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Aleksei

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BV9Moud.png They told her to sit down and don't move, which she did because she is rather fantastic at following directions. Hell's Gate is new to her; she itched to discover and explore the many wonders that make the place so delightful appearing. The brightness of the buildings did not convey the feelings of the people filtering through the thin streets. It's said things are changing in Terrenus, that magic is in some strange way involved and those involvements are tempering the people. Her protectors had briefed her about why she has to stay put and not move, that they will return in time to scoop her back up. 

So she sat on her bench, next to a river with a name she doesn't know, slowly munching away at the apple slice that tasted too sweet. The closer they got to Hell's Gate, the more nauseous she felt. It has been about a month and a few weeks since she has seen Michael, and when they parted it was on beautiful terms - have things changed? What has happened between now and then? Sure, they've spoken briefly over the communication crystals, but they've been busy to the point silence has taken over a majority of their time apart. 

In a way, it's been a blessing. 

Her little journey to the Witch's Cave would probably not please him in the slightest. Michael isn't the sort to restrain another from doing what they must, but she has placed herself in enough danger that could age the poor man by ten years. The guard he sent with her has undoubtedly turned gray and old, having to watch the elf rush into trouble without thinking twice about it and barely making it out. After the ordeal with the cave, they decided that it was best to head back to Hell's Gate, something about reporting in or the like. Smiling around a bite of apple, she thinks it's not about reporting in but resting their poor nerves. 

Sitting surrounded by tall buildings and hustling people did not calm her much. The last leg of their journey had been by far the hardest - long, dangerous, tiresome, and all around unbearable. There's been little eating on her part, her stomach so upset that it has refused even the smallest sip of water. Waves of nausea hit her at random times out of the day, causing the ground to swirl under her feet and create headaches that are threatening enough to push her head off her shoulders. She's assumed her journey through the cave has left her weak, creating these terrible changes to her body that become more and more obnoxious.

Forcing down another bite of her apple, she is happy to report that the day will be full of wandering through markets and their kind. The attack on Last Chance left her without a weapon, and the Witch's Cave reminded her how useless her magic is in times when shield and sword are needed. Today they will be gathering a few items for her to make a new staff, giving them all an excuse to enjoy the day like ordinary folk.

@amenities @Metty

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Arashi had a pretty rough road to getting here into Hell's Gate after all. They shot her a bunch of stares and glaring at by the guards because she used to have a bounty. They nearly wouldn't let her in cause they were afraid she would create even more trouble. Arashi didn't want to piss off the local authority and get into even deeper into trouble with the military than she already was by going and accidentally starting a fight or stealing. While it was in her nature to do so, the thought of being locked up again scared her. After what Dredge did to her, she was scared like hell. He had left his mark on the young Draconian enough that she was scared to even fight anymore. 

She was going to meet Shanti today to help her with something but she didn't know Michael would be there today. Walking down to where Shanti would be by carefully following the directions she was given, Arashi went to get a few trays of chocolate covered strawberries and a few cans of cola before getting a bag and putting them carefully in. Of course she paid for them as she didn't want to cause trouble.

Walking up to Shanti eventually and sitting down beside her, placing the bag down with food in it. Arashi wore her casual clothing today, as she didn't wear her armor for such an occassion. "Hey....I got something for you. Is it just me and you today?" Arashi said, before pulling out a small tray of about five chocolate covered strawberries and handing it to the elf.

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Thirty-seven days had passed. Five weeks and two days. Two months, for all intents and purposes. A passage of time that grated against him harder than he had expected it to wheeled Michael Commager in a U-turn on his way out of Hell’s Gate when transmissions he’d flagged so that he would receive all reflected that Shanti and her entourage had re-entered the city.

