Seth shrugged, the handshake seeming to go slightly better than the bow, but it still didn't feel right. He really needed to find a better way to greet people. This was getting ridiculous.
"Nice to meet ya Phebe. Also nice to hear you training in two arts, which I hear is quite difficult. I prefer to just master the flames myself. Though I imagine throwing them around here would be a bit of trouble." Seth said, rubbing his hands together.
"Well, I don't know the ultimate reason we are here, but I know why I'm here. I'm here to get out of the Academy. See what the world is up to, what people are doing, and learn some more swordfighting if there is more to learn. Otherwise, I got no idea what is going on with our fascinating guests....or hosts. whatever you want to call them."
Phebe didn't have the same motivation to master the flames. She had caused the death of her father using them. Maybe mastering the flames would have made her feel better because she would have been able to control it completely.
"Yeah, it's not the easiest always, but I have some painful memories involving flames." She said and turned back to the railing, to look at the view. "I think that's the main reason why I started studying two."
She smiled when he heard what he said about the world.
"I take it you've spent most of your life in the Academy then? I've seen a bit of the world. We used to travel a lot when I was a child."
"Ah, I see. Self hating pyro isn't really all that rare, I imagine. I mean, flames can be some of the most destructive stuff out there. It can also be some of the most painful stuff to use." Seth said, going back to looking over the railing himself. Looking downward, and the question Phebe asked made him become introspective. While Seth couldn't be called a philosopher of any sort, he still had his odd moments.
"More like I spent more time fighting and living out of it than in it. Not much for travel, but...I know places and things. Academy ended up being a great break for a long time, but I think I've been taking a break for far too long. Know what I mean?"
......Did that even make sense? I hope it does. I get the distinct feeling I'm not a favorite right now. Though, come to think of it, I get the feeling the only favorite I kind of have is little Fei, who is closest to family I got. Man, if I had taken a break any longer, I wonder what else I would think of?
Seth was now gazing downwards, his mind working through everything that is going on, not even seeming to even register that they were in the air any more....nor the temperature slowly dropping as the airships continued on their path.
"Gabriel Westmar," Gabe introduced himself, accepting the handshake. "Hydromancer by profession... though I'm not very good at it. I'm only at the rank of Mage. Though I doubt I'm here for my magical prowess," he noted, trying to lighten the mood a little. A joke or quip was usually a good way to start a conversation. Alexander was probably at least Adept level, easily outmatching Gabe's limited power over water.
"So... do you know any of the others in our little band?" he asked, hoping to befriend the older man.
"I don't think I'd call myself selfhating, too much pride runs through my blood." She chuckled. "You're right that it's destructive though."
She sighed. A lot of things were destructive and she couldn't exactly do much to stop it. She didn't feel like she could do much, so she didn't do anything. The world could end if it wanted too.
Phebe felt a bit distracted, but listened to what Seth said anyway.
"Kind of. I've always wondered what my life would have been like if I had continued living with my tribe. Would I have been a great huntress or ended up dead in some ditch, killed by some beast... The academy was quite a big change to adapt too."
"I know Edward, and have spoken with Fei, Drew, and Seth but I only just met them. The others including yourself no." Alexander replied with a laugh at the joke.
"You'll get better I'm sure of it. I myself am probably not here for my combat prowess, I can defend myself sure but I tended to focus more on the non-lethal aspects of light magic. So hopefully they don't expect us to be great warriors or else they will be sorely disappointed in me." He joked back.
"Indeed. I can't wait to see what awaits us at the end of this lovely airship ride." Nydia said as she and Cale stepped up onto the deck. Any words she might have spoken after that would likely have been drowned out by the noise of the propellers and the roaring of the wind. As she carefully made her way to the railing, she saw the world below them, felt the wind in her face, and was instantly thankful that she had come out here.
