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Assassin's Pledge: Awakening

Cre' Est

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a part of Assassin's Pledge: Awakening, by KumoriRyuu.

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KumoriRyuu holds sovereignty over Cre' Est, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Cre' Est

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Cre' Est is a part of Assassin's Pledge: Awakening.

7 Characters Here

Korriban "Aetrius" Borral [480] "They took everything that I had, and I will have my revenge."
Linde Xe' Almna [452] "Kyero is the Red-Eyed Demon, but he's also a human being."
Lonán Arzura [430] “By this sword I live, by this sword I will restore my family name.”
Kyero [239] "My purpose in life is my own to find. Nobody will tell me where I belong or what I can become!"
Josephine Dezantro [127] "I pray there is a purpose for me in this world."
Kieran Borral [103] "She's done everything she could to get me back, and I will make sure all of their efforts weren't for nothing."
Okumi Chrysanth [91] "... ...! ..."

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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Touched by Linde’s care for her, Okumi could only smile behind her mask and nod. She didn’t want to impose on this woman any more than she already had, but she’d be lying to herself if she didn’t admit that she wished with every fibre of her being that there was some other solution. She’d long ago resigned herself to the idea that she’d never be rid of this disease – at least, not until she was dead – But... If Linde truly felt she could help, Okumi wouldn’t stop her from trying. No doubt if she ran into the same dead ends that her father had, she’d give up and apologise to Okumi. Still, the shrine maiden was optimistic. There was always a chance that things could change…

At the offer of tea, Okumi nodded again, though she was hesitant at the idea of drinking it in front of Linde. She knew that if she held her breath and only uncovered her mouth she could probably do so safely, but her paranoia and duty to those around her meant that she would often prefer to isolate herself rather than risk accidentally exposing someone to the illness. She did love tea though… Perhaps she could make her way to somewhere private to drink like she had at the inn?

Then there was the matter of her outfit. As Linde drew attention to how dishevelled Okumi looked, the shrine maiden did feel a tinge of embarrassment cross her cheeks, but thankfully her mask tended to hide such things. At the same time, her eyes sparkled and her mood lightened substantially at the prospect of shopping. Her parents had always scolded her a little for being so material, but Okumi did have a fascination when she was younger of going to town and browsing the shop windows. She rarely if ever got to buy anything, considering they were just a self-sufficient shrine that only got the odd donation. Since her self-imposed exile, she hadn’t risked trying to go shopping, both due to her lack of wealth, as well as inability to communicate well in a sale. The very idea that she got to buy something for herself was very exciting, but again… She certainly didn’t want to impose on Linde any more than she already had.

Her expression faltering a little, Okumi shook her head, and then, in the best gesture she could think of, pretended to pull out her pockets. She was trying to indicate that she didn’t have the funds to go on an extravagant trip to have tea and go shopping in a nearby village, but she wasn’t sure that would get across to Linde. She then gestured back to the mountains, forming the house box once more and pulling on her kimono a little, referring to the fact that she still had some other clothes at her shrine. They were the same old boring clothes she always had, but they were hers that she made, and she couldn’t really get anything better. Trying to change the subject so that Linde wouldn’t insist on further generosity, Okumi formed the question mark again, before moving her hands up to her eyes in fists before opening them, simulating a flash. At the same time, she tried to present herself a bit more cold and distant, sitting up and adopting a stance similar to a certain someone Linde knew. She was of course referring to Kyero, but the question she was asking was perhaps unclear…

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde smiled when Okumi seemed to brighten at the prospect of tea and shopping for a new outfit. But then her expression faltered slightly, and she started miming again. Linde paid close attention, a calm smile on her face as she nodded with each passing moment. And finally Okumi finished her communication.

Linde chuckled.

"Thank the Gods I'm a doctor and have learned all about silent forms of communication." She laughed.

She gave Okumi a bow.

"You are most kind, miss Okumi. I appreciate the modesty on your part, telling me you have no funds. My guess is that you do not wish to impose, but please consider this tea and shopping for a new outfit as a gift from a new friend." She said with another bow.

"As for Kyero, I'm afraid I didn't quite understand what you were asking about him. But I know he was the subject... Were you asking about his eyes? Or was there something else you wanted to know?"

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Lonán witnessed what went on, the battle for leadership in terms of the equivalent of a Saharan Honor Duel, and then the means of assassinating the bigger man by someone with more guile. He gave a small silent prayer to Heresta to receive the two warriors slain. ”Heresta’s Palace of Warriors, open up your doors, receive the men who fought and died. Receive them and judge their life and deeds accordingly.”

But it did become clear, the one who now lead them had no intentions of leaving. He had to be dealt with however the scare tactic Kyero had planned work. He listened to his instructions and gave a nod and began to make his way towards the Skylight, prepared to do his part and ensure it was perfectly timed.

If darkness is what Kyero wanted, he’ll get it. He kept himself hidden and gave a wave towards Kyero indicating he was in position of the Skylight prepared to shut them at his signal. ”Lets do this! The time to put fear into their hearts comes! Heresta guide this battle of intimidation!”

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius' eyes winded at the sight that had taken place, as for a bounty hunter like her that was a sight to behold. She looked at the other two and nodded at Kyero's orders for what he wanted her and him to do. With swift ease, and becoming one with the darkness, she ever so gracefully climbed over to the corner of which she was placed, she placed her hand on her hip, withdrawing her dagger and getting it at the ready, mentally preparing herself for the mark. She looked back at Kyero through the darkness and gave a nod and a wave, as well as singing On your mark, Kyero, she looked back at the red haired male and nodded as well, taking note of his placement as well. She awaited her order eagerly.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Kyero waited patiently for Aetrius and Lonan to get into position. Both moved with precision, which was excellent. Aetrius might make for a good assassin if she were so inclined someday. But it was time to focus.

Kyero looked down watching what happened below like a hawk, waiting for just the right moment to signal the dousing of lights.

"So what do we do first?" Asked one of the thugs near the new self-appointed leader.

"We rest and prepare our weaponry and armor for a final assault. If those five stand in our way again we will not stop. We will overwhelm them with sheer numbers. That's all wee need."

NOW.

Kyero gave a wave of his hand, signaling the others to do their part. Aetrius expertly used her dagger to slice the rope holding the chandelier, causing it to fall and crash by the lower entrance into the massive cavern, dousing much of the light on that side. Lonan, near simultaneously, slammed the two hinged doors closed and held them in place until he found a latch to lock them that way and move to a better position just in case something went wrong.

Kyero took that as his cue, and disappeared into the darkness.

"What happened?!"

I don't know! I can't see a thing!"

Someone get a lantern or something!"

The confusion was clear, and a moment later the leader was in the middle of the room in the dark. His outline was just barely visible.

"Someone get a fucking light in here!"

At that moment, a red light appeared almost exactly ten feet away from him.

"What the-"

A second light appeared.

"What is this?"

The lights grew brighter and brighter, and before long it was clear what they were and from what, or rather whom, they were being emitted.

"Oh... So it's you. What do you want?"

There was no response, but the eyes grew brighter.

"You want to kill me? Then come at me! So long as I know where your eyes are, I can kill you. So come!"

The sound of a dagger being drawn filled the room, followed by the sound of two other daggers being drawn. But before the leader could attempt any attack, another had rushed the red eyes. A slight shift in their position, and a splatter that was only visible because of the light of his eyes. Black liquid flew through the air in a massive stream blocking his eyes from the leader's view for a moment before he was able to see them again. A cry of pain, and then the sound of a body hitting the floor crying out in pain filled the room with an eerie echo because of how empty the chamber was now.

Another tried to rush, and again a shift in the position of the eyes, a splatter of liquid, screams of pain, and echoes of said screams resounding through the chamber and the halls beyond.

But what had the leader sweating now in the dark was the fact that the eyes never blinked or looked away. It was as if they were frozen wide open and staring a hole through his face.

"What do you want?!" He yelled.

The eyes narrowed, and grew even brighter. But despite how bright the eyes grew... There was no face illuminated with it. It was just a pair of eyes floating in the darkness.

"What do you want?!?" He screamed again.

He couldn't take the silence anymore. He rushed forward and attacked, but paused as he seemed to hit a brick wall. There was a sharp pain in his chest, and the eyes slowly disappeared from view as darkness once again took over.

A moment later, someone pulled a few levers which opened the skylight and the new self-appointed leader was dead in the center of the room with a single blade wound to the heart and lying in a pool of his own blood.

The red eyes, and whoever they belonged to, were nowhere to be seen...

"What the fuck?!"

"It was the red-Eyed Demon! He did this! He killed our leader [u]again[u]!"

"Anyone else think it's a good idea to attack Atlum?!"

Bedlum erupted through the caves as others rushed in and out through the various entrances. Kyero was back in the rafters, having pulled on a black face mask so only his eyes were exposed which was how his face was never reflected. He lifted the mask and sighed as he nodded to the others to join him. And together they watched with satisfaction as the bandits all began turning on one another and fought amongst themselves until at last they shouted what the group wanted to hear.

"No more! No fucking more! I'm done!"

"Same! I'm out of here! I'm not dying for a few more gold than I already have!"

And the others were all in agreement. Kyero pointed to the skylight, and they all left through it as the cavern was cleared of bandits. Once above ground again, Kyero smiled as he looked at his companions.

"Well done, both of you. I could not have managed that alone. The village is safe."

