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File: 1542153136422.jpg (209.18 KB, 1277x721, tumblr_o4ti8ceOFI1uqcakjo10_12…)

Morning Light: Thread 1: In Media Res The Foreword!jSaxman3BgCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41550358[View All]

#ask/invite #canon: lost light universe #era: six hours before high noon #no but for real it's a fantasy au #era: morning light

It is a time of legends.

The world has never known more peril than it does in these halcyon days, nor has the sun above it ever shone brighter for the brave and noble souls that stand against the forces that want the mortal world for themselves.

Twenty years have passed since the greatest of Man's princes turned traitor and took up the mantle of the Lich King, sitting in his citadel of ice and bone in the far north of the world, plotting the downfall of all things good and pure in existence, and yet all his necrotic might and icy hatred has been for naught against the heroism of the cities that were once his and the arms and armies of other cities still that never trusted him, even in the days where he yet possessed a soul of his own.

It has been ten years since the disaster at Kaprika, an entire civilization vanishing overnight, sucked screaming into the realm of Chaos and leaving behind a frigid hellscape of capering demons and embittered, haggard survivors, a place where the veil between material and immaterial is treacherously thin and the unknowable things that wish to gnaw on the bones of the myriad mortal races and spit the gristle out claw feverishly at the bars of their cages, shrieking and gibbering where none can hear, but for every demon that bursts through reality like a swollen, diseased pustule, there are twenty silver-armored figures of the Seventh Legion to stamp it out, purple bolts of witchfire splashing off their armor like greasy smoke and tortured, inhuman shrieks falling on deaf ears as these few elite among Stormwind's countless defenders condemn the beast to another eternity of seeking an entrance into the materium.

It has been five years since the formation of the Orders, fraternal organizations that seek to look beyond border disputes and age-old blood feuds to protect their various homes and ensure all are ready for the next inevitable crisis, for there are always more crises, more than could ever be put into words; those named are but a few among innumerable, just as the glories and honors of these days. The orcish warriors of Orgrimmar raise a shout of joy and pride to rival any cheer of Stormwind's human sons at news of slain titanic beasts or repelled demonic incursions; the archmagi and nether-scholae of the College work tirelessly to bring new arcane wonders into the world just as eagerly as the dwarvish blacksmiths and runesmiths of Ironforge show off their newest inventions to the merchant-lords of Reeve. Every war sees new wonders created and discovered in tandem, every spat between Horde and Alliance is in spite of how well their soldiers have overcome the Fallen Son's latest plans. It is a world of contradictions and sureties, myths and mysteries.

Rejoice in what it means to know honor and glory, for these are words that mean a million things to a million beings but have never been more universally understood. Marvel at the wonders of the age, for to live here is to witness an epoch of discovery and remembrance, to see gods and science existing side by side.

It is a world where adventure can be found wherever it is sought, and where the battle must never be forsaken, no matter how dire.

It is merely a matter of time.
445 posts and 312 image replies omitted. Click View to see all.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559328

File: 1573692811415.png (460.3 KB, 740x487, Worry.png)


>Castell had somehow managed to fall asleep eventually. It had taken much tossing and turning, and discomfort, but he'd managed to drift off into unconsciousness. But his sleep was not sound. The ambient noise of the very old house was enough to invade his rest, with every errant creak and shadow across the window tormenting his sleeping mind.

>One errant creak of the floorboards too many, and Castell was up, panting heavily and eyes flitting about the area. The noises...they had to be playing tricks on him...Or maybe just Sherry, if that story at dinner was anything to go by. Castell drew the covers closer to himself as he kept his eyes moving between the window and the door.

>The creaks almost seemed like they were travelling up the hallway next to his room...But they couldn't be. They had better not be. Castell's highly trained senses were on high alert, frantically searching around for any sign of what might be coming up besides the room.

>Obviously it was just so he knew better than to just charge out there and fight it. There was very little he couldn't beat, after all so he just needed to be sure that he wasn't fighting some poor manservant that came knocking! He was just being considerate to the Palominos, really!

>Castell mumbled under his breath to himself and stared at the door apprehensively. He wished he was wearing more than a pair of underclothes.

!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559394

>As he stared at the door, the creaking became louder and louder. Only when it was at it's loudest, right in front of the door to his room did it stop. Only to be replaced with more sinister omens. Such as the door handle being rapidly turned left and right, the sound making a fair bit of noise in the silence.

>This only happened for a second at most before it stopped as the handle was properly turned and the door started to swing open painfully slowly, creaking the whole time as the tension was to building to it's apex.

>The opening door revealed a figure standing in the door way, a dark silhouette with curling tendrils and two long pointed horns, or maybe ears, sticking out at the top. Castell could have also sworn he saw faintly glowing purple specs for eyes in the otherwise totally dark figure!

>It did not speak, it did not move. It only stared at Castell and stood there in the door way, menacingly.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559422

File: 1574189368754.png (1.68 MB, 1577x1078, Ontheoffensive.png)


>The noise grew louder and louder and now Castell knew that it wasn't just his imagination, or a wayward servant as the creaking deliberately stopped in front of his room. His breath caught. He stared at the door. And as the handle started moving, a hand slapped against his mouth in a bid to suppress the cry of alarm that threatened to escape.

>He leapt out of bed, and stood ready, sweat already beginning to run down his body as the door handle continued to rattle. Castell tensed up immediately and prepared for whatever came through.

>What came through however was far different than he could imagine, the door opened and there it stood. A tall ominous figure with horns, shadowy tendrils and purple pin-pricks for eyes, and it merely hung there, glaring into him.

>Castell was very tense right now. Sleeping in such unfamiliar comfort had not managed to aid his sleep, coupled with the creaking sounds that managed to invade it. A combination of lack of sleep, and the sounds in an unfamiliar locale giving him the heebie jeebies lead the poor unfortunate man to make what could probably be called a rash decision.

>As such, he jumped forward and took a swing at the menacing figure, in full on self defence mode. Whatever this thing was, it would trouble him no longer, no matter what he had to do!

!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559428

File: 1574305143086.jpg (Spoiler Image, 123.89 KB, 850x1135, __murasaki_shikibu_fate_grand_…)

>The shadow seemed to flicker into nonexistence as the punch passed into the space. Though rather then having disappeared, Castell could see from the corner of his eye that the creature was right next to him, it's pinprick eyes flashing envelopment intent as it tackled him!

>The force of the impact put him off balance in his compromising position and Castell and the creature both fell down to the ground. Though instead of feeling teeth, claws, and tendrils ripping into his flesh, he felt a whole lot of weighty softness om him and restful breathing. Looking up at the form now, it was clear who had intruded on him! ...though the outfit, fake rabbit ears, and the fact she looked like she was currently fast asleep only created a new mystery.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559436

File: 1574392685250.png (461.93 KB, 867x490, AUGH.png)


>The punch missed, which already another terrifying weight laid upon Castell's mind. What kind of horrifying beast could just simply dodge an attack as though it were that of a child?! Castell's punch swung wide and although he could see the figure move next to him and tackling him to the ground, he had no ability to dodge it.

>Once he was knocked to the ground however, he was confronted with whether or not he would have wanted to.

