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'Honestly...'

He had left a trail of dead beasts and bandits alike, overgrown dire bears and bugbear bandits painting a bloody path from deep inside the Shawnee Glacier. There was no mercy nor thorough execution. So sloppy and sleepy were his battles that assailants lived to tell the tale of a shadowy, pale man that kept walking after they stabbed him. It wasn't a reaction of indifference, more irritation as he simply chose not to lift his sword in kind. Truly, he looked like a tired shade to all that he crossed paths with. The very ground he walked upon had left a traceable residue of his shadowy taint, that which was intertwined with his very essence.

'I hate this. My body takes so long to warm up.'

Over time, the kills had become more clean and precise, the tattered swordsman avoiding blows and beginning to conceal his presence. The foreboding darkness that seeped out of him and warned of his coming and going slowly vanished. But that trail simply didn't go cold in any timely manner for this sleepy shade. He had left marks of innocent carnage and his vile existence almost all the way to the steps of Hell's Gate. Once inside, he was quick to vanish save for the obvious marks of his appearance that gave him as some sort of aberrant adventurer cursed by his life-time of murder. Pale and black, his hair was long and white like the snow and he was first adorned in tattered black and gray attire. Worse yet was the red right eye with the misshapen iris, a symbol of some old, dark god dead now and unknown to this land.

His scar.

'Damn it, damn it, where are those stupid stones.'

But even that red eye did not make him so obvious in the city at first. Even with all that went into suppressing his powers, he must look like a phantom of a mortal being to those with the right sort of spiritual sight; perhaps a black mass to those with magical. His appearance was simply ominous, like a red eyed raven cawing at your window in the wake of a funeral in his tattered robes and freezing limbs. Truly looking like a dead man walking. But his goals were nothing so esoteric in nature. For while he was not easily ignored or hidden, he did nothing quite conspicuous. His first goal was a storage unit, one he had rented out nigh indefinitely with his adventuring funds.

"F-f-finally-!" He struck two faded out, gray-rocks together, causing a small shower of sparks to sprinkle on the floor and form several small burning, yet harmless lights. In the same moment, a warm glow had begun to spread through the two stones and suddenly, his limbs. His health began restoring itself in literal seconds as the murderous frost began to melt down his body, although failing to put out the handful of sparks that produced no fire or steam, but light. The stones warmed him through his limbs, and evenly through his whole body. And that was the only thing they did for him. The rest was a super-healing process worked out by the inky darkness that suffused his soul and weighted him down to the earth. It remembered what he remembered; and even as he restored use to a limb that should have been lost, his body recovered its own important scars. Important battles that marked his soul, leaving his body forever covered in innumerable scars.

But he covered them up in something more suited for the city.

A black suit, tailored years ago in his journey with Seras Crystal, bearing a sleek red tie down the front.  He was dressed fresh enough to get into even those with djinne for a bouncer. And with his hair cut short as the next thing, he looked like he might just belong to one of the city's more organized criminal outfits. But he was nobody. The shade of a man. Barely regarding the waking world. Still, when he walked into The Weary Orc tossing a freshly finished cigarette into a passing trashcan, he was regarded like an omen. To them, perhaps he was a new players go-boy or a hit-man. He looked the part, baring a sheathed blade to a suit like this with a dagger on the back. His youthful appearance and attire didn't look entirely out of place when he reflected all the stares inside the bar he received. And how could you not look? He was a pale haired freak with a crimson right-eye that spoke only curses in kind to the figures sizing him up.

But just like everyone else here, he wasn't there to stir up a commotion. As he took his first two steps across the bar, interest faded in swathes as only the seriously superstitious gangsters who had received a particularly telling fortune from a mystic gypsy still paid attention to him, wondering if he was their dark sign of death. He was just another questionable looking person in Hell's Gate. The only thing that bothered anyone was that he was nobody, forgotten to time, and here, ordering, "...I'll take your hardest drink." An irregular customer like him got another odd look from the bartender, but it may as well have been nothing new to him in a way.

There was no reason not to serve this imposing half-elf, but like everyone else in the room, he met Lucas Black with an uncomfortable pause.

 

The man's being here seemed like an offense to all the living in the room. And even they didn't know why.

 

Worse yet, the pale haired half-elf started downing that glass as fast as he could and asked for another. He was nobody. Forgotten to time. Trying to forget himself. And here he was, filling the void where he didn't belong with the reek of cigarettes, blood, and frozen death wafting off of him; the last in the list more a feeling, lacking in smell.

"Hey...could you tell me something?" He tiredly asked the bartender aloud, drawing the man's eye back to him. The man on-shift amicably replied as best he could, avoiding to mistreat a customer based on their eerie presence, "Sure sir, go ahead," He said as he dried out a glass with a white cloth. "But you could be asking anybody this." It wasn't unfair to say, and it didn't draw an irritable gaze from Lucas for just that reason. "I realize," He said with a breath, sliding his empty glass over towards the bartender followed by some handful of coins to pay for the second drink up front.

"But you're sort of in a position to not go anywhere." This did draw a few odd looks from nearby, but the meaning was clear between the two of them as the suit and tie wearing shade roughly cleared his throat, barely having spoken in months of rest. "I'm a bit lost for the times due to...camping," He explained simply. No one at the counter believed he had just been camping. "I wanted to know what year it is."

"...One long damn camping trip you must have had. It's the year twenty-nine of our Lord and Savior, Odin Haze."

