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Main - The Kitchen Table (Role Play Forum) - Trial by Dragon Blood
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Trelior
Posted on 01-04-20 07:54 AM (rev. 2 of 01-04-20 08:16 AM by Trelior) Link | ID: 153454
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"Thanks, Captain Obvious." Zarik snarks.

Roff comes from the back with a large urn of powerful-smelling coffee after a few minutes. Empty mugs for everyone. Going back to the back, he quickly returns with a sack of ice and a medicine pouch. Plopping the ice unceremoniously on Zarik's head, he says, "Ge' yer coffee, lads."

Aren and Zarik are the first to get theirs, since they're sitting right beside where Roff put the urn down.

Zissou gets up and grabs a cup for himself, then says, "Not eating?"

Zarik unwraps the pouch of aspirin powder and says, "If I can hold down this medicine and coffee, I'll be surprised."

"Same." Aren agrees.

"Considering your outburst, that should have been quite enough vomit." Zissou jests.

Zarik gives a sarcastic, mocking laugh and grumbles, "Shut up."

When everyone finishes their breakfast, they head outside.

As Zarik rounds the corner to look at Cai's makeshift privacy partition, he notices three scantily clad Auri women come out from behind the curtain. They are giggling with each other as they run past the men.

Aren perks a brow and whistles as he is passed by the girls. Zarik abruptly elbows him in the gut. He coughs and puts his hand to his mouth to mitigate potential vomiting. Upon recovery he moans, "Bad idea! My gut didn't like that."

"Tough shit!" Zarik responds, "We didn't just reprimand Neris just for you to not lead by example."

"Fuck. You're urp right..." Aren responds, trying his hardest to not lose his coffee.

Making his way to the partition, he raps on the metal frame with a "Rise and shine, sleepyhead! Well, that's what I would say if we didn't just see three random girls leave as we were coming out."

Aren laughs and jokes, "Is this her 'coming out' as well?" shooting Bel a teasing glance.

Caionna lets out a disgusted grunt, and says, "Shut up, Aren! That's not what I asked them here for!"

"Besides, Arendal," Zissou adds, "In addition to yet again breaking your own agreement, you also know she is much too shy for anything of that nature."

"Exactly!" Cai says with obvious fluster in her voice.

"Are we allowed in to talk, or..." Zarik asks.

"NO!" She shouts, "I'm not ready yet!"

"Ooooookay then." Zarik says, taking a step back.

A few moments of loud shuffling are heard from within the lean-to, as well as labored grunts and frustrated grumbles. A short silence follows, then she finally says, "Alright, fine! Move the partition. You guys aren't going to fit in here."

Zarik and Aren nod at each other, then team lift the awkwardly sized metal frame out of the way. Behind it sits Cai in her humanoid form in her underwear - a deliberate choice - she is subtly larger than she was before the ordeal took place. She stands and holds her hair out of the way and slowly turns, to show off her body.

She now has prominent horns that sprouted from the rear of her temples, wrap around themselves, and curve around her face. Between her eyes is a patch of scales with an intricate interweaving of triangle shapes. Her face is framed with similar scales from the base of her horns to her chin and down her neck, along her spine on the back, and down to the upper part of her pectorals in the front.

Her forearms have a thin band of the scales wrapping from near her shoulder in the back and down around the outside toward her elbow. Her wings have emerged from above her shoulder blades, spanning roughly three meters at full spread. Her hands have thick scales across the metatarsal, up the width of her wrist, coming to a point at her elbow.

On her torso, her scales start at a point under where her ribs stop, widen as they reach her hips, then narrow back to a point at the midpoint of her thigh, offshoots of these patches of scales create a set of points aiming toward her pelvis on the upper side and downward wrapping sightly into her inner thigh. She now has a tail that sprouts from her hindquarters with a series of elevated, jagged-looking scales. The longest stretching out as far as 18 cm. From under those scales, her tail juts out with a shallow drop-off to the halfway point of the longest spike, then steeply down to a five-pronged point at her mid-calf.

Her lower legs have armor-esque scaling starting from a point just below the back of her knee to the entire width of her leg's outer side and onto her ankle wrapping around her Achilles and around to the metatarsal of her feet. Unlike Aren's scales, hers are the gorgeous silver of her dragon form, with the leathery underside of her wings being the deep comet blue.

Fanning her hair out dramatically, then letting it fall, she says, "I had those girls help me find pleasing places to my scales and such. What do you think?" Looking directly at Bel, she says, "I hope you were paying attention, Bel. I took cues from them to be appealing to you, mostly."

"Aside from getting an front-row view of you I wasn't expecting," Zarik begins, "I gotta say, you look damn good."

"From what I got of those girls, you took the best looking parts from each of their scale layouts and took them as your own." Aren comments with a whistle, "Very nice. I'm jealous of Bel now."

Neris gazes in awe at Caionna's Auri-inspired beauty. She remains silent, aside from gasps, to try to not jeopardize what little faith Zarik has left in her.

He takes notice and says, "This is one time you can talk like that. Just don't overdo it." Shooting a glance at Cai, he goes to add something, but is cut off.

"No need to explain, the whole town heard your outburst this morning, and I was filled in on the details of last night by gossip between the girls. I think there was some embellishment on their part, but I think the general idea was accurate." Cai says abruptly, "And for the record, I'm siding with Zarik, Neris. Your behavior, and thoughts, have been very unbecoming of what we were hoping of you."

Neris' eyes go from bulging with excitement of Cai's appearance to sunken and sullen at yet another rebuking. Dropping her gaze, she says meekly, "You look fantastic, Cai. Very attractive." Shooting a glance at Zarik, he nods in approval of her words, to which she backpedals to the topic, "I'm sorry. I'll try to improve, and actually act like the lady you want me to be."

"I would only hope so." Cai says with a soft smile, "Just keep in mind that you have a lot at stake, and you're on thin ice with us."

"Yes, ma'am." Neris coos.

