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Alina Tavaria

The Ranger

0 · 670 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Second Revival”, as played by listentothetimpani

Description


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ALINA TAVARIA
“Men like you should be left to the mercy of women like me..."


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NICKNAME:
There isn't many ways available to shorten her name as it stands, and so Alina prefers to be called by her full-name for the most part. However, on the rare occasion, other elder academy members may call her "Tavi" and be acknowledged successfully.

AGE & GENDER:
Unknown (assumed late twenties, or early thirties) | Female

DISTINGUISHING MARKS:
5'7", 123lbs. Lithe and lean, with arms that are surprisingly muscular, yet not so much as to be unfeminine. Deep, chocolate brown hair with sun-worn russet streaks; worn in a variety of ways from long and loose, to sleek tails and braided manes. Eyes grey, like the sea, that pick up different tones depending on what she's wearing that they accentuate more blue or more green accordingly. Sporting more than a few whip-cord thin, silvery slivers of scars across her hands, forearms, and left breast and shoulder (marks from her trade). Often seen barefoot; and if not sporting her typical leather riding breeches and metal-weaved corset, it isn't uncommon to see her in colorful, flowing fabric tunic-dresses and multiple layers of fine jingling jewelry.

HOME WORLD & ETHNICITY:
Aires | Iraian
When speaking Common, her voice is similar to an earthly Egyptian Arabic accent - quick, melodious, and with "minimum effort" towards pronunciation of words. However she will take the time (when asked to slow down) to place stress on her speech, there may be the echoes of an earthly Indian accent popping up now and again.


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❖ SINCERE ❖ CAPABLE ❖ MODEST ❖ RELIABLE ❖
(and perhaps a little arrogant, which isn't out of the ordinary for someone with her position)






Alina has a personality of many fine layers and as such it can be difficult for others to get a true grasp of her personality at large. On the surface she is often viewed as a free-spirted, aloof, and distant character. Someone who prefers places of quiet and peace, and becomes somewhat stressed if spending to long around larger groups of people she doesn’t know or has become comfortable with yet. Underneath this cautious persona is a strong, confident young woman – that is very direct, values honesty, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. And of course, Alina has a temper like most people, often judged as cruel or vindictive at times; and she acts particularly callously towards those weaker or more vulnerable than herself (a harsh, tough love if you wanted to paint her in a kinder light), because if they themselves do not wish to improve themselves why most she stand up for them or protect them?





Alina is one of the advanced students of the Academy. Specialized as a markswoman, huntress, and tracker all rolled into one – or a “Ranger” as prefers to call herself. She is rarely seen without a heavy war-bow or crossbow clipped into a harness hanging across her back, and a quiver slung over a shoulder or attached to a hip filled with gray-feather fledged arrows. While she definitely prefers ranged over needing to move in for melee combat, over years over hard work and training she has made herself become adequate with hand to hand combat as is necessary and is quite adept with two curved daggers from her homeland.



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FACE CLAIM
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan


USERNAME
listentothetimpani


So begins...

Alina Tavaria's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: James Labonair Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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The upward narrow lane wound through a forest of mostly oak and maple, where most of the trees were so ancient that only the most meager grass and brush could grow beneath them. By the time it leveled between the two faces of mountains, there the forest was not so old, and smaller trees and brush, some of it still living despite the lateness of the season, stood thick and heavy. Golden and scarlet leaves had begun covering the dried skeletons of the smaller brush, and the naked, sleeping trees swayed in a chorus of gentle creaking. Signs of humanity began shortly after, after Haru’s statement: They traveled passed a barren orchard, beehives, and a quaint field laid fallow for the season; and the dirt pathway became more heavily laden with soft, white cobblestone, jostling the cart and it’s passengers almost painfully. It was the signs of a strong holding, that the academy’s central buildings had walls higher than some military encampments, reaching nearly twice the height of a man and made of seamed, dark grey stone, laboriously raised from the mountainous ground over many years. The gates, heavy wood bound with a primitive steel, were half-closed, and a woman precariously perched on the wall above them, squinting laconically out over the distance.

The woman was lean, with darker skin than most people they’d seen so far of Solace, and had her long brown hair drawn painfully tight to pass an illusion of a mane of hair. Her colorful, flowing loose, tunic-dress and multiple layers of fine, jingling jewelry upon her arms and neck, left far too much skin on display – not that she seemed all that bothered by the cold seeping with the mountain mist clinging to the protected valley – and the prominent scars that came with it. She seemed to observe the coming cart with a slim mixture of annoyance and indifference for some time, before deciding they were close enough to skinny down the wall on a thin braided rope attached to a thickly made gray-fletched arrow wedged into the cracks of stone and landed on bare feet (ankles tinkling with their own noise-making jewelry in turn). Wordlessly she nodded in reluctant greeting as she pushed open the gate, allowing the driver to get his beasts and the cart inside the property; and once everyone was inside, she closed the gate and locked it with a ring of keys orbiting unnoticed upon her wrist.

Inside the gates there was a significant open space for communal gatherings and/or training; with what looked to be a deep well to one side, a large placid fountain with a minimal movement of water in the center, and stacks of various weaponry to the other side. Past it was a trio of large, rustic stone buildings, and beyond them a small barn and pens for animals resting upon a distant wall of the forest beyond. The woman approached the head of the cart, her sea-glass eyes retaining a distasteful yet knowledgeable look about a thing or two of the situation at hand as she passed over the heads of the warrior crowded in the back, before focusing on red-headed Guardian – the distaste lifted some, but she offered no more than lukewarm terse ‘smile’ to part her lips briefly. “Haru, and month warriors. We have been waiting for you… Ryou had another matter to attend too, and asked for me to greet you in his stead.” She spoke matter-of-factly, her voice quick and melodious and with minimal effort to separating the pronunciation between words. The brief pause in collecting her breath before continuing, allowed her gaze to shift briefly towards the cart driver / farm-hand and the tired horses appraisingly.

I will call a student over to help take your cart to unload and allow your beasts some rest and hot grain. But dinner is not for some time I am afraid, and while I understand you must all be very weary from your journey – I have only a tour and general things to offer you in the mean-time.” She finished shortly. Pursing her lips to deliver a short whistle, a younger man (really a boy, if his half-finished build and gangly limbs were any indication) materialized from a distant building, nodding in quick affirmation to her proposal / orders, as he stepped forward to take the reins of one of the team and stroke the equine’s bristled nose absently. The woman hardly spared the lad an appreciative glance, with all her authoritative attention focused upon Haru and the month warrior crew, yet was truly thankful not to be entirely alone dealing with this group of unknown variables even momentarily. Ryou had certainly done his best to feed her to the wolves to deal with this delicate matter in the most elegant way she knew how. Goddess help her...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria
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Haru was impressed by the impeccable timing of the woman who greeted them. Though he supposed he couldn’t expect anything else considering the fact that she was staked out, waiting for their arrival.

It wasn’t until they drew within the gates, now closer to the woman did Haru realized how familiar she seemed. He offered a stiff smile—not because he disliked her but because he was just a stiff smile kind of guy and was trying to be friendly.
“Alina, right?” He confirmed in his baritone. “You haven’t changed a day since I saw you last.”

