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Of Magic and Dungeons [IC/PG-16/Accepting]

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Three's a Crowd

After Lana answered affirmatively Anna silently watched the same spot as before. She nodded a couple times then said, "I told her she could." Then a moment later. "I didn't think that was a problem." She shrugged after a few seconds. "Can deal with it after right?"

Then Lana heard a noise, a long sigh. And another voice suddenly filled the air. "You never were this insistent before, that means something huh? Fine, guess can see how this goes this one time."

The voice faded then and Lana felt a sudden cold breeze. Then there was the slightest touch on her shoulder, and she heard the voice whisper into her ear, "boo."

When she looked at what was behind her she would see a a girl with long purple hair and a huge smirk on her face. "Spooky right?" She said and then laughed. At first she seemed like a normal girl but as Lana looked she would realize two things.

One, the girl wasn't that tall but she seemed taller at first glance because she was floating off the ground.

Two, the girl was partially transparent. She could see the wall on the other side of the girl through her without much trouble. Even the girl's clothes, a short dress and jacket, despite moving as she did like regular clothes didn't stop Lana's line of sight. "Not often Anna wants someone to meet me you know, guess you must've done something right." The girl tapped a finger to her chin and looked off into the distance, "or is that something wrong, since now you're kind of haunted?"

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The bard made haste to the marketplace, with his mind set on selling rapier. He wasn't hoping for a whole lot for this weapon, of course, but it should be enough to assist in purchasing some items for the next trek into the Dungeon. His mind, of course, was to purchase some healing potions. That was his main priority, that way they could mitigate the chance that people could not succumb to their wounds during their floor challenge. Ziun refused to have that happen again, he made sure of it. Nevertheless, when Ziun located the local Blacksmith, he proceeded to begin the selling process of the rapier...only to find that it sold for less than he would've generally hoped for.

Ziun left the smithy and reevaluated his coin situation. He knew that with the rapier profit and his tips from the night before when playing his lute for the tavern's patrons would only bring up enough to pay for two healing potions...max. He lamented this conundrum, but he figured it was better than nothing at the moment. Regardless, the bard made his way to the magic shop, entering it and was entranced by the paraphernalia that lined the walls and shelves...quite the spread of potions, draughts, and tonics...along with many magical items. There, behind the counter, stood the shopkeep. The moment Ziun walked in, the shopkeep was basically already attempting to sell him as much as possible with all the magical items...simply to get a leg up over the other adventurers. It was an intriguing offer, but he had limited funds...he needed to remember that.

He let him do his sales-pitch for the time being, knowing this was the man's bread and butter in a sense. "I appreciate the suggestion, my good sir." Ziun gave a half hearted smile. "But alas, I only have enough currently for the healing potions. My rapier did not bring the profit I originally hoped for, nor my tips for my music be enough."

"There's plenty of ways to earn money if you look for them, trust me trust me with all the families working towards the Spark, a regular guy with no sponsor has quite the uphill climb. Perhaps you should try and get together as much as you can there's many fine choices when it comes to magic items."

"Hmmm you seem to be knowledgeable in that regard." Ziun nodded, rubbing his chin. "Pray tell, how terrible is the uphill climb for one such as I? Surely it can't be as bad as you say."

"Oh but it is, the other families send veritable armies of gifted mages and expensive mercenaries into the Dungeon after all. They all very badly want to be the one to find the Spark."

"How many return?" he asked, inquisitively. "Aside from that, I'm afraid to say that my last dive into the Dungeon proved to be, less fruitful and full of coin as I would've liked."

"Well, enough to keep the expeditions going at least. But it is rather dangerous...especially for those not armed with magic items."

"I gathered as much..." he paused, sighing with a shake of his head. "Alas, before I decided to forego my blade and return to conjuration, all I had were my illusions, my lute and my rapier. I do agree with you that it is dangerous for those not armed with magical items."

"I see I see. Well you can never go wrong with a powerful item or two you know. Make sure to keep that in mind next you find yourself a windfall of gold."

"When I do, this will be the first shop I visit, no question on that." Ziun laughed, handing over the coin for the two healing potions. "In the meantime, perhaps there's a job around town that could befit my talents. Who knows, I may return quicker than you think, my good sir."

"Why I would be delighted if that turned out to be true."

Ziun handed the coins that he exchanged for the two healing potions, before bidding the shopkeep farewell for the moment. But what he said did stick within the bard's mind: the families had gifted mages and mercenaries that they sponsored to the Dungeon in order for glory as well in an effort to look for the Spark. This actually "sparked" something in his mind. While he didn't know very many of the other families outright...he knew one and what was more, he knew the head. The problem being? The Apati mansion location was an enigma. It would pop up here and there, but it was usually a fake mansion. They were a family of Illusionists, so naturally this would be the case. But Ziun was determined to figure something out...perhaps Zion and the Apati family could assist in some manner...

"Aye...it wouldn't hurt to try." Ziun smirked, adjusting his hat and flipping his cloak's collar up before making his move through the marketplace...where he began to ask about the Apati family as best he could to anyone and everyone. He'd find them, he figured he would. After all, the last time he "found" Zion, he simply was enjoying the atmosphere of the city. This time, however, this time he was actually seeking him and his family out.

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Lana recoiled back, pushing into Anna, as she heard a sudden "boo" come from behind her. Turning around Lana saw another girl enter the room, which was weird enough as it was as she hadn't heard anyone else enter, only for things to get weirder the more she looked. The girl's body and clothing was almost see-through and, looking down at her feet, it was clear she wasn't standing in place either. Gulping, she spoke back to the girl behind her saying, “A-Anna is she uh, floating?”

"Can you float without a body?"

“Without a-“ the girl then cut herself off from answering the bizarre question before she started to put two and two together. “You’re…are you a- a uh, ghost?”

"That's what they tell me! Well, she tells me, at least." The ghost said.

Lana paled, looking the ghost in the eyes for a few moments intently. Staring as if waiting for something to happen. After a few moments more pass she lets out a sigh of relief, and slouched back in her seat. “Oh that’s a relief…wait so has there just been a ghost here this whole time?”

"She was there when you first talked to me." Anna confirmed.

“Oh uh…” feeling awkward, a little unnerved and then not sure what to make of this whole thing she looked back to the ghost and said, “nice to meet you?”

"Nice to uh, I guess...Nice to be seen by you?" The girl sat cross-legged in midair as she thought about the proper word choice for the situation. 

"See she didn't run away screaming." Anna said, sounding slightly smug.

Looking back to Anna she said, “she’s a lot nicer already then everything else I’ve met today. And I don’t run from dangerous stuff anyway…mostly,” she cleared her throat at that last comment. Looking back to the ghost she asked, “so are we like, roommates or something? I’m Lana by the way, but you probably heard that already.”

"I'm Farah. Nah, I don't go into other people's rooms...much." She said. "Usually I'm out there." She pointed to the graveyard.

“Oh well that’s good at least.” After thinking about it for a moment Lana asked, “are there like…other ghosts?”

"Probably. Somewhere." Anna said. "I haven't seen any..." she frowned, and it seemed like she was disappointed by this.

"I-I see..." Lana wasn't sure what to make of Anna's tone, after all Lana herself didn't ever think she'd want to come face to face with a ghost. Even now, with Farrah being a lot friendlier then she'd have expected from the stereotypical ghost she had heard about she wasn't exactly comfortable about it. Add to that the awkward atmosphere and not knowing exactly what to talk about with a ghost. Looking back at Anna she asked, "does your Dad know she's here?" She looked back at the candelabra at the floor.  

