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The Chatterbox

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PostSubject: Re: A story   Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:55 am

"So you use this little handle to rewind it. It'll last for quite a while once wound up," Gaelus explained, holding Mira's hand and pointing to the handle that protruded from the expansion just below her wrist.
"See this little thick knot at the end of the wire? You click it in here, like this, and then start turning the handle until the entire thing is locked in place. Which is easy to notice cause it'll click. Don't worry about it breaking, the mechanism is just as tough as the wire." He turned the handle and the wire started sliding into the expansion. Mira and Mina watched with rapt attention.

The three of them were similarly outfitted. Mina was wearing a light leather suit and standing close to Mira, who was wearing a suit that looked akin to that of her sister, except it was thicker and a layer of plates covered the surface. Gaelus was wearing his usual leather outfit, not meant for combat, but he too had two of the contraptions strapped to his arms. After he had shown Mira how to wind up the wire, he let them do the remaining three on their own. Three solid clicks later he walked them to the middle of the field that had dummies scattered all around it. The girls eyed the contraptions clinging to their arms with suspicion and a great deal of doubt.

"Would one of you be so kind as to get some apples from that tree over there," he asked, pointing towards an ancient apple tree standing close to the mansion,
"and put an apple on each of the dummies? Oh, and pick a few more too. In case you get hungry, and in case we run out of targets." The girls nodded and ran off to the tree. They talked to each other quietly for a few seconds, before Mira leaned against the trunk. Mina ran up to her sister and clambered onto her back. Struggling to find her balance for a bit, Mira managed to keep herself from falling over. Taking a short step back they walked to the first branches, managing to pluck a few apples under Gaelus' watchful gaze.
"That's not gonna be enough," he commented, raising an eyebrow. Mina gave him an annoyed look, something she would never have dreamt of doing to her teachers but felt was allowed here.
"We can't get higher! We're not that tall!"

Gaelus walked over to them.
"You're telling me they never taught you how to properly climb a tree?"
"I... No! Of course not! A Knight doesn't need to climb trees!"
"What kind of utter idiocy is that? There's plenty of pack animals that would tear an entire armed group to shreds with ease!" he cried out.
"Are your teachers morons who never come out of their fortresses or something?" The anger on his face gave the girls pause. Having been raised for over a decade by the Order, their teachers were infallible and should never be questioned. And here they listened to a man calling them all sorts of names.
"Right, right," he said, calming down again.
"I'll teach you that later. For now, let's get you up there." He threw his arm forward and flicked his wrist. The wire shot out of the contraption and arced gracefully over a thick branch, the bottom end of it hanging next to Mina. Then he brought his other arm forward and twisted it sideways a second later. The wire launched itself forward and as he moved his arm again it wrapped itself around Mina and the other wire. The girl blinked in surprise and shouted when he pulled his first arm towards his chest, pulling the girl all the way up till she was at the branch.

"Now climb on it," he instructed. The girl complied and stretched out her arms, Gaelus moving his arms as needed to avoid the wires getting in the way. Once she was on top of the branch he flicked both arms, untying the wires from around her and retracting them.
A few dozen apples later the girl hopped back down into into Gaelus' waiting arms. Putting her down the group picked up the apples and made a pile of them near one of the dummies.

"Right, so you saw how versatile the wire is. The thing is however, this is hard to use. It responds to a very complex series of movements of your wrist. Depending on how you use it, you can either use it as a whip, a spear or a rope to pull things with. The wire won't break, it's far too tough for that, but if you wrap it around me and I decided to start running away, you're going to come with. Heavier versions can be used to slice through things, but that's far beyond your level and a bit too violent for my tastes. Now, stand next to me, bring your arm to your back, mimic my movements, then throw forward in a direct motion and pull your wrist slightly back."

Glissandi looked through the window as the girls tried to imitate Gaelus and send the wires in random directions.
"Are you sure it's wise to allow him to teach them? What if he guides them away from the Lord?" Lisa interjected.
"In case you have failed to notice, Paladin," Glissandi responded with a biting tone to her voice,
"in exchange for him teaching them, we have an excuse to stay here for months, we can teach him all about the Lord and the Order, and we can contact our superiors, and even ask them to send reinforcements. Now rather than criticising my decisions, tell me about what you discovered yesterday."
"Yes, Priestess." Despite feeling increasingly annoyed, she managed to keep it from showing on her face. She spared a short glance for Trista who was still lying in bed, asleep but wounded, before giving her report, sparing not one detail.

"That doesn't sound like any magic I have ever heard of. It sounds more technological, I agree with you on that. I know that Dwarves are masters of their craft and that pipes with heated water are something they are familiar with, but how they would keep an entire room ice cold isn't something I think them capable of. And you are confident that you saw nothing that could indicate him worshipping a false god?"
"No Priestess. There was a complete lack of holy symbols. Although I believe there might be some in the rooms beyond the barrier, or the door I couldn't approach. He is obviously a heathen Priestess." Glissandi waved her hand, instilling silence in the older woman.
"Your scrying spell came up blank on both the door and the barrier?"
"Yes, Priestess."
"Yet you felt that the door was dangerous?"
"Lethally so. I do not doubt that if I had touched the handle I would have died."
"Hm... And a lack of indications as to what could be beyond. Nothing makes sense so far. He has no known motivations, and if he has a hidden agenda than he's hiding it damn well. Yet he obviously doesn't want us dead, otherwise he could've easily let those damned animals have their way. None of us have the expertise for this. I'm planning on sending you back to report and request back up. We'll need help to get to the bottom of this."
"If you willed it, Priestess, I would gladly make him confess." Lisa patted her sword. Glissandi turned to her with an incredulous look. Then anger took over.
"Are you absolutely insane! You're not a match for him. I've seen him fight. He blew that beast's head of with a punch! He used his aura as a weapon from a tremendous distance away and paralysed the entire pack and me in one go. Look at what he's teaching them! Do you honestly think you could beat him in a stand up fight?" Lisa stared at her coldly.
"I could take him off guard. And I doubt he could stand up to your magical prowess, Priestess."
"Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not going to take the risk. He's the only one who knows how this mansion works. If we could get him to see the Light, this would make a formidable bastion. Imagine if he passed on his combat abilities to other warriors? That he trained them how to master their aura? That he taught our blacksmiths how to make armour like that? The benefits for the Order are countless!"
"He's a heathen at best. A heretic at worst."
"And you're short sighted if that's all you focus on! You warriors may focus on destroying our enemies, but we convert them. You weaken our enemies. We strengthen our Cause." Lisa wanted to respond but the Priestess interrupted.
"Enough! You shall do as I say. I tire of this debate."

