Adventurers Guild Adventurer's Guild - Announcement Hall

Discussion in 'Roleplaying Games' started by AliceShiki, Jan 28, 2019.

  1. Blackwater

    Blackwater Well-Known Member

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    This is a bit of Ayumi's backstory which can also be found in my party quest with Unreachable Hope.
    I am walking to school. Though it is not as usual, as there have been various brutal murders around the area, rumors even say it was the work of cannibals. I do not believe them. Cannibals? Pah. Well, no matter who it is, today I will stop them for good.

    School passes by in a blink as I prepare myself for the encounter which I'll provoke on the way back home. Then it finally is time to go home.

    On my way home, I am purposely taking the way through the abandoned industrial district, where most of these murders have happened. Everything is normal. Then I spot something moving in the corner of my eye. A person.

    Without hesitation, I dash towards this person, which starts to run away from me. After a couple of minutes, we arrive in a dilapidated warehouse, which surprisingly enough still has electricity. The person turns around; a stranger, but with a malicious smirk on his face.

    Then something hits my head from behind, and I stumble forwards, where a fist meets my stomach, accompanied by a burst of bone-chilling laughter. "You will be our dinner today!"

    I try to defend myself, dizzy, and struggle as much as I can, but that does not prevent a knife from stabbing into my body. With a burst of adrenaline, I start biting and clawing at my attackers, their blood and flesh unusually sweet in my mouth, and pull out the knife from my stomach.

    With a spurt of blood, I charge at the group of cannibals, hacking and stabbing them, as our fight destroys a lot of the strange machinery surrounding us. Then one of them rips a gas hose out if the wall, the black, nauseous smoke it is emitting numbing my senses.

    Suddenly the hose is wrapped tightly around my neck and I flail the knife around helplessly. The entire warehouse is splattered with blood here and there, the black smoke is slowly filling up the entire warehouse, and various partially broken machines are emitting sparks.

    A pipe hits my hand, breaking its fingers, and the knife drops to the ground. I feel teeth tearing into me, the beat of my heart fading with my consciousness as more and more of my blood and flesh, of myself, gets torn from me.

    Then I die, the sweet embrace of death promising peace. But a sudden blinding light fills the warehouse, turning all that remains of the warehouse to dust along with myself, but not the cannibals which left some time ago.
     
  2. AliceShiki

    AliceShiki 『Ms. Tree』『Alice is Friend, Not Food』

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    Extra! Extra! Get your issue of Nagrand's Monthly newspaper here! Found out everything you'd need and not need to know about the town and Ternus!!! For mere 5 Large Copper a Piece!

    Well-known Mad Researcher found dead in the Caves of the Dead
    Cody, Nagrand's local mad researcher was found dead in the caves in the early days of the Month of the Festival.

    Everyone in this town probably heard of Cody at some point, crazy fellow, laughed maniacally for seemingly no reason, did the weirdest kind of researches and made super weird potions with very unusual effects... Frequently a target of bets between youngsters to test his potions, the mad man was well-loved by most members of this community even with all his weirdness!

    However, how strange it was that nobody heard of him since the Month of the Festival started!? Our reporters investigated and found out he became a Zombie at some point between the 4th and the 10th! His undead corpse was roaming the surroundings of the Caves of the Dead and he was thoroughly cleansed to remove his suffering.

    Trying to dive deeper into the matter, our reporters decided to ask if the Adventurer's Guild knew anything on the issue, and apparently Cody himself asked for a quest to investigate the Caves, and even though the quest was taken, the adventurers in question never showed up! Did Cody go alone as he was tired of waiting!? We think so!

    It's truly a pity to have such a lovable fellow dying to his eagerness to research... One might wonder whether it's safe to trust the guild though, with their adventurers taking requests and not showing up, you'd wonder if it isn't your request that will be turned down when you need it the most... Our interviewed guild employee said such occurrences were rare and the guild would try its best to prove its worth, but it's hard to regain it after such a hard failure from them... We'll keep you covered for any future news on that!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Baron Kuin's Daughter Blessed by the Gods!?
    The prodigy child is said to summon a sword-wielding angel to protect her, when asked about what god blessed her, she said "A Gourd God!"

    Everyone knows about Baron Kuin and his daughter, Sophia. He rules over the land we live in and his daughter is well-known to be a prodigious girl in her studies and etiquette... But apparently her true talent lies in the holy arts!?

    After a terrible incident that was shared with us through our sources, both Sophia and her guest, Terry, were lost in the middle of the woods and rescued by adventurers... But remember how we talked about the guild's reputation crumbling? There is more to it than one might think, as Sophia actually claimed that her 'savior' was an evil witch that was going to eat her! That's the kind of adventurers that work in this town! Don't give your children to them!

    Not all hope is lost however, as another adventurer ended up going to help Sophia and Terry to get over their fear of the evil witch, the adventurer that is apparently a living gourd taught them the ways of his god and showed them how to garner the Divine Power for protection... Until Sophia blew things out of the water and summoned an Angel to protect her!

    Terry was also able to learn the teachings of the Gourd God, but apparently only to the level of making small barriers... The girl was definitely blessed by the Gourd God itself! No way an Angel would descend for her help otherwise!

    Who is this Gourd God though? What is its name? Why did we never hear of it before? And how come an apostle of it is working in the guild right below our very noses... I can assure you we'll investigate the matter! I have a hard time believing such mysterious deity is just that friendly, especially when it's related to one of those weird adventurers...
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Charlatan Alchemist Turned Over A New Leaf!
    Regar, a well known scammer that frequently sold potions with effectiveness a lot below their usual is now working properly?

    Regar has always been the poor substitute of Lyra, while everyone knew of the quality of her products, the only thing we ever heard of Regar's prices were their price. 'The Potion didn't really heal as much as I expected, but it was only 30 Copper at least.' 'I got another cold one week after his potion cured me of it, but hey, not too bad for something of 40 Copper, right?' Were something our past interviewees said.

    Now though? We actually heard good things about his products! While the prices are still in the low range, and they certainly can't compete with Lyra, they seem to at the very least do what they were advertised of now! It's a great improvement!

    When asked about it, Regar's words were: "I went through a very unexpected and troubling experience and realized a life of tricking others would definitely bite me in the back... It almost did this time. So I decided the best thing I could do was to be honest with my customers and working on improving my own craft, my goal is to overtake Lyra as Nagrand's top Alchemist one day."

    Absolutely unbelievable words for someone like him, I'd never have believed it if he said it one month ago, but maybe there is some truth to them now! let's all give our best wishes for Regar, as his competitor is leagues ahead of him! Sadly, Lyra's reply when asked about it was 'I couldn't care less about it', does she show such disdain for him? Or does she simply not care for other alchemists at all? Do your best Regar! Show you're someone she needs to worry about!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Nagrand's Cats Can Fly Now!
    After a mysteriously high death rate between most cats within our town, suddenly they all grew wings and flew through the air!

    I'm sure everyone has long noticed the flying cats in our doorsteps, much to the pleasure of anyone that hates pigeon poop as we do, because their population certainly fell drastically!

    One have to wonder though... How did all this happen? What was the thing that made so many cats die? Why did they suddenly grow wins afterwards while feeling completely healthy? Was this a weird natural change? One of Ton-sama's pranks? Or was there something darker hiding behind their deaths...?

    Our reporters investigated the case and found out there was a shady abandoned house within the town! It was already wiped clean by the time we arrived, but it was suspicious for sure... We knew we were in the right track, and before long we found out the truth behind it... Adventurers! Adventurers were last seen in that house, apparently taking everything with them as well!

    After some pressing from our reporters, the guild ended up parting with the information one of their adventurers found out about a curse that was afflicting the cats, and as they tried spreading a cure, some malfunction in the spell ended up making the cats fly... Are they serious? Do they really expect us to buy this kind of thing? One of their adventurers just so conveniently found an abandoned house with information on how the cats were afflicted by a horrible curse, and also the curing method? It's absurd I tell you, we aren't buying it and so shouldn't you!

    We believe the cats were just the start, that whoever was involved with it was also involved with the attack Nagrand received a few days ago, that they were just small test subjects... Subjects to test a terrible curse that was unleashed upon the city! It would explain the light that shone from Ophelia's temple during the attack.

    Is this the truth of it? Is this the end to it all? Only gods know, but we'll certainly do our best to find out! Don't let those adventurers fool you though, there is something very fishy involved with this whole thing, why are they always involved with everything troublesome that happens here? And why are they always the first to know it!? They're up to no good I tell you, absolutely no good!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Hero's Port Administration Changed Entirely In A Single Month!
    Not long after the mysterious disappearing ships incident, the rulers of Hero's Port all mysterious disappeared, with replacements soon to follow, is this a coup? Or is it just a case of quick response to troubling circumstances?

    Some unusual reports plagued our holy port in recent months you see... Apparently ships were disappearing from the harbor at night... The sailors were absolutely terrified of it you see, it was oh so terrible.

    But, they hired some professionals to look into it and discovered it was just a case of ship robbery... Aren't we all glad it was not a divine punishment for desecrating The Hero's lands? It's truly a blessing that such a place is still as wonderful as ever.

    However... One ought to wonder... How come the administration handled it so poorly...? You see, it's a port we're talking about... Taking care of the ships is a top priority isn't it? So isn't it a big problem when they're disappearing...? We believe our royalty thought the same... And so... Everyone administrating it went poof, all gone, no traces left, done for good and never seen again~

    Because you see... Some new administrators being sent so quickly is definitely no coincidence... No no, definitely not, it was definitely a calculated move from the royalty... Getting rid of the corrupt officials and putting new ones in their place is a great movement, isn't it? It was so great...

    Corrupted administrators beware, Randgriz is keeping their eyes on you, and you may become the next Hero's Port, so... Do a good job in making our lives easier please.
    - Claret, Junior Reporter.


    Homeless Dwarfs Now Do Odd Jobs!
    Thieves of small goods that weren't worth much were found in a hidden base in Nagrand's Graveyard, now officially hired by Nagrand's administration!

    It's really rare to see a case like this, and even weirder to have such a great solution to the problem occurring.

    Everyone should be aware of Urdur, the one that very proudly owns a blacksmith claimed to be the best in Nagrand... Well, his is one of the many stories of Dwarves that run away from the mountains and try to find a place to live within the plains... And not all of them are as neat and successful as his.

    Those dwarves were all mostly unable to do jobs very well or to fit in with our society, so they ended up going into thievery... Surprisingly though, they didn't get much into it, rather, they only tried to steal goods that were worth as little as they could. One of the interviewees actually said, "I felt sick every time we went out to steal something, had to stay a whole week in bed afterwards, it was so horrible, we needed it to live, but it was just so... So wrong, we weren't meant to do this, but we had no other choice." truly a heartrending tale.

    Well, everything changed when Grom heard of it though! Our mayor handled things on the spot! Giving them lots of odd jobs that could give them something to eat and a place to sleep at the very least, overworking them to brim with no rest or chance to stay still, and they all claim, 'I've never felt better in my whole life!' it seems honest work is the calling for all those dwarves! And they have been working really hard at helping the town's reconstruction after the recent attacks too, truly a blessing to have such a good mayor handling our internal struggles! Keep working hard Grom, we're all cheering for you!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Seditio Attacked By Smith's Army!?

    The nearby nation heavily afflicted by a civil war now has another threat to deal with... Smith.

    Ever since their internal war broke out, Seditio has had plenty of people run away from the country to seek refuge in other nearby nations, with Ternus being no exception... As if things couldn't get worse there though, a new threat has risen from the depths of Hell itself... Smith.

    Nobody knows who or what Smith is, but he has definitely left his mark... The first time he destroyed a guard outpost near the border while leaving a message saying 'Revenge for Smith'. At first it was thought they were getting revenge for someone killed the guards, but things aren't this simple... Numerous reports of Smith's attacks appeared all over the country, crossing distances you wouldn't believe were possible as well! All claiming to be doing it either for Smith or as Smith himself!

    Is this someone that finally figured out the mysteries of space-time magic? Or is it just a mysterious person with multiple impersonators? If we find out, you'll be the first to know, but for now... Smith's threat remains! Be wary of Smith!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Winter Finally Came!
    After a long time without snow, it has finally started falling around Nagrand... For a few days that is, before spring took over and flowers started blooming, find out the truth between this mysterious incident with our guest reporter, Lyra!

    Most people don't complain about winter not ever coming, since it just means they have less things to worry about... But can you imagine the troubles of what will happen to the world if winter never came? I can tell you in advance, they're big! Very big troubles! So I decided to investigate the phenomenon myself... Or rather, I hired people to investigate it for me~

    And what I found out was impressive! The Demonic Volcano was actually going to erupt! After decades of calm, it was finally going to go out again, crazy, isn't it!? I know I know, you're thinking, 'why do I care about what happens in the volcano!?' but you see, the volcano is a huge area of fire elemental energy, and when it decides to erupt... It starts spreading this energy all around! It totally destroyed the Winter of its surroundings!

    Luckily, the demons there were already not only aware of it, but already devising a solution, they made a ritual to calm the volcano a bit and also cleaned the volcano's lava away to stop it from going out... Incredible, isn't it!? I'd never imagine it was possible to stop an eruption like that, hellish knowledge is an incredible thing!

    With all the Fire Energy gone with the lava's dispersion, the weather finally calmed down and things got back to normal... Well, I bet you all would be happy if it never calmed down, but I swear it's important to have Winter, even if it's just to make sure I can properly cultivate the plants used in the potions I sell you all, last thing you'd need is having me run out of the very potion you need, right~

    Well, that's all for me, I'm very glad this problem is solved, let's welcome the snow with open arms next winter everyone!
    - Lyra, local alchemist and Guest Reporter.


    Evil Cultists Attack Nagrand!
    The whole town was damaged in their attack, but now that things are solved, some questions remain to be answered... Why?

    Anyone with half an eye would be able to realize Nagrand has seen better days... But now that the cultists are gone and we're safe again, we can't help but wonder... Why did they attack us? What did they have against us? Is there any way of solving it?

    Mayor Grom clearly doesn't care about these details as he instantly issued a quest for the guild to get rid of those once and for all... Truly the decision of a smart man that values our safety more than caring for the reasonings behind our attackers... Yet, it's still our duty to find out! Now that the city has its repairs undergoing and hopefully fixed soon, we decided to investigate what is going on with those cultists.

    Sadly, not much information is available to us, the captured cultists seemed to always die magically before they gave out any meaningful information, and the runaways are well... Away!

    What we could notice however, is that the nearby villages were not attacked at all... Is this some kind of grudge against Orcs? Or maybe someone mistreated by adventurers in the past that is seeking revenge? It is hard for us to know!

    But at least, we were able to defeat the outside threat safely, with a shining light coming out of Ophelia's temple that bathed the entire town in it, the cultists were defeated for good!

    It was not a fight without costs however, with even the church of Lord Ralditorias being destroyed in the process, we still have a long way to go in rebuilding... We'll keep trying however! Nothing will come out of idling around! Persevere everyone! Persevere and make Lord Ralditorias proud!!!
    - Filbert, Columnist.


    Superhero Gourd Strikes Again!
    Shiori's orphanage kept safe during the entirety of the raid from the cultists, apparently the children were protected by a superhero with a divine duty to protect children... The gourd!

    If you read Filbert's article above, you'd know that the gourd gave Baron Kuin's daughter some holy teachings of his god, right? But you see... It's not all that he did? He also helped the children of the orphanage stay safe during the whole attack actually... The children were referring to him as a superhero you see...

    When questioned about it, Shiori said that he had a Divine Duty to protect all children from evil... The receptionist of the Adventurer's Guild, Aria, that is frequently seen in the orphanage confirmed the story, she said, "He is a superhero like no other! Always going out of his way to protect the innocents and fight evil! He is specially fond of children and could never let a child in danger alone, even if it broke all bones in his body, he would still fight on!" she seemed really enthusiastic about it you see... Was she also converted to the church of the Gourd God? It is hard to know...

    One thing is clear though... The gourd is absolutely loved by the children, they seem really happy to be with him and to call him superhero... Is this the rise of a new legend within Nagrand? Or the spread of a new deity throughout all of Ternus...? We will found out in due time no doubt, yes yes we will... But for now, let's just be happy our local superhero protected the children won't we? We surely will.
    - Claret, Junior Reporter.

    Remember to grab them while we still have copies!!!


    ((*coughs* In case you're wondering why you were pinged, this is basically a resume of the most remarkable occurrences (at least on my own biased view) of last month in the game, as well as the consequences of what some quests and actions you took/failed led to.

    We'll try doing this monthly and link those in the 2nd post of the Announcement Hall I guess, should make it easier for newcomers to catch up to what happened so far in the game and to give a notion of what happened to people that didn't bother with reading every single report released... >.>

    As usual, poke me if you don't want to be tagged anymore and I'll remove you from the list~))
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
  3. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    A gourd dazedly stared at a tiny piece of silver coin in his hand, perfectly circular with smoothed edges with an inscription of Ternus' symbol on one side and the royal family's crest on the other. It was quite a nice coin, being something common peasant would never touch in their life, but that's not the reason he's so entranced by it.

    "...salt."

    But it's a hellishly otherworldly reason that not a single other soul would ever get.

    "I see... different planes, different law. The essence that was focused in the sea is instead found in metal. Not everything though, I wonder what's the difference? Or perhaps it's way too minute for me to sense?"

    He weighted the coin, tossed it in the air, and even took a bite on it. Finally, he took off his glove and held it between his thumb and index finger. Focusing on a sixth sense born out of consuming essence, he pulled onto the coin and watched as it crumbled to dust in his hand.

    "About a small pouch worth? Barely a tiny drop for my major need. But..." he rummaged into his all-purpose pouch and pulled out a strange piece of contraption this land never seen before. A hollow tube of cast iron with curving wooden grip and a series of small mechanism around the middle, on a glance it looked like small crossbow without the, well, bow.

    "My alchemy is a bit rusty... here goes."

    He took out the other piece of silver coin and willed the essence out, but focusing it atop his palm instead of absorbing it. It wouldn't have much immediate effect taken in, better turn it into something usable now than build it up for later. He's still rather vulnerable.

    It would work with best efficiency if he intimately understand the item, but just knowing was enough. A fond flash of memory ran through his mind, of the black Flash Powder of Markdor and the terrifying burst of explosion it produced.

    The essence gathered and coalesced into two tiny pouch barely larger than an eyeball each. Cointained was some Flash Powder and a small pile of lead balls, just as he remembered acquiring for the first time.

    "Loud as the thunder of Markdor, and just as deadly. This will comes in handy."
     
    leegood and Arexio like this.
  4. Arexio

    Arexio Blob Fanatic | AG Player

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    Ryul rushed back to his rented room after picking up the special book delivered to the inn's front desk that morning by his good friend Arawn.

    He placed said book on his tiny, wooden desk, took a seat, and began to closely examine the tome. The hefty book had a tan leather cover and, strangely enough, no writing on its outside - no author, no title, nothing.

    Ryul felt an ominous feeling overtake him as he flipped open the mysterious book and started to read its contents. For the most part, he did not recognize the language it was written in.

    However, the scholar vaguely remembered coming across a handful of books that had similar strokes before back in The Empire. Ryul also could have sworn there was a hint of mana energy radiating from the lines of text as he slowly dragged his fingers across them.

    A few more moments passed by as Ryul realized what he needed to do next, more specifically, where he needed to go. Nagrand's library.

    He needed to crossreference other texts, decipher this mysterious language, and unravel the secrets of this book. Not only for Arawn, but for his own curiosity's sake as well. Grabbing the enigmatic tome on his way out, Ryul bolted out of the inn and towards the town library.

    . . .
    Svellian.

    The language the book was written in.

    To be more precise, a dialect of Svellian used by the ice druids from the country of Svellvǫllr.

    Svellvǫllr or Svellvollur literally meant "ice fields" in Common Tongue. An appropriately named place, as the country north to the Beastman Alliance held landscapes full of white-blanketed tundras, frozen glaciers and rivers, and snow-capped mountain ranges.

    Svellvǫllr also had both variants of common monsters that have adapted to an environment where it is mostly winter year-round and unique ones that absolutely thrive in such cold weather: Frost Goblins, Winter Wolves as well as Woolly Mammoths, Yetis, and even dreadful creatures like the Icebreaker Shark.