Cai bends down and begins digging through her bag for clothes to get dressed in.

"Would you like privacy as you dress, Caionna?" Zissou says as he turns around.

"It's not like I'm going into a state of further undress, so I don't care." Cai responds as she puts on a deep purple off-the-shoulder blouse, then a pair of black tights, and tan leather shoes. Stepping out to stand among her friends, she ties her hair into a ponytail with her signature green ribbon. Letting her hair fall, she says, "Alright then. What shall we do first?"


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-04-20 09:07 PM Link | ID: 153459

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Bel sniffs his coffee and starts drinking it, but not too quickly as it's rather hot. He finished his breakfast and heads out with the others. As they come close to Caionna's quarters, he notices the three women and perks a brow aswell.

Bel: What's that about? Live mannequins? He says as they come up to the entrance. Not having much more to add, he listens to the rest of the conversation until Aren makes yet another ill-timed joke.

Bel: Aren? Would you like another gut-wrenching punch? Because I'm THIS close to giving you one. The wizard says, holding up his right index-finger and thumb to Aren with less than half an inch between them.

Bel: But seeing as I don't want you to throw up all around us, I'm just gonna whack you on the head instead. Bel does so, but not too hard. Then he simply waits for the "curtains" to be pulled up.

Seeing Caionna, he perks yet another eyebrow but tries his best to remain composed. There is, howevever, a hint of awe appearing in his eyes as Caionna's display of her new look progresses. As she addresses him, he tries to speak but finds nothing comes out at first.


Bel: Paying attention? There's an understatement if I ever heard one. I don't think any of us were able to avert our eyes. As for what I think, those words pretty much explains it. You look amazing. He says and nods in approval.

Bel: I fail to see the logic behind asking those girls how to appeal to me, though. They don't know me. That said, it still worked. I know you may not be comfortable with your wings and the tail showing but you don't have to worry about looking anything close to bad. You look fine.

Waiting for Caionna to get dressed he steps back a bit to give her some space getting out of the lean-to once done. Responding to her question, he says: I have no idea at this point.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-05-20 04:35 AM Link | ID: 153471
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"I wasn't asking for their opinion." Caionna says, "I used them as models to base the shapes and placements of my scales. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't hide them, so I embraced them."

Zissou clears his throat and says, "I think she is trying to rationalize that she called upon women of their profession as trying to impress you, Belgarion."

Cai immediately turns a bright shade of red, and breaks eye contact. She stares at the ground, and stammers, "N-no..." Her cheeks bright color making quite the contrast to her pale complexion. "Not exactly, although it was pretty awkward to tell them that I was paying for their time for something so strange."

"Not too strange, when you think about it. The line of work lends itself to being disrobed." Zarik remarks, "Though, I bet they still tried to give you your money's worth."

"They did." Cai says, turning brighter, "But when I explained my predicament about such contact, they backed off... If only slightly."

"Officially into 'time to stop' territory." Zarik interrupts, "Both because I don't wanna know, and because of a certain agreement we just made, and Aren tried to make us hypocrites about."

Aren rubs the back of his head from where Bel slapped him, and says, "I said I was sorry!"

"You technically didn't." Zarik says, "But pedantics." and shrugs.

"Why are you guys skirting around talking about this stuff?" Neris questions, "You've made it pretty clear what will happen if I try pushing for sex for myself. What makes you think I'm going to pounce just by you talking about it?"

"Let's just say something about the mentality of a bird of prey being preyed upon, then trying to reassert predation." Zarik says, "We'd rather not take the chance."

"But you told me if I mess up again, you'll abandon me." Neris cries, her eyes welling up, "Don't you trust me?"

"First off," Cai butts in, "He, nor I, said we would abandon you."

"Secondly," Zarik adds, "Given your track record: No. I don't trust you. You have to earn that."

Neris droops her head and folds her wings in tightly, with a nod she says, "I'll try."

"Enough waffle." Zissou interjects, "We must decide what we will do with our day. Will you be calling the dragoness now that Caionna has rejoined us?"

"I guess we should." Zarik replies.

Cai gives her brother a quizzical look, "Come again."

Zarik turns to his sister and says, "Ruki the Blue wanted us to appear before the council to negotiate our terms since we eradicated Aesalth and Zerilisk. They're afraid we're going to come back and take out the rest of the alphabet and rainbow."

"And you waited nearly a week... Why?" Cai inquires, incredulous.

"Because I wanted everyone able to do something if they decided to betray us." He replies, "Rukunt may have brought us to safety, but I don't trust them."

"Do we have somewhere we can send the message?" Cai asks.

"We do." Zissou responds, "Shall I prepare the spell?"

"Yes." Caionna says with determination, "Arrange a meeting on neutral ground with no one except those who must attend."

"Yeah!" Zarik states emphatically, "If they want our terms, they'll get them. On our terms!"

"Very well." Zissou nods before beginning his focus, "Dragon Council: Caionna has risen. Meet on neutral ground, only necessary attendance. Meet on our terms or negotiations are not going to be possible."

"Now we wait." Caionna says, clenching her fists.

"Filler arc is over! Yay!" Aren whispers sarcastically.

"Not yet!" Zarik shouts, then suddenly projects a harsh wind toward Neris with his hands cupped outward, "She still needs a montage!"

The wind hits Neris just right to force her left wing open, it catches her feathers just so that it takes her slightly airborne. as she drops back to the ground, landing on her ass, she shrieks, "What the hell, Zarik?!"

"IT BEGINS!" Zarik shouts, triumphantly.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-05-20 12:36 PM (rev. 2 of 01-05-20 12:36 PM by ゼンガー・ゾンボルト) Link | ID: 153474

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Bel: Ok. I understand, Cai. You also need to understand that you don't necessarily have to hide the scales. Not from me or anyone else here. They don't look as bad as you think. Not at all. Neither do you need to be ashamed from hiring those women. But maybe we can talk about that another time.