Setting

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius smiled at the chaos that had begun below them in the rafters, a sight to behold for sure. Panic, pure and utter panic, all due to the three of them, a genuine wide smile crossed her lips as satisfaction hit, a smile no one would bare witness to as the room was shrouded in pure darkness. Atlum is safe....For now... she thought to herself. She slowly rose to her full height, and as the others hopped through the skylight, so did she. Once it was done and over with she looked around the darkened night sky, and stretched. She looked at her companions and gave a small genuine smile to Kyero and Lolan, "Good work indeed, boys. But it was simply child's play, but Atlum and the people of it are safe, for now." she gave a slight nod and crossed her arms, thinking for a moment as she placed her hand on her chin while in thought. She looked back at Kyero and Lolan as a small rumble came from her stomach, "W-wouldn't mind accompanying me for some well deserved food after we get back to Atlum, would you? And this time, I won't end up murdering someone." she said with a slight chuckle, and began to walk back to the village, but turned on her heel to look at the others, "At least I don't think I'll murder someone else tonight....Not in my plans anyway." she chuckled again at her dark humor and headed back towards Atlum after a thankfully successful mission.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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Okumi sighed to herself as her attempts to dissuade Linde from supporting her financially were a failure, the Shrine Maiden too polite to refuse such a gift a second time. As such, she felt obliged to accompany her wherever it was that she wanted to go, but she did still feel a bit guilty that she forced to rely on her for so much. She’d have to try and make it up to her at some point, especially since Linde considered the two to be friends. Okumi liked the idea of that, but somehow, she felt someone as important and respected as Linde would go on to much greater things then the forgettable shrine maiden that was Okumi. Considering Okumi was settled where she was, and Linde seemed to travel, it was doubtful they’d get too long to get to know each other, but it wouldn’t hurt to make the most of it for now. Perhaps she could make something for Linde back at her shrine before the doctor left?

Pondering this, it then became apparent that although Okumi had managed to get across that she wanted to know more about Kyero, Linde wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to know about him. She’d been hoping to get some general information, as there were many questions Okumi had about him. Surely her curiosity would be sated at some point, but for now, she felt it prudent to talk about Linde as well, given how kind she’d been and the amount of focus she’d put on Okumi. Gesturing with another point to Linde, the shrine maiden then mimed her ‘Kyero’ pose once more, before forming a heart with her hands, and then a question mark. Linde might misinterpret it, but Okumi was asking about Linde’s relationship to Kyero and how she got to know him. They seemed close, which Okumi found curious given their somewhat opposing natures. Of course, if she got the chance, she’d ‘speak’ with Kyero personally and find out more about him, but for now, Okumi was curious about these two and their connection.

Looking out towards the direction Kyero and the others went, she wondered how they were going, and whether they’d wait for them before their shopping trip. After all, she wasn’t sure when and where they’d meet up, or how long this mission of theirs would take. Still… She really did hope it went well, even if it did take longer. She’d seen enough bodies to last a lifetime.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde watched Okumi do her miming once again, and this time when she saw the heart she blushed slightly and stuttered over her words.

"I-I-I mean... We uh... We're not in love, if that's what you meant by the heart." She said nervously.

She looked away, trying to get rid of the blush with a brief moment of meditation to calm her mind. But it was no use. Her heart was aflutter and she didn't know how to stop it other than talking about something other than romantic feelings.

"You see, Kyero and I met almost several months ago and he uh... He uuuhhh... He was doing something important. He also knew a childhood friend of mine who was helping him. He and I were not friends at first. I kind of tried to kill him, actually." She laughed nervously.

"And uh... See we... We got to talking after that and sort of became allies first. After that we became friends. And we grew closer because..."

She froze.

She looked away again, looking at the ground with a quiet sadness.

"We uh... We both lost something not long ago... Someone... And it... It made us both realize how valuable our relationships are even if they're not that strong on the outside."

Linde looked at Okumi, still blushing and sporting a somewhat bashful smile.

"Kyero is a friend. He is the Red-Eyed Demon and an assassin, but he has learned the value of life even if his choices and strategies don't always reflect that. But he's trying. Little by little we've made progress with him, and he wants to turn over a new leaf. But so long as Te'i Sai is out there he can't really rest or be who he wants to be. They're hunting him, you see. And together we're trying to ensure he survives..."

She wanted to say more, but she had to stop herself.

"Forgive me... I have been rambling. Anyway, let's get you that tea! I know a lovely little restaurant in the village the survived the chaos, and it's not far!" She said as enthusiastically as she could manage.

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Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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#, as written by Tanman
Okumi Chrysanth
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Okumi listened intently to Linde’s story, stifling a small giggle at how flustered Linde became at the notion of romantic feelings between Kyero and her. The idea that Linde once tried to kill Kyero was amusing on some level, especially with how well they seemed to get on now. It warmed the heart to know they could overcome their differences. Still, it was clear the conversation steered somewhere Linde hadn’t intended as her face fell, and a sombre silence filled the air. Okumi understood what that sort of loss felt like, and could respect the lessons that it seemed to teach people. At the same time, it was yet another example of how the world could be cruel. Still, there was no sense dwelling on the past, and it seemed Linde felt the same as she brightened once again, speaking of Kyero fondly and how he’d changed. It truly did seem like something admirable, though the idea of Linde and Kyero being hunted was disconcerting…

It had all been quite the interesting tale, Okumi nodding appreciatively as she came to understand the dynamic between Kyero and Linde some more. Honestly, she would have been happen to continue listening to Linde run through her history, but it seemed the doctor had remembered her earlier promise to get some tea and go shopping. As Linde jumped to her feet and declared she knew a lovely place in town, Okumi nodded, smiling as she sat up and made her way to follow Linde’s lead. Briefly, Okumi glanced back towards the direction of the cave, pausing to watch before picking up pace to catch up to Linde. They’d be fine, right?



Tea at the restaurant was enjoyable, if a little strange. They sat outside and got to discuss a few more things about each other, Okumi doing her best to accommodate Linde’s probes into her shrine, along with the occasional query regarding her illness. In turn, Linde spoke a bit about herself and her training. It was very impressive the breadth of knowledge Linde had in medicine, made all the more impressive by her fighting skills. She certainly was a multi-talented wonder, and it really was no surprise that she’d earned the nickname of Angelic Knight. Okumi had to wonder if she’d ever be known by a nickname. The Silent Maiden? It certainly sounded cool, but perhaps a little ominous or sad… Certainly not as impressive sounding as an Angelic Knight, but Linde probably was more impressive than Okumi, so it made sense.

When the tea arrived, it took quite a bit of convincing from Linde to have Okumi let her guard down and drink in front of her. Despite her pleas, Linde only managed to convince Okumi to drink by covering her own mouth. Although she was still hesitant, the shrine maiden stuck to her promise, lifting the bottom of her mask briefly in order to sip before immediately pulling it back into place. It looked weird, and she certainly was drawing the odd look from those passing by – though that was probably more to do with her strange tattered and bloody outfit than her odd drinking habits. Regardless, the two got to enjoy their tea in peace, taking it in turns to drink until they were finished. With that finished, it was time to move on to getting Okumi presentable once more.

Dragging Okumi along by her hand, Linde seemed more excited than the shrine maiden, which was a bit of a surprise to Okumi. After all, she was the one getting a new outfit (Which she was pretty excited about herself), but Linde was talking about all sorts of things in terms of design and showing off that it almost seemed like Linde was shopping for herself. Stepping into the store with Linde, Okumi slowly made her way around the racks and shelves of clothing, taking it all in steadily. There were many different kinds of outfits and styles, the whole thing a little bit overwhelming to the uncultured shrine maiden. She didn’t know where to begin, and so ended up standing awkwardly turning around in the middle of the store. After watching this for a few more moments, Linde stepped in to assist, taking Okumi to the changing stall and, after briefly appraising the girl, offered to help by fetching clothes for her to try. Nodding with only a slight blush, Okumi was happy to let Linde make the choice for her, especially since she’d be paying. All she had to do was let Linde know when she found one she liked, and that would be that.

The first outfit was… Interesting to Okumi. The jacket was small, barely reaching to her hips, though it was in a lovely turquoise colour. Underneath, she wore a small, loose black shirt, and to finish it off, she had a small pair of shorts in a creamy white colour. Wiggling her hips as she pulled the outfit snuggly into place, it certainly felt very different to her kimono. Briefly, she posed to look at herself in front of the mirror, bending over slightly. It certainly showed more skin than she was used to… Cautiously stepping out of the changing room, hands behind her back, Okumi blushed as Linde circled around her commenting and gawking at how wonderful it was. Suddenly feeling very self-conscious, Okumi covered her cheeks, watching Linde give her a thumbs up, but at the same time, holding out another outfit. Wait, she wanted her to try this too..?

Moving back into the changing room as Linde pushed her along, Okumi looked back to the mirror again and smiled. Well, it certainly was fun trying things on. A little more experimentation wouldn't hurt. Next came a blue outfit, the navy tank top and sky blue skirt was a complementary mix, rounded off by a white sheer shawl. Taking a few moments to look it over, Okumi realised that there was also a lace choker, which she simply connected around her neck before stepping out to greet Linde. After another period of fawning and receiving positive feedback, Okumi was given a set of different outfits, the shrine maiden suppressing a laugh as she went back to the change room. This truly was fun. She’d always had two brothers, so the only person who’d come close to understanding her interest in things like this was her mother. And even then… Her mother was pretty minimalist. She had no real interest in such things, but did her best to feign interest for Okumi’s benefit. She missed her… But for now, she had a friend. Someone genuinely encouraging her. And for the moment, that made it all okay.

From there, Okumi kept trying on different pieces, surprised by the variety of things they had. One moment she was in a ball gown, the next, something akin to military wear, a yukata, and even a styled knitted blue dress; but finally, she managed to narrow herself down to a couple of different outfits. She wanted a dress. She knew that from the beginning, but she wanted something different to her normal shrine maiden outfits. That said, the first one she thought might be okay was something simple, a plain White Dress, with some thin shoulder straps and only a few frills to make it stand out. The other outfit was a bit more elaborate; a mixture of black and white into a more covering piece. With the long sleeve white turtleneck underneath the black buckled and tied dress, it provided a nice contrast, and even came with some pantyhose and a ribbon. Having tried both, Okumi went to Linde for a final opinion,holding up the two different dresses to try and gauge which her friend liked. After all, she was buying it, and her opinion mattered to her greatly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Tea time with Okumi had been absolutely lovely. They had managed to connect a little more with Linde sharing about herself and Kyero, and Okumi sharing what she could about her shrine and illness. The tea was heavenly for this time in the early morning, and Linde relished the chance to simply sit and sip tea with another person. She hadn't had the time in some number of weeks, and she had missed it dearly.