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Looking For a Thing Not There (Ziun)

As Ziun asked around about the Apati family he would soon discover that many people either didn't want to talk about them or only wanted to complain. "For two years, two years I thought she was a redhead but turned out it was actually grey this whole time!"

"That little devil girl keeps stealing my bread and making it look like nothing was gone. Then I go to grab one for a PAYING customer and poof, gone."

"Don't get me started, but let me get started...."

It went on for so long that he wasn't sure without more specific questions he'd ever find what he really wanted. However finally it seemed that someone took interest. A young girl, of perhaps seven or eight years old, came up to him. "Mister. Why do you wanna find them? Do you wanna arrest them like the scary guard lady?" She looked at him with eyes shimmering with unshed tears and it seemed that if he didn't say something she would burst out crying right in the middle of the marketplace.

Looking At a Thing Not There (Lana)

"does your Dad know she's here?"

"No." Anna said. At first it seemed that's all she'd reply with but then she continued. "He thinks I don't have friends. Because I talk to myself. But I don't. I talk to her....and myself."

"It's kinda...tricky." Farah said. "Ya see, ghosts aren't really supposed to be around especially according to the church. Her dad's a nice guy and I don't really want to make things...complicated for him, ya know? I don't really want to be exorcised....after all who needs exercise when you never gain weight, am I right?" Farah then laughed and Lana thought she could feel a slight, chilly, breeze, pass through her.

After a bit more time Lana would hear noise from outside and the door opened up. The priest walked in, wearing what seemed to be nightclothes, and Lana realized that it must have gotten late without her realizing. "Oh, there you are. I heard voices and I...ah, but I see, you were talking with the young traveler." He seemed relieved. Though he frowned soon after and looked around before seeing the fallen candelabra. "Goodness, why is it whenever I come to get you I find something out of place." he said with a chuckle.

Lana noticed that the moment the door opened Farah had seemed to vanish.

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BGM

True to his plan, Ziun Castir attempted to find any leads on the Apati family's whereabouts from any who could potentially help him. Unfortunately...his search wasn't panning out like he had hoped or planned...at all. By either not wanting to talk about them, much to his chagrin, or just wanting to complain...even MORE to his chagrin.

"For two years, two years I thought she was a redhead but turned out it was actually grey this whole time!"

"Truly a saddening thing to hear, good sir..."

"That little devil girl keeps stealing my bread and making it look like nothing was gone. Then I go to grab one for a PAYING customer and poof, gone."

"I-I...see...perhaps you misjudged your hand?"

"Don't get me started, but let me get started...."

"Oh! Would you look at the time, I really must be going. Another time then!"

This went on for a while, so long in fact that Ziun was already starting to wonder if he'd ever get into what he'd wanted. The young bard rubbed the bridge between his nose, sighing slightly. "...one would think this would be easier than it is. No one wants to point me in the right direction..." he sighed again, looking up to the sky somewhat. "My sweet Goddess of Poetry and Music, Xara...please aid me in this trying time." He was planning to head on back to his room at the tavern, but however...someone took interest. Albeit, this was a young little girl of seven or eight years old...this was unorthodox to say the least, but if this was his goddess' will...maybe it would be alright with that.

"Mister. Why do you wanna find them? Do you wanna arrest them like the scary guard lady?"

"Nothing of the sort, little one." Ziun gave a small smile, crouching down to be at eye level. "Quite the contrary actually. I wish to meet with them to inquire about potentially working for them. They're a family of renowned illusionists, and I also wish to better myself along with help my newfound allies as we dive further into the Dungeon. Having them as a sponsor for the expedition could prove beneficial for all parties involved." He chuckled, shaking his head slightly. "But, alas, that's only if I can find them. I only found Zion on a passing whim the first time."

"U-um...does that mean you are a really strong loo-zun-est?"

"To an extent..." Ziun rubbed the back of his neck a bit sheepishly. He shifted slightly and waved his one hand in front of him to make an illusory butterfly fly from his hand and around the young girl. "I will say, I am no where near their level. My previous dive into the dungeon definitely showed me that. But, it's a trick of the trade I was given. Perhaps while working with the Apati's...perhaps I can learn even more from them and become better myself."

The girl put a finger to her chin and tilted her head "If you're not as good what are you gonna do for them?"

"Whatever I can, if I'm to be really honest." Ziun sighed a bit, waving his hand slightly as the butterfly slowly began to dissipate. "Fact of the matter is I'm simply doing anything I can to help those I've allied myself with. My normal method of doing things proved to be...unfruitful...so much to the point where I lost a dear comrade. I went through there haphazardly and it costed us dearly. Therefore, I have to be better prepared, and I feel as if the only way to do that...is to seek out one of the families and try to get them to sponsor myself and my allies." He paused, sighing again. "I know not much of the other families, but I have had the pleasures of talking with the Apati head at least once..."

The girl looked confused "You talk a lot, mister..."

He paused, before chuckling. "Apologies, I guess I do." Ziun was actually surprising himself...why was he talking so much to this child to begin with? Honestly, he felt like he was giving a bit too much information to the young child.

"But but...but mister, if you can't...if you can't do somethin for them then a-are you just trying to t-take advantage of t-them?" she asked, and began to cry.

Ziun noticed the young girl start to cry, as he immediately pulled his lute out and began to play just a few chords, having quite a few small cute illusions dance around the two of them. "It's more of, I know not what I can really contribute to them. This bard can only provide what he can, and I'm not even sure that'll even be enough. But no, I assure you, I'm not taking advantage of them."

"B-but d-daddy says" she sniffled. "Daddy says that if you want somethin from someone you hafta have something to offer..."

"Well, your father would be right." Ziun nodded. "I'm simply afraid I don't have much. All I can offer is my services as a bard. I'd offer my life, but something tells me the Apatis may not find it worth much. That and I don't believe they're in the business of slave labor...least, not to my knowledge." ...why did he say that?

"Your life mister? You'd go that far?" She looked fascinated by the statement.

Ziun did notice the fascination behind the girl's eyes and was a bit worried, but he relented. "...aye, if that's what it took to make sure my allies were taken care of and not be in the situation we found ourselves within the dungeon earlier, I suppose I would." He paused playing, the illusions fading around them. "I'd rather not lose another like I lost the dread pirate Robin...not again." Again, why did he even say that? What was possessing him to say that? Or was it...he actually wanted this that bad? Either way, perhaps it was for the best that he stop while he was ahead.

The girl nodded, and then she spoke, in a less childish voice, "Might be able to arrange that." She started to fade away and then Ziun felt something hit the back of his head and everything went dark.

...fuck...

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Chris did not have to fight as much to get into House Fereis this time. It was almost refreshing if he wasn’t solely focused on the job. The servant at the door tutted under their breath and said something to the effect of, “That’s still ‘Lady Fereis,’ to you,” but they nevertheless led Chris into the house and to the grand library, where they left him in the care of the other members of the house staff cleaning the library. Estellise was nowhere to be seen, but the servant said she would be there when convenient, a phrase so loaded Chris couldn’t help but double-take as the servant left him behind.

The maids were off dusting all the bookshelves at the direction of the butler in the center of the library, all of whom looked busy enough, so Chris decided to ignore them and browse at his own pace. He remembered thinking the circumstances for this job weren’t ideal -- Estellise hadn’t been able to secure him completely private access -- but he could handle some of the help if it came down to it. The first matter of business was figuring out just what exactly the heart-shaped stone the undine girl had given him was, so he looked for books on magical artifacts.