    Ryul studied as much as he could about the distant country, all the while slowly, but surely translating the book from Svellian to Common. Over the next several days, the diligent scholar took frequent breaks from his studying to clear his mind and spent his free time with his friends and fellow adventurers at the Guild tavern.

    . . .
    It was a breathtaking discovery.

    Ryul did not know any other way to describe what he had found. Over a fortnight of countless hours spent in the library, endless nights burning the midnight oil, and a sizeable stack of scribbled-on parchment later, the scholar made some remarkable findings.

    The mysterious tome seemed to be an important magical textbook of sorts passed down from generation to next generation among Svellian ice druids. The book was meant to teach ice druid youths to learn how to and better manipulate the Subelement Ice, an energy which falls under the Element of Water.

    Knowing Arawn was very interested in learning magic, Ryul had already written in the translations into the book, so he decided to spend extra time creating additional notes on the more practical topics he found:
    • A pronunciation guide attached to the Wildspeak Chanting System of the ice druids, because most of their spell chant words were spoken in their unique dialect of Svellian.
    • Blown up glyphs, for easier viewing, of Wildrunes used in various ritual and preparatory magical ice spells.
    • Body diagrams displaying the specific pathways on how to condense mana to better attune one's Mageveins to control the Ice Subelement at the expense of affinity for the other Elements.
    • A list of both common and rare foods, herbs, and materials that can be ingested to increase the body's natural production of Ice elemental energy; the more unusual the ingredient, the greater the effect it would have.
    There were a number of other significant topics in the text, but Ryul thought that those were the most important ones, at least for now, for his friend.

    The worn-out scholar passed out and took a long rest after finishing his final notes. After he woke up, he could not wait to show Arawn everything that he had found.

    Ryul hurried off to find his friend, hoping the young man would be just as excited and happy about this discovery as the half-elf was. Ryul smiled a wide smile as he was more than glad to be able to repay the favor he owed Arawn.

    Hopefully, this book would help his friend grow and become stronger in a line of work where strength is an absolute necessity for both survival and success.

    - New country: Svellvǫllr or Svellvollur (lit. "fields of ice") lies north of the Beastman Alliance

    - New monsters: ice variants of common ones (Frost Goblins, Winter Wolves), and unique ones (Woolly Mammoths, Yetis, Icebreaker Sharks)

    - New race: ice druids, strong manipulators of Ice elemental energy, which falls under the Water Element

    - Summary: Ryul deciphers the mysterious tome for Arawn and opens up a new path for potential power for his friend

    [​IMG]

    OOC:
    @AliceShiki - this is the new country
    @Quaesitor - part of why I asked you those magic questions, ideas briefly mentioned in SS
    @jbturkle - hope you like this outcome
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2019
  5. Nahrenne

    Nahrenne Sister|Daughter|Niece|Aunt|Mummy

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    Thinking about when Yvanna had told her that her tears had healing properties, as well as the repercussions people had faced after being dusted with her [Berserk Dust], Phinimimilomimo decided to take one of the flasks of red liquid with her and try to improve on her skills. Carrying the flask in her tiny arms, the little fairy made her way to her previous testing grounds.

    After spending the entire day to get to the small copse of trees, Phinimimilomimo turned in for the night - making sure to secure the flask inside a tree trunk before using [Entangle] to make a small, comfy space for her to sleep inside the tree. Once morning came, the little fairy nommed on a nut she found as she tried to decide what she should focus on first.

    "Hmm, Fris...Maybe I should try to test out my tears first, so I can treat any wounds I get when improving my [Berserk Dust] Fris. Or maybe I should work on the skill I've already developed, since it would most likely go faster than making myself cry, Fris..."

    After finishing the nut, Phinimimilomimo drank some dew that had formed on the grass below the trees and clapped her hands together.

    "All right, Fris! I'll take it in turns, Fris!"

    Taking a few sips of red liquid from the flask, the little fairy quickly went into a berserk state and began to attack the nearby trees in a mad rage. Activating [Root weapon], she tore away at the roots of the tree and created multiple clawed weapons that floated in the air. She then controlled them to scratch away at the bark of the tree, the soil on the ground, and sometimes even herself out of blind rage. At some point, her nails had been ripped off by the bark of the tree - causing the ends of her tiny fingers to bleed a golden sap - which only enraged her berserk self more.

    For a full 3 days, the little fairy remained in this berserk state, her skin broken in a lot of places with her wounds re-opening over and over again.Once she regained her senses, the tremendous waves of pain buffeted her, which caused her to cry like mad.

    "Waaaaaaah, Fris! *sniff* It hurts so muuuuuuuch, Fris!"

    Many dewdrops fell from her eyes, to which she desperately tried to cover herself in them, before analysing her body through her knowledge of Nature. After an hour, all of her wounds were healed and Phinimimilomimo stared at herself in shock and awe over this.
    'o'
    "So...my tears really do have healing properties...Fris..."

    Intrigued by this, the little fairy tried to understand how it worked, using [Growth] to repair the damaged tree while feeling really guilty about it. She then went back inside the tree to sleep, recovering her Mana as well as recuperating from the 3 days of non-stop raging.

    Waking up in the evening of the next day, Phinimimilomimo went to a nearby stream and drank some drops of water, before eating some of the pond weed growing on the stream bed. After filling herself up completely, she once again drank a few tiny sips of red liquid from the flask and repeated the process of trying to better understand how being berserk worked, along with getting herself injured all over again.

    ***​

    A week later, Phinimimilomimo couldn't find much more food in the area, and so ventured to another location, while carrying the red flask in her tiny arms - eventually ending up in a wood. Finding some mushrooms growing under the dead vegetation, the little fairy decided to choose this place as her next training ground.

    Since there were a lot more plants and trees in this area, Phinimimilomimo decided to use [Entangle] to create a large dome-like structure in order to not harm any nearby animals - thinking there would be some in the wood. Once she finished this, the little fairy rested to recover her Mana, before taking a few sips out of the flask and repeating the process of improving her [Berserk Dust] skill.

    Coming to her senses after a couple of days, Phinimimilomimo saw the many wounds on herself and tried to stimulate her tear ducts using Nature-infused Mana. It only worked to the point that she cried a single sparkly dewdrop tear, before feeling dejected over her efforts and genuinely crying her eyes out over the situation.

    "Waaaaaah, Fris! Why can't I do it, Fris!?!"
    TwT

    As what had become the trend in this period of training and development, the little fairy's tears covered her whole body and healed her wounds - unfortunately, it wasn't on demand. Going to sleep after a full 10 minutes of crying, Phinimimilomimo dreamed of what she had accomplished since leaving Fairy Land. Above her, images produced by her subconscious casting of [Illusion] appeared and showed her journey on a wyvern across the lands of the Beastman Alliance, followed by the Holy Empire of Men, before ending up in Ternus where she fell off the wyvern in her sleep and landed in Nagrand. As the memory of her landing on the ground in her sleep came flashing through her mind, the little fairy jolted awake.

    "Wyv-Wyv, Fris! Huh, Fris? Where am I, Fris?" Looking around, a little confused, Phinimimilomimo remembered where she was yawned and stretched, then flew over to the mushrooms she had previously gathered. Eating one, she looked at the damage to her dome and used [Growth] to fix the holes that had been made. Once she had finished repairing everything, the little fairy decided to rest, before exploring the area a bit.

    Leaving the safety of the dome, Phinimimilomimo soon found a few deer eating at the bark on the nearby trees, as well as some foxes running around trying to find the scent of smaller animals to hunt. Seeing this, the little fairy's face beamed in happiness and immediately flew over to one of the deer and sat on their head. She then stroked its soft fur as she cast [Growth] on the tree that had its bark eaten, fully repairing it back to if it hadn't been eaten.

    Startled a little by the tree's bark suddenly regrowing, the deer made a sound of glee before biting at the bark again and eating it. Feeling remorse over the tree getting damaged again, the little fairy once again cast [Growth] on its bark to heal it. Watching the bark regrow, the deer once again fed on the bark, jumping up and down in happiness over the never-ending buffet of food.

    "Aaaaah, Fris! Stop hurting the tree, Fris!"
    @w@
    >w<

    Not knowing how to stop the deer from feeding on the bark, Phinimimilomimo's mind got into a tizzy and she fell off the deer's head due to Mana exhaustion. Having heard the little fairy's words, as well as seeing her fall off its head, the deer stepped back and stared at her in curiosity over the little thing. After a few seconds of them both staring at each other, the deer's ears twitched and it raised its head, turning to look in a certain direction before running away in the opposite direction.

    "Hmm, Fris? Why is it running away, Fris?"

    Tilting her head in confusion, the little fairy looked in the direction the deer had and saw a family of 4 foxes being chased by 2 goblins.

    "Ah, Fris!"

    Seeing the group heading her way, Phinimimilomimo gathered her strength and flew into the air, attempting to gain the attention of the foxes by waving her arms in the air and releasing her iridescent dust. After a few seconds, they noticed the shimmering effect and saw the little fairy waving her arms. Thinking the small thing might help, or be a distraction for their pursuers, they ran in her direction with the goblins a few metres behind them.

    "This way, Fris!"

    Guiding the foxes towards her dome, they all followed her inside - with her using [Entangle] to open a way in for them, then again to close it behind them. Seeing the entrance close behind them, the foxes stopped running to catch their breaths, while Phinimimilomimo slumped on top of the head of one of the adult foxes and began recovering her Mana.

    "Phew, Fris. We're safe for a little bit, Fris."

    *BANG*

    The sound of heavy thudding could be heard coming from the area they had all just come in from - no doubt the goblins were trying to get in. The foxes cowered a little as they huddled together, licking some wounds that one of the slower foxes had acquired from the chase. Still unable to utilise her tears effectively, the little fairy could only look at the wounds in sadness as she tried her hardest to regain her Mana.

    An hour later, the goblins made the first hole into the dome and quickly began to make it bigger for them to get through. Seeing this development, Phinimimilomimo observed the foxes trembling out of fear and felt worried for them. Just then, the little fairy remembered about one of the skills she'd been developing and decided now was a good time to test it out.

    "Don't worry, foxes, Fris! Soon those bully goblins will be the ones running away from you, Fris!"

    As soon as the hole was big enough for the 2 goblins to get in, Phinimimilomimo cast [Berserk Dust] on all 4 of the foxes and noticed how they all seemed to gain confidence in themselves as they began snarling and barking at the goblins. Surprised by the change in attitude, the goblins stopped for a few moments, giving the 2 adult foxes the chance to lunge forward and bite at one of the goblins' throats. Seeing its ally getting seriously injured, the second goblin got angry and targeted the younger foxes.

    "Ah, watch out, Fris!"
    >w<

    Closing her eyes in fear of what would happen, the little fairy expected to hear the pained yips of the cubs, before hearing a snarling sound - followed by the garbled scream of the goblin. Opening her eyes - with her hands over them - Phinimimilomimo peered through her fingers and saw the cubs managing to fight back and severely injure the goblin. Elated over the current situation, the little fairy flew round the goblins and covered them both in [Toxic Dust], helping the foxes kill the goblins.

    After a few minutes, with the joint effort of Phinimimilomimo and the foxes, the goblins were defeated; the parents tearing away at the flesh of their fallen enemies and feeding their young with it. Feeling uneasy with the scene, the little fairy vomited a sparkly liquid before resting on the ground. Soon after, the fox family all fell asleep - tired from the whole ordeal. Waking up a few minutes later, Phinimimilomimo looked at the foxes and stroked all of their soft, furry heads, before flying off with her mushrooms and red flask to find a new location in the woods to train.

    ***​

    2 1/2 weeks later, Phinimimilomimo was flying around the trees with a big, cheerful grin on her face.

    "I did it, Fris! I finally did it, Fris! Yaaaaaay, Fris!"

    She performed a number of aerial acrobatics in her glee over her accomplishments, before stopping mid-flight and seeing an injured ferret on the ground beneath her. Flying over to it, the little fairy cast an [Illusion] to hide her presence from the ferret, before inspecting its wounds. They were many deep gashes that were bleeding out and staining the ground a nasty red colour - which made Phinimimilomimo feel a little queasy over. Remembering her training over the past few weeks, the little fairy activated her new skill - quickly stimulating her tear ducts with Nature-infused Mana, before very subtly covering her wings in the concentrated dewdrop tears that made them sparkle. She then fluttered her wings and used the skill [Healing Dust] on the ferret.

    Over a period of 1 minute, all of the deep gashes had healed and the ferret - which had fallen asleep before the little fairy had reached it - woke up and checked its body. Licking the blood off its fur, it saw there were no longer any wounds and hastily ran away - most likely back to its den for safety. Phinimimilomimo cancelled her [Illusion] and jumped up and down while flying in the air.

    "It worked, Fris! It worked, Fris! I can heal things now, Fris!"
    \o/

    Doing several aerial somersaults, the little fairy was beside herself in happiness over her progress in developing her skills.Going back to her training ground and collecting her now empty flask - Phinimimilomimo flew back towards Nagrand with a blissful smile on her face.
    New skill acquired through intense training over a period of 4 weeks:
    [Healing Dust]
    - Subtly and magically stimulates her tear ducts and releases several concentrated tear dewdrops and coats her wings in the liquid. Flutters her wings and releases a fine powdery dust infused with healing properties
    - Target must be within 1 metre in the direction wings were fluttered.
    - Multiple targets might get hit.
    - Target gets healed:
    - Targets larger than a human might not get healed.
    - If they do, it will only heal light scratches.​
    - Targets the size of a human will be healed for 10 seconds.
    - It heals cuts.​
    - Targets the size of human children will be healed for 1 minute
    - It heals gashes.​
    - Targets the size of a fairy will be healed for 5 minutes
    - It heals gaping wounds.​
    - Consumes 20% of max Mana per use.​


    Through intense training and wish to develop skills, current skills have improved:
    [Berserker Dust]
    - Strength increases by 30%
    - Speed increases by 30%
    - Defence lowers by 40%
    - When effect ends, Strength and Speed reduces by 50% of max levels for double length of time
    - Defence remains at 40% lower than max for duration of this.​
    [Growth]
    - Max speed of growth is 2 cm per 5 seconds for 2 minutes.
    [Entangle]
    - Only affects within a 4 metre radius.
    [Root Weapon]
    - Forms a weapon out of nearby roots - as well as other forms of plantlife.
    - Roots must be within a 4 metre radius of caster.​
    [Illusion]
    - Consumes 10% max Mana per 3 minutes.

    Flask filled with red liquid is now empty and will be stored in storage.
    X
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
  6. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    Snip.

    A gourd very carefully stored the leaf onto one of the many pouch in his belt, before stepping back and give the plant a lookover. He mentally tagged a few of the sticking out or otherwise dying leaf and return to snipping, storing them into the same pouch.

    Snip.

    "About enough for this one. Next..."

    He glanced at the neat rows of plants. He's done with the daturas and was halfway through the nightshades, there's still a whole bunch of wolfbane, dolls' eyes, and poison hemlock awaiting the trim. Shrugging helplessly, he returned to his work. It's monotonous but it's good to build character... was what he told himself. Honestly? It's a chore. Tarvines never require nearly that much maintenance.

    Snip.

    An hour later, using the full pouch as excuse, he went into the toolshed and pulled out some kind of bamboo frame and several small planks. It was quickly assembled into a drying table, simple construct with six legs underneath a long line of rectangular planks and some more surrounding it vertically to protect against the wind - not like it get windy often in the middle of the city, but it happens.

    That done, he returned into the now very cramped tool shed and brought the portable alchemical kit he looted confiscated from some unsavory individuals (that he totally didn't murder), putting it at one end of the drying table. He then fetched a bag of leaf dried the day before and a set of items to make the tincture.

    "Clean and dry rotect jar, high-proof brandy, the dried leaf, sealed tight and proper. Shake a bit. Then another..." He filled several small jars so that if any of them grew unexpectedly moldy he wouldn't lose the whole batch. The process didn't take long and he looked happily at the datura mixture, it would be ready to be extracted into proper tinctures within a month.

    "Done! Now..." He turned toward the plants waiting for trimming and sighed. "Back to work, I guess."

    Snip.
     
  7. AliceShiki

    AliceShiki 『Ms. Tree』『Alice is Friend, Not Food』

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    All good for me~

    Ah, also, can you tell me where you want the country? I updated the world map a while back (still not officially out though), and figured it would have a place for Svellvǫllr.

    (Ah! I didn't resize this map yet, so it's 4x as big as the World Map available in the registration post (as in, it's 2MB big rn), so I think it's not a good idea to open it on mobile data...)

    [​IMG]

    Oh, and can you tell me how exactly to write its name? Like... "Kingdom of Svellvǫllr" or something? Just "Svellvǫllr" would feel a bit weird~
     
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  8. AliceShiki

    AliceShiki 『Ms. Tree』『Alice is Friend, Not Food』

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    Phew, new quest batch is fiiiiiiiiiiiiinally live!


    We also have 3 new Bounties available and the Goblin Bounty went through a few small changes.

    For the people waiting for a rank up quest, we have some drafts done already, expect them soonish.

    We also officially changed the quest batch release date to Tuesday because it's a lot easier on our end if the last day isn't a Sunday... Weekend tends to get too busy and it's always a rush to get those quests done. I'll update the registration thread and the Quest Board with this information shortly.

    Also, the people that won the event of designing a super unwieldy weapon for the festival can already claim them at Uldur's Forge... Good luck in using those things, Lord Ralditorias will be pleased! xD

    Lastly, as usual, if anyone wants to be removed from this tag list, just poke me and I'll remove you~

    PS: Sorry for the lack of reply in the dungeon PM, I'll catch up to it tomorrow... Today was no good either... >.>
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
  9. Osamaru

    Osamaru 『Shem's Best Pal ✧ Lexi's Ani ✧ Hamster's Keeper』

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    :blob_pompom::blob_pompom::blob_pompom:
     
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  10. Unreachable Hope

    Unreachable Hope Unspecified, Wandering and Doubtful Member

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    Background #3: "Perhaps..."
    Reading this letter he got gave an headache to Cinis, he did not expect that so many of them would easily turn their back once he was gone, however, they did, and quite finely it seems, they gave out to his progenitor all of the plans he prepared, all of the tricks, explained all of his relationships, his habits, what he tried to hide, everything he has been hiding was discovered by him the moment his foot left the vicinity.

    “Despicable.”, it was sincerely what he thought, but what was topping all of his feelings was this disappointment in the men he has believed in, one of the few he could call friends, or so he thought, were they hypocrites and spies since the very start? While he despised his progenitor more than anymore, after him came these people who were part of his life but destroyed it with so much ease and disdain at the same time, how could he not feel any rage when he knows that all the dangers they met, they crossed, they lived through to get out the Holy Empire of Men was due to the closest people to the trio? How could he not? Definitively, he needed to become stronger, first to eviscerate his progenitor, the lord of his hometown, this high-ranked scoundrel having so much reputation among the army, then, to hang the ones who betrayed him, while it did not affect him much, in terms of situations and circumstances, emotionally talking, he was furious.

    Remembering his first encounter with them, perhaps, he should have expected it.

    __________________________​

    The blond guard with blue eyes was leading the child of the abomination was probably what they were thinking during this time, however, they could not recognize him as his child, because of this unsightly appearance that did not seem to be human.
    Earlier, when Liya asked him this question, Cinis just mindless nodded, he did not think during a second that he will die, or perhaps he felt unconcerned by it, in both cases, if his attitude did not change, it will guarantee him to survive a bit longer. At that moment, when they left the lord’s room, there was not only one corridor but three instead, as for how, the half-elf could not know at that moment.
    Knowing that something is wrong, he wanted to ask something, but in the end, he just stayed quiet and true to his nature, why was it that the disposition of the corridors changed? It seemed that the guard he was following did not know either, as before walking through one corridor, he examined the walls, to see if there was one, but also to check if they were real. Every time he passed by this place, his sense of direction was turned upside down and did not know where to go unless he passes ten minutes checking his surroundings.

    Wandering into this illusion, their footsteps were erased as they went toward the right wing, as far as his memory existed, that is where a hearth has been erected for the young master of this mansion. As well as a hideout from the outer world, where blades and arrows were chasing at everyone that was deemed to be a scourge for the framework which formed the foundations of this systematic world.


    Quickly they arrived at the training field, with nothing else but sand as ground, this place was reserved for three type of people, the personal guards of the young master, the young master and his personal servants that are supposed to follow the little one everywhere and nowhere. Seeing three dozens of guards,the child did not know how to react as Liya simply began to speak on a casual tone, as if he knew those guards since a very long time.