She recalled for Okumi how her work as a doctor forced her to travel a lot and leave her own clinic, the Almna Apothecary and Clinic, in the hands of her nurses and a family friend. That time spent away was like spending time away from family. Everyone in the clinic knew each other very well and were as close as blood in many cases. Despite no romantic feelings among them, the friendship and familial bond was very strong. Linde loved her employees and all of her patients as well, even those who gave her a hard time when they came in. A few young men would deliberately injure themselves to spend time with her, as she was in high demand as a bachelorette back in Cre' Est. Everyone knew she was single, and being twenty-one years old she was in the prime time of her life to find a husband.

She was not ready to settle down though. She felt something missing. Like something in her heart hadn't completed itself yet. And that before she could marry, she needed to find the piece that finished the puzzle that was her heart. She apologized to Okumi for rambling on, but Okumi tried to assure her it was no trouble.

When they finished their tea Linde took her shopping for clothes at a local tailor, picking as many varied outfits as she could for the shrine maiden which were just normal, everyday clothes. Despite her work, Okumi seemed to want to just try looking normal, and she tried on each one seemingly having a good time throughout the experience. Finally, she held up a white dress and a black dress with more of a covering to the body checking which Linde thought looked better.

Linde happily pointed to the white dress and took it from her, folding it up and preparing to walk it to the counter to purchase it.

"Perhaps I am biased, but I think this white dress draws out more of your feminine charm." She said with a giggle.

With the dress chosen, she walked to the counter and brought out her coin pouch. She had approximately five silver on her at present. She'd need to get more soon. Perhaps a visit to her clinic would be in order...

After having paid the man behind the counter, she handed the dress to Okumi to wear as they left the tailor. Linde, meanwhile, held onto Okumi's old shrine maiden outfit and folded it up nicely for her to carry as they headed to the edge of town to meet with the others. And thankfully they didn't have to wait very long.

On the horizon came three figures who walked calmly back, seemingly unharmed and in good spirits. As they drew closer they found that it was indeed their new friends. Kyero in the center wearing his cloak with hood drawn followed by Aetrius and Lonan. When they arrived, Kyero relayed the story. Linde was slightly saddened that a small handful were killed, but it was better than a wholesale slaughter. A few lives of those more aggressive and bent on conquering than fleeing were a small price to pay in the end. Still, Linde said a silent prayer for the men who assaulted Kyero and lost their lives while he intimidated and killed the self-appointed leader.

"Aetrius is hungry." Kyero said.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As they entered the town, Aetrius could see two people standing at the end of the entrance of the town. As they got closer one could see that it was indeed Okumi and Linde, perhaps they were waiting for them to return? Well, waiting for Lolan and Kyero to return anyway, least that's what Aetrius thought. As they grew closer, a small smile appeared on Aetrius' face as she looked at Linde, but then just as quickly it disappeared. She remained silent as Kyero and the others exchanged words, telling the two other girls what had taken place. Her attention was taken back when she heard Kyero mention her being hungry.

"H-hey now, last time I didn't even eat that much...If anything. Sorry that I need food?" she said as she looked down with a somewhat embarrassed look. She looked back up at the others as she spoke, "Since Atlum is safe for now, I need food and rest since I plan on heading out early tomorrow for Veilbrand first thing at day break. If any of you want to accompany me, feel free to, just know it's going to be a long trek there, and I don't know what we'll find there...Just make sure you really want to. Not going to waste time if no one actually wants to go with me. You have enough time to think it over..." she said, and started to walk to the tavern by herself, to only stop and turn to look at the other's before she continued her way to find food, "Companions would be appreciated, but this mission isn't your burden to bare....Just mine.." her voice was rather soft and sad as she said those words. Clearly this meant much to her, but as to why the others wouldn't know why exactly yet. She wasn't very keen on talking about her past or personal issues such as Kieran, and why she mattered so much to this seemingly heartless individual.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As Kyero mentioned Aetrius was hungry, Linde chuckled as Aetrius began her response. However, she quickly moved into saying that she was going to head to Veilbrand first thing tomorrow. And to that, Linde had something to say once Aetrius was finished speaking.

"Aetrius, I must insist that you remain with us here in Atlum for at least two more days. Your injury is still fresh and at risk of re-opening. Especially with your activity going after the bandits. I would like to check both your and Lonan's bindings in the next half hour or so, since we are on the subject. Not to mention the wound was quite severe. Your bandages will have to be changed at least twice a day and the wound cleaned for the next two days if we are to be certain there is no infection. And if there is infection, I will need to treat it the moment symptoms arise."

She walked towards Aetrius and put her hands on her shoulders.

"I understand the burning desire to save someone you care about, especially now that you know where they are. But please have patience. You can do nothing for them if you let your body deteriorate before you reach them."

She smiled sweetly.

"Stay with us here for just two days, Aetrius. That's all I ask. Please just give me two days to be your doctor, and everyone else's, so that I can confirm you are all fit to travel and are past the point of worry for infection or other medical complications. For you and Lonan especially, having taken crossbow bolts, you are at the greatest risk. Because the cut on my shoulder was clean, the local doctor's stitching has handled the binding of the flesh much cleaner than those I did for your wounds. Yours will take more time to heal."

She let go of Aetrius' shoulders and took a step back.

"Will you give me these two days, Aetrius? To be your doctor? I promise to accompany you to Veilbrand either way, but I would feel better if you took these days to rest instead of travel."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Lonán followed the group into town, feeling particularly proud of himself that his contribution in the plan against those that wanted to stay helped coax the bandits to leaving Atlum alone. Hopefully to get them time to both rebuild and have the Military send for a guard. In the latter case he’d be no longer needed to aid them. Which meant two things, he needed to hopefully earn compensation from the Mayor, if he was still around, or leave to find the next prospect.

He was opting to do the latter when Linde explained to Aetrius to stay two extra days. He actually began to see the logic when she listed off the injuries commonly suffered between the Bounty Hunter and himself. He felt like an idiot for not putting his health into consideration. His Mother would have smacked him for that, as well as The Old Wolf for possibly saying otherwise.

Sighing the Saharan nodded. ”It would seems the good doctor has a point my friend.” Lonán said in interjection. ”Besides, I need to meditate on my next move too, though I will consider your invitation to heart given your motivations, alongside other things.” before he could elaborate, his stomach began to rumble and groan, begging to be fed.

He frowned as he looked at the offending stomach. ”Correction, I’ll have dinner first. Then I’ll meditate on it.” He said with an embarrassed look on his face as he grinned sheepishly before he prepared to follow Aetrius and whoever else wanted to go eat a meal before doing what he said he was going to do afterward. Meditating was a long process anyway, so he’d wait until later in the evening before he did so. For now, he’d celebrate the major victory over the Bandits with his newfound friends, and feel happy knowing he helped save Atlum.

Word would spread of this, and Honor would be gained back home. It was what mattered deep in Lonán’s heart, second only to his friendships slowly budding into bloom. He’d cherish both if he was to continue the Great Battle that Men called Life.

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Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Food was in bound for the young hunter, but before she could get another step in, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She groaned and looked to see Linde, she listened to her speak and tell her not to leave yet, but to wait. Aetrius wanted to argue, to deny her plees to help and stay and heal. To just leave in the morning, but...Aetrius saw her logic regrettably. She hated that Linde was right, in every way as usual. She groaned, her head fell and after a moment of silence she looked back up at Linde and spoke, "Fine...I'll stay...but two days only. After that I'm leaving, understand?" her voice was surprisingly calm and soft as she spoke to Linde. She nodded again and looked at Lolan, "Okay...Thank you, both...I...I appreciate your willingness to help..." she said with a slight smile, and turned back to Linde, "And yes, Linde...You may, be my...doctor, if that is what you want that is." a slight blush overcame her face and she quickly turned back to where the direction of the tavern was, and made her way there. Trying to overcome the embarrassment she felt, for some unknown reason to her, as well as her need of food.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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The overall consensus was food first, medical after. Linde could live with that. She gave both Aetrius and Lonan a small bow before gesturing for Okumi to come with them. She leaned in and whispered to Okumi that she didn't need to partake in food with them if she felt too concerned about lifting the mask. Linde would deliver her a meal later tonight after she checked her wound.

The offer was there, if nothing else to help ease her concern of removing the mask in the company of others.

And so they journeyed to the tavern to eat and relax. As Linde entered the tavern and sat down with the others at the table, waiting for the server to arrive and take their orders, she asked how the others were faring with their injuries. Her wound had been a clean slice to the shoulder, which didn't hurt as much because of the fact that the skin was cut so well that it didn't cause fraying or splitting of flesh or muscle which was often at the core of the pain. With a handful of stitches and an anti-inflammatory salve and bandaging applied, Linde's wound was fairly easy to dress.

But for Aetrius, having taken a crossbow bolt to the side, was the one she was most concerned with. The softer flesh and typically underdeveloped muscles in the sides of the core were often the easiest to destroy. She didn't doubt that Aetrius was well conditioned and her musculature fairly well balanced, but all the same she was worried about the wound. Those softer tissues and muscle groups, when not developed evenly with the rest, could take longer to heal due to being looser and more flexible, prone to shifting around with bodily movement which could delay the healing process.

Aetrius assured her that she was fine. Sore, yes. But fine. And after inquiring about Lonan's arm wound, she was satisfied that he was telling the truth when he said he too was just sore but otherwise doing fine.

Okumi was next, having taken a knee to the face and a crossbow bolt through her shoulder near the clavicle, she too was in jeopardy of the same problem Aetrius could potentially have faced. The muscled in and around the clavicle were much weaker than those of the chest (specifically the pecs) and the deltoids. The clavicle was mainly connective muscle and tissue. Very vulnerable to harm and strain from such damages. Okumi made an "Okay" thumbs up, indicating much the same as the others. Sore, gestured by rubbing her wound, but a thumbs up. She was okay.

Linde was glad they all seemed to be all right. Kyero had elected to remain outside to wait for them, as he wasn't one to venture inside crowded areas like taverns. His eyes were impossible to hide in such places, and they didn't need that kind of negative attention.