He scanned her over, in search of the one item he remembered her for. She was, as he recalled, an archer, but he wondered why she was still here at the academy. The last time he was in the mountains she was already one of Ryou’s newer but older charges, a woman that (based on her age) might have been some war widow from the east.

“You still shoot, right? Where’s your bow?”

He then took a look around the land beyond the gate. Everything was just how he left it since his visit 10 years ago. Ryou did have a way of maintaining things -- buildings or friendships. While Haru chose to isolate himself from the other guardians after their tragic failure so many years ago, Ryou never really let him live in complete solitude. There would be many a time when Ryou would hunt him down. He'd be so persistent that Haru found their encounters to be less of a headache if he just went ahead and visited Ryou every now and then instead of letting himself be found at the most inopportune times.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio
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Properly introduced by Haru’s confirmation, Alina bowed a polite inclination of her head and offered a gentler but still terse smile of her own. “The years have been kind.” She mused in agreement. Her eyes flickered a spark of something infinitely warmer at the guardians’ continued commentary: One part evidently satisfied to be remembered for her gifts from his last visit 10 years ago; the other a reluctant (at least to be seen expressed in front of a majority of strangers to be honest), reserved fondness for a missing member of the party mentioned previously.

Yes… Ryou mentioned that it would be best to leave my bow behind in the barracks for your arrival, due to the sensitive nature of some of the month warriors arriving. However, I hazard the state of their-err, other world, if a bow would cause any remarkable reactions – mhm, they’re to be warriors, no?” Alina continued, a faint echo of wiry amusement yet callous intentions upon her breath, with an idle shrugged roll of her shoulders. Her smile faded to a her preferred neutral line, observing the collective of individuals as the last unloaded from the cart thoughtfully, harsh yet not entirely unwelcoming – at least two, the sun-daughter and the Halesian male, should very well know what a bow was / and that a war-bow wasn’t someone’s silly prized hunting weapon; the others only caught her glance long enough for her to understand they held themselves differently, not wrong per say, but something wasn’t right either. Though, Alina noted, that she should suspend further judgement until later on.

She flicked one of her hands up in a dismissive gesture towards the other student, who nodded respectfully in turn, stepping up into the wagon seat and took the offered reins from the cart-driver (who subsequently leaned back with a thankful but tired expression). The lad murmured soft encourage to the horses, resuming travel as they pulled away from the milling group and headed toward the barn and quaint pens beyond the three buildings standing before the group; the two men, younger and older, chatting softly but animatedly as they went. Over the creaking of the rattling wheels departing, Alina raised her voice and said quite simply, “Come,” with a brief, beckoning gesture of her hand, and turned on a bare heel – jewelry jingling pleasantly as she went.

As a tour guide, Alina proved to be more efficient than particularly informative, and the tour marched on quickly (with very little questions being answered frankly). As they crossed the open yard before the buildings, many things were noted in an idle fashion, including: To start, that the only sources of water upon the campus were the fountain and the deep well, and the necessity to treat such resources with care (w/out quite blunting the thinly veiled threat of what could happen should you do). Following that, all of the training seemed to be outdoors; from a few groups of other students scrunched together in the shade or various nocks and crannies with books / crude parchment / or intent listening to other ‘instructors’, a well-maintained sand-pit with a rack of swords near-by with a pair of sprawled / sweaty students taking a breather, to the distant but well maintained shapes of targets with a rack the included suitable bow shaped pieces of wood and string, to multiple trails disappearing off into the forest for endurance (she didn’t take enough time to mention that it would be unwise to wander off alone down them unless with another elder-student of the Academy until they grew more familiar, but that should be rather self-explanatory). And last, as nonchalantly as everything before, that the first, smallest stone-and-wooden building they passed without entering was Ryou’s home and left it at that.

At the next building, a much larger structure that resembled more of a barn or shed with doors that looked almost as heavy as the gate they’d arrived through and a high vault to the roof observed as they walked up to it. “These are the barracks.” Alina spoke shortly, as she pried open the door that gave muted groan and revealed the interior. The barn had been converted to a giant communal living area, much like any army not on the move / living out of tents, completed with orderly rows of wooden bed frames and more of the same located above in a balcony (once used for feed storage) connected via a rope ladder, and had a single stone fireplace on one side that was dead currently / but would be lit every night for warmth. Many showed signs of ownership, with mattresses, blankets, clothes, weapons, or various sentimental knick-knacks; and more were empty frames, void of anything including a mattress. Alina paused momentarily frowning, searching left and right with measured tilts of her head, before finding what she was looking for and started off again to weave between frames on the ground-level before stopping at a row of thirteen beds in a row in a lonelier corner of the barracks (eleven bare, and the last two already claimed with stuffed mattresses, thin blankets - and the furthest in the corner had a rusty oxen-bell attached to the foot, and a long-sword hanging sheathed at the corner of the head).

Alina turned to face the group and waved her hand in an encompassing gesture to the set-up directly behind her, “This is where you will be staying warriors,” Unspoken, she shared a brief glance towards Haru, who would not be sleeping with nor nearby the warriors; if Ryou didn’t simply demand the other man stay in his own home was one thing, otherwise he would be offered a location in the tier above out of respect undoubtedly. The pause finished, she turned her head to acknowledge a nearby corner as she continued, “We have straw available to make your bedding with, the liners are in one chest, and the other has blankets – one per person for now, once Winter arrives - considerations will be noted… It will be easier if you set your places up now, depositing any extra belongings you may have, before the dinner-chime calls from the mess hall calls and dark is upon you.” Alina fell silent, regarding them all with a cool expression, patiently folding up her jangling arms across her chest to wait for the warriors to get a ‘move on’. As it was clear this wasn’t like an inn they’d stayed in the night previously, without any maids to come and go and do such a thing themselves, and that your own sleeping arrangements was entirely up to yourself. However, now out of the abbreviated tour for the moment, she seemed more available to any questions or concerns that would pop up if anyone had something.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Aster Storm Character Portrait: Sorrell Hunt Character Portrait: Vegas Sinclair Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Emerson Motlilio Character Portrait: Kibi
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XXPerspectives

XXImage
XXTallyho AbelX

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XXHaru SinwoodX

Haru Sinwood

Haru wanted to laugh. Apparently it was extremely obvious that the warriors, as a group, knew very little about battle. And he was fairly confident that the stench of their collective inexperience wasn’t just something that Alina had picked up because she was a seasoned fighter.

“If they aren’t used to them now they’ll be used to them tomorrow,” he assured her before proceeding on the tour. As far as he could tell, Alina was one of the more advanced students. Especially if Ryou trusted her to greet them in lieu of himself. So he figured they would be encountering her more often than not.

“Listen carefully,” Haru said to the group. “This will be your home for a while.”


Tallyho Abel


Tallyho would be lying if she didn’t admit that the tour of the campus gave her cold feet about this whole month warrior thing. If it wasn’t the callous vibe of superiority that Alina put off toward the group, it was the sense of confinement Tallyho felt in this otherwise natural space. It wasn’t that the space was cramped, no, the layout was fine and the forest surrounding the academy seemed to run deep. It was the prospect of having her life strictly organized that worried Tallyho. Even though she felt socially confined in the caravan, day-to-day living as a sun person was a practice of freedom.

