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  1. Deviating from the norm, Valentina did not pull Duncan along, choosing instead to take her place beside him, walking side by side. She considered letting go of his hand, both because she was blushing furiously at the mere touch and she imagined Max would not approve of the showcase of affection. She decided to change the location of her grip, choosing to entwine her arm around his much stronger one. “There are so many things I wanted to get at the market yesterday! Do you mind if we go back? We can grab some food there, there had so many stands.” Max stood guard by the door, reminded Valentina to be back by dinnertime, and coldly bid Duncan goodbye. Despite the early hours of the day, the marketplace was already pulsing with life, all kinds of shops open and a hundred people weaving in and out of all the stands. The air was pungent, a mixture of herbs, meats, flowers, human bodies all coming together to create a unique aroma that could only be created in such an environment. Valentina remembered the location of all the shops she wanted to visit, most of which sold little knickknacks she considered cute and prime candidates for her growing collection of all things imaginable. She also picked up some salvaged pieces of technological origin, other supposedly magical items, and stuffed them all in her seemingly bottomless bag. “It is a bag of holding,” she explained, shoving a broken geared apparatus inside of it. “It will hold anything we find here, and it isn’t too heavy…” For most, she added silently, adjusting the bag. “Now then, with shopping done, what to eat?” Particularly fond of breakfast, regardless of the time of day or if she had already consumed one, Valentina sought out a stand that could satisfy her whims. Despite the strong smells surrounded them, she discerned a sweet aroma, followed it to find an establishment that served waffles with an unlimited option of toppings. “THERE!” She shouted, tugging at Duncan’s arm, hastened her pace towards the place and likely would have reached it had a small, fuzzy little creature had not crossed her path. Immediately charmed, Valentina squatted down to more closely examine the little kitten, one of her fingers gingerly petting the unclaimed thing. “Duncan, look! A kitten!”
  2. Unfortunately for Duncan, it was Max who first greeted him, Valentina having gone upstairs to retrieve a couple of more items she felt were necessary for the day trip. The old butler, towering at the same height as the visitor, met Duncan’s eyes with a cold stare. “Ah, Mr. Duncan. Good morning. I see you had no trouble finding your way back. Won’t you come in and follow me into one of the study rooms? Valentina should be down any minute now.” Max directed Duncan towards one of the rooms used for entertaining guests, the Nexula way. As expected, there were bookcases filled with books, a set of luxurious and comfortable coaches strategically placed around a low glass table. The curtains had been drawn back, revealing the green fields behind the family home, dotted with beautiful shrubbery and magnificent trees. “Please sit.” Max waited for Duncan to pick a spot, his eyes forever locked onto the young man’s back. He stood where he was, silent and motionless. He had plenty of things to say, many warnings to issue, but preferred to keep them all to himself, at least until he could share his concerns with Vass. The old inventor was a good father, but did not involve himself much with Valentina’s rearing outside of her education as an artificer and businesswoman. Max felt it was his duty as a surrogate father to be suspicious of any creature that came sniffing around his little girl, who was pretty, smart, and extremely rich. “I trust you have a lovely day planned for Valentina, Mr. Duncan? She has seen and experienced so much, it would be difficult to surprise her. And her position in life has definitely colored her expectations; cheap wouldn’t do for her. Here, let me fetch her for you, I will return shortly.” With that, he was gone, hoping he had given Duncan something to think about. A few minutes later, Valentina came dashing in, a radiant smile on her face. “Hi! Sorry, I just wanted to make sure I had everything I need. Are we going back to the marketplace? Did you eat anything? This time, everything is on me. It is my turn to treat you.” She stretched out her hand for his, already a little bit of a blush forming. “Ready?”