>Now without the shadows obscuring the features, he saw precisely what had decided to disturb him. Castell's face flushed and his breath caught as the pleasantly soft body kept him pinned to the floor while it breathed in a tranquil way. He wasn't exactly unhappy about the situation, though typically whenever he imagined being pinned underneath a woman, she was more conscious and more enjoying herself.

>He attempted to wriggle out of her grasp, but to no avail. She had a surprising grip on her that made it hard to get up without disturbing her. And her...not insignificant weight would also require some concentrated effort to actually lift. Castell slumped back against the hardwood floor and sighed. As much as he disliked it, it might be better to just...let her stay there for now. The floor wasn't as uncomfortable as he thought it might be, and the hassle of waking her when it looked...less than good for him seemed like a minefield he was unwilling to trip.

>As Castell began the long arduous journey back towards the realm of sleep, there was just one burning question on his mind. Is this what she normally wore for pajamas?

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559455

File: 1574790825075.png (75.38 KB, 256x254, hahaha,woops.png)

>The following morning.

Uuuuuhhh, yeah sorry. I should have warned you that mom has a bad habit of sleep walking... while wearing the outfits my eldest sister Liquor sends her... Soooooorry~

>Sherry could only awkwardly laugh at her body guard after seeing him in the situation he was in when she came to check on him in the morning. Now both of them were sitting in the lounge waiting for Barbara, blissfully unaware of what happened last night, to make tea.

She's been like that since I was born, no one knows why though...

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559485


Well, I'm certainly not any closer than you to finding out.

>Castell didn't like mornings, and it showed as he groused to Sherry while they sat waiting for her mother to reappear. Miraculously he had received some measure of restful sleep, but his mood had soured somewhat after feeling like he'd made a complete idiot of himself. Nobody had seen, but he knew that Sherry knew, and more importantly, he knew. Which meant he'd never forget.

At least I know she doesn't wear that usually. That outfit was almost as shameless as...

>'Yours' managed to not escape his lips as Castell caught himself, eyes widening. He cleared his throat and tried to avert eye contact with Sherry while continuing the conversation.

Well. It takes considerable effort to change clothing while asleep. Have sleep aids not helped?

>Nailed it. This should probably distract her from the massive blunder, at least for a little.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559598

File: 1575514952213.jpg (145.37 KB, 850x637, __jing_ke_and_mata_hari_fate_g…)

Oh we've tried everything we could think of! But nothing seems to work, in fact sometimes it makes it worse! One time we tried to calm her down before bed with these herb things that are all the rage now and we woke up next morning to find her riding a horse around the vineyard! It wasn't even one we owned!

>The neighbouring farm was none too amused by it either, but a few bottles of wine made them a little more forgiving.

But still... it's rare that she changes into one of those outfits my older sister sends her and wander into a guest's room.

>She hums in thought, thinking about the time her own sleep was uninterrupted by her mother wearing her own dancer outfit!

She usually only does that with people she likes....

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559772

File: 1576353643954.png (480.75 KB, 606x489, Confused.png)


...It's nice to be liked.

>Was all Castell managed to come up with as he sat and continued to wait. Call him a weirdo, but telling somebody you liked them tended to be a lot easier to do than by getting into skimpy nightclothes and menacing them in their room. It was...appreciated in many ways, but a disturbed sleep was hardly how he wished to know that he was liked.

>...Maybe it was a western thing to be that over friendly. Or maybe a Palomino thing. Either was likely.

That does sound quite the spectacle. She's...very mobile while asleep.

>Surprisingly so, Castell thought. Being able to take a horse out for a ride and dodge a proper punch while sleepwalking was a remarkable talent. Admittedly the punch was panicked and she had been in a non-standard state for the horse but...Still. Considering she managed to trip on a staircase when they first met, it was quite the contrast.

>He considered Sherry as well. Less clumsy, but no less adroit at moving around. Were the Palominos just a physically gifted family? Well, physically gifted in multiple ways, he added to himself with a tinge of pink to his cheeks.

>Sherry had mentioned something before, and this line of thought had him curious. This family was an interesting one all right...

You mentioned your sister was a mercenary. Could you tell me more about her?

>There was one at least, who knew combat. Who could fight. If she was as good as he suspected...Well, let's wait and see.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559777

File: 1576442360403.jpg (803.17 KB, 1000x1333, f65a4bacece2dd0ccf4ba6a35b7306…)

>Sherry, always delighted to talk about her family was more then ready to share!

Sure! She was always the tough one of us, even as a kid she was really strong but also really kind! There were this group of boys that'd be mean to us but she'd always ask them nicely to go away. It wouldn't always work but after she lifted two of them over each shoulder and tossed them both into the harbour they listened to her without question. I think they all work for the city guard now?

>Though as we got older those boys left Sherry and Liquor alone, but always seemed to want to talk to her for one reason or another... something about wanting to know what she liked? Maybe they wanted to apologise to her?

>Boys are weird sometimes and this wasn't about them anyway!

As we got older, Brandy started to train with swords and stuff, taking part in competitions and winning a lot of them! She then got noticed by a talent scout for a big mercenary company and they wanted to hire her on the spot! She's been with the League of Lions ever since!

>She points to a large painting conveniently placed on the wall over yonder.

Momma had a painting commissioned for that day and she hasn't changed much since that day so that's what she still looks like!

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559809

File: 1576544021304.png (1010.86 KB, 1432x1078, Deepinthought.png)


>What painting-was that always there.

>Castell blinked as he looked up at the portrait. His first instinct was that yes, that was indeed a Palomino. A figure that anybody could be jealous of and strikingly beautiful features. This one came with a shock of red hair and seemed to be from Sherry's school of fashion rather than their mother's. She was also standing proudly with a sword and a shield.

>He listened intently to Sherry's story, nodding along while she spoke, and when she finished, he pondered. The theory seemed to be correct, the level of physical fitness seemed unnaturally high for the family, enough for her to be scouted for a guild nearly immediately. She'd been strong from a young age too.

>Castell let out a low whistle. The amount of potential they had to fight was staggering. Dancers were usually physically gifted, but Barbara's instinct and one of them out and out being a mercenary? If he was a teacher, they'd be practically a goldmine.

>But he wasn't. And he wasn't interested in seeking the Greater Heights of Martial Prowess either. Besides, Castell reasoned to himself, it's not like any of them had even mentioned it. It scarcely showed up on their radar, it was just a fact of life for them. It probably wasn't worth dwelling on for him, it hardly was for them. Still though, perhaps training in the temple would have felt easier with Sherry and her family around to...observe.

>He cleared his throat, having been lost in thought for far too long

Your family...Has a lot of accomplishments. All very different too. It's very enviable. Our order doesn't encourage personal glory.

>Castell trailed off, looking at the floor. A morose silence came over him as he once again felt a profound burst of envy towards the Palominos and how they'd lived their life. It was unfair he knew, but that freedom, that eagerness and willingness to try anything until they found the right thing.

>He coveted that.

