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Phoenix

Return of the Emblem Chapter Nine: Consolidating Forces

1872 posts in this topic

[b]Clash of the Vasili[/b]
[spoiler]Lilith hadn't had a lot of friendly run ins since her return to Sardius. Meeting the vasilus of wind again, the Griffin, was no exception. The two were locked in a heated battle and Lilith's opponent had her flying blind at the center of a massive vortex. Most of the clouds in the region had been blown away or drawn into this one area. While Lilith skirted around the outer edges of the eyes of that massive storm, the Griffin stalked her from the outside, just waiting for a chance to strike. "Griffin! If you don't stop this, I promise it won't end well for you!" Lilith declared.

No reply was voiced, but Griffin appeared out of the swirling clouds and assaulted Lilith at tremendous speed. He was much larger than her, no shorter than twelve feet tall, sporting a body covered in fur and feathers, clawed appendages, a long tail, and massive wings. His head was very much like an eagles and his eyes were filled with malice. She had just enough time to dodge or parry each of his attacks, but he didn't let up, and threw numerous melee attacks until she began fighting back. She got off one punch, which he promptly dodged and then slipped out of her range. "It isn't enough for you to stand by a broken system, but now you'll aid Aisha as well? Are you insane?!"

"You're attacking the wielder of Ascension. Are [i]you[/i] insane?" Lilith shot back.

"You won't use it, and even if you tried, I know how you fight. You haven't changed ..."

"Listen, you. I need your help. I have no intention of letting Aisha have her way with the emblem, but I can't stop Wrath on my own."

"Try again in another cycle, Lilith. I'm not interested in anything you have to say. The only difference between you and Wrath is that he has a plan. You're just grasping at straws like always." Griffin ended his rebuttal with an attack. He sent a giant blade of wind at Lilith which she easily dodged. It kept going and cut right through the swirling walls of the vortex and revealed the outside world for a brief moment.

"Enough already! If I have to beat the stubbornness out of you, I will, Griffin!"

"You do. So what are you waiting for? I'm right here." he replied, crossing his arms and glaring at her.

Ascension materialized over Lilith's back and she took it in her hands. "I don't know why you insist on violence all of the tiiiiime!" she yelled before charging right at him. Her first swing was an inevitable miss, and not intended to end the battle anyway. She merely had to gauge her opponent's speed, and it was horrendous. he had disappeared without so much as a hint to which direction he fled in. "Here he comes ..." Lilith muttered. She moved back from where she was just in time, and Griffin came speeding by like a bullet with a pair of blades made of pure anima energy in each hand. He came to a stop high above Lilith, almost at the top of the vortex. He waited just a few seconds and then came flying back in her direction again, smashing through the sound barrier on the way. He reached Lilith in under a second and the two collided like a pair of asteroids. The force of the blast knocked them both back, and Lilith moved to a greater distance while Griffin prepared for his next attack.

"Weak." Griffin mocked. "Give up if you aren't going to take this seriously."

"I shouldn't have to do this to get you to listen to me ... YOU IDIOOOOOT!!!" Lilith held Ascension high above her head, and then she and the sword disappeared in a blinding light that overcame the entire storm. The whole thing was dispelled in an instant and a massive shockwave was released in the storm's wake. The winds flew out in all directions, kicking up tons and tons of sand and carrying it away into the desert, and blanketing the nearby mountain range in the cloudy remains of the storm. Griffin was left floating underneath a clear blue sky and looking around at the mess. "You don't usually resort to things like that so quickly ... hmm."

"I don't know when Wrath will return. I need to gather allies, not fight them!"

Griffin shook his head. "Still grasping at straws, I see. I'm not convinced." He came flying at Lilith at blinding speed after refusing to listen and landed a solid right hook. The hit sent her spinning away from him, barely holding onto her blade. "Ahhh that felt good." he said under his breath. Lilith recovered shortly after, and returned a look of absolute fury. Her irises began to shine along with Ascension ...[/spoiler]

[b]Clash of the Patriots[/b]
[spoiler]The Battle of Urcenter was horrendously violent, with both generals taking to the front and inflicting horrors upon the enemy. The Ursian army still had the upperhand, however, and victory was all but inevitable until the reinforcements arrived. Boscov remained behind with several of his finest to allow the others to fall back into Urcenter and escape the open conflict. From there they would attempt to take up fortified positions and bunker down. Boscov led the charge and wiped out an entire battalion in a little over two minutes. While daunting and quite inspiring to those who stayed behind to help him, it also drew the attention of virtually every archer and ballista within range, and Boscov found himself avoiding an overwhelming amount of incoming fire. He was hit several times and eventually vanished in a massive gust of wind that left dozens of Ursian soldiers on the ground.

Meanwhile General Remus led a large cavalry unit in pursuit of the soldiers heading back into the city. A pair of dragons were guarding the flank taking potshots at Remus and his men. Several of them were blasted clear off of their mounts or sent to the ground in a bloody heap after having their horses struck. Remus pressed forward and ordered a strike. His riflemen were also on horseback and toward the front of the group. They took aim as best they could and all at the same dragon. The concerted attack riddled the dragon with bullet wounds and it quickly turned to flee into the city while the other one continued to launch attacks at them, and all the while making a steady retreat itself.

Jason, Niel and the others weren't so lucky in the fighting; they had not been killed themselves or lost anyone else, but the Ursian army couldn't reach them before the retreating Neviskotians hauled them away. At this point, it was a safe bet that if things went really well for the allied forces, they would be used as shields, or maybe just bait for a counterattack. With the Neviskotian's putting their backs to the coast and their fleet, Niel assumed the former. Jason didn't bother trying to figure out how little or how much trouble they were in and instead just focused on getting out alive, though there was little he could do other than not anger the men keeping him prisoner.

Boscov reappeared in the midst of the Ursian forces and let loose one powerful attack, killing over a dozen soldiers and then pulled out in a burst of wind before any could any could launch counterattacks. Looking back to make sure the remnants of his forces had completely fallen back to the city, Boscov broke away from the fighting and signaled the others to follow with a booming roar. The army followed, but Boscov and his dragons made it to Urcenter long before the army did and not a one of them was shot down.