    “Hey, so, this is Cinis, a promising young master. As far as I have seen, he did not crack and fall down in tears once his feet were lifted away from the ground.” , smiles appeared on at least twenty of them, happiness could almost being seen leaking from their face, like a viscous liquid that can not be removed unless you rip the rusty mask they have been wearing since basically their birth, covering their frustration and damaged egos.

    “Let’s begin then!”, quickly enough, the child was surrounded by a bunch of guards that did not know the meaning of the word ‘courtesy’, he only sighed and spoke on a rather undisturbed tone, as well as indifferent which was irritating to them, since, after all, they were surrounding him for the sole motive of inflicting pain to this creature they did not even consider as human due to their blood but also their physical features like his slightly pointy ears, as well as his skin of many colors, from white, to yellow, to blue, to purple and so on.

    “Tomorrow, but today, I would like to avoid this kind of confrontation. Afterwards, I am willing to play in your game for both morning and evening. However, you would need to provide compensation such as simply healing and perhaps favors.”, the majority of them was clearly against but Liya’s gaze pierced at them with a sharp light that seemed to be experienced in terms of slashing. Or perhaps because it was just because they knew what he could do, how he could make them suffer. Maybe, who knows.
    Well, Liya of course knows.

    Further, outside the field training but still within the mansion, there seemed to be a little house, it was probably Cinis’ quarters, where he would live for at least the next decade, perhaps even two, or even his whole life, until his death. At this time, he still did not know what kind of trouble will he live.
    Entering after Liya who entered the key into the doorknob, turning it, the door opened and let curious eyes discover its inner self, it was quite simply, in two rooms it seems at there was only one door leading to another room. The first room he entered in was separated in two by a partial wall who created a division between where he will sleep and where he will relax, as in a couch on side, and the bed on the other side, there were all the basic commodities, tables where he could eat, wardrobes, where he would have finally clothes, more than only one shabby outfit that never has been washed as he was a beggar and orphan that everyone beaten up like a doll that attracted hatred from all over the world, a scapegoat basically. People would event their frustration and all the rage they couldn’t let out on him, after all, who cared about such a creature?

    As he quickly skipped the room, he checked the second one, and this one was much more interesting, it was a bathroom, or so he thought. There was a sort of huge tank of wood in the middle of the room, a pile of charcoal at the entrance of the room and a stone alter, on which we could light a fire, it was a solution heat the room, a fire, charcoal and cold water thrown on it would create vapor that would produce a certain ease for people who appreciated hot and humid weather the half-elf child that did not give any interested to any thing.

    “I want to test that, can you teach me?”, after all, the child never ever used any towel or anything related to hygiene, that was something he was clearly lacking due to the lack.
    A hour later, after undressing himself and giving all of his clothes to the young man, he felt a certain anticipation toward the bath, Liya quickly explained to him how it works, what he did not see in the bathroom was that there was a well. Rather strange but he accepted it quite easily as he did not know how these were made and what you could do with it, wouldn’t it take quite a lot of time for him to fill that tank? That is what he thought, he sighed, but he thought it would be worth it in the end, whether it was cold or hot, both worked.

    After some dozens of minutes, the child did not even fill half of the tank, unexpectedly, he was weak, since the very start, he seemed to be strong, as in his personality was cold and stern, however, once, the moment he tries to do something physically… that is nothing but a mere dream that will hardly becomes reality as they always say.
    A hope that will only fade into the engulfing darkness. Weak. How old was he? He did not know, after all, what did he know? What is day? What is an hour? What is a week? What is a month? What is a year… and so on, the concept of spatialized time was something he never learnt.

    A hour later, Cinis was in the bath, earlier, he thought about how Liya said he could prepare hot water, but when he noticed how much of a bother it will be, he thought that cold water would do.

    “Mmm… similar to…”, a bath in mud, or so that was he thought. If he had to think about all the similar experiences he had, he would think that many times, he fell asleep in a puddle, or more like, he was knocked out and then thrown in a puddle. The cold bath was something similar to this, albeit it was… comfortable. It might be the first time he feels something like this, comfortable, he felt disturbed by the huge change of substance, he took a deep breath and plunged underwater.

    ‘I can see.’, opening his eyes, he thought that he could see. While it was a bit of an annoyance to have the water on his face, he felt… light, he could see odd dark and brown partciles fly off of his body, he could see that his skin was, despite the blue, purple and yellow, becoming paler, less rough, softer, limpier, flabbier…
    Surging from the water, as he brushed his hand into his hair, it also felt different, there were nodes for sure, his hand could still get stuck while passing between his hair, but way less than before, it also seemed to be less… sticky? He did not know how to explain this sensation… it was not all bad.

    “No, it is even nice…”, that is suspicious was his second thought, it was way too good to be true, something was up, and considering the reputation of the master of the mansion, it was obviously nothing good. A monster, a tyrant, a bloodthirsty beast, an abomination, the devil itself, the man who sold his soul, and so on. It was nothing he never heard before, after all, people use words quite easily without thinking through them.
    However when everyone agrees to this, even the ones working for him, it tells something quite important. It is that, objectively, it was true. He was still doubting it, nevertheless, he will discover it by himself.

    After leaving the bath, Cinis began to shake himself, to try to remove all the water of him, his hair was waving right and left, slapping his cheeks, he was still a bit wet, however, according to him, it was still fine. In the end, it would be dry before he notices it, time is almighty after all.

    Seeing him getting into the “living room”? He could call it like this.
    Liya sighed and asked on a jaded tone as if he needed to do something he did not want to, which would be taking care of this child who was not the first, and perhaps not the last.

    “Did you use a towel?”, hearing him, his eyelids closed and opened a few times in a fraction of a second. It was clear that he did not understand what he meant, immediately, a question was asked, one that surprised the young soldier.
    “What is a towel?”

    Silence reigned over the room, trying to remember whether he told him what is it or not, he gave up and simply took a towel and said as he handed it to Cinis.
    “Use it to dry yourself, it was made for this. Basically, a towel is made for people to dry themselves with it.”, the child still did not seem to completely understand, he understood the why but not the how, it was a cloth, how could he use it to dry himself? It is neither hot or produces wind. How.

    “Nevermind, I will do it for you.”, a long sigh escaped the guard’s mouth as he took the towel and began to wipe Cinis’ body, by beginning by the back, as he was doing it rather roughtly, some particles of skin seemed to be leaving his body, however, none of them minded this worthless detail. After finishing to wipe his back, he said, putting the towel on the child’s right shoulder.

    “Now, you know how, do it to your whole body and hair until you feel like it’s the same as your back.”, it was true that his back did not seem as wet as earlier, it was lightly dry, he could not feel the droplets flowing down his back and falling on the ground, making a little sound.
    Dozens of minutes later, Cinis felt dry after wiping himself, he took a lot of time as it was really unfamiliar for him, it was the first time he held a towel as well as the first time he took a bath, certainly, he would take time. Afterwards, he saw something odd, it was… he did not know, it seemed to show what was on the other side of the room while being on the initial side… how should he explain…

    “It’s a mirror. It reflects what is in front of it, like water, when you look at it, you might see the reflection of yourself.”, himself? So what he was seeing in the water was himself? Quickly, he went in front of the mirror and discovered of he looked like.

    A six year old child, hair reaching the middle of his back, messy, it could easily cover his whole face if he never pushed his hair toward the sides with a disgusting skin that was clearly different than people due to all the harms he has been inflicted with. The towel seemed way too big for him… he seemed to be quite small.

    “Ohh…”, everything was surprising with him, everything was so unfamiliar, including himself, while he is not showing much interest, it was still astonishing to Liya, how ignorant was he? He isn’t gonna survive by being this… lacking in terms of common life.

    “Alright, go to sleep on the bed there, it’s very soft and comfortable thing, I will sleep on the couch here, tomorrow morning, I will have to cut your hair, it is way too long.”, while he was still a bit confused, Cinis followed his finger and went to the other ‘room’, there was a big thing that could easily be for four or six people like him he thought, he climbed on it and laid down.

    “Oooohhhhh…”, it was way more comfortable than he thought, way more than the bath which seemed otherwordly to him, but this bed was even better. It felt like he was going to melt and fall asleep at any moment, while it may be still be suspicious, it was still worth it, better than sleeping on the ground in the streets.
    Then, no words echoed, dusk came and faded, letting place to the night’s obscurity that was filling the whole world, tomorrow was another day, one that will be clearlt different, he knew this, he knew he will have to deal with the guards, he knew something was wrong with them, that they were like the people in the slums.
    So about this, nothing will change, it will just seem more organized, nothing else, nothing more, as long as he would live another day, that was fine. Because he was curious of this so-called new life he will have in this mansion.

    ‘It might be… what was the word… how did they call it… fun? Yes, fun. While… nothing may change as well.’

    In the middle of the night, Liya woke up and remembered one thing, he forgot to feed the child.
    ...Before falling back to sleep that is.


    ___________________
    In the end, what was written in the letter? What provoked into him such frustration? It was the last sentence, the last line, as if a knife pierced his heart, he could still what emotions it gave him at the first glance.

    “Once all of them have been spotted, give him this letter and let him know that he still has the chance to come back in one piece if he does what was concluded between us.”

    It was a clear message.
    OOC: And hop, a bit more~
    Should have done that a bit earlier~
    Slowly, slowly... I am making his background~
     
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  11. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    A gourd lurked in the guild hall, walking back and forth between the tavern and the quest board as if it'd make new jobs pop up. That wasn't his main goal, however - he still remembered the last time children mobbed him, dealing hefty mental damage thanks to the rumor spread by some catty receptionist. At the moment his pettiness was out in full force as he pondered what kind of cheap vengeance to wrought.

    "Should I steal all her left socks? Move the furnitures in her room an inch to the side so she stub her toe? Perhaps leave a Vertigo trap at her carpet, wonder if she could fall as smooth as a cat. Maybe replace her snack jar with asparagus?" He pondered the pettiest stuff he could think off while waiting for Aria to clock out. He'll need to find out where she live first, and stalking would be the least suspicious way (as long as he's not caught).

    Eventually the catgirl started packing up, not long after sunset. The gourd left first into an alley next to the guild and rubbed his Brands.

    "Shadowflip."

    It wouldn't do to be spotted by some random cats. This would mask him from most mortal senses and some magical ones, so unless he intruded into some ward or stepped on the cats he'd be completely undetected.

    His target walked out of the back door within moments, hurrying her pace away from the city's center. Make sense, stuff were expensive that direction. He flitted under the shadow, sometimes Darting a short distance, avoiding populated region and staying mostly on shaded walls.

    Aria picked less traversed roads, he was thankful for that. No sense not taking the easy path when it's available, a crowd would make it complicated although a red-headed catgirl weren't exactly hard to miss. Not from a vantage point anyway. On the same level she'd easily vanish under the orcs two heads taller than her.

    Eventually he followed her into an inn. It looked like a cheap one for long-term renting, catering for semi-permanent workers that still can't afford housings. There were dozens of those around this part of the town.

    He waited until darkness fully fell before crawling like a giant spider, the shadow creeping over him and completely concealed him that he could wear glittering silver clothes and nobody would spot him. He stick to listening because light coming out of the window would reveal his head, going from one to another until he reached one at the second floor.

    It's... strange. Sounds like Aria there, speaking to someone while holding tears. There's at least one more person inside, the one whimpering weakly every now and then.

    The gourd took a risk peeking from the window. Aria was facing away from him, tending to another girl on the bed with some wet towel and telling her it'll be fine. Seems that it's been going on for a while.

    Well. Ain't that such a mood killer.

    Wordlessly, a gourd Darted away through the night sky.
     
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  12. AliceShiki

    AliceShiki 『Ms. Tree』『Alice is Friend, Not Food』

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    Nothing super important here, just another peek at what's happening at Aria's daily life~

    I finally had a day off again, so I visited Shiori-chan's orphanage to meet the children... Though I hope they don't mind accompanying me somewhere else today.

    Didn't take long to get surrounded by them once I reached the place... I giggled internally, they're as active as always~

    Though they were asking what we would play today, I didn't really intend on playing this time... "Actually... I was wondering if any of you would like to accompany me somewhere else today." I could sense Shiori-chan's overprotectiveness flaring up, but I decided to casually ignore it, we're not going anywhere dangerous anyways.

    "Where to, where to!?" Nina-chan asked... Her name being the same as the girl living with me always gave me some giggles... Well, she's an orc though, while my roommate is a ratkin, so the difference ends there.

    It's a bit sad their eyes were shining with excitement though, they seem to think we're going to play... Ugh, I hate disappointing them like that... "To a friend's house..." Oh gods, stop giving me those bright eyes! You're going to kill me! "She's really sick and really needy of some company... I was going to visit, but thought that it might be a good idea to go with more people for a change, I think she'll be happy about it."

    Haa... The reaction was as expected, they all seem pretty downhearted about it... Well, many of them probably lost their families to sicknesses too... It's understandable... Guess it was a bad idea after all...

    "I-I go!" I turned towards the source of the voice... Vhera-chan? I...

    "Thank you..." I hugged her a bit tight... I hope Nina-chan will be happy with the visit, she hasn't met Vhera-chan yet~ "Shall we go then~?"

    "You can't!" Bleh, Shiori-chan stopped me... "What if she gets sick!? Absolutely not allowed!" I sighed out loud and stopped hugging Vhera-chan, then got closer to Shiori-chan before whispering in her ear.

    "Nina-chan isn't sick, she is cursed, Mary has been working for quite some time in trying to heal her and she already assured me the curse is not going to spread to anyone. It's safe." I hope this calms her down... Aaaaaaaaand, she now is looking wide-eyed at me in utter disbelief... Oh, bollocks, there are two Nina-chans. Damn. "I'm talking about the Nina-chan that works in the guild and is living with me, not the child that lives here! >.<" I got out in one go, still whispering though.

    She breathed a heavy sigh in relief... "Don't scare me like that... Fine, I'll alow it, but be back before dusk, alright?" I nodded at her, grasped Vhera-chan's hand and walked out happily~

    The other children did look a bit jealous, but none of them tried to go after us... It can't be helped, it can't be helped... At least Vhera-chan came. "You know, I'm really glad you're coming, Nina-chan has been so down recently... Ah, right, my friend's name is Nina, same as the girl in the orphanage, though she is a ratkin~

    "I'm sure she'll be happy to see you~" I told her while we walked.

    Vhera-chan seemed to think for a while... "Aria's friend... Fell?"

    I giggled a bit, "No no, not that, she is sick, so her mood fell down~" her eyes seemed to shine in understanding, "I stayed with her throughout the entire process, but she's been having such a hard time... I guess I just wanted to do something for her right now."

    Vhera-chan tilted her head... "Nina makes time... A rock?" Wait, how did she reach that conclusion!? "Nina magician?"

    Uh... How to clarify that...? "No, she isn't a magician, she just..." Ah! She was talking about the hard time! Gods, I forgot how children can be creative with their interpretations... Is hard time that unusual of an expression though? "I think you misunderstood a bit Vhera-chan, when I said she had a hard time, I meant that things aren't going well for her... Not that time is becoming a rock~"

    She stared at me in utter disbelief before looking down embarrassedly... Oh gods, she's so cute!
    I internally tsukommed myself due to my mind's weird thoughts and instead patted her head. "It's alright, not like everyone is born knowing every possible expression out there, right~?" She mumbled something in reply... I think it means she agrees, so let's go with that~

    "Oh, and here we are already, that's my home!" I pointed towards the 'Sleepy Rabbit' inn that I have been living in ever since I got enough money to pay for a room.

    Vhera-chan looked confused, "Not Aria's Friend...?"

    "Oh, of course, Nina-chan is living with me right now." I paused a bit while wondering rather I should say more than that or not... I guess it's fine to say it. "I didn't want to speak about it in the orphanage because some children might have wanted to come in order to visit my house... I wanted to make sure whoever came was coming for Nina-chan...

    "Sorry for not saying everything in advance, Vhera-chan." I bowed towards her a bit, but she seemed incredibly flustered over it, so I giggled, patted her head and continued. "Shall we go in?"

    She nodded and said with a more energetic voice than usual, "Yes!" that made me happy... Hopefully this energy can spread to Nina-chan~

    We went inside and quickly greeted the rabbit-kin owners before going up the stairs to my room. The look in their faces was absolutely priceless... Fufufu, I wonder if they think Vhera-chan is my child already~

    I knocked into the room, "Nina-chan, are you awake?" I asked... After a small pause she replied.

    "Aria? Uhn... Yes, I am." Good! Let's do our best then!

    "Alright, we're coming in!" I unlocked the door and opened it. We could see Nina-chan sitting in her bed inside.

    "Wait, we...?" She asked confusedly before staring wide-eyed at Vhera-chan for a few seconds. "Aria, did you kidnap a child!?"

    "What!? No! She's from the orphanage!" The hell with kidnapping you dumb rat!?

    "Then you're a mother!?!?!?!?" Ah! Oh my God oh my God! Why am I so flustered!? I expected this question! >.<

    "N-no... Not yet... I just brought her to visit... Uhn... Vhera-chan, this is Nina-chan. Nina-chan, this is Vhera-chan~" I felt my face hot while I said that... I was happy... Gods, what's up with this dumb smile just because of a question I expected already...?

    Vhera-chan stepped forward a bit and said, "Pl-pleased to meet you." and then made a small curtsy... Oh gods she is so cute! I'm dying! >.<

    Nina-chan on the other hand was just baffled for a moment before entering a coughing fit. "Nina-chan!" I rushed to her side and... And what? What do I do now? I hugged her and hoped she'd get better...

    After a while she did stop, though she seemed pretty tired... "Sorry for showing you such a sorry sight..." She said while meekly smiling towards Vhera-chan, who just shook her head.

    "Sorry, no need. Nina sick, rest." She's such a kind girl... Eh? Why is Nina-chan looking at me weirdly like that?

    She whispered in my ear. "Hey Aria, does she know the common tongue properly?" What's up with that...?

    "Uhn... I think so...?" I whispered back... Wait, does she?

    She stared at me wide-eyed for a moment... Vhera-chan seemed confused at our exchange since... Well, she wasn't hearing it. "... Did you seriously not notice? The girl is barely able to make a sentence..." Hey! I did pay attention, alright? I just...

    "I thought she was just shy..." Now that she mentions it, Vhera-chan did speak a bit too little...

    "Oh gods Aria, how dumb can you be?" Sorry if I forgot mermaids have their own tongue! "ベラ、あなたは私を理解することができますか?" The hell was that, girl!?

    Vhera-chan's eyes shone, "あなたは人魚語を話します!" wait wait what!? She understood it!? And she jumped on Nina-chan's lap! Oh my God, I'm so jealous! "私はそれを話すことができる誰かをようやく見つけましたとても嬉しいです!" I have no idea what you're saying!!! "どこでそれを学びましたか。 他に知っている人はいますか。" Oh gods, Vhera-chan is speaking so much, but I can't understand a thing! This sucks! Damn you Nina-chan!

    Nina-chan continued... "大丈夫, 大丈夫, 私はセヂチオで学びました、そしてそれを話す誰かを知りません。" Vhera-chan seemed slightly sad with her reply, but still pretty cheerful overall. Nina-chan patted her head a bit before turning towards me. "We're speaking the Mermaid language. I learned it back in Seditio... The girl isn't shy, she just had no one to speak to, you idiot cat!" Oi! Don't call me idiot you dumb rat!

    I suppose I'll forgive her because she's making Vhera-chan happy though... Haa... Honestly, how did I not notice...? Now that I look back on it, it's a bit obvious considering how happy she looked at the festival yet barely spoke a word...

    Well, at least Nina-chan seems to be having fun too... Seems like bringing Vhera-chan here was the right choice after all... I sat down on my usual chair near the bed and wondered what to do in the next few hours while those two talk...

    "You participate too, Aria!" Nina-chan held my wrist and exclaimed.

    "Eh? But I don't..." And then Vhera-chan cut me.

    "Aria teach, I learn, speak properly." She said with a very resolute expression... I see... Then I guess I'm Aria sensei now? I giggled internally at the thought...

