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Nero listened with interest as Jhandel outlined the barest sketch of the journey they would soon undertake. The danger was of...little concern. Nero was not reckless- usually- but he was confident that he could deal with any threat presented to him. Alright, so that might make him a bit reckless. Maybe. Nero smiled to himself. Oh well. More important was the fact that these individuals would be so interested in stopping this whatever it was. And that made them enemies of the empire. Nero didn't like enemies of the empire. He wondered at the scope of what he was signing up for. Ann was right. He was needed here.

He peered interestedly at the map that Jhandel rolled out. He had never used maps himself, but liked to familiarize himself with them whenever he had the opportunity. More importantly, Nero knew the land better than almost anyone. As soon as Jhandel named a location, Nero found he was able to recognize other landmarks by their relative locations. However, as Jhandel traced their predicted route further, Nero's eyes widened. The border. Nero had only once been beyond the reach of the empire. He had never felt the need to repeat the experience.

His eyes drew together. Peering closer at the path dictated by the lines on the map, Nero smiled slightly. At least he knew this much. He understood completely why Jhandel would have chosen this route. To say Nero had been everywhere in the Tourmaline Empire would be an exaggeration, but not by much. Nero had gone to the heavy forest just two years back, and the swamp three more before then. He remembered how he had hated the swamp. Damn. Ignoring this for the time being, he pointed to the line happily as the knight inquired whether Nero could be trusted to find the way.

"Threshaldil."

He traced it further with his large finger.

"Higatan."

Nero looked up from his inspection of the route.

"I know the way."

He straightened fully, stretching his back to its full six feet and eight inches. As he reached up, his arms brushed the rafters, and dislodged a bird, earning him an offended squawk and a gash on his arm. Nero stared at the bird irritably. Wretched thing; why didn't it just fly free? A sharp movement and another flurry of feathers caught his wilds-trained attention. A small (relatively; everyone seemed small to Nero) woman had shooed away a bird who was pestering her. Nero wondered why someone who looked so small and weak was in an inn like the Eagle. On second glance, however, he could see the features of the mountain in her face. Respect grew to replace his confusion. He resolved that he would inquire as to her well-being, if nothing else, once he was finished with the knight. Nero shook his head and focused on his task. Shaking blood from his arm absently, he looked Jhandel in the eye and stuck out his hand.

"I am Nero... I will guide you."
Lord Scottacus's avatar

Interesting Citizen

Denre Rispit

User ImageThe front room of the inn was pretty average. The room had a small stage in one corner where travelling bards and dancers preformed. The room had six tables with four chairs each and a bar that had a raised second level above it. Denre was seated at the bar, three empty glasses in front of him and a fourth in his hands. While Denre was nursing the drink Rothel approached Denre.

“Hey, I overheard the location of the interviews for that job you were looking for from another adventuring party, its at the Eagle’s Den near the main ridge”

Denre thanked his friend and finished his drink. Once done he headed back to his room and got his city garb on, a long sleeved shirt with a long sleeveless jacket over top. He strapped the bracers over his wrists and grabbed his knives. He tucked most of his knives in his coat, leaving two in his sleeves and one in his boot. Leaving the inn he asked a passing cart driver for directions to the Eagle’s Den. Making his way through the crowds easily slipped between the people. Years of experience in a hundred towns and cities had given him a certain affinity for these kind of things.

When he had slipped his way through the crowd to the inn he stopped for a minute. The inn was tucked up against the side of the cliff face and looked a little below his standards. Walking through the front door he was greeted by a hundred piercing stares, the room was full of large birds of prey. They had all gone silent when he walked in. He had never liked birds, he always felt that they could see through him. It was like they could tell he wasn’t what he masqueraded as. He saw a man in a knights uniform and assumed he was the one in charge. The man was situated behind a pile of papers at a table that faced the door. Currently talking to the knight was a huge man with a strange device on his back. Giving one last nervous look at the birds, they were still staring at him, he walked up behind the man to wait for him to finish.
Xanthia Vetyz

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A whirlwind
of dusty air ran amok through the streets but the wide hood of Xanthia’s flamboyant dress proved a useful defense. With the bag of maps slung over her shoulder and the hynamo tucked tightly beneath her armpit she gently lifted the front of her dress as she descended the last of the stairs. The Eagle’s Den was now in sight and Xanthia was beginning to look more and more out of place with every step. The streets on this side of Zanithis were sparse of people and with no crowds for her to stealth in Xanthia’s exquisite apparel and expensive jewelry drew many a befuddled eye.

Her confident march slowed as she approached the grey ramshackle building. Gazing up at the sign she whispered to herself, “…For the Spirited Traveler”, as a musky breeze persuaded the sign to jostle with a creak. The ambiance was rough and intimidating, certainly unfit for anyone of noble stature. Nonetheless, Xanthia was certain of her navigational skills. She valiantly proceeded up the few steps to the door; ignorant of the impression her posh attire might give.

