Atticus sat back, finally taking a normal breath.
"Interesting is an interesting way to put it. To be frank, I'd rather not see another giant ice shark." she said with a cough, choking slightly on soot of the furnace. "What I'd like to know is what all that talk of dragons was about, and who exactly is following us."
Atticus had just managed to forget about their followers and Conney's stories about dragon men, as he spread himself out across the couch. He just sat there, letting the heat spread through him. Finally in a state of calm aned rest. Aaaaaaand Faunra pulled him right back. the room was quiet, memories of Spiraih filling their heads.
"I'd also like to get one of those hats they're all wearing."
"Yeah, gonna admit they were pretty 'spiffy.' But before that, let's get organized. As we've learned from the past, nothing good comes of being followed." Atticus said, a picture of a Spiraih in his head simply laughing away.
"But for right now, I say we just ignore them. We haven't seen them yet, the only one of us being Stonefuse. They most likely know he knows and they probably know that we know now, too. Nothing we can do but wait for them to reveal themselves to us." Atticus said. They all knew it was true, that even if they saw one of Stonefuse's statues that there would be little they could do. For now they just had to go with the flow.
"As for the dragon guy...eh, maybe Calgrandma or whatever her name was had friends. Simplest answer to me." Atticus said.
Damien stood against a wall, simply listening to the conversation. He sithed through Conney's stroy about dragons and his own memories. He needed to know who the "dragon guy" was. He needed his name just to be make sure-
"Sorry to keep you all waiting." Conrad said entering the room and cutting off Damien's thoughts. His hat and scarf were gone, revealing gray and auburn hair. A wry old, welcoming smile stretched across his face, round rimmed glasses happily staring at them. He carried a number of garments, most of which were black and gray. "There isn't much variety, but it makes it easier for you to be indentified against the snow. Something that can either help you if you've been treking for weeks, completely lost, and need others to find you...or kill you, if a few beasties happen to see you before you see them." He said quickly, with an awkward chuckle.
"You don't need to fully change your outfits, but I feel as though these will keep you warmer than what you currently have one. He said handing out a few things. Faunra quickly snatched a hat and plopped it on her head. Atticus took a black shirt, finding it more suitable than what he was currently wearing under his overalls. Nathan, Zavier, and Aleister took what they found suitable. Caedis wasn't as quick to react, simply sitting in a chair eyes closed. Conrad tried handing something to Etrius, but he kindly declined. Conrad began walking over to Damien and Stonefuse, but stopped as he realized who he were handing them too. Prail stood next to an open window, letting the cold air wash over her and looking at the humans scurrying around in the night, lanterns lighting the streets as the snow gently fell.
"Well then, I'll just leave these here for you all." Conrad laid the assortment of hats, boots, pants, scarves, jackets, cloaks, and shirts on the table. "Wow, that was one heck of a day! We were just taking Wooly for a small stroll, something startled him, and the next thing you know we run into you guys, you fight a Ractor on the ice, and-"
"Your daughter holds me at gun point..." Atticus mumbled jokingly.
"Yeah, let me just say that I'm really sorry about the trouble we caused you today. I'll gladly help you guys with anything and hopefuly the town meets to your liking. There's the town square, the old castle ruins, the workshop, the street markets, the library, the bar-"
Caedis's head snapped up and her eyes opened.
"-and, of course, the medical center if you need help or simply to stack up on supplies. I'll be downstairs if you need me. You may leave and enter as you wish. Feel free to-" Conrad stopped mid sentence and looked over to the pipes on the wall, the sound of air passing through one of them. Conrad sighed.
"More messages, more missed appointments. Eh, not too big of deal. I got one heck of a day off and soemthing tells me Wooly won't need to go for walk for awhile, after today. Welp, have a good night." He chuckled and walked downstairs.
Caedis grabbed a few things off the table and made her way to the stairs. "You'll know where to find me." She said.
They were nice hat's Prail would have liked one herself. If she could get horn holes built in of course.
She'd rather not have been inside it was far too warm making her uncomfortable.
She'd unconsciously released a flyer or two to explore the house.
Sitting down was always weird for her; she had much more tail than she knew what to do with when on a chair. Hopefully she wouldn't do too much damage.
The people she'd seen outside the window were intriguing. The city looked really nice actually.
She looked out of the window then back to anyone that would be interesting and motioned her head as if to say come let's get out there and explore.
Aleister grabbed a long scarf, hat, and a cloak from the table. As he put them on, he noticed that Caedis was leaving the room with a few items of clothing herself.
"You'll know where to find me." She said, before disappearing down the stairs. Aleister then turned to the others.
"Well then, she'll becoming back in a drunken haze. In any case, Faunra, how about you and I go over to that medical center, and pick up some supplies; it'll give me a chance to restock my medical kit, plus gather some general items. Along the way, we could find out more from the townspeople about this Dragon."
"In any case, Faunra, how about you and I go over to that medical center, and pick up some supplies; it'll give me a chance to restock my medical kit, plus gather some general items. Along the way, we could find out more from the towns people about this Dragon."
Shrugging slightly, Faunra stood. "Sounds like as good a plan as any. I have a few items I need to get myself." she said before grabbing a long winter cloak off the table to replace her still damp cowl and her own depleted medical kit. She slipped her knives and coin purse into the folds of the cloak. She followed Aleister out of the room, then turned on her heels. "Atticus; don't do anything stupid while I'm gone." she said, smirking, closing the door before Atticus could respond.
A few hustled steps later, she had caught up to Aleiester. "So, where's this medical center?" she asked, an inquisitive look on her face as she placed the slightly over-sized winter hat on her head.
Damien looked around at the room, it was well-made, for the conditions of this level, obviously this was not a strongpoint of this town. They'd probably rarely,if ever, had anything like that fish attack them. Stonefuse and himself almost had to bend double to fit inside, but it made no nevermind.
