CLASSIC [Multiplayer Edition]



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CLASSIC [Multiplayer Edition]
I remember very distinctly one summer when I was a kid. It started out just like any other summer for me, and I spent a lot of my time by a nearby river fishing. I was told from an early age that I'd have to follow my dad's footsteps and become a fisherman, as lame as that sounded. I wanted to refuse, but I didn't really have a choice. This village was so small that we all had our defined roles to fill. Apprentices and masters and all that, but with harsh limitations set in by our families' jobs. I just happened to have been born in the most boring position: fisherman. At least farmers got buff and teachers were way smarter than the rest of us. I was destined to be some lanky old fool who would serve up the catch of the day. These ideas weighed me down a bit during that summer as I made my way to the same river I've always visited my whole life with my pole in hand. It didn't take long for me to reach the stream and I sat atop of a large smooth boulder under a large looming tree. Dad said it was called a weeping willow because of how the leaves drooped down depressingly and at the time I thought he was just having fun with me. I sighed to myself as I cast my pole but was surprised when the sound of my lure hitting the water failed to reach me. Confused, I began reeling it back but it wouldn't budge. I looked down from my perch and froze. In the exact spot my lure had landed, floated a young girl. She was face up and her hair was an almost fiery red. Panic spread through my body as I watched her slowly float down the river, eyes closed. A few seconds of horror overflowed my mind and I did nothing but watch her until I finally pulled myself back together and jumped down into the water.

After pulling the girl out, I was relieved to find her slowly regaining consciousness. Her eyes suddenly flung open, full of confusion. Unlike her vivid hair, her dull pupils were very dark and made me slightly uneasy.
“What happened?” She asked me. I told her about how I had found her floating in the river. “I don't do well with water,” she explained after thanking me. We talked for a while, though she wouldn't really tell me anything about herself and was more interested in me. One question in particular stood out: “What do you want to be when you get older?” I told her how I was locked into my position of fisherman and longed to see the world. How I wondered about soldiers and kings, what it must be like to be a hero. She just smiled at me in response. After a few hours of conversing, the girl excused herself, and I wouldn't see her again for another few years.

I had awoken to the smell of ash. The world around me was burning, though no noise reached my ears. I slowly turned around to find a girl with fiery red hair facing away from me, her hands outstretched against the flames. “I'm sorry,” she said, “I couldn't save anyone else, and I couldn't catch the person who did this. It was all I could do to save you.” I could see her strain herself as she held the flames back with unseen forces I had only heard of.
“Magic...” I whispered as I suddenly realized my entire world had burned away. Tears filled my eyes at the thought of never again seeing my family and only one thing echoed through my mind. I had to find the person who did this. I needed to make this world a better place.

Once the flames died down, the girl led me somewhere safe, and we finally introduced ourselves.
“My name is Sally Macy Anderson. What do they call you?” I told her I lacked a surname, but I went by Will. “No last name? We can't have that anymore...How about Wilton? Will Wilton. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?” I tried my best to put on a brave face, but the idea that everything and everyone I had known had burned away was too much for me. “I'm going to help you,” she told me, “I'll help you get stronger. I'm...I'm going to make you a hero.”

---

Morning bells rang through the town of Azure as a cheerful atmosphere quickly took over the plaza. The early morning fog had already lifted, and in its place the sun began to shine eagerly over the town, basking it in a bright light.
“Will, it's time to get up.” A young woman's voice said.
“Mmmmuhhh nah,” came the muffled response.
“Today's the day they're going to show off that artifact thing, Will! Not to mention the festival planned beforehand.” Instead of a genuine response, the boy rolled on his side, thankful for the hotel's comfortable bed. “Some hero,” the girl scoffed.
“Today's the one day you're giving me off from all this training stuff. Can't a guy sleep in for a change?” Will answered back.

After quite a bit of coaxing, Sally finally managed to get the trainee out of the hotel and onto the bustling streets.
“There's a ton for us to do today, so make sure to plan everything you want to do first, alright?”
“You're making this sound like work,” Will told her as they approached a vendor near the edge of town. Sally suddenly stood at attention, looking towards a nearby forest. “...Are you alright?”
“Something's happening.”
“Well, yeah. It's a festival. It'd be weird if nothing was happening.” Instead of giving him an answer, the girl grabbed his arm and ran into the woods. After a bit of running, she stopped suddenly, gesturing him to stay quiet. The pair peered from behind some bushes and saw a caravan surrounded by men wielding swords and axes. “What the hell?!” Will whispered, “are they seriously robbing that thing so close to town?”
“Yep.”
“What...what do we do?!”
“Your call, Mr. hero.”

---

Mary sighed deeply as the town of Azure came into view. She wasn't looking forward to being in Blueshire, especially not this close to the Sword Guild. A sudden gust of wind caught her off guard and her pegasus, Junie, had to readjust herself to avoid the abrupt turbulence. It reminded the Lancer of her associate who was deceptively good with wind magic, though Mary knew she was no where around. They were one of the few Flying Lancers formally invited to this event, but Mary had convinced everyone to allow her to travel alone. She preferred it this way, though she still would rather turn right around and head back to Fayfield. As she got closer, she saw from above as a redheaded girl dragged a man into a forest.
“Probably just looking for some privacy or something.” She told herself with a frown. How vulgar, what if some kids saw them? They could at least have the decency to get a hotel room or something. With a small amount of commotion, the girl touched down to earth near the center of town, right by the building housing the Sword Guild. “Man, I really don't want to do this, Junie.” As if to respond, the pegasus shook her head while bellowing quietly while they ignored the stares of onlookers.
 

Max

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The Thief

I rubbed my hand over the scruff on my chin as I glanced over the papers in front of me on the tavern bar-top. Taking a sip of my drink and yawning, I folded the papers up and slipped them in my tunic, bored with looking over work materials for now.

"Aye lass, just gimme a taste. C'mon-" a fat dirty man kept going on about to a rather wealthy looking woman down the bar. She slapped him and moved on down to another seat.

"Another drink sir?" The bartender asked automatically filling up my glass. I could hear the large man from earlier making another attempt to be a loud nuisance. I pulled my drink close and stared at my reflection, fixing my hair and making sure I was looking back at my own face. "You alright there lad?"

I took another drink and looked up to the bartender. "How can you stand to let such filthy pigs lull about in here?"

"What was that?!" I heard come from a booming voice beside me. The man was at my side before I knew it, and his stinking breath was hot on the side of my face.

"Rather quick for your size, aren't you?" I said as I looked the man in the eye and grinned.

"Gentlemen, please, let's not start something-"

"I'm no gentleman," I said interrupting the bartender, keeping my gaze focused on the large human being in front of me. "Maybe if you're in such dire need of a woman's company, you ought to take a bath and go on around the block. Although even then, they won't take you without any money."

The man reached in his pocket and a look of fury came about his face. "What do you think you're doing?!"

"Relax, relax, it will all work out."

"No, I'm not dealing with this shit thief!" As the man pulled back to strike me, I splashed my drink in his face and smashed my glass mug over his head. Once the man toppled to the ground, I slid a few silver pieces across the bar to the bartender.

"That should cover the drinks and the mug. And don't worry, he isn't dead, only knocked out. I'm sure he'll be up and at 'em by closing." I stepped over the man's body, and approached the woman at the end of the bar. "I don't suppose he'll be bothering you anymore."

"Oh, my hero~ Is that what you want to hear?" She gave me a sly smirk as she took a chug of ale and slammed her mug back on the bar.

"Don't get me mistaken, I didn't fight that man for you, he was just getting on my nerves."

"And yet the first thing you do after your little victory is come see me?"

"Fair enough. Maybe you had something to with it," I pulled out a stool and sat next to the woman. "Maybe a part of me is just curious why a woman dressed like yourself is out here at the tavern all by her lonesome, with the risk of massive horny oaf-like men rumbling about."

The woman rolled her eyes and turned her head as she giggled before finishing off her drink and motioning for the bartender to get her another. "Maybe sometimes a woman doesn't want to drag around her filthy cheating scum of a husband when she is trying to drink away her problems." There was a a tone of sass to the woman's voice as she looked me in the face.

"I suppose you wouldn't want to depend on a man like that to take care of you out here, would you?"

"Take care of me here, satisfy my needs there, he always was worthless outside of his name and his family's money. I've always had this itch that he just couldn't scratch, and then I see him with that poor filthy bitch, ugh."

I observed as she shuddered just speaking of those in poverty. One may question why she'd be found dead in an establishment such as this, though I think after what happened she simply didn't care. "I'd say your husband made a mistake, a huge mistake," I whispered as I eyeballed the woman up and down. "It's a shame he doesn't realize what he has... What say you? How about we make a mistake of our own tonight and get him back?"

"The nerve?! How could you be so forward?! You middle class folk are all so, ugh. Although I can't say I hadn't thought about doing something so drastic to piss him off. I almost even considered that large ogre of a man of there, but he just reeked of desperation."

"Haha yeah, he was desperate all right. Listen, I was only kidding anyway, I would never expect you to do such a thing upon just meeting me."

"Why not?"

"Well obviously because-"

"No, I mean why not. Let's do it. I've had enough drinks, I loathe my husband, and you're here. Protect me on my way home and bask in the thoughts of the amazing night you are about to have."

I smiled as I stood up and took the woman's hand. As we walked toward the exit, I could hear the large man from earlier grumbling, and I kicked over a bar-stool that landed on his head and knocked him back out cold.

It wasn't long after we'd arrived at the woman's house that I found myself lying in her bed flipping through some book I found on her stand that was about a prince from a far away land. The bed was soft and had fancy patterned red blankets on it, as well as about 20 pillows. The window was cracked open, and pictures of her husband and her children sat atop her chest of drawers. Across the room was her bathroom, which she had closed the door to when she entered. On the far right wall of the room was the doorway we'd used to come in. Across the hall from this doorway was her husband's office, with the door locked and closed. When I inquired to her about when he'd be coming home, she'd stated that he wouldn't be back until tomorrow when he absolutely needed to be if he knew what was good for him.

The bathroom door opened, and she had changed out of the rich-folk clothes she had been wearing before. "Whew, it's a bit chilly in here, isn't it?" I watched as she strode across the room with her soft silky smooth skin, and shut the window, and then she climbed on the bed and crawled over to me.

"I was hoping we could keep that open," I said as I ran my fingers through her hair.

"Well it's my home, and I'm cold, and no," She said forcefully as she grabbed my face and planted a kiss on me. She ran her fingers down my face gently, and then pulled back and looked at me. "Why are you still wearing that raggy bandana over your eye?"

"Well I'd rather you not have to see that minor deformity from a fight gone wrong," I placed my lips on hers, and then she pulled away again with a puzzled look on her face.

"Have we met before this? You seem somewhat familiar..."

"I think you've had a few too many drinks, where would I have ever met somebody like you?"

"Yeah, haha, you're probably right," she said before shoving me backwards and blinding me with her long brown hair in my face.

---​

I could hear a rustling as she moved around in her room above. I slowly continued to try and climb down the brick wall her home was made of quietly as I looked up at her bedroom window. "NO! THAT BASTARD!" I heard her scream as I lost my footing and landed on the ground on my butt. As soon as I landed I slung my bag over my shoulder, got to my feet, and took off down the street, pushing past people as I reveled in my close victory.

I could hear a tingling sound through the air as I slowed down to a steady walking pace and looked to my side to see my fairy companion Faye had caught up to me. "Sorry that took so long Faye, I was kind of... busy." Faye didn't look too pleased as she blew her long black hair out of her face and took a seat on my shoulder with her arms crossed. "Silent treatment? Okay listen, I'll make it up to you, I promise."

Faye and I made our way through a market square, until we approached a large purple tent. The strong smell of perfume whisked out as I opened the tent and we stepped in.

"Ah, Flynn, I was beginning to think you wouldn't show..." The pretty witch said to me as she continued to organize her goods. "You've got my payment?"

"Of course I do," I said to her as I tossed her a bag of coins. "Why would I run off without giving you payment? If I didn't pay you, I could never ask dear old Angelline for any more favors."

"Yeah, yeah... Just don't bring those favors up to anyone else, the stuff I give you isn't legal. I could be arrested if the wrong ears heard I was moving those goods out of my tent." Angelline was a witch acquaintance of mine that I'd known for several years. She had long unnaturally colored silver hair, and she was quite short. She dressed in normal street walker clothes to try not to draw attention to herself. As for her age, no one knew and no one asked.

"I understand our arrangement," I said to her as I turned to leave. "I'm sure I'll see you soon."

I walked along the road back towards the thieves guild while Faye picked at what she claimed were gray hairs on my head. "Look, don't joke about that," I said to her in all seriousness. "If they're really there, then pull them out, because that would mean that things still aren't totally back to normal. If you are lying though, then don't be a bitch and quit pulling my hair." I stopped outside the Thieves Guild to see the large man from the night before sitting on the steps. He stood up once he saw me approaching and headed my direction.