Xanthia’s heart began to pound out of excitement as she opened the door. In accordance with the rest of this part of town, she entered to find the inn mostly vacant, save for the countless birds of prey squawking among the timber ceiling supports. With a brief glance she quickly picked out a knightly figure adorned in the symbols of Tourmaline situated in a corner behind two men whose backs were turned. With a bound of excitement Xanthia urged towards them but then hesitated, recalling her lengthy steps in an awkward manner as she belatedly realized her own impoliteness.

“Are you lost, ma’am?”
The bar tender asked with a smirk as he polished the inside of a mug with a torn cloth.

“I don’t think so, but thanks”
, huffed Xanthia, closing the conversation with an embarrassed cackle. The bar keeper lifted an eyebrow in surprise and ensued to ignore her. She paced among the tables waiting for her turn to talk to the Lord, trying not to draw attention as she gratuitously shuffled her bag of maps. At last she took seat at a table in the middle of the inn and tried to quell her impatience by identifying some of the birds. As Xanthia brought to mind the dichotomous keys she had memorized on a field study her eyes locked on a particular specimen - a grey harrier of exceptional modesty. Quietly, it sat high in a corner of the ceiling, a gentle shuffle of its wings drowned out by the obnoxious pleas of its fellow flyers. Along with the features of countless species, their calls also surfaced in Xanthia’s mind. Now immersed in the world of ornithology she vocalized the call of the grey harrier without hesitation in an attempt to incite the reticent bird. It was a grievous mistake. Provoked, the preying beasts swooped down from all corners of the inn and swarmed Xanthia. They tore at her earrings and unraveled her neatly combed hair causing a ruckus throughout the block. Tipping over a chair as she rose, Xanthia covered her face in a desperate attempt to avoid injury.

“Aaaah! Get them off!”
, she shrieked, stumbling into tables as the birds formed a hurricane of madly flapping wings. So much for avoiding attention.

Cassandra Voorhees's avatar

Gracious General

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                                                        JHANDEL FOLLOWED Nero's gaze intently. It wasn't a requirement of his for the party's guide to have been to the lands which they would be travelling; he had not wanted to expect too much from others for fear of never being able to find willing adventurers to match his standards. Navigational skills and survival knowledge was what he had hoped for. Nero surpassed this in leaps and bounds. Jhandel silently thanked his seemingly outstanding fortune. How rare it was to find someone, especially a citizen not bound to official duty that forced him across the country, who had covered such distances of the Empire with his own two feet.

                                                        "Welcome aboard, Master Hunter," Jhandel said. Mimicking Nero's example, he stood as well, grasping the offered hand in a firm shake. The movement of the birds had also caught his attention, reminding him that there were others in the room with them. A cursory glance alerted him to the presence of a woman who, if her steady movements and quiet nature were products of her upbringing, left the impression of deep mountain heritage. Unsurprising, given their current location in a mountain city, though Jhandel caught her eyes for a brief moment and he suspected she would be wishing to speak with him.

                                                        Jhandel bowed once again to the hunter, handing him a slip of paper which detailed further instructions on when to meet and other expectations he hadn't said aloud. He smiled kindly, wishing him farewell. In that stretch of time as he returned his hand to his side, he became painfully aware of a disturbance in the air. The birds had gone silent upon the entry of this man of most peculiar hair. There was an edge about him that made Jhandel wary and he felt almost guilty for concluding that this individual was an aberration. Almost.


                                                        "Ah. If you will excuse me, I believe there is someone here to see me." Jhandel's tone was clipped. He could smell something strange on this new arrival, the one who caused an usual rapt curiosity in the birds, though for the life of him he could not place it. Again, he found himself regretting his decision to leave his home in the desert to train with a Knight of Tourmaline before he had completed his studies with his clan seekers. It was not a pleasant feeling.

                                                        He moved to take his seat, shifting the sword at his side to a more accessible, and more importantly noticeable, location. It was a petty act on his part, but he hadn't spent years honing his senses and intuition for nothing. His gut just didn't sit right with this man.
                                                        "Please, sit down. Are you here for the quest?" A customary opening. "May I ask why this mission interests you?"

                                                        Jhandel resisted the urge to shake his head. Now was not the time to ponder about the whereabouts this man came from. He was not here to persecute people for their pasts, nor inquire about their backgrounds aside from information he found pertinent to his cause. Had this man killed? Is that why he felt so uncertain about his nature? Whatever the case, he wouldn't make the same mistake he had with Nero. This time he would at least begin more politely.