Glissandi turned towards Trista and felt sorry for the wounded Knight. She had done her duty in service of the Lord well, to the best of her ability. She was grateful to her. Even in the face of death she had not abandoned the Lord. Now it was her turn to put the abilities the Lord had gifted her with to good use, and to aid His believers. She held her arms slightly above Trista's chest and closed her eyes. She felt the energy flare up inside of her and directed it down, the Lord's name on her lips as she cast her spell. Healing spells took time, and a lot of effort, but she excelled in them. She broke down the chunks of energy into tiny shards and sent them to work. They slipped into Trista's body, headed towards the bruises and expelled their magical loads, lessening the pain and healing her.

Lisa looked at the healing process with a face that betrayed no emotion. Every time that she watched it, she was impressed by the speed at which it happened. In less than half an hour Trista would be back to normal. She disagreed with the Priestess, however. She believed Gaelus was a very real threat, and that they could call for back up after he was dealt with. She was loathe to leave the Priestess and Trista alone. Even more so now that a heathen was training the squires. In her opinion the only option was to put a blade to his throat and make him confess everything, before doing away with him. But if the Priestess decreed differently, she would obey.
For now.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:45 pm

Glissandi looked at the twins as she waited for Gaelus to speak. He had moved two chairs and a small table outside, allowing him to keep an eye on the girls while talking to the Priestess.
"So, the Order. From what I understand it's split into two groups, the spiritual group that you belong to and the combat related group that the rest of your party is a part of, right? Could you start from there? The whole structure from top to bottom?"
"The Clerical side is fairly easy to explain. The Order is led by the Holy Mother. She rules supreme over all matters spiritual and has the final say in everything. She communicates directly with the Lord and spreads His wisdom to the rest of the world. She has vast magical prowess, and is thousands of years old. She resides at the Bastion, the headquarters of the Order. It's an entire mountain that has been turned into a mixture of a cathedral and a fortress over many millennia. She has lived for countless years, the blessing of the Lord extending her life span. Underneath her you have the different factions. I belong to the Faction of the Spirit. You also have the Faction of the Feather, which holds people in charge with administrative tasks. These two factions make up the Clerical side. The Faction of the Feather controls the land that the Order holds directly. The basic rank is Mayor. A Mayor responds to a Governor, and a Governor responds to a Quartermaster, who responds to the Lord or Lady of the Feather. A Mayor governs a village or a small city. A Governor is in charge of a district, and a Quartermaster is responsible for managing a province."
"The Order holds a lot of land then?"
"Enormous amounts. The Order looks after the people who live there, responds to emergencies such as natural disasters, monster incursions, famine, to reduce the amount of casualties. They build and maintain roads and public buildings, and manage the wellbeing of the general population. They in turn provide the Order with recruits, taxes and all the goods we need. I hope you will be able to visit the Bastion once. The surrounding area is the best proof that the Order has the well-being of all sentients at heart and reigns with the blessing of the Lord. The further from the Bastion you go, the less civilised the lands become. The Holy Kingdom, ruled by His Majesty Torean the Third, is our neighbour. The Kingdom is much larger in size, but sadly enough they had to deal with a lot of uprisings, monsters and enemy nations invading, and are much less developed."
"The Holy Kingdom?" Gaelus interjected. Glissandi nodded.
"The King, just as his forefathers before him, trace their lineage back to Lionel the Mighty, who saved us all during the End Times, and convinced the Lord to spare us. His is a blessed line." Gaelus threw the Priestess a questioning look at the mention of the End Times, but she raised her hand and smiled, barely containing a laugh.
"It is nice to have your rapt attention, but if you ask a new question for every answer I give, we will be at this forever." He smiled and conceded, stowing away his questions.

"The Faction of the Spirit houses the Priestesses and Priests, Missionaries, everyone who works to spread the word of the Lord and helps people to stay on His path. The Mother Supreme leads us. Under her are the Bishops, who are in charge of the monasteries. Then you have the High Priests and High Priestesses, who are in charge with raising the next generation of Priests and Priestesses. These holy men and women have served the Lord for years before climbing to this rank and imparting their wisdom on the next generation. Beneath them you have people like me. We are sent to go out beyond the known lands and impart the word of the Lord to those unfortunate enough to not have heard of them. Ours is a sacred duty, for we spread his Light to places rife with darkness. A Priest or Priestess must proof her worth, her ability and her devotion before attaining this position. Each year thousands of faithful Aspirants try to reach this rank, but only a few hundred succeed. Aspirants aid the High Priest with the minor tasks at the monastery, while being taught by them in the ways of the Lord."
"Sounds like the Order is a gigantic organisation," Gaelus remarked. Glissandi nodded happily, pride burning brightly in her eyes.
"Millions of members call it their home. And that is not including the civilian population." Gaelus nodded thoughtfully. Glissandi waited for a bit before continuing her explanation.

