News: Catholics Celebrate Worldwide as Pope Francis Wakes from Hibernation — Watch the Cardinals Deliver Consecrated Deer Carcasses to the Papal Lair in This Heartwarming Clip

Main Menu

A Voice From the Storm (Reset!)

Started by Emily, January 04, 2021, 02:02:55 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


It was the first day of spring, and Aria noted she had many reasons to be excited. First, of course, was that the markets of Coxarif had opened. Though there was still a bite to the air, the final remnant of the frozen lockdown they had collectively suffered through for the past several months, one wouldn't know it from the people. Shopkeepers and their families bustled about hastily-crafted stalls, yelling at passersby to come and buy from them. Her shoulder-length silver hair bounced, always a bit out of her control, as she wound her way through the crowd. The wind told her there was a feeling of relieved familiarity in the air, almost as if everyone was happy to see one another despite their positions of economic rivalry. It was a happy experience, despite the crowds.

Second was the prospect of getting snacks. Admittedly, this was more than a bit cheating, as the snacks were being bought at the markets, another thing on her 'a list of exciting things'. She stopped at a stall, looking at their bins of chocolate-covered peanuts, raisins, coffee beans. Jars of dried fruits, jams, and jellies lined the side counters of the stall. She pointed to a variety of things, and the shopkeeper's children quickly shovelled them into a pack, which was sat in front of her. "Twenny-five cilea, miss," the shopkeeper stated, holding out a hand.

She counted out two violet ten-pieces and a blue five-piece to him, then grabbed the pack and beamed. "Thank you so much!"

Third, of course, was that today was the day!! The day she'd been waiting for while sitting in that dreary dormitory for the past four months of ice and snow. She was passing through the Old District now, a place that was oddly quiet despite this being the first day of spring. Most of the shops here were indoors, and the goods much more aligned to magical interests than those of the market. Every building here stood in the shadow of The Inverted Spire, the premier magic school of Ustendelle and one of the main draws of Coxarif. It towered so high it made you dizzy to look up at it for too long, and stood in the middle of a pit in the ground, only reachable by two bridges. Aria had always been intimidated by it, and tried not to hold her breath as she passed it by.

She was, of course, making her way across town to Westbridge, a guild district along the western wall of the city. Golden eyes scanned the buildings before coming across a sign she recognised, Black Bow's. It was an unassuming, stone building in a corner spot of a few different businesses. Though primarily an adventuring guild of sorts, it was connected to a pub. The pub, unfortunately, is what drew most of the business, but it kept the rest of the organisation open and that made Aria happy. She had only been here a few times, but it was always helpful.

She entered the building and looked around. It was still pretty empty; it wasn't as if she'd expected the place to be full in the middle of the morning, but it was even more empty than she'd expected. A voice from behind the bar startled her, deep and gruff. A man stood there, a dark moustache oiled and curled and adding to the aesthetic of a well-manicured mohawk. "Mornin, miss. Anything to eat or drink?"

Aria nodded back at him, "A water, thank you. I have friends coming to meet me, and then we might get some food. Is it okay if I just sit near a window for a while?"

"Sure, I got no problem with that. You should probably eat somethin' though, you're the scrawniest person I've ever seen."

Her smile froze for a moment. "Thanks. I'll, uh, think on it. Thank you for the water, at least."

Awkward moment aside, she crossed the room to the furthest windowside table from the bartender and sat down her giant mug of water and the large bag of snack-shaped contraband. From her personal pouch, she pulled out a very old book. Multiple pages had the corners folded in to mark places, notes in the margins, and extra small notes stuck over areas to update information. The title read Ludwin Academy Herbalist's Guide, AE600 Edition. She sat it gingerly on the table and opened it up to a random page, looking out the window every few seconds as if waiting for someone to show up.


Gods, that's a huge building.
Cass stared up at a tower that seemed to brush the clouds, occasional windows dotting its otherwise smooth stonework. She stuck out her arm to stop a passing merchant. Well, probably a merchant. Looks rich; nice clothes, well fed, soft hands. Definitely a merchant. "Hey, what's the deal with that tower? The king or someone live there?"

The bemused passerby shook himself free, "The Inverted Spire? The greatest magic school in the whole of Ustendelle? The origin of the most powerful mages in the world?" Her blank look must have given her away as he rolled his eyes and continued on his way. "Tourist."
Mages. Huh. Well, they couldn't have been that good, if she'd never heard of them.

She hadn't slept well in the inn last night. The bed too hard, the room far too cold, and her roommate snored like a rockslide. In fact, the whole town was too cold. Back home, the first of spring would already be sweltering, with vendors selling cool melons and colorful drinks, people clinging to what shade they could find. But that was many years, and many more miles, away. Shaking off thoughts of home, she walked further into the Old District, peering into the windows of the myriad shops that lined the streets. Wonder if there's anybody from home here? This city sure seems large enough to have a few expatriates hanging around.

Bringing her attention back to the task at hand, Cass realized that she had wandered into a different section of the city, the sounds of industry coming from various guild halls on the street. Digging into her shoulder bag, she rifled past a few knives, some jerky, and a forgotten package of candied dates, until she found a crumpled parchment at the bottom. Straightening it out, she squinted at the neat handwriting. " Black Bow's, in the Westbridge district. A pub sits..." Looking around, she spotted a sign for the hall in question, just a few buildings down. As she walked to the door, she made eye contact with a young woman sitting at a window, looking out into the street. It would seem Aria is already here then. Gods, I hope there's food.


The only good thing about the market season, mused Garhad, chewing on the last fragments of a pie, is that I can get a decent meal for lunch.

The city's culinary offerings were suitably dreary during the cold winters, and as a result of some spectacularly poor decisions the previous autumn, Garhad's diet included far too many carrots for his liking during the last icy months.

Food aside, Garhad was thoroughly sick of market season. Whilst the merchants were able to set up their stalls in the gardens and squares, the Guild District was twice as busy - and the constant hammering, heat and steam made for poor companions.

It was just about the only time of the year where the houses were busy day and night, and the first weeks were the worst. Before long, the caravans from the country would bring in those looking for work, and the new hires gave the old hands some break time. Their arrival, however would be some days away, as the caravans made their way through the forests and fields, navigating over rivers swollen by the spring thaw. Garhad remembered his own journey, almost four years ago to the day, and grimaced. It had not been a pleasant experience.

Finishing the last of his lunch Or was it technically breakfast?  Garhad dusted the crumbs from his hands and stood. Stretching in the sun, he sighed, noting the now worryingly large hole in the bottom of his trousers. At least he could stay at the Hall dormitories this season, that'd save on rent. And as long as he didn't go too wild at the taverns or get involved in any other "business ventures" he'd have enough for some new clothes by summer. Luckily he didn't have to worry about boots this year, perhaps his wisest investment over the last year or so.