    Thanks Nina-chan... I brought her here to help you, but in the end you ended up helping me too... "Alright, let's do our best then~

    "You can also teach me a bit of the Mermaid tongue since we're at it, alright?" Vhera-chan nodded eagerly, she seems really happy right now... Guess this will be a fun afternoon~

    I wonder though... How come she is this old and still can't speak properly...?
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    We ended up spending quite some time there, it was only when the sun was almost setting that I ended up remembering to bring her back to the orphanage, so we had to leave in a hurry in order to not get Shiori-chan's wrath... It seems like Vhera-chan is already well aware it's no good to get Shiori-chan angry...

    While we were walking towards it though, I ended up asking. "You had fun today?"

    Vhera-chan nodded and smiled, "Yes! Learning, very fun! Nina nice!"

    "I see... Do you want to come again? You're welcome whenever you want." I asked her while a warm smile.

    "Yes! With Aria too! Learning together more fun!" Haa... I'm hopeless... This girl is... I want to take her home right away...

    I took a deep breath... Not yet, not yet... Can't take care of a child when I don't even have a house to call my own... One step at a time Aria, one step at a time...

    Vhera-chan looked a bit worried by my lack of reply. "Of course, I'll be there to learn too, together with you~" And then she hugged my leg while we walked together...

    Seems like even the worst things that happen still have their upsides... Thank you gods, thank you for giving me the opportunity to get closer to Vhera-chan through Nina-chan's curse... Though if it's not too much to ask, I wish you could cure her too though...

    *rolls out*
     
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  13. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    "...it's nagging."

    A gourd stopped halfway, the watering can halting with him. He looked in the general direction of an inn with a dozing rabbit on its sign, thinking about the failed pranking. He's someone who know the importance of time, place, and occasion after all. It would cross a line to keep going.

    "Hmm... perhaps I should get her cured. Then a prank or two would be okay."

    Unfortunately his train of thought was completely psychotic, when it comes to an obstacle to his pettiness.

    "Wish Alex is here, he'd drop enough cleansing to purify white plague. I'm completely horrid with prayers..." he trailed off. "...prayers. If I recall there's that kid?"

    And the watering can fell.

    "Right! I could recruit that brat, Terry? He showed off a whole bunch of lightshow, he should know Cleanse."

    Picking up the watering can and haphazardly dumping its content semi-evenly on the rest of his plant, he tossed it away and locked the gate before making a beeline to Lakeside Village.

    *****

    "Uncle Gourd, what are we waiting for?"

    "Sssh, she's still in there. We need to wait until she left."

    It was near sunset when they returned to Nagrand, the gourd did what's essentially kidnapping with extra steps with little Terry. Just borrowing the kid for a few hours, what could go wrong? He ran off playing for longer usually. Perhaps. The gourd assumed so.

    He brought the kid into a shady alley and pulled them both into Shadowflip, taking fifteen minutes to travel toward the inn one shady alley into the other. For the most part the kid just stared in wonderment - there's something seriously wrong with children, they all like extreme speed.

    And thus they're in the shadow of the inn, right across the street. The gourd climbed up to eavesdrop but find out that Aria was there, and the mermaid kid too. So he returned and waited for them to leave. Thankfully it wasn't long, or else Terry's nagging would start attracting people.

    "She left! Just a moment, let me check..."

    Returning to climb the wall, he came upon the room to find that the ratkin girl was already dozing off - uncomfortably - from exhaustion. Using a knife to unlatch the window from outside, the gourd crept in toward the defenseless girl like some insidious villain...

    "W-wait, this is not what it looks like!"

    ~Gourd, arrested red-handed

    He shook his imagination off. Touching the girl's forehead, he sensed a turbulent pinprick underneath the skin. So familiar. Frowning slightly, he retreated out of the window and fetched Terry.

    "Remember when I said Cleanse?" He asked.

    "Yeees?"

    "Well, I found you a practice target. Moderate curse but it's not spreading. Perfect for you." He explained plainly, noting the increasingly excited stare of the boy. "...but let's not tell your parents, they'd throw a fit."

    "Alright!" Terry nodded energetically. Seems that a chance to actually practice was far and few inbetween for him. Well, any normal parent would see to that.

    Crawling up the wall with the kid on his back, the gourd sent Terry into the room first before slithering in quiet as a snake. He made a shushing motion and pointed at the sleeping girl, then mouthed "Cleanse".

    Terry nervously came up to the girl, taking a moment to steady his breathing before he muttered the prayer.

    "Cleanse!" Whispered him.

    A soft blue glow flowed into the girl before disappearing, some black smoke wafting out of her. Her labored breathing eased, the gourd approached for another touch. The prickling was mostly gone, but a small tingle remained.

    "Once more. Or maybe twice, if you could manage. Just to be sure."

    Terry nodded and two more Cleansing later, the gourd could no longer feel the festering curse. The girl's sleep was finally peaceful, he nodded and gave the kid a thumbs up.

    "...right, I almost forgot." After depositing Terry outside, he returned briefly into the room. After shifting all furnitures - except the bed - one inch to the left, he left satisfied and carried the kid back to his home.

    Thankfully baron Kuin's daughter covered for them. Terry was thus the day's undisputed hide and seek champion, although the boy himself was too tired to care. He went straight home and into dreamland soon as he touched his bed.
     
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  14. Arexio

    Arexio Blob Fanatic | AG Player

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    Sounds of intermittent scribbling echoed throughout the room. Fingers tapped continuously.

    Ryul squinted in concentration as he pondered the dense subject matters mentioned in his new book 'Mundi'. The Planes themselves had certain Laws, certain rules that kept them in check. Magic in the right configuration can disrupt this order and lead to unique phenomena occurring. But what kind is the real question...

    The scholar furiously wrote down his epiphany and question lest he forget later. It was at times like these where he was glad he had chosen a secluded corner of Nagrand's library to do his studying; he did not have to worry about disturbing any others around him with his loud writing style.

    Sheets of parchment began to amass into a stack on his right as Ryul lost himself once again to his continuous quest for more knowledge, becoming more oblivious to his surroundings.

    Putting returned books and scrolls onto shelves in the library, Urlagrod reached a corner and heard a strange scratching and tapping sound. Thinking that some mice, or rats, had found their way into the building and were feasting on the literature, the large orc rushed over and peered around a bookshelf.

    "Huh?"

    Seeing a familiar half-elf scribbling away, almost fanatically, as he looked at an open book every now and then, Urlagrod was somewhat surprised, before he smiled. Remembering how Ryul had told him how he loved learning about things - especially magic - he resumed his work, not wishing to disturb his friend.

    After an hour of stacking shelves, Urlagrod stretched his arms and flexed his muscles, before going to the staff room for his break - as well as to make some tea. Thinking of the half-elf, he poured a second cup and carried both drinks out of the room and towards the corner of the library with a certain scholar hopefully still there. Turning around the corner, the large orc smiled as he saw Ryul still there, furiously writing away and forming a large stack of papers.

    Taking the seat opposite his friend, he picked up one of the sheets of paper and began reading it - curious about what the scholar was writing.

    Many moments passed between the time Urlagrod sat down and Ryul, deciding to relax and stretch his fingers, stopped his eccentric note-taking. The half-elf looked up and saw a familiar-looking face, somehow sitting across from him.

    Bewildered, Ryul just sat there speechless for a while as he stared at Urlagrod reading one of his papers. He studied the orc a bit closer and secretly thought the discrepancy between Urlagrod's massive physique and how focused and intelligent he looked right now made him quite attractive.

    Putting a stop to those thoughts, he cleared his throat, "Ahem, Url? You surprised me a little."

    Ryul brushed his hair to the side, "When did you get here? I didn't notice your presence at all."

    Hearing that the scribbling had stopped, Urlagrod put down the paper he was reading and smiled at Ryul. He then pointed at the now cold cup of tea, while taking note of the time from a clock on the wall. He then responded in a quiet, yet deep and husky voice:

    "I was stacking shelves and heard something, so I came to look and saw you scribbling away with a grin on your face. I came back once my break had started, and thought to give you a refreshing cup of tea..." He looked at the cold tea, before looking at the stack of papers Ryul had written while smiling wryly. "You looked like you were having fun, so I decided not to disturb you."

    Urlagrod knew that his break was going to be over soon, but wanted to say more to the half-elf before that time came.

    "Interesting stuff you're writing, my friend. You really know a lot about magic, I must say." He gave a low chuckle, before pointing at the clock, then the cold cup of tea. "My break ends in a few minutes, but want me to make a fresh drink for you before I go back?"

    Feeling bad for having eaten up so much of the librarian's break time, Ryul quickly apologized, "I'm so sorry, Url. I tend to get into these episodes and forget all else around me."

    And before the orc could say anything else, the half-elf hastily grabbed the cup of tea, "And no, this is more than fine. I'm just a bit happy that you thought of me is all."

    Ryul gave a charming smile to the orc and drank his tea, much easier now that it wasn't hot anymore.

    "Would you mind spending your last few minutes with me? I promise I'll give you my undivided attention this time," he asked.

    "Are you sure? I wouldn't want to disturb you more than I already have."

    Urlagrod blushed sheepishly as he felt Ryul's gorgeous eyes giving him their undivided attention. Subconsciously moving his left hand to his earring, he began playing with it before looking at the stack of papers next to the half-elf.

    "You've been writing some interesting stuff, Ryul. Trying to determine what exactly causes the phenomena surrounding magic and what the phenomenon actually is is fascinating. I've never seen any books broaching such a subject before."

    The large orc's eyes shined as he showed enthusiasm over this new way of perceiving magic, his fingers sometimes twiddling with the hair that naturally fell onto his face, before going back to playing with the earring.

    "Absolutely positive," the half-elf replied to the question.

    Ryul thought that the orc's slightly red cheeks were cute to see. Glad to know he's still got some of his charm left. He briefly wondered what, if anything, could make Urlagrod blush like that again.

    "Oh this? This is nothing. I just have some sporadic thoughts here and there. It usually never goes anywhere," the scholar humbly replied.

    As Urlagrod was playing with his left earring, Ryul absentmindedly touched his own left ear, wondering if he should get a piercing himself. Would he look good with it? What would Urlagrod think of it?

    Urlagrod chuckled at Ryul's answer, before looking at the clock again and sighing.

    "Well, even if this is a sporadic thought, it has certainly made me interested~ Ah...it seems time is up, I've got to go back to work. If you're still here when I finish, want to leave together?"

    The large orc began getting up from his seat, taking his own empty cup of tea with him, ready to get back to being a librarian.

    Disappointed Urlagrod had to leave so soon, Ryul mentally sighed.

    "Sure. That sounds quite pleasant," he met the orc's eyes.

    "I'll be looking forward to it," Ryul smiled widely as he waved the orc off and prepared to return to his studies.

    Taking his cup back to the staff room, Urlagrod smiled to himself as he remembered Ryul drinking the cup of tea - even though it had turned really cold.

    "He's such a nice person." He muttered to himself.

    Leaving the staff room, the large orc went about dealing with visitors who needed him: noting down people who were borrowing books, collecting books from people who were handing them back in, writing up how much money was gained from paid fines, along with marking down the names of people who were late with returning in their books.

    Roughly 4 hours later, with the sun getting ready to start setting, Urlagrod looked at the time and saw his work hours were close to over. Getting up, he tidied up his station at the librarian receptionist desk, put the returned books onto a trolley for the next day's work, and started ushering people out of the building.

    "Closing time in 5 minutes!" He shouted, his deep and husky voice echoing and reverberating throughout the whole library.

    Shocked out of his reverie by the booming voice, Ryul shook his head at himself. That somehow got him everytime. You would think he'd be expecting it by now.

    The scholar placed his silver-colored bookmark to indicate his stopping point in the text and packed up his belongings.

    Ryul walked towards the exit of the library and briefly saw on his right Urlagrod getting rid of some folks who had fallen asleep here by accident. He smiled amusedly as he watched the huge orc for a bit before deciding to wait outside for him.

    It did not take too long to get to the main doors. The sun slowly sank towards the horizon as Ryul watched the rest of the town below him and leaned back against the outside wall, balancing himself on one foot and propping the other against the wall with his arms crossed.
    Seeing that all visitors had left the library, Urlagrod said his goodbyes to his colleagues, before getting his stuff from the staff room and leaving the building. Going through the doors, the large orc looked around for his friend, noticing a slender, handsome figure leaning against the wall of the library. The last rays of the sun shone on the half-elf, making him seem as if he were radiating a warm glow that enhanced his appealing features.

    Smiling, Urlagrod went up to Ryul and clapped him on the shoulder hard.

    "Glad to see you didn't change your mind, my friend! Shall we get going?"

    He gestured down the road towards the market area, as he looked at Ryul waiting for a response.

    Ryul returned the smile, "Yes. Let's go."

    The half-elf patted the orc's hand resting on top of his shoulder as he replied, squeezing hard after the second pat and trying to let the other party know he greatly appreciated the physical contact.

    The duo casually strolled in the direction of Nagrand's marketplace. Ryul sneaked peeks at his good-looking companion when he thought he could get away with it. It helped that Urlagrod liked leading the way and walked mostly in front of him.

    Reaching the marketplace, several stalls were closing up for the day, while some seemed to be just getting ready to open. Urlagrod turned around and smiled at Ryul.

    "Is it okay if I do some shopping while we're here? I'm running low on stuff and need to restock."

    Unsure on whether the half-elf would agree, the large orc also added on:
    "If you say yes, I'll promise to make a meal for you as thanks for keeping me company."

    He flashed a cheesy grin, before looking in the direction of some of the shops he had in mind, before turning back to hear Ryul's response.

    "Haha, it's quite alright," Ryul chuckled at the orc's words coupled with his expression.

    "And that actually sounds really nice. A home-cooked meal from the great Urlagrod himself. I must say, I'm looking forward to enjoying such a meal," he said with a smile tugging at his lips.

    Ryul reached for his money pouch inside his cloak, securing it tightly. Large crowds tended to attract pickpockets, so he had to be on his toes here.

    "Ah, glad you agreed! Otherwise I would have carried you to my place and forced you to eat it, hahaha! Feel free to look around and buy something yourself while we're here, these merchants like to haggle hard!"

    Urlagrod moved at a brisk pace towards one of the vendors, already grabbing some stuff and talking down at the merchant for a better price.

    The half-elf took a moment to think about whether he should follow Urlagrod or move to the side and do his own thing. It didn't take too long for Ryul to make up his mind, and he scurried closer to a street stall on his right.

    He liked the orc a little bit, but he wasn't exactly sure Urlagrod felt the same now that he's not under the influence of alcohol. Sighing, Ryul decided to just go with the flow instead. He asked some questions to the seller about various ornaments and doodads that caught his eye.

    "AND I'M F***ING SAYIN' THAT THIS SHOULD ALL COME TO 40 LC!"

    Urlagrod looked really angry, as the merchant had charged 60 LC and wouldn't budge for a while. Intimidated by the large orc's imposing presence, loud voice and visible anger, the merchant finally gave in and sold the items for 40 LC. As soon as the goods had been purchased, Urlagrod smiled and clapped the other orc on the shoulder.

    "You almost had me there that time, Thrudlog! Hahaha! I'll come back for more stuff when I run out again."

    The large orc then continued buying and haggling for his other stuff. Going past a second-hand item stall, Urlagrod decided to take a look and noticed a few books stacked near the back - dusty and old.

    "Hmm?"

    Moving over to the stall, the large orc caught the attention of the vendor and waved him over.

    "Yes? How can I help you?"

    "That stack of books in the back, can I have a look at them?"

    The merchant looked behind him and smiled, before bringing them out and placing them before the large orc. Picking them up, one by one, he glanced at the titles, before having a skim through them.

    "'How to cook sausages well', 'What is Nature?', 'Granny Gene's Sweet Sauces', 'A Tale of a Lord and His Servant', hmm..."

    "Any take your fancy?"

    "How much are they, each?"

    "Ah, 10 LC per book."

    "10 LC? Make it 3 LC and I'll buy the lot!"

    "Mm...8 LC."

    "4 LC, and I'll buy that pair of large metal earrings, too."

    "The rings are made of iron, so I'll price them at 20 LC each, and the books at 7 LC each."

    "No, no, no. 5 LC for the books, 20 LC for both earrings together. Final offer. After all, this is a second-hand stall."

    "Hmmmm......fine. That'll be 40 LC in total, good sir."

    "Here!"

    Urlagrod quickly paid the money, picking up the items and putting them in a bag he had for such shopping trips. Seeing that he had bought everything he needed, he looked around for Ryul and noticed him perusing a stall on the other side of the market - a cloaked man slowly creeping in his direction.

    "Ah!"

    The large orc began to barge through the crowd of people, heading towards the half-elf in a rush.

    "Fascinating....I'll take one of these, please," the half-elf bought an odd, small wood carving with strange patterns on it. It would be a pleasant addition to his tiny desk and nice to look at while reading at night.

    As he finished up his purchase and moved away from the stall, Ryul was suddenly jostled from the side. Brisk, meandering hands impatiently searched his clothes when they couldn't find what they were initially looking for. He knew this would happen - it already did once before. Good thing he moved his money pouch to a more secure location.

    Narrowing dangerously, his eyes focused on his unknown assailant as he quickly turned around. Ryul paused for a second and shoved a palm full of Thunder energy into the pickpocket's chest, unleashing his [Stun Touch] onto the man.

    Reaching Ryul just as he had stunned him, Urlagrod punched the pickpocket straight in the nose, before kicking him several times on the ground.

    "You dare steal from one of my friends!?! You filthy f***er! Grow some balls and get a job!"

    Seeing the man cowering in fear - curled up into a ball - the large orc ceased his assault and promptly moved to Ryul and grabbed his shoulders, inspecting him.

    "Are you all right, Ryul? He didn't hurt you, did he? Or take anything?"

    Concern over his half-elf friend was apparent in his eyes.

    Ryul was surprised when Urlagrod came out of nowhere and easily took down the thief, pummeling the man into submission.

    The half-elf double-checked both where he stored his pouch and the rest of his things. He answered, "No he didn't, and I'm fine. He only groped me a little but didn't manage to steal any of my things."

    "But I am quite glad you were here. I could've handled it myself, however, your presence made it that much easier. Thank you, Url," Ryul flashed a grateful smile to the orc.

    "Ah? You could have handled it yourself? Sorry...but I like to keep my friends safe. Scum like him should grow up and make their own lives better!"

    He spat on the man, before wrapping an arm around Ryul's waist and guiding him out of the market crowd. Releasing his hold once they were in a clear area, Urlagrod smiled before saying:

    "I hope you bought everything you wanted, cos we're heading to my place now! I don't want us gettin' into any more situations like just now. This way!"

    Urlagrod grabbed Ryul's wrist and began dragging him towards a nice housing district.

    "Alright," the half-elf barely managed to let out before being tugged down the road by the bigger guy.

    Looking around at the red bricks and solid-looking buildings as they passed them by, Ryul supposed this is what a steady income could afford. He was mildly envious of his orc friend as his own adventurer work was barely enough to make ends meet at times.

    The only comfort he could find was a small one. During the process of being dragged to Urlagrod's house, the half-elf somehow managed to pull his hand a bit further back and had the orc hold onto his actual hand instead of his wrist. He smiled quietly to himself at the small victories.

    Not really caring about Ryul changing position to make them hold hands, Urlagrod assumed it was due to him being unable to keep up well - as well as for comfort. After around 25 minutes of brisk walking, they came across a small park with a pond, some benches, trees and bushes. The orc stopped and pointed at the park.

    "We can take a breather, if you want? My house is about another 15 mins from here. Or, we could keep going. What do you think?"

    At this time, the large orc had let go, changing the hand that was holding his shopping bag.

    "It doesn't matter too much to me," Ryul replied to the orc.

    It really didn't. Either way, he was going to be spending quality time with Urlagrod.

    "I can keep up, or we take it easy. It's up to you," Ryul casually answered.

    The half-elf brushed his hair out of his face as the wind had messed it up a bit. He hoped he still looked fine to his orc friend.

    Urlagrod stared for a few seconds at the handsome half-elf, whose hair was blowing in the wind just right, making him appear even more handsome. Watching him brush his hair out of the way, looking a little nervous, the large orc laughed. Walking up to his friend, he tousled his hair, before walking off towards his house - his pace a lot slower than before.

    "Sometimes, it's nice to take things easy. Come on, with our current pace, it'll take about 25 mins, as opposed to our brisk 15 minute pace, and we can talk about some stuff while we go."

    Turning to look at his companion, Urlagrod smiled, before asking:

    "So, tell me more about yourself, Ryul. How old are you? You look really young, if I say so myself."