She noticed Seth and another woman whom she hadn't seen before talking nearby. Rather than interrupt their conversation, Nydia gave them a friendly smile and a wave before leaning on the railing and getting lost in the wonderful view before her.
Gabriel let out a short laugh at Alexander's joke. There would probably be fighting ahead of the mages, but it was probably for the best to be prepared for any eventuality. That was probably what the Prime Minister had in mind, now that the younger mage thought about it: a diverse team capable of taking on most things if not anything thrown at them. Hopefully they would live up to his expectations.
"Yeah, me too," he answered, conjuring a small sphere of water that floated an inch or so above his open palm. It took a fair bit of concentration on Gabe's part to keep the water contained: without it the liquid would succumb to the effects of gravity and splash all over his hand. "I don't know if combat is my strong suit either," he added, glancing up at Alexander for a second before going back to the water in his hand.
In that instant Gabriel's concentration slipped, and the sphere fell onto his hand. A little disappointed in his abilities, Gabe didn't bother to shake the water off.
"Ah I remember when healing or firing a laser took all of my concentration. Don't worry, it gets easier with time and practice if my experience taught me anything. You should get plenty of that wherever it is we are going." Alexander replied.
"Heh...You and me both dead in a ditch, it seems. Nice to hear I'm not too alone in that club. Not too many others can cling to that." Seth said, turning backwards to look around the deck. He noted Nydia and Cale talking, but otherwise there were not many others there.
"You know what? I think I need to check on something. Excuse me." Seth said, and proceeded back downstairs to the rooms. He already had a plan, which did not include bringing anyone else along for the ride.
Best if I check now, before things get out of hand. Make sure everything is in working order....
Stepping downstairs, he lightly knocked on the door he had seen Raven enter. He dared not to do more than that, figuring that the Nightshade was either sitting there annoyed, or tired, or attempting something.
Aaron was now moving about the ship, making sure everyone was getting prepared. The autobows were all armed and ready to go, the emergency lines were set just in case they began taking too much damage, and everyone understood their role if things got messy. Soon, he would have to inform the mages of the coming trouble as well. But he would rather keep them in the dark for a while. He couldn't trust anything to be set yet for them, being in the air for only a few minutes. He wanted to be sure they had all experienced what the air had to offer, and that they had a chance to get sick and stay out of the way otherwise.
"LOAD THAT BOW AND MAKE SURE IT IS SECURE! YOU BEEN WORKING FOR YEARS FOR MOMENTS LIKE THIS, SO ACT LIKE IT!" Aaron shouted to some nearby soldiers still filling the bow with the arrows that would be needed to fend off the coming problems.
Raven was staring out the window, thinking about her plans to get some machines to stomp on some people when she heard a knocking at the door. Shit. Probably some inspection bullshit. Awesome..
She got up, drawing the hood back over her face as she got up from her seat by the window and moved to the door. Opening it, she was a bit surprised to find not one of those infernal metal men, but Seth. "Uh, hi?" she greeted him. "What do you want from me?"
Seth gave a slight bow, hoping that was suitable for the occasion. He wasn't quite sure where to begin with all the things he had done, but he figured being proper was as good a place to start as any.
"I needed to speak with you Raven, if that is alright." Seth said simply, hoping that he wasn't impeding on anything particularly important.
"And if you don't mind, in the privacy of the room so I do not attract additional attention like I tend to." Seth added, hoping that he wasn't wasting both his time and hers.
As Aaron made sure preparations were complete, he finally needed to turn his attention to the mages. While he didn't quite know how he would call them all to attention, especially if some were sick, he decided to address those who he knew could not possibly be sick. The ones on the deck.
"You there. Mages. A word with you. I have subjects of great importance that need to be discussed. While I cannot claim to know you as....personally as the Prime Minister, I do need to know what you are capable of beyond stories. Where do your talents lie? Do you bend the wills of nature? Because we could really use that right now." Aaron asked the three mages on the decks.