As he turned to start the all-too-short walk to the Guildhall, the mighty city clocks struck ten, their thunderous tolling beating in time with the city's heartbeat. Garhad has learnt to count with the bells in his old hometown, and made a habit of counting the hour.

One, Two, Three Crossing the street, Garhad heard the whinny of horses from behind, a carriage or wagon of some sort. Four, Five, Six Carriages didn't come through these streets, the flagstones were rough and the paths narrow. Seven, Eight, Nine Looking up and behind him, Garhad saw it was a passenger carriage with four large horses pulling at a rather fast pace. That won't be a comfortable ride, bouncing on the cobbles like that. He stepped to the side, waiting for that final tolling of the hour...

And time stopped.

In an instant, Garhad found himself flying into the middle of the middle of the road. Straight into the path of the oncoming carriage. He hit the stones with a thump, and rolled, rolled, rolled, before finally curling himself into a ball. The hooves and wheels missed him by inches - the carriage trundling down the street. He lay there dazed and confused as hot pain crept through his limbs. Opening his eyes, he found himself facing a pair of dark leather boots. Looking up, they belonged to a tall figure, shrouded by a long dark cloak, face barely visible under the cowl. The face mouthed some inaudible words, before turning on its heel and striding away.

Did they push me!?

And the clock finally struck ten.

Garhad let go of his clenched fists, groaned, and began the increasingly painful process of getting up. Small rivulets of blood running from grazes on his forearms, he would certainly be a sorry sight to his fellow smiths in the Hall. Hartha was handy with all manners of poultices and dressings though, and Garhad resolved to ask the dwarf for advice when he returned. He limped over to where he had been standing only moments before and sat on the low stone fence, waiting for his ears to clear and head to stop aching.

Garhad's pain induced meditation was cut short by a familiar voice calling his name.

"Gar! Gar!" A young man dressed in the uniform of the city watch rushed over. "Are you alright friend? Did you trip over or something?"

"Yea - yeah." Garhad's words reverberated through his own skull.

"Here, drink this. It was a good thing I was looking for you, the other smiths said you liked to take your lunch up this way."

Gar took the proffered waterskin and took a swig. The water helped to clear his head, and he made the last stumble back into reality. It was an old friend from the Guild, Anton, face furrowed with concern in front of him. And wearing a Guard uniform? But that makes no sense.

"Thanks Anton, what's with the uniform?"

"What do you think I wanted to talk to you about? Follow me, I know a pub open this hour and the Guild won't notice you're away for another half hour."

Despite having only just eaten, Gar was suddenly very hungry. "Fine with me."

The pub Anton knew turned out to be a favourite evening haunt of Gar's, Black Bows. It was where Gar made the most of the one other good thing about market season, moneyed merchants who fancied themselves adventurers who would pay good money for a raucous tune or story. Gar had nurtured a talent over the years for tall tales and spun stories of all sorts keeping the fat cats distracted, while his friend and barmaid Ala, picked their pockets.

It was a strange sort of justice, Gar and Ala had decided. After all, they were more than happy to split their takings with their families, fellow labourers and roommates. Once, Gar earned a black eye for his trouble and decided to steer well clear of the pub for a week or three.

Anton leading the way, the two pushed open the door and gave a wave to Jack the barkeep. "The usual thanks!," the two settled at a table in the furthest corner. To Gar's surprise, they weren't the only patrons this morning, as two young women sat by the front window talking in earnest.

As Jack brought over drinks and plates of sausages, Anton, his voice low, began to speak.

And Gar knew his life would never be the same again.
I wonder who this could possibly be...


The tension was palpable on the streets of Coxarif
"Saint" Banner hardly noticed the tension they caused as they strolled leisurely through Westbridge. They loved the sounds of hard workers, loved to hear the people. It reminded them of what they were liberating.

They made sure not to stray too close to any vendors, their presence might not be good for business. They assumed the thick wrap of bandages over their lower face would help, but alas, even their uniform, stolen from a nearby garrison, dyed a blood red, seemed to conjure images of "violence", "chaos", "civil unrest". They preferred the word Freedom.

"Quare day for it." Banner jumped a little. Stuck in your head again. They turned to face the old man speaking with them. "innit?" He pressed further. "Aye. I'm dying for a drink, you wouldn't know a good spot?" They were taken aback by how casual he was. "Ah sure there'd be nothing else to be doing. Black Bow's is fierce cheap, gets you there. They won't care who you are, so long as you pay your tab. By the looks of it, you'd appreciate that." Banner chuckled, "Grand so. I'll be talking to you." Banner bade goodbye to the kind stranger, confused

Maybe they're warming up to me. I certainly noticed the distinct lack of stones being thrown
They  came upon a band of musicians, buskers. Banner loved the sounds of the accordions and flutes, of the old songs.
"♫ ... and that's the cruel reason, I left aul Skibbereen.. ♫"
Great. That'd be stuck in their head all day.
Finally, they came upon the Black Bow. Brushing past a traveler clutching some old parchment, Banner stepped inside, a quiet bar. A lone patron at the window, reading. On second thoughts, judging by the drink beside them, they were either no patron or a very good one.

Suddenly, Banner froze. A guard? Here?! Ballix! THeir hand curled around the small knife on their belt, carefully avoiding the table, frenzied with excited whispers, closely watching the pickpocket and staring down the guard.

Not today, not here. Don't try me.


Iris was beyond nervous, yet she still tried to smile in the midst of little clunky buggies halting and seeing large strangers hop off. Is it just me, or do they shake the ground when they jump? she asked her little companion, a Cado dragon she called Ginger. Ginger was a tiny pup of a thing, orange fur with a squirrelly tail, yet Iris knew him all her life. She had her companion perched on her shoulder, shakily walking about Coxarif's cute, but seemingly crooked, stone streets. She was dying for some excitement, however now she was beginning to worry that her bright pink hair and tiny antlers protruding out her noggin would make her stick out like a green plumb, yet it seemed that everyone stuck out, in their own little way; Iris liked that.

She was beginning to ease up to the strange city, when a little healer's house caught her eye. It fit in well with the other buildings; it was a nice shack with a modest sign of oak reading "Reyginal's Apothecary and Healing" in nice letters. It had always been her dream to be a healer. Have her own little cozy shack full of herbs and potions, some spell tombs, and a nice desk to place all her plants and pottery was the life for her! She had lost herself in her own mind, and felt as if she hit a wall. She panicked, looked back, and saw towering over her a green brute of a creature. It's face was big, it's eyes mean, and it's huge teeth hungry for a throat the bite into. "Ugh. Think ya can just knock me around like a tall mug do ya?" the beastly figure growled. Iris stood frozen in fear; she wasn't incapable of fighting, she carried around her staff made from abaqado tree wood and she wielded it nicely, but she hardly had any training with it. She felt Ginger burry himself in her pink flowing hair, beneath her long hat. The creature continued, "Well, something you better learn is that nobody pushes around Barhill the Beast."

