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Lunadrakla

Life for What?

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Glancing up towards the sky, once more the war child found her thoughts flashing back to the days of her youth. One of the few days it was actually hot in during the war. The sun was glaring at her about the way it was now. It made her so angry to think that the sun was glaring at her. Mad enough that it made her blood boil and her clothes burn. Without realizing it, she had burst into flames and attempted to jump and reach that unforgiving star. Some of the soldiers had thought she had actually touched it for that same moment it flared out, eliminating all the shadows and leaving her blind for the next week. After she did get her sight back, she would try to watch the sky from the darkness of the tents....Shaking her head she pushed the memories away.

The time was near noon and only a day after that disgusting wonderful night that Morgana fought the demons from inside their very protector. It all seemed ironic now. Actually she would love to have a rematch with that ugly baby again. That was her chaotic thoughts though and right now she had to push them away for there were other things to deal with for the moment. Already she had talked with her mother and now she had to find that James to determine if her requests were worth the duty she had performed. Either way, she could only take a deep breath and continue on.

With some careful care Sted'ara managed to get her clothing fixed up and clean all the purple goop off. Now she was walking up to the Castle Height's front gate. This time she was more prepared by having her weapon on her back instead in her hand like the last time she was here. Instead of trying to pass through though, she simply approached one of the guards standing in the archway. "Excuse me. Might you tell me if Sir James is inside?" It approaching all this carefully was the only way she could think of going about it as once more the fact that these men weren't part of her party and so talking to them as friends just wouldn't sound right.

To her relief though the guard just smiled and gave her quick directions of where she might locate James. With a returned smile and nod, the young warrior took towards the castle and hopefully where James might be hiding. Edited by Lunadrakla

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]It wouldn't take long for the feline warrior to find her target. Even with the guards allowing her safe entrance, as they would do with any guest, it was actually James who spotted her before being spotted himself. He had been running around like a chicken with his head cut off to make sure everything continued to run smoothly in Morgana. He didn't expect Dollya to leave, and her absence had been noted now that he was left to care for the city until Leo was back on his feet. So it wouldn't be too surprising to find James coming up from behind her, from her left side to be exact, and grab her attention.[/COLOR]

[B]"I see you've made yourself at home."[/B]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]He stated with a smug smile, that only teased and joked as he offered her recognition from the other day. James clearly remembered the offer he was going to give her, but her sudden appearance in Castle Heights had gave him some curiosity. What did she want exactly? James would still be clad in black from head to toe, his rather large sword resting down the length of his spine, sheath-less. James held much respect for Sted'ara, and all the others that played a role in keeping Morgana and Orisia safe. The warrior wondered if that night truly was a moment for the history books, if anyone outside of Morgana even knew of the possible cataclysmic events that could have resulted from a bad night. None the less, the warrior kept his pace as he headed into the Castle Heights, hoping, and sure that Sted'ara would follow.

Whatever questions she held, he hoped to have an answer for. With Sir Hawklight in the infirmary, James held the authority to do whatever needed to be done. The trust that was placed upon his was one of kind, unmatched, and obvious. Almost everyone in the city knew James by now, it was almost synonymous with Leo's or Dollya's own name when it came to the city. He was sure that the reporter from the crazy night would only assist in blowing things up even further. But James was content with everything so far. Very little politics, very little fame, very little worry. As he continued, he waited for Sted'ara to speak up, surly she had something to say.[/COLOR]

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Every muscle in her body tensed as she heard the steps approaching her from behind. She kept her steps paced as if she wasn't even aware of his presence. Each second ticking by as she prepared to defend herself should the person attack her. It wasn't till they were nearly within arms reach that the scent hit her. It was familiar. Something she had smelled before but it wasn't till James spoke that it was revealed. Turning on the spot she let her crimson eyes stare at the man with wide confusion. How was walking into Castle Heights making herself at home? Or maybe he was referring to the length that her fellow comrades were staying in Morgana. And why was he smiling again?!

