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Alatáriël Oronrá

" Lillian "

0 · 617 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Great Escape”, as played by listentothetimpani

Description

Alatáriël Oronrá - Lillian
i'm a leaf on the wind, watch how i soar
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Alatáriël Oronrá, or Lillian, as she is more commonly known by her colleagues, is the Guardian of September.
Her beastly form is similar to that of the North American Snowy Owl.

She is a young woman - perhaps somewhere in her early twenties, though is far older than that. She is tiny, a mere 5 foot 4 inch in height, and her weight is a measly 106 pounds. Her build is skinny, hardly any shape, and particularly lanky, all torso and legs and arms. Her skin is fair, and light, and unmarred on her face and neck. Her hair is long, well-kept, and of the fairest, richness hue of sunlight. Sometimes it seems more so of a light, blond of faded starlight, on account of too many hours out in the sun bleaching it of it's natural hue. It has waves throughout its length, but our rarely shown because she keeps it wrapped in a braid or a bun. Her eyes are a washed-out, gray-blue color. And while her body looks young, her eyes just have a sense of being impossibly old to them, like one that has seen so much it is tiring of a sort. Her ears have a faint point at their tips, making her look rather like the elves of Earthling story tales.

In her beastly form, she takes on the likeliness of the North American Snowy Owl. She has a grand 5-foot wingspan, creating the illusion that her wings seemed a little to large for her smaller albeit lean seeming body. But do not be confused, she carries far more weight in this form, than most would ever think about, and can still pack a fair punch. A beak of golden bronze, and talons the same hue, are this form's own natural weapons of a sort, but are hidden in her soft, fluffy down from sight, unless used in aggressive intent. Much of her fair plumage is white as snow, but speckles and stripes of tarnished honey are splashed across it in an interesting display. Her eyes remain the same gray-blue instead of the more common owl yellow, however her pupils become slotted.

With her looks, Lillian looks unassuming, rather fragile. But be assured she is nothing of the sort, and may just kill you to prove her point...
Whether by slender, dueling sword, or by her talons, she is a fierce fighter. Perhaps her small stature helps in that way?

She is free spirited, aloof of thought most of the time. Quiet, and serious, she takes her job of being a Guardian quite literally, being the only chance to move to the Goddess that she is worth saving and allowed to move on in peace when the job is finally done. But with these children now being handed the reins of destiny, to attempt to follow and complete the foot steps of far greater beings, even her temper might begin to fray.
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* Is often seen in her animal form. Is is fast, free, and able to fight astonishingly well for its size.
* She is stubbornly proud, and often claims to be fixed in her purpose. A means of putting the past behind her.
* She knows an old, long-since forgotten musical language. And has an odd accent (even by Airian standards), it is often described like she is singing a melody as she weaves words into speech.
* Is secretly afraid of the dark, and of what the darkness and what is in the darkness entails; but is adept enough to control her fear, most of the time.
* She is extremely religious, and will often say quickly "May the One be with us," or something of that sort, before going into battle, to bed, etc. It is her own way of praying, without being obnoxious about it like the extremists do. A bitter air, however, always seems to bite her tongue every time she does this...

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So begins...

Alatáriël Oronrá's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aria Delaine Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Jason Carter Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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With the cramped quarters, the rough road underneath the cart's wheels, the random babbling of the ox-cart driver, the uncomfortable feeling of being touched on all sides (significantly more-so with whoever was burying their head into his shoulder), and hot sun high overhead; Falke had finally fallen into a travel-weary imposed half-slumber. His chin brushed his chest, eyes half lidded against the glint and glare of the sun, and easy breaths parted his lips, hardly a means of lustrous rest but it was something that the past week or more hadn't been graced of plenty with - so any little bit helped, it all honesty.

Falke jolted awake suddenly at Harper's fit of panic and the sudden shift of the person to his left, also being awakened abruptly by the screaming and sobbing out barely coherent words like he was the world's biggest two year-old. His eyes shot open, blearily confused and extremely annoyed. Was his reaction really all that necessary? Of course, he might have been more sympathetic if the person having the panic attack was someone he knew or frankly cared a lick about, and for the most part this seemed like another grab for attention, stealing the show as it would be, or just simply attempting to get his way again (which hadn't worked at all so far, you know), and so he really just did not care.

Good Lord, and Harper kept going - screaming, sobbing, and slobbering at the mouth. Agh. Someone needed to let him just pass out when his brain finally had enough of this panic attack and turned off for a bit itself without babying him through it, or, preferably, someone needed to help him along with a cognitive reset. Bah, who was he kidding? Most of them were to soft to do anything of that sort, and Falke wasn't certain how far away he was in the first place in the confines of the cart itself and his blindness made it more likely he'd hit someone else instead of his intended target. Oh, bloody hell. Something, anything? No...

"Ohk... Halt die Klappe, feiger Hund." Falke muttered in annoyed exasperation, low, under his breath and barely audible. His growling brass of a voice rumbled roughly, clearly not English, but clear enough that he certainty remembered that he really shouldn't be speaking his native tongue or let anyone hear it in a place (or around new strangers) that had never heard of Germany or the Germanic language in the first place.

Falke obviously wouldn't be able to go back to sleep with this commotion, and an hour more of it seemed an unbearable burden to bear; but he would be dammed, if he didn't attempt to try at the very least. He roughly placed his hands on either side of his head, half-covering his eyes and ears at the same time. Pulling up his knees to rest his head back on, as the cart resumed its motion, doing his best to ignore Harper and everything else...

* Oh... Shut up, cowardly dog.

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(ooc: These two riders are just ahead of the group on the cart, and not necessarily right near them. You may be able to spot them riding further ahead on the trail, or you will see them - close enough in person - upon reaching the gates of the Academy. Do with that what you will with that when replying, if your character happens to notice them. Thanks!)

An explosion of sulfurous snarls, intermittent gasps, and wailing cries, barely resembling something human and only that because it made mostly audible words; echoed amongst the mountain ranges like a dreadful song of a dead-man’s failed gambit. Interrupting the quiet, steady purpose of two riders astride their sturdy mounts also making their way up to the Academy, enough that the poor beast the one hooded rider rode chin nearly bruised itself on its own chest as the reins were snatched up in surprise, halting their forward movement abruptly. “By the one,” Came the soft, exasperated hiss of the rider as they released their grip and apologetically patted the top of the rangy, mountain horse‘s withers who snorted roughly and warily in response.

A thin fingered hand escaped the confining folds of the cloak covering the additional long-sleeved flowing dress to pull off the hood their head, revealing a lady with dark golden hair bound in a coiled bun with no signs of age upon her except in the depths of her washed-out, gray-blue eyes. Her already lean and angular face seemed rather pinched as she scowled, as her eyes narrowed as they made an idle attempt of locating the direction of the sound of the apparently ‘dying’ human being somewhere down on the mountain trail(s) below hers’ and her companion’s own position.

“Huh… I wonder why no one’s shut that blubbering idiot up yet. You’d think someone would’ve run something through his throat already, after his innards apparently with that amount of yelling and left the body for the crows. Wouldn’t you say?” The woman mused rather callously to the sufferings of whatever poor individual was currently squeaky screaming his fool head off. Her accent was odd to most Airian standards, and seemed as if she was singing a melody as she wove her words into speech, but able to be understood readily enough. She removed her attention from scanning the mountain side, and glanced back to her companion, as he remarked in turn of the retched cacophony.

A brief moment of mild amusement kindled to life across her fine features, as her teeth flashed in a small grin at her companions’ obviously irritated sarcasm. She hummed softly in agreement to his expressed thoughts, as her hand reached back up to pull the hood back over her head. “We should be at the gates in another 30 minutes or so, come on then.” She stated lightly, and followed her statement by resuming her grip on the reins, clicking her tongue to start the ponies’ movement forward once again up the side of the mountain.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by Linnea
The cacophony of unintelligible cries had completely ruined whatever was left of the rider’s good mood. His horse probably wasn’t all too happy about it, either. To think, he was actually a bit content before he heard the noises. The sun was shining, he had a nice horse and had even managed to crack a smile earlier when he remembered a joke he had heard. He let out a small sigh, his long delicate fingers gripping the reigns tight in frustration. So much for that.

“No, I’m sure they’re just traveling merchants.” He replied to the other rider. The man’s tone of voice, though soft and higher pitched than most men’s, made the sarcasm in his statement obvious. He narrowed his sharp hazel eyes, the intensity of which provided a contrast to his softer facial features.

He looked feminine, his lashes thick and his features soft. At first glance, one could easily mistake him for a woman. His pale skin was splashed with light freckles and his long ginger hair was tied back into a low ponytail. His hazel eyes, however, had a certain sharpness to them that seemed to stand out. They were soon covered, as he momentarily closed his eyes in a feeble attempt to regain some pleasure from ride while ignoring the racket. This didn’t last for more than a second, however, as he had to open them again to check the road.

“I just hope to goddess it isn’t the warriors. I came here to train fighters, not shrieking children.” He huffed as the horses started to move again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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Whether the stranger chose the travel with them or not, Haru had to keep going uphill no matter how much screaming came from behind. The hour seemed to go on forever for the cat guardian, but it wasn’t until the silhouette of two familiar figures dawned at the end of the path that the redhead found a sense of peace.

“Thank Goddess,” his voice was hardier, richer; he wanted them to hear him. And by Goddess if they didn’t, he was going to make them see him. It was good to see more guardians, even if one of them wasn’t necessarily a friend. And hey, he could turn their kids over to him, the less responsibility Haru was forced to take, the better.

“Lillian, thanks for sending Ryou and Dorian over by the way,” he said this to the woman before giving a sharp nod to the other redhead.

Tallyho, who had been walking a little ahead of the cart, studied the woman. Something about her was rather familiar, and it wasn’t just the fact that she was apparently the owl Haru sent to get Ryou and Dorian way back when. But there was no time for that. The blonde felt like her feet were about to lop off at the ankles.

When the entire group reached the end of the path and congested at the gated entrance Mr. Vo rose from his seat in the cart, a ring of keys orbiting around his wrist.

“Go on down the path,” he nodded to them as he pushed open the gate. Haru nodded and took the reins of his beasts, driving the cart inside of the property. Once everyone was safely inside, Mr. Vo closed the gate and locked it once more.

Before them was a sharp dirt path lined with gums of shrubbery and foliage. High trees billowed towards the sky and dropped their leaves and berries on the heads of the weary travelers.

Tallyho hated these berries. They smelled like literal shit.

The cart made its way down the rickety path, the brush began to dwindle away, and the dirt became infested with soft, white cobblestone. Tallyho kept her pace with the cart, grateful not to be riding in it because the way it jostled seemed painful. It promised chomped tongues and slammed molars.

Soon the green was pushed to the side and the group’s eyes were overtaken by a vision of white wood and red accents. The cobble stone seemed to stretch out far beyond the wall of trees that lingered on all sides. Before the group was a large, relatively square building and on either side of it longer, shorter buildings that created wings that lapped around the square campus and rested against the forest walls.

In the middle of the open space was a large, placid fountain with minimal movement of water. Next to the fountain were two figures. One was significantly shorter. It was a woman—she approached quietly but confidently. Relatively relaxed but also rather regal.

She smiled. Her dark hair pinned into an intricate up-do and laced with multiple golden ornaments. Luckily for her, they were just nice enough to escape being overkill.

Her dark eyes retained a look of deep knowledge, it was in the way she raised her brow and tilted her head. She knew a thing or two about the situation at hand.

And she was diplomatic—keeping her hands folded in front of her as she approached. The warriors were like a wounded coyote, easily threatened, ready to lash out. She knew this. Baroque rings rang as lovely fingers met in unconscious knocks. She wore layers of robes, a simple white under a thin pink that bore shallow floral prints. The cloth fell to the ground and covered her feet in a trail of powder.

“Now don’t tell me he is asleep at the back of that cart… ”
A lukewarm smile directed towards Ryou.

She then looked at the group and smiled, “Month warriors. We have been waiting for you. I was so excited I had to do a bit of dressing up… You’re a big deal, you know?” She said this matter-of-factly before looking back at the fountain.

“Katarina, won’t you introduce yourself? You haven’t even gotten to meet the teacher yet…”
The woman back at the fountain didn’t respond but she made a slow pace towards the cart.

Ji Na glanced in Ryou’s direction, “I hope you don’t mind if we picked up a new student while you were gone… She needed somewhere to stay and whatnot.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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Kyle gave the fancy woman a slight smile and nod as he let Tallyho go to the seat she wanted. She apparently didn't really need his help, still he was glad he offered. He flushed and frowned a little when the fancy woman set her eyes on Gwen. saying she could help if anyone else was feeling sick. Yes, it was eerie, but Gwen was shaking. He was angry at himself for not trying to help the other girl. Still, there wasn't much chance for him to change his mind as part of Kwasi's weight already laid on the blond boy's shoulders by then. Both the fancy woman and Kyle himself were shorter than Haru, but Kwasi was the same height as Dorian, who was taller than all three. Somehow the fancy woman and he managed to situate the injured monk into an infirmary bed.

Even though the man didn't seem all that heavy - to Kyle he looked too thin, but the boy kept his mouth shut regarding that - the boy's back hurt after carrying him. He stretched his muscles for a few minutes after letting the injured man gently into a bed. When he turned back around, Ji Na was doing something around both Kwasi and Harper that he couldn't see. "Is there anything else I can do?" he asked in a whisper so low she might not have heard. Her being unable to hear him might have something to do with why she didn't answer.

The boy started when she touched his shoulder and they started back to the rest of the group. Not until they returned to the main square did she speak again. She explained the situation to everyone and mentioned Ryou. Maybe Ryou told her they were the month warriors too, but Kyle couldn't fathom when that was, since the scarred blond had been with them every day except for the first day. If Ryou told her they were the month warriors, then he thought she could be trusted not to hurt them. As a doctor or nurse, she technically wouldn't be allowed to. That still didn't answer the question 'when' or even 'how' though. Yes, he was a guardian, but Kyle still didn't understand how the guardians knew about them in the first place.

Haru's calling out startled him from his thoughts. He also noticed the cat-guardian carrying a cigarette and wrinkled his nose. Cigarettes were one thing that completely disgusted him. He didn't want to be rude either but unconsciously back away from Haru next to another redhead who didn't seem too happy, and an ethereal woman. Kyle gasped slightly, but forced himself to turn away and pay attention to the fancy-dressed woman. "Ready for what?" Too late. That sounded rude.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Cyclopean Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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Even if no one had told Dorian that Ryou was a part of an Academy of any sort he would have assumed that he was a teacher or, at the very least, the parent of several trouble children. It was the never-ending grace he used to deal with the more difficult members of the group, answering silly questions and fits of pique as if they were seriously asked or thoughts to be considered. It was the look of serenity on his face in that crowded cart with new arrivals, shrieking month warriors, and an insulted ox driver all packed in together like a tin of particularly rude and obnoxious sardines. Dorian's best explanation, therefore, was that Ryou had been so exposed to insanity of the teenaged and young adult variety (or of the children variety depending on which month warrior you were referring to) that this cart of chaos seemed disturbingly commonplace to the Guardian. Either that or he'd managed to procure earplugs, which was doubtful since he seemed to be privately laughing at all of them when they said something ridiculous. The only change in countenance he experienced was to give the new arrivals a cheery wave and a pleased exclamation of greeting before settling back into his spot to wait out the storm of emotions.

Dorian, for his part, tried to make the best of an incredibly irritating situation by privately pretending he was on the New York subway during rush hour, crammed in between the masses of the major city. It was about as noisy as the subway between the various conversation and occasional shouts, and with the oxen driving the cart, the foul smelling berries raining down on them as they trundled along, Harper's vomiting, and the fact that no one had had a decent bath in what felt like ages, it certainly smelled similar. Closing his eyes, he was almost able to trick himself into believing the lie and, yes, it might have seemed a little bizarre, but at least he was coping quietly and taking up as little room as possible. Well, not that it was the best coping mechanism- he hated the subway; it was just that he hated being here even more.

The eventual arrival at the Academy greeted the group with a change in terrain as bumpy dirt roads made way for cobblestones and their journey was now more horizontal in motion than vertical. A forest made itself known, looming over one side like an organic wall of the square they found themselves in. As soon as the cart came to a halt, Dorian climbed out, stretching cramped legs and generally enjoying the feeling of his personal space being returned to him. He was so caught up in alleviating the pins and needles feeling in his legs that he almost missed the arrival of two new people. They, unlike all of the strangers he'd met so far with the exception of Haru with his authoritative leadership style and Ryou who had been greeted more as a savior to the teenager than an intruder to be thrown together with, were unobtrusive and didn't seem to have the hint of trouble that seemed to follow each of the month warriors every step of their journey.

"Dear Ji Na, your confidence in me is inspiring," Ryou replied, exiting the cart with far more grace than Dorian. It was all in good fun, apparently, a light sort of joke as opposed to withering sarcasm. Ji Na, the only one of the two to speak, was like an image plucked from an ancient roll of tapestry, ornaments and fine cloth decorating her like a doll, but she walked with too much grace and her eyes looked too knowing to ever be mistaken as just another pretty ornament. The other, the stranger even to the Academy's master, was stronger looking muscular and dressed far more plainly than her counterpart, but she held her own sort of beauty in an intriguing out of the norm sort of way.

"I trust your judgement, Ji Na. Welcome to my Academy, Katarina." Ryou didn't seem perturbed in the least by the new face, accepting it as he had nearly everything else on this journey.