  3. Camila listened to Ezekiel’s instructions, swiftly took to action. The cavern, a much needed reprieve from the biting cold of the mountain, offered the remains of dried leaves and debris as well as loose stones that could be used to form a nest to contain the fire. The young noble, though fatigued and certain to fall into dream should she dare to close her eyes, gathered all of the items and arranged them near the wounded warrior, where she took a match from the satchel and brought a small fire to life. Despite the dire circumstances, Camila could not help the crack of her lips as the fire brighten and warmed the room, pleased to have mastered the skill she learned a few days ago. “I can see you better now, Ezekiel.” She commented as the fire gained strength, promised to hold its flame for them. She could see the signs of battle all over his body, his blood the currency paid for their victory. Camila held the dagger to the flame, watched the blade turn bright red, cleansed from disease and ready to seal Ezekiel’s wound. She positioned herself beside him, placed her free hand on his knee as a sign of support for them both. “Ready?” She did not wait for an answer, pressing the hot blade to his flesh and searing it close. The potent smell emitting from the sealing wound threatened to empty the contents of her stomach, but she did not flinch, stayed firm and in control until the task was done. “I’m sorry,” she murmured meekly, her ointment-covered fingertips lightly brushing against his tender flesh. She reached into the satchel for a needle and a bit of thread, passing the slender metal tool over the flame in preparation for the next step. Though she had received a lady’s training in stitching, Camila had never picked up on the intricacies of neat work, and feared her clumsy fingers would likely create a lasting scar on his body. “I will try my best…” Working from what little she remembered, back when she lived the pampered life of a noble’s daughter, Camila pierced Ezekiel’s skin with the needle, driving it across the other side of the wound to pierce that side as well, drawing the two ends together with a firm tug. She continued the process, in a zig zag motion, until there was no more flesh that needed the rough treatment. She examined her work as she applied the bandages to finalize the ordeal, the bleeding stopped and the healing process hopefully underway. Once done, Camila dared to lift her tired eyes to meet Ezekiel’s dark ones, one of her free hands pressed against his cheek. “I am so happy that you are okay. I wish….if you’d let me, I can try to heal. The wound is closed, but I’m afraid I may not have been as neat. Please, allow me to try.” She meant to begin the ritual that would transform her energy into a healing aura, but with Ezekiel’s life no longer in danger, all that kept her sitting upright evaporated, the young noble falling over from her knees to rest her head on the warrior’s lap. “I can…try…in just a second.” She mumbled, her eyes barely open. “Ezekiel? Don’t go anywhere.”
  4. thank you!
  5. Charmaine stepped through the tavern doors, immediately caught the delicious aroma of roasting herbs and meat and felt her stomach rumble in response. The establishment, as others of its nature, exuded warmth and hospitality, the walls painted a light sand color and the furniture in the main area exhibiting signs of quality and comfort. The left of the room housed the reception area, where a polite young woman noted their names and assigned them their rooms, located on the second floor. To the right was the dining room and kitchen, she explained, where they were welcome to visit at any time during the appointed hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Key in one hand and magical pet in the other, Charmaine debated if she should freshen up or follow her basic primal needs and stuff her face silly right away. They had spent the morning and afternoon exploring the city, and after their encounter and escape from her brother, both could use a bit of time to smooth down their hair and have a chance of clothes. The noble peered over to Christian, who once again had insisted to pay for their stay and was exchanging pleasantries with the receptionist. He always looked so calm and collected, the complete opposite of how she perceived herself. She knew something connected them to each other, something greater than their mortal existence, but she hoped that whatever it was she felt for him was not just a result of that inexpiable connection. Perhaps, if time and privacy allowed, the two could slip away into a corner of the tavern before the day was over and—if the mood was right—share the contents of their hearts. A pink blush spread over her cheeks at the thought, her arms tightening around her pet as she tried to think of something else, anything to erase the embarrassment she felt. Atticus, his eyes always glued to his master, noted her reddening appearance and instantly concluded it was Christian that was to blame for that pretty pink color. He would not, under any circumstances, allow any more tomfoolery from that man; he was determined to firmly wedge himself between the two of them, regardless of consequences. As Christian ended his conversation and approached Charmaine, the sound of steps descending from the stairs caught her attention, shifted her eyes over to that direction. It had been some time, and the two had only spent a fraction of a minute together, but Charmaine recognized Auberon instantly; he carried that aura with him, similar to Christian which demanded attention and respect. She touched a hand to Christian’s arm, directed his attention to the young man soon to join them. “Oh, look! Auberon is here!”