"Shit," Lucas suddenly spit out, acquiring another odd look from the bartender, the name Odin Haze drawing a dirty look of its own that seemed to offset the bartender. He proceeded to down his drink, then order another as he struggled to pull a cigarette safely free from its carton. He wasn't the only one smoking in there at least, but the bartender continued to curiously observe him now. It hadn't taken long for the bar-stools near him to clear either.

Edited by susitsu

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A curiosity had taken Avaerus in the brief time he had used to divine his nephew's location: something old and powerful in the world of Valucre; a dragon by his first guess, risen again, but it had taken him time to recover from other trips between worlds and dimensions, so it took him a few days to return to Valucre, and more still to divine its location. He hadn't tried to conceal his scrying, so he expected that whatever sort of being he was tracking knew that he was coming. 

He had considered weaving the sort of dweomer that would change his form to something more mundane, more humanoid, but the ancient half dragon chose to wear his heritage proudly. Something that when he got to hell's gate, proved interesting, for surely his kind was something of a rarity here too, and it took him until a hoodlum teen poorly concealed the phrase, "Just another freak," To understand that it was already a world of oddities, and few would care for his particular type. It was an amusing concept, however, to call a tall dragon with shining golden scales, who was clearly adorned in a robe woven of colored dragon scales and walking with a tap to echo his booted steps, "Just another freak," But who could speak to the foolery of children? His staff was of an ironwood tree, the last forest of which had been razed some centuries past on his world, and the head of it had a crystal eye embedded in it. 

He neglected to draw similarities between Valucre and Siwailigol. He had been to other worlds before. Though, that did not mean he was disinterested in the unfamiliar sights of such a dirty industrial city. Taking his eyes away from that, he channeled his magics. First, a rune that he let fade into his dragonscale robes, and second, a crystal he could use to leave if the situation demanded it. He judged the power of this being, this 'Lucas,' If he had managed to divine a real name of it, was enough that he would rather be prepared in approaching him. His mark was not a dragon, notably, and if again, he had gotten a real name of him, definitely humanoid, but that had not undone his curiosity.

The Weary Orc was not any significant sight to him, as common ales and other alcohols often disappointed him next to the crafts of some of his descendants. Folding an excessive amount of foreign gold in the bouncer's hand served as well as a bribe as anything else, and the humanoid dragon found himself on the threshold of the bar, not needing much of his arcana to identify his mark as the gangly, gaunt half-elf sitting alone at the bar. Though that wasn't to say that he neglected to check what he saw with his arcane sight, which only brought an acknowledging nod from him. 

Avaerus found a seat to his liking: one on the corner, where he could get a good look at the face of the ominous, slumping figure, but before he opened a conversation or elected to perturb the one he had been tracking, he slid a gold to the bartender when he came to attend him. In a voice that boiled and crackeled under the heat of the flame within him, he said, "Something fumy."

"Sir, I can't take this." The bartender uttered a phrase that took any sense of life or even kindness from the face of the draconic mage. 

Some sleight of hand brought a second from his palm, which he placed on the table, leaving his claw to pin it down. "A second, for the chore, of translating it then." Despite the unique, grating nature of Avaerus's deep voice, there was a cadence to it, which flowed and drew out certain words, letting the sounds roil and die in his throat.

Eyeing the gold the claw was sunken into, he nodded his ascent. They were large, and obviously pure. "Something fumy." 

The golden liquid that settled in his glass was clearly of the well sort, but the dragonson didn't seem to care as he let its fumes fill his senses, his scales and fangs clinking just as his claws had against the glass, though he seemed to bear the delicate finesse required to avoid shattering the object. Setting it on the table, he finally gave himself to a bold, or unabashedly curious stare at the half-elf's face. 

Edited by Wanderlost

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JJV3wJs.png"Excuse me, but I asked for green and not peppermint."

A slender figure affixed itself next to the unoccupied space beside Lucas, but so unlike the half-dragon, the woman was not there to stare and quander. No, she was there to negotiate the warmth of her tea and its flavor to an inept bartender who has never gotten her order correct in all the times she's occupied the Weary Orc. 

"And the water was cold,  could you please replace the tea and water, I would greatly appreciate it."

There was no edge to the woman's voice; she carried the air of a respectable person who liked to hide behind layers of leather and stacked silk scarfs which loosely hung from her slender throat. Her patience ran from the roots of her auburn hair down to her toes wiggling inside her boots; there was more than enough hours in the day to get what she wanted, she is in no extreme hurry. Plus, this is a learning experience for the bartender who appeared a bit too preoccupied with their new arrivals; curious, considering that this is a tavern and all sorts of tumbleweeds roll on through, getting snagged on the edges of rumor and gossip before tumbling away.

The bartender looked uncomfortable leaving his bar unattended after he's just returned from making his rounds, but he was growing uncomfortable beneath the small woman's intensely green stare. Not in a hurry but she'd appreciate if he attempted to put a little pep in his step, her dinner is getting cold and her stomach doesn't appreciate the hindrance. 

"Annnnd no sugar!"

She leaned over the bar, her legs flailing up into the air as she yelled out her final request. Whoever just adds sugar to flavored water doesn't appreciate the leafy tones and a hint of despair tea gives; additives take away the apparent snooty presence the person has drinking it because they don't wrinkle their nose in disdain on their firsts sip. 