Soon enough, Harper had made his final obtrusive act for the day, fainting dead away before being carted away alongside Kwasi who, Dorian was pleased to see, was finally getting both the treatment and space he needed after being (un)lucky enough to find his way into the group. Little chitchat followed revealing Ji Na to be a doctor- no, healer- of some sort, and in the midst of the quiet chaos, Ryou slipped away, vanishing from the group. It was hard not to be jealous. Despite being dead tired, Dorian did his best to familiarize himself with the Academy on the tour, futilely clinging to little details to remind him exactly where to go; it wasn't his fault that he was absolute bollocks with directions. The room was uncomfortable to the New Yorker, too open and lacking in privacy to give him any sense of peace. Regardless, when he laid down that night, he fell near instantly into a dreamless world of sleep.

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The next two weeks were agonizing in a way that Dorian couldn't quite express. Yes, he prided himself on being relatively fit(well, before his solo adventure in Aires took hold of him), but this was like extending his Tae-Kwon-Dog classes to cover almost the entire day. His muscles ached, first a sharp pain that labored his every movement, before fading into a constant throb. Cuts and scrapes joined the nearly healed wounds and bruises that had just begun to fade, but at least he was kept busy and oftentimes was too tired to do anything but sleep and eat in the breaks they were provided with, which was just fine with him. The less time he had to think, the less time he remembered just how desperately he wanted to go home.

Today was no different- sweat didn't so much trickle as it did pour from his face as a mix of heat, exhaustion, and muscle strain attempted to take him down. He persevered however, heaving his bag of rocks for a last mad dash up the mountain to complete his final lap. He let the heft bag fall where it may before seating himself, holding onto just enough dignity to keep from collapsing, wonderingly vaguely what Haru had in store for them.

He had not expected a Cyclopean.

A primal sort of fear tugged at his heart, urging him to run, run, run from the creature. It was an idiotic notion, perhaps, given the cage separating them and the lackadaisical way Haru treated being so close to the monster, but, Dorian told himself, at least his fight or flight instincts were still stubbornly active. The initial fear gave way into a morbid curiosity as Haru lectured on the Cyclopean, gray eyes following every gesture, but never quite leaving the monster. The only weak point… He'd been lucky, all that time ago, that he hadn't gotten himself killed, armed with only that little pocket knife and facing down something like… that. If he tried, even just a little bit, he could remember the adrenaline pulsing through his veins, the layer of blood- mostly the Cyclopean's, but not this- coating his body like a second skin. Well, maybe he didn't want to remember that.

He wasn't particularly hungry at the following meal time, a mix of the heat still clinging to him and the lesson only a short while before making his stomach churn with disgust bordering on fear. Luckily, meal time for the beginning students was never too heavy, and today was no exception as Dorian seated himself as a table with Tallyho. Out of almost everyone in the group, he found her the most pleasant to be around in that she seemed to encourage the notion that there wouldn't be any problems if you don't make any problems. He allowed himself, between a sip of milk and a bite of fish, to glance up at the Elite's table. It was generally something he didn't do if only because he found himself irrationally irritated by the difference in treatment despite understanding and approving of the idea of improving oneself to improve your situation. Today, however, it was different.

For one, Ryou was actually there, seated in the middle of the table, just as vibrant and pleasant as ever. And, on another note, there was a new occupant at the table, scarfing down the fine food voraciously with hardly a breath in between bites. He looked, well, vaguely like a scarecrow. Tall and lean, the adjective "raggedy" seemed to apply itself perfectly to the young man, his dark green shirt a patchwork of where it had been mended many, many times and brown pants and shoes in no better condition and all of it just slightly too big on his frame. His short brown hair curled and spiked every which way, his nose slightly crooked from where it had been obviously broken a time or two before, an assertion backed up by the sword sheathed next to him. The sword and its sheath looked particularly out of place, effortlessly clean and, from what Dorian could see, without the same mended, ragged quality that the rest of the young man's possessions . But, for all that, he seemed to give off an air of friendliness- perhaps it was his wide, green eyes sparkling with mirth at something Ryou whispered, or the fact that, for all of the raggedness, his face was actually handsome in a boyish sort of way.

It was only after most of the month warrior group had started their meal, however, that Ryou made his way over, the scarecrow-like stranger following behind at an easy pace.

"I suppose I should apologize for not being around very often recently, but I'm sure Ji Na and Haru have been taking good care of you," Ryou hummed, his ever-present smile lazily spread across his face. However, he didn't offer an explanation for his absence.

"From what they've told me, all of you have been working very hard-" At least he hadn't lied and said they were doing wonderfully. "And it's come to my attention that you haven't been given a traditional Academy greeting. So, after you've finished your meals and rested, tonight we're going on a bit of an adventure. I wouldn't worry about it- all of the Academy students go through it usually within their first week of training, isn't that right, Dae?" He clapped the tall young man on the shoulder and, to his credit, despite his lean body, he didn't give an inch.

"Ta. Had me do it day two. Suppose that was my own fault, though," he snorted good-naturedly, smiling rather crookedly. His voice was slightly raspy and a thick brogue clung to each syllable.

"Indeed it was," Ryou agreed quite readily, before turning his golden eyes back to the group. "By the way, I don't suppose you've been introduced yet. This is Dae Grimm, one of our resident elites and the person you should be thanking for bringing in your Cyclopean today. Dae's been kind enough to offer to come along with us tonight. Now, the sooner you finish, the sooner we can get this done and you can head off to bed, which I'm sure all of you are looking forward to after today." It was interesting the way he spoke- not patronizing in the least, but genuinely like he understood what they were going through. Then again, given that he ran this Academy, it was fair to say that he'd seen it many, many times before.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Huan Kin Delun
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The ragged rumble of a cart’s wheels and the hefty breathing of the ox that pulled it grew steadily closer on their heels, almost in perfect sync with the dying whale noises (that were vaguely human in origin supposedly) gradually fading off; made it rather hopelessly clear that her poor companion would obviously be eating his words soon enough, but woman remained refined and didn’t say a word about it nor let her mild amusement touch her eyes or even hint at regarding the matter. Until a hard, rich voice spoke up, wanting them to hear him: ”Thank Goddess.” The woman turned slightly in her seat upon her mount to look behind, tilting her head back slightly to allow her hood to fall gracefully off her head and bare her fair features to the ragtag group of wayward ‘sheepish’ teenagers and their ‘herders’. “Haru, the one be praised. You made better time than I expected.” She hummed lightly. Her lips parting slightly as a pale, faint smile rose on her lips in greeting.

”Lillian, thanks for sending Ryou and Dorian over by the way.” Lillian, now named, took the varying reactions to her appearance and the wheel’s turning in everyone’s heads that she was apparently the owl Haru had sent to get Ryou and Dorian ages past, with a certain amount of grace and indifference. She idly met everyone’s eyes, most without challenge and categorized them away in her mind for future reference, but she obviously held more affection in their depths for – Haru, Ryou, and even the grounds-keeper and ox-cart driver of Ryou’s Academy, Mr. Vo. And one young child who’d been walking a little ahead of the cart, studied and stared a little past the formal limit usually kept by most strangers. And Lillian seemed to give her a longer span of attention than most, with an odd sort of familiar curiosity glinted in her eyes, before moving on with a blink to the next.

“It was no problem. Ryou had an errand for me to run as well, so I apologize for not returning sooner. “ She finally responded, with a soft sigh and good natured coyish eye-roll in the direction of the other red-headed rider beside her astride his own mount. The more she spoke, her odd accent had an airy, breathless quality to it, simply singing a song as it were, even if just plain English. Lillian resumed focusing on the path ahead, guiding her mount up what was left of the trail to the gates.

...

Falke in the midst of ignoring Harper’s outburst, had not been able to successfully fallen back asleep like he’d planned. But felt like he’d woken up even more. If that was even possible? It wasn’t that he’d ever felt a nervous air before, and maybe it was just the thinner air of the high mountains and his fading temperament because of traveling in a messed up timeline in a bothersome 'new' world in general, he could blame it on. He felt annoyed of course, but, oddly, very much wide awake. It was probably just the realization, that he was really stuck in this for good, or even that he necessarily had to be more aware - just to keep his head attached, and the possibility of going home one day once this was all done? Oh who bloody knew or, or cared...

When they finally arrived, and were told to get off the cart. Falke was downright giddy, internally of course without letting it show unto his facial features. His legs screamed relief, or well, at the very least felt very light and almost ticklish, because of the rush of blood flowing through them to relieve agonized, sore muscles. And his stomach gurgled one last thought of possibly rejecting the meager bit of breakfast he’d gotten into his system hours earlier, before falling silent, eager as well seemingly to be over the faint motion sickness that had plagued him throughout the ride and back on his own two feet.

He stood, warily, much like even else around him, but seemed to be relieved enough to be alive and standing that he didn’t feel much of the need to work out any left-over aches and pains from the trip. Eyes wide, sightlessly surveying their surroundings with an interested, if rather honestly cautious air. He could not see the natural beauty of the place, but he could certainly smell the sharp, almost sweet, scent in the air of many different plants (except for this shit-smelling berry trees from the path into the main campus, of course), and fresher air than he’d ever really had to breathe before in general.

“Now don’t tell me he is asleep at the back of that cart… ” Falke turned toward the voice, not quite realizing he’d been facing in mostly the wrong direction most of the time since getting out of the cart, but able enough to lock on the sound a voice and turn himself toward it so that he vaguely looked like he was giving anyone his full attention. However, as she afforded each month warrior a moment’s worth of eye contact, it wasn’t really certain if they actually meet eyes at all, Falke’s were likely to high or too low or just plain not able to focus – not his intent of course, but being blind, that sort of thing happened pretty regularly.

And the following conversation, her words, and others, oh... And Harper, finally, apparently fainting. Well... None of it made much sense at all right now, as of yet, but he supposed they'd be answered soon enough, or later, if later. But for now, they apparently had a tour to take.

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The next two weeks were an absolute terror, and nothing short of it. His lack of gracefulness, coordination, and lack of knowing exactly where he was going by sight; played a part in sometimes not being able to finish the tasks they'd been given at times or mostly just finishing them barely (after running into things, or tripping and falling a great many times, excreta). Falke's bones and muscles ached and had constant throbbing accompanying his every movement. At night he was plagued by headaches from physical and emotion exhaustion and whispering nightmares.

Today was, again, no different during the exercise of going up and down the sadistic mountain trail five laps with a sack of rocks to carry along the way. Falke always finished last. Unless by chance the monk, Kwasi, had taken to long to pray for strength to complete the exercise, or someone was just feeling a little slower that day. Only the past few days he'd gained enough will to attempt jogging, slowly, up the mountain. Down the mountain, he walked, period. Both ways he hugged the edge furthest away from the cliff, like Harper, but not with fear driving him but only the general concern that he was indeed blind - one step, well, you can guess what would happen.

His arms were a maze of cuts and blotches of bruises from when he tripped and the mountain terrain was less than forgiving, and covered in blood and grime or he'd managed to wipe it all off over his shirt accidentally. His jeans were ragged and ripped at the knees, and no doubt his knees were extremely sore. When given the momentary break to cool off between the next lesson, after he finished his final lap and dropped the pile of stones alongside everyone else's. He made is way over and sat down wordlessly next to Tallyho on the fountain's rim, to splash the cold water unto his arms. Falke winced slightly at the change of temperature against his skin and the stinging sensation that accompanied cleaning his 'wounds'.

Falke hadn't expected a Cyclopean as the next lesson, however... He focused intently at the rattling of the cage bars and the snarlings of the trapped beast as much (or potentially more so, all things considered) as Haru's explanations of the creatures. He held an odd sense of morbid curiosity about the beasts, because they certainly didn't sound all to pleasant company - but without sight to actually confirm if it looked about as bad as it sounded, or smelled for that matter, he didn't have a clue. However, he understood the primal flight or fight running through his veins now, and yes - he'd try to kill it before it could kill him no doubt. But, how would he even know where the heart was, where to 'aim'? And, of course, it did not seem likely that Haru or his unknown guardian for that matter would go back to Earth to tell his parents that sorry your son died fighting some alien war, especially if there was still 'work' to be done. So, eh? Well, whatever for now, it was just food for thought later (or nightmares)...

Even though their meals were always pretty basic and of small portions, but Falke was particularly hungry this late afternoon. He had considered the notion of heading back to the rooms for some extra shut-eye, but the heat exhaustion, and his muscles screaming for extra protein or sugars, chased the notion away quickly. He followed everyone into the dining hall, passing the tantalizing smells of the high table, before plopping down silently at one of the four-seater beginner tables - where he believed the girl called Autumn sat across from him? But he didn't really have a clue, or care about the matter on actually finding out. Lunch was a piece of bread, a thin slab of fish, a small bowl of water and a small bowl of milk. He ate the bread, and drank the small bowl of water; he managed to bite a bit of the fish, but no more, and the milk was left untouched.

When Ryou and the elite, Dae Grimm, finished their exchange, and Haru pipped in to be ready by sunset, it certainly didn't leave Falke much of a chance to do anything in his elected free time. He likely found a place outside in the shade in the outer rim of the courtyard; resting quietly twiddling his thumbs with his wandering thoughts, and resisting the urge not the itch the newly forming scabs on either of his arms that were threatening to drive him mad. Until, over a time, he heard others begin to arrive with their varying footsteps, and got up from his place stiffly to make his own way over to join them slowly but surely - stopping cautiously on the outside of the collected group.

...

Lillian wasn't seen much of the course of the few weeks since the group had arrived to the Academy, but nor did she disappear like Ryou seemed to have. But it was truthful that she didn't seem to be as deeply involved in the training as other guardians, or at the very least had sense to give Haru his space (despite this being his chance to shove the other guardians respective kids' training for them alone to handle, he liked the control) and Ji Na had an important steady presence there, Kit was useful in egging on his warrior, Autumn.

She was often gone for a few hours or half a day at most as a time, and returned to speak briefly with Haru - sad and sweet was the sound of her voice in the cool clear mountain air - or was seen during meal times at the end of the high table - eating with refined grace, impeccable manors, and didn't seem bothered by the antics going on further down the table. Sometimes after Lillian would stay watching for a time the warrior's struggle in their training with her eyes that were as cold as frost in the stars. Always silent. Always judging.

In a rare appearance of showing for the 'party' on time, Lillian walked into the courtyard a beat after Tallyho and Autumn, and took her place beside Haru with quiet footsteps. She was dressed as she always was, in a dress and/or tunic-dress of fine, home-spun silk. Today, the white color made her pale skin glow with a healthier sheen, and the faint golden accents tied in nicely with her golden arched brows and the hair on her head trapped in a messy bun; and the slits in the fabric on either side, allowed full, free movement of both her legs.

...

The dining hall of the Academy wasn't a large room by any means. But it had enough space to have dozens of low rising tables and pillow scattered across the floor for every butt that happened to call the Academy home at any given time. It was no different, for a rather ruggedly built man - tall, wide chested, and of a hefty poundage, similar to a bear in fact - sitting haphazardly perched on a comfortably lumpy green pillow at the table at the head of the hall. He was a regular face at that table, and had always sat beside Ji Na and a pink-haired little girl. However, no one of the month warriors knew his name, title, or even saw him anywhere at the Academy but at meal times when he seemed to hold brief conversations with his counterparts while they ate.

His dark hair and slanted eyes, doubled with a startling resemblance to Ji Na and Mr. Vo, hailed his birth place to be from the Eastern Isles likely. His clothes where dirtied and soiled from the happenings of the morning and afternoon but of a high quality fabric colored in dark colors of hunter green and forest earthy tones. A giant blackened war bow, rested in a leather harness across his back, while the bundle of gray feather fledged arrows rested in a quiver attached to a brown belt at his hip and out of his full range of movement. He looked powerful, dangerous even, except for the kind, familial glint in his eyes.

His mouth parted as a wolfish grin tickled unto his maw, apparently amused at the antics going on further down the table, even as he used it to hide a silently pained expression. "Patience, Ji Na…" He rumbled softly in reminder, with a touch of mild but shared exasperation flavoring his tone at the antics of their obnoxious ‘sibling in arms’. His accent was soft, elegant, and polished, with a deep, rich 'growling' sound to it that made it all his own. “I’ll take what she doesn’t want.” He added pleasantly. He touched her shoulder briefly as he politely reached around her to grasp the smaller plate with the meat that hadn't been cut 'correctly' for the little girl before dumping it unto his own, wasting nothing but in turn having the plate now clear for Ryou to have a place to put his 'properly' cut meat for the annoying midge.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Huan Kin Delun
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Even with her good friend’s encouragement of patience, Ji Na couldn’t help but feel more that a little tested. She mumbled something under her breath, an unspoken language that was nothing like the one Kat and Kwasi sung but was strange nonetheless. As groups began to file out of the dining hall, Ji Na prepared to leave also.
“Huan,” she said, “will you be going to the event tonight?”
She didn’t wait too long for an answer before adjusting her robes and looking towards the door.
It didn’t seem like Ji Na was easily angered. But when she felt stressed or irritated she often took to a strange addiction. It was pretty hush-hush around campus to be honest. Some say they’ve seen Ji Na hanging out of her room’s window, a long, ornate pipe balancing between the idle pinch of her middle and pointer finger.
If Ryou knew about it there would be no doubt that he would disapprove. But there wasn’t much of a doubt that he already knew.
Ji Na was one of the privileged ones.
Not only had the elites earned a better dining menu but they also owned better rooms. The building at the center of the campus blueprint, and the only multi-story building on the premises, was elite housing where the hardened students had plenty of room to live and relax.
Ji Na’s room was both simple and complex. While she didn’t necessarily have, or even want, an elevated bed like Karma’s she still had a reasonable collection of ottomans and large pillows. Her room was filled with medical paraphernalia—dried herbs half-ground by the mortar and pestle. Empty glass jars, and jars flooding with medicines, potions, powers and creams. Above desk there was a layered shelf weighed down by clusters of jars with rare bugs drowned in preservation fluid.
The dark haired woman entered her room and struggled out of her soft, decorative over-robe. She knelt down to a basket in the corner of her room where she kept her pipe.