>Castell sat there in quiet. Dearly hoping that Barbara would show up soon to break the silence.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41559876

File: 1577160271510.jpg (59.17 KB, 568x800, __komi_shouko_and_murasaki_shi…)

>Barbara seemed to had heard his mental plea and she emerged from the kitchen with tea, muffins, and a bowl of fruit. She did not recall anything that happened last night, but at least she was in her normal clothing again.

Pardon the time that took, I needed to chase some rabbits from the garden.

>On the bright side, the silence was broken now that she set the tray on the table before them and Sherry already grabbed an orange to peel. Though she has also brought something else as well, a map of the continent that she rolled out onto the table next to the tray.

Now then, there are well traveled two routes
into the Amazonian territory... which is the normally used trading road. Plenty of small settlements along the way, and the safest way to go.

>She pointed at the illustration of a long road that appeared to be a southern approach into the land before making a sharp turn north towards it's capital. Then she points to one that entered from the northern portion that was clearly shorter, at least on the map.

And this road borders the Ashlands where several expeditions have encampments there. Many wealthy explorers and scholars with workers starved of entertainment, but also less patrolled roads and the occasional cloud of toxic gas being carried on the wind.

>Sherry, munching her orange, ponders the pros and cons of each. The south road would take longer, most certainly a sight seeing route. But the North road was faster and had potentially well paying patronage, though with risks all it's own.

Hmmmm.... On one hand the Ashland expeditions sometimes have neat little trinkets to sell, but the south road is much safer...

>Sherry of course thought more of souvenirs then her profits.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560059

File: 1577844064925.jpg (89.64 KB, 649x636, Ohdear.jpg)


>Well, her dress was a good start.

>Castell reached over and grabbed an apple, crunching into it with ease while he listened along.

>Two routes. One potentially more rewarding but more dangerous and the other, safer but less so. It seemed something of a no brainer to him.

Ma'am, I have to encourage that we travel the safer route. Neither of us are particularly prepared for any kind of toxic gas, and while I have no doubt that I'd be capable of fending off the odd group of bandits, I cannot do it with any degree of frequency.

We should stick to the most well travelled road, and seek to ply your trade there.

>And for a second afterwards, Castell thought that would be fine. That there needn't be anything more to say, and they could all move on with their lives. But then he realised what Sherry had said, what her primary concern was. And he knew that he needed more. He needed to summon every ounce of his brain power in order to try and steer Sherry somewhere safer, to keep his charge from harm. It would be risky, but he had to try.

...We can acquire souvenirs from the village once we get there.

>Nailed it.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560201

File: 1578670331234.png (76.52 KB, 256x243, excited.png)

>They were indeed not prepared for toxic gas clouds! But it's not like they couldn't get gas masks on the wa--
>"...We can acquire souvenirs from the village once we get there."
>Oh yes! That's right!

Ooooooh that's a good point! If we take the south road we can go to that place with the fancy tiny sculptures! You can even pose them too, you just got to see them Castell!

>Barbara breathed a sigh of relieve, thanking her lucky stars and Castell knowing how to play into her daughter's habits.

Just try not to buy too many dear.

>She didn't want to dedicated yet another room to them...

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560219

File: 1578764568827.png (604.36 KB, 869x490, DidIleavetheovenon.png)


I'm sure I will enjoy them, ma'am.

>Castell replied neutrally, as inwardly he relaxed. No toxic clouds and gas or bandit attacks for him today. Just a relaxing ordinary journey with his...eccentric charge. That'd suffice for now.

>Barbara it seemed, shared his relief judging by that sigh. Win win for both of them really if they could reign in Sherry's particular brand of spend-happiness. Now his only hope was that Sherry would remember this particular line of thought when they got out onto the open road. Speaking of...

At what time are we intending to set out, ma'am? Your family's hospitality has been truly spectacular, but you seemed to have rather a full itinerary when we discussed it on the boat.

>They couldn't stay here forever after all, not if they intended to pay off Sherry's debts. And on a more personal level, Castell was starting to feel a bit cramped by the opulence of the house and the freedom of Sherry's family. The sooner he was out, the sooner he could feel less like he'd missed out on 90% of what life could be.

Jackson Romero!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560287

File: 1579064991550.png (381.66 KB, 613x592, Why.png)

>Jackson prided himself on his patience.

>He thought it was an important quality to have when you made money. You had to be patient as for when the money would come in, and with your employees that make the money come to you. Employers on Arcadia who were impatient tended to find themselves at the business end of a knife and very angry workers shortly before having to find a new home, on this plane or the next.

>But his patience was not infinite, and workers that managed to continually get into more trouble than they were worth required a stern talking to.

So. After weeks of attempting to find something simple enough that the pair of you could accomplish it, I send you on an errand to grab some cheap beer to keep the customers happy. And after waiting at least two hours for it to finish, two hours longer than it should have taken, I go out to see what's become of you.

And what I do I find? I find three ruined kegs of beer, completely bereft of their contents, two roughed up gophers, and Elegi is screaming at me that thanks to my 'riff raff' he's down three bouncers for the forseeable future. I have no booze, my cushy little operation here is now being eyed up by my neighbours since I clearly have grand designs on owning this ramshackle piece of shit boat like every other mouth breather who starts a casino and Elegi's bodyguards are eyeing me up something fierce every time I walk down a street on my own.

...So? What do you two have to say for yourselves?

Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560288

File: 1579065157866.png (1.32 MB, 1401x1076, Staaaare.png)


>Sitting across from Jackson were the recipients of his scolding. And at least one of them had an idea of when he was being told off.

>Sitting in the chair uncomfortably, scraggly wing spread behind it and twitching involuntarily as he flexed it and the pain came back, was Ramiel. He was covered in bruises, one very prominent black eye and had a morose, somewhat embarrassed expression covering his face while Jackson laid into him.

>He only had one thing to say for himself.

They started it.

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560289


>on the other hand, there was Aurisa. she also knew when she was being told off

>she just didn’t care
>she did her usual weird crouch-on-a-chair-instead-of-sitting-on-it thing, cool as could be while the boss man layed into them
>sure, she had as healthy of a respect for Jackson as she would for most anyone, but her pride as superior elven royalty wasn’t about to let anyone make her feel small
>even though, objectively speaking, she was pretty small barring a few key features, but semantics

>when called on to defend herself, she just grunted in affirmation with Ram, then added

They try to steal. We stop. They break beer running. Their fault, not us.

>and with that, she just went right back to picking little bits of person out of her fangs with the tip of her knife, perfectly content with that summary

Jackson and Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560290

File: 1579067333289.png (443.71 KB, 663x596, Ohdear.png)


>Jackson sighed once more. That was about the long and short of it, he thought. They didn't really have the capacity to lie in his experience of them, or felt any need to do so. That was probably what happened.

>And that also meant that they probably neither knew, nor really cared about the delicate balance of power here that had been upset, placing all eyes squarely on him. The lands of Arcadia made their bread and butter on discrete power plays, backroom sabotage and whoever could creatively abuse their workers the right way. After such a long time of staying out of it, a move like this would for all the world look like he'd attempted to make his move in 'The Game.'

...Yeah, you're probably right. Nice going trying to protect the stock kids, lesser people than you would have ran.