It was a task easier said than done. The books were all clumped together on the shelf, but he had to go through a few of them before he found one that had anything remotely close to his thing, and even then, it just said something about a “Conjuration Enhancement Item.” Chris had to read that a few times to even make sure he wasn’t reading the word “Enchantment” lumped in there, and was going through a reread to make sure there weren’t any more citations he could follow (there weren’t) when the butler walked up to his table, breaking his concentration. “Do you need any assistance, sir?”

Chris looked up and saw that there was a smile on the butler’s face, like the “sir” was perfunctory. It was a taunt more than anything. He didn’t take the bait. “I guess I’m looking for your section on Conjurations,” he said. “Enchantments too, if you can provide it. I admit I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for, just trying to use Lady Fereis’” -- he remembered that time -- “hospitality while I have it.”

The butler’s smile only grew more smug. “Ah yes,” he said. “I believe we do have some tomes on the… lesser magics here. I am not sure why you would bother the great Fereis family if that is your goal, but you could find them off in… that corner, I believe.” Chris turned to look where he was pointing and saw a maid doubling back to dust in a corner he was sure she’d dusted before.

It was suspicious, but Chris was pretty sure he was still in the clear as far as people surmising what he was capable of, so he left the last books on the table and went over to check out what Conjuration had to offer him.

Magic was hard, it turned out, especially for a mundane person like Chris to wrap his head around. Even for a less extensive section, every book had all these extra words that Chris could only infer the meaning of, and he could feel his eyes start to glaze over. The artifact books were all, like, archival. They were lists of stuff. He could deal with lists of stuff. Now that he was trying to read actual theory, he could hardly make head or tail of it. Needless to say, it took a lot of skimming back and through a few different books again before he was able to track the reference down. “Lodestones,” Chris mouthed the word when he found it. He kept a finger on the word and traced the following lines to ensure he picked up every word he could. “Used to bind entities to objects rather than the caster.” There was some other stuff warning about the dangers of keeping them around, but Chris was more focused on how to get rid of them. “Kill the caster, destroy the thing, or Abjuration magic…” He raised his voice and turned his attention to the maid who was surreptitiously trying to look over his shoulder. “Excuse me, I know it’s a lesser magic or whatever, but where is the section on Abjuration?”

The maid didn’t know (and, to be frank, seemed surprised to even be asked), so she had to ask someone else on the house staff to take Chris over. And this maid, unfortunately, was chatty. As Chris pulled out the first book to comb through, she said, “My you sure are reading a lot. Tryin’ to master every magic or something?”

“Oh, I'm not particularly magic-inclined,” Chris said, trying to ignore her. “I’m just the curious sort and found myself with the opportunity to learn.”

“Well isn't that quaint! What are you looking for now, hm?” She took a step towards him, trying to get a glimpse.

Chris snapped the book shut and tucked it under his shoulder, spine facing away from the maid to ensure she wouldn’t be rewarded for being nosy. He did try to oblige her a little bit. “Well, I started with enchantment, then I went over to conjuration for a bit, and those books said something about abjuration so now I’m over here,” he said. “I’ve heard of some other schools of magic too but I wouldn’t expect a noble house like House Fereis to have books on necromancy. I’m just happy with what I can find.”

Whatever frustration the maid had from being thwarted disappeared when Chris implied she could still be of use. “Oh well of course there's Necromancy books too, why wouldn't there be? Of course, everyone knows that Evocation is the strongest magic but it wouldn't do not to learn what you can from others too. A lot of people read up on them for fun!”

It was an opportunity. Chris could smell it. “Well, I need to finish getting what I can out of this book,” he said, “but if you can find some good primer material for me, I would be much obliged.” If this didn’t work, maybe Estellise could shoo her away when she showed up. Or he would have to use some other plan. He hadn’t committed to anything yet, but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to put something into motion soon.

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Quiet in the Library

“but if you can find some good primer material for me, I would be much obliged.”

"Oh, but I wouldn't presume to know what to look for. I know where the books are but for anything more specific..." she hesitated and then "I suppose wouldn't want to..." and she slowly made her way towards the first man that Chris had spoken to. Almost at the same time Chris noticed another maid shift closer and began to run a dust cloth over the nearby books.


Carry me from these walls

Ziun's head hurt. There was a throbbing where he had been struck. At first he couldn't tell where he was but a sudden jolt, likely from a bump in the road, told him that was was now sitting in a carriage.

It seemed to be a good quality one at that. It was fairly large, with red colored sheets blocking off view from the outside over the windows and doors while still letting in some light. He was sitting on a long cushioned seat and there was several feet of space between him and the other seat on the opposite side.

And on that seat were...some things that made him wonder if perhaps he hadn't woken up yet.

There were three figures there. All of them vastly different and none of them quite...right.

In the middle was the young girl from earlier. Though she had a much more wicked and intelligent expression on her face than she had before. To her right was a tall birdcage. Inside said birdcage was a large goldfish. The inside of the cage seemed to be filled with water yet none of it left the bars as the fish floated there.

On her right was a large block of marble with an ornate looking sword sticking out of the top.

"Finally awake are you?" The girl said, once again in an older voice than her appearance would suggest. "I didn't think I hit you that hard, not much of an explorer huh?"

"Now now." A refined male voice spoke which seemed to come from where the fish was. "You just don't know your strength sister."

"Does it matter? He's up ain't he? Let's get to it." This voice, deeper and more gruff, came from the sword.

"Come on brother, can't you see the pathe....poor thing is still out of sorts?" The girl said and laughed harshly. "So, about what you said about 'offering your life'...."

Spoiler

Ziun would eventually notice that his hands are tied behind his back, and his feet are also tied together, with cord. Didn't put it in main thing since he wouldn't realize immediately as he's groggy yet.

 

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Ziun’s head throbbed with pain. He had been hit before, sure, but this was a new sort of sensation. As he started to come to, he felt the area around him jolt up…was he…in a carriage? It seemed so, and a very VERY fancy one too. Red colored sheets covering the windows, long cushioned seats, several feet between him and the other side…which the little girl was, a bird cage with…a…fish…and water, and a sword in a…stone? He blinked a few times, wondering if he really did wake up or was still in the land of dreams. Well, he would be enjoying this more...if he wasn't bound...lovely.

 "Finally awake are you? I didn't think I hit you that hard, not much of an explorer huh?"
"Now now. You just don't know your strength sister."
"Does it matter? He's up ain't he? Let's get to it."
"Come on brother, can't you see the pathe-....poor thing is still out of sorts? So, about what you said about 'offering your life'...."

"W-Well..." Ziun finally spoke up, once he finally got his bearings and wasn't as groggy when he first awoke. "Am I to assume you represent the Apati family, my dear?" he asked, as calmly as he could (despite basically being abducted). "Considering your appearance and voice don't quite match up now, that and the fish in the cage..." The bard motioned with his head to the cage and the fact that the water was still there in one piece. "Top it off with a talking sword...which most of this doesn't just happen. Now if I'm speaking nonsense, I suppose I'll make due and assume I may still be dreaming after seeing this."

"Maybe you are dreaming, you were out for a while after all." The girl said.

"We wouldn't presume to 'represent' the family, as it were." the fish said. "But yes, we are members."

"A pleasure to meet you, in that case...albeit, perhaps would be a bit more of a pleasure if I wasn't currently in this predicament." Ziun shrugged, namely referring to the fact he was bound. "Nevertheless, you answered my question...so I'll respond in kind. I would say it was nothing but a slip of the tongue with my words, but perhaps..." he paused, before sitting upright and letting out a sigh. "...due to me not having anything but my own life to offer, why wouldn't I attempt to bargain with it? For some, this could be construed as madness. I myself know not why I said it when I did, but nevertheless...I uttered those words and therefore, made my bed. If I could not be a hindrance to my allies while delving further for the Spark, to be of service and help to them instead of cowering like a scared child in the face of watching a...friend...perish in the line of adventure...then I suppose...I would gladly submit and work for the Apati family."