Every day had felt like something grimmer than what Michael experienced with prior relationships. Distance had become the unwilling third wheel to every affair he’d ever held. And now he had another wheel to contend with in the shape of a little crystal named Tori. Was his relationship fraternization? Michael had gotten a slap on the wrist for his techniques in Interrogation Cell Commager, which was frankly more authority than had ever been exerted on him. He was just spurned enough by it to rub his cheek and grimace, maybe wonder if Shanti’s allegiances would catch him in any nasty Central crosshairs; yet every time he thought of her he couldn’t bring himself to care.

The typically resolute officer wore an off-white dress uniform that parsed well with his skin tone and hair. Having opted for the more stylish end of what he must wear in busy cities where he might be recognized, Commager suddenly remembered he was here to find Shanti and felt as though his attire might embarrass her. Still though, first and foremost was finding her.

Each day had become increasingly glum in her absence, and it now beset him with an anxiety that had his footsteps practically racing down this street and across that. Did she know he was coming? He hoped his inferior officer hadn’t burst his bubble when he told Shanti where to wait for her pickup for assistance in gathering some personal effects.

In a finger of town that reached out to the fringe of some windy prairies there was a square. In that square was a fountain, some restaurants, and a barber. It was there that Michael found Shanti sitting. Her figure was unmistakable to him. It contained parts of him even he had yet to understand. She would hear by the exaggerated pace of the steps approaching her that someone was excited to see her, then she would hear his voice.

“Fancy meeting you here…” From the initial tone he carried Shanti would know he was addressing her, but as the sentence progressed it took a conspicuous turn. When she turned to the right, from where Michael approached, she would see him staring at Arashi.

The crimson gem that had once been his eye was now nestled beneath his left ear like an earring, and it hummed a vibrant hue as he gazed at the girl holding strawberries. Her name and face were automatically juxtaposed against Tori’s bounty and criminal backlogs. He made one long step past Shanti to place his back to her, his front to Arashi.

“What do you want?” He said softly to her, but with a firmness that implied some degree of tension.

Edited by amenities

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BV9Moud.png"Arashi!"

Her excitement painted her explanation when seeing the other female approach. The two had met some time ago before Last Chance when the elf had two arms and a working staff - easier times in comparison. Their introduction had been a tad heated as Arashi had shown a protectiveness towards the good Doctor; Shanti had been a stranger stumbling through the forest at the time, Arashi's protective nature was warranted. In her minimal experience, you can't easily trust a soft face and kind voice; they're just as dangerous as a knife to the throat. 

Curious, Shanti quickly peeked into the bag and smiled instantly at the sight of the sweet treats. Certain times out of the year her master gives her a small bottle of perfume or sometimes he is generous and gives her fruit. Never in her life (until most recently) has she had the pleasure of casually buying and eating the special treats, it was a welcome sensation of freedom she is slowly growing to enjoy. 

"You're a gem! And yes, just us for the minute."

She reached into the bag and plucked a single strawberry, then admired it briefly before taking a bite. The elf shouldn't have been so eager but ignoring her stomachs disapproval; she savored the taste of rich chocolate and sweetness of the strawberry. For a moment she was lost in the flavors, hardly noticing familiar steps charging towards her with determination. In an instant her stomach curled in disdain towards the sweetstuffs; she felt a puddle of sour saliva gather beneath her tongue. 

Her hand pressed itself against her lips as some makeshift barrier to keep the rise of bile from rising any more than it needs to. Thankfully, Michael's arrival shocked her into turning around; his appearance caused her heart to beat and her stomach to settle. Emerald hues admired the sight of the perfectly dressed gentleman.

"Michael?"

Their reunion was edged to the side as he placed himself between her and Arashi. Shanti stood up and grabbed his hand, both to steady herself and to ease the rising tension. 

"I asked Arashi to meet me here today. We met some time ago."

Edited by Aleksei

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"Yeah...they looked good so I picked them up, not exactly sure what they are though. There's still alot of things I haven't tried yet. At least school is helping me with that." Arashi was infact a few years behind in her education compared to others due to her being only adopted at the age of nine and not having an education before then. She knew how to talk before then...but trying to get her to understand certain things that she wasn't taught about at all was a nightmare. "I've been reading books. One caught my eye about something called a PeaceKeeper? That some sort of action hero or something?" 