                                                        Alas, he was not fated for a peaceful afternoon. Upon addressing the man with white hair he had ended his observation of his surroundings. Somehow he had missed the entrance of a lady dressed in red with jewels that hardly belonged in a place like the Eagle's Den. For what purpose she was here, he had no clue. Jhandel found her presence extremely misplaced however, and the flurry of motion that quickly followed her call only added to this sense. Before he could even fathom the absurdity of this day, he was back on his feet.


                                                        "Tharef!" Jhandel shouted for the missing innkeeper. The hawkfriend, two steps ahead of him, had already started whistling for attention. It would take a few moments to calm the aggravated birds but Jhandel trusted the man to restore order. With an unconcealed sigh of frustration he rushed into the melee, doing what he could to extract the lady in red.

                                                        Why do I even bother trying to get comfortable?
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Nero grasped Jhandel's hand firmly. The man had a strong grip, and a confident shake. He looked forward to traveling with him; Nero had not journeyed with a companion for a long time. He suspected they would get along well. Returning Jhandel's welcome with a smile and nod, he accepted the small sheet of paper. Damn. Reading. Hiding a grimace, he slipped the paper into a fold of his clothes, and pressed fist to heart in response to Jhandel's bow. It was archaic, but he had seen soldiers give it to commanding officers. It seemed...fitting. There were suddenly footsteps behind him, that seemed to enter the inn, then stop behind Nero. The presence sent a shiver down his spine. There was something unnatural in the area. He turned with a hint of a wild snarl on his features, his fight or flight instinct coming to the surface in the face of such a strange feeling.

The man behind him was unusual to say the least. But what caught Nero's attention was not the clothes or hair. He smelled somehow... off. Not bad; just not human. Nero's snarl grew wider. What was he...it? However, if ...he was here for the empire, they might need whatever he was. Nero calmed down and reminded himself that rashness was not the way to react. Nero looked at him again, more closely this time, and tried to ignore his strange scent. White hair, a black cloak with a grey stripe....Ew. Oh, Spirits. He looked like a skunk!...Or a man skunk...or maybe just a man...Nero's eyes watered. He wished he could smell the man's actual scent again, no matter how unnatural. It was as though he could smell that same stench as all those years ago. Nothing was worse than Skunk. Nothing. Turning away abruptly, Nero walked directly away from the man. Ugh. Nausea roiled through him. Skunks were terrible, malicious, evil creatures. Who would wear their colours? Was he some kind of...of skunk king? Nero hoped not.

Recovering himself somewhat, he remembered the woman from before. That would help him forget skunks. Maybe. Nero approached her table, and raised his hand in greeting, forgetting that blood was running down it somewhat morbidly from his bird-inflicted gash. He opened his mouth to speak.

"-."

Whatever he was going to say was drowned out in the screaming of birds. Nero whirled around. In his incapacitated state, he had not noticed the new arrival. A smallish girl in a fine red dress was now in the process of being attacked by almost every one of the predatory birds within the Eagle! Nero was horrified. It was a horrible way to die; he had seen it happen to squirrels or jays that went too close to the nest of such birds. Nero blundered towards her, disregarding the innkeeper's attempts to calm the angered animals. Waving his arms like pinwheels, he tried to bat them away from the girl's eyes and face. Those were where they would target first. He growled savagely.


"OFF!"
Lord Scottacus's avatar

Interesting Citizen

Denre Rispit

User ImageWhen the man in front of him finished he turned around and faced Denre, he seemed angry and a bit disgusted before he turned away in a flurry to go see another patron at the inn. Denre hadn't the slightest idea what he had done to antagonize the man. The knight motioned for him to sit down and he complied. Jhandel seemed to be unusually careful in his wording choice, Denre guessed he had offended someone earlier and wanted to avoid it now. He was fairly certain the man would be hard pressed to offend him, he had had some extremely rude employers in the past. A nagging feeling told him that Jhandel's sword was a little too prominent at the moment. Was the man trying to intimidate him? Or maybe the man was simply trying to tell him not to try anything, he couldn't be totally sure of either. Denre usually got along with people, though he had met a few individuals that just didn't like him. He had guessed a while ago that it was a result of his usual nature. In the same way that he made the birds edgy he set off certain people who were more perceptive than average. Hoping that this wouldn't affect the outcome of the interview Denre spoke in a friendly manner. Mostly in an attempt to alleviate the man's ill feelings.