He began stripping out of his armor, the armor was only harming him right now in this cold. It all connected together nicely, compact, efficient, and tailored to his form alone, any one of these people attempting to steal it would meet only resistance, it was much too heavy for their frames here, as well as them having to unlock it from it's compact form now.
Under his armor, he wore what appeared to be leathers, all very thin, but strong enough to resist the constant moving around that he was forced to do in battle. They would not do here, beside the fire he saw where Conrad had placed their clothing, a thick fur shirt, similar to Wooly's fur, and quite warm, as well as pants that cut the wind especially well, he found out. He put on the fur cap as well, his eyes would still give him away as an outsider, but it made him fit in a bit more. He kept his belt however, he could attach Lariss to the armor, complicating it even further, but not Altimar or the jagged dagger, neither could fall into untrained hands, both for themselves and his own person.
"Let us go then, and see what these people call dragon." He noticed that his voice reverberated in the small space and shook his head before repeating it again, this time much quieter.
I refuse to be taken by surprise once again, first Mark, then Calgradni, a third time of not knowing our adversary is unacceptable.
The scarf and the bits of clothing left on the table did wonders to fend off the cold of this level. Wisps of her breath would escape her mouth as she marched off to the bar that Conrad had said existed but it was clear that it did once she rounded the corner. Joyful merriment and the cheers of a drunken crowd drew Caedis to the bar like a moth to a flame.
The ale wasn't too bad but it was a bit too cold for her taste. When she first entered though, a few eyes remained fixated on her as she walked to the bar and ordered some ale. She tipped generously when her drink came fast by a young-faced barkeep.
"So you alone on this journey?" He asked with his puppy dog eyes. Part of her wanted to blue those handsome green eyes.
"You're a little soft for my taste. I'd like another glass though." Caedis said nonchalantly. She pointed to her empty glass and it was refilled quickly.
"Is that how you treat all the men you meet?" He asked again.
"Only the soft ones." Caedis said before she drank another glass. "You guys have really horrible ale." With that the young barkeep walked away attending to the other customers while Caedis sulked in her corner with her cheeks slightly reddened.
"So, where's this medical center?" Faunra asked, an inquisitive, and cute look on her face, as she placed the obviously oversized fur hat on her head. It was when they reached the outside that he replied.
"Hmm, from what I could overhear from the townsfolk on the way here, the center is over in the market district, which is... that way." Aleister responded with, pointing his arm in a easterly direction. He then took Faunra by the hand, and lead her to the medical center. As they walked through the market district, Faunra's cheeks began to blush, and her eyes lit up slightly.
"Spotted something you like?" He asked.
The though occurred to Etrius that his wings might draw unwanted attention, so he threw on a loose shirt and folded his wings in against his back.
He decided it had been too long since he had truly relaxed. He had been imprisoned and forced to fight for who knows how long in the previous level, and then the first thing that happens when he get here is a battle with a sea monster.
The seraphim left without really speaking to anyone and headed for the bar.
"What a bitch!" exclaimed a drunk man as he walked out of the building with a friend.
Etrius walked in and drew a few glances with his snow-white hair. Some of the patrons thought, momentarily, that his hair was just snow that had gathered on his head.
"Give me an ale." Etrius said to the bar tender.
He looked around the room from his stool and saw Caedis sitting in the corner.
"You don't look in very high spirits." He said as he sat down by her.
"Atticus; don't do anything stupid while I'm gone."
She closed the door behind her and Aleister before Atticus could utter a word. He'd been trying to decide whether he should've said "Yes mother!" or "Alright, just be home by 10 young lady!" but decided against it. Atticus just felt like sitting there, resting for a moment. Comfortable furniture, a study building, a nice warm furnance, nick-knacks...ah, felt like an actual home. Who knows long it would be until Atticus felt like this again. Atticus saw Damien change out of his armor. Hmm, so that's what he looked like without all of that one. Still would not want to be on the end of angry Damien. What Atticus noticed most about Damien was his eyes. He'd seen him without his helmet before, but now that Damien was standing there like any other mortal man, Atticus finally got noticed how strange his eyes were.
"Let us go then, and see what these people call dragon." Damien boomed, before repeating it again but lower and walking over to the door that lead downstairs. Prail followed, a slight spring to her step. Looks like someone is ready to get back in the cold. Veritas was right behind her, interested in the people and wanting to see what he could do with snow. Stonefuse started to move, but paused for a bit before following them out the door. He tried to get Stonefuses attention, but they were already out the door and down the stair. Atticus sighed and took a look at Damien's armor.
"Welp, gentlemen." Attius said looking at Zavier, Nathan, and Etrius. "I think I'll go take a look at this workshop Conrad was talking about. Maybe I can whip up a heater or something for his suit and have Stonefuse meld it on ."
"While you're doing that, I'll visit the library. I have a few things to...catalog." Zavier said, remembering Stonefuse's assault on the monster. "Besides, someone has to work on finding the portal." Zavier said before grabbing a few things off the table and walking down the stairs.
Etrius walked over to the table. "I think I'll keep my wings down for a bit and go get a drink." He grabbed a number of shirts and made his way to the bar.
Atticus switched out his undershirt and grabbed what looked like a cloak or cape, as well as one hat. He figured his gloves and boots were good enough for the weather as well as his welding goggles. "See you later Nathan." Atticus said, before stepping out.
Atticus walked downstairs, waving at Conrad who was sorting through letters and made his way out the front door. People hurried along, either home, to work or perhaps to nowhere and they were just waiting for something to come to them. The lanterns lit the street corners, melting some of the snow or giving it a nice glow. He looked around. A few guys were repairing a roof, children ran through the streets, a couple sat on a bench, while 3 drunken buddies walked through he streets, shoulder-to-shoulder, chanting some drunken song about fairies and ogres, at an acceptable sound level. A few people actually joined in. Overall people actually seemed...happy. The level was actually beginning to grow on Atticus. At least it wasn't as bad as winters in Agris, on Abzerosa it actually stopped snowing and the sun shined...for as long as fate permits, at least.