Satisfied, she took a seat and waited for her fixed drink to arrive. Comfortable, Farren swiveled in her chair to first look at the man whose face was artistically angular and handsomely broody. The constellation of freckles splattered against her cheeks danced when she wrinkled her nose - dangerous. He looked like the kind of man that has way too many failures and pains in his life to be a reputable piece of society, which unfortunately made her curious. There's just something so strangely predictable about this kind of person that you're just hoping they'll surprise you. 

"Here."

Fiddling with a random pocket on her person, the woman searched for the small packet of matches. Due to a variety of reasons, Farren struggled to get her fingers to work, but when they finally did, she produced the packet with an enthusiastic 'ah ha!'. 

"You can have these," she said, handing the matches over to the broody gentleman.

 

Edited by Aleksei

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'YOUR COMING IS KNOWN, BEAST!'

A voice spoke only in Lucas' mind, a set of crimson eyes opening in the same moment. These words conveyed information; a flashing warning sign that froze him in place with his eyes locked on some woman's beautiful red hair.

But moments ago, he had been clutching his cigarette, about to light it with but a mere spark from his gloved fingers.

But a chill seemed to have slowed down his entire body, freezing him in place as he watched the entrance to the bar. There was not a single words exchange between he and the voice in his head, but he knew what it knew. What it felt. Someone had found him; that was nothing unexpected. They had been tracking him. It was something profound. Luminous. Exceedingly brilliant to behold. Every person in the bar that had been eyeing Lucas from time to time lost interest in him. However, some woman was blocking the view of the half-dragon he had watched since he entered the bar.

'...What did she just say to me?'

There was a woman in his way suddenly, at least for him. Her coming was no sneaking surprise. He was in a bar, after-all. But his senses had dulled as he stilled his form and focused on the message. More than anything, he refused to act on this foreign thought in a manner that was obvious. In such a way, he was essentially silent to what the voice did next.

Energy invisibly crackled ever so slightly within the incredibly compressed weight of his aura. Dark particles, too small for the mundane eye to see, linked these sparks of energy, and shifted in place. Those simple, nigh unknowable sparks linked a dozen, then a hundred, then a thousand times between dark particles as the atoms veiled themselves in a layer around him, as thinly as absolutely possible.

The very change was subtle to behold for a practiced mage; the invisible black mist around him was flowing at all times, floating about in a care-free manner inside of the small radius that most living being's auras extended out to. But in truth, their flowing manner lost its care-free nature and began to multiply quite slowly and be shaped akin to a blanket flowing upward over him in an arc. Its harmless appearance helped to conceal its nature as a protective shield formation that could harden and condense rapidly.

To any truly considerable magical being, this was an obvious acknowledgement of their presence and the weight they carried.

He must have been staring at her hair for thirty seconds after the matches were offered, before he blinked between her face and the matches offered wordlessly. He had no intent to act on anything that had just happened, and suddenly, for a breath, he looked very confused before he said "Thank you," As he reached up to take the matches. He composed himself easily as his own thoughts returned to him, taking a quick look over what she had been ordering with a flicker between the empty bar before her. He only then seemed to realize the bartender had to pull away for her order, leaving him without any obvious details to supply in place of his complete lack of hearing her.

He then sniffed, frowning slightly as he lifted the match up towards the cigarette while placing it in his mouth. A spark rode its way up the stick, and lit the end of the match in a small blaze as he took a drag. He shook the match loose, and blew the smoke aside, down towards the floor before he met her eyes finally. His hair fell aside, revealing his terrible crimson eye as he said "I did not mean to stare. My mind was distracted by the coming of a visitor." The explanation felt normal coming from him, largely due to the calm and polite manner in which he carried a conversation.

'Tea. No sugar.'

A voice chimed inside of his head, smoothly encouraging the conversation to flow along.

"...Though I was curious. What brings you to drink tea at a bar?"

A prickling sensation numbed his skin as he managed to hide the tensity bunching the muscles up in his back. This could be a fight in the city. If he had been hunted by a half-dragon that had Gaian sympathies, this spelled trouble for him. His fingers began tapping on the counter as the bartender returned to serve Farren her drink, Lucas asked the man briefly, "Is the golden one a regular of yours?" The shake of his head caused Lucas to frown; the bartender mirrored a much more nervous frown. "I need another drink, then," he requested with a sigh. This would be his third glass, and he did not seem tipsy. The bartender looked five times as nervous.

Edited by susitsu

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A frown fell in shadows over old Avaerus's face at the subtle shift in Lucas's fount of great energy, but the force of a half breed was paying attention to the girl, and further attention from the firstborn revealed that he had begun with a defensive shape to that dark aura. At that, the dragon withdrew into a long sip of his drink and the following rumination over its flavor, which was not a good flavor, as a way to disguise a moment of focused thought. He decided there was little need to weave any further spells, as he had the defense and escape methods he would need for his intentions already, but it had caused him a moment of doubt in those things, learning the kind of fine and free-handed control the man had over his magic. He'd met certain Edian Angels in the past with similar control, and fighting one such person had been a trial of his own ability to come prepared. But perhaps it would be best to acknowledge Lucas in turn, and what better way to do it than to paint him a picture?

The clawed hand of the dragon drew a line in the air, silver energy glowing, which was not how he usually drew his runes in modern times, though it was effective for his intentions. It was one of the simplest spells of its kind, a universal rune of abjuration, which he hoped any mage in any world would recognize, and let it drift to his staff and disperse into it, to the visible scorn of the bartender. "If you're looking to use any of your magic, I will not have it in here sir." Hot saliva rumbled in the dragon's throat.