"I'm here for the quest yes, as to why…well if you'd believe it, it's because I'm bored. I've become too complacent with bandit hunting and errands. Your quest has promised danger and adventure, I was intrigued. The gold doesn't hurt either"

Suddenly the room exploded in feathers and screeching birds. Fearing they were after him he ducked down and rolled under the table he had been sitting in front of. He heard the inn keeper shouting and a few scattered yelps and shrieks. Mostly from one woman and the large bellowing man. Denre simply stayed under the table hoping that things would calm down.
METRO SKiiES's avatar

Romantic Regular

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witchNEKAYRI wendin
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                                                  widow As the hopeful adventurer became a definite adventurer with a handshake, two others arrived, one after the other. The man looked foreign but not particularly strange to Nekayri, and she put him out of mind for a moment to observe the other new arrival, a woman in an elegant red dress. The mountain woman had never seen clothing like that in her life - neither her childhood village or the settlement she had married into was home to a person rich enough to buy leisure clothes, especially something that looked to be in fashion in Zanithis. At least, she presumed it must be fashionable. Nekayri often thought that she would feel inferior if placed next to such extravagance, but in the common room of an inn cut out of the face of a mountain, with a plain, half-eaten meal before her, it didn't particularly bother her.

                                                  widow Whatever the status of her clothes, though, the dark-haired woman looked very out of place. Nekayri listened when the innkeeper inquired as much, but apparently she had a reason to be here. Another hopeful? Nekayri mused, although she didn't look much like an adventurer. The woman was carrying rolls of paper with her, though, so perhaps she was a scholar, here to lend her knowledge to the knight before he left for parts unknown. Still, Nekayri knew that even though she didn't look much like a traveler, it didn't make her less of one. It wouldn't be fair to underestimate the dark-haired woman.

                                                  widow Nekayri re-evaluated her plan for approaching the knight about joining the expedition. She would wait until after the dark-haired woman had finished her business. It would be wisest to judge the knight's reaction; if he rejected the other woman outright because of her gender, if he was put off by her very feminine appearance, if he wanted people who looked stronger for his journey. Nekayri wouldn't be able to change how she looked - small and sturdy, yet by no means strong - but perhaps she could act in a manner closer to what the knight probably thought was appropriate for a woman offering to cook and clean and keep an eye on the skies for him.

                                                  widow Of course, plans changed pretty quickly when the birds swooped down from the ceiling and flocked around the dark-haired woman.

                                                  widow There was not much that she could do to help. Her sling hung from a belt around the waist of her dress, a single stone resting in it, but the birds here were clearly pets, or at least rather important to the innkeeper. It wouldn't be all right to injure or kill them, and she was just as likely to hit the woman as the birds. And she couldn't bring up a wind to blow them off course indoors; she couldn't create small and strong systems on a whim like that, and there wasn't any weather in the building to start with. So Nekayri stood up and took her traveling cloak from the back of her chair. She had gotten this one last year, and wore it in the warm summer months when the clear sunlight made her winter cloak uncomfortably warm. It was a light mossy color, opposite of her favorite red cloak that rested safely with her gear upstairs in a small, rocky room. For just a moment, she sighed, thinking that she would miss this cloak if it were ruined, but quickly decided that it would be wrong not to do anything.

                                                  widow While the no-longer-just-hopeful adventurer went in bodily to help, Nekayri evaluated the situation, wished briefly that her cloak was heavier and sturdier, threw her arms up and swatted at the birds with her unfurled cloak. While it was no protection from beaks and claws as clothing, it was the kind of thing that interfered with their flight. Nekayri managed to bat a few of them down from the edge of the flock, and did her best to sweep those she could away from the other people, managing so far not to be scratched by keeping her distance as well as could be expected. She made a hissing sound at one of the birds still watching from above, warning it away. The uninvolved bird blinked, looking bored, then shuffled away. Ugly scavenger, Nekayri thought, then turned her attention back to the angry raptors under her cloak.

Xanthia Vetyz

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The tornado
of wings, beaks, and claws finally broke as the two nearest patrons rushed to the rescue. The ordeal was over but Xanthia’s hands remained over her face as she took deep shaky breaths. Things quieted and she faded from the centre of attention. Xanthia didn’t need her keen eyesight to perceive the indomitable form that stood before her. Moments before she had overheard his acceptance and now there was no mistake why. His heroic stature emanated an aura that was imposing yet unthreatening. Noticing he was a man of few words she attempted to break the uncomfortable silence with a brief expression of gratitude. However, Xanthia’s heart finally began to recover from the shock and a wedge started to make its way up her chest. All that vocalized was a crackled squeak.

With her face still entirely covered there was no way of telling if people were still looking at her but that didn’t stop Xanthia from feeling more and more embarrassed with every second. Her thoughts devolved into a garbled mess and tears began to seep. It took all of her willpower to resist melting into a bawl. When Xanthia could stand it no longer she swiftly retrieved an earring from the floor and snatched her bag of maps. Staring unyieldingly at the door she trotted sorely towards it; the trickle of tears now visible to the outside world. Leaving the case with the hynamo resting atop a table, Xanthia exited the inn with humiliation and haste.

