Dreadlords Death Lotto

Threads open to all members of the Dreadlords group
The note was passed from person to person and Perla kept trying to look over each person's shoulder to read the damn thing. Every time she got close, it was passed to someone else once again. She finally was able to read over Lumen's shoulder and get a grasp of the situation.

Her irises faded away as she gazed with her white eyes around the area and towards the school. The pull of the other students' magic was slightly confusing but she was able to see Everleigh's strands of magic. The strands travelled all over the place, making it impossible to directly track her down.

Perla's eyes returned to normal and she turned to the others, realizing how naked some of them were. Out of all of them there, it seemed she was the only one fully clothed, even if it was yesterday's clothes. For once she would thank her lousy sleep schedule. Either way, she decided to speak loudly to get their attention.

"The proctors approved this." Pela said bluntly, "Her magic is all over the academy. She wasn't hiding it. They have to know and chose not to interfere."

For some of her fellow initiates, this was probably the most they'd ever heard her speak.

"Let's just get this over with." She sighed, "And lets work together. Everleigh has already proven she won't go easy on us and we're barely prepared. I'd rather have one of us win, then letting HER win."

Even though the letter mentioned only one winner and a competition, she had little interest in it. She knew there was little chance of her victory. Why bother with competition part then? The letter stated they could team up if they wanted and she'd rather get further through the trials and lose at the end than lose at the beginning. Perla looked at the foxes, knelt down next to one of them and stared at the fox.

"Maybe it eats horses." Perla mumbled.

The letter had mentioned horses, so she figured this was another mind game Everleigh was playing.

Aelita Zinnia Caeso Diemut Kor Kashif Al'Adonastra Everleigh Ebersol Lumen
Aelita was the first to approach the foxes and the note. The gray fox in the middle nodded it’s head to her and then stood beside her, it’s front paws never going past Aelita’s ankles when she stood still. It stood staunchly on her right.

The second to approach was Perla, and the red fox that she knelt down in front of nodded its head towards her. It positioned itself to Perla’s right side as well, and as she was kneeling, it sat down close beside her.

There was one fox left without a leader.

As if on cue, Proctor Palahniuk could be seen making his way to the dormitory. In his hand was a big cup of coffee and he looked more dour than usual. In truth, when he had agreed to this on account that he had been reprimanded for his “lack of effort” in the past year, he had asked for the easiest task. Which he was doing right now.

How you initiates dress for sleep is ridiculous,” he said as he walked past, offering no obvious hints. He glanced at Zinnia and sighed, exasperated. “Initiate Zinnia and Initiate Lumen, for Kress’ sake! Are you initiates or a couple of cheap prostitutes?! Shameless, the both of you.” Proctor P grumbled incoherently for a moment as he strode past the initiates, stepping on the the wooden doors in refusal to change his course. “And Initiate Perla, if you’re the cause for these doors,” he paused to turn around and jab a index finger towards her, “mark my words, you’ll be putting them back together instead of putting together your weird newt toe and hare teeth potions.” He paused, then looked at Kristen. “Although I suppose you could equally be the cause of this destruction. Making a mess of things like your cousin, is that the Pirian standard, Initiate Kristen-the-Mess-Maker?

With his criticism being done, he looked at the boys of the group.

Kash, surely you can share your robe with Kor?” He pivoted on his heel and stepped inside, finally taking a sip of his coffee to go through the door hall and see if any initiates had survived the five minutes.

Kristen Pirian Caeso Diemut Aelita Kashif Al'Adonastra Lumen Perla Irven Zinnia Kor
She took a breath, like a big sister her attention being diverted to everyone at once. She wanted to tell Aelita that it was most likely Proctor sanctioned and going to them would be seen as tattling and weak. Zinnia had that covered.


Zinnia and Caeso, her eyes tried not to linger on his chest. Same with Kor. Unlike Zinnia, she didn't get embarrassed. She'd grown up with two younger brothers. Par for the course.

"Hey Kash," she nodded to the other who'd joined them. Somewhat of a mystery, that one. One of the rare ones to volunteer himself to the Academy. Kind of like Kristen? Taking the note, she finally read it for herself. A quick glance to Repent, "I'll get you some crackers next time, I promise."

Proctor Pala-lazy’s comment she ignored. For once. Ignoring a proctor was hard for her but she did it.

Making her way to the final fox, she knelt down offering the magical creature a sniff of the note. "Can you take us to Evie who wrote this?" The black fox came forward and sat on her left side. These foxes found people who were hiding if she remembered correctly from D'Amour's classes. Then she turned to look up at her fellow students.

"We need to figure out where she's hiding to get the key, right?" That and feeding Mr. Fox. Whoever or whatever that way. But was that just a diversion?

Lumen totally missed the typo in the note and even if she had noticed it, she wouldn't have understood hat it meant. Times like these, she really missed Banjo. He'd been the best tracker in their class until he'd gotten stung by tracker bees on a mission. Rough way to find out he had a deathly allergy.
Last edited:
Some fellow Initiates voiced their opinions that this event was backed by the proctors. CAESO, though, made his rage apparent to the group. Aelita approves (+10).

