Quest Lost History

Smiling One

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It was a long day for Willis.

He spent most of his time in Elbion doing a contract for a nobleman. His garden was infested by Goblins who have been stealing his newly grown fruits and vegetables along with rare flowers and herbs. The only reason Willis accepted the contract was that he was promised 100 coins. Goblins were easy and predictable creatures to take out and Willis was going to get a huge payday out of this, It was going to be easy right?

It turned out, the nobleman was the most frustrating part of the mission. He would but heads with Willis, telling him not to kill the Goblins in the garden because he didn't want to shed blood on the garden that has been in his family for generations. So Willis had to come up with a plan to lure the Goblins away from the place. Taking the fruit from the garden, Willis placed the fruit in the basket and set up a contraption which would drop a burlap sack on them. The young man then hid behind the bushes lying in wait for the monsters.

An hour later, two Goblins unarmed were drawn towards the fruit taking advantage Wilis sprung the trap encasing the Goblins inside the burlap sack. The creatures yelled as Willis quickly tied them up and dragged them outside the garden before bludgeoning them to death with a wooden club. Of course, the old man was an ungrateful bastard, he complained that Willis used things in his garden, therefore "tainting" them forever and only gave him 5 coins. Willis protested, but the knights he had by his side ended the conversation.

Being a Monster Slayer was a thankless job, Willis wouldn't mind it if it paid well but people always looked at monster slayers as cheaper alternatives to Witchers. Sometimes Willis wished he didn't get suckered into getting a license to becoming a Monster Slayer. The next place he went to was the College of Elbion, the oldest and one of the more prestigious schools in the world. A week ago, he took a flyer out from the notice board talking about an expedition to find some lost Frog Temple or something. All Willis knew was that this Professor needed bodyguards to traverse through the Woodlands, and if one thing that being mercenary had over a monster slayer was that the pay was consistent.

Approaching the College gate, Willis was greeted by armored guards who glared at him. "What do you want," the guard on the right sneered. "A ruffian like you shouldn't be near the College."

"This Ruffian," Willis replied. "Is exactly what's needed for one of your professor's expedition."
 
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Elbion, she thought to herself, was a pretentious place. all built around the notion - the lie - of their supremacy, and that didn't even mention their so-called 'college'.

The diminutive woman walked along a thronged street, peoples of all races and creeds ribbing elbows with one another. She had not been to Elbion in many years, wandering the wilds searching without any real expectation of finding what she sought. A Portal Stone away from Arethil would have been nice, a way to escape the trap she had stumbled into all those blurry thousands of years before. Barring that, a way to slip past the rules imposed on her in this place, bonding chains. The mark of slavery set upon her and her king by some uncaring God that, if given a chance, she would rend limb from limb.

So it had been for more years than the history of all the living nations of Arethil. Shortsighted and short lived races would look at the span of wasted years and shrink back, appalled. What was a century to an immortal, though? A millennium? An era?

Crushing boredom would have laid low many. Even among her own, the apathy of eternity are away at their souls, slowly driving some mad, others to quietly vanish, never to he heard from again.

There were days that she lay awake at night, contemplating those terrible foes, and in her deepest heart, fearing herself to be lost to them before the battle ever began.

It was to the college that she made her sedate way. The young-looking woman was not even four feet in height, and aside from being a fully matured woman in appearance, could easily be mistaken for an elfin child with those pointed ears, even if they were shorter than what was typically expected. She carried a staff that was a foot and more taller than she was, intricately carved with climbing rose that almost looked as if they could be alive. The dress she wore was sensible, high-necked with skirts extending to her ankles, and of a lovely pale blue with thread-of-gold embroidery around the hem, waist, sleeves, and neck. The symbols embroidered were of her own dimly remembered language, seldom spoken any more.

She wore her hair loose today, hanging in a silver cascade to below her waist, framing an almost cherubic face with pale purple eyes, slight in some way albeit faintly so.

Whatever she looked like, though, she exuded a feeling of age, an ineffable miasma of years gone by that was palpable.

Arriving at the gates of the college, she saw the guards moving to intercept her, and flung a hand with a single finger extended to forestall them. She could already hear the rubbish to come from their mouths, had she given them the chance: This is no place for children. She didnt give them the chance.

"I am here to see Ekon Larkin," she said in a high pitched, childish voice. "He want people for some expedition or other such nonsense. Some Toad Temple or the like?" She didnt personally remember these Sages or Mages herself, which simply meant that they had been little more than a curiosity during their time. But, then, most things were. Nothing lasted, after all.

"You will take me to him, now," she pronounced.
 

Ynsidia

"...Does my head grow rope?"
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Beyond the gates stood Ynsidia in her typical overly elaborate, garish robes. Tapping the toe of one of her fancy black traveling boots as she grew impatient with a college researcher and sycophant of Prof. Larkin, Ynsidia's left brow raised and twitched as her forced smile became even more shallow than it had been.

Bronze skin paled somewhat, ghost marks of healing cuts, Ynsidia had not fully recovered from her ordeal in Pandemonium, and was at first glad to be in Elbion. The summons that managed to reach her in the Blightlands when the dust settled after everything had been a welcome motivator to move on passed all she'd experienced. She just wondered if Arethil itself had moved. An embrace of that magnitude, Ynsidia thought, had to have left lasting effects all over the place.

But that was neither here nor their.

She had an annoying man in front of her using big words that valued higher than his educational expenses.

"Stop right there!" she all but barked at the man, arms crossing in front of her, numerous charms and sigils jingling as she stamped down her tapping foot. The researched almost recoiled, but did go quiet as demanded of him.

"I've read plenty of Prof. Larkin's research, and while I came here gladly, it was under the impression that I would be sharing some of the tomes I posses with him. Tomes in Vel Anir that could help in his research efforts; there is not enough substantial information collected to justify an expedition into the WILDLANDS!" Ynsidia challenged, stabbing a finger at 'X' markers and black lines on a battered map that the researcher held.

"Well, I only possess some of the knowledge in regards to this matter; the professor is keeping much of the major information he's discovered recently close to the chest."

Ynsidia groaned, rubbing her dark eyes.

"Which is why I need to speak with him directly, but you say I have to wait. I did not come here out of a love for discovery itself, and I don't talk for my health; Larkin's summons implied I'd be a guest here, and working with him directly. Yet, I have been back and forth to this college six times over the course of three days without being received by him once. When am I actually going to meet the Professor?"

Having effectively blown the researcher's hair back, Ynsidia received a pleading apology from him. He claimed he'd let the professor know she was present and accounted for, and awaiting an audience. Rolling her eyes and sighing, Ynsidia turned about face, her robes flurrying and billowing dramatically. She walked towards the college gate, eyes on her feet at first, thoughts wandering far afield over the year she'd been having thus far. She really had turned sixteen while in the red mists. Blaight's infiltration of her mind (and heart) had kept the chronology accurate.

Most girl's her age had a celebration with adoring parents and a nice meal, maybe even a present on such a special occasion as truly becoming a woman of age.

She got caught in a dreamworld crafted by a demon's spell. A demon that almost succeeded in draining her of her blood.