    The half-elf quickly fixed his hair again after Urlagrod ruffled it up. He felt a bit like a kid when the orc did that. It didn't help that the huge fellow was heads higher than him. Now he felt insecure about himself.

    Ryul supposed that's probably what he seemed like most of the time to the orc. A child. Definitely not dating material. Oh look, the orc even mentioned how young he looked.

    He sighed as he responded, "I'm 28 years old."

    "There's not too much to tell you aside from my past. I was a butler that served a lord. That's mostly it," Ryul tersely replied.

    He felt a bit down as they walked along, not making eye contact and kicking a few pebbles out of the way. Maybe this was a bad idea after all.

    Noticing the sullen mood, Urlagrod stopped walking and turned around to face Ryul. His face looked serious, as he walked up to him, bent down so they were eye-level, and looked him in the eye.

    "Ryul."

    He stared into his friend's beautiful hazel eyes for a full minute, before saying anything.

    "You have really pretty eyes."

    The large orc then brushed a loose strand of hair behind Ryul's ear, and continued walking without looking back - his pace faster than before.

    "I've changed my mind, Ryul! We're both gettin' cranky from hunger, so let's hurry so we can shovel some food into our bellies! Come on, I'll race ya!"

    Briefly turning around to smirk at the half-elf, he then began running ahead at full pelt down the street.

    Ryul stilled like a statue as Urlagrod bent down and moved extremely close to his face. His heart thumped loudly and beat at a quick pace as the orc continued gazing into his eyes.

    After what seemed like an eternity had passed, Urlagrod said a statement that completely caught the half-elf off guard. His gentle movements right after such a sentence baffled Ryul even further.

    What did he say? Did he just compliment his eyes? He froze in place as he recalled the moment again. The half-elf's face reddened like a tomato as he happened to look over to see Urlagrod fleeing the scene and talking about a race.

    Ryul booked it to try to keep up, but the orc already had such a headstart and was also faster than him as well. His thoughts were a mess as he sprinted quickly down the street. He eventually reached his destination and paused to catch his breath when he saw the orc had stopped outside the place that he assumed to be his home.
    Making a grand gesture with his arms wide while bowing, not even breaking a sweat from the 5 minute run they just did, Urlagrod said in a proud voice:

    "Welcome, to my humble abode~!"

    He straightened himself up and smiled happily, as he opened the gate into his front garden and motioned for Ryul to walk on through. The detached house was 3 floors high, with a small garden at the front, some stone walls marking the boundary between the large orc's land and the street.

    "So, what do you think? Pretty nice, right?"

    Unlocking the door, Urlagrod went on through and headed for his kitchen - leaving Ryul to react.

    "Count me impressed, Url," the half-elf gave his honest opinion about the place and played along with the orc's deflection. He guessed they could both pretend that that earlier scene didn't happen as much as he wished the other guy would acknowledge it.

    "It is quite amazing to be honest," Ryul said as he took in the scenery and carefully observed the furnishings, trying to get a glimpse of Urlagrod's personality.

    He followed the orc into the kitchen and politely asked, "Please, Url. Allow me to assist you in preparing dinner. It's the least I could do."

    Ryul put his stuff to the side and rolled up his sleeves as he got ready to help.

    Urlagrod laughed heartily as he blushed at Ryul's compliment towards his home.

    "Ahahaha, you're joking! It's nothing compared to the Mayor's home in the central district."

    Putting his bag on the kitchen worktop, he started taking out the food he'd bought: lots of different meats from various animals, some vegetables, a bag of potatoes, some salt and pepper, some fruit, and about 10 bottles of elven mead.

    "Ah, you don't need to help, Ryul. You're my guest and this is thanks for keeping me company this evening. Here," he took out the books from his bag and handed them to the half-elf, "I saw these books at a stall and wondered if any of them would interest you. You don't have to accept any of them, so don't feel obliged to take them."

    Urlagrod then put his food into the larder room, before taking out some steaks, potatoes, carrots and onions.

    "How does steak and chipped potatoes sound, my friend?"

    "No, please, I can't not help you and accept these books as gifts. This just won't do," Ryul shook his head.

    However, his eyes hovered on the titles of the books in his hands, extreme interest seeping through.

    "That's more than fine," he replied automatically to the menu question as he was more focused on one of the books. Ryul wanted to take a peek at its contents really quickly, but he stopped himself and looked up to meet Urlagrod's eyes.

    "Well, if you insist. Help me peel some of these potatoes, then."

    *Woof* *Woof*

    A large black wolf came into the kitchen, barking excitedly at Urlagrod as it rubbed its head against his leg.

    "Ah, Shadgar, you came for the meat, right? Hahaha! Here you go~"

    Throwing a slab of meat onto the floor, the large black wolf barked happily before pouncing on the meat and tearing away at it.

    "Ah, I found him as a cub some years ago when on a quest. His parents were causing some havoc with the locals around Lakeside Village. I did the deed of removing the threat by finding their den...It wasn't until after that I heard the sound of a wolf cub a few days old making tiny sounds that I even knew he was there. Poor thing."

    He looked over at the wolf, his eyes showing remorse before he shifted his eyesight to Ryul and brightened up.

    "Never mind that, though! Come on, my little friend! Peel!"

    Urlagrod then began to furiously peel away at the potatoes with incredible, practised speed.

    He put the books to the side and answered the orc.

    "Good," Ryul smiled, glad he was able to help and came closer towards both the Urlagrod and the potatoes. He didn't get too far before being interrupted by the huge wolf.

    "Wow, he's quite large," the half-elf watched the canine for a bit before moving to the potatoes, methodically peeling the spuds one-by-one.

    He glanced over at the orc every now and then, slowly copying his technique in order to advance his speed.

    "Ahaha, yeah, Shadgar has grown into a big boy now. Ain't that right, Shadgar?"

    *Woof!*

    Finishing the last potato, Urlagrod smiled at Ryul, before taking the potatoes off him.

    "Thanks for helping! Feel free to peruse through the books, I can do the rest. No, I insist that you relax!"

    The large orc then went about preparing all of the other elements of the meal, before getting to the cooking stage, not letting Ryul get close to the ingredients at all as he wagged his finger at him.

    "Alright, fine," Ryul said defeatedly, his shoulders slumping.

    He grabbed one of the books, 'Granny Gene's Sweet Sauces', and began skimming through it a bit. He was interested in this Granny Gene character ever since Arawn briefly mentioned it to him one time.

    Ryul sat down next to Shadgar and combed through his fur with his left hand as his right turned the pages of the book. The large wolf seemed quite happy as his tail wagged back and forth.

    About 45 minutes passed before Urlagrod placed his hand on Ryul's shoulder, smiling.

    "Food's ready! Come with me, we'll eat in the dining room!"

    The large orc carried two large plates full of food into another room. Shadgar barked, before following after him - most likely eager to get some more meat.

    The dining room had a study oak table that could seat 4 people, with 2 chairs set around it at the moment. On the walls were trophies of monsters Urlagrod had slain in quests and bounty hunts - a large painting of the Hero with his sword raised above his head was hanging on a bare wall. A wooden holy symbol of Ralditorias was set on a table next to the wall, with other religious symbols to other deities also placed there.

    Urlagrod placed the plates on the dining table, then placed several candles on the table and lit them with a flaming taper. The large orc pulled out a chair and motioned for Ryul to take the seat.

    "Here you go!"

    Ryul stood up, put the book with the rest, and brushed himself off.

    He followed Urlagrod to a beautifully decorated dining room. The half-elf felt he had a bit more understanding of the orc's strength - look at the size of those tusks on that wall mount - and character as he surveyed the objects in the room.

    "Thank you very much, Url," Ryul gave the orc a brilliant smile as he took the offered seat. What a gentleman. His first impression of the orc and this one are like night and day.

    Before they began eating the meal, Ryul thanked Urlagrod for the food and showed his gratitude once more when he actually tasted how delicious the food was. It was cooked and seasoned just right and very fitting to his taste. He didn't fail to let the orc know this either.

    Urlagrod smiled and laughed heartily at the compliments.

    "Think nothing of it! When you spend decades living on your own, you kind of pick up some skills in the kitchen."

    The large orc cut a large chunk off his steak and threw it to the other side of the room, where a large black wolf quickly ran after it. Urlagrod then ate his food, pouring two tankards of elven mead and giving one to Ryul.

    "I thought you'd like to try a drink that's softer on the senses tonight. I even used some of the mead in the sauce for the steak - I hope it's nice."

    He took a bite from his steak, some of the meat juices sliding down the corner of his mouth before he slowly licked it away - savouring the flavour of it as he did so.

    "Oh, what did you think of the books? Did any take your fancy?"

    "Ah yes, the sauce," Ryul sipped the elven mead, "as well as this drink are both quite pleasant."

    The half-elf took another bite of some of the chipped potatoes before he swallowed his food and answered, "Oh, the books? They were quite fascinating. I was particularly fond of both 'Granny Gene's Sweet Sauces' and 'What is Nature?'"

    He added, "If you don't mind me taking those ones that is..." Ryul felt slightly guilty as Urlagrod cooked a free meal for him and offered him free books.

    Ryul chuckled a bit when he saw the orc lapped up some extra sauce that spilled from his mouth and missed a spot. He would've found that much more attractive if the orc hadn't.

    "You missed a spot," the half-elf quickly leaned over, brushed it off with his thumb, and slowly sucked on it, enjoying the taste.

    "Again, it's quite delicious," Ryul smirked a little.

    Urlagrod laughed happily at Ryul's bold actions.

    "Well, I'm glad you like the food so much to eat off me! And I'm fine with you taking those books. I figured that one about Nature might interest you - what with you telling me about using a Nature Elemental and all. But, Granny Gene? Hmm, I've never really heard of her before, so I'm quite surprised you're going for that one."

    Urlagrod finished his food and began using his finger to mop up the sauce and juices, before sucking on his fingers with a satisfied look on his face.

    "Mmnh~ I think I'll need to buy more of that mead, it goes really well with this steak. Ah, your tankard is empty, want some more?"

    Urlagrod held a bottle of elven mead and gestured to Ryul's drink.

    Ryul felt slightly embarrassed for his bold maneuver but no regret. It did taste like Urlagrod just a bit.

    "Oh the Granny Gene book? I think I have a friend that might be interested. He has a similar one like it," he said.

    "Ah, yes please," the half-elf held out his cup for the orc.

    "Here you go!"

    Urlagrod poured Ryul's tankard full, before refilling his own tankard and drinking the mead slowly. Patting his stomach, he leaned back in his chair and smiled at the half-elf.

    "I don't know about you, but I'm stuffed! That was a good meal, made all the better with someone to share it with. Thanks again for coming, Ryul, tonight's been fun. A toast to our continued friendship! Long may it last and grow deeper!"

    The orc held his tankard in the air, ready to clink it with Ryul's, a beaming smile on his face.

    Ryul drank some of the mead right after the orc refilled it.

    "It was an excellent meal for all the reasons you've stated and more," he smiled sweetly and clanked his cup against Urlagrod's.

    "And cheers to that last statement," Ryul downed his drink, basking in the refreshing atmosphere he shared with the orc.

    "So, tell me about this teaching thing you've been doing. I think it's a really noble thing you're trying to do."

    Urlagrod leaned forward and rested his chin on the backs of his hands as he propped them up with his elbows.

    "Oh, it's nothing much. I just spend some of my free time teaching a bit of this and that to some of the orphans and poorer children of Nagrand," Ryul modestly replied.

    He sipped on his drink, "However, now I'm forced to search for a new place to teach. Head Priest Soren had lent me one of the yards of the Church, but after the Festival incident, that isn't really an option any longer."

    Ryul sighed before trying to reassure the orc, "But please, do not worry. I am currently in the middle of searching for a new location - I've already posted a request to the Guild."

    "I see...how unfortunate...Unfortunately, I was out of town when that whole raid thing happened. Collecting some books from Asphodelus, can you believe it? But, why not try using that small park we passed earlier? That seems like an interesting place to teach kids, if you don't mind me saying."

    Urlagrod drank some more of his mead, before getting up to take the dirty plates away.

    "Want to stay and chat about things for a while longer? Or call it a night, Ryul?"

    "It wouldn't be a bad place if only it had some tables and chairs," Ryul answered.

    The half-elf looked at the clock, "It's up to you. I've got a bit of time, but I don't wish to impose either."

    Ryul also stood up and helped him with some of the dishes.

    "Ah, well, you can always stay the night here, if you want? I've got some spare beds if you want to use one of them. And yeah, having no tables and chairs could be a problem..."
    Moving to the kitchen, Urlagrod got a bucket of water from a water pump outside, heated the water up, before filling his sink basin and washing the dishes. Shadgar came in and lay on the floor beside the large orc, watching his owner clean away.

    "To be honest, I'd love to chat some more with you, but you are right about it getting late. If you choose not to stay over for the night, I'll escort you home. Don't want anymore vagrants going after a handsome guy like you, I'd feel awful."

    "If it's not too big of a deal, I would very much enjoy spending the night here and chatting with you, Url," the half-elf followed him into the kitchen.

    He assisted Urlagrod with the dishes, drying them with a clean rag, after the orc finished washing them.

    Ryul laughed, "Please. I'm more than capable of handling any miscreants that come my way. But I do appreciate the sentiment, so thank you."

    The part-time teacher squeezed the back of the huge fellow's hand to get his message across. Smirking at the orc, he commented, "You have to stop it with the compliments, Url. I might start to think that you actually like me."

    He met the orc's gaze as he kept his hand resting against Urlagrod's.

    Urlagrod laughed in happiness.

    "I'm glad you want to stay longer and chat, Ryul. It's so fun being with you - it's hard to think we only met 2 days ago, hahaha! Also, how could anyone hate you, my friend? You're smart, kind, handsome and are willing to talk to a complete stranger and have a meal with him after knowing him for only 2 days!"

    The large orc went over to Shadgar and scratched behind his ears, before motioning for Ryul to follow him into the lounge area. A large fireplace was set in the wall, with more mounted beasts and monsters decorating the walls. Close - but not too close - to the fire, was a suite of 2 chairs and a 3-seated sofa. Bringing in the mead and placing it on the coffee table in front of the suite, Urlagrod lounged into the sofa, before pouring more mead into each tankard.

    "Ahhh, it's nice to relax by the fire~ Go on, take a seat, Ryul!"

    He rested his right arm on the back of the sofa, his legs splayed out, revealing a soft bulge between his legs - his other arm on his left leg and holding his drink.

    Ryul blushed a bit hearing Urlagrod's praises about himself as he tailed the guy into the living room.

    "I just wanted to get to know you better, Url. I wanted to remedy some of my previous impression of you," the half-elf answered. Well, part of that answer was truthful.

    He glanced around the room upon entering it, amazement obvious on his face as he took in the furnishings and the even more wall mounts around the room.

    Ryul's eyes lingered a bit longer than what was appropriate at Urlagrod's crotch when he sat down on the sofa like that. Unknown thoughts passed through his mind as the scholar quickly shook his head to break them.

    "Okay, where?" Ryul asked, hoping the orc would offer the seat next to him. It'd be a bit forward of him, but it was closer to the fire and closer to the object of his attraction as well.

    "Hahaha, sit anywhere you like, my friend! Although, with these winter nights, it's probably best if you sit close to the fire so..." he patted the sofa he was sat on, "make yourself at home!"

    Urlagrod drank from his tankard some more, before putting it on the table. Shadgar came in and sat on a chair, resting his large black head on the arm and yawning.

    "Say, Ryul, what got you into teaching?"

    The large orc looked at the half-elf with curiosity, wanting to know more about his friend.

    "Then pardon me," Ryul sat down right next to Urlagrod as if it was natural and grabbed his cup of mead, sipping on it occasionally throughout the conversation.

    "Teaching? Oh, I guess I've always been doing some form of teaching, haven't I?" the scholar thought out loud.

    "Back when I served a lord, I was primarily responsible for his heir's magic and etiquette education," the half-elf swirled the drink around in his hand.

    Ryul confessed, "Those were better days. Easier. I never even had to consider matters such as having enough to eat or a place to rest."

    The former retainer lost himself for a while in his reminiscing of the past, his expression a fond one when recalling the memories of his past lord.

    He shook his head, "Sorry. I got caught up a bit remembering some things. Url, please tell me more about your adventuring work. I'm awfully curious." Ryul said as he looked over at one of the many massive wall mounts on display.

    Urlagrod smiled as he appreciated the sight of Ryul gazing fondly into his memories - a look of peace on his face that made him seem even more handsome. Seeing him come out of his reverie, the orc took a swig from his tankard, before patting the half-elf on his shoulder and wrapping his arm around his neck.

    "I know what it's like to have had better days - not thinking about such daily needs. So, which one takes your fancy the most? Go on, pick out a few and I'll try not to bore you with their stories, hahaha!"

    He leaned back into the sofa, his arm still wrapped around Ryul as he waited for his response.

    Ryul blushed from the orc's seemingly intimate behavior and placed his own tankard of mead back down on the table.

    "Umm, for now, how about that one, and I guess that one as well," the half-elf pointed first to the one he had been staring at; a green and ugly-looking troll head with disgusting warts and yellow teeth. The second mount was a mean-looking wyvern head, its red scales sharp and jagged.

    Blushing a bit further at his own actions, Ryul squeezed the orc's forearm that was wrapped around him, leaving his hand resting on it. He then also leaned back into the sofa with Urlagrod, feeling more cozy in his embrace.

    "Hmm, that troll was actually the one I bisected in that quest I told you about before. Pretty nasty piece of work, if I say so myself! He had this...huge club with teeth all over it. He managed to bash my calf in, breaking it in several places before I bisected him. Truly a nasty guy!"

    Not really paying attention to Ryul's hand on his arm as he told the story, Urlagrod continued and pointed at the mean-looking wyvern head with an amused smile.

    "That one wasn't actually a quest, or bounty target. I'd hired one to get across Nyllia and it went feral on me as I was coming back. The cheeky blighter took a nibble from my shoulder before I punched it off. It started flying to get a good position, swooping down every now and then to take a swipe at me!"

    As he said this, he removed his arm from Ryul and stood up, re-enacting his actions as the wyvern swooped down.

    "So I held onto my broad-axe and took aim at the thing! YAAARGH!" He made the motions of throwing something like you would a shot-put, "It managed to slice right through its neck, beheading it, hahaha! A truly worthy kill!"

    He smiled as he grabbed Ryul's tankard by accident and drank from it.

    "Ah, sorry, Ryul! I took yours by mistake..."

    The half-elf was extremely impressed by how Urlagrod took down his foes. He wasn't sure what he would do if it was him in those same situations.

    Ryul silently bemoaned the lost of body contact when the orc got up and animatedly told his tale.

    "It's no bother. I don't mind," the half-elf waved the orc's apology off.

    As if to reinforce his words, Ryul took the cup and drank from it as well. His mouth, whether by accident or not, placed right over where Urlagrod's had just been.

    "See?" he flashed a smile back at the orc.

    "Ah, well if you're not bothered...Just some guys get angry if I accidentally drink from their beverages. Glad you're one of the cool guys, Ryul!"

    Urlagrod sat back down and rested his arm on the back of the sofa, drinking from his own tankard this time. He looked proudly at all of his trophies, a smile on his face as he felt content over the relaxing atmosphere.

    "I don't often get to share such tales with people. Probably cos they've already heard me boasting about it, hahaha! But, thanks for showing interest, Ryul."

    He clapped the half-elf on the back, before turning to look at his handsome face.

    "So, how did you end up knowing about magic and etiquette and all of that sort of sh*t? From what I've heard about the Empire, they don't look at your kind very favourably. How'd you land such a cushy job as the teacher of a nobleman's heir?"

    Ryul smiled at Urlagrod's exuberance, "Well, I learned the majority of both subjects under my father who had also served Lord Tellus - ah, he was the count I served under."

    "Sadly, I lost my father due to an unfortunate accident before learning everything," his eyes slightly narrowed. If political schemes fell under the category of 'accidents', that is.

    "Lord Tellus gave me the chance to study the rest while serving him, and I was competent and trustworthy enough for him to entrust his firstborn's education with," Ryul smiled fondly yet again, "Lord Tellus and I also had a very special relationship, so I guess that was the main reason people in the Empire overlooked my mixed-blood."