After a short moment of peace Ji Na came down to the courtyard. She re-covered her white under-robe with the fancier one and it looked like she hadn’t even removed it. She seemed just as pleasant as she had been before, and she greeted the others with grace.
Tallyho sat at the fountains edge as she tried to forget her ordeal in the forest. She wondered if the same thing would happen but felt safer because she wouldn’t be alone.
Ryou hadn’t made it to the courtyard yet and Tallyho was getting impatient. What on Aires was he preparing and when would they be able to do it? Haru was tapping his foot frantically. The blind kid was wandering around the outskirts of the group not really knowing WHAT to do. And that kid just arrived, the one with pink hair and greasy fingers.
But then Tallyho caught sight of Lillian who, like Ryou, wasn’t too involved but just involved enough and naturally she was hanging around Haru, the only other guardian in the square so far. The woman’s hair was bunned loosely and the sunlight blew a halo on her silhouette that made the color orange look comfortable.
Tallyho didn’t know anything about Lillian, yet she decided that she was instantly more tolerable than some of the other characters in their whacky group.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Huan Kin Delun
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Diligently, the man finished the extra meat and the rest of his own plate without further word, or even blinks of an eye at Ji Na’s mumbled comments in a strange dialect. He was swallowing his last bite, as various groups began filling out of the dinning hall, as his good friend spoke up again beside him – discussing the coming initiation of the new children to the Academy. He took a moment to word a response, and in that time happened to glance in the direction of the table(s) the month warriors resided at currently with a thoughtful, somewhat curious (if only looking at them almost like at how best it would be to take them apart, piece by piece, but still – curiosity, never the less) interest. “No, I hadn’t planned to.” Huan answered honestly. He managed to convey a slight apology in his humming but soft tone, making it clear that he wasn’t against coming, or helping for that matter, but instead had prior duties to attend to before watching the event that night. “The kitchen matron needs two more deer and perhaps a hog to fill her need for the next few weeks, I planned to hunt this evening after basic classes with the little ones… If I finish early, I will come.” He finished lightly, not quite promising anything but making the offer all the same. Huan rose in turn with her, heading to the door together before parting ways; Ji Na back to her room to cool off before the event, and he went to the classrooms.

---

Lillian met Tallyho's sudden attention with an even patience of one knowing that they were being observed. The same look was in her eyes, a curiosity tainted by knowledge, but she remained wordless. Ryou's entrance, departure, and orders to follow along behind, interrupted the moment of contact; Lillian broke off with a blink, and walked beside Haru on the way to the initiation.

Standing in the same place she had been when they had arrived at the top of the cliff, like Ryou, daring the edge, without worry as she glanced with careless indifference to the figures moving down on the island below. No one had asked for her help in jumping, nor was there the need to push another unruly warrior or non-warrior over the cliff, so she had stayed were she was. Silent, and observing, per usual.

"By the one, that was... Eventful." Lillian hummed, lightly. Without any malice, but not without a certain air of annoyance flavoring her tone. Tsking under her breath, she turned away to follow the others' back to the Academy for the night.

---

When they 'arrived', he stopped, uneasily. He was not certain of the footing, which seemed even crumbly (even so far from the edge), and there was a new, odd sound playing at his ears. It was rushing water, he was certain, distant but still moving quickly enough and "falling" through air to make the 'rushing' sound that it did. And as he thought on it, he could only assume it to be a waterfall. He had it described to him how it should 'look' and sound, but he'd never really been able to hear one in person himself. Well, yet another fact of how different this world was from Earth. Earth still had some beautiful places, of course, but this Aires, hesh... It was just another world. He put it at that... As Ryou began talking again, Falke listened quietly, and politely in turn.

“-terrible actors...-jump off this cliff-..."

Falke blinked. What? He wanted them to… Um, no? He took a quick, hesitant step backwards, attempting to assess the situation ahead – and not finding much sense in it right off the bat. Listening to the varying reactions of the others, with a less than hopeful feeling at how few of the number had sanity on their sides apparently. Many were heightened by fear, but most controlled it enough to jump under their own power, or had help in doing so, and who everyone would have guessed to be thrown off something one day - was pushed off by two of the guardians to the watery depths bellow.

Personally, Tallyho had hit the nail on the head with her early comments in an attempt to get them out of jumping off a bloody cliff. While it had been a verbal slap to his face, more so with the fact that this was the first time anyone had actually admitted that he was blind since coming to Aires - and thus likely couldn't even remotely swim because of his disability. He'd paused momentarily to glance in her direction with a raised brow, but shortly had given her a short nod - not quite a thanks for stating the obvious, but acceptance of her use of words, even if it hadn't worked in their favor in the end.

It was true that he couldn’t remotely swim. Honestly, did you think his mother ever thought that he would have needed to be taught how to swim? He was blind. Being blind and learning how to swim and enjoying being in water in general (that wasn’t like a shower, or rain, anyway), just didn’t go hand in hand, period. Being able to know where the shore-line was to even swim to, yea, right, forget it...

While he was mentally freaking out, Falke remained stubbornly silent and still. His face hardly twitched with the raging of various emotions going on beyond the curtains so to speak, remaining carefully blank and neutral. Only his eyes seem to look perchance a little wider, with a faint hint of his relative unnerved-ness lurking in their depths, but hardly noticeable in the scheme of things. He wasn't trying to be defiant, or anything of that ilk. But, yes, he was quietly refusing to jump, or even for that matter state why jumping just wouldn’t be happening. Just… Anything wasn’t likely to be happening for him in a while. He wouldn’t be doing nothing. It was just, nope… Oh, he needed to quit being such an Angsthase.

”Falke…”

It was simple comment, pausing for a visual or verbal response that he had heard them, which broke through his silent mental freaking out, caught his attention, and made him focus unto the person who had uttered it – it was Kyle, if his memory hadn’t faded and/or had happened to misplace someone’s name with someone else’s voice. Falke hadn’t even heard him approach, considering his mind had been inwardly focusing on other things, and his senses obviously weren’t exactly keeping him up to speed.

If his memory served, however, Kyle, was frankly one of those in the group that happened to lack some logical version of common sense in his honest opinion. He was impulsive, quick of temper in one direction or another or both at the same time, and seemed to enjoy their training like only an muscle-bound exercise nut would. He was the perfect living definition of the common idiom, Blinder Eifer ist Feurer ohne Licht. And to be truthful, he was almost weary of him just because of that.

Falke hadn’t even connected with him, or really anyone, since they’d arrived there. Why would he now want with him? Fei… He gave him a brief moment of his full attention in response. Polite as always, but leery seemingly in turn. Tilting his head slightly in Kyle’s direction, but his eyes, trying as they might, never did meet the general direction of the other’s eyes.

”I can help if you want it.”

Ah. Well… To be honest, no, he didn’t want his help; nor did he even want to jump for that matter. But for Harper’s fresh, spectacular failure at running away, and ultimately tossed off the cliff by the two Guardians, alone and out of his mind, it was doubtful they couldn’t get out of it by being unable to swim. However, his offer was honest, genuine even, and having someone make sure he didn’t drown wasn’t exactly a pleasant highlight, but perhaps something to begin putting trust in. Hah. Not bloody likely anytime soon, but for now, it would work well enough.

“Fine.” Falke grated out finally, the English mildly mangled by his harsh German accent (but mostly better than any other times he had spoken), in answer to Kyle. His tone clearly echoing his train of thought, not really distasteful of the situation at hand but not thrilled about it either, and perhaps a faint, very faint, thankful note buried in it.

But that thankfulness was buried further, when Kyle took his hand as if to lead him to the edge. His blearily listless eyes hardened abruptly, flattened, and glinted with dangerous intentions. Over the years, his mother had been the first and only one to start and continue holding his hand or guiding him around, and Otter, had taken her place when his individualism started to shine through as he grew older. Kyle was neither. Impatiently, Falke twisted his wrist and jerked his hand free with Kyle’s grip, and repeatedly swatted his hands away if and when he reached over to resume a better grip on him.

Falke stalked forward under his own power, toward the edge. Not without fear, but perhaps the mildly annoyed, clear anger he had felt since arriving with destiny shoved down his throat, and Kyle’s ‘honest’ attempts at helping, gave him a rain check on those feelings right now. He raised a foot in time with Kyle’s count, scuffling hesitantly until he found the edge, and was about to make the leap, and… Froze.

Kyle jumped ahead, by himself; and Falke, waited, standing on the edge alone, quietly. Putting his own anxiousness at the back of his mind, before making the ‘leap of faith’ on his own. Brother/sisterhood be dammed… Reluctantly, after a steadying breath, he let a steely tension appear in his shoulders, and leapt off the edge - alone, on his own, and by his own choice.

Argh! He didn’t expect the fall to be so far, and that he would gather so much speed before ultimately crashing into the lake. Then the pain of impact, water might have been better than bone-breaking ground or rock at that height, but it still hurt. The cool temperature of the water as he plunged into it shocked him enough to take in a startled breath of the same water surrounding him, and not the blessed oxygen he’d been hoping for. After a brief moment of struggle, finding that if he kicked his legs he moved, and by luck, he found the surface.

He gasped laboriously a breath of fresh, mountain air, spitting out the water from the first failed breath, and nearly sunk under again. He kicked his legs a little more strongly to keep above the water level, but it was such a disorienting struggle. Could he do this? Maybe. Now where was the shore? Kyle? Falke suddenly felt someone grab the collar of his shirt with a harsh tug in what he supposed was the right direction…

"We made it!" Falke barely heard Kyle’s exhausted exclamation, because he was out of breath, not terribly so, but enough that he hacked and coughed for minutes after being out of the water once they could stand and walk to the shoreline. He was fine, really, maybe a little oxygen deprived, because he’d gotten too much false-oxygen lake water. He had survived, and didn’t drown, whoppie. But Kyle’s over enthusiastic words of ‘making’ it, made him feel almost sick to his stomach after feeling like a nearly lost a lung. ‘Right’, ‘they made it’.

Finally, the coughs left him, and he focused on breathing slowly, perhaps a little heavily while trying to ease deeper breaths in. He was too tired to do anything else but wordlessly sit down where he was in the fine, grainy sand, while he resumed proper, healthy oxygen levels again he supposed. He felt soggy, inside and out. Huh, and very much like Otter on bath day’s for the poor mutt. Even, unfortunately, he noted that even wet people had a slightly unsavory scent to them as well. Or maybe it was just the lake water…

Falke raised a hand, wearily wiping away the streaming rivets of water off his face, and then moving on to ruffle through his hopelessly tangled, and very wet, hair in an attempt to make his hair fall down somewhat normally (and down, more or less) and squished out some of the water. And then rubbed with a wince to the red line his collar had left around his throat being dragged through the water, already beginning to purple with bruises to his fair skin. Great.

Focused mostly inwardly, he had not pay attention much to the goings on around him, or frankly cared much really. He had happened to notice the voices of others leaving the washing up unto the shoreline area, and heading toward somewhere that someone, Kat likely having been the first one to have jumped, had begun setting up a fire or a place to camp for the night; and Kyle had stayed beside him, catching his own breath, but also seemingly giving Falke company while he recovered as well the same time. It was odd for a relative stranger to even consider doing it, but not feeling abandoned or left behind was a nice feeling, he would admit inwardly to himself.

He caught snippets of the conversations going on further away: A couple potential drownings had occurred apparently, food rations left by the snot-nosed youth of the elite, and dreaded small talk seemed to be the topic between a couple of those from Earth, with Kwasi hesitantly but happily joining in.

Back home, small talk was generally reserved for the 30 seconds one was potentially stuck in an elevator with a stranger, and even then it was only used via a question and an answer basis; and even that was an annoyance he seldom, if ever, took or preferred to take part in. Now talking about his whole life story, or even a summary of it, was definitely not on his bucket list. He would imagine himself pressing his thumbs (or crossing his fingers, as English speakers knew the phrase) for Autumn in her effort to get to know everyone, if he remotely knew her in the first place, but… He wouldn’t be participating, that’s for sure.

Kat’s call was a welcome distraction, and Kyle too finally broke the silence between them both, long winded like he had always been. Falke had to narrow his eyes further, focusing intently on the jittering English dancing through the air, to be sure he understood what he was even saying completely, or likely just a close enough as he could. But the gist seemed to be directions, and a will not to allow the native Airian to eat all the food.

“Wery vell…” He muttered softly in answer to the other’s question, wariness dragging raggedly down on his attempts at English. Falke wasn’t very hungry himself at the current time, however, Kat was better, quieter company than the group crowded for small talk around the fire, if for a small moment. Reluctantly, he shakily stood, arms wind milling as he resumed and fought for balance; before making his way carefully over the shifting sand, under his own power, a few minutes behind Kyle.

As the pack was passed to him, he managed to grab a couple pieces of dried meat, like jerky, from the bag for himself, before passing it back to Kat as not to incur her wrath for Kyle taking it from her in the first place. But as Kyle started the same small talk with Kat, who Falke had a feeling didn't appreciate it all that much either, he stepped away from them both. Still close enough near the fire to enjoy it's warmth against his goosed flesh, but apart from either 'group', so as to not be included in any conversations as he silently chewed the food he'd pulled from the bag. Idly he sat down - wet, covered in sticky sand, and looking bedraggled - attempting to enjoy a few moments of peace.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Bryce Edwards
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Unsurprisingly, given her openly religious attitude, Lillian was in the midst of the students at the fountain joined together by prayer. She was, however, not openly chanting a prayer she didn't have faith in - not against the young monk's credit, but this was little more than the small ripple of a river stone blocking the flow of a creek, a hiccup in the great, wretched tragedies she had witnessed or had been apart of over her abetted, lengthy lifetime. But she could pray for those would had been lost peace after death, at the very least - and at most, for those, who would pass on before their job was finished.

"Hiri hyn hidh ab'wanath." Lillian murmured softly to herself, finishing her own prayer in a long forgotten tongue. Kwasi, at the head of the fountain, continued on, his voice a clarion call to those needing a prayer in with the Goddess, as if their belief would sustain them through this tragedy. Heh. Belief, however, was a fickle thing she well knew. She brushed her wheat-colored curls (that had snapped free from their usual bindings during the early morning attack) off her shoulders to drape across the back of her ruined, smog-stained dress. Her dark blue eyes glinting a quiet, sadness in their depths.

Lillian had begun to rise as Haru's gentle, persistence touched her shoulders briefly with the tips of his fingers to get her attention. She acknowledged him by raising her head to meet his eyes, listening to his words. Yes, she consented silently to herself, it was time they got moving then. "Of course," She hummed aloud in agreement, without a lick of dissent that some Warriors and even a few Guardians somehow deemed necessary to show to Haru. It was wasted breath or movement, as far as she would have been concerned.

Shortly, Lillian made her way purposefully to where her month's charged was 'resting' after the decidedly strenuous task to attach a make-shift splint to a still severely swollen leg (the swelling still hadn't allowed them to set the broken bones, but the splint would help him move without causing further harm to the injury, more or less) a mere hour before. Helping him stand with the help of the newly arrived guardian, Nikita, and directed his staggering hobble closer to everyone else to be apart of the meeting; easing him to sit down near the edge of the collected group on a spare blanket (or probably an unfortunately now dead persons tattered old coat) that had been wrapped around his shoulders in the early parts of the morning, when shock had made his internal temperature go hay-wire for a time.

Falke had a rough morning. Hell, technically everyone had; what with the fire that had destroyed much of the Academy and caused injuries abound, the betrayal of some of the Academy's own and finest, and the bodies of the dead stacked and wrapped up much like cord-wood fresh on people's minds - rough may have been a bit of an understatement.

The simple 'walk' over had caused a pale flush to rise across his cheeks and brim of his nose, and his bottom lip trembled unsteadily with each breath - nearly in time with shooting sparks of displeased or displaced nerves whenever a muscle spasm hit or a adjusted the broken limb. His eyes seemed hollow, but were alert, as he viewed his surroundings blearily and listened to the conversations. It was remarkable really that he didn't have a tear stain tracked on his face or had cried out more than the one time the splint was being put on (and then, he'd had enough cotton stuffed in his mouth, to only make a sound akin to a depressed, agonized goat) by another Guardian, Bryce.

The broken leg was hopefully a clean break and would heal relatively quickly once properly set, he'd been told. However, the additional knowledge of finding far worse damage once the swelling went down was always a disheartening possibility - of which, given the context of the situation of having to travel down the mountain (walking, oh joy, or a riding a horse, maybe a little better, but likely not), to get to some port, and getting on a boat to travel to the RK to be tested and hopefully he was up and rearing to go by then, broken limb or not, frankly... He felt a little nauseous. But... He understood that they couldn't stay here, and thus his silence spoke his agreement.

"I will see if a spare mount can be found to help those who need it, to help us get to the port quicker..." Lillian spoke up, a usually silent party, from her spot at Haru's left. Her odd lit twittering breezily across her tone. Her wide glance specifically seemed to pause the most on her own charge and Tallyho too, who had suffered a pretty small but steady amount of blood loss over time and it would be safe to say had the highest chance of fainting, pitching over, and falling; but Harper and Skylar also were spared a moment of attention with their own separate ankle injuries seemed a probable enough need to be watched, and helped if necessary on the journey ahead - before moving on to Mr. Vo and Kwasi arrived and spoke.