But skies above, did'ja have to beat them that badly? Poor bastards are going to be nursing wounds for weeks on end, never mind the one who's currently got a chunk bitten out of his shoulder.

>He gave a pointed glance at Aurisa

People are going to start thinking my staff are assassins.

>Well, some of them were, but he wasn't the type of person to judge if a contract killer wanted a change tending bar, or tending to...certain needs of his customers as long as they did the job right.

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560291


>if Aurisa noticed the look she was getting, she didn’t show it

>she just turned and plopped herself down onto the seat, stretching lazily across the arms of the chair like a cat

He hurt Ram. Should fight to protect friends, yes?

>well, that and he attacked Aurisa’s pride, but the idea that she did it purely out of protectiveness for a loved one was a much more flattering story

Besides, healed him anyway. Elf magic. Will be fine.

>and to so perfectly underline that sentiment, she picked out a little bit of something red and fleshy from her teeth and finger-flicked it off across the room

>”People are going to start thinking my staff are assassins.”

>at that, she just gave a dismissive, amused snort
>she propped her head up on an elbow and gave Jackson a little smirk

Pfft. Jackson ridiculous. Who possibly mistake Aurisa for assassin?
>she gestured at her own blood-stained, animal-fur-wearing body for emphasis and smugly noted
Much too regal for common criminal.

Jackson and Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560292

File: 1579071328012.png (1.55 MB, 1718x1036, Guesswherethisisgoing.png)


>Ramiel nodded along with Aurisa as she explained. All of it made perfect sense to him, having never seen a princess, or an assassin before. But if Aurisa said that assassins didn't look like princesses and she was a princess, then it was something to keep an eye on.

I thought you'd have met princesses before since you go all over the place.

>Ram addressed Jackson innocently enough, but to Jackson's ears, he wasn't sure if this wasn't some elaborate practical joke or they really were just that stupid.

Well, maybe the princesses I've met aren't quite up to your lofty standards, haven't got the royal wealthiness to spring for the thug splattered animal pelts you see, have to resort to silk.

>Jackson neither knew nor cared if they even understood he was being sarcastic but it certainly made him feel better in the moment. For now the question of what to even do with the troublesome twosome was still burning itself ever clearer into his mind while he scrutinised the pair of them.

...Where'dya learn to fight like that anyway? Both of you. That wasn't just some common street thug beatdown, I heard the whispers.

Dad taught me how to fight. Protect the farm.

>Ram answered quickly and simply, which made Jackson's job a lot easier even it raised an eyebrow that the twiggy bird was so damn strong before he turned to the regal criminal he had. Elves were funny creatures all right, but he still didn't buy that she was one. Most of them weren't that short for one, but she seemed more like a pointy eared barbarian than the graceful tree huggers he remembered from Etera.

>It didn't matter that much anyway where she came from. He wasn't the type to pry but if he could figure out that talent for fighting...Then there was something they could do for him all right, and it might just shut everything up if he could be sure of it.

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560294


>judging by the smug, self-satisfied look on Aurisa’s face, the sarcasm was lost on her entirely

>as for his question, though:

>she grunted irritably and shrugged as if it weren’t a particularly interesting story, but went on anyways

Hunting. Hunt elk, hunt wolf, hunt bear.
>and people.
>but Jackson didn’t need to know about that one.

And father – elf-king – want strong heir. Make us fight when young.
>she put on a sarcastic, mocking tone, as if imitating a parent telling a child to clean their room
“Cull weak”, he say. “Kingdom strong, make forest bigger. Make elf pure again.” Make us fight even more when grown.

>she sighed, looking down at the wooden knife in her hand for a long moment

>eventually, she looked back to Jackson and noted in a tone with, for once, no hint of egotistical pride

Aurisa fight many brothers and sister. Aurisa win.

Jackson and Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560303

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>That was remarkably more sombre than Jackson had intended for it to be, with that...disturbing little revelation. He went quiet, brows furrowing in deep thought as he tried to recall even the slightest bit of knowledge he had about elves that were so...well, barbaric.

...I see.

>Was all Jackon supplied to that topic. Ram meanwhile looked over at her, confused. That wasn't right. Dads weren't meant to make their kids fight other kids, they were meant to stop them. That's what his dad said. Was there something wrong with her dad? Maybe he needed fixing.

>He was about to voice such a thing, when Jackson cut across him.

Well, if the pair of you can fight, I might have an idea. One of the boats in this flotilla is all about watching people do that. Beats the pair of you going and grabbing things, and I get to use you as productive members of my crew.

...But I thought you said fighting's bad.

>Ramiel piped up, clearly puzzled, Jackson turned to him and shrugged his shoulders

Fighting's bad when I don't ask you to do it. Now I'm asking. You get in there, you beat up whoever the other person is, capiche?

>More importantly, he could pass them off as just being his new overzealous arena combatants who just didn't really know when to calm down! That ought to satisfy everybody thinking about his supposed power plays...

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560357


>Aurisa hummed thoughtfully to herself at the proposal

>sure, she enjoyed a scrap as much as the next red-blooded wood elf warrior-princess, but the whole reason she had ended up here (as in Arcadia in general, not necessarily Jackson’s office mid-tell-off) was because she wanted to be better than constantly mauling people to varying degrees of almost-death
>she hadn’t necessarily had any fun beating up on the random hired goons earlier; she had just been doing her job and protecting a friend – and even then, she had still taken the time to patch up the worst of the damage she had done
>but if Jackson wanted them to fight, then she was bound by her honor and pride to accept the challenge

>man, this was a tricky situation to think through, especially for someone not very accustomed to thinking.

...Aurisa accept.

>she finally said after a few moments of silence

>but then, she rose one finger to punctuate an announcement

On condition! Aurisa done hurting people unless have to. Not fight anyone not deserve to hurt.

Jackson and Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560374

File: 1579579754953.png (1.09 MB, 1764x1026, Heh.png)


As long as Aurisa does it, I will too.

>Ram nodded along. He hadn't quite the same level of reticence that she had, only a general sense of not wanting to be hurt. Fighting had been a part of his life when defending the farmstead and something he had to get used to once his father started to age. Nothing more worrisome than a nasty scrape here and there or a broken bone.

>But if it was what he could help with then he'd do it. He was strong for a reason, right?

>Jackson meanwhile, wasn't in the habit of lying, but he also couldn't just let her out to make a meal of every other task that he had available for a new worker. He couldn't guarantee that everybody she'd fight would be somebody who 'deserved it.' The criteria was vague as to be untenable.

>Or, was it? Jackson leaned back in his chair as he thought. This was hardly the place where the noble and good made their fortune. There were no shortages of cutthroats and backstabbers that came to Arcadia for the fun that it could offer without the confines of law. And its colusseum was certainly more relaxed than the ones that populated mainland Etera as to allow for less savoury practices and the chances of death. Plenty of people chose Arcadia to enact their more...unpleasant desires legally.

...I can't guarantee that, but I can definitely promise you that there's no shortage of people that are far from a model citizen in any society. If you're not looking to fight anybody and everybody, then how about a compromise? You win a few fights and prove that you're capable of pulling your weight for me, and I give you the chance to learn how to do something that isn't that. Properly, with teaching and everything.