Just as he expected, Sted'ara fell into formation without even taking notice that she had. Her steps matching his preciously while body positioned itself just slightly off to the left of his rear. Just enough to allow her to have full observation of what was going on in front of her. "Were you in a bad mood when we first arrived here in...No that is not why I came. You said you would provide me with anything within reason or at least what Morgana could provide me. I... Do you know where dragons are?" The question was asked as if she was simply asking for directions to the kitchen. Suddenly an idea came to her mind, "Even if it takes all the favor I earned getting knocked around like a toy, I want you to take all discretion against General Augusta and place them under my debt." Her voice came strained while the color of her skin flushed a red as the emotions fought to come loose.

It was still a sore spot at the disappointment she had invoked from her mother for fighting the guards within the gardens. She wasn't punished, none of them were. Alys was offered the opportunity to leave as normal and the drake was dealt with as the guest he was. His mistakes were not counted as his own, not that she wanted to put them against her friend.

The entire time she spoke, never once did her steps falter from the single beat they both would create with their feet.

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]James listened as she started to remind him of their first encounter on that odd day. He hadn't remembered ever seeing such a thick fog roll in, and it seemed that some of the scientists in Morgana were still baffled by the unexplained event. The only thing that they were able to conclude, that it was nothing more than an aid for transportation purposes between lands, and thus the way the small army had gained entrance. That was his first chance at politics on a more intense level, and James was lucky to have Leo there to fend off the hungry fiends who preyed on his new experience. James had no issue admitting that he was a poor man when it came to politics, but he did pride himself on his Honor bound sense of duty within Morgana, and everyone knew that.

As she fell in step with his own, she continued to speak. James would offer a small chuckle in response to the word dragons. It caught his attention, to have a feline warrior such as herself be so interested in such a creature. He was never truly interested in such creatures, for he knew the chaotic power that came with the territory so often times. When James looked over at her, he could tell by her body language that she seemed rather serious about the topic, which turned his chuckle into a faded sigh.[/COLOR] [B]"I do know of a few places where you can find dragons. The [URL="http://www.valucre.com/showthread.php/18598-Lore-Article-The-Red-Sands"]Red Sands[/URL] located South East of Morgana is said to be home of the one called the Dragon King. It is a small and rather dangerous territory, and many people do not bother with it anymore if they don't have to. I wouldn't take my best men there."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He stated as if reciting fact. The name of the so called Dragon King had spread in a rather short time, but James honestly knew little of the man to judge him or say otherwise against him.[/COLOR] [B]"However the sister island of Orisia, Ceyana, has [URL="http://www.valucre.com/showthread.php/20656-Lore-Article-Solum-Irae"]Solum Irae[/URL] and is said to be home of the dragons in Orisia. The most ancient of beasts have gathered in this one area, where they protect it under their rule."[/B]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]In a nut shell, everything James knew about dragons seemed to be wrapped up and presented to Sted'ara. He didn't realize how much more like a scholar he was sounding as all this knowledge had accumulated over the years. Between all his travels and experiences, it would be a shame if James hadn't learned something from each adventure. Each step they took in unison would take them into the rather large Halls of Castle Heights where it opened up into a large rotunda with four pillars that held the stone ceiling in place. The place was well lit despite the calm essence that lingered around the large room where many people walked in and out of. Her next words came forth in regard of debt, and James offered her that constant smile.[/COLOR]

[B]"General Augusta and her people owe no debt to Morgana or its people. The incident involved a situation that your people were probably not aware of at the time, and it was dealt accordingly on our side."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]Perhaps he just said too much, perhaps Sted'ara would let it go. He was sure that most of them remembered Leo's swift actions which took down the imposture guards that were truly rebels. The Angel had jailed their souls, and their bodies were taken to the barracks where they would await their punishment to be finished with.[/COLOR] [B]"So this debt you speak of, consider it nonexistent."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]James was very optimistic by nature, and he would continue down a long and wide corridor. He felt confident that Sted'ara would continue to follow, especially if she had any more questions that needed answered. [/COLOR]

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Sted'ara only casually gazed at the surroundings. Her might twisted with thoughts and deep consideration. James had done a fine job at giving her an earful of information that needed sifted. It didn't help that James was constantly smiling and so happy! What was there to be happy about anyways? To top it all off, James managed to give her just about the same riddle that they had since the swift act of justice done towards those guards that had fought them. Instead of asking questions though, she simply pushed it out of her mind as she focused on what was important. There was so many things she could have asked for. There was plenty that she might have too but priority prevented it from happening that easily.