Lillian dipped her head shortly in a mixture of respect and farewell to them both, before moving away from the group to do as she said she would do. Briefly whispering to them, "May the one be with you," and squeezed their hands, young and old, lightly as she departed to search for a spare mount that had been caught - but wasn't being used to shuttle medical supplies or helping clean out the rubble of the destroyed buildings.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Huan Kin Delun Character Portrait: Amber (Edwin Bradley)
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Dorian Roberts, for all of the trials and tribulations he'd experienced in the past three years as well as the admittedly difficult cards he'd been dealt in early life, considered himself to be a very lucky young man. He was alive, for one, which was more than he'd expected at the beginning of this journey. On a less broad note, he wasn't too terribly lonely either, even if he still longed for figures that now only existed in his life by virtue of a thin piece of technologically advanced plastic. He was fed well, training was still hard but no longer to the extent where extracurriculars meant trying not to fall into an exhausted sleep on his dinner, and outside of his duties at the Academy, he had free reign so long as he didn't manage to wander off the mountain again(no one had quite believed him when he'd said his sense of direction was bad until he'd ended up in a village some two miles from the mountain the Academy was located on).

That was not to say that bad things didn't happen to him. He might have been attempting to see things in a kinder light, but he was a realist at heart and there was no simply writing off the bad, even when considering the good. He was still on a foreign planet, still trapped into a destiny he still didn't quite believe in, still had no choice but to fight or die. But, still, he had some luck in that everything could be much worse. So maybe it wasn't luck? Maybe it was just the absence of terrible luck that left him alive and relatively well?

It was that luck-not-luck that apparently found him staring at the burning Academy from the tree line, lured back from a nightly stroll to the higher peaks in a fit of insomnia by flames visible even from a great distance, licking at the sky and the overwhelming stench of smoke polluting the clear air. He didn't know what he expected as he hurried back- a bonfire, perhaps, or a stupid mistake by one of the students that would be taken care of in a flash- but it wasn't what he found. The Academy was burning, no building spared by the merciless flames that continued to spread, eating hungrily away at anything that wandered too close. The smoke clogged his lungs, but his reactions were broken and too slow, memories shared not only by himself but millions of other New Yorkers and visitors and volunteers bubbling to the surface. It was never the sight of fire that bothered him, nor the intense heat that it exuded, a threat of pain and more than mild discomfort, but instead the way it invaded the other senses so thoroughly.

The smell- oh, the smell of burning wood wasn't too bad, but the intense stink of burning flesh and hair that intermixed with the fumes invaded his nose and settled on his tongue leaving a macabre taste to cling and coat the inside of his mouth, intermingling with the wood smoke. The noise was the worst, however, the sound of crackling flames promising the collapse of buildings, shrieks of agony, of panic, of fear, of anger from humans and animals alike intermingling into an all too familiar audio that had haunted his childhood dreams for weeks and weeks.

"Move!" Dorian was forcefully jolted from his reverie as a strong hand gripped his shoulder, launching him out of the way as part of the library collapsed on the area he'd just been standing in in a flurry of flickering flames now dancing across the grass and splintering wood slowly transforming to ash beside his feet. His gasp of surprise transformed almost instantaneously into a coughing fit, but the hand never left his shoulder, moving him steadily away from the burning building, never once letting him stop. It was easier to breathe in the courtyard, but being surrounded by the flaming buildings, held in the eye of the storm with sobbing, wounded people trying to comprehend the same shocking sight was no easier mentally. His rescuer- a random male student with thin blonde hair left him there, shoving through the crowd towards a similarly unfamiliar student, a girl clutching her bleeding arm, that he pulled gently into his arms. The girl collapsed almost instantly, clinging almost violently to Dorian's unknown savior.

This was a sea of strangers, strangers he'd lived with for three years but never managed to meet or know apart from the month warriors dotting his surroundings and the few familiar faces, elite or otherwise, moving around. They'd lived here, learned here, eaten here, trained here for longer than Dorian himself in most cases and now it was burning around them when mere hours ago everything had been as calm and tranquil as a night at the Academy could boast. It occurred to Dorian that he was in shock, trying to pay attention to small details instead of the whole picture because there was simply nothing he could do for anyone. The Academy was a lost cause, a thought that hit him with some force, and it would soon be wholly engulfed, eaten away by the ravenous inferno. It wasn't his home, not really- he was a visitor, a guest having long since overstayed his welcome, but grief still welled up within him because he still felt like it was his in some way, shape, or form, or at least close enough that seeing buildings crumble, hearing the shrieks of pain from the ox's stables, seeing tears streak down the faces of people he considered far stronger than himself was like a physical pain.

"March Warrior." Only one person in the Academy still stood by that formality, the magician battling his way through the crowd to appear at his side, a struggling Mori held in a tight grip by the wrist. They were transformed in the trauma and the light of the flames devouring their home. Liam's face held none of its usual amiability, tightlipped, face streaked with ash. Mori was no better, tracks of tears that still flowed as he struggled in his older friend's grip staining his cheeks, white cheeks uncharacteristically red due to the sheer heat surrounding them.

"You will watch him. You will not let him go. He is not to leave your sight." The order was hissed, only barely audible in the commotion as the young genius was thrust into his arms. Dorian grabbed him instinctively and, while Mori was not physically strong, still grimaced as the young man thrashed.

"Liam, no! No, I need to come with you! Dae, Ryou, Ji Na, Ben- they're all still out there! It's not fair, I can-!" The protests were cut off by a sudden flurry of movement and the sharp and distinctive noise of a hand meeting flesh. Mori stopped his struggles, one hand going to his stinging cheek as Liam- polite, cheery Liam- glared down at him, harsh and unrelenting.

"You cannot!" He snarled, each word ferocious and biting. "You will get in the way and get yourself killed, so stop being selfish and stay!" With that, the magician disappeared, throwing himself back into the fray of the few people still struggling to save the Academy, or if not the Academy, at least one more life. Mori started sobbing again, the shock of the sudden blow wearing off, and it occurred to Dorian- horribly and suddenly- that the youngest elite had a photographic memory. This was now burned into his mind, never to leave, never to fade but to stay as vivid as it was right now. He pulled the sobbing child to him, blocking his view as best he could. It was the least he could do, even if all he wanted to do was cry as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ryou was by no means an overly modest man- he took pride in many of his accomplishments, real and imagined(all real, he'd argue, until someone reminded him that he couldn't really be Lord of the Dance or King of the Jungle, even if he did tend to introduce himself as such when drunk). But if you caught him in an introspective moment and asked him what exactly he was most proud of, it would be his children. He adored all of the students that passed through his Academy, young and old, but he held a special place in his heart for those that he'd raised personally. His beloved Ji Na, as delicate looking as a porcelain doll and twice as beautiful and with a strength and knowledge that made her so endearing. Ben, gruff and tough as a bear on the outside, but, to Ryou, as sweet as honey on the inside. Now Karma with her endless energy and endearing antics. They were flawed- of course they were(if Ji Na ever though he didn't notice the distinct odor of her brand of relaxation in her room, she had another thing coming). Still, they were his children, brought up by him for better or for worse, his pride and joys proving themselves every day to be the greatest things that he'd ever done.

Which is why no one, absolutely no one, could imagine what went through his mind as Ji Na and Ben slowly approached the bastard who'd burned down their home, who'd caused the deaths of their students, friends, classmates, and his cast of monsters, not to kill him, not to attack, but to join him alongside Kat- independent, beautiful, amazing Kat- faces emotionless, without pain. He froze mid run, caught in the shadows of an already toppled building. Their words were lost on him, lost in the hurricane of thoughts flickering through his mind, lost in his own internal screams. He'd lost his home, his students, and now his children, his children in the same night. Where was the Ji Na he knew, who'd scolded him gently every time he leaned over to boop her nose during a meal even as a child? Where was the Ben whose every boo-boo and scrape he'd taken care of as a child with a bandage and a kiss?

'Help!'

That wasn't them. It couldn't be them, that was ridiculous. Ji Na and Ben and, yes, even Kat, would never just… Do this, whatever this was. They were proud individuals, strong and true, they would never- they could never-

'Help!'

This wasn't happening- it was a nightmare, it had to be. Academies don't just burst into flame, super villains didn't just stream out of the woodwork, children don't just betray their parents-

'I need Help!'

It was a trick, wasn't it? Yes, that must be it. Any moment now, Ben would pull the string of his bow, Ji Na would unsheathe some hidden blade and strike, avenge their home and their family.

'Goddess, please!'

But they stayed there, mouths moving in some incomprehensible language, hidden by his shrieking thoughts. His home was gone, his family- his family was gone. Gone, gone, gone- they left him, they weren't dead, they just left him. Was it his own fault? Had he done something? He must have done something, that had to be it because people don't just- They don't just-

"RYOU, HELP!"

That plea wasn't in his own mind, it couldn't be. He turned suddenly to see the last of the Girl's dormitory begin to crumble under its no longer solid framework. Stragglers flooded out of the door, infinitely less secure because a beam had already fallen, flaming like the rest of the structure, and was being held up as the last girl ran to the relative safety the grounds provided, held up by… By Dae. The flames licked at his body, burning cloth and flesh alike, but he was stuck in the trap of his own making while attempting to let them free. It was his bellowed plea that had broken the spell.

He was torn, only for a moment. He could go now, could untangle these lies and confusing revelations by demanding answers from his children, or he could save someone already struggling to save others, who hadn't left their compatriots behind. He hated himself, oh, Goddess, how he hated himself. He turned and ran, to save the person that he still knew, who hadn't just become a stranger.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sometimes, the light of day is more of a curse than a blessing. The fire had finally died out, consuming all that it could before vanishing into smoldering ashes and into the ruins of the buildings that they all had once visited, walked through, slept in, lived in. The cruel sun exposed the reality, harsh and unrelenting without the darkness and the pale, more merciful glow of the moon and stars to hide away the worst of it. It was still quiet, however, the natural noises surrounding them all but gone. No birds sang, no animals made their way through the foliage, no pleasant and inconsequential chatter among the students. Prayers rained supreme and quiet, solemn conversations intermingled with sobs from those that still had tears left to shed and still other's tiny sounds of pain, gasps and light whines.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Dae, stop."

"Dae, please. You're already injured."

"So?"

"So? So, my dear, you're making it worse by sifting through the rubble."

"No, they're making it worse."

"They?"

"Them. Didn't you see them? Trying to- trying to find bodies and- and take care of everyone. They're making it worse. They don't even know any of their names, and they're acting like-"

"Like they care about them?"

"I know it sounds selfish, I know- Liam, I just… I just want our friends to be found and taken care of by people they know. We owe them that, something personal. They're not corpses to be found- that's Camilla, she was going to marry that baker's son. I found Tai earlier, in the library. All of them deserve to be mourned because the world lost amazing people, not just because they happened to die."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dorian, while not medically trained, spent his time trying his best to patch up wounds, wrapping bandages around the least severe of the injuries. Without searching, his immediate fears for his teammates were alleviated simply because none of their bodies were displayed with the others, and their wounds were either mild enough or their pride too powerful so that they never made their way over to the impromptu medical station. Mori had stayed by his side, uncharacteristically quiet, not that Dorian blamed him, apart from occasionally rattling off medical advice absorbed by reading and observation in a dull, hollow sort of voice. It wasn't until the rest of his trio returned did he finally perked up, racing over to Dae and flinging his arms around his middle. Neither of the elites looked themselves, for very different reasons.

Dae was covered in soot and ash, already rough hands covered with streaks of blood and dirt, and although his body was wrapped in Liam's cloak, blistering burns were visible creeping up his neck, otherwise hidden away by the fabric. Liam, on the other hand, finally exposed what had always been beneath the cloak- black pants and a black tank top revealing large, swirling, black rune-like tattoos covering the entirety of his torso, stopping only at his wrists and curling partially up his neck.

"Haru's called for you," Dae croaked, tired green eyes settling firmly on Dorian, already raspy voice gone to Hell in the aftermath of smoke inhalation and screaming. Dorian nodded, not trusting himself to speak, as he followed behind the three. It felt wrong to see them like this, to look upon the picture of a broken family- and, indeed, they were a family if Liam and Dae's interlocked hands and the tender way Dae stroked Mori's hair with his free hand meant anything.

They joined the exhausted group, some holding up quite well and others teetering on the edge of a meltdown. Some were injured, apparently having found medical help elsewhere, and others were fine or as fine as they could be. The solemn gathering was ultimately shattered, however, with Harper's arrival, spitting out angry words that had no place being heard by these people who had just been betrayed. Dorian liked Harper, of course he did, and maybe this was just his way of dealing with trauma or something, but he wasn't stupid, he knew it was without tact.

Dorian's eyes flickered to his three guides, noticed the way Mori scooted further back as if by surrounding himself by the knight and the magician, he'd be safe, how Dae shut his eyes for just a moment too long, how Liam's unblinking gaze set firmly on Haru, unwilling to waver form the man with a plan, as his grip tightened on Dae's hand to the point of appearing painful. Kyle was the only one who moved to do anything and he was stopped by the appearance of his own guardian, a newcomer untainted by the night's events. Dorian couldn't look at her, didn't really want to look at the casually amused way she took them all in as if bodies weren't lined up in the ruins of the dorm, ready to be buried or sent home to their families. Again, no tact, but now without the excuse of an emotional night to chip away at sensibilities and courtesy that Dorian had given Harper's outburst. Dorian coughed and for once he didn't know if it was his own mild attempt to clear away just how awkward he found the situation or if it was form the smoke inhalation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"As long as students wish to learn at my Academy, I see no reason for it to be shut down." The sudden appearance of Ryou was enough to surprise even the most taciturn member of the little meeting. He looked like he'd gone through Hell, body streaked with sweat, blood, and ash, golden eyes without their usual mirthful glint, clothing tattered from a lack of attention as he'd spent every waking hour busying himself with something, anything to help. But he was solid, together as he cradled Karma in his arms like a delicate flower, one hand idly combing tangles from pink tresses.

"Mr. Vo… Kwasi…. I would be honored if you would help to rebuild and restart the Academy. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have here, building our home." His tone was solemn, respectful as if they had just offered him something sacred. He clasped hands with each of them, even pulling Mr. Vo into a tender one-armed hug, careful of the small body in his arms.

"I've already talked to the students- some will be heading home, but most want to stay, so you'll both have more than enough help. And so will we." He glanced at the only remaining elites who nodded their heads. Their home had been burned down, their friends and students killed. Their place wasn't here, not right now, but with their leader to find answers and hopefully revenge.

"Haru, I'm ready to go."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Bryce Edwards
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Falke’s powers had not been working since being abruptly awoken in the middle of the night, or likely had simply shriveled out with the overload of thoughts and emotions that had been relatively off the charts given the circumstances at hand; but it wasn’t hard to tell, without any supernatural help, with the swift, abrupt movement that someone had arrived at his side. He knew it was Gwen before she ever spoke, however, more so due to the sound of her tread – one of the softest, and most precise of the group as whole – but in turn also the scent of her or whatever she’d happened to have last wash her hair in (he would never admit it out loud that everyone smelled different, and truthfully, it wasn’t his fault with the sudden fresh air wafting past his nose at her arrival’s movement) mixed with fire and smoke.

“You’re in no condition to travel right now. I can’t set the bone or heal the break, but I can help, if you let me…”
His eyes snapped into bleary focus, and purposefully tilted his head to regard her evenly for a moment. Gwen had always been… Distant, was the best word he could describe it. But their relations over the years had always been something of neutral respect, not even quite acquaintances, and definitely not friends, but a shared dignity of silence and quiet. In regards to either of their powers discussed between the other, it wasn’t nor had ever been a priority – perhaps more accidental secrecy, or not being ‘close’ to even bring it up in idle conversation.

She was the ‘Healer’, however. She might have been just feeling comfortable to show a bit of what she could do to a few, select people to aid, instead of just herself. Or given her abilities potential, could feel his pain as a second nature to her own. Or… She could just look at him, and feel normal human sympathy at his current condition – that was supposed to be travel ready enough. Huh. He felt faint already thinking about it himself.

“That would be fine,” Falke agreed slowly, however, felt the need to warn her, “… Break off, if you can’t handle the connection.” A given really because he didn’t know if his power would jump into being a nuisance for himself, let alone her; or by her already heavy breathing, she may well be straining herself additionally helping him, if she needed a rest – he wouldn’t fault her on it.

Uneasily, he shifted his weight unto his good side and offered his free hand meekly in offering. Whether or not she took it, or grabbed closer or on the grossly swollen leg in question itself to be closer to the injury, it didn’t matter – there had been physical contact one way or another. His shoulders went rigid with tension, and teeth gritted tightly together absently in response to it.

He wasn’t in pain from her actions, and generally believed she was helping one way another – whether by easing the pain or swelling, limiting his nervous systems extremely expressive reaction, something, he wasn’t clear on – but more so that his powers finally decided to come back full swing. For a moment, his mind barriers had been completely hosed; her mind’s everything violently mismatched between his own thoughts, feelings, and memories. It took most of the time of the contact, to simply remove the two into their own separate places and resume the ‘wall’.

He didn’t doubt an accidental thought or two, even maybe a memory of his own, may have strayed into her head before he was able to right things with weary, pained determination. If she questioned it later, he could respond with an apology he supposed? Or, well… At least Tallyho hadn’t ever seemed to mind it, and made it a regular habit to torment him with /Fluffy Bunnies/ whenever she ‘playfully’ bashed his shoulder or smacked his arm. So, an apology would have to do, he supposed, if she even noticed or complained about it in the first place. He would come to it, if it came…

Falke could still feel her minds’ chittering whirlwind numbly, even after she removed her contact. “Thank you.” He mused, softly; tired and dejected, but grateful. Relaxing his tightly clenched muscles in shoulders and jaw line, with a look crossing his features and inward feeling (hopefully unimagined) of relief.