"That, is the idea." Proud as he was, it was an attempt to reassure the man, for whom he was growing some respect. 

Otherwise, powerful and ancient arcanist or not, Avaerus knew his limitations. He was a spellcaster in most things, save for some rougher exertions of power, and while that offered a wider expanse of arcane utility, it limited his speed next to one who controlled their own aura in minute detail as Lucas seemed to. He had to buy time to weave his ancestral magics into other spell shapes, otherwise all he had to work with was fire and pure energy, both of which asked a lot of him to use in the necessary amounts. Letting these ruminations rest, he returned to the point of his intent. 

Taking in Lucas then was a cursory thing. Greater consideration was demanded for the ginger flower of flesh and scents of many things, bundled in many cloths. He wondered how much she knew of what she had gotten into. He was a half-dragon, and the half-elf wore his power on his sleeve. It wouldn't take much of any ability to recognize either as foreboding, but she showed no fear, nor did she indicate any recognition for the situation. Perhaps she was confident that the omen-elf saw her similarly, in that it was always better not to burn the trees when fighting in a forest. Though again, it seemed like neither of them sought any sort of conflict that day. 

The half-dragon finished his shot, dropped two gold coins in the glass, and slid it forward for the bartender to take. "Another." His tone called the word a necessary labor more than a question or a demand. While he waited for the bartender's action, he dug through his pockets, and eventually withdrew a small rectangular box; in it, he knew there to be a tea bag. It was something he kept for a very rare and specific sort of occasion, and he knew he could recreate it. On top of being a pleasantly smoked rose pedal blend, it had a particular property that would offer the imbiber a supernatural level of clarity. It was a tea he had used once before to weave a ritual spell of innovative intricacy. At least at the time--that was at least a century ago. 

He slid the box to the woman. "A gift,

"For your

"Daring."

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JJV3wJs.png"Red hair is something you don't see too much of nowadays," she said, plucking at a loose strand before tucking it behind her gnarled ear. Years ago she got in a wrestling match with a bugbear that left him dead and her severely wounded and her pockets heavy. 

"My mum, she used to tell me stories how witches and wizards would use red hair for their spells, something that has to do about its magical properties."

A bit of a babbler, she hadn't noticed the bartender had placed her cup of tea in front of her - warm water and right flavor. So enthralled by the fact he was willing to have a conversation with her, she was ready to let the warm water to cool and the taste to settle. It's exciting to have someone not know who you are; he doesn't know about her infliction, the rumors about her personage, and he is blissfully oblivious to her affiliations. A great big breath of fresh air this dark, red-eyed stranger is to the small woman, she wants to breathe him in while she can. 

His question about her tea silenced her for a few seconds. It is a bit strange to be drinking at a bar since most come to these kinds of places to throw back ale and the like. Raising her hands, she watches her fingers twitch, forcing her palms to shake back and forth uncontrollably; drinking alcohol of any kind is impossible for a person such as herself. 

"Alcohol makes me a bit useless, because," she shows him her shaking hands, "well, because these don't cooperate when I'm inebriated."

She's learned that it's better when she brings attention to her little impediment, instead of allowing someone to wiggle it into the conversation. This way she can handle any sort of awkwardness and invading questions that come with the reveal with some tact and pride. As far as she can remember her hands have always had a mind of their own, and any magical woo-woos make them worse; case in point their current bout of spasms that are strong and unyielding. It's obnoxious when you're trying to sip your tea mysteriously in a dark corner and eat a meal without getting a single crumb on your shirt. All that, she is thankful that it's only her hands that suffer the most; the rest of her is still mostly functional.

When the box was slid her way, she lowered her hands in surprise. First, she looked to the half-dragon with bright eyes now gleaming with excitement and appreciation. This being the first time she's swathed the man in the heaviness of her curious stare, something inside her stirs and roils, like bubbling water threatening to tip over the edge of a warm pot. They've never met before, have never said a word let alone exchanged glances, yet she feels a mild familiarity nip at her heart and mind.

"My ... Daring?"

Tearing her gaze away, she timidly grabs the box and begins to examine it. Seizing fingers crookedly dance along the edges, testing to see if there are traps or perhaps little trickeries attached to it; naive she may appear, she can be cautious once in a blue moon.

"Thank you so much!"

Satisfied that the box wasn't some naughty trick, she pressed the box greedily against her chest while holding out her other hand in greeting towards the gift giver. 

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Little movements caught his gaze all too well as he began to chew on the filter of his cigarette, eyes drifting and darting between things like an abjurative ward, this woman's stories and scars, and the exit. For just a moment, it looked like he might just head for the door. But when he stood his ground, by not actually making a single movement, it caught the attention of more perceptive onlookers. He had just cased the room, and was quite ready for action by their take. It was a subtle series of looks, merely where and what he regarded with his eyes; the paths he prepared. His gaze was misplaced on the brilliantly adorned half-dragon even as he asked her, "Is that something the Terrans believe?" A hint of amusement could be heard in his voice, all the while selling himself out as a foreigner.

"In reality, that might actually work for some mages. The concept of one's truth is based in the origins of power. In the spirit of ones arts, it might be that red hair is tied to blood, and for that reason bonds to your family, hometown, or a specific location such as a noble family's land since hundreds of years ago or even your race's believed homeland due to the fact hair possess roots. Implication in magic and construing of concept are all just a means to create an event...ah, but I digress. Red hair isn't particular to me, but I could actually make use of it in a ritual through such means the same as black or brown."