Her right hand shifted up to press a point just above her eyebrow as the migraine came creeping up at all this deep thinking. "This Dragon King...is he ruler over those in Solum Ira?"

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]James continued forth with ease as he noticed her body language. She seemed all too curious about these Dragons, and only wondered what was at the bottom of all this. What was the purpose? What was she looking for? As her curiosity grew on the subject, ushering in more questions, it only raised his curiosity. For now, James would continue to feed her the information he knew until Sted'ara would reveal her hand to him. [/COLOR]

[B]"Well..."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He started as if trying to sift through the information, to present it in the most correct way as possible.[/COLOR][B] "No. The man who claims the title of Dragon King in Orisia does not rule over the dragons in Solum Irae. The exact circumstances and purpose of the Dragon King are relatively unknown, but it is said that he has made a pact with the Black Queen of Orisia, and his forces are her's to command."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He paused for a second before giving a soft chuckle.[/COLOR] [B]"Of course it is also said that this man is in relations with the Black Queen's sister, but I cannot confirm any of this." [/B][COLOR="#0000CD"]Finally James would stop as a door presented itself to his right side. Twisting the knob on the door and pushing it open, James would enter the room.[/COLOR]

[B]"Please close this behind you."[/B]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]The room they entered would look rather comfortable. A large window allowed natural light to flow through, but was half covered by a black curtain. This was a study filled with books, papers, pencils, instruments of various sorts, desks, chairs. To be more exact, this was Leo's private study where he did most of his important work. A couch would be available for Sted'ara to relax a little if she wished. James would step into the room and reach for a pitcher of ice cold water. Snagging two clear glasses from the counter, James would pour two glasses full. Turning around, he would offer Sted'ara a cold refreshing glass as she entered the room.[/COLOR] [B]"Please, relax."[/B]

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Finding them stopping at a door seemed to knock Sted'ara out of the blind follow she was doing as she glanced about the area in confusion. Even still, she carefully stepped into the room looking all around before cautiously closing the door. Unlike Augusta who seemed at ease inside the castle and surroundings, Sted'ara found her weight shifting even more as it appeared the walls were trying to close in on her. Taking a deep breath, everything focused for a moment on slowing her heart while taking a closer look at all that was about the room. When James offered the glass of water, she found herself at odds once more. The cool water would be nice as the day was hot but her nerves were tight and she wasn't sure if she could hold the glass steady enough.

Reaching back to the door, ignoring any arguments that might come from James, she simply pulled the door back open enough to leave a crack. Almost like someone had breathed a breath of fresh air, everything cleared up for her as she moved forward to relieve James of the glass. Taking a sip, she carefully stepped back to the door where she could lean against the wall and possibly flee quickly if needed. The honest reason was if anyone was listening in, she would know if she was that close to the door. "The Dragon King is just a name then...Where is Solum Ira? And would permission be required to visit there?"

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]James watched her mannerisms quietly as he noticed her not close the door all the way. She was still on edge, obvious as she leaned near the closest exit. After she took the glass of water from his hand, he would sip on his own as well. If she wished to stay close to the door, so be it. James would listen as she slowly connected the dots. Indeed the Dragon King was nothing more than another name, another title, another label like all the rest in Orisia. When her next question came forth, James would already be quick to action.

Heading over to the desk with papers, James would set the glass down. Sifting through the sheets of paper on the desk, scattering them all over the place as if searching for something, he would pull a single sheet from the mess and reveal it to Sted'ara. It was a [URL="http://www.valucre.com/showthread.php/16881-General"]Map of Orisia[/URL]. Walking back over to Sted'ara, he would hand her the map to take a look for herself, hoping that the visual aid would be of much greater assistance than a verbal one.[/COLOR] [B]"Solum Irae is on the most Northern tip of Ceyana."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He said as he pointed to the small indicator on the map, giving away the area's true location.