The blonde took special note of the students they passed and even the lankiest teen looked well-worked. And Tallyho, who couldn’t even muster a push up, was already skeptical about her ability to stay afloat in a place like this.

She wondered how tough this Ryou was. (His name had been mentioned far too many times by this point for her to not wonder.) She imagined a towering muscly man (similar to Haru) with a short neck that tightened against his bulging veins as he yelled.

When they reached the barracks, Tallyho found herself off put by the openness of the space. There were no doors, curtains or beads to undress behind, only rows of beds occupied shamelessly by both sexes. The final straw however (no pun intended), was when Alina bluntly informed them that they would be stuffing their own mattresses. She had only slept on a mattress for the first time at Haru’s farm, so how did they expect her to build one?

When Alina crossed her arms, Tallyho moved to retrieve a liner. Her gestures didn’t betray her feelings of confusion and reluctance. She appraised the fabric, attempting to piece together how she was supposed to seal it, but she dared not to look back at Alina for hints.

“You put the hay in, you know? Over here!”

A small voice chimed up from the nearby corner where hay piled up against the wall in abundance. There was so much hay in fact, that Tallyho hardly noticed the small body splayed within it. It was a girl, at least Tallyho figured from her voice, with big cloudy hair that stood upright in all directions. As the girl rolled off of her back and onto her knees to stand, she galloped over toward the group, out of the darkness. Her feet were bare against the barrack floor.

“Like this!” she said as she tossed a fistful of hay into Tallyho’s liner. She looked at the group.

“You never make a bed before?” she laughed at them quite unapologetically, whistling through a missing gap where a childhood tooth once hung like a swinging school bell. She pointed at them too.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria
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[Calliope Alexander] - [#551a8b] - [Mood]
The past few days had become somewhat of a blur as she seemed to withdraw away from the world around her since they'd left the farm. Almost becoming a passenger within her own body she could feel herself going through the motions but beyond that she was just trudging along and following the others wherever they were headed. She was certainly struggling with what she'd been told and could hardly make sense of what was happening anymore. Once they had reached the nearby city she was almost catatonic, lost in her thoughts and barely receptive beyond the occasional one word response or minimal intake of food and water.

After they left the winding and claustrophobic streets of the city she did feel a little better, becoming more aware of her surroundings and a great deal more active. At best she was somewhat ashamed that when faced with the reality of their situation she'd not remained as strong as she had hoped; instead simply snapping under the pressure and becoming less than useless. Now that they were back in the open she was feeling more energised and could admit her failing. As they began their climb up into the mountains she was gradually picking up pace as her training began to resurface, even if her thoughts kept returning to darker things.

Now that the cart they were on was reaching higher altitudes the smell of snow began to tinge the air as trees started to spring up around them and before long they were venturing deeper through a thick forest. At last after the rather long journey the trees thinned slightly before opening into a large clear space which appeared to be dominated by a rather large cluster of buildings surrounded by a multitude of orchards and other farm-like structures such as animal pens and barns. There also appeared to be a dull buzzing coming from what looked to be a series of beehives off to one side.

Once they reached the main square their cart came to a halt as they were approached by a dark-skinned and lithe woman who seemed to be appraising them all with a rather disparaging view of what she saw. It wasn't until their new host announced that food would not be due for some time that Cali realised just how little she'd managed to eat in recent days and could feel her stomach growling in protest. Stiflingly her disappointment she fell in behind the others, taking her meagre belongings with her rather than leaving them to be taken by the stable hand.

The woman, who Haru introduced them to as Alina proceeded to take them through a somewhat hurried tour of their surroundings. It felt to Cali to be a rather bare bones approach with her often skirting areas where advice of personal safety should have been mentioned which came across as either an oversight or intentional. Perhaps by presenting dangers to them it was meant to weed out the foolhardy among them? When at last they were all but abandoned in the old barn with beds little more than bare bones she couldn't help but scoff at what her drill sergeant would have made of it.

When one of their number, the local girl whose name she couldn't quite remember wandered over towards the hay she nearly jumped in surprise when a small child burst from the pile to criticise the lack of knowledge on how to make their beds. Cali gave her a cool, forced smile as she picked up a pillow and then kneeled down by the haystack. The act caused her to wince a little and mutter a curse or two under her breath before proceeding to fill it slowly with hay.

”Some of us can do it just fine.” She grumbled at the girl before tying the pillow shut and tossing it onto one of the nearby beds. Well if you could call the rickety frames beds at all.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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Alina remained silent, and observing haughtily over the conversation stirred to life by an over exuberant child, and the cautiously reluctant (until another stepped forward, showing the way; or how it ‘must be done’) or lackadaisical attempts of stuffing the liners with the straw for their mattress and pillow. It wasn’t long until her patience ran thin, however, that even the fond endearment (only earned through the child’s six seasons frankly) couldn’t win out for much longer. Why must she always go to pooping, indeed? “Kiba.” She admonished abruptly, not cruel by any means but not quite blunting her sharpness of tone either; stepping forward to wind a firm grip with her slender fingers about the little girl’s wrist, pulling her off to the side and out from the midst of the warrior’s bedding duties. After they’d moved a respectable distance away, Alina knelt unto her knees in front of Kiba, with her terse smile falling into a thoughtful frown. "Hold still." Releasing her grip from the other’s wrist, that hand made itself busy plucking the straw that prickled and poked out of the untamable afro; while the other wound up to her own head, and after a few curious tugs with the evidence of her carefully tight braided mane look decidedly looser on the left side compared to the right, a white-tooth comb of bone was free to help removal of the straw – much quicker than solely by fingers in the mess of hair that was more or less unmanageable to many of the adults here that called the Academy home (or even this side of the World for that matter). It wasn't a long ordeal, only made longer by Kiba's occasional ticklish squirm, before Alina was satisfied that most if not all of the straw had been taken care of. "Go get yourself washed up for dinner, your father will be returning soon, yes." She hummed softly, though the order it entailed no fainter even with her low tone. As she rose, resuming her cross-arms, attentive expression with eyes not unlike the frost that stars sometimes held in the sky above.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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XXPerspectives

XXImage
XXTallyho AbelX

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XXKibiX


Kibi

Kibi huffed as Alina dragged her away from what she decided was going to be her new group of friends.
“Alina!” she moaned again and again as she went. Even through the hair picking, and even more so when the woman started combing Kibi’s hair. It was the absolute worst thing in the world for the young girl because no matter how gentle Alina tried to be (granted she’s not a gentle person) Kibi’s scalp always felt yanked and tender by the end of it.
“Alina,” she huffed again when the woman finished. “It’s Kibi! KEE-BEE! Like a bumble bee.”

Ever since the six year old started expressing ownership over her name, she took great pleasure in correcting people when they pronounced it wrong. Alina was a person who did this often, calling her ‘Kiba’ instead. And while Alina’s accent was typically the main culprit of this phonetic violation, Kibi never let it go and often corrected her relentlessly.