Too afraid to run and not confident enough to fight, she began to try and stammer out some quick diplomacy. Nothing left her mouth, but suddenly she saw a skinny green hand reach out for Barhill's shoulder. My guardian angel! she thought in relief. Barhill turned around abruptly, and suddenly his nasty face turned straight to the sky. "Maggie!" he cried out, embracing out the other stranger in a massive hug. "I've been waiting by the gates every day for the past two weeks! Where have ya been?" he asked in joy.

The face she saw was almost a complete copy of Barhill, but on a slightly smaller and more frail body, yet this female counterpart seemed taller and looked much older. "I've missed you, Bah. I've missed the city, too.." she said, gently returning the hug. The two held on for quite some time, but when they ceased to embrace and Iris saw Maggie's hideous eyes shift to her, she began to curse herself for not running while she had the chance. "This your friend?" she asked, staring deeply into Iris's large brown eyes. "She looks scared to death - Bah, are you still tormenting strangers?"

Barhill let out a long, deep chuckle. "Orc's gotta amuse himself somehow, no? HA - sorry if I scare ye, my deer friend, maybe i'twas cruel, but it's so fun!" the large orc cleared his throat, "The name's Barhill, I cook for a little pub up and near here, and this is my sister Maggie, but just call her Magg's, she loves it!" the orc let out a small wince in pain as his sister's fist shot up his arm. "anyways, no need to worry, ye can take a breath. I swear I won't try and strangle ye and eat up yer furry little friend there. Come! Follow us to the Black Bow, and make yerself at home therr."

And so Iris paced slowly behind the two orc siblings, as they relived old times in some little mining camp just outside Coxarif. They caught up with each other, Maggie had made a profit collecting and selling goods she found in her travels, and apparently a rather nice one. Barhill had remained a local chef in the place, apparently a quite talented one. When they reached the door's to what was called "The Black Bow", Barhill took the lead in pushing the door open with excessive strength. "Been nice gettin' to know ya, Irry. Now, go sit down somewhere, me and Maggie gotta go do our jobs."

Iris gently smiled as the two went back in another room of the pub. "They seemed... rather friendly." she told Ginger. She took her seat, almost by instinct, where she saw a couple others before. She hoped she wouldn't make a fool of herself, her time here had just begun.

There'#039s a light inside your soul that'#039s still shining in the cold, and the truth - the promise in our hearts
Don'#039t forget, I'#039m with you in the dark :)


A fanciful glow of stars shown overhead, with distant purples and blues from gas clouds impossibly far away. Just in the corner of vision, hovered a small ivory statuette, vaguely resembling a human form. It was somehow able to speak, a voice that was clear and strong, as if telepathic. As it spoke, it moved closer. Ever closer.

The let me pick.

Did I ever tell you that?

Choose any mage I wanted in the world.

You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the wizard we needed you to be.

Ever closer.

Like the others, you were strong, and swift, and brave. A natural leader.

...But you had something they didn't. Something no one saw, but me. Can you guess?

The figuring was very close now. Menacingly close, in fact.

A sexy chemistry set.

Thwap thwap thwap

"Herbert?", a woman's voice sounded from behind the office door.

Herbert Wallace jumped awake. He scanned left, he scanned right, and scanned up for twice as long. He turned back to his desk. The figure remained safely where he left it. Nodding satisfactorily, he put a hand on the vaguely humanoid head. "The hour of our ascent will soon be at hand," he whispered at the statuette.

Wallace's office was a dark and dimly lit shoebox with papers strewn about in every possible location. The windows to the office only began three quarters of the way up the wall, and the shelves in front of them were filled with various containers of colourful liquids in alembics which stained the light that passed through. A there were a chaotic scattering of desks and chairs made from old and dark wood, beat up from years of use. The back wall featured a wooden rack, lined to the brim with vials of every conceivable substance.

Thwap thwap thwap

"Herbert???", said the woman, more impatiently this time.

Wallace shot up from his desk like he was struck by electric shock. "Ho! Ha, yess. Right, yes. Coming!" his voice was faint and strained, like a cabinet hinge that needed grease. He pushed back his chair and stumbled through a pile of papers on the floor as he walked across the room. He opened up the door to the office, revealing another professor of the Inverted Spire with blonde, straight cut, shoulder-length hair and an incredulous look on her face. "Ah! Master Westmore. You, eh. You surprised me!"

She examined the office door carefully. "Yes....The knock was very unexpected."

She sighed. "Master Wallace, you missed the all-staff meeting and it's the third time in a row that this has happened. As chair of the department, I'm required to inform you that you must be there to be kept apprised of important information regarding the Spire and its students."

"Oh yes. Erm. Terribly sorry I was. I was just researching a new form of alchemy."

She peered past him at the jumble of papers on his desk.


"I'll send you my notes on the meeting. Be sure to attend the next one?"

"Right, of course, I'll just remember to check where they are aga-."

"And Master Doran would like you to prepare a vat of liquid light for the some sort of ceremony next week, yes? It's very important?"

"Oh, yes-yes. No issue at all." He smiled and wobbled back in forth a bit. "Lots of light. Very important work.", he nodded.

Westmore stood at the door and also nodded for a moment, mildly concerned and puzzled as Master Wallace was want to inspire. "Yes, well. Good evening Master Wallace."

"Good evening!" he smiled as he shut the door, then turned back to the statuette on his desk.

Was I wrong?


Trevon disagreed with winter.

How was he meant to earn a living if no merchants are moving about, hmm? An entirely deplorable practice, winter. It shouldn't be allowed. Who invented winter, anyway? Probably one of those god fellas, he supposed. His religious education hadn't been particularly complete; his education in general had been somewhat lacking. He looked at the small, black kitten sitting on his shoulder. Well, he tried to look at it. It was quite challenging to look at something sitting on your shoulder. But he persevered. Out of respect! If you don't respect magic kittens, indeed, you're no sort of man at all.
Kitten looked at him soulfully.
"Who invented winter, hmm?", he asked, "You probably know."
He expected and received no answer. In any case, today, winter had been vanquished! The markets were roaring into action, the merchants beginning their cutthroat game of economic thievery they called 'trade', and the caravans were moving across and beyond Ustendelle once more. Of course, he wasn't allowed to sign on as hired security. Kitten wouldn't let him.
Kitten was still looking at him soulfully.
"Yeah, yeah." he said, "I'm going to the place you told me to."
He continued his march toward Westbridge.