Meanwhile, Remus and his vanguard kept the pressure on, and soon without any support, the other dragon was forced to flee into the city as well. Remus stopped his charge just short of the larger buildings, and waited for the bulk of his forces to catch up. Defeating Boscov without damaging Urcenter even further was out of the question, but he could keep collateral damage to a minimum if he fought them little by little, a tactic he only abandoned due to the obvious intent of Boscov's initial attack on the city. They were waiting for reinforcements. Falling back into Urcenter bought them a lot of time already, and Remus had no intention of giving them anymore than necessary. They would have to retake the city quickly to ensure the Neviskotian reinforcements didn't get a solid hold on the city. As his troops gathered, Boscov prepared his own men. An all out battle in the city itself had happened many times in the past, and on greater scale, but the city was already ravaged from the initial assault, and so another battle with the intent to eradicate the enemy would only make things worse. More and more hours passed as both sides prepared for the next and possibly final confrontation over the city.[/spoiler]

[b]Reporting Act I[/b]
[spoiler]Relying on some vague directions, Cecily, Clara, and Cloe eventually arrived in the small town at the bottom of the valley. Despite being spring it was quite chilly the town was still more or less empty save for the few scouts keeping an eye on things. One person ran out of an old worn down tavern and flagged the trio of pegasus knights down. "This better be the place." Cecily muttered. After landing, the scout came up to them and waved.

"Been expecting you three." the man greeted. "The boss is in the tavern behind me. Tread lightly. He's had a bad couple of weeks."

[i]Ironic telling us that. We're just here to make it worse, really. That and try not to die, obviously.[/i] Cecily thought, shrugging at the man's warning a bit.[/spoiler]

[b]Absolute Resolve[/b]
[spoiler]Cassandra was up against Burke once again, but this time things were noticeably different even with the two of them simply standing there. Cassandra was now armed with a tome and a dagger. Burke had his scythe out and ready to go. Naomi was sitting on Axe Coffin with a healing staff resting across her lap, observing once again. "I'm ready." Cassandra told him straight to his face.

"Ready, are you? What's gotten into you all of a sudden, hmm?" Burke asked. This was quite the change in attitude.

"I don't only practice when I'm with you, you know. More importantly, there isn't much more you can teach me if all you plan to do is beat me up with physical weapons. No one can beat you conventionally, but I can still outpace you, Burke."

"Enough talk. Show me where your confidence lies so I can smash it to pieces! Everyone, attack!" Burke yelled as he charged at Cassandra.

"Everyone? Oh crap." she echoed, and she evaded an attack that came from behind by leaping off to the side. She'd barely dodged a throwing knife aimed at her back, and over a dozen masked men began coming out of hidden pathways in the walls, all carrying weapons. Dodging Burke's initial attack was easy enough; she actually had learned to avoid most of his attacks. The difficult part was not being struck by the next attacker, who swung at her with a spiked club only half a second after she evaded Burke's attack. She side stepped his downward strike and then leaped clear over Burke as he tried to side swipe her with his scythe. [i]This is the lesson to end all lessons. They're throwing everything at me, even the kitchen basin.[/i]

She almost got cleaved as she landed, having just barely ducked under a swinging blade that was there to greet her. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a spear thrower in the middle of a toss and she narrowly avoided the spear he threw at her by leaning out of the way as it passed. It got stuck in the wall and Cassandra began a mad dash toward her attacker. [i]I know what Burke would say. 'You can't run forever!'. I have to start whittling down their numbers or they'll wear me down and then finish me off.[/i] The man she was about to attack had just grabbed another spear and was about to chuck it right at her. Since she was charging at him with no fewer than five people chasing after her, something was bound to go wrong on his end, but he threw it anyway, and Cassandra leaped right over it, kicking him in the head just as his spear impaled one of her pursuers. Her target went down and Cassandra kept running.

Burke had gone around to intercept her and when she saw the two blades on that scythe of his speeding toward her she dropped, just narrowly avoiding them and sliding under the attack. Burke turned to face her almost instantly and he had his pistol out this time. When Cassandra saw the gun aimed right at her, she held up her tome like a shield, and Burke fired as the others caught up and passed him by. Her maneuver had saved her from taking a bullet to the chest. Her only goal in lifting up her tome was to give Burke something else to shoot at. The bullet passed right through the tome with ease, but as he fired, Cassandra moved her body out of the way. A simple tactic to make sure he didn't get the chance to lead her. With his shot spent, she wouldn't have to worry about that pesky firearm anymore and she focused on the mob that had just reached her. There was no escape possible since Burke was outside the surrounding circle of men. If she jumped, he would just be there to meet her in the air and the fight would be over in an instant. She had to fight, and that was the only way to remain standing in the end.

As each opponent came in and swung or lunged at her with their weapon, she sidestepped, parried with her tome, leaned out of the way, and even outright blocked when she was able to. When one of the men wielding a sword rushed in to take her out, he launched a log splitting slash down at her, which she quickly evaded, but she didn't stop there. She knew they would take her down soon if they kept all trying to hit her at the same time, so she sank her dagger deep into her attacker's back and then ripped it out and ducked under the next attack as he hit the floor.

Next, things got ugly. Cassandra's arm was caught by a whip. She looked on in shock at the culprit and then she was hauled to the ground. She dropped the dagger in the process, but was still able to stop the next man from getting to her by blasting him back with a dark spell. She found the man constantly tugging at her to keep her off balance, but she rolled to her feet and rushed him, dodging the punch he aimed to stop her with, and sending him staggering away with a solid and resounding roundhouse kick to the side of his head. The whip was hers and she used it to strike at one of the men approaching her. He received a nasty lash that removed his mask and left him disarmed and nursing his face. Next she took on two of them at once, attacking one with the whip while evading the other's attack. The whip wrapped around the man's leg and yanked him off his feet, and as soon as he landed on his back, he was blasted in the chest with dark magic. Cassandra dispatched the second one by simply flipping him onto his back and then stomping on his face one time. It did enough damage to keep him from attacking her again, and she moved to get some distance.

Burke approached once the circle was broken up and tried to strike her with his scythe again, but he couldn't even get off the attack this time. Cassandra angrily lashed out at him and caught his weapon with the whip. Burke expected her to try to pull it away from him, and she did try, but it was only a feint. When Burke tried to overpower her and pull back in an attempt to knock her off balance so the others could finish her, she leaned into it. The pull coupled with her own movement closed the distance between her and Burke in a split second, and she struck him at point blank range with the strongest spell she could conjure. He took the attack to his face and stumbled backward just as the rest of the masked men arrived. She quickly grabbed the scythe and yanked it away from Burke's hands and kicked him in the chest to force him back again. After that, she chucked the scythe, sidestepped an enemy attack, smacked in the back of the head with her tome knocking him cold, and then smashed another in the face with her elbow.

