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Fire Emblem: Curse of the Goddess [IC / Conditional Acceptance / PG-16]

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It was a long night. That was something the Wyvern could attest from her spot laying there. She had drifted in and out of sleep after the rigors of the day, the painful gashes having healed up for the most part; but she couldn’t help but be slightly annoyed. A quiet chuff escape from the Wyvern as she flicked her eyes open. Citron had given her a job, to watch over the one on her horse… Only for them to leave under her nose, without her even having noticed. Her eyes shut forcefully again as she tried to rest. 

It had been a long night. So many people had come and gone since she had laid down. Which ones, she wasn’t sure; and though she thought she heard the trot of a horse at one point, it… Didn’t really matter, did it? After all, she was only watching them as they were wounded. So if they were no longer wounded, she was off the hook. As simply as that. Instead, her green eyes flicked open as one of the humans gently rubbed her snout. This was a good human, Peaches had determined; they paused their task of tidying their nest ever-so-often to pat her face, a gesture that she had learned from Citron was an affectionate gesture. In equal measure, the wyvern replied with a quiet trill; something she thought showed an even amount of affection. A good gesture, for a good human.

But it was a long night, and one that seemed as though it was only going to get longer. Green eyes flickered open as she raised her snout into the air and began to sniff. Flicking her tongue into the air, she looked down to see the group approaching. Two of them she recognized. One of them she wasn’t fond of. One of them she was. Three of them she didn’t understand. Two of them smelled like random animals-- That wasn’t of any concern to her.

The Isaurian.

He smelled like another Wyvern.

As they approached closer and closer, and as the others began to funnel out of the house-nest-cave to speak with the group, Peaches slowly rose from her slumbering position, green orbs staring down at the Isaurian as she rose to her full height. The others seemed to trust him, that much was true. Even the armored man. But could he judge the character of another man? She wasn’t sure. 

There was another flick of her tongue.

It can’t be risked.

The Wyvern began to growl with a low rumble from her throat as she began to move. Steady, deliberate steps as she moved to place herself between the group in the house and between the arriving group, turning her head to the side to stare down the new Isaurian as she studied him for any sudden movements.
---
Citron wasn’t exactly thrilled with the reaction Mene gave; it wasn’t that she disliked or wanted to shun the hospitality, it was just that seeing the older woman work herself to the bone wasn’t something she particularly enjoyed. Even as she grew faster and faster at cleaning, as if spurred on by Penelope’s careless words, Citron couldn’t help but feel a tinge of guilt as well. Even Alois’ joke didn’t seem to do… Well, much of anything, to help her mood, bringing Citron’s own mood down further.  It wasn’t until Alois and Penelope both moved to change the subject, that Citron could take her mind off of the matter… Even as the conversation about ink quickly turned to matters elsewhere before she could even get a word-in edgewise.

She hadn’t heard it, but as the two of them moved to open the door, Citron got the feeling that others were waiting for them on the other side, and Alois’ opening of the door confirmed that. On the other side, as Alois and Penelope began to greet the others, Citron sort of danced around behind them, trying to get a good look, until they had gotten out of the way. It seemed, based on the sounds, that Gunther, Tsetseg, and… Three? Three newcomers had arrived; something she would confirm as she tried to look around them to see what was going on. One of them was even an Isaurian, if Alois’ comment was anything to go by.

“...Oh!” Citron gasped as she finally could see the full picture; including Peaches, bearing down on the Isaurian man, and growling. “Peaches! Stop!” The Wyvern Rider cried out as she crammed her way through, around Alois, to lay hands upon the Wyvern suddenly. “Bad--- No, Bad!” She frowned, tightening her grip as the Wyvern seemed to fight against her for a moment. “She’s-- Not normally like this,” Citron tried to quickly explain, as she circled the Wyvern to put herself between the guard-lizard and the new group.

“Sorry, sorry,” she continued, completely missing most of the conversation, save a few footnotes, as she focused herself on keeping the Wyvern from making any rash decisions; clearly, she would have to wait for actual introductions until later. “So, we’re-- Uh, going to some guy’s house, right?” She asked, hoping she caught everything, or enough of everything, as she wrapped both arms around Peaches’ neck. “Did I hear that right?” She asked, sighing loudly as Peaches continued to growl.
 

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Edrick wasn't in much of a mindset to pay attention to the insistence that he stay down in the parlor when the tiny menace was on the loose, not to mention how running up the stairs reminded him quite quickly that he had lost a lot of blood. His head started to throb, stars danced across his vision, and his hearing became muffled and indistinct as he raced up the stairs after Rohns. Thankfully, the pup had stopped at a door and was presently trying to get his way under it.

