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spacegy4

She's back. Back again

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It was all too familiar.  The atmosphere of the tavern.  The rough and worn appearance of tables and other furniture, the smell of the abundance of alcohol and the welcoming embrace of a comfortable chair.  At least now it was since she made the place a haven before.  It wasn't protection from a threat or danger of physical means.  It was something far beyond the girl's understanding.  She'd come so close to finding her way.  So close, and yet in the end reality somehow opened and swallowed everything whole.  She yearned for a new life, but every opportunity wrenched from her grasp before she was able to recognize the circumstances.  She was back.  Back to the only stability she knew short of setting herself back even further.

May would soon contemplate her next move, but now wasn't the time for that yet.  After passing out multiple times in the past from over-consumption of alcohol the teenager had taught herself to monitor her intake.  Through experience she'd find the effect she desired without going overboard and putting herself under.  Though now wasn't just time for drinking.  A meal would be coming soon, and after that she'd take a gander at the job board.  There had to be things to do that would merit from her skills outside the realm of being a total mercenary and assassin, and she'd find them.

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"Wooow..!" Rai exclaimed breathlessly in wonderment as the road led to a cliff that opened up to a scene of a bustling port beneath her. Casper, one of two major port cities of Terrenus. The South Sea glittered like jewels beyond the city, stretching further than the eye could see. All manner of ships and boats bobbed at the docks. People, small as insects, milled about in the major streets.

Rai, the treasure hunter, was once again in a new city she had never been, with all her possessions in her backpack (except some secret stashes she had, of course, but nobody needed to know that), and her own enthusiasm for company. Bright eyed and rosy cheeked from the horse riding she had done, she strolled down the city's roads, marvelling at all the activity that was going on. Being her cheerful self, she fit in well into the crowd.

"Oops, you dropped something, mam! Here you go.. You're welcome! Have a nice day!"

"A ginger cat? I saw it go into the alley there. Good luck getting it back!"

"..oof! Careful! Oh, playing catch? How fun, hahaha!"

Before long, she came to the swinging sign of a tavern. Exploring Casper was all well and exciting, but not before resting her legs and filling her stomach. The tavern was as noisy inside as out, and Rai had to pick her way in between cramped seats to get to the only empty table she spied. In her haste not to lose the table to someone else, she didn't notice the argument that was going on at one of the tables. As she was passing by, an agitated man stood up suddenly, knocking into her. This set off a chain of reactions, starting with her stumbling into a barmaid, and ended up with a poor girl having half a mug of beer emptied on her clothes.

"Oh! I'm so sorry!" Rai bowed her head apologetically at the man, the barmaid, and most of all, the girl. "Aw, you're all wet! Give me a second, I'll fetch some napkins!" She went to the counter and grabbed some, passing them to the girl, and helping to wipe off the wet puddle on the table.

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The teenager was finally beginning to enjoy her meal and beverage when-

SPLASH

Before she could look up from the table her shirt was soaked in beer.  The garment became fully saturated, and now unable to hold any further liquid began dripping downward.  May had drowned herself in alcohol before, but never like this.  Her green and blue eyes contacted Rai's briefly before she graciously accept the napkins.  Unfortunately their application did little to stem the flow of alcohol that dripped down her shirt to the floor.

"I'll be fine.  I didn't plan to stay long anyway."

The girl's attitude appeared hardened, confident and unruffled even in the face of the recent disaster.  As if being soaked in sticky drink was just a minor annoyance compared to the dangers she may face on a regular basis.  Once it seemed the dripping came to at least a momentary halt she'd head to the bar while paying no further regard to the individual whom had just spoken to her.

With her tab now paid the teenager would make a final stop before heading on her way.  The job board plastered to the wall surely held a task that would capture her interest, and it was unlikely that any dirty mercenary or assassin contacts would be placed in the public view.  The assassin turned mercenary would take her time to consider every available option on the board.  It might take a bit, but it would pay to see all the choices in more ways than one.

Edited by spacegy4

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"Sorry about the drink! I'll-" Rai called after the girl as she stood up to leave, but it seemed she didn't hear her.