Waiting for a response, Bel waits aswell as listens to the conversation between Neris and the rest aswell as the one about the Council.

Bel: I should add that I got no hostile vibes from Ruki or her envoy when they were here. If anything, they were scared.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-06-20 04:04 AM Link | ID: 153477
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Zissou conspicuously clears his throat, "Forgive me, Caionna, but... Did you not notice any areas on her body where the scales were not? I I understand your desire to to what amounts to the polar opposite of Neristhana's recent behavior, but surely you noticed how Auri tend to not have scales where there could be friction."

Caionna's face turns a bright shade of tomato red, and yells, "Mister Zissou!"

"Pervy old mutt." Zarik says as he sends another gust at Neris.

She is hiked into the air once more, and shrieks, "HEY! Stop that!" when she drops like a rock to the ground.

"In my defense," Zissou holds up his hands, "Her intent was to show herself off. While I did not focus on it, it is something I knew of the Auri. And if Caionna were to just allow her scales to appear willy-nilly, the transition from her smooth skin to the scales would be unpleasant in certain areas. Using them as a guide was a rather pragmatic choice."

"I'm provoking you on purpose." Zarik says to Neris, "You have two choices that aren't 'land on your ass' that I'm hoping your 'HURR HURR I'M A BIRD' instincts will kick in on."

"I don't know what you mean!" Neris squawks.

Caionna continues to turn red, then says, "I just didn't want my scales in spots that would look bad. Merely coincidence that that's how things ended up." The frustrated tone of her voice partially betraying her intent.

Aren's gaze darts between Cai's interaction and Zarik's, trying to keep a bead on both. He takes a moment to comment on both. "Either she doesn't know what her instincts are, or she had then replaced by what you're trying to curb." He says to Zarik, then turns toward Zissou, "I'm inclined to believe both sides. She likely wanted to go for general aesthetics, a humanoid dragon with untamed scales is likely to be ugly as sin, even with the gorgeous color. She's also been noticeably hot and heavy lately, and she may be trying to get some attention."

"AREN!" Cai screams, "Let's just drop the topic!"

"I concur." Zissou states with rolled eyes, "I suggest we try to figure out whatever it is Zarik is intending to do with Neristhana, besides rough her up a touch."

"I hope she hasn't been overwritten," Zarik says, "She's a free bird with working wings now. I was hoping she would have taken the hint from how easily she's being taken like a nervous little kite. At least get some kind of fight or, a-hem, flight response out of her."

Neris stops a moment, the wheels practically visibly turning. After perking up with a mild eureka moment, she says, "I'm too scared to try to fly."

"Bullshit." Zarik calls the potential bluff, "You were perfectly fine to fly when I carried you the other day."

"Yeah... Well..." Neris stammers, "But I knew I couldn't fly that day. Now I just don't know how!" She sticks her tongue out, feeling that she's won.

"Alright then." Zarik says, "I'll teach you. But not right now. Instead, we'll have to push you toward using your other skills."

"But you told me I'm not allowed to!" Neris protests in clear misunderstanding.

"Not those skills, you twit!" Zarik says, "I mean things innate to your heritage. Fire, your voice, your natural weapons."

"My what?" Neris questions.

"This is gonna be a lot of work..." Aren says, "God luck with that Zarik!" Turning to Zissou, he says, "How long do you think until the dragons respond, Dad?"

"Good question, Arendal." the old man replies, "Only time will tell."


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-06-20 04:45 AM Link | ID: 153478

Morton Koopa
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Bel: Err...that's one way of putting it, I guess. However, that wasn't my point. And I'm trying to be polite here. Bel says in reaction to Zissou's response.

Bel: My point was that she doesn't have to be afraid that the scales would be viewed as ugly or anything along those lines. They really aren't. At least I don't think so. I agree that it might not look great to have them all over, though.

Dropping the current subject, Bel turns his attention to Zarik and Neris who have been attempting some sort of teacher-student exchange. He just caught the part where Neris says she's not allowed to use those skills followed by Zarik's response, upon which he facepalms, laughs, tilts his head backwards and exclaims: Hah! Good one, Neris.

Bel: Here's an idea, though. Try flapping your wings, slowly at first, then gradually increase the speed until you feel you're about to rise from the ground.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-06-20 06:20 AM Link | ID: 153479
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"You want me to WHAT?" Neris exclaims.

"That's a good idea, Bel." Zarik says, "Open your wings, extend them out a ways, then flex them at your shoulders."

"You mean like this?" Neris asks as she clumsily spreads her wings, the sunlight catching the feathers and making them shine brilliantly in the full color spectrum. Making a concerted effort, she tries to follow Zarik's flawed instructions. Her wings swing awkwardly out, then back in. The wind gusts and catches her extended feathers, which she was neither anticipating, nor knew how to handle, so she tumbles over in a comically cute manner. "Very funny, Zarik! You jerk!" she yells.

"That time it wasn't me!" Zarik counters, "That was just a natural breeze. You're gonna need to know how to work with the wind if you ever want to take to the sky."

"I don't think i can!" she says, standing, then pinning her wings shut.

"I gotta wonder." Aren butts in, "You don't suppose that her wing muscles aren't developed, do you?"

"What do you mean?" Zarik asks.

"Quite simply," Zissou notes, "She may have taken hints from what you said in her presence when she was still bedridden, and the subconscious of her mind made note, and that is what fueled her body reconstructing yesterday. I recall you saying that you let it slip that she needed more mass and you liked her short. She fulfilled those requests, but neglected muscle mass on her wings, not knowing what to do with them."

"Do you think so?" Zarik questions.

"Well..." Neris says as she squints from concentration, "Something about that feels like I can't deny it... I can't really describe what I did, how I did it, or what even controlled it. I don't even completely understand what all he said."

"If anyone knows anything, it should be you." Zarik says, "But that's the beauty of instinctual behavior, it's just kind hard-coded into you. It's automatic, so to speak."