"Then you have the warrior side. They report to the Lord Protector, who also resides in the Bastion. They have several Orders. They are named that way due to the origin of the Order itself, which started off as a military branch, as defenders of the Light when survival was the only concern. You have the Order of the Shield, the Order of the Sword, the Order of the Spear, and a small group known as the Order of the Stake. I don't know the ranks in most of those Orders. They keep themselves separated from us. I do know their purpose however. The Order of the Shield protects the monasteries, the Bastion, the fortresses, all locations where the servants of the Order live are under their protection. The Order of the Sword scouts foreign lands and deals with monster incursions. Lisa, Trista and the girls belong in this faction. Escorting Priests and Priestesses who travel into unknown lands is also part of their task. They also have a mobile task force that serves as an emergency response force. Next is the Order of the Spear. They are by far the most numerous. They are also significantly less trained than the other Orders however. They are the militia forces. They garrison the towns, the outposts. They are the unused, hidden army that the Order possesses. They are a first line of defence until their brothers and sisters of the Order of the Sword can arrive, and they protect the civilian population. They're different from the Order of the Shield in that they do not defend the bases of the Order itself. Then you have the last Order..." Glissandi's face turned sour.

"We do not like mentioning them. They are a bit of an anomaly within the Order. They have no command structure. They answer only to the Lord Protector. They are a very small but incredibly high trained unit that deals with the high level threats. Demons, vampires, necromancers. Well versed in both magic and physical prowess, they're elite teams that roam the land and quietly and quickly dispatch the forces of darkness that threaten the Light, both in and outside the realm. Their authority is absolute, and they recruit from all groups as they see fit. They can pull men and women from any Order or Faction at will. They have their home at the Bastion as well."
"Witch hunters and inquisitors then?" She nodded, the topic leaving a sour taste in her mouth.
"Sometimes they discover that someone they took in for training... lacked the abilities necessary to join their ranks. That's how they put it. Slightly more diplomatic, but the result is the same. It is a necessity, as they cannot run the risk of failure, but—"
"But the people that do not pass the training are dead." Glissandi looked up, surprised by the harshness in his voice. Gaelus looked thoroughly disgusted, and she was grateful that the smouldering anger in those eyes wasn't directed at her. Then he added another line and the seething rage that dripped from it sent a shiver up her spine.
"And I know how they die."

Silence reigned at the table, interrupted only by the cries of exertions of the twins as they tried to master their new weapons. Glissandi wavered. She had always believed that the training was so severe that people died from exhaustion, but Gaelus' anger seemed to indicate a different reason. But it was impossible for him to know how the Order operated.
"Don't ask. The fewer people that know what they do, the less chance there is of others attempting it too. It happened too often in the past and it sickens me to the core that it still happens, their reasons be damned." He took a deep breath and she could see that he was putting considerable effort in banning the thoughts from his head.

"You mentioned the End Times. Tell me about them." She jumped onto the opportunity to switch subjects greedily.
"It's an event that happened dozens of millennia ago. Darkness ruled the world and evil rampaged freely. Humanity, along with the Elves and Dwarves made a last stand. At first they were winning against the forces of evil, but then the Lord, seeing that greed and lust for loot and plunder had overtaken His believers, unleashed His anger onto this world, devastating our forces as they were chasing down the forces of evil. Lionel the Mighty, who was a simple soldier, but had the purest of souls, pleaded to the Lord to spare them, to forgive them. That after being plagued by evil for so long they had been led astray by the glory of victory. Upon seeing the goodness in his heart, and seeing how much destruction He had wrought on them, the Lord granted Lionel his wish and He withdrew His punishment. For the eyes of all to see He declared Lionel King and gave him the task of making sure evil would never return to these lands, and that humans should never stray from His path again. That is where the blood line of Lionel the Mighty starts. He reunited the remnants of Humanity and led them into a golden age. His close companions, who had souls as pure and white as his, took up the role of his advisers and guards, and eventually formed the Order. That is the origins of the Order, and of the Holy Kingdom." Glissandi finished her tale. She turned to look at Gaelus, tears running down her face as she imagined the glory of Lionel, and the eternal goodness of the Lord. That feeling evaporated like snow in the sun when she saw Gaelus' face.

"Is that the tale they tell?" he asked, a wide mixture of emotions swirling into his voice. And none of them were good. Every bit of colour had drained from his face, and his fist was clenched so tightly she could see little droplets of blood dripping from them, his fingers digging into his skin.
"Lionel the Mighty, huh. Defeating the forces of evil," he hissed. Glissandi fought off the urge to back away. He was livid. Beyond livid. She was clueless as to why but the sheer anger that radiated off him was overwhelming. Then he let out a deep sigh and he collapsed in his chair, the anger seeping out of him.
"Me kan nje prisia," he whispered to himself. He suddenly seemed to notice Glissandi sitting next to him and staring at him with wide, fearful eyes. He made an effort to smile and half succeeded.
"It's nothing," he said.
"I... Thank you for the conversation. I'd like to continue this tomorrow, if you don't mind." He pushed himself away from the table and got up.
"I'll be going for a walk. I'll be back before dinner. Feel free to make use of the library." He bowed to her, a more solid smile on his face now and walked off, disappearing into the thicket.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:37 am