Their food arrived, and they all ate in relative silence though there was some pleasant conversation exchanged before moving to the inn to rest for the night. Once they arrived, Linde visited each one of them in turn in their rooms. Lonan was first, as his room was right next to Linde's. She removed the bandaging on his arm and cleaned off the wound with a disinfectant solution before wrapping it in new bandages. She also checked his head where he was hit by the club, asking him a series of questions and testing his visual concentration and coordination by having his eyes follow her hand through multiple patterns to confirm whether or not he had a concussion or had just been dazed by the blow. And luckily it had been the latter. Had the blow been a bit lower, he'd have had a concussion for sure and this would have proven difficult for him. The bite on his side was healing well, but she dressed it anyway before bidding him goodnight.

Next was Aetrius. For her, this would be a very uncomfortable situation due to the fact that, in order to reach the wound and dress it properly, she'd need to request Aetrius remove her clothing enough to have bandage wraps around her torso...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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After they went back to the tavern and ate, having pleasant small talk even for her, they all retired to their rooms after they all settled down. Aetrius bowed out first and went to her room. She removed her belt and weaponry, placing them on the edge of the bed, and her boots, placing them under the bed. She sat down on the bed, legs crossed and began reading a book. Moments later there was a gentle knock on the door that garnered her attention.

"Door's open." she said with an all too relaxed tone, going back to her book.

When the door opened in stepped Linde, she put her book down and gave her her undivided attention.

"Yes, Linde?" she asked, who only came a few feet away from the bed.

"It's time to dress your wound, Aetrius. Would you mind if I sat down?"

Aetrius reluctantly nodded and looked back at her.

"So, where do we start?" Aetrius asked rather nervously.

"I would like to request that you remove the armor and clothing covering your torso. I have the easiest access to the wound if you aren't wearing anything around the point of injury. Try not to worry. We're both women and I'm a doctor. Modesty isn't an issue with me." She said with a smile.

Aetrius was hesitant, highly hesitant. Not just because she was a doctor, but of her scarring.

She looked up at her and stuttered a bit.

"I...I uhm....Not really comfortable doing that...Not cuz you're another female or doctor, just....My own reasoning, it makes me rather, uncomfortable..." Her voice was rather distant, and the relaxed tone in her voice was all but gone by now.

Linde smiled at Aetrius.

"I understand. Many patients in the past have been reluctant to reveal their bodies to anyone. Even doctors. It's happened to me as well, many times. But I think I have a way around your discomfort. At least in part."

Linde shifted her weight and gripped her own shirt, lifting it up along the side of her body showing the same spot on her own body where Aetrius' wound would be, but nothing more.

"Would you be more comfortable lifting just this much of your shirt and lying on the bed for me? It will be easier for you to hold the clothing out of the way and easier for me with you lying still."

Aetrius thought for a moment, that would be more comfortable for her. But having to hold it up would cause her side to be tensed up and harder for Linde to work with. She sighed and stood up, slowly grabbing the bottom of her shirt, then stopped and looked at Linde, pausing for a moment, then she spoke.

"Just....just promise to not be...disgusted by what you see?"

Aetrius asked, her voice held some sort of sadness in it, but the reasoning was left unknown at the moment for Linde.

"Fuck it..." She muttered under her breath, and gathered enough courage to remove what needed to be done for Linde to address the wound properly. With her leather gloved hand that wasn't injured she removed her over cloak and shirt, tossing them aside.

What was left was her long, rather think pants and boots and gloves, her chest was tightly bound with chest binding, making her basically flat and modest for the most part. It helped in combat and helped free up her mobility, among other reasons. She slowly turned back to the bed where Linde was sitting. Her back was littered with a plethora of scars littering her body, all ranging in sizes, shapes, severity, and recent damage tissue. They were a mix of A multitude of scars big and small on her back, as most of those are due to whips, and then a few dozen scars from arrows and bolts all over her body, especially her abdominal region and arms. Indicating as to what she has been through, and how many close calls this one human has endured. As well as her tattoos that were now visible. One on the center of her back and one on her right shoulder. She kept her eyes down and away from Linde, ashamed to look her in the eyes.

She stuttered as she spoke.

"I-is this good enough? I-if I need to r-remove more, I will..."

The usually calm and collective and apparently confident Aetrius was now gone, leaving the now current shell that was Aetrius in her most vulnerable state. Which usually appeared when people could ask and would usually ask about her scarring and tattoos, which usually caused her to panic and stutter.

Linde observed calmly as Aetrius removed her clothing in full along her upper torso, revealing her scars and numerous wounds received from over the years doing whatever it was she did. And Aetrius' demeanor upon completion of this task was... Surprising. But as she spoke, stuttering and looking down seemingly embarrassed beyond recognition from who she was before, Linde slowly stood up and put her hands on Aetrius' shoulders.

"You've already gone out of your comfort zone, Aetrius. I would be nothing short of inhuman to ask more of you. Here... Lay down."

She gently urged Aetrius to lay down on the bed, keeping her hands on her shoulders and using her thumbs to give her flesh a tender massage.

"Just relax, Aetrius."

She grabbed her tools, washed her hands, put gloves on, and began to work. She began by undoing the bindings around her abdominal area, leaving the bindings covering her chest in tact to help with her comfort level. And as she worked, her hands were incredibly soft. Incredibly tender. Almost as if the woman who fought five bandits didn't exist. Her hands were so gentle that it was almost like a completely different woman was working on her now.

"These scars all tell tales of your exploits, Aetrius. You should not be ashamed of them. Even if many of them look to be caused by something humiliating, you bore the pain and pushed through to become who you are today. You have nothing to be ashamed of." She cooed softly.

She removed the patch over the wound, and began applying her solution to keep it clean of infection while checking the stitching as well. The stitching did seem a bit loose, so she had to clip them and re-stitch the wound. And even while stitching she was gentle and the prick of the needle barely registered with her skill to use it in just the right way.

"So, Aetrius. Would you tell me more about yourself while we have some time?" She asked.

"I'd like to know more about where you come from and how you got to this point. Or at least what details you're willing to share. I will not pry into matters that are too personal to discuss." She said.

Aetrius slightly blushed as she was calmly talked to by Linde and guided over to the bed and laid back down on her back, watching as Linde busily got to her work of taking care of her wound. She could barely feel the needles and alcohol being used as not only did she have a high pain tolerance over the years, but the medicine used worked wonders. She would have fallen asleep if Linde remained silent, her eyes opening as Linde spoke up, asking about her scars but offering Aetrius to refrain from explaining if it was too personal.

She sighed and remained silent for a moment, looking up at the ceiling as she was lost in thought. Where would she start first? Most were self explanatory for Linde to figure, multiple crossbow bolt scars practically made her look like a pin cushion of sorts. Others were obvious slices and stab wounds, the most prominent one was on the same side as the wound Linde was currently working on. It was a long, rather good sized scar that ran along her side. She chuckled as the memory came back to her.

"The scar right below your hand, that one... Heh, got that one not by fighting if you can believe it. Instead, years ago when I was living on the streets....I was running away by an angry store owner as I stole what was my dinner. I hopped a metal, barbed fence. But as I was hopping over it, my side got hooked and it tore into my side. It was a poor sight to see if you asked anyone that saw. Twelve year old me hooked on a fence like a piece of meat." She chuckled a bit, but groaned as laughing caused discomfort as Linde was still at work on her wound.

Linde listened to the story Aetrius told her about the long scar on her side beneath the latest in what was obviously a series of crossbow injuries. And Linde couldn't help but chuckle a little to herself as she finished stitching Aetrius' wound. And when Aetrius groaned, Linde placed her hand over Aetrius' stomach and gently massaged it to help ease the tension in her muscles.

As the mind encountered pain, the core was often the first muscle group to respond. And not often positively.

"That must have been a sight." She said with a tiny hint of glee.

Linde sat up straight and looked at Aetrius calmly, but with seriousness.

"Mine is but a single reminder of a deadly encounter, but nevertheless the fact that I am alive is nothing short of the Goddess's mercy." She said quietly.

Linde slowly removed her gloves and placed them in a bag before putting it in the trash, and then stood up beside the bed, facing Aetrius.

"Please pardon the display, but..."

She slowly lifted her shirt, revealing her stomach, breasts, and upper chest area to Aetrius. And along Linde's middle, directly between her breasts and stopping just shy of the base of the rib cage, was a massive, jagged scar from a single puncture wound. Obviously this was caused by a serrated blade of some kind, and it was a grim reminder that not even Linde's body was safe from the marring scars of life.

"This wound..." She turned around, revealing a near matching scar on the back... A full puncture from front to back.

"Was received in a battle against Te'i Sai." She said quietly.

"It was when I met Kyero. He was injured after fleeing from them, and I tended his wounds. But after doing so they found us and presumed I was already his ally. So they attacked us, and I was unable to match their speed or expertise with their weapons. I was stabbed in the back through the chest, and left to die."

She slowly lowered her shirt, turning back around to face Aetrius with a sad, but still somehow charming smile.

"Kyero managed to drive them off and save me. I don't know how he did it. But he did."

She chuckled.

"The Red-Eyed Demon saving a life instead of ending it. Who would have guessed, right?"

She sat down on the edge of the bed, putting her hand on Aetrius'.

"No matter how many scars you bear, your story is your story. Be proud of your marks, Aetrius. They do not define you, but they do tell your story to the world." She cooed.

Aetrius chuckled, and a small smile appeared on her face when Linde found what she told her a bit humorous albeit dark. At least she could make one person laugh, never mind even cracking a small. A first for her. She listened to Linde as she began to explain her scar, sitting up as she gave her full attention. But what she didn't expect was for Linde to start disrobing, quickly she looked away as a blush over came her, only to glance up when Linde had turned around, seeing an entry wound. Her expression changed, her face flushed white and looked somewhat saddened at the fact that Linde could have, no should have died. But due to Kyero, she lived. She looked back at Linde when she turned around and fixed her clothing, not realizing that Aetrius was blushing all the while.

She only blushed more when Linde gently placed her hand on her's when she spoke a word of encouragement to her about her scars. She sighed and nodded. Aetrius pondered for a moment, and then looked back up, she sighed and begrudgingly started to remove her gloves. Starting with the leather gloves themselves, then stopped when it came to the under wrappings that kept her hands hidden.

She paused, and looked back up at Linde and in a soft voice she spoke.

"No one....well, not many people have seen my scars...Only those who are lucky enough to have..." she paused and looked away, her right hand holding the bandage over her left hand. "But....These....these are my worst scars..."