The tone he used wasn't one that was used to talking with strangers, let alone mages. In fact, it was a most pressing tone that he used, seeming to hope for better answers than he was expecting.
Phebe heard someone call out to her and the other two mages on deck. She turned away from the railing to face him.
She quickly raised her right hand above her head, creating a small fireball and firing it straight up into the air. It was more for show than anything else.
"Well, I can create fire..." She lowered her hand again. "Would you call that bending the will of nature?"
Am I just a freak to him?
She thought that an earthshaper, airshifter or maybe hydromancer would be better at bending the will of nature.
She wasn't really sure what he meant with the Prime minister knowing her either.
"I do have training in another area as well... But I don't think it would be of use to you."
Raven was slightly worried. This was not the Seth she had seen before, the cocksure Pyro who was fighting all over the place. This Seth was more subdued. "OK," she said. "Come in." She ushered him into the room and shut the door behind him.
She showed him to the chair that was included in the room and took a seat on the bed. "So, what's this all about?"
Aaron waved, almost slightly dismissively as she brought out the fireball. He barely seemed concerned with it.
"That's great and all. Now, can you actually do something with it? I mean as in throwing a controlled fireballs that explode, or maybe able to redirect some other fire that someone tossed about? That is more what I am concerned with. And what is your other training? Able to make enchanted weapons or something?" Aaron seemed to rattle of questions.
It was becoming abundantly clear that Aaron was battle hardened and a prepared general. He needed information, and was willing to ask these mages to get it. Anything they provided would be useful.
Seth stepped in and quietly sat down, shifting slightly to make sure his robes and blade were not a problem. After doing so, he found himself looking at Raven for a small while. It was a particularly odd gaze. A combination of wonder, worry, thoughtfulness, curiosity, and possibly covered rage.
"Well, frankly....I need to apologize. Personally, in fact, for a few things." Seth began slowly, purposefully choosing his words.
"I apologize for getting you into a few messes with other people. Bringing you along to groups and into events that you do not enjoy. I apologize for placing my hand on you without your permission, and apologize again for perhaps being too personal or blunt when I should not have been. I am sorry that I heard your name and that I do not think I was able to properly establish terms which were good for the both of us."
Seth paused, patiently waiting to see how his first thoughts would be taken by Raven. His gaze, still filled with all the odd mixed emotions, seemed to be careful as well. Not shifting his gaze or wandering. He was making sure he was doing this right.
Raven sat there, listening to this Pyro she barely knew, or wanted to know a week ago, pouring out apologies for messing up her life. It is true. I probably got thrown into this because I teamed up with him in that tournament....He's apologizing for stuff I can't really blame him for though...I didn't know I was that good at intimidating people. Go me. Still...this is sad. I should stop this.
"I don't blame you for my current situation, Seth," she told him. "I was the one who approached you in the first place for that competition. If anything it's my own fault for leaving the shadows behind for a fleeting shot at advancement. I certainly don't blame you for any of the other stuff you mentioned, although you are probably one of the only people in the academy who knows my true name. I'm not thrilled about that, but again, it's not your fault."
"I can throw fireballs if you want me to use it as a weapon. I've killed before."
Not like I meant too in most cases, but he probably doesn't care.
She shook her head, as if it would help her think of something else.
"I'm a nightshade as well." She figured he didn't know what that word meant. "It means I can manipulate shadows to some degree."
She doubted he would be able to find a use of it, unless he could think up some grand plan. She laughed, but then again, she didn't even know what he wanted with them. She had assumed they were going to be fighting something.
"Do you have arrows?" Phebe asked, even though she knew he wanted a mage.
Seth nodded. He already knew all that she spoke of. It wasn't really in his control for any of these things. It was more of a line of fate doing something to him...or he just knew a lot more people than he realized. Still, he had to say something.
"Still....You didn't ask for this. And besides, are you alright?" Seth asked, finally deciding it was as good a time as any to check.