Glissandi sat in the library opposite Lisa. The Paladin was waiting for the Priestess to speak. She had called her in with a thoughtful look on her face. Now they had been sitting in silence for over five minutes and the Priestess had yet to say a word.
"How sure are we that the history of the End Times is correct?" she suddenly asked, interrupting Lisa's thoughts. The older woman's mouth fell open, aghast at the implication of that question.
"Priestess! You don't dare doubt the truth! Tell me he's not swaying you to question the Order!" Glissandi looked up, surprised. Then that surprise turned into anger, which rapidly boiled over into vicious rage. She stood up and smashed her hand on the table in between them. Leaning forward she brought her face towards Lisa's, mere inches separating them.
"You DARE question my faith? My loyalty?" she spat. Lisa held firm, her own anger in place.
"You just asked me if we were sure that the history the Order thought is correct," Lisa hissed back, her eyes narrowing.
"And you're that much of a zealot that you instantly assume I'm turning into a heretic!" the Priestess hissed back.
"You have been damn friendly with him, and let him insult the Order over and over again without restraint so far!" Lisa rose from her chair and pressed her forehead against the Priestess', pushing her back.
"Does the Sword focus so much on beating the crap out of our opponents that you forget such things as subtlety and cunning exists?"
"Does the Spirit forget that talking with corruption is the same as inviting it into your own home!"
"You'd rather be blind and kill anything on the suspicion that they're an enemy?"
"I will do what is necessary to protect the Order!"
"And you think I'm acting differently!"

"Yaaaay! I did it!" Mina cried out from outside. The shout pulled both of them out of their anger and they pulled away from each other. Sharing a half embarrassed and half angry look, they sat back down.
"Why the question Priestess?"
"It's... I told the story of the End Times to Gaelus. When I told him about Lionel the Mighty standing against the forces of evil, he got enraged. I've never seen him so angry before. I've never seen anyone that angry before. He spoke some words in a language I did not recognise. 'Me kan nje prisia.' Have you ever heard such a language before?"
"I have not. Forgive me Priestess, but your explanation does not put me at ease. If anything it makes it seem as if he was against the Light triumphing on that day." Glissandi shook her head.
"His anger wasn't directed at that, I felt... He seemed to be angry at the story itself. In its entirety. I cannot explain it. As if the very mention of the story, its existence itself, seemed to insult him, seemed to anger him. That's why I wondered. Is there more to it? I do not doubt the Order's history, do not make that mistake, and don't dare to question my faith ever again. I serve the Lord as faithfully as you do and neither of us should be at odds over it with the other. But I wonder if the story we heard was incomplete. That there were chapters that were left out. Or worse, that they were stolen." Lisa turned pale.
"You cannot possibly think that the Order's history was manipulated by an outside force? No force of evil would succeed in that!" Glissandi turned her eyes on Lisa with a calculating and worried stare.
"I don't know. But he seemed so damn sure that it was wrong! It's infuriating!" Glissandi shouted, slamming her fist on the table.
"Priestess, with all due respect," Lisa began, her tone apprehensive.
"He has saved your life. He is intelligent, he is of your age, physically attractive, and we have been on the road for a long time, it—" Glissandi looked up to her, her face betraying a mixture of anger, surprise, embarrassment and even a light blush.
"Are you—" Lisa raised her hands, cutting her off. She may be only a Paladin and Glissandi a Priestess, but she was a woman over twice the girl's age and that authority kept the Priestess quiet.
"All that I am saying, Priestess, is that you may be reading too much in his words. There are enough mysteries here to make your head spin, and the lack of answers frustrates us all. Especially you, since you are the one who has to find the answers, while I only need to keep you safe. Please heed my words, Priestess. I do not mean to offend you with this." Glissandi struggled to bring her face back under control, the accusation having hit her hard, partially because there was truth to it. She sank back into the chair and managed to put on a neutral face again.
"You may have a point," she confessed. She loathed to admit it, but it was the truth.
"I should have realised that. I do the Lord no service by letting my emotions get the better of me."
"You are still young, Priestess. And he saved your life after your magic was rendered useless," Lisa added, trying to soften the blow.
"And I apologise too, I should not have doubted your loyalty and faith."

"We should return to the original subject," Glissandi said after a small pause.
"Why do you think he became so furious upon hearing it? If he was a heretic he would have become angry before, at the mention of the Lord or during the prayers at mealtimes. But to become angry at a story that happened countless years ago," she trailed off. Lisa pondered the question.
"Maybe we should start with looking around in the library? See if we can find any clues on that language he spoke in? It is the only solid lead we have." Glissandi nodded and got up. It was a big library to search through, so they'd better get to it.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:53 am

It wasn't until late in the evening that Gaelus returned. He disappeared into the kitchen without a word and set to making dinner. The girls continued training, Trista kept sleeping and Glissandi and Lisa kept searching the library in vain, trying to find anything that resembled that language.

When he called everyone together the group gathered, hesitantly. Gaelus was distant, not his amenable self. The girls, who had come in bubbling with excitement over their new equipment, didn't dare speak to him. Lisa constantly watched him, like a hawk staring at a half hidden prey, waiting for it to come out of hiding. Glissandi glanced back and forth between the two. Trista was the only one who wasn't really bothered by it. She was too dazed by the healing to notice the atmosphere.