"Au.. To... Matic?" Neris sounds out, questioningly.

"On its own." Zarik answers, "something you do without thinking, in the case of instincts. Kinda like what you're doing right now with your foot."

Neris looks down and notices that she had been subconsciously ripping at the ground with the talons on her right foot since she stood up and listened to the men postulate over her. Her eyes get wide and she says, "I didn't even notice I was doing that!"

"Could be a nervous tic," Zissou remarks, "Or a natural reaction to something, like we've been talking about."

"By the way, Aren." Caionna finally chimes in, "What made you think it was weak wings?"

"Just a hunch of what I noticed with Zarik's first burst of air." Aren replies, "She looked like the was trying to hold her wings in, but the still breeze shoved her wing out."

"Makes sense." Cai nods, then she turns her attention to Bel with a slightly overdue, "Sometimes, being polite can take a back seat."

"Perhaps it was because of the mixed company." Zissou remarks, "Couple that with the Elvish tendency to not be as forward on such topics, perhaps he just wished to take things up with you in private."

"Then to hell with subtlety!" Cai says indignantly, then she marches over to Bel, places one hand on his chin and the other on the back of his head and kisses him. Keeping him held for a nearly universally uncomfortable time, she breaks lip contact, releases him, then hastily turns away from him as she puts a hand over her mouth, adding, "If there was one positive to sharing Neris' head space, is that she made me think about how if there's something you want, you should just take the risk."

Zarik just stares in disbelief for a moment, mouth agape. Snapping out of it, he says, "Well, that settles that."

"You did that because of ME?" Neris exclaims.

"Evidently so." Zissou says, equally flabbergasted, "Then again, perhaps she had had enough of the teasing and just acted to get it over with."

"Particularly from Aren." Cai says, "Because, I swear I would have thrown him if he cracked one more joke today."

"HA!" Aren yells, "I'm more than twice your size, I doubt you'd even lift me!"

Caionna stomps over to Aren, grabs his collar, then jerks him to her eye level, glaring into his eyes, she snarls, "Try me." Before she turns to walk back to Bel, she gives him a gentle slap on the cheek.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-06-20 10:35 PM Link | ID: 153487

Morton Koopa
My name is Sanger Zonvolt. I am the Sword that cleaves evil!
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Noticing the marks from the talons after Zarik mentioned the subconcious ripping, Bel comes up with yet another idea.

Bel: Would it help if she dug the talons into the ground a bit before trying again? At least it might prevent her falling over from a gust of wind. Turning back to Caionna and Zissou, he addresses the other subject currently being discussed.

Bel: Zissou has the gist of it correct. The latter part, anyway. I thought it'd be easier for you if...

Bel is abruptly grabbed by Caionna, followed by a lengthy kiss. His initial reaction is recoil due to the sheer unexpectedness of what Caionna just did. Or would have been if he hadn't stopped himself as soon as the thought crossed his mind. Call it self-preservation or instinct. His immediate mental reaction could simply be described as exclamation points. His eyes widened as a result aswell. He stands like frozen for a few seconds after Caionna lets go, before finally saying something again.

Bel: I, uh...stand corrected. (Please tell me that wasn't just because of the teasing.) Bel thinks to himself as he watches Caionna give Aren a piece of her mind.

Bel: Also, Aren, I wouldn't bet on it. We don't know the upper limit of Caionna's physical strength in this form. Either way, I'd have loved seeing it.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-07-20 12:09 AM Link | ID: 153488
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Caionna gives Bel a knowing glace over her shoulder, but remains silent.

Going off of Bel's final statement, Zarik adds, "Did you forget that we're literally dragons? Like, the entire fucking point of this quest is us getting revenge on our evil ancestors."

"Yeah, I guess that's true." Aren shrugs.

"You guess?" Zissou says, gobsmacked.

Neris stares at the ground as she responds to Bel, "I... Don't want to keep trying."

"That's fine. For today." Zarik says, "But remember what I told you you needed to do."

"I know!" Neris says with a tinge of choking up, "You want me to act like an adult, learn a skill, and learn how to use my abilities."

"And part of that isn't to cry at everything." Zarik scolds, "Learn how to take our criticisms without trying to get sympathy with tears."

Neris takes a sharp breath through her nose and steels herself for a moment, before saying, "Yes, Zarik."

Suddenly, a projection of Ruki appears in the center of the grouping, the dragon nods solemnly, then delivers her message, "Very well. Your demands shall be met. Meet us at the dais at the ruins of the Twem on the morrow. Much to discuss. Farewell."

"Twem?" Neris repeats, having distinctly picked that out of the message, "Ruins? What?"

"Perhaps they intend to reveal some things they know of Neristhana." Zissou postulates, "As part of their peace offering, they may be willing to unveil secrets about her."

"Seems fishy though." Zarik says gravely, "That's technically their territory, unless they did only what we were guessing when they destroyed the place. Killed everyone, stole Neris' egg, then left the place to rot."

"Shall I reply with a veto on the meeting grounds, then?" Zissou inquires.

Neris shakes her head and asserts herself, "No. I say we meet them there. I want to know what my homeland is."

"While I would normally slap down a recruit's demands without a second thought," Zarik says to her, "This is something that's important to you. You seem strangely determined about it."

"Refresh my memory." Aren butts in, "Where even is... erm... was Twem?"

"Approximately the distance of Broun to the Reach, but on the northern expanse. Situated on a cliff overlooking a beach." Zissou replies.

"A typical Harpy roost." Caionna adds, "Which makes sense considering what I may or may not know about Neris' origin."

"What do you mean?" Neris asks insistently.

"I'll tell you when the time is right." Caionna responds.

"Given the distance across the Reach, I would motion that we leave soon and camp there." Zissou says, "It is a considerable flight from here."

"Alright, let's take some time to prepare, then take to the skies." Zarik says, then turns to his sister, "Who's carrying whom?"