Tallyho Abel


Meanwhile on the other side of the barn, Tallyho watched in mild horror as a confrontation sprang out of nowhere between Ron and Heather. By now she was almost done stuffing her mattress, but her attention was snared in the knot of their verbal spar. She didn’t need to understand all of their words to understand the tension.

The blonde had already decided her preference for Heather over Ron days ago, so her alertness was mostly inspired by thoughts of what she would do if he moved to attack.

“You. Why you do this?” she asked Ron in a baffled tone. “You make your bed, she make hers and you taunt her? Why?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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#, as written by Linnea
As she finished stuffing her lining, Angela was a little sad that Kibi was leaving. This was only momentary. As the confrontation escalated, Angela was relieved that the little girl wasn't around. She didn't need to see this. Angela didn't feel the need to see it either, but she was stuck where she was. So, as she plopped her mattress down on the wooden frame, she let out a small sigh of frustration.

She never expected everyone to get along, and she herself was still a anxious over this whole thing, but this just seemed excessive. And, of course, it was Ron instigating things. She was the type to want to befriend anyone. But Ron? He was the exception. Why he was so intent on acting out was beyond her. She couldn't blame Heather for her reaction. She actually enjoyed it a bit. Dude had it coming. Tallyho raised some good points, too. But for the sake of peace, Angela thought it would be better to let things fizzle out.

She turned around and raised her hands defensively, an awkward and forced smile on her face.

"Hey, hey, let's not let this get into a thing. We're all tired and smelly and stressed but it's like, we don't have to take it out on each other! Y'know?" Angela's voice wavered a little, as she was pretty frightened by the thought of Ron shooting up the place, but at least she could say she tried.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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If you were wondering what had happened with Jules and Dorian within the past day’s journey, the answer would be a resounding “nothing”. Jules had woken with a stiff back, a headache, and the revelation that his dark roots were beginning to show and he had no way to stop them, which is to say that he had woken up to a bad mood. It was only perpetuated by the subsequent cramped cart ride, unpleasant tour of a less than cozy training academy where he would be spending the rest of forever, and the current interpersonal chaos that was this group and all they came into contact with.

He’d filled his mattress first, glad for once that he’d played set crew for a director that had demanded accuracy for a piece that took place in the middle ages (“If they cannot feel the straw, how are they supposed to feel the people who sleep on it? I ask you!), and was it, pale face twisted somewhere between a scowl and a pout.

Dorian was currently grimacing on his bed, although maybe that was just his face. He’d given up on filling his mattress halfway through, muttering something dark and unnerving* before simply setting the half-filled lining on his bed frame. He was currently running over the blade of his sword with a sharpening stone, the soft whick, whick noise of stone against steel lost in the surrounding cacophony of people. Somehow this was less concerning than the emptied gun Tallyho had tucked into her mattress. Jules wasn’t sure if that was because Ron was just that unnerving or if everyone was just comfortable with the thought that if Dorian went rogue, they were all screwed anyways.

*In Halesian, it translated to, “What a waste. Don’t they have goats to feed? At market you could sell this for…”

The two weren’t friends, per say, but they were certainly joined together in their division from the general hubbub. That and both had been bonded by the fact that they’d spent over twenty-four hours directly in each other’s presence and had not decided to kill or hate the other yet, which was a good track record among the group.

So, their conversation unfolded as such:

It’s like we’re in Hell,” Jules said when a new Month Warrior appeared out of the blue and Ron started waving around a joint. It was an appealing sight, but Jules wasn’t quite desperate enough to ask anything of their resident psychopath.

Dorian grunted in response, although he wasn’t certain what Jules was talking about. In the days they’d known each other, Dorian had come to accept that most of the Earthers’ idioms and sayings were going to be lost on him. It didn’t make getting back into the swing of Common any easier, but one must be patient with aliens, he supposed.

No, I mean it. There’s straw digging into my everything, we’ve had twenty fights in the last three seconds, I haven’t bathed in God knows how long, and… God, everyone’s awful,” Jules said, which wasn’t true, but that had never stopped him from complaining before.

Little girl is good,” Dorian corrected with a shrug. “Bold. Strong character, yes?”

You’re right. It is a good quality. She’s rather delightful,” came the reply, but it wasn’t from Jules who froze mid scoff. The voice was far too deep and warm, not slightly higher than usual and bitter. Both men abruptly turned their heads to the stranger in their midst.

A man was standing a little ways away from them, beaming in the direction of Kibi and Alina. He was a handsome man and a little older than anyone standing in the room, even Haru. His thick black hair and scruffy beard was flecked and peppered with gray and smile lines were evident on his dark face. Still, there was something about him that made his age hard to place, too much youth in his smile, too much energy in his body. He was not a large man, more lean and lithe, wiry muscles hinted at underneath his almost baggy training clothes. He was warmth personified, although there was something harder there, under the surface.

Before either could do much more than blink, the man was crossing the room and scooping Kibi up into his arms, swinging her high into the air with ease before pulling the child into his arms for a bear hug.

Kibi, my darling, my dear, have you been playing hostess?” He said as he set her down in a smooth motion before grinning at Alina. “Or co-hostess with our lovely Alina, yes? Charming our new students, I’m sure.” The tone was strange, not quite doting adoration but not quite a tease.

Somewhere in the midst of all that motion, both Jules and Dorian realized who he was. For Dorian, it was from watching him walk to Kibi, all powerful stride and loose but precise movements. Jules picked it up around the time he dared to coo at Alina, ignoring her detached manner.

When the man turned to the majority of the group, it was only to confirm their suspicions.

Hello and good evening. My name is Ryou Zerrin, the owner of this humble academy. Please forgive my lateness. I’m afraid that certain matters detained me.” He bowed deeply, although the motion lost any sort of seriousness the moment he straightened, delight spreading across his comely features.

So, which one’s mine? Where’s my March?” Ryou appeared eager, a broad grin spread across his face, but his eyes were surprisingly focused, scanning over each warrior with an appraising eye. They were being judged for some quality, and some were clearly found wanting. His eyes skipped over Dorian automatically, lingered only briefly on Jules and most of the others, and merely brushed over Ron before landing on Angela.

It’s her, right?” He said, asking Haru , who he had yet to officially greet, rather than the girl herself before turning back to her. “Has to be. Look at that sweet-faced smile.”

Jules, who remembered very little about whose month was whose but was quite certain that Angela had something to do with the Autumn, glanced over at Dorian and realized that Dorian had not been grimacing before. If he had been, there was no other word to describe the look of pure discomfort on his face when Ryou began his search for the March warrior, the realization that none of this was going to end well setting in quickly and forcefully. Well, that settled who March was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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#, as written by Linnea
Angela would be lying if she said she wasn't at least somewhat fearful of Dorian. Everything about him was intimidating. From his voice, his mannerisms, the fact that he seemed to be casually sharpening his sword as if preparing for combat. All of it spelled out an individual who wasn't someone she was comfortable with. However, comparing that to the man with drugs and a gun (unloaded and stowed away, it was still a threat to her) he didn't seem so bad. Well, that and she felt that she could at least talk to Ron. She had no idea where to begin with Dorian.

