point--she had caused enough of a commotion between the marketplace and the tailor's shop and the library, not to mention the... thing that had been chasing after the familiar and cornered them in an alley. Besides that, the guards surely must have been looking for her after someone caught a glimpse of her arm, and she did not want to have to deal with any sort of interrogation or exposure that could shame her or her race further.

How to earn money... She knew that people required chores to be done around their homes and farmsteads--cooking, cleaning, physical labor and the like. While she knew something about cooking and cleaning, she involuntarily shook her head at the thought of menial physical labor. The fact of the matter was that she had never been too strong, even for elven standards, and what she carried on her back now was nearing her maximum comfort level. Even if she was in fact strong enough to perform these tasks for extended periods of time, the growths on her arm would make this labor more than uncomfortable; even worse, she risked exposure to random citizens--how would they react after seeing something like that?

There was an alternative... Another city a day's walk away, one with white walls and another large archive to boot. It had been a while since she had visited... Perhaps she could inquire about a temporary job sorting books--that would work out rather well; sorting books was not very labor-intensive, exposed her to more potential leads and tidbits of information, and most importantly allowed her to keep as much cover on her arm as possible without exposing it to too many random scholars. What did they care about an assistant like her, anyway?

The elf sighed as she trudged in the direction of Adelost, following the signposts along the darkening trails to find her way. Of course, she had no money to her name at this point, as it all belonged to the girl with the cat-eared hat in her mind; she would be forced to sleep outside the city gates, which was no bother to her at all... Of course, that problem would be addressed before she arrived there in the first place...

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Character Portrait: Xioban Efialtis Character Portrait: I.S.S.A.C. Character Portrait: Arto Kelmt
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The evolution of this particular assignment’s level of difficulty continued rapidly, not without the influence of the creature known as Xerxes whom Arto had yet to identify. With his attention mostly focused on the large Golem, it’s no wonder he missed the approach of something far smaller towards him. A sort of change of vector had occurred in the creature’s movement before it dashed through the grass and leapt into the air. Having an unknown furry creature jump right into his face would definitely startle Arto at least at first, a jump-scare of sorts. A much bigger problem was the resulting loss of balance. And then an even bigger problem was the flat surface of a rock, that just so happened to be squarely at the point where the back of Arto’s head ended up. What was the result of the impact? A convenient unconsciousness…

The time spent in a state of blackout had Arto miss a few events and passersby, the true events replaced by darkness that was not even generous enough to give him another dream of astonishing success. Following what must’ve been hours passing, the young man groaned and sat up. The Golem clearly wasn’t there by now, to which Arto was almost ready to say “good riddance” at the moment. The headache was still splitting, scratches stung on his cheeks and the benefit of returning to the waking world seemed questionable at best. There probably wasn’t any lasting damage though. With one hand on the back of his head and the other on the ground, he seemingly found something. Some kind soul had left him what seemed to be a vial with some sort of medicine. Why, that is almost as helpful as not forcing him to spend nobody knows how much time in the grass outside the city borders. Anyway, this was not the time to be capricious. For Arto the times of being capricious weren’t even that abundant in the first place.

Soon he was up, having applied the contents of the vial to the annoying scratches on his face. What now? He had little to no idea where the Golem was, had no plan, was running a little low on cash. One way or other, staying here was anything but productive, so he turned towards the city, causing another pulse of pain to pass through his head. Was it because he turned too fast, or was the thought of the city alone enough to give him a headache by now? No point finding out, so the rather sour-faced young man headed back towards the gates. No one asked questions, no one paused by him. He purposely chose to walk a different road from the one along which he’d followed the Golem. Maybe he could just go back to the bar. Maybe he still had a chance of enlisting for a REAL job. Maybe he could just forget about this whole “Sure, let’s go find a Golem, what could go wrong?” kind of job. Maybe he wouldn’t even have to hear anothe-…

"Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes. Fffffffffnyah."