Burke easily recovered and to attack her in the usual way, with fists and feet, but Cassandra beat him to the punch once again and attacked him with her whip. The whip wrapped around Burke's neck before he could react and she pulled tightly to keep him from getting his footing back. Finally someone had the sense to leap down and grab one of Cassandra's legs and hold her in place. Cassandra immediately summoned a dark energy spell that enveloped her attacker's head, and the man cried out in agony repeating "My eyes! Argh my eyes!" The instant he let go, she yanked her foot away, and dashed toward Burke with a handful of the masked men in tow. She quickly rolled underneath Burke, passing between his legs, and keeping a tight grip on the whip and her tome. The masked men went around Burke while he struggled to tear himself free. She ran right at them, breaking off to the right to attack one of them. With Burke acting as an anchor, she was able to easily skirt around the man and close line him with the whip, sending him straight onto his back. Cassandra came in close to Burke hoping to use him as an anchor one more time and take him out of the fight. One of the masked men tried to stop her with a sweep kick, which she promptly leaped over ... and that was when things got interesting.

Burke finally grabbed the length of the whip that wasn't strangling him and yanked on it while Cassandra was in midair. She thrust her foot outward to kick one of the masked men, and then the combined forces sent her into a fast orbit around Burke. She came back down after the first pass and made a second on foot. Burke was completely tied and tangled up in the whip, so Cassandra wrapped things up by shoving the grip into one of the eye holes in Burke's helmet and violently kicking him away.

The fighting didn't stop there though. Another one with a sword came and struck at her. She parried the attack with her tome, blasted him in the chest with dark magic, smashed him across the face with the tome, and then kicked him away just in time to sidestep the next attack. The order of responses was different this time, as she began with a kick to the side of his knee that forced him off balance, then she bashed him in the face with her tome, and finished with a magic attack. His mask was nearly destroyed and he hit the ground in a daze, his face partially revealed from the attack. Only a handful of enemies were left, they moved out to surround her. Having only her tome left made things extremely difficult for her.

"You're so close, Cassy! You can do it!" Naomi cheered in the background.

And once that was said, the leftovers rushed in all at once, not really caring if they struck each other in the assault. Swing after swing and stab after stab all came within moments of each other and Cassandra was grazed numerous times while trying to avoid all of it. Soon after the assault began, however, she went low and tripped one of her opponents to make an exit for herself. She didn't get by before beating his face in with her tome, though, and as she moved to get away from him, one of the masked men tried to hit her with his bludgeon but only managed to smash the downed man in the stomach. He wasn't getting back up anytime soon, and Cassandra had all the room she needed to maneuver now, and she also had a short sword on the ground she could use. She quickly picked it up and gave it a good twirl before pointing it at them in a challenging manner. They were undaunted and charged in. She threw the sword down at their feet, and one of them stumbled right as he reached her because of it. His misstep gave Cassandra a massive opening, and she swung upwards with her tome so hard that the impact sent him off of his feet and onto his back, and she dropped the tome in the process and could only watch as it flew across the room. Nothing she could do about it for the moment. The last two enemies were bearing down on her. Instead of a direct attack, the closest one tried to sweep kick her. She performed a simple aerial to avoid that kick and then ran like hell.

She ran to the next weapon she could find, but it really wasn't her type, it was the spiked club from earlier. She picked it up anyway and readied herself for the attacks. They came in quickly, one with a Kigenese blade, and the other with a halberd. Cassandra tried to block with the club, but the two already had a brilliant plan to take her down. The halberd wielder attacked first, prompting Cassandra to block the attack, and once she was locked in with him, the sword wielder moved in and swiftly stabbed her. The pain paralyzed her for a brief moment, and when the man twisted the blade she cried out in pain, desperately trying not to release the club.

Desperation quickly took over and she yanked the swordsman's mask off with her right hand. He looked surprised. That wasn't quite what she was trying to accomplish. She tried again and ripped out a lock of the man's hair in two swift motions. He screamed and she pulled herself off of the sword, smashed him in the side of the head with the club, ducked under the other man's attack, swapped the club for the sword, and swung as hard and fast as she could with both hands. The man took a hit to the chest and staggered away, leaving Cassandra to recover for a moment. That had been so painful, and she could still barely think. She was sick of being attacked. She was sick and tired of always fighting for her life like this. Mercy and reason weren't making any sense to her at this point, and she attacked the masked man a second time, sending him to the floor in a bloody heap.

Cassandra was the last one standing, but only because Burke decided not to continue after being restrained so easily. No one had died during this brutal exercise, but the injuries were severe and a couple including Cassandra were bleeding out at an alarming rate. Naomi stood up and walked over to the man who had been impaled by a spear and began to treat his wounds. Cassandra's wound was just as bad in a sense, but was already healing on its own. Burke eventually shredded the whip and broke free. By the time Naomi got to the bloodied halberd wielder, Burke approached Cassandra.

"Impressive. What you did is nothing to gloat about, but the fact that you were able to do this so quickly is the real marvel."

"I'm tired ... I'm so sick and tired of being attacked all of the time. Stop it! Just stop! Please?!" she pleaded, tears building in her eyes.

Burke chuckled and put up a hand urging her to slow down. "For once you made a claim and stood by it. I think you've earned a reprieve, anyway. More importantly, I think you might be ready for what Thanatos asks of you. Maybe. Just maybe. At the very least we won't have to worry about a bunch of brutes taking you out, heheh." It was somewhat good news, and Cassandra fell to her knees, her muscles finally relaxing, and finally taking normal breaths again. There was so much she wanted to say, and so many complaints she wanted to get off of her chest, but instead she simply keeled over. Naomi healed the wound caused by the swordsman, but Cassandra didn't get back up. Part of her wanted to just rest and relax there on the ground. She was asleep inside a minute, and Burke picked her up off of the floor with a sigh. "Good work today, all of you." Burke announced to the room. He received a nod in reply from Naomi and varying moans and muttering from everyone else, which he found amusing. With that, he left the training hall with Cassandra sound asleep in his arms.[/spoiler]

[b]Prodigy[/b]
[spoiler]A rather spacey looking young girl was sitting through a lecture along with around twenty other students in a room built for a hundred. Since this was being handled from her perspective, it wasn't clear what the professor was saying(nyehahah). Her thoughts were on some of Weyland Enterprises' and Hammer Industries' weapons. She spent most of the lecture envisioning and fiddling with them in her mind. She didn't pay much attention to the two men at the entrance to the class room who were keeping an eye on her the whole time. The professor took notice of her daydreaming and glared at her before deciding to ambush her. "Miss Gizem? Miss Gizem, are you still with us?"