"There you are you little bastard!" He exclaimed as he reached out and snagged the pup by the scruff, which startled the little menace enough that he wasn't quite able to bite the farmboy in return for that. Not that he Rohns didn't start trying to immediately once the shock of the moment wore off, and now Edrick was stood there with a wiggling, snapping pup in his hand caught between keeping himself from being bit and keeping his balance while he stopped and tried to recover his faculties. "What... what the hell were you even thinking running off?" He only got more yapping and growling in response, leading to the boy letting out a groan, before looking at the door in front of them.

"Well... we did come here to look for Catriona," he reasoned to himself and then looked back at the wolf pup. "I'm gonna put you back down. Don't bite me and don't run off." If the wolf understood him, he was sure Rohns didn't care. But at least when he put the wolf down he seemed less interested in running off than he was in biting at his boot. That was... an improvement. And with one hand free now, the other keeping his lance held where he could manage it, he reached out to see if the door was locked and to open it if it was not.

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Link was stuck between the hammer and the anvil. Take the safe route and suppress his instincts as a Night Wolf—instincts sewn into every stitch and seam of the patchwork soldier doll that was his body—or swallow his hesitation and ensure the safety of the crown above all else. His internal debate was short-lived but fierce. Keep his back and change my voice enough to be mistaken for someone else. Work fast. No maiming, no screaming, no torture. Be smart and focus on learning where Catriona is. Link gave himself ground rules as he drew his sword. Just because he utilized his training did not mean he had to go full Night Wolf; there had to be a middle-ground and Link was going to find it. 

The soldier pushed the door shut with his heel softly so the ‘click’ of the lock was swallowed by a combination of Gaston’s shouting and the pigeons squawking. He closed the distance and shoved the point of his Iron Sword into Gaston’s back. “Where is she?” he said, adding the Histian accent to his voice like he had before.

Gaston sucked in a huge gasp of air, spluttering, "What kind of method of inquiration is this?!"

Link poked him in the small of the back. Soft enough that no blood was drawn but strong enough to get his point across. “Where. Is. She?”

"Hmph!" Gaston snorted. "You should be more stringent with your wordiness." He continued, quickly, before Link could press the blade in further. "But if you mean the gracious lady who mendicanted my injuries priorly, then she is upstairs, reposing. It resembles that the toils of the day have corroded her energies."

“...” Link resisted the urge to poke him again. He was out of his league in a contest of wordiness and it irritated him that he could barely decipher what the blowhard was saying. “Choose your next words carefully. What do you mean by reposing?”

Gaston seemed to huff. "Why she is in quietude. A lull, you could say, or even a slumber. She came down with quite the cephalalgia and asked to recline for a bell or two."

“. . . She’s asleep,” is what Link concluded. It was believable if it was a lie. Princess Catriona was known to work herself to exhaustion, and at the border he had seen her fall asleep less than one minute after the end of her shift on night watch several times. She usually seemed so caught up dealing with one thing or another that the second her responsibilities eased slightly, sleep would soon follow. He envied her for it. Still… he had never known the elder princess to sleep at a time it was inappropriate, and this very much was an inappropriate time.

Link shooed a pigeon away from his boot, but not before it left a white smear of feces on his toe. "Cut the fancy talk. Who do you work for?”

"Apologies," Gaston sniffed. "As a noble, my businesses bring me into contact with the elite of the elite. So I'm afraid I am not used to conversing with the wordily-challenged." Link jabbed him with the tip of the blade. "Oof! Careful with the bilbo there, my morpheme-lacking friend. I labor for myself, as any genuine gentleman does."

That was a blatant lie. Link had heard him talking about sending word to someone he called ‘His Grace’ by… dove. The soldier looked around the room once more and it suddenly hit him. They weren’t pet birds. They were messengers. The man was communicating with someone far enough away that he was sending messenger birds. Link was filled with a new wave of irritation. Not only was the man lying, he was potentially communicating with Lord Sebastian in Galtea. Or some cult leader in Pontus who was hoping to kidnap the princess. Or whoever the mysterious white blur that the bandit from before had mentioned was. Maybe he had even known they were going to be there. Knowing they had access to long-range communication changed so much. The whole village could have been involved. Had they really been cursed, or was the entire fiasco just a ruse to lower their guard? Licorice could have even been involved with it all; he still hadn’t let go of the fact that she had vanished right when her expertise was most needed. 

Link hissed and kicked Gaston in the back of the leg. It was an angry, sloppy attempt and missed the back of the knee where he was aiming and only caused Gaston to wobble forward. "Answer the question. Who do you work for? Who is 'His Grace'?"

The would-be lord’s voice was somewhat pained when he responded. "His Grace? Of course, I mean the stalwart mayor of this hamlet."