He was clearly possessed of particularly impressive arcane knowledge. More than just a foreigner, a traveler and a scholar despite those initial impressions. Just as she had desired, really. But her cheery nature truly was like a smile in a thunderstorm from the outside. The oppressive misery that seemed to must up an unfair portion of the room where he sat left him isolated all except for her and the observing dragon-man that his gaze was slowly drifting from now. She was talking about her hands now, and this had regained his interest. He hadn't really noticed her difficulty with the matches, but in retrospect he was considering now her mention of not drinking and the time she had been standing before him without a response from the deathly looking half-elf.

He leaned forward some, lifting his hands up towards hers, pausing without touching his gloved hands to them. "Do you know what is wrong with them? There are methods to check...I just did not wish to be impolite about the matter. I had once lost most use of my right-hand and had gone blind in my right-eye with it. I had thought permanently, and being right-handed, I had to adapt, but now ambidexterity lends itself as a worthy investment of time."

He had composed himself quite well into his seat despite the prickling feeling in his back the whole time he spoke. He was just barely breaking his gaze from her from moment to moment as he spoke, watching the readying and approach of his visitor. The darkness began to fall down around him, sparing enough mist to settle down invisibly in a ring at his feet like a halo of power being settled into place. Such motions were accompanied only by shifts of his eyes. The greatest tensity found itself as he unexpectedly greeted the unknown human before him. For just a moment, his shadow had moved independently of him, dark tendrils reaching out from its hands, formed sharply like claws, hungering for the flesh of the dragonkin.

But it seemed he had to direct attention to this, regarding it undesirably like it was an offense. A growl sounded out from Lucas at his own shadow as it suddenly started behaving like it was just his shadow again, leaving him to look like he was just growling at the ground for the bartender, the half-dragon, and the Farren.

He sniffed at the repugnant a few times as his eyes darted between them, taking a long drag from his cigarette before blowing out the smoke at his shadow this time in an irritable manner before he regarded the golden one directly. "Well-met, fellow traveler. I am a forgotten sleeper in these lands. What brings you to visit me at the end of this cold season?"

A voice chimed into his ears alone, softly whispering praise and cruelly phrased suggestions as usual, 'It's so nice to see you talking up pretty things again. I missed watching you, Lucas. You should make some friends again. You're so lonely.'

Those words unheard by those near to him caused his lips to tighten just before he lowered the cigarette and drank more, till his third glass of the bartender's 'hardest drink' was left empty. He brought it down with a loud thunk, seeming just a little tipsy now as he slouched, his breath reeking of smoke and whatever terrible concoction was supposed to be getting the man drunk.

Edited by susitsu

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Theirs was a cursory clasp of hands, skepticism-strained on behalf of the dragon before the woman was distracted by Lucas's ramblings. Shortly, his clawed and scaled hand slipped from hers and clinked against the glass as it enveloped it. Finishing it, he ordered another. 

Waiting, he nodded along to Lucas's notes on the properties of red hair, and was surprised to find him as learned as he was for one so naturally gifted. He was absolutely right, it oft depended on the nature of the user's magics, what components were most important. Being one who drew from many arts, and knew more, there were a handful of things that came to mind, but most that involved humanoid hair were of a more occult nature. 

Being the firstborn of Talra, and a descendant of the fae queen Anala, Avaerus and his kindred were something of a unique oddity. He had siblings, but next to him, they were failures. His sister concerned herself with less direct magics, and had a fascination with mechanics and those that laid on the edge the legality of reality, and his brothers had both gotten themselves killed in time. Sona had dishonored their fathers wishes, but Vicorus had made something of himself, even in death, and in the wake of their conflict with The Order of the Faceless, continued to bring security to their home. As such, most of his father's living lineage was made of his own descendants, though he had great hopes for his nephew Soris. 

The elder archmage knew Lucas's struggles as a building extrasensory menace that dissipated in reaction to his yelling at the floor. The gathered power had almost drawn a reaction from him, but he had confidence in his wards, and the half-elf seemed yet to harbor any ill will against him, despite bearing a massive strength that, at least in nature, seemed to disagree. Whether they were separate entities was a concern. Then his control would come into question, but if he was in control, he would find no fault or blame from Avaerus as to the methods that allowed that. He sipped at his newest drink, the same well draft, and ruminated. How would he treat an actual dragon, were he holding similar company to it? A crackling chuckle helped affirm that he wouldn't choose to act much differently.

Then, the half-elf greeted him, and he nodded. He tasted his words and thought, and took longer to reply than was polite in the company of mortals. This was something he recognized, but he found it convenient to take the time to consider, and use it as a way to test the man's patience. For all the very little he desired, he would need his patience. 

He finished his drink and placed his coins on the counter for his next, interlaced his claws, tended to his posture, and let his eyes drift to meet the half-elf's. 

"Valucre,
As I have, heard it... Is a temporal, anomaly. 

"And in this world,
At the center, of worlds,
You stood out.

"Not a dragon,
Yet you breathe shadows.
Not a monster,
Yet you bear, such menace.
Not of strong blood,
Yet I doubt, your mortality.

"To a foreign arcanist, you are, a curiosity. And one, worth befriending, if circumstances, allow." Still trying to keep his flames from escaping his throat, Avaerus traded more coin with the bartender for his next glass.