Some sweet sixteen...

Looking up, her sullen expression softened at the sight of two individuals who, like herself, had found themselves being held in wait. The little one (a fey) spoke to a guard, and mentioned Larkin's name, the other was a resolute looking man in well traveled clothes tossing the other guard's words back at them.

She grinned and spoke up.

"I know muscle when I see it; Larkin got you both on retainer too?"
 

Maho Sparhawk

The Fire Mage of Belgrath
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The local Pub was bright with candle-wicks, the smell of freshly cooked meats and hops breezed through the air. A bard sat in the corner, playing away on a small drum, singing the same song he'd been singing for the last few hours. Sparhawk gazed down at his mug, the stumble-worthy alcohol within the Tankard shone off the sides of it's glass walls, morphing, turning in obscure shapes. The drink wasn't even good, but it helped keep Sparhawk's mind off, not only this conversation, but the constant ringing of those same, wailing voices in his head:

Please... We beg of you! No more!

Retreat! Retreat!

I'm gonna die... somebody...

M o r e.

"Shut up, shut up! SHUT UP!" Sparhawk screamed, bringing his mug crashing down to the cheap, wooden table he sat at.

Eyes turned to him, quickly moving on from the scene he'd created; events like this often happened in every part of every hold in every city, so no one was too surprised to find another drunkard too deep in his cups. One pair of eyes did fall interested on Sparhawk though. A tall man, wielding a staff at his side, cowled in a light grey cloak. He approached the table Sparhawk was sat at, and sat down. He attempted to meet his eyes, but Sparhawk was too busy looking down at the spillage, the mess he'd spilt dripping onto the cobble-floor.

"Ma-Maho? Is that you?" Sparhawk briefly turned his eyes up from the table (common curtesy) and looked at the mans face. He must've been around Sparhawk's age, well-built, blue eyes and a cared-for beard that had clearly been the result of many years of grooming and trimming. Once the initial wooziness had worn off, he recognised the man: Teel Stront, a very successful Mage at Elbion, and now a professor in elemental magicks.

"But... what have you done to yourself- i mean, not to insult you, but just... your arm;" His eyes were lit with fear and concern as he studied Sparhawk's right arm, which had been resting on the table instead of hidden beneath his cloak.

It was laden with what looked like a thick, dark, coal substance. It'd didn't warp his arm's shape, but seemed to replace the skin that was once there. It seemed to teem with something dark, something unspoken. It'd almost made Teel sick to stare at.

"I haven't seen you since... what, three years ago? I remember you meeting with the State Conjurer Telemachus but- gods. I'm not gonna' ask what happened, but know this, there's a flyer going around Elbion; One of the college professors are looking to hire some Mages, I think it'd do you some good." He said, optimistically. All Sparhawk gave him was a long, hard look.

"Just leave." He stated, abruptly. He went to take another swig of his Ale, forgetting that only a handle remained, with what was left of his drink puddling onto the floor.

"Look, Maho, you just have to get back into the... you know, the normality of things, Yeah? Please, if not for yourself, For me. It's depressing seeing you like this... Christ. I don't know what happened, but you'll feel better after a Job. And get that arm checked out, i've never seen anything like it before. Yeah?" Teel took a deep drink of his Ale, slumping into the back of his chair, giving Maho a deeply - although woozily - concerned look.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
His hangover didn't stop him from taking up Teel on his offer.

The bright sun shone harshly onto his eyes, bringing his cowl over his head to protect him from the rase. He wore the only other clothes he had; a long, dark robe, embroidered with Elbion's Emblem, the gift he had received once he had learnt the advanced teachings the College had to offer. Hopefully that'd offer him some credentials when entering. Although he needn't worry, he went there often once, so most of the guards - and all of the professors - usually recognised him.

He walked to the gates to find a small group beginning to amass in front of the gate.

Why didn't i just work on the farm like i'd planned. I'm getting too old for this...

In reality, he was only 33, but that'd didn't comfort him.

He approached one of the guards standing to the side, the others were dealing with what seemed to be the shortest Mage he'd ever seen, and a tall, well-built traveller, brandishing his credentials. The guard seemed to take a step-back when he saw him, taking a while to recognise him behind his tired expression and dark eyes.

"Master Sparhawk, welcome back. Please; go ahead." He stood aside, allowing him to pass through the gateway towards the college. Hopefully he'd find someone who could tell him where to find this 'professor'.
 

Smiling One

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Willis handed one of the guards the letter he found on the notice board to one of the guards who briefly scanned its contents. "You still think I'm going to let scum like you in the College?!" He retorted his mustache filled from the flecks of spit that came from his slightly swollen tongue.

"He wanted scum like me," Willis said nonchalantly "and he promised good pay and I'm not going to be denied good pay."

Both guards reached for the hilt of their swords, Willis did the same thing putting a hand on his Rapier until an Elf came in between them. Willis raised an eyebrow at how young the Elf was, she looked 15 or 16 years old, but how she carried herself made it appear that she looked older than she actually was. "I am here to see Ekon Larkin," the Elf said in a squeaky voice. "He want people for some expedition or other such nonsense. Some Toad Temple or the like?"

Okay, Willis stands corrected.

"This isn't a mission for children!" the guard spat. "Get out!"

A smirk began to form on Willis' lips, the girl has balls to stand up for herself besides the Willis was involved in Piracy since he was 12 though he doubted that any hired hand today would hire a child. "You will take me to him, now," the girl said.

"I said no!" The guard shouted.

"She's with me," Willis chuckled. "From my experience, a small person can cast a large shadow, who knows maybe she'll surprise us."

Might as well humor this Professor, Willis did remember reading a few books authored by Ekon Larkin. He seemed to be an acclaimed History Professor. The guard was about to speak until a student approached them from the entrance, she looked as young as the Elf wearing elaborate robes and black boots. "I know muscle when I see it; Larkin got you both on retainer too?" She asked.

"Hey I'm here because I read an ad on the notice board," Willis said holding up his paper to her. "These assholes won't let me in because they discriminate against the poor never mind the fact that they look like they live in the gutters."

"Why you?!-" The guard was about to say until a man with a brown beard and well-worn robes walked past them. Willis observed his tired eyes and weary expression. He's seen expressions like that before, this man has been through hell. "Master Sparhawk, welcome back. Please; go ahead." the other guard said.

"Hey!" Willis said incredulously. "What about us?!"

"You can go ahead as well!"

"Don't mind if I do," Willis said walking past the guards and approaching the student who helped them. "Thanks for the assist kid," Willis said giving his charming smile. "Nothing worse than a guy who thinks he's better than you just because he kisses their bosses ass."

Staring at the small mage Willis smiled. "So what's your name you two?" He asked. "Names' Willis Reede."
 
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If the words these fools were speaking made any impression on the ancient sorceress, she didn't let any of it show. Well, almost. She gave them a feral grin, teeth showing but absolutely no mirth in her eyes.

"I know," she said in response to their denial based upon her perceived age. "That is why they hired me for this job, and not you." You will die screaming, some day, she thought to herself, but did not give voice to the words. This was an institution of 'learning', and she used that term very, very broadly. Insulting or threatening was not the way to go about things, though sometimes it was immensely satisfying.