"Now where is...aha!" Atticus said as he saw a man exiting a store with a number of supplies. He picked up pace but as he did so, he felt himself shoved forward slightly, by someone walking past. He heard a number of jingles and jangles. "Hey!" Atticus said in surprise.
"My apologies, Atticus. The jangling said, before walking off towards the bar.
"No proble...hey wait, how do you-." Atticus turned back to see that the figure had walked off. "Gonna pretend that didn't happen." He said, before walking off himself.
"Hmm, from what I could overhear from the townsfolk on the way here, the center is over in the market district, which is... that way." Aleiester said, taking a moment to get his bearings. She pivoted, in an attempt to follow him toward the destination, only to receive the strangest of sensations - a pull on her hand.
It wasn't hard to determine the cause: Aleiester had taken it to guide her through the crowd. He led the way, lightly pushing his way through the crowd, forging an easier path for her. It was unnecessary; she was better at navigating a busy crowd than the rest of their climbing group combined; but it was kind.
What struck Faunra as strange, was that she didn't try to break free from his hand. Atticus had tried much the same action after they had first met, but she had insisted on walking on her own - she was far to independent to allow herself to be pampered. "Why haven't I let go?" she thought to herself, as Aleiester once again lightly pushed another person aside, warmth radiating from his hand and into her own. "It must be the cold." she concluded.
That was when he turned the corner onto the main avenue, and into the light of the horizon-bound, arctic sun. The light reflected off the thin layers of ice that covered everything, washing the whole street in an amber-scarlet ambiance. The source of the illumination was hidden by the back of Aleiester's head, making his entire frame glow with the natural light around them.
And all Faunra could do was stare as her heart skipped a beat.
"Spotted something you like?" he said, oblivious to the startling effect.
Faunra had always prided herself on her quick wit and intelligence, so it was of no great shock when she opened her moth and found herself unable to say a single word, her mouth fumbling over itself. A few extremely awkward mumbles later, she finally squeaked out her answer: "Maybe". She tried to say more, but the only effect was an increase in the warm blush of her face. With fluster bordering on panic and eager to escape the feeling, she turned from the sight and picked the first shop she could make see - though the sun prevented her from reading the shops name. "It's in there." she said, moving toward it with renewed determination - hustling to escape the confusing flood of emotions.
Despite her confused and fluttered state, she maintained her hold on Aleiester's hand until she reached the unknown shop. When she reached it, she could only curse her horrendous luck. Of all the shops in the market to pick while trying to escape the... strangeness, she'd picked a jewelry store.
She took a moment to silently curse the gods.
At table in lanterns glow, sat a girl with maps around her that were mostly for show. Her eyes had taken them in and practically printed them against their lids, and with a blank paper she was already drawing a copy with personal notes and marks upon it to find the quickest way to get out of there. What as amazing she did this with her eyes closed, and her hand seemed to be trailed by after images as she worked.
Banging her head briefly against the table and letting it rest there. She continued drawing still with one arm hanging scratching the back of her neck, her cloak and bag were draped over the chair and she let out a small groan of annoyance as a voice in the back of her head kept saying.
"These maps are a disgrace, the Guild would have much better ones, you should rejoin them and establish an outpost here, you've only been gone for awhile, no one would mind if you returned..."
So on and so forth, and if anyone with a keen eye or practically close enough to nip at her nose, they'd see a faint after image of her head as well, and a whisper on the edge of hearing. All the while the map was slowly becoming if a bit plain an easy to follow map, along with directions in case of difficulty reading it.
"Why should I be?" Caedis plainly said. She tilted her cup back and forth. Caedis looked at the seraphim before her. She certainly had worse before. "We nearly died for the hundredth time now, I think, and there's only to be more challenges ahead. Being happy and optimistic isn't going to get us to the final level, angel. Knowing the truth is and the truth is that we are all going to die in one way or the other."
"That's how I see it anyway. I expect you to value my opinion but don't hesitate to punch me if I get too rambunctious." Caedis joked. She sat back on the stool with her back to the wall, arms crossed and eyes scanning the room.
Damien left the room and wandered the town, more of a settlement really. He passed a tavern where he saw the Winged Man and Caedis in conversation, and found what he was looking for, the library, where he was stopped and asked for a donation to help the library grow. He paid the few coppers that allowed him access and began searching, after ducking and bending to compensate for the low ceiling these people had, few came up to his chest, even less his shoulders.
He found the few books they had covering their levels legends and known creatures. Any mention of dragons or what they had fought earlier today on the ice he began skimming for. The only open table at the moment was across from a somewhat striking woman, though only because she was as out of place as he was. He remained silent, his research was more important at this point in time. The chair were much too small to support his massive frame, so he instead sat on his knees, setting the chair to the side.
Aleister was guided to an unknown store by Faunra, narrowly dodging the crowds. They then arrived outside a jewellery shop. There seemed to be a slight look of discomfort on her face, as she muttered something inaudible. He then took a look through the shop window, wiping away some of the frost on the glass. All the pieces that were on display, certainly looked elegant. Necklaces, pendants, broaches; all of various shapes, sizes, and colours.
"Don't you worry Faunra, I'm sure we can find something." Aleister remarked, giving off a friendly smile, as he continued to browse the contents of the shop. Suddenly, there was a quick glint of shining red, that Aleister spotted in the corner of his eye. He turned his head to get a better look. It seems he found a rather elegant ruby necklace, that was set on a bed of dark green velvet. The shine it gave off, would attract even the most aloof of magpies.