"What?" Cai says, taken aback. "Aren't we just we going?"

"No. I told them, 'whole party or no meeting'." Zarik replies, "There's six of us, three who can fly, one who has wings, but doesn't know how, and two who need ferried."

Neris nudges against Zarik and says, "I want to ride with you."

"I don't know. Last time, we had another dragon to carry Aren, and he's the heaviest of you guys. I think I should take him." Zarik replies, bopping her on the head, "But let's figure this out when we get ready to leave."

Everyone else nods and decides to walk toward the inn.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-07-20 03:52 AM Link | ID: 153489

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Bel: No need to get upset, Neris. It's natural to be scared when you're trying to learn new things but you're gonna have to keep at it. Some of it might hurt, true, but we wouldn't do anything that'd put you in actual danger.

Noticing the projection of Ruki, he gives it his full attention for the time being. He scratches his chin for a moment while hearing what the others have to say.

Bel: We could always force the secrets out of them. Besides, I thought it was the black ones that razed the place. And from the sound of it, more walking/flying. FANtastic.

Bel lets out a sigh while listening to the rest of the conversation. Upon hearing Cai's reaction, he says:Why wouldn't all of us go? It's safer in case they try a fast one. Besides, I'd have insisted on going either way. If I didn't, it'd feel like leaving something half done.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-07-20 04:40 AM Link | ID: 153490
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Once inside, Zarik hails to Roff, "Hey, we just got word of our meeting. We're heading off for it soon!"

"Aye lad. Best o' luck to ye." he responds, then notices Caionna, with a whistle he says, "Och! I ain't never seen a silver Auri before, usually jus' tha black 'n' white ones. She's a beaut."

"Because I'm not an Au'ra, Roff." Caionna says, mildly agitated.

Immediately realizing his mistake, he backpedals, "Och! Sorry Caionna. Dinnae rec'nize ye."

"Understandable." she responds, "Now do you see why I asked Zissou to have you send those girls out?"

"Aye, ah do." He says with a nod, "Won' lie, thaut ye mituh been want'in' some fun. Chalked it up tae thinkin' ye were one o' those girls. Jus' sayin' wot woz on me mind s'all."

Caionna blushes and says, "That's enough of that..." and follows Bel to help him prepare.

"Oh, I see. Roff can make those remarks and nothing happens to him!" Aren protests.

"Not the point!" Zarik says, "Shut up and just get ready!"

The men head to their respective rooms while Neris takes Cai to her favorite table and the chitter back and forth while they wait.

Zarik is the first to emerge from his room. Dressed in a simple outfit of a white shirt and leather pants under a duster coat with cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat. A bizarre-looking triple-barreled pistol with a large scope dangling from his belt.

Caionna stifles a laugh at Zarik's getup, saying, "Isn't the cowboy look a little passe for a gun like Armageddon?"

"Yeah, kinda, but it's the glamour I had ready." Zarik says with a shrug, "Anyway, like Bel was saying on the way in: I told Ruki that we're going in as a team whether they like it or not, which is why we waited for you to wake up."

Aren comes out in unchanged getup from before the quest settled down, just as Zarik was explaining. "Besides, it seems like Neris needs to be there. Why else would they choose there for the meeting spot?" He adds, "And Bel wanted to be there too. I don't think Dad wants left out, and I sure as hell don't. We're all six going. Like it or not."

"I wasn't going to argue." Caionna responds, "I just didn't expect it, is all."

"Maybe this will help me figure out what I need to do." Neris says, "If anything, I want to see where I could have grown up..."

Zissou is the next to arrive, also in the same outfit as before. He merely walks out to the table and stands behind Neris' chair. A moment of silence later, he says, "When shall we be making way?"

"Once we figure out who's carrying whom of the flightless party members, I guess." Zarik says.

"I actually think I should be the one to carry Aren." Cai says, "My dragon form has grown significantly since the other day if that tiny lean-to was any indication. And unlike Neris, I can fly, even with a hulking idiot on my back."

Both Aren and Neris let out a defensive, "HEY!" though for obviously differing reasons.

Zissou coughs and says, "While Neristhana and myself are both comparatively diminutive, I am significantly heavier than she."

"I want to ride on Zarik." Neris says pissantly.

"Watch it." Zarik jests, "As long as you mean on my back, on the way to the meetup, then fine. Any other way would only get you into trouble."

"I mean, I do mean in other ways." Neris says through a nervous grin, "But I made a promise this morning to not even joke about it."

"I'll allow it this time. The joke, that is." Zarik says with a laugh, "But if Bel wants the lighter load, you'd better not give any sass."


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-07-20 05:53 AM Link | ID: 153491

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Bel doesn't walk to his room to change but instead to the bathroom area and cleans himsefl off a bit before coming back out again. He walks over to Caionna and Neris and takes out Caionna's rapier from within his robe.

Bel: You might want this back. He says and hands it over.

Bel: I almost forgot I picked it up after you fell into that coma after the fight since there was so much going on afterwards.

He sits down on a stool nearby and waits for the others. Hearing someone come out he turns his head and sees Zarik in his new attire.

Bel: I thought we were going to a meeting, not a shooting gallery. And you better not go "It's high noon" while firing that thing.

Waiting for the remaining two, he thinks about Zarik's explanations. (Why would Neris need to be there? I'd say all that matters is that she wants to. Unless she has some ability that can restore the place. I doubt anything can be done about the lost lives, though.)

Considering the options for transportations, he says:
It doesn't matter much to me who I transport there. I could simply wrap a force bubble around either Neris or Zissou that follows me as I fly.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-07-20 07:14 AM Link | ID: 153492
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"Meeting place, shooting gallery: what's the difference, given who we're meeting with." Zarik quips with a laugh at Bel's remark, "And it's better high noon than half-mast sunset."

Caionna ignores Zarik's horrid pun and retrieves her weapon from Bel. "Thank you, Bel." she says with a coy smile and blush as she digs through her bag to fish out the focus that belongs with the sword.