"Listen you bastard, that shit last night was uncalled for. I want my money back now."

"In due time Frederic, in due time."

"Don't give me that crap, thief. I wasn't supposed to actually get hurt, and you sure as hell were not supposed to take my wallet!"

"Your money is gone. I had expenses to pay before I finished the job. Now, I tried giving you a heads up by letting you know your money was gone, but instead of being a good sport about it, you started to slip out of character. You really wanted to hurt me, and I couldn't risk you running your mouth."

"You're going to pay me what you promised me, and you're going to pay me for what was in my wallet! I don't know what it is that you're up to thief, but I should've listened to everyone when they told me not to take on a job from Flynn Dyer!" Frederic turned his ever so large body, and began to make his way back down the street to his own place of employment, the Sword Guild.

"You made a pretty good thug by the way Frederic, but I must say that your fighting skills are shabby as hell without that sword of yours!" I waved and smiled as I taunted him, and he made obscene finger gestures back at me before I headed on in to the Thieves Guild.

"Ah, Flynn, how goes the job? You look empty handed." a rough looking woman named Nel said as I walked past her receptionist's desk. She pushed her glasses up her nose and brushed back her short red hair as she dipped her quill back in the ink and awaited my response.

"Not empty handed," I told her as I gestured to my bag I had over my shoulder.

"Well time's a-ticking. The job ends today, so I suppose you'd better step on it."

"No worries, I'm actually about to start on the paperwork before I head out to put a close on this one."

"Just don't push it," Nel said as she smiled and got back to writing. I pushed through a door and made my way upstairs to my room. Faye flew around real quick and then just let her body fall to my bed from midair. It was so funny seeing someone as tiny as my hand laying on my huge bed. I locked my door and proceeded on over to my desk where I dropped my bag and sat down to start writing.

The Job: Find the "artifact" that is to be displayed before it goes public. Find out what it is, and based on it's value, retrieve it. The pay may increase significantly based on the results. We will meet at the guild to discuss the aftermath the day after the festival.

Employer: Anonymous (Cloaked older man whom chose to keep his identity secret)

Job Summary: The job requires entry into Blueshire Castle prior to the end of the festival. To achieve this, several steps have been carefully laid out and followed through to make it happen.

On day 1 of the job, I watched from the rooftops to carefully choose a target for castle entry. The targets that made the most sense were the outsiders to the castle helping the kingdom to take care of said artifact. This meant no knights or royalty, as that would cause too many potential setbacks to the job. The chosen target ended up being the upper class Mr. Royland Conway. He was the most ideal target for he is only involved in the funding process of protecting the artifact, and is not involved directly in day to day work. What he gains from helping fund this extra protection is his name added to the credit for this "big day" being able to happen, he gets access into castle grounds at specified times (including entry just prior to the artifact's unveiling), and most of all, he gets that egotistical feeling of self importance.

Once the target was chosen and on his way home, Faye swooped down and plucked one of his hairs, at which he swatted above his head and continued on his way, where we watched him meet up with his wife, Cynthia Conway. She hugged her husband and looked our way as we quickly moved into the shadows. Just before calling it a day, Faye and I dropped the hair off to Angelline, who ensured that day 2 would go smoothly.

After gaining some intel on our target and taking Angelline's witch concoction on day 2, I took the appearance of Royland Conway. I had become a thin, smug looking man with combed over gray hair and a smooth, hairless face. While this temporary spell should only last for the day, Angelline's illegal supplies sometimes didn't always "follow the label." This disguise couldn't be used to enter the castle though, due to security preventing magic like this from making it's way through. Something more needed to be done. The whole thing was a leap of faith. Word on the street was that Royland and Cynthia would be attending a birthday party for their upper class friend on the other side of town. Donning my black cloak to ensure Royland's doppelganger wasn't discovered, I tailed the two to the party from their home.

Once inside the party, I hid among the shadows, waiting for my chance. When he separated from his wife for a potty break, I grabbed him from the shadows and knocked him unconscious. I promptly snuck my way outside, carrying him under my cloak, and hid him in some bushes down the street. On my way back, I hired a working girl to do me a favor and meet me out back behind the party. I returned to the party, told "my" wife that I must have been in the bathroom so long because of the boiled goose, and then informed her I had something to "take care of," thus heading on my way. This is when I headed out back, began to make out with the working girl using Royland's mouth, and wait for Cynthia to wander out to find us. Royland is lucky that he wasn't there for that smacking. I then informed Cynthia that I wouldn't be home that night, because I couldn't leave this young lady by herself.

On day 3 I was mostly back to normal, still waiting on the hair to return from that horrid gray and just gain some minor facial features back. Faye and I examined the Conway's and laid witness to a confused Royland not being granted access to his house by his wife. Entering directly would have been too risky for us even then, getting caught could compromise everything. We needed to be allowed in, and invitation if you will.

On day 4 Cynthia had just had enough of it. She didn't even want to be in her own home, and made her way downtown to a local tavern. While time was running short, my ability to read people had paid off so far and everything was going according to plan. I hired Frederic from the Sword Guild to be the local thug in my plan to woo Mrs. Conway. I was vague with the details at first, and while Frederic wasn't too keen on everything, a simple bump in pay for the job had him convinced. He's always been a rough and tough man that didn't care much for others, so giving this woman a hard time wasn't to big a deal considering. It helped that he was promised that he wouldn't need to actually fight (whoops). With the spell worn off and the players set, I made my way to the tavern.

After taking care of Frederic and gaining Mrs. Conway's trust, I returned to her home for a night of affection. After being in her home for several hours, after she had finally fallen asleep, I carefully made my way out of her bed with the ploy of needing to use the restroom should she wake up. I carefully opened the window, allowing Faye to enter, and she zipped across the hall and scurried under the crack of the door leading to Mr. Conway's office. Once Faye unlocked the door for me, I retrieved the royal garb addressed to attendees that were granted early access to the castle, and the royal pass to get in. By the time I had retrieved what I needed and started to head out, the sun was already rising. Without closing up the office, I gathered what I needed hurriedly into a bag I found in Mrs. Conway's room, and descended into the streets.

After having finally gained my way into the castle-

Well, I suppose I couldn't write that part yet, could I? I walked over to my window and opened it, looking down into the streets filled with people. Everybody was laughing, playing games, and just having a great time already. The festival had started. The time was now. I changed into the Royal Garb I had stolen, and looked over the pass that I stole along with it. The King and Queen's signatures were both scribbled at the bottom of the parchment that had been adorned with a golden trim. The pass wasn't even addressed to Royland, getting in with the clothes and the pass alone would be simple. What wouldn't be simple would be figuring out where to go from there.

I thought about the money I had put into this job so far, with intel, with hiring Frederic, even renting a suit for that party. Every job had expenses, but no jobs had a pay-off as huge as this one. It was all going to be worth it, as soon as I found that artifact. I wore my usual belt under the fancy clothes I was now wearing, and slipped my daggers in from there, concealed away for no eyes to see. Putting the pass in my pocket, I headed for the door.

"Let's go Faye."

 

KingdomKey

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The Halfling

I briskly walked down through the aisles of large stacks full of spell books, enchantment scrolls, potions, forbidden arts and untranslated books full of Latin or chests that weren't chests at all. Peering down at the random orbs scattered about on another shelf inside of the Magical Library; I was reminded that some were to help others like myself learn to control our magic or expand it with their different, vibrant colors and symbols. Not all of them were orbs and came in different shapes and sizes too. I fingered the pocket inside of my red cloak where my own cube happened to be and mentally winced, recalling how I still hadn't fully unlocked whatever was inside of it after all these years of learning magic with it; constantly mocking me with its burning red, orange hue colors.

"I hear she isn't ordinary! They say she's an elf but she doesn't have the ears!"

"Then is she really an elf? Isn't there some rule that they have to have curved ears?"

I smiled as I peered around a stack of books, carefully minding not to disrupt them too much or the spells inside of them would create another disaster within the Magical Library. Honestly, you'd think a Magical Library would ward or protect itself from magical accidents, such as floods, transforming almost everyone into pigeons or cursing someone with outrageous colored hair, but no. All of which I done before and more when I was still new at magic. I shook my head at my misfortunes then quietly snuck up behind the gossipy children, listening in on their tails of the mischievous half elf with the rumored tiger's claw and crouching down to sit and pretend I was one of them. I'm not quite sure how the rumors began, but it was funny to hear what they came up with.

"Oh what do you know! It's pointy ears, not curved ears, Melody!"

The little girl with auburn hair clutched her tiny, blue stuffed dragon to her chest tightly with a dishearten look on her face and wouldn't look up at the boy standing atop of a desk with arms crossed over his chest with a smile and crooked teeth. I almost said something, but instead gently patted the girl on the head to comfort her -- making her look up in surprise and start to open her mouth, but I shook my head and placed a finger to my lips to keep quiet with a wink. The boy carried on, complete ignorant of his surroundings as the other boys sitting before me listen on.

"They say she turned a bunch of animals loose on the people of Blueshire over a mere apple at the market." A boy piped up, a few feet to my right and held up an apple of his own. "I saw it with my own two eyes!" Some of the others elbowed him and told him to hush up and let someone else talk. "Or that she almost made the King of Blueshire forget he was King and almost started a war!" At that, one of the boys tackled him as the leader of the pack of boys spoke up as if nothing happened.

"But we don't even know what she looks like! Just that she has a tiger's claw!"

"What does that matter? I heard from a friend of a friend that she eats folks for breakfast, because she's really a tiger and came here to learn how to take the curse off of herself from turning into one on every blood moon." There was a collective sound of gasps and awe's as the boy went on some more, whispering in a hushed tone and looking around suspiciously for me. "The claw a reminder for all the people she's eaten, setting fire to a town and burning it to the ground and taken in by the Elder to beg forgiveness and atone for her sins. And if you're not careful at night, you'll find a bloody paw print on your door and that she's coming to eat you next!"

I frowned at this, wondering how on earth a boy of ten would think something like that. Melody glanced at me then down at my gloved hands before looking at me again then at the boy as if to say "Is it true?" with a tilt of her head. I shook my head and ready to deny the claims myself, except Melody grabbed hold of my hand in hers as she held her tiny, blue dragon with her other and stood up with as much bravo a six year old could have before shouting at the top of her lungs, "Those are lies, Conrad! You shouldn't say mean things like that!"

The other boys turned to look at her and rolled their eyes in disbelief, but Conrad didn't seem to mind and hopped down from the desk. "They're only stories, Mel. I'm sure we'll hear more rumors later as they unveil the artifact today at the festival! They say she'll be there! And if you get scared, I'll protect you!" At that, Conrad ran off to pester some of the other mages for lessons in magic with the other boys hot on his trail as Melody stayed behind and stared off after them. Which wasn't surprising since each of them, including Melody, had magic potential and were taken here by their parents to learn how to control it and embrace it. Apart of me remembered the one errand I had, where I got the concoction to suppress ones magic and how greatly it upset me -- when I learned of what it was and how it was going to high born noble.

"You're not going to eat me, are you?"

I jumped, slightly startled at the sudden question. "No, I'm not going to eat you. Quite a nasty rumor that one was." I replied, lifting both of my hands up for her to see as I took the gloves off and revealing both of them were normal, human looking hands. Melody sagged in relief upon seeing them before hurrying off after them and presumably to read some fairy tale books to pass the time before she was taken home in time to get ready for a festival. The moment she was gone, I dropped the strong glamour I had in place over my right hand and watched as the magic trickled away to unveil my orange and black claw.

After an uncomfortable silence, I felt my magic prickle as the Library Elder came strolling in from behind me with a cart wrapped up in golden tarps and bindings made out of belts. "Ah, there you are, Jeri! Aren't you suppose to be overseeing the wards to protect the artifact? Or keep an eye on things?" I stood up and felt my red cloak swirl around the back of my legs and heels as I nodded in acknowledgment until the Elder's words halted me in my tracks.

"Take care of your tracks, Jeri. Less you want enemies knocking on our very door step."

The way he worded it made me think of not only my task but the one before it, when someone mistaken me for something I was not. People will see what they want to see. I merely went along with the illusion of being a tiger, but that didn't mean I was one or happen to be able to turn into one. I lifted my hood up and felt it cover half of my upper face to only reveal my eyes, nose and mouth. "Phyllo, don't tell me you believe in those rumors? Don't Elder's see all?" I asked playfully, trying not to let these rumors spoil my mood.

I didn't wait long enough for an answer and let the doors of the Magical Library slam shut behind me. Out in the crowds of bustling people, nobody would take note of a mere girl in a festive colored red cloak or think twice about it; after all, they were celebrating the reveal of some random artifact. Why I was put in charge of the wards and meant to keep an eye out for an odd, peculiar or ominous magic users was beyond me. But I felt today wasn't going to be like any other day either. Hopefully no mishaps or problems will come out of this- ooh, something smells good! Nearby, I quickly paid for a croissant covered in chocolate and chewed into the hot gooey mess.
 