I've got plenty of strings I can pull outside of the Medusa as long as it's in Arcadia...So, do we have an accord...?

>He extended a hand towards the Elven 'princess' as he scrutinised her.

>He wasn't sure how to bargain with somebody when he didn't know what they wanted but Jackson Romero was not a quitter. He had reasonable expectations and aimed for them by gum.

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560462


>despite Jackson’s assurances, Aurisa still looked a bit wary

>sure, she still wasn’t super psyched up to go hurting people who didn’t need to be hurt, but the latter part of the offer was tempting
>her main goal since she had wandered into the world outside the forest was to try to learn as much as she could, absorb every bit of these incredible new ways of life as she could, all in the hopes of bringing them back home to drag her people kicking and screaming into the modern, not-pointlessly-murdery world
>it was a tricky little moral conundrum; hurt a few people in exchange for knowledge that could potentially avert ten times as much violence in the long run


>Aurisa likewise extended her hand

>not that she got out of her seat to do it, so there was still a few feet of empty space between them
>she still didn’t quite get the intricacies of the whole “handshake” thing, but she got the relevant parts

Jackson and Ramiel!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560512

File: 1580592221785.png (1.51 MB, 1892x1029, PAAFEKT.png)


>Jackson rolled his eyes and leaned forward, clasping his hand around Aurisa's own and shaking it firmly. What kind of elf didn't even know what a handshake was??

It's a deal. And I make good on my deals.

>Not that those words meant anything, given that everybody said they did so as to encourage people to make deals with them, Jackson distantly remarked to himself in his head. Not that he would voice this to the princess because that was not how one negotiated.

Anything goes out there, not that anybody's used 'anything goes' as an excuse to not kill the other guy, but who knows, maybe you'll get famous for not immediately stooping to murder.

>Which suited Jackson just fine. Any kind of famous brought in every kind of profit. He didn't know where this would lead or what would happen, but he was absolutely sure that for right now, it was necessary. Both for him, and for her. If necessity forced this together, then at the very least both of them should benefit.

>It's the key to a healthy business.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560740

File: 1582165710164.png (119 KB, 254x255, what'sthat.png)

Hmmmm well, if we leave the city at noon most of the caravans will be heading out as well. We can hitch a ride with them and save some foot travel time I think. It'd also be a little safer to travel in numbers like that...

>Though there was one last thing that needed to be done prior to that.

But first, I need to go to the Collage and speak to the headmaster. She said that it was important that I come see her before I leave on my journey proper...

>She never said why, but she had that glint in her eye that meant she was planing something grand.... maybe.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41560837

File: 1582595669256.png (315.9 KB, 558x490, Dramatichairblowing.png)


Your...old teacher wished to see you?

>How very informal. Castell had never met the Master of Mugen Temple, at least not personally. Was this a western thing? Or maybe it was just a non-monk thing. Either way, Castell's eyebrows raised and he nodded, clearly confused but not in any position to say otherwise.

Very well then. I'll follow as you go.

Though I have to confess, I am quite interested to see the college up close.

>And he was. A shining golden theatre sounded so entirely unlike anything that he could see at home that he just...wanted to see the full scope of the decadence, of what this place of learning was supposed to be. Part of him was also curious to see if there were more people like Sherry there, but he was trying to keep that voice quiet in his head.

Whenever you're ready, ma'am.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561235

File: 1585022407548.png (205.98 KB, 512x724, __mata_hari_fate_grand_order_a…)

I can give you a tour! I promised to show you some interesting stuff in Haar before we left and the Collage is very interesting! And Headmaster Claudia is even more interesting.

>While Sherry was excited, Barbara could only sigh as she thought about the Headmaster. That little woman was such a paradox.

Headmaster Claudia Augustine not only founded and runs the Collage of Prefomance and Musical arts, but has used it's success to gain a seat on the Gold Council, the government body that runs Ashore. For all her... eccentricities, she's a very influential person.

But we'll be fiiiiiiiine, she'll probably be delighted to have someone else admire her greatness!

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561236

File: 1585066954034.jpg (89.64 KB, 649x636, Ohdear.jpg)


>A very interesting college and a very interesting headmaster. Truly nothing less could have produced his charge for today.

Well, I'll have to see if her greatness is one to admire.

>Business was not his strong suit, and this particular part of the world seemed very focused on it. Perhaps this was one of the few things he should thank about his upbringing, Castell thought to himself. Money came and went and none of it was of particular importance to him, beyond what he earned in his tasks for the Temple.

>It was freeing, in a strange way. It was certainly freeing him from the shortcomings of what having an abundance of money could do to you, as Sherry proved upon her arrival to Kuka. While it didn't make up for the other problems the life presented, Castell couldn't entirely ignore the few positives it had.

>So, for now he'd just coast on that interest he had, and look forward to seeing that big golden building up close. Just how it looked alone was enough to make it entirely different from home, and that was a good start.

Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561394

File: 1585934854066.jpg (862.28 KB, 3000x2030, 1d4c6b1d-bfc9-4ec1-95af-7b4e16…)

>Sometime later...

And here we are, The Claudia Augustine College of Prefomance and Musical arts! My home away from home!

>The campus was quite beautiful, very large rose garden dominated the space making it look more like a very well kept recreational park instead of a college campus. Along the paths around this striking image of greens and reds many young ladies around Sherry's age, and similar state of dress, walked around enjoying their leisure time between classes. Some greeted her, others were too absorbed in their own business.

Aaah... the roses are as pretty as always. Oh! And this is the statue of the founder of the collage! Headmaster Claudia herself!

>The statue the two of them stopped before depicted a very... self-confident woman posing with a rose held aloft in her hand, as if she was offering it to the sun above. Whoever made the sculpture masterfully captured the... pride in the headmaster's expression.

>A plaque on the base of the statue detailed bits of history about the collage, such as the time of it's founding, significant events, and... the founder's favorite tea?

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561400

File: 1585937859027.png (480.75 KB, 606x489, Confused.png)


>Never before had Castell ever seen such a garden of madness.

>As he was lead through the gates and into the main campus, his mouth fell agape at the sheer vastness of the amount of very attractive people wearing very little and seeming entirely non-plussed with the situation. He wasn't sure where to even look as they milled to and fro, some just enjoying their leisure time and some even coming up to greet Sherry briefly before moving on.

>So far, his strategy had been to stare ramrod straight ahead at Sherry's back. It wasn't much of an improvement over the sights around him, but at the very least he was somewhat used to the sight of his very pretty charge.

>And stare he did, at least until Sherry directed his attention to the statue of the founder. Castell looked up at the very large stone figure and couldn't help but feel a bit taken aback. It was quite extravagant, in fact, most of this place had been very extravagant. He very much got what he'd asked for in terms of experiencing something wholly unlike the temple, Castell couldn't imagine any temple master having the ego to make such a statue of themselves.

It's...very striking.

>Castell barely managed to offer.

It must be quite recently founded for her to still be headmaster, and yet it's still very...

>Castell trailed off, as he looked around at the gaggle of dancers, musicians, and plenty others besides, taking in their outfits and...attributes.