"What's this about a force bubble?" Aren asks, "We don't need star power or something like that to make it operate, do we?" he adds sarcastically.

"What about red coins and flowers?" Zarik quips mockingly in response.

Neris perks a brow at the men, "What are you talking about?" she asks.

"They're making a joke you'll understand in time." Cai replies.

"Oh." Neris says, still lost, then she says, "Let's go! Cai already said she'll carry Aren, and Bel said he'll manage with Mister Zissou! I want to see my home!"

"Not a bad idea." Zarik says, heading to the door, "Given how she already volunteered the others, I'm guessing she's excited for the dragonback ride as well."

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't." Neris chirps as she keeps pace with him.

Zarik and Caionna make their transformations as the group makes their way outside. Neris and Aren mount up. "Y'know, it's kinda funny... We basically have Midgardsormr and a Charizard for our dragon friends. Especially when you consider that females are typically smaller than males."

"Let's also consider the dimorphism of the dragons we originate from. Males are smaller. Ass." Zarik says angrily.

"If he keeps this up." Cai says, equally irritated, "I'll just dump him off my back as penance."

"Neris sticks out her tongue at Aren and says, "And you guys said I'm the one that needs to behave!"

"And you can be dumped just as easily for a 'Haha, bitch! Trial by fire' flying lesson!" Zarik remarks and suddenly drops his shoulders.

Neris lets out a squawk of surprise as she suddenly dips a few inches from Zarik's shoulder drop.

Zarik laughs, despite the pain in his ears from Neris shrieking in them at point blank. Turning to face Bel, he says, "Ready when you are."


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-08-20 03:11 AM Link | ID: 153499

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Bel summons a force bubble around Zissou, large enough to allow for some movement in it. Despite being round, it still behaves as if it had a flat surface at the bottom. It automatically rises a few inches above ground.

Bel: I do hope this is good enough, Zissou. As for you dropping Aren, Cai, please exclaim "bombs away" if it comes to that, would you?

He readies himself by rising a few feet into the air and then gives Zarik a nod to signal they're good to go.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-08-20 04:52 AM Link | ID: 153501
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"This is adequate." Zissou says with a nod.

Caionna laughs and says, "I think 'fire in the hole' would be more appropriate."

"Only if you literally lit his ass on fire first." Zarik quips with a laugh.

"Not funny!" Aren protests.

"But not undeserved!" Cai says.

"What are we waiting for?" Neris says, energetically bouncing on the back of Zarik's neck.

"For you to chill out!" Zarik says with a slight snappiness to his tone.

"Oh. Yeah," She says, then tries to bottle up her excitement.

Zarik then nods and says, "Pay attention to this, Neris. It might help." then he begins to flap his wings.

As Zarik begins lifting off, she pays attention to how his muscles flex an relax under her. As they reach the altitude for height, she begins to internalize the rhythm of his wing beats and subconsciously opens her wings to try to mimic him. Bad idea. The wind catches her feathers and swiftly yanks her off of her perch. She screams in terror at her sudden separation. "ZARIK!"

"Son of a BITCH!!" Zarik yells and breaks from the defacto formation to attempt to catch her.

The wind current caught her in such a way that it launched her higher into the sky due to the head of Zarik's slipstream. Making an assumption of this exact happenstance, he brakes himself in a way that would cause enough drag to get her into his view. "Close your damn wings!" He shouts through the din of the wind, "Let yourself drop! I'll catch you!"

"I can't! I don't think I have the strength!" She shrieks back.

"By the fucking Author!" he roars, "Try! Help me help you!"

"I am trying!" She continues to scream, but doesn't seem to be making progress toward Zarik's demand. Instead, she does the opposite and flaps in vain.

"DAMMIT!" He bellows, "Stop flapping your wings and just stretch them out! Pitch forward if you can! Dive bomb at me!"

In a clear panic, she shouts, "I don't know what any of that means! I don't know what to do!"

"Why did you spread your wings in the first place, you fucking moron?" He roars, "Just keep your wings at full spread and glide down to me!"

"O-okay!" she cries, "I was only mimicking you!it seemed like a good idea at the time!" she then finally listens to his advice and remains outspread and begins making a less-than graceful decline.

Zarik finally gets her into range and inverts beneath her. Snatching her in, face first into his chest, he wrestles with pinning her wings in as he corrects himself upright and struggles to regain his lost altitude.

Caionna brakes a bit to fall back in line with her brother, she says in a less-than-enthusiastic tone, "What in the HELLS was that?"

"Mistakes were made!" Neris cries.

"Understatement of the decade goes to... Neristhana!" Aren exclaims.

"Shut it!" the siblings roar in unison.

Neris struggles mildly to get comfortable in Zarik's clumsy grip on her, to no avail of comfort, she says, "Zarik! I think you're hurting me!"

"Tough it out, brat!" Zarik snarls, "We're halfway there, and you have no one to blame for this but yourself!"

"What if you drop me?" She begs.

"I won't if you stop wriggling!" Zarik rumbles, "If you're lucky, you'll come out of this no more worse for wear than some ruffled feathers. I know I'm holding onto you awkwardly, but not in any kind of way that you're less safe than you are uncomfortable. You earned this mild suffering!"

Neris just rests her forehead into his chest and pouts, occasionally whining to herself. Roughly an hour later, their destination comes into view and the party makes their descent.

As Zarik approaches the ground, he sees a dense patch of thick foliage. He swoops down and drops Neris into it with a leafy thud as she rolls gracelessly. He glides a short distance more and he drops the rest of the way to the ground, but lands in the sand and rocks of the beach below the cliff.

Caionna isn't far behind, or much higher from the ground, herself, as Aren hops off and lands in the leaves next to Neris. Cai lands beside Zarik with mildly more grace.

Aren looks the tiny phoenix over and asks, "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, but my wings hurt really bad." She whimpers.