Link was suspicious of the mayor. The pompous man was potentially telling the truth; the mayor could have been trying to mislead him. Thankfully Darius, the overbearing captain of the Night Wolves, had trained him for situations like this before. The answer was to bluff. “You’re lying to me. I already spoke with the mayor.” He prodded the man hard enough to finally draw a small trickle of blood that ran down the blade. “I’m only gonna ask one more time. Who is ‘His Grace’? Who are you working for?”

"Urk...I avow! It's the mayor, why would I bear false witness?!" Gaston shouted. Link knew the moment to escalate the situation was upon him. Remove a finger. Start with the pinky and then move towards the thumb. A demonstration on the minor finger before a threat on the one that was most important. The lecture was still fresh in his mind. The effectiveness of the tactic was something that was undeniable after watching the captain of the Night Wolves work. But Link’s stomach turned at the idea.

"... Because you don't know either. Not important enough in 'His Grace' scheme to even know who he really is. You're more clueless than me,” Link sneered in his best imitation of a noble’s condescension. 

Gaston’s neck turned beet red with rage. "Of course I am important enough! Why, I am the most dignified of dignitaries! His Grace trusts me with all his paramount assignments."

The idiot cares more about his pride than his life. Maybe he is a real noble. "Right. So important he stuck you in the middle of nowhere. So many 'paramount assignments' here."

"Indubitably there are! This is a keystone locale! It is, after all, if I am not mistaken, the centerpoint of some aberrant cult, and only I am importunate enough to be placed here." Gaston rose up to his full height, feeling proud.

"Everyone knows about that cult. It's old news. You really think it's that important?" Link pulled the sword away from his back a bit. Whether he knew it or not Gaston had slipped up and all but confirmed that he was working for someone outside the village. "I might as well get out of here. I thought you were worth targeting but looks like I was wrong."

"O-O-Old news?!" Pylauses spluttered. "I am Lord Pylauses Gaston! Who are you?! And what are you conversant in?!"

Link resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Me? I find information for important people about other important people... which means I shouldn't be here. I'll go ahead and get going." 

"The nerve! I'll tell you who you are! You are a burglar and a knave! Bursting into my manor like this, pointing about your bill like it's worth anything! You are a mere commoner. Worth nothing. Zilch. Zippo. Nada! Just like the rest of your motley association!" Gaston was in the midst of a full blown rant. He likely would have kept going if he hadn’t been interrupted by the soldier behind him. 

"My association is worth more than scum like you could ever even imagine," Link said, lowering his sword. "Thanks for the information but I've got to get going. I'll let my employers know you're a grunt, so you won't have to worry about another visit from someone like me again." He stepped back. Pigeons squawked and scattered. "Keep your eyes on the wall until you hear the door open and then close. Count to thirty after that and you're free to leave. If anyone asks, your... birds... were very rowdy today. Fail to obey these simple instructions and you know what will happen."

Link waited with his sword drawn to see if Gaston was going to listen to him. The man was clearly frustrated and grumbling under his breath, but he made no move to turn around, meaning the soldier was in the clear. He unlocked and opened the door and slipped into the hallway with an extra bit of spring in his step.

Something had actually gone his way for once.
 

Edited by Cheshire Toon

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Alois, Penelope, Gunther, Tsetseg, Citron, and Raki

Timmy waved back at Alois, brightening as he saw him. "Weel, if it ain't Alois! And, err, actually… They did." He chuckled, scratching his cheek.

Phai also waved, a small smile lighting up her features. "I'm not that bad! Just, still learning the ropes, is all." She reverted to her earlier seriousness. "Alois, did you hear? Hanikap p-pushed Timmy down a pit! And him and Pylauses were planning something bad. So we need to stop them!" The girl, who had been wound up like a spring, sagged when Tsetseg reassured her of her companion's reliability. "That's a relief. But we still should get help. As you said, the more the merrier!" At Gunther's awkward comment, she shook her head. "N-Not at all. It's fine. It's the job of the militia to deal with stuff like this, after all. I-I'm sorry you have to in our place. We'll try to catch up as quickly as we can!"

Mene nodded to Citron's question. "Sounds like it." She glanced about at the group. "I'm gonna let the mayor know about this." The woman crossed her arms. "He'll wanna know. He's been suspicious o' Pylauses since the man arrived."

"Ah'll return Icleias tae Amas," Timmy suggested. "An' see if'n I can gather a'body else." He nodded at Raki. "Ye take care o' yersel, ye hear? Ye and Gonnafazeya both!" The boy turned around, whistling another jaunty tune as he strolled down the path. Icleias and Lassie both followed him, the beagle romping around while the collie followed with staid dignity.