The petitioners for this jib had grown more numerous, and the fay looked at the newcomers with mild interest. All of them were children of course, especially the girl with the colored skin. Unlike the fools that stood gate duty, though, she would not dismiss someone out of hand just because they were young. Or appeared to be, that was another trap she would not fall for.

With a sniff for the guards, she glided forward staff in hand. The only tell of the irritation she felt were white-knuckled grip on the rose-carved stave, for her expression was carefully neutral, serene despite what she felt inside. The newfound companions, if that was what they ended up being, passed into the grounds as well.

"My name is Seska," she said in high pitched tones that, unlike her features, failed entirely to hide her irritation. "It never ceases to amaze me how blind humans are to whats plain as the nose on their face. Child? Phaw!" She spit the last words out vehemently. She glanced at the fellow named Willis, inwardly calculating his worth as a shield, as the teenage girl - she was fairly certain of her age - did not look like she would provide much delay in any situation where a body between her and some shambling, Lovecraftian horror was necessary. "Don't make the same crass assumption," she added for the benefit of all of them.
 

Ynsidia

"...Does my head grow rope?"
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Her lips pursed at the sight of Sparhawk gliding through the college gate; it had taken three trips to the college, her third visit and making scene, to gain admittance onto the college grounds. The man entering had distant, sad eyes, she thought, and a Devils-May-Care sensibility to how he wore his clothes to how even walked. Careless. Confident. Damaged and depthy.

An experienced man.

"Boy is he!"

She thought, her face feeling hot as she subconsciously started twirling a tight braid around a finger, feet going pigeon toed as the traveled wizard drew close.

"Hey!"

She managed meekly, as Sparhawk passed by. She barely had enough time to recover when...

"So what's your name you two? Names' Willis Reede"

Willis Reede seemed a man of less internal cares but a man that lived by his hands and what he cared to put in them. Be they weapons, wealth or women. He seemed younger, and happier in disposition than the brooding man who just passed her despite vocalizing outward frustration earlier.

She looked him up and down without really thinking about it before making eye contact.

"Wow!"

She breathed excitedly, suddenly realizing what she just blurted out, and blushed. She rushed to answer properly.

"I-I'm Ynsidia 'Conjurer of the Ink'!"

"My name is Seska. It never ceases to amaze me how blind humans are to whats plain as the nose on their face. Child? Phaw! Don't make the same crass assumption." Seska introduce, a brief pause between giving her name and warning against like thought of her age. It sobered Ynsidia, whose mind had gone into the proverbial gutter right then thinking about herself at the 'mercy of both men's insatiable hungers at once'.

"I've encountered a Sidhe once; he pitched rocks at me to bat aside with a wood sword...it was part of my Rapier training; I learned that just because something seems small in size doesn't mean it lacks power."
 
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Adonia

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Port cities were among Fèlen’s favorite cities. Salt scented the air, bustle flurried in the streets, trade was to be had all around. Gossip was rampant. Whispers spoke of a professor seeking help digging through some ancient temples. This quest had remained in the back of the nympling’s mind as she flitted through the city, taking in tastes and smells.


It wasn’t hard for her to find the college, not merely because she was resourceful but because it was the pride of the city. She stood at it’s gate, peering upon the harsh stone that made its frame. A slender finger pressed past the plum of her bottom lip, catching the nail thoughtfully. Adventure called to her, encouraging her to do more than simply roam. It had been too long.


She had not noticed that she was not the only one looking to join the quest, others having already passed through the gates.

“Pardon me.” She called politely, approaching one of the guards. “Is this where we are supposed to meet Professor Larkin?”


Flowing and silken was her dress, almost translucent, yet it kept from sight what was meant to be, hanging from her lithe form and billowing as if there was a soft gust that seemed to follow her. Her sterling locks were braided into a crown around her delicate crest, sprouting with equally delicate flowers in hues of baby blue. At first sight she did not seem one to approach for such a calling, and yet there she was, awaiting for the guard’s permission to enter.
 

Maho Sparhawk

The Fire Mage of Belgrath
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Apart from the "hey" directed at Sparhawk, he was undistracted from his direction towards the college. Although, the group that amassed around the gate seemed very interesting. His harrowing experiences may have damaged his psyche, but they did not damage his curiosity.

None of the members seemed similar; all having small features or distinct looks. They even seemed of varying ages, the youngest seemed to be the woman, or... Girl that seemed to signal him. She was blatantly a Sorceress. Of course, Sparhawk had the senses and power to tell a mage from a non-mage now, but it was his experience which told him she was a mage; the way she stood, the same look of curious wonder that every aspireing young wizard has at one point in their lives. He could also tell she was a Conjurer from his time spent with Telemachus, a specific aura surrounded each sorcerer, and there's was akin to one another.

However, it was the extremely short one that caught Sparhawk's attention. Apart from the loud, self-proclaiming voice that seemed to spout from her at will, her energy seemed enormous. Flashes of memory seemed to go spark through Sparhawk's mind, the image of Imamu, the god that granted him his deal became all too familiar to his mind. He wasn't sure what she was, but he knew he didn't want anything to do with her, his mind pained with the suffering of thousands of lives: an experience he didn't want to relive. At least, not today.

Nauseated, he made his way through the great gate, and entered into The College of Elbion.

Although he had seen it countless times since he was young, it's beauty still struck him like an arrow; it's feral and wild archways entwining themselves through the various great timbers that held the ancient structure up. Although immense sorcery was to thank for it's long life, one could not doubt the innate grace of it's architecture. From it's long, gray halls to it's library, teeming with the knowledge of countless scholars and arch-mages, the wandering students in envy of the power and wisdom each held in the palm of their hands. And, though it was nice to see, Sparhawk couldn't escape the looks of the various professors and students that walked about, whispering of how Sparhawk the slave attempted to lift the college from it's foundations, only to be scorned and scarred by his attempt. It did not help his already damaged condition to know that, still, he would never be truly welcome, despite his countless visits to the library and various additions to the college's writings in Dark Magicks.

Tired from his short journey, he took a seat on a free bench that sat adjacent to the Professors' offices. He hoped that, eventually, someone would arrive to greet him, or at least give him some level of instruction on what this quest was. But all the time he sat, one singular thought encapsulated his mind:

I shouldn't have come here.
 

Smiling One

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Willis continued to stare at the man who passed them head to the College. Was he interested in the job? What was his story? Nevertheless Ynsidia the student who let Willis and Seska the small, mature for her age Elf in was already smitten with him. The young man rolled his eyes, he never could fully grasp what about the broody boy persona that makes girls go head over heels for them. Then again Willis himself often sle[t with women who claimed that he was a hurt soul and wanted to "help" him.

"Hey!" Willis said trying to shake Ynsidia out of her daydreaming. "Sorry to interrupt whatever fantasies you're thinking but what does Conjurer of the Ink mean?"

Seska then mentioned that she was Sheide which was something that Willis curious. He knew that there were at least two kinds of Elves: Regular Elves and Wood Elves but he never heard much about the Sheide. It never ceases to amaze me how blind humans are to whats plain as the nose on their face. Child? Phaw! Don't make the same crass assumption." Seska said annoyed.