Zarik indignantly gets up and jerks his mildly injured joints from his crash landing, pointing at Aren, he yells, "She'll live and get over it."

"She's hurt, and so are you!" Aren yells back. "Why didn't we stop when you caught her?"

"I'll live. I can deal with some wounded pride." Zarik says gruffly, "And I didn't stop because we didn't have time. We had to be here by morning, and who knows if we would have been able to get back into the air?"

"Is your pride in putting the dragons in their place so important that you would risk not just your safety, but hers?" Aren says angrily.

"Who are you to be getting all high and mighty at me over this?" Zarik counters, "We got here, and that's what matters! Shut up and heal her injuries if it's that damned important to you!"

"Already on it!" Aren snaps back, the soft blue glow of Benefic easing Neris' pain. "What about you?"

"What about me?" Zarik says, sulking off, "I'm fine. Let me just walk this one off. Set up camp, I'll be back later."

Aren looks at Cai and says, "Why aren't you stopping him?"

Cai says nothing, but subtly shakes her head and darts her gaze from Aren to Neris and back.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-08-20 05:49 PM Link | ID: 153505

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Bel slows down quite a bit when he sees Neris get pulled from Zarik's back. He turns around to get a better view but remains flying in the other direction.

Bel: So much for safety. He should equip seatbelts to his back. Bel says and shrugs. He descends a bit to get to the same level as the others, with the force bubble following him at roughly a 4 feet distance. At least until they get the momnetum back at which point he speeds up again. He stays quiet for most of the flight and just observes the bickering, shaking his head at the tail-end of it.

Seeing Zarik crash-land, he attempts to lighten the mood a bit at his expense.


Bel: Big Bird has crash-landed. I repeat, Big Bird has crash-landed. Calling emergency repair team and medics to the location.

Bel touches down on the beach a few seconds after, followed by the ubbled-up Zissou. The bubble descends to the ground, slowing down when it's a few meters above it and dissipates upon touching it.

Bel: That was an eventful flight to say the least.

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Trelior
Posted on 01-08-20 11:49 PM Link | ID: 153510
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Aren finishes patching Neris up as Zissou touches the ground, and says, "Alright. You might be a little sore, but some rest is what you need."

Neris tries to get up, but is held down by Aren. She says, "Let me up!"

Aren doesn't budge and holds firm on her shoulder, replying, "You need to rest now."

"I can rest later!" she shouts, "Let go!" to another, more stern, veto. Anger flashes in her eyes as they go from their sapphirine blue to a fiery red. She bucks her shoulder against Aren's hand and lets out a forceful, "I SAID LET GO!"

Between the volume and flash of heat, Aren lets go with a surprised yelp, "What the hell?"

Taking the opportunity to hop to her feet and give chase to Zarik, Neris blows past Caionna, whom merely steps aside. It doesn't take long for her to make like a hot streak out of sight.

"Why didn't you stop her?" Aren shouts.

"It wasn't my place to interfere. Nor was it yours." Cai says flatly, as she turns to watch the leaves flutter in the tailwind.

Zissou finally walks over sand says, "Did you not notice any changes in the girl, Arendal?"

"Yeah, I guess... What does that have to do with anything? Zarik trudged off to be left alone." Aren replies, "I assumed that meant Neris too."

"Call me crazy." Cai says, "But she wasn't capable of that kind of action before we landed. There's significance to this location, like Zarik expected. While he may want to be alone, Neris wants to apologize. Let her."

A short time later, Zarik - having reverted form - is found sitting against one of the broken walls within the nature-reclaimed settlement. He can hear Neris calling his name and pleading to meet her, but he sighs gruffly and mutters, "Just leave me alone right now."

Neris stops and listens. Peering from bush, to tree, to ruined building. She is equal parts awestruck by the visage and how she imagines it may have looked and trying to find Zarik. Listening closely, she hears the grumbling from the dragon and makes a beeline for where she heard his voice. Upon finding him, she stops several feet away and says, "Zarik? Are you okay?"

Zarik lets out a gruff sigh and says, "Haven't you caused me enough trouble today? Go back to the others and make camp! I just want left alone!"

Neris shakes her head, and says, "No. I know I messed up tonight, and I wanted to apologize."

"Apologize by going away!" Zarik snaps, "Just let me look out on the water and let me think!"

"I need time to think too!" Neris shouts back, "And I don't think I can concentrate around the others!"

"And you need to be up my ass around the clock, why?" Zarik growls, "Literally every waking moment for me has revolved around you this past week, whether I wanted it to be or not!"

"I don't know!" Neris cries, "There's something about you that makes me feel at peace! I'm sorry about the way I've behaved! I'm sorry about picking the worst moment to mimic your wings! Since we landed here, I've been feeling overwhelmed by things I don't understand!"

Noticing the slight changes in her, Zarik narrows his eyes, and thinks to himself, 'What has gotten into her? She's acting really strangely. Completely unlike yesterday.' With hesitation, he says, "Fine. Let's sit and talk." The irritation in his voice still prevalent.

Neris nods and sits down against the wall, but a few feet away from him to give him at least of modicum of the space he wanted. "Thank you." She says, quietly.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-09-20 09:53 PM Link | ID: 153516

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Bel watches Aren trying to holod Neris down but to no avail in the end. She zooms past Bel and Caionna and for a moment, Bel considers stopping her for amomnet but lets her pass.

Bel: If she can do that in her injured state, what can she do when fully experienced with her powers? Aren has a point, though. Zarik's too stubborn to talk to anyone whe he's like that. Anyway, should we start making camp?

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Trelior
Posted on 01-10-20 01:47 AM Link | ID: 153518
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"It's only her wings that are hurt, maybe her pride..." Aren says, "Nothing to do with her legs. She's fast through. I guess that's a given with her heritage."

"She is too young and naive to be very prideful, Arendal." Zissou responds, "Naivete is what got her injured."