He was moving through the stalls of the Coxarif markets now, among the calls of hawkers and other salespeople. Trevon had learnt to tune out the noise in crowds like this, but it looked like Kitten wanted to take a different approach, as he felt a nudge on his mind push him towards the side of the street. He sighed as he saw their destination - a stall selling fish. Sometimes he wondered why he let Kitten walk all over him like this. Trevon reluctantly approached the shop. It smelled terrible, an occupational hazard of selling fish. Lines of dead fish lay side by side, with gaping mouths and sightless eyes. The shopkeeper, seeing the promise of a profit, brightened, and began to speak, presumably to extoll the virtues of his fish. Trevon, who was of the opinion that a fish was a fish, broke in before any such frivolity or bartering could begin.
"I would like that fish," Trevon said, pointing at his randomly selected favoured fish.
He paid and escaped before any further attempts at salesmanship could be made. He passed the fish to Kitten, who ran off to the shadows somewhere to consume it. Greedy little rat that they were.

Finally, he came to The Black Bow, his destination. Kitten was perched on his shoulder once more. He didn't even know why he was here - Kitten wasn't very good at explaining themselves. Probably on account of being a cat. Still, in the months since he'd found them Kitten hadn't led him wrong yet!

In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods. They have not forgotten this. - Terry Pratchett


Verdegris laughs as his house burns down.

Now this would be a rather crazy sentence to start a story with if you didn't know Verde, but that was just the way he was. Things never seemed to go well when people were around him. Particularly with his crackpot magic experiments, although one could imagine why those wouldn't go well. In fact fires and explosions around the Verdegris residency were not all that uncommon, but usually they did not end in the burning of the whole house. Which made this a rather notable experience both for him and the rest of the neighborhood.

"Well old boy, I reckon we better get hopping eh? I don't think the local folks will appreciate a burning house in their pristine neighborhood." He is of course talking to his companion Mel, an iridescent lizard that lives in Verde's scraggly hair, who nods in agreement. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Verde has anywhere to actually escape to. People have begun to look out from their houses, and a few brave souls have even come to have some probably very strong words with Verde. And yet with no escape from his current situation, Verde grins madly and right as the neighbors approach, he does a fancy little twirl(mostly for comedic effect mind you) and snaps his fingers loudly.

Nothing happens.

"Oh you worthless fickle little spell!" He snaps his fingers again and this time the snap is much louder, far louder than a Brexxian snap should be, enough to deafen everyone in the nearby vicinity. And when the neighbors are struck out of their stupor, Verde is nowhere to be seen...

Verde comes to in a rather uncomfortable position. He seems to be in some kind of pub, a smashed table below him from where he obviously fell a few feet. Where in the world??? This is most decidedly not the Black Bolt Mausoleum as he had planned to end up, not unless the decor had been considerably changed. Not that the decor was terrible, Verde did enjoy a nice fireplace in a grubby little place such as this. But that really was not the point. He gets up, straightening his hat. He'd clearly interrupted the conversation of two rather odd looking fellows, nothing like the kind of folks he usually saw in the Eastern boondocks. Rather interesting how he ended up in such a foreign place really. But at least it wasn't an angry neighbor mob so that was most certainly a plus. He wanders over to the bar. "Barkeep, where on earth am I?"

The barkeep looks just about as confused as everyone else in the room from the weird pitch black man appearing in the middle of a pub(and destroying a table), but he responds. "You're in Black Bow's pub? Are you alright?" Verde laughs heartily. "And where is that might I ask?" The bartender warily responds "Coxarif?" Verde's eyes widen. Uh oh. Coxarif is a merchant city... a very very not local merchant city. Verde's been lost before, but this is something else entirely...


If she were being perfectly honest with herself, Aria had no idea what she was doing. She had never actually been to this adventuring guild before, and wouldn't have been entirely sure that she had come to the right place except for the fact that the name wa son the door. Maybe if she played it cool, nobody would say anything. She sipped her water and kicked her legs a bit. For whatever reason, the chairs in this place were slightly too tall for her height, and her feet just barely didn't touch the ground. But they reached high enough that she could see out the window! That was nice.

This was also perhaps the craziest thing she had ever done, just outright declaring she was going to go on an adventure with no idea what that adventure would be or what it would involve. Or who it would involve. Honestly, outside of her pen pals, she had just stuck signs on lamp posts around the city throughout the winter. Show up at Black Bow's Adventuring Guild on Market Day and talk to Aria for an adventure. She had also asked the other people in her dormitory to come along, but nobody seemed interested. Noooo, they just loved being at Ludwin's Academy. They had told her about this place though. Opposite side of the city, quiet, near a gate, apparently the coolest place to plan adventures. Weird that they knew so much about it but didn't want to come themselves.

Oh well, it was probably nothing.

Cass entered the pub, greeted by a rush of air, smelling faintly of stale beer and...baked goods? A variety of motley characters crowded the pub, but her attention was drawn to the young woman with silver hair sitting in the corner. "You would be Aria then?"

As quickly and neatly as she could manage, Aria put a bookmark to keep her place in the book and jumped out of her chair. "Cass! I hope? I think? Uh, hi! It's so nice to finally meet you!"

Cass was just about exactly as Aria had imagined, though to be fair she had received a physical description in their letters so that she would know who to look out for. But still! It was very exciting! She didn't know exactly what to do, so she rummaged in her bag and pulled out a small baggie of chocolate-covered raisins. "Do you want some snacks? I can get something for you from the bar. I have, uh, water. Apparently if you want he also has things to eat?"

Two seemingly-official men came in and asked the bartender for the usual. Aria was intrigued at who would frequent this place, and what type of things they might be into. One was a guard though; guards were notorious for not going on adventures, or even being interested in them. Sometimes one would even say he 'used to be an adventurer like her' before some horrific accident like being mauled by a bear. Once they received their food, they seemed more or less engaged in their own conversation, so she left them alone. Most likely scenario was this was a coincidence, and they weren't here for the adventuring guild anyway. Otherwise they'd definitely have recognised her. The person who came in after them seemed to be interested in the guard as well, but in a much more twitchy, dangerous sense. She thought it would be best to avoid them as well.