"I told you he talks a lot." The girl said to the sword.

"Yeah I didn't quite get all that."

"Simple, he's saying he wants to do work for us." The fish answered.

"And he doesn't even know who we are yet." The woman said with a derisive laugh.

"Hey, who even are you?" The sword asked.

"...I'm sitting right here, you don't have to talk like I'm not here..." he muttered, before clearing his throat to avoid that. "Apologies. My name is Ziun Castir of Cheron, Bard of the College of Glamour, at your service."

"Oh a schoolboy, cute." The girl said.

"Why I think I know of the place, it's a quaint instutition." Said the fish.

"Ugh." Grunted the sword.

"Oh, right, you can call us Cerberus." The girl said, and giggled.

"Cerberus...?" Ziun lulled that name around in his mind some, nodding. "That sounds familiar, or at least it rings a small bell, more or less...I believe my peers at Steelhorn used it as a term rather than a name, however."

"Nonetheless that is what you can call us." The fish said.

"Anywho, so you want to work right? And I recall you said you don't have much in the way of outstanding skills to mention yes?"

"Aside from illusions and conjuration, though unfortunately I pale in comparison to such as the likes of Zion." Ziun lamented, but nodded. "Aside from that, I am but a humble bard."

"Humble, bah." The sword said, clearly not liking the word choice.

"Well we can have you play some music, perhaps spice it up with some fire and spikes..." the girl said.

"Sister, did you not bring him here for a reason?" The fish prompted.

"Yes, yes, I know I was just thinking of other ideas." The girl leaned forward, elbows on her knees and chin on her hands. "How far have you gotten in the Dungeon? Do you think those....companions of yours intend to try and go all the way?"

"Fifteen. However, I only joined with my companions for five floors." Ziun explained. "So before I joined them, it was ten."

"Ah, it's a start as they say." The fish said.

"Well, do you think that they have what it takes to go all the way? Or are they gonna just give it up on their own?" the girl asked.

"With these three, I am as sure as the sun sets and rises the next day, that they'll go all the way." Ziun smirked confidently with this. "They're a most impressive and formidable group."

"Hm." "Hm." "Heh." The three practically said in unison, before the little girl spoke once more.

"Then that makes it simple. There's an easy thing you can do for us to earn some money. All you have to do. Is sabotage them." She laughed and then, as if expecting a certain reaction, continued "you don't have to get them killed or anything just make it a bit harder on them, enough that they decide it's not worth it."

Ziun gave a blank stare at them, as if in...disbelief. "I'm sorry...please, I must be mishearing, Cerberus. Could you repeat what you said?"

"Do I have to?" She asked, sounding suddenly childish again.

"It's simple really." The fish answered. "Use whatever tricks you can to make their next expedition to the dungeon hard. Hard enough they decide to stop going through it. That's all."

Ziun was silent, almost deathly silent. His gaze seemed to go from the trio known as Cerberus to the floor in contemplation. The opportunity was here, he could have the coin to get what he needed to assist his companions through the dungeon...but...it was at the cost of them not being able to progress. He had to sabotage them, which at this point, he would've been better off without doing this...on the count of his last five floors with them. He thought hard on this, his eyes darting slightly around as his gaze remained fixated on the floor of the carriage. Finally...the bard spoke with a sigh.

"...I must apologize...but, I don't believe I'm the man for this kind of job." Ziun confessed, seeming slightly dejected. "In truth, I sought the Apati out to be able to assist my fellows in their dive through the dungeon. If I was to simply sabotage them...well, quite frankly I would've done so without trying to fix anything. That is to say, with the last five floors, I proved to be nothing but a hindrance. I sought a way to help them, not to be a hindrance once more." His gaze returned to Cerberus. "I apologize that this may not be the answer you hoped for, but I cannot do that."

"Well that's stupid." The sword said.

"A very unwise decision indeed." The bird replied.

"And here I thought you were willing to do anything. Why did you bother trying to find work if you're not willing to do what it takes? Who would want to hire someone like that?" The girl said, sounding annoyed. "We have plenty of grunts if that's all you intended to be."

Ziun sighed but simply shrugged. "I was, but not to the point of practically screwing up the reason I was seeking you out in the first place. I was doing it, not for my sake, but for theirs. I lost one...compatriot, ally, friend, whatever you wish to call her because of my..." he paused, shaking his head. "...because of my incompetence. So I am truly sorry, but I cannot do that. But perhaps you'll indulge me in another question. Why are you opposed to this group going further through the dungeon?"

"Ew." "Ew." "Ew." The three groaned.

Then the girl answered. "Why wouldn't we want to stop anyone else reaching the Spark? That's pretty simple stuff."

"Apparently not to someone such as myself." Ziun said plainly. "Quite frankly, I figured most of the families, from what I was told, mind you, were hiring people to get the Spark...and yet, you wish to keep those from reaching it. It's a strange situation for sure."

"Less people in the Dungeon means less competition." The fish said with a chuckle.

"Even I know that." The sword said.

"But I suppose you are just a musician." The girl snickered.

"So why don't you just...hire someone to get there before the others?" Ziun inquired. "As you said, I am just a musician, but even I can understand that if you want it...you would hire someone to get it, right?"

"Well that would be stupid." They all said at once.

"At least, it would be right now." Said the sword.

"Without competition we can simply take our time." The fish said.

"So impatient." The girl said, shaking her head. "You really don't know what you're getting yourself into. Trust me, you should take this deal. It'll be a lot better for you and your...." she snorted. "...friends."

"At least WE aren't trying to kill ya." The sword said.

"Now now, brother, don't say anything about the other families. You wouldn't want to be rude." said the fish.

"Well, in any case, guess we have no use for you right now, do we?" asked the girl.

"It appears so..." Ziun sighed yet again. "Seems we are truly at an impasse and it's a shame. Part of me was truly wanting to learn from the great Zion Apati, but alas, it seemed to be too good to be true."

"Ah, he's not so great really, but I guess he would seem like that to you huh." The girl said.

"Well, I suppose you should be on your way." Said the fish.

Then one of the carriage doors opened up. If Ziun looked he'd see the carriage was still moving. Even still the sword said "Go on then."

"I take it you won't at least unbind me?" Ziun looked out through the door, seeing it still moving. This would be the way this day would be for him, wouldn't it? "Part of me is assuming you won't at this point."

"Of course not, we're not even sitting in front of you." The girl said with a laugh. "Maybe if you had taken the offer."

"I figured as much." Ziun sighed, before doing his best to stand up and keep his balance as he made his way towards the carriage door. "Very well, Cerberus...twas a delight meeting you, until it wasn't, but I shan't hold that against you. Do give Zion my regards." he said, trying his best not to mentally kick himself for not taking this offer, but he wasn't going to ruin the other's chances like that. With nothing else to say, he walked out the carriage door.

"See you later, schoolboy!" The girl said and began to laugh more. "You might not see us though." was the last thing he heard before stepping out and tumbling onto the ground. He bounced a few times before coming to a stop.