Outside she collapsed onto the steps, dirtying her eloquent red dress in the dust as she leaned against a railing. She twirled the golden earring as the storm of thoughts ravaging her mind began to settle and coalesce into a conscious stream that was no less malicious. Xanthia may have gone home but then what would she explain to her mother? It was not worth reliving the embarrassment, she was immersed in the feeling already.

Staring into the distance she pondered the image of the tall figure who had helped swat the birds off of her. Even though Xanthia could not will herself to look him in the eye she knew he was the epitome of an adventurer. Strong and dutiful yet reserved. She thought about the other girl who sat at the inn and looked about her own age. Even she was capable enough to help ward off the violent creatures while Xanthia merely panicked. Alas, things started to tragically come together. This is why Jhandel chose to interview at the Eagle’s Den. He was looking for high caliber adventurers who were tough - men and women of action whose fortitude at heart was mountainous. Not some fancily dressed incompetent clown.

“Who am I kidding?”
, Xanthia thought to herself. She screwed up or broke everything. The dress was merely the latest. Regarding the things Jhandel was looking for, Xanthia choked quietly, still resting against the railing and staring into space. She was no adventurer and a scholar – not even that. Six years of study at Zanthis’ most prestigious school and she still held no academic credit. Xanthia’s interests jumped too erratically for her to make headway into any one field even the museum had turned down her clumsy self.

Xanthia remembered the hynamo that, in her haste, she had left inside. “Forget it”, her conscience screamed. It probably was nothing more than a mundane piece of trash anyway. That man had even warned her. Why did she have to be so gullible? Regardless, she couldn’t play it. It was worthless to her now and Xanthia had hurt her mother and the business to get it. Maybe Jhandel would accept it as a gift of apology for ever thinking that she was fit for this expedition.
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Nero breathed heavily from his exertions. Thank goodness she was alright, whoever this fine lady was. Well. Once-fine. The tattered dress now hung somewhat forlornly on the girl's thin frame. She looked...well, downright pathetic. Normally, Nero would have looked down on someone who could not save themselves from trouble that was their own fault- weakness was the foremost sin, in his eyes- but he could not feel contempt for this woman. Instead it was a sense of...protectiveness, really, that came over him. He thought he heard a squeak, as a mouse would make, emanate from her. He smiled gently to reassure her and extended a comforting hand, but she did not look up to see. She bent quickly, and after retrieving a glittering something off the floor made her way for the exit. Nero frowned. Were those...tears? He hated tears. Nero's arm dropped to his side uselessly. It hurt more than he would have expected, seeing those tears.

A more physical pain caught his attention. He looked at his arm and grimaced. He had more than just one gash, now. It was probably for the best that he had not touched her fine clothes and soiled them further. He turned around. Everyone else seemed mostly unharmed by the brief excitement, although he could not tell more from his cursory glance. As he scanned the room, his eyes passed over the settling feathers and angry birds to spy...was that a hynamo? Nero's eyes widened with delight, and his mouth dropped into an amazed grin. One of his favourite things about his stay with the nomads had been their music. Beautiful, haunting music. It had reminded him of the winds and rains of his mountain home. Nero quickly turned to Jhandel, catching his eye.

"I'll be there."

Nero strode over to the Hynamo. It was of expert craftsmanship, and he could tell that it was an expensive piece. He had not seen it before now...it could only belong to the woman who had been so poorly treated by the birds of the inn. Nero picked it up gently, and cradling it to his chest, bowed to first Jhandel and- with an apologetic air- to the small woman who he had meant to approach before. Then, turning again to the exit, he went swiftly after the girl.

He found her outside the inn, gazing despondently into the air. Tears were tracked down her face, and Nero hesitated. Her distraught expression, however, urged him on. Nero did not think she saw him. He shifted the hynamo in his arms carefully, and managed to tap her gently on the shoulder. Trying to catch her eyes directly with his own, he spoke quietly.

"Do you play?"

He held up the fine instrument encouragingly. Nero had only the barest of understandings of how to work it. He had watched it played for almost a year on a regular basis; both casually and ceremoniously. Nero only once had tried his own hand at it. The sandmen had laughed at him and called him fat-fingered, but had not stopped him from trying. Nero had always wished he had played more, for the sounds still followed him sometimes.
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Romantic Regular

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                                                  widow When it was all over, Nekayri stood, breathing quietly despite the short exertion, clutching her cloak in her hands. All told, she'd managed to knock away four or five birds, which hopped away and took flight back into their lofty perches after being batted out of the air. One of the last birds had a claw stuck in her cloak still; not wanting to lose a finger detangling it, she yanked at the fabric and the bird tore itself free, leaving a jagged rip in the hem.