"For his, next drink."

Edited by Wanderlost

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JJV3wJs.png"I'm not sure; my adoptive mother is from Genesaris. So maybe it's a general statement."

He went on to explain the differences in magic and how something like red hair holds different significance to those educated in the arts. This little snippet of information made her more curious and if she had the education, she would skip over to a library to read more about this suddenly elongated history. There was so much out in this full world she does not know about, and she's hungry for more - much, much more. This stranger all dark and brooding has cracked open a door she's struggled to open - brilliant. 

Avaerus slipped into the conversation with flaming poetry spilling from his fiery mouth. So focused on the brooding man melting shadow to notice that the rest of her company was exemplary. 

"Oh! My hands, I apologize," she said to the half-dragon for she's sloppily moved into his and the other man's conversation. "I do not know. They've been like this since I was a child and they've gotten progressively worse and worse as I get older."

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled. Whatever is wrong with her hands is getting worse, and she's done very little to find a cure, too focused on everything else than the minor determinant she's learned to live with. 

"Ah, for your time." A burly looking man squeezed his way through the door, snagging the young woman's attention ever so suddenly that she swiftly put her gift back on the counter. Once again she goes on a small expedition to find a pocket knife hidden behind the trinkets in her pockets. "See if there's something you can do with this, maybe there's something special about my hair outside its color." Shaking hands crookedly sliced a chunk of hair at the nape of her neck; thankfully the poor cut will be hidden. "Here you go." Farren slipped the strands over before turning to her other friend, whose gift was easier to obtain as it was hanging quietly at her hip. "I appreciate conversation and gifts! You've been kind, but I'm sorry I have very little else to give other than these candies. They're mints ... they melt in your mouth."

She had to hide her laugh at the irony (?) of the candies and her offering them to him. Nonetheless, she dropped the pouch by his hand, then took her gift and shuffled over to the man impatiently holding some items for her. 

Bubbling laughter was spilling out of her by the time she reached her friend, who unceremoniously plopped her helmet on her head with a gentle thud. Farren fiddled with the plating, lifting it and down a few times before turning around and looking at the people in the tavern. 

"What's wrong?" His exasperation for her showing with his arms crossed and his lips lopsided in an annoyed frown. 

"Mn," was her response, the tiny sound squeezing through the delicate openings of the mask. "It's impeccable, just absolutely perfect."

She lifted off the helmet and paid the man a big smile, rows of perfectly white teeth all lined up in a pretty way. His pride is poured into every piece of armor he makes and knowing this she plays a game against his impatience. It worked, his face had turned thirty shades of red, and he looked ready to hit her. He was deflated when she laughed loudly and slapped him jovially on the arm, completely removing the rising tensions dancing between them. 

"And your gloves?" He swept her hand off his arm, his annoyance still there but dampened.

"They're amazing too! I'm grateful you were able to fix them in such a short period."

"Good paying customers often get my attention before anyone else. So, uh ... Are you going to go then? Without your knife earned friend? Heard the Shawnee is tricky, ya know, the whole magic thing."

"Without my elf-friend," she corrected him pointedly, "and yeah! Lentil has other business, and I'm not setting this opportunity aside. I've done worse things than this so," she shrugged her shoulders

That flippant response made the conversation move along at a faster pace. He gave her the details on what was fixed and what was different with her items, making sure she got every opportunity out of them. The eager woman nodded, said okay, gave a large amount of praise here and there that pushed him out the door with a begrudging smile smoothing his weathered face. 

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His eyes continued to dart between them both, even as he had been addressing Farren and furthermore, tracking her eyes to the man that came in only long enough to take his face to mind before minding his own business. No one to him, just as he should be no one to these two.

But before that man from the doorway made his way over, she had acted fast, to take up a knife as she spoke of a gift of her own. He nodded slightly, regarding her polite exchange for his time with interest as he watched her cut free a fiery lock of hair with the strangest look, furrowing his brows at her with a scowl. He looked unhappy, perhaps even taken aback by her offer. But that really wasn't the reality of things as he reached up to accept, continuing to squint at her with a curious glint in his mismatched eyes.

"By this point, I honestly don't mind my time lest there are matters to deal with. But I appreciate your offering more than I would have nothing."

Offering was the word he used.

He accepted it, taking the dangling strands and then, he drew out a small, tan scroll case with curious inscriptions from a satchel on his side. It was no language native to any lands, nor could it be said to be spoken word by one who had the time to study them. Perhaps movements or laws of old power that resulted in sounds that were recorded later as their point of reference. He gave the top a twist, which resulted in a hiss of air and several of the locking mechanisms releasing of their own design. He shook loose a straw band from the empty container which he then used to knot the hair together at one end. Then, he put it inside the scroll case, which sealed with the same hiss of air as the mechanisms locked into place partially on their own following a twist.

It seemed that, as his gaze lifted from the container, he had found his own calm. Somehow, he seemed more sober than when he walked in as he said "Thank you," Before looking to Avaerus and exchanging his greeting for the beast-man. But there was a long pause, one that did not phase the Shade as he stared him down intently, if not threateningly to follow an aforementioned talk of time, but growing in severity as the dragon did speak, his words giving a rise in readiness from the pale-haired man.