The draconian sighed. She was innocent after all. She had very little understanding of how things worked and all, as she was only going off of the things she was brought up on. While she wasn't adventuring, she was reading books about basically anything to catch up on her education that she had missed.

"Also...I'm a what? What does a gem mean? The minute...you mean..." then Michael appeared and he didn't look too please to see the seventeen year old. Arashi glared at him when he talked to her, not looking afraid of Michael with the way he was standing front of the elf. "If I really was to hurt her or do something, I would of done it when I approached. Something tells me you aren't worth my time to answer that question. If you were a member of a authority I might of, but I am not answering questions from a white-haired kid. Anyways, aren't you a bit young to be having white hair? What are you, an old man?"

Edited by Metty

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Tori projected Arashi’s age analysis, magical surveillance arrays, and physiological diagnostics into Michael’s cornea while Shanti rose to comfort him. Suddenly he remembered an aspect of why he’d separated himself from such connections. The world was Michael’s field. There was no such thing as a day off. Even an attempted stroll through the park with a loved one could result in finding someone on the bounty list and being called a child by them, effectively implying a challenge to someone of less confident stature. Michael though, observing the child hybrid and opting out of badgering directly back at her, sent a call to dispatch for two backup officers.

Shanti’s cool hand was on the crane of his neck, and as he turned his head to her in the same way a dragon does its queen, his eyes bore into the ground at Arashi’s feet. Just as his bewilderment on the topic of Shanti’s allegiances could be assuaged by her calming touch, at least in part, his incredulity with Arashi hesitated within her hand. There was the smallest iota of shame, not for Arashi, but for Shanti, in his having to do such a thing to one of her close associates.

“I’m sorry baby, but this is my job. She’s on the Terrenus bounty list for city property destruction.” Alas, Michael believed himself born for this unbudging duty. He stepped forward, Shanti’s hand sliding from his neck as his newly healed eyes returned to Arashi’s. As he did, a holo-picture projected from the crystal below his ear for Arashi to see that showed the wall she had destroyed directly in the aftermath of her destruction, with a headshot of her beside it. He was aware that it wasn't a capital offense or anything but he had a stark disdain for those who thought they could break the law and get off without repentance. “Give me one reason why I shouldn’t arrest you for breaking shit and put you away with other vandals until you can pay up and act right."

Just as he said that, frequency split to the voice of the officers who were coming to answer his call. It used to take a flick of the wrist, at least, to issue a command for backup. Now it took a simple thought for the Peacekeeper to issue dispatch.

“fzzt… Approaching the Side Marketsquare, requesting descriptions, over..”

“Yeah it’s me with codename Lovebird," he said, blushing toward Shanti, "and some freak that looks like a dragon fucked a cat,” he finished, eyes returning to Arashi’s.

Edited by amenities

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BV9Moud.png“Arashi!”

Shanti chastised the young lady using a motherly tone. 

Arashi and Shanti had gotten to know each other briefly, creating a tentative bond that harbored seas of understanding. It was easy for her to get used to the hybrids demeanor due to the elf’s seemingly endless amounts of patience. Used to her friend's harshness, it was a surprise that she was quick to sternly say Arashi’s name the minute she began to insult Michael. Michael’s attitude towards her was warranted, she is a wanted individual who has yet to pay her dues and Michael is merely doing his job.

But these two should not be in the same room together. Their attitudes are not a match made in heaven, and she hasn't the strength to keep them both on their side of the river.

“Then you start with that, amatus. I wasn't aware of her past conduct.”

His earlier tone had indicated some hostility that was not needed, but that was before she knew Arashi was some sort of petty criminal. His job is not an issue, never will it be a wedge between for she understands that no matter what they are relationship-wise, his career comes first and foremost. A little piece of her worries what sort of dangers he may be dipping his toes in, but it isn't exactly her place to air out the things that make her panic in quiet moments. 