    "Oh? So you come from a family who served nobles? Hmm, I don't know whether to call that luck, or not, but it made you who you are so who am I to complain, hahaha!"

    Urlagrod leaned forward and grabbed the bottle of mead, before holding it out to Ryul to offer for a top-up.

    "It must have been a pretty special relationship for him to have influenced his people to turn a blind eye to your racial heritage. Oh! That reminds me, there was a book I got that seemed to be about a lord and his servant. Let me go get it!"

    Getting up from the sofa, he went back into the kitchen to get the book, before returning and thumbing through it with interest. Sitting back down and leaning forward, resting his arms on his knees, he showed a surprised face before speaking.

    "Oh, wow! Looks like I bought a good one this time! Hey, look Ryul," He leaned over to Ryul and showed the open book, "seems I picked up a forbidden romance book, hahaha!"

    The large orc smiled at his friend as he pointed at one of the paragraphs from the second third of the book:
    'Lord Charles grabbed Orlando's small chin and forced a kiss upon his petite, yet plump lips. Eyes wide, the young male servant desperately tried to push away from his master's grasp, before slowly succumbing to sensation of his tongue caressing his own. Soon enough, the lord slid his hand down the boy's chest, before brushing against a warm place that was heating up fast.'

    "I must say, I'm surprised this was even on sale in that stall. You don't find such works out in the open like that, hahaha! What do you think?"

    The scholar nodded when asked about his family being a servant family and smiled at Urlagrod's acceptance of his roots. He held his tankard out for the orc to refill, thanked him, and drank a good chunk of the cool, refreshing liquid after he did.

    Ryul froze in place when the librarian mentioned his special relationship with Lord Tellus. He didn't let anything slip, did he? He was sweating buckets as the orc came back with the book 'A Tale of a Lord and His Servant'.

    Please dear god, no. Ryul's read that one, and there was a reason why he couldn't even manage to touch that particular book when he saw it. It was a very...steamy novel to put it mildly, and there were the memories of him acting as Orlando with Lord Tellus as Charles too...

    Ryul's eyes widened to the size of saucers when he saw Urlagrod just happen to flip to the beginning of one of the most erotic scenes in the book; the only thing he could be thankful for was that the orc didn't flip to the next page. That part was even worse.

    The half-elf couldn't meet the orc's eyes. He wondered if he should just be honest and upfront to Urlagrod. It would surely be less stressful and he could be more true to himself.

    Wasn't that part of the reason why he decided to pursue the path of a scholar when he came here to this new place? He listened to his heart that time, so why not do it again in this case? A new place, where he can turn over a new leaf. He doesn't have to hide who he is here.

    Urlagrod can choose whether to accept him or not. If he does, all the better for it. If he doesn't, well, then maybe he was wrong about his friend.

    Ryul took a deep breath, breaking up his inner monologue, "Url...I must come clean and confess something. That...special relationship my lord and I once had..."

    He paused and struggled with the next words, "It's quite similar...to that paragraph."

    Ryul then steeled himself and finally met the orc's gaze, "Lord Tellus and I were lovers. He was very dear to my heart. He's gone now, but his memories will always remain close to me."

    He placed his hand over his left upper chest, his actions emphasizing his words. "I apologize for dumping all of this on you. You probably didn't expect this, huh?"

    The awkward silence continued, so Ryul stood up to his feet, "I apologize, Urlagrod. Maybe I should go home instead."

    Surprised by the half-elf's confession, Urlagrod's eyes went wide, before returning to normal. Thinking about all of their interactions so far, the large orc realised that his friend really did seem to have such tendencies, and smiled. Seeing Ryul get up and say he would leave, Urlagrod reached out and grabbed his wrist.

    "You drop a big thing like that and then want to leave before hearing my response?"

    The large orc didn't do anything more with his hand as it remained locked around the half-elf's wrist.

    "Sit back down, so we can discuss things properly. I hate not being honest about things, so I appreciate you being so right now."

    He chugged the rest of his mead before leaning back and staring at his friend.

    "I don't care if you had such a relationship with your master in the past. It's part of what makes you Ryul. And if you're scared about me hating you for being into guys, then don't be. I've had my fair share of male relationships, too - although...I doubt they were ever as deep as yours was with that Lord Tellus."

    Leaning forward, he gently squeezed at Ryul's wrist, before letting it go. The large orc then sheepishly began playing with his earring subconsciously.

    "Listen, Ryul...don't think that being into guys is a bad thing. Everyone has their own tastes and should be proud about them. Heck, there was this one bird-kin that really liked being tied up and put into a cage and treated like a pet - a really kinky girl, for sure! So, don't be afraid to tell me more about your past lover and your's relationship. It lets me know the real you, after all."

    Urlagrod's face beamed with an encouraging smile, urging the half-elf to stay and talk more.

    He felt embarrassed trying to flee after leaving such heavy words, but Ryul couldn't help his instincts. The only reason why he hadn't already bolted off was the tight grip on his wrist, chaining him in place.

    Eventually, the half-elf sat back down and felt more and more comfortable as the orc continued to express his thoughts and acceptance for who he was. He let out a deep sigh in relief.

    "Thank you for understanding, Url," Ryul gave another one of his charming smiles until it slowly transformed into a slightly more sly one.

    "Well, since you asked and speaking of kinks, Lord Tellus and I would sometimes do...what you would call roleplay," the half-elf pointed back to the book, "and something like that scene would basically...be acted out. I would be Orlando. And umm, you get the picture." Ryul struggled to finish his words, even saying that much made him blush furiously.

    Urlagrod laughed as he clapped on Ryul's back.

    "Ahahaha! I wonder who it was that introduced that idea! Oh, that is wonderful, hahaha!"

    Urlagrod skimmed through more pages of the book and found truly erotic scenes in it, before giving a sly glance at Ryul and imagining him doing those scenes.

    "Well, I can't blame you for acting out these characters. They sure don't hold back, do they? Makes me wonder if you and him ever did any other kinky stuff together - like switching roles~ Ah, I'm just joking, hahaha! Most guys are too scared to do such a thing!"

    Urlagrod reached for the mead bottle and drank from it, before leaning back with his legs spread open again - revealing the bulge from before.

    The half-elf covered his face in extreme shame when he saw Urlagrod casually flip through the rest of the erotic novel, the feeling increasing exponentially when he caught a few of the looks the orc threw him.

    It took not a small amount of willpower for Ryul to prevent himself from openly staring at Urlagrod's sizeable package when he splayed himself open like that. He only took a few skittish peeks when he was sure the orc wasn't paying attention.

    Ryul lifted his drink up before softly whispering, "Actually...Lord Tellus and I did switch roles sometimes...though probably not as often as I'd prefer. He, being a count, was used to being in a position of power - so that's why it made it all the more enjoyable when he wasn't."

    The half-elf grinned a bit mischievously, "It was very...pleasurable though when it was my turn." He slowly met the orc's gaze, "You're right about many guys too afraid to do such a thing. I haven't heard of many willing to, have you?"

    "Hmm?"

    Urlagrod looked up and saw Ryul's mischievous grin, before smiling.

    "Ah, I don't mind either role to be honest."

    He scratched his head sheepishly before subconsciously playing with his earring.

    "Actually, to tell you the truth, I don't really get why so many guys are scared to do it. I mean, I admit my first time was cos I was curious about how it felt on the other side, but after it's been dependent on my partners' preferences."

    He drank more from the bottle, before noticing Ryul's tankard was empty and offered it to him. He chuckled as he remembered something from a past experience.

    "You'd be surprised how many of my male partners were surprised when I said I didn't mind either role. Hmm..now that I think on it, some of my female partners wanted me to be that role too..."

    He shrugged to himself, before turning to his friend and smiling.

    "So, you like being dominant every once in a while? Hahaha, you know, I can kind of see that being the case! Your eyes have this...strength in them. So..." The large orc gave the half-elf a sideways look as he leaned back into the sofa and rested his head on the back, "...when was your first time with him and how'd it go? Who confessed first?"

    Ryul felt himself becoming just a tad bit more attracted to the orc when he said he didn't mind either position. His eyes hinted a spark of something else in them as he watched the orc refill his empty cup.

    "Thanks," he sipped his mead slowly, "and I believe who has what role has more to do with power dynamics and partner compatibility than anything else."

    The half-elf bent his head down and avoided eye contact as he answered the very personal question. But didn't he say he was going to be honest with Url?

    He sighed deeply, "It was in my younger days. I happened to pass by Lord Tellus' study late at night. The count was still up reading over some documents, and I decided to take the initiative to fix him some tea."

    "He said he was feeling overworked and stressed about the territory's current affairs. I asked him if there was anything I could do to help," Ryul's face was bright red, his pointy ears beginning to change shades as well.

    "He said there was...and I guess it was then that he confessed to liking me - to answer your second question - and after that...well, let's just say one thing led to the next, and Lord Tellus' office became one of his favorite spots afterwards."

    He could not meet Urlagrod's eyes after recounting that story. However, the half-elf still managed to inquire, "What about you, Url? I'm sure you have had quite a number of remarkable encounters, with your looks and all. Any particularly memorable ones?"

    Urlagrod enjoyed seeing Ryul change varying shades of red from his embarrassment, the ears changing colour made him chuckle a little in his deep and husky voice. Taking a swig of the mead, he smiled at the compliment on his looks, then rolled the bottom in a circular motion on his leg as he thought on how to answer his friend's question.

    "Hmm...memorable ones...I mean, they're all pretty memorable, if you ask me. I had gone into those relationships expecting more than just hot sex, but...it never panned out that way. I guess a time that has influenced me is the one that I first played the receiver. I was about 16 when it happened - the guy was...hmm, 40's? He was a guy with decades of experience. Well, I'd slept with a ton of people by then - wanting a place to stay for the night - and hoping to be in a deeper relationship."

    Urlagrod took a swig from the bottle, before realising it was empty. Getting up, he went to the kitchen to get the other bottles of elven mead before coming back in.

    "Sorry about that, where was I? Ah yeah, that guy. I got into a nasty fight with some other adventurers - got pretty beat up from it. This B-rank adventurer found me in an alley unconscious and brought me to his place to help me recover. When I woke up, I saw I was in a stranger's bed and saw this big, looming orc - about a head taller than me right now - sitting beside me."

    The large orc took a swig from the bottle and passed a different one to Ryul - not bothering with the tankards anymore.

    "He had a male lover - a male dwarf - who was a blacksmith at the time, and he told me as much when his lover barged in and started shouting at him for putting me in their bed. Hahaha, a true lovers' spat, through and through. I guess I started getting curious about how they coped with...the physical side of their relationship."

    He stood up, drinking more of the mead and he subconsciously tugged at the nose ring, then the earring - staring at his wall decorations with a smile.

    "After a few days of recuperating in their home, I was finally fighting fit and wanted to repay their hospitality. The dwarf wanted to test out giving piercings to people, so I let him use me for that; the orc said I didn't need to do anything, although he seemed interested in my body - which greatly annoyed his lover."

    Urlagrod turned around and faced Ryul, smiling happily.

    "My curiosity got the better of me and I said he could f*ck me, since he clearly wanted to. Well, let's just say that that night was hot and steamy and was not spent with only the orc~ Turns out the dwarf was the one who usually did the f*cking, hahaha!"

    The large orc gave a bow after finishing his story, before going back to the sofa and sitting back, his legs spread out again as he took a swig from the bottle.

    "Not as touching as your story, I'm sure, but it was quite memorable, hahaha!"

    He smiled at Ryul, his cheeks a little blushed as he subconsciously played with his earring.

    Ryul took the offered bottle of mead, also deciding to drink straight from it instead, mimicking his companion's actions. He chuckled a bit as the story became more and more interesting and bursted out laughing at the surprise twist at the end.

    "It sounds like quite the story indeed," Ryul smiled, still letting out some chuckles.

    The half-elf looked a bit fascinated as he stared at the orc playing with his earring and subconsciously touched his own left ear. He thought out loud, "I've always wondered how I would look with an earring myself. I believe it would be a nice addition."

    Ryul then reached out over towards Urlagrod's earring andasked for permission, "May I?"

    Urlagrod laughed at Ryul's comment about his notions of getting an earring for himself.

    "I'm sure it would make you look even more handsome, Ryul. I think it would look good if you had a studded one, or a wrap around one on the right ear. Hahaha, then we could be matching, hahaha! I jest, I jest!"

    He clapped on Ryul's back while smiling happily about his half-joke.

    "To be honest, I was wondering myself whether to get some more piercings." He pointed at his nipples, "What do you think? Too much?"

    Hearing Ryul's request, as he saw him move his hand, reaching out to touch his earring, the large orc moved his head so his left ear was easier for the half-elf to reach.

    "Sure, go ahead! I see it as a trophy to mark that night with those two, hahaha!"

    His face beamed with a proud smile.

    The half-elf smiled widely at Urlagrod's comments about how handsome he'd look with an earring.

    "I wouldn't mind getting both kinds. I could switch between the stud and the other one - besides, matching with you would be sort of fun," Ryul suggested.

    He went ahead and touched the metal hoop with his right hand, his fingers feeling its cool, slick surface. He was a bit amazed at how durable it seemed. That dwarf was a real craftsman. His fingers lightly brushed against Urlagrod's auricle at times.

    After the hearing the question, he looked down at the large, darker spots on the orc's chest and truthfully answered, "It wouldn't be something for me, but I believe it would look good on you. Makes your chest stand out more."

    Ryul gently patted huge fellow's large pectoral muscles with his left hand, absentmindedly moving downwards and tracing the nipple, wondering how it would look like with a ring pierced through it.

    He still had his right hand fiddling with the orc's earring while he was doing all of this, so he was practically half-leaning on Urlagrod in his current position.

    "Hahaha, I'm glad you think they'd suit me! To be honest, I've already bought the rings for them - I just couldn't resist when I saw them in the market! Mmnh..."

    Feeling Ryul move his hands about him, with the half-elf's fingers tracing around his right nipple and left ear, he felt his trousers get a little tight - only a little, though. Grabbing his friend's wrists, he gently removed them, before getting up and taking a giant swig from his bottle - emptying it. Slamming it down onto the table, Shadgar was startled awake, before going back to sleep.

    "Sorry, Shadgar." The large orc looked at a clock on the wall and pulled a face. "Ah, it's getting late and I have work in the morning." He smiled at Ryul as he pointed at the ceiling, "How about we have a bath and then go to bed? I imagine you've got some stuff to do tomorrow, too, right?"

    Ryul was also broken out of his trance by the noise of the bottle hitting the table and jumped a little before focusing on the orc's words.

    He glanced at the clock, surprised at how much time had gone by. The half-elf answered, "Ah yes, I do. And that sounds like a wonderful idea."

    "I'm sorry for keeping you up. I guess time really flies when you're spending it with good company," Ryul gave a bashful smile and followed his companion out of the living room.
    "Ah, the pleasure's all mine, Ryul! A change of scenery while chatting with friends is always nice~! This way!"

    Leading Ryul up the stairs, they came to a door at the end of a corridor. Opening it, Urlagrod strode in and carried on walking until he got to another door and went inside. The room he'd just gone through was large and mostly empty. There was a pile of what looked like heavy metallic discs that had square holes in them, along with a long pole with squarish ends. Near the side of the wall was a large leather bag - filled with something that pushed against the leather - dangling off a metal stand a bit higher than Urlagrod's physique. Hanging on one of the walls was a giant broad-axe that seemed to be roughly half of Urlagrod's height, casting an imposing aura as if it had seen a lot of battles.

    In the other room, Urlagrod had pumped out some water that filled a large tub, beneath it were some fire crystals that kept the tub warm-to-hot at all times, unless removed. Turning around after filling the tub, the large orc went back into the first room and smiled.

    "The bath will take about 10 minutes to fully warm up. What do you want to do while we wait?"

    "I guess we could just chat, but I don't really mind what we do either way," he casually stated his opinion.

    Fascinated by the various items and weapons in the room, Ryul pointed to the massive axe on the wall, "You have quite the collection here. Where in the world did you obtain that axe? Furthermore, the weapon looks like it's been through a lot, no?"

    Urlagrod gave a knowing, proud smile as he sauntered over to the broad-axe and lifted if off the rack with one hand - with great ease. Holding it out to show Ryul, he swung it a few times, making it go in circles every now and then, before entering into a fighting stance that seemed very well-practised.

    "This here is my friend who has stuck with me, through thick and thin, since I was in my late 16th year." He resumed a more natural stance as he held it out to allow the half-elf to take a better look. "That dwarf gifted it to me after a few tussles in bed and a large donation of my body for testing for piercings. All of the piercings have healed up, save for these two since I quite liked them. He sure had some crazy places to test out his piercing..."

    Urlagrod looked distant for a few seconds, a face of amusement showing as he smirked at whatever memory he had of that time. Looking back at Ryul, he smiled cheerfully as he continued his tale about the broad-axe.

    "This has saved my life more times than I care to share...Kidding! I'm proud of the workmanship of this broad-axe, so I will share any kill it's done in my hands! This big baby is what beheaded that wyvern~"

    Accepting the offered axe to take a closer took, Ryul received it with both hands. It was quite heavy, but he wasn't a weak guy and easily turned it over in his hands to examine it further.

    He stroked the blade at the top as Urlagrod was speaking about its origin and moved his hands along the weapon to get a better feel. It was very sturdy and strong. He could imagine it being a perfect fit for the orc.

    "It's quite amazing," Ryul remarked. Then, he remembered the wyvern's head downstairs and how difficult it would've been to fight. He sincerely smiled, "Just like you, Url."

    "Ahahaha, stop, you'll make me blush~!"

    He sheepishly scratched the back of his head, before taking the broad-axe back and hanging it up on the wall rack. Moving over to the leather bag, he stroked it with his large orc hand, before making a fist against it. Turning to look at Ryul, he smirked before punching the bag really hard. The bag swung completely around - barely missing the ceiling - before coming back down.

    "This is a punching bag. I like using it to work up a good sweat before doing some muscle-training in here. Why don't you have a go yourself?"

    Urlagrod rested his hand against the still swinging bag, making it stop moving.

    "After all, what better way for two grown men to pass the time, while waiting for a bath, than to get hot and sweaty with physical exercise? Go on, show me your best punches~ I recommend taking your shirt off for this."

    Grinning, Ryul took great pleasure in having made the orc partially embarrassed. He was very impressed at the strength behind the punch thrown at the punching bag, but he supposed he shouldn't be too surprised given his friend's huge physique.

    "Alright, if you insist," Ryul stripped off most of his clothes, laying them to the side, until he only had his pants on. He stretched a little before beginning, his bare chest both well-toned and tanned from his daily shirtless exercises. His bulky arms seemed to be very muscular for someone who claims to be a scholar.

    The half-elf prepared a proper stance, his legs apart, and began warming up with several quick jabs. What he lacked in power, he more than made up in speed and technique.

    After a while, his punches became steadily stronger as he felt more comfortable with the punching bag's rebound and moving his body around it, dancing back and forth. Ryul's swings were less like a brawler's who learned how to fight in the streets, and more conventional in form, similar to knights' who've undergone combat training.

    He worked up quite a sweat after hogging the punching bag for a good while. Ryul brushed his drenched hair out of his eyes and wiped off some of the extra sweat dripping down his chest.

    "Sorry, Url. I got a bit carried away. That was much too fun hahaha," Ryul gave a wry smile.

    "Hahaha! Don't be sorry! The sight was brilliant! You really weren't joking when you said you did some training, I'm impressed!"

    The large orc heavily patted Ryul's wet back, before going into the bathroom to check on the heat of the water. Feeling that it was ready to use, he came back out and smiled.

    "The tub's ready, Ryul. Why don't you use it first, since you worked up the most sweat! I'll even wash your back for you while I wait, hahaha!"

    The buff orc then went into the bathroom and took off his trousers, leaving just his underwear on; a big bulge pressed firmly against the material of his underwear, not leaving much to the imagination for how well-endowed Urlagrod was.

    "Come on, Ryul! The tub's waitin'!"

    Ryul swallowed audibly at the sight. He had always been proud of his own size, but now he felt somewhat self-conscious about his own measurements. He hoped Urlagrod wouldn't see anything.

    "Alright, don't mind if I go first then," he said as he entered the bathroom, and he stripped off the remainder of his clothes and quickly entered the tub, hoping the orc didn't catch a peek of his little guy.