"Um, excuse me," the small voice belonged to one of the quieter members of the group, Sienna. The Protean's attention was mostly on Penelope. "I think I'm going to go after Licorice," she said, ears flattened in nervousness. "I…I don't like that she's out there by herself, and I know this is important, but…" she trailed off, "…but I think this is also important. Licorice is our friend!" she shouted. After a second, she let out a quiet squeak of embarrassment. "Sorry, but that's what I think. And I'm going to do it, no matter what anybody says!" The fox bowed to the group before turning around, cloak whipping behind her with the motion. She glanced back once before shaking her head determinedly. With a flick of her white tail, the girl set off into a fast lope, leaving the group behind.

Alois, Penelope, Gunther, Ciela, Citron, and Raki

It wasn't long before the gathering set out. None of the villagers stopped them, though a few shot Raki odd looks, brows furrowed. Thanks to Alois, the group arrived at Pylauses's house without issue. There, they would see Ciela and Remy standing before a gaudy-looking building. The front door had been swung open. No one else was around save for a couple of horses. Overhead, birds winged their way through the sky.

Tsetseg

Phai and Tsetseg split off without preamble. Walking down the path, it was clear Phai's mood had sharpened, an arrow shooting toward her destination. The girl was frowning as she stared straight ahead, determination surging with every stomp on the dusty road. Were Tsetseg to speak, she would respond with short phrases, concentrated on the goal.

Eventually, the two followed the path to a familiar house with a familiar horse. There, a familiar girl was brushing the horse down while conversing with an older couple standing nearby.

"Cora!" Phai called. "Oh, and uh, hello, Goodman and Goodwife Gatti." She wrung her hands together.

The couple turned around. The man looked fairly ordinary, with dull brown hair falling limply over hazel eyes. He wore frayed clothing, and he put most of his weight on a wooden staff and his right leg. His left leg appeared twisted and useless. However, the woman was rapier-thin and tall, her hair a tangled mess of black curls of a similar hue to Cora's.

"'Lo there, young Phai," the man spoke gently. "What's the matter?"

The woman said nothing, staring at Phai and Tsetseg with unblinking copper eyes.

"E-Er, uh," Phai coughed, her own eyes never leaving the woman's. "Y-Yeah. I, uhh, um, well, we're here to uh, um… Well, something bad is going on and we need help!"

Edrick

Edrick found a small corner office upon opening the door. A few velvet-cushioned chairs surrounded a single wooden desk. Various fripperies adorned it, including a golden candlestick, a bouquet, a music box, a picture frame, an empty scroll of parchment, and an inkwell. A bookcase containing several books and cabinets filled with what looked like medicinal bottles lined the walls. Multiple windows and a crackling fireplace lit up the area. To the side was a closed door.


OOC

Spoiler

The main group has arrived at the manor where Ciela is. Tsetseg has split off with Phai though, and Timmy left to return Icleias. Lassie is with him. Sienna has officially left the group entirely to follow Licorice. Edrick and Link are currently in the manor still.

Edited by Sethera

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As Alois was greeting the others, he looked back as the princess tried to squeeze past him, the boy shifting his body a little so that she could more easily squeeze past him. As Penelope went to question Gunther about what was troubling him the boy mimicked her own reaction, sighing, as he learned that Catriona was likely to be in trouble at the present time. Though Gunther was continuing to speak with the princess, Phaidra took his attention as she explained to him what was happening. "He pushed Timmy into a pit?" A bit dumbfounded at this, Alois said, "well that's more brazen then I would've expected." 

With Gunther finishing explaining the situation to Penelope, he saw the smile on her face as she had begun to ask for his assistance. Returning it with a mischievous grin of his own, he said, "well I'm sure he won't mind a broken door or anything anyway. He's got more than enough money to fix it, in fact this would just be an excuse for him to show it off. Really we'd be doing him a favor." He said this both to the princess and also because his mother was in ear shot, she herself having declared that she would go and inform the mayor. Alois, not wanting to draw her ire or disapproval for what they were about to do decided to hold back any and all comments regarding the great and glorious leader of his quaint, humble village. "You sure did hear right," the boy addressed Citron. "We're going to a lovely manor in the middle of town. I'll lead the way and well, feel free to bring Strawberry along." 

After a bit of walking, Alois looked over towards the mansion seeing another familiar face there. "Right. Looks like trouble never comes in moderation." Casually walking up he just said, "hey Ciela fancy meeting you here, oh would you look at that the door is closed shut." Alois made his way over to the clearly open door and kicked it before walking inside. "Oh would you look at that, we've been invited right in how considerate. But no one to greet us, what kind of a noble is this man, I swear." Alois mockingly shook his head.  