Sherry Palomino!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561765

File: 1588445979318.png (76.52 KB, 256x243, excited.png)

I know right! Every women should aspire to be like her! Bold, confident, successful!

>It was already clear that Sherry admired the headmaster, but judging by the amount of people, it seemed many people were drawn in by her charisma.

I'd like a rose garden like this too, maybe a stage instead of a statue so I can do performances in such a nice place~ Oh! But I shouldn't get distracted!

>She grabs Castell's hand in her own and guilds him towards the collage proper, in through the large oaken doors with golden trim. In comparison to Barbara's home, the collage was far more opulent, almost like a palace. Smooth polished marble floors, walls decorated with red drapes, gold trim, lavish art pieces and portraits many of the graduating students... much more of the Headmaster herself.
This post was edited by its author on .

Claudia Augustine!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561768

File: 1588488045349.png (6.51 MB, 4000x3000, 969684282ba04860fb5a236fb5d45a…)

>It seemed like an eternity though the lavish halls of the collage. Passing by marvelous architecture, priceless art, and more beautiful woman, until they got to the headmaster's office... Sherry didn't even have time to knock on the double doors before they swing open before her.

Sherry Palominoooooo! My prized graduate! You have answered my summons!

>The headmaster was... shorter then expected. Clearly some 'artistically liberties' had been taking in the countless word dedicated to her, but she was every bit as pretty as beautiful as she was depicted. Her clothes were the same reds and golds that permeated the college grounds. Also nearly just as showy as the clear fabric gave a good view of her shapely legs and hips.

And you brought a man with you! Excellent! Our reunion will only be more grand now!

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41561777

File: 1588602485598.png (263.61 KB, 622x490, Thinking.png)


>Castell privately wasn't sure about every woman but he kept his mouth shut. There was more to see anyway. Mostly a kind of extravagance and opulence that to him, started to scrape the boundary of gaudy. So much gold, so much red, all shamelessly bright. Never mind all the portraits and pictures that adorned the walls. All well done, and a blessed break from the eye searing amounts of bright colours, but the sheer amount of images of the headmaster herself? Castell was really beginning to question what kind of person could decorate like this.

>He got his answer eventually. After more art, more people, and more gold, they got to the office.

>Castell jolted in place as the doors swung wide open, to reveal....A woman who could be generously described as petite. His eyes widened slightly as he stared down at the headmaster, for indeed she had to be the headmaster. All the portraits around had made damn sure that Castell knew who she was.

>Her height had been...exaggerated, it seems. Castell mused that it would be hard to not exaggerate it in a statue but to make it as big as it was...He was distantly aware of speech, and Castell looked back at Ms Augustine. She was certainly strikingly attractive in her own way, the paintings had not embellished as much as they could have.

>Castell bowed to Claudia.

It's a pleasure to meet you, headmaster.

>Formal and polite, he rose back up, still standing behind Sherry at a respectful distance.

I must thank you for...leading to my employment.

>That was the most tasteful way of saying "thanks for the incredible amount of debt you put Sherry in" that Castell could think of. Anymore than that and he'd risk saying something he shouldn't.

>Instead he stood solemnly, as a bodyguard should do. Trying his best to not look like he was looking down at the headmaster too much, or checking her out. The appropriate amount of either was not for his ken.

Sherry&Claudia[b]!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562286

File: 1590786961964.png (432.78 KB, 502x600, cc29a2c4be6d9f87343946919c1578…)

Fufuf~! Such a gentlemen as well! You're quite welcome my good sir! I assure you that you'll find no greater honor then being employed by one of my top students!

>If smug pride had a physical form, Castell would be convinced he was gazing upon it, yet there was something... charming about it?

Now Sherry dear, introduce us. I wish to know this handsome man's name!

>Sherry, use enough to the eccentric nature of her Headmaster, does as she's asked with enthusiasm.

Headmaster, this is Castell Rayaki! Castell, this is Claudia Augustine!

>Though Castell had simple bowed, he found that the short woman before him was now clasping into his hand and was feverishly shaking it.

Castell! What a wonderful name! It sounds like castle! How fitting for a big tall strong looking bodyguard!

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562380

>in the short few months since she had left Kohfu for the first time in her life, Nefrae had already visited so many new and fascinating places, but she might have found her favorite
>Beylonne was a moderately sized trading settlement by the coast, serving as a connecting point between larger trade routes, and as such ended up a meeting point for a wide range of people and things that Nef never could have imagined in her old life as a simple farm girl back home
>even only having been here for a week or two, Nefrae already found herself feeling at home; she enjoyed wandering the cobblestone streets just to browse the markets for interesting new things, watching ships come in from the coast while she imagined what kind of lives the people onboard might be coming from, or even just enjoying the much more comfortable than Kohfu weather

>not that she had much time for any of this, unfortunately. a servant’s work was never done, after all!

>especially not a servant who happened to be an animated corpse in the employ of a ludicrously wealthy and pampered necromancer, for whom even death isn’t an excuse to not show up to work
>and especially-especially not a servant whose job some people (not Nefrae, of course) might liken more to babysitting a sociopathic child in a grown woman’s body

Miss Mial, I don’t mean to imply that I’m second-guessing your judgement, but… these are these people’s homes, couldn’t you just… buy one of the houses already for sale? Do you really have to have somewhere new built everywhere we go, ma’am?

>but, for Nef, even trying to convince her boss to not buy out and demolish half a city block of low-income housing to make room for her seventh vacation home was just another day on the job

Mial!E2Vbn7o74sCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562381

>the little insignificant lives of little insignificant people meant insignificantly little to the one named Mial
>the short and stocky golden-haired cat only barely tolerated these people who insisted on making themselves visitors into her world
>what use did she have to bother daydreaming about their lives, or care about their silly "social customs"; her quest was of much greater importance than something as pathetic as that!
>by the gods, how she longed to complete this harrowing exercise, and return to the mystical deserts and glistening oasis of her home in Raii-Kohfu
Tut-tut, Neffy!
>she lightly chastised her mummified servant, tapping her fingertips over Nef's nose for emphasis
These are serious business discussions; not the time for such silliness!
>she let out a snorty laugh
As if you would expect Me to be satisfied with such peasanty conditions of living for sale!
>she took Nef's cheek, pinching it and jiggling it about
You can be so funny sometimes!

Remind me to give you a bonus for making me laugh, will you, sweetie~?
>clearing her throat, she let go of Nef to turn back to the cleric in front of her
Now, as I was saying!
>she casually tossed a bag of gold onto the desk
I will raise my offer to one full sack of mani for this land, and if I may say, that is by far the most generous offer you shall ever receive for such mediocre soil.
>her tail gave a sudden flick, the aristocratic cat beginning to lose her patience
Were it not for the amount of sunlight it receives, I would not pay one measly silver coin, I'll have you know!

I am practically giving away my money with this offer, but a woman does require her sunbaths, and one does not put a price on such vital elements of life.

>she snapped her fingers twice in quick succession
Chop, chop! I wish for construction to be started immediately!

I have already missed on hours of valuable time I could have spent soaking my weary feet in water.
>she paused, taking a moment to think
>before turning to Nefrae with a snap of her fingers
Neffy, remind me: commission for a new feet-soaking tub later today.