"..buy you another..?" she trailed off. The girl seemed preoccupied, so Rai just shrugged and continued on her way to the empty seat. She heaved a sigh of relief and stretched her limbs. She was really craving for some warm food in her belly.

"Can I have this please?" She asked the barmaid. "'The Ravenous Adventurer'. Kinda sounds exactly like what I am right now!" She laughed.

"Sure, but you might have to wait for a bit. We're really busy right now, and our kitchen is shorthanded," the barmaid replied.

"Awwww. But it's alright, I can wait!" Rai said. She rested her chin on her hand and observed the crowd in the tavern. Casper had one of the most diverse populations she had seen in a city. Humans, gnomes, dwarves, halflings sat at the same table, and she even spotted a number of merfolk. The atmosphere was jolly in general. Almost every table had a fish or some sort of seafood dish. Of course the port city was famous for its catch! She couldn't wait to try all the different varieties of seafood!

The bulletin board in the corner of the tavern caught her eye. Rai loved to read those. It offered more information than just ad-hoc jobs, if you knew how to read into it. From the jobs being offered, one could piece together the recent happenings of the city. It was like a giant cheat sheet to getting acquainted to a new locale.

It didn't look like her food was arriving anytime soon, so Rai strolled over to the board. The girl from earlier was standing in front of it, reading intently. "Hello!" Rai said to her, "I was going to offer you a drink. That offer still stands! If you're not too busy, that is." She smiled. "I'm Rai, what's your name?"

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The various jobs lay before her.  The options spread far and wide to various disciplines.  Simple delivery and errand jobs with no apparent danger sat side by side with others that held permanent harm in store for those with a single error in their execution.  She glossed right over the easy and uninteresting ones.  Find the lost cat... nope.  Deliver baked goods?  Nope again.  An appropriate application of her skills would be necessary should the teenager wish to procure the resources needed to get by.

Even after examining a good number of possibilities that she confident in her ability to handle her odd coloured eyes drifted to another section.  This one held various rumors pertaining to the area.  Potential quests that held no job.  Objectives to be taken on where a much greater majority of the prize.  She was so absorbed in the fascinating material before her that she didn't take full notice to the individual whom had walked behind her.  She flinched at the greeting as her thoughts were interrupted.  That kind of reaction didn't feel normal.  People weren't usually able to get that close to her before she noticed.  Perhaps the alcohol she drank earlier had dulled her senses.  All the more so to not drink on the job.

"Hello." The teenager acknowledged the other as she turned to face the source of the greeting.  The tone was indifferent.  Not disturbed, but not necessarily accepting either.  By this time the dripping stopped and May's damp clothing now simply clung against her skin.  It took a moment for her to process the request put forth to her.  The offer, and apparent interaction was out of the ordinary.  The girl was used to simply passing through the tavern.  Picking up a meal, and drink and finally observing the job bored before leaving.  

This time for some reason she couldn't comprehend things were different.  Why would anyone want company with her?  The offer out of the blue came as a surprise in itself.  She had no idea what else to expect so in the mean time she'd roll with it.  Perhaps she'd be able to make a bit of small talk, and that might brighten her evening before passing on to the next job.  "I've had enough to drink.... No I'm not busy.  Just checking what there is to do before I head out.  Seems like I'll hanging around to finish my meal though."  It dawned on her that perhaps she shouldn't be so quick to leave with her meal only partly consumed.  Everything was just a bit slowed down with the alcohol in her system, but being able to let the intensity of her day to day go was a welcome feeling.  

"I'm May."

She'd then head back to the table where her remaining meal waited with no expectation as to what Rai would do.  She would not refuse company, but in no way expected it.  After all it seemed every time she had company the end result was her once again being alone.

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"I'm May."

Rai took that as an invitation to join the girl at her table, despite May's refusal of her offer for a drink. "I'm guessing you're not local?" she asked, by way of starting a conversation. "I'm not, either. This is my first time in Casper! I love to travel the world. There's so many things to see, and so much treasure to find! That's my job, you know," she told May, her eyes twinkling, "I'm a treasure hunter!"