"You were pretty....tired before. And I know I'm not exactly the nicest of fellows to rely on for things...so I figure I might as well ask. Anything wrong, or something you want to speak about? Because if there is one thing I can do, it is keep things...quiet."
While Seth could not claim to be a Nightshade in any sense, he knew well enough to keep his mouth shut, and his less than friendly upbringing made sure that it stayed shut if he felt like it. Oddly enough, he felt this was such a time to do so. Especially since he was with a Nightshade who he probably knew more about than most others.
Aaron nodded, as it seemed he was actually hearing something that was worthwhile for himself. He seemed to note any action or movement any of the mages made, seeming to take notes in his mind.
"If you can do it accurately while we fly like this, then you will probably be staying on these decks. Santoruz! Get this girl a quiver, she is in need of some arrows." Aaron seemed to shout at a passing soldier.
"We have arrows aplenty, lady. I don't know what shadow manipulation is good for up here in the daytime, but if you can think of something useful, don't hesitate to use it. Clear?"
Drew had spent the better part of the past few minutes trying to calm Fei down. It seemed he was starting to make some progress. As they talked, they started heading upstairs "Why don't we go where everyone else is going? Plus, I'm sure the view is lovely outside."
As Nydia was enjoying the view from up high, she heard a voice calling out to what possibly could have been her. It wasn't often people referred to her as mage after all. She turned to see the man who had been at the meeting with the Prime Minister asking them about their abilities. He seemed rather serious, making Nydia wonder if something were wrong. "I'm a Lightdweller, known primarily for our skills in healing magic. However I can also use light to blind enemies and form lasers to pierce them if that's more helpful." She told him, wondering just what could prompt such a urgent series of questions.
"Is... there a problem?" Nydia asked with a slight frown. It was starting to look like this journey may not be as pleasant as she had first imagined.
"Hmm..." Gabriel mused for a few moments. "I dunno... I think I'd do better back at the Academy, in a controlled environment where things can't just go out of control on a whim. I feel I would do better in this situation with one or two more years' experience under my belt, you know? And in some situations there might not even be time or patience to work with. That's the thing of the real world, really... not knowing how results are going to turn out," he added as an afterthought. He was quickly warming to the conversation with Alexander.
"Still, I was told that the Prime Minister picked me to come along for reasons other than my magical abilities," Gabriel continued. "I'm of the mind that I'd do better in a less violent situation."
"Okay..." Fei let Drew lead her up to the deck. She saw the other mages there, and calmed down a bit more. The one guy that was with the Prime Minister earlier was talking to them. It looked important. She just gripped her brother's hand and stuck beside him, nervous with so many people walking around. This was so much more busier and... urgent. It smelled funny to her on deck, but the wind felt similar to any ship. She tried not to look down.
Aaron's gaze quickly swept over Nydia, seeming to again take in anything that she seemed to do. After that quick moment, he spoke again.
"How accurate would you be with those lights and lasers? Able to hit moving targets specifically while avoiding others would be most preferable." Aaron stated, his gaze sweeping to more of the mages as they arrived upon the deck.
"Ah, good. More of you to ask. Need to get you prepared for what is coming along shortly. To answer your question Miss.....There is likely to be something wrong. The skies are not strictly ours, and they were not ours to begin with. That being said, there are other beings who would prefer to see us out of them, and I would rather not give them that satisfaction. Now....You two! Anything worth noting about yourselves? What are the limits to your abilities to either defend or attack?" Aaron asked, going over usual military questions and demeanor.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister seemed to be running in full swing now, going over everything and everyone at once as they appeared and asked questions. The Prime Minister was either several steps ahead, or thought fast enough to look like he was as he answered questions and concerns as people brought them forward. While it was not as obvious to the mages as he did so, anything that was a concern, either from those running the engines or arming the now ready weapons, all walked away just as quickly as they had come. One thing was obvious to all aboard though, including the mages: Something big was going to happen in the sky, and it involved the now armed weapons.