Lillian returned empty handed. No horses had been caught yet that weren’t being used or had been calmed down enough yet to be useful. She aided, Nikita in making a rough stretcher; as uncomfortable shifty manufacture of limited time and supplies as it looked, it was just as uncomfortable to ride in – Falke could testify for, after being loaded unto it, and ferried down the mountain towards the port.

---

It had been a long day thus far…

Falke had been dumped in the infirmary shortly upon arriving. Exhaustion, pain, and boredom of not having better to do (or perhaps simply being completely left alone); allowed him to finally be able to crash into a deep slumber. Whether or not people joined him in the room, after the tour around the ship ended, he wasn’t aware – the rest was nice, even if he was dead to the world for a few hours.

It was nearing the end of the first day, when Byrce returned to wake him, checking the swelling had finally gone down enough to properly set a proper splint on his broken leg. With the taste of the wooden dowel and imagining splinters in his tongue, the event hadn’t been as traumatic as it could have been. His dignity was intact, and the limb was more or less stable and beginning the healing process. Oh, whoopee?



“Wha' ra'rros ho sau, llha' oamos hoa a as shaagh…”

Lillian sang out loud, twisting the unrecognizable words with a softly solemn, quiet lilt of her accent – that made her musical accent seemed to have finally found a language that it fit properly around. She was on deck, a secluded corner, sitting with needle and thread and cloth in her lap. Her hands kept busy as she worked with quick efficiency with some still soft but older cloth she’d been given – finishing up a shirt, one of the many needed, to replace those that were needed to be replaced. She was no less aware of the stares she was given by the young men and boy’s busy running on the ship, but gave them no mind as she continued on humming breezily on – about who loved the sun, who care if it would still shine, and on, and on…

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Apparently this was an evening of song.
Not that all of them were completely flattering. Tallyho’s attention was stolen away from the sea, first by Harper’s latest escapade. The blonde winced at the older man who found a place at the front of the ship, he was nearly naked and trying to squeeze into, what Tallyho would consider to be, a bucket of seawater. After all these years she still couldn’t see what some of the other’s saw in Harper. One might say, “Well hey Tallyho, didn’t he teach you how to swim?” and Tallyho would say yes. Yes he did. But she couldn’t help but feel like he only did it to mend his image after his own drowning incident. Think about it. A water warrior who nearly drowned in water? How embarrassing was that? As far as Tallyho knew Harper had no clue about her near death experience either. The June warrior just happened to catch her meandering around the water one morning after his incident and shoved the skill on her. Had it been anyone else he found she was sure he would have done the same thing because hey, right place, right time.
Tallyho’s initial reaction was to turn around and go back inside. But another sound nipped at her ear drums.
“Wha' ra'rros…”
“llha' oamos…”
Tallyho flushed red. Not that she was angry but she was actually a little embarrassed…in the best way possible if that made any sense. It was like a mother bringing lunch to her child in the middle of a playdate—appreciated but adorably awkward. Surely she was just hearing things? She hadn’t heard those lyrics in ages. Perhaps they weren’t what she thought they were? Perhaps she wasn’t hearing the words correctly but somehow she found herself drawing closer to the origin of the sound. Breezing past Harper in all of his ridiculous glory then Haru and Ryou as they looked out onto the horizon. Surely this was not real?
“Wha' ra'rros ho sau, llha' oamos hoa a as shaagh…”
The lyrics rode on soft, sweet breaths. They wafted over her head and the blonde was overcome with an ethereal nostalgia. Surely this was not real? Not real? Surely? Real. This was real. The song led her and Tallyho followed. She was greeted by a vision of wild blonde hair eating all that was left of the dying sun. This felt like home. This felt like history. And suddenly Tallyho lost control of her own body. She too began to follow the song, her tongue bouncing on the melodies until she let loose a few incoherent hums, the kind that little girls use when they want to sing along with the adults but don’t quite know the words to the song. She did this until she felt hat she could reach back far enough into the cupboard of her life and retrieve the jar of lyrics that were caramelized in time, not quite up to par with what they used to be but recognizable enough.
“Wha' ra'rros… Wha' ra'rros…”
Who was Tallyho singing to? Who was this woman? No matter how close Tallyho moved to the figure she didn’t feel like she was close enough.
“How do you know this song?” she croaked out to her, a small cog of desperation lodged in her throat.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Huan Kin Delun Character Portrait: Lux Barnes
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What happened next was a flurry of motion and information that Dorian quite frankly failed to comprehend. The lack of sleep from the night before began to dawn over his body, leaving him in a dazed state as the dwindling energy from what was quite possibly the longest adrenaline fueled night of his life finally dissipated. He hardly batted an eye as Falke was shanghaied by the apparent captain in a makeshift stretcher, gave the newest guardian's speeches on how they were a "crew" now (despite the fact that the whole team concept had already been thoroughly drilled into their young minds for the past three years) all of the attention he thought it deserved which was apparently none, and simply gave up on the idea of even pretending to memorize the large ship's layout, resigning himself to getting lost each and every time he left the sleeping rooms or dormitory or berth or whatever they were calling it now. Names only slightly stuck in his mind while titles did a better job of lingering in his thoughts- doctor, first-mate, captain (although, for all of her reassurance that she was in fact in charge, Dorian still held her position firmly under both Haru and Ryou in his mental hierarchy). This may be her ship, but she hadn’t been keeping him alive for the past three years, hadn’t plucked him from the brink from Hell.

She was gone now, leaving them to make sense of what had just happened, to nurse their wounds both visible and hidden away, and Dorian found himself at a loss for just a moment. It only lasted as long as it took for the first person, Harper unsurprisingly, to hoist themselves into the netting before others began following suit, the sleepless night behind them just now sinking in to their weary bodies. Dorian climbed into a hammock of his own, grimacing lightly as the netting dipped with each movement, unnerved by the fact that he was being held aloft high above the floor. It wasn’t uncomfortable, not really, but it was too different, too new to being even close to actually comfortable.

He laid there for a time, eyes shut, body shifting every moment or so as he struggled to find a comfortable position, but he felt like he was trapped in the rope bed as opposed to cradled in it and despite his exhaustion, sleep evaded him. Eyelids fluttering open with a tiny, exasperated sigh, he turned instead to see how everyone else was doing in the room. The beds had been kinder to others, already drifted off from the land of consciousness, but others lingered like him. Only two nets over was Ryou, golden eyes staring blankly at the wooden sky above him, Karma cradled in his arms. One hand was moving in an automatic, unconscious gesture of threading gentle hands through her pink locks, the other wrapped around her body, holding Karma to him like a favorite teddy bear. Dorian could hear if he really listened a lullaby foreign to his own ears but nevertheless recognizable in its soothing tone being hummed only for the child in Ryou’s arms. Some had foregone beds entirely, like the only remaining Academy elites huddled close together on the floor, the nets too small to comfortably fit all three and Dae’s back too damaged to be comfortable pressed against anything. Mori had fallen asleep on Dae’s lap, curled into a tight ball, and the knight’s head rested on Liam’s shoulder as the magician whispered words too quiet to be overheard, a secret just for them. Dorian turned away, feeling suddenly like an intruder on the private moments, and pulled out his phone before he too was lulled to sleep by the rocking of the boat and by the unnatural low cast by the screen in his hands.


It could have been days, hours, even minutes before Dorian woke next, body aching uncomfortably from the unfamiliar bed, a light imprint of ropes on his right cheek from where he’d shifted during his nap. Still, as consciousness returned to him, he didn’t really move, instead choosing to lie still for a time and take in the changes in the room. Some people had left, either to explore the ship or to escape the forced community of the privacy lacking room. Others stayed where they had been already, like Ryou who was exactly as Dorian had last seen him, still staring blankly at the ceiling, still stroking Karma’s hair softly, but the humming had tapered off into nothing. Still others had apparently already ventured out but returned, as evidenced by the way that the three Academy students were now arranged. Liam now held a small jar of what Dorian could only assume was a burnt orange burn cream, most likely scavenged from the ship’s doctor, and was gently spreading it across Dae’s bare back as he laid on his stomach on the floor, Mori clutching tightly to his hand more for the child’s comfort than the knight’s. The damage, now open to curious eyes, was admittedly bad with great blisters and vivid burns decorating his upper back and trailing to the nape of his neck, but they were hardly the most eye-catching things about the scene. No, that honor went to the others scars, small or large, thin or deep, gouged into the knight’s back and arms like a map of tragedies and triumphs etched into the very skin. It occurred to Dorian then how little he knew about the Academy students. What kind of life had Dae lived to gain those marks? What did the black, swirling runes still visible on Liam’s body even mean? How had a small child like Mori managed to be exposed to so much information in his few years? No wonder he’d been surprised when Kat, Ji Na, and Ben had turned traitor only- no. No, that wasn’t right. He’d seen the horror in the eyes of those who knew them best. If even Ryou hadn’t suspected it, there was no way he could have known.

He slid to his feet, unsteady on the moving ship, and simply breathed for a moment before heading out of the room, not wanting to dispel the fragile peace in the room by any unnecessary goodbyes. Suddenly it felt too enclosed, too much like a trap swallowing him whole, in a way that the Academy never had. He had to move, had to find the sun and sky and clouds again so that he could breathe evenly once more. He wandered for a time, losing himself in the bowels of the ship, using the excuse of exploring to hide just how lost he was until he found the stairs leading to the deck.

The sky was a welcome sight, the fresh air, however tinged with salt, even more so. The sun had already started its decline towards the horizon, casting a warm glow over the ship. He could hear more than the creaking of planks and the quiet voices of sailors now- there was some soft tune in a foreign tongue ghosting from some unknown corner of the ship, the gentle sounds of waves lapping against the ship, and… and the Titanic theme? It wasn’t a question of whom then, but of where. He found Harper soon enough, whistling in a tub of his own design.

Apparently Harper's mission of the day had been asinine as opposed to brilliant, Dorian realized as he spotted Harper wallowing in his impromptu little tub looking absolutely ridiculous. It should have been hilarious, but it wasn't. Not really. A month ago it would have been funny. A week ago it would have been laughable. Hell, even yesterday it would have been at the very least chuckle worthy, but not today. Dorian couldn't bring himself to even work up a smile because after last night, after everything, it just wasn't funny. But it wasn't for him to confront Harper on how he ought to feel after traumatic events, wasn't his duty to announce how long everyone should be upset or grieve, and he'd learned long ago that confronting Harper about anything at all was as dangerous as walking into a lion's den at dinner time. And Dorian could play pleasant for a friend's sake, even if the sight made him want to ask how on Earth Harper was so damn cheery right now.

"How's the water?" He asked dryly, eyebrows raised. It was Dorian's own little way of showing that he wasn't sure if he should be envious of Harper's ability to let traumatic events simply roll off of him or if (when, he reminded himself, when) they arrived back in New York he should recommend him to a good therapist to diagnose acute sociopathy.


Inhale, hold, hold… Exhale, hold, hold… Inhale, hold, hold… Exhale, hold, hold…

Ryou was going to go insane.

The room was closing in around him, too small, to impossibly closed in for someone who’d lived for ages in the mountains, breathing in fresh air and always keeping a window open, even in the cold night air. And he wasn’t alone; people, people he had to keep up appearances for, surrounded him. He couldn’t break into hysteria, not now; he couldn’t show that face to those who still clung to him for support.

But he was going to go insane.

He had to get out of here, just for a while. He needed to breathe and suddenly it felt like all of the oxygen in the room was gone, his breaths short and shallow, and, no, no, not here.

His hands stopped their gentle ministrations, removing themselves gently from Karma’s now silky smooth hair, all of the tangles having been removed long ago

“Mori?”

The white-haired child looked up at him with his large, all too knowing red eyes.

“I need you to take my place. I need to-“ Need to what? To scream? To sob? To curse the goddess? To punch something until it shattered beneath his hands. “I don’t want Karma to be alone.”

Maybe desperation had bled into his voice, maybe some of the urgency welling up within him was exposed, but for whatever reason, Mori bobbed his head in a minute nod before swapping places with his teacher, easily climbing up despite his short height. Ryou planted a small kiss on the top of Karma’s head, then Mori’s, before hurrying from the room. The staircase wasn’t long, but it felt like it took hours before he was once again seeing real light, the light of day instead of the artificial flames of lamps below deck. He didn’t stop, however, until he reached the edge of the ship, hands clenching onto the railing for dear life as he stared at the horizon. Oh, Goddess. The sky was on fire as the sunset, the vivid reds and oranges from the night before painting over soothing blue, but what was worse was the promise of still darkness afterwards, of the night that remained after the great flames of the sun had vanished leaving only a disturbing, unpleasant calm.

Ryou was a carefully constructed but ultimately fragile structure of emotions barely being held together. All it would take was the slightest push before he broke, crumbling into so many pieces, dissolving like charred wood into ash. He wasn’t breathing easier and the heaviness from below hadn’t let up until he felt a hand grip his shoulder, fingers squeezing almost painfully tight, although any contact felt painful at the moment. He knew who it was instantly, a familiarity and intimacy built between two friends of the dearest sort giving him no option but to recognize the man behind him with only a simple touch. With that touch, he broke.

Rivulets of fat tears raced down his face, streaking his cheeks with water that only deviated slightly as they dipped slightly into the scar on his face, barely hesitating at his stubble covered cheeks before dripping off his chin. He was sobbing violently, shaking with a great force, and he was speaking, but not with words. No, they were sounds strung together that expressed the sorrow he felt, the sadness that no words could adequately express. Despite their height difference, he clung onto Haru, face buried in his shoulder in a last ditch attempt to not expose himself to the world he had to stay strong for, but unable to stop now that the dam had broken. It was all he could do not to collapse on shaky legs, to stand hunched and trembling as he was.

Some time later, the tears ran dry and the sobs stopped only because exhaustion didn’t allow him to tremble quite to violently. His breathing was deeper, less shallow and less frequent, but he didn’t look up. Control had come back to his tongue and finally, real verbalizations of known words appeared tumbling from his lips.

“I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry,” He gasped, never saying what he was sorry for. Was it for wasting Haru’s time? For failing his students that had died, that he’d left behind, that he’d seen breaking just as he was now? For failing his children and friends, for not being able to see what they were doing, what they were going through?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Amber (Edwin Bradley) Character Portrait: Ondine Azur Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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Haru’s small stature was over-taken by a mass much larger, and heavier than he was. But this mass, in all of its sobby, slobbery essence was full of more care and sentimentality than Haru could hold in one paw. This mass was, at least to Haru, the very epitome of lifelong friendship and loyalty and Haru truly felt like the Goddess was testing his strength by having this mass, which was carrying a great grief on its shoulders and an even greater heart in its chest, bear its weight on his shoulder. But to the guardian this weight was not a burden.
The readhead did not stroke Ryou’s head like a baby’s, or embrace him and say that everything was going to be alright because he didn’t know. All he could really contribute was leg strength and a sturdy crying spot. When Ryou finished Haru wordlessly turned back to the sun and fished into his pocket. He pulled out a carton of cigarettes, a carton with, lo and behold, the every last of his cigarettes. Haru hadn’t known Ryou to be as much of a smoker as he was, if at all, but he offered his last nicotine stick anyway. Ryou knew how much the cat guardian cherished them and offering up his last would send a bold enough signal.
“That’s right,” Haru said after a while. “Apologize. Ask for forgiveness because you have wrongfully claimed that Ryou Zerrin has let his students down and that he has no to right to shed a tear. Who’s to say that he didn’t do the best he could for his students? What gives you the right to deny his humanity and tell him that he cannot feel pain and just fucking cry it out? Shame. Shame on you.”
Haru leaned on the railing.
“Ryou…. I think we all know that a great loss of life can be a tragedy. But I can guarantee you that this loss wasn’t by your hand or negligence, or whatever the hell you’re blaming yourself for. This was Amber and you should know that. And I know that though he may not feel it now, the psychological effects of destroying so many human lives will catch up with him. But you can’t force it on him. Take it from me, the grief will come slowly at first then graze him with increasing speed. Attach to him. Never wash away no matter how many damned baths he takes in the holy river. Hell, I’m still bathing in the fucking river for what I did and I still fucking stink.”
The cat guardian chuckled. “You know. You’re my best friend and I never told you what the hell I did to be here today. You’re looking at a bad man Ryou, and I mean, heh… A bad. Bad. Bad man. You guardians… I mean despite the fact that you’re guardians I still think you are good people who simply did bad things. Kit did what he did because he needed to save a life by smothering it’s flame. Ondine did what she did because people abused her. You did what you did because you had to play the grind to survive but me, I don’t know why the hell I did my deed. I was young and I was sharp as fuck and I mean not just like… Physically but I was fucking smart Ryou, especially at my tender age. And…. And Hales’ military wanted my mind and I wanted to get out of the cold because it was just so fucking cold and I married young and had people to care for and they had to get out of the cold so I just…I just went where it was warm. And they asked me about problems, and I came up with plans. Soon I went from Haru Karokov the grunt of the Karokov clan to Haru Karokov military strategist, Haru Karokov war instigator, Haru Karokov illegitimate father of the 16 year war, town toppler, baby burner, cattle killer the very person that Amber was last night and I didn’t have to lift a fucking finger to do it because I had men who would do it all for me. Men who were fathers and brothers and farmers who weren’t too young, or decrepit, disabled or stupid to be recruited by the military at the time. I thought I was just doing my job: what the government wanted. ‘Get us more territory’ they said, ‘We need more POWs’ they told me. And I did it, and I did it so well that suddenly they were negating everything they told me before. ‘Have more humility!’ Then my wife fucking smothered me to death in my sleep. And then I died... Then I was given a chance to turn over a new leaf, thrusted into an Aires that I had a hand in creating yet was so much further from what I expected. Placed into an unfamiliar time and charged to protect super powered people who ultimately failed the challenge.”
Haru paused, realizing that he hadn’t taken a moment to really breathe.
“But,” he rasped, “I was partnered up with you. And Lillian, and Kit and Ondine and all the others. People who, from what I could see, were so much better than me at the whole human thing. And... And I thought, wow, I can’t be so bad if I’m lined up with so many other ‘sinful’ people. And… What I’m trying to say with all of this is that I think… and I might be wrong but I that if I am a good person…then you are a good person too.”