Stepping back, James had gone to fetch his water once more, allowing Sted'ara a chance to analyze the map for herself. Taking another sip, the glass would be half gone as he sat it back down. Crossing both hands across his chest, James would speak once more.[/COLOR] [B]"I hear you can only enter Solum Irae if you have a purpose with something or someone inside. There must be an established connection to enter the territory safely, else suffer the wrath of the old magics of Orisia..."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]His words appeared most serious, as if warning her to be careful of such a journey. If Sted'ara had planned on seeing dragons, the Red Sands were dangerous, but Solum Irae was no safer. [/COLOR]

[B]"What business with Dragons do you have?"[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He asked curiously with a raised brow. James couldn't take it anymore, for he was too curious. He still had full intentions on making her an offer, one that would wait until they concluded with this nonsense. But her answer would heavily impact his decision to ask questions of his own. James knew that she was a fighter and willing to risk it all, but there was a difference between bravery and foolishness. Was she the brave fighter he saw a few nights ago? Or a fool that lucked out? James awaited for an answer, hoping one that would be given after all the information he provided her with.[/COLOR]

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Sted'ara watched with a close eye as James responded to her question by digging through the pile of papers, stringing them everywhere in the process. He was certainty not the office type most likely a field soldier mainly. She could feel the quirk of a smile pull at her lips as she watched and remembered the last time she saw the spew of papers that way.

It had been during one of their rests and Augusta had all her paperwork situated on her bed, it had been one of the new recruits sent to obtain a report done on a nearby town. He had strung those papers everywhere looking for that report. They had to spend two extra hours picking up the papers when they went to pack up to move on.

Her interest clearly picked up as the man found what he was looking for and was bringing it to her. She wasn't ungrateful though, her body pushed away from the wall and met him half way. Her eyes quickly locked on the map provided, closely examining its entirety. Unknowingly, he had provided her with one of her other requests. Surely this information wasn't pressing her luck. As James fetched his glass, Sted'ara found a desk near the door where she would just move things enough so she could lay the map down upon it for easier study.

She heard his attempt at frightening her or even warning her away from the area, but it wasn't enough to pull her eyes from the map he had provided. James question was though. Slowly pulling her crimson eyes away, she took the chance of drinking the rest of her water, allowing her time to process how she was to answer. Could she trust this man with the secret they had kept from these people?

"I could tell you the truth or a lie. The truth will come with a price. I don't like doing this, but its not a truth I can give easily. And I've only seen more reason to keep it from you rather than provide it freely." The entire time she had an odd tone to her voice as if she didn't quite believe what she was saying.

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[I]"I could tell you the truth or a lie. The truth will come with a price. I don't like doing this, but its not a truth I can give easily. And I've only seen more reason to keep it from you rather than provide it freely."[/I]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]The eyebrow that remained raised in curiosity on his head would not falter as she responded to him. James had provided her with information, answers to multiple questions, and now she wanted to test him? James had missed the point where he gave Sted'ara room to not trust him. Morgana had housed their people for the last few weeks, and she spoke of a price? Perhaps it was his inexperience with politics that made him cringe at this very instance. All he could think of, was that Sted'ara was challenging him, insulting him. Taking a second to himself, he would sigh before stepping to her side.[/COLOR]

[B]"I think its only fair that the truth is shared. If its a matter of the cities safety, or the safety of other Orisian's, it is my business." [/B]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]He stated in a matter of fact tone, hoping that she would be willing to share the information. Was his concern for the situation not warrant enough? Her lack of an honest answer only bothered him for the fact that it seemed as if she were hiding something. Did Sted'ara or her people plan on doing something foolish? Were they afraid that James or the others would stop them if they knew the truth? If one were to have a 'gut-feeling', it would be now as his eyes looked at the map on the table. He too would look over the map, examining it as Sted'ara had done. What was she up to?[/COLOR]

[B]"If you are seeking a price for your information, I can't clear that until Sir Hawklight recovers."[/B]

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Sted'ara felt herself cringe as James socked her right back with her own words. She had made the mistake of looking at him as a man with information instead of fellow soldier. He had to think of everyone's safety. And dragons were not something to trifle with lightly. She could only pray this went in her favor for if not...She didn't even want to think of the disappointment she would receive from her mother. Holding the empty glass in her hands, she rolled it between her palms before taking a deep breath and setting it to the side of the map. The breath from her sigh turning to fog from the coldness of the water that had been down her throat.