"I've encountered a Sidhe once; he pitched rocks at me to bat aside with a wood sword...it was part of my Rapier training; I learned that just because something seems small in size doesn't mean it lacks power." Ynsidia agreed.

"I mean yeah," Willis said putting his hands behind his head. "I don't like when someone blames a human for all the ills in the world." Willis has been around the world long enough to know that there are some non-humans who take their anger and frustrations on humans whenever things go wrong in their lives. There are many human bastards around the world, but not all of them deserve retribution.

Hearing footsteps approaching, Willis saw another Elf heading their way, she looked beautiful wearing a long flowing dress along with an immaculate crest with long locks of hair. "Hello, what do we have here?" Willis said out loud with a smirk on his face.

The guards let the Elf in and Willis smiled, she did look beautiful. "Greetings," Willis said sporing a charming smile. "My name is Willis Reede, Professional Monster Slayer, and Mercenary." The young bowed still smiling at her. "And who might you be?"

"Professor Ekon Larkin,"

Willis whirled around and saw a bald man with a tan complexion approaching the group. He was wearing rounded gold-tinted glasses, teachers robes that covered his skinny frame. He was struggling to carry the many books he had around his arms.

"So these are the people?" Professor Larkin said staring at the group. "Yeah," Willis said annoyed. "So Doc, what are we going to do specifically?"

Willis crossed his arms as Professor Larkin stared at the group. "We have more mercenaries in my office," he said. "I left them so I could gather the rest of the maps. As soon as we reach my office I'll explain more!"
 
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The diminutive woman snorted at Willis response, shaking her head as she responded. "Humans? No, humans are just ambitious and full of vitality. The ills of the world are owned by the power-hungry and the greedy."

The Sidhe did not miss the man's response to her presence, subtle though it might have been. A slight pulling back, a touch of apprehension and a hint of distaste. She was momentarily puzzled by this. He couldn't have been here long enough for her to have crossed his path at any point during his life. Curious. She filed away the information and looked at the others of their party.

An elf. Always a damned pretentious, morally superior elf. She watched the elfin woman, dolled up as if she were something truly spectacular, move in among them, and had to suppress distaste and, oddly, a touch of jealousy. Also curious.

Any more curiosities, she thought to herself, and I will start to get worried.

She looked to the only real girl among, and allowed thevfaintest of smiles to touch her cherubic features. "What was his name? I heard that Maledict was in this area a few hundred years ago, but I have not managed to find him yet."

She did not say anything to the professor, though, when introduced. Instead, she hung back and let the others say what they would. She doubted that there was much that the professor could produce that would surprise her.
 

Ynsidia

"...Does my head grow rope?"
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"Sorry to interrupt whatever fantasies you're thinking but what does Conjurer of the Ink mean?"

It was a lot of cross current talk; Ynsidia hadn't been inundated with interested questions by two individuals at once since several awhile back when she practically caused a full scale riot in Vel Anir for refusing to kill a child. Mischa, Aldren, Tian...that was both a Hell of, and a Heavenly moment. She counted both Templars as good friends at arms after that debacle. Tian...well, that was debatable territory still. But she'd learned to push her powers to a new limit, which helped her survive her foray into Pandemonium not too long ago...

"I can animate ink, conjure an imitation of life effectively from liquid and give it substance. Very useful, and supremely unique, If I do say so. Only myself and my master possess such a discipline, such a gift...but my title is mostly show, to be honest, but it got your attention, eh?" she explained with a big grin, twirling one of her braids around her finger again.

Then Seska dropped an anchor of a name.

"What was his name? I heard that Maledict was in this area a few hundred years ago, but I have not managed to find him yet."

Maledict!

Seska knew (or knew of) the same Sidhe. That someone else knew of him almost seemed revelatory, but made sense. The Conjurer, her master, had said Maledict was something of a force among the Sidhe, a person of some importance. The Conjurer had asked him to fine tune her reflexes and defensive skills, as well as polish her swordplay.

"Maledict, that was him, alright. Gave me two black eyes once when he pitched a sizable stone right into my nose. I failed to block. I hated him for it, but I got better at batting things out of the air afterwards!"

Ynsidia huffed.

"I owe him a great debt in spite of my general resentment of him; being able to deflect various missiles, slung, or thrown, has saved my life on more than one occasion! But I assumed he kicked off; there's been no talk of that Sidhe since he left after instructing me." she added with a bit of a smile.

Then she saw Felen, and blinked with surprise.

"Felen!?!"

Before she could say more...

"So these are the people?" Professor Larkin had arrived, FINALLY!

"We have more mercenaries in my office," he said. "I left them so I could gather the rest of the maps. As soon as we reach my office I'll explain more!"

After all the wait, they were now being rushed. Deep down inside the pit of Ynsidia's stomach, she felt a punch of worry and doubt, a proverbial 'Bad Feeling' about how this might pan out. But as always with her, the potential clout (and wealth) gained from these interactions would keep her warm with affluence for a long time!
 

Adonia

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Pure and pallid, Fèlen was picturesque and ethereal. The hints of velveteen flesh that teased from slits in her garb were without mar or mark, as if the sun’s rays could not affect it. She seemed to glide as she entered the gates, her movements fluid and graceful, almost ready to begin an elegant dance. Her gray gaze was gentle and kind, lightly sparked with curiosity and tenacity.


Willis Reede.” His name on her lips was almost sultry. “ The smile he gave were was a familiar one, as she had spent some time traveling and dancing for a brothel. She was not unaccustomed to male attention. “A pleasure to meet you. I am-”


“Fèlen!?!” Ynsidia’s voice interrupted her own, spoken with incredulity.


“Indeed. I am Fèlen of that title only.” She returned his smile with her own, offering her greeting not only to him, but the others as one leg swept behind the other, submitting a formal curtsy to the entirety of the group just before the professor made his approach.


They seemed quite the gathering. Mages and monster hunters. All from different walks of life. A playful smile remained at Fèlen’s lips as her intrigue was stoked. She did not miss the disapproval of the smallest member, offering Seska a polite smile.


That look, too, was familiar. One the halfling knew far too well. One that had shamed and crushed her in her previous life. But such a look would no longer hinder her, her hands gripping tightly for a moment whilst her attention remained on the professor, stepping forth to offer aide with the many tombs he toiled with. She fell in step with Ynsidia quickly after, giving her a more welcoming smile than she had offered the others.


“It is good to see you again. And without the company of bloodied friends.”
 

Maho Sparhawk

The Fire Mage of Belgrath
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Sitting on that bench, in the middle of the College, gave a man plenty of time to think. And that, it seemed, was all Sparhawk could do at that particular time. Whilst he walked through the trade and greed of the city, he had heard whisperings of monsters appearing throughout Arethil, lands that once teemed with life seemed to become overrun with creatures not of this world. What caught his ear however, was talk of creatures at the Falwood. As If Sparhawk wasn't concerned enough for his own well-being, now he had to worry about Myles.