As he rolled slowly to a stop, after bouncing a few times, he found himself back on the ground to where he looked up at the sky. His face, while he did have a smile on his face with talking to Cerberus...it was now gone. Ziun just laid there...partially not caring if he was a road block or anything (considering he was still bound), but he laid there...feeling defeated. He felt stupid on multiple levels. Stupid on how he thought this would work. Stupid on almost selling his soul to the proverbial devil(s) just to do it. And stupid how he ALMOST agreed to sell his allies out and sabotage them just to "help" them. If there was a low point...this was it...and any lower, well, Ziun probably would be descending there too. "...back to square one..." he muttered to himself, sighing slightly. "...how the hell am I supposed to help them now...?"

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Chris watched the first maid leave and caught a glimpse of the other one coming up behind him. It was starting to become a bother. Now that he’d found the book he wanted to check out, he didn’t want all these eyes on him. This was why he’d requested to be alone. Alas. If Estellise were here, she surely could have scared all these servants off with a look. He, meanwhile, had to do it the hard way.

He approached the maid, who was not-to-subtly looking back at him from the corner of her eye. “Weren’t you just over here?” Chris said. “Did you not clean good enough the first time?”

The maid glowered a bit, then smiled. “Well, you know, filth always comes back.”

How come even the servants were so snooty? Just because they lived in the house didn’t mean they were any better than him, even if he weren’t noble. Chris’ retort came out of his mouth before he even had a chance to realize where it had come from. “Did you know that if you wash your hands too many times, you start to draw blood?” It was only then that he realized he was speaking from experience. The Wolfsbane incident was the inciting action for everything in his life that had followed. Oh, how he’d tried to wipe out those spots. Stewardess Myrtle had not been worth it.

Not that the maid knew anything about that. She only said, “Sometimes a little bleeding can be good for you,” before turning and walking off.

Chris was too focused on the actions to internalize another barb. As far as he could tell, nobody was watching him right now, and while he would have loved to cross-check and make sure, it seemed like an opportunity too rare to miss. He took out his spool of magic string and tied a knot around it, then another just to be extra sure.

He kept the whole thing close to his chest as he moved to the far wall where all the windows were. They were pretty high up, but he had planned for this. A well-placed dagger didn’t even need to hit the right way around to- Oh. Right. Of course he’d assumed he’d still have those and then didn’t even think through what it meant for his job in the real world. But he didn’t have time to ruminate on the consequences. He unsheathed his sword and threw it through a window instead.

The crash sound startled everyone in the library except him. Chris could feel everyone’s eyes turn towards the broken window, then him, and then he started to hear movement as they came rushing forward. Chris hadn’t stopped moving, though. He spun the book around with the magic string and threw the book through the window.

He wished Estellise were here. Not that he would have done anything differently, just that he wished he could have said something before he did it. Something like, “I promise I’ll return this,” to the one person who might believe him or even just, “I’m sorry.” But no, it was too late for that. He felt a hand on his shoulder, but he tugged on the spool and teleported away.

Chris landed on top of the book. His sword was nearby too, thankfully. He scooped one up, then the other, giving both a quick once-over for any obvious damage, but there was nothing more than what one might expect when getting thrown through a window. Good enough, Chris thought. The house’s security systems were starting to activate. There were statues on the outside of the house, and they were zeroing in on him. Before he could even blink, one spat a fireball at Chris that he had to throw himself back onto the ground to avoid. Another shot right where he would have been had he stayed there any longer.

He took off, away from House Fereis, dodging more fire as he escaped. Chris ran this way and that, making sure to never run in a straight line for long enough for the statues to lock in on him, while still always heading towards his goal: out and away. He wasn’t sure where he was going after that -- someplace he could lie low where Estellise wouldn’t know to look for him -- but one step at a time. There were back roads he could wait in in the meantime.

He tossed the book over the fence, teleported through it, and kept on going into the night.

Edited by radio414

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Lana put a hand to her chin as she thought about the strange predicament that Anna had found herself in. She could definitely understand why her father would think the way he did about her, after all up until this point Lana as well had just thought she was a strange girl who sometimes stared right past her. Now that she knew that Farrah was there she...well okay she was still kind of weird. She could also understand why her dad would want to get rid of ghosts too, after all the undead she had met up until this point weren't something she'd want just wandering around. But Farrah seemed nice enough and Lana couldn't really see the harm in keeping her around either. Looking at the two of them the girl smiled confidently saying, "well, don't worry, your secret's safe with me!" 

After some time had passed of just chatting the local priest had walked through the door, causing Lana immediately to jump in her seat. Clearing her throat she said, "yup, just us around. I was," the girl looked around to see that Farrah had immediately fled the scene. Letting out a sigh she said, "I was just uh, telling Anna about all the stuff I did. Dungeon stuff you know, lots of monsters and things." 

As the priest mentioned the fallen candelabra Lana started to look at it nervously, from side to side, and said, "oh that uh...we uh...were very animated, while talking like I uh...showed off some the cool things I did in the dungeon and that...happened. Uh, I'll...." The girl stammered off, looking ready to say something but her face showed that she was physically pained uttering the next words. "I'll...pay for it if it's...broken...no worries..."

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A priest, a ghost, and an adventurer walk into a church...

The priest took notice when Lana brought up the dungeon and the monsters within. It seemed that something was troubling him about that. However that was when he noticed the fallen candles and turned his attention to that and he moved over to pick it up.

"I'll...pay for it if it's...broken...no worries..."

When Lana said this he turned back to her and smiled. "No, no need. It's nothing that important nor do I think it's damaged enough to replace." He chuckled again. "A church as small as ours tends to keep dinged up things such as these even when they are far more damaged you see."

He glanced at Anna and noticed the girl's eyes had been wandering off towards the back of the church, where the cemetery was, and he shook his head. "Anna, it's much to late to be playing around in there. You should be heading back home you know."

He paused and looked at Lana. "Well, after you finish talking with your new friend." He said the last word with a hopeful glint in his eyes. "Your mother has been waiting for you to return and I can only keep her from coming to drag you off for so long." Yet another chuckle followed.

The priest, after righting the candelabra, began to go again. He paused next to Lana and said quietly. "I appreciate you talking with her, just be careful not to put any dangerous ideas in her head." He smiled after and then, unless Lana had something to say to or ask of him, would continue on.

Even after he left Farah seemed to not return, and Anna gazed off towards the cemetery with her head tilted to the side.

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"Uh, right, sir." The girl nodded to the priest as he made his exiting remark, only to let out a large sigh of relief once he had actually left. The girl was glad that she managed to keep the whole, "friends with a ghost" thing under wraps as well as the fact that she didn't have to pay for any damages caused in here. The girl looked over to Anna, who herself seemed to have been staring off into space the whole time her conversation with the priest was going on. Following her gaze more she found that she was staring in the direction of the cemetery. With her new found ghostly acquaintance being missing the girl couldn't help but wonder aloud, "so uh, did she go back there?"

"Probably. She doesn't like being around when father is here."

"Makes sense," the girl flatly agreed. She wouldn't want to be around someone she thought was going to kill her too. Lana didn't have anything more to say about that, though, so silence fell. And still looking to her recent friend she couldn't help but ask about the priest's closing note. "So like, does your dad not want you being an adventurer or something?"

She looked at Lana for a while. "Maybe?" came her reply. "I never asked."

"That so?" She expected as much, or at the very least she should have and wasn't the least bit surprised by the response. Not wanting to upset the person who was putting a roof over her head, though, Lana further asked, "do you think what I told you about the dungeon was dangerous?"

"How could they be?" Anna said. "Words do not hurt."