After the plates had been set down and everyone was seated, Glissandi folded her hands and started the prayer. Lisa didn't close her eyes but threw Gaelus her most scrutinising stare. He seemed to stare off in the distance and didn't notice it. As the words of thanks left Glissandi's mouth he didn't stir in the slightest. It seemed to confirm Glissandi's theory that no matter what he was, he wasn't a heretic who hated the Lord. At least he didn't react when Glissandi praised Him or said His name.
The meal started in silence. Glances were shared between the group but Gaelus' thoughts were elsewhere. Glissandi put her fork down with a soft 'thunk' that reverberated through the room.
"Gaelus, do you have any dictionaries related to other languages in the library? I couldn't find any," she asked. Lisa choked on her bread and started coughing madly. Gaelus broke out of his daze and turned towards Glissandi, who offered him a soft smile and maintained eye contact. Gaelus didn't look away either and didn't say anything. Silence seemed to gather around the two in a near solid form, drawing the attention of the twins. Trista was too exhausted to notice. Suddenly a smile broke through on his face and a spark of life returned his eyes. He turned to look at each of the others in turn. The dazed Trista, the worried, young faces of Mina and Mira. The still coughing Lisa, who was slightly red and reaching for her cup. Then he looked back at Glissandi, whose smile was now slightly wavering.
"Not on that language, no." His smile turned into a grin and the Priestess looked away, embarrassed. Lisa finally stopped coughing and looked through her tears at the two, unsure what to make of the situation.
"And as to why the story bothered me, I am very confident that it's not how it happened. I have very reliable sources that contradict a good part of your story. And I have a lot of ties to the past. I try to keep the history preserved. And to find it mutilated it's... Not a pleasant experience. Not when you're connected as deeply to it as I am." Glissandi, who had stopped being embarrassed and had listened to the explanation with great interest, frowned.
"So you're a historian?"
"Of a sort."
"Is that why you have such a large library?"
"Why I have several. Most of what I have isn't accessible to guests however."
"And is that why you became so angry then?" Glissandi asked, holding a perfect, genuine mix between girlish, innocent curiosity and her more intellectual desire to find out the truth and to discover more about their host. Gaelus gave a sad smile.
"If someone told you a story of how your Lord was a demon and slaughtered people for fun, that the Order was nothing but bandits and slavers, and said so in a factual tone..." he waved with his hand.
"Then he would be a liar and a heretic and he should be put down for spreading such vile lies. The Lord shelters us all in His Light and to say otherwise is nothing but blasphemy!" Lisa hissed through her teeth, shooting daggers at Gaelus with her eyes. Gaelus smiled warmly at Lisa who realised she walked right into it and looked back down, stabbing the meat angrily with her fork. Glissandi decided to steer the conversation away from that topic and asked the girls questions about their new equipment. They responded eagerly and a more relaxed, happy atmosphere returned. Gaelus seemed to have returned to normal as well and participated.

After dinner the girls ran back and forth between the kitchen and the table while Gaelus and Glissandi stacked them. Lisa was carrying Trista back to her room, as the girl had fallen asleep halfway through dinner. As both girls were in the kitchen and fiddling with the water valves, Gaelus surprised Glissandi by softly pressing his hand on her shoulder.
"I won't be able to convince you, nor can I show you proof, and you are in the same situation," he whispered into her ear,
"so I hope we can agree to disagree, and leave it at that?" He spoke softly, yet insisting. She turned around and smiled at him.
"I can agree with that," she replied. Then she turned to face him, a confident smile on her face and a challenging look in her eyes as she looked up at him, not for the first time realising that he was a lot taller than her.
"But I'll make sure to let you meet people of the Order who can convince you. And they'll have the evidence to back it up." She was taking a gamble here, but she believed she was starting to figure out how he worked. Despite his mysteries, he was a brutally honest person who would either not answer a question, or answer it truthfully. His broad smile that answered her statement seemed to prove her instinct right. As he turned back towards the table, she couldn't suppress an un-priestly grin. She was making headway.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:11 pm

The next day started off as a repeat of the day before. Gaelus was outside training Mina and Mira. Trista was either eating or sleeping with Lisa keeping watch over her, meditating and praying to pass the time. Glissandi haunted the library, expanding her knowledge on the area and anything else she took an interest in. She also kept an eye out for any books that may hint at heresy. So far she found nothing that contradicted Gaelus' claim that he was a historian however. The books were a treasure trove of information in regards to nearby tribes, villages, beasts both rare and mythical, old dialects and languages, and other tales and legends of eras long gone. Truth to be told she had expected this outcome. She was so engrossed in her study that she never noticed Gaelus until he dropped a few old tomes on the table in front of her with a loud thud. It took her so off guard that she cried out in surprise, much to Gaelus' amusement and her own embarrassment.

"Thought you might want something else to further your studies," he said, explaining his presence. Glissandi regained her composure and was pleased to see that Gaelus had fully returned to his normal, pleasant behaviour.
"What are those?" she asked. She reached forward and pulled the tome on top of the pile towards her. She frowned at the language. It didn't make sense to her at all.
"That," he started, "is a book containing magical theories. Nothing too advanced, energy manipulation mostly, and old tricks that can refine the entire process. Not much good to me since I couldn't cast the simplest spell like that, but it should improve your ability a fair bit. The other book is similar, except it focuses on the magic within the body. Not spells, per se, but using magical energy to boost physical performance, defensive tricks, agility. Pretty useful, really. The last two are dictionaries, because they're both written in a different language. It's alphabetical though. I had to dig a while, but you should be able to understand it. The language it translates to is quite similar to the dialect the villagers that you've met so far have spoken. It's all phonetics anyway, so it should make sense. It's mostly innovative ways of thinking anyway, so you should be able to get through it fairly quickly, especially considering your intellect." Glissandi flipped through the pages, seeing the magical incantations and circles. While she couldn't read the incantations themselves, the circles accompanying them were works of art. The amount of detail that went into the pages alone, not counting the actual meaning they held, outclassed the books she had studied in the monastery. She flipped faster, her excitement growing. Then Gaelus poked his finger into her side, which caused her to drop the tome in her lap and let out a shrill shriek. She turned to him, anger and amusement struggling for supremacy in her eyes. Gaelus spoke before she could.
"Don't cast spells inside the library," he warned her, his stance reminding her of her old lecturer. Her anger faded and she returned her attention to the pages.
"Are you sure I can just read this? I mean—" she stuttered. Books containing magical theories and spells were highly prized and usually locked away.
"Sure, they're just gathering dust otherwise. Besides, there's not really any combat application in them. None of those contain theories on how to project magic at others. Sure, you'll get a slightly better grip on throwing attacks around and waste less energy, but the majority of those spells handle defensive stuff and healing anyway." She turned to him again.
"You can read it?"
"Course I can. It may be utterly useless to me but I can read it easily. See this page here?" he asked her, pointing to a circle that had so many incantations next to it that it made her head spin.
"It basically explains the idea that magic runs through the body, similar to a blood flow. By artificially altering the flow it has, you can directly input it into, say a warding spell to block incoming attacks. The less distance it has to travel, the easier it will be to keep it up. Added to that, keeping spells within the natural flow will make them sturdier as they have your full reserves to draw on." Glissandi stared at him dumbfounded. The concept of magic having a natural flow in the body was something non-magicians didn't know. Even Lisa and Trista, who had access to magic, hadn't been taught that. To hear a person who couldn't use magic casually talk about it, while adding theories that she had never heard of before, rocked her world. She turned back to the pages and Gaelus guided her through it. When she tried to summon her magic to test it out, she received another hard poke in her side. She glared at him, angered by the interruption before she recalled his earlier warning.  He smiled warmly at her once he saw understanding dawning on her face.
"It's a lovely day. How about we eat lunch outside? After that, I'll help you with the translation and the theory." She nodded gracefully and put the tome back on the pile, before getting up and following Gaelus out of the library.