  6. Duncan’s sincere reaction to her gifts relieved Valentina of her buyer’s guilt, the young girl quite aware she had gone overboard and had failed to take into consideration where he was going to store all those things. As they unwrapped more gifts, she suggested he could always leave the items in the Nexula home, free to come at any time to retrieve anything he wanted out of the stash. She doubted Max would be thrilled by the idea, but she knew the old butler would never refuse her request and would comply with her instructions. Duncan did not comment on the matter as they lost themselves in opening boxes, Valentina yapping away about all the wonderful places and things she often got to see during her journeys alongside her father. Time just slipped away whenever the two were together, and soon enough Duncan announced his need to return to the Temple. “Ah, right….Adrien said you had to be back for dinner.” Valentina ushered Duncan all the way to the main gate of the mansion, a little pout on her mouth. Behind them, standing by the wide doors, stood a stoic Max, his dark eyes locked onto Duncan with an unreadable expression. “Oh sure, we can do that. Like I said before, you could always leave them here and visit anytime you want, even if we aren’t home.” She instantly smiled the second he proposed they spent the next day together, eagerly nodded in agreement. “Of course we can hang out! Besides, my father did invite you to dinner sometime, it’d be rude not to take him up on it. I’ll make sure we have chicken!” “Valentina,” Max called out in a reserved tone, “it is about time you let your guest return to where he belongs. Come along now, I made one of your favorite desserts.” Excited at the prospect of eating something sweet, Valentina waved Duncan goodbye, heading back inside the home the moment she could no longer make out his retreating shadow. Another day together, she thought with a dreamy smile, another opportunity to make some wonderful memories. -- The following day, Valentina was up at the crack of dawn, was dressed in a knee-length dress the color of vibrant green, had devoured a quick breakfast consisting of eggs and ham, and was anxiously waiting for Duncan to show up. Max watched his little girl fret over the impending “date” of sorts, and couldn’t help but frown. He did not like what he saw, not one bit.
  7. When you decide that you can wear heels, but only to stand because they hurt, but goddamn calves on 10.
  8. Valentina stared at Duncan, dumbfounded. She had only meant to tease him, yet he did not falter in voice or attitude, and it was she who ended up with a belly full of dancing butterflies and a meek smile. Certain she would stutter like an idiot if she answered right away, she only nodded, deliberately waiting a couple of seconds before trying to form some words. “Sure, I’m sure Max would appreciate that!” She was not entirely sure about that, but rather than finding out, she took advantage of their already joined hands to pull him towards the door before either Max or her father had a chance to interrupt their plans. “Come on, let’s go! The presents can wait!” They escaped easily, finding their way to the market area without running into any trouble. The chicken stand, just as Duncan promised, delivered on its main product, the addition of brown sugar to the simple protein somehow producing a dish directly sent from heaven. Because there was no one to stop her, Valentina indulged in two plates of the delicious bites, earning herself a slight stomachache and an inability to walk too quickly, otherwise she ran the risk of barfing and collapsing. It didn’t take her long to recover and beg Duncan to show her around, as it had been quite a long time since she had last visited the Ignatz marketplace. Valentina loved observing, analyzing, touching, and questioning everything she saw—what should have taken them only a few hours lasted all afternoon, and still she wanted to look more. “Aw, you think we should head back already? She pouted, her eyes darting back at some of the stands she had visited and some of the items she had wanted to buy. “I suppose it is getting kind of late, and you are supposed to be back in the Temple for dinner no? Oh, your gifts! I keep talking about them, you gotta see them!” The walk back was just as uneventful, the two slipping back into the mansion and up the stairs to reach her private rooms. She pushed the double doors opened to reveal a gigantic bed right in the middle of the room, the sheets and comforter colored a deep blue. To the left stood another big oak desk, filled with scattered notebooks, drawings, and smeared with thousands of pens and pencils. On the right side there was another doorway, leading to where she stored her clothing, shoes, and various personal items. “This one isn’t as bad, since I’m not here often,” she commented as she moved toward the adjoining room, expecting him to follow. “Okay, let’s see…” The warning of the mess proved to be exactly as she had mentioned, with clothes thrown everywhere, hangers on the ground, shoes flung everywhere. Valentina beamed line toward a corner of the room, where a tower of boxes stood, and she began to dig and unload some of the items. “Ah, this one I found in Patia! Look, they’re supposedly pieces of devils processed with amber! And here, this,” She took out a pile of books, set them down. “History books on towns and areas from Terrenus; I thought you’d like that. And this one! More books on magic. OH, and this one! It is stories about angels. I am unsure how accurate, but I thought the drawings were pretty.” She spilled the contents of one box, just filled with what appeared to be keychains of all possible things imaginable. “Look at this one, isn’t it cute? It’s a dragon! They say they still exist, you know, in some far away land called Genesaris.” She was only halfway through the boxes, laughed a little sheepishly. “Too much already?”