Michael's later comments made the elf sigh, shoving aside a winsome smile. His colorful language was enough to make her blush with second-hand embarrassment, her virgin ears not at all suited for this raunchy exchange. 

"Michael, Arashi," the elf stepped closer to her friend, "both of you have some civility."

He may be the authority figure in this situation and Arashi the lesser, but there is no excuse to be crude or rude towards one another just because someone else started it. Arashi has much to learn when it comes to controlling her emotions and understanding that being insulting to a stranger is possibly not the best route to take. Especially a figure of authority that has no problems with clashing. 

"Calmly explain yourself Arashi."

 

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Arashi sighed as she looked at Michael as she saw the evidence. "I know what your talking about. I'm suprised you weren't took the full outcome of why that happened. That wasn't on purpose, it was a mere accident in combat. I didn't know my breath attack was going to hit the wall of all things, did I?" The teenager sighed, going to explain her side of the story. 

"I was going through that area...while adventuring, I came across some elf lady trying to kill what you know as Raven, Queen of the Hyperion Empire. I merely did what a bodyguard or guard would do and protected her till I dealt with the threat to her life. That's how I broke the wall even further. It was already broken as it is...the area was pretty rundown like it was hit by a bandit attack or something before. There's my side of the story and last I checked, the wall is fixed now."

Arashi sighed again, going to finish off what she saying. "If protecting someone's life is against Terran laws, then I will accept my punishment...but before you ask, no, I don't even know if Marigold even pays me enough to pay for the damages I have caused." She looks back at Shanti then at Michael. "Anyways, who exactly are you? Are you some sort of police officer?"

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Shanti was, as always, the balm that relaxed Michael's aggravated state with the world. It was true that it took less to agitate him than the typical person, and that he had no contextual preparation for an encounter with Arashi, but Shanti's presence alone would likely be the factor that relieved the most aggression. There were always possible venues to the desirable outcome, but such things weren't easy to see under the veil of one's subjectivity, and it was undeniable that the constitutions of Michael and Arashi were rather extreme in their own opposing ways.

Michael had been grinning at his own joke about Arashi when he saw Shanti's embarrassment, and in turn it elicited a small blush of his own; but the grin was still there.

"Closing in on the catdragon," came the radio voice over the crystal below Michael's ear as Arashi told him her story.

"Her name is Arashi," he said absentmindedly. Then, directing his voice to her, he continued.

"It would appear that today is your lucky day." And indeed it was. Had Shanti not played mediator in the opening moments of their discussion, it could easily have turned into a squabble. "Since this all seems circumstantial and like you don't have the direction to be a consistent criminal, I think we can work something out where you do a couple jobs for me and we call it even."

Michael looked at Shanti as if to say, 'is this how you place nice?'

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BV9Moud.png

Hoodlums, both of them. Michael looked pleased as punch with his all too lovely smile spread across his face like butter on toast. If she didn't enjoy him so much, she would have worked to find a way to carve that little grin off his face. Kissing him in public may be a bit inappropriate, her earlier attachment may have been wrong to display considering there is no pause in Michael's job, but a kiss would make him stop cheesing so hard. 

When he looked to her, she reached out, splaying her fingers across his cheek. Her earlier worries were completely wiped away the instant she felt the familiar warmth of his skin pressed against the palm of her hand. He would instantly feel the heat radiating from her.

"Thank you."

She looked to Arashi, saying thank you to the both of them for behaving appropriately. This was an excellent step for Arashi to start doing something with her life, change a few things about herself for the absolute better. Michael can open doors for her, all she has to do is step through them and face the challenges he is more than likely going to be throwing at her. No one can ever say the gentleman is a slacker when it comes to his wanting achievement of all things. Arashi will now be part of that gumption - hopefully, she can keep up.

Shanti drops her hand from Michael's cheek and quickly takes a seat. The elf has to take a few gulps of air to calm the overwhelming queasiness that just randomly attacked her. 