Just as she opened her mouth to say something else, Aelita watched Proctor Palahniuk suddenly appear, complain, then disappear into the miasma filled dorm.

No word from the proctor on the foxes. Just grumbling about the Initiates’ appearance.

What a jerk,” Aelita quietly grumbled.

While Aelita had cozy nightwear with a cloak to spare, the proctor volunteered Kash to share clothing with Kor. So, Aelita allowed Kor to sit just a bit longer in the cool night air in his birthday suit.

In the meantime though, Aelita took the time to close her eyes. She clasped her hands together. Then, she took a deep breath.

Aelita opened her eyes. She looked around. Other than a gray earth summoned fox, her surroundings looked just like the Academy on a normal night. No signs that the Initiates were trapped could be seen.

We’re Dreadlord trainees,” Aelita began, “We’re taught to fight and survive.

Turning to the shirtless Caeso, the only Initiate to seem to voice a similar opinion as Aelita, she added, “And to ignore distractions like games.”

Then, Aelita stretched out her arms. A few cracks from her joints rang out. A yawn followed.

I’m going for a walk til otherwise,” Aelita declared.

And then Aelita did go off to walk toward the Academy quad…
Last edited:
This was...a lot to take in. A scavenger hunt in the middle of the night was not exactly anything that Zinnia had ever expected, but a test was a test, and Zinnia was determined to succeed. Of course, there was a lot of distractions going on all around while she tried to make some sense of the note.

Caeso was markedly upset by the challenge in and of itself (as was Aelita, obviously), Kristen was peering over her shoulders to get a good read of the the note, and somebody -- Kash, maybe? -- was joining in on top of everyone else. Thankfully Kor and Perla had the good sense to recognize that this was all fairly apparently sanctioned, and probably mandatory.

My apologies,

"N-no, it's alright. I, um...d-didn't really mind..." Zinnia replied with a smile and a blush. Oddly, the fact that he'd cared enough to aid her was...actually rather nice. "I d-don't really like Everleigh's f-framing here, either, but--well, all the m-more reason to c-crush this challenge, r-right?"

Then Proctor Palahniuk interjected. Zinnia offered no back talk, onlu blushing even harder as the proctor pointed out Zinnia's...indecency. She hadn't intended on coming out here like this, she just liked to be comfy when she slept, and this was the comfiest thing she'd found!

Whatever, it was fine. Unfortunately in her dawdling, she'd lost the opportunity to get one of the foxes for herself. One of the three foxes was now wandering off with Aelita, who seemed to have no intention of playing along. Unfortunate. She believed that she had an idea of what to do next, at least.

Zinnia looked up to Caeso and gestured towards Lumen, hoping he would follow her. As she approached, she leaned down to Lumen's crouched position and spoke in hushed tones, again, hoping that Caeso (and now Lumen as well) would be the only other one able to overhear.

"I th-think 'feeding M-mr. Fox' means th-that if we give it m-meat, it will t-take us to wh-whatever comes next. Or, at l-least we might f-find another clue that w-way...M-maybe the c-cafeteria? Or a st-storeroom?"
No response to his calling out. Kash quickened his footsteps, moving around the wall until the rest of the group came within eyeshot. Sharp eyes skimmed across the group, counting those present. Lumen, Zinnia, Kor, Perla, Kristen, Aelita, Caeso ... good. Everyone else made it out. He breathed a mental sigh of relief as he moved up to actually join the group, a weight lifting from his mind as he kept a bit more towards the back; no need to draw any more attention to himself now that he knew everyone was alright, after all.

Foolisssh. Wassste of worry.

Oh, shut up. Kash gritted his teeth in silent frustration. The headache was making it hard to focus on what was happening in front of him, and he had a feeling losing focus now was the last thing he needed.

Ssshut up? I ssspeak truth alone. You know zzisss; zzey are a weaknesss.

A nauseating wave of irritation not Kash's own flooded through him alongside the venomous words. Okay, that headache really had to go. And he didn't have the time to meditate it away, either ... time for Plan B. Look, I get it. You got singed, you don't like them, you're pissed off at me, you want to pick a fight, all of that. We can argue about this all you want later, but can we please just get through tonight first? I need to be able to think.

A moment of cold, distasteful silence. His temples throbbed with aching pain. Then—

... ssso be it.

It was a begrudging acceptance, but it was something. The pounding headache finally eased somewhat, and at last, Kash was able to focus in full upon the scene in front of him, eyes flicking back across the assembled initiates once more.

With his head now clear of both self-induced pain and worry for his peers, and his eyes unvexed by the darkness that offered at least some concealment among the others, it only now registered on him all too clearly just how ... undressed ... some of them were. Not that this bothered him all that much, of course; he'd never really had any interest in any of them, anyway. Except for—oh. Heat rushed to his face, and Kash was immediately glad his dark skin didn't really show it when he blushed. If they saw ... if anyone knew ...