Now that Ron seemed to be pacified, however, the grating of metal began to concern her. Maybe I should say something. She thought to herself. Taking a deep breath, Angela let a smile spread on her face. No use talking to someone with a frown. Before she could, though, another man walked in.

He had a different air than the rest. Dignified, warm though he was. So this was the long awaited Ryou. She waved at first, plenty eager to introduce herself, but lowered her hand as he spoke.

"Oh, um, actually... I was born in November." She chuckled sheepishly. She was little flustered by the complement, though she was of course very pleased by it. More than that, however, the actual March warrior was about as different from her as could be. "Uh, Dorian is March."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Kibi
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Well it was comforting that the gun was out of the picture. If they were all dead who would save this world. Was Kei even sure he could trust these mad people. He looked over to Angela when she spoke. Honestly she seemed like the only sane one here. She pegged him as that one cheerleader type he saw around his campus. Then again he didn't judge a book by it's cover, she could've been a medical major for all he knew. "I agree, death is bad." he hummed, what good would a bunch of dead kids? He for one wanted to get home alive.

What was he in for? He wanted to joke and say a life sentence but he chose to be serious for now. "I'm told I'm the April Month Warrior, if that's what you mean?" he answered honestly. "I'm Keiran Wakefield you can call me Kei if you want. it's nice to meet you Angela!" He grinned. The grin left his face when another walked in. Oh, that was Ryou. He met him when he first got here. He had explained everything he needed to know. He guessed the man did anyways.

He was rather joyful and happy, exclaiming something about his March. He must've meant the March Warrior. He just had to snicker very quietly at the fact that he had gotten it wrong. So Angela was the November Warrior, or did it not work that way? He just sighed and layed back on his bed. Hay didn't offer that much of softness and he missed his bed back home. He missed home.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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Alina remained silent, during Haru’ brief disappearing intermission, to bear witness the month warriors ongoing idle chattering, various arguments and vicious commentary, and the subsequent attempt at making up one such argument. It was all very… Disappointing, yes. Annoying, almost certainly. Though her detached manner did not fade at face value, she couldn’t help the stab of uncertainty deep down that these children – as simple-minded, hormonal, youthful animals was much more of a mouthful – would ever amount to much as warriors (much less their destiny at hand). Time would most certainly tell nevertheless.

You’re right. It is a good quality. She’s rather delightful,” Came a reply that brought so much relief to the tension held in her shoulders, Alina suddenly relaxed to look downright pleasant, welcoming even – as not only Haru returned to help wrangle his month warrior crew, but the man that had been mentioned far too many times as the Leader of this Academy had finally arrived – Ryou, greeting first Kibi and herself, before introducing himself verbally to the whole of the party (if they already had not already guessed who he was when he had appeared and walked over to love on his daughter, and coo towards herself), before searching for his precious March warrior. Throughout the continued chittering’s, Alina aloof disinterest returned, though she remained attentive in her presence at Ryou’s side. “Ryou, Do you have any initiations for them?DING DING-DING DING… An enthusiastic dinner chime abruptly rang out right after Haru’s gruff question, interrupting whatever Ryou would have immediately responded with; and the shuffles of movement from a fair amount of students began, most of the traffic seemed to be going around o/s the building towards the third building the tour hadn’t touched in their brief halt for bed-making exercise; but a fair amount of students opened the groaning heavy doors of the barn, slipping between rows to their own sleeping spaces to drop of gear and personal weaponry, before heading out the opposite door.

Alina took a sudden side-step away from Ryou and Kibi in the general hub-bub, gracefully bounding up to balance precariously on the foot rails of another nearby empty bed. Her eyes sharp, hunting for something (or someone), because, for all her impressive high-and-mighty attitude, it was rather apparent she was not a particularly tall individual. Her scowl lightened as she focused on whom she’d been looking for, and called a brief, accent-garbling, name, “Bellator,” as she jumped from the frame and strode purposefully through the clearing path. She finally stopped in front of a younger man just making his way into the building, who had halted abruptly the moment his name had been called out and waited patiently for whomever had been attempting to get his attention. His dark hair and eyes, and comely features for a male, were potentially recognizable at that distance to a couple of the month warriors who had an adventure of sorts the night previously (if the name called out hadn’t done so already); and more so after he finished whatever conversation of short duration the two had, before Alina had turned on her heel – steps light and purposeful – and the man followed behind – with his own steps far more cautious, and aided by a wooden walking stave tapping along the way.

Follow them.” Alina murmured softly behind her, without waiting for any further acknowledgement; before looking to Ryou and conveying more in a simple glance than words ever could. It would be best after-all to get all of the ‘fresh-meats’ orientation out of the way, and including the warriors, there was only one other new student that arrived that morning. And she needed to get the supplies for all of them in turn. The conversation ended with a simple blink, as she turned away, graceful and jewelry jingling, to disappear out the second main door in the direction of the mess hall alone.

Leaving behind 'Bellator' that had offered her an affirmative nod in Alina's direction at her ordered commentary, as he rolled to a slow stop on the outskirts of the group in an "at ease" position with his feet spread comfortable apart for balance, and the free hand swinging at his side idly moved back to rest against the small of his back with the palm exposed. Remaining quiet, patiently waiting to follow along; and up close, he-Septimus did looked a little different from the night before for those that had met him -- Without the shadows and candlelight warmth to aid, he looked far more youthful, even with a openly polite if passive face (for the time being) void of the crooked grins and laughter under each breath; and yet older (or well-worn frankly) in turn, by the glossy, red, irritated pale skin splattered across his cheekbones, intentionally downcast eyes, and beginning to exhibit an exhausted set of his shoulders. The clothes seemed to be the same, or similar make of cloth and thread and leather, but well worn from a long day (and evening before) and unworn coat hanging over the shoulder. However, the roughed scraped knuckles and a blossoming bruise creeping up to be seen just above his shirt collar, were certainly newer additions to the look the former thespian had the evening previously.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor
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After Heather turned down the weed, Ron simply shrugged and walked outside the barn to smoke alone. He understood at that point that most, if not all of the month warriors hated him. He could not blame them even if he tried as he would probably not like himself either if in their shoes. After Ryou came and inspected Dorian, he decided to split rather than stay. He found no point in staying around the others when all of the attention was on someone else. The library would be a better place to go. After a few minutes of walking he heard a bell that sounded like the dinner alarm. However, after days of doing nothing but eating and sleeping, his appetite had all but left him. The only books he had read were the few that Haru had at the farm, which had only a bit of information on the world. What he was going to need was much more extensive than that.

Eventually Ron came to the library, or at least what looked like a library. It was not like he was expecting a Congressional layout, but there was a surprise in him to see a few scrolls on the shelves. He began to search through any materials that referenced the Month Warriors and the magic of the world. The goal that he had set for the night would be to find any information on the last January warrior and reference to their power. What Ron wanted to do with the information was to find a way to accelerate any training that he would need to take and he would spend days researching before his guardian came to the academy. Ron then put out his joint and started reading what he had picked out.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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

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

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

Dorian glanced at Jules sharply. Betrayal…!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re here. I… Are you…?”