LatinoHeat90

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Columbus, OH
The Mercenary

The sun rose and the morning dew lifted from the fauna of the forest. Victor groaned as he felt the moist air surround him. He adjusted his bag. He had packed it up an hour ago after eating his breakfast and washing up by the river. He would normally have just left his home and gear in Bluefield Forest but he didn’t know how long he would be in Blueshire. “I hope we get a job quick and take care of it so we can head back home.” He grinned at his comment. The tent he carried in his bag was home, but he did find the Bluefield Forest was a pleasant place to stay; there was nobody to bother him. He tapped the case on his waist. “Come on now, I let you sleep in. It is time to wake up! We will be in Blueshire soon.


The top of the case lifted and tiny glowing figure emerged. “There you are, Zoe.” Without warning Zoe flew into Victor’s face and moving around it like a raging bee. “It is your fault! You drank too much last night. You’re a pixie there was no way you could drink like me. You could have stopped at any time.” Zoe gave up and collapsed on Victor’s shoulder. Zoe was Victor’s only friend and he would keep it that way. They have been together for years and she is the only thing Victor will show any sort of kindness. Victor continued to pick on Zoe until they reached the forest edge.

Victor’s grin went away. He could feel every muscle in his body tense up. He had already changed into his full set of armor, with both his axe and sword on his back. He pushed through the bushes towards the loud screams and noises. He now had a frown that seemed like it was a permanent feature of his face. He emerged from the forest and gave out disgusted whimper.

“Let’s get this over with.” He moved through the crowds of people. The festival was just getting started and already was the town bustling. He would rather be surrounded by thieves and beasts than the town folk; at least he could kill the first two. Unfortunately he needed to be around these people because somewhere in the lot a person or group needed his talent and Victor needed the coin.


Victor stopped to let some children run by he began to move again when a straggler from the group ran into him. “I sorry mister…” The child stopped in sheer terror upon looking at Victor’s face. Victor squatted to the little boy’s level as to be face to face with him. “You better watch were you are going little boy. What if I was a murderer?” Victor pulled the axe off his back and moved it to the child’s head. “If I was some scumbag killer I might cleave you head off right here right now.” Tears were rolling down the boy’s face. “Luckily you just ran into a nice guy like me.” Victor laughed with a sadistic smile on his face. “Get out of my sight before I rip you apart like a stuffed toy. Go, now!” The boy ran away leaving wet footprints from wetting himself at the end of Victor’s torture. Victor stood up and looked around him. The people in the area had formed a loose group around him when hearing the boy cry. They stood there looking at him in disgust and anger. His smile grew even larger and he raised his axe to point at the group. “Do we have a problem here?! If we do how bout we figure it out together. Come now, don’t be shy” Now no one would dared stare at him. Their gazes turned their feet and many of them scampered away. “That is what I thought.”

Victor moved away from the crowd for a bit, going into an alley. Zoe came out of her case and perched herself on Victor’s head. “The kid should have been watching where he was going, it wasn’t my fault.” Victor tried to explain himself to Zoe. “We just need to get a job and get out of here. People are too troublesome.” Victor laughed. “Yes, Zoe, I know I am troublesome too. It’s just another reason to take care of business and be gone. Who knows? I might get lucky and get a job killing a thief or two.”Zoe moved back into the case on Victor's side as he left the alleyway.

He kept to the edge of Blueshire until he ran into a caravan of merchants. He walked around the wagons until being recognized by short fat merchant. "Victor Wistaf? Is that you, you grump old bastard. Why hasn't someone put you put you out of you misery?" The fat man slapped Victor on the arm and laughed.



"Next time you touch me I will put you out of you misery." Victor wasn't serious but from the lack of expression on his face you would think he was serious. "I'm here for work. You got any leads?"

"See it that I just got here you big oaf, no. I have heard a tale of a rich woman getting seduced and swindled out of some goods. Good stuff I tell you. Ha aha ha. Maybe you could find her, seduce her, and she will give you a job. Ha aha ha. You look like you could use a woman. Ha ahaha...."


Victor walked off before he got mad enough to punch the fat man in the nose. Unlike the townsfolk the fat man had some standing with potential employers. It would be stupid to break the man. The fat man did give Victor a potential client though. Perhaps he would get to kill some thieves.
 

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The Broken Lancer

Finding a place to have Junie settle down was more difficult than Mary imagined it would be. Since Fayfield is home to the Flying Lancers, there are plenty of places that were created for the sole purpose of housing their loyal mounts while they traveled on foot, but the best Blueshire had to offer were horse stables that were far too constricting for pegasi and their broad wings. A few sweeps of the city not only showed her the very limited number number of suitable places, but also how unnatural Lancers were in this country. Wherever she went, people pointed upwards with wide smiles as if she were part of a show. A one trick pony, as it were. A few years ago, the pun would have brought a smile to Mary's face, but those days were long gone and she instead sighed at the lame play on words. After another fruitless search around the city from above, Mary decided to go for broke and head back to the Sword Guild in order to actually get the whole ordeal behind her. Instead of touching down in front of the guild as she had down earlier, the girl instead steered her pegasus onto the one of the lower roofs of the building.
"Be a good girl, Junie," Mary said as she dismounted before loosely tying one end of a rope to the winged horse's neck and the other to a grey gargoyle. "This won't take long, I hope. Don't let the birds tease you, you're bigger than them." The white haired animal shook her head quickly as she adjusted herself to the rope before settling down.

Once she made sure Junie wouldn't fly off on her own, Mary hopped off the roof of the building. Though she fell at an alarming rate, her descent was slowed as she got closer to the cobblestone below. The Lancer's feet silently tapped against the hard floor, much to the surprise of the ever-present onlookers.
"Lady! Hey, lady!" A man called out to her as she made her way up the small staircase that led to the entrance to the guild.
"What is it?"
"You ain't gonna just leave that pegasus up there, are you?!"
"I don't see why not. There aren't any stables that are antiquity equipped to handle her."
"B-but it's a roof! What if it damages it or somethin'?!"
"Then send the repair bill to Dyson Creed of the Sword Guild. It was his idea," Mary lied as she entered the guild and closed the door behind her. The dulled noise behind her made her suddenly aware of a light headache she had earned from the alien excitement happening all around her, as well as how well Junie was handling the new environment and distractions. Hopefully she wouldn't undo the loose knot Mary had placed on her in a fit of panic. The Lancer would have to remember to treat Junie to an apple or other sweet fruit when she had a chance in order to show appreciation. In a world where people have less people they trust than they do fingers on their hands, it wouldn't do to have one of their few friends be in agony, especially if it was avoidable...and even if the friend in question wasn't human.

The halls gave the girl soft waves of nostalgia as she walked down them. The wallpaper was still the exact same blue paper it was when she was younger, though some of it seemed to be peeling at the corners. Maybe they were planning on replacing it soon. The thought caused her a bit of distress as she imagined the little piece of her history being removed from this place despite the fact she would probably never return to this building again. Mary did her best to ignore these ideas as she entered a surprisingly empty waiting room.
"Oh! Uh, hi!" The secretary mumbled as the Lancer walked towards the desk. "Did you have an appointment?"
"Yeah. It should be under 'Pale.'" A heavy set of footprints running sounded throughout the hallway before a young man a little older than Mary rounded the corner, entering from the opposite side she had.
"Pale?!" He said as looked towards the Lancer. Just his gaze made the girl close her hands into a grip. "Mary." He whispered.
"Maryanne to you." She answered coldly as she crossed her arms.
"Right, sorry. Thanks for coming, I know it's...not easy."
"'Not easy'. Right. The only reason I agreed to this was to repay my debt. Once this is over I'm heading back to Fayfield."
"Fair enough," the young captain told her. Mary turned back to the secretary.
"Is Dyson ready to see me?" She asked, causing the woman sitting down to squeak in surprise, having been ignored up until now.
"Y-yes! He should be, I think..."
"Good enough." She reached towards the doorknob next to the desk.
"Wait, Mary. Err...Maryanne."
"What is it?"
"About...About Emily..." Mary sighed before removing her right hand's gauntlet. Slowly, she turned to the young man and slapped him across the face with her free hand, causing the fidgety secretary to gasp loudly before jumping under her desk.
"I don't care if we're in your Sword Guild," Mary whispered threateningly, "the next time you mention my sister's name in front of me, I won't remove my gauntlet. Got it, mister 'lionheart'?" The captain sighed as he rubbed his reddening cheek.
"Fine. Sorry." The Lancer quickly entered Dyson's office, slamming the door behind her. "You can get out now, Susan," he said with a weak smile.

"What was that commotion out there?" The slightly overweight and aging man asked after Mary slammed the door behind her.
"I dropped my glove." She told him as she showed her right hand's gauntlet while she tried her best to ignore the pain pulsating through her palm.
"...Right. Have a sit, Pale. It's been a long time."
"Maybe, but I don't think we have time to catch up. Just let me know what I'm doing here in greater detail."
"Alright, alright. Simmer down. I'm just being friendly is all. As you already know, Blueshire is revealing a relic today. I know it's short notice to call on you like this, but we need you to watch the skies. Just to make sure nothing tries to take it from the air.
"The only force that can do so from the air would be the Flying Lancers. You aren't suggesting Fayfield would plan to steal your little treasure, do you?"
"Nah, 'course not. It's more for peace of mind than anything. If the citizens see the Lancers up there, they'll feel more reassured. The only we'd have to worry about is magic, but we've someone from the Library taking care of that. Girl name of Jeri. She's still a little green from what I hear but she has plenty of back up. Might be a good idea to meet up with her just to touch base."
"Any tips on how to find her?"
"Nasty rumors about her having something to do with a tiger. Also she carries a cane."
"Wow, a mage with an animal familiar and a staff. That narrows it down."
"Cane. It's a cane, not staff."
"Whatever. Anything else I need to know before I head off?"
"Yeah, quit slapping my old captains."
"No promises."

Mary left the guild in the exact mood she thought she would. The thought that it was finally over was her only silver lining. The idea of searching for a mage wasn't one that enticed her as she walked down the steps, and she briefly wondered where to go from here.
 
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Max

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"Hunger makes a thief of any man."
-Pearl S. Buck

I walked along the street trying to mentally prepare myself for what was about to come. I oddly always felt a strange calm before any big job, which I knew was the opposite of what I should feel. Jobs like this were anything but calm, they were the kind of jobs that could lose you a head, two if you had them.

I slipped my hand under my bandana and rubbed it over my covered eyelid. It felt so strange, I wondered if it was the same sensation people had when they would lose a limb, but years later they say they still feel pain in the middle of the night where the limb used to be. Sometimes I felt like I could take my bandana off of my head, and uncover that eye, and I would see out of it again the same as I used to; everything would be so clear again. Ever since I lost that eye though, I've seen the world for the corrupt playground that it is. Things could be worse I suppose, I could have lost both eyes.

I readjusted my bandana so that it felt just right, and then I slipped both hands in my pockets. Before I knew it, I was passing the Sword Guild. It wouldn't be long now until I reached the castle. I stopped shortly to behold a strange sight, a female lancer landing her Pegasus on the roof of the guild and hopping down. She spoke to a couple of people examining the spectacle before turning and heading inside. People continued to look on at the winged horse for another moment or two, and then proceeded to move on.

"Hey Faye," I said to my companion as I kept my gaze on the animal above. "I doubt it's coincidence that a lancer from Fayfield is here today of all days. She could be a problem." Faye flutter her little fairy wings and flew into my line of vision, giving me a look like she knew where I was headed. "Take care of it please."

Faye nodded and I moved on down the street a bit further to keep out of sight of what was about to take place. Faye flew on up to the roof, and I saw her go straight for the rope. She untied it from the building, thus freeing the Pegasus, and giving it a good hardy slap on the ass to rile it up. I turned and continued on towards the destination, and it wasn't long after hearing the neighs through the air that Faye had caught up and found herself relaxing again on my shoulder.

"Did you hear that?!" "

"What's that ruckus?!"

"Is that coming from the Sword Guild?"


Curious people began to head back in the opposite direction of me to check out what was going on. I pressed on, and I could only hope the the Pegasus flew very far away. I knew better though. I didn't see anything in the sky, and a Pegasus and its master have an incredible bond, so I couldn't imagine it just leaving, or at least it probably wouldn't go very far. If anything, the crowd could at least slow the lancer down. Every little distraction helps.

I approached the castle gate and cut to my right, walking along the wall. An amateur would probably just try to go through the front gate, but that's a big negatory. No one uses that gate unless they are knights or royalty, or those travelling with royalty. Anyone with a pass to go in and out for daily business goes through the side. Know your mark. Know the territory.

I approached the small side gate and presented my pass to a guard without any words.

"Oi, what's wrong with your eye sir?" The guard asked as he examined the bandana covering that portion of my face.