He then turned back to Faunra, and took hold of her hand once more.
"How about, that one then?" Aleister asked, as he guided Faunra's hand, and pointed it at the necklace.
"I think, it would show off those beautiful dark green eyes of yours. Like emeralds they are." He remarked, in an attempt to sound romantic; but also being very truthful.
Glancing up from her work Cecilia looked at the rather imposing figure of the man across from her. Her face barely flickered in any emotion, but her eyes just barely narrowed as if examining every facet of his appearance. Looking at his books and judging by everything else, her mind simply thought "Climber".
She couldn't help wondering if she should see if she can join him or inquire of other, if any, of his group. Her mind raced as she held up her map in both hands against the lantern light, displaying an intricately simple design and small marks and notes if you could read backwards.
Using both her hands, a faded almost translucent image of her arm still hovered over the table holding the pen and gently tapping against the table as if impatient, Cecilia barely noticed her eyes taking in her own map to check for any disparity.
Prail had gotten a little lost.
She'd had the usual looks of surprise and curiosity but those she was used to by now, in fact it was fairly fun at this point.
She remembered her first time in open air cities; it was difficult back then dealing with all the attention. Communication was the worst.
But she'd learnt a lot in her travels.
You could tell she grown, her new found confidence evident in every stride, her tail swung freely as opposed to how she'd used to hold it in her hands.
The scents of the city were wonderful she could tell so much just by the texture of the air. One thing that caught her nostril rings more than anything was the musty sent, old books so much dense knowledge, how could she resist.
Entering the library she noticed one of her fellow travellers and a stranger. Well armoured it appeared. Her sent was complex, like she'd been around. One of the windows above her smashed as the flyers she'd sent out to eat at their last conquest. The taste was almost over powering, a dense mix of different organs and muscles. She be full for a month or so after that."
Atticus walked into the workshop and a number of familiar sounds and smells. There was the smell of molten metal as a worker welded what looked like a steel door frame and loud banging as someone hammered away. Men and women alike discussed what they were working on, ideas of all kinds, and simply enjoying their work. As Atticus looked around for supplies, he noticed a wall full of pictures. There appeared to be pictures of mineshafts, miners toiling away, soot covered figures smiling in poses, pictures of them holding up coals and large gem deposits. One picture caught his eye. Together on the surface posing in front of an open mine shaft was the same woman he'd seen back at Conrad's home.
He was going to get a closer look when he finally noticed number of tools and building materials stacked on walls, individuals of all shapes and sizes paying for what they needed and going back to their respective work benches. Atticus wasn't sure where to start. He saw a valve for this, a filament for that, a number of glass tubes, and other materials. He simply gathered parts he thought would be useful and found an open work table. "Hmm, a radiator like device should do the trick..."
"Need any assistance, sir." Atticus looked up and saw Conney staring back at him. Without her mask and scarf, he could see her green eyes glaring at him and a few freckled on her pale skin. Short and frizzy red hair ruffled down to only about her neck. If it wasn't for her voice and other additions, she may have looked like a guy trying to grow his hair out. When Atticus first looked up, she was sporting a big friendly smile, but as she realized it was Atticus behind the cape, the smile quickly faded from her face.
"Oh for the love of-what are you doing here?!" She asked, scorn in her voice.
"Um, building a heating unit for Damien...the big metal guy, remember?"
"I know who you're talking about jus-just don't bother me while I'm at work!" She yelled slightly, before lowering her voice.
"Hey, hey, I wasn't trying to bother you or anything." Atticus looked around the room for a moment, a smirk came across his face. "And besides, after all the time I spent between your legs today, I could use some space too!" Atticus said, raising his voice slightly. A number of heads looked up from whatever they were doing. Some looked on with confusion, others laughed, one man even clapped.
Atticus turned back to his work and heard an angered Conney trying to suppress her rage, walking off. "Hmm, maybe that was a bit much...nah!" Atticus reached over for a screwdriver but recoiled as he felt something whoosh passed his head and an ice shard embedded itself in the table, a few inches away from his hand.
Damien sat on his knees in library, going through book after book. He found a book on a number of creatures, one being about the creature they'd fought, a Ractor. Supposedly they hibernated for years on end, only waking up every couple of days in a year, extremely furious and hungry. One of those days happened to be today. Boy, were they lucky...Damien found no mention of dragons, aside from some kind of worm-like creatures called Shrettz, but the details were extremely vague and they were considered myths. He found that a lot of creatures in the books teetered between the realm of reality and myth, mostly due to a lack of definite research. There was strangely a lot in the case of fairies and ogres for some reason.
As he searched, Zavier entered the library. Zavier quickly nodded at Damien who nodded back, and began searching the wall. Zavier wasn't sure where to start looking for the portal but figured a little history lesson wouldn't hurt. He looked around and a book titled "The Fristic Empire" caught his attention. He thought of the castle ruins they had seen in the distance, when they had first entered the city, and plopped down in a chair, a table away away from Cecilia. Zavier glanced at Cecilia for a moment before returning to his own book. As he read, he jotted down a few notes. There were detailed drawings of musket-like weapons, men riding large canine beast, information on their rule and how the empire just abruptly ended. This fascinated him, but what caught his attention was how the book spoke of a cathedral located near a the king's main castle, that held one of "Fate's Many Gates." That was mostly likely a portal and right now, all he had to work with. But the book had no maps, only details on a culture that had disappeared and a few landmarks that meant nothing to him, without any sort of map at least.
Zavier looked up to see a slightly frustrated Damien getting up and leave the library as an old woman entered. She bumped into him and he apologized quickly, but she stopped him take a look at his eyes. "You have strange eyes, kiddo. Kinda reminds me of that dragon guy from 5 years ago. Well, have a good night sonny!" She walked off but Damien caught up to her.