"Oh my gosh!" she said quietly, mostly to herself but also a little bit to Cass. Someone who was clearly a main character had walked into the adventuring guild now, and she was quite excited to talk to her. Pink hair, antlers, a tiny dragon? It was like this was fated to be a new friend. And even more as if dictated by fate, she walked right over to their table and sat down. Aria's eyes were sparkling, and her voice caught for a moment before she was able to say, "H-Hi! I'm Aria and this is Cass. Did you see one of the flyers? AlsoIloveyourdragonwhat'stheirname? Also um if you want anything to eat or drink I can get it for you," she dug around in her bag for a moment before pulling out some plums in a jar. "Or I could get something from the bar. For both of you?"

As she asked this, a man with a cat walked in, something that would of course catch her attention. He seemed like he had never been there before, but perhaps had been directed here. Maybe he had seen one of her flyers? That was a cool idea. She really liked the idea of maybe having a cat person along for the adventure, especially if they already had a dragon person along-


A madman appeared out of nowhere into the middle of the room, destroying a table in the process. Aria's eyes grew very wide and she covered her mouth with a hand as he exchanged with the person behind the bar, asking where he was at that moment and seeming exceptionally concerned about - DID HE HAVE A LIZARD THOUGH? She thought she saw a lizard peek out from his hair. Or at least, something was glowing in there? She wasn't sure what, but it was quite exciting. So many pets showing up all at once! Aria could have squealed. Probably unlikely he had found their flyer though. Also the bartender just saying this was a pub. Was this not an adventuring guild? Had her dorm-mates lied to her? She was quite concerned about that possibility. But she'd probably go up and say hi once she knew what to get for everyone else.

Iris had hardly put her bag down before fear ripped it from her grasp, for the young Sylph girl charged straight into conversation. She felt Ginger tumble off of her shoulder and land straight into her arms. Her face wasted no time to burn like a tea pot; it was a wonder she didn't start whistling. Sweat pouring down her cheeks, she considered that stopping here may have been a mistake.

When she finally looked up, she noticed the Sylph's eyes had begun trailing off in the distance. She gave a small glance over to find the man with the cat come in; she admittedly found the cat rather cute, but while in thought on it she suddenly leaped into the air as the sound of what could have only been in her guess a magical bomb went off; but when she turned, she saw that only a table was broke, and a person she could have sworn was NOT there before was with it.

She hugged Ginger in her arms especially tight, he seemed to be just as concerned as Iris, although he was more confused then anything. She gently looked up to observe the Sylph. She did not look afraid at all, and something in her admired that energy and fearlessness in her. So Iris lifted her gentle, curious eyes up to the other's happy and sparkly ones and spoke in a soft voice, "I'm...I'm Iris, and this is Ginger." she said, nodding downward to the little furry dragon in her arms. As Ginger's nose began firing off at the scent of the plumbs, she started again softly, "Do you have any pooding? - Or, really anything...just not...meat."

Aria nodded happily, sitting the jar of plums on the table. "It's really nice to meet you Iris and Ginger! I'll go see what I can get. Pudding or anything as long as it has no meat, I can do that. Probably. I've never actually been here before? I'll get you some water, too. It's really the best thing you can get from a pub these days, I think."

She got up and stepped lightly around the crazy man in the centre of the room before approaching the bar. "Heyyy, so I know things are kind of..." she looked back at the man in the middle of the broken table, then back to the bartender, "I was wondering what kind of food you had, preferably things that aren't meat. Also do you have puddings?"

"Yes," he replied, eyes firmly on the scene potentially unfolding in front of him, but doing his best to remember that the customer comes first. "We have various roasted vegetables, and I believe there's a vegetable stew being cooked up in the back for some of our more woodland regulars. Actually, that makes a lot of sense. Still a little scrawny, but much less concerning for an elf. As for puddings, uh... the kinds we have probably aren't up to your meatless standard, but if you want something sweet I'd recommend Madame Cambridge's Confectionaries down the street."

"Mhm mhm mhm," Aria nodded, pointedly ignoring the comment about the elf thing. She got that a lot, apparently people in Ustendelle had no idea what a Sylph was and, when they figured it out, were usually none too happy about it. But that was fine. "Well, good luck with thaaaaat then. A couple more cups of water, two orders of roasted vegetables, and three bowls of stew, please."

Quickly, she skipped away, up to the man with the cat and the other man with the lizard. They were taller than her, both of them. That was not actually that surprising, but it was disappointing given that she wanted to see their animals, both of whom were perched high up. The cat man smelled like fish, the lizard man smelled like smoke. These things were strange but probably fine. "You two have cool pets and I like them. I'm Aria, and those people," she pointed back to her table, "are Cass and Iris and Ginger. We're going to go on an adventure. If you'd like to come with us, you can come sit down. I ordered food already, and water," she nodded to the glasses in her hands. "So you might need to order whatever you'd like before sitting down. But I'll pay for it! As long as you don't go crazy. Alright cool byeeeeeee."

Back at the table, she sat down the cups in front of their respective owners and said, "Alright cool! I think they'll probably come over and talk to us. So, what are your thoughts about an adventure?"


Verde has, as one might expect, a very difficult time turning down the prospect of an adventure. In all likelihood, Verde wasn't headed home anytime soon... for several reasons... so what better way to pass the time than an adventure! He does have some reservations at the location of meetup however, back where he comes from, pubs are places to get so drunk you don't remember the hardships of a day. But he supposes it's Coxarif, those merchant folk are probably different, they don't even seem to have an awful lot of grog at this bar. How odd...

Verde shrugs and orders a bowl of vegetable stew, throwing a couple skullcoins onto the counter in front of him. The bartender gives him a raised eyebrow and Verde quickly remembers that they don't actually use his hometown currency in Coxarif. Boy is he hungry though. He thinks on the small woman's offer, she did say she could buy him something from the bar. But as a lifelong loner, one could imagine Verde was also very wary to accept help from strangers.

He retracts the coins and stands to go talk to the apparent adventuring group, a table that seemed to be the fullest -and rowdiest- in the bar. Adventure calls!

"Good evening- oh actually I'm not sure what time it is here so uh good day! I apologize for my frazzled looks, I've just traveled a long way." He sounds a little nervous but also rather excited to have been invited on an adventure. His stomach grumbles a little and he looks embarrassed. "May I ask for a little money for some stew? It's been quite a while since I've last had a meal and advanced spell casting takes a lot outta ya."


"Don't get too comfortable now..."

The young, lithe girl walked through the forest all alone, her wild curly blonde hair flows in the light breeze, under the shade of the forest.  Her blue cloak billowed in the breeze, and the sound of the crunch underneath her boots brought a sense of relaxation despite the voice in her head talking.

The trees had been her home for the past two years, raising Gem in their wild, cautious ways.  Here, she learned to suppress her mind.  She learned to flee fiery passion that would lead to disaster in favor for meditating by a gentle stream, becoming hyper-aware of the frantic calling of the forests and numb to her chaotic inner world.  It was a trade Gem was pleased with, but she knew her fragmented mind would disagree.