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Tsetseg nodded as Sienna had made mention of looking for Licorice. "That's right, family and friends are very important. So, good luck! Hope you find her soon!" With that, the girl waived off the fox protean as she had hurriedly made her way out of the  village. The girl then awaited for Phai to leave as well, smiling to everyone else as she followed after the girl. It didn't take much time for them to make their way over to Cora's house, and as Phai called out for the militia girl, there was another couple waiting outside. As the man asked them about what they were doing here, Phai answered first. Tsetseg, not feeling the nerves that Phai was and in fact unfailingly smiling at the two, nodded along. "Yeah, yeah. There's some some bad stuff and mean people probably in this town and so we were going to go and stop it. But we wanted more help to go and stop the bad people so we came here, because Cora's super nice and friendly and like part of the town's patrol and it's the patrol's job to stop bad people. So yeah. Oh I'm Tsetseg, nice to meet you!" 

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aonB0Ia.png  lcmI449.png

"If it isn't a problem, may I join if you're going to the place of... those two."

When the young man asked this Gunther looked to Penelope. Just as Penelope looked to Gunther. The girl smiled as she realized he was going to ask her if it was okay. "You are the one that brought him, no? Then I believe it would be up to your own judgement. If you think we can trust him I see no reason why he could not come along."

Gunther hesitated. He had come to Penelope so that she could make such decisions. Yet if she was basing it on his own observations... "I think it should be fine. I have no reason to think he's up to anything."

Penelope nodded and turned to Raki. "Then feel free to come along....er, whoever it is you are." Then she began to set out. Though before she got far she said, "oh but know that the last person to betray us ended up in the belly of a giant fox." The lie came so smoothly and naturally that Gunther for a moment tried to figure out who she meant before realizing what she was doing.

His face showed the realization clear as day so he made sure to turn away from Raki as they moved on.

While Penelope felt uncertain of the sudden departure of Sienna she supposed it was better that she hadn't heard the girl's little fib. Not to mention she had other things to worry about now. Though it seemed that there would be more allies gathering soon enough. "Our goal is to find these men, as well as my sister, and make sure they do not slip away before we surround them with overwhelming numbers. It shouldn't be too difficult a task but we'd best be careful not to let the self-proclaimed noble nor his accomplish out of our sights when we see them."

As soon as Gunther saw the house he cringed, while Penelope began to laugh, at the tackiness of it all. "He must be doing this on purpose, there is no way he can believe this to be...noble."

"He is surely either a fool or a maniac. Either way it means it may be hard to predict his response. And so..." She gave Alois an approving nod, "I think it's best we let ourselves in."

As they went through the door Gunther paused to look towards Ciela who seemed to be waiting, perhaps for Edrick, outside the house. "If we do find the princess and she's injured we'll be sure to call for you." At his own words Gunther's face darkened. While he didn't think this man would be able to best Catriona if he had done something to her...

Penelope had considered asking Gunther to stay at the door in case the two they were searching for tried to escape behind them but one look at his face stopped her. Penelope's own expression softened slightly as she said, "she will be alright, but we shall make haste to be sure of that."

Gunther nodded and looked around the parlor they found themselves in. It was as gaudy as the outside, perhaps more so, and there were several directions in which to look. Thankfully they had the numbers but it still seemed to be harder to watch for every avenue of escape than he had hoped.

Meanwhile the hunting scenes depicted drew Penelope's attention. "Perhaps he is a hunting enthusiast. Maybe some sort of archer himself? If so I can't imagine he is too skilled. Either way it just means we need to close the distance and capture him before he can grab an arrow. Now, where to begin..."

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"Thank, you, name's Raki by the way. And don't worry, I do not plan to end up in any belly."

he tried to recall if the tale of the girl had said something about giant foxes, but to be honest, while he didn't recall any such thing, he couldn't bring himself to deny the possibility either. Though, if the girl meant that as a threat, it wasn't exactly... well, threatening. Everybody knew that giant foxes were nothing more than a fairy tale, after all.

Heck, even the armored knight, the girl's knight he assumed? Appeared to be embarrassed enough to turn his face away from him.

"Ah'll return Icleias tae Amas, An' see if'n I can gather a'body else. Ye take care o' yersel, ye hear? Ye and Gonnafazeya both!"

"Will do. Be sure to tell him about their heroic efforts" Raki smiled "I would've arrived much later hadn't it been for them."  He waved at the boy, but he was already guiding the dogs away. 'And my introduction with this group would've been even more tense... heck, I probably wouldn't even be here hadn't it been for you guys.'

He shook his head and turned back towards the group. Mene was talking about warning the mayor, fine enough, he had already decided that it was pointless to hide further, though a part of him still pointlessly hoped that, if he just never approached anyone directly, the town would somehow forget about him. Meanwhile the other were discussing how to proceed, until the girl with the pelt spoke, something about a missing person. Raki realized that he had never heard her speak before, or maybe she had and he just hadn't heard her. Her voice was incredibly quiet, to the point that he instinctively turned his hear towards her. Immediately after, he was taken aback as the thin voice turned into a shout.