... think about something, anything else. Someone else.
His eyes quickly flitted away, focusing instead on the foxes and the note currently being passed around, noting the foxes. Three of them. One moving to Aelita, one after Perla. The ones who approached them first, maybe?

"Hey Kash," she nodded to the other who'd joined them.

Kash just nodded back mutely, still trying to focus on the puzzle unfolding in front of him. Not that this silence was all that unusual; he wasn't all that good with words in front of other people, except perhaps under the adrenaline of a crisis situation. I really need to see that note ... But the others were still looking at it. It would be rude to interject. Besides, he didn't really want to have to ask for it ... he could wait his turn.

A wave of cold impatience from the other. He ignored it. The other didn't have to live with these people. It didn't understand humiliation or embarrassment.

It was then that Proctor Palhniuk strolled into view and began laying his critiques into the others. Kash felt a sort of protective irritation rising slightly inside him, for once leaving him somewhat in tune with the other. It's not their fault they were dragged out of bed! And what about Kor? Caeso? Me, even? That simply wasn't fair, or right.

The other agreed. Or perhaps it just wanted violence. Kash took a deep breath, fighting down the all-too-familiar urge to lash out, trying to return his focus to the trial at hand.

Kash, surely you can share your robe with Kor?

A welcome distraction. Kash didn't bother saying anything, just nodded; the night was chilly, certainly, but he'd been through worse, and Kor was wearing less than he. Besides, if nothing else, the Proctor did make a good point—it was the decent thing to do. Slipping his robe off his shoulders, he stepped around the group to the other initiate, looking not to Kor for acknowledgment but rather to the raven above as he passed him the garment with a slight nod.

Making her way to the final fox, she knelt down offering the magical creature a sniff of the note. "Can you take us to Evie who wrote this?" The black fox came forward and sat on her left side.

As Lumen finished scanning the note—the fox she'd approached stepping up to her side in much the same fashion as those joining Aelita and Perla—Kash moved over, glancing about a touch hesitantly to ensure no one else was going to take it. For a moment, he opened his mouth a touch awkwardly as if to ask for it; then, he thought better of it, swallowing and waiting for her to set it down before taking it and reading through at last.

Dark, onyx eyes darted across the page with a speed honed by hours spent in the library, pausing as they passed over the curious typos and oddities in the letter, then moving on; returning to them upon the letter's completion. Kash's brow furrowed slightly in thought. He glanced from the letter to the foxes, from the foxes to those they stood next to, and then back to the letter. A split second longer—and then, abruptly, a look of comprehension spread across his face, accompanied by an almost unconscious vocalization, audible but somewhat mumbled. "Oh. That—huh. Clever ..."

I’m going for a walk 'til otherwise,” Aelita declared.

And then Aelita did go off to walk toward the Academy quad…

Kash skimmed through the letter, one more time, just to ensure he'd understood it all properly. Yep. All fits. Damn, that twist is clever. Vicious, but clever. Glancing up, he abruptly came awake to the fact of Aelita's departing; a look of slight consternation and alarm flickered across his face. Opening his mouth as if to say something, Kash glanced back at Perla, then at Lumen, then at the foxes at their sides, then back at them. His expression visibly shifted to indecision, then anxiety, and then a sort of frustrated impotence, before he shut his mouth again, looking between his peers, then back towards the direction Aelita had vanished, and finally back down at the note.

Another wave of impatience shuddered through his mind like a dousing of ice water.

You mussst choossse. Ssspeak! Time isss ssshort.

Kash gritted his teeth, stubbornly remaining silent. Outwardly, he fought to remain calm, even as anxiety and indecision warred with certainty and altruism and the will of the other within.
Speculation and idle guesses swirled around him, both curiosities and tempers flared by the conundrum of the three foxes. There was certainly something strange about how this all had been put together, and the foxes were an interesting focal point to a riddle so contrived it honestly felt in his best interest not to disturb himself with trying to decipher it too much. It would have been so much simpler if he could form a connection with one of the foxes and see through its ethereal eyes. Alas, connecting with other mammals was a difficult and frustrating experience enough for Kor when they weren't summoned figments of magical energy. It was a no-go.

He was so focused on following the eyes of Repent that he'd missed the approach of Palahniuk until he directed Kashif to dress him. The raven turned from Lumen's offers of crackers with a caw that seemed to indicate he'd understood her offer, flying over to Kash in a flurry of black feathers and scooping the offered robe in its talons, pulling it deftly from his hands and draping the garment over Kor's shoulder. Yes, he supposed it wouldn't do to offer any more distraction. Rather than wearing the robe normally though, the blind man opted to tie it around his waist so as to cover his lower half while leaving his torso bare.

"Ignore him, Kashif. He's trying to get a rise out of you and it's working." Student or no, if a Proctor knew how to push your particular buttons, he would until you learned to get over yourself. Kor would much prefer Kashif on top of his game. That one was sharp; if any of them would deduce whatever riddle Ebersol was placing in front of them, he'd little doubt Al'Adonastra would be the first to do it.