The Marigold held a deep, destructive energy to it, one that brought terror to Gem.  It preyed on her fears and failures, almost taunting her every time Gem tripped over a stone, or failed to take down a squirrel for food, or start a fire for the night.  Gem rejected the Marigold as much as she could, stuffing it into the deepest recesses of her mind.

The Daisy, however, was the name Gem gave to her ideal self that emerged.  It was calm, valiant, and kind.  She could see the Daisy flawlessly dancing through the forests, guiding her with such gentleness to an emerald-green orchard with all the fruit one could consume.  It never talked like the Marigold, however.  Instead, it communicated with soft gestures and light touch.  Gem preferred it this way, though she wished that the Daisy had a much stronger presence, rather than just brief, fleeting moments.

Human settlements always caused Gem anxiety, just like the one she stumbled upon as she followed a brief touch from the Daisy.  It was big, confusing, unnatural.  The sun shone too brightly over the paved road, and the busy bustling of people only added to the chaos.

"Ahoy, adventurer!"  An obviously-intoxicated man suddenly threw an arm around Gem, catching her off-guard.  He stumbled over his own feet as he began dragging her down the pavement, past the busybodies rushing to and from places.  "Come with me!"

She didn't have much of a choice whether to follow the strange man or not, as he just dragged her around the town all the way into a bar.  Within the next few seconds, he seemed to entirely forget about her, instead harassing the poor bartender for all the drinks in the world. 

She wanted to leave, but the shock and fear kept her glued to the seat she ended up in.  She drew the cloak over her head, listening to the group by the window while she tried to settle herself down and figure out how to escape the town. 

"Just talk to them, you coward."

"No." Gem whispered, trying to ignore the condescending voice in her head.

"What, you afraid that I'll take over and hurt them?" The Marigold snarled cruelly.  "I'll do it if you really want me to."

"Just shut up!"  Gem shouted, pulling the hood over her face, freaking out as she felt a new sensation that she had never felt before, an intense burning that radiated through her body as she felt herself slowly fade out.

The man that dragged her to the bar had looked over, jabbing the bartender with his elbow.  "Seems like that young laddie there had a bit too much to drink, eh?"

The fully-present feeling was new to the Marigold, a sensation that it enjoyed.  No longer just a shadow, it lifted the now-black hood off its jet-black hair, opening its burgundy eyes to the world.  With a smile, it stood up, walking across the room to the bar itself, tossing the man a few pieces of silver.  The Marigold opened its mouth to speak, but found itself voiceless.

I'm not strong enough yet.

Instead, the Marigold just smiled sweetly, pointing to a barrel of wine to the side.  The bartender sighed, grabbing the drink, giving it to the Marigold without a word.  At this, the Marigold nodded its approval, standing up again to walk towards the group by the window, just standing there ominously, not speaking a word but listening very intently.


The Inverted Spire's library was a massive section of the structure, taking up several floors that were open in the centre so that those above could look down upon those below. It was warm, sometimes a slight bit too warm, and the accoutrements were mostly fashioned of wood from the forests surrounding Coxarif. Massive windows let in plentiful light from outside, shining down upon several chairs and desks along the exterior walls, where students and professors of varying ranks sat reading.

Each floor of the library was assigned to a specific rank, and it was on the Adept floors (second only to the masters, of course) that Rizali Corvus sat, a stack of books to the side of their cushioned, comfortable chair. Their loose-fitting yellow robes denoted them as an Illusionist. Their hood was pulled back, revealing thin, androgynous features. Their skin was marked with blue swirls that framed their cheeks. Most of the books to their side were on ancient Elahánan forms of magic, illusion and otherwise, as well as works on various fae creatures, histories of Ustendelle, and also a worn book promoting a thesis on a magical anomaly that bordered Ustendelle to the west called the Kingfisher Forest. The book they were reading, however, had no visible text on the cover or spine, and appeared heavily worn.

The book was written in a strange dialect that Riza hadn't come across before this point. It was close enough to Ustendelli that they could puzzle through it, but it was slow reading. That, along with the only legible marker being a last name -Darnell-, made it hard to really apply any level of samsonite battle husk credibility to the text. What they'd come across so far, however, seemed to hint at something truly incredible. If it bore out... well, they'd have to see it from themself.

They were wasting the scarce time they had, however. Pocketing the book inside their robe, Riza raised their hood and exited the library. They'd study it further back in their quarters; the rest of the books were interesting, but not interesting enough.

Master Carglowyn had tasked them with something important between classes. To qualify for advancement to master status, a mage had to become proficient in the other schools as well. Rizali was being made to start with their weakest school- Alchemy. They were supposed to find one of the various alchemist specialists within the school and assist them with a project. Some... Master Wallace, a shut-in from the sounds of it. At the very least, Riza had never heard of him. But they'd heard good things from Master Carglowyn, and that was usually enough to get them to look into things.

They passed up, up, and further up. Past the Mage-level quarters, the upper-level classrooms, the Adept quarters, and then, finally, to the Master offices. They were a little lost up here; it wasn't a common occurrence for even the Adepts to end up here, so they wandered longer than they intended before coming, finally, to an old wooden door labelled 'Wallace'. They straightened their shoulders, stood up straight, and gave a knock.


*cludunk - cludunk - cludunk*

The sounds of the knock at the door echoed throughout the dim water closet of an office that Herbert Wallace worked in. His eyes stuck the door like lightning with a nervous wonderment about the uncertainties of the future. He glanced back at the ivory figurine at his normal desk. "Did you know anything about this?" he asked the statuette. The figure did not respond. It also did not move.

*cludunk - cludunk - cludunk*, the door echoed again.

Wallace squinted and looked back at the door. "Yes? You can come in."

Rizali hesitated on the other side of the door for a moment, then took a breath and entered the room. It was smaller than they'd expected for an office, certainly an office that doubled as an occasional classroom. "Good day, Master Wallace. I am Adept-Illusionist Rizali Corvus, on assignment from Master Carglowyn to assist you for the next few days on whatever you might need. How can I assist?"

Wallace was sitting at one of the students desks and arranged in front of him were an array of small jars of different colours. Red, orange, green, blue, white, yellow, each jar was brightly emitting a different colour of light. Wallace blinked for several moments. And then he blinked for several more moments. "What", he asked open mouthed. "I'm, erm, I 'm very quite sure I never asked for any sort of apprentice in my study...An illusionist, I don't even know if you're really here..."