She slowly unraveled the wrappings, they fell to the floor where they lay. Aetrius looked down at her badly and distorted hands. They were marred over by dark, scars obviously burn marks. They were in the shape of chains, leading from wrapping around her palms and lead up to her elbows. Seeing how the gloves covered them perfectly, no one else had to wonder why she constantly wore gloves as well as layers.

"These... These are a reminder... Of the man that took everything from me... as well as the scar on my face... and back..." she said as she remained looking down at her hands that she held out in front of her, hands shaking all the while from fear and the memories coming back to her the day she received her most notably bad scarring.

"W-would you like to know...?" she asked rather innocently, which was odd coming from someone such as herself.

Never did she open up to someone like this before, not even to someone she barely knew. But, something about Linde made her feel like she could trust her, and be honest with certain aspects that others would most likely find repulsive.

Holding Aetrius' hands seemed to help her calm down, at least a little bit. Linde was not blind to the flush in her face, but she passed it off simply as Aetrius being new to this situation. And what she said afterwards only confirmed it. She was not used to people seeing her like this. Showing her past. Her nightmares. Her demons. The scars of numerous clashes and belittling moments... Culminating with the scars on her hands and arms.

She asked if Linde would like to know, but Linde brought up her right index finger and put it to Aetrius' lips.

"... Another time, perhaps." She whispered with a warm smile.

She gently put Aetrius' left hand in both of her own, sandwiching it softly.

"You have shown me so much already, and I thank you." She said, her smile growing even warmer.

"I feel I understand you much better now, and it makes me even more determined to help you find your friend. Kieran."

She slowly let go of Aetrius' hand, placing her hands in her own lap.

"Once I have ensured your wound is travel ready in two days, we will set out for Veilbrand. And we won't stop until we find Kieran." She said calmly, but with confidence and authority.

Aetrius couldn't help but blush more as Linde held her hand closer and tighter to herself and spoke to her as she did so. Her encouraging words did help a bit, but it wouldn't alleviate the struggle she dealt with for so long, the memories, nightmares, constant self hate and regret due to the cause of them. But she nodded, and smiled a bit as well when Linde confirmed wanting to leave with her, no matter what.

"Thank you, Linde...Your kindness...Is something I'm not fully accustomed to...Thank you..." She said with a genuine, but small smile.

Her hands twitched and she finally realized she still hadn't fully dressed herself yet. Aetrius quickly stood up and fumbled while putting her clothes back on, and when she was done she took a deep breath and sat back down, looking back at the floor then back up.

"So...Now what then? Like..Where do we go on from here?"

Linde's warm smile did not falter despite Aetrius quickly moving to clothe herself. And as she sat back down to ask where we go from here, Linde was happy to answer...

"For now, we rest. In two days, Veilbrand. It need not be more complicated than that." She said with a chuckle.

Linde said goodnight to Aetrius, giving her a small bow before leaving, and moved on to Okumi's room. She knocked quietly, entering upon a little tap in response against the door, and walked inside. She sat with Okumi at the bed and checked her wounds, which Okumi was a bit reluctant to show. However, once Linde showed she had gloves at her disposal, Okumi was relieved and allowed Linde to work.

It was a simple procedure to check her wounds, clean it, and re-bandage it before Linde bade Okumi good night and returned to her own room to check her own wounds. Her cheek was still raw and missing a layer of skin, but overall it was her shoulder that was the main concern. Her stitching held well, but the wound was seeping slightly. She cleaned it off before applying her disinfectant, and then re-bandaged herself as best she could.

For the next two days, as promised, Linde kept a close eye on everyone's wounds. She cleaned them, re-bandaged them, and made sure to keep everyone as occupied and content as she could during these two days of rest. The village was starting to settle in after what had happened, and had begun proper reconstruction by the time they departed for Veilbrand the next morning.

And as they all hit the road, now on horseback courtesy of the mayor as thanks for their heroic deeds, Linde was riding just behind Aetrius who took the lead position.

"Does anyone have any stories for the road?" She asked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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The food and conversation was pleasant, and following the two days of doing no strenuous odd jobs in town as he healed from his wounds, which were checked and rechecked by Linde, Lonán was well on the way to recovery and preparation for the next adventure. The Saharan earned back the silver he spent, and 20 more besides.

When he wasn’t doing odd jobs, he was meditating in his room, trying to commune with the Holy Goddess, or his Ancestors for guidance on what to do next. Either continue on his way, leaving the group of friends he made behind, or join them on their next adventure which he considered doing; Veilbrand. He only visited there only with the Caravan he provides security for several years ago. He kept to himself and stuck close to what he guarded, and was glad to be out of there for the next destination they had.

When he thought he had no answer from Heresta, he recalled why Aetrius wished to go, recalled that sooner then later he had to speak to her about why he decided to truly tag along. That alone it seemed a good enough reason for joining.

So he did, atop Hawk and in the middle of the group, he was whistling a tune as their journey began, when he heard his most favorite question being heard. ”Do I have any stories? I have stories passed down to me from my grandfather from his father and their fathers before them. But I think I’ve got one that’s a little bit more easy to remember: Mainly the time The Old Wolf took me to deliver some of the weapons he made for the first time when he took me in as an apprentice, as well as provide services such as shoe traveler’s horses and the like for an extra silver or two...”

——

So began his Narration of ‘Lonán’s First real Adventure’, in which his Grandfather Magnus Arzura, known in his younger days as The Iron Wolf, took him to town. In this time, Old Magnus was still grieving the passing of his wife, who was not only a good fighter in her youth also, but a far better Blacksmith if she ever got in the forge with him. Lonán remembered that when she passed, the Old Wolf seemed to wear a frown more often then not, even the joy of hammering seemed to not lift his spirits.

But on this day in Question whilst providing his services and delivering his creations to their new owners Magnus noticed a drunk man robbing a woman in front of her child. Lonán poked his head out of the wagon.

”Grandpa, I got Lord Ragnar’s blade ready for deliver-.” he called out, only to see Magnus grab the sword in question from his hands, and storm straight up to the robber.

“Robbing someone in Public Eye is Punishable by removal of your hands.” Magnus coldly said, getting the other man’s attention as he turned and shoved at him.

“Bugger off and shoe a horse old man, or chase a skirt, if you’re into that.” The robber replied, gripping his knife tightly. Magnus held his ground.

“You do not want this fight.” Magnus warned, glaring at the man in front of him as he drew the weapon. “Because I will test this weapon’s sharpness.”

“I always wanted to kill you Blacksmith-Agh!” The man’s head rolled off his neck as Lonán stared at it in shock. The young boy of Ten remained frozen in that state, whilst Magnus gave the woman a handful of coin. Lonán was at last shaken from this shock when he saw the boot of his grandfather kick the head away like a ball. Looking up at the Older Saharan Lonán seemed both nervous and scared as he shifted his feet and tried his best to look the man straight in his piercing Grey-Blue Eyes.

“You learn from this Young Raven. Heresta does not like Robbers and Cutthroats. Do not waste breath in a one on one duel either.” He stated.

”But, I don’t know how to properly wield a sword, let alone take your lessons to heart unless I learn how to do the former.” the boy said, shyly looking away from his grandfather’s gaze. ”Will you please teach me?”


——

”He then Smiled at me. For the first time since Grandmother died, the Old Wolf smiled. He replied with a yes and that I had much to learn. We grew closer then I ever thought possible as a grandchild to his grandparent. So he taught me how to wield a sword and how to fight. But the story of my first adventure, and the sight of a man killing another man, finally instilled me with the Warrior Spirit the Old Wolf wanted me to have. To continue the legacy of the Arzura Warrior Clan.” Lonán smiled, finishing his tale as he bit into a ration of cured jerky he had in a pouch as he rode.

”Anyone else got a tale or two?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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As the days passed by slowly, Aetrius only drew more anxious as time went on. Would she really be finding Kieran after all this time? If they did, what state would she be in? Would she still be the same person Aetrius used to know and love dearly? Yes, they were sisters and they were incredibly close, but would that bond hold true now after three years of thinking she was dead? She didn't know, but she was so close to finding out. And she had to, no matter the cost of finding the truth. She was determined to find Kieran and bring her back with them, to be able to sit and talk with her and just go back to being like things used to be, even though she doubted it. With what they've gone through, on both side of the coin, they'd be different, but different how would be left up to when they found her.

When the morning came, Aetrius was the first to awaken, before the others were even stirring she was wide awake and packing her things. She dressed in her new outfit that she had bought while at Atlum and covered it with her black cloak. When the others had woken up, they all ate and prepared for the long trip ahead of them. Aetrius took the lead of the caravan, Bree leading them to Veilbrand. The ride was almost silent for the most part until Linde spoke up and asked if anyone had a story to tell. She pondered, she had many, many stories to tell. But most were uh....Not for this occasion, one could say? She was going to speak, but Lolan started to spin a tale of his, and she remained silent paying attention to his story of his first adventure with his grandfather. She and the others chuckled, the others did out of fondness and amusement, she chuckled due to her darker sense of humor. Decapitation? she thought, I would have impaled him on a pike and left him to dry in the sun...But that's just me. she mused at her sick twisted idea. The group remained silent after the others commented on his tale. She pondered again if she should tell one of her own, should she? If so, what one? She had many...

She looked up at the sky, lost in thought. Then came back down when she had an amusing story to tell. "Did I ever tell you one of my adventures?" she mused, looking back at the others she gave a shy grin and light chuckle, then turned back around looking at the road ahead of them. "It's uh....One not exactly for the faint of heart, or one who have disproving mindsets. As, yes this story isn't very....uh...how you say orthodox for this journey, but it's a story none the less." she said as she thought back to when she was sixteen and met someone who made her feel what it was like to be in love, or at least that's what she thought it was. But as her luck would have it, her relationships would never last long, nore usually passed a day or two. With what she did as a job, killing or capturing those that were of the lesser chain of humanity, to the fact that she was...well, how you say more so experienced than others? But that didn't mean she was one of those kinds of people. She still had morals and a sense of worth when it came to relationships. She always wanted more than that from a relationship, but usually the other one would just stay and leave without a second glance her way, often leaving her feeling rejected and alone. Therefore usually leaving her to stay by herself and be alone.