Lana stood silent for a moment unsure how to respond to the girl before shrugging. "That's true." She went silent again, unsure what else to say. She didn't really know what to talk about with the girl, in fact she didn't really know what to talk to people about in general that wasn't work or dungeoning. There was always complaining, which her friends back in her home village had done a plenty, but she didn't really think Anna was the type of person to really get complaints. Nor did she think that's what Anna's father was talking about in the first place. She was also getting very tired and having Farrah around was the only thing that caused her to forget it in the first place. "Well, I guess if there's anything you want to talk about, dungeon or not, we can chat about it. But, I think I'm gonna go to bed. I've had a long day and...ugh, I need to go buy some stuff tomorrow too. So, night Anna...and Farrah too, if you're like here and I can't see you or something." And with that, Lana made her way off to bed. 

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Who Wet Chris's Bed

The start of the day for Chris came upon him suddenly. He was asleep in bed when he woke to an unexpected feeling. Drops of water landed on his face one after another until finally he opened his eyes.

Once he did he would see the girl from before, the undine, right above him. The water he felt was drops that were falling from the girl's hair as she looked down at him. It wasn't clear how long she had been there but it seemed that she had been waiting for him to wake up. Once he did she backed off and sat on her knees at the end of the bed.

Still she waited for him to say something after which, with some difficulty, he could hear somewhat muffled coming from her mouth "E. Llo."


Lana's Secret, To Her, Sleepover

The start of the day for Lana came about rather normally. She woke up at the time she normally did and at first it seemed that everything was still and silent. However it wouldn't be long before she could hear a muffled voice from outside of her room.

When she opened he door she would be able to hear it more clearly. It was he priest's voice and he was talking to someone, likely Anna from the tone, "-again. Your mother was so worried when she realized you hadn't actually gone to bed in your room last night."

"Why was she worried. I was here."

A long sigh. "Yes, but that is the problem. You can't sleep in the graveyard you'll get sick."

"I'm not sick."

"That's not the point and you know it. You've sleepwalked before don't you remember? What if you walked off the cliff, or into the river?"

It seemed that this scolding might last for a while yet.

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Chris did not get too much sleep the night before. He’d hidden out away from the Drooling Dragon for most of it, trying to keep himself away from his known whereabouts for as long as possible, but each late-night minute eroded his willpower, and the comfort of an actual bed was calling to him. He’d sneaked in through his bedroom window to make sure Hector didn’t see him, not that he expected Hector would ever rat him out like that given past experience, or that Hector would be up that late (though his chef might have been up early), but even then, with the contraband book hidden away, with sword tucked underneath the pillow and magic string readied to get out of the way of anything, he still was plagued by wicked dreams.

In his dream, he found himself at a crossroads. There was fog all around; he couldn’t see more than a few feet in any direction, just enough to know that the paths were there. No other markers were telling him which would lead to his destination; no signposts were pointing the way. On sheer instinct, he turned left and went that way for a little while, but the fog never seemed to clear, and the pathway always seemed the same. He turned around. Maybe right had been the better option. But no matter how far he retreated, he never came to that crossroads again. Before long, the ground opened up underneath him, revealing an ocean of water underneath the world, and he fell right in.

When Chris awoke, the undine girl was standing over him. It explained one part of the dream, at least. He groaned and wiped the water off of his face with a blanket. He tried not to make it sound like he was frustrated -- this was actually very convenient for him -- but the absurdity of the wake-up call was not one he could so easily overlook.

“E. Llo.”

That got him really awake, though. The other times Undine had tried to talk, it had just been water. She was trying now. That had to mean something. “Hi,” Chris said. He rolled out of bed and picked himself up a bit. “Gone through a lot of trouble for you, and I don't just mean how Hector'll make me mop the floor again after you disappear again. It's okay though. I'll be fine.”

He retrieved the abjuration book from its hiding place and thumbed through it a bit. “Just to keep you updated, I think I figured out how to dispel this thing you gave me. I can't do magic though, so next step is to find someone who can, who also won't ask questions as to where I got a book of magic I can't use or a... I think it's called a lodestone? I didn't steal that book.” He looked up at her. “I know our communication hasn't been exactly clear, but this is what you want, right?”

She began to nod, then paused, and glanced out the window. It didn't seem she was looking at anything in particular though. Just outside in general. When she looked back at Chris there was a pitying expression on her face. “Bi-ger. Dan-ger,” she croaked out. Then she leaned over and coughed up a mess of water.

“You don’t have to say anything if it hurts, um.” Chris was quick to react but didn’t really have much to say. This was part of the magic he didn’t look up and he kicked himself for not doing so when he had the chance. “I know there’s danger, though. We- I just angered a second of the ten big families. A full fifth, I think, want my head. I’m doing this dungeon stuff and I saw that kill a person yesterday too. I’m- I’m handling it okay.”

Undine stared at Chris, not saying or doing anything before she reached out and placed a hand on his chest. It felt good for some reason, not like how Chris would have expected a normal wet, webbed hand to feel. There was a hum to it, like Estellise’s healing magic, but now he was thinking about Estellise, and he wasn’t a fan of doing that. Undine still wasn’t happy. “M-re. Bi-ger. Dan-ger,” she said. “No-t. Me-nt. Be. He-re.” She coughed up even more water.

“Communication still isn’t at its best,” Chris thought. He said, “Okay, well, I mean, I can help with that too. I’ve managed everything else that’s happened in my life so far, right?” It was a stupid joke that just slipped out, but he tried to force a smile.

“Docks. Da-rk,” Undine said. The accompanying coughing fit lasted just long enough for her to sink into one of the puddles of water she’d created and vanish, gone from the room.

“Docks. Okay,” Chris said, repeating the instructions he remembered them. One more thing for the mental checklist. It was manageable, hopefully. The type of wizard who wouldn’t ask questions about everything else surely wouldn’t ask questions about location or time, right?

He would have asked what he’d gotten himself into, but he knew, didn’t he? At least, he was starting to guess.

Chris sighed and went downstairs to retrieve Hector’s mop.

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The start of Ziun's day was...rough, to say the least. He did eventually get free of his bindings after his meeting with the Apati, though it wasn't without it's embarrassment, as one would come to expect. It was quite the spectacle and did quite embarrass the young bard in the grand scheme of it all, but nevertheless he found himself back at the Drooling Dragon tavern, to do his now normal routine of performing as entertainment for the tavern patrons...hoping to score a bit extra coin...all the while, he kept hoping and trying to figure out what he would end up doing to better help his allies as they delved further into the dungeon.

Unfortunately, when he got himself freshened up from the night prior, he double checked his coin count from the night...and to his dismay, he didn't have enough. No extra potions of health just in case, nor a possibility of getting any sort of enchanted items. He cursed to himself, but he didn't have anyone to blame but himself and his own skills. Ziun left his room and moved downstairs to enjoy a bit of food before he planned to meet the others as promised. However, what he needed to do was do a bit more practicing and freshening up on his conjuration magic. He hated the fact that he had neglected it in favor for the blade, but alas, the choice was made before and he had to move forward for this.

He did ask a few tavern patrons about a good location to practice and train...and of course, he was thinking about the training grounds, but he was definitely told otherwise. One patron even suggested the docks, since no one was really down there much. Another basically echoed this sentiment...which sounded good.

"You gentlemen have my thanks." Ziun nodded with a smile. "I truly appreciate the assistance."

After getting pointed in the right direction, the bard made his way down in the direction of the docks. Ziun had to admit, it was a bit of a nostalgic feeling to return back to his conjuration side of magic, even though he forewent it in favor of the blade. It was like something he had lost was returning back to him...and it felt like it was completing him in the grand scheme of it all. But these were laments and thoughts he could have later. He entered the docks area and stood there, breathing the salty sea air for a moment or two. "Now, time for a bit of practice." he muttered, exhaling slowly. "I shouldn't have forgotten everything about how to do this, surely."