Arto paused, standing still in the middle of the street as the already familiar chanting of the metallic voice reached his ears. He let out another groan similar to one he had uttered when rising from the tall grass he’d been left in earlier. Wouldn’t it be alright to just head on along? Couldn’t he just be on his way and not trying find the Golem? He was hesitant to say the least, far from eager to go looking for more sources of annoyance, more fuel for his headache. But perhaps this would go better this time? Perhaps he could work it out now? There were at least no thundering footsteps accompanying the Golem’s ridiculous banter. This much he could understand as he began moving to the source of the voice. Was the Golem still…?

As he soon found out – indeed it was. Still and trying to reach into an alleyway it was clearly not small enough to fit into. Thankfully it at least wasn’t trying to charge through the buildings. It had caused enough damage as it was. Onlookers were certainly here as well, including a couple of guards largely unprepared for such an event. The citizens were asking each other if the Golem was broken, what a Xerxes was, where the alchemists were looking and other such things. To be fair, the question concerning the alchemist was on Arto’s mind as well, albeit in slightly different terms and with emphasis on slightly more qualities of the alchemist. Most of them far from admirable.

“You, didn’t they hire you to…” Began one of the guards, but Arto stopped him.

“Yeah-yeah. Can’t you see I’ve got this under control? Just let me…” Arto paused since he didn’t quite know what exactly he needed the guards to let him do. Suspicious glances from said guards urged him to finish his phrase faster. “…talk to it or something. You go fetch that… alchemist.”

The guards glanced from the Golem and back to the boy, then back to the Golem. Well they certainly did need that alchemist, which was reason enough to move away from the scene, conveniently persuading most of the onlookers to disperse on their way. Yes, most convenient indeed for another awkward cross-species communication attempt by Arto.

“Shut up!” Such were the opening words of his negotiation. “Do you hear me? Be quiet for a few minutes and listen to me, Golem!” A pause followed. Arto needed to make sure the Golem was paying attention to him and not trying to run off elsewhere.

“Repair my house? Xerxes? What in the world are you even saying? What’s Xerxes? If it’s that thing that had jumped me it’s not even here anymore! Must’ve run off into the forest again while you were stuck here by this alleyway!” Another pause commenced, but this time not because he needed to confirm the Golem’s attention or lack of it. Perhaps he got a little carried away and said too much? Did it even understand the meaning of half of what he had said?

“Don’t. Even… Think. About. Moving from here.” He accentuated nearly every word, stepping away to avoid more possible injury. Still, him and his big mouth probably had an effect quite different from the desired one.

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Character Portrait: I.S.S.A.C. Character Portrait: Arto Kelmt
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The golem had seen the creature run into the back alley some time ago, although since that time it had not seen any sign of Xerxes. Still, it thought that it could try and grab it out of the alley if it reached in far enough. To its surprise, it found that it was still rather stuck between the buildings. Without much else to do and nowhere else to go, it merely started feeling around on the ground, hoping that it could find something amidst the darkness--or perhaps it could not see the furry creature because it was obstructed by something else in the alleyway? Curious, indeed...

"Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes. Fffffffffnyah." It repeated the phrase several times, knowing full well that if the creature was back there, it would understand that all it wanted to do was return it to the creature it had run away from. Hopefully its minimal attempts at communicating with the creature would pay off in the end, but for now, it was reduced to merely trying to feel its way through the alleyway that it could not possibly squeeze through without causing more unnecessary damage to the buildings that surrounded it.

Even through the commanding voice echoing through the alley and ringing across the immmediate area, the golem could hear the sounds of nervous murmuring coming from behind it. It paused momentarily, trying to listen to what they could be so concerned with. Although it was wondering why so many voices could sound so worried at once and why they would concentrate themselves behind it, it paid little heed to the murmuring, continuing obliviously on in its search for Xerxes.

Clanking close behind it now was a familiar sound--the sound of metal clanking against metal. Again, without much to go off of, it merely continued its search through the alley, audiating "Xerxes. Aaaaaaaah. Xerxes. Fffffffffnyah." the entire time, much to the worry of the people that stood behind it. There was another voice, though, something that seemed to take control of the situation, and after a few brief seconds of quiet conversation, the voice piped up.