He hadn't returned any of his letters as of yet. Sparhawk had kept sending them for almost a year now, and yet, none of them returned with word of his progress. Sparhawk couldn't help but feel responsible for whatever happened to him. They'd been through so much together, and he could never forgive himself if he'd been hurt. Or died.

God, what if he'd dead?

He felt like curling up on that bench. If it weren't for the countless students, Sorcerers and travellers roaming the halls, he'd have probably begun to cry on the spot. But no, he thought. He had to keep himself busy, keep his mind ticking. Keep himself focused.

He did notice the mercenaries in the distance. Numerous in number, all carrying heavy weaponry, supposedly for a job. Chances were, they were there for the same reason he was. It struck him as odd however, that a professor would seek Warriors that fought with Steel, and Sorcerers that fought with knowledge.

Now he thought on it, the group outside of the gate were probably there for the same reason as he. At least this professor seemed to know who to hire. All he hoped however, was that this job didn't involve him having to kill anymore people. He wasn't even sure if he had the capacity to fight anyone. Every-time conflict arose, all he could think of was his black, brimstone arm, Belgrath, and the blood that was on his hands.

He lifted his hood further over his head, concealing his face, and begun to silently sob.

I miss Myles.
 

Smiling One

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"I can animate ink, conjure an imitation of life effectively from liquid and give it substance. Very useful, and supremely unique, If I do say so. Only myself and my master possess such a discipline, such a gift...but my title is mostly show, to be honest, but it got your attention, eh?" Ynsidia said while twirling her braid.

Willis laughed at Ynsidia impressed at her bravado. "I like you already kid," he said. "You got spunk," Willis did wonder what was the extent of her Ink magic. It was the first time he ever heard of such a magic art and considering that it was only Ynsidia and whoever her master was who can do this, it was probably a state secret or something.

Willis then tuned out when Ynsidia was busy talking more about the Sidhe, he was focused on what the job entailed. It required the group to go to the Woodlands or what travelers call: The Wildlands. A large forest filled with deadly monsters and plants. Men and women often disappear when they go deep into the Wildlands, it came to the point where the people of Elibon recommended walking around the woodlands if they wanted to travel. If those Toad Frog things found refuge in the Wildands.

"Felen!?!"

Willis raised an eyebrow when Ynsidia recognized the slender Elf who just arrived at the gates. “Indeed. I am Fèlen of that title only,” she responded while bowing to Professor Larkin. “It is good to see you again. And without the company of bloodied friends.”

"Wait a minute," Willis chuckled trying to gather himself and observing Seska being a little envious when looking at Felen. "You two know each other?" He said staring at Felen and Ynsidia. "Well, what a small world we live in and you don't have to explain these bloodied friends. I'd rather not know what the fuck happened."

The young man's imagination did run wild over the possible adventures the two girls had. It was probably best to ask about them later. Professor Larkin flashed a nervous grin "It's wonderful that you're meeting an old friend and all Ynsidia," he said. "We gotta hurry."

"Well, who's stopping you?" Willis asked a little irritated. "Let's get a move on."

It didn't take long for the group to reach the Professor's office. As the walked through the door, Willis continued to smirk at Felen, "so where are you from?" he asked still smitten with her. "It must be a wonderful judging beautiful you are."

"I'm bloody glad you think beautiful!"

That voice! Willis turned and not only found the despondent mage who passed them but two familiar men sitting next to him. "Andy," Willis remarked crossing his arms. "I thought you and brother had a date with the executioner."

Andy laughed at the young man. "Don't know what you're talking about!" he said. "Is that the first thing you gonna say to your old mate? And you haven't introduced me to your pretty elven girlfriend!" He pointed a Felen.

Andy was a hairy man around Willis' height with a squat build and a missing nose. His brother: Benny smiled at Willis. "Biter misses Willis," he said with drool coming out from his mouth. Benny stood about 6'10 beast of a man who is bald, round and fleshy. His teeth have been sharpened into points thanks to his brother, Benny was raised by Andy to do one thing and that is to fight and savagely bite people.

"Can I have your attention please?!" Professor Larkin said.
 
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She tried to imagine Maledict, the grizzled warlord whose word had commanded the death of a million people, settled in as an instructor of the sword. The image was disconcertingly apt, albeit such a serious figure in such a role made Seska smile, faintly at least. That the world he had been on was gone, he and many others...that made it fade away.

And the damnedest thing, she couldn't remember what he looked like. Oh, a fingernail sketch was something she could managed, but his mannerism, the set of his jaw, his hair...all of these details had faded. Time moved one direction, after all, and the accumulation of an unyielding torrent of memories meant that some of them, by necessity, would be lost.

"I doubt very much he is gone. We....persist." The peculiar choice of a word to describe her presence in this world should have drawn some attention, but alas, it did not. The short-lived would look upon her and her kind with jealousy at the years that she would have and they would not. But, in the end, was it actually a boon?

She shook that dark thought away.

"Professor, I shouldn't have to explain this to you...but we have all the time in the world, unless you think that these people you seek will suddenly vanish after thousands of years?" regardless, she suited herself to gliding along behind them. She didn't have the half-nymphs grace and never would. It was probably a fair trade, though. She had always thought the nymphs were a bit too...promiscuous at the best of times. She'd even stumbled upon...

A careful shake of the head. Memories. They had no place here.

The arrival of the mercenaries was not unexpected, though the caliber and breeding of some of them was questionable at best. Two of them looked like they could hold her in the palm of their hands, towering over her and, frankly, most of the others. She designated the one (Biter) as Shield One and the other hulking giant as Shield Two. The pair of them looked like they would be exceptionally useful at drawing the attention of anything too nasty while she decided whether or not is was worth the effort of doing anything herself, if it came to it.

She was about to dismiss the rest of them when her eyes alighted on another rogue among the lot of them. Her eyes narrowed distinctly.

"Well, if it isn't little Miss Priss herself," the man said as he approached their group, among the rest of the sell-swords. Seska drew herself up, trying to gain every extra inch of height she could. "Fancy running across you here, eh? Decide to stop looking down your nose at everyone for a change?"

The ancient sorceress scowled. "Ah. Vanin. Nice to see you again, too," she lied, her high pitched voice not quite able to hide smoldering irritation.

The man was of average height and build, wearing light chainmail over a leather hauberk. He had two scimitar swords, each wickedly sharp and curved, though the blades bore some notching from actual use. He had a crossbow slung across his back, too. She had seen him use all of those weapons, including the most lethal of them on his person: his tongue.

Right now those dark, deep set eyes were glaring at her and the rest of their companions, weighing and calculating the merits of continued employment with this group. Apparently he liked the odds. Sweeping a mocking bow to one and all, and a wink for a former employer, he fell in step behind them all.

"Still got a stick up your ass, sweetheart?" he said in a low voice, for her ears only.

"Go talk to the sauntering hussy back there. I'm sure she'll have something for your ass," she replied acidly.

His laughter grated on her nerves, but she ignored it. When they arrived at the office of the professor, packed in closer than she would like, she gave the old bookworm a testy motion to get on with it.
 

Ynsidia

"...Does my head grow rope?"
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"I doubt very much he is gone. We....persist."