"... kinda." she admitted.

"I'd hate to bore you with Ursian history, but this stuff is important."

"You only really need to look at the last one hundred years to sum it all up, if you ask me. We attack the Neviskotians with new tech, they hit us back with their new tech. Repeat with a few new faces here and there." she explained in a slightly monotone voice. "And occasionally the Kigenese talk to us about more than just fighting the Corvians ..." she added as an afterthought.

"Ahem ... Corvus is not a [i]real[/i] country, Miss Gizem."

"The fallen seem to think it is ..."

"Alas, they are nothing but mindless man eating barbarians. Hardly even sapient. That aside, what has you so preoccupied that you can't be bothered to hear my lecture?" By this point, a few other students were giggling. This wasn't even the tenth time this cycle had repeated itself, and some of them tossed their gazes to the two men standing by the entrance, expecting them both to get involved soon.

"I was going over some of the new stuff in my head."

"New stuff? Goodness, is this about Hammer technology again?" the teacher realized. That was the cue, and the two men approached, and one of them took out some things to write with.

"Not just Hammer. I thought of a way to improve the ballistas Weyland Enterprises made." She stared at the men and the things they'd brought for a moment and then took the pen and parchment and began jotting down a few notes. She also drew a shockingly accurate diagram of a hex ballista. Once she was done, she handed the men the pen, ink, and parchment back. The man with the diagram nodded to her and then left. The other stood by for a moment, leaving the professor in a bit of an awkward situation. Finally the girl just said something random. "... I just made ten thousand gold."

"Honestly, how am I supposed to teach with another Weyland inventing things right in the middle of my lectures?!" the professor yelled. The other students began laughing more loudly at the outburst. "Quiet! And you, bodyguard, note taker ... whatever you are; get out of here. If Miss Gizem has ideas to share, she can do so on her own time, not in the middle of-"

"You're still adjusting, I understand, so I'll give you a fair warning. There must be at least one listener present at all times. Lois' ideas have improved even [i]Seth Weyland's[/i] designs and will save lives in the long run. They don't come at convenient times, as you must realize by now. Her other teachers are adapting to the slight disruptions this causes. So will you, or we will be forced to find her another history teacher."

"Don't take Lois away! She's hilarious!" one of the students yelled from across the room. The professor scowled. This was incredibly annoying.

"I'm hilarious. Man up, Professor." Lois remarked, which was enough to get the rest of the students laughing, and loudly.

"I said quiet!" he sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Very well, I will try to manage ..."

"Excellent ... and since I did not get the chance to mention this before the lecture began, Lois, the project director from Hammer Industries would like to have you at one of his meetings later tonight."

"... do I have to walk?"

"No. Transportation will be provided. You will dress appropriately for the event, I hope."

"I'll wear my shirt the right way ... that's all you get for ten thousand." she joked, though her voice always came out the same either way. The man nodded and made for the door, intending to stand by for the rest of the lecture.[/spoiler]

[b]Headin' Out[/b]

Once the sails were repaired, the Utka was deemed fit to sail again. The rest of the repairs would have to wait until they reached Tremere. Bogdan true to his word had Zel transferred in restraints from the Leverager to the Dark Utka, and after all was said and done, the two ships headed out, full sail, bound for Tremere as the sun began to set.

Raquel spent some time by herself near the front of the interior of the Dauntless where there was virtually no through traffic. She had a book in her hand and opened but wasn't reading it anymore. Her thoughts were somewhere else for the moment.

[spoiler='Retrospect']The Leverager was heading out full sail and that was the best they could hope for. Catching up to the Dark Utka would be mostly a matter of luck, since neither ship had a speed advantage. Raquel decided to take the time to speak to Zel. Gabbie offered to be her guard for some reason. She didn't have much reason to object. It turned out that Zel was quite well guarded, having five of the Leverager's crewmen scattered around the brig and keeping an eye on him. In his 'cage' was a single chair for him to sit in, and though it wasn't completely obvious at first, his hands were tied behind his back. Raquel grimaced seeing him like that. Gabbie didn't hint at [i]anything[/i]; not even the slightest clue as to what she was thinking.

Raquel was offered a chair by one of the sailors and Gabbie stood off in the corner with her arms crossed and her face obscured by shadows. Raquel then summoned up the courage to address the man who not long ago had tried to kill her. "Zel ...? I ... I need to ask you ... ... I need to know why you attacked me so suddenly like that."

"You know why," Zel immediately shot back with indignation. "You had the choice of picking another boat with conditions aside from [i]aiding[/i] our mortal foe! Instead, you, and now that other cur, chose to betray your homeland. I cannot, as the son of a Dragon Slayer, abide by that decision! And so I attacked." He was still having a hard time believing that he was in this situation. They must've used some form of treachery to have brought him down. Maybe that dastard's sword was poisoned?

Raquel immediately curled up a bit and put her head down and stayed like that for the duration of his reply. "But you knew we had other Neviskotians in our group, didn't you? What about how they feel?" She felt it deeply that her next pair of questions were all but pointless to ask at this point, but she asked them anyway. What was worse was she was going back, back to her days of arguing with superiors, but now the role was reversed. "Why did you just ... [i]attack[/i] me?! You could have at least let me explain myself ...."

"What they [i]felt[/i] is none of your concern," Zel snapped with fury. "You had a duty to your nation, the one guiding light that has protected you throughout your entire life, and you went and betrayed it. That you even considered assisting the Neviskotians' war effort is evidence enough that you're a traitor! That's why I challenged you, and that's why I will not stand to aid you or most of your mercenaries."