                                                  widow It wasn't the worst damage by a long shot. As the dark-haired woman snatched her belongings and left (Nekayri didn't blame her; she'd be embarassed, too,) she assessed what remained. There were multiple holes poked and torn through the sturdy travelling fabric, and the hem was split by several long tears that would have the wearer looking like a ragged flagpole if she'd tried to wear the cloak again. Nekayri allowed herself a little sigh, but she didn't need to replace it right away. The autumn storms were coming fairly soon, and she wouldn't need a summer cloak after the weather turned. It would still cost her to replace it, though, come next spring.

                                                  widow Luckily, she hadn't been seriously injured. Although her hands and arms had taken a slight pecking and a long, shallow scratch lay across her cheek from where a bird had darted past her, claws out, none of it was serious enough to merit immediate attention. Instead, Nekayri was surprised when the very tall adventurer, who had been near her when the commotion started (but surely not to speak to her! - she was a stranger and did her best not to draw attention), bowed in her direction before he left. She had the sense to return the gesture, a hand to the skirt of her dress, but he was already out the door.

                                                  widow Nekayri returned to the place she had been sitting, as calmly as she could in the awkward silence that followed any sort of commotion. The cloak was lost and she would have to take her dress off to repair the few rips in the long sleeves. For the time being she smoothed out the light gray fabric of her wide, soft skirt, pulled the sleeves of her dress up to her elbows, and picked up the ruined green cloak. From the bottom of the cloak, Nekayri ripped a piece of cloth, wet it, and dabbed lightly at the couple of scratches on her arms. The ones on her fingers could be dealt with later, and none of them were particularly deep. They would probably stop bleeding in a few moments. Although she couldn't see what was on her cheek, she wiped away whatever bled from there, confident it had stopped already.

                                                  widow Again, she was left to make herself as quiet as possible and debate how she would approach the knight. On one hand, he might think of her as someone who took initiative and didn't shy away from danger. On the other hand, he might have just seen her as ineffectual and weak, only helping with the littlest part of the problem. At the moment, she tried not to look towards that part of the room, avoiding eye contact, and just listened to find out what the new adventurer-hopeful had to say.

Cassandra Voorhees's avatar

Gracious General

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                                                        JHANDEL'S APPREHENSION regarding the white-haired man grew as the seconds rolled by. When Denre spoke, a string of words he had heard only a dozen times before tumbled forth, bathed in placating undulations. He schooled his face into a mask of blank patience, similar to one he would use on people he did not wish to converse with. This man had some nerve; while Jhandel was not the tyrant some lords were, he expected a certain level respect from those individuals seeking his attention. Even if he had not wanted to sit, Denre should have acknowledged his will in some way. Closing his eyes in frustration, he ignored the small voice in his mind that told him he was being unreasonable --a product of stress, no doubt --and focused on what was presented to him.

                                                        Boredom? Word of a Royally sanctioned quest goes out and his first thought is 'I may use this to alleviate my boredom'? Jhandel bit his tongue to keep the sneer from forming on his lips. He had secretly hoped that the great numbers of adventurers whom he had turned away would spread word of his utter dislike for flippancy such as this. At the mention of "bandit hunting" he frowned. A mercenary then? Rothaelim forgive my ignorance should this man be a murderer.

                                                        Words of caution came to the forefront of his mind. Jhandel felt an oddness about Denre which unsettled him deeply. He had only encountered this feeling once in his past, when scaling the walls of the Dragon's Maw in the Ihavo Desert. Some might have called it a sense of foreboding, but he believed there was something more. Regardless, he was uncomfortable with leaving the white-haired man alone as he was with staying near him. Further questions were in order; perhaps if he displeased him further he would be able to say a definitive "no" and not have his conscience bother him.

                                                        The interruption provided by the screaming birds was both a blessing and a nuisance. It was such thoughts he held as he followed Nero into the fray. Noting at once the space the seemingly ungainly, and most definitely large, hunter commanded, Jhandel looped around to the side. Weaving his way to the hawkfriend Tharef, he had just enough time to notice Denre slipping underneath a table before the woman he had seen before picking at her food jumped into action. In the relatively small space of the room, furniture cluttering the floor and birds filling the air, Jhandel understood he would do more damage rushing in than if he stayed where his presence could be more helpful.

                                                        He called Arbatos, that one dark falcon with the beak-scar and haughty attitude, to his side and was marginally surprised when the bird responded. When he looked up again, the majority of the raptors either had returned to their nooks or were struggling to free themselves from Nekayri's cloak. Jhandel, feeling the exhaustion he had thought he had gotten rid of since resting at the Palace, turned a tired glare at the lady in red. Whereas before he had been unsure of the lady's identity, he was now almost certain that this was Councillor Vetyz's daughter.