A short time later the group had gathered outside and was sitting on a large piece of cloth. Trista was lying flat on her back and was dozing off in the sun. Mira and Mina were explaining how their new equipment worked to Lisa, who was listening with great interest. Glissandi was firing question after question at Gaelus, probing him for magical knowledge.
"But if you want to avoid an arrow hitting you, then you have to weave the energy densely enough for it to not penetrate!
"What utter nonsense. If it's a singular target, all you have to do is focus enough energy into one point to make it veer off course. That barely requires anything. For an arrow, just shear off the feathers on one part and it'll be harmless!"
"That's easier said than done! You know how difficult that is to establish such a fine control in such a short amount of time, with your life on the line?"
"Well... Okay, you got me there. I can't cast spells so I don't know if it can be done or not. But surely it can't be more difficult than wielding a morning star properly, let alone what the girls are trying to master!"

Lisa and the girls stopped their conversation and turned towards the bickering pair. Lisa shook her head and grumbled.
"Magic geeks." Mina and Mira giggled at the annoyed Paladin's reaction.
"Right! That does it, Mina, give me your launcher. Mira, you remember the bow hanging on the wall in the parlour? Go fetch it for me. The arrows are in a quiver in the nearby corner!" Gaelus got up and walked towards Mina, his hand outstretched. The twins looked at each other before complying. Trista stirred and woke up from her peaceful slumber at the noise and got up just in time to see Lisa asking what was going on while Glissandi and Gaelus tore into each other about which was more tricky, hitting an arrow with magic or melee. Mira rushed back half a minute later, carrying the large bow and a quiver in her arms, preventing the discussion from escalating. Gaelus took the bow and quiver, thanked her, pushed both items into Lisa's hands before she could protest and dragged the Priestess with him to a spot about fifty meters away.
"Shoot me!" he yelled, clipping the wire launcher to his arm.
"Are you insane!" Glissandi shouted, looking at Gaelus as if he had gone mad. Lisa stood dumbfounded for a second, before a large grin spread on her face. She raised the bow and took an arrow from the quiver. In the time it took the Priestess to scream at her to stop, she had already pulled back the string, aimed, and let fly. The twins sucked in a deep breath as the arrow flashed at him. Acting as if he had all the time in the world, Gaelus lazily swung his arm forward. The wire launched itself out of the contraption, and with a sharp twist of his arm the wire contorted and sliced the back end of the arrow off, sending it spinning out of control and falling in the grass next to him. He turned to Glissandi and grinned. He unfastened the launcher and threw it at her. She narrowly managed to catch it.
"Again!" he commanded, shocking her. She spun to Lisa to stop her, but the arrow was already sent flying. She turned back, her eyes barely catching up with the arrow. Without turning to look at it Gaelus swatted at it, sending it flying harmlessly over his head. His grin grew more confident and Glissandi let out the breath that she had been holding in. Gaelus made an exaggerated bow, causing Trista, Mina and Mira to burst out in applause, and even Lisa nodded appreciatively towards him.

Gaelus walked over to the still shocked Priestess and turned the launcher around in her hands, pressing it against her arm.
"If you doubt how hard it was to do that, you can try using this thing yourself. If you can hit me at two meters away, I'll concede and it will be your victory." Glissandi glared at him before sighing deeply. She turned the contraption around and handed it back to him.
"Pride is a sin in the eyes of the Lord. I admit I was wrong. It takes skill to master physical weapons, and not any less than is needed to wield magic," she conceded, a touch of annoyance creeping in her voice. Gaelus was on her like a dragon on a treasure.
"That's!" he exclaimed, "my point! If I can do that, you can figure out how to fine-tune your ability to do the same thing!"
"I... I guess so?" came the confused response. Then she connected the dots.
"You had an arrow shot at you just so you could prove your point!"
"No. I had two arrows shot at me just so you would see my point. I don't need to prove it when I know I'm right," he shot back. Lisa mentally commended Glissandi for not hitting the bastard in his smug face on the spot. With as much dignity as she could muster, the Priestess retreated to her books and finished the rest of her meal in silence, while around her the conversation continued, Gaelus now taking part in the discussion about how the wire launchers functioned and what use they had.

