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The Chosen [IC / Not Accepting / PG-16]

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"but thank you. For the barrier." 

For a moment Madelyn's face turned pink, and she crossed her arms and turned away from Ryia. "You don't have to thank me for that. It was absolutely nothing, just...warn me if you're going to try and use my magic to get yourself killed next time."

The battle was over at last. The crab had been dis-clawed and, ultimately, skewered and killed. The Chosen felt a brief surge of energy, as though this encounter had strengthened them somehow, but it didn't free them of being worn down by the hectic fight.

Damien, not having felt such a surge, and despite not many outward injuries, decided to sit down right where he was standing and didn't seem to want to move for long. He was examining his sword with a frown, going over it closely and with a serious intent.

"Anyone hungry?"

"How crass." Madelyn muttered, eyeing the giant crab with disgust.

Keres on the other hand didn't think much of it. She had eaten plenty of strange things back home in the swamp and she imagined this would be much the same. She wondered if perhaps the meat might have some magical aftereffects but she wouldn't know until it was cooking anyway. The girl started towards Reinaan, and more specifically the crab, and said "I can...help prepare."

Madelyn grabbed onto the girl before she could get any further. "Oh no you don't, you've drained yourself quite well already. Go sit with the musclehead and rest." The girl looked around. "Before anything else, anyone with any injuries come here right this instant. I will not be seen with such a beat up and uncouth entourage."

Despite saying this it was clear she, too, was worn down from the crab's attacks on her barriers.

Keres opened her mouth to point it out and then, as she thought about her school days, seemed to become suddenly unable to speak and she just nodded and went over towards where Damien sat. It was rather embarrassing that she still struggled to speak up. Just because of memories that felt so long ago now. Yet in the face of Madelyn's unchanged confidence Keres couldn't help but feel like that awkward schoolgirl once again.

As she sat as well she thought over the battle. She had panicked hadn't she? Her magic not working as it should had made her hesitate far too much. It could have led to all of their deaths had the others not adapted so well. She had always thought herself good at figuring out plans on the fly and yet she could only flail about and hope for the best.

And after all that she lacked even enough energy to help with the cooking. Perhaps her mostly sedentary life was catching up to her. Perhaps her observation and quick thinking skills were only good when not in the heat of action. Perhaps she had been too reliant on her magic. What should she do to make sure this didn't happen again? She wasn't sure it was such an easy problem to solve. But solve it she must.

Spoiler

Some down time now, and people can figure out what next, also y'all get 1 bonus point to spend after the encounter.

 

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"You still alive after that one?" Lindow grunted in annoyance as the boy teased him on the way up to the crack in the crab's armor. "No. Hurry up and avenge me..." The Thunder Chosen groaned, releasing his grip on the crab and tumbling to the ground. Victory was at hand, he wasn't needed anymore. The man watched as Reinaan finished the job, letting out a victorious snarl in a manner that Lindow had begun to get used to. Oddly enough, he felt tinge of pride gazing up at the boy perched triumphantly above their kill. As someone who valued fighting prowess above all else, Lindow's trust and respect for the young draken grew with every new battle the pair took on shoulder to shoulder. 

Disinterest in the pile of trinkets left by the crab, Lindow basked in the brief surge of energy he felt before letting out a huge sigh of exhaustion. He wasn't the only one feeling fatigued after the battle however. Reinaan's plan for lunch seemed more ideal with each glance around the faces of the party. Though he didn't bother responding to the boy, or Madelyn's call for the wounded report. His attention had settled on Damien, who was inspecting his precious sword with a perturbed look about him.

 “What’s with that look? Don’t tell me you chipped the blade…” Lindow walked over and took a seat near the other man. 

"That's what I'm checking for, didn't think I'd be swinging it at something like this." Damien responded still eyeing his blade carefully. 

"Hmm," Lindow smiled, quickly coming to a solution that he thought would benefit them both. "wanna borrow one of mine? If it won’t conflict with the enchantment, a second blade would definitely help take some stress off that one.” He had chosen is words carefully, hopping that perhaps this might his chance to learn more about the workings of the mysteries curved sword. "We've a got a pile on the cart. I think I can spare one."

"What enchantment would that be?" Damien asked, looking up at Lindow blankly.