"James...General Augusta and some of the others in our group are dragon riders. Their mounts were not able to come through the rift, so we need to find other dragons that are willing to join us. Augusta would never attack anyone that didn't deserve it. We will only respond to violence with violence and that is only if a peaceful solution can not be achieved. Not all of us are riders and only members of the original troops had them, so their loyalty is complete to General Augusta." The words came with caution in her voice. "I didn't want to tell you before because well because this is a new land and we've encountered some who attempted to force the riders to do their bidding." It was at the last sentence that the red scales about her skin flushed with her anger.

"I was hoping to get you to agree to take us to Solum Irae..."

Sted'ara knew they would have to move on soon as the jobs around here were getting scarce. Augusta had already mentioned moving outside of the city and setting camp. Only a few of the soldiers scrapped up enough to keep them in beds at night. Some of the scouts were even hunting for food to help cut costs of meals.

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]Finally, James offered her a smile as her hand was revealed. This was all he wanted from her after all; the truth. While sometimes the truth wasn't always the best, for James, it was an issue of character and loyalty. He could respect the fact that she was cautious, but on the slight chance that she could find a friend in this would make it so much better. With no hidden agenda, the playing ground was fair and open to both sides. A mutual understanding could be formed, an alliance could be strengthened.

James would take her empty glass and return it back to the ledge where the rest of the glasses remained. He thought her words over carefully, several times in fact, searching for the best way to respond. She was now asking for his assistance in travel. While there was no doubt that a debt was owed, he wondered how far he got himself into things. When would this debt be repaid? It was times like this, that he wished his younger counter-part, Leo, was here to assist. After several seconds, James felt he might have a solution to provide Sted'ara with.[/COLOR]

[B]"There are many wild dragons in Solum Irae. It may be easier to claim a mount if we go through the Dragon King. If he has an allegiance with the Black Queen of Orisia, he would be obligated to assist. However, I know very little in regards to which task would be easier. The Red Sands are by far closer, but the Dragon King's exact location at this time is unknown... perhaps it is best we travel to Ceyana..."[/B]

[COLOR="#0000CD"]Scratch that. His solution had turned into nothing more than himself thinking out loud, trying to discern the safety and difficulty of such a task. Assisting a foreign army to bolster their strength within the walls of Orisia could be seen or taken as treachery. Even with the spoken alliance between Augusta and Leo, he wondered if this was truly something he should be dealing with. This was clearly a, damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. He cringed, he didn't like it. Solution... solution... solution...[/COLOR]

[B]"I will agree to take you and your riders to Solum Irae under one condition."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He paused, wondering if there was any other way to seal this deal. James knew this offer would be one of the biggest blows she could suffer in the last few days. Without further hesitation, he just let it out. His offer to her that he had waited the last few days to ask her.[/COLOR] [B]"Remain loyal to your General Augusta, but become a Knight within the Order of the Black Heart, and serve under the Knight of Diligence."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]Sted'ara had already fought for this man, knowing nothing about him. She was a fighter, a strong one at that, and James knew that Leo could use all the help he could get. Deep down, James knew that if she refused this, he would still assist her in her request. James knew that Morgana owed her that much, but he only hoped that an ultimatum would press her hand into serving the greater good.

To be a Knight of the Order, and to serve under General Augusta would strengthen the alliance that they held. She could be the catalyst between the two, the mediator, the liaison between Orisia and Augusta. If he were to help strengthen their forces, then their forces would have to be part of Orisia's own. This decision could have huge benefits for both sides, and he only hoped Sted'ara could realize this. If she wanted to get stronger, she was in the right place...[/COLOR]

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Maybe James would see the new light Sted'ara viewed him in now. The longer it took for him to reply the more her posterior straightened till she was standing with the same stern air that General Augusta had when first meeting these strange men. Then he spoke...his words revealing that still didn't understand the significance of her mother's position.

"Dragons are no more wild than those from a foreign land. And Augusta doesn't [B]claim[/B] mounts. She proves her worthiness and creates a bond either of friendship or contract with them. They are partners, not pets or animals! And obligations are not what we want." It was after that James put out an offer similar to hers just a moment ago. Only he continued with the condition.