From the corner of his, rather, Repent's eye, he watched Aelita depart from the rest of them in a frustrated mire. Odd. The woman seemed to have a rather negative reaction to learning this was the work of Everleigh. A coincidence, or something more? Nevertheless, Kor gave a nod to the owl that only just now flew from the broken doors they'd emerged from, having freed itself from the waning grip of the poison. With a soft hoot, the large bird diverted to follow the wandering blonde.

One never knows what you might find by going off the path set before you. If Aelita saw anything, Kor wished to be the first to know. It would be no problem splitting from the group to find her should he deem it necessary.

"Now, if we can all pick our libidos up off of the ground and focus on coming up with a consensus, our chance of success will be much higher." Maybe they were all trying not to look like they weren't ogling each other's exposed flesh, but none of them were particularly good at hiding the looks on their faces when they didn't think anybody was looking. "I wish to have a chat with Miss Ebersol, and these three wolves will presumably lead us to her in the right circumstances. We have three foxes, so splitting up seems the more sensible option."

Repent's head snapped to Perla.

"You seem keen on checking the stables, no? A reasonable idea." Then the gaze of the bird fell to Zinnia. "It couldn't hurt to take somebody to those areas. I doubt the foxes will truly eat, but a clue may present itself among the sustenance."

That left... Lumen. She seemed rather confused by the whole ordeal, not that he blamed her. Notably though, she was the only of the fox-bearers not to propose a theory. Kor pursed his lips, and Repent slowly turned his head, letting out a soft caw towards Kashif. "Al'Adonastra. Perhaps you have some idea of where Lumen should take her own fox?"
Proctor Palahniuk...actually got a slight rise out of Kristen. Slight, because he was still a Proctor, still terrifying in his own right, and the rise coming from the jab at her family. Likely he meant to slander Val as many did, but with what tragedy had befallen her cousin Fyris recently, Kristen couldn't help but think Palahniuk was making fun of the dead.

But there was nothing to do but let it go.

Deliberations occurred, but one in particular caught Kristen's attention. One and a half, perhaps. The half was Kash speaking softly to himself, some glimmer of recognition in his eye. But then Kor addressed him and Perla, making up the one, suggested with a flat seriousness how she thought this riddle might be solved.

Kristen immediately went over to her.

"Surely you jest!" Kristen said, aghast. "I...I can scarcely believe the intention behind the letter to be that literal."

But Kristen didn't just want to plant the flag of her opinion in the ground and leave Perla without a solution.

"Might I suggest an alternative? My father, like many noblemen, fancies hunt for sport. Creatures of magic though these may be, would they not act like their flesh and blood peers and give chase to small game?"

Perla Irven Kashif Al'Adonastra Everleigh Ebersol
Caeso paid little attention to Proctor Palahniuk. A hammer and chisel would be required to crack open that hard skull of his to allow for any penetration of reason, and alas there were no such tools at hand.

Aelita's proposal was incredibly tempting. What merit was there in "winning" a game (test? Hardly. Even Everleigh herself described this ludicrous concoction of hers as a game) that was beneath them? And furthermore, a game that was being conducted by a would-be Proctor who had less credit to her name than Proctor Palahniuk?

Yet it stood: Everleigh had the force of the institution behind her, and it was this force which she could summon at a moment's notice to impose her will upon them. As an Initiate, there was no winning against a Proctor—an immutable fact unchanged by the advent of the Republic.

So, begrudgingly, there was no escaping participation. And thus, a plan was required. Even though Kor voiced his doubts about it, Zinnia spoke up with a plan that was highly sensible.

Caeso joined Lumen and Zinnia on this account.

"Let the condemnable foxes gorge themselves on everything in the dining hall." He laughed derisively, still annoyed about this whole affair. "We'll cook it for them if they prove to be obnoxiously stingy."

Lumen Zinnia Everleigh Ebersol
The fox walked up to her right side, causing her to wonder if that was some other clue. Before she could investigate further, Proctor Palahniuk showed up and began shouting at the initiates. The girls specifically. Perla froze when began shouting her name. The initiate stared at the ground, waiting for it to be over.

They were in a test. The proctors wouldn't bother them now. Later she could go hide in some closet somewhere if she needed to escape his wrath. Her time at the academy taught her how to find good hiding places in the school. Once the proctor had left, Perla picked up the fox and began petting it.

Lumen, Zinnia and Caeso focused on their fox while Kash seemed more focused on the letter. Kor suggested splitting up and guessed that maybe heading to the stables might produce some other clue. Kristen was aghast at the idea and suggested finding prey for the foxes to chase around. Perla knew of some areas that held more mice but it happened to be near the stables and kitchens. The two weren't too far apart from each other due to the academy's needs for fast deliveries since food spoiled so quickly.

"There's mice near the kitchens and stables." Perla muttered as she stood up, still holding the fox.

She really just wanted to go back to the laboratories. There was too much sun here and so much many other things to get done. If only knowledge and battle experience could be absorbed into the mind quickly instead of learned over time. Perhaps she would have to investigate those possibilities later.