The barmaid came by then, bringing Rai's food to the table. "Treasure?" she asked, overhearing the conversation. "There's s'pposed to be one out at sea. Some kind of artifact that lets you move things with your mind alone." She leaned closer to them. "I heard a monster's guarding it though. They say that ships mysteriously capsize in the area, goods stolen, men drowned. Loads of trouble." She shrugged. "Probably just a bun'cha pirates who are good at hidin', if you ask me." The next table called for her, and she returned to her work.

Rai turned to May. "Wow, do you believe that?" she asked. "Moving things with your mind? That would be extremely convenient!" Images flashed past her head, of her turning keys in locks from a distance, lifting treasures from deep holes, or.. Or grabbing fishes from seas. Like the one on her plate, which was begging to be eaten. "Mmm! This looks delicious!" She attacked the food, stuffing them into her mouth.

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"I'm not from around here either, but probably not in the sense that you think."  May would muse before looking down almost shyly to examine the remains of her own meal.  It sat like the maimed carcass of a defeated enemy, and yet even so such a job was not yet finished.  Perhaps it'd never be done.  The teenager had other things going on that possessed her mind and enraptured her thought process for other reasons.  It had been so long since anyone had bothered to sit down and talk to her.  She'd become used to being just another mercenary for hire, and what she was hearing in this moment showed how far she'd moved away from old ideas.  She'd backed herself into a corner of the two bit mercenary yet again.

The mention of treasure hunting stirred her interest in alternative prospects and jarred her back into reality.  "A job... hmm."  Without realising she'd spoken the words she returned to thought.  "I take whatever jobs I can get my hands on, but most of them..."  Her voice trailed off.   Most of them ended with her all alone.  Stranded.  Forced to fend for herself.  How could this time possibly be different?

Day dreaming had at least partially resumed by the time Rai continued on and the barmaid said her part.  That power.  All too familiar to her yet not used in so long.  Mental tendrils unconsciously reached out to May's plate and pulled it a couple inches off the table.  In a moment they would release leaving the dish clattering harmlessly back to the surface.  The brief sharp noise of the plate's minuscule descent snapped the girl back into reality.  What had she done?  It didn't matter anymore.  This wasn't her place to be.  She stood up from her chair with meal in front of her still incomplete.  "I'm sorry I really need to leave now."  It was only polite to give some parting words before she left alone again.

Edited by spacegy4

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The 'Ravenous Adventurer' tasted as good as it sounded. The fish was so fresh that its meat melted in her mouth. Rai voiced appreciative sounds of pleasure as she chowed down her food. Suddenly, the sharp sound of May's plate clanging against the table startled her. May herself rose quickly, her chair scraping against the wooden floor.
 
"I'm sorry I really need to leave now."
 
Rai looked at May quizzically, but the teenager gave no further explanation before heading straight for the door. May was an incredibly jittery girl indeed. Her hesitation in speaking made it sound like she had a lot to say, but something seemed to be holding her back. Rai shrugged. Well, she would never know her story now. It was a pity; she would have liked to know the girl more.
 
----------
 
"Ahhh.. This is the life!" Rai exclaimed, holding her hands out above her head and splaying her fingers wide, as if she could touch the sky. She was sprawled out on her back on one of the benches at the dock, with the city on one side of her, and the blue, blue waters on the other. The breeze carried the refreshing smell of the sea, and white clouds puffed across the piece of sky obscured by her hands. She could identify shapes in the clouds. This one is a dragon, this is a rose, and this... oh! A fox chasing a rabbit!
 
A commotion at one of the docks attracted Rai's attention. People in the garbs of medical personnel stood by while a small ship came into the dock. It was probably a rescue ship. People were gathering by to watch what was going on. Becoming rather curious herself, Rai pushed herself up from the bench and joined the crowd.

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The cool air of the outdoors offered an immediate relief from the stresses that relentlessly pounded her in the previous situation.  Back to being alone, and that fast too.  Would it end like this?  She'd walk without aim and paid little attention to the surroundings.  On her travels she found herself attracted to the cool breeze by the water.  In turn curiosity also drew the teenager to group of individuals forming near the docks.  Among those gathered May noticed the girl she encountered in the tavern only recently.  Now beyond the fear of repercussions from previous interaction she would approach Rai.