A moment later, she was darting away, cloak billowing and tail whipping in trail.

Wait

"That girl..."

That... wasn't a pelt?

A worryingly familiar sound from behind him. Raki turned.

That, on the other hand, was, indeed, a wyvern.

To be exact, the pink wyvern had woken up, and had taken interest in him not unlike Garinphasia had before. Except this time, the wyvern wasn't very interested in a staring contest.

The beast flicked her tongue, and realization came crushing down on him as he slowly walked backwards, trying to make himself as unthreatening as possible without turning his back. The smell. The wyvern smelled Garinphasia on him. He would've gladly kicked himself then and there, had the action not been so detrimental in his situation. The worst part, he should really have known. At the stables they had a section for the new arrivals, separate from the main building and with isolated cells, to acclimate the wyverns, without driving them crazy by being locked in place with the smell of dozens of others all around. All well and good until someone had to approach them, soaked in the aroma of their work. Raki knew, many a time that had been his work.

"I don't suppose any of you is the partner?"

The pink-scaled wyrm seemed content with looming on him for now, but it wasn't of much reassurance. He foolishly thought to be at a safe distance since the wyvern was asleep and the others with him appeared to not worry, and now he would've tested if his practical abilities to work with wyverns were as rusted as his memories.

Then, a savior came.

Well, the partner of the wyvern, but for Raki it was basically the same.

"Don't worry, I should have seen it coming, I was careless."

The Isaurian girl kept making sure that his head remained on his shoulders for the rest of the conversation, effort that Raki tried to help by keeping himself as far from the two as possible, background growls notwithstanding. Distance he maintained as the group took to the streets, determined to not be as careless a second time, not until he was reunited with Garinphasia. And... to be honest, a part of him was quite nervous about confronting the Isaurian rider as well. If nothing else, the event helped him not to worry over the looks some of the villagers were giving him.

There was something he had meant to ask, he believed, before the whole wyvern thing. If only he could recall...

"Right. Looks like trouble never comes in moderation."

He lifted up his gaze. In front of the... house, for lack of a better word, stood a girl on a horse. Another of the group. The guy leading them lost little time in presentation, going straight to invite himself into the house.

"Ciela, right? I'm Raki." He turned towards her as the group passed by.

"Oh would you look at that, we've been invited right in how considerate. But no one to greet us, what kind of a noble is this man, I swear."

"Pleased to meet you."

Edited by Arkars

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To be honest, Citron was pleased by the response of both the other Isaurian and her wyvern both. It seemed to her, that he was at least acquainted with wyverns, or had more sense than many others she had encountered, because she watched him take a few careful steps away as Peaches growled and showed threat-response after threat-response, the entire time being careful not to make any sudden movements that might anger the wyvern further. It was this elation that showed on her face as the growls came to an end, though the wyvern still kept her eyes trained straight on the Isaurian man's movements.

Through the combined effort of all of these factors the wyvern seemed ultimately to calm down, even if only slightly so, letting Citron shift from a full embrace of the wyvern to a gentle hold with her left hand. She was still careful to keep herself between Peaches and him, given that would keep the wyvern from lunging, but this was at least a good start. As this happened, the man’s response to her comment seemed, at least to her, to confirm that he had dealt with wyverns before, while also prompting her to shake her head a bit. “I still feel the need to apologize, she’s supposed to be better trained than that. She’s just been on edge due to the day we’ve had,” she explained, giving a quick shrug.

Now was, about when she would have introduced herself under any normal circumstances; it was always best to know the names of those you were with, she felt, but now was anything but a normal circumstance. Instead, she found her attention directed by Alois first, who said that ‘strawberry’ could come along, clearly directing the address towards Peaches. “It’s… Peaches,” she murmured, shaking her head as she began to follow along. Clearly, introductions would come later, as for now they had a clear destination and goal: arrive at the ‘lovely’ manor, and look for anything strange.

Along the way, Citron led Peaches somewhat carefully, doing her best to lead the wyvern far enough ahead of the Isaurian man that the wyvern had little option but to take her eyes off him, though the wyvern loathed to admit it, but it wasn’t long until they arrived at the garish house. Ciela sat outside and, without waiting, Alois kicked the already-open door open, inviting himself in. “That seems… Maybe a little excessive,” Citron kept a quiet chuckle to herself as the others followed, only pausing as she reached the door to turn around, finally letting go of Peaches.