Ryou seemed to take pity on him.

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

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

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

Interlude


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Interlude


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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H E A T H E RXD E V E R E U X
_____T H EXA R T I S T_____

Dialogue Color ✦ #8A4E62
Thought Color ✧ #3A0012


Heather's gaze lingered on Ron's form until he was out of sight and literally out of the barn, and only then did she feel the tension truly leave her body. She didn't know when she was going to officially not distrust him, but for now, it was the main feeling she had towards the man and she didn't see herself letting it go for awhile. Luckily, she didn't have to focus on that for too long. The elusive Ryou Haru had kept mentioning finally appeared and Heather didn't even hide her surprise that the person they had been waiting to see was the father of the little girl who had literally sprung up out of nowhere earlier. She didn't vocalize that surprise; just her eyebrows raising almost as high as her hair line.

She watched as Ryou eyed them all speculatively, even with the liveliness he had presented, in search of his month warrior. The scrutiny felt only slightly invasive and Heather shifted on her feet, folding her arms over her chest. It made her smirk, then, to see Ryou confuse month warriors, believing for a moment that Angela was his as opposed to Dorian. Heather bit her lower lip to hold back a giggle at Jules very pointedly gesturing to Dorian when Ryou looked for him, but all mirth disappeared from her face when Septimus appeared.

Just like Jules, Heather was shocked but her "What the - " was more under her breath than loud enough for any of the others to hear. Haru, though, decided to mention an initiation that Heather could have done without having mentioned, and so instead of actually really delving into her curiosity over Septimus' presence, she tossed Haru an unappreciative glare that more than likely went unnoticed in light of Ryou acknowledging that there was an initiation ritual of some kind. Great, she thought dryly, but followed the group nonetheless.

If it wasn't for the fact that Heather's dress was made of sturdy material, a thick enough fabric where thin branches and the like couldn't really penetrate it, she'd probably be glaring at Ryou's back. Well, she actually still was since she was pretty sure she had tripped twice and the branches had poked at her through the dress as they - along with two extras and Ron - followed him through the cold expanse of woods. She rubbed at her arms uselessly, trying to make the friction provide more warmth despite knowing that it clearly wasn't going to happen for her. Finally, they reached a cliff overlooking deep water. An eyebrow instinctively twitched upwards at the sight and Ryou twirling to face them, and Heather...well, she was too frustrated with the overall lack of food, real sleep, and just foolishness that came with being inserted in what anyone else would consider a fantastical dream. It was a reality, she knew, considering the fact that she had yet to have awaken in the real world for it to have ever just been a dream, but it didn't stop it from feeling very much like some weird fantasy realm someone conjured up on some internet forum.

Because of that, when the unenthusiastic "Sure, let's do this!" literally reached her ears out of nowhere, Heather was viscerally surprised to realize that they had come from her own mouth. She dryly swallowed her own bubbling reservations and took a few steps forward, something itching underneath her skin in anxious ripples of nerves and something else clawing its way up her throat. Heather knew enough about herself to know that she could be brave; she also was aware of that many times her bravery had been called impulsive. At the end of the day, they had been led to a cliff and instructed to jump, and honestly, it was a refreshing thing - literally, considering they would be jumping into water - in comparison to having been in a wagon for five days. And it didn't feel too wrong, not when - as she pointed out to the others, "It can't be as bad as a whole ass monster in the middle of New York." She gazed at Ryou when she reached where he was at the lip, eyebrow still raised as she questioned, "Just jump, right? No crazy monsters in the water that we should know about, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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XXPerspectives

XXImage
XXTallyho AbelX

XXImage
XXHaru SinwoodX

XXImage
XXKibiX
Here they were, in this rustic academy where they were to learn how to fight and survive on their own. Truthfully, Tallyho wasn’t too confident in her ability to acclimate to a place like this. She suspected that there were far too many rules and procedures, things that she wouldn’t typically find the energy to invest in. But for the moment that insecurity didn’t matter. When she heard what sounded like a dinner bell she rightfully assumed that it was time to eat. She was especially excited because, well, eating was truly the only thing she could be passionate about these days.

And so she did find herself feeling put off when, instead of eating, they were led on some twisting walk of nature through a shedding forest. They came to the mount of aclearing: A cliff full of berry bushels and grass overlooking a still body of water. And off the shore of the pond was —oh Goddess. Did Ryou just ask them to jump?

“No,” the blonde replied curtly. The reaction came instantly with no time to process. At first she wasn’t sure if she had said it or if Jules had because they declined the offer in the same second. She waited for a moment, listening to the full extent of Jules’ retort before adding in her own.

“I can’t swim. I go there, I drown.” She wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to admit such a thing. Swimming was something that not many girls in the caravan had time to do since they were too busy doing chores for the commune.
“And what happens even? We get there and then? Walk back to camp? For what?”


Haru watched the group with crossed arms as they unfolded into a spectrum of apprehension and eagerness over jumping off of the cliff. He then glanced at Ryou knowingly. This was going to be a long ride for everyone, but especially the guardians. Ron already broke open the seal of the straggling trend, something that Haru anticipated would happen quite often with this group. He could only imagine what would come out of an activity like this. But at least not all of them were as hesitant to make this work. Heather seemed to be making their jobs a little easier.

The gruff Halesian stayed silent, looking to Ryou to see how he would respond to the group’s growing discomfort.

Kibi, having been preoccupied with her father’s entrance, didn’t read very well the concern present in this moment. And instead of remaining silent, she proceeded to taunt the group playfully, as if jumping off of a cliff was just a small bit of a game to be played. She curled her hands toward her wrists and tucked them into her armpits, floundering her elbows frantically as she jumped up and down.

“You’re not gonna jump because all of you are all chiiickeens!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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“You!”

When someone randomly shouts out in exclamation towards another, it is often more than reasonable to react to in kind; or one might respond instead, rather than react, by – keeping distance, listening without commentating, and waiting until calm rules over the interaction. Septimus favored the latter method, remaining cautiously meek until Jules’ continued stammering eventually caused the solemn expression to shift into a familiarly crooked smile of remembrance. Septimus’ lips parted as if to respond in kind, however, Ryou was quicker to interject and take pity on the other; taking his own bleary attention away, though the kind smile remained. “Yes sir.” He briefly mused, voice rough with a thick Constantine accent – more proper than many of the slippery tones of the Solacians they’d heard so far, and more posh than most of the varied accents of the group standing before him.

Ryou continued into the lull of conversation, asking them to follow him towards an initiation event. “After you, Acquaintance.” He twittered cheerfully warm as the group in mass began filing out of the barn and followed after the March Guardian on their venture, motioning for Jules to hurry along after his momentarily pause. Septimus brought up the rear of the party, occasionally with an uneasy but quietly inconspicuous hisses rattled through clenched teeth (rather resembling a whistling tea kettle) in annoyance, when the trail’s bumps and flora activity bothered his traction and feet finding themselves reliably. He collected himself each time, however, wordlessly and without any further expression as his charming features fell back into a patient yet polite mask, and continued onward.