Most people looked at Stonefuse strangely before shrugging and getting on with their night. He looked around a bit, wondering where Prail had gotten off too. Meanwhile, a number of people stared at the confused Prail, interested with the strange horned and mouthless creature that made her way towards the library. She entered and was overpowered by the information around her, he flyers busting through windows. Veritas messed around with the snow, wondering if he could use his messaging ability in water on snow as well. Snow was still pretty fluid, unlike ice, so it was extremely similar to moving water. No one really paid mind to Stonefuse, who simply sat against a wall watching the whole thing. He looked away for a moment and saw it down an alley. A statue just staring at him. The golem shifted his weight as he moved forward, but in that split moment the statue was had moved. It was further into the alley, motioned near a corner. Stonefuse didn't hesitate and started moving, trying to keep his eyes one the statue.
The figure was covered in belts and a few goggles, jangling as he walked along. His face, hands, and legs were covered, forming something along the lines of a large but fitting trench coat with a hood. A few people eyed him strangely, but shortly after, shrugged it off. They just assumed that was his preferred method of staying warm. If it looks stupid, but it works, why question it? The figure walked through a group of friends leaving the bar. He made his way around a few barkeeps and sat right next to a slightly rosy cheeked Caedis and Etrius.
"I'll take the roughest stuff you have, with a side of biscuits, ham, and warm tea please." The barkeep raised his eyebrow but complied. Caedis looked up and down the belted man and goggled man and Etrius simply stared at him. The people around them partied, talked, played a few games, while the two just sat there, not saying anything for the longest time. The room gradually got quietly. Once the sound was pretty much gone, the figure looked over to Caedis.
"So, um...hi. I'm Devoroce and I'll be your messenger for today. Hmm, so you're the one the master is so interested in...anyway, I decided to take Spiriah's place this time. Man, I hate that guy..." Caedis turned and tilted her head at the man, but soon realization crept across her face. She looked over to Etrius who was simply held in his place. The whole room was held in place."Oh, that must be Etrius. Didn't recognize him with his wings tucked away. Better unfreeze him ..." Etrius started moving again and jumped as he looked around room.
"Calm down, I'm not like Spiriah, I mean you no harm...well, in strange sorta way my master kinda does and in turn, so do I, since I work for him as well as alongside Spiriah, that stupid Card-dnosaur..."
Faunra "window shopped" for a few moments, quickly searching for something she could pretend she saw. Before she had a chance however, Aleiester took the initiative. "How about, that one then?" Aleiester said, gently guiding her hand toward a one specific piece: a silver and ruby necklace. The light upon the ruby necklace refracted in directions and shades innumerable. It was positively radiant. There was however a small catch; it was shaped like a heart. It was clearly a piece carefully crafted for romance - an implication that must have escaped Aleiester's notice.
"I think, it would show off those beautiful dark green eyes of yours. Like emeralds they are." he concluded, his eyes locking onto her own. "Or maybe not" she thought, returning his gaze until he broke it in an attempt to keep his composure. By doing so, he missed the more subdued version of her blush returning to her cheeks and the slight giggle at his attempt to maintain his cool demeanor.
"I'm glad you like my eyes, but I don't need a necklace." she said. For a moment, a look of dejection appeared on Aleiester's face before she continued. "I have something much more precious already." she finished. She paused for a fraction of a second, considering her options, before throwing caution to the wind and giving the swordsman a small peck on the cheek.
To her credit, the resulting blush on her face just barely failed to outshine the ruby in the necklace.
"I'm glad you like my eyes, but I don't need a necklace." For a brief moment, a deeply saddened look appeared on Aleister's face; he felt rather rejected. Faunra then continued to talk, which seemed to perk him up. "I have something much more precious already." She then planted a quick kiss on his cheek.
A sudden wave of joy quickly overcame him. His mind was still reeling from the impact of what had just occurred, but his body was in full control of its actions. Without warning, he placed a reassuring arm around Faunra, pulling the two closer. Aleister then summoned a ball of flame; which amused some of the nearby townspeople, curious by the ethereal flames, as fire magic, was a rarity on this level.
"Well then, this should keep us rather warm." Aleister remarked, his mind calming down, as the little fireball started to circle around the pair, giving off a pleasant aura.
"We should carry on to the medical center. We can have a little fun later." He then gave Faunra a quick kiss of his own on her cheek; as the two carried on towards their destination.
"We should carry on to the medical center. We can have a little fun later." Aleiester said, giving Faunra a quick kiss of his own. Then the two exited the store, receiving a dirty look from the no-wealthier owner. The rest of the journey to the medical center passed swiftly and comfortably, wrapped in each other as they were, the small ball of fire keeping them at an ideal temperature; even in the eternally setting sun of the frigid arctic climate.
The trip was uneventful, spent mostly in the pleasure of the others company. Faunra did insist on a stop at a weapon shop as she was in need of a new whetstone and a pair of less-precious daggers she could throw without needing to retrieve them. Otherwise, Faunra found herself opening up to Aleiester more than she had expected; enjoying a feeling of openness she had not felt in many years. She found herself laughing at Aleiester's jokes, Enjoying his company, poking fun at him when applicable, and being generally warm - both physically and emotionally. She also took the opportunity to stealthily admire the swordsman's build - not that she would ever admit it.
Aside from the weapon shop, she had no other diversions to make. The two, still wrapped in each other, reached the medical center intent on refreshing their respective medical kits.
"Is that so?" Caedis leaned forward. "In case you didn't hear, I don't take kindly to the whole messenger business you have going on with your "omnipresent" master. Either I see him myself or you go away unless you're looking for a fight of which I'll be happy to oblige. I hope you're not like Spiriah with the goddamn cards." Caedis said.