"I'm sorry about what happened back there.  Sometimes I think too hard.  I had to get some fresh air."  While there were no lies it was far from a complete explanation of the incident.

"That artifact mentioned back in the tavern... if you're planning to pursue it I'd like to do so as well.  While I'm no treasure hunter I'd still like to give it a try."  In a moment she realized that there might be an application of her skills to this scenario.  "If there's a monster guarding it... I can fight."

Edited by spacegy4

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Standing on her tiptoes, Rai tried to peek over the heads of the small crowd. It seemed like everyone was taller than her. After a moment, she gave up and sighed.
 
"I'm sorry about what happened back there."
 
"Hmm? You're talking to me?" Rai turned, to see the girl from the tavern. "Oh, no, it's nothing! You don't have to apologise!" She beamed at May.
 
"That artifact mentioned back in the tavern... if you're planning to pursue it I'd like to do so as well.  While I'm no treasure hunter I'd still like to give it a try."
 
"Ooooh, that's great! I love group treasure hunts!" Rai clapped her hands over May's in excitement. "Let's do it!"
 
"If there's a monster guarding it... I can fight."
 
Rai blinked. "Oh, yeah, the barmaid did mention that, didn't she? Well.. I can fight too! We can be partners! We can call ourselves.. The Wonderers! What do you- Ack!" Rai stumbled as someone pushed her roughly.
 
The crowd parted hastily as the medical personnel came through, carrying three stretchers. Rumours spread through the crowd in ripples. "What's going on, what's going on?" Rai asked the strangers standing close to her. One of them filled her in on the details. Apparently, a small fishing boat had been attacked out at sea, but there had been no other boats or ships around when it happened. "It's the third time it's happened!" the man exclaimed.
 
"A monster, there must be a monster in the sea!" someone else cried. "It's protecting its treasure!"
 
Rai turned to May. "Bingo! I think we have our quarry! Come, let's find someone who would rent us a boat out to sea! We have to do some scouting for ourselves, before someone else gets to the treasure!" She pulled on May's arm, and marched towards a shack in the distance that had various leisure boats docked at its front.

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Things were never so simple, and before May could fully assess the situation her new company was try to pull her along.  As Rai squeezed around her arm May would clamp her fingers around Rai's own.  When Rai would try to pull she'd find that she met considerable resistance.  The teenager would dig in her feet to hold to the spot.

"Not so fast."

May would comment sternly before releasing her hold on Rai and hoped the other would reciprocate.  Memories too quickly returned of training at the academy where her team lead insisted on rushing in quickly and carelessly.  It soon spelled failure to May and the rest of her team.  The teenager wouldn't stand to see any manner of such events recreated.

"Just going into things like that... could get us both killed.  I don't know how you do things, but I prefer to have a plan.  Lets take a walk for a couple minutes, and share ideas."

May would concede speaking time to what Rai would have to say before she put her strategy forth.

"If it is indeed a sea monster I think it would be quite advantageous to remove it from the water.  Perhaps out of its home it would be easier to take down if we had to.  I'll need to find an open area on land where people won't bother us."

Edited by spacegy4

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May's resistance to her pull didn't surprise Rai at all. In fact, she was so used to people doing that to her that she released her grip by reflex.
 
"Just going into things like that... could get us both killed.  I don't know how you do things, but I prefer to have a plan.  Lets take a walk for a couple minutes, and share ideas."
 
Rai stuck out her tongue embarrassedly and winked. "Sorry, I get too into things when it's exciting! Don't you think so too?"
 
The crowd's gazes drew her attention to where the stretchers were getting loaded into ambulances. It planted a small - just a teeny little - seed of concern in her mind. "But oh, I guess you're right!"
 
"If it is indeed a sea monster I think it would be quite advantageous to remove it from the water.  Perhaps out of its home it would be easier to take down if we had to.  I'll need to find an open area on land where people won't bother us."
 
It was a brilliant idea. Rai snapped her fingers and smiled at May. "Yes, let's do that! I'll bet those boat renters will have a map of the area. We should get a boat, do some scouting, then think of our next move."
 
She started walking down the road. "Come on! We can talk while we walk! After all, we do have to get to the treasure before anyone gets it!"
 