Another brutal rebuttal. "Stop demonizing dragons! Urrrgh, this is ... exactly the kind of stupid argument I had with some of my instructors back at the academy. It's not the war effort I'm trying to help. Nobody deserves to be a slave, and keeping these dragons away from the rebels will save lives. If we were helping Captain Bogdan rescue [i]human beings[/i] from the smugglers, would you be this upset about it? Honestly?"

"Whose lives? Certainly not your countrymen's lives," Zel said resolutely. "And the fact is, they aren't human, no matter what you scalewhores may say. They're monsters, nothing more, and nothing less." He had had enough of this rubbish, it seemed.

"I guess I just misjudged you, then." Raquel replied gloomily. "I can't work with people who are caught up in the feud between Ursium and Neviskotia. This is way more important than that two thousand year old dragon debate! The people we're after are [i]everywhere[/i] and they're far more dangerous than a few dragon eggs ... but you obviously don't care about that. We're going to release you at Tremere. You'll have to find your own way back to Ursium. I'm sorry."

"Tremere won't come too soon, I assure you," the white knight seethed. Already the knight was thinking about his imminent escape. First, he'd ride back to Ursium, and inform his Father of the mercenary dogs' treachery. Then, they would ride together, and avenge this disgrace! It would be [i]glorious[/i].

"I ... I guess that's it, then." Raquel wasn't sure what else to say. She was nothing but a traitor in Zel's eyes and nothing she said could change that. She slowly stood up from her chair in front of his cell and her gaze fell to the floor again. There was one thing she realized, one more thing she had to say before leaving. "I'm trying to save my father. There's nothing more important to me than that, especially not the war. I'm not a traitor." With that, Raquel began a melancholy walk out of the area.

[i]Good, she's on her way out. Now I can do what I really came here to do.[/i] Gabbie thought to herself, watching Raquel's every move until she was out of sight. The second she was, Gabbie stopped leaning on the wall and came out of the shadows and approached Zel's cell. She stood there like an authority figure, arms akimbo, and a pissed off look on her face. "You aren't [i]always[/i] a complete ass, so I'll give you a fair warning," she began, taking her hands off of her hips and cracking her knuckles. "If you try to attack us again ... I'll kill you, and [i]no one[/i] stop me; not Raquel, not Connor, and especially not that retarded archer. And [i]if[/i] you get in our way at any point in time, I won't [i]just[/i] kill you, but anyone you were stupid enough to bring along. I don't care if you don't agree with what we're doing, but you'd better just get over it, because if I ever catch you with the enemy, you're history."

Zel ignored Raquel's flimsy sob story, but was more affected by Gabriella's vicious display. Of all people, he would've thought [i]she'd[/i] support him. This was unfortunate, but the path to glory required some sacrifices, the knight supposed.

"Understood," he said, mostly to get the vixen out of his face.[/spoiler]

Gabbie happened to be thinking about the event, as well, sparing the Dark Utka a few occasional glances as it sailed along beside the Leverager. There wasn't much to do if she was dwelling on things like that so frequently. As long as she didn't have any dreams about it, she knew she would be alright.

[b]A Night With A Prince[/b]
[spoiler]"Now open your eyes ..." came Steinn's voice. He'd just taken his hands away from Gabbie's eyes so she could see where she was. He was standing right behind her and wearing an open black frill shirt and black pants. Gabbie was wearing a high cut gown and had her hair tied up for once. The two were standing on a balcony overlooking a massive Ursian city. When Gabbie opened her eyes, she gasped at the sight of it. Lights, everywhere and they were quite a few stories up. She turned to Steinn and said "It's beautiful ... ... so where the hell are we, anyway?" A good question. For some reason, she didn't have an accent anymore.

"Ursentius. With Ursium's resources and Corvus' cooperation, this nation has prospered mightily. Our two peoples have finally come together, you know that."

"Soooo who's the emperor?"

"Valdimarr. We reached an understanding, and so I let him take the throne. That was ... what I wanted to speak with you about, Gabriella. I'm only still alive because I have changed my name to Devlin Stone and vowed that Steinn Devlinos would never be seen again. I did this all for a reason." Steinn explained.

"I ... still want to call you Steinn. But what reason? What'd you give up the throne for?" Gabbie asked, already blushing. The man was leaning in rather close. He slowly picked up her hands, held them in his, and looked deep into her eyes. Blush complete.

"I just had to find a way ... to be with you, Gabriella. The way you so beautifully slay your enemies ... the way you handle yourself in the air on that slender wyvern ... the things you do with my tail ... I ... I [i]must[/i] have you."

"... I'm yours, you magnificent raven winged adonis." The two passionately kissed afterward ... and time passed.

The two eventually went into a luxurious bedroom with a round bed and enough curtains and pillows around to rival a Sancturan palace suite. Gabbie was sitting at the edge of the bed and Steinn was on one knee speaking to her once again. "So long have I waited for this night ... tell me, Gabriella, do I make you happy?" he asked pleadingly.

"The happiest ... and I'm about to make [i]you[/i] even happier than that~" Gabbie replied playfully while nudging the front of his shoulder with her toe. Steinn soon took her leg and rested his cheek on it for a moment.

"How could you make me any happier than I already am?" Gabbie just smiled back cutely and kept her shoulders high and close to her head as she leaned back on her hands for support. Before long, Steinn's attention was taken away from Gabbie's smile and toward the newly sprouted wings slowly coming to her side. Not only that, but she revealed a feathered tail similar to Runa's that slid over the bed and came around to her side. Steinn could only gawk as his cheeks went red.

"Haaaappy?~"

"H-how ... what sorcery have you used to become ... such a vision?" Steinn inquired, barely able to contain himself, and breathing rather heavily. "Already so perfect and beautiful, and now you have surpassed even that ...."

"Weeell it turns out that my parents were actually fallen and they used some weird magic to disguise me as a human. It finally wore off ... now let's make an army of children to do our bidding and care for us in our old age~ That's what fallen do, right?"

"We do more than that, my beloved~" Steinn countered. Finally he laid her back on the bed. Their tails began to gently wrap around each other as the two kissed.[/spoiler]
The real Gabbie was curled up on top of her bedroll instead of inside it, with Ringo right beside her watching and occasionally yanking his tail free from her when she got a hold of it. He wanted to sleep too, and curling up was his favorite position, but every time he did, his tail would wander just a little too close to his master and she would grab it without warning. Eventually he just decided to nuzzle her until she woke up and went off to do stuff with the other humans. That would give him some peace. He definitely wasn't leaving this nice spot he'd found.