Then he sniffed again, relaxing as he bought him a drink. He glanced over the bartender and the curious coin that he accepted, and the man was not getting his drink at first. In-fact, he wasn't the only one outright staring at the two, but after a few moments and a blink back at Lucas, he replied, "Aye. Another for the man with no liver." It was likely a joke he reserved for his customers that had too much, but the straight-laced and displeased manner he spoke it offset the meaning. "Next one's on the house if you're still at it," He said as he took his glass, sounding dispassionate, as though he had just been through a trying time. And once more, he wasn't the only one that had been staring. And those gazes were all growing lax as they thought, 'Maybe they won't fight.'

A lucky day if anything when it concerned this mean-looking half-elf.

Now his own silence was coming to an end as he himself looked beyond the half-dragon, to take in the room once more and the interaction between Farren and the smith. He began to speak again only as he looked back at Avaerus, saying "You have the right approach. I don't like it when other mages don't buy me a drink first." He was nit-picking his preferences as the conversation progressed it seemed, as if he began to care more about the world around him minute by minute, only after he had been approached and talked up by two others. "I have no cause for conflict with anyone. Lest you expect me to rise up to stave off the wicked and protect the weak, we can talk," He stated solemnly, his eyes darting to Farren as she mentioned the Shawnee Glaciers, causing a visible shiver in him, though taking note of his posture, he actually seemed to be slightly hunched over as though he had been staving off the cold the entire time.

He continued to speak to Avaerus as he watched Farren go and return, saying "Such things I prefer to create a form of isolation for. Natural defenses against social stigma. The best way to talk is to travel, but I have no interest in leaving here without your name." He made another ruling, and as Farren returned, he said "By the way. My name is Lucas Black. You were going to the Shawnee Glaciers?" He asked her without a secondary glance at Avaerus to check if this was 'alright' with him.

'That's better.'

Edited by susitsu

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Lucas turned his attention, and Avaerus receded into a deep, rumbling bout of laughter. Everything he had wanted on a neat little platter: he was pleased, and doubly amused at his verbalized aversion to altruism. Theirs would be a fun stroll. 

"I have never, concerned myself, with the affairs, of the weak." He spoke to no one in particular, acknowledging that he bore no concerns for the values Lucas seemed to worry he might care for. He didn't expect to be paid any attention of theirs, hoping they would finish their conversation. They would soon have time to discuss what he wished.

It was always good, forging alliances, or at least making acquaintences. Having this Lucas Black as a contact could prove useful, were any of his kindred to travel to Valucre again. Although he would have to find a tactful way to inquire about their lifespan. It was always unfortunate to send people seeking a dead man. 

Avaerus stepped down from the barstool and took up his staff. Looking over the wary patrons, glasses left, and the grim-eyed bartender, he made no move to apologize for any of it, and seemed to be of a mind that it didn't matter. 

When Lucas was ready, they could have their travel, and they could discuss. He only wondered whether they would still have the woman in their company. The dragonson didn't think he'd mind. Her lack of fear pleased him, she was unoffensive, and with little else on his mind, he could afford her interruptions. Things ahead were beginning to look promising. 

"Travel, it is."

Edited by Wanderlost

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"Yes!"

Her response was a mixture of surprise (she hadn't expected him to be listening) and excitement (money is often exciting). 

"My services have been requested by a well paying benefactor who has a taste for ... ah, relics."

Setting her newly fashioned helm atop the bar, she retrieved a scrap of paper from a nondescript pocket and spread it before the brooding man with a name. She waved Avaerus over to also take a look in case he got curious about the paper and what is written on it, or just felt like he wanted to be part of the group in general. Nonetheless, the note is there for everyone to see with all sorts of information exposed to their wandering eyes. 

Free to wander and leaving them to read about how the chosen relic is a weapon used by someone from history. Unwilling to risk their own life, the person who hired Farren wants her to wander to the Shawnee Glacier, climb a mountain or two, and obtain the weapon from ice eagles or some such. Farren has been hired for worse, and immediately took the job, knowing well that the price tag attached to this little expedition will be just enough to carry her comfortably through the rest of the year. She and Lentil have been extremely busy the last few months, taking what they can when they can to 1. Save for Farren's travels back home and 2. Lentil is having to take jobs on his own while she is gone. 

"I've got money for the travel to and from, which is nice," she said while bending down and picking up her weapons. "And just enough information to get me there." She stood up, slamming her compound bow on the bar top; she apologizes quickly after, not meaning to be so rude. 

"It'll take me a bit to get there, but being prepared for this field trip makes the time ... meh," Farren shrugged into the straps that keep her quiver in place against her back. "The only issue is I've never been to the Shawnee and considering its current atmosphere; I worry these will be more of a problem than usual." Farren lifted her hands to signify 'these' before grabbing her bow and throwing it over her shoulder. 

This weapon is the only one she can currently use and feel comfortable with. Swords and daggers and anything else as sharp are dangers more to herself than an enemy; her inability to have steady hands makes it difficult to stab someone and make it count. There are some daggers and knives on her person, all extraordinarily sharp and all used outside of killing people and protecting herself. A hunter needs to have a handy-dandy sharp just in case. There have been times she's had to bring out a dagger or two to escape some sticky situations, and each time she has ended up hurt but thankfully not dead. 

"Oh! I'm sorry," she laughed, just realizing something, "I didn't introduce myself. Call me Farren! Farren Rhea Noam, Fa for short." She moved out from behind the counter and reached forward, offering the two gentlemen a quick shake. 