  9. Valentina sighed, picked out the cucumbers from the sandwiches, her favorite vegetable, and quickly devoured them before resuming their conversation. “A healthy mind needs a healthy body! Or so my father will say, sometimes a variation of it. I like sweets too much,” She admitted with a laugh, dropping down on the lounging couch and rolling on her side so she could maintain their eye contact. “I’m also not very big on cleaning, and I’m expected to be tidy buuuuuuut….well sometimes things just happen!” She decided not to bring up the state of her private rooms, also known as a “pig’s den”, if one were to borrow Max’s vocabulary. She preferred to think of her “mess” as an unusual but effective organizational method that worked for her; she knew where every single one of her items was stored, and considered it unnecessary to arrange things neatly when she was just going to shuffle things around next time she was going to use said item. Her father tried for years to correct her behavior, but relented on this aspect of her behavior, so long as she promised to be tidy and precise in any shared work space she used. The conversation moved on to true and delicious food, with chicken as the highlighted consumable item. She listened to Duncan go on and on about chicken, the many ways to prepare it, the best way to eat it, and the promise to take her to a little place that made a delicious version of it. “Ohhh?” She rolled off the couch, amused by his enthusiasm over chicken. “You want to take me there? Why, that sounds like a date. Are you taking me out on a date Duncan?” It had been a long time since she had last teased him like that, often much too flustered in his presence to even make jokes of that nature. She was surprised by her sudden courage, tried her best to keep on a casual smile on her lips as her heart started a quick tap dancing lesson in her chest. “M—Max makes this amazing garlic and lemon chicken dish! You wouldn’t have to take me out anywhere that way…”
  10. Camila maintained her relentless psychic range attacks, flinging dreads off the edge of the mountain, their numbers slowly dwindling down to change the outcome of the battle from fatal to hopeful. She ignored the pulsing headache that came from the overuse of her abilities, her overzealous desire to aid the rider pushing her to limits she could have never dreamed of ever exploring. Despite her best efforts, her youth and inexperience left her without much stamina, and the intensity of her powers decreased from disposing of tens of enemies at once to one or two, if she focused hard enough. She sank to her knees once more, exhausted, defenseless, and worst of all—useless. The spirits that guarded and encouraged the young noble begged her to move to higher ground, where she was less likely to be struck by a fiend or similar creature, but Camila would heard none of it. She was confident that she could continue her onslaught soon enough, but feared her attack range would be limited if she moved any farther away from the battle; thus, she chose to remain dangerously close, with only the dagger Ezekiel had given her as her primary source of protection. Her guardians vibrated around her, informing her of the impending danger heading straight to her in the form of two ragged and decaying dread monstrosities. One was closer than the other, and the two were slow and quickly fallen apart, having barely survived one of Cortana’s sweeping attacks. Nevertheless, they sensed her life, envied it, and were driven by instinct to try and extinguish it. Her protective barrier would hold for a short amount of time, her spirits explained, perhaps long enough for Ezekiel to reach her and save her, but that was the extent of their ability to help. Driven by the instinct to survive, Camila took to her feet, dagger clasp tightly in both hands. She recalled the brief lesson she had received about how to use the weapon, readied herself to strike for the throat, decapitating the monsters and ending their suffering once and for all. The first dread reached her, its only arm reaching to grab her, which was blocked by the invisible aura that protected her. She took the opportunity to strike, awkwardly but forcefully slashing the dagger across the neck of the bread, instantly killing it and releasing its soul to the next world. She used the same strategy on the other enemy, this time her attack much more cleaner but just as effective at ending the creature’s existence. The momentum caused by her very first experience with close combat gave her enough energy to move forward quickly towards Ezekiel, her eyes full of tears the closer she got, until she reached him and collapsed right into his battered arms. “You’re okay….you’re hurt…bleeding…but alive…” She knew he hurt and that her touch likely worsen his symptoms, but she could not bear to let him go. “Please, how can I help? Ezekiel, I need you.”