"How very disrespectful of you! Is that how you treat a guest of this castle?! You immediately inquire about their personal lives and deformities?! Why I ought to report you for this, where is your captain?!"

"I meant no disrespect sir, I'm very sorry! Please, come in and enjoy your stay, this shan't happen again!" The knight quivered out his words as he half-ways bowed to me and opened the gate.

"This better damn well not happen again. You are lucky I'm a forgiving man, or I would have you out on the streets as it is right now!" I snatched the pass back out of his hand and entered the castle grounds, the gate shutting behind me. Act like a smug asshole, and anyone will believe you're a rich snob if you're dressed appropriately, which it just so happened I was.

"Know the territory... Damn, Faye, I couldn't get much intel at all about the location of this artifact, or almost anything about the patrols." I pulled a makeshift map out of my pocket and marked this gate as a potential escape. I'd made a big lay out of the castle and the grounds from everything I could gather, but I still had a few blanks. "Faye, how about you go scout out the area. Let me know where any guards are, and any other persons of interest. If you find anything else, let me know."

Faye gave me a little soldier salute, and I couldn't help but grin as I mimicked it back to her and she was on her way. I leaned against a wall and studied the map as I awaited her return, doing what I could now to plan out our next course of action.
 

KingdomKey

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The festival was in full swing as I tore into my croissant with a renewed hunger and moaned at the chocolaty filling. A few perverted men looked my way, cat calling and whistling for me to join them for a good time but I ignored them, watching some kids purchase balloons and cotton candy. Ribbons and trinkets stood out by a nearby stall and caught my attention briefly. I knew a couple of mages around here were often chased after by men as sport and game because, we didn't always tumble into bed with them and were secretive of our ways of magic. I recalled a tale where a stubborn man refused to eat fish until one day his wife couldn't take it any longer and fed him fish. The end results were bad because the man himself was a fish the whole time. Thankfully, we were nothing like that old wives tale and were brave enough to sell our trinkets and knick knacks at the festival today.

A loud commotion drew my attention away from my thoughts as I turned the corner, my mouth full of croissant and caught sight of some children sitting next to a crate full of fireworks. I quickly jogged over to see what the problem was until something blunt struck me right in the chest and sent me flying back. That's going to leave a bruise later. It distinctively felt like a kick of a hoof and I looked up warily to see a Pegasus causing the commotion. I tried to swallow and it dawned on me that I couldn't. I clutched at my throat, hoping someone would help me except everyone was too busy worrying about the mess as I started to choke. I waved my cane around in the kids direction to protect them from the commotion except the crates suddenly lit on fire. This is bad. Really bad. I tried again as the kids took off running and a resounding boom went off as the fireworks went up in the sky and all directions in a colorful fray of light. Please work, please work. I chanted as my magic guard went up and prevented the fireworks from reaching the townspeople in time and exploded against the translucent barrier of my magic. My eyes started to water as I tried to thump my claw against my chest. Except it wasn't working.

"Shouldn't the mage do something about all of this? She nearly killed us!"

"Hey! What are you waiting around for?! Stop the beast from wrecking our stalls!"

"Damn mages, good for nothing lot that care only for themselves and can't do a damn thing right."

I winced as the accusations grew louder and more frequent by the minute. I felt the familiar sensation of panic as my throat tighten up around the piece of croissant lodged in the back of my throat. I couldn't think of a single spell at the top of my head to get rid of the delicious treat trying to kill me. Trying to breathe or find some water was proving to be a problem and I wouldn't have long before I fell unconscious and died on the spot. "Death by a croissant, Jeri will be sorely missed" will be written on my tombstone. I can already imagine how pathetic that would be to the other mages. I'd be a laughing stock. I needed to do something fast. Spells be damned.

I looked up at the ripped up and colorful banner the Pegasus was flailing against to break free of its self. Neighing with fright and thrashing its head about for safety. If I hadn't been choking right this minute, I would've felt more pity for the Pegasus or its owner; who is going to have probably pay a generous fee for the damages it made. Black spots started to appear in my field of vision as I hurried towards the banner. I must've looked like I was drunk as I kept tilting and stumbling left and right with every step I took to make it to the Pegasus and climbed up a nearby ladder to launch myself at the dangling rope the Pegasus had around its neck.

I made of misjudged how faraway the Pegasus was by an inch or two, because my fingers nearly missed the rope hanging from its neck. Thankfully, I was able to catch the rope right before I fell to the ground into a miserable heap and took the Pegasus down with me. My back hit the ground hard, hard enough to dislodge the croissant in my throat for me to breathe. A loud ripping sound was enough for me to judge the Pegasus was free and the banner was ruined. Not like I liked that banner anyway. The rope I clung to as the Pegasus tried to take flight again started to move, but I held to it fast and felt myself being dragged on the ground face first.

"C'mon! Can't you just stop for a minute?" I begged, trying to reason with the flying beast. "Seriously, don't make me bring out it! You won't like it!" I guess it didn't like me because it picked up the damn pace and kept going. Where the heck was its owner?! I could use some help here! I tried to get back on my feet and failed terribly, because I couldn't catch my footing. My magic started to prickle once more, which was unsettling because it meant I needed to hurry and find the source of it. The artifact took priority, but the safety of the people always came first. Tons people moved out of the way as the Pegasus swerved to the left to turn back around and I felt my shoulders bump hard against some crates full of oranges and the rope around my fingers were starting to hurt.

"Why doesn't the mage use magic to stop it?"

"Or use both hands to hold onto the rope?"

"Maybe she's slow?"

I started muttering curses beneath my breath at the onlookers. I have a tiger claw dammit! You try using it and see how well you can hold onto a piece of rope! I should turn all of you into pigs to eat and fry up! The sensation of being watched and magic in the air grew more noticeable as the Pegasus kept heading straight for the Sword Guild. In the corner of a street, sitting atop of a post lamp was a pixie. Let me re-correct myself. A laughing pixie laughing it's butt off as I tried to stop the chaos. Damn pixie, must've been the one to- oh no, not that, no! I quickly closed my eyes and braced myself as a drink stand toppled over and splashed me in a pink, liquid substance; smelling suspiciously fruity. Thankfully, the Pegasus seemed to come to a slow trot and I could let go of the rope with relief.

I peeked out of my hood to make sure the pixie was still there and laughing at my misery. Yup, it certainly was and it wouldn't be for long. Taking care to reach beneath my cloak, I withdrew the orb and held onto it tight. I pretended to brush myself off as I slowly got up and approached the Pegasus and the woman standing outside of the Sword's Guild. The Pixie wore a smirk on its face and started to leave until I whipped my arm back and threw the orb right at her. A flash of orange light shone brightly in the street as the orb sucked the troublemaker right inside of it; falling to the ground with a clank. Who's laughing now, huh? I took my time to retrieve the orb as it started to roll my way.
 
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LatinoHeat90

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The mercenary heard the rukus in the town but made no movement or hints of acknowledging it. He was on a mission. Wistaf made his way into the bar. Two men, leaving the bar to see what was going on, ran into the mercenary. "Watch where..." they cut off, realizing they shouldn't pick a fight with the large, brooding man. They made there way around Wistaf when Wistaf grabbed the second one by the collar, choking the man for a moment. "Aye, I'm sorry." The man quickly replied. Wistaf pulled the man in front of him and lifted him of the ground. The other man watched in terror, not knowing what was going to become of his friend.

"I'm looking for a woman, the one everyone has been talking about. She was swindled by a thief. If you tell me where to find her I will forgive you for running into me and let you be on your merry way." Again, Wistaf pulled his axe off his back while holding the man in the air, a way to intimidate someone clearly weaker than himself. The man was very intimidated, so much so that he was at a loss for words. He just panted, squealed, gasped, and every other annoying sound you could make. Wistaf thought about actually using the axe until someone else spoke up.

"Aye, leaving the bloke alone. He don't know a damn thing about that woman. I think sir, you should be talking to me and me alone." Wistaf looked past the quivering man he was holding and saw a fat dirty man, that was clearly drunk. Come over and buy me a drink, you won't regret it and I imagine I won't either. Hahaah. Wistaf dropped the man and walked over to the fat dirty man and took a seat at the bar. Wistaf nodded to the barkeep as a signal that it was alright to pour the drunk a flagoon.

"You better not waste my time and coin" Wistaf threatened.

"I wouldn't do that, especially to a bruiser like you. Actually this matter is personal. You say you want to talk to the mistress but I have all the goods you need." Wistaf slammed his axe into the bar.

"Is that supposed to be some kind of joke you fat disgusting man!" Wistaf stood in rage over the piece of trash in front of him. His stare was cold and deadly.

"What the hell!? I'm jus' sayin I have all the information you need. Ya know, the goods? What are you talking about?" The man nearly pissed himself from fear, plus he had been drinking all morning. Wistaf sat down. Not acknowledging his mistake.

"Continue." He moved past the outburst.

"Right" The fat man collected himself. "Well, I know the thief that did it, Flynn Dyer. Yeah, I don't know what he took or nothing or why but he said he was going to pay me but instead he punched me out and robbed me. That diddlyer needs to pay!" The fat man was getting rowdy and loud. Drawing attention, attention he doesn't want for a job like this.

"You gave me a name. You confirmed he is a thief. Which means he works with the Theives Guild, or at least has some association with them. The only other things I need are your name and occupation." Wistaf inquired, hoping the drunk would fall for it.

"Ha, I knew you were the man for the job. My name is Frederic and I am a officer with the Sword Guild." The drunk man proclaimed honorly.

"That is what I thought. Have a good day Frederic." Wistaf stood up and began to leave the bar.

"Wait! We need to agree on terms. I think we should just do this fair, 80-20 since I gave you the information and all."

"You get nothing." Wistaf turned to the fat man and smirked, knowing he was about to ruin Frederic's day even more than Flynn Dyer had. "You admitted to helping a thief while also being employed as an officer in the Sword Guild. You get nothing. As a matter of fact," Wistaf began slowly walking toward Frederic, "after I have captured or killed this thief I am going to let them know who was his accomplice. Frederic, Officer at Arms at the dear Sword Guild, fat, drunk, ugly, waste of a life." Wistaf punched Frederic in his already broken nose, sending him through a table and chair.

Without looking back, Wistaf made his way into the busy street. He now had a new mission, find Flynn Dyer.

 

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Walking down the steps, Mary looked up at the roof where she had perched Junie, only to find an empty spot where the pegasus should have been. Panic quickly set it as the Lancer looked around wildly. Junie couldn't escape the rope she had slung around her neck unless she bit through it, and since the rope as a whole was missing this meant someone had intentionally undid the knot. What's more, even if the knot had undone itself somehow--whether it be due to a sudden wind or if Mary had tied the knot poorly--Junie was a smart enough creature to remain where she had originally been placed. Thoughts of someone running off with her friend clouded the girl's mind. Vividly she imagined the person forcibly pulling on the rope as Junie tried in vain to fly away.

A sudden crashing noise broke Mary away from her grim thoughts. Stampeding through a drink stand was none other than Junie! ...And some random girl holding on to dear life to the rope attached to Junie's neck.
"Junie!" Mary cried out, running down the street and toward her pegasus, "Calm down, Junie. It's all okay now." The winged horse responded to her owner by slowly trotting to a stop as the Lancer reached out her hand and petted Junie's head before pressing her forehead against the pegasus'. The crowd watching on became more vocal as the owner appeared, but Mary wasn't having any of it. She grabbed her spear and slammed it against the destroyed stand which emitted another loud noise. "And what did you do while all of this was unfolding?" She asked the crowd. "Instead of trying to help you only offer insults. If this is how Blueshire treats each other, it's no wonder we were called in." Silence. Mary walked around to the woman who had been recently holding on to Junie. "Were you the one who had tried to calm her down? I have to offer my thanks, it seems as though I'm not as welcomed here as I had first thought. My name is Mary Pale," the Lancer told her as she held out her hand for the mage to shake.
 

Max

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"Opportunity makes a thief."
-Francis Bacon

I walked along the castle grounds studying the area and making little marks on my hand-drawn map as I awaited Faye's return. One knight stopped and questioned me about it, and I simply told him that I got lost easily and this was just something that I normally do. He accepted my answer with a smile and marked a couple of places on my map for me, different entrances and the main path everyone should take prior to the revealing of the artifact. Everything was going pretty smoothly, except my companion had not returned yet.

I let out two quick whistles, a kind of signal Faye and I had established, and I received nothing in return. As I made my way through the courtyard and along several other of the castle's massive outside areas, I'd let out my whistles and await a reply.

"Are you looking for someone?" I heard a woman's voice say after whistling back my way. I turned to find a woman with brown curls falling over the shoulders of her bright yellow dress. She wore white gloves, and held an umbrella over her head to shade herself from the sun.

"You're a fine whistler," I replied as I approached her. "And uh, no, I'm here by myself."