“Shut up! Do you hear me? Be quiet for a few minutes and listen to me, Golem!” The voice sounded quite agitated, but it was the word 'golem' that snapped the construct's attention away from the alley. It turned to find the creature bedecked in blue, the same one that had been there as it chased Xerxes through the tall green area. There was something slightly different about this newcomer, though--there were a few cuts across the topmost part of its figure, although they were rather slight and not too glaringly obvious. Still, the tone of voice it used against the golem was rather harsh and completely unnecessary...

“Repair my house? Xerxes? What in the world are you even saying? What’s a 'Xerxes'? If it’s that thing that had jumped me, it’s not even here anymore! Must’ve run off into the forest again while you were stuck here by this alleyway!” This creature sounded rather agitated, much like that other one that commanded the golem to "repair my house". Although... was Xerxes in this... forest? What was it, exactly? Could it follow a trail that it had left behind and find it there? Perhaps then the creature with the pointed ears would feel better... although it did not know where that other creature had escaped to, either...

"...shut up. Listen to me, golem. Off into the Xerxes. Forest. Repair my house. Alleyway. Xerxes. Fffffffffnyah." The golem sputtered out the words, possibly in an attempt to mimic the actions of the creatures it had observed in the marketplace. It seemed as though it only managed to raise the intensity of the blue creature's voice--which was already rather hostile, it figured--and it seemed to growl at the golem much as the Xerxes creature had earlier.... although this was much more hostile...

“Don’t. Even… Think. About. Moving from here.” The blue creature took a few steps back from the golem, almost as if it was trying to stay away and avoid it... much like Xerxes. Did it run away from the other creature with pointed ears too? It could not calculate that the blue thing would do that, though--it had not seen the blue creature attempt to accompany Xerxes or the pointed-ear creature from before, so the likelihood was slim.

Still... was Xerxes no longer in the dark place? Had it run away from where it had thought the furry creature had hidden?

"Ah, there it is!" a familiar voice sounded. A short, stout man with a rather extravagant handlebar mustache and somewhat flustered look across his face. "This golem is a menace and must be taken care of! It goes around and destroys propery--my property, to be more specific--and it has no quarry!"

A collective murmur rose from the crowd as a dozen guards made their way through the people. What sort of golem did not have a quarry!? This was unheard of!

The golem, however, did not seem to mind either way, as it turned away from the oncoming crowd and began to lumber off back toward the edge of Barberry from where it had come. The guards, at the urging of the mustachioed man, followed along, although they kept their distance after hearing about how the last few guards that had attempted to intervene were easily brushed aside by the mechanical monstrosity. The golem did nothing to intervene with the oncoming guardsmen, but it continued on its path, swinging its arms to and fro along the way and accidentally knocking over a bit more of the house it had partially destroyed earlier.

"...My... My house...!" The man with the mustache fell to his knees with outstretched arms. "...It... It destroyed my...!"

"Shut up. Xerxes. Forest. Ffffffffnyah." The golem continued its trek through the city, reaching the outskirts once again and lumbering toward the massive circle pounded into the ground. It walked around the shape, analyzing for anything that might give any sort of trace--

Of course! Xerxes had been moving along the ground as well--perhaps it had left some sort of track to follow... Of course, the footprints were much smaller and harder to follow than the giant ones of the golem, but they were there nonetheless... along with slightly larger ones heading in the same direction. Could this lead to the "forest" that the blue creature spoke of before?

It continued to lumber off in the direction of the faint footprints that it assumeed Xerxes left behind in its escape. However, the second set was a mystery to the golem--what other creature followed it away? Perhaps it would find out in time... For now, though, it was attempting to process the tall objects off in the distance, things that were not nearly made of stone like the buildings in the city but were just as tall if not taller than them. They were also rather slender... The footprints continued toward these... things, for lack of a better term, and the golem, with nowhere else to go, continued to follow them toward the unknown...