Setting

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Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Tallyho absently yet eagerly huddled onto her knees near Lillian’s feet like a child who was gathering round for a story. She knew it. She absolutely knew it. All of that time she spent staring at Lillian, studying her features, finding familiarity in each involuntary glance and she knew it.

“I had a feeling,” she began, “that something was familiar about you. It wasn’t that I met you before or anything. But we most definitely come from the same… place.”

The blonde reached for a piece of cloth, silently offering her assistance to the September guardian if she had spare needle and thread.

“Did you notice the same about me? Did you know where I was from already?” Tallyho tried her best to follow Lillian’s lyrics in her head. Some of it sounded quite familiar. Words used in her caravan’s halfway dialect. A dialect that, for the most part consisted of common speak (or to the earthlings English).

“How long had it been since you’ve been with the caravan?” Tallyho asked. She knew from experience what a big deal it was to go rouge. The next question could have easily been considered inappropriate and Tallyho would have held her tongue had she been in her right mind but the blonde was so pent up with excitement about meeting another one of her own that she lost all reserve.

“Why… Why did you leave in the first place?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Bryce Edwards
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After finishing all the necessary work for the ship to cast off, Nikita came back down belowdecks to check on her passengers. She let Haru convince her of the situation, but she couldn't help worrying about them. They were a bunch of kids pulled into this situation and called month warriors. The only place they knew just went up in flames. Their friends were either killed or severely injured. Children were usually more resilient than adults and easier to train. At the same time they could be fragile.

These children's ages mattered naught to her. Among her crew, she defined adulthood by attitude and experience. These month warriors had no experience outside the safe haven of Ryou's Academy and she already knew the childish attitudes of two of them. She would probably never be able to see them as adults, but she refused to baby them. Children always needed to grow up.

She came to their berth and found a splintered gap on the floor. Showing her own control, she glanced over the room identifying who was there and who wasn't without a word. All of Ryou's students remained and had painful expressions on their faces. Some of the month warriors were dead asleep, while the others apparently left to explore on their own. There was no sign of the missing trunk among the sleepers, therefore she had to find the wanderers. Before leaving though, she whispered to the students, "I'm sorry."

Kyle sat in the infirmary without a shirt and his dirty blond hair tossed over his face. He leaned forward and hid his scars while Dr. Rose tended the burns on his back. The youngest warrior had no scars or marks anywhere close to Dae's, but he didn't see the knight to compare. Liam came in earlier asking for some burn creme and Dr. Rose gave it to him but asked a number of questions making sure the magician knew how to use it. Satisfied with the answers, the good doctor resumed working on anyone else who needed help and filling out all those forms on heavy paper.

One person to check off her list. Nikita headed back on deck. Tallyho was sitting by Lillian who worked on some clothing and Nikita smiled. It was a peaceful scene. Another check mark. She didn't even suspect Haru and Ryou who were watching the sunset. She caught a little bit of Haru's speech too. "Good people who do bad things. hmm..."

Last but not least, she came to the small huddle of Bryce, Skylar, Dorian, and Harper. This would not be pleasant. She wrinkled up her nose and hardened her face and stance. Bryce was the May guardian so he would definitely know better than to tear up her ship. It's called respect of property. All four of them were guests here. Nothing aboard belonged to them as individuals except for whatever they came with. She would know better not to damage their things and her crew, though younger than they, would know just as well. "Which of you tore up my ship?" She regretted her cold, harsh tone, seeing Skylar's red face, but she absolutely could not back down. "Who tore up my ship?" she repeated and glared at all three of them until she got her answer.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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“Sa' rloaiy dauosaa's...” Lillian twittered, lightly chiding in her humming voice; upon finishing the song for its’ second time. Tallyho had beseeched her with questions, so many questions, and eager conversation. The February warrior hadn’t even stopped talking, even after offering silently her assistance – which Lillian had obliged, quietly grateful, giving her a spare needle and thread to use, and moved the cloth into the middle ground between the two of them.

Lillian was shocked into silence, momentarily, as she gathered her own thoughts and responses in turn. She hadn’t had that sort of contact in years. Of course, between the Guardians, there was talk to be had over the centuries; but it wasn’t the same as the familiarity that came with someone of your own ‘People’. It was nice, but alarming too.

Finally, she mused softly in common speak, “I noticed, suspected perhaps... But I did not pry…” Her assurances clear on her tone. It was the truth at the very least. Yes, Lillian had noticed the young Tallyho’s features, and had suspected what she was – even a halfling, a child born of rape or torture or both (and more, Goddess awful things, sometimes), would not have surprised her. And yet, she respected privacy and given the stigmas against their people; she hadn’t dug through the dirt for answers. If it came, it would come, she had figured. Much like it was doing now of all times, just because of a simple and sad traveling song.

“I have visited the caravan a time or then in this third, ageless, age. Sixty or seventy years ago last, if I remember correctly.” She hummed, softly. Pausing as she put the needle in her mouth for a moment, as she re-adjusted the cloth laying in her lap; before resuming her work and organizing her thoughts before responding again. It was a difficult question to respond to, inappropriate to even be asked of potentially.

“I left them with my death of my first age.” Lillian finally answered, approving it to be the close enough of an answer for the time being. Because she hadn’t ever truly left the caravan, or at the very least on her own terms that would have truly labeled her as a rouge of The People. Mere circumstance likely gave her the lightest sort of polite sentence, she could only assume.

She had died in the first age, captured and tried by simple common folk for her deeds. The same deeds that gave her the ill privilege of being a Guardian in the first place. The second age she was a part of protecting and aiding the original, super powered month warriors, before being killed in battle sometime near the end. The third age, she had an ageless time of waiting for the new month warriors to appear, and sometimes had visited. But she could never stay, always cloaked and hooded forever, and needed to always be ready to go upon their return. Old sentiments were a painful waste of time, she knew, but still put herself through – for the sake of remembering. So, had she ever really left?

“You?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Karma never liked ships. And if she had the option she would totally stay asleep for however long the trip took. There was something about not being able to swing from a tree that bothered her. Nonetheless her internal clock was ticking. It was time to feed. And she wanted real food. She only hoped that the ship offered a lot of pork and candy.
The pink-haired terror, bed-headed and clumsy stumbled away from the spot where Ryou had once brushed her hair to sleep. She could hear voiced in the stairwell leading to the deck. High, exasperated, squeaky voices and she followed them to the tail end of a conversation between Xabier and Harper.
She stood there for a moment in the shadows. Wrinkles under her eyes, matted hair, dried slobber adorning her little white cheek. And just as Harper fell into an awkward, approval seeking silence the child snorted, loudly.
“Ha! You month warriors are so weird.”
She wondered if anyone knew anything about this. Nonetheless, Karma had potential blackmail material to work with.
Without another word she climbed up the stairs to find Ryou.
Tallyho heard a bit of the commotion too. After all, Harper’s voice was kind of loud and the two sun people weren’t so far away. She was stuck between trying to listen to their conversation and Lillian’s talking and though she wasn’t completely sure what was going on, she caught enough of what Harper had to say to sort of, kind of put the pieces together. His behavior wasn’t that discreet after all and if they were talking about what she thought they were talking about she found yet another reason to think ill of Harper. But this time it wasn’t about what he did to her—and trust that she had an entire record of everything he’s done to harm her over the past three years—but this time he was playing with a certain someone’s heart and Tallyho couldn’t decide if she should’ve made a point of spitting on him the next time she caught him.
She felt kind of bad about not giving the guardian her full attention after all she was answering her questions… But then the spotlight fell on her.
“You?”
You, and in what did YOU do to end up all by your lonesome.
Tallyho thought about it but she couldn’t come up with a quick answer.
“I’m just… not built for people. Not even for a people born to uproot constantly. My movement supersedes theirs and I just got up and left one day. Never went back.”
She tapped her chin with slender fingers.
“This experience is the first time I’ve really had official friends I guess? Most of the warriors don’t talk to me as much. But I have two friends. Falke of course, and Dorian. Xabier could count in there also but there are others I could call my friends maybe but sometimes their interaction with me seems superficial and forced. That… Because we are of the same situation we are automatically friends. I guess that’s how the sun people are sometimes… All of that love thy brother and thy sister crap… Maybe I’m a realist. Or just a hateful person. Maybe they are the same thing. Maybe that’s why I left the caravan. I can’t say I’ll want to stay with this group for too long either… Besides. I suspect that people like Harper, if they got the chance, would kick me down if I were hanging for dear life from the edge of a cliff. ” She laughed but it wasn’t funny, her chuckle dwindled into a slow silence.
She bit the thread from her needle.
“I am very hungry… I should probably go find the mess hall… With a ship this big they are bound to have one.”
Though it might not have been as big as the dining hall at the academy.
“If you want I can take this shirt and finish it up between bites.”
She didn’t give Lillian much time to answer before swaddling the cloth in her arms and heading down the stairwell lower into the ship, ducking her head down at any warriors she passed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Lillian had always been good at seemingly ignoring things she had happened to have heard accidently, or far more likely she was cautiously eavesdropping purposefully for informational gaining. This time, however, it wasn’t even by accident or frankly wanting to listen to them. They were just awfully loud, and embarrassingly really. Oh, she had quite forgotten when she’d been a mildly alarming puppy in love (all though, never in this manner), and she couldn’t quite blame them both over tripping over their words at one another. However, given their current situation and what had happened the night before; it seemed rather disgusting, the simple careless in turn. Huh, whatever.

She remained calm, cool, and collected; and didn’t allow a stray glance to alert that she too had heard, of what had captured part of Tallyho’s attention for a time – while Lillian had answered her questions. Twisting her fingers with a finishing knot, she completed her second shirt, and after folding it efficiently set it atop the first. As the young sun woman began talking her own about her own past, she paused her busily fingers after re-stringing her needle to rest momentarily.

Tallyho hadn’t gone for a shorter answer, that was certain. Lillian appraised her with a thoughtful, if kind eye in turn. Perhaps the weight of the world, and it always had been, was resting a little too heavily on their shoulders now at this particular moment – especially after the horrible shock the fire had been – after it had been waiting its’ turn to raise its ugly head to bother them, when most of them seemed to be at their lowest. She let the girl's harsh chuckle fall into silence, quite soon after it had even begun.

“Mhmm,” She hummed softly, pausing. As she glanced back down to her work, betraying the sight of a brief, bitter sigh passing her lips in response. “I cannot say that I agree or disagree with you or your reasons. But, perhaps you’ll find your center one day.” Lillian finished, simply, leaving it at that. Clasping the next piece of cloths in hand, fitting the ragged edges together in preparation for sewing yet another seem.

"Go ahead," Lillian mused, as Tallyho departed with the shirt she was working on in hand towards the mess hall for dinner. She was mildly hungry herself, she supposed. But wished to take full advantage of what light was left by the sun, fading slowly into the horizon, and continued her work in silence - until a tune happened to take her fancy in her wandering thoughts, and she began humming, and singing, softly, once again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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If one were to ask Tallyho what her favorite aspect about life on the sea had to be she would simply tell them that she most enjoyed the times when she was on land.

Tallyho had to thank the Goddess that Haru made sure to get Nikita to stop the ship in places where land was within a short distance. Since a lot of the places where they stopped were not official ports it was pretty common for the ship to stop within a suitable swimming/wading/boating distance. Though the cat guardian intentionally meant for these stops to be for power training, Tallyho usually came up short, only being able to harness her lighting powers in storms. On storm nights she would sneak up onto the deck when she felt like everyone was sleeping and claw to any rail, pole or pillar she could. The boat would rock and water would sop the edge of the ship. These nights were both terrifying and invigorating.

The first time she successfully redirected lighting she was almost tossed overboard. But despite this, it wasn’t her last time crawling out onto deck on such daring nights. After storm nights she would wake up buzzing with energy, often showing her enthusiasm to her closer friends but sometimes the others, if they even cared to look, could catch her flashing a genuine smile which, since the journey began, was a rare vision coming from Tallyho.

She would often dance on the deck, swaying forward and back like her fore-mothers, recreating the lyrics Lillian sang with a supple tongue and sure, but very study improvement. To sing in the first language, not common speak, was precious to Tallyho. She never felt more like a sun person. In fact she felt sunnier than many sun people. And she would share this joy by forcing one of her friends to dance with her. Usually it was Falke. Sometimes she’d ask Dorian or Xabier to join her. But she felt like Dorian had too many reservations. He wasn’t the dancing type. And it wasn’t really fun if he didn’t dance willingly. Xabier was more willing but Tallyho began to feel as though he wouldn’t be so interested after a while. Though perhaps she was just thinking crazy? Falke was usually the best option—he couldn’t see how stupid they looked to the outsiders.

After days like these she would feel extremely drowsy. It was as if she had a hole in her soul—a leak that drained all of her energy out onto the floor almost as soon as she got it. Though an average medical professional might think her a narcoleptic, the blonde figured that it was because of her lack of experience and excused it, only making sure that someone who she trusted could effectively drag her unconscious body somewhere safe until she woke up. Weeks passed and the drowsiness began to melt away. Tallyho was high on her laurels then, feeling extremely in control of her body, and she learned to retain some of the electrical energy she gathered from prior sea storms better than she had before. But just as she kicked one obstacle to the side, another reared its ugly head. And this one was worse than some case of obsessive napping. This one was painful.

The first time it happened Tallyho was on the deck alone. They started dinner a few minutes prior but Tallyho discreetly left her dining companions because of a nose bleed. When she arrived on deck she was tilting her head back towards the sky, trying the coax the blood into clotting and allowing her to return to her meal while it was still hot. But it would not stop. She brought the hem of her dress up to her nose, a deep red stain soaking and spreading onto the fabric much like the water from the forest of stones. She applied more pressure but it kept spreading.

It was all extremely sudden but he blonde fell into a shaking spell, knees buckling under her as she collapsed onto the deck with the grace of a tranquilized rhino. It felt like a country’s worth of butterflies were thudding their wings against her stomach lining, a buzzing sensation ran through her head in waves, slender legs crossed about one another like domesticated vines that knew not which way to grow. Curled toes, chest heaving, back arching and collapsing like the bombing of a bridge re-winded and replayed on cassette, warmth radiating from cool skin that was dewy with sweat. Tallyho had not known for sure how long this sensation lasted but when she was re-awarded dominion over her body she felt like she had climbed a mountain. Tendons sore from strain and release. She lay on the deck floor until she convinced herself that she was still alive. Checked for blood on her nose. Ignored the blood on her dress. Returned to the others. This sensation must not have lasted very long because her meal was still warm.

In the next two months these attacks have occurred twice and each time Tallyho was alone. And each time she opted to tell no one about them, acting as if she only really left to wipe away a little nosebleed.

It was early one morning when Haru woke the group up claiming that they had reached Port Angels. Tallyho climbed the stairs into the misty morning air. The muggy odors from the stuffiness of the ship racing out of her nostrils, the sea misted her face and the air was cold. The blonde caught her unruly hair in the wind and tied it into a knot away from her face. She would once again opt to pin her hair back in scarves to minimize her heritage in public.

Port Angels was a busy place and that was easy to see a mile away. Ships of various colors shapes and sizes adorned the decks. Some vessels were built for shipping while others seemed to be for battle or leisure. As they came closer to the docking area Tallyho set her eyes a grand ship with deep engravings in the wood. The likenesses of fish people and eastern dragons looped about the wood in a cluttered baroque fashion. The blonde wondered how long such a heavily embellished ship would last at sea and how far? Perhaps it wasn’t actually a ship but an anchored vessel used for dining and parties.

The echo of music filed into earshot, happy lutes, accordions, percussion, lyres, then the laughter of children, men and women talking, the tinging of boat bells, and oh, the smells! Blackened fish, and sugary dough, rose jelly, turtle soup. Merchant’s had their stands set up along the walk way of the dock They were hoping to catch the interest of tourists while they were fresh to the country and a bit more generous with their pence.

Tallyho, despite living in a well-travelled caravan for half of her life hadn’t experienced anything like this before. Most of her travelling was done solemnly and in secrecy with a group of people who, as far as the locals figured, weren’t supposed to be there anyway. They always came through the back end, always in the dark. If caught they were shamed and now…now she was welcomed. Now she was on the façade of it all—the pretty little wall to make up or the other three with artistry and warm welcome and charm—and it felt pretty good to be honest.

Haru called for the warriors attention, taking his place on top of a crate before them. It was comical really, this little man speaking to them as a leader. Haru had such a big voice that Tallyho almost forgot how fragile he really looked, like an adolescent cat living on the brink of life—small and thin but still smart and respectable.