Riza, in turn, blinked for a moment as they tried to find the right words for what they were thinking. They'd been sent here by Master Carglowyn specifically, and they'd assumed he had informed Master Wallace of their coming. If not, this was a particularly awkward moment. "Oh, I, uh, I apologise. I certainly meant no intrusion."

They stood just inside for another few, awkward seconds, before something clicked in their brain. "I'm sorry, actually. Is that liquid light? I've only ever seen it in the one colour, how do you go about getting it to have this variety?"

Wallace picked up the red jar of glowing liquid from the desk, drank a sip of it, and then put it back down. "Oh, yes. I was just...working on a new form of alchemy. Liquid light, you know. Very good work. Good for the heart, right."

Riza felt they were starting to get a handle on the conversation, really for the first time since walking into the door. They'd been around a decent number of older Master-level mages since reaching Adept, and they generally fell into two categories. The first was someone entirely in control of themselves. The second... a bit mad from being cooped up in a tower for the last fifty or more years among musty books. The latter category perhaps more often came from the Alchemy school than others because they had a tendency to sample things that were a slight bit... toxic.

They cringed a bit at the sight of someone drinking liquid light. That was definitely not a good thing to be drinking. "I see, and it seems like an exceedingly interesting project you're working on. An entirely new form of alchemy, you say? Does it involve..." they took a few steps more into the room and gestured about the various jars, "the liquid light?"

Wallace scanned the area around the desk, inspected the floor behind him, before looking back up at where his project sat. He located something that resembled a paintbrush. He picked it up, and dabbed it in the glowing orange jar, then in the glowing white jar. The tip of the brush began to sizzle a bit. It wasn't smoking, but it sounded a bit like it was being fried. Wallace held the brush aloft, a small radiant droplet collected at its end. With a flick, he tossed the droplet at another desk in the room.


A sound rang out as the desktop was engulfed with a very brief but very bright fireball. Wallace set the brush down and looked back at Riza. "No", he smiled.

Riza flinched at the loud noise, completely taken aback by this turn of events. When Master Wallace had mentioned that he was working on a new form of alchemy, they'd expected it would be something like a new type of healing drought or something to make plants grow faster. But instead, "What?" They walked to the desk and peered into the jar, then back to Master Wallace. "You've created explosive liquid light? Wh- what is the goal here, what is the function of this?"

Wallace picked up the glowing white jar from the desk, drank a sip of it, and then put it back down. "It just gets like that sometimes. Have a sit, would you." he gestured at the student desk next to his own, the same which now featured a stark black scorch mark.

Riza began an attempt to reach out when Master Wallace picked up the white jar to drink from, but first of all, it was much too late for that, and secondly, there was a bit of the light of madness in the eyes of the old alchemist already. Now that they knew he was in possession of dangerous explosives, they preferred maybe not putting themselves into a place where someone could get more hurt than... drinking the components of the explosives. Instead, they looked to the seat Master Wallace had gestured toward, then adjusted their robes to delicately sit among the scorch mark.

"What are your plans with this?" they continued. Mostly they were concerned he was going to accidentally blow up the Spire, but there were other bad possibilities if they really thought about it. "Alchemy may not be my speciality, but I'm very curious about it nonetheless."

Wallace got up and walked across the room to retrieve a large and shallow clay bowl. Sitting back down, he emptied the glowing yellow and white jars into the container, forming a sort of intensely hot and radiant compound. He acquired his brush and dunked it into the glowing blue jar from the arrangement, flipped the brush upside down and began stirring the mixture, careful to keep Riza in his line of sight in case there was any sort of amusing expression to be had. In a flash, the bright glowing mixture switched to an eery glowing darkness, like an endless pool of night with distant blue and purple clouds vaguely appearing far off.

"Would you mind lending me one of your hairs? Anyone's will do. But when available, well, you know..."

This new form of colour-based alchemy was fascinating to Riza, who was obviously more accustomed to magic that looked very interesting but didn't work to change physical properties. While most higher-up mages in the Spire might work to withhold or hide their feelings in a moment, Riza was in absolute wonderment at watching this demonstration, and was certainly projecting that fact.

"Oh, uh, certainly, one moment," the mage replied, pulling back their hood, grabbing a strand of hair, and plucking it from its place. They leaned forward and held it out, "Here you are."

Wallace took up the strand. "I should admit that you won't be getting it back," he said as he touched the very tip of the hair into the jar of green liquid. He moved it over the shallow clay bowl and began dipping the hair in and out in very precise locations in the mixture. Each dot created a faint, glowing white speck that slowly floated down to a seemingly random height in the mixture. After some minutes of repeating the process, Wallace leaned back contentedly. He discarded the strand of hair, which had evidently been slowly disintegrating all the while.

"And that is our pattern. Easy to replicate in bulk, I think, with some more black." said the master happily. He dipped his finger in the solution and spread the substance over a small portion of his desk. It looked as though staring up at the night sky, but might more vibrant and lit. He popped the finger in his mouth to remove the remainder of the substance. He leaned in with a furrowed brow, "You wouldn't have a disposition for lifting would you?"


Banner leapt from the dusty floorboards, pouncing upon the guard in front of them. They engage their enemy on their own terms, grabbing a chair leg and beating him with it as they fight on the floor.

They feel two more hands drag them off of the oppressive scum before them as they hurl venomous insults at him. "Uniformed bastard!". There's an air of confusion as the guard pleads his case, "What are you on about?! I'm no guard you crazy drunk."

Banner raises an eyebrow, "Bull. I've seen those uniforms before, hell, I've killed countless men for wearing those uniforms. Nobody can steal them, those barracks are more secure than any palace. Only the most skilled adventurer can steal from the Coxarif Guards," they proudly dust off their blood red guard uniform, obviously stolen, I'm curious, what fanciful tale did you concoct to try to fool the grand Saint Banner." They bow deeply as they say their name, and with a wink they add, "At your service."

Anton grins at the state of this character before him. Saint Banner, a notorious terrorist and bandit, introducing themselves like a noble. "Well, sit down, I think you'll enjoy this one"


Iris thumped her finger into the cup of pudding, then in her mouth delicately sucking on it. She was confused of what Aria meant by an 'Adventure'. She didn't recall signing up for anything of the sort, sh hadn't even been there a day. Her eyes shot back to the sign, where suddenly everything made sense when she read "BLACK BOWS ADVENTURING GUILD". Oh, she thought to herself. I guess I should watch where I go....

She was ready to explain her mistake and walk out, when she felt Aria's eyes racing back and forth between her two new friends. "I guess an adventure wouldn't be too bad," Iris said with a smile. After all, she was looking for a way to earn some experience. Maybe this Aria could show her a thing or two about healing! "Well Gin, wanna go for an adventure?" she smiled down to her companion.