After the meal the group split up again. Lisa helped Trista get back to her room, the girls went back to their training, Glissandi pointedly ignored everything but her book and Gaelus took care of the cleaning. When that was done he sat down close to Glissandi and waited. It didn't take long. Glissandi glanced up from her book.
"Could..." she paused to look around, making sure the others weren't in the immediate area,
"could you help me translate this bit?" Gaelus smiled and moved to sit next to her. Within minutes they had resumed their bickering and she was about to shout at him when Gaelus put his fingers onto her mouth and gave her a stern look, shushing her.
"I can't cast a single spell, but I know magical theory significantly better than you do. If I'm giving you a hint, I'm not belittling you, I'm not trying to annoy you, I'm trying to make you understand the concept of how you can improve yourself. I've been reading those books, and far more complicated ones for years now. They're interesting enough for a non-mage if you get bored enough. So stay calm, and just hear me out, alright? I know I can't cast spells and that is a fair argument, but I've read diaries of mages so I have a pretty solid feel of how it works. So assume that I know what I'm talking about, figure out the basics, and then I'll find a few more books for you, okay? Cause tomorrow I'll be absent because I'm really running out of meat, so I'll be going out hunting with Trista." Glissandi pondered his explanation for a bit, before sighing.
"Fine," she conceded.
"Go ahead."

She planned to thoroughly question him on all the basics of magic, and make him understand that non-mages had no way of properly understanding how magic worked. But in the discussion that followed she quickly discovered that not only could he match her on magical knowledge, on nearly every subject they touched he knew more than her by far. It annoyed her at first, but as she mentally chastised herself for letting her pride sneak back in, she found that he was a good teacher, a great listener, and that he was a well of expertise and knowledge she could draw from. Losing herself more and more in the discussion, it wasn't long before she was treating him as a senior at the monastery, conversing happily. Bit by bit her usual priestly demeanor fell away as the subject matter became increasingly complex, until it completely faded and left a young woman in it's place. She didn't notice the passage of time until the sun disappeared below the horizon.

Last edited by Floris on Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:00 pm

Keep going Floris! I can't wait for more revelations about the mysterious Gaelus! And Glissandi, she's definitely turning into a much nicer person than she was at the beginning. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:03 pm

Waking the twins and Trista well before dawn, Gaelus met with the three in the kitchen.
"Right, so that should cover everything. You two sure you'll manage handling the meals without setting the place ablaze?"
"Yes sir!" came the dual response.
"Good, then Trista, let's gear up and get ready to go. We're going to avoid barbast territory entirely, so we'll head into another direction. They're probably still riled up, so we'll have to go quite a way. But we're going for something more peaceful this time. You familiar with moose?" Trista stifled a yawn before responding.
"Never hunted them before, but I know them. I have encountered them a handful of times, never from up close though."
"Right, come along, I'll explain on the way. I already made our travel bags." He exited the kitchen, a still sleepy Trista following him.
"They're big. And when I say big I mean they're a lot taller than me. And I'm a fair bit taller than you. They're peaceful enough, but if we run into a bull, he might decide to turn us into target practice, and between his size and the horns on his head, that translates into you and me becoming paste. The forest there is a lot less dense, so they'll have room to charge. But, if we're careful and you're good with a bow, it'll be a breeze and the only real damper will be hauling it back." Trista nodded as her mind became a bit more clear. She couldn't afford to be sleepy when dealing with things that could kill her, even if it was just an animal. The barbasts had made that all too clear to her. They entered the hallway and Gaelus picked up a large bag, swinging it onto his back. He tossed a short bow and a quiver towards Trista before picking up a handful of daggers and sliding them into small sheaths attached to his leather armour.
"Right, we're all set then." He pushed opened the door and was surprised to find both Lisa and Glissandi standing there.

The Paladin was fully armoured, looking menacing with the light of the moon shining down on her armour. Glissandi, wearing her priestly gown, looked regal.
"Good morning. Didn't expect you two to be up already," Gaelus greeted them. Glissandi smiled and stepped towards Trista, clasping her hands. Letting a trickle of magic seep out of her fingers and into Trista, she gave her a small boost of energy to strengthen her for the journey ahead.
"May the Lord guide your path and watch over you. Stay safe, brave Knight, and go with the Lord's blessing," she said, as the magic ran through Trista, drawing a shiver from the Knight. That done, the Priestess took a step back, bowed towards the Knight and turned to Gaelus.
"May the Lord shield you from harm." Gaelus smiled softly at that and seemed to be on the verge of replying, but held his tongue instead as Glissandi threw him a warm smile in response, eliciting a grin from him. He patted her on the head and walked past her, nodding at Lisa.
"Do not stray from His path. And stay safe, sister," Lisa told Trista, her voice stern and severe. Then she hugged the Knight tight enough to cause the girl to start coughing, the Paladin's armour and strength crushing her slightly. Not sure how to respond, Trista bowed.
"May the Lord watch over us all," she replied before hurrying after Gaelus, who was waiting at the edge of the forest. Then they moved into it, darkness swallowing them both.
"He'd better be real damn careful. If she comes back hurt again—"
"Then he likely will have saved her life. Again, I might add," Glissandi interrupted, throwing her an unkind glance.
"Like last time, where he just happened to choose a dangerous species to go hunting for, and he somehow managed to save both of you, Trista narrowly surviving that encounter."
Glissandi laughed, turning to the Paladin.
"You don't think he engineered that?"
"He came back completely unharmed," she grunted. Glissandi swallowed her next response.
"I hadn't thought of that," she admitted.
"But the barbasts didn't start chasing after us until I used magic by mistake. Something he specifically told us not to do. If anyone was to be blamed for that, it should be me." Lisa took off her helmet and positioned herself in front of Glissandi, towering over the unarmoured young woman.
"I wish you would use your oratory skills to make him repent and convert, Priestess, rather than defend him from my accusations," she said, stunning the Priestess into a shocked silence. "And it is my sworn duty to strike down the Lord's foes. Not parlay with them." She turned around and walked back inside before pausing. Looking over her shoulder she added; "If he comes back without her, I will kill him." Putting her helmet back on she disappeared deeper into the hallway, leaving a shocked Glissandi behind.