That phrase would linger...

"Then, peradventure, I'll have a chance to thank him."

With Felen falling in next to her, and when Willis wasn't pouring it on thick with the come-ons, Ynsidia caught up with the largely gentle Nymph.

"Aldren Cordale, and Mischa Ven'rohk are well, if that's what you meant before, Felen. Tian...not sure where he's at but I'm sure it is darker than the night or any of my pots of ink..." she began with a smirk breaking her oft sullen base expression. They followed along behind the professor, Seska talking to the learned man at length it seemed until a dangerous looking, rather well put together man approached her and the two began a hushed conversation.

With a completely unguarded act of teenage hormones, she regarded Vanin's ass.

"I envy his saddle." she blurted out presently, before continuing as if she hadn't just stopped to drool.

"I went to the Blightlands, and fought alongside the Eternum and saw...well, I saw many things, Felen; I'm still trying to comprehend what occurred, and I doubt I ever will grasp it fully, but it was a chapter I shan't forget." she finished, taking in Seska's "Tower Shields" even though she could not know that is what the Sidhe had deemed them.

Then Vanin's laughter ripped through otherwise quiet air.

Attraction aside. Ynsidia made up her mind right then that she didn't like the man personally. There was a cruelty to his laughter that was too similar to the Maddigans and Viraks found in Vel Anir. He was a man who knew power of a different kind, sure, but it created the same kind of brutal heart. She could leer at his rear bumper all she wanted, sure, but Ynsidia concluded that any interaction with him would need to be guarded. Out of all assembled, she recognized the first, true predator.

Then Ynsidia saw...

Her jaw dropped open.

A Komodi!?!
 

Calla of Nuastone

Sister of Nua Nua
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It was a very small room that the Komodo entered.

Most rooms that humans made were, in fact, too small, Calla had come to realize. This was no exception, having to duck to enter the door so her long, curved horns didn’t brush the top and then nearly bonking her head into no less than three lights that were for whatever reason hung in the middle of the very low ceiling. She took care not to bump into them… but said care was for naught, because the giant crystal warhammer that was strapped across her back smacked into door frame and lights alike.

“Excuse me little one,” she told the human male kindly, then fixed her eyes on two substantially smaller humans, both girls, one with pointed ears. “I do not wish to smoosh you,” she said, very earnestly. “Or smack you with my tail. Or step on you. Or break you in half. You both seem too nice for all that. Oh, but there’s ink on your cheek,” she gestured at her own cheek to one of them, smiling and baring sharp teeth.

Of course, the human in front was staring at her, now, and Calla realized that not only was she late but interrupting the man’s words.

“Oh. Yes. Very sorry small one! I will find a spot.”

Said spot seemed to be on a bench near another man, who was sitting leaning forward with his hood covering his face. Calla dropped onto the bench next to him, making the wood groan in protest as if it was threatening to drop them both on the ground. She herself was wearing minimal armor, mostly light leather work, but the glint of the lights off the scales covering her body was proof of the fact that she didn’t really need more armoring. She came pretty durable already.

“This is very exciting, is it not?” she mentioned enthusiastically. “I can’t remember what I signed up for, but I am sure it will be very great!”
 

Adonia

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“That is good to hear, Ynsidia.” Fèlen spoke genuinely of their mutual acquaintances good health, followed by the light hearted ring of a surprised laugh at mention of a man’s ‘saddle.’ She shook her head briefly with a smile at the young conjurer’s inability to keep thoughts in her own mind. Her knowledge of the Blightlands was nonexistent, thus there was little for Fèlen to offer Ynsidia in response to her time spent there.

“If ever you need, I can brew a tea to calm the memories if they ale you.” Ynsidia had done nothing against the half-elf that would deter her naturally generous nature. Favors were easy to come by in Fèlen's company.


As the group continued to follow the Professor, the argent of the half-nymph’s eyes trailed off in the direction of a shrouded man, distracting her from Ynsidia. Even with cloak overdrawn, his ambiance was that of suffering. Shoulders were slumped with his face in his hands. One would have to be almost heartless not to feel pity for another in so much pain. Or oblivious.


Light steps carried her towards the man without word, lowering into a crouch so that she was level with his hunched form. Whether he noticed her approach or not, a free hand reached towards the plait of silvery hair that crowned her head, plucking one of the miniscule flowers from the strands.


Fragile and delicate, she offered it forward to Maho Sparhawk, though before he was able to accept or decline, the flora began to evolve. The gentle petals flourished, growing and sprouting more, the pastel hue growing deeper into a vibrant periwinkle as they grew larger. The stem developed so that slender fingers could wrap around it whilst optimistic canary colors bloomed from the middle of the new flower. A perfume wafted from it’s depths, a calming scent that was not too overpowering, but offered a form of magical aromatherapy to help sate whatever storming emotions were attacking the man’s psyche.


Fèlen gave no words, but a simple, empathetic smile, as she knew not what was causing his grief, and did not want her words to possibly hinder him further. She returned to her feet and continued to follow the group, rushing faintly to catch up, and enter the Professor’s office.


“So where are you from? Must be a wonderful judging beautiful you are.” Willis continued to converse with Fèlen, his interest in her more than obvious, though two brutes that were already waiting interrupted her from responding. She was grateful. The question he posed was not an easy one for her to answer. Her home could either be considered where she was born, or which land she had spent the most years, or which land she had felt the most connection to. The first was not a place she remembered all that well, and though the landscape had been breathtaking, her time there had been fraught with pain and dejection.


She felt a flare of determination rise within at Andy’s assumption of her romantic entanglements, her gaze setting on him with a devious glare.


“You two make a cute couple.” She quipped snarkily back at Andy, her chin jutting towards Benny. She did not deem it worth delaying the Professor further, doing her best to stay out of the way of the mountain of a komodi and instead chose to step away from Willis as a physical sign that they were not anything more than just-met strangers. Her focused shifted to gaze on the large party that had formed in the office before finally landing on Larkin to provide him with the attention he demanded.
 

Maho Sparhawk

The Fire Mage of Belgrath
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His tears had stopped running, the collar of his robe damped with melancholy. Odd, how even when you feel as if the world is crumbling beneath your feet, everyone else's normality continues all the same. With that thought in mind, he almost feared for the students wandering and roaming the College; would they know that they are not the masters of their own fate? Would they know if they'd turn out to be a scholar, a traveller, a vagrant, a great Sorcerer, or a violent killer? This sense of unknowing, Sparhawk thought, was possibly the scariest thing he'd ever thought. To speculate that such great knowledge could be used to such great calamity, to cause the greatest atrocities ever witnessed by mortal men. These things are what made up a Wizard, and such, made men quake in impending terror and irrefutable doom.

For whatever reason, Sparhawk began to feel entranced. He couldn't explain why, but it seemed all negativity and cynicism begun to melt away, like a leaf resting itself upon a river's surface, washing away with the spring breeze.