  11. Vass nodded as he listened to Duncan’s plans for the Academy, waved off his belated apology and slapped a hardy hand on the young man’s back. “Nonsense, that was years ago, and the two of you learned a great deal from it so let’s focus on that instead. Besides, I imagine you have a hard time saying no to my daughter. Most do.” The old man bent over his creation, examining every minute detail to ensure he had captured the essence of his first creation. “Hm. You want to see something else, eh? I may have just the thing for somebody like you. Why don’t we—“ A buzzing sound interrupted the old man, who padded down all of his pockets until he found the source of the noise. “Ah, yes. Time just slips by sometimes. It looks like it may have to wait, this thing I want to show you. You are staying for dinner, right? There will be time then. Valentina, why don’t you go back upstairs and give our guest something to eat or drink? There will be time for tinkering around later.” Valentina understood the subtle message of her father’s request, and placed her hand on Duncan’s shoulder. “Right! Max likely has that tea ready for us, and some light snacks. He loves to entertain, the poor guy hardly gets the chance we are gone so often. Then I can show you my room and the things I got you!” She gave a little squeak of joy, and because her father was present, resisted the urge to tug and pull him away. “See you later Dad!” As soon as they were out of the room and up the stairs, Valentina realized she had taken her revolver with her, but because it felt so right attached to her hip, she ignored the responsible thing to do and put the item back in her safety drawer. “Well, how is the tour of the Nexula home so far? I have to admit, I hope Dad can show you his work area later, it is impressive.” Just as she had predicted, a tray platter with a teapot, two cups, and several bite-size sandwiches had been placed on one of the tables. Always hungry, regardless of the last time she had eaten anything, Valentina dashed over to bunch on one of the sandwiches, instantly disappointed to discover instead of delicious cheese and meat the small snack was composed of raw vegetables. Never one to turn down food, she finished one of them and reached for another, popping the whole thing in her mouth as she poured them some tea. “I was hoping for something sweeter but maybe for dessert Max will have cooked up something delicious. He and my Dad are pretty strict about what I can eat, even though I’m so old already.”
  12. Valentina sighed, a little miffed by her father’s interruption of her time with Duncan. She had planned for the two to meet at some point during her stay in Ignatz, but she would have preferred on a different visit, given that she had so much to show and give him before he had to return to the Temple. She obediently followed Vass out into the general work area, smiled a little as she playfully elbowed Duncan back. “I have a lot more to show him,” she said to her father, hoping he caught the implication and released them from whatever he wanted to show them. “Also, I have some things to give him! You know, all those souvenirs I picked up while we traveled.” Vass laughed, big and strong, much as his daughter did whenever she forgot to mind her manners. “Ahh, yes. My daughter has a good mind, good ideas. You will be impressed. And no, not precisely but…” The old man paused in front of one of the benches, partially hiding the mechanical item behind him. “Perhaps another time, I do have something brewing up. For now, come take a look at this!” The old inventor stepped out of the way, revealed his newest “toy” of sorts: a miniature, perfect replica of Matilda. Everything about it was exactly as the old machine, down to the power that fueled it, despite better options existing for such work. “Isn’t she a beauty?” The old man pushed a button on the side, and the replica huffed and puffed awake, moved a couple of steps forward. “My oldest of inventions. Young man, step forward and admire.” Valentina laughed in delight, pushing Duncan closer so the two of them could examine the miniature Matilda. Despite her father’s strenuous work schedule, he always found the time to have a little fun, creating amazingly intricate items that impressed and left her inspired to try harder in all of inventions. She did not compliment the work based on looks, rather she focused on the intricacies that made the machine move. “Dad, is she powered the same as Matilda? Will she require the same material to maintain the engine running as it should?” The father and daughter duo lost themselves in the details of the invention, momentarily forgetting their guest in the process. “Oh!” Valentina stopped, glanced over to Duncan. “What do you think Duncan? Isn’t it great? I should be able to make something like this too…maybe a little miniature Adrien replica that frowns all the time! You can take it to the Academy with you!” At the mention of the Academy, Vass turned his attention to Duncan. “Oh, the Academy? What do you hope to learn young man?”
  13. Valentina appreciated Duncan’s interest in her work, even if she could sense some of it was slightly forced. It was so easy for her to get caught up talking about all of her projects, particularly those that would cement her status as a capable artificer that could follow, match, and perhaps even surpass the skills of her father. She considered the name he suggested, laughed as he used it in a situation, and immediately approved of it. “Balthazar it is then. I should be ready to start working on it soon. I will keep you updated, as always!” Having forgotten all about the awkward moment from earlier, Valentina stood near Duncan again, pointing out the specific details that she absolutely had to work out before starting. At the sound of her father’s voice, she turned, shot him a big, bright smile that quickly turned into a pout as Vass used the wrong name for her friend—several times in a row. It was impossible to get the old man to remember Duncan’s name, and Valentina had stopped trying years ago. She knew the old man meant no harm by it, but she still was going to have to figure out a way to engrave her friend’s name into the old man’s mind somehow. As the two men exchanged a handshake, Valentina attempted to clean up some of the items off her workbench, knowing full well her father did not appreciate the cluttered mess. “I was showing him the mechanical servant we talked about building soon, Dad. He even suggested a great name!” Vass appreciated the young man’s polite and honest attitude, waved him off as he suggested he was interrupting something. “No need to worry young man, it is something that can wait. You are an apprentice of the Temple, is that right? Cleric training? I don’t see you as a cleric.” He paused, stepped in closer to examine Duncan and his peculiar appearance. “You are certainly more than meets the eye, aren’t you?” There was a gleam in the old man’s eye as he moved back towards the door, motioning for them to follow. “What brings you to our home? Perhaps you are interested in our work? Come, come. Let me show you something.”