"I invited Arashi here to help me gather a few things for a staff. Would you mind if I borrowed her for the day before you take her away?"

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Arashi was surrounded by a both of weirdos. Mainly in particular, Michael. The way he just changed when Shanti was there was certainly something. Was he like that all the time? If he was like that all the time, then that made Arashi more afraid to challenge his authority directly. Now wasn't that time, if he had come up to her with no reason and started accusing her of something she'd didn't do, then she most likely challenge his authority. But this wasn't the time, maybe some time she would get to see how strong he is to be commanding her around like that.

The young Draconian sighed in relief as Michael didn't go straight forward and just arrest her after she pledged her story. She never wanted a bounty, it was all a misunderstanding to begin with. "At least you can actually call me by my name, Mr. Michael. I'd think I'd take you up on that offer actual...I don't think my family wants me in anymore trouble than already am in. Though you may have to get their permission first, pretty sure they don't want me kidnapped by a evil monster like Dredge again and tortured." She looked at Michael as she said that. She had heard rumors of a battle at Last Chance but had never heard the full details of what had happened. She was pretty sure her family didn't want to tell her what happened and she was fine by that.

"...Miss Shanti? What's this staff your gonna get? What is it for?" Arashi asked like a curious child not knowing about certain things.

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It wasn’t that Michael had any degree of dislike for Arashi— he barely knew her— but his every action was superseded by lawmanship. He had actually worked pretty hard not to show favor or the opposite for anybody, until their direct relationship was soured or otherwise. He leaned his cheek in Shanti’s hand, watching Arashi absently as she talked about her parents and Dredge. The catdragon was right, Shanti did have an almost surreal way of placating, warming the cold Michael. Dredge was Michael’s nemesis at present, and he didn’t even bat an eyelash when she mentioned his name. The crook of Shanti’s hand protected him from all of it.

And when it left, the dry sting of reality settled on him again. He looked to Arashi from his far-away gaze, almost sadly. That was the moment during which it settled into Michael's head that this girl was another victim of Dredge's. Honestly, this helped him view her more favorably.

“Dredge is dead next time he comes for Terrenus anyway, so don't worry.” he said matter-of-factly, with a little too much summarizing for legitimate comfort, and looked somewhere off to the side of Arashi. He held his hand out, signalling two approaching guards to halt, but continued addressing her with a smile playing on the corner of his mouth. “You don’t have to call me ‘Mr.’ either.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control. Patrol as you were,” he said, and with relief on their faces the Hell’s Gate watchmen pivoted on their heels and moved away. They had been worried about getting a grilling from Michael themselves. Was nobody safe from his wrath?

"I invited Arashi here to help me gather a few things for a staff. Would you mind if I borrowed her for the day before you take her away?"

“Noo baby of course not,” he gushed, holding Shanti's hand in both of his. “Take her as long as you want, I only ask that you let me stay with you a little longer.”

He was more than aware of her state of nausea, in fact it had been the item of focus he pushed all aside on the way to. His craned his head down, the look escaping from beneath his serious brows asking a question that his lips dared not. Was this…?

Edited by amenities

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BV9Moud.png"I think you are doing your family a great honor by showing restraint and being respectful towards your betters, Arashi. Manners, as my master once told me, is a language many are not accustomed to."

She wasn't born with the art of napkin folding, and which side the spoon and fork go on, she had to be taught those things before mastering the artistry of it. Much like her manners, Shanti had to be prepared how to stand, how to walk, and how to speak at a level that was respectful towards those above her in life. The loud laughter she's given Michael, and the variety of other hidden treasures of her person were just that - treasures. If her master had any idea what she's done beyond her duty, she would be punished.

The thought of home caused a shudder to run icily down her delicate spine. During this little adventure, she has broken so many laws that would have her hung as punishment; the only thing keeping her from passing out with worry was knowing her master is kind. He understood the risks of sending a slave outside her walls of comfort, though he possibly didn't expect her to find other things besides knowledge and help. Her hand sandwiched between Michael's relaxed her - it was worth it, whatever the punishment will be. 