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That was one miserable crew. No goodbyes were said to them when they set sail, nobody missed them while they were sea. The only reason why they now attracted such a crowd was, of course, the disaster they had been through and their news of the so-called sea monster. Those who refused to believe the beast actually existed saved their sceptical remarks once they saw the injured sailors exiting their crumbling ship.

The crowd tightened around them to tend the wounded and ask for details. At first, they refused to answer. However, as the public pressured on, they began to tell their tale little by little.

“It happened last night.” The youngest one began. Like the rest of the crew, he had extremely short hair. That was because they had all shaved each other’s heads out of annoyance with the excessive heat on their first week aboard.

“At first we thought it was a storm coming” another one added.

“But then we saw it. First, it looked like an island, then it began to move straight at us” Said a girl with one eye much lighter than the other. Some people assumed she had gone blind in that eye during the accident and whispered “poor thing” as she spoke. Calladium was her name. Like most of the others from the ship, she was no expert mariner. Just a chance adventurer who happened to meet the captain of the ship at the time he was looking for people for his crew.

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"Nah...  Well... I guess it is a bit exciting that I might have to take on a sea monster."

She stepped off the road for a few seconds and stopped in a clearing concealed by trees off the trail.  The grass beneath her feet appeared to darken as if the shadow beneath her was enlarging into a greater manner of void, but dissipated as the sun appeared to rapidly overtake it seconds later.  Paying little mind to whether Rai followed or noticed her brief diversion May would turn back to regroup.

"I'm honestly a bit nervous going out there.  On a boat.  It isn't at all what I'm used to."

If the boat was destroyed she'd be nearly helpless.  She feared ending up in the water to be freely struck by this monster, but the fear drove hear to improve her preparations.  

"I'll manage though.  Whatever target I have to take down I'll be as prepared as I can.  My plan of escape may double as an attack, but I'll have to see how things shape up."

May expected an engagement, and knew for the best effect she'd have to act first.  The teenager couldn't help running through the scenario like an assassination.  Her thoughts naturally drew to such a prospect and away from the objective of treasure.  The thought of the ring not mattering to her had long since passed as her mind raced through various situations on the water.  It was once they returned on a path toward the boats that May saw something in a crowd that made her halt and take a closer look.  A familiar face of someone she'd met briefly multiple times before.  Perhaps the closest person to a friend the girl knew in this world.  May would break off the path to the boats and instead went toward the crowd to confront Calladium.

"I see your wandering has led you here.  What a good coincidence that we get to meet again.  I'm so glad you're alright."  While not expecting it May deeply hoped she'd be recognized regardless of the significant time that passed since their last meeting.

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Cheerfully walking down the path towards the boats, Rai didn't notice May's short detour, especially as she returned back to Rai's side almost immediately.

"I'm honestly a bit nervous going out there.  On a boat.  It isn't at all what I'm used to."

"Oh don't worry!" Rai smiled at the girl. "It's fun! And it's safer than you would think. And I'm here! I can handle a boat. It's a handy skill for exploration, you know!"

"I'll manage though.  Whatever target I have to take down I'll be as prepared as I can.  My plan of escape may double as an attack, but I'll have to see how things shape up."

Rai giggled at the serious tone in May's voice. "Relax! We're only going to scout now, remember? I'll row us out slowly, watch from a distance, and if anything seems wrong, we'll turn back immediately and consider our next move, ok?" The girl was so uptight, Rai wanted to give her a hug to loosen her up. But she had a hunch that May would probably freak out. She pictured the amusing scene in her head, and when she turned back to May, she had already broken from the path and was headed back towards the crowd. "H-hey, wait!" she chased after her, who was approaching one of the crew on the wrecked ship.

"I see your wandering has led you here.  What a good coincidence that we get to meet again.  I'm so glad you're alright." May spoke to the crew.

"Oh, you know each other?" Rai exclaimed. "Perfect!" She held her hand out to the girl, who had a strange-looking eye. "My name is Rai, and I'm May's new friend! Everyone's saying that you all saw a sea monster! Are you alright? And what exactly happened??" She was curious to know what the monster looked like, and if they saw the treasure.

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