"Well it sure doesn't seem like it, I've watched you run all over the place for the past five minutes or so."

I rubbed the scruff over my face as I smirked. "Just getting a feel for the place, it isn't everyday that you get to be in a place like this." The woman moved in close and began to rub the arm of my royal garb.

"But don't you? I mean you've been allowed in here for a while now, judging by your clothes."

"Well yes, but only due to the artifact. I mean, once it's revealed, that's it, my time on royal grounds will be done until the next time they may need funding." I couldn't tell if the girl found me suspicious and that was the cause of all of her questions, or if she was just that curious of a lass. "What's with all of the questions then? You fancy asking me out for a night on the town?"

She stepped back and simply giggled. "I was only trying to help, in the case that you needed it anyway. I don't know, you seem different from most men I've met."

"I just seem rugged and wild do I? And I suppose you've never been with a man missing an eye before?"

"That's pretty much it! Haha, well you have a good day sir, good luck... Doing what you're doing." And with that the woman walked away, swaying her hips only in a way the rich women did.

"Aye, that didn't end up in the cliche manner I'd expected..." And with that, I decided to quit talking to myself as to not come off like a weird git and stop drawing attention to myself. Where had that damned Faye went off to? If she left the castle grounds... No, that's exactly what she did. I could almost guarantee she thought she had the time to admire her handiwork with the Pegasus and promptly took to the town. With no more time to wait on her, I decided I had no choice but to roll with what I had to work with.

Checking up on my map, I decided a common side entrance towards the kitchens would be the best course of action in this plan. Not many people would be wandering about that way, and it would probably be the best place I had to start in on the inside of the castle. I saw the woman I had previously spoke to talking to another woman and a well dressed man on my way there, and we gave each other small waves as I passed by.

Approaching the door, I took a deep breath and pushed it open. I let out one more whistle for Faye, and when the air sat silent, I stepped on in to the castle.
 

KingdomKey

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Normally, I'd be leaping for joy for catching the corrupt except being covered in juice wasn't all that ideal and put a damper in my mood. I was scowling and hunching over to pick up the little misfit when I overheard the cheerful reunion between Lancer and pegasus'. I let myself smile at that, enjoying the reward my good deed caused for a brief moment before pulling my scariest face at the pixie trapped inside of my orb. "What am I to do with you? I ought to come up with a good punishment for you or turn you into the Sword's Guild." I told the pixie in my most lowest voice as possible with a single pointed claw tapping at the outside of the orb. The pixie didn't seem to enjoy the tapping too much, cupping her tiny ears to block out the sound. "Someone as little as you are must have been asked to set this up, unless you enjoy causing trouble on a daily basis?" Unfortunately, I knew I wouldn't really get an answer out of her and pretending to be mean wasn't really my thing. I knew the Sword's Guild probably wouldn't know what to do with her anymore than I did. The only real option was to let her go. I let out a tired sigh and stopped messing around.

The sound of something breaking apart had me look up in shock and baffled surprise. No way. The woman with the pegasus is speaking on my behalf?! Well now, I got to give it to her for making everyone silent for a change and give them their just desserts. I felt strangely satisfied with this and started to open my mouth to tell her it was really no trouble at all but, not only did she thank me and introduce herself, she held out her hand to me. Then like an idiot, I felt myself clam up in shyness before remembering the issue with being wet and smelling fruity; which was growing stronger the longer I was covered in this juice.

"Hold on a moment please," I held up a gloved hand, using a minor spell of water to remove the sticky substance from my clothes; returning them to their previous state of dryness as the pink substance evaporated into thin air. The smell wasn't entirely gone and unfortunately, it'd had to do for now. Once I was settled, I pulled the hood of my cloak down and offered a genuine smile. "I'm sorry about that, Mary. Don't want to get you all sticky too, you know? My name is Jeri Tamar Pierce, but please, call me Jeri. Truly, it's lovely to meet you and as you can see, I've met your hors- I mean pegasus." I shifted the pixie into my claw and shook her hand with my left.
 
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Cassette-Disk

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The Twin Blade and The Flame Sorceress

"Hey, Will. Look closer at the bandits."
"What? Why?"
"Well for one thing, that dude's arm is falling off." Will raised an eyebrow as he looked at the man Sally had pointed out and sure enough, the person's arm was slogging off the rest of his body.
"What the hell?!"
"I don't think they're human...No look, that one's missing some skin."
"Gross. Wait so are these monsters?" Will looked over the rest of the humanoids and noted each one had some sort of defect on their person but they all shared one common characteristic: incredibly pale skin that bordered on a greenish-gray color. "They're zombies!" The boy announced suddenly.
"That means you don't have to hold back. Let's go play hero." Will nodded as he jumped out from behind the bush while drawing out his pair of blades. As the boy ran forward, a ball of fire flew above his head and landed behind the caravan, causing a small explosion that downed a small amount of the undead attackers.
"Geez, I thought she said I didn't have to hold back but here she is tossing explosives," Will mumbled to himself as he approached a pair of zombies. Thankfully the majority of them were distracted by Sally's explosion, which gave Will enough time for a preemptive attack. He quickly stabbed at both ghouls and continued running with his swords dragging through their bodies, causing the blades to tear across the flesh of the undead creatures. As the swords reached the end of the bodies, the zombies turned to dust, crumbling to the ground. Will stopped in his tracks at the sight of his former opponents as Sally caught up to him. "Are they supposed to do that?"
"I think that means they're magical entities."
"Magical zombies?! Can they shoot fire too, then?"
"No, silly. It just means that instead of a reanimated corpse, these zombies are completely created by magic. they aren't even real dead people." The boy was about to ask why fake zombies were attacking when a handaxe narrowly missed them both, reminding him of the fight they were supposed to be engaged in. Before he had the chance to rush towards the creature that launched an attack on them, a soft rumbling noise from behind froze him in his tracks. He turned around to find the ground opening from below and three more zombies climbing out of a small hole.
"Oh crap, more of them?! Where are they coming from?"
"I think whoever's controlling them must be nearby...They can't keep summoning them if they're too far away, right?"
"You're the mage here, not me. You're the one who should know this stuff."
"I specialize in fire! Not...summony, necromancy, zombiey...things!" One of the monsters suddenly lunged at the girl, though she was able to jump back far enough to avoid it before firing off a ball of fire from the palm of her hand, incinerating her would be attacker. Sally bumped her back against Will's before motioning both arms upwards toward the sky. This caused a ring of fire to surround the duo, keeping out the rest of the miniature horde. "Any idea, Will?"
"What if we find the summoner? We can stop it from the source."
"Great idea, but we have no idea where the summoner is."
"Sure we do!" The boy bluffed loudly, "He's right over there!" Will pointed at a random direction in the forest, though a shriek was heard from a different direction entirely. "I mean, there, yeah."
"Brilliant," his companion told him sarcastically as he jumped through the flames, knowing full well that Sally would lower them for him.
"Hey, it worked didn't it?"

As William ran he did his best to avoid fighting the rest of the zombies, though they seemed much more interested in intercepting him than they were in attacking the caravan. Will quickly dispatched one directly in front of him with a quick swing at the neck, though he realized they would slow him down too much, and the summoner would be able to get away. Just as the thought crossed his mind, a pillar of fire surrounded him and infused itself with his right blade.
"Swing!" Sally called out to him. Doing as he was told, Will was awestruck as fire shot out of his sword, cutting through more creatures that had stood in his path.
"That is so sweet," he said as he continued to run forward. As he approached the area he first heard the summoner shriek, he realized just how dark the area was, even with his flaming sword. It was then he felt a blinding pain as something struck his face, knocking him on his back. Darkness flooded his vision for a moment as he barely made out the sounds of footsteps running away. He heard Sally call his name as he slowly got to his feet.
"Will! Are you alright?! Sit down, come on."
"I'm fine, we gotta catch him."
"William, you're bleeding. Come on, who cares about that guy."
"I care. I can't just let him get away. Come on." The boy darted off towards the direction he had heard the summoner run to as he tried his best to stop his bleeding nose while making sure Sally was following along just behind him. Soon enough, he caught a glimpse of dark robes running between the trees and he smiled at the fact they had already caught up at the attacker. The person moved oddly and looked as if he was about to fall at any second. William easily caught up to the hooded figure and tackled it down, but as he did so he felt as if the top half of the summoner disconnected with the bottom half. This confused him greatly as he slid on the ground, holding on tightly to the robe and whatever was inside.
"Lemme go! Lemme go!" Cried a young voice, as the person he was holding on to kicked and punched randomly.
"Will!" Sally called out as he lost his grip. The robe rolled away from him, and a little girl crawled out of the black clothing. As confused as Will was, he was even more confused when Sally approached him from behind holding on to the cuff of a second, defeated looking young girl.
"What the hell is going on?!" He cried, rubbing blood off his nose.
"Let my sister go, you red headed bully!" The first girl yelled.
"We lost, Masa," the second girl sobbed as Sally dropped her. The girl slowly made her way to her sister before facing Will and Sally. "We're sorry. We didn't want to do it..."
"You two were summoning the zombies?" Will asked, astonished, "but you're so young! ...Wait, were you two seriously standing on top of each other to look like an adult?"
"Yeah. We're kinda powerful together, but we didn't set the monsters loose because we wanted to!"
"What do you mean?" Sally asked, her voice flat.
"We... we don't have a home. But someone offered us a lot of money to do this! We didn't really have a choice."
"Oh."
"Aw man," Will rubbed the bottom of his chin. "Even so, you shouldn't--! I mean what if something--! Aw man, how are we supposed to deal with this?! Do you at least know who the person was?"
"No," The second sister answered, "she wore a hood and mask. All We could see was she had long red hair." Will looked at Sally with a raised eyebrow.
"You have long red hair," he joked at her.
"No, she was shorter than her," the sister told them.
"Did she pay you in advance?"
"Yes."
"So you won't have to worry about money for a while, right?"
"...Yeah." Will looked at Sally, who had a sad expression on her face. He sighed at the two sisters.
"Get out of here, then."
"Wh-what?"
"Go on, get. And don't do anything like this again or we'll let the Sword Guild know." The two girls looked at him before running back towards town.
"Are you sure that was a good idea, Will?"
"I don't know...All I know for sure is that if you didn't let me tag along with you, I might have been in their shoes."

Just as the pair was about to make their way back to town, something caught Will's attention. "Sally, do you see that?" He asked, pointing at a small light in between some trees.
"Yeah...Kinda. What is it?"
"Not sure, let's find out," Walking ahead of Sally, the boy led them forwards, deeper into the woods. It didn't take long for them to find the source of the light, which turned out to be the reflected light from the blade of a gleaming sword stabbed into the trunk of a tree. "What's the deal with this?" The boy asked as he grabbed the hilt of the weapon.
"Should you really just be grabbing random things in the middle of the woods?"
"Well whoever put it here obviously doesn't want it anymore, right? And it's not like we're rolling in money or anything...We could at least sell it or something to make traveling a little easier. I'm sick of sleeping in the woods all the time." Will pulled at the sword, but the blade refused to budge. He let out a grunt as he tried again, still to no avail.
"Is the little hero having trouble with his new toy?"
"Yeah yeah, I get it. You're hilarious. Give me a hand, would you?" The girl nodded as she placed her hands over Will's and pulled. Still, the sword didn't give them an inch. "Holy crap, it's jammed in there good."
"One more time, I think I felt it loosen up a bit." The pair again pulled with all their might, and in a sudden shift of momentum, where thrown backwards as the sword easily slipped out from the tree's grasp. Will slowly sat upright, though he groaned in the process. "Just how many times am I gonna be knocked off my feet today?" The boy examined their prize as Sally slowly sat next to him.
"It looks a bit strange, doesn't it?" She asked him. He nodded in response as he looked over the sword. The steel used to create the blade was so well polished it almost shone like a beacon. The fact that it had been lodged into a tree for who knows how long only furthered the mystery of its cleanliness.
It's almost...kinda translucent?" He held it up so the two sides where between the pair, and just managed to see Sally's eyes through the blade. "Who the hell would leave something as awesome as this just lying around?"

---​
"Jeri..." Mary repeated to herself as the mage doused herself in water to remove the fruity juices that had stained her. They then awkwardly shook hands as Mary tried to compensate for the other's use of her left hand instead of right. She thought it a bit strange, but said nothing about it; maybe her right hand was still too sticky from the juices.
"Truly, it's lovely to meet you and as you can see, I've met your hors- I mean pegasus."
"Likewise, though I don't think I've had the honor of meeting your little friend?" She nodded towards the bottled up fairy Jeri held in her gloved hand. "Unless it's one of those fairies that gives up their lives for you once you die to bring you back to life? Though I've only heard of those through stories and didn't believe it to be true..." The Lancer was interrupted in her train of thought as Junie suddenly bumped her head into Mary's shoulder. "Oh, hi. Hungry, girl? After all that I wouldn't be surprised." She reached into a satchel hidden under the pegasus' wing and produced an apple, which she offered to the winged horse. Junie easily took it into her mouth and began chewing away happily. As Mary petted Junie's head, she quickly looked over her new acquaintance. Well there's the cane, but where's the tiger? Maybe it wasn't the same Jeri? Though she appeared to be a mage, which would be a bit of a big coincidence. Another fruity smell reached Mary's nose and she darted her eyes back at her pegasus. "I need to give you a bath, Junie," she said aloud. "Jeri, may I ask you something? I was just talking to someone in the Sword Guild... I'm from Fayfield, see, and I've been asked to help protect the artifact and was told to meet up with someone named Jeri, who was also helping protect it...would that be you? If so, I'd like to talk to you about it, but I have a pegasus that's due for a bath. Unless you'd like to escort me to a stream or something?"
 