The portrait on my current one is beginning to grow faint, so it's right about time I replace it.

>another snap

Also remind me: the cost of the new tub will be deducted from your bonus.

I told you not to leave the old one exposed to the elements, so it's partially your fault we need a new one in the first place.

beatCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562382


>”Remind me to give you a bonus for making me laugh, will you, sweetie~?”

Yes ma’am, thank you, it’s just-
>”Neffy, remind me: commission for a new feet-soaking tub later today.”
-yes ma’am, duly noted, but -

>Mial wasn’t a bad person, is what Nef repeatedly told herself in times like this

>sure, she was a bit self-centered and callous, but Nefrae chose to believe that that was due to a lack of knowledge on her mistress’s part than any intentional malice (at least, she hoped that was the case)
>not that she was implying Mial was stupid! the fact that she had singlehandedly brought Nefrae back from the dead simply because she didn’t want to waste her investment on an employee was proof enough of that
>it’s more that Mial just tended to… choose not to think about things? things such as “empathy” or “not personally being responsible for a huge homelessness crisis”, so that just left it to Nef to provide a second opinion to gently guide her onto the right path!

>...speaking of not thinking about things

>”I told you not to leave the old one exposed to the elements, so it's partially your fault we need a new one in the first place.”

I… yes ma’am, I apologize, but… it’s- it’s a tub. You have to put water in it. It… can’t not be exposed to the elements. The elements are how it works…?

But, more importantly, it’s – if you tear down these people’s homes, they won’t have anywhere left to live!

Mial!E2Vbn7o74sCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562388

>"You have to put water in it."
>Mial rubbed her chin, seemingly giving Nef the win for her logic
From henceforth, I shall dip my feet in warm milk only.
>turning to Nef, she posed a statement that... was difficult to discern if it was a question, or an affirmation
>a Mial specialty, allowing her to say thing that sounded like incredibly stupid questions, or boldly confident affirmations simultaneously
Milk is not an element, is it.

>"If you tear down these people's homes, they won't have anywhere left to live!"

>Mial's eyebrow very slowly raised, the long and drawn out echo in her skull of "whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy is that my problem" being perfectly clear
>thankfully Mial wasn't one with much energy for confrontations; that's why she had servants to confront others for her
>but when the source of her confrontation was her servant, that left her in awkward position
>she couldn't exactly order Nef to argue with Nef
>couldn't she?
>no, she couldn't
>couldn't she...?

Oh, alright!
>she finally seemed to relent
>only to toss a second sack of silver coins onto the desk
I will purchase all of the available empty houses in the vicinity for those who shall be dislodged in the construction of my new abode.

They'll have to handle the move themselves, but I'd say this will be quite the lifestyle upgrade for these people.

>she turned to Nef again, half-closed eyes to denote her boredom with this conversation

Will that suffice?

beat trapped in phone hellCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562398


>in Nef’s experience, the best thing to do when Mial gave one of those maybe-rhetorical questions was to simply answer honestly; even if Mial wasn’t genuinely asking, Nef knew her boss well enough to know that she would probably like the satisfaction of having someone admit she was correct

...no, ma’am, milk isn’t an element.

>Nef couldn’t help but scrunch up her nose a bit at the thought, though- growing up around livestock in the desert heat meant that a Nef had had a few too many experiences with milk going had to ever find the idea of letting any part of her bathe in it appealing

>sure, being a literal walking corpse would ordinarily mean that Nefrae’s standards for disgust would change, but oh gods the smell was still burned into her brain

>but back on topic-

>”I will purchase all of the available empty houses in the vicinity for those who shall be dislodged in the construction of my new abode.”
>Nef’s eye practically popped out of her skull (unlike her other eye which had already literally popped out of her skull quite awhile ago) as Mial casually tossed another fat sack of cash onto the desk
>the main reason that Nef continued to work for Mial, besides a likely-misplaced sense of gratitude for bringing her back from the dead, was the desire to try to steer her boss towards a better path; again, she didn’t think that Mial was a bad person at hear (probably), she just needed some convincing to set her straight
>...but Nef could never get over just how easy her boss could be convinced
>nor just how preposterously wealthy her boss was, just tossing a couple thousand mani on the spot and likely just massively upgraded the quality of life for dozens of people for effectively no other reason than to silence the minor annoyance of her servant politely requesting that she display basic empathy
>Nef was almost too stunned to respond, but she scrambled for words as fast as she could; after all, if she wanted to keep her boss on a mostly-benevolent path, some positive reinforcement couldn’t hurt
>and for Mial, there was no better positive reinforcement than some heavy ego stroking when she did something good

I- yes! Yes, Miss Mial! Thank you very, very much! I’m sure the people will be extremely thankful for your grace and generosity! The gods are definitely smiling on you for your benevolence, ma’am!

Sandy Vich!E2Vbn7o74sCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562402

>Mial kept an air of grace and royal distance as her loyal servant showered her in praises
>but inwardly, she was giggling like a schoolgirl being courted by a young wealthy baron
>"I'm sure the people will be extremely thankful for your grace and generosity!"
Ahem... Yes, well... sometimes one must think to better the commonfolk to better oneself.

Perhaps I shall send some housewarming gifts for these people as well.

A nice bust of the one responsible for their new homes, so they may properly thank me every day~

>she chuckled at this, her mind already starting to picture several possible statue she could-

>"The gods are definitely smiling on you for your benevolence, ma'am!"
>only for her good mood to suddenly dip, Mial's face returning to that callously bored expression she was so fond of
>she had to remind herself not to hold it against Nefrae too much for comments such as those
>she was but a commoner when she picked her up, so of course she'd rely on such expressions so often
>but Mial had no need for anyone's approval, not even the gods themselves
>she turned back to the cleric, clapping her hands twice
Very well, with that settled, I expect construction to begin immediately, so I'll leave you to it.
>she turned, snapping her fingers at Nefrae as she began making her way out of the room
Come along, Neffy.

All of this haggling has made me rather tired and peckish.

Let us try and find somewhere we can hold a banquet fit for my stature!

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562411

File: 1592062502871.png (1010.86 KB, 1432x1078, Deepinthought.png)


>The arrogance was simply palpable.

>It was nothing he wasn't used to obviously. Plenty a rich noble, confident samurai or figure of import had passed Castell's watch and plenty had been just as bad. To be honest, it was somewhat endearing to him seeing this level of pride coming from someone who was nearly two foot shorter than him.

>She also seemed quite earnest and friendly, perhaps too much so. Castell was entirely caught off guard when she started vigorously shaking his hand, righting himself from his bow.

I, uh, you flatter me, headmaster. I am still yet learning and have room to grow.

>He fumbled for words, though a smile crossed his face at the compliment.

I don't believe my guardians put quite the same thought into the name as you did.

>Finally finding the thought processes to respond, he firmly shook Claudia's hand in return. Sherry had clearly been in...kindred spirits with her headmaster as far as their attitude towards life extended.