"No, I won't hesitate."
It would have been nice to know who were going to fight. I can't really say no now. Well, I could, but I'm not that eager to die.
She should remember that it was kill or be killed. Phebe started walking back to the stairs, which she had come up onto the deck from.
"I'll just go get my bow."
She tried twisting her hair together in a braid, but gave up because of the wind. She would have to do it in her room or anywhere the wind wasn't blowing. She ran down the stairs once she got to them and made sure to hurry back to her room to get her most priced possession.
Raven leaned back on the bed, looking up at the ceiling for a moment as Seth finished what he was saying. Why did I have to breakdown at the meeting? Why.....why did I do that? Why couldn't I just keep that hidden like everything else? Maybe.....maybe I'm just running out of room.
"I..." she started. "I guess. I wasn't sure of myself at all after that meeting yesterday. You saw that. Everyone saw that. Everyone that bothered paying attention anyway. I mean when you are dedicated to a life of keeping everything hidden, inside and outside, and you go into a room with a complete stranger like that and he is just able to break through all those defences and pick me apart with such ease, it just...it just made me question myself and what I was really accomplishing at the academy, you know?"
Raven sat back up. The hood remained down, exposing the black hair and her light brown eyes to her guest. "I guess that's why I bothered coming along on this trip. If I wasn't going to be able to do what I tried to do at the academy, what harm was there in trying another place? Although whether or not it was the right decision, I guess that will remain to be seen. But for the first time in a long time, I'm not really sure of what I'm doing, or even if it is the right path, and if it turns out I was wrong, then that's ten solid years of my life I've kind of wasted. I don't know, there's...there's just been a lot of stuff going on in my head that I thought I had taken care of before I even got to the academy, but has come roaring back since those machine men came. It's...I don't know. It's been a bit hard to take I guess."
Seth nodded quietly as Raven spoke. She had listened to him, and taken what he had said to heart, so the least he could do was listen just as closely for all she had to say.
"I.....get the feeling that the complete stranger in this case is a very special someone. One of those people who you know you couldn't pin them down if you tried to." Seth started slowly. He realized he really knew nothing of the Prime Minister himself. And yet it didn't bother him that a stranger seemed to know probably much about him.
"And....you don't need to cover all that stuff up. I don't know where I am going either, and what I am even doing here, or what people should even know. So...what I'm getting at is if you need somebody to have your back, or you need anything at all...I'm around. This place is all kinds of crazy, and these machine men are all kinds of...different." Seth paused, not seeming to know quite what to say. He took a deep breath, and tried again.
"If things ever get to be too much for you to think about, and too much stuff is going through your head, I'm here. You just let me know, and I got your back. Even against those machine men."
"The Academy is good, but it can only take you so far. Honestly I've learned more about being a lightdweller in my time back with my parents than I did in the Academy. Of course I learned a lot there, but working with the sick and injured in the city really teaches you a lot. Volunteers and safe environments only carry you so far, sooner or later you have to test your magic in the unstable world. I mean, how can we expect to really help anybody if all we ever do is theory and practice?" Alexander asked, he had always wanted to make his magic practical. That way, if he couldn't be a master, he could at least maybe head back home and help out where he lived.
Considering how useful she would be in combat was somewhat problematic for Nydia. She had trained extensively every morning for years now, but her live combat experience was minimal. And from the sounds of it, she would be expected to be firing into an area with both enemies and allies. She hadn't done like that before. She thought very carefully about since her answer seemed like it may be important. "I... Confess this will be my first battle. But I've been training for some time now. I believe that my accuracy will not be an issue." Nydia answered nervously, adjusting her glasses slightly.
Now's not the time to be questioning my abilities though... I promised to look after everyone. I MUST do this. Nydia took a deep breath before continuing, a much more confident tone in her voice this time. "Tell me what you need done. I will do everything in my power to make it so."