"Do you have a lot of hunting experience?" Gaelus asked, traversing the dense forest with ease.
"No, not much at all," Trista responded, struggling to keep up with him. "Usually we rely on our rations, they're not very tasty but they don't spoil easily and last us a long while. And we stock up whenever we pass by a village."
"You carry around a lot of currency then?"
"Usually we exchange favours. Most of us know a skill in addition to our combat capabilities. It's nothing too advanced, but it usually exceeds what the villagers can do. We help them out with some farming, fixing tools, caring for the wounded. It's a fair trade system."
"Sounds like the Order does a lot of good then."
"It does."
"There's a but in there," Gaelus noticed.
"There is..." she replied, glancing up at him, her gaze alert.
"Worried that it's too big to be managed and that its values are prone to be eroded by opinions rather than facts?" Trista stopped in her tracks.
"I... How..."
Gaelus paused and turned around, shrugging while giving her his lazy smile.
"I've been talking to Glissandi about the Order. The girls too. It's not that difficult if you know how any large organisation works, really. Especially not if the leaders live that long compared to the average Human lifespan. Of course they'll influence it. If you know enough then opinion and fact start to merge from your point of view. That happens to all of us. I'm probably far more prone to it than any of you to be honest." He chuckled.
"You're right. I sometimes worry that the Order likes to portray itself as better than it really is." She blinked as she realised what she said and rushed to continue.
"That doesn't mean I think they're wrong. They're the best force out there for Human civilisation. And we operate with the blessing of the Lord. But with the recent skirmishes with the Holy Kingdom, politics interfering with action..." She paused. "Who do you believe in?"
Gaelus smiled in response and started walking again.
"I believe in... nothing. Or rather, in what I've seen and known to be true. I do not believe in gods, neither above nor below."
"But... There must be something you believe in?"
"No. I am my own master. I serve neither King nor God. Is that really hard to believe?"
"I've never met a man who didn't believe in something. The Dwarves and Elves share parts of our faith, even though they believe the Lord is not one being, but several. Goblins worship their shamans, Ogres their ancestral spirits..." Trista trailed off.
"Is it that weird?" Gaelus asked, sounding genuinely surprised.
"It is! I mean, I take solace that if I perform the Lord's work on earth, I will be rewarded for my task in the afterlife."
"Isn't that a cheap trade?"
"What do you mean?"
"You serve the Lord for what, a handful of decades and you're off, being rewarded for all eternity? Doesn't sound like a good deal on the Lord's part if you ask me."
"I... You can't attribute human qualities to the Lord! He's a deity! Mortals can't hope to understand them!" Gaelus stopped and in her indignation Trista walked straight into him.
"Have you ever seen a card trick?"
"A what?" she responded, completely thrown off by the subject change.
"It's something showmen often do in villages. They put up an act, make people disappear and reappear a bit later, read minds, guess what number you are thinking of, pull coins from out of your ears."
"You mean magic?"
He grinned.
"No, it's nothing but a sleight of hand. It's a trick. But to people who don't know it, it looks like magic. I think it's the same with miracles. Just because you can't comprehend it, doesn't make it a godly intervention," he explained. "Did you know that in the long forgotten past, people would pray to their gods to make the harvest succeed? Now we all know that there are several influencing factors that determine whether or not the harvest will be good, but people in the past used to think that. Lots of nonsense like that."
Trista's face turned dark.
"You're suggesting that the entirety of the Order, all our ideals, our worship of the Lord, is nothing but a lie."
Gaelus shook his head and smiled.
"I'm not suggesting it. That's exactly what I'm saying." It left Trista dumbfounded, but he continued before she could protest. "That, however, is my opinion. As long as there are events we can't explain, as long as there are mysteries to uncover, until either you or I can bring irrefutable proof that one of us is right and the other is wrong, we're both allowed to think what we wish. I certainly won't think less of you for believing in the Lord, and your dedication to it and to the Light, as you call it, is admirable. Also I won't deny that you might be right."
Trista nearly tripped over a root. He kept jumping from one extreme point of view to another and she couldn't keep up.
"How! You either believe or you don't. You either accept that there is a Lord, that His miracles are real and that he cares for us and shelters us, or you don't!"
Gaelus raised a finger and waggled it.
"What happens if we die? You believe you go to heaven as a reward. I'm assuming there's something on the other end of the spectrum for the wrongdoers and non-believers, but that's beside my point. The fact that you move on after dying means you believe in a soul. And what a soul is, is one of the great mysteries yet unanswered. Until I can figure out what happens on death, and what happens to the conscience inhabiting our bodies, I can't dismiss the theory of the Lord existing. Or any other theory, really. I just think it unlikely and choose not to believe in it. Now come on, I don't mind discussing theology with you but if we don't quicken the pace we'll never get there before the day is out!" he reprimanded her, picking up the pace.

Last edited by Floris on Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:28 pm

The hours slid by unnoticed as the pair tracked their way through the woods. Their discussions covered dozens of subjects, straying further and further from the initial topic. Trista enjoyed being able to air all of her questions and receiving well thought out answers in return, rather than a bollocking for thinking about unnecessary things not related to her training. Despite Gaelus' weird behaviour and his strong refusal to acknowledge the Lord's existence, she couldn't see him as a heretic. He didn't simply refute the Lord after all, he simply said that His existence was possible and that he didn't believe that possibility likely. She knew Lisa would've definitely killed him if he voiced that opinion to her, and she had promised herself to make sure she wouldn't find out. To keep her loyalties from clashing she had steered the conversation away from that and breached other subjects. Right now they were discussing the engineering behind the bath house.
"So the steam causes a pressure and that pushes the gears into motion?"
"Exactly. And that pulls the water through the pipes by increasing the pressure in the reservoirs."