She scanned the man, looking him over for any tricks that he might have up his sleeve. He looked quite strange with all the belts and goggles he has on his body. With the power to halt time there must be some magic he had.
"Is that so?" Caedis leaned forward. "In case you didn't hear, I don't take kindly to the whole messenger business you have going on with your "omnipresent" master. Either I see him myself or you go away unless you're looking for a fight of which I'll be happy to oblige. I hope you're not like Spiriah with the goddamn cards." Caedis said.
"Trust me my dear, I'm not. Most of Spiriah's power, most of the other messenger's and server's powers come from me. And even then, I don't want to fight you. It would be extremely unfair, for all 3 of us. As for my master, he can't meet you yet because...okay, look. He wants you to either A:Kill your companions and join him. Or B:Stop rising and kill yourself. Why he doesn't present himself is beyond me, nor why he's so interested in you. From what I've seen, you're all very powerful and though you all look surprisingly...vulnerable." Deveroce goggles flashed for a bit and suddenly Caedis and Etrius could see where the rest of the companions were, where they were, and even what they were doing, moving as if time hadn't stopped. Aleister and Faunra's time together, Atticus assembling Damien's heater and dodging more ice shards, Stonefuse walking down an alley towards nothing, Nathan in Conrad's home, Prail's flyers busting through the library windows, Veritas messing around in the streets looking for Prail, Damien speaking to an old lady, Zavier in the library next to a striking woman, and finally Caedis and Etrius currently in the bar, time moving around them.
"And even then, taken completely be surprise your team is still unreasonably powerful. And yet he wants you alone. Perhaps he's still deciding who he wants alive and dead? I've been forced to obey the master for so long, and yet I still can't read him. I've just now added Etrius to my tabs, so I should be able to recognize him quicker, and yet I still can't read the master...Maybe he has a main interest with you because of your past; the reason you don't allow yourself to love anymore. I've looked into your memories, how you were wooed by him and how you let him destroy your way of life. I can feel all that anger, tucked away, deeper than my own form under these belts and goggles..." As he spoke, he genuinely had severe sadness in his voice. Caedis looked down angrily, fuming slightly because someone knew her greatest shame.
"Caedis, let me get to the point: my master wants to offer you everything. Not money, not fame, the real things you want. A second chance, perhaps even a chance to improve things. A way to fix things so that there was never any need for a rebellion in the first place and so that you can ride happily into the sunset with Darius. All of it...as long as you serve the master. Honestly, I know you too well but I'm going to ignore your thoughts. I know you won't take it, but...I could be wrong. I never have been but I could. Except once. I thought I could stop the master or ignore him...but I couldn't and I can't. No one ever has. And honestly, I don't think you can either, no matter how hard you try...but I could be wrong. What's it gonna be, Caedis?"
Stonefuse walked up and stared directly at the statue. He had the assailant right in front of him, and put his arms around it. Stonefuse never broke eye contact and stared inquisitively at the statue. It appeared to be encased in a thin layer of ice and snow, depicted as an average male, wearing clothing similar to that as the town folk. It had spiky hair and a pair of rimmed glasses. As he looked at it, he noticed its peculiar eyes. They were pointy similar to those of Faunra's. Other differences were a peculiar looking vest and a four-barreled musket-like weapon. "Alright, you're coming with me." The golem thought.
Stonefuse picked up the statue and felt it disappear from his hands, tiny fluffs of ice and snow trickling from between his fingers. He looked around quickly. He was not letting the statue get away. And then he saw it, the statue's foot slightly sticking out from another alley way. Stonefuse didn't waste time and ran towards the alley. As he ran, the statue poofed away the moment it was out of his vision, but Stonefuse was faster this time. The statue was nearing the end of another alley. It was looking back, a mixture of fear and confusion on it's face. Stonefuse kept running, he lost vision for a second, and it was gone again. But not far.
The statue was now infront of a large wall, nowhere else to run. Stionefuse walked up to it, and only a single thought passed through his mind.
"So this is what annoynace feels like..." He stood right behind the statue, its arms open and slightly leaning back, like any other man would be posed if they were trying not to run into a wall. Stonefuse swung at the statue and Stonefuse found himself punch a wall. The statue was no on his outstretched fist looking down at him, confused. Stonefuse tried to pull his arm out of the wall, but felt a number of stiff icy arms holding him down. More statues had arrived and from the side of his eyes, Stonefuse saw a few of the muskets pointed at his head, as well as the statue he'd been chasing posed next to another, taller armored statue. It looked like a conversation. Suddenly from off in the distance, there was a loud screech in pain and then the sound of something not quite human. A few moments later, someone whispered in his ear.
"It's been fun, but we have other more pressing matters to attend to. You ignore us, alright. You didn't see anything." A wispy voice said to his ear.
Stonefuse felt his mind get hazy, but had had enough. He swung his arm back, expecting a number of crashes but all he saw were a few fluffs of ice and snow falling where the statues had been.
The shattered window followed by shards of glass raining down was a definite way to draw attention. Cecilia practically bolted out of her chair in reaction to it, most of her thoughts focused on the map she made and plans to cross check other books/records for likely ways to leave the level.
Staring at Prail and her/his/it(?) physique, her brow furrowed in curiosity followed by anger as cold air worked its way in to the library, she marched towards it/her/him(?) grabbing her pen before it even fell on to the table, the ghost of her arm gone with the broken window.
"What in the Ink do you think you have done?" Cecilia held her sharp pen in front of her like a baton to point at Prail. Despite her face showing anger, her curiosity was growing that was practically instilled from the Guild, this was shortly followed by a silent curse at the fact she had used a Guild curse, rather then something more regular.
Damien grabbed her by the shoulder and spun the old woman around,"What do you mean, the dragon man? I apologize for my rough treatment of you, but are you saying that he looked like me?" He took off his hat to show his hair, so that she could get a better look at him.