"I guess you could say it was a past relationship, but for me they never lasted very long...They'd get what they wanted and then would fuck off, never seeing me again...Does it bother me? Usually, but...well, let's just say I'm used of it and not really on the market at the moment...Not like anyone would really want anything to do with me anymore in that sense, if you catch my drift." she chuckled slightly, but then sighed, she wasn't proud of her reputation, but it was one she had and they were bound to eventually find out one way or another, and she'd rather it be by her than someone else.

"Let's just say, I'm not proud of the reputations I have, okay? Some are good, like me being one of the best Bounty Hunters on the market, cost cheap, get the job done, but with that it comes at a price. Meaning I have a rather big target on my back, which is why my relationships are never really that long lasting..It's not that I make a terrible partner...Just my reputation and well...what I look like doesn't help I suppose, or least it's what I've had said to me. Doesn't bother me none, but ya know..." she sighed again, but then decided to get to the actual story itself.

"It was about four years ago, I believe? The first person I ever dated, can't remember her name, but that's irrelevant. What the story does hold is that I met her by saving her ass from a group of bandits. They were...well, the lowest of the low. Murderers, rapists, dirt in one word. Well, I managed to come across them on one of my journies after a target of mine. I managed to pass them and stopped them, killed half, severely maimed the others. She was so thankful that she wouldn't stop saying thank you, and she said she owed me anything." she paused in her story, chuckled then continued with the events.

"I made a poor joke and I guess she took it seriously...Let's just say, I had ended up getting a bit more than I bargained for saving her ass." she chuckled, then realized how that would have made her look, "W-well, anyway. From that day out after I got my bounty paid for, she requested we could court if I so desired, I denied several times, but she uh...she had her perks. We lasted for a while, about six months...But after she realized how dangerous it was to be with me she left...I just woke up one day and she was gone...Sure it hurt, but...She was a fine young woman and I hope she has the best life one could have...Especially now that I'm not in it...ahem anyway, does anyone else have anything they'd share? I have other actual stories...but uh, they're more...more of sitting around a fire or a table and drinks and just waste the night away." she said with a slight smile, maybe she revealed a bit too much of her past, especially relationship wise, but oh well. She was honest and that should be the thing that mattered. All that mattered is that she wasn't the same person anymore in that regard, and maybe someone would change her for the better in that regard, but it didn't matter, not like anyone would ever be interested in her in that way anymore. As being with such a notable killer like her would put someone in danger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Listening to Lonan and Aetrius' stories was quite charming. Lonan's story of his first adventure with his grandfather, Aetrius her first relationship. Linde found Aetrius information before the story... Concerning, however. The idea that Aetrius did not have lasting relationships because of her job and/or her looks was greatly saddening. Linde dipped her head slightly on her horse and looked at Aetrius' back as she looked ahead and continued her tale.

When it was finished, Linde sat up straight.

"I guess it's my turn."

She cleared her throat.

"Let me spin you a yarn of a girl with a dream. A dream to save lives. A dream to protect her loved ones. And a dream to drive away the wickedness of man from her home." She began in a loud, clear, story-telling voice.

She chuckled warmly, and began her tale proper.

"Long ago, a little girl whose mother was a doctor began learning the craft of medicine. She studied hard every day, staying up late to study even more and practicing on anything she could including her stuffed animals. She was so driven to be the best doctor in the world that she sometimes didn't sleep for days at a time and would eventually crash and burn and sleep for an entire day or more. Sometimes she would stay up so long or go without proper food and drink that she would get sick, forcing her mother to care for her. And how this worried her mother so..."

She took a breath, giving everyone time to soak that in before continuing.

"One day, the little girl got her chance to put all she'd learned into practice. Her mother was at the clinic, her father at the library where he was the book keeper. She was alone at her house looking out the window at a passing caravan of merchants and vagabonds moving through the region. As they passed by she saw them attacked by a group of Vei Wolves, a large breed of vicious wild canines common to the Cre' Itian wilds outside the capitol who'd followed them through the main gates. The Vei Wolves assaulted the caravan, killing three horses, one cow, and twelve people."

She paused a moment, the memory flooding through her mind.

"... The girl was terrified. She wanted to save them all, but she was so afraid of the Vei Wolves she was frozen there in the window. She couldn't move a muscle."

She closed her eyes, recalling that horrible day.

"When it was over, the little girl's hands were shaking on the window sill. She finally worked up her courage and went outside, rushing to the first person she could find who needed medical help. She analyzed his wounds and discovered that she knew how to save him. But she didn't have the supplies. She quickly cried for a doctor, but no doctor came. She didn't have what she needed in the house. Her mother had everything in the clinic where she worked which was on the far end of town. She quickly called for the attention of those leading the caravan and directed them to her mother's clinic for treatment and help. The convoy quickly moved out, but on the way there they lost four more lives out of nine who were in jeopardy. Once in her mother's care, the other five managed to survive the first night, but come the following morning two more had passed."

Slowly she opened her eyes.

"... The convoy blamed her mother for failing to save their friends, calling her a "weak" doctor. The words exchanged her far from pleasant. Words a child should never hear were thrown back and forth. And the little girl was quickly ushered into the back room by her mother where she was told to forget what she saw and focus on the good that came from this. Three lives saved. That's what mattered."

She took a breath.

"But the girl could never forget. Her sense of helplessness. The fear. The hopelessness upon seeing all of that death unfold before her. The inability to help despite knowing what needed to be done... To this day she believes that if she only had what she needed, despite her age, she could have saved those two lives which were lost during the night by giving them care sooner rather than later."

She quickly adopted a new smile and spoke cheerfully.

"That little girl grew up to become a doctor herself, and despite several horrible experiences where lives could not be saved despite knowing what to do and how to do it, she never gave up hope that one day, when she found her way to the arms of the Gods, they would welcome her as one who gave her all for the sake of others... The end."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Aetrius was leading the way, she held her head strong with renewed spirits knowing, that in two weeks time she would be arriving in Veilbrand to find Kieran. Yes, Veilbrand was a two weeks worth of time on horseback and sadly that was the fastest form of travel. Especially since Veilbrand is a very mountainous region. The mountains run far and wide along the eastern half of the north border, and wrap all the way around the east side down to the coastline. The rest of the nation is rolling hills with few to no forests and very open grassland type places. The capital city, Valoc is in the northern sector of the east mountains along the border with a giant wall around the front to guard from invasions. A fortress city, if you will for the lack of a better word. And that was their newest destination, in two weeks. They spent the rest of the day chatting, sharing tales of past memories and experiences, more so than the others did. They arrived at a small town, if you could call it that. It was mainly used by travelers from far away places to find respite and food, containing a small place for lodging, food, and stables for their animals.

After being their for the night they headed out the next day after a good meal and prepping their steeds of course. They spent the next week traveling from small outpost to small outpost, to small town to small town. Meeting new people and having some rather good bonding moments. From small talk in the local taverns, to staying up late in their rooms sharing stories and telling jokes. To making their way under the hot sun, to under the open and star filled night skies. Few and far between did they run into trouble, and they settled things with negotiations, not violence. They helped small groups with their broken convoys, or help from raiders and bandits. They were an interesting bunch to come across for sure, a shrine maiden who rarely talked, a tall man in a hood, a red headed male who more often than not would get into fights with his horse, the nurse of the group who was always helping with wounds like the one Lolan got from handling a heated up plate, and then Aetrius, the one who used to be feared and held a large bounty on her head and never talked to anyone, was now slowly begining to open up and slowly grow close to the others, which was odd for her. She hadn't had decent human contact with anyone in years, nor did she think she'd ever be in a group, but here she was in a group of the most unlikey of people....and...it felt right? Not being under constant surveillance or suspicion? It felt good, she was just worried it would eventually all fall apart when she found Kieran, if she did.

Now, it was the eight day when they saw another small village, one much like Atlum in the distance. It was late in the evening, and the sun began to go down. She knew the group was tired and would need to stop for the night soon, as much as she would like to keep going, she couldn't do that to them. "Alright, we'll stay here for the night. We'll leave in the afternoon, okay? Giving us some more time to relax and catch our breath. You've all earned it by now, eh?" she gave a small chuckle and smile to the others. As they grew closer to the enterance of the town, people greeted them with smiles and greetings as they slowly strode in on their horses. "We seek shelter, do you still have some room for a group our size?" she asked the man, who looked up at her with a kind face and smiled as he spoke, "We here at Ukron welcome everyone. We have space for you and your beasts. We'll take them to the stables on the east side of town, where you'll be staying is in the north side, just straight up this here path and you'll find the Gray Fox Inn. If there's anything else that you need, you mustn't be afraid to ask." he said kindly. Aetrius gave a nod, "Thank you, good sir. I see that a festival of some sort must be going on?" she inquired, as there was music coming from inside the inn and people were everyone smiling and drinking. "Ah yes. Here we celebrate the Winter Festival every year. It's a tradition we always have, and held close. Everyone who comes here is free to celebrate with us. So, do enjoy it, or just do as you please." Aetrius and the group smiled and thanked the couple kindly as they dismounted, grabbing their gear and saying goodnight to their horses for the night as they were taken to the stables.

Aetrius turned to her now friends and spoke, "If you all wish to celebrate, feel free to. I'll be having some food and probably will retreat to my room. I uh, don't really do the whole festival thing...At least not recently." she said with a small chuckle and looked down. As the last time she ever took part in a celebration was with Kieran five years ago. She turned heel and walked to the inn, she paid for the rooms and put her stuff away, and eventually returned after seeing the others had done the same. The inn was a humble place, as well as the rooms. Plenty big enough for two people to share a room easily, and so they did. Linde and Okumi were put into a room together and so was Kyero and Lolan, Aetrius decided to go for a single room, although it was still big enough for more than one individual. As the others took part in the Winter Festival, she had excused herself outside, and looked at the night sky, it was indeed the begining of winter as it wasn't completely freezing, but on nights like this one could see their breath, they'd need warmer clothing, that was for certain. The stars were out as well as a full moon, the animals were making noises in the distance, and Aetrius sat upon the wall overlooking the lake that was beside the inn. She sighed, it would be another week until they arrived at Veilbrand. She looked back at the inn, seeing everyone enjoying themselves, dancing, singing, and having a genuinely good time. She wanted to join, as she loved to dance, but she wasn't very confident in joining the others, she'd need encouragement from someone, if they'd bother trying to bring her out of her shell of being a wallflower, who currently watched from the sidelines.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyero Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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The next eight days passed by very quickly. It was a fairly uneventful trip, though whenever they stopped at a town or village to rest there was something to be said and done. They did some shopping. They intermingled with one another. And they went out to take care of private business of their own. When they intermingled, it was rather casual which was nice. After such a brutal introduction to one another with the bandits, it was nice for them to just relax and chat as regular people instead of warriors or "protectors."