It smelled like that farm he worked on during his travels as a young Sorcerer out of Elbion, considered an Adept in the arts he studied. He smelt the lush green fields that run across the lands surface, populated with animals, grazing across it's nutritious, giving surface. He could feel the earth in his palm, falling inbetween his fingers, giving back to the plants which fed on it's resources, necessary for sustaining life. The wind flowing between his - then - flowing dark hair, running across his young features.

He remembered the barn he'd helped build with the love of his life. A time when magic wasn't necessary. A time when the complications in life that he'd created for himself were simply non-existent. Moments that both symbolised the happiest time in his life, and quite possibly the saddest. The Lingering memory of Farmland in flames, and the screams of a woman. The happy memories had turned to bitterness in his mouth.

As he came to, he smelt the sweet fragrance and aroma that clung to him like a babe to it's mother. The first thing he noticed was the Komodi sitting next to him. He hadn't seen one of - what seemed to be - her race since he visited the barren lands of the 'Āina O Ka Lā, where a group of them worshipped a Dragon which roamed the area. Intriguing.

By the time he'd realised some form of magic had been worked on him for one reason or another, the group had already amassed around a certain Professor Larkin. He realised that those people at the gate were there for the same reason he was. It seemed Larkin knew who to look for.

His hood had already slipped off at this point, revealing his tired, but revitalised expression. He pushed back his unruly hair slightly, helping himself up with his Staff, which he had mended, the crack in the middle from where he had broken it in half still visible.

He approached the back of the group, unaware of who cast the Aroma around him, but decided that was unimportant for now. He tried to stand tall and proud inside of the College, trying to remember the subtle etiquette he had learnt from his time spent there. He hoped he didn't have to trade words, but relied on his presence being enough to show he was planning to join them on their 'quest'.
 

Smiling One

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"What the fuck did you say to me, you Elven bitch!" Andy yelled spraying spit all over her dress. Andy reached for his Iron Longsword until he saw Willis glaring daggers at him. "Draw that sword," he said. "Or your head will be the second thing you'll lose/" Andy grumbled leaving his sword from the hilt from his hand. Willis smiled at Felen before turning to see a Komondo being part of the group. Willis raised an eyebrow, he fought with and against Komondo when he was in a mercenary company. She looked eager to get started.

“This is very exciting, is it not?” The Komondo said. “I can’t remember what I signed up for, but I am sure it will be very great!”

"That poor girl," Willis said looking at the Komondo with sympathy. "She's gonna die a painful death in this mission." Sadly the young man has seen people like her get chewed up in his line of work. Only the strong can be successful mercenaries.

"Okay," Professor Larkin said taking out a map. "A few months ago my team has uncovered insurmountable evidence of Toad Monks lurking in the Woodlands next to that mountain." He pointed at the corner of the map, we go in and start uncovering their secrets, however, there are monsters lurking in the Woodlands. Well of course there are monsters lurking in the woodlands I mean the place has repu-"

"Any monsters that we must look out for?" Willis asked.

"A Leshen," Professor Larkin said. "Also Tortles and Werewolves, the swamp areas are full of Swampbeasts."

"Shouldn't be a problem," Willis said. "Alright!" Professor Larkin said. "It's a chance for all of you to be part of history, let's venture forth!"

"Being part of history is nice," Willis said crossing his arms. "But it doesn't translate into pay."

"Of course!" Professor Larkin said. "You will all be paid handsomely! So if there are any more questions, we can go!"
 
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The tiny woman quirked an eyebrow at the one called Andy. The interplay between the one showing too much flesh (in her opinion) and the knotheads that the Professor had procured. The man had no taste in hired help,although she really did just consider it a sign of the too-short lives these people lived, pushing them to haste when they should be cautious and deliberate.

And how is that working out for you, you draft bitch? Truth to tell, sometimes she did likewise when her blood was up. "Need I remind people that we are supposed to be working together here? Perhaps a little less hostility would be just fine," she said, tones painfully patient, as though she were speaking to children. Which, after a fashion, she was.

"See that stick is still firmly rammed up there," the one mercenary remarked, chain clinking as he shifted in his seat. Vanin stared at her with those little piggy eyes of his, hatred clear as day. He remembered the lesson she had taught him quite well, it would seem.

Another sell-sword grinned at her too, for a moment. Taller than Vanin, but less so than Biter or Andy, the rogue had a more sophisticated air about him. He wore fine clothes but no visible armor. The sword at his waist almost seemed like an affectation, hilt and guard more delicate than the robust weapons many of the others wore. Seska could feel a dormant power in that man, though. Another child, playing with fire. She had seen the man moving, though, and there was something in his poise and grace that screamed he was very much a trained fighter. The pretty boy looks were a smokescreen. Either that, or he was so damned good at his job that he bore no scars.

"This is no place for children," the nameless man said mildly, lazy eyes flicking her way. Vanin barked a laugh, but added nothing.

For a moment, she entertained the hor-blooded idea of knocking them both down a peg or three. Only a sense of self and dignity kept her from doing it. It was a thing chimdren did, and she was certainly no child .

Instead, she sniffed at the pair of them,and turned her back on the very deliberately. She looked up...and then up some more at the Komodi. Curiosity shone in her eyes, although she had met their kind many times before in her travels. As far as ability to soak damage up was concerned, she felt this tall, musclebound woman would serve as a much better shield than all the others. She pursed her lips, imagining this behemoth striding forward, rending her enemies asunder while she did next to nothing.

Magic was, after all, not a crutch to be leaned on lightly. It was what so many of these children never understood until it was too late.

With as friendly a smile as she could manage, she gave a shallow curtsey to the towering warrior. "My, but it has been ever so long since I have seen one of your kind," she said in her high pitched voice. Her sharp eyes took in everything about this strange beast of a woman, and her eyes gleamed with schemes. "Stick close to me, Komodo, and I shall make sure you have even more fun." She looked to the man sitting next to her, the one that had been melancholy but a few minutes ago. She could smell the magic, could taste it, and easily trace it to its source. Interesting, she thought to herself as she looked upon the elfin hussy. There is more there than what the eye can see. That was an incredibly subtle use of the child's imitation of the Art. Very subtle, indeed.

She turned her attention to the professor. Coin is what he offered but she cared not. She had never heard of, nor seen one of these Toad Mages, whatever they were. New things were increasingly difficult for her to find, and enthralling for their rarity.

"I have been part of history more times than I would like to," she said to the professor in a loud enough voice to be heard over the others. "I hope you have done your due diligence and put together more of a plan than gathering a bunch of muscle and...spell slingers...and rushing in?"
 

Ynsidia

"...Does my head grow rope?"
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"Of course!" Professor Larkin said. "You will all be paid handsomely! So if there are any more questions, we can go!"

Ynsidia had concerns about this whole endeavor but Seska was quicker in voicing her own; lightning quick, in fact. "I have been part of history more times than I would like to," she started. "I hope you have done your due diligence and put together more of a plan than gathering a bunch of muscle and...spell slingers...and rushing in?" she finished to some murmurs. The statement was meant to be transgressive, incendiary. Some played the room. Seska challenged it, and the man holding the purse strings.

This is what led to people killing each other in drinking halls.

This is what led to oligarchies going to blows in civil battles within Vel Anir.

One person had a plan, and another challenged it soberly, but refused to bare the burden of doing it politely in manner.