“Welcome to the Rose Kingdom. You all haven’t really gotten the chance to really immerse yourself in Airian culture. You spent most of your time in a more agrarian Aires where social interaction was quite sparse compared to here. You lived within incubated walls at the academy and spent a couple of months on this ship. From this day forward, everything you do and say will carry a lot of weight when it comes to our success. Some of the episodes you were allowed to have before will not be easily forgiven here. People here are always watching and always talking. When we get off of this ship do not say anything about being a month warrior in the presence of strangers. You heard about the recent hanging’s right? If you, and excuse my French, but if you fuck up do I guarantee all of you will be hanging from the gallows in the same day. The Rose Kingdom is one of the most religiously sensitive territories on Aires and doing or saying anything that offends the religion will land you in hot water. So I beg of you, please, please do not be a selfish ass and endanger your peers.”

The cat guardian hopped off of his crate.

“Now… I’ll let you linger about for a few minutes but we really need to get to Ve Marie as soon as possible.”

As the ship prepared to dock Tallyho separated from the group in search of a scarf but was only able to find a random shirt lying around the warriors sleeping quarters. She wasn’t sure whose shirt it was but it would have to do until she was able to buy something more substantial. After winding her hair into braids, twisting and tucking she tied the shirt around her head. When she was moderately pleased she returned to the deck.

Haru eventually directed the group out nodding thanks to the crew for letting the warriors intrude on their living space for such a long period of time.

“Stay close,” Haru called, “the crowd gets pretty dense.”

Tallyho stayed in a very close step to whoever walked before her. Port Angels was all that it looked a mile away and more. She felt like she was a part of a Renoir painting, one of those jolly party time people whose skin ate the sunlight. Once everyone was out of the ship Haru took his place in front of the group, functioning very much like a tour guide.

“Port Angels is one of the busiest ports on the planet. As the only shipping destination in the Rose Kingdom, one of the biggest economic powers in the world, it hosts separate mini ports for each region.”

Tallyho took a gander at the groups of ships. She could certainly see the difference in design and could make out which miniport belonged to which nation. The ships from eastern isle were more ornate with bright colors while the ships from hales were rugged, distressed, yet sturdy-looking.

“Because of its relevance, the military academy, Daniel’s, is nearby. This is where the King’s men train to become “knights” and they patrol the area often.” Haru put air quotes around the word knights just because the definition of the position as it was now was, in Haru’s opinion, very different from what it used to be. “But unlike Solace where the space between towns is comprised of vast expanses of land, the R.K is connected by a series for city streets that run through unmarked towns and neighborhoods. So when we take a carriage up to Ve Marie we will be passing many residential lots
.”
Haru led the group down the path until they spilled into what seemed to be a small, but crowded town square.

“If I were you I might get…cleaner clothes before appearing to the court tomorrow. Nothing too fancy, but something doable, if you can afford it that is.”

Haru stopped dishing out money to the younggins a while ago. Some, while at the academy, got opportunities to make their own money through chores and errands and Haru expected them to supplement their own needs, aside from group inn stays of course.

Tallyho hadn’t really known where to start. She wasn’t, after all, one of the warriors who worked. Even when she went down to the village she still stole drinks from others. But it didn’t bother her so much; she was used to being a scavenger. So without a word she shuffled to a bench and sat, tugging on her shirt scarf and tucking stray hairs beneath the fabric.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Harbinger XII
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Over the months at sea, Falke's time was rather uneventfully spent, and to be fair, having a broken leg left you without many options from the get go. Through the first week and a half, he was stuck in the infirmary (often hastily tied down to the swinging hammock bed, in case of a unpredictable storm occurring) and was often left to his own devices and thoughts - of which mostly included staring at the wooden ceiling and twiddling his thumbs.

The only exceptions being for the daily visits of the 'Doctor's on board the ship, crew or group members needing various aid for their ailments, and the oddly constant gargoyle like presences of the silent and ever judging fellow warrior Gwen and Kit the November Guardian. Food and water was brought to him, and hell, someone even helped his sorry ass stumble back and forth from the restroom.

Every. Single. Day.

Falke was sick of it, or frankly, was just going out of his mind… He escaped in the middle of that night, somehow managing to drag himself up a flight of slick ship stairs up unto the starlit deck. Where he sat, er, collapsed technically, and neatly dragged himself into sitting, cursing the pain shooting from his crippled leg, but beyond grateful for the bout of fresh (if sort of unpleasantly salty) air. No one found him until the following morning.

This first escape from the infirmary room wasn't the last of his nightly activity (and only done then because most who would nag him were often well asleep by then), soon leading to mid-day 'adventures, and eventually gimping his way around without a 'care'. Okay, there was some care. It still hurt even on the best of days, a slow, torturous ache that wouldn't go away, but he could make it through the better part of the day without a limp most of the time - aided by a walking cast that had been reluctantly constructed some time before in response to his wanderings. On the not so great days, well, it wasn't so great we’ll leave it at that.

Still, Falke found exasperated enjoyment in the freedom of movement itself, again. Frustrating as the pain was, of course; but, eh... Dancing was fun. Even being dragged around in a stupid, flowy, wood-stock esque movement; with Tallyho singing that weird but beautiful musical inspired language she'd eagerly (or hungrily would probably be a better term to describe it, as this was Tallyho he was talking about) learned from Lillian. He didn't seem to mind how stupid they, no doubt, looked to everyone else, or how his muscles tended to seize making the limp seem worse for hours following.

Training, with his weapon and meditation, was almost nearly 'regular' routine. Especially during the stops given to allow them some time on dry land, just lacking an secluded Academy. It was only a little different given the rolling sea and a wooden deck at times, even the sailors were exceedingly skeptical about an obviously blind fellow hobbling about with a healing, however still broken, leg could do much of anything

And powers? Well, they seemed frizzed out ever since the attack on the Academy. Sometimes they worked or they didn't work at all, and other times it was pick and choose - with a definite migraine sure to be on the way. However...

During the last month of the journey, he'd woken up in a startled panic from the storm battering the ship or a simple night terror, and found blood leaking out the corner of his mouth. He'd thought of it as nothing more than biting his tongue or cheek (all though he found no marks later and figured he'd imagined it, even when he thought he could still taste iron days later whenever he coughed), and went back to sleep warily with an uncomfortable, completely unreasonable feeling something else had happened - but what? Who bloody knew...

---

The sheer noise was the first thing Falke latched unto upon being told they had finally arrived to their destination. The smells and sounds were abruptly overwhelming, in more ways than one. But all of it seemed oddly reminiscence to his home town of Hamburg, give or take a few centuries or more of course, and he felt oddly at ease - even in the hustle and bustle of the crowd with the fishy smells of the port's seawater, the calls of merchants and sailors of varying nationalities and ships.

Falke listened intently to Haru’s every world. It was simply common sense as far as he was concerned, from the very beginning being an alien in a strange world, you listened to any advice or news that the actual people of Aires provided, especially one so long lived as a Guardian, to help one be able to survive – especially now with the stacks as high as they were. He was quite fond of his head, and wouldn’t mind keeping it, thank you.

He wouldn’t have minded cleaner clothes, but he wasn’t one of the warriors who worked, or well, there hadn’t been many opportunities made available for him to earn his own money through chores and errands. The most he had on him at any given time, and it wasn’t anything exciting, was more likely due to what amounted to little more than he seemed like a charity case. It was perhaps enough for a shirt, at least somewhat nicer than his own saltly, weather-beaten, sweat-stained one? He would question Lillian about it.

“Perhaps,” She’d hummed softly in response, after Falke had handed her his coin sack - weighing the leather lightly with her gentle touch, before slipping it out of site underneath her faded but well covering cloak. Her tone and accent especially guarded that he couldn’t quite tell if she was being skeptical about his amount of cash or not. “I’ll go get something, stay with the others.” Lillian offered, which he followed with a thankful nod. She disappeared into the hustle and bustle of the crowd with a wary glint of her eyes, of a fox that knew the hounds were too close for comfort, hidden mostly in the offered dark covering of a hood.

Everyone soon returned to the group, finishing the brief shopping trip with fuller bags and hopefully newer clothing. Falke managed to get into the carriage under his own power, but winced in minor annoyance at the dull ache rearing its’ ugly head again from the brief time being on land again and walking the ridiculously short distance from port to town to the awaiting carriage train.

The carriages stopped as a parade began in a near, far grander side street. Lillian stepped down without hesitation; with quick and sure movements made sure (much like a shadow of Haru) everyone was coming to witness the rain of rose pedals, the passing of armed but decorative escort, and the golden box itself – also, more importantly, kneel or bow. It wouldn’t due to make a mistake of religious punishment or consequences, of course. Falke followed suit, cued to bow but listened to others shuffling around him to know when to stand back up.

It didn't take long after the passing of the parade, that they left the carriage train driver, and Haru had found them an inn. Falke figured it was a pretty good idea to give everyone a time to rest, hopefully collecting their thoughts, preparing themselves, and most importantly keeping their mouths shut until the following day when one could suppose the testing would begin. He listened again to another round of clear instructions of how they should act and where they could go without any frustration, before Haru then disappeared to do something important before promised dinner later.

Shortly he found himself in a small room, being in such a large city the larger multiple bedding rooms were not as widespread he supposed, sitting down wearily with a soft sigh. Hauling his splinted leg into his lap with a muffled growl whistling past his lips, as he wriggled his pant legs over the construction, idly pulling and picky at the wraps to loosen it where it seemed to be attempting to swell after the extended walking they had done. Oh, that was better. Hopefully the prickling twinges would go away before he had to re-wrap and tighten it before they went to dinner, even then, a small time without the 'suffocating' material wrapped around was never the less a relief.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Static, white noise; the sound similar to turning the radio dial to far, echoed abruptly in his thoughts. Falke winced faintly at the suffocating effect it felt like having in his own mind, even as he thought bemused that his powers finally decided to work now of all times. It took an effort of will and force, and it went away more or less relatively. He could still feel Tallyho whirling mind, or more specifically her stomach thinking it was withering away in absolute hunger, and the others’ mental presences vaguely if he focused harder; but the great, roaring wave of the city and inhabitants of it around him, had faded, thankfully. Before he could assume that his powers were only hiccuping, like they’d tended to do ever since the fire, he realized he wasn’t entirely alone anymore in the bedroom he’d chosen. It was a sudden awareness even before she spoke, not quite as similar as the connection he felt with Tallyho, but stronger than most of the others even when their minds hadn’t been connected by any physical touch. Gwen.

“How’s the leg?”

Falke glanced up, warily surprised at her presence, let alone speaking to him, but evenly regarded her. She’d healed him right before they’d left for their voyage at sea, aiding his comfort enough that he’d passed out on the walk down the mountain to the ship; and then for the duration of the journey had avoided him. In retrospect, he respected her distance and whatever reasons she was doing it for; and obliged in keeping himself away, or purposefully limping another direction from his original intended path. Because, he could only assume, it had to do about the accidental exchange of knowledge and memories, which had occurred between the two of them; it was a fairly uncomfortable reality of his powers. She seemed clearly uncomfortable, perhaps just as warily surprised as he was; but wasn’t make any move to leave, and offered a quiet conversion. He could do that.

“Sore,” Falke hummed, softly. Pausing, as he glanced down at the limb in question, thoughtfully. There was little more to it, than that really. Of course, he could have gone on that he was an idiot to have walked on it before it was ready (all though, given their short time period before their coming make it or off with their heads moment that was coming; he couldn’t be completely blamed for that), or had gone into the dealings of how tight wrappings tended to get over the day – which lead to additional swelling, that made it sorer than usual. He looked up sharply, blearily focusing on her general direction with a kind eye (not sympathetic or apologetic, but kind). “It isn’t bothering, you?” He questioned.

...

Lillian appeared from the washroom, having changed into something nicer, but just as plain, easy to blend into the crowd as before. Her hair had been lightly washed, but had been bound tightly into a braided bun, and was still covered by a well concealing hood of a cloak (even though indoors). On one arm she carried the still faintly damp cloth of a fair dress she’d worn previously during the two month’s voyage by sea, but had just taken the time to wash and freshen the fabric up, and a new-ish pair of a basic shirt and trouser pair that was respectable enough for the time and place they were in but still easy to be lost in the crowd (if necessary to do so) wearing it she’d yet to give to Falke was clasped in the crook of her other arm.

Her pale eyes under her hood glinted sharply as she locked unto the warrior bemoaning that the complimentary dining area of the inn had yet to open yet, frustrating and scaring their hosts, and other patrons staying at the inn alike. Dear the One above! Everyone up stairs ought to hear that groaning, somehow, and no one had gone and shooed her off yet? Humm.

“Tallyho, here.” Lillian began softly, so that her words guarded so that her odd accent didn’t attract any unwanted attention. As she eased forward and closer on dainty, dancer like steps. “Something for tonight, n’ every other day – if you want it. We’re near the same size, and I just washed it… Go on up, change, Haru will be back soon for dinner, and would you mind giving this to Falke on your way?” She hummed, lightly; her chiding was little to nonexistent in her tone, but she had a solidity to her bearing in turn. As she offered the bundles of clothing, hopefully to the relief of the innkeeper and staff that the young sun child accepted, and quit being such a bother.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Gwenneth Yuan Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Before Gwen could answer, another joined them in the room, causing Falke to snort, harshly, eyes rolling at Tallyho’s well, ‘Tallyho’ entrance into the room. He was more than used to the cat-calling nickname ‘Duke Sassypants the Third’, entertained her butchering of accents and rudimentary acting skills on more than one occasion, and snarled back and forth verbally and mentally obscenities and general snark on a daily basis. But their usual theatrics hadn’t ever been quite so obviously broadcasted in front of someone before, however, it wasn’t like he was going to let her get away with it so bluntly either. What the hell.

“Thank you so much, Lady Snobskirt the Fifth. Your deliveries are ever delightful when lacking rapid screel (squirrel) attacks.” Falke mused, a warning growl flavoring his tone. His accent hardly tweaked to become more posh, but simply allowed more of his original, rough German accent to rumble louder than he usually deemed necessary the last few years (given the fact that it rather stood out a bit here). Noting verbally that he well knew that she’d originally intended to tackle him, and had paused in good sense and opted a ‘normal’ greeting for Gwen’s benefit.

The folded garments hit his chest hard, before landing on his lap and propped up leg. Falke blinked bemused, and surprised by the weight they seemed to have. It seemed the TRK seemed to be into the heavy fabric that was common in the medieval, middle, and Tudor-esque ages. Great, he could already tell now, frowning suspiciously at the clothing as he eased the creases out and set it off to the side near his pillow, he’d look like a walking postcard. His moment of distraction from the conversation allowed Tallyho and Gwen to continue on, his lasp gone unnoticed.

“Anyway, Haru said that it’s time for dinner. I don’t know about you guys but I think I’m going to die.”

/Food, und Fluffy bunnies… Is that all you ever think about?/

Please. He knew what she thought about, and it truthfully wasn’t that farfetched of a guess as you might think, but still, it was his job to tease her about it. He eyed her departure, before solemnly regarding the wrappings that he needed to rewrap to head out the door for dinner. No rest for the wicked, right?

Falke glanced up, evenly regarding Gwen, as she finally able to answer, if however not in regards to the original question he had asked. He knew his memories or knowledge she’d accidentally received had bothered her, as had the potential that it was a two-way street – which it was, but he attempted to stay out of those ‘extras’ with a respectful, burning passion. “The gesture is one I would be grateful for, but… I understand the connection the first time for you was, rough.” An understatement, he was certain of; but he hadn’t been completely aware the extent her mental reach of her own powers had gone that his own hiccupping powers hadn’t been as ‘gentle’ as it could have been.

“It shouldn’t happen again, quite as drastically feeling if it does… “ He said, truthfully. Tallyho was different, casually crashing into his thoughts, intermingling, and confusion plenty. Everyone else, they hadn’t even noticed a thing the first time, or any other time a ‘physical’ touch had occurred; only his head felt like it had been run over every now and again. And Gwen, he wasn’t all that sure about. “If you’re willing to give it another go, you can, and… Thank you.” Falke finished, softly.

He eased the limb supported on his lap, offering it to her. All though any attempt at additional healing if she agreed and was willing to do it was likely rather short lived before they were hustled out to dinner, and the wraps were re-tightened quickly, if not efficiently. Limping, perhaps not as bad as before.

---

Lillian looked remarkably unfrazzled by the nervous energy in the air, or was simply better at hiding it. She moved quietly, with quick, graceful motions aiding other guardians and specifically warriors in getting ready. But her eyes seemed to show faintly a touch of wariness in their depths, or simple weariness given sleep had been lacking.

“Do something with that.”

Lillian's fingers twisted gently as she was able to into Tallyho's impossibly tangled golden wheat mane, detangling it with sure, experienced movements - having had to work with her own extremely similar hair style, every moment of all her lives, she well ought to know what she was doing by now. Upon getting the pesky unruly curls to behave without knotting up again, she began braiding it, apologizing whenever it got too tight for a moment during the process. The finished product was something simple and elegant, but something a well put together lady of citizenry may wear their hair like at any time. It wasn't concealing as an infamous shirt scarf, or shawl, but it would do the job and conceal her heritage well enough.

"There, finished... Chin up now, you're good."

---

Falke felt stuffy, confined, and frankly ridiculous; garbed in the elegant, well manufactured, but heavy brocade-esque fabric that his doublet and trousers that sported a Renaissance lives again vibe, that Lillian had purchased for him the day before. He couldn't quite put it on anything directly like the weight of the clothing itself, or the obviously antique decorative buttons, or that damn collar, or the simple nervousness he was feeling that everyone was feeling being trapped in this exaggerated lengthy line to await their fate to be decided...