"Please... if you know anything about him, tell me now. It is imperative that I know if he passed this level, or if he took the power from here.He is a traitor to the crown and his family, tell me now, woman."
His eyes were wild, had Mark been past here on his way to his power? Had he reached the top? This was the best lead he had gotten in the past year he'd been climbing the tower. Anything this woman or any person knew on this level was worth the cost of obtaining it. Mark could not continue to sit on their brother's throne, could not continue to allow his royal guard to take the Dakesh Monastery for themselves, could not allow his family to continue to rot. Clarry would not have died, been....melted, for nothing. Not if anyone on this level knew of his brother or where he had gone, where he had come from.
A hundred questions, thoughts, and ideas surged around his mind, but they all brought even more questions, not answers. Answers were not something he could come up with by himself, he was not Fareth, he was a general, not a scholar.
The old woman looked at frantic Damien. And chuckled a bit. "The guy was a bit of a jerk, but I never figured he was that big of a jerk." Damien looked at the old woman, slightly desperate and confused. He'd just told him of the Marks's crimes and she was laughing?
"Listen closely sonney, cause I think I'm one of the few people who will give you the honest story without getting all teary eyed. 5 years ago, that bastard waltzed in her with two other guys, his "mercenaries" as he called them. One had spiky hair, the other was unreasonably muscly. He seemed strange, but nice enough. One day he just stood up in front of everyone and said he claimed this town in the name of...of...gah, what was it? Ark, Clark? Anyway he simply said he was gonna control our town and later our world, but we all laughed of course. You and three other guys want to takeover our town? Really?" Her voice got colder and slightly angrier.
"He simply said 'yes really' and instantaneously destroyed an entire block. After that, the council agreed to do as he said and the town was in fear. No one would dare stand up to him...no one but one woman, my best friend. Elise Lorenzus. Her grandfather's family started a mining business and though she could've sat back and enjoyed the long line of cash, she worked in the mines herself, all her life. We'd all grown to love her and I was her closet friend, and also one of her poorest. 17 years earlier, before the attack, she'd just started her own family with the love of her life a therapist named...gah, what was it! I can never remember names. Also, when the dragon guy attacked, she had an every happy and curious 15 year old daughter. We all grew to love her too. Anyway, Elise refused to let her family's work and her own family be destroyed by some asshole and started attacking him with this weird rifle she'd invented. Hehe, she loved her toys...he didn't. After a few shots and a small fight, he just killed her. Right there. No semantics, just a quick jab and she was down." The old woman just stood there after that, not saying anything and biting her lip. A single tear rolled down her face, memories of her old friend and the terror that followed her death flooding her mind. "Damn, I lied to you, sonney."
"The dragon guy decided that him and his two mercenaries would burn the town to the ground and they transformed into...well, you know. We were all devastated by our long time friend's death and in mortal terror by the horror that occurred around us. so many burned bodies. To make matters worse, her daughter picked up the rifle started shooting...and began to win. That was when the rest of the town teamed up to take down the dragon. Many lives were lost, but many were saved as well. The girl ran the dragons out of town, and they began heading East." She finsished just as Prail's flyers came crashing through the library window. The old woman looked off, ignoring the crash.
"You know, I think I'll return that book later. Elise loved books, got me into reading when I was a kid actually..." The old lady turned around, and walked off.
Etrius didn't say anything. He had no words that would be appropriate. He felt like an intruder, listening to what seemed like very personal details of Caedis' life. He felt embarrassed, for him self due to hearing them, and for her knowing that he knew them. Finally he couldn't bear the silent pressure and spoke up.
"I don't know who the person you work for is, but I know so far that he is a coward. If he wants us dead, he should fight us, rather than try to manipulate Caedis!"
"I don't know who the person you work for is, but I know so far that he is a coward. If he wants us dead, he should fight us, rather than try to manipulate Caedis!" Etrius said to the Deveroce, who simply sighed.
"Honestly, I wish he'd fight you all, just so he could lose but...that won't happen. I've been in all your minds, know all about you, and I can even use all that information to predict your movements. I've extended my predictions farther than I have before and if I consider all the options that involve you all fighting the master, all of them end with you all losing horribly...but I could be wrong. You don't need my abilities to know that he doesn't want to fight you, but I doubt the master is a coward. He's a schemer, he is planning something, and I don't believe he needs me to do it. He's just keeping me weak and busy, spying on you." Deveroce sipped some tea through his belts where his mouth should've been, and shoved a piece of ham into his shoulders, slight chewing coming from it. He breathed in heavily.
"If I could, I'd finish this, but I can't in my current state. So here are the options: Caedis either takes the offer and die with the rest of the group Etrius, stop climbing and kill yourself Caedis, or all of you team up and kill the master. From what I've seen, you all lose...but I could be wrong. Once again, choose wisely but know this: This is the end game. Spiriah was just a test of your Will when threatened. This is a test of your integrity. If you choose something the master doesn't approve of, I shall become your enemy. Not on my own accord, but through the very things that give me power. My eyes."Deveroce stood up, holding his belted hand out to Caedis. It was now or never.
Prail sideways blinked a few times in surprise before inspecting the situation. She'd have liked to have been able to point out it was the flyers and not her that had broken the windows but that was unlikely to mean much to someone that didn't know her.
Prail was mainly just trying to get into this stranger's head. Her natural sensitivity to brain activity was helping she felt the flaring up of curiosity and the slight subsiding of anger (good thing she'd been releasing friendly venoms since meeting the others, without them who knows how badly things could have gone). Prail wasn't one for threats (at least she didn't think of herself as one for threats.) but when a stranger got so close (almost touching her) she felt too uncomfortable for much restraint. She raised her tail which had found its way behind the stranger. Not to attack but just to make it known that the pen wasn't mightier than the few meter long muscle with venomous spikes on the end.