It all was enough to bring her eyes wide with shock. This was not expected...and not as simple an answer as James might have thought. This was becoming more of her politics though instead of her mother's. Pressing her fingertips to her brow again, she could only stand there in thought. Finally the words came to her, "This is not a decision made lightly. And before we dive into this Knight idea, I want to make sure you know...the information you gave me was more than enough to cover your debt. I shouldn't have pushed so hard. Morgana's debt to me is paid."

Taking a deep breath, she glanced once more at the map, "Who is this Knight of Diligence?"

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[COLOR="#0000CD"]He listened as she retorted in a defensive manner at first. Perhaps he wasn't the scholar he thought himself to be, a simple warrior such as he should have known better to call a dragon a pet! But alas, these tiny details had never been subject to his own thoughts before now. The simple misunderstanding was due to his own ignorance on the subject, and not a personal lean against Sted'ara or her people. As his eyes shifted uncomfortably, perhaps she would note this to be the truth, perhaps not.

Sted'ara continued onto his offer where he waited patiently. She was no fool, and he was rather relieved that she wasn't willing to dive into something so recklessly without the proper time to ponder on it. This decision would come with great responsibility. He stepped to her side as she asked her next question so innocently. Who was the Knight of Diligence? Such an interesting question. James knew so much about him, but it still seemed so minute compared to what was truly under that man's surface. She had fought for him, and it only enforced the fact that it revealed her own ignorance on the matter.[/COLOR]

[B]"The Knight of Diligence is the one Charged to this City of Morgana. He is the one who brought the Royal Court into this city and rid it of it's rebel forces. He is the one who organized the restructure and reconstruction of this city."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]He said, perhaps building up this persona of the Knight of Diligence. What kind of Knight of Diligence would this man be if he wasn't so Diligent? His brief pause would end as more words came forth from James.[/COLOR] [B]"He is also the one that you helped save in the Valanian Desert outside the city walls just the other night..."[/B] [COLOR="#0000CD"]Maybe Sted'ara would cringe at the thought of serving with someone who needed a Call to Arms, assistance from his friends. Maybe Sted'ara would see this man as weak. Or maybe, as James hoped, Sted'ara would see him as a symbol. A reason to cause the people around him to fight with him, to fight for him. The loyalty on that chaotic night was unmatched within his Royal Court.

Looking down at the map once more, James would offer her a smile.[/COLOR] [B]"Then save your answer Sted'ara. We will go to Solum Irae and if your people are worthy enough to form these bonds that you speak of, then you will know that my information is good. And after you are pleased with these results, I shall expect a more solid answer."[/B][COLOR="#0000CD"] He hoped this would settle the issue for once and all. Sted'ara would have to gather her friends while James worked the logistics of transportation and other necessities. Of course, he wondered, if Sted'ara would have to clear this with Augusta first. He only hoped that Sted'ara would realize how big of a risk he was taking, despite a debt that he was happy to repay in full. [/COLOR]

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Sted'ara listened patiently as James painted a picture of a man with means and purpose. A man that worked to better the lives of those around him. A man that it seemed only lacked the single handed in a story to become a myth. But she knew it was possible for a man to do such great things for she had lived enough to see the power of will and what it can accomplish. Then he said it. The person she had helped save the other night was this Knight. Her eyes widened while the words slipped out before she could even think, "Your saying that Hawklight guy is this Knight? The guy that thinks bandages are a form of clothing?!" Although it came out sarcastically, she really had respect for the guy. Any man that can birth ugly babies and take them back inside again really had some balls. Just then if it was possible her eyes widened in disbelief while her hand sought her mouth. She couldn't believe she had let her tongue move freely like an adolescent kid.

That was why when James offered to take her to Solum Irae without her fulfilling her part of the ultimatum it felt wrong. "Conditions are to be met without a very good exception and you helping Augusta gain a new partner would possibly appear as turning against your own people. We are the foreigners here. Is Hawklight up to visitors?" Sted'ara glanced at the door before turning to look at James eye to eye. "There will be a few things that I have to discuss with Hawklight before I make my decision. There will be things that he will have to know."

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