No. It had to be that collar. It felt like it had been tightened to much earlier this morning. He reached up, in the interest of breathing, to spread the fabric a little. Oh, yes, that was better. He already missed regular shirts, or well something more well worn and comfortable, even if probably holey or sweating or blood-stained, but still... Like that shirt Tallyho had stolen, and then just had been tossed away this morning during their reviews getting ready. That poor, poor shirt. Amen.

Falke knew his brain's jumping was only due to keeping his mind off of well, other things that would be happening shortly. But it wasn't like he minded the distractions, really. At least for the time being...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Trent Cress Character Portrait: Harbinger XII
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“Buh!”

Falke muttered, causing the hastily scuffle backward and indignant squeak of a vendor who had been one of the few brave enough to come closer and had been getting a little too close from comfort. She had been waving her hand suspiciously in front of his face even as her voice had died off begging him to by something she was calling a blood-orange sapphire, oddly abruptly, confused as to why he didn’t even blink an eye, or look at her in acknowledgment. The older woman vendor huffed, scowling up her thick nose at him, before hastily taking herself and her false jewels somewhere else down the line that didn’t have those weird, ghosty eyes to distract, or haunt her nightmares later. Not his fault, however, mind you.

The exchange was a distinct difference to Tallyho nearly hitting a vendor and flying off the handle, very much to the ill benefit of Haru's poor laboring heart, Falke wasn't bothered as much from eagerly aggressive jewel vendors coming into his face. Probably more so do to the fact, standing behind his friend, but also could be befitted to his eyes - blind as they were, something very different for a young man especially to have plastered on his features.

...

Finally, Falke's wandering thoughts, purposeful in their intent to keep nervousness at bay, faded as time pressed on, finally stepping through the grand cathedral doors and into the grand room to be judged. He held tightly unto a face of complete confidence, stoic but strong, as Haru spoke and beckoned them to come forward to bow one at a time, before resettling in a line - hunched at their hands and knees in reverence.

Dorian was called forward to demonstrate his powers. A good choice, something simple, but could say more than anything that could be easily dismissed or accidentally hurt someone. The wind twirled playfully for a brief few moments, before fading. Yes, a good show. Thank the Goddess, it seemed to have worked, more or less.

He rose as the Harbinger requested, at Haru's whispered insistence and the rising shuffles of the others beside him and down the line more so technically, careful of his balance on his sore leg. He raised his hand as the brief, familiar shiver of awareness came from his hand as the dark blue glowed bright and light in the presence of the religious man and his crystal coming near. Ahh, the stone test, he could only supposed they'd passed that one test then - there would be more, of course, he was certain.

The Flock. Falke didn't seem to regard the description as fearfully and wearily as some of the others, more so taking the brutally logical thought process that at the very least if they failed this one it would be a quicker way to go then a public hanging would have been. Yes, they had all fought plenty of cyclopeans before, perhaps not a host before and not in an environment that is was due or die. But at the very least, they weren't on the way of the gallows yet and political prison and/or jail was still better than hanging. Thinking on the 'bright' side, or attempting too anyhow even if how unnerving their situation was rapidly becoming.

Trust. Yes, trust was a fickle thing. Falke obliged willingly, however, as Haru told them to trust him, the bell tolled, a single cardinal believed in them, and another ordered them to line up between the knights. Narrowing his eyes, cautiously, he stepped forward as they went outside, past the hovering crowd of false warriors, Guardians, and newer groups of citizens with downcast eyes and hearts already praying for there lost, wrenched souls. Great. Wonderful welcome party.

It took all of his will power not to physically flinch every time they entered a new room in the dungeon, being so accustomed to using every other sense but sight - it was a nightmare of sound, smell, and horrible feelings, expressions, and remarks amongst the cries of the imprisoned. He ground his back molars, even as his eyes widened a touch, struggling to remain looking calm and keeping his cool.

Finally they resumed an upward trek into part of the castle proper, of court rooms and relative quiet hallways compared to the horror show they'd just been experienced, until being shoved into a large cell, reserved for POWs or other important members of political arrest, of nicer accommodations than that of below - even if sharing with an already large group already there, clustered on the other side watching them curiously.

The girls tended to drift watchfully toward the male members of the team, taking the cue from Haru and other Guardian's that backs would need to watched in such close quarters with a lot of men, solider men, that they didn't know, let alone would want to let them know who they were. Which meant, everyone dispersing to their bunks, left Falke a rather alone. He didn't mind really, except for the fact that he had grown over the three years - and was resting at 6ft and 140-150lbs - you'd think he'd be more intimidating. But, he suspected that the image of a little fluffy kitten in the corner that could mess you up but looked still to innocent to do so was himself, and the comparable image of another, like Dorian, probably a stoic rottweiler that could mess you up and looked like it. Well, yes, that was pretty self explanatory...

Falke dozed for awhile before sleep finally carted him away late into the night into unsettling, whispering dreams, some of which awoke him briefly, until he rolled over unto the next shoulder wordlessly, dozing, only to crash quickly again. Lillian, like Ryou and Haru, stayed up during the night. Unable to sleep, or taking it also upon herself to help watch, and used to having stayed up in her animal form for odd hours and/or situations such as this before. She seemed easy, sitting upright at rest, leaning against a post of her bunk, eyes wide and watchful of their surroundings the whole night.

...

"Is this really necessary?”
/Careful…/

He couldn’t help agreeing with her, of course, and his brief mental warning reflected some of the likewise feelings into her mind. However, this was an uneasy game to play, and accidental dyslexia of the mouth wouldn’t help their situation. He felt briefly the worried press of Haru's mind, something that came easier because of high emotions of stress and the bare aura of tolerance echoing from the cat guardian, as he tried to turn the situation back unto the task at hand - learning more about the flock, their next test - only to be overruled, again, by the demanding of introductions on the month warrior's parts.

“Sire,” Falke wasn’t sure what compelled him to introduce himself first, out of all the warriors, but perhaps the strong feeling he was likely one of the few that could still remain a stoic civility (that would allow them all to keep their heads for a little while longer hopefully, thank you very much) especially the face of the young noble lord, General Cress, with an obviously lacking hospitable attitude and crude language demeaning guardians and month warriors alike. He went with it, however, rising from his bunk to stand on steady limbs, briefly bowing at the waist, and adverting eye contact as best as his blearily unfocused eyes could managed.

“I am Falke of Hales, sire, the warrior of September.” He finished, lightly; cautiously dipping his head once again for good measure. His English had gotten surprising good, enough to full even himself with his faded accent at times (of course, forgetting other times his mood flicked during the day or in the middle of the conversation, his natural German accent came right back, heavy and thick) – he could, being nitpicky on himself, could pick out bare German elements still in it, but in all honesty it could seem a plausible enough rough voice to come from the icy expanse of Hales.

Lillian remained silent, as she had not been called to introduce herself, but watchful, even despite the aura of the potential for shadows appearing soon on pale skin underneath her eyes - especially so as her own warrior stood forward first. It was a known fact Lillian, nor Haru or even Ryou to an extent, didn't bond specifically with her own designated warriors like some of the other Guardian's; her distance was not rebelliousness or a simple lack of care, but had developed from a greater meaning of her purpose - she was a Guardian of all, not just one. All the same, in the controlled, politely reverent clenched grasp of her hands, perhaps one could surmised a faint worried tremor in the tendons and fine bones of her fingers; as her own warrior spoke, one of the weakest physical links of the team relatively. A reminder perhaps again deeply hidden in her inner mind, the Guardian's were cursed with immortality, the warriors... Not so much.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Jason Carter Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Trent Cress Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by rikura
Travelling on a boat was definitely something Jason was not used to, but after what had happened at the academy, he really didn't care that simply walking across the deck tended to feel like he was walking drunk.

In only a few seconds, the entirety of his time at the academy and the event that devastated their group would occasionally flash through his mind. It started all the way from when he received his twin daggers with black hilts and long curved blades. They seemed to match his ring as they somehow reminded him of scorpions, though that didn't make sense to him because the last time he checked, Jason was a Leo... not a Scorpio. Letting that little fact pass without much thought, his mind would drift to their journey to the academy. Well, to Harper screaming bloody murder during their cart ride. Personally, he thought it had been hilarious, worrying, and annoying all at the same time. From there his mind would skim through meeting Ji Na, Karma, Kat, and everyone else at the academy. He remembered the first time he "trained" with a Cyclopean during a cage fight, gaining a smidge of understanding regarding Harper's panicked reaction to the cart ride.

The flashes continued until the night of the event. That night he'd been woken up by screaming, opening stinging eyes to a black cloud of smoke. With a sense of urgency, he and his two doppelgangers tried to get as many people safely out of the flames as possible. He arrived at the field where his fellow warriors and the rest of the survivors were gathering just as Amber revealed himself. Then his comrades, some of the friends he'd come to trust during his time at the academy, betrayed them. Chaos. Everything had been chaos, and he could almost hear the 'switch' in his mind that signaled him disconnecting and distancing himself from the situation and general reality.


For a while afterwards, the warrior didn't know how to respond to the others; With the apparent mental and emotional shock of the event. The academy being destroyed, being betrayed by people he'd thought of as comrades and friends, the physical wounds and death, seeing the other warriors and guardians distraught... This wasn't something he could brush off as nothing. He couldn't tell everyone not to worry, not to take everything so seriously, that things weren't really that bad, because they really were that bad. He couldn't ignore the reality of the situation this time. Worse, he couldn't help but feel he could have done more, should have done more, to prevent some of the injuries. Some of the deaths. His way of coping with life, however, was never taking serious things very seriously. Emotionally disconnecting from heavy situations, and sometimes people. He was simply confused about how he should react and respond to the others and to the situation as a whole.

With that in mind, training with his doppelgangers and with his long twin daggers became somewhat of an obsession throughout their voyage. It wasn't a secret to anyone that Jason wasn't the strongest or most aggressive guy in the group. He'd never been too keen on any of the training they'd done back at the academy, so his sudden obsession would appear extremely radical and out of character to anyone. It helped him put his thoughts into order, though, and after the event it's an understandable change. Balance, control, speed, fluidity, stealth, aggression, agility, coordination; He wanted to improve on everything so that maybe next time, he wouldn't turn out to be so useless. Maybe next time, the sufferings and the deaths... they wouldn't be so great.

At the same time, though, the past was the past. What happened happened and that would never change, no matter how much one dwelt on it. Life had taught him that when you can't control particular events, all that's left is to move past them as best you can. With his way of thinking, Jason opted to stay optimistic in front of the other warriors in an effort to lighten the mood on the ship. His efforts didn't seem to have much effect, though. Other than training, he'd spend the days doing anything he could to keep himself occupied and to keep the despairing atmosphere from affecting him too much. Conversing with whoever would give him time became a normal part of his day where he would bring up any random subject that came to mind. When no one would talk to him he'd simply talk to one of his two doppelgangers or play his own little games that more times than not got him into trouble. Apparently, using the ship's railing as a tightrope hadn't turned out to be his best idea. Watching Tallyho and some of the guys dance, however, turned out to be a "safe" distraction where he wasn't bothering anyone or doing something stupid.
---

Listening to Haru's spiel about the Rose Kingdom and how they all needed to behave, Jason shrugged, interested in whatever cultural aspects came up, but otherwise not caring. He could avoid causing trouble. He thought he could at least. His eyes slid to the loudest of his companions. Harper, however, he supposed could and maybe would land them on the chopping block.

Jason felt himself becoming almost giddy at the eccentric styles some of the people adorned themselves in. It was, to him, a comical sight, really. He had enough money for clothes, since he tended to help with chores and such at the academy, but definitely didn't have enough for anything too fancy or eccentric. He honestly didn't see what was wrong with what he was wearing, ya know, other than a few tears and stains, but he did as Haru suggested anyways. He ended up with an outfit he thought to be clown-like, but that seemed to fit in with what he saw others wearing.

Afterwards, on their walk to the inn, things were quite uneventful. Seeing the Harbinger's entourage, though, was quite an event. In his mind, quite an exaggerated event. Wasn't the guy supposed to be the religious leader or something? With how they carried themselves and with how the people responded, it seemed more like he was an emperor-king dude. Jason had in his mind to give an exaggerated flourish of a bow when they passed, but restrained himself with the thought that the others, mainly Haru, the other guardians, and Kyle, would more likely than not pummel him for stupidity. Plus he had an obvious feeling that being sarcastic towards the Harbinger would land him and the others in deep trouble.

"Nah, dip, Sherlock," he said to himself when the carriage was up and moving again. It wasn't too much longer before they arrived at the Yellow Rose, the inn they apparently were to stay at. Jason lingered in the commons area for a while, aiming to try and approach Tallyho to talk about Airian culture and such, but finding that task impossible after a loud groan escaped the girl. It probably wasn't the best response, but Jason couldn't keep a small laugh from escaping him before Lillian appeared, saying something to Tallyho, followed up by Haru. Apparently everyone was to come down for dinner. Because he was already down, Jason opted to simply join the cat guardian in waiting for the others.

Dinner was nice. Though, Jason couldn't help feeling that Haru had an ulterior motive behind the finer-than-usual dining, but shrugged it off as the cat guardian briefly said something about how tomorrow would go.

Then came the oh-so-dreaded-test-day. It didn't seem to start out too well in Jason's mind with all of Haru's picking and such. He even flinched from the cat guardian a few times. Jason really wanted to get this test over with, despite whether they passed or failed. He hated the tense and jumpy atmosphere. Haru needed to loosen up. Seriously.

Putting his hands behind his head, Jason glanced around at the ridiculous amount of people standing in line, adorned with jewels that imitated his and the rest of the month warriors'. What was even more bizarre were the vendors selling fake stones, and people actually buying them! Jason usually thinks 'to each his own" but these people were crazy. None besides his crew were true warriors, so he imagined they would all end up dead. Hundreds of people, simply for trying to imitate them. Of course, if they somehow failed, they'd be joining the fakes.

Finally, it was their turn. Jason automatically gravitated close to Kyle, who he viewed as one of his best friends since arriving in this other world. The August warrior's relaxed, somewhat annoyed demeanor shifted to something uncomfortable and bothered in the presence of the Harbinger. He felt something... off here, though he couldn't put his finger on it. He glanced around quickly before following Haru's example of bowing his head. Jason found himself becoming fidgety in this place. As the others hurried forward, Jason followed suit. He could feel scrutinizing eyes, and it took everything not to glance up at them again. Before he could entertain the thoughts of Haru choosing him to do anything, Dorian stepped forward, his powers activating as gusts filled the room. Jason held his breath until the show ended. He stood as the others stood, and kept his eyes on his ring as it glowed, apparently passing the stone test.

The August warrior felt relief, his relaxed demeanor returning, only for a moment though. He stiffened as the flock was mentioned and explained. Woah, woah, woah. Hold on, partner. Sure training had become an obsession for him in recent months, and he wasn't bad at fighting those monsters, but they were talking about, what? An army of Cyclopeans?

Yeah, pretty much. Ha! We won't have to worry about a hangman's noose if we failed this one. I'm sure the Cyclopeans will take care of that, though I don't plan on failing. If we do fail, however, there's nothing we can do about it. But we haven't failed yet, so we can do something, right? Unless the something turnsout to be the wrong something rather than the right something and we ended up failing anyways, or maybe... Wait...

Jason shook his head, clearing away his advancingly confusing thoughts. He decided to go with his usual stance of 'whatever happens will happen.' Still feeling uncomfortable, he fell in line between two knights just as the rest of the warriors had.

The journey to their holding cell was unsettling to say the least, walking through the rows of dirty, pathetic prisoners. Arriving at their temporary home-away-from-home wasn't much better. The POW cell, from what he could tell was in much better condition than the ones below. However, he realized very readily that their group seemed alien compared to the rest. Especially in the sense that half of their group were the only females present. This wasn't a safe place, but there wasn't really anything they could do about it beside being careful.

Jason didn't really sleep much, but the little sleep he got was more than enough. He was quieter than normal, watchful rather than engaging once he awoke. He pretty much sat on his cot, observing things and making notes in his head until a person he automatically noted he didn't like appeared with two knights.

The man stepped into the cell confidently, the rest of the prisoners besides the month warriors shrinking back. His dislike for the man increased as soon as his mouth opened in speaking to Haru... Then Falk... Then Tallyho...

What the hell!? Jason was beyond annoyed. Mocking his companions... Calling Tallyho a prostitute! Jason wasn't one to be very serious about things, but he wasn't passive either. If you did it right, it was fairly easy to annoy him, and this guy was pushing it. Jason didn't have a guardian to advise him like some of the others, and was about to do something stupid, but Harper beat him to the punch. Now Jason didn't particularly like or dislike the guy, but right now, he definitely loved the annoying guy. Jason frankly didn't care about any possible consequences, and was even going to step forward to join Harper in his show, but wasn't given a chance to with Dorian's harshly barked, "Harper!"

Jason cleared his throat, not sure how to go about anything, so figured he'd introduce himself as if the Harper thing was no big deal. May as well. With a shrug, and a kind of small grin, Jason somewhat exaggerated a flourish of a bow (mostly to turn attention from Harper), kind of like what he'd been tempted to do two days ago on the streets when the Harbinger's entourage had passed them. This time he obviously didn't suppress the urge, though his voice he made contrastingly pleasant, even, and respectful, something none of the warriors or even the guardians had heard come from him. The tone sounded strange coming from Jason, especially with his slightly grinning expression.

"I am Jason of Solace, the warrior of August. I humbly ask you excuse my friend, Sire," and then he may possibly have ruined it by adding, "However, with all due respect, Sire, making assumptions and judging one's ability and value based by appearances and nationality tends towards a poor judgment, no?" With that, the unnaturally even and respectful tone could easily be identified only by those who knew him as being something purely mocking, highlighting his distaste for the arrogant jerk of a dude.