    Ryul put his head underneath the water, washing most of the sweat out of his hair with some nearby soap lying on a stool. Then, he called out, "You offered to grab my back, right? Would you mind?" He indicated to the orc his wide and robust shoulder blades.

    "Sure!"

    Grabbing a scrubbing brush for the body, Urlagrod dipped it into the water, before rubbing the soap bar against it until suds started to form. Moving to Ryul's broad back, the large orc slowly began scrubbing the half-elf's shoulders, being careful not to scrub too hard.

    "Your skin is really pretty, Ryul! I don't see any blemishes at all! Not even any scars, or burns, or scabs!"

    Scrubbing lower, he went past the shoulder blades, dipping the brush into the water every now and then to get the suds foaming again.

    "How're liking the bath, Ryul? It hot enough for you? Ah, lean forward so I can get lower."

    "It's the perfect temperature. Thank you again for grabbing my back. It feels great," he honestly said as he appreciated the orc's gentle scrubbing.

    Ryul complied and leaned forward, so his friend could reach lower.

    "Oh, and my skin? I haven't really been seriously injured until I arrived here at Nagrand. And even then, I try to go to the healer immediately when I get back into town, so that it doesn't scar."

    "Actually, the spot where you're brushing now used to have a nasty burn from a surprise fireball from one of my missions haha," Ryul laughed, "but as you can tell, it's hardly noticeable anymore."

    "Yeah, the healers at Ophelia's Temple sure are something."

    Running his hand along Ryul's back, Urlagrod genuinely couldn't feel any evidence of a burn and was impressed.

    "But wow, you got burned? Sounds tough. One of my quest companions, back in the early days, got burned during a quest...They had to amputate his legs and male appendage. Poor guy, he never even got to bed a woman - or guy - before it happened."

    Resuming his scrubbing, he reached Ryul's rear and used his hands to clean the cheeks due to knowing the skin would be more tender.

    "Don't mind my hands, I didn't want to hurt you with the brush, hahaha!"

    Finishing with the scrubbing of Ryul's back, Urlagrod pumped a bucket of water and dumped it over his hair, before getting the bar of soap and scrubbing his hair with it. Turning to look at the half-elf, he smiled, before dumping another bucket of water on his hair.

    "Thought I'd wash my hair while I waited. How's your cleaning going?"

    As Urlagrod was washing his back, Ryul was busy scrubbing the rest of his body, making sure he didn't miss a single spot.

    "Yeah, the burn hurt like a b*tch. Oh sorry, excuse me." Ryul didn't normally curse, but he felt he could loosen up a bit more with Urlagrod.

    "Ah, it's fine. Appreciate the consideration," Ryul squeezed out as he felt some of his blood pool to his nether regions when he felt the large, rough hands rubbing his butt.

    "I'm almost done here. You can go ahead in a minute." Ryul hastily washed up the rest of his body.

    "Aaand done. Alright, it's your turn," he quickly got up and moved out of the way.

    "Great!"

    Slowly taking off his underwear, Urlagrod showed no shame for his large appendage as he entered the tub.

    "Ahhh~! That hits the spot!"

    Leaning back into the tub, the large orc starts cupping the water and pouring it over his large, buff chest - his legs spread out for ease of movement. He grabbed a scrubbing brush and got it full of suds, before beginning to scrub at his chest.

    The half-elf's eyes widened when he saw his friend's entire naked glory. He was a little jealous of how the orc could just proudly strut his stuff like that as well as mildly turned on.

    "I'll be right back," he dashed out of the bathroom before Urlagrod could see any signs of his physical reaction to his friend's body and grabbed a clean pair of underwear from his bag that he left with the rest of his clothes.

    Putting it on, Ryul came back into the bathroom and found an extra scrub brush, using the soap bar to get it nice and bubbly.

    "Please, let me clean your back as well since you took care of mine," he offered.

    Urlagrod chuckled when he saw a bulge in Ryul's clean underwear, but didn't say anything about it. Leaning forward, he turned his head to look at the half-elf, before saying:

    "Sure, I look forward to it!"

    The large orc started scrubbing his lower half as he allowed his friend to scrub his back.

    Ryul scrubbed the orc's tough muscular back, his brush moving into wide, circular motions across the strong shoulders. He firmly clasped the orc's left shoulder in order to support himself while scrubbing.

    "Ah, could you lean forward, please?" Ryul asked when he got to Urlagrod's lower back.

    "Sure thing! Oh, and you don't need to worry about my cheeks, scrub away with the brush - it won't hurt me, hahaha!"

    Urlagrod leaned forward, revealing his lower back and muscular, yet plump rear.

    "Alright, if you say so," he replied, a little disappointed he wouldn't get to directly touch the orc's behind.

    He scrubbed the cheeks quite throughly, all the while appreciating the muscles hidden beneath them.

    "All finished," Ryul stated after he completed helping the orc with his washing.

    "Thanks, Ryul!"

    Getting up from the tub, the large orc stepped out, his front visible to the half-elf, before getting a towel and drying himself.

    "Ah, I forget how nice baths are~"

    Not putting on a fresh pair of underwear that was folded on a pile of fresh underwear, Urlagrod wrapped an arm around Ryul's shoulders and guided him out of the bathroom, naked - but not before removing the fire crystals from the tub.

    "Let's take you to your room for the night, my friend!"

    Leaving the training room, they headed upstairs where the large orc opened the second door on the corridor. Inside the room was a large double bed in the middle, a chest of drawers at the bottom of the bed, a mirror in the corner, a window looking out onto the street, and a clean chamber pot next to the window.

    "This is your room for the night, Ryul! I hope you like it, sorry for the lack of stuff - I don't often have visitors who spend the night in here. Oh, the door locks, so don't worry about unwanted night visits, hahaha! Not that I'd do such a thing, my friend, don't worry!"

    Urlagrod moved out of the room and pointed in the direction of the first door they passed.

    "My room is that one, so if you need me for anything, just holler or knock on my door! Sleep well, my friend! I'll see you in the morning. Expect a big breakfast!"

    The large, naked orc then headed for his own room, leaving Ryul on his own for the night.

    "Have a good night, Url. Sweet dreams."

    Ryul's underwear was terribly tight after the orc left him. The half-elf thought Urlagrod was walking around like that purposefully, in order to torture him.

    He prepared for bed, taking a cursory look at the few items around the room. He also made sure his sword was in easy reach just in case. Afterwards, he pulled open the covers and got underneath.

    He wanted to immediately go to bed, but his lower half was still throbbing. Ryul couldn't even relieve himself as he was in Urlagrod's home and felt awfully ashamed at the thought of doing such an action with the orc in the neighboring room.

    It took a while, but eventually his lower half calmed down, and he was able to close his eyes and look forward to more of his friend's cooking in the morning.

    The next day, as dawn was approaching, Urlagrod woke up, put on some clean trousers and headed down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Taking out some eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms and bread from the larder room, the large orc got to making a big breakfast for the both of them.

    Once everything was about 5 minutes from being ready, Urlagrod went back upstairs and gently knocked against Ryul's door.

    "Ryul! Rise and shine! Breakfast will be ready very soon, come down and eat some with me, okay?"

    Not waiting for a response, the large orc went back downstairs and began plating up the food, carrying it to the dining room. Walking over to the lounge area, Urlagrod scratched behind Shadgar's ears - waking him up - and gave him a few cooked sausages.

    "Here you go, big boy!"

    He then ruffled the big black wolf's head, before waiting at the dining table for Ryul to come.

    Ryul woke to the knocking at his door. He threw on some clean pants from his bag and debated on whether to also put on a shirt or not, when his stomach growled and interrupted him.

    He decided modesty wasn't too important as Urlagrod had practically seen everything last night anyway. The half-elf rushed downstairs and arrived at the dining room, the smell of a delicious breakfast entering his nostrils.

    "Good morning, Url. I hope you slept well," Ryul smiled.

    "I'm really looking forward to eating another meal cooked by you. Thank you again, Url."

    "Hahaha! I slept like a babe that's suckled on its mama's milk! Hope you slept well, too, my friend! Go on, eat while it's all hot!"

    Urlagrod didn't wait and started shovelling the food into his mouth, not caring about etiquette when his stomach was really empty and he'd not been awake for that long. Finishing the food on his plate, he looked at a clock on the dining room wall, and clicked his tongue.

    "Sorry, Ryul. Looks like I'm gonna have to leave you early this morning. There's a book reading club meeting this morning and I need to set up a space in the library for it. Ah, please, eat at your leisure! And don't worry about the door, it locks on its own."

    Getting up from the table, he patted Ryul's shoulder, before carrying his plate to the kitchen and leaving it in the sink. Picking up his empty bag, he went to the front door and called out:

    "See you another time, Ryul! SHADGAR, KEEP WATCH!"

    *WOOF*

    The large orc then left the house, and the half-elf to head to the library for an early start to a long day.

    "Have a good day at work, Url!" Ryul shouted after the quickly departing librarian. He then proceeded to enjoy the homemade breakfast, savoring the amazing taste of the grilled meat and seasoned mushrooms combined with the slightly runny yolk and fresh bread.

    After he spent some time enjoying his meal and finished, Ryul decided to clean up Urlagrod's home for him as a small token of appreciation. He washed the dishes, swept the house, and took out the trash in the bin.

    He made sure to grab all of his belongings, including the books gifted to him - he left behind 'A Tale of a Lord and His Servant' for his friend to...peruse.

    As he left the place, not forgetting to give a good and long belly rub to Shadgar for being such a good pet wolf, Ryul recollected the pleasant past day he spent with Urlagrod.

    He really liked hanging out with the orc, liked that he could be honest about himself and wouldn't be judged for it, and liked the huge fellow's loud personality and passionate self.

    Ryul was attracted to Urlagrod on a physical level of course, but he also thought he might be starting to feel things on a romantic level as well. These dizzying thoughts and blurry emotions filled his mind and heart as he made his way down the road back towards the Adventurer's Guild.

    OOC:
    -Character Design: Ryul / Urlagrod (wikis)

    The moment you've all been DYING for. A joint SS with Ryul and Urlagrod. It's hella lengthy (14k+ words) in order to deter all but the most passionate shippers.

    P.S.: TYVM to Nahrenne for being patient with me. Overall, it was great fun. :blobtaco:
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  15. AliceShiki

    AliceShiki 『Ms. Tree』『Alice is Friend, Not Food』

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    After dropping Vhera-chan off in Shiori-chan's orphanage and enduring a solid half hour of scolding due to staying out too late with her, I finally got back home.

    The first thing I noticed, was... Rather, I didn't notice, I kicked my wardrobe! Why is it so close to the door!? It would've hurt lots if I wasn't wearing shoes! >.<

    More importantly than that though, Nina-chan was up... No, not up, she was cleaning the place up, hopping around, snacking, balancing herself on her tail... Humming... "Dear gods Nina-chan! Did you die and started cleaning the place in spirit form!? Where is your body!?"

    She looked back at me with an annoyed face, "Oi! Don't kill me off you dumb cat! I'm alive and kicking!" then waved her duster at me... I mean, my duster, it's mine.

    "But... How...?" It just makes no sense, she had a hard time even standing on her two feet just a few hours ago! Mary-san also had pretty low expectations for a proper cleansing to be done any time soon! She said she'd probably need the assistance of Mother Superior to have a chance at getting rid of this for good! >.<

    Just what happened here...? "Hell if I know, I just woke up and was feeling better... Maybe the gods gave me a blessing? Is this my... How did you refer to it? My cheat? Am I going to become a... Harem MC now? That's the right term, right?" She was giggling by spouting this bunch of nonsense...

    I sighed, took my shoes off and slowly walked towards her... Ouch! Damn chair, I didn't leave it there when I left, did Nina-chan move it around while cleaning? Uh... Of course she would... In any case...

    *Smack!* "Hey! Why did you hit me?!" Nina-chan exclaimed that while rubbing the top of her head that I just smacked...

    "You're not going to become a harem MC and you definitely have no cheat. Goodness gracious..." I heaved a large sigh and then...

    "Who-whoa!? Aria! Stop that you idiot!" I hugged Nina-chan and fell with her on the bed... I started sobbing. "Wha-wha-what?! Do-don't cry! I-I'm okay now! I-I swear I am!" Nina-chan stuttering like that was cute...

    "I'm so glad... I'm so glad you're well... You had me so worried you dummy..." Haa... How long has it been since I cried my heart out like that...?

    "Seriously... I can't even complain when you're like that..." She gently caressed my head while I kept sobbing... Haha, just who is the older one now? I feel silly... But... This isn't so bad, is it?

    "You better... Not ever get sick again.

    "Not sick, not cursed, not wounded... Stay healthy... Idiot." That's just silly... I couldn't stop myself from saying it though...

    "Aye aye Ma'am, I'll blackmail the gods and make them get me an invincible body." I giggled... This girl is hopeless... Well, that's what's good about her I guess~

    We just stayed there like that for a while... I stopped crying before long, but none of us felt like getting up... Or at least she didn't show any intention of moving at least... It was just... Happy... How long has it been since we last had this little to worry about?

    Thank you gods... Thanks for saving her life... Thank you so much...

    "I guess I'll need to move out soon, won't I?" Nina-chan suddenly asked.

    "I don't know... I mean, you're welcome to stay as long as you want." I answered... By now she already became a part of my life in a way.

    "Eh? Aren't you going to adopt that Vhera kid though? Wouldn't I get in the way?" She replied... She didn't seem bothered by the thought though.

    I shook my head a bit, "No... Not yet at least... Can't really raise her in an inn room after all, she needs a proper home at least." was it really that obvious that I already decided on her? I mean... I guess I never brought another child home before her, though it was more of a coincidence than anything this time... I guess I just got too attached to her already.

    Nina-chan sighed. "You and your ideals again... You know, if you wait too long, she'll grow up her whole life in that orphanage... You don't really want that do you?" Of course I don't... "And well, Shiori might die any day, just like anyone else... Who knows what will happen to children then in that case?" You don't need to remind me...

    I sighed... "I know I know... I just...

    "Do you really think I'd be a good mother for her? I mean... I couldn't even notice she didn't know how to speak properly... How can someone like me raise a child when I see this little...?" I'm afraid... Afraid of her being better off with Shiori-chan than with me...

    "Silly... No parent is perfect, alright? It's your dream to have a family, isn't it? And the girl seems attached to you...

    "Isn't love the only thing you need in a family? Stop overthinking it..." Nina-chan replied... I wonder how much she believes in those words herself...

    "Maybe you're right..." I want to believe on them though... "Perhaps it's time for me to stop wondering about my dreams and start living them instead..." I took a deep breath before looking up to Nina-chan's eyes. "Thanks."

    "Don't mention it..." She paused... Feels like she was pondering about something. "That's what family is there for, isn't it?"

    "Family...? I guess you'd be my little sister then?" Huh? So she thought the same...? Honestly, this girl... She is courageous, I don't think I'd ever be able to say what was on my mind for this matter...

    "Hell no, you're the little sister, look at you! All clingy and needy of comfort!" Say what!? I was worried for you, you dumbass!

    I snarked back, "Ha! You're a decade too young to try being an Onee-chan! Nina-chan wa kawaii imouto desu~"

    "Oi! Take that back! I dunno what you just said, but take it back! Don't go throwing your old world's language at me! Your smug smile tells me you said some fucked up shit!" Fufufu, she's just so funny~

    I patted her head a bit~ "Maybe one day I'll teach you~

    For now though, you're my cute pouting little sister~"

    "I'm not pouting! Just answer me already, what was that thing!?" She pouted angrily~

    "Not telling, not telling~" I giggled and got away from the bed~

    "Oh you little..." And then we played a game of cat and mouse... With the mouse chasing the cat... Such an unusual combination~

    We were happy though... So happy... Oh gods, let things remain like this please... Thank you so much~

    *coughs* And now Terry's cleansing abilities just got set as something pretty nuts~

    *giggles* And Sophia is actually better than him~? My my, my my~
     
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  16. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    ((Actually I set up Terry as the supportive heal-and-buff type while Sophia is the self-empowerment and stabby type. They could do the other's job but nowhere as good.))
     
  17. Haxagen

    Haxagen Fallen's|RP Breakah

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    “Shiori, I’m here to visit!” - E

    “Noisy as always, you’ll wake the children if you continue shouting! Hush!”

    “But the children are shouting even more loudly, so I have to raise my voice or I can’t be heard?!” - E

    “Irrelevant! Yuudachi, take care of the children for a while. Shiori needs to see what this troublesome girl wants.”

    And so, the older girl ended up getting dragged off to a side room by the younger one, who promptly locked the door.

    “Soundproof. They won’t hear us that easily. Now, how has your body been recently? No repercussions, Shiori hopes?”

    The mood became somewhat serious.

    “Nope, I’m fit as a fiddle, like always, thanks to you and Haruna...Which reminds me, you met the other two during that festival, didn't you? How did you find them?”

    “Well, the cleric from last time...Natalia, was it?...was surprisingly nice, despite the fact that Shiori thinks she’s a bit unhinged. But well, Shiori heard that she left Nagrand a week ago. Don’t know when she’ll be back, assuming she’s not gone for good. Her sister Haruna, on the other hand, is still being Haruna. Shiori’s been told that Yuudachi sometimes sneaks over there to learn smithing from her.”

    “Oh, that’s a relief. I have something to deliver to Haruna later, so it would really suck if she left as well. But still, looks like this place has gotten more lively again. How many new children did you pick up since my last visit?” - E

    “Oh, not that much. Just five.”

    “I shudder to think about what would count as ‘a lot’ to you…” - E

    “Well, I could say that the same goes for you. Any news?”

    Elaine quietened down immediately.

    “Sensei is…well…I think she’ll eventually show up again if she feels like it…But as for now, I don’t have much leads, if any. But still, enough of that. How are things on your end?” - E

    “Hmm? Oh, same as usual, except that Shiori is thinking of moving.”

    Time seemed to slow down.

    “Wait, you’re going to move away?!” - E

    “Not so loud! Plus, Shiori hasn’t decided much for now. To begin with, Shiori is going to have to look for a suitable spot for Shiori’s new house, and Shiori also has to find a way to ensure that the children are kept safe as well. It’s going to be extremely troublesome, Shiori thinks.”

    “Then just don’t move away in the first place! There won’t be any hassle at all if you don’t move away, right? Plus, how are you going to move the whole house there?! Do you plan on rebuilding, or something?” - E

    “Well, that much is true, but Shiori wants more space to work with. Here in the city, Shiori is barely able to build and expand, and there’s also all sorts of shady characters that wouldn’t bat an eye on harming the children. Shiori hates seeing the children get scared.”

    Elaine took a few moments to process that information.

    “Wait a minute...You’re planning on moving OUTSIDE the city? Where there’s, you know, children-eating monsters? What are you thinking?” - E

    The miniature orphanage owner shrugged.

    “Shiori has her methods. Shiori is a witch, remember?”

    “That makes a bit of sense, except that it doesn’t! Even if you’re a witch, the most I’ve seen you do is to mumble some words to make medicine! How are you going to defend yourself against monsters that are twice the size of an average adult?” - E

    “We’ll be fine. After all…”

    Shiori pointed out of the window, drawing Elaine’s attention to her garden.

    “Shiori works with plants a lot. And sometimes, nature can be a very deadly protector if you do it right. Shiori knows quite a bit of Nature Magic, after all~”

    “...Have you told the children that yet?” - E

    “...Shiori hasn’t. That’s why Shiori says that she’s still thinking over it. Shiori is aware that the children might be attached to this town, but Shiori really needs more space. The expansion of a third floor last time was barely enough for Shiori to adopt seven more children.”

    “I still think this is a bad idea, you know…” - E

    “Then, you should just come with Shiori.”

    “Huh?” - E

    “You heard me. You want to ensure that the children are safe. Shiori wants to ensure that you don’t end up worrying all day about us. You come with us, and live with us, and the problem will be solved, won’t it? After all, you’re strong.”

    Blinking, Elaine counted to five in her head, before she opened her mouth to talk.

    “...As in, you want me to quit adventuring?” - E

    “Yep. Can’t have you disappearing for days on end, chasing after some rare monster and hunting it down for money, after all.”

    “...I’m not sure. I’ll need some time to think about it.” - E

    Shiori shrugged.