Kristen Pirian Kashif Al'Adonastra Everleigh Ebersol Kor
Aelita continued her walk away from the rest of her fellow Initiates. It appeared that no one else wanted to join in her act of defiance. Eventually, Aelita would disappear from the others’ view.

Well, except for Kor as his silent partner kept watch. The owl would see Aelita calmly walking toward the main quad of the Academy. The landscape opened up – the courtyard being a giant yard with some pathways crossing through. In this early morning, the quad remained empty and devoid of any other students. It would be easy to spot anyone or anything approaching.

At the center of this space stood a statue of Cinira Anireth – the First King, founder of the Dreadlords.

The soft pitter patter of the “fox’s” feet drew Aelita’s attention. She looked down. A sigh.

Aelita knelt down to examine the earth summon.

You just following? Or is there a hunter?” Aelita mused.
Her big ol' plan didn't work. This magical fox was not taking them to Evie.


Standing, she turned to Zinnia. "Good idea. Let's go to the cafeteria. Plus I could use a cup of jo." Lumen turned to Kor, having noticed the bird he sent after Aelita. "Keep an eye on all the groups, yeah? If something happens that requires us to meet up with another group, we'll follow the bird if it takes off."

It was a crude form of communication but it would have to do. Tawny-eyes flickered to Caeso and Zinnia. "You two with me? Anyone else, let's go."

With that, her very determined boot-steps, with magical fox following and varedly clad fellow students, would cut across the lawn toward the cafeteria and kitchens that attached. Yeah, maybe she'd have more than one cup of jo.
To Zinnia's immense surprise, both Caeso and now Lumen were on board. That actually made her a bit giddy, to the point that she bounced on her heels and pumped her fists for a moment.

"R-right, let's get going! At the v-very least there has to be a c-clue to find!" She replied to her now-teammates. The three of them had worked well together in Pernach, and hopefully this would be no different. An alliance between them, however brief, would lead to an assured victory!

Zinnia marched on after Lumen, a bit more carefully than the straw-haired young woman as she was, in fact, barefoot.

Being in the cafeteria at this time of the day was...different. She wasn't used to seeing it this barren, and certainly not this dark. Zinnia channeled fire into her hammer, the crystal orb in its head igniting like an arcane torch and bathing the area around her in warm light.

"G-guess we should check the k-kitchen?" She supposed, the fox that had trailed them pondering its way into the space.
"AlAdonastra. Perhaps you have some idea of where Lumen should take her own fox?"

Kash glanced toward Kor with a slightly relieved expression. "Well ... yes, actually." He smoothed the letter out, glancing around at those still present with a faint air of remaining hesitation.

Learn to ssspeak unasssked. Humility isss hesssitation. Hesssitation isss defeat.

The initiate ignored the cold admonishment, continuing with his explanation. "See—whoever wrote this, they ... they did it, well. Neatly, yes? Attentive to detail. Very, well. You know—very carefully. So the errors ... they, well. They stand out." He gestured towards the word approach, isolated as it was on its own line. As he continued, his speech gradually came faster and more confidently, the dissemination of his thoughts gaining momentum. "That's the first clue; fairly straightforward. Those who approach the vulpine simulacrums first are the ones whom they follow; a fairly simple command, maintainable even at a distance by the conjurer; that, we have already observed."

His hand drifted towards the word metake. "This here—this is the key. It's an anagram—rearrange the letters, put together the words you can make with it. Most immediately, I got 'make eat meat.'"

"Might I suggest an alternative? My father, like many noblemen, fancies hunt for sport. Creatures of magic though these may be, would they not act like their flesh and blood peers and give chase to small game?"
"Let the condemnable foxes gorge themselves on everything in the dining hall." He laughed derisively, still annoyed about this whole affair. "We'll cook it for them if they prove to be obnoxiously stingy."
"There's mice near the kitchens and stables," Perla muttered as she stood up, still holding the fox.

At the barrage of suggestions and assertions, all of which pointed towards feeding the foxes, Kash looked up from his ruminations with a look of vague consternation. "Wait—just one moment! Think about it. These are simulacrums, not real foxes. They physically cannot eat; programming them to do otherwise would take far too long." He pointed back down to the letter.

"Sure, it's hinting to make them eat meat, but that's impossible. It's got to be a metaphor; it's just pointing us to a location! And, well—" Looking up, he abruptly realized that Caeso, Zinnia, and Lumen had already taken off toward the cafeteria while he'd been busy monologuing. His mouth closed mid-sentence, a look of frustration flickering briefly across his face.

... I did warn you ...

Shut up! Kash took a deep breath, closing his eyes as he sought an inner calm. It's too late now. Besides, some of them haven't run off yet. This can still work.