                                                        A harsh reprimand writhed on the end of his tongue. To think that the Cartographer's Guild would send someone like her for this mission was absurd. Jhandel shook his head fiercely, nearing the end of his patience. No. His Prince would not have allowed such a misstep to be taken on such an important quest. There must have been something outstanding about the young Miss Vetyz that compensated for her... less favourable traits. He sighed. No, this wasn't the time for a lecture, especially not with her being so obviously distraught.

                                                        Jhandel waved at Nero's assurance of understanding the meeting place, returning the bow with a curt nod. It was probably best if the hunter went in his stead to confront Miss Vetyz. Figuring that the woman with the cloak could most likely handle herself, he turned back to the table he kept trying to sit at.


                                                        "Shall we continue, traveller?" Jhandel all but hissed through his teeth, picking up the glass of water which had spilled over his sheets of paper in the chaos. "Why should I choose you over the dozens that have told me similar stories?"


                                                        OOC :: Good god this post is long. I had so much to respond to. xD
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Xanthia had just closed her eyes to let the world fade away when she felt a tap on her shoulder. In an instant she rallied her thoughts, preparing to respond to whoever had touched her. Xanthia knew very well the state she was in and would have endured further embarrassment. However, the upper-limit of that feeling had been reached long ago and she could almost embrace the extra humiliation at this point. What the gesture did do, though, was put things in perspective. Xanthia started to recognize the way she had betrayed her normal cheeriness in favor of a childish mope and suddenly a surge of shame conquered her emotions. In a quick jerky motion she dried her cheek on the overhung sleeve of her gown and with the edge of her palm she extinguished the blur in her eyes. Xanthia was still unprepared to look into the face of whatever figure stood behind her but a certain emanation betrayed their massive stature. It meant little, however, for everyone seemed tall through her teary eyes. Xanthia finally mustered the courage to look but upon turning she saw only the hynamo emerge into view.

“Do you play?”


The deep but gentle voice surprised Xanthia and froze her shame in shock as expectations were instantly invalidated. Caught off guard by the sudden change in mood she frantically panicked for something to say but was empty handed by the time her curiosity had her looking into the face of the man. The colossal gallant form that had come to her aid inside the inn had once again answered to the rescue. His face was astonishingly gentle but it seemed no more out of place atop the sturdy build than his calm and soothing voice. The lingering seconds of city ambiance commanded a response.

“Uh…”


Xanthia took a deep breath in both mind and body before continuing; her eyes turning to focus on the noble instrument.

“N-no, not really. But I’ve b-been trying.”


Seeing the man motion the hynamo towards her with encouragement she slowly accepted it back with trembling hands. Xanthia squeezed it with both arms against the softness of her dress with reconciliation and apology. She stared down the grim street and started to elaborate.

“It’s h-hard. I paid a hefty price for it at the market a few days ago but nobody knows how to play it.”

A knot that was forming in the back of her throat kept Xanthia from continuing further. The sextant she had traded for it was expensive but that constituted merely half of the price she paid. Nonetheless, she felt at ease knowing the man was listening. Not only had he been kind enough to fetch the hynamo, but his inquiry soothed Xanthia and relieved a judging burden. It was almost as if this man was protecting her. Alas, with her throat road-blocked from continuing further into the story of her hynamo, she tried to thank him for this with a compliment.

“I saw that Lord Koven accepted you as his guide. Congratulations. Surely there is no one better.”

Her own words brought to mind the traits that Jhandel was searching for and the image of the man appeared to fit them all. It was a slippery slope, thinking about this in such an unstable state and Xanthia had exposed enough weakness already. She tried to formalize the conversation by introducing herself. Turning once again towards the hero she held out her hand in greeting.

“My name is Xanthia, by the way. It is a pleasure to meet you…and, uh, thanks for retrieving my hynamo.”

She motioned the hynamo accordingly, the instrument still snug beneath her other arm.
Lord Scottacus's avatar

Interesting Citizen

Denre Rispit

User ImageWhen the ruckus finally died down Denre slipped back out from under the table and resumed his seat in the chair. Looking around the inn Denre noticed a well dressed woman in red covered in scratches and with her hair in a mess. She must have been the ones the bird was after. She ran from the room on the verge of tears and soon after the large man who had previously been accepted to the group left with something she had forgotten. The birds had returned to their vigil of him on their roosts, why of all places did Jhandel have to choose this inn for his recruitment centre? When the knight returned intent on resuming the interview Denre opened where they left off. Denre was picking up on subtle hints that this interview was going south. A suppressed sneer here and a deliberately blank face there were all Denre needed to tell that the man wasn't pleased with him so far.

"You can consider this my application, a proof of deeds if you will." He pulled a sword from the scabbard on his hip in a deliberately slow and unthreatening motion. Placing it on the table he motioned towards it "It belonged to the Highwayman Belgus, I'm fairly certain you would have heard of him."

