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Ryou Zerrin

The March Guardian

0 · 495 views · located in Aires

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

Description

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FULL NAME
X> Zerrin ; 'Gold'' - Ryou ; 'Distant''
ALIASES
X> 'The Golden Prince' or 'The Little Sultan'
AGE
X> ?????
GENDER
X> Male
ORIENTATION
X> Pansexual
Home Country
X> IRA
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HAIR COLOR
X> Pitch black and usually a bit of a wild mess. His hair is almost permanently shoulder length and flecked with gray.
EYE COLOR
X> Honey brown, although it's been described as golden in a certain light.
HEIGHT
X> 6'2
Build and Body
X> Ryou is a slender and lean man. He moves with an unsurprising grace, all smooth steps and an almost predatory, dangerous roll to his shoulders. On anyone else his limbs mights seem a little gangly, but he knows his own body and he can wrap others into a warm bear hug with the same ease he can throw an enemy to the floor. His body is littered with scars, including a nasty one usually hidden by a sort of red choker he has constantly wrapped around his neck, a gift from his past life and how it ended.

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LIKES | LOVES
X> Kibi (his beloved daughter)
>His academy and his students
>Sunshine
>Dark beers and deep flavored liquors
>Romance (of the incredibly consensual variety)
>Citrus fruits
>Taking care of others
>Collecting extravagant and interesting things
Music from his native Ira

DISLIKES | HATES
X> Sweets
>Hot coffees and teas
>The cold
>Senseless violence
>His inability to choose who he falls for
>Things being taken from him

PERSONALITY
X> At a glance, the owner of one of the world's most renowned academies (whether the world realizes it or not) is something of a charmer. He's always available to listen with an easy smile, a warm laugh, and a touchy feely nature foreign to most of the lands on the central part of Aires' major continent. Flirtatious is also an easy way to describe him, although he never lets it go further than the other party wishes. He'll back off with an easy smile or accept a return flirtation with a dazzling grin. Beware, though: Ryou is not the kind of man to settle down with a single person. Perhaps he has too much love to give, or, as some have guessed, the true object of his affections cannot or will not return those affections. That or they've already passed on and he's yet to stop pining. In all fairness, however, he's upfront about the state of his own affairs to said affairs. As a man, he's loyal to his friends, caring to his loved ones, and perhaps just a little too goofy when let out into the great, wide world.

In the context of being a teacher, he's surprisingly competent. Ages and ages (and we do really mean ages) of teaching experience has allowed him to mesh with a number of learning styles, focusing on how to bring out the best in his students. He's dedicated, solid, and perhaps a little possessive. Every once in a whole, the words "my" and "mine" take on a darker tone in reference to his academy and his students, and it's on those days that its best to leave him alone. It's a side effect from his past life, a young man forced to take over his parents' throne far too early. A little boy who'd never been told no, who didn't think but knew that the palace, the kingdom, the world was his. It's something he's sought to overcome after it brought him his own demise and countless disasters since becoming a Guardian, but it still rears its ugly head every once in a little while.

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So begins...

Ryou Zerrin'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: 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: 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

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XXTallyho AbelX

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XXHaru SinwoodX

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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: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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Just as Ron had found a page talking about the previous January warrior, two librarians had sprang up from a floorboard. He found it odd that the library was not open for public use, as if non state related knowledge was something to guard from their students. He quickly took a photo of the page before joining them on the way back to the barn. As they walked he read that page on his phone. When it revealed his power was healing, his eyebrows shot up. It was a power that would be great to help the bulk of people in a middle aged society, sure, but he wondered if it could also be used quickly on himself. If that was the case then he could become a Wolverine like fighter, without the claws.

He returned to the group and they were led by Ryou to a cliff overlooking a lake. Though it was not a dangerously tall cliff, like 100 feet, it was still tall to say the least. After their future headmaster requested a leap of faith, Ron's memories shot back to his childhood. He and his friends would often take camping trips to the Black Hills when they were younger and swim in the lakes once they were there. The lakes were always filled with rocky cliff sides, so they and the local children would spend their hours cliff jumping. However, his friend John spent months in the hospital after he forgot to jump, instead choosing just to walk off.

As the group began to make worrisome comments and excuses for not going in, Ron took off his jacket and stuffed his phone inside. "You guys don't want to live forever do you?!" He exclaimed. Then he took a sprinting start before jumping off the cliff. As he fell through the air, his legs curled into his arms to form a cannonball and after a few seconds his skin made the nostalgic shock of the water impact that he was expecting, a feeling that really made one feel alive. Ron began to swim around before calling out to Tallyho.

"If you can't swim, then just wait for all of us to get in. No reason for us to just watch you drown!"