Bloodbaths in alleys followed such dereliction, but Ynsidia was the last person qualified to bring that up to someone who seemed very openly ancient. Also, with a room now full of mercs getting a bit frustrated with the blunt talk aimed at them, Ynsidia knew better than to poke the log on the andiron.

It was time to save necks, and time. It was time to determine whether this was legitimate, or a con from the hayloft. Ynsidia had some spears to throw at the professor. He'd either catch them with his hands, or his heart.

"Prof. Larkin, while Seska's statement is a simplification meant facetiously, it does address an obvious concern. Men and magic rushing to points on a map sounds logical until you find out that the lines leading to those points are more arduous, or more perilous than expected, and the destinations empty of reward." Ynsidia began, projecting loudly. She winced at how it sounded to her own ears. She knew she sounded like a childish upstart, but did her best to keep her words even, and any considerable, emotional inflections out of her tone.

Ynsidia anchored her eyes first on the professor as she walked out into everyone's collective midst. Then gazed at each person directly as she continued steadily.

"We are not becoming a part of history as much as chasing it. The Toad Monks are an elusive subject that more professors have abandoned rather than pursue further. That being said, Prof. Larkin has done his research, this we should not challenge; the points on the map are likely genuine points to be found..." and she turned her black eyes back on the Prof.

"But, being tutored in this lore myself, and familiar with your research as well, I have to challenge the basis of the whole expedition. Our knowledge of the Wildlands is limited, hence why we call the area wild. The Toad Monk lore is hard to pin down, as much of it is oral, passed on to the parchment, then to bound pages from rhapsode origins-translated, and re-interpreted. I have no doubt we will find structures at the points on the map, Prof. Larkin, what I doubt is whether we will find anything pertaining to the monks of myth at all at them."

Her hand gripped the handle of her Rapier, her trusty blade that had seen much violence of late. It eased the anxiety racing through her while standing in front of everyone.

"I do not like talking myself out of a good wage, but I know that the burden of proof is upon you, Professor. Make me believe that you have succeeded where all others have failed, and I will follow you into the Wildlands. Otherwise, I will not venture for desires, and dreams. I did that in the mists. I will not do it again here, and neither should anyone else until you can produce tangible evidence that we will be risking our lives for an actual discovery out there."

And with that, she cleared her throat, and quickly fell back in next to Felen.

"Please tell me I didn't break out into a cold sweat while out there!"

she said under her breath to Fe.
 

Calla of Nuastone

Sister of Nua Nua
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The tall Komodo didn’t even blink at the looks that were thrown her way, seeming oblivious to both the dark-skinned man’s derision and the dislike from the mercenaries; there was a murmur from one of them, something about a ‘dumb lizard’, which undoubtedly reached her keen ears, but it didn’t seem to affect her. She wasn’t new to the world, nor to the treatment that her people normally received. They merited not so much as a glance from the tall creature.

Instead, she bent over so she could give the small silver-haired woman her undivided attention, this earnest, and genuine, smile on her face at the girl’s proposal. She extended one hand, her tail curling behind her in happiness. It very nearly took out one of the mercenaries, he had to dodge it, but the white-scaled woman didn’t even seem to notice.

“That sounds wonderful, little one! I am Calla, sister of Nua Nua. I am pleased to lend myself and Sunbeam here to your aid!” She patted the hilt that was just visible over her shoulder, a small tree of a handle with a slab of crystal on the end that was surely as heavy as any of the men in the room. Its surface was scratched with a few chips out of it, but there glimmered a light inside, like a shifting rainbow had been trapped within its crystalline depths. The gold bands that wrapped around it and secured it to the hilt were inscribed with runes and the whole thing just tingled with magic. It was a hammer that was blessed with sunlight, designed for one such as the Komodo, who had no access to magic of her own.

Then the Professor -- Calla was fairly sure that’s what she’d heard him referred to -- went over what their job was, and the Komodo got to her feet, ready to go.

Only, the silver-haired girl next to her was bringing up her point, so the white-haired warrior sat back down, the bench groaning underneath her. Okay, fair, getting paid was good. The Komodo cared less about it than perhaps she should, having no real need for much more than what she carried on her own person, but she understood that the other little ones had great need for clothing and foodstuffs and other things befitting their small, delicate selves. She was happy to allow them to issue their concerns so their tender needs were met.

That question dealt with, the Professor beckoned them to go and the Komodo eagerly got to her feet -- only to have the other young woman, the one with the ink on her cheek, raise more concerns.

The Komodo sat back down again, and this time there was the ominous crack of splintering wood. Calla just smiled, hands resting on her thighs, tail swinging behind her, not seeming to mind the delay. It was only respectful to have the concerns of the others noted, was it not?

She spared a glance to the man sitting next to her, the one who had had his cloak up over his head as Calla entered the room. “Hello, small man,” she said, in a whisper...which, coming from the Komodo, was … rather loud. “I am Calla. Sister of Nua Nua. I shall endeavor to not let your beautiful staff get broken again. Or your face. Or any of your bones. I have never experienced it myself but I am told it is very painful.” She beamed and held out her hand to shake. Which, if he took it, would be a rather… arm-wrenching experience.

Calla was nothing if not enthusiastic.
 

Adonia

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Fèlen's calming magic worked too well, the man she was trying to ease getting so lost in recollection that he did not even notice her crouching directly in front of him, nor the flower she had held out for him to take. She gave this no mind, taking advantage of his moment of haze to attach the flora to the clasp of his cloak before leaving his presence.

Her goat towards Andy caused the burly man to verbally explode, her index finger flicking away a bit of spittle that had landed on her pallid cheek from his insult, though she seemed less than threatened. Her head tilted away, ignoring the brute as Willis came to her aide, the halfling unable to help the disappointed frown that tugged at her lips as Andy unwillingly backed down.

"I wouldn't judge the capabilities of someone before you have the chance to see them actually fight." She lectured Willis after his comment on the Komodi, her slate gaze sparkling as she looked over Calla. Fèlen had never seen a creature like her before, and couldn't help but wonder how tall she would feel sitting atop a komodi's shoulders. The tall creature bristled with excitement, a refreshing sentiment to others' sour moods.

Fèlen was unsure where the absolute hate that Seska felt towards her had originated, but the Dragonslayer did little to hide it, giving the half-elf all the more reason to simply ignore the Sidhe. In earnest, the whole party was turning out to be much more aggressive than the halfling had anticipated, and she wasn't sure she wanted to trust her life with others who did not necessarily care whether she lived or died. Absently her hand glided towards the thick woven cloth of her coin purse. She had arrived not too long ago and needed coin.

A sigh passed her inviting lips. She would endure. This would not be her first foolhardy adventure.

Ynsidia took control of the room, demanding quiet and attention to bring concerns that were most likely on everyone's minds out in the open. Her points were made, direct and without bias, simply wanting to assure that the danger the entire party was about to be put in would truly be worth it.

One of Fèlen's arms slid around the smaller girl, giving an almost motherly squeeze of comfort and support.
"If you did, you hid it well." Fèlen assured her, giving her a wink.