Thankfully they didn't need to protect anyone during their trip, though Linde's work as a doctor who couldn't (or, rather, wouldn't) say "no" to a potential patient in need was never done. Every so often she'd tend to someone who tripped and hurt their leg in the streets, accidentally cut themselves slicing fruit at a fruit stall, etc.

Linde's interactions with everyone were fairly modest for the most part. With Lonan she usually asked about his choice of weaponry and combat style. Despite being a doctor, she was an avid practitioner of martial arts and could often be found training by herself whenever she ventured away from the group. She was interested in learning about other people's combat training to further advance her own knowledge and repertoire of techniques and strategies in combat.

With Okumi, it was slow going. But it was very sweet and always heartfelt. Okumi was still very reluctant to speak of or reveal too much about herself or her condition. But Linde had been piecing together the history of her family's tragedy. She didn't pry into Okumi's past, though. She kept her observations to herself. Instead she focused on happier things with Okumi. Asking her to discuss, as best they could, their favorite fashion choices for dress when note wearing something more appropriate for what they did such as her shrine maiden outfit or Linde's doctor's jacket. She spoke to her about hobbies and what some of her favorite things were. Linde, for instance, revealed that she loved children and flowers. So revealing little things about each other like that to help one another bond slow and steady seemed the best way to go.

And then there was Aetrius... Linde couldn't deny a certain charm to the woman as the days passed by. Her stoicism. Her reluctance to reveal the past or delve too deeply into it. But at the same time the trust Aetrius placed in her to show her the wounds she'd received, especially those on her hands from chains. Those were incredibly humiliating wounds to receive, as were the whip marks. They were, most commonly, wounds of helplessness and imprisonment. And Linde had treated many of them before and heard horror stories from past patients about such wounds and the circumstances that came with them.

Linde had made it a personal goal to help Aetrius become comfortable with her body and accept her past for what it was without letting it affect who she had since become. But she needed to take it slow. And the more she thought about the "how," the more she started thinking as well about the "why." Why would she help Aetrius with this? Certainly it wasn't just because she was a doctor and wanted her patients to feel better in whatever way she could, right? But no matter how hard she thought about it, there was no rational solution which came to mind as to why she'd go out of her way for Aetrius like this. But for now, it wasn't that important. What was important was actually doing something about it.

And, whether it was intentional or not was anyone's guess, but there was a specific interaction between them which took place just yesterday while Aetrius was washing her face at a stream near their camp out in the wilds...

Linde approached her, asking about her injuries and how they were healing. She had Aetrius show her the wound, which she inspected calmly. Aetrius didn't seem too resistant to show her. She seemed to have gotten used to Linde checking her which was nice.

But as she checked the wound... Linde couldn't help but let her fingertips trace the lines of some of her older scars. And when she touched one in particular, the long one she'd been shown before in Atlum before their departure, Aetrius flinched away.

Linde was taken aback, and froze with her hands held a few inches away from Aetrius' skin.

"Aetrius... Do these wounds still bring you pain?"

Aetrius slowly nodded.

"Is it the memories? The recalling of what it felt like when the wound first took place?"

Aetrius started nodding, but then shook her head, saying she didn't know why some of them hurt. For some it was like that, yes. Recalling what it felt like when the wound was received. But for others the pain just never faded. Like her body never healed. And it just wouldn't leave her alone.

...

Linde's hands slowly reached forward and flattened out against Aetrius' flesh. Her touch was so gentle one could almost presume she wasn't touching Aetrius at all. But she was. A touch so tender and cautious it would feel to Aetrius almost like she was being touched by a cloud. But what happened next was no cloud. Linde had been sitting on her knees, and leaned down all the way so her chest brushed the ground. Her forehead was gently pressed to Aetrius' back, just beside, but not touching, the long wound she'd been shown from the barbed wiring.

"... Sometimes, I find myself wishing I was a Goddess. One who could simply erase the pain, physical or otherwise, with not but a touch..." She whispered.

Her breath both tickled and warmed Aetrius' back due to how close Linde's mouth was to her flesh, causing her to blush madly and stiffen like a board. Linde's hands remained flat against her skin on either side of her waist, and her forehead was pressed to her bare back beside her old barbed wire wound. And she was whispering against her body. Her breath... It was warm. Her touch... So soft... !!!!

No, no, no, no, no!! Aetrius could not let herself be seen this way! She had to be strong! This pain was not Linde's, and she wouldn't let it become so!

She straightened her back slightly, took a deep breath, and told Linde it was all right. That even if she wasn't a Goddess who could erase pain, she did help manage it. And that was something Aetrius hadn't been able to say about these wounds in a long time.

Linde smiled, sitting up and re-wrapping the bandaging around her body before standing and departing to continue her daily activities.

Something about that exchange felt... Nice.

That's all Linde could really label it as. Nice. It wasn't overly dramatic. It wasn't too forward, she didn't think. It was nice. A moment of sharing between them which made her heart flutter slightly and a gentle pink blush fill her cheeks as she walked back to camp. Later that evening when she looked at Aetrius, her heart skipped a beat as she recalled that moment of touching her forehead to her back, and she felt her cheeks flush again. Thankfully it was by firelight, so her was well hidden from the others as they ate their meal around the fire together.

Now in the village of Ukron, and in the middle of a Winter Festival, Linde made sure to enjoy herself to the fullest. She abandoned her usual garb and doctor's jacket, donning a white and pink kimono with adorable wooden sandals with a heel strap. She intended to dance the night away, and she didn't need them flying off her feet. At first she joined in the mass of people who were all dancing together around a massive bonfire. But slowly, as the partners began whittling down and the focus was on fewer and fewer people, Linde began to draw a crowd.

Her beauty this night was even greater than usual. Her long hair had been done up in a bun, and left to fall from said bun into a ponytail which fell to her knees behind her. The bangs on the sides of her face were slightly thinner, falling around either side of her temples in front of her ears to frame her face. She wore a pinch of makeup. Just a little bit of powder and lipstick. She didn't need it anywhere else. But that tiny addition of make up helped truly bring her from "Angel" to "Goddess" this night in terms of her physical beauty.

The crowd which followed her through the night as she passed from partner to partner around the bonfire grew with each passing minute until eventually it seemed that Linde had the entire populace in attendance focused on her. She eventually came down to only one dance partner, and as the partner finished and left the area to rest, she was the only one left around the fire. Everyone was cheering and hooting and hollering for her. She was cat-called, whistled at, and told how beautiful she was by men and women alike all through the crowd. And chants for her to dance solo and to turn up the heat a little began echoing throughout the crowd.

Enjoying herself immensely, and caught in the moment, Linde turned to the musicians and clapped a tempo. They all nodded to the beat of her hands, until they all found their rhythm and fell in sync with one another in a traditional piece of flute, drums, koto, and more.

Linde began to Dance like there was no tomorrow. While it wasn't the most intense dance she'd ever performed, it was intense enough to get more clapping, hoots, and hollers from the crowd as she performed for them with all of the passion, vigor, and enthusiasm she could muster.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius had watched as a large group of people had gathered around Linde, and joined her in dancing. A smile spread across her lips as she watched her dance, and as well as she could see how much fun she was having. But a bit of despair fell on her as she felt left out, but she didn't want to intrude on the fun. She looked back at the lack and thought, but as time went on she saw that many people had left and Linde was left by herself, people still cheering and yelling for her to dance more, which she obviously did with glee. But what upset her is what they were saying, she could tell that while they were doing it out of tradition and kindness, something in her made her feel...jealous? Why though, she wasn't sure. She would have gladly joined her, but she didn't have the appropriate attire. She looked around and saw that surprisingly enough, a clothing store was still open, she made her way over to it and walked inside. It was a humble place, and had plenty of options. The store keeper welcomed her in and asked if she needed any help.

"N-no thank you, I'm fine." she said with a small smile and polite wave, the woman nodded and let her search on her own. She looked at five different outfits, all were nice but none would be warm enough as the weather got colder. The last one she saw, made her smile a bit. It was a humble set of different layers, as well as it would leave enough room for mobility and comfort. She tried it on and looked in the mirror, seeing as how the outfit (the middle one) did compliment her figure, as well as be enough to cover her scarring and body, as well as the gloves gave her a bit more confidence. She smiled and quickly paid the store keep and left, she walked swiftly back over to the inn, and thankfully Linde was just finishing her dance. Hoping it wouldn't be a bother or too late she opened the inn's door and stepped in. She looked at the slowly thinning group of people, and shyly made her way past them and over to Linde, who was in the middle. She straightened her position and tried to look confident, while in reality she was a bit embarrassed and nervous, allbeit. She couldn't place it, but something about Linde made her heart skip a beat, but she pushed it out of her mind, she was simply here to dance, nothing else. She stood before Linde, and gave her a kind smile as she gave her a small bow, "Mind if I cut in for a dance or so?" she asked kindly, looking back up at Linde with a slight blush. She extended her hand for Linde to take if she wanted to dance one more time, but would understand if she was tired and was going to call it for now. If Linde was going to dance once more, Aetrius was ready to have her do a traditional dance from Saharan, also known as a Saharan Spin Dance, one that was most notable Aetrius' favorite forms of dance. No one would expect her to dance, but with all the jobs she had in the past before falling into the life of a Bounty Hunter, she was a part time member of an old traveling circus for three months. She did the high ropes and slight dancing, as well as balance acts, therefore reinforcing her flexibility and ability to dance, as well as fight as if it was a graceful dance.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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The past few days after the start of the adventure, Lonán began to interact with many in the group. From answering questions for Linde about his weaponry, to telling small jokes to possibly make Aetrius or Okumi crack a small smile, even using Hawk as conversation. It’s how he always tried to do with his somewhat little to few childhood friends, despite the truth being when his training began his Grandfather became his only friend.