No further response from the other. Just a sense of cold amusement, the sort held by an unwelcome spectator to humiliation. Kash opened his eyes and turned back towards Kor, Perla, and Kristen, clinging fiercely to an outward calm that belied the uneasy turmoil within. "... so ... what I was going to say ... there's a catch. Sure, the cafeteria and kitchens are a clear answer. But then ... well." He pointed to the letter once more. "There's the line about the horse. That could just be a red herring, but it points to the stables as a second option. So yeah—Perla, you're probably right on where to go. But, well. There's a catch. The stable and the kitchens are equally likely. But I'm guessing only one is right. And this is a race."

One final time, Kash gestured back at the note, before folding it neatly and slipping it into the waistband of his leggings. If he'd had a chance, he would have grabbed his robe; that had plenty of pockets sewn into it. "That's the last hint, I think; metake also solves to team. The note mentions teams; there are three foxes for eight of us ... it only makes sense. We need to team up, because we need to be able to check both places at once to be sure."

Kor | Perla Irven | Kristen Pirian
Well, once Kash laid it all out bare, it almost made Kor feel a bit simpleminded for not seeing it sooner. He was, of course, dead on with most of his observations. If only he'd spoken up before Aelita had wandered off. Well, at least they were on the right track now, assumedly. "A little late on the play, but well done, nonetheless. I suppose the team situation is -mostly- sorted, but..." There were a few of them who didn't seem too sure as to where they were going. "If Lumen, Zinnia and Caeso go to the cafeteria, and Perla is checking the stables, we should have two go with her as well."

Well aware that those numbers didn't add up to eight, Kor crossed his arms over his chest and seemed to begrudgingly continue. "I"ll leave that to you and Pirian, Kashif. On the chance we're going to need all the foxes for whatever comes next, I reluctantly admit I'd better hunt down Aelita before she gets too far. Since I have eyes on her, I'll be the quickest at that task." By the time he found the girl and convinced her to participate, gods on his side, the rest of them should have managed to figure out their little fox problem.

With a nod to both Kashif and Kristen, and another small thankful half-bow towards Lumen, Kor and Repent turned to follow the path away from the group Aelita had taken, following the sounds of his Owl in the distance.

Thankfully she hadn't made it too far, and with the help of Repent's eyes, Kor made it to the spacious, quiet courtyard in good time. She was there, saying something to the ethereal fox before the statue of Cinira that acted as the imposing centerpiece of the entire quad.

"I never understood the reverence for Anireth." He mused to her as he approached, eyes closed, soft light leaking from beneath his eyelids. "The first monster of a long line is still just a monster. I doubt even the Houses ascribe to his way of thinking any longer." None of it mattered to Kor. He was here at the Academy for his own reasons. He cared not for Anir any more than he did the rest of Arethil.

"We figured out the puzzle. I thought it more courteous to come try and collect you myself rather than have Yirn claw at your head until you turned back."

The Owl landed atop the statue with a hoot. He would have been happy to oblige.
Nothing?Aelita said to her gray fox, “Guess I can’t expect much from you.

At that point, she might as well be talking to herself.

As if starting a normal day, Aelita began her morning routine to kill some time. Before King Anireth’s statue, she took some time to stretch. Then, she managed to thrust her staff a couple times just as if it was a spear.

Something to get the blood flowing, the limbs loose. Each day in the Academy required top physical condition.

Looking to the fox, Aelita told it, “Why don’t you move a back a few feet? Make yourself useful.

If the fox complied, that would have put it within a good striking range. But again, it gave no response.

The sound of Kor’s footsteps alerted Aelita first. She first turned her head toward the fellow Initiate – now wearing Kash’s robe - and listened to his comments on the First King.

Brave thing to say in the middle of the Academy, at least,” Aelita quipped with a smile.

With Kor’s announcement that the puzzle was solved, Aelita turned the rest of her body to face him.

Oh? What’d you figure out?” she asked as the fox repositioned itself next to her right foot.

Her gaze then broke away from Kor the moment Yirn gave a hoot.
Lumen, Caeso, and Zinnia entered the dining hall. Typically staffed by Academy personnel, uncommon as well to not see a Proctor or two in here keeping watch, it was indeed a strange sight. Yet every place they went at this hour was going to be odd. Midnight drills were for Initiates four to five years below them...if midnight drills were even still allowed nowadays.

"Straight to the kitchen we go," Caeso said.

His bare feet slapped on the tile. Up to the kitchen door behind the long counter he went, and he found the door locked. Well. Good. He was, as a matter of fact, feeling a little indulgent in brutish vices he would normally eschew tonight.

Caeso front-kicked the door and it went flying open, the jamb broken and the door bouncing off of the inner wall and quivering to a stop.

He looked to Lumen, she who had the fox at her heels, and swished both hands in an inviting gesture to the wide open kitchen.

"This is where we go when we arrive back at the Academy, practically starving," Caeso said, quoting the letter, and remaining thoroughly unimpressed by this whole affair. "'Mr. Fox' ought to find something to his liking in there."

Lumen Zinnia
Well. Kor, perhaps unwittingly in some sense, opened up a deluge of information from Kash. Kash seemed to be as reserved, if not more so, than Zinnia, but here when speaking of the puzzle before them all he proceeded with boundless lucidity. Mayhap what guardedness (or shyness?) he had could be dispelled in the right conditions.