    “You’ll have quite a while to make your decision, since Shiori has to go find somewhere suitable, first. Still, Shiori really hopes that you’ll agree, you know? The children are curious about you, but...it’s just, Shiori doesn’t really like adventurers...Ah, Shiori doesn’t hate any of you, but Shiori finds that occupation...appalling.”
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    “Haruna! It’s so good to see you again...Eh?” - E

    Even though she was at the door and the well-built blacksmith was blocking half her vision, Elaine noticed several things. The forge fire was out, and most of the items set out on the display racks were gone. In fact, nothing was left save the anvil and some scattered pieces of metal. Haruna’s favourite smithing hammer was tucked onto her belt.

    “You’re leaving?” - E

    “Yes. I’m heading for Nyllia.”

    Elaine could only stand there and stare, dismayed.

    “I suppose you have a purpose, coming all the way here, so let’s hear it.”

    “Ah…I bought some lunch, thinking that you might have not eaten yet.” - E

    “Ah, thank you, but I’ve had my meal.”

    “Oh...Then, are you packing up?” - E

    Undoubtedly, Speech 100 was at play. Elaine didn’t even understand what the heck she herself just mumbled.

    “Well, I’m about done. Just throwing the final pieces in before I close the zips and lock up.

    “Can I come with? At least to the gates.” - E

    “Well, I don’t see why not.”

    As they walked the short distance from the smithery to the gates, the two struck up a small conversation.

    “That rapier still serving you well?”

    “Yes, it’s undoubtedly a fine piece of work. Still, without your skills, it would have just stayed a piece of ivory.” - E

    “Hah! The flattery is appreciated, although that really isn’t true. Any good blacksmith would have been able to carve that into a good weapon. Here, lemme see.”

    Elaine drew her rapier, and passed it over to the blacksmith, who gave it a critical once-over.

    “The weapon’s state speaks volumes about it’s bearer. You’re very meticulous about maintaining it, and the blade shows that. Which reminds me, here.”

    Something made of leather was tossed her way; Elaine caught it just before it smacked into her face.

    “A sheath?” - E

    “My sister made this for you. She said that a good weapon, like a good adventurer, should have a proper home of their own. I don’t know about you, but this sheath was created specifically for the rapier. She even roped me into it, you know? Try it.”

    Elaine received her rapier back from Haruna, and slotted it into the sheath. The rapier fitted snugly, almost like it was custom made for that blade only...And it was.

    *Swish*

    Drawing the blade, she found out that there was very minimal resistance; the blade slid out smoothly as if there was a layer of oil within.

    “Woah, the drawing process is really smooth with this sheath. What did you do with it...Ah! These are...miniature wheels?” - E

    “They’re called gears, apparently. Turns like a real beauty, and makes the whole process much faster. Treat it as an extra service of sorts for helping me test out my armour.”

    “Uh, you’re very welcome---Wait, that reminds me, here, I got what you were looking for.” - E

    Opening one of her pouches, Elaine took out the Five-Leaf Clover and handed it over to the blacksmith.

    “So you actually found one, huh. My little sister will be quite thrilled by it; it’s not often that she gets to work with clovers that have four leaves or more.”

    By then, they had gone out of the gates, and were standing on the well-beaten dirt trail leading off towards Nyllia. The blacksmith whistled loudly.

    “...I guess this is it, then? You’re not coming back?” - E

    “Sadly, no. The volcano is an amazing source of heat for metalworking, and it’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to work with obsidian. I’m quite looking forward to having that chance again.”

    “Oh...Then, remain well---Eh? What’s that?” - E

    Heading out of the treeline was a large animal most definitely bigger than a horse. It had short and stocky legs, but the horns on the front gave it a real fearsome feeling.

    “Oh, now that I think of it, the two of you never really met before. This is my pet rhinoceros, I call him Bric.”

    “I see.” - E

    “Well then, see you. If you ever pass by Nyllia, do drop by again.”

    Saying thus, Haruna raised a hand in farewell, and then turned around, urging her pet to start walking, slowly, but steadily. Leaving behind the lonely girl at the gates, still holding onto her basket and a lot of unspoken words.

    “...Goodbye! We'll meet again someday…” - E

    ...Right?
     
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  18. Blackwater

    Blackwater Well-Known Member

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    With a loud shout, I wake up - scaring the rats I'm sharing the alley with. These last few days have been... different. Terrible, in a way. My belief in killing all that is wrong is, as strange as it sounds wavering - and it feels like that might be the worst thing that could happen to me. Restless, I start to lightly hit my surroundings with my iron pipe, and the feedback hurts me.

    Shocked, I drop it, and it hurts again. Now I am starting to get scared. I look around, panicked, and run away. I don't know why or from what, I just run, and run, and run... until I suddenly find myself in the outskirts of Nagrand. Then the hunger hits me, and upon seeing the sun slowly lowering itself, I notice that I somehow managed to run almost the whole day. Along with that realization, I collapse.

    I wake up, my whole body aching, and, to my utter surprise, am not lying in an alley, but on a messy but clean bed. My pouch of money, weirdly enough, also is still at my side, with nothing missing. And even stranger is that some of my injuries seem to have been treated? Ah, but it really stinks like herbs... yuck.

    Then a cough interrupts my thoughts and my eyes whips towards its source. There sits an aged man on a chair next to the bed. Before I can ask a question, he starts scolding me!? "I treat your wounds, and this is your reaction? Ungrateful girl. You really should learn to respect your elders. And those that do you good. Those like me, you know? My name is Feldon, as I'm sure you want to know, and I'm the one taking care of people around here."

    Overwhelmed by this sudden flood of words, I just stare at Feldon. After a few seconds of silence, he stretches out his hand towards me and says: "Now pay me up. The treatment costs only 22 Large Copper coins - an absolute steal."

    I stare at my money pouch, which contains exactly 22 large copper coins, in silence. Then back at Feldon's opened hand. While I certainly would like to hit him, it feels... wrong. So I slowly hand him the entire pouch. He takes it, quickly grabs the money out of it, and tosses the pouch towards me, and it lands directly on my face, covering my view and pushing its stench in my nose.

    With a disgusted shriek, I toss the pouch as far away from myself as I can, and greedily inhale the pleasant scent of herbs lingering in the room. "You shouldn't throw away your belongings like that." Chides Feldon while moving himself and the chair a bit further away from the pouch, his accusing eyes constantly focussed on me.

    Embarrassed by my previous actions, I look away. "Now," Feldon continues, "while I did treat your physical injuries, the treatment is not complete yet. Your soul still needs mending."

    My doubt must be visible on my face, as he lets out an annoyed sigh and takes a deep breath, probably preparing to scold me again. Deciding that I should spare myself from that torture, I just nod in agreement, unsure what he even was talking about.

    "Good!" He exclaims, lights up some weird incense, and placing a bowl filled with water before me, then looks at me eagerly. While he is weird, I think he wants to help me? He might actually be a good guy.

    "So, what do I have to do?" I ask him, only to get mocked in return: "Oh, so you can talk! Well, let me explain. What we are going to do is to adjust your state of mind with hypnotization and some herbs. Then, you will see into your own eyes through a reflecting surface, and enter your soul that way."

    Finishing this explanation, he looks at me. I look back, utterly confused. "Just look into the bowl, and I'll do the rest!" he finally shouts, and I do that. He starts mumbling something, and the light dims.

    And I fall into the water, into my eyes, tumbling around without control. The darkness weakens, and I take a look around. Surrounding me are several shards, connected by a pulsing mass of flesh, with gigantic, rusting chains wound around it. Now that I look closer... is that flesh rotting? Disgusting... I can hear the droning sound of blood flowing through it, as it pulses with the beat of its heart. In... the same rhythm as mine!?

    Is this abomination my soul? This void, filled with a few shards, kept together by rotting flesh and rusting chains... no, it should not be! It can't be!

    I dash through the void, towards one of the shards. As I get closer towards it, I can vaguely see something within it. A room, with a greyish red tint. I reach out for it, and in a split second, I am standing in the very room I could only vaguely see before. It's... an ordinary child's room, as I know them from Earth. A bed, a few toys, nothing special. Nothing... is that a syringe on the table? I hate syringes. And why does this room smell like iron? Is that blood beneath the bed!? I stumble backward and hit a toy with my foot. Looking down, it's... a human bone!? I avert my eyes before I see something I don't want to see, although deep down, I am well aware of the fact that this is the very same room I grew up in. And that there would be teeth marks on the bone...

    But I avert my eyes and find myself standing before the shard again, the room comfortably blurry again so that nothing can be seen. I flee from it and my memories, rushing towards the next shard. I don't even bother to look at what the shard contains and just directly enter it.

    Once within, I find myself in a classroom - or what remains of it. Broken tables and chairs cracked and smashed windows, and the walls and even the ceiling and floor are covered in writings. "Snitch" "Liar" "Bully" "Cheater" "Tyrant" and many more accusations and insults. Even outside of the classroom, in the hall, and all the other rooms, everything is covered with these words. The whole building. Did I... do this? Is this what I look like to others? Accusing everyone and everything of some sort of crime? Would this not make me guilty as well?

    With a wavering heart, I turn around again and stand in the void. I know what the flesh is. And I know what the chains are. And the revelation scares me. Seeing myself like this, a reckless fool guided by violence kept in check by moral values I am slowly forgetting, I am scared. And angry. I can no longer deny the truth. What am I, but a hypocrite? What have I done, but punish those like me?

    Despondent, I slowly float towards the next shard. Including it, there are only two more remaining. Its hue is so dark that I can't see what is inside. I hesitate but eventually enter the shard.

    Inside, it is as dark as it looked from the outside. I can see nothing. And I also hear nothing, only the beat of my own heart. In the beginning, it is still as loud as it was outside, but within a few seconds, it fades away completely. I can't even smell or feel - I think I am standing on something, but I have no idea what. So I start walking.

    After an unknown time of wandering, it finally gets a bit brighter. What I can see in the almost total darkness, which still is a lot better than total darkness, are... walls, floors, and a ceiling made of metal. Suddenly, I smell rust and can feel the ground beneath my feet. I seem to have unconsciously followed a path I didn't know was there, and it seems to have been the right path. Getting closer towards the light, I can now also see various spots of rust and even a couple of holes in the walls. Confronted with the sudden sight of possible instability of... whatever it is I am in, I start moving faster again.

    The further I move, the brighter the light gets, and I start to hear my steps. Around me are the seemingly endless walls of metal, countless intersections, and various machinery unknown to me. This place seems very, very strange to me. I turn around, just to make sure I am still within my soul, but it doesn't work? I am still within the metal maze, and the darkness seems to be chasing me!? Okay, no time to care about this, let's just run!

    Everything passes me by as I run away from the nothingness which swallows metal and machines behind me. I chase the light, its warmth so much more comfortable than the cold void behind me. And finally, finally, I leave the maze. Around me are gigantic towers and walls made of metal, but above me is the clear, blue sky. I have left what seems to be an abandoned factory. Looking back I can see the entrance - a mass of darkness promising to swallow whatever enters it. I am certain that, if I were to enter it again, I could disappear forever. Without guilt, sadness, or memories, just gone.

    But I don't want to be gone, I don't want to be cold. I like the warmth of the light. Much more relaxed, I stroll forwards, underneath the blue sky. Through the world of metal, just forward. Suddenly, I spot a glitter of light to my left. Turning around, I see a small pond... or more like, leftover water from whatever the factory used it for. It's murky and dirty, but I am thirsty. So I wander towards it. As I bend down to drink, I see my face. I see myself. Or more like, what is left of me.

    A skeleton without eyes or ears, with leftover bits and pieces of flesh hanging on my bones. And my bones are worn out from the many teeth that feasted on me. If I had eyes I would cry or cover them, if I had a mouth I would scream. But this is me, and I have none of that. Trembling, I let myself drop into the water, and find myself back in the void, with the shards floating around me. I find myself in my soul.

    And turn towards the last shard. It seems to be the current center of my soul, the source or end of the flesh keeping the shards of my soul together. Then I enter it, not sure what will await me within but certain that it will not be pleasant.

    Immediately, the stench of blood greets me, along with a scene that would make anyone shiver in terror. An executioner's axe and block on a stone stage died red with blood, and a gigantic ditch, filled to the brim with heads. Children, men, women, animals, monsters, indiscriminately piled up. Villagers along with soldiers and bandits, along with goblins and wolves.

    How many of those had truly been guilty? How many of those were like me? This is what I have achieved in my life, nothing more. I walk up to the block, kneel down before it, and place my head on the block. Awaiting judgment. Waiting and waiting for the executioner.

    Only after a while do I realize that I myself am the executioner. There is no one to judge me here but myself. I can not forgive myself. But neither do I want to kill myself. Had I wanted to do that, I would have just waited for the nothingness to swallow me forever.

    No. I can not die now. That would be avoiding the sins I have done, leaving behind only sadness and emptiness. I shall repent, even if it takes forever. I swear on what remains on me. Whilst I take this oath, I can feel the shard tremble and change. From kneeling before the block, I rise on the cross, crucified. But proud. I embrace my guilt.

    And I wake up, a dumbfounded Feldon before me. "How the hell are you still alive?" He questions, almost shouting at me. It only takes me a split-second to realize what his intention for 'helping' me was, and swing my hand, hitting his face with the backside of my palm. Wait, did one of his bones crack? Well, no matter.

    As he falls down before me, crying from the pain, I speak down to him. "Now listen you asshole, the next time I hear you're doing shit like this, I'll beat you up with your own arms, got it?" But he just lies there, whimpering. "You listening to me!?" I shout while kicking him in the- I redirect my foot at the last second, kicking the wall next to him instead of his chest. Damn, not killing people is hard.

    Finally, he meekly nods. "Good," I utter and stride past him, out of the house. "You can keep my money, you earned it for treating my wounds."
    Well, with this, my character needs to be revamped a bit. Gonna be looking for new pictures and abilities now.
     
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  19. Nahrenne

    Nahrenne Sister|Daughter|Niece|Aunt|Mummy

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    Deciding that she had been away from the Sacred Garden for much too long, Phinimimilomimo flew over to it under an [Illusion]. Reaching Ophelia's Temple, the place seemed busier than previous times she'd been for her job: seeing a lot of injured people getting checked out by Sisters. Not really paying much attention to it, due to only thinking about the Sacred Garden, the little fairy waved at passing by Sisters and Apprentice Sisters as she headed for the place that felt the most like home to her in Nagrand.

    Entering the Sacred Garden, Phinimimilomimo could see that - due to her negligence - some of the harder to rear plants were close to dying.

    "Oh no, Fris!"

    Flying as fast as her tiny wings would allow her, she immediately inspected the plants in the entire place, before asserting which ones were top priority for treating. Roughly two hours later, she had inspected every plant and chosen what she would see to first, casting [Growth] on them and injecting some Nature-infused Mana into them to help perk them up. She then used [Entangle] to pull out the weeds that had grown in some places, and moved them to a special area of the Sacred Garden meant just for weeds. Once the treatment for the most severe cases of plants had been done, the little fairy went about watering and nourishing the rest of the plants - as much as she could in the time she spent there.

    Having arrived in the early morning, to still be working after the sun had gone down, Phinimimilomimo had treated many of the plants - taking a lot of rests throughout to recover her Mana and energy. The Mother Superior had come to have a look round about noon, but needed to leave to do other stuff soon after. A few Sister apprentices and Sisters were keeping an eye on the little fairy while tending to the garden themselves, trying to learn new tips from whatever their small part-time gardener was doing.

    As the sun had set, Mother Superior managed to come back and saw a noticeable difference in the health of the Sacred Garden and smiled in the direction of the little helper they had acquired. Motioning for a nearby Sister to go get something, she caught the attention of one of the Sisters near the fairy and motioned for her to tell Phinimimilomimo to come to her. Doing so, the tiny gardener saw the Mother Superior and began jumping up and down in the air as she waved her arms about - all with a cheerful smile plastered on her face. Flying over to her, she couldn't help performing a little aerial somersault as she reached the elderly lady.

    "Mother Superior, Fris! Sorry for not coming sooner, Fris! I got busy with my training and ended up losing track of time, Fris..."

    "Pay it no heed, my child. The fact that you came back at all brings happiness to us. As you saw when you arrived, some of our plants had not fared so well during our period of healing the townsfolk affected by that awful raid. If I recall, even you - little one - didn't come out of that awful night unscathed."

    "I didn't, Fris?"

    Phinimimilomimo tilted her head, trying to recall what happened. She remembered carrying unconscious people into the big spiky building, then using her dust skills to help nearby people who were fighting, giving Van-Van a boost with her [Berserker Dust] skill, before waking up in a wonderful bath in the Temple. She vaguely remembered May seeming really worried and concerned for her, saying something about being burned, but she honestly had no memory of actually being injured. The little fairy recounted all of this to the Mother Superior, who nodded knowingly, before holding out her hand for her tiny companion to rest on. Obliging, Phinimimilomimo flew onto her hand and sat, looking up at the old woman, a little confused.

    "After the ritual had been performed, and many of the cultists dealt with, your red-headed friend brought you in - along with a bag of snacks - with tears streaming down her face. Your whole body had been singed and your arm was broken into an unnatural angle - your wings were bent out of shape, too. We immediately had a Sister treat you for a few hours, while inside one of our healing pools."

    'o'

    The little fairy's mouth was wide open in shock as she heard this, having had no recollection of this ever happening, but knowing that she did indeed wake up in a very relaxing pool.

    "I see...Fris..." Phinimimilomimo stood up and bowed, before flying up to the Mother Superior's face and hugging her cheek. "Thank you so much for treating me, Fris!"

    "Ah, don't mention it, little one~ After all, it is part of Ophelia's teachings to heal and nurture those in need. Blessings be to The Maiden."

    The elderly woman put her hands together while closing her eyes and gave a small prayer to her goddess. She then opened her eyes and smiled warmly at the little fairy. At this time, the Sister who had gone to get something had arrived, carrying 2 familiar looking bags, and a smaller bag.

    "Your payment for today's work. 12 LC and 12 nuts. You've worked hard today, little one~"

    "Ah, Fris! Thank you so much, Fris! That's so much, Fris!"

    "Think nothing of it, little one~"

    Phinimimilomimo watched the Sister fill the small bag with what the Mother Superior had said, before handing it to her. Phinimimilomimo saw a broken branch and used [Root Weapon] on it to make it take the shape of a basket, before asking for the money and food to be placed into it. Still keeping the skill active, she waved goodbye to the Sisters, before leaving - her skill carrying the cargo close to her. The little fairy then happily made her way back to the Tavern, to tell Bill about what had happened to her the night of the raid - along with to do the usual handing in for storage.
    Gained 12 LC for working 12 hours in the Sacred Garden.
    Gained 12 nuts for working 12 hours in the Sacred Garden.
    Put 12 LC and 12 nuts into storage.
    [Growth] skill improved to lasting 3 minutes max if constantly used.
    X
     
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  20. A5G_Reaper

    A5G_Reaper [DCLXVI, sohyee, and iampsyx's cute imouto]

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    "...how am I supposed to carry this?"

    "Dont know, dont care! But as Lord Raldtorias will it, it's yours!"

    The gourd stared incredulously at the head priest of Raldtorias, clad in priestly garb but with a huge chunk of iron that the man call a sword. Apparently the joke entry the gourd submitted a few weeks back won third place, and the prize was having the designed weapon made for him with high-quality iron.

    The craftmanship was superb, he had to admit. It's truly weapon-grade instead of some useless ornament, seen from how Soren carry it without the handle bending and the spikes being one with the blade instead of just welded on.

    It also weighted over three hundred kilograms, definitely enough iron to make about a hundred standard longswords. Speak volume of Soren's strength, at how casually he carried it one-handed over his shoulder.

    The priest dropped the blade, the impact gave a slight shake to the ground. He grinned mischievously at the gourd.

    "Well? It's all yours."

    *****

    "Stupid... damned... blade... stupid... damned... contest..."

    A gourd could be seen dragging a blade several times heavier than himself, barely pulling it along as he strained and leaving a groove on the dirt street as he passed. Even a mule would have problem moving with the thing weighing down like an anchor, yet he somehow managed to get it going. At snail's pace - almost literally -, but going.

    Entering his garden, he strenuously dragged the damned thing next to his shed where he let it fell with a dull thud. He'd have to get some rust countermeasures, but otherwise it need no thief prevention; the blade's own weight was preventive enough. Anyone that could feasibly lift, much less wield it have better way to acquire such a thing. Like comissioning a blacksmith.

    "I didn't switch out the Shrowded Bulwark and the Obsidian Pillar just to get saddled with this..."
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019