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As morning came, Lana got out of her bed, groggy as ever. The day after a dungeon dive had always left her needing more sleep then normal, though she couldn't help but feel like her typical post dungeon fatigue wasn't as terrible as the last few times. It still took her a few moments to snap back to attention and remember what it was that she needed to do for the day. Her eyes fell on her hand axe and dagger sitting on the table in the room. The girl then looked at the wall, bare of what it usually held, and sighed.

"My poor axes...my poor money..." The girl didn't want to have to go into town to go and buy new weapons, especially if they weren't going to be any better than the ones she just had. But she could hardly go into combat missing a primary weapon. As such, sacrifices had to be made. "Well, once I'm done I'll be filthy rich so just a little won't matter now." 

As she got out of bed, the girl began to make her out for the day when a commotion caught her attention. Making her way to the source of the commotion, she could see that Anna was being chewed out by her father for having slept on the church grounds all night. While she was not one for getting involved in family business she and Anna were, presumably, friends so just leaving this as it was didn't sit well with her. "Uhh, good morning? Is, uh, everything alright?"

"Ah, good morning young lady...did we wake you?" the priest said. Anna just waved.

"I was just getting up actually. So like what I heard...did Anna really stay the night here?"

"It would seem so. She snuck out of the house to do so as well." The priest sighed. "I suppose I should just be glad she didn't rope you into it too."

"Eh? Why did you..." The girl looked at where they were for a moment, then looked at a random gravestone, before sighing to herself. Clearing her throat, forcing an incredibly friendly expression and tone on her face the girl said, "ahhh, did you just want to stay the night with me Anna, is that all? But I sleep inside you know?"

Anna looked over at Lana. "No. I wouldn't be in the graveyard if that was the case."

Her eye twitched as the girl seemed to not want to bother playing along on with her assist. Though, Lana wasn't sure if this was more Anna's fault for not understanding it or Lana's own fault for not realizing yet who she was dealing with. Clearing her throat heartily again, she looked to the priest. "I'll uh...keep an eye out for her in the future to make sure it doesn't happen."

The priest smiled. "You're a good kid. Maybe some of that will rub off on her." He muttered then took Anna by the arm. "Now come on, you have to apologize to your mother."

"Ahahaha, well...uh, good luck Anna."

"Byebye." Anna said flatly as she left.

Letting out a sigh the girl then looked around and, in a hushed tone, asked, "Farah? Farah are you here?"

No response.

Lana looked around for a moment longer, opening her mou- 

"Wow, talking to yourself, what a weirdo."

"Ah!" Lana yelped before looking over to the ghost girl. Then, sighing again she'll ask, "why did you let Anna sleep outside?"

"What do ya expect me to do, drag her back home? Anyway she didn't actually sleep much."

"At least get her to sleep on a pew or something...Wait, she was up all night?" The mere idea of staying up that long seemed to disgust Lana.

"She was watching the stars. She does that sometimes." Farah said and nodded.

"I...see..." The girl looked to the day time sky before letting out another sigh. "Well, people are probably going to think she's haunted if she keeps spending nights in graveyard, which would be bad news." With a slight look of resignation the girl said, "I guess I really will need to keep a look out. Oh well, that's for later. I gotta go shopping now for some dungeon stuff."

"Well. She IS haunted." Farah said with a giggle. "Kay! Buy something nice for me while you're at it!" With that Farah faded away.

As Lana walked away she just mumbled, "what do you even buy for a ghost?"

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Down by the Docks

While it wasn't accurate to say the docks were abandoned it was true that there were large areas that at the time were going unused. Ziun could see a ship coming in across the opposite side and he noticed people going from a docked ship and bringing boxes of things into a nearby warehouse. But the opposite end of the docks were unused and at most he saw an occasional fisherman sitting at the edge of one of the piers.

Though as some time went on he noticed people with hooded cloaks moving about and talking to each other while pointing out various areas of the docks. At first they simply ignored Ziun but some of them noticed the magic he was using and a trio of them approached the man.

"Greetings. We're members of the Kalo family and can't help but notice you seem to be using Conjuration magic. But I don't recognize you. I take it you're not from here? Perhaps you're here to explore the dungeon? I hope you're not here to cause some sort of disturbance, we're in the middle of some inspections you see."

Ziun would notice one of the hooded men had a hand to his chin and seemed to be trying to remember something. Then he leaned in to whisper something to the other of the trio who hadn't spoken and the two began some sort of discussion behind the one who spoke.

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Posted (edited)

The bard exhaled slowly, taking a moment to compose himself and prepare for the conjurations. After a few moments, he began to slowly conjure out a few things. He started small, taking aim at a broken down set of abandoned boxes and slung his hands towards it...it immediately being struck by a bit of acid. After that, he struck it with a small flurry of ice strikes. It was like riding a horse...he truly never forgot how to do it.

"Thank you, my goddess..." he muttered softly to himself, before turning and noticing a trio of cloaked figures coming his direction.

"Greetings. We're members of the Kalo family and can't help but notice you seem to be using Conjuration magic. But I don't recognize you. I take it you're not from here? Perhaps you're here to explore the dungeon? I hope you're not here to cause some sort of disturbance, we're in the middle of some inspections you see."

Ziun looked at the trio of cloaked figures, before clearing his throat and bowing slightly. "Apologies. I did not mean to cause any alarm here, sir. However in your inspections and assumptions, you did guess correct. I am practicing a bit of my Conjuration magic, trying to get back in tune with it. I am also not from this fine city you have here. Ziun Castir, a humble bard from Cheron, as well as explorer of the Dungeon. A pleasure to make your acquaintances."

"Ah, I see. Well that's no problem as long as you keep to yourself...What is it?" He turned towards one of the two who told him something and he nodded. Looking back at Ziun he said, "You haven't happened to meet any...unsavory characters also exploring the Dungeon have you?"

"Hmm? Unsavory?" Ziun repeated, putting a hand to his chin slightly. "Would you be referring to the undead and the skeletons that may have attacked myself and my allies whilst in the Dungeon? If not those..." he paused, before nodding. "...there was a hulking beast there with a group of, and the best I can describe them as were cultists."

"No, no not monsters." he said, waving his hand. "I mean people. Thieves and cutthroats and the like."

"Hmmm then aside from the cultists, as I mentioned, I did not see any thieves or cutthroats of that ilk." Ziun shook his head.

The trio looked at each other and then back at Ziun. "Listen, there's someone going into the Dungeon recently who is very dangerous. He's already stolen something from members of our family and attacked others. We need to find them and get the item back. It's incredibly dangerous if left in hands of those who don't know how it works."

"I see..." Ziun nodded, rubbing his chin slightly. "Do you happen to have a descriptor of this individual? If not a descriptor of him, perhaps the item he stole from you? It might make it easy to identify if we run into them." The trio began to explain and describe the 'villain' in question. A young man with a height of 5'8"...tidy but unkept short blonde looking hair... ...wait a minute... he thought, listening more and more to the way they described this thief...and he mentally facepalmed. ...oh no...no no no no...don't mention he's carrying a sw-... Apparently they mentioned the exact weapon and Ziun cursed internally. ...son of a satyr...what in the hell did you get involved in Chris?!?! He tapped his finger to his chin once he realized what it was. He did his best to keep calm and not let them know that he technically knew the culprit. "I see, I see...fret not, I'll keep my eyes peeled for such a thief."

"Are you sure? After all from what we've found he began exploring the Dungeon recently so you might have noticed them and not even realized."