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KingdomKey

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I snorted at the concept of being friends with this faerie after all the trouble she caused. Wait, she said faerie instead of pixie! I guess there's a difference between the two? "Oh no, we're certainly not friends. In fact, this little misfit was the one to set your Pegasus free and cause a ruckus around here. I'm not sure it's safe enough to set her free, but what choice do I have, really?" I stared down darkly at the faerie as I listened intently to Mary's rumor about faeries. I lifted my eyebrows in fascination at the idea of it, but shook my head to clear such thoughts. "I'd have to see it to believe it myself. However, there may be some truth to such a rumor."

I nodded in acknowledgement at the idea of a bath for Junie as my mind drifted briefly back to the Magical Library. There was no doubt in my mind that Phyllo had witness everything that happened in the market. Library Elder's do see all with their secretive ways. Most likely the gossip will be spread around before long, but maybe having Mary around will keep the townspeople quiet; after all, they're probably feeling a little ashamed or intimated for doing nothing and getting scolded by a Lancer.

Speaking of Mary... why is she looking at me like that? Do I have something on my face? Oh wait, it's possible there's some bruises or scratches on my face from knocking into things from earlier. The sneaky glances didn't go amiss as I felt my face heat up at her staring and kept my eyes glued firmly to the faerie trapped inside my orb; feigning ignorance as much as I could. Hopefully I don't look too bad or messy. I jumped at the sound of my name and swallowed hard, trying to keep myself composed. "Y-Yes, you've got the right mage." I stammered out, fixing a smile on my face as I looked directly at her. "I'll accompany you to the stream then. The artifact can wait a little longer for us to oversee and look after in safe keeping." This artifact must be more important than I thought, especially to hire a fierce and beautiful Lancer as Mary to help out with such a daunting task that hasn't even begun. "Lead the way, Mary." A soft knocking sound caught my attention, reminding me of another task at hand. "And I'll release you once we're at the stream." I said casually to the faerie.
 
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Roxie1563

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"Hiya!" I screamed out-loud as I brought my sword across some couple of trees that was being used as a target practice outside the town limit near the stream.

Clang! Clang! Clang! The sound of my father's sword as I went through the motion, cutting it clean and through. I was in full attention now; absolute quietness was required for me to focus on my methods as I brought down another bark of tree like butter. I know I should have at least rested before heading back to my assignment to protect the artifact, but couldn't resist passing the chance to brush up my skills just in case my assistance was needed.

With a flourish to end my training, I slowly set my father's sword back into its cover. As I did so, one more tree fell down due to my blade.

I turned to see the results and briefly smiled at my work, my head full of happy thoughts for a moment. It remained for this way until something snapped me out of it.

What was that? I turned around as my ear picked up something behind me, my hand clasped on my sword on the ready for anything.

"Hello?" I spoke out. Nobody rang out yet I had the most unsettling feeling set deep within me as I cautiously walked through the thick forest, thinking maybe it was just an animal as it was quite common around here. I scanned around with my eyes, but after going through couples of trees I decided enough was enough.

I stopped in the middle and as loudly as I could do in this forest, I shouted to the unknown. "Come on out, coward! I know you are hiding here and I'm pretty sure you were watching me training!"

Nothing but the echo of my voice bouncing back and forth.

I furrowed my eyebrows at this and just when I started to walk back to town, that's when it hit me. Literally.

Twack! Then a grunt as I stumbled around, the arrow hitting me square in the shoulder that was protected by a padding that I was glad to put into my tunic then fell down into the ground. I groaned, my head filling with quick dizziness then attempting to get up was a big failure when in my condition did I managed to snag a glimpse of my attacker.

I gasped in surprise for this attacker was none other than from the other nation of Fayfield and this one was a doozy. The man in the hood simply looked at me and I stared right back at him as my dizziness faded away when the man spoke to me.

"You think you know everything? You don't.." He rang out as I got up on my feet, my hand on the arrow and pulled it out then tossing it back to him. "For your kingdom has already come to its end when the artifact reveals itself to the public and then.. then shall we rule this world filled with darkness."

What the hell was this guy smoking and how did he know about the artifact when it was supposed to be a secret? Again, that feeling of mine was way going high on this guy from the other kingdom but I pushed it aside for a minute to try to make sense of this nonsense.

Covering my thoughts of this, I decided to play along. "You believe that, huh? I'll have you know that the Sword Guild and all of the Guilds won't stand for this." I spoke out to him as my hand slowly drifted to my sword. "One thing though, whoever you are.. You're going to pay for my medical needs."

The man didn't smile when I threatened him yet continued to talk over me. "You see, as soon it is revealed to the open and is taken away by him whom will inadvertently spark the war between two nations. And you, Pietro, you shall be part of this journey and none of you shall stop what is already in the works."

I was starting to get annoyed with him when my face became surprised when he called out my name when I haven't even stated my name yet! I wonder if this was a trick of the mind, but it wasn't when he popped up into my face and stared at me with such intense that I believed his look would had killed me right there and then.

Then he disappeared like he wasn't even there. I blinked my eyes furiously and looked around to see if he was truly gone.

I didn't realized I was holding my breath when I finally let go, a loud sound coming out of me as I regained my sense of breathing. Slowly I sat down on a nearby stump, unable to get his words out of my mind and wondered who he was talking about that would spark the war between two nations.

I laughed at this. There was no way that this could be true.. Yet, the way he spoke with such mysteriousness made me believe otherwise. Then my smile quickly turned to something else as I realize that my assignment just became more important and that was enough for me to haul ass back home.

I got up on my feet and started to walk back when I heard something else once again, but this time I was prepared. I slowly made my way back to the stream and once I reached close to the edge, the voices were becoming louder so I crouched low, my hand on the large leave of tree and very slowly did I put it down to see two young yet beautiful ladies and a horse.. with wings?

I had to look hard to see if it was a horse or what and that's when it hit me. Of course this is not a horse, but rather a Pegasus. That must meant the rumor was true of that Blueshire was to receive help from a Flying Lancer as I became aware of the lady washing her partner.

However, my gaze had shifted to the mage. I couldn't be sure, but I had the distant feeling that I may had met her somewhere before and like before I remembered another rumor of a new mage helping out with the protection of the artifact. That must be her as they gossiped on.

I thought better to leave before they found me and that would be unpleasant at all when I got the bouncing of a light coming from the mage's hand. I became so curious that I quietly moved to my right and as I approached close, it was then I made my fatal mistake as the tip of my boot got hit by a well-made rock that I let out a cry of surprise and fell down to the ground, rolling toward them.

Shit! I couldn't stop myself until I ungracefully landed on my face. I made a sound of groaning and gasping as I slowly looked up to their faces.

"Excuse me, madams." I spoke out as I got up on my feet, patting away the dust off my clothes. "I didn't mean to disturb you giving your friend a bath, but apparently I must had stepped on a loose rock. Ha!" I awkwardly smiled at them while doing my best to cover my embarrassment.

But that all changed when I finally got to see what was inside the mage's hand. It dawned upon me that it was a Faerie, which I already knew that. But this was one of a kind Faerie and it belonged to someone in the guild. Specifically the Thief Guild. I couldn't stop myself from grabbing the ball that held the small Faerie and spoke to her.

"Faye? Is that you?" I questioned to her as I tried my best to open the blasted ball but it was to no avail. I watched her as she gave me the most scariest (yet adorable) look at me. I gave one right back to her but it quickly turned into concern and yes, suspicion.

There is only one person in the Guild that Faye could have belonged to and that's Flynn Dyer and he should be rotting in prison for pulling a fast one on me years ago. If there was one thing about Flynn that I didn't like and the Sword Guild agreed with me was that he had the tenacity to cause trouble for anyone, even in joint missions.

Also there's another thing about them that made me fill with concern was that these two was inseparable and was never seen apart yet here was I seeing this happen. I couldn't help but wonder if the man in the hood was talking about Flynn..

I shook my head of these thoughts away for the time being and asked the important question that was lingering into my mind. "Where is Flynn and don't pull a fast one on me, understand?" I spoke to her in that serious tone of mine that meant business.

I stared into her eyes, awaiting her answers unaware that the ladies were hearing all this and could tell they were full of curiosity.
 

ChibiHearts249

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The Prankster



I brushed myself off, grumbling. The cloaked man must have cast some sort of spell on me, I thought as I fell back into the grass with a heavy sigh. If it wasn't one thing it must surely be another. Not like I'd been busy trying to escape the local peacekeepers at the time or anything...

I shot up and ran towards the nearest tree, clamoring for a hold on the branches and securing a spot among the leaves. I'd almost had a heart attack as I recalled what I'd been doing before I'd passed out. I poked my wrist out from beneath my red cloak and looked at my hand. Hey, I valued all of my limbs! Losing one for stealing? That wasn't really something I cared to think about. The bracelet on my wrist caught the light, drawing my eye to it. Strange runes in a language I couldn't read embossed the circumference and I turned it, trying to make sense of it like I'd done hundreds of times before.

Sighing heavily I slumped back down into the branches. Supposedly there was something about an 'artifact' going on in town. The appearance of the cloaked man, the vision I'd had in that dream, and this artifact thing. I wondered if they might be connected somehow? Deciding to head back to town, I scanned the area with my golden eyes. Who knew how long I'd been out, but there was nobody in the area. I could 'feel' it more than I could see it, but it didn't hurt to look and listen. I jumped down, bouncing lightly on the balls of my bare feet. I set a brisk pace to town with my face set in a scowl. I guess I usually looked like I was thinking too hard on things when I concentrated. I skidded to a halt suddenly, almost running into a passing doe. The animal was munching on some grass by the base of a big tree and hadn't seemed to notice me. No surprise: animals rarely tended to notice me at all. I placed a hand gently on its neck, running my fingers over its smooth fur. It looked up at me with dark eyes and then resumed eating. I sighed, turning away.

__________

Back in Blueshire the streets were alive with people. There was a lot going on to take note of, and I was hoping the slew of people would disguise a well-known thief like myself. Still searching for the cloaked man in the corner of my eye, I made my way to the gardens outside the palace. I was hungry after all: and it was an excellent place to get a bite to eat if you could manage not to get caught. I jogged up to the wall that surrounded all of it, picking up speed. As I neared it, I bunched my legs and sprung upward, clearing the ten foot stone architecture in a single jump. But at the same time I'd overdone it. Normally I had excellent control of my strength, but I suppose I was more rattled from my 'visitor' before than I'd thought. I landed in yet another tree, the branches and leaves catching in my hair.

"Ouch!"
I hissed. But it wasn't over yet. Breaking from beneath me the cracked wood brought me tumbling to the ground in a pile of red cloth and frustration. I hopped up and shook off, scanning the area. Nobody had heard my little outburst, so I supposed that was a good thing. An apple landed on my head with a solid clunk. I looked up at the tree, my eyes flaring red with fury. Nothing had gone my way today.

I kicked the fruit across the green, my hunger forgotten in my anger. Forcing myself to calm down a bit, I heard a commotion outside the wall. Hoping to see something interesting happening to someone other than myself for a change, I lept up onto the edge. I actually timed it right! I thought with a smile. Looking down below I almost fell off in a fit of laughter. A girl mage was being dragged across the streets by a loosed pegasus, her cloak flapping in the air behind her. The two of them lovingly collided with a fruit drink stand...And it was loving because I loved it! I rolled with silly glee in a fit of giggles, only then remembering that I was in a narrow place. I fell to the ground yet again with a solid thud on the other side of the wall. Deciding to roll with it, I ran across the street behind all of the onlookers, hopping up onto a roof nearby to see what was up.

A woman walked up to the mage, offering her hand. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but it seemed she was the owner of the pegasus. They had a brief exchange, the mage offering out her left hand to shake rather than the right. I was no expert in etiquette, but I was pretty sure she was avoiding holding out her right hand. She held a small glowing orb in it that she tried to hide behind her, but the other woman observed it there. The two of them eventually decided on some sort of plan of action together and I grew bored with watching. Deciding to head back to the garden I hopped over the wall, avoiding the mass of people.