  14. Valentina frowned, recalled the many times Duncan had mentioned his desire to learn how to wield a sword and Adrien’s resistance to the idea. She figured Adrien would at least had soften up enough to let Duncan start some basic lessons, but as always, the stuffy old priest made things far more difficult and baffling than necessary. Valentina reached for the revolver, fiddled around in another one of the drawers to take out a holster belt with a number of extra pockets attached to it, and slipped the weapon into its rightful place. “Well, I don’t know why Adrien doesn’t want you to, but the Academy will definitely give you the proper training!” She stepped in closer, placed her hands on his broad shoulders. “Look at you, practically built for it.” She meant the gesture to be reassuring, but realized too late being this close to him flustered her heart and made it beat much too fast. Awkwardly, she jumped back several steps, laughed a little at his question. “Oh, definitely! Like for example, my revolver can be upgraded but that is not an option until I gain some more experience using it and stuff. Oh, and…” She took off in a different direction, dug out several lab notebooks and sketch books. “One day, I want to build my own Matilda! I sort of started thinking about it…” She went through the sketches with him, most of which were just drawings of gears and engine possibilities. “I’m a long way’s away from building my own from scratch, though. OH, and this!” She laughed, took out the drawing of what appeared to be a mechanical ape. “I thought I could start off with this, my own mechanical servant. What do you think?” She shoved the paper in his face, eager to hear his opinion on her future project. “If I make it, what should I call it? Any suggestions?” As she waited, the figure of a man peeked from the doorway, his eyes covered by protective eyewear. “Valentina, dear, will you—ah, well, well. A guest? And…silver hair and skin? This is that boy isn’t it? Bobby? Danny? Duncy?” Vass Nexula stepped in, hand extended for a handshake.
  15. “Hm? Max? Oh.” Valentina recounted the old butler’s interaction with Duncan, and upon further inspection, did find his choice of words odd and his demeanor subtly cold. She analyzed the content of the conversation, added in Duncan’s observations, and concluded Max’s behavior was directly tied to the incident that had endangered their lives four years ago. She had told him everything about the ordeal, how it had been her fault, and the magnificent moment in which Duncan had given her a glimpse into his potential powers. “I told him everything….well, except about your heritage. That I wouldn’t share, unless you told me it was ok, you know? I don’t think he means anything by it! Max just worries about me! He can be a bit overprotective, is all.” She would have to speak to him about it though, when Duncan went home. Standing in front of the door, and assured by Duncan he would not ridicule her creations, Valentina touched her palm to the cold metal, precisely a quarter away from the center, where the material gave way to her handprint and disappeared in the blink of an eye. Without the obstacle, Valentina stepped into the general workspace of the Nexulas and their most trusted of staff. The walls were decorated with all kinds of instruments, the benches neatly prepped with vials, runes, basic weapons, magical items, books for note keeping, all kinds of technology—anything that may be required to run experiments that dealt the art of modifying items. “This is the general area, for us and sometimes some people Dad works with. Over there, you see, that door with the red runes? That is my Dad’s private lab. Nobody is allowed in there, unless invited. And over there at the end, that door with all the runes on it? That is where the most sensitive of items are kept. BUT here!” She took his hand, pulled him towards the other side of the huge underground vault, where a door decorated with light blue runes stood. She pressed a specific code, opening the doorway into her private working space. Unlike the general area, Valentina’s work space was a complete mess. Hundreds of items littered the all three of her benches, a number of parts of all sorts of things scattered everywhere, some drawings and notes splattered all over the ground. She ignored the chaos, immediately went after a cabinet to show him her most prized of working inventions: the revolver she had taken from her, had modified since then, and was completely an expert at using. “First, look at this! Do you remember?” She double checked to ensure the weapon would not go off by accident, held the revolver for him to take. “My Dad let me keep it. We’ve worked on it since, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Maybe I can show you later! I bet you’re good with the sword now too, right?”