He had a childhood friend though, he remembered her fondly. He wanted to court her when he joined the Saharan Military, but such dreams feel so far away now. His new lifestyle dashing any chances of that ever happening. How he wanted to at least make that wish reality.

Eventually, they came upon Ukron, the group opting to stopping for the night and enjoying the music and fun of the winter festivities. When he got to his room he set out two sets of clothing in front of him that he usually changes into when he knows he’s not doing any fighting. Both were gifts for very different reasons, and he heaved a big sigh as he picked the more sentimental choice. An outfit his Grandfather was given by his grandmother. Putting it on He strode from his room, hair tied in a tight tail. The young man walked out to a scene of Linde being adored and asked to do a dance, which she complied in earnest.

To say Lonán was entranced was an understatement by the dance. The dance felt like it was hypnotizing him, mind and soul. It was then, Lonán heard the two familiar words. The last of them being ‘Brew’, the first of them being his Favorite Brand that his Clan also shared a favorite in Saharan. Icefire, a Beer best served Chilled. Hurrying to where the Vendor was selling it he willingly paid the price of said beverage and took the Tankard in earnest.

Taking a long sip he smiled, and for the first time since the time he worked Security in a Traveling Carnival, he decided to do one thing he hasn’t done in public. Thus he began to, quietly at first, but the drink made his confidence swell, as he broke out into song. This was accompanied by him punctuating the chorus of this song by taking a large swig of his drink, as well as jumping on a table and doing a small dance as he went.

When he was finished with that he collapsed back onto a chair laughing, as he watched Aetrius go up to Linde to ask for a dance. ”Go for it! Whoo!” he shouted, slightly tipsy from his drink and exhaustion from having a burst of courage to be extroverted. He wasn’t sure if he was going to do anything like that again that’s for certain.

Thus he sat at his chair, trying his best to be a wallflower for whatever occurred next.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral Character Portrait: Okumi Chrysanth
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Linde let out a huff or two as she finished her dance. She was lightly winded, and a few beads of sweat trickled from her temples causing a few strands of hair to stick to the side of her face. She did her best to brush them out of the way, and for the most part it worked save like one or two strands still stuck on either side.

And then, without warning, Aetrius arrived asking if she could handle one more dance.

And as Linde observed her outfit, and the lovely compliment it gave her figure and her overall appearance and build, she couldn't help but feel her heart rate increase just a smidge. She smiled sweetly, and blushed a little as she let out a small giggle.

She placed her hand in Aetrius'.

"I'd be delighted!" She said happily.

Aetrius smiled as Linde did accept her offer for a dance. She looked at the people with instruments, who looked at her for guidance for what kind of song they'd play. She asked Linde to wait for a moment, and she ran up to the small band of players, took out a small, gray wind looking instrument and began to play a short song. The beat being understandable as a Saharan Spin Dance, short but sweet. They nodded, and she ran back to Linde.

She cleared her throat. "Now, where were we? Oh, right."

She gave a soft smile, gently placing her right gloved hand on her waist, and the left in her hand. As the band began to play, Aetrius helped guide Linde along for the first part of the dance, helping her understand the movements of which the dance held.

As Linde was led by Aetrius into the dance following her instructions to the musicians, she couldn't help but feel a bit... Different. Beginning slowly and easily so she could get the beat and the style of the dance, she and aetrius stepped in circles holding each other on the waist/hand (for Aetrius), and the shoulder/hand (for Linde).

Eventually, they separated and took a step away, stepping back in and linking one arm together as they walked in a circle. They switched and walked the other direction, linking the opposing arm, and continued to do so for a few passes before parting and walking in patterns around each other.

Soon, they walked in closer, placing their hands on one another's stomachs stepping in carefully coordinated circles around one another.

Linde was feeling anxious now. As her dance with Aetrius smoothed and became a bit more fluid, she couldn't help but sense she was blushing a little again. She was able to dance with many people tonight so far, but only Aetrius made her feel this way. A fluttering in her heart. A light feeling in her feet like she was walking on a cloud. And the feeling of her heart in her chest beating faster the more they continued.

Finally, Linde and Aetrius parted once again and Linde decided to take lead a little. She walked in, wrapping both hands around Aetrius' waist, putting them closer together nearly touching stomachs. But there was a small distance between them. She stepped to one side with Aetrius, then to the other. And as they reached the far side of each step, Linde let go to do a spin in place before wrapping her arms back around Aetrius as she came full circle around.

Aetrius couldn't help but smile as they danced together, it had been a while since she had not only danced at all, but danced with someone who was a fast learner and could keep up with someone who grew up with the dance. It was flawless and they were in sync after Linde had a small bit of practice, Aetrius smiled all the while.

When she realized the song was soon coming to an end, she remembered the ending to the dance, she gently grabbed Linde by the waist and with simple ease lifted her into the air and slowly did a spin, gently placing her back on the ground, and gave a small dip, holding Linde by the waist still. A slight blush filled her cheeks without her realizing as she looked at Linde who was currently in her arms. The music softly coming to an end at this point, the small crowd of people clapped at the seemingly to be couple, people cheering and complimenting the dance. But Aetrius didn't hear any of them, all she saw was Linde, all was silent, only thing she could hear was her heart beating. Why was this? What made Aetrius feel like this? She...she couldn't have had feelings for Linde, could she?

As Aetrius led her through the dance's final stages, Linde's heart was fluttering even more. Their steps quickened. The tempo of the music quickened. Her heart began racing. And her body was feeling hot as sweat trickled from her brow and temples. Perhaps it was all the dancing she'd done in the last hour or so, or perhaps... Was it Aetrius who was doing this to her?

Aetrius put her in a dip, holding her around the waist as she did so, and as Linde looked up at Aetrius she felt her cheeks flush and her heartbeat quickened to a feverish pitch.

Linde's right hand had found its way to Aetrius' left shoulder, and her left hand found its way to wrap around Aetrius' waist. She was held still, and holding Aetrius still. The crowd grew silent in her ears as she panted heavily from all of the effort she'd put into her dancing. And then, finally, Aetrius slowly lifted her out of the dip and stood up straight.

They stared at each other with smiles fro a time before Linde finally blinked and looked away rather shyly which was new for her. But look away she did. She used the sleeve of her kimono to wipe sweat from her forehead, and turned back to Aetrius. Some of her hair was smeared across her forehead, sticking to it from the moisture. But she smiled nevertheless as she clasped her hands in front of her stomach.

"Thank you, Aetrius. The dance was lovely." She said through her panting.

Aetrius smiled as the dance came to an end and Linde thanking her for the dance, and watched as Linde wiped sweat from her brow. A small chuckle came from her as Linde looked away, but...was it fromher being shy? Aetrius doubted it, but smiled with a small blush none the less. Aetrius shyly rubbed the back of her neck and smiled at Linde as she spoke.

"Of course. Thank you for the dance. It's...It's been a while since I had a partner to dance with." she admitted.

"If there's ever a time you wish to learn to dance again, I'm never bothered to help." She gave a kind smile.

And gave Linde another small bow, and as she did so she gently took Linde's hand and gently kissed the top of it, as it was Saharan custom to, as well as... Well, Aetrius didn't know why, but something compelled her to.

"A-anyway," she stuttered as she stood back up and let Linde's hand go, "I-I'll let you go now. I'd advise getting to sleep soon though...We'll be leaving at noon or so...Maybe later, you've all earned a night of fun and rest. No reason to push you all too hard." she said rather kindly, she looked among the inn's tavern, seeing few patrons here and there, then there was Lolan, who she pointed at and chuckled slightly, "Burnt himself out already, huh?"

Linde smiled, and as Aetrius said she would be glad to teach her to dance further later Linde smiled warmly. And then... Aetrius kissed the back of her hand. Linde's entire face flushed pink, luckily hidden mostly by the light of the bonfire behind Aetrius.

But something about that image... Aetrius standing before her, smiling, with a raging bonfire behind her.

Linde felt something in her stomach drop and her body suddenly felt lighter. Her eyes softened, her eyelids feeling a bit heavier, and she felt this burning desire to step towards Aetrius until the latter's speaking about letting her go and advising sleep brought her out of it.

"O-oh. Of course. Yes. Thank you. I believe I will go back for a bath and then go to sleep."

She gave Aetrius a bow.

"Thank you again for the dance, Aetrius. I enjoyed it immensely, and would love to dance with you again any time."

She turned and walked towards the inn, preparing to rest for the night as the others remained in the Festival to their heart's content. And as she saw Lonan enjoying drink, she chuckled to herself before walking inside.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linde Xe' Almna Character Portrait: Lonán Arzura Character Portrait: Korriban "Aetrius" Borral
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Aetrius smiled as she bid Linde a goodnight, and that she accepted her offer for future dance lessons. She gave her another bow, and a longing look as Linde left the tavern. When she left she sighed, she wasn't very tired and could use a few drinks, but not alone. She ordered herself a tankard of BloodCrest Rum and took a seat next to Lolan at his table. She chuckled as he was talking to himself and murmuring something about Hawk, Silly bastard, already got drunk without me? Shame." she looked at him and smiled, they never really did talk much, and allbeit he wasn't a bad guy, despite his rather immature nature at times.

"So, Lolan." she started as she took a sip of her drink and reclined in her seat, and stretched. "How was your night? Despite the singing you did, and the fact that you're dead drunk already, I'm assuming you either got lucky with some bar maiden, or are just a weak man when it comes to alcohol." she said with a chuckle as she continued to take sips from her drink now an then. The evening for her was, for the lack of a better word, great. She didn't know why, but dancing with Linde made her feel happy, the first time she felt like that in a very, very long time. And she hoped it wasn't the last and only time as she liked her time with Linde. Something about that woman just, intrigued her beyond her ability to know why, and was focused on finding out the reason why.