I hung around for a while as the sun passed its apex in the sky. I must've cleaned them out of a few pies worth of apples by the time I said up and stretched. I was ready to leave, but then I saw something a bit strange. A man dressed in castle faire clothes walked up to the door to the nearby kitchens. I'd been keeping an eye on the comings and goings of folks all day, but they were all servants and cooks. People like scullery maids and the lot used the side door to the kitchens for convenience. But...why would a noble be taking the side entrance? I stood up curiously and shuffled over to get a closer look, my bare feet making no sound in the grass as I crept up to him. He whistled once rather loudly, looking over the area with a slightly concerned look on his face. If he was calling a dog I knew it wouldn't notice me, but I couldn't help but feel as though that wasn't the case here anyhow. When no response came he turned back around and entered the doorway.

"What was that all about?"
I wondered aloud. Making up my mind I decided to follow him inside. I slipped through the still-open door and into the dark kitchens behind him.
 
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LatinoHeat90

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Wistaf made his way down the street, still pleased with himself for breaking Frederic's nose. Wistaf hated men with honor that deserved none. If Frederic was smart he would skip town before Wistaf was done unless he wants to find himself being hung next to Flynn. Again, Wistaf smirked at the thought. Wistaf was so deep in thought of the demise of the two low life's that he almost missed the destruction around him.

"What the hell happened here? See this Zoe, this is why we avoid towns. They call this civilization but I don't see anything civilized about the lot." Wistaf started making his way through the town again when he caught a glimpse of the Pegasus, which stopped him dead in his tracks. He saw what appeared to be a lancer and another figure that looked to be a mage. He stood still until he they were out of sight. Wistaf remembered the last time he ran into a Lancer...

_________________


Wistaf made his way towards Fayfield, carry his bounty on his back. He was using a main road but it wasn't busy since he still had a couple miles to town.

"Stealing sheep, aye. What a joke. They offered good money to catch you though. I'm not to fond of thieves myself, that was why I gave you such a beating." The man squirmed in response. Wistaf had bound him head to toe and put a gag on him, he almost resembled a pig that was to be roasted over a fire. "Zoe, after this job we should head to the next town over, I heard there are some bandits causing the townspeople trouble. We might get a pretty penny for offering our services."

For a moment something blocked the sun, so fast the Wistaf mistook it for a bird. Then Wistaf heard the nay of the pegasus and the shouting of the lancer. The lancer landed behind Wistaf and trotted towards him.

"You there! What are you doing with that man!?" Wistaf bounty started to squirm more, as if he was in need of being saved. The act worked and the lancer again shouted. "Drop the man, now!" Wistaf obliged.

"This man is my bounty. He is a thief and I am taking him to town to claim my reward." Wistaf finally turned toward the lancer. "Now run along and continue your patrol, rookie." The lancer was indeed a fresh recruit, Wistaf could tell that his was not a harden man like himself.

"Show me the bounty!" The lancer was unsure what to do but his heart told him to press further. He was doing his job, like a good soldier.

"I'll tell you what, pup, leave now and I will forgive you for stopping me. Nobody has to bleed, well except for the thief." Wistaf grab the bounty and continued on his way.

"Stop!" Wistaf did not. "Stop now or I will charge." Wistaf continue to walk away, slightly adjusting the weight of his bounty on his shoulders. "Hiya!" The lancer spurred the pegusas forward. The pegusas took flight but was low enough to the ground for the riders lance to hit it's target.

Wistaf threw the bounty into the brush and pulled out his axe in an instant. He stepped to the side slicing his axe threw the pegusas's neck, decapitating it. The lancer flew off the pegusas a couple yards past it's headless body.

Wistaf looked at what he had done. He had nothing but rage in his body when the time came but now he was filled with regret. He strapped his axe to his back and grabbed the bounty from the brush and continued on the road. He heard the whimpers of the lancer behind him.

"No, Pearl, I'm sorry girl." The lancer lamented. "I'm so sorry." Wistaf new the bond between a lancer and his pegusas was strong so he was not surprised of what came next. "I will kill you, you bastard" The tears of the lancer came down in heavy drops. "I will gut you for what you have done."

Wistaf turned to the lancer and stared. The boy was going to fight to his death and Wistaf knew he would have to finish what he started. Again, he dropped the bounty and pulled out both his axe and sword. The lancer grabbed the lance from the ground and stood at the ready.

"Die!" The lancer went in for a full charge but before he gained too much speed Zoe flew at full speed into the head of the lancer, knocking him out cold. Zoe flew over to Wistaf, landing on his shoulder. Wistaf looked to Zoe and with his eyes she knew he was grateful for what she had done.

______________

Wistaf snapped back to the present. He grew angry at the memories that had flooded back to him. He thought to himself that it was the boy's fault, not his own. He knew the truth though. Nothing ever came of what he did. The boy must have woke up and ran away. Ashamed that he was defeated, that he lost his companion, embarrassed to go back to the Flying Lancers.

Wistaf continued to move though the crowd, still filled with rage. He would have to push it down though because the man he was about to visit would temp him to lop off his head.

"Wistaf, I just saw you this morning and you are visiting me again. If I didn't know any better I would say you have a hard on for me. Makes sense since you can get a woman! HAHAHA!" The fat merchant laughed not knowing how much Wistaf wanted to pull out his axe and chop him up into tiny pieces. Victor just ignored the ignorant comment of the merchant.

"Shut up and tell me what you know of Flynn Dyer!" Victor shouted it, making his demand clear.

"Wow, now. Calm down. I only be playing with you Wistaf, no reason to get edgy. Flynn you say. Surprised you have not heard of the bloke yourself. He has gain some notoriety about these parts. He is part of the Thieves Guild but he is a maverick, does what he so chooses sometimes. Has he made an enemy of you? You wouldn't be the only one. Haha, he is a mischievous one." The fat man seemed proud of himself for knowing so much about Flynn. Wistaf didn't doubt that the fat merchant had used the services of the Thieves Guild before but he had no time to question that.

"Flynn Dyer only does some of the larger jobs then? He is a showboat?" Wistaf questioned.

"Aye, even though he is a showboat most people still don't know what he looks like. Can't do much thieving if everyone knows your face. Everybody does know his name though. I would say he does take on some of the more dangerous jobs. Hey, Wistaf, want to partake in some wine. Got it from some foreigner bloke but I need a drinking pal. Wistaf..."

Wistaf had already started towards the castle. He did not know how he was going to do it but he needed to find a way in there. If Flynn was the kind of thief everyone thinks he is, stealing the artifact would be a job for him. Flynn was going to die for some stupid artifact, so be it.


 

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"A thief believes everybody steals."
-E.W. Howe

As I walked along the castle's back-hallways, I could hear little echoes with each footstep I took. I passed the kitchens and moved on into the doorway of a small dining area. This wasn't the main dining area, but rather a smaller one for people like me- or rather, for the people like the guy I'm pretending to be. Before entering, I stopped. I thought I heard echoes of someone else's footsteps from down the hallway; they were coming from the same direction I had. Had somebody followed me in? I glanced down the hall real quick, trying not to be too obvious, and out of the corner of my eye I couldn't see anything, so I decided to proceed with caution.

I glided through the dining area like I'd done it a million times before and took a seat at a small table by myself. I fiddled with a salt shaker for a while before being approached by a blonde man with a brown mustache.

"Aye, what took you so long, Samuel, I've been waiting forever!" The man with the odd colored hair said to me as he let out a forced chuckle.

"You're sweating a bit, mate. Why don't you calm down. The kitchen is open all throughout the day, it's unlikely for me to show up at the crack of dawn. I'm a busy man." I said this to him as I set down the salt shaker and scratched the scruff on my face. "I'm assuming we're still good to go then? Because I could really use some of that chowder."

He looked around nervously and leaned in to whisper to me. "Look, Samuel, I could get in serious trouble here, I-"

"Getting cold feet, Guado?"

"No, no, just... Maybe second thoughts, I have a family, Samuel..."

"Second thoughts and cold feet are the same thing, Guado." I looked around, no one was paying us any mind, but he couldn't stand here too much longer or we might draw suspicion. "Listen, Guado, the potential of this ending badly for you is slim. If things don't work out, then you'll more than likely just remain some small-time waiter here in the dining hall, and your life will go on like this conversation never happened. If it does work out though, then you and your family will be set and you can get out of this damn place."

"I know you're right, it's just..." Guado cleared his throat and fixed his hair, putting on that fake grin that looked stupid with his miscolored mustache. "So, the chowder for you, sir?"

I nodded and he walked away. I'd met Guado through a contact while formulating the plan for this job, and he and his family have hit a kind of rough patch recently. He has a wife and two kids, a mother who is paralyzed living in his upstairs, two daughters, and another child on the way. Being a man with pretty much no skills, his waiting job here in the castle is all he's got. While the castle pays decently, it doesn't pay enough to these lower-tier employees to support that many people with no other income. That's when he came to the shady part of town looking for a way to make a lot of money fast, and he was exactly the kind of man I needed. I introduced myself to him as Samuel Cortel, one of my many aliases, just in case he decided to be a flake and spill information on what was going on. While he is certainly shaky today, he seems like he's gonna pull through. Our plan was to rendezvous here in this dining area, though he had no way of helping me get here, that part was all on me. He thinks the job is much smaller than it is though; he has no idea what I am actually doing here.

"Your chowder, sir," Guado said as he laid out the bowl before me. I held out my fist, and when he opened up his palm, I dropped several coins and a ring in his hand.

"What is-"

"It's your tip sir," I said loudly taking in a spoonful. "Listen, take that ring to the outer market. A man named Clive will be wearing a white hat with a blue feather in it, and he will pay you a hefty sum for it. That's the first part of your payment. The rest comes after. Now walk away."

Guado gave me this weird little half bow before sliding the items I'd just handed him into his pocket, and then he walked away. Many people don't take into consideration the expenses of jobs like this, though when successful, the payoff is astounding. It's all about planning everything out to the last detail, and knowing just the right people. I go by 7 different names in Blueshire, to help ensure that what little information about me that gets out there can be a somewhat jumbled mess. That's not to say I don't get recognized every now and then, but it's just a little insurance. I get the best jobs as Flynn though, that name has gained quite the reputation, for better or worse.

I continued to eat through my chowder until I found it. There it was, a little golden key swimming in my meal. I scooped it up with a bite and spooned it in my mouth, then I wiped off my hands and moved away from the table.

I was making good time. I started wandering through the halls again and ducking my way past as many knights and nobles as I could. I moved in the shadows, and before I knew it I was climbing the spiral staircase to the knights' bedchambers. The knights weren't required to live in the castle, many that had families didn't, but one in particular did. Captain Regal was high up in the ranks, and with no family he dedicated every day to his duty as a knight in this castle. He trained troops and stood by the side of the Queen when the occasion asked for it. He also lost his room key after he ate breakfast this morning. I taught Guado a little trick, you see if I showed up and he hadn't acquired this key, then the entire job could have been jeopardized. Good thing he's a fast learner, because while Regal was eating with his comrades this morning, Guado leaned in to give Regal a good pat on the back for doing such a fine job, and in the process of retrieving his cup from such a position for a refill, he managed to slip away with the key from Regal's leather belt. That was the plan I gave him anyway. The sticky fingers trick is too difficult to describe in detail, but that is the gist of how he should have got there. Maybe I should've just recruited him to the Band of Thieves.

After going over everything in my head again, I had finally found the room. It was said Captain Regal's door was trimmed with silver, and so it was. Get too flashy, and it can bite you in the ass. I spit the key out into my hand, and unlocked the door quickly and quietly, shutting it behind me and locking it back up. My backup plan was to try and pick the lock, but that is far too risky with the potential enchantments that could have been cast on that lock, as well as the odds of someone seeing me trying to pick it open. This worked out perfect.

This was where Guado was in the dark. He believed I needed to sneak in here and steal some bogus royal knight crap that would net us some gold. In actuality, it was far more complicated than that. I tossed Regal's key onto his desk, where he would later believe he must have forgot it, and I strode across the room and opened his window. His window faced the forest, but the view was obstructed by walls and towers of the castle climbing towards the sky. He certainly didn't have the best view, but it was the perfect cover of darkness for my plan. From his window I would work to scale the castle wall to an area that couldn't normally be reached without going through several measures of castle security. This was where I believed the artifact to be, and I would have to face no risks of getting caught from here... Just the risk of falling to my death.

I climbed up and stood on the ledge of the window, looking around above and below, and I could feel my adrenaline increasing rapidly. I pulled out these fancy little claw gloves from my pocket and slipped them on, hoping they would grant me even the slightest bit more of a grasp on the wall. I reached out and gripped some stone with my hand, and the real challenge began.


---------------------------------

The Boy and His Dream
Jil: Age 4

Jil splashed through the mud as he chased the other boys with his wooden sword laughing and smiling. When he finally caught up, they began swinging and hitting each others' swords like a bunch of little knights.

"I'll save the princess from your evil clutches!" Jil announced as he held his sword towards the sky.