"You may have a point. I may have bumped around a few people that fit that description, but I can't be 100% certain of it..." Ziun sighed, rubbing the back of his head.

Again they glanced at each other. "Well, if you do come to the head family's mansion. We will give them your name and description so they know who to be...on the lookout for."

"Of course, happy to help." he gave a firm nod. "I do wish you happy hunting for this criminal all the same."

"Keep your eyes open, they've been shown to not be above violence to take what they want. Wouldn't want you to get caught unawares."

Once they finally left, Ziun turned and was five minutes away from take his hat and immediately start tearing it to pieces. This was NOT what he wanted to hear or needed to hear from anyone at this point. The Apati family wanted him to sabotage everyone in the Dungeon. And NOW the Kalo family was simply looking for Chris because he apparently was wanted for whatever crimes that they were accusing him of. Does anyone else in this party have anything else with these families?! he thought, shaking his head slightly. ...seems like me and our fearless leader need to have a talk...a very insightful talk.

Edited by Chaos Sonic

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The girl made her way to the shopping district, as she had not too many days prior, to once again fix up her armaments. Though, in this case, rather than fixing something she had she was here to fix her problem of not having. Going to browse the weapons that she could, Lana knew that she needed to replace both a great axe and a hand axe. As the girl browsed looking for a replacement for the first of the two, she found herself admiring a few other two handed weapons. Specifically, her eyes had fallen onto a great sword. Picking it up and getting a feel for it before committing to actually purchasing it Lana couldn't help but realize how incredibly awkward this weapon was. The weight was far more evenly distributed across the entire weapon, as opposed to being entirely focused at the top, and to compensate the grip was almost entirely at the bottom. "How does anyone swing something like this?" It wasn't as if it was too heavy for her she just had no handling on the weapon at all. 

Yet, it was the weapon of choice that her, brief, teacher had used and she certainly looked cool with it. The girl then imagined herself with it, thinking how cool it would be to possess a similar "aura" to Joan and thinking that this weapon was certainly the first step towards it. However, it was also something that she didn't actually have any proficiency and she was heading into the dungeon soon. The girl frowned, and looked increasingly more uncomfortable as she remembered the events of last time and tried thinking about using the greatsword instead. "Maybe next time." 

Picking up a greataxe, the girl looked around for something else. Thinking back to how many times she had slashed and used the weight of her weapons on all the undead, she figured she needed something else to deal with anything skeletal. As well as anything trying to claw or bite of her arms again. And so, the girl purchased a pair of gauntlets as well as a mace. Now fully outfitted the girl felt prepped to take on anything the dungeon would through at her. 


Standing at the dungeon entrance, the girl took a deep breath before looking towards the area with completely unfounded confidence. As with every time she had entered the dungeon, Lana was completely disregarding what the dangers would do to her mood, instead only excited to take the plunge once again. "I bet there'll be an even bigger pay out this time, and then..." The girl smirked as she thought about finding some kind of fancy restaurant to splurge some of her winnings on, feasting as much as she could in whatever bizarre and over expensive outfit she could find. "Now just to wait for the other two."

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The last two days proved…almost fruitless in Ziun's endeavors. He looked in his small satchel, only two healing potions and nothing more. He could only afford the two, which in itself was just showing how things were worsening. He had thought of an idea of potentially bottling up conjured acid in bottles and bringing it, but this proved to be a fruitless, as it never lasted long. But this was par for the course.

He attempted to reach out to the Apati family, seeing if Zion could help. Unfortunately…he only met Cerberus, who was a stark contrast to the head of the family. With each step he took, moments of that conversation continued to play over in his mind. The biggest part being: they wanted him to sabotage his allies in their quest to keep moving through the dungeon. What was even worse? …I almost agreed to it…willing to give even my own life for it… he thought, grimacing at the sheer thought of it. He had allies, comrades that now he was willing to do whatever he could to help out. Was it Robin's untimely passing that helped him to this point? It was probably a definitive yes. But never before would he had risked everything to help anyone…let alone offer his own life.

He did ruminate a bit more, thinking back on the stark contrasts between Zion and Cerberus… Are they all like that? Zion, when I met him, didn't seem to be anything similar. Perhaps it's only that collective of individuals there and not the head? he thought, though he was still uncertain.

Then his mind reeled to the big question: what the hell did Chris do to get the Kalo family on his tail? Ziun was planning to ask him that immediately, but unfortunately as he approached the entrance to the dungeon, he found not Chris…but Lana. He'd have to pull the young man aside at a later point, perhaps.

“Good morrow, Lana.” Ziun said, strumming a bit on his lute as if on cue. “I see that you're the early bird on this one. Prepared to delve within the labyrinthian depths of the Dungeon once more?”

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Chris thought about just lurking about the rest of the day until the group’s assigned meeting time, staying out of further trouble as best he could (after all, the more crimes he committed at once, the more likely it was he’d be caught), but Ziun was doing bard things in the Drooling Dragon while he was fetching the mop, so it wasn’t like he hadn’t been spotted already. Plus, the more he thought about preparations for that night, the more he thought about the upcoming dungeon run, and the more he realized he was woefully underequipped without his daggers.

Lana had her axes, of course, and Estellise’s light bow had been incredible, but he’d been used to them and he didn’t want to go without. Maybe the shopkeep would sell him out later, but that was a risk he was willing to take. He didn’t want to disappoint every other member of the party because he had already disappointed one. The ones he ended up purchasing felt different in his hands even though the weight was the same as what he was used to, an odd feeling that Chris hoped wouldn’t mean anything when the time came to use them. There wasn’t any time to test them out first, unfortunately. By the time he’d completed the transaction, he was running a little behind to meet up with everybody else.

Even when running late, Chris still tried to take as many less-traveled roads as possible. There probably was something to be said for blending in with a crowd, but if the other family that was mad at him tried to start a fight, he didn’t want people getting in the way. When Chris did arrive at the dungeon, everyone else was already there. “Sorry,” Chris said. “Um, it’s a long story. I don’t know if…”

He didn’t even want to finish the sentence. Estellise had been their healer on top of everything else. That was something everyone would just have to deal without. Maybe he had disappointed everyone after all. He tried to change the subject. “Did you both sleep okay? What do you think we’ll find down there this time?”

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The trio waited for some time after gathering. Until it became clear that Estellise was not coming. A bit of investigation would turn up that early that morning she had been taken away by her mother to a different city for "a proper environment for studying".

Which meant that the trio would have to go into the dungeon on their own. They stepped through the portal and found themselves....

Inside of a tomb. Stone walls, stone floor, stone ceiling. Behind them presumably is where the stairs that they had come in from on their last trip would be but now it was just a blank wall. Torches lined all four walls and though the flames lit up the area they seemed to flicker as though being stirred by a wind they could not feel.

They saw a door across the far end of the room and an ornate golden coffin was embedded into the wall to the right of it. Much less impressive stone coffins were lined up in two rows of three around the middle of the room in front of them. These were laying horizontally across the floor an had a clear top that could presumably be slid off.

However before they could worry about any of that they had something else to deal with. Six skeletons holding strangely curved swords were roaming about the room and shortly after the group appeared they would take notice and, one by one, turn in their direction.

Spoiler

Sadly Doggo, and by virtue Estellise, is now gone from the RP. But we shall press on. For now it will be the three of you. I will keep an eye on how frequent posts happen and how much the characters do in said posts to determine if there's any issues player-wise.

Regardless if someone else ends up having to go or not thinking might make an NPC to help out in future floors.

In any case, floor 16 is here.

Map

 

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