Nuzzle. Nuzzle. Nuzzle. "Friggin' hell, what is it?! ... oh." Gabbie realized it was only Ringo. He was fed and watered already, so she immediately figured he was just being cute. "Alroight, whaddya want?" No true response came; just Ringo's everlasting stare. "So you just want me awake, huh? Foine. Not like I'll get to get back to what I was doin' anyway ... dammit. I was just about to ..." she cut herself off, opting to simply shake her head and sigh instead.

[b]Tremere Port[/b]

The Leverager and the Dark Utka weren't fortunate enough to find two vacant spots right next to each other, but they were able to find two spots. The spot for the Leverager was much smaller than the one it had occupied at Port Temptress. It was so much smaller in fact that the normal loading ramp on the main deck would be at too steep an incline for people to safely use it. Bogdan remedied the situation by using unloading and loading from the gun deck, which also had an exit for just such an occasion. That wouldn't help the Dauntless situation one iota, but at least they could come and go as they pleased for the moment.

Bogdan addressed Raquel and pretty much anyone else around who was listening. "The Utka needs more repairs and so we will be in port for a day or two. You are free to lodge on the ship or find an inn in the port somewhere. This is for Raquel's group ... the rest of you are to return here after you handle your business. That is an order. Now, Raquel ... the matter of your wagon should probably be discussed in private."

"... okay."

"Meet me in my cabin in a few minutes. I need to speak with the dockers and schedule some repairs for the Leverager, first. Get it out of the way ...." Edited by Phoenix

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So they finally reached port the next day. John and Gil had spent most of the time left yesterday an before they docked in the air, landing only to sleep, which they did by the side of the Dauntless, as usual. But now, with the ships on port, they made one more landing on the deck.

Sophia likewise was on the deck, and nearby Raquel and the Captain, in order to know what was going on.

[i]<So a day or two huh.>[/i] John thought, also gathered to hear what the Captain had to say. [i]<Well, I guess first things first see what our plans for today are.>[/i]

[i]So we are staying here for a while?[/i] Sophia thought. [i]I guess it can't be helped.[/i]

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[b]Veronika[/b]

"You probably want to ask the captain where the next destination for the Leverager is. Much as I'd like to ensure the safe delivery of the eggs, I think we're better off returning to Ursium than going to Neviskotia. We may need to find another ship," she pointed out to Raquel.

[b]Nadya[/b]

So they had finally arrived apparently, Nadya took this as an opportunity to take Luca out from below decks and start riding him aboard the ship. She decided to approach the new guy, Raquel's friend...whose name she couldn't really remember.

"So, ya know anythin' about this place? Seems like ya might be the type whose traveled a bit, not a Sancturan that's for sure," she said to the man, coming up to him.

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As the ship pulled into port Robin sat down below the deck. She was bored out of her mind! Being stuck in such a small area with no option to leave was outright infuriating. To make it worse, with the dragons about, there was something she was very interested in, but was too scared to even try to approach. Probably bite her hand off or something. So instead she had been cooped up, milling over what to do in her mind. She couldn't hunt while traveling with the group as she could get lost easily, and she was clearly behind the group in terms of power and skill... She wasn't even someone like Conner who could at least provide a useful service. It was a glum and depressing thought to be sure. Still... she had to do something. She thought back to her earlier conversation right after the ship fight and to what she had been doing in the story she told. It was the only thing of interest really. The food she had cooked and how well it had been. She wondered if it had really been good, or a result of her limited pallet, time making memory sweeter, or something of the sort. She would have to try again to be sure.

When the ship at last docked she had made up her mind. Getting up and heading up to the deck she started to look for Raquel. She needed to ask her if it would be okay for her to try and cook a meal for the group. Even if it wasn't good, she felt she needed to try.

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"Well I honestly don't want to change ships here if Captain Bogdan is willing to take us further north. If we let him sail away without us, there's no guarantee we can find another ship that can hold all of us, or that's as ... convenient financially. I mean we'd have to get another crane to get the Dauntless onto another ship." Raquel explained, cringing at the thought of paying more money to move the Dauntless from one ship to another. "I'll ask him about it, but I don't want to change ships until we absolutely have to. We're still way down near Rex-Avaz."

[b]Reign[/b]

[i]Is she seriously riding that thing on the deck? The land variety of nomad is a hell of a lot easier to spot than I realized.[/i] Reign noted to himself before replying. "I know its reputation. The last time I was here, I wasn't off the boat long enough to really get a feel for the place. Tremere's not much different from Temptress. Its main feature is the stadium. Fighters from all over Sardius come here to beat the tar out of each other for prizes. If you're a badass, it's a good way to make a living. Gambling on the fights can also be pretty lucrative. Other than that, it's got about everything else you could expect from a port this size." he explained.

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[b]Veronika[/b]

"You may want to see about where he can drop us off then- Ursian ports are obviously out and I don't want to have to travel through Central Sardius. This group is ill-equipped to travel through a warzone. Maybe if we sent Weyland a carrier pigeon or something he'd sent a ship for us- he certainly has the money," she suggested.

[b]Nadya[/b]

"Well I'm not a gamblin' kinda gal- unless I like my odds- but I'm reasonably good at beatin' the tar out of people. Might have to give this arena thing a look see," she said to Reign, smirking.

"So, what's your job here anyway? Ya some kinda pirate? Or uh, mariner?" she quickly corrected, remembering Gytha's sensitivity towards the term pirate.

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"It's so far away. If we can at least get to ... maybe the Yoshimo Islands. Further than that would be ideal, but I'm probably hoping for too much. He would be way off course if he went to the next port northward." Raquel replied with a sigh. "Maybe once we're closer. There might be someone we can contact that works for Weyland who can get a message to him. And there I go getting my hopes up."