>Another trait which he envied his charge for...

beat trapped in phone hellCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562459


>Nef flinched a bit at Mial’s cold shoulder - she still didn’t understand why she reacted that way to that kind of thing - but still dutifully followed her out onto the city streets

Y-yes, Miss Mial.

>as they exited, Nef reached into a little box hanging at her side for her deck

>to most passive observers, the cards Nef was sorting through in her hands wouldn’t seem like anything special; probably just some weird foreign game
>but to a Kohfun, they were something very special - even sacred (or taboo) depending on who you asked
>even Nef was at first astonished and humbled by being given possession of these cards - but familiarity has a way of making things a lot less interesting

>and speaking of less interesting, as Nef found the right card and concentrated on it in her hand, reaching through space to pull a being of immense power into this plane - even as a burst of flame heralded the sudden manifestation of some demonic creature bound to burning wheels with a carriage on its back, right in the middle of the busy street to the great alarm of passerby - Nefrae didn’t even blink

>she just scurried forward, hoisted herself up, and held the door open for Mial
>sure, the first couple of times she had summoned Kasha, it had been pretty scary - but after the hundredth?

Did you have any preference for a location, ma’am? I can send someone out to try to find somewhere suitable!

Everyone!E2Vbn7o74sCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41562497

>Mial didn't react to Kasha any more than Nefrae had
>she was just as used to the burning figure as her servant was, so she had little reason to
>she was never particularly pleased with Kasha's services; once you look past the flame wheels and the monster parts sticking out of it, it looked... plain
>too plain for her liking
>but when it came to one's deck, you couldn't be very choosy

Not today.
>she answered
I've little desire to watch you setup our camp again, so-
>she gave a hop, jumping onto Kasha's head as a stepping stool to help herself up into the carriage
-I think we should rely on our own three eyes just this once.
>she took her seat, and quickly laid down on her side on the bench inside the carriage
>a little stretch, and she could feel herself sink into the cushions already
>for all her complaints over Kasha's plainness, and the burning flames right outside the carriage being far too loud for for her ears, Kasha was one of the most comfortable rides she'd ever had the pleasure of riding

I think today I am in the mood for seafood.

Let us head towards the port, Neffy; if all else fails and we find no good restaurants, I will simply purchase our meal straight from the source.

...maybe I will do that anyway. No one prepares shellfish quite like you do, and I do so love those tiny toasts~!

Sherry&Claudia[b]!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41563037

File: 1595202164547.jpg (5.63 KB, 91x83, ara ara.jpg)

>Claudia nods as she listens to him, though Castell might have noticed her eyes scanning him up and down as he said he had room to grow... the glance of look Sherry would usually steal when she thought he wasn't looking when he was exercising...

Indeed you do, but what I see so far shows great promise! But come now, let's talk in my office!

>Quickly she pushed both him and Sherry into her office, which was yet another shrine to herself. More red curtains with gold trim, various paintings and statues of her in various sizes and states of dress, though nothing with outright nudity...

Oh wow Headmaster it looks like you got some more gifts since I was away!

>If pride could be seen as light, Claudia would become a second sun as she took a seat behind her very large oak desk and motioned to the two large comfy looking chairs in front of it.

Fufufuf~ Indeed, the artists of Haar have gifted me many pieces while you were away! However...

>She pouts eeeever so slightly, showing a hint of playful jealousy.

It seems many more wished to do pieces depicting you! Alas, you left before even I could ask for such a boon! My prized graduate must be commemorated within these halls and serve as inspiration for future generations!

And that is why I have requested you come to me today! I wish to paint you... and now Castell!

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41563250

File: 1596647424261.png (342.51 KB, 645x488, IDIDleavetheovenon.png)


>If the building had been a monument to Ms Augustine's ego, then the insides of her office was vanity made manifest.

>Castell could no longer hide it, he gaped at the sight of all the smaller scale statues and paintings that littered the room. All of them of her. Just how important was this woman, and how great was her pride that she felt the need to keep all of them on display?!

>The fact that Sherry just seemed to accept it was further proof that this place was insane, Castell thought to himself as Claudia took a seat. Once she motioned for the pair of them to do the same, he followed suit. Almost immediately, Castell was again humbled by the luxury that this woman could afford, this chair alone was more than he'd ever seen back at the temple.

>It almost felt too comfortable.

>Claudia began to address Sherry a bit more directly, and Castell decided to zone out for a bit. This wasn't really a conversation that had anything to do with him, any more than Sherry would have input if he were to talk with his own teachers.

>Or at least, that's what he thought, until he heard his name being called, and the prospect of being painted.

>Castell snapped out of his haze, blinking quickly as he sat forward in his chair.

...Correct me if I'm wrong ma'am, but did you just request to paint us?

>Well, that explained the glances she'd been throwing at him earlier. He just thought that she was admiring him, but if she was an artist herself, that did make more sense. As privately disappointed as that made him.

Sherry&Claudia[b]!aLEJudith.Country code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41565818

File: 1609822272176.jpg (1.08 MB, 1500x1364, 4be43e46b4cf6cb7ceef5c7da8726f…)


>The headmistress smile threatens to break her face in two as she uses both her thumbs and index fingers to create a "frame" which she looked through at the pair before her.

To find an artist worthy of capturing the beauty before me would take time! Time that I would not dare take from your tour across Etera! This falls to me to make the piece myself!

>Sherry responded in a display of... concern? Hesitation? Somewhere in the middle.

T-that won't really be necessary Lady Claudia, I'm sure one of the student artists from the Arts Academy could--

While I would normally agree, Exams are just around the corner for them! I shan't hinder their studies at such a time! Fear not! You are well aware of my artistic capabilities I can handle this!

I... sure am Headmistress...

>Sherry leans towards Castell as the eccentric women before them starts to rummage through her large desk for the supplies she'll need.

Just... humor her please? I promise this won't take long at all...

Hmmmm, now should I have you both take off your clothes... hmmm nah, the shades of orange you both have are quite nice.

Castell Rayaki!Ren/VL7f/QCountry code: ponychan.png, country type: customflag, valid: 41565870

File: 1610128154514.jpg (89.64 KB, 649x636, Ohdear.jpg)


>Castell had never been painted before. Whenever he'd been out in the company of artists, he was really just part of the furniture. There to make sure that nobody would show their displeasure with the creator physically. The prospect was new and intriguing. In fact, he was finding himself becoming more and more excited by the idea.

>Wouldn't it be interesting? To have a renowned director of an Arts College personally record his image. Nobody else could have claimed the same in his age bracket at the temple!

>Castell's face was turning into one of excitement as he turned to share it with Sherry...And found that she had the complete opposite expression on her face. Almost immediately he looked confused. Why would she be worried so? Surely she knew her headmistress's talent first hand?

>As Claudia turned around and Sherry told Castell to humour her, his expression of befuddlement only grew.

But...It'd be a great honour to be painted by such an illustrious artist?

>He whispered back before turning to Claudia once more. Castell's face tinged slightly red at the compliment towards his gi. Usually people never mentioned the orange unless it was to mock it, this was a nice change! He was starting to like Ms Augustine more and more!

>He was also privately thankful that he was not asked to disrobe. Not out of shyness, but mostly because he didn't want Sherry to do the same.

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