He had originally taken the sword from the highwayman he had defeated on the road intent on selling it. Upon bringing it to a shop keeper he had been told that the leader it belonged to was actually very infamous in the area. He had been raiding travellers and caravans with his band for several years. Up until now he had avoided being brought down. The local guards had tried many times to stop him, but they either showed up without finding a trace or never showed up again. The sword itself was ornate with a fancy golden hand-guard on a straight silver blade. The blade was about four inches wide and a half inch thick in the middle. It had a single sharp edge and curved to a point on the end.

"There is another thing that I could lend to your team. I over heard from a band of adventurers that this mission would take you out of tourmaline, I figured you might have need of someone that isn't very easy to trace while you're there. The thing is…" Denre hesitated a moment "It's easier to demonstrate this ability than explain it, and I would rather not demonstrate in a place so public. If you could arrange a different place to meet later where there would be less prying eyes I would be able to demonstrate more fully"

Denre would usually tell anyone he became well acquainted with of his ability, he didn't like to keep secrets from people. At the same time though he would rather his ability not become public knowledge for fear of it loosing its usefulness. He felt like he had a fair chance of being hired for this mission, but not on his deeds alone. Denre knew that the knights of tourmaline had a code of conduct, but he knew not what that code consisted of. He only hoped his past as a mercenary wouldn't be viewed as tainted in the eyes of the knight. Throughout his career Denre had held to a strong moral code, where other mercenaries he had been working with had switched sides for an offer of greater gold, Denre had stayed true to his original employer. If a job he was hired for didn't sit right with him, say killing a man who had committed nothing to make him deserve an untimely death he would decline it. Despite making a career of being a sellsword Denre had remained primarily guild free.
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Nero waited as the girl dried her face. He had no rush, but was soon gratified to see the lady turn to him and look him straight on. Her red-rimmed eyes gazed up at his unsteadily. It seemed as though he had taken her completely off-guard with his question. Well, if it helped her forget about the traumatizing event within the inn, all the better. Nero was not sure why he was so concerned, but he wanted to help this woman. She had obviously come here for a reason, and had rather missed her mark with the birds. Perhaps there was a way for him to aid her in getting what she needed. He was distracted by her answer of his previous inquiry.

"N-no, not really."

Nero was disappointed, but not overly. He brightened as she said she was still trying. Nero had always wished he could do the same, but the instrument was too large and without practical function to carry with him in his roaming life. It would be damaged, anyway. He still remembered how it was done, though. He could not teach her techniques or even songs, but Nero was confident he could at least show her how to begin. He nodded thoughtfully as she said she had paid dearly for the instrument. There was a deep pain to her statement that he could not easily understand. However, other matters pressed. Why was she here? Nero wondered how he could find this out, and reluctantly concluded that there was only one path. He would just have to ask.

Before he could, though, she was congratulating him on his joining of Jhandel's quest. Nero remembered he still had that sheet of paper to read. Blushing, he waved off her suggestion that there was no one better. Nero was simply suited to the job, that was all. She spoke her name, and stuck out her hand to him. Nero smiled in surprise. Xanthia. A very Tourmalinian-sounding name. He grasped her small hand in his larger one, holding it as though it was a small bird as he sometimes found on the floors of forests. However, as she clasped his hand and they shook, he was surprised. Her grip was firm and unwavering, despite her recent trauma, and her shake was..enthusiastic was the only word for it. He had expected a half-hearted or dainty touch at most. Maybe there was more to this soft city woman than there seemed. He smiled.

"Nero Sabinus."

Blushing suddenly, he realized he had held her hand far longer than was normal. Releasing it quickly, he gestured to the building behind them, trying to smooth over the awkward moment. "Why did you come?" he asked, referring to the meeting with Jhandel. He noticed a rolled parchment in the shoulder pack she held despondently at her side. Maybe this was the answer? Hoping that she would not mind, he reached down and gently extracted the outermost layer of paper. It came sliding free of the roll, and was soon apparent that it was a map. Finely made, and detailed as well as beautiful. If that entire roll of parchment was a selection of different maps for their quest, they would be useful indeed. Nero trusted himself as a guide, but he would not turn down additional help from such accurate cartography. He wondered why she had come dressed in such a way. Surely it was obvious that practical gear was the best choice when going for an adventuring interview. Regardless, Jhandel needed her. Nero carefully rolled the map back up and placed it back in the bag. He spoke confidently.

"Show him."

Then again...returning so soon, and in the state she was in was perhaps not the best of ideas. Nero winced at his somewhat inane suggestion. Jhandel had also not been best pleased when he had left. Waving his arms and shaking his head to disperse his previous statement, Nero made another suggestion.

"Maybe...come back later?"

He hoped she did not reside far from here. With haste, she could freshen up, change into more suitable clothes, and return before the remaining hopefuls had finished applying to Jhandel.

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