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"Good. You said the next one was on the house?" He replied to her compliance, then switched to the bartender in one smooth turn of his seat from the dragon-man and Farren. The man was in the middle of polishing a glass, and froze up with a frown that said he hoped they were leaving, right now. 'Seriously, this was not the city to be acting so flamboyant in,' He even thought to himself. But there was no protest as he filled up one last drink for the wild-eyed Half-Elf, who was apparently presenting a capacity for social nuances all of a sudden. The man himself might have felt slighted by it if nonsense wasn't what a bartender dealt with.

But he did wish this nonsense would stop. He could deal with gangbangers, knives, guns, glowing swords, but something about this trio was just raking his nerves over the fire. He might just start sweating at this rate, but he still set his drink down politely. "Yeah, on the house you inhuman..." He was stopping, and staring back at Lucas' narrowed eyes. The words had just slipped out of his mouth, and it had nothing to do with him being part Elf. He didn't really know what it was, but it definitely had to do with his shadowy presence and that red eye that offended the whole world.

But Lucas didn't take offense. He accepted the drink with a quiet stare, sipping it briefly, before turning from him as he said, "You serve good stuff here. Try to stay in business so I can visit again in some years."

He took another drink, clearly savoring the taste as he digested Farren's words, all while giving the half-dragon an amused glance, the emotion merely showing in the relaxed look in his eyes.

"Do you think you're well-dressed enough to go soon?" He asked after a moment of eyeing her up and down. "I intend to change before we leave the city myself, and I'm not too concerned about our other travelling companion here," He gave Avaerus a nod at that. "...I actually just came back from the Shawnee Glaciers. I know the area well-enough to get lost in it and find my way out. Of course, there are innumerable dangers there. Tribes and druids alike, the most prepared of which would have killed me if the usual methods worked on me."

He took another drink, showing no display of unnecessary pride, or any signs of intoxication. Well, maybe he was a lot more relaxed since he started chugging alcohol. And with a another look to Avearus, he said "And our threat range might be bigger than what I already draw. What say you, dragonkin? Will you potentially lay down your life to protect this woman?" Between the two mages, it was realistically an intrusive line of questioning under the thin veneer of conversation.

"And, secondly, we do have one last order of business before we can leave here," He explained from his seat with his gaze still on the golden one that so starkly contrasted him by appearance alone. "I would like to know your name, dragonkin. I did say I wasn't leaving here without it."

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"Avaerus, Talra. Firstborn, of the dragon, Talra."

His response was a boast, if not blatantly so outside of his flaming pride.

"I believe, you met my nephew. Soris."

He had not elected to crowd over the woman or care for the contents of her charge. The things he did concern himself with were very literally otherworldly. 

Establishing contact with Lucas on behalf of his family would be advantageous, and he had a scheme brewing that could help solve their family's issues with a particular whelp. Perhaps Lucas could teach him how to handle life as a host to a cruel power. It would be quite an endeavor to coordinate, so perhaps he could find a way, somehow, to gain a sort of debt from him... He didn't count such a convenience likely however, and he was left with much to ponder. 

Then, however, was a better time to think on the other question. He had agreed to a stroll, not to accompany this mortal one and her trembling hands on some supposedly dangerous hike. And to risk his life? That certainly wasn't a desirable outcome. 

"I am here, to discuss. I care little, for the conditions, under which we do."

 

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Farren stood there with a stupid smile on her face, the port of her confusion it would seem. She had only revealed her travels because there was no lively reason to hide her aspirations from these fellows. The last thing she expected from the two was their strange eagerness to join her on this journey; a small ping of nervousness settled at the bottom of her spine as the reality of the situation began to sink in. It has always been herself or herself and Lentil, and just ever so often a few others like herself (monster hunters). This change filled with strangers makes her shakey hands sweaty and tremor more at the idea of new faces tagging along.

When Lucas looked her up and down, she clutched at her throat in a manner she wasn't aware she was capable of. Too real, she thought to herself, the voice in her head strained and terrified. If her opinion is worth anything, Farren would say these two are capable enough and would make her whole expedition a comfort. On the flipside, she doesn't want to willfully endanger their lives (even though they're the ones jumping into her business). She could not find it in herself to set them aside, mostly because she knew they'd tag along no matter what the woman had to say about it and arguing is not a sport she has ever excelled at. 

"Uhm," she tapped the leathers and straps adorning her person, reached behind her to shake the hood some thoughtfully. "I mean, no? But I'm not going to buy a whole new wardrobe right now. The Shawnee isn't exactly a close neighbor; the idea was to buy what is necessary the closer I get."

Sketched on the map were a few little dots showing what towns are willing to trade and what wares they carry. There are indeed plans rolling around in her mind, like an unsteady marble going back and forth. 

"Ha! There's no need to be so dramatic," she said, ruffling her red tresses with quaking fingers. "I don't ask for your life. Instead, a helping hand will do just great."

A few facets of this conversation were hitting a bit too close to her liable heart. When the world had opened itself to her wandering and fearful feet, she had met Lentil; the memory washes over her in a great wave of reminiscing. He had been a beautiful beacon of sunlight with a knee-melting smile always hanging from the corner of his lips. Farren had first been drawn by his manner of speech and impeccable manners; secondly was his kindness towards her and his willingness to give her a job. Fast forward however long, and they had made promises of lives to one another without hesitation. Having others impede on that memory made her antsy.

"I-I welcome the company, and if you want to get some things before we leave, I'm open to it."

A rock and a hard place. 

"I have a few things to gather myself before we head out anyways, so."

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