Arriving at their destination, Septimus wasn’t obviously wowed by the no doubt impressive scenery, but appreciated the moments respite to catch his breath and listen to what was to be their combined group’s initiation. The description of a ‘leap of faith’ of a cliff into a body of water, however, was cause for some alarm for many and for others were excited for the chance… Septimus blinked. What? He want them to, ahh… What he personally felt was not easily found upon his stoic facial features, nor in the depths of his eyes; but he was still clearly hesitant, as he cautiously stood on the outskirts of the group, though he didn’t say much of anything. He listened to the varying reactions of the others; many were heighted by fear, two – one of the pair, by the sound and fullness of her voice, caused another flick of remembrance, the ‘manslander’ that had been accompanied by Jules’ ‘acquaintance’ – controlled it enough (or didn’t have any in the first place perhaps?) to jump under their own power, and others were attempting to convince the more fearful ones that they would help them along.

Septimus sighed softly, muttering something unintelligible under breath (a prayer perhaps?), slipping on his coat before brushing past the others to stand at the cliff’s edge for a momentary pause as his eyes fruitlessly scanned the watery depths below. He bent down slightly to drop the walking stave upon the ground at his feet, before taking a strained leap (before he could convince himself logically against such an action otherwise) as far from the Stoney face as possible – limps tucked neatly and fell into a stable nosedive that left a reasonable sized splash, alone, on his own, and by his own choice.

Then came the pain of the impact, and while water might have been better than bone-breaking ground or rock at such an impressive 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 after a brief moment of struggle, finding that if he kicked his legs just right 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? How about forward? That sounded good.

...

شيق” Came a melodious throaty purr, as Alina returned to the party noting something (or someone) interesting in her native tongue. Hauling a heavy bag over her shoulders, even though wrapped tightly and stuffed with edibles – the smell alone coming from the bundle could attract the hungry, not unlike capturing flies off raw meat. Stopping along the edge beside Ryou, eyes sharp and taking note of the three jumpers so far down below (two seemed the be treading water near the cliff face, awaiting for the others; and the last, was already struggling towards the shoreline in a meandering but valiant effort). “Even the invalid had heart to jump before most of them.” She commented thoughtfully, as if it were only the weather she’d described was happening and not the blinded young man making an attempt all on his own; nor was it by any means favorable praise.

Before with a shake of her long, braided hair – a visible form of her own nerves or exhilaration perhaps – Alina leapt from the cliff, with dinner in tow, and entered the water with a controlled dive of experience. She reappeared above the water momentarily for a breath of fresh air among Heather and Ron, who she spared no attention too save for quick appraising glances, before diving under again to swim strongly towards the shoreline. She soon easily out-swam the floundering Septimus, who in turn corrected his own swimming direction to follow the physical evidence of another swimmer headed for the distant shoreline, even with the load upon her back and water-laden tunic dress and jewelry.

...

Camp here, food has been provided in this pack for all – survive for the night, prove your worthy of training, and we’ll return for you in the ‘morrow.” Alina spouted off shortly, and whether or not there was anyone else (save the gagging Constantine boy) that had made it to land yet to hear the orders themselves. She quickly disappeared into the underbrush and trees, quiet and efficient in her travel that only the most foolhardy would follow (or think they could) her nonexistent tracks.

Septimus barely heard her exasperated orders, because he was out of breath, not terribly so, but enough that he hacked and coughed for minutes after being out of the swimming-level water and could stand hesitantly on shaking limbs to walk the reminder of the distant to the silty shoreline. However, he still gave Alina a nod of acceptance before she went and disappeared again, as the coughs left him and he focused on breathing slowly for the moment as he sat down in the fine, grainy sand. Though the smell of the food in the pack beside him was wonderful no doubt (if slightly tainted by the unsavory lake water scent), he didn’t have much of the appetite as of yet feeling rather soggy inside and out. Alas, for the meantime Septimus decided it’d be best to wait for more of the others to complete their own journey, and arrive. Raising a hand to wearily wipe away the streaming rivets of water off his face, and then moving on to ruffle though his hopelessly tangled, and very wet, hair in attempt to make his hair fall down somewhat normally (and down, more or less) and squished out some of the water. And then rubbed down the slick tough leather of his coat (only made gritty in places by the sand and slit clinging to it) on his arms, in an idle attempt of resisting the urge not to itch the softened scabs on his knuckles threatening to drive him mad and bring frictional warmth (and dryness) while he waited.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Jules said, lips pulled into a thin, displeased line.

It wasn’t shocking that Ron had taken the first opportunity to jump- whether that was due to a confident nature or poor impulse control, Jules couldn’t say. But then Heather joined him in the water, followed by Septimus’ clumsy dog paddle and Alina’s reappearance turned Olympic worthy strokes towards the island. Now even Tallyho seemed to be considering the “leap of faith”, Angela and Heather promising to help her.

Could they even do that? Keep someone who couldn’t swim from drowning when they jumped off a cliff? Not that it really mattered to him. Not because he knew how to swim but because he definitely wasn’t going in that water, no matter what the little gremlin dancing in the background had to say.

Only Dorian remained unmoved, it seemed, hard eyes leveled on Ryou. Or maybe patient eyes. It was hard to tell.

The teacher himself had crossed his arms, lips pursed in displeasure as one after another the students tumbled off the cliff. When Septimus and then Alina hit the water, however, he let out a loud, put-upon sigh and moved closer to the cliff’s edge, leaning over to address the waterlogged warriors.

“I see patience and prudence will have to be my first lesson,” Ryou called out, a look of disappointment deepening the creases in the corners of his eyes. In any other situation, Jules would have been impressed by his ability to project. Ryou’s voice echoed throughout the cove, reaching those below as easily as the stragglers on the cliff’s edge.

“And perhaps as a reminder for you, Alina! You are never too old to learn something.”

With an accompanying laugh, his smile returned, although less bold than before.

“As I was saying, our initiation involves leaping into my little oasis and ending up on that island in whatever way best suits you. I would recommend leaving your possessions here with me, but perhaps that is a belated warning.” He quirked an eyebrow at the waterlogged warriors, who appeared to have jumped in fully clothed and without emptying their pockets.

“No use in soaking your possessions, yes? Or being dragged down by heavier things.” Ryou said, glancing meaningfully at Dorian’s sword and Jules’ heavy purple bag. “They will be brought to you before the sun has set. I swear this on my honor as a teacher.”

“But perhaps more importantly to note is that you will be staying on our little island tonight. Alina has brought your supplies, as you can see. It will be a camping adventure!”

“And a word of warning, if you will.” The chill emanating from Ryou’s tone now made the late afternoon air seem even colder. “A Cyclopean has been spotted in the surrounding woods. I am a Guardian, but I will not train people so incompetent that they cannot, as a group, defeat a single Cyclopean. If you survive the night, I will train you. If not…” He quirked his head to one side, considering. “I suppose it doesn’t matter.”