"I think she was too concerned about jeopardizing her dreams of Zarik to care about some aches. That girl is nothing if not madly infatuated with him." Cai says before turning her attention to Bel, "I suppose we should. How should we set the shelters up?"

Going to scope out a sufficient area for building camp, Cai adds, "She may be small, but I have the feeling she is going to be fiercely powerful. A combination of fire, wind, and sonic gives her the potential to be destructive. I just hope that when she starts learning how to apply herself, that she doesn't have an awakening like I did." Stopping to think with a hand on her chin, she adds, "Then again, she won't have a vindictive parent forcing it to happen. Similar to me and Zarik; her mother is dead, but her father seemed to be a fairly reasonable bird. A better alternative, I think."

Aren finds a decently large flat space with some overgrowth, and calls out, "I think I found a place! Just gotta clear out some brush first!"
While this is happening, Zarik and Neris are chatting while sitting against the wall.

"I gotta ask." Zarik says, "What is your deal?"

"I'm sorry?" Neris asks, "I don't think I follow."

"I mean, ever since I saved you, you've been inconsistent with the kind of person you are." Zarik replies, "At first, you were a horned up little spastic that didn't understand personal space; then, you became an emotional train wreck, crying at the slightest provocation; and now, you're at least feigning some maturity."

"I wish I knew. It's been a whirlwind in my head lately." she replies with a blush, "I've noticed the inconsistency too."

"Let's see what we can do to make that whirlwind in your head turn into an actual wind storm." He laughs, "I've known my fair share of harpies, and they were all pretty ditzy. But you're taking the cake."

"Well, when you've been through what I've been through... Can you blame me?" She says.

"Well, you've been dragging me through it." He says, "I know you mean in a perspective way. While I can't say I've been through it, I can empathize that it's been hell. Between being used the way you were, to having the presence of bot benevolence and malevolence in your head, to being strung out on your own, then to be brought to the homeland you will never know. It can't be easy."

Neris sits in silence for a moment, then says in astonishment, "How... Did you put my thoughts in order like that so easily?"

"Because I'm perceptive." Zarik replies, "I told you that I care, and I didn't mean that as a platitude. If I didn't care, and had less self-respect, I would have just continued their cycle of pump-and-dump. Instead, I chose to go the high road and try to instill that there's more to life than what you were hatched into. Disgusting as it was."

"How... Did you know that I was, and kinda still am, a hatchling?" She questions, "And why didn't you leave me for dead if you said I was so sickly and gross?"

"Because I didn't know you were a phoenix, and your size screamed 'I was a mistreated child' and you deserved to know what love was before meeting your end." He replies, "Even if I did know you were what you are, you wouldn't have lasted as long as you have in those conditions. Even an immortal fire spirit needs nurture."

"So the things Cai was telling me about you are true." She says with a smile.

"What?" He asks, "What did she say?"

"She said that you're very brash, bold, and brutish; yet you have a heart of gold, well silver, and soft spot for weaker beings." she giggles, "In addition to you being a very good looking guy, I guess that's what drew me to you... I just didn't know it."

"Back off." He says, "Don't think that because we're having this heart-to-heart now that you get to skip steps to your endgame."

"What? It's not like I--" she looks down and realized she's practically sitting on his lap, she hops to the side and puts a gap between them again, blushing she continues, "She also said you're steadfast and a hard negotiator. I didn't understand what she meant, but picking up context is teaching me a lot."

"Damn straight." He says with a smile, "I want you to be a whole, well-rounded, person before things go crazy. I want there to be a healthy life for you, not just you being a warm, wet hole and me being a Pogo stick."

"At first, I didn't understand that's what you meant. I just thought you were denying me to rile me up," She says, "The last couple of days taught me a lot. and I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable right before I went up in smoke."

"Makes sense, but to an extent, it kinda is my goal. As a way to teach you impulse control." he laughs again, "I mean, I think part of it was more than it was another guy holding my hand there in combination of feeling the spell channel through me, along with being skeeved out by your withered body."

He then puts a hand over her mouth and says, "Alright, enough of that. Let's find something else to talk about."

"How about how pretty this place is?" She says in awe, "I can't imagine what it looked like before it was destroyed because of me."

"It may have been destroyed, but you shouldn't blame yourself." He says with a shake of his head, "You were just an egg. Oblivious to the world because you weren't aware of your own existence. Sometimes bad shit happens. While this place was likely gorgeous, and filled with equally gorgeous women, you - personally - had nothing to do with what happened."

Neris' eyes well up from Zarik's kind words, but she cokes them back, heeding his previous words about crying. Choked up, she says, "Thank you for your kind words. I wish I could have known what kind of woman my mother was, or the kind of man my father is... But that isn't possible..."

Zarik puls Neris close to him and places her head in his chest and says, "This is one occasion where you're allowed to cry. I can tell these are genuine tears."

She wraps her arms and wings around him and begins bawling her eyes out in a flurry of emotions from joy at his reassurance to sorrow of being an orphan.

Suddenly, a nearby fire pit sprouts to life without any noticeable fuel. The flame starts small, then grows. Eventually, the ember bursts into a fireball, and then into a blazing vortex as it spins into the sky and explodes.


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ゼンガー・ゾンボルト
Posted on 01-10-20 04:18 AM (rev. 2 of 01-10-20 04:24 AM by ゼンガー・ゾンボルト) Link | ID: 153519

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Bel walks over to Aren and inspects the area along with him.

Bel: Manual labor? On MY campsite? Just kidding. What's the quickest way to get rid of the unwanted foliage then? Cutting them off or rip them up using TK? Probably the first one. You might wanna step back a bit.

Bel takes out his longsword and prepares to do some wide swings to get rid of the plants. He winds his right arm back to take a first swing at it but just as he's about to a large explosion alerts the quartet at the camp area.

Bel: What now? He exclaims as he looks in the direction of the explosion.

Bel: Fireworks? An emergency flare? Celebration of our arrival?

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