Ginger leapt on the table, sucking on a whole plumb in his tiny mouth. He turned back to Iris and shook his head plainly before focusing on his plumb once more. "Come on Gin. You know you need a new hobby." And Ginger responded with a dramatic eyeroll, a drop of the ears, and a heavy sigh before flopping down on the table. "Aww, I'm proud of you!" she scratched behind Ginger's little ears.

"Well, miss Aria, the dragon has spoken: you can count us in." she smiled as she threw her staff in the center of the table.

There'#039s a light inside your soul that'#039s still shining in the cold, and the truth - the promise in our hearts
Don'#039t forget, I'#039m with you in the dark :)


If there was one thing Aria was good at, it was understanding how tiny dragons communicated. It was a very specific speciality, but if specificness wasn't specifically what one specified when seeking specialities, for what non-specific speciality should she strive? As Iris sucked on her pudding- wait, had she had that all along?- and conversed with Ginger, Aria paid extra close attention. The dragon, much to her delight, seemed unequivocally and without doubt totally up for this adventure idea. And Iris confirmed as much, giving Aria cause to bury a feeling of smug satisfaction. "That's great! I'm sure that once we figure out what adventure we're going on, you'll be invaluable!" She turned slightly to take in both women at the table, taking a small sack of candied ginger from her bag and munching on it. "So what ideas do you have?"

Iris put her knuckle to her chin as her brainstorming practically poured from her head. She had just arrived to the capital, and in truth she knew very little of what went on beyond her little village. Trouble seldom reached within the tiny walls of her home, but when it did, it was just poachers who tried to steal a dragon who usually got caught by the vigilantes.
Then something dawned on her - a fable that everyone in her village knew of. It kept the kids awake at night, fearing what would happen if they strayed too far away from the village. Was it mere fable and fantasy? Probably, but Iris found a way she could potentially impress her new friends.
Iris's eyes turned near black and she stared ominously at Aria. She sat on her furred legs now, Ginger giving her a strange look. "Aria, have you ever heard of the FLESH MONGER? It's a legendary beast who dwells in the mountain caves. They say it snatches people off the roads and takes them to its lair. That could be worth checking out."

The FLESH MONGER? Now that was an adventure idea. But, if she was being entirely honest with herself, and if there was one thing that Aria excelled at besides understanding what tiny dragons were saying, it was being honest with herself and the people around her, maybe going after something called the FLESH MONGER was a bit more than she was ready for. But maybe it wasn't! It was hard to say, and would probably require some research. "That is certainly an idea!" she exclaimed. She looked toward Cass, "What do you think? I'd also heard something about a weird forest, and some creepy cults, but a FLESH MONGER seems... adventuresome!"

The frazzled man with the lizard in his hair approached their table, something that excited Aria quite a lot. She liked lizards, though they were pretty rare during the winter. She wondered if maybe the man's hair was so hot it kept the lizard warm. But it didn't feel hot when- you know what, probably a magic lizard. He teleported into the adventuring hall, so magic was probably the answer to anything she was wondering about. He asked about food, and she wondered if maybe they didn't have after-service cheques where he came from. "Uh... yeah! That seems okay, just have a seat. Here," she rummaged around in her bag and pulled out a bag of seasoned, dried vegetables, handing it to him, "have a seat and munch on these until the food comes.

"Rodrick the bartender man!" she called, waving her arm.

His voice came back, small from the distance, "My name's Jack, miss."

"Sorry! Can his stew," she pointed at Verde, "be put on the bill for the table? Thanks so much. Also can we have another water? Good water you have here, uh, very c-crisp?"

Jack sighed, but nodded and went to the back. When she turned back to give the good news to the new arrival for whom she still had no name, Aria was shocked to find that he'd entirely disappeared! Fancy that, disappearing in exactly the same way as he'd arrived, just no tables were broken this time. She considered yelling after Jack, but decided it might not be the best thing to do at a time like this. Granted... someone would probably want to eat the stew, and she couldn't see a need for money once they were out on the adventure.

Teleportation magic was certainly a tricky thing. It would have been useful to have a mage, but maybe he'd ended up in a weird abyss realm due to magical feedback. She'd read about that in a tabloid once. It was a real humdinger of a thing.

Kitten was not happy with being referred to as a pet. If anything, he was more Kitten's pet. Kitten's anger manifested itself as very small claws in his shoulder, and very small claws in his mind. However, it seemed that this Aria was the one Kitten wanted to meet, as he felt the full weight of their small furry brain dragging them towards the table. He hung back with effort. This was the psychic equivalent of tying several large dogs to your waist, and then attempting to walk in the other direction from food. However, he had learnt from experience that Kitten's priorities and his self-preservation did not always align. This group seemed relatively harmless, although extremely weird. Adventures weren't normally his beat, but shouldn't be too different from mercenary work, he guessed. Less pay, probably. A lower casualty rate, hopefully. He carefully approached the table, noting the apparent presence of a small dragon. The Sylph who had come up to him appeared to be leading the conversation. Unsure exactly what he was doing, but tentatively confident the chances of bodily harm were low, he introduced himself. "I am Trevon," he said, "Direct any business enquiries to the cat."

Aria nodded. Someone a bit dotty had once told her that nodding was a great way to express confidence. Confidence was incredibly important, especially when directing business inquiries to a cat. She didn't mind, of course, she found the cat to be a very interesting aspect of Trevon's whole... deal. "Nice to meet you, Trevon, nice to meet you, cat. If you've brought any adventure ideas with you, I'd certainly love to hear them. We were just talking about new ideas. There was mention of some cults and a forest and a vicious cave-dwelling beast that snatches children in the night... you know, normal adventure stuff."

"Uniformed bastard!" came a shout from a nearby table, where the lead singer of a punk rock band in a red-stained guard uniform jumped the table at someone who was also wearing a guard uniform but exclaimed to also not be a guard. Aria looked around as everyone else went along with their business. Was this... entirely normal here? She had no way of knowing and didn't really know what to do about it no matter what that answer ended up being. Her confusion only deepened when the two bonded over Saint? Banner? nearly beating the other man to death with the leg of a previously-destroyed chair. Boys were weird. Super weird.

Jack re-emerged, bringing the bowls of stew and various vegetable dishes to their table. He looked at the guardspeople, bleeding and being covered in blood, and sighed again. Aria felt bad for him, things really seemed to not be going entirely his way. She didn't know what to do to help him, but to be fair they were buying a lot of food today. She thanked him and he returned to the bar, saying something in a low voice to the people at the other table on his way by. She took a bite of her stew, and looked to the people she was now sharing the table with. Cass, Iris, and Trevon. Not a bad group. She wondered who else might join as the day went on.