While Jules was treating Ryou with a look of abject horror, Dorian was already folding his outer clothes with a military precision. He was left in his small clothes; light britches and a thin sleeveless shirt that exposed the sprawling scars decorating his arms and shoulders. His grandmother might have chided him on his lack of layers, especially in front of women, but years of shared living quarters with other Halesian soldiers* won out over Hales’ prudish cultural norm. Besides, the air here was so warm in comparison to home, and he had no desire to sit around in wet clothes for the rest of the evening.

*Male and female, as it so happened. While it was rare to see a female soldier in the front lines of Hales’ wilderness, they were a relatively common sight in the larger cities, marching side by side with their male counterparts.

The mission ahead of him was not unreasonable, Dorian thought as he slid his small bundle of supplies and his sword neatly on top of his clothes. Follow orders, put yourself in danger, survive. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Dorian made his way to the cliff’s edge next to Ryou.

“Now?”

A pleased smile crossed Ryou’s face. At least one of them was already in the habit of listening to orders. He couldn’t imagine what Haru had gone through by himself, dealing with this group.

“Yes. You may jump.”

And so Dorian did. The water was refreshingly cool as it swallowed him, a chill he’d missed. Still, he didn’t linger. Dorian kicked towards the service, shaking off the initial sting of entry, his form slow but sure. One did not exactly go swimming for fun in Hales, but anyone required to be around the frigid lakes and rivers had to learn how to swim by necessity, hopefully moving fast enough before the ice began to encroach on those bitter winter days.

“I don’t have a choice, do I?” Jules said as he watched the March Warrior make his steady way towards the island, following in Alina and Septimus’s wake.

“Well, you do,” Ryou offered with a shrug, smiling pleasantly. “I said you may choose your method. But, no. You must jump or you cannot be trained. Easy.”

“That’s literally not-“ Jules cut himself off with an exasperated sound.

What was he supposed to do? Beg those in the water to help him too? Hope that some sort of survival instinct kicked in when he dropped so that he wouldn’t drown? Not that they could let him drown. They needed him right? He glanced at Ryou and Haru. Yeah. They did need him.

An almost serene, thoughtful look replaced his scowl. It was a dangerous look. The look of a person who’d just had an idea.

“That’s fine.” The June Warrior placed his bag reluctantly on the ground. He’d barely parted with it for more than an hour or two for the entirety of his stay on Aires, but he couldn’t afford to get it wet. He’d have to deal with the wet clothes, though. Unlike Wildman Dorian, he wasn’t about to start stripping in front of people he barely knew. “Can I choose how I get down there now?”

Ryou treated him with a curious look before glancing back at Haru. Was this one prone to mood swings?

“Of course.”

“Great." Jules looked almost cheerful. "Then I want help getting to the island. From you.” He levelled a finger at Ryou.

It was a pretty plan, in Jules's mind. If he had to risk his life jumping off a cliff and then further put himself in danger by camping in monster infested woods, why not make Ryou suffer along with him? Except that, wait… Ryou looked delighted by the offer, all approving. Jesus, he hadn't expected optimism and a desire to help. Nope. Jules was not dealing with that right now. Time for Plan B.

“Ugh, no, never mind,” Jules scoffed before turning to the other Guardian. “Haru's going to help me.”

The crestfallen pout on Ryou’s face was absolutely worth whatever retribution Haru sent his way. It was the ginger’s fault for bringing them here, anyways. Sweet, petty revenge.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor
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After hearing Ryou's speech, Ron began to swim his way to the island at a moderate pace as to not be too tired on his arrival. Upon reaching land he surveyed his surroundings. There was a pack next to Septimus and a grouping of Aspens off to the distance. So Ron searched through the pack to see what was in there. Pans, food, and tools; the works. He took a hatchet along with some flint & steel and made his way over to the Aspens. He began to chop notches into the trees and when he was finishes, cut down young trees in order to match them according to the notches. There were then two makeshift railings that were created from the grouping. Next came digging a large shallow pit in between the rails with his hand. Though Ron learned how to do this from time to time in the Eagle Scouts, he still detested it as his fingernails would backed up with dirt for the next week. The next step was placing rocks around the pit as well as leaves and twigs inside. He then used the flint and steel until he got a small flame, to which it was fed until it became large.

"If you you want to dry your clothes, you can put them on these racks by the fire. Just be sure to strain them before you put them on or they might break. Ron called out to Septimus, Heather, and any others who had jumped. He began to strip down to his underwear, straining the water out from them away from the fire, and hung them on the rack closest to him. If they were going to spend the night, the least they could do is spend it wearing dry clothes. As Ron waited for the others to come and get dry, he huddled as close as he could to the fire without getting burnt, making sure to feed it as time went on.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Heather Devereaux Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Calliope Alexander Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Jules Fontaine Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Keiran Wakefield Character Portrait: Alina Tavaria Character Portrait: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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XXPerspectives

XXImage
XXTallyho AbelX

XXImage
XXHaru SinwoodX
Tallyho Abel

Tallyho watched the others with a sideways glance as, one by one they toppled off of the cliff with a foolish eagerness. When Angela offered help to Tallyho, smiling and chirping that this dive wouldn’t be “so bad,” she appraised the blonde with wide eyes, flickering with disbelief.

“You? Help me?” She asked. Her tone was interrogating, but less in the spirit of ‘I can’t believe you’re helping me,’ and more in the spirit of ‘I can’t believe you think you could help me.’ Perhaps this was Tallyho’s biases getting the best of her, but Angela seemed like such a little flower that Tallyho found it hard to imagine her lugging another heaving human across a body of water. Not that Tallyho was much stronger, she couldn’t imagine herself doing the same thing. But she didn’t find the idea of Angela doing this any less ridiculous.

When Heather of all people suggested they jump, Tallyho was reeling. Were they all under some drunken hypnotism that Tallyho was being left out of? She hadn’t been able to process her shock before Heather went tumbling off of the cliff, straight down like a rock being thrown in a pond. Tallyho shook her head and took a step back, looking at Angela.

“No, I don’t think so.” She resolved. Her tone was cold and it honestly could have been very easy for her rejection to be taken as a personal attack. But Tallyho figured that it was for the best. If they went down together, she thought, they’d both surely drown.
A few others went on and Tallyho stayed put. It happened very quickly and before she knew it she was alone with Jules, Angela and their now very questionable guardians. Jules managed to hash out some sort of deal with Ryou, which would give them the option of jumping on their own terms, dragging Haru along with them.


Haru Sinwood


Haru, being the block of the man he was, didn’t actually mind the idea. But he supposed the reason that Jules chose him was because they thought the burly man would be completely appalled by the prospect of getting wet. Unbeknownst to them, Haru was not appalled — that was just the natural state of his face. And without much of a confirmation, Haru took Jules by the arm and marched them to the cliffs’ edge. With a short heave he pushed Jules forward and over the edge, jumping after them not long after to see to it that they makes it ashore.

Tallyho still stood there, arms crossed. She halfway wanted to ask Ryou for his assistance over the edge, but resisted as she feared he might reenact Haru’s way of throwing Jules into the fray. With a shallow sigh she turned to Angela, defeated.

“Okay,” she said. “Make sure I don’t die.”

And with a hand wrung tightly around Angela’s arm she jumped too.

cron