Lindow responded right away, meeting Damien's blank expression with his own. "Blade elongation, and the ability to cut through magic for starters. Also, you seem to brush off would be injuries rather easily... it protects you too, right?" 

"Oh, I don't know about all that." Damien said with a shrug. "But about your question, I'm fine using just this sword anything else wouldn't...feel right. Unlike you I'm a one-sword kind of guy." He laughed, forcing Lindow to resist rolling his eye. It was clear the other man was still intent on playing dumb.

“Heh, if you say so.” Lindow shrugged before shifting his full attention the others. "How about we all pitch in on the grub this time?" He looked around to gauge the group's response before leaning backwards into a lounging position. "You guys start, I'll be right there..." He said with a smirk before closing his eye and taking in a little sun. 

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Madelyn's protest at the idea aside, Reinaan took to getting ready to eat some of their kill. For now he put the shard of the sword away in one of his bags on Kloqah's back to let the others investigate later. Madelyn was demanding to heal the injured but Reinaan as ever would want to be near last in line for any special ministrations. Especially considering the beating Ryia had taken that seeemed a lot more immediately important. So the hunter's focus was on how to get the crab cooked. Firewood was easy, and he had fire covered. Hacking one of the large claws they had severed from the crab was a bit more exertion he could have done without. But eventually he had plenty of meat to roast. Now he just needed a way to start a fire without burning the place down. But then he had been born with claws hadn't he? It was a simple enough matter to dig out a shallow but wide enough sized pit to house the fire he needed. Before long he had dozens of crab skewers roasting over a flame started by his own breath.

Once it looked and smelled done enough Reinaan shouted for the group to gather for the meal and offered slabs of cooked crab to all who were hungry and able. Madelyn of course declined but that only seemed like her loss. That turned the draken's attention to Keres who had been told specifically to not help prepare the food. She must have been a lot more worn out from that last magical attack than she looked. And no wonder given the damage it had done to the thing. Keres when offered accepted the meal right away. Reinaan sat near her with a skewer of his own thinking of how to say what he wanted to say between bites. Before too long though he spoke.

"You okay after all that? Know magic's been weird here, but you'd know more exactly how than me." He asked the mage unsure how the lake had been affecting her. Maybe it had been stealing all of their magic but hardly knowing any he just hadn't felt it much.

"I...am probably more healthy than the rest of you." she said without looking his way. Reinaan laughed though softly to not scare her as he was aware he wasn't quite on the buddy buddy level with her that he was with Lindow.

"Yeah well, glad it wasn't you getting mowed over. The rest of us are a bit better built for taking those kinds of hits. Though Ryia might have overdone it." He responded. Keres nodded.

"Yes, that seems to be true..." She began to focus more on the food. It turned out it was difficult to keep a conversation rolling when the other side had no immediate questions or things to bring up. So Reinaan let her continue eating as that was what she seemed intent on doing. The boy for his part wolfed down a rather large piece of crab meat in record time before thinking of the metal piece from the crab. Keres would know something about it. If it was magical anyway. But between Keres, Madelyn, Lindow and Damien someone was going to know something about this weird sword piece. So he went and retreived it.

"Hey so no problem if you're too tired to look at it right now but I found this weird thing off the crab. Something feels off about it but no idea what. Figured you might have a better idea before I go give the sword boys a shot at it." Reinaan said while extending the piece of metal toward Keres for her to inspect. She stared at it for a while, not seeming to really be doing much of anything.

"It...was broken by magic." she said. Reinaan was shocked not only at her choice of words but how she had figured anything out about it. 

"Woah really! How can you tell?" He asked, clearly looking for some magical secret he could employ in the future himself. Keres looked up at Reinaan for a moment, then back at the shard.

"I can feel it. The lingering curse that broke this sword." she said like that wasn't one of the coolest things ever. Reinaan was getting more excited the more she said about it.

"A curse? Can you tell what kind? And what was it doing in the crab?" the draken's questions piled up. Keres seemed uncomfortable the more excited Reinaan got. She slowly shifted farther away.

"I'm not sure...Something strong, if I can still feel it." She glanced down at the crab meat and shrugged. Rather than ask a hundred more questions about curses Reinaan took note of the girl's obvious distress and realized he hadn't yet overcome what it was that made her feel like this around him. He took a step back himself to give her the space she was looking for and looked downcast for a moment.