After spending a long time moseying around in the fity streets under the pretense of looking for Prail, Veritas heard a crash of windows and a few screams of surprise in the street to his left.
Knowing Prail, that would probably be her being confused by the illogical nature of humans. Sure enough, when he stepped into the street, there she was, tail whipping about, and flyers zooming into a nearby shop.
Waving to her, Veritas went over. "Hey Prail! There you are! What's going on here? It looks like you and that window just had a serious.....argument?"
Aleister and Faunra had spent the rest of the journey, wrapped up in each others pleasant company, as they were warmed up by the little fire orb that encompassed them. The trip was mostly uneventful, aside from a brief stop at a weapons store, so Faunra could acquire some less expensive daggers, so she could throw them, without the need to reclaim them at some later date.
Throughout the remainder of the journey, she laughed at his jokes, poked fun at him when applicable, not that he didn't mind, he actually found it rather nice to spend some quality time with her. He suspected that Faunra was enjoying more than just his company, but decided not to question her about it.
The pair of them seemed to get quite a few looks of varying degrees; some found the couple to be rather cute, and gave off a joyful sigh as they walked past. Others look confused, wondering how a human, and a elf could become such close friends, although they didn't act upon it with interest. They soon reached the medical center, and let go of one another, the little fireball that accompanied them dissipating soon after.
They soon passed through a small, but well maintained garden, as the townsfolk passed through a pair of heavy wooden doors. When the entered the main foyer, Aleister went to one side, to check his medical kit, so to see what needed to be replenished. He took it out from beneath his coat, and laid it down on a nearby table. He began muttering to himself.
"Let's see here: surgical thread, bandages, healing gel, and cleaning solution. Hmmh, thought I would need more of that." Aleister thought to himself, believing that he would need more of some items than he anticipated. He then turned back to Faunra.
"Is there anything you need in particular Faunra?" Aleister then asked.
The last leg of the walk to the medical center was "interesting" as Atticus would have described it. The pair received a fair amount of undue attention as a result of their closeness. Mostly the attention was positive, with onlookers finding it romantic. A few looked bewildered, curious about the details of their "friendship". A few even even seemed to look disgusted at the pairing; though whether this was a result of the "inter-species" aspect of the closeness or just the annoyance at the public display of affection was debatable. Aleiester seemed to pay no heed to the looks, negative or otherwise, and Faunra followed his example.
After entering the center, Faunra immediately looked through the garden's medicinal herbs to see if there was anything of particular use. It was unexpected, given the frigid environment, but the choices were sizable she was pleased to say. She found a few potent Analgesics and Antiseptics, which she promptly made room for, as well as a few dozen other plants of varying medical uses - ranging from powerful sedatives to hangover cures to "feminine needs" - the last of which she lingered on far longer than she normally would have, much to her own self castigation.
"Is there anything you need in particular Faunra?" Aleiester inquired from the table where he had set out his own kit.
"Hm... I mostly need bandages and adhesive; I used most of my supply helping the Lallowens. I found a few interesting herbs over here if you need anything specific. You should have a look." she answered, thinking the question through. She turned and grabbed a few bushels of the anti-hangover, expecting Caedis to require them; if not today than eventually.
A few more minutes passed, spent looking through the various medical supplies. Then the door to the center opened. This was hardly surprising; the door had opened a dozen times while she had been browsing the many herbs. What did shock her were the first words out of the mans mouth: "Please, I need help! My wife is injured!".
Faurna turned to see the man, carrying an unconscious women who was bleeding profusely. Her brain had hardly processed the information before Faunra bolted to the store front to do what she could.
"Hm... I mostly need bandages and adhesive; I used most of my supply helping the Lallowens. I found a few interesting herbs over here if you need anything specific. You should have a look." Faunra replied with, as she grabbed a few bushels of herbs, that would make for an appropriate hangover cure, for when Caedis returned. Aleister packed up his medical kit, taking note of what supplies they needed. He then browsed the wide array of medicinal herbs that were on offer. Despite the rather frosty environment, the flowers grew surprisingly well.
From his knowledge of medicinal herbs, Aleister grabbed some herbs that could make for an effective common cold cure, given the climate of this level, it would certainly be handy to have some on standby. He also grabbed a few bushels of Lavender, a powerful ingredient in sleeping draughts, but was also useful for relieving muscle pain when made into an oil, considering the fight with a Ractor upon their arrival, a few of the group might be requiring it. Finally, he grabbed some other essential herbs, for things like coughs, sore throats, and headaches.
Aleister was about to go gather the other supplies on their shopping list, when the doors burst open, revealing a man clutching a woman who was bleeding profusely. Sensing the urgency, he rushed off to help; not before packing away the herbs in his medical kit, placing them in separate pouches. He also asked an attendant at the center to grab a few things that weren't currently available.
"Excuse me, can you possibly get me some bandages, surgical thread, adhesive, and and some cleaning solution please?" Aleister, seemingly in a hurry to assist in the matter in front of him. The woman who he asked, noticed the urgency, and rushed off to get them. He then went to help Faunra.
Ignore double post came up.
Cecilia looked at the tail and then to the new comer, venom still in her voice she kept one eye on the tail of Prail, "Do you know this... creature?"
Her voice seemed to calm down a bit and she lowered her pen, her left arm seemed to to twitch and vibrate all the while staying still, it could make anyone's eyes water.
Prail let her tail flop back down.
And stepped back.
She offered out a scaly hand.
The gas radials in her eyes tightened and sharpened slightly at the use of the word creature but were soon lax again. She blinked again.
She dispatched another bird to get a look.
Prail drew an insight candle it would have made explanation simpler.
Flicking the metallic/ bone points on her fingers together was enough to get a spark going to light it.
It was this or several hours of mime and diagrams.