Kristen glanced over to Perla again, what fears she had for the horses put at ease. "Seems like you were on the right course, Perla, and my meddling did nothing other than almost set you astray. To the stables?"

* * * * *​

Kristen's nightgown certainly wasn't made to be worn outside like this! The chill of the night (early morning?) air was giving her goosebumps. Goodness, how Kor could stand it was beyond her. Him and Caeso and Lumen and to some extent Zinnia...Blessed Aionus, did Everleigh intentionally time this test to be when everyone was at their most indecorous? She remembered a few choice squares from the Punishment Game alright, ones that instructed the woeful player to remove various articles of clothing. Was this...something she delighted in?

Kristen's own suspicions aside, she and Perla and Kash were at the stables.

"I suppose the fox will do something...conspicuous, if we are correct?"

Perla Irven Kashif Al'Adonastra
Trial Three
Did you expect Aelita to wander off?

No,” Everleigh said with a shrug. “Doesn’t matter. The goal was to split people up instead having them walk in a big group so close to one another they could smell each other’s sweat.

Then what is this trial supposed to do? It’s way easier—

Is it?” Everleigh looked over to the pale eyes, having just joined the two others in a room. “Maybe some new confidence is needed.

Group 1: Aelita Kor

The gray fox looked at Aelita and surprisingly did move back a few feet. It looked around and shook his head.

Group 2: Zinnia Lumen Caeso Diemut

The fox trotted after Lumen, unfazed by Caeso’s use of force. As the initiates milled about the kitchens, the fox looked around. It’s furry head turned back to Lumen and then shook its head before sitting down.

Group 3: Perla Irven Kristen Pirian Kashif Al'Adonastra

The fox stayed in Perla’s arms, it’s head looking forward as she walked to the stables. When the initiates got close enough to the stables, it yipped and squirmed until it was out of Perla’s grasp. It sniffed along the floor, heading into the open door. The initiates weren’t aware, or rather if Jackson hadn’t failed the first trial as he was one of the few initiates who spent a lot of free time in the stables, that a horse had died the day before. The fox headed to the lonely stall, sniffing along the floor as if it were a hound.

It paused, ears flicking for a moment. Yipping and yapping, the fox then dashed out of the stall, going to the other end of the stable and expectedly looking at a initiate to open that door for it. Once the door was open, it ran to the back of the stable were bales of hay were often stored when the weather was good. They were stacked to four bales high, causing shorter initiates to see over them, although initiates like Kristen, Mercer and Caeso wouldn’t struggle too much with that. Leading the students into the maze-like area, upon reaching a random dead in, it stopped.

The fox turned its head, yipped once more and then disappeared, shimmering away as the contract was fulfilled.

Before the students on the ground was four tic-tac-toe grids drawn in the dirt. Before the grids was a stone chiseled ‘X’ and a stone chiseled ‘O’. Pinned to a hale bale was note left by Everleigh: Get ready to do some digging, figure out where the treasure is. Need a hint? Who should win and fix their mistake.

Last edited:
"Caeso, please don't destroy this entire place. At least not the food. Even though it's not the best food and not as good as what we had at Friendsgiving." Lu looked back at the fox. It wasn't reacting to anything they put in front of its furry nose.

Lumen took advantage of Caeso's breach and began making a pot of coffee with chocolate. She'd heard someone in Vel Anir call it a mocha, once. "Do either of you want one?" A question to her fellow scantily clad classmates of Zinnia and Caeso. She definitely needed the caffeine.
Last edited:
Perla gave Kash a nod as he explained the riddle hidden in Everleigh’s note. Reading in between the lines of both words and people’s intentions has always left her stumbling. She preferred the literal solution for problems. Luckily Kash’s words also put Kristen’s mind at ease, to the point that she went off charging to the stables. Perla followed behind, carefully holding the fox in her arms and trying to subtly bury her face in its fluffy fur. Who knew magical foxes were so soft?

As they approached the stables, the fox squirmed out of her grasp, who immediately released the creature the second it started yipping. Perla followed the fox into the stable and into the back where four bales were piled high, making it impossible for her to see over the tops. Focusing on the fox, she followed as it led to a random dead end, the creature then turned its head and gave out a yip before vanishing. Maybe Everleigh would let her watch the creatures later for research purposes. She saw the tic tac toe puzzle on the ground before anything else. Even the note. Perla observed it and quickly spotted the problem.

“Ha! Rookie move.” The initiate said with a smug grin, “X traditionally goes first. So O shouldn’t have gone on the middle bottom on the last square. It should’ve gone in the top middle. Of course, then it’d be a tie.”

She had no clue what Everleigh wanted from this. Maybe she wanted them to all sit together and play tic tac toe together? Had she actually paid attention to the note, she might have known. Instead she looked to Kash and Kristen for answers. They seemed to be better at understanding people's intentions.