"Staffs are conduits for magic. They make the use of certain spells easier, and they limit my limitations."

She laced her fingers with Michael's, not letting him go. His surprise arrival will not go wasted!

"Having only one arm limits me just a little and without a staff, what skills I have is dampened by my disability."

Little green fragments of light began to pitifully manifest down and around the stump of her missing arm. The light was poorly etching an outline of an arm, but whenever the manifestation was close to being complete, she immediately felt drained and sick. As soon as the world began to spin, she stopped forcing her magic to work, thus snuffing out the fragmented lights. Shanti squeezed Michael's hand in desperation. To her, the visit to the Witches Cave is what has made her nauseous and disconnected to her core - another possibility hadn't occurred to her. 

"I'm looking for silver, wood, and sapphires - specifically. I thought we could wander the market for a while and hopefully find what I'm looking for."

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"It's something I got told to do by Mr. Xartia Pendragon. He'd kept calling me Miss Sato so I had to start calling people by formal names instead of being nice." That was the most annoying moment of her life. She wasn't used to being so formal around people due to the people of Hyde knowing each other personally. She was a celebrity around where she lived, everyone knowing who she was. Her mother was the guard captain, after all, often people were scared to mess with the kid cause of that. 

It was a disappointment really. Her mother was a guard and she literally had zero combat training due to the fact her powers were too hard and dangerous to control. She had caused all sort of trouble since she turned ten years of age when they first manifested. In that case, she had to rely on things that wouldn't rely on her combat ability due to her nature of destroying things.

So many things she was turned down from and there Michael was offering her a job. To work for him. Did he know the risks of having such a destructive individual? One that couldn't control her powers even?

"Actually...your the first person that might have given me a job that could be combat related. Nobody has let me up to this point. Every time I try, I end up accidentally destroying something or failing at even basic combat training...that's the reason I went after Dredge. To prove myself that I am capable and I ended up getting tortured and beaten up badly cause of how much I wanted to. Mum is pretty mad at me for it. I've been grounded apparently because of my heroics that could of putting her life in danger." The draconian sighed. Her life was a mess. A big mess. Hopefully, she can fix that with the offer from Michael. She wasn't gonna decline him on that. She looked to Mike. "...Thanks."

"We can sure find those Shanti. I'm sorry about your arm, I wish I could of helped you with that."

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The sureness Michael felt that there was something within Shanti was amusingly far off the mark for what was actually going on. He embodied their love within her, both literally and in this figurative sense that had the stalwart knight blushing and clenching the single hand as if it were his lifeline in a black world circling closer to the drain every day.

What Shanti didn’t know— what he himself didn’t yet know— was that he would die at the hands of the slave masters before he left without her free to him. He had come to realize that Shanti was more than beholden to Kalopsia. She loved it, and to deprive her of a sense of belonging to something would be like taking away her very purpose. He wondered every time he looked into her eyes what the day would be like when he had to reckon with her owners. He fought not to relish violent thoughts, doubling back on the fact that he was to be a holy warrior no matter where he went.

“I think there are some missions you could go on that would, I don’t know,” said Mike, his smiling gaze shifting from Shanti to Arashi and softening. “Build some character. I won’t throw you into too much danger right away, but this career path has worked before little cat dragon girl.”

While Arashi appeared to be of a certain age near Michael’s, her size rivalling his  more than it should have, he could tell by her way of acting that she was young and largely untried. The trick to growth was enduring passable tests that would increment one’s way to greater things through lessons learned. Michael had been subject to a steeper, harsh version of this, and he had turned out just 🥀~fine~🥀, right?

“Anyway yes,” he said as the topic of conversation shifted to Shanti’s staff and pointing into the woods and puffing out his chest for Shanti. “Let us reclaim your staff from the clutches of nonexistence! See the puny Dredge try to stop us.”

Edited by amenities

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