"Sorry this is all just new ground to me. Must seem silly getting worked up over it with all the stuff you know. But I knew asking you was a good idea Keres." he said a smile now on his face. Keres only looked over for a moment before busying herself with the almost finished food. Picking at it slowly.

"It's, erm, fine." she said but Reinaan knew it probably wasnt. Rather than trouble her further he went back to tending the fire as it cooked endlessly more crab meat. But he continually held, examine and reexamined the piece of metal, wondering what sort of curse had broken the sword and how it had ended up in a crab. Startling him, Ziiyol appeared at Reinaan's side, delighted with the large cooking fire after a battle pretty low on overall burning and scorching. The two soon took to bickering as was their norm.

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Ryia let out a nervous laugh as Madelyn had chided her again. "Right - right. I'll do my best." As the light mage walked away, Ryia looked to the others as they all went about their business and then to the lake in front of her. With her body now partially healed, the girl rolled her shoulder and stretched out her arm, wincing a bit in pain as she could feel the lingering bruises and soreness in it. It was certainly better than before but exerting herself still left her with some degree of pain. The girl sighed, resting her arm back on the ground, wondering about the fight and what she could have done differently. On the one hand, she felt as though she should've been happy that her plan had actually worked and helped bring about the defeat of the crab. On the other hand, it had been rather rash of her, basically incapacitated her and made the others worry about her. Add to that, she didn't feel like she contributed much of anything aside from that during the fight. 

She wasn't quite sure where it was she could work to make up for what she was lacking. Be it magic, skill, strength, speed or versatility she found herself lacking when compared to every other member of her group. The only thing she thought she could do better than anyone else was take a hit, a function more of her gear then her own talent or training, and even then she had only really been hit once in this fight before having to sit out. She knew there was a lot to work on, and that unlike everyone else martial skill was about all she had to offer to the party. So she had to get better to keep pulling her weight. 

Letting out a sigh, the girl figured there was naught to do about it this moment and that she would simply have to do better next time. Though, hoping that things would work out better wouldn't be worth much when the time came. She needed to be better to begin with. She needed to get more skilled, smarter, learn more about how to fight in order to actually properly fight. She didn't want to spoil everyone's respite with talk of combat though, so she simply kept her thoughts to herself for the time being and enjoyed the meal that was prepared. 

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Keres didn't know how she was supposed to react. Reinaan was much like a child in some ways and was far too familiar with her for her comfort. Though, was it too familiar? Shouldn't it be natural that they were given the time they have been traveling and how much they had fought together?

Even still she couldn't find herself able to stop being defensive when he spoke with her. As if expecting him to turn at any moment. The line of thought made her consider her other companion as well, Lindow. While Reinaan's appearance made her on edge that man's everything made her worry he was about to put her to the stake.

Overall it was a very stressful group she had found herself in. But, was that because of them or herself?

She had to eventually figure out what it was she should do.

"We should figure out what to do." Madelyn's sudden statement, unknowingly echoing Keres's thoughts, caused the girl to give a start and look around to see if she had been thinking out loud.

As it seemed that she hadn't she simply relaxed and listened in on what Madelyn was saying. "Resting up is important but if you want to find this person we can't take too long. From what we all saw so far it seems they were here yet moved on. We could be following their trail in circles for days at this rate and I for one would like to be able to stay in a city. Even if it is an elven one."

"Suppose we should think about why they didn't stay here. That crab probably didn't have anything to do with it best I can tell it hadn't come outta there in some time. So what made them decide to up and go?" Damien seemed to be done checking his sword and had decided to add to what Madelyn was saying. Something which caused the light mage to nod approvingly.

Keres had been thinking about that as well, in the back of her mind, and, not looking up from the food, began to speak some of her thoughts. "Even if...people don't often come here, it's still very...open. If someone found them then there wouldn't...be anywhere to go." she hesitated then added, "If you're keeping away from people that might follow you...it has to be a place with natural protection or you can easily escape..or both."

She thought about her own home in the swamp. It was difficult to reach and even if someone had found her she had several paths to make her escape without them noticing. It had been bothering her this whole time, but she only voiced it now. "If someone were found here they would be easy to catch."

Madelyn sighed. "It does seem obvious in retrospect, a lake isn't a fortress. I only hope we don't go to the next place and find it just recently abandoned too."

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