“Now,” Citron paused, tapping the wyvern on her nose. “The rest of us, we’re going to go into this house to investigate something, but I need you to do something, and it’s really, really important that you do this, alright?” Citron asked, staring into the wyvern’s eyes, before a quiet, low scree escaped the wyvern’s throat. “I need you to stay out here, watching and listening for if anyone that isn’t part of our group tries to leave, and if they do, to scream and  try to stop them. Alright? Do you think you can do that?” she asked, leaning her head forwards.

As if in response, the wyvern seemed to nod ever so slightly, letting out another quiet screech, and then leaning their own head forwards. The wyvern brushed her nose against Citron’s face in a nuzzle, as if in acknowledgement, pushing the rider’s head back a bit in the process, but was overall very gentle with the rider. Moreover, as she pulled away from it,, the wyvern took a few careful steps as she peeled away from the doorway, taking a spot behind Ciela and co. as she looked to keep a watchful gaze over the Manor; as if, in some respect, she had understood the command she was given.

“...Alright, with that taken care of,” Citron smiled, turning back around to fully enter the manor’s door, following after the others who had already set about examining the area. “We’re looking for the owner of this... 'House', and Lady Catriona, right?” Citron asked, carefully holding her free hand against her shoulder as walked into what had to be the gaudiest room she had ever seen, careful not to touch any of the belongings in the room. The mayor’s house was a lot, one of clearly a wealthy man-- But this was… Excess. This was excessive, that was the only, true words for it. Even Penelope had commented on it, bringing to attention the fact that he was he was potentially a hunter, or at least fancied himself one; ending with a question of where to go.

“Not sure if you were asking me, but I would suggest up the stairs, maybe,” was Citron’s contribution, stepping through the uncomfortable excess that was the parlor as she made her way towards the stairs. “This is the house of the guy who wants to act like he’s a noble, right? So it makes sense that his primary abode and living quarters would be up the stairs, so that he can look down upon the town and everyone who might pass by… Right?” She’d reason, pausing as she waited for the others. Given the gaudiness of the house itself and room, she didn’t quite find herself afraid of the owner; he seemed the sort of person with more bark than bite when Lincoln’s wolf-cub attacked him earlier in the day, but… Still, she got the feeling it would be best if she waited for the others, before ascending further.

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Link briefly considered leaving the way he came, but a commotion from the other end of the hallway caused him to shelve the idea. "There you are you little bastard!" Edrick had a voice that carried well, and the soldier recognized it instantly, as well as the angry yips and barks that followed it. "What... what the hell were you even thinking running off?”

For once Link was grateful for Rohns rebellious nature. He hurried to the door at the end of the hall and pulled it open, stepping inside and closing it behind him. It was an office, as he had suspected before. Edrick and Rohns were unsurprisingly standing at the other entrance to it. Rohns made a high-pitched noise and rushed over to sniff at his boots. “No time for me to explain. I came in the door with you and I’ve been with you the whole time, got it?” His tone made it clear he would brook no arguments. After a moment he added, “... Catriona is upstairs. Gaston is working for someone way above his pay grade. I think--”  Noise erupted below them. Thudding and heaving breathes on the stairs, and then a stampede of footsteps and voices. Link clammed up immediately. “Remember the story,” he said without looking at Edrick. 

About that time Rohns made a weird noise in the back of his throat while staring at a white spot on his boot. Link tilted his head. The cub seemed riled up about something but for the life of him the soldier couldn’t figure out what. He was about to brush Rohns away when the pup suddenly licked the white spot off the toe of his boot, made a funny face, and then swung his head side-to-side with his tongue hanging out. That cleared it up.

Rohns could smell the pigeon on him. Then he had tried to lick the bird poop and had the audacity to look offended at the taste. Link crouched down and scratched the cub behind the ear before he could start barking. 

“I thought I told you to stay put?” he grumbled half-heartedly.

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For his part, Edrick was equal parts surprised and disappointed to learn that this was a remarkably normal office. It reminded him a bit of the Cleric's office at the church in his home town, though it was much less religiously ornamented. And as the thought came to him he took a moment to shake the thoughts from his head, almost tipping over in the process when the dizziness caught up with him. Maybe he'd just been away from home too long and if he went back things would go back to normal? But then... no, he'd sworn to stick this out with the others at this point and couldn't back out now.

"No time to explain," and now Link was just about in front of him before he'd even completely gotten a hold on what was happening in the here and now. "I came in the door with you and I've been with you the whole time, got it?" Thankfully Edrick was still delirious enough to just nod along with that idea and not quite process that they'd be lying about this. Then again even if he did process it he probably would have accepted it was better than having to explain why there was a broken window. Even if it was transparent. Though at the mention of Catriona-

"Well then why aren't we going upstairs?!" The boy didn't seem especially bothered by the voices and footsteps coming up the stairs after them. If anything he seemed all the more worried about not getting caught up with the elder of the princesses now! But Link was distracted by the pup. Well, one way or the other it was time to get going and do what they were supposed to do. So, somewhat unsteady on his feet still, Edrick got himself going towards the door through which Link had entered the office and made to open it and see if he could find stairs leading up to where the princess was.