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: 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


Ron didn't even bother asking questions about what he was jumping in to, which was brave. That much Heather could give to him. She was going to do the same, anyway. At the last minute, she had had to ask if there was anything in the water to be aware of since that was normal human behavior. It was against her normal 'shoot first, ask questions later' mentality, but this entire situation - all that they had experienced - was starting to change her tactics. It also could have been the fact that real, honest-to-God sleep had yet to hit her and she was hungry, so she wasn't really all the way there. Heather didn't have it in her figure out which it might be.

"Yeah, do what they said," she told Tallyho when she took a few steps back from the lip, done with observing the deep blue expanse. "Jump with Angela and I'll wait for you at the bottom to make sure you're alright. You won't drown." It felt good to be able to tell someone something she was actually sure about; that she could provide. The realization was the thing that haunted Heather when, after those words had gotten out of her mouth, she sprinted towards the cliff and took that leap. Gravity yanked her downwards and the water rushed up to her, enveloping her from all sides as she sunk into its cold depths. Heather distantly remembered her father's disdain with people jumping into cold water without letting their bodies adjust to the temperature. For those with risk to heart disease, the blood vessels in the heart can constrict, leading to chest pains like angina or a heart attack. Desperately, the person tries to breathe and pull in more oxygen, muscles getting cold and instantly paralyzed by the hyperventilation. Heather let herself sink for just a moment, even as her lungs demanded immediate relief.

A few seconds later and she was clawing back to the surface, pushing herself with measured kicks until her head broke the surface. It wasn't that long for her to have been under water, but it was enough for her to solidify what she wanted. She had known it to some degree, but it was solidified when all she could see was the practically empty world beneath the water's surface. She wanted that security. This was still a world she didn't know and she wanted to know it, wanted to be able to know that she could survive in it. Thrive, even. And if it meant that they had to be here with Ryou and do what he said (though she knew she'd probably challenge him at some point if something seemed ridiculously illogical), then so be it. She wanted the security she assured Tallyho would have once the blonde jumped. And she would get it. "Not as bad as I thought it would be," she said aloud, and maybe it was to Ron but she didn't expect a response. The next time she opened her mouth, though her throat burned due to the cold, it was a yell to the others still on the cliff, "Come on and jump. You'll be fine."

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: 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.

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: Septimus Belletor Character Portrait: Kibi Character Portrait: Ryou Zerrin
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SEPTIMUS BELLETOR
After the hacking fits subsided and tense breaths eased, Septimus relaxed his stiffened posture and ceased rubbing his arms for frictional warmth - holding himself with a remarkably purposeful stillness, waiting patiently for the spastic arrival of the others. He wasn't waiting long before the splashes of the disturbed shoreline announced the arrival of one or two (and more on their way) and perhaps... No, it was definitely the Constantine roots in him that expected at the very least a terse greeting before anyone happened to step into his space - a warning as it was, would have been appreciated. Septimus' jaw locked as he remained silent hiding away his immediate annoyance, blearily observing Ron's continuing flurry of busy blusterous movements setting up the camp (thank the Goddess for that) with a cautious - due to a lifetime of necessity - unblinking eye. "If you want to dry your clothes-..." Septimus declined with a rueful shake of his head to Ron's commentary upon finishing clothing drying racks and feeding the growing fire. Instead he took the time to avert his wandering gaze to the partially ransacked pack the advanced student Alina had left behind for them: One part because stripping and hanging his coat to dry would ruin the integrity of it's water-sheering properties, and he was certainly much dryer / warmer where it had been fastened tightly before their leap of fate and swim to the patch of sand they currently resided upon; the next --- even invalid, with the other stripping down to near nothing by the sound of it (even with girls / woman about no less!), it was rude to stare. Septimus brought the pack closer with a hesitant stretch of his fingers, finding: The 'pots' Ron had noted within were little more than roughly hewn wood and old ceramic bowels. Dinner (as far as he was concerned by smell) was likely a grain-based (corn, oats, etc) soup with the faint possibility of a minimal amount of red meat (pork, beef, deer) chunks sloshing within the cooking stomach (likely from a small bear) satchel; accompanied by quaint pieces of another common Solacian grain-bread, similar to corn bread of Earth - though slightly damp and contaminated by lake water. He shifted closer momentarily to the crackling flames to set down the soup laden stomach just inside the ring of stones of 'cooling' ash and embers to rewarm properly before consumption, and to set the soggy bread in one of the ceramic bowels right beside the stones to aid warming and drying them off as well. By the time everyone had finished wading up from their eventful initiation exercise, dinner would be ready. "Soon." He hummed, with a breathe of otherwise unwarranted amusement flavoring his voice. Septimus was a softly spoken individual, but from his exhibited (if limited) speech so far with his careful articulation and his charming intonation were anything to note - it was obvious he was a friendly enough, charismatic individual.

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