[b]Reign[/b]

"I believe the term 'deserter' works." Reign answered with his fingers held up and folding at the word. "I do pretty much whatever I have to do to get by. I just needed to get out of Temptress, so I signed on with the Leverager ... quite temporary. So I take it you're a mercenary or something? Or are you Raquel's new nomad friend?" he asked with a small smile. [i]Wouldn't bother me that much. Had to replace me eventually, right?[/i]

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[b]Veronika[/b]

"Without hope, we don't have much at all. We'll end up working something out," Veronika reassured Raquel, hoping this sounded more encouraging to her than it did to herself. [i]This is going to be a long trip I fear...[/i]

[b]Nadya[/b]

"Ain't no shame in desertin' to save your own skin. And no need to worry, I'm Raquel's mercenary, not her friend. Only friend I got in the group right now is right here," she said, patting Luca on the neck. "Raquel needs all the friends and mercenaries she can get though, trouble follows that girl like an angry hornet's nest. Work's dangerous, but the pay's good, so I'll stick around until the going gets too rough. Seeing as your Raquel's friend, I'm guessin' you're willin' to work for free?" she asked Reign wryly.

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"Well ... we didn't get this far on just determination, so I guess you're right. I'm pretty sure the worst has already past as far as our traveling woes go. We made it out of two different types of no-man's-lands and now our only trouble seems to be finding the right route back to Weyland and not getting cheated on the expense. That's pretty minor all things considered." Another thought occurred. Bogdan hadn't finished speaking with the dockers just yet, but he'd be finished sooner or later. "Did you want to come with me when I talk with him? It's probably fine, but it would be stupid of me to go anywhere completely by myself ..."

[b]Reign[/b]

[i]The horse? Well she looks trustworthy ... sorta.[/i] "Well, we are friends, but I'd rather not starve, heheheh. I guess I'd consider working for free if she fed me." he explained with a slight grin and a shrug. "... it better be [i]above[/i] and [i]beyond[/i] good, though. Anyone can prepare something edible if they don't make it with feces, so if I'm risking my neck for free, it better be the best cooking I've ever had~"

They were still just talking. This new human wasn't giving Nadya any gold yet. A frustrating situation for Luca. This strange phenomenon of interaction and no gold was becoming more and more common, though fortunately Nadya was compensating by looting all of the bodies that kept piling up. This herd didn't seem to have much gold ... but they sure knew how to get their hands on it. Everyone and their grandmare seemed to want them dead. If not for the inherent danger, it would be perfect.

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It was once again a beautiful day in Urcenter. The Sun was out, the skies were clear, and there was a gentle breeze throughout the forest clearing the Dragon Slayer's son was heading towards. The boy was carrying two loaves of bread, a pouch full of berries, and a whole chicken inside a basket on his left arm. As he entered the clearing, a wyvern rider and their crippled mount emerged from the darkness of the woods. The wyvern had a rather dull green set of scales, and aside from its' torn up wing, it was rather ordinary. The rider, however, was remarkable. Tall, slender, and beautiful, she was wearing a steel chest plate, an open-visored jousting helmet, and a pair of armored boots over a black uniform.

As the the Dragon Slayer's son and the Neviskotian wyvern rider approached each other, the former began to smile. He didn't know why, but he enjoyed the woman's company. It had been several months since he had first found her weak and wounded in this very valley, and every day, the boy was learning more and more about the world outside Ursium, the country he began to dislike even as he grew up inside of it.

"I brought you some more food," the young Ursian said, smiling as he passed the basket to his friend.
"Thank you, " the rider replied in her heavy accent. He loved that accent. "Want to hear about dragons once more?" came her next question.
"Absolutely," the Dragon Slayer's son said with lightning speed, a response that prompted some lovely laughter from the soon to be storyteller.
"Very well," the Skotian said, before delving immediately into the topic at hand. The boy let himself be ensnared by this comrade's glorious recounting of tales, and as a result, he clung onto every word she spoke. All was well.
***
Blake slowly opened his eyes and found himself inside the Dauntless, with tears running down his face. He'd thought he had gotten over her for a while now. Regardless, it changed little. She was still dead, and he was still weak. The mercenary quickly rose, wiped away the tears, and began to leave the Leverager, eager to try and push his memories out of his mind. Edited by Snike

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[i]<So we may be on the Leverager for probably a good deal of the voyage huh.>[/i] John thought, hearing the conversation.

[i]Hopefully we don't end up going all the way to Neviskotia.[/i] Sophia thought. [i]Heading back to Ursium would complicate itself again.[/i]

''Well, we don't necessarily have to cross through Central Sardius if we end up with the Leverager all the way through to Neviskotia.'' He spoke out. ''Though of course, it will take us much longer to head back that way.''

''But then won't we have to cross the border regardless of where we do it?'' Sophia pointed out.

''Yeah, there's also that.Well, as you say Raquel, hopefully we can contact Weyland once we're close enough.'' [i]<But for now, I guess we're gonna be here for a while then.>[/i]

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Robin took a deep breath as she remembered something else she needed to talk to Raquel about, namely the ongoing tension with Gytha, but one thing at a time. First she needed to talk to Raquel. Approaching her master from behind she politely tapped Raquel on the [s]rear[/s] shoulder.

"Raquel, I am sorry if I am interrupting, but there are two things I need to ask you."

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It seems they had landed at the port of Tremere. Faatina stretched slightly, looking back out on the ocean reflectively.

[i]<"Who would have thought... I'm already further from home then I ever thought I would manage to get...">[/i] She mumbled to herself, before turning towards the Dauntless.

[i]'Connor said that the shield should be done around this time today. I suppose I'll see if it's ready to be picked up...'[/i] Faatina decided, stepping inside the Dauntless.

"Hey Connor, is the shield finished, or do you need more time?" Faatina asked, finding the young boy inside.

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"Well as long as we don't get too close to East Central. Not only would it take us really far away from the best route back, but it would put us really close to all the fighting. If this war is anything like the past, East Central is probably crawling with ships from both sides." Raquel replied to John. "I guess a getting message really ..." she paused hearing footsteps nearby. The tap on her shoulder let her know the current conversation would have to wait a moment or two. "Okay, what did you want to ask me, exactly?" Raquel replied.

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"Two things actually. I am not sure which I should ask first. Well... First off... I want to make up for the disturbance I caused with Gytha yesterday, so I wanted to offer to cook dinner for the group. As you are our leader, or at least mine, it seemed right to ask you before doing such a thing." Edited by Snowy_One

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"Disturbance?" Raquel echoed, unsure of any incident involving the two of them. "Well, I'm not really in charge of what everyone eats, but you have my permission if that's what you want. You know how to cook, though, right? We're not just a control group for you to practice on, right?"