Raven appreciated the offer that Seth gave. She wasn't used to anyone having her back for anything. Not the kids back home. Not her fellow Nightshades. This was a first.
She looked at him and said, "Thanks." Not in her usual manner of speaking. The whisper, the harsh tones, they were gone for the moment. "I'll be sure to call you in if I need it. You just better be able to handle it without torching me."
Drew had been listening. "So we might be running into trouble..." he said to himself. "Fei and I can use water and air. And when we work together, we can use lightning." He was hoping the other students wouldn't react to that. He was proud of the ability, but didn't want to be answering things like 'why didn't you tell us?' or 'really?' or stuff like that. He wanted to know what it was Aaron needed them for. "So what exactly is it we might be dealing with? Less friendly people with ships?" he joked.
Gabriel thought over Alexander's point of view. It made sense: the older man was inclined to help the injured, and that only really came with practice and real-world experience. Gabriel didn't really see how his own magic, Hydromancy, could be as practical as the healing magic of Lightdwellers. A Hydromancer could only really do things like change the weather or clear up a flood: environmental problems rather than things that had a direct impact on people, such as injuries.
"Hmm. You may be right. But since our domains of magic are different, they have different applications, I figure," he answered, leaning up against the doorway as he did so. "Of course, since you do a fair bit of healing and suchlike, you kinda need to go out into the real world and practice in uncertain situations. Me... not so much. I feel that a controlled environment is better for training in my case."
Aaron shrugged as Nydia admitted that she had not been in a battle before, as he had expected as much. He was surprised to see not one, but two mages come on board with weapons. He imagined the Prime Minister knew something about this....or had the demon's luck in choosing people out. Regardless, this is the help they had.
"If your accuracy will not be an issue, then your light and whatever else you plan on using will be useful. Just make sure you don't hit any of the other airships, and you will be doing just fine." Aaron said to Nydia, only to hear something which actually perked his senses.
"Lightning, you say? As in....nevermind. That will be quite useful." Aaron said thoughtfully. "Now, we are going to be fighting flying creatures. Dragons, drakes, Gryphons, or whatever you want to call the flying bastards. I don't expect too many of them, but I do expect enough to cause problems, and if you mages can do something you are going to be doing it. And I don't plan on any other less friendly people nearby, but.....a nearby area is perfect for it, and I would rather not be caught unawares."
Well, that secret is running around now. Lets see and hope they don't start flipping out. Can't have them doing that, or I'd have to knock them out and toss them in their rooms.
Seth nodded, understanding that this is probably quite awkward for Raven, as it probably was for himself in a few ways. Yet here he was, and he had promised his blade and skills, and he was not one to break a promise.
"I know how to do a lot more than start fires, Raven. I can promise you that. I didn't survive this long with just my flames." Seth said, nodding slightly as he did so.
"I just want to make sure you realize that the world outside of the Academy is kind of....tricky in a lot of newer ways. Not that I doubt your skills, of course. Just...wanna be sure about things, ya know? Hope I am making some sense."
"One would think that, but I would say that every school of magic has a practical purpose in the world. The easiest for me is healing yes, but yours has uses in the world as well. Bringing rain to a village ravaged by drought so that crops flourish, filling a well that had gone dry and was vital to a community, diverting water to save a town or city, or simply saving people from thirst. Of course there is a place for study, but if magic doesn't help anyone then what is it worth?" Alexander replied. He honestly felt mages should do more good than most were on their island.
Phebe reached her room and opened the door. She had memorized how to get back, so it took her less time than getting up on deck. She twisted her hair into a braid and made sure that it would stay that way, when she went back up into the wind. It would be hard to aim or even concentrate with too much of it loose.
She grabbed the bow from the bed, hung it over her shoulder and hurried back up to the deck, through hallways and staircases. Eventually she got there. More mages seemed to have arrived. She stopped in front of the man who had asked for her help, with fighting whatever.
"I think I'm ready then."