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Alois, Penelope, Gunther, Ciela, Citron, Raki, and Edrick and Link.

A moment passed. Then another moment, and then another. And then a familiar rotund man arrived at the head of the staircase. He held a linen handkerchief to his sweat-streaked forehead.

Looking down at the group, the man spread his arms wide as he descended the stairs. "H-Hello, and welcome to the humble-grand manor of Lord Pyla-aahh!" A loud screech cut off the last word. The man had tripped over his saggy pants, tumbling head over heels down the stairway to land in front of the group, chin knocking against the wooden floor. Fortunately for him, although banged and bruised up, there were no open wounds. "Not again…"

Even Edrick and Link would hear the noise from upstairs.

Tsetseg

The man blinked owlishly, frowning in confusion at Tsetseg's spiel. "Bad people? Well, it sounds like somethin's goin' on, hm? Cora, didja hear that?" He craned his neck over his shoulder to Cora, then back at the duo. "Well, my Cora 'ere's been through a lot today, so's I don't know if'n this is a good idea—"

"That's up to Cora." The woman spoke finally, her voice slightly raspy. "Cora." The word was brief, but obviously a command. "What's your decision?" She never turned her face away from Phai and Tsetseg.

Phai fidgeted, shifting her weight from one foot to the other. "Uh… W-Well, it's okay if you don't want to. I w-was just asking in case you wanted to join in, that's all."


OOC

Spoiler

Not much going on here. Post with your reactions to what's going on, what you want your characters to do, that sort of stuff. Also, might be time for a Cora post.

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“This is the house of the guy who wants to act like he’s a noble, right? So it makes sense that his primary abode and living quarters would be up the stairs, so that he can look down upon the town and everyone who might pass by… Right?”

"Well, that is likely, though perhaps not for those reasons. That said we can't be sure that's where he is now. If we all went up the stairs and he was down here, well, that would defeat the purpose."

Gunther chimed in, "there also could be the other man somewhere around." He recalled that Timmy had mentioned two men. One of them likely a servant of some sort. He didn't know what kind of man he was but he may be more dangerous than the so-called noble, especially if he had been hired by the man that had bought this ugly yet clearly expensive dwelling.

"H-Hello, and welcome to the humble-grand manor of Lord Pyla-aahh!"

The arrival of said man dashed Gunther's expectations expertly. He couldn't help but be relieved that they turned out to be a small and bumbling sort. One that surely wouldn't be much of a threat.

Gunther heard a cut-off snort from his side but when he looked at Penelope she had a stern face. Perhaps too stern, as though she had to quickly stifle her laughter.

Penelope realized quickly there wasn't much to worry about this man. However he could still cause issues were he to try and keep them from searching, or if he alerted his master. So Penelope looked over towards the others and nodded towards the stairs and doors, trying to indicate that they should go check quickly, before she and Gunther advanced towards the man.

"Goodness, but are you alright, sir?" Penelope said. Her and Gunther crowded around the man to try and keep him from taking much notice of the others. "Have you hurt yourself? Should we bring you somewhere to get patched up?"

"Er, would you like some help to get back to your feet at least? That was, uh, quite the fall." Gunther felt awkward crowding so close to the man but he hoped his much larger size would keep the man from noticing the others slip past.

---

oZcRBQt.jpeg

Cora had returned home after checking around the village and had been relieved to find her parents perfectly safe and sound. So safe and sound in fact that her mother had demanded she give a report of everything that had happened which took quite some time.

Cora had been surprised when Tsetseg and Phai showed up, both acting rather excitable about some such thing. She patted her horse before turning to face them fully. It seemed an unusual pair but, upon second thought, Cora realized the two were both the types to get along quite well. Though she couldn't help but wonder if they were exaggerating the issues.

"Well, my Cora 'ere's been through a lot today, so's I don't know if'n this is a good idea—"

Cora smiled as her father spoke. He was worried for her and, honestly, for good reason. Cora was quite worn out as this day had held much more action than her usual. Though she was surprised to find that she wasn't fully out of energy despite all this.

"That's up to Cora. Cora. What's your decision?"

By instinct Cora snapped to attention. Her smile fading into a serious expression as she replied, "Ma'am! I'll go with them! It's my duty to be sure there are no threats in the village." She glanced at her father and her face softened. "I'm sure it will be just fine, I won't be alone and it's like there's a second witch wanderin' about."

She paused then gave the two a concerned look. "There...isn't, is there?"

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