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"No. You are not. My cooking may not be as... dainty... as some other chefs, but make no mistake about it. I can cook. Mainly meats, but I can cook well enough. And yes... the fight Gytha and I had as we boarded this ship? The one where I put her in a Full Nelson?" she was sure that, even if Gytha had not brought the issue up to Raquel, someone would have mentioned it to her at time point. "Gytha and I had another fight, and it came to blows. We each tried to hit each other, she missed, and I wrestled her down. We can not keep this up Raquel. She needs to realize that she hurt someone and betrayed her teammate and apologize for what she did."

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[i]<So it will take days before we have to part ways with the Leverager then. Well, I guess for now we just remain with them until it's time to part ways.>[/i] John thought.

But regarding anything else, Raquel was interrupted by the arrival of Robin, talking about something about Gytha and yesterday and... cooking for the group? But nevermind that for now.

''Hm, you didn't knew?'' John asked. ''I guess the incident with Zel overshadowed everything else that happened.'' He shrugged. But then realized. ''Wait, is this still about the shooting?''

''Still? What exactly happened back there?'' Sophia asked. She had only heard a bit so far, but overall, she was in the dark about this shooting buseness.

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"The group captured a Ursian commander and decided to kill her. I objected to killing a prisoner and stood before her to protect her. Gytha shot her past me, and then shot me in the leg for doing so. She claims it was to teach me 'discipline' or something like that and it is how her people handle things. She has not apologized, and thusly our fighting continues."

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Aneda walked in on Raquel and Robin talking, rather civilly she noted. It was high time that the pegasus knight got paid for her troubles. Holding onto Hannah's reigns, Aneda stood nearby but not too close, a smile on her face in silent contemplation.

Davod, however, was skimming over his book when they got to the port. He was about to go out and do his own thing... which would've been pretty silly, he doesn't do many exciting things... ANYWAY, he spied a Gabbie and went to strike up a conversation. "Pretty rough fight, but you people seem organized enough. A pleasant surprise, I'll be honest... Not that I doubted your ability of course! Just... with how you described your group before and how they were acting, I got a pretty bad impression, heh."

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They did what!? [i]They attacked the Ursian military?[/i] Sophia was almost shocked. [i]Why would they do such a thing?[/i] Well, she was determined to find out right now!

''And why did you do such thing in the first place?'' She asked.

''I can answer that.'' John spoke up. ''She left some details out, but they were the ones who attacked us first. And not the first time either.''

''Not the first time? But why reason would they have to attack you? Did something like yesterday happened?''

John let out a small laugh. ''No, nothing that bad. It's just, they found out about our little stone. The Wrathites more specifically, and they've tried and failed to take it away from us.''

[i]Wait, they know?[/i] This changed everything, well, mostly. [i]But wait, then when the military aided us when rescued Raquel had to do with...?[/i] And now she fell silent.

''At any case,'' John continued. ''That was days ago. I'm surprised you're still expecting her to apologize, especially after what happened yesterday.'' This last bit was directed at Robin.

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"I do not expect her to apologize. Without intervention, I fear she will be more willing to shoot again instead of apologize once. I am sure it will happen again in fact if our last fight is any indication. Something needs to be done as simply not talking to her is not possible when traveling with her for so long. Besides, what if it is not me who is shot next time? What if one of you does something to cause her to shoot? We need to do something about this, now."

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[b]Raquel[/b]

The shooting? John's words brought Raquel all the way back to their last time heading into Ursium. Robin began explaining the event in a bit of detail for Sophia, which confirmed which 'shooting' it was for Raquel as well. [i]So that issue never really went away? It's still bothering Robin? Gytha never brought this up so I figure she's forgotten about it.[/i] When Sophia inquired about the incident with Callisto and the other Wrathites, John opted to answer which let Raquel focus more on the matter at hand. Of course what came next was probably the second to last thing she wanted to hear. Robin was expecting her to get involved. To make matters worse, her idea of Gytha as a person who shot other people on a whim was obviously a long held belief. She was sure she wouldn't be able to change it with just a few simple words. "I understand why you're concerned, but Gytha wouldn't just go around shooting people on a whim. If she was, why didn't she just shoot you again yesterday instead of trying to hit you? That's hardly consistent. I think the only danger here is you two interacting. I don't expect everyone here to get along, just ... do their jobs ..."

[b]Gabbie[/b]

Gabbie wasn't sure what she wanted to do for the moment. Usually in a foreign city she would go off by herself and try to learn a few things. Being a part of a large group made that idea irresponsible. Fortunately she wouldn't have to decide on how to spend her day just yet, as Davod happened upon her which guaranteed a bit of conversation. She hadn't gotten around to mentioning his whip-work just yet, after all. "We did ... better than usual, I'll admit, and havin' you around certainly helped. Was hard not to bust out laughing when you nailed that guy in the face, hahah! Speaking of bad impressions ..." Gabbie paused, taking notice of the little gathering over by Raquel. "I'm fairly certain there's one brewing over there, roight now." She pointed a her thumb in that direction.

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"Because she wanted to slug me out more and was too embarrassed afterwards. Regardless Raquel, this issue will only escalate again. It can not just be ignored. Gytha must apologize for what she did. I have tried being nice to her, only to be met with disdain and I refuse to stoop to her level and either shoot back or act as if turning on ones own teammate is not a horrible thing. At the least you need to reprimand her for what she did. Instead she has not even been told to sit in a corner for an hour."

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[b]Raquel[/b]

"If I tried to pester Lilith into apologizing for all of the crap she puts me through, she'd probably take my emblem away from me and then send me to another dimension for good measure. What good is Gytha apologizing to you going to do if she doesn't even mean it? If all you want are to hear the words, you could just as well imagine her saying them and be done with it." Raquel replied to the apology bit. To her an apology was completely meaningless at this point. "As for my 'reprimanding' her, she doesn't work for me. She just follows the group around and takes a cut of the profits from the missions Professor Weyland gives us. I would have already talked to her about it if I knew this was still an issue, but the best I could possibly do is tell her to leave if she doesn't straighten up. I'm not equipped to sway or intimidate anyone who's not on my payroll ... especially not someone strong enough to break me in half." And with that, she finally noticed Aneda standing close by. She seemed to be next in line for something. She quickly turned to John. "Could youuu ... go get Gytha for me? I doubt anything good is going to come of this but, I really want to just deal with it once and for all since it hasn't already worked itself out."

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