Kristen Pirian Kashif Al'Adonastra Everleigh Ebersol
Zinnia began to case the place for any sign of a clue, but the fox's lack of reaction was concerning. Surely it would have been showing some sign of interest in *something* here if this was the right place, right?

"Oh dear..." She muttered to herself. "I th-think a bit of a w-wakeup might be what I n-need right now, Lumen."

She folded her arms across her chest and placed a thoughtful fist against her chin, gnawing on a knuckle for a moment.
"'So h-hungry he could eat a horse,' I'm s-so stupid!" Zinnia exclaimed finally, gently knocking against her own forehead. "The other g-group was in the r-right, we need to get to the st-stables!"
Even as Perla remarked on the tic-tac-toe boards set into the ground afore them, Kash was already picking up the note. After briefly skimming through it, he set it back down and stepped forward, leaning down with his hands on his knees. His eyes flitted between the assorted boards, a slight frown of concentration creasing his brow as he muttered to himself. "... plausibly ... given the wording ... riiight, that makes sense." The look of concentration was swiftly replaced with one of realization as the initiate straightened, snapping his fingers in apparent satisfaction. "Which in turn is supported by both convention and the initial placement pattern. That has to be a ..." He trailed off, glancing at the others a bit self-consciously as he realized he'd been thinking aloud.

Enough hesssitation. ACT!

The voice of the other lashed out with impatient, vindictive force, leaving Kash no time to equivocate or shield himself. With a visible flinch, he jerked into motion like a puppet whose strings had been yanked, practically stumbling over to the stone marked by the "X" and bending to pick it up.

Stop that! You are NOT helping!

Kash blinked, shaking his head slightly and setting his teeth as he reasserted control. It had been months since he'd slipped up like that ... not a good sign that it was happening again now. Shoving that worry to the back of his mind, he focused on the stone in his hand and the other two, pushing himself to speak and ignoring any reactions they might have had to what just transpired. The other wanted him to get on with it? Fine, he'd get on with it.

"Okay, s-so ... right. It has to be X." His head was aching worse than ever. Kash closed his eyes; took a deep breath; focused on the chill of the night air on his bare chest and the smoothness of the stone in his hand. Reopening his eyes, he nodded toward Perla.

"You're ... you're right, it fits convention ... but there's more than that. It fits the board; only if X went first do the initial moves make sense, and X is the only one to have only made a single mistake if assumed to have gone first. And if X wins ... well, it's correcting its own error." The initiate pointed to the note. "It says 'who is about to win and fix their mistake,' not 'who is about to win? Fix their mistake.' It's a clue; X is the only one that would be directly fixing its own mistake by filling the winning space."

Pausing again, he took a deep breath, then reached down and picked up the note again, holding it so the others could see it. "We can try just finishing the puzzle with this, but that's just a hint to dig. Which makes even more sense; 'X marks the spot' and all that, after all. My guess is we either have to dig under the winning space or under where this—" and he hefted the stone in his hand
"—was placed."

There we go. I did it. Happy now?

A moment's cold, judgemental silence. Then—


Perla Irven | Kristen Pirian | Everleigh Ebersol
"They're the ones who wanted me here. If expect me to tip-toe around offending them when I've drew blood for them, they're certainly welcome to kiss my backside as it leaves." Kor didn't need the Academy. The Academy wanted him, and he knew his worth. Honestly, sometimes he felt like more of his peers should take a hard look at their self-worth now and then.

Looking up at Yirn, Kor jerked his head back in the direction he'd came, and the Owl quickly took flight back towards the others. He would lose connection with the bird once they put enough distance between them, but he could keep watching through Yirn's eyes until then, as disorienting as it sometimes was to speak to somebody in front of him while watching through the eyes of a bird in flight far away.

"You can ask Kash, he went on for about an hour. Nevertheless, I think it best we head back. You've made your feelings clear, but I would argue that walking away from the challenges altogether will make you look far worse in the eyes of the Proctors. And Everleigh will be able to say she bested you."

Sometimes it took a little prodding to the pride to get the result you wanted most. Aelita wasn't fond of the purple haired woman, that she'd made clear. Kor's head twitched as the connection with his Owl finally broke, but not before he saw the Initiates converging on the stable. So, Perla had been on the money instead? Very interesting.

"Come on, the next task is about to start, and I don't want to be lagging behind this time. You want to stick it to Ebersol? Now's your chance."
If the Academy tolerates the cost of this whole thing, maybe I’ll think less of it like you do,Aelita replied with a smile as she turned back to Kor.

But then, her fox’s movements caught her eye for a moment. She watched it step back and shake its head. Then, returned to doing nothing.

A sigh.

Turning back to Kor, Aelita listened to his spiel. His attempt to poke at Aelita’s pride. She just bore a smile through it all.

It won’t matter. I won’t ask you to stay,” Aelita told Kor, “But the letter did say we could wander around aimlessly, no?

Aelita pulled up her staff as if to begin exercising again. She paused for a moment before she softly asked, “Is Kristen alright, at least?