"Time out!" one of the other boys declared in a fit of anger. "Jil, you can't always be the hero, you're supposed to be the bad guy this time!"

"No way," Jil said with a smile. "I'll never be the bad guy! I'm going to be a knight for real someday, and I'm going to marry a princess!"

Later that evening, Jil made his way home swinging his wooden sword at bushes and tree branches. When he had finally arrived, he walked inside to find his mother at the table crying.

"What's wrong momma?" Jil asked as he set his sword down and grabbed his mother's hand.

"Oh, it's nothing you need to worry about, sweetie. We're going to have to move soon though, into a smaller house."

"But why momma, I like it where we're at."

Jil's mother sniffled and tried to make herself stronger for him. "We just can't afford to stay here any longer baby, that's all it is."

"You know, James's daddy works a whole lot, and James says that they always have a lot of food and plenty of wood and stuff. Maybe we could get a daddy for here, or maybe we could borrow James's daddy."

"I'm sorry, Jil. I'm so sorry."
 

Cassette-Disk

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"Oh no, we're certainly not friends. In fact, this little misfit was the one to set your Pegasus free and cause a ruckus around here. I'm not sure it's safe enough to set her free, but what choice do I have, really?"

"Ooooohh, is that right?" Mary stooped down and gave the trapped fairy a grim smile. "Well, you know something? If you take the wings off a pegasus, it's just a horse right? Maybe we should turn this fairy into an imp later on?" The Lancer tapped at the glass twice which caused more vibrations to tremble through the prison. She stared at the small creature for a few silent seconds before straightening herself. "Joking, of course. If she's a random forest fairy I doubt she'll ever come back to town after being captured. And if she's working for someone else, then she was following orders. Hell, if we're quick enough we might be able to tail her and find the real person responsible... Then I can deal with them myself."

The pair made their way into a neighboring forest, ignoring the stares Junie attracted from the residents of the town. Once they exited the borders, Mary sighed. "I don't think I can ever get used to this place," she said aloud, forgetting all about Jeri's presence. Once she realized she had spoken she let out a small awkward laugh: "Oh, sorry haha. I guess I'm also not used to having a human companion. It's usually just me and Junie so I tend to think out loud." As if on cue, the winged horse let out a short snort next to them, which the Lancer responded to by scratching her behind the ear. "I used to live here in Azure when I was younger, but it all feels different now. It feels so compact and crowded. Back in Fayfield the streets are wider and less condensed...Probably because we need the room for the all pegasi from the Flying Lancers. Not to mention I'm stationed in a smaller town than this, so the differences between here and there are always staggering. It kinda feels like it's hard to breath, but I guess they wanted an audience when they reveal the artifact.

"Speaking of which, you're guarding it too, right? I'll be securing the skies with some other Lancers so you don't have to worry about anything from up high. Did they tell you anything about the artifact? Because I've heard some whispers from here and there. Supposedly it's very small, able to be held in the palm of one's hand. Despite that, it's still very heavy: roughly the around the weight of a bar of gold, maybe more. I've heard it holds a large significance to the history of humans, something to do with their culture and it could alter the way we view the past... But if that's true, then I don't think it was really worth all this commotion. Why hold a large festival over something like that? It seems silly to me but then again, what do I know?" The Lancer stopped in her tracks, suddenly aware that she had no idea where she was going. "Er, would you like to lead? I'm not familiar with this area. And if at all possible, I'd like to ask you something. I was told you had something to do with a tiger? They didn't really fill me in on that part and I just assumed you have a pet or a familiar that resembled a tiger, but I one isn't following you around. Was it just a baseless rumor?"
 

KingdomKey

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"I like the way you think, Mary." I chuckled as I shook my head. "Luckily I'm not the heartless sort to be ripping off wings of innocent creatures. Course, this fae isn't innocent in the slightest but, I say we keep her round until we're done with getting your pegasus taken care of and try to follow her." I didn't know much about faeries but apart of me doubted this was a common one among its kind, and if what Mary suggested turned out to be true, then it was a setup for us to be distracted. Which can't do for the artifact. Because it is important. And maybe the fae will see I'm not bad company. I wonder if I can bribe a faerie at all?

I nodded along as I listened to Mary talk about her home town and the differences between our towns. The sound of grass crunching beneath our feet and branches breaking catching my attention as we walked along to our destination. "I imagine the sky feels much freer than the ground and less restricting then. Nothing up there to bump into, you know? I always wanted to know what it felt like to fly!" I let out a playful laugh, then inquired: "Don't you hang around other Lancers? Or is it always just the two of you together?"

I snorted. "Yup, I've been sent along to help out with the artifact. I know nothing about it, and if it's as small as you say it is, then I imagine it'll be twice as difficult to look after. A big crowd is just spelling for disaster for this showcase. History of human culture should be documented and preserved, but you know royals, they all want to make a fuss over something to draw attention to themselves. No matter! With you in the air and me on the ground, nothing should be able to slip past us, right?"

"Oh yeah, I can lead us the rest of the way there. In fact, I can hear the water not far from here-" I stopped cold in my tracks, the words caught in the back of my throat. This again? Perhaps Phyllo was onto something earlier. I imagine they don't take a tiger familiar lightly among the Sword Guild or Flying Lancers. Mary doesn't seem to know much about the rumors yet. I glanced briefly around to make sure we were alone for the time being before pocketing the fae into the crook of my elbow and boldly grabbed a hold of Mary's free hand without asking. "There's always some truth to rumors. I'll show you once we're closer to the lake to help wash up Junie."

Arriving at the edge of the lake with Mary and Junie, I stopped and spun around on my heel spraying sand in my wake and looked straight into Mary's eyes with what I hoped to be a believable smile on my face. I drew myself close enough to her and fought the shyness down as I let go of her hand, then slowly peeled back the glove on my dominant hand revealing orange fur with black stripes and gleaming claws. I'll show Mary. Hopefully she doesn't mind how close we are standing together. "The people of Blueshire will see what they want to see. Some can't cope with my type of magic or consider it an abomination because, most elves have pointy ears..." I trailed off, trying to think of what to say in this head of mine without painting a worse picture of the people in Blueshire. "I on the other hand got to be special and grew up with magic and a tiger's claw from my elf gene. And children seem to like my claw compared to adults because, they know no better. I don't have a tiger familiar, but it'd be nice to have one." I drew my glove back on to hide it and tilted my head back to bask my face in the sunshine. Admittedly, I'll probably end up blinding myself if I had my eyes open. Wouldn't that be a crime? I inwardly laughed at my own joke and waited patiently for Mary to give Junie a bath.
 
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Cassette-Disk

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"Will and Sally went up the hill to grab the gleaming sword./Will fell down which made him frown,/ but Sally laughed it off."
"Why do all your stories end with me getting hurt?" Will asked as they retraced their steps through the forest. Through the dim lighting, they could already see the small caravan that had been attacked by the summoned zombies. A few people had stepped out of it but there wasn't enough light for the pair to make out anything more than a few silhouettes.
"It builds character. Overcoming obstacles is how you become a better person."
"I'm not sure if it counts when it's all made up."
"Sure it does. Overcome my harsh words and be stronger because of it!"
"Should my only companion be telling me harsh words in the first place?"
"It builds character," the fire mage repeated as the neared the caravan. Will made out three figures, two older than himself and one seemingly younger. The younger of the two was a girl about a foot or two shorter than Will, and she clutched on to a large grey spherical stone-like object while the elder man and woman held on to her shoulders.

"You're the ones who fought those beasts back, weren't you?" The man asked. He wore a simple white long-sleeve shirt and brown vest. His balding head only left the edges of his dome with hair. His wife was much more luckier, as her long hair reached passed the small of her back. Her faded pink dress was very modest and looked somewhat old.
"Yeah. You can thank Sally for that, she heard the commotion before we even entered the forest."
"But it was Will who did most of the fighting," she answered with a wink.
"We're very thankful for both of you."
"You got any idea why you'd be attacked like that? It's not everyday someone attacks a random caravan like this."
"Maybe because of this?" Will was surprised when the girl spoke up, answering his question. She held up the large grey stone towards the pair but, as Will reached out to touch it, she quickly retracted it. "Mine," she told him simply with a hint of a blush.
"What is it?"
"Not sure. Found it in the woods one day. Feels...special. It's warm."
"Really?" The girl only nodded before her parents spoke up.
"She won't let anyone touch it. Heck, we've only been able to give it a feel once. She's right though: it's unnaturally warm. That's part of the reason we're heading to Azure. We wanted to see if the Sword Guild would open up a portpoint* for us so we can head to the Magical Library. Maybe they'll have some answers."
"The Sword Guild? Well you're in luck!"
"You're a part of the Guild?!"
"Well, no... b-but we're heading there ourselves. Maybe we can get a word in for you?"
"That'd be helpful. Thank you."

Will felt a small nudge as he was talking to the man and has he turned to face it, he was surprised to see the daughter pressing the stone towards him.
"Hold," She said while pushing it towards him. After a second's hesitation, the boy reached for the object. "Gently," the girl added as he placed one hand on the underside of it. A sudden comforting warmth radiated through the swordsman's body as he held on to the stone and he couldn't help but smile. It had been a long time since he felt this at ease and he was already regretting the moment he would have to give it up.
"I can see why you hold on to this," he said as she once again blushed, "can Sally hold it too?"
"No, only touch," she answered softly. Will held the stone towards his companion who placed her hand on the object. Just like himself, Sally's face glowed and a smile spread across her lips. Carefully, the boy handed back the stone to its owner. "Thank. I like you. You're nice." Will felt Sally jab him gently with her elbow with a sly smile on her face.
"We--uh, We should be going," Will told the family as he tried to ignore Sally's smirks, "We'll talk to the Guild about you guys. I'm sure they'll help out." After a quick goodbye, the pair found themselves back in town.
"She was cute," Sally toyed.
"Shut up, Sally."
"Aw, why are you being mean to me all of a sudden?"
"It builds character."

*Magical doorway created and controlled by the Libraries and Guilds. They can be used as a safe method of long distant transportation.

---

"Don't you hang around other Lancers? Or is it always just the two of you together?"
Mary didn't answer at first and only looked up at the sky."I used to. Now it's usually just me and Junie. Which suits me fine most of the time, honestly. I lose track of time when flying. It's...freeing."
"With you in the air and me on the ground, nothing should be able to slip past us, right?"
The Lancer gave a genuine smile as she nodded.
"Nothing can outfly me. If anything happens up there I can bring it down."Though the majority of their conversation was pleasant, things took a turn when Mary mentioned the tiger Dyson had brought up. She was caught off guard as Jeri grabbed her by the hand and led her to the lake with Junie trotting besides them. When they arrived, Mary was put off by the mage's behavior but held her ground, unsure of what to expect. Finally Jeri removed her glove, revealing her claw.

Mary took a step back in shock.
"Th-that's..." Not possible. Irregular. Different. She looked at the impossible orange paw that the mage showed in astonishment as the girl explained her situation. Mary was unable to answer, still reeling from the mage's surprise. "That's...that's...that's amazing," she finally blurted out, grabbing the now gloved claw. She gently rubbed her thumb across the glove an in attempt to feel the fur's texture. A second later, the Lancer pulled her hand back. "Sorry! I'm sorry. It's just, that's not at all what I was expecting." Before she could say anything else, Junie easily waded her way into the lake, not wanting to wait any further for her bath. "Junie, wait! At least let me take off your bags first!" She cried as she chased after her winged companion, just managed to take off the pegasus' items before they dipped under the water. She wanted to ask the mage about her claw but a noise caught her attention and she instantly tensed up.

A man had fallen ceremoniously near them and was rambling about his trip but the Lancer wasn't fazed and, as she slowly made her way back to shore, grabbed her bow from the bag along with two arrows. In an instant, the man reached for the trapped fairy and continued to jabber incomprehensibly to it. Alarmed at the sudden movement Mary sprinted towards the stranger.
"Where is Flynn and don't pull a fast one on me, understand?" He told Jeri as the Lancer sprinted toward them. Two seconds later, Mary's foot connected with the underside of the fairy's prison, sending it a few feet into the air. In the following moments of confusion, the Lancer notched up an arrow and sent it flying at the man's scabbard, which fell to the floor as the strip of leather holding it together was sliced away by the projectile. Once disarmed, Mary gave the man a rough shove to the chest with her shoulder as a loud clang rang through the area when their armors clashed together, pushing the man back. On one knee, the woman notched her second arrow and pointed it in his direction, aiming high and completely forgetting about the helpless launched fairy.
"I don't know how the law works in Blueshire, but in Fayfield peeping is highly frowned upon. As is taking something from someone's hands without a hint of an explanation," Mary pulled the drawstring back further as a scare tactic. "This ends in two ways. One of them has you answering to the Sword Guild and the other has you with answering to me. Start talking: Who are you and what do you want? You have twenty seconds."
 
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