Open Chronicles Festival of Lights: Illun Serath

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At the mention of owing her drinks in repayment, it elicited a scrunching of her face before settling into a slight frown. "Please. Do not feel as if you owe me anything. It was hard not to say something when I knew the mistakes you were making." To further emphasise her seriousness, her arms came to cross at her chest. "Besides, drinks are better enjoyed when it is the punishment of another. Keeps it fun."

Because she was the sort of knight that screamed fun.

Monroe turned back to skate forward again, dodging a group of slow, struggling skaters that she gave no advice or hint to. It was the first obstacle Osuin would come to, and would either bunch up with them at the end or go around the slow group to meet Monroe. There was a challenge gleaming in her honey brown hues, waiting to see how he would go about this with quiet eagerness.

“Hah. I've not heard that definition of 'fun' before.” Osuin remarked. Whatever her motivations were, Monroe remained a significant help to his goal. The value of help she'd provided was hard to overlook, as was the significant progress he had made towards his goal of learning to skate.

He had still yet to fall down, which was a vast improvement over last year's attempt.

“Perhaps I ought to take a spill so you might fairly receive a drink.” Osuin jovially added. Monroe turned around to face the direction she was skating in again, and deflty dodged a scattered group that Osuin found himself making headway towards. She stayed silent, without further words of advice.

It seemed he was on his own to navigate though the problem before him. The burly knight instinctively slowed down, though the troubled skaters were moving even slower. Monroe was gaining distance all the time, silently beckoning him to close the distance without a word.

He took a slow turn to avoid the first, and corrected his course to avoid another. Now in the middle of the group, he found himself surrounded. A sharper turn seemed to be required to make his escape Except he swung his foot a touch too far forwards, and nearly crossed the path of another. Thinking quickly, Osuin raised his foot to avoid a collision. He did manage to avoid contact with the other skater, to his credit. In doing so, he was unable to maintain his balance.

Setting his skate back down on the ice only did so much, and soon enough Osuin began to wobble. He had much more control than before though, having dropped to a knee with a hand on the ice for stability.

"I swear that was not intentional. But hey! I have one skate still on the ice. Is that half a drink, then?”

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"Well, I can recommend you some books so we can discuss them while toiling away fixing a roof," He'd laugh, already thinking about some picks that might not be too childish for the visibly adult Knight. His nose scrunched in agreement with Aarno's dissatisfaction with studying, given he had more than enough experience taking classes despite his newness to say that sometimes the topics fell into the realm of "boring".

“I imagine this diverges from your preferred genre?“ Nacht’s eyes sparkled a bit as he decided how to answer the question, deciding that more specific meant more nuanced in this very situation. “If you’re asking about what I read, just don’t regret it. We’ll be here for a while yet, just so y’know,” He’d warn the elder knight, lips turning up into a mirthful smirk. "I read Fantasy, but that's not to say the genre doesn't pair well with romance. I've never really read anything too spicy, but some of my classmates had books with rather indecent contents."

Honestly, he was rather surprised that the Knight was a fan of the more, to quote: " "deplorable" series'. " "Speaking of stories, I've always been curious about missions and the like since my first one to Dunhold. Do you remember any notable adventures you had, any particularly memorable moments?"

OOC: I have been told "The Get Back" takes place before the Festival so I'm using it as a reference
Is that half a drink, then

Monroe pursed her lips, crossing the frozen surface to deliver her deadpan expression to Osuin personally. "Would not expect a Knight to deal in half efforts."

And yet a small grin twitched at her lips, "On your skates, Syr. You're holding up the ice." She nodded to the slow groups that now gotten a sudden burst of speed and tried to go wide, once again catching Osuin in their grouping.

Perhaps a little too smug in her own capable skill, Monroe turned around sharply to follow the natural direction of the laps being taken that she wobbled in a similar fashion as the other dawnling had, only Monroe aimed to step off the ice and into the slush of snow at the edge of the frozen lake.

The squires had made a good effort. Their gasping breaths and flailing arms were graceless, but Guernot wasn't embarrassed by such displays. He'd spent enough time around people who had lungs and legs and only a paltry amount of subcutaneous insulation, his expectations were reasonable.

One by one, the squires found their way out onto the flat barge. He, along with the help of the Death Pursuant Edelbert, pass out blankets and mulled cider to everyone.

The old moon elf, named Paeris, who was on the boat with them, merely chuckled and stoked the fire higher. It crackled at the center of the barge, a beacon of warmth.

"Well, done, all of you!" Guernot said. The way his fins frilled and his eyes crinkled up into a smile showed he meant the sentiment. "They say that wherever you're standing when the moons are highest, will show how the rest of the year will go. Of course everyone young person wants to be at the edge of the world, looking down at every possibility. But take a look at what's around you right now -- a warm fire, good drink, and good company."

"Not a bad way to start the year," Edelbert chimed in, a softer expression on his face. "Now, did everyone make it out alive?"

"Let's see who we have, here... Lorinna, Hector, Gruki, Arbok..."
Guernot pointed to each in turn as he said their names aloud. A webbed finger stopped at an empty space next to Arbok. "Hold on, is Lou still out there?"

Alouette Lorinna Astarel Hector Gruki Arbok
Monroe had crossed the ice to confront him and his error, or his half-error, as he had put it.

"Would not expect a Knight to deal in half efforts." She commented. Though delivered in the same stoic style she'd displayed before. She still seemed rather serious about the affair, but Osuin wasn't ready to allow himself to be deterred by it.

“Fair fair. No need to half effort anything, not even failure.” Osuin quipped back.With that and a grin, Osuin lifted his hand to complete his tumble, equally as graceless as his skating had been.

"On your skates, Syr. You're holding up the ice." She spoke, with a grin that bid Osuin's to widen further.

“Hah! Also fair.” He replied, and he carefully moved to return to his feet, which was a rather awkward affair. A nimble knight, Osuin was not and in his effort he had managed to slip yet again before the blades of both skates once again found purchase on the lake's icy surface.

By the time he had, Monroe had wobbled towards the edge of the ice in a motion that seemed far from intentional.

He had some ways to go before he truly became talented at skating, but the experience had taught him to avoid the novices. Slowly, he skated over to where Monroe had went, while others moved and swerved to avoid the burly knight. Slow and steady, he made short strides over.

“One drink each, then?” He remarked, once he'd finally closed enough distance to speak.

Righting herself, skates sunk into the snow, she turned to see Osuin make his way to where she stood. The scowl at her own annoyance of being seen stumbling across the ice soon wavered into a small grin at the words he spoke. "Suppose that is worthy to be considered a mistake on my part." Although she did not initially consider herself part of the wager, it would look foolish to fight against it.

"Well? Do you think you learned a little more about being on the ice? I was taught you've not done your time until your leg muscles are burning. If the ice was not filled with other slow skaters, I would have pushed you harder at it." Monroe stepped closer to the ice, tapping it with the tip of her skate and etching a line there on the surface. "But, it's a festival, not a lesson to be learned." And he had not annoyed her beyond relief. Monroe wouldn't have lasted long among the Order if she found everyone's friendliness to be overbearing, except some squires needed a good reminder life was not always meant for a sunny disposition.

"What do you say? Another go at the ice or warm ourselves with a good ale?"

Indecent contents.

He grinned knowingly at that, head bobbing to signify understanding and attention as Nacht went on, concluding into a another pivot of subject. The easy cheer bled out of him gradually therein, cause composite of the mentioned not so distant past and rumination.

Dunhold — wasn’t that an adventure in on itself. Memorable moments — waking up to pain face down in the snow, the screaming as fire melt flesh away from bone, a man reduced to red mist. Chewing on the inside of his cheek, blank, he thought on an answer for a moment that in it’s length defied propriety.

“ Yes. “ He responded simply, a restraint in his tone as he sought for however to continue. Lest he come across mean.

“ I understand that your curiousity be sincere and innocent, borne of your initial excitement, perhaps — “ Despite his inclination to the opposite, he landed his stare upon the lad, to drive home meaning so it be understood as serious. While he wasn’t beyond sly evasion, it wasn’t the case this time around.

“ But I grow weary of speaking on the matters of the Order, as a knight. While I acknowledge that is what I am, out here we’ve the opportunity to remove ourselves from it. “ Limitless capacity for else, at leisure outside the bounds of their regular lives and duty. It was just a matter of seizing it, at this point.

“ Was it any other day at the monastery, I’d not be opposed to the topic. “ But we aren’t at Astenvale, presently.

“ Right now it is just — Verging on a bit too much, for me. “

Though Nacht was naive, he was not stupid. Aarno had made himself clear and if the boy wanted to continue their chat, the topic would have to change. "I understand. To be candid, I only like to think on the past because it keeps me grateful for the present, but obviously you do not share the same thoughts. Your comfort is more important to me than a story, so please, forgive me." He'd say, an apologetic look on his face. It faded just as quickly, moving on to the next idea without too much time to stir. Besides, though Dunhold was just meant to be an example, their raid on the cultist outpost had been anything but sunshine and rainbows. He could understand why the elder knight was loath to revisit the day's events.

"So, how about we start off simply? A topic we'd never have the time for back at the monastery....ah!"
He'd say, grinning. Any hint of regret was gone, because there was no need to regret, to bring others down with you. This chat could be saved. "Got any hobbies? Any particular activity you like doing- besides talking with me, of course!" With that he'd make a rather smug expression, bust out laughing at how stupid it all was and receive a paw to the face. Shade had poked him in the nose as though telling him to stop and just pet her.

The squire obliged, as he always did. "Hey! That wasn't very nice, Shady," he'd coo in fake scolding, rubbing her back.

“I must say, I’ve accomplished more today than I expected.” He still had a long ways to go. Despite Monroe’s mistake, it was clear that she displayed superior skill that he too, wished to emulate. Even in his moment of bitterness, Osuin had believed in her, and she had certainly shown him true here today. There was a method to every knight, each different yet effective in their own way. And Monroe's methods, strict as they were, were most effective. None would be dubbed a knight without it.

“Perhaps we ought have those drinks, before we run up too high a 'tab'. And the ice will still be frozen once the festival is done, but the opportunity for merriment is here and now.” Osuin remarked with a hearty smile. He had met the goal he had set for the day, having managed to skate with enough talent to avoid falling down, for the most part.

“Shall we?”

Monroe knew to bite her tongue and not tell him that any future mistakes would not happen on her merit, but he brought up a point well in noting merriment was a luxury they could not simply ignore. Iced over ponds and lakes were bountiful in this winter, but to explore Illun Serath?

She made a face, shrugging at him. "Cannot fault you there." Monroe adjusted her scarf and looked around them. Her things were feet away, and will slow and steady stomps in her borrowed skates, she made her way over to her boots and bag. "At least ale will warm us better than the ice." She called out, turning to look over her shoulder.

With her boots back on her feet, laced up tidily and her bag slung around her shoulder, Monroe waited on Osuin. "You were the first to break grace, the first round is on you, Syr." Wickedness pulled the corners of her lips and triumph was unable to hide behind her tone. Monroe truly enjoyed a win wherever she could find it.

Lou thought that by keeping her body moving, she’d feel some sort of warmth. She began to think that after a minute, her body would adapt, as bodies were made to do. Plenty of times she had stepped into the coldest of winter colds, into storms that obscured with fog and dark clouds so much so it could make one fraught with claustrophobia.

Her only saving grace was her focus on the shiny, black rocks before her— although with the water splashing her face, it looked like there was no horizon, sky and water becoming one shimmering and starry blanket over Lou’s vision.

She practically crashed into the rocks with her paddling hands and yelped at the shock of pain from her fingers and knuckles. Exhaling a shaking, shivering breath, Lou went to go about the process of pulling herself onto the rocks. She could grip at nothing substantial and instead had to hoist herself up with her arms, slamming her torso hard against the edge like a flailing fish, the breath momentarily leaving her lungs. Alouette went to lift up a leg over the ledge but the cold had made her inflexible, unable to swing and rotate her hips from the squared position she had them while swimming.

She went to pull herself up further, hoping that with another inch or two she could convince herself to move her leg up and over all the way.

“Oh, Ketyl, stop it.” Giggles like citrus in winter, matching bright eyes that were round and sparkling, skin that seemed to be translucent as the water drops reflected light around her pale skin. Lou took a moment to look at Winnika, a very pretty girl with an even prettier personality. She was kind to everyone, even if she had just slapped the broad shoulder belonging to her fellow squire, Ketyl. Another second passed.

How could some girls, despite their hair being heavy with water, ends curling up and strands looking stringy, sticking to bare skin all over, look so pretty, even if their clothes were wrinkled and drooping? How could some girls be so pretty that it nearly hurt to look at them? Lou began to push herself away from the rocks, shame warming her face as she watched Ketyl put a arm around Winnika’s shoulders to pull her close to him.

She felt foolish, for how long she had waited for Ketyl, for how long she had watched them.

“Hey, is that… Is that you, Alouette?” Alouette paused, unsure if she should dunk her head under and pretend she hadn’t heard the dulcet voice that could only belong to Winnika. “Ketyl, help her up. Poor thing, you must be freezing. Here, give me a hand.” Lou raised her green eyes up the older squire who was smiling at her, offering her a hand before Ketyl even took a step towards them. Lou gave Winnika her hand and hated the jealous thoughts that had just been swirling inside her head when Winnika pulled her up with all her strength.

“Did you jump the falls? Did you really swim here all by yourself? How impressive!” A nervous green gaze darted to Ketyl. He nodded but said nothing, focusing his eyes all on Winnika as she went to rub Alouette’s hands, telling her how she could get warm.

N-n-no.” Alouette took a deep breath, wanting to steady her voice, wishing she had the confidence to pull her hand back. “Ar-b-bok and Gru-Gruk-ki….” She mumbled and looked over her shoulder. Maybe she should have just gotten on the boat with them. She knew she shouldn’t have jumped off, why didn’t she listen to that inner voice of hers that knew bad things were always going to happen?

Arbok Gruki Syr Guernot
“Few things better to warm on a cold winter’s day. Or to cool on hot summer day. Ale goes well with a lot.“ Osuin quipped in response, set on the idea since it had been mentioned. He stepped along with Monroe in plodding footsteps that packed snow beneath his weight, leaving the blades of his skates a mass of crumbling white. Once the two had returned to their belongings, Osuin doffed them for a pair of warm winter boots.

"You were the first to break grace, the first round is on you, Syr." Mentioned Monroe, and Osuin couldn't fault the logic.

“Hah! I’ve neither counter for, nor issue with that.” Osuin remarked. He had to give her that – there wasn’t a more fair way to decide who bought the first round.

“Well then, what's your ale of choice?” Ready to make good on their agreement, he reached for his coin pouch as the two approached the bar.

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"Alouette, is not here?"
Arbok threw a worried glance to Gruki. Alouette was easily feeling the cold the most and while she was an okay swimmer if she was left on the rock in the rush...
She stood and took determined, long strides to the rim of the boat.
She called and hearing no answer but the shouting and splashing of others she tried to find the rock they were all on earlier.
It was barren.
"I'm going back."
Arbok took three steps back and then a short run, jump and performed a mid air transformation to bear letting the great towel leave her shoulders in the motion and land on the rim behind her.
The splash she made sent a shock through the boat and spilled some icy water onto the deck. Swimming she made her way back to the rocks and let out a good loud cry, hoping Alouette would hear.

Syr Guernot
Ensuring her belongings were returned to the safety of her bag, she got herself ready to march through the snow and keep up alongside the other dawnling, headed towards the first place that would take their coin in exchange for beverage. "It may be my preferred way of keeping score, as I rarely would be the one to lose a point so early in the game." She chuckled as they came up to a vendor that had ale listed on their drinks list.

“Well then, what's your ale of choice?”

She gave him a rather relaxed expression, a contentment that she wore often enough if not caught in one of her pleasant moods. "Hmm... surprise me." It felt like the better, safer choice of word than 'anything will do.' The one time she had used that answer warranted her unable to stand after only two rounds, and Monroe was no lightweight. "Make that two of what you are getting."

Monroe cleared her throat after he would order their drinks, regarding him with an almost sheepish look. "Monroe Cathmore. I think I can properly introduce myself after you successfully did not crack your head open on the ice. For that I am grateful you are still amongst the living and able to get this first round." She offered her hand to him.

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Having settled within the expressive range of a headstone, he observed the kid quickly realign thought and direction. Assumptions and apologies, neither of which he had the inclination to correct or dismiss. Not for lack of disagreement, but merely for the fact there was little to be achieved by it, if anything at all. The chair creaked as he shifted on it absently, saying nothing and allowing the change of topic.

There was much to be appreciated in the unfazed way Nacht hardly broke stride, flitting about all with so many words. By the time Shade interrupted him, Aarno couldn’t but watch the two interact with some amusement about him. Was naught like such easily sustained cheer to make one overly aware of his own generally grim disposition.

“ Hobbies, hmh— “ He started thoughtfully, hooking an index around the ear of his cup and drawing it closer. “ Suppose not, unless the very act of enjoying leisure counts. Partake of good food and drink, with naught else to do — walk the woods, at rest. “

Something of an ideal evening there.

“ Which reminds me— “ Bringing his cup to the fore for effect, he rose from his chair. “ I’m of the mind to get another round of tea. Would you like some as well, or no? “

At halt by the table, he offered a palm for the kid to deposit his cup upon, should he wish it.

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"Hmm, sounds like this place is just your cup of tea." Nacht would respond, and then snicker, taking a second to spot his unintentional pun. "I'll walk with you. I appreciate the sentiment, but find it unappealing to break the rhythm of our chat, y'know?" He'd grin. Over the course of the conversation, he had grown to trust Aarno, almost as a child instinctually trusts his father. The self-proclaimed curmudgeon might not have been the social butterfly of the century, but his acceptance made Nacht

He stood up, cup in hand, and moved to Aarno, eager to keep the chat going on for as long as possible. "Hey, I know you are a knight, but what exactly is your role? You don't exactly strike me as the type to particularly like swinging the sword, but I could be wrong." he'd chuckle, still somewhat curious. Actually, though he had decided to no longer speak on the past, he was also wondering what exactly Aarno's magic was. A topic for later, the boy decided, content with the now. What an odd feeling that was, to feel as though things were fine. Living, instead of simply existing, had a fun little spark to it.
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His hand was left empty, returning down as he nodded and wasted not another second in place. The kid chattered somewhere at his shoulder as he went on, meandering his way back to where all that tea was just waiting to be claimed. For free.

“ My role is in maintenance. “ He responded without delay, pouring from a pot. The vagueness of it was fully meant, a smirk coming upon him as he took a preliminary sip of the fresh cupful, allowing for suspense.

“ As I’m a stone mason, that was something I fell into rather easily at the monastery. There will always be something to do for the likes of me, be it building new, fixing or taking apart old — the whole lot. “

He turned on place, eyeing the kid with new curiousty like one might another they meant to recruit to a cause. Thought hadn’t he already, in a sense — with all that anticipated roof fixing down the line already settled.

“ So, one could say your assumption be half-correct — “ Beginning back to their table, he shrugged.

“ I don’t mind the sword, but it doesn’t exactly fulfill my urge to perform trade specific behaviour. “ Like a chicken needs to scrape its claws into earth and cluck about with its flock, almost.

“ Call it being passionate about construction and rocks, if you will. Am sure you feel similarly of something? “

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“Hah, turning your talent into a source of drink.” Osuin commented. She’d been far from the first to do so, gifting like this had caused trouble in taverns ever since taverns had been a thing. Of course, this was a substantially friendlier environment. The price of a beer had been a bargain to witness what Monroe had to demonstrate.

"Hmm... surprise me. Make that two of what you’re getting"

Surprise her, she said. It wasn’t right to assume she’d be fine drinking what he was fine drinking, prior experience being the cause for his caution. A stout might be a bit much, and a golden ale might as well be a lager. Brown ale seemed a fine choice, and the fact that he now craved one settled the matter.

“Four pints of brown ale.”
Osuin requested from the knight tending to the bar. If she was ordering two, he wasn’t about to be content with just one. Soon, he returned with a pair of tankards in each hand, and quickly set then on the table.

“I’m sure grateful I didn’t split my skull open, too!” He wryly quipped, accepting her hand in greeting with his own. “Osuin.....just Osuin.” He replied. Osuin never had a last name. Those were for nobility, or those of a family with at least some prestige – of which there was none to be found as an impoverished slave in the Shallows.

He had come a long way since then.

“Were you nobility?”
He asked next. It wasn't always the case that it denoted a noble, but a surname always had a story behind it and Osuin was curious about hers.

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Monroe grimaced, dodging an immediate answer by taking a swig of the first tankard of ale. It was a good choice, something she can enjoy. Osuin knew his stuff.

And now she needed to prepare an answer. The dawnling took a moment to set down her drink and meet his gaze, quirking a brow. "Maybe." Her face gave away no real answer, other than a smile. A smile was no natural thing on her face.

"No true titles... but the town I grew up in before coming to the monastery... was called Cathmore." She cleared her throat. If anyone that had a detailed map and knowledge of seaside towns would be able to put it all together. "It doesn't really exist anymore. Abandoned." Another reach for the tankard, another swig.

Revealing these sorts of things were an odd thing, but Monroe didn't mind conversing. In fact, if she had enough to drink and in such a pleasant mood, one could coax the life story from her.

But that was not information she would give so easily.

"Afraid that is the most interesting detail about myself. And you, Osuin? What's interesting about you?" Besides being horrid at ice skating.

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Monroe took a swig of her drink, as did Osuin . It took her a moment before she responded.

"Maybe. No true titles... but the town I grew up in before coming to the monastery... was called Cathmore." She continued. Cathmore might have been no city, but it was a town and ought be notable enough for Osuin to know. Monroe too, had an explanation for why he might not.

"It doesn't really exist anymore. Abandoned." She added, and Osuin's gaze lowered, his expression shifting from one of interest into one of sympathy.

“My condolences.” Osuin replied simply. Abandonment spoke of a slow death for the town, one that needed little expansion on. Perhaps there was more to it, but it seemed unlikely, given Monroe's account.

“Of myself? Well I've been in Astenvale for longer than I've been a Knight. Since I was twelve or so.” Osuin guessed. He didn't know his own birthday, and any assessment of his age was an estimate.

“So I was the monestary kid. I'd nowhere else to go.”
Osuin added. He hadn't expanded on how he came to be under the Order's guardianship, but a tale of destitution and slavery seemed ill-fitting for a celebratory festival. And Osuin had much to celebrate. That hardship was twenty years behind him, and he was beyond his old life.

Now, he was a Knight.

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Nacht poured some tea and took a breath before continuing less frantically, having figured Aarno was listening either way. "Neat. The idea of living in an crumblingly ancient monastery from long ago is very fantastic and story-worthy, but I suppose not very great in terms of structure." Nacht would state, returning the grin with one of his own. He was actually a little surprised. This man, who was best known among the squires for being old and hating that fact, did most of the heavy lifting at the end of the day. Nacht chuckled to himself, now even more impressed by the admittedly elder Knight.

At Aarno's assumption that he felt drawn towards stonemasonry, Nacht struggled to quash a snicker, that industry being a bit less than his interest, given he already suffered daily training. "Oh no, I am passionate about helping others and truly being worthy of the title "Knight", or in my case squire, above all else, but I can handle some good ol' manual labor if it means I get to hang out with you and do a good thing at the same time, Dad." Nacht stated genially, stretching his arms out and yawning. "Oh, uh, I mean Syr. Just joking with ya!" Nacht would recover, worried Aarno might think he was mocking him. That was in fact the farthest thing from what he had intended to do.

"Have you any jobs lined up in the future?"

"Funny, you would have thought we would have crossed paths." They had, only Monroe was not as relaxed in her demeanor as she was now when she was a squire. She kept no true friends, preferred to be outdoors doing something instead of waiting around. That impatience still had not left her. "Could have taught you back then how to ice skate like a seasoned skater." She smirked.

"I came to the monastery at fourteen. Cheers to being squires longer than being Sworn." Monroe lifted her tankard between them, keeping eye contact with Osuin. "Here's hoping we may surpass that and survive what may come!" She escaped a lonely death once before, who knows if the next skirmish or siege would have Death coming to collect her borrowed time.

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“You’d think so, huh?” Osuin remarked with an amused smile. Both had been with the order for some time, and though Osuin had seen her around the monastery grounds before, he hadn’t actually met her, nor spoken to her before today. To see her open up as she had was like meeting a new knight for the first time. He’d gotten the notion that she preferred to keep to herself and was even a touch avoidant, a notion initially reinforced by her demeanour. Yet not entirely so, as refuted by their continued and pleasant conversation.

"I came to the monastery at fourteen. Cheers to being squires longer than being Sworn." She spoke, revealing a shared upbringing between the two that he hadn't known about.

“You too? Fortunate that we both had somewhere to turn to in our youth. Cheers to that!” He mirthfully replied, clanking tankards together with her.

“To success and survival!”

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There had been little choice of where to go in her youth, but she could say she had been glad to make the decision to remain with the Order.

Monroe allowed the slyest of smiles grace her as their tankards met, and took a lengthy drink, saving some to appear that she was pacing herself, despite the two drinks ordered for herself.

"One day, when I am..." Brave? Ready to face the ghosts that remained? "In the area of where Cathmore once was, maybe I will visit. See what haunts the town." Had she ever had a bright and enlightening conversation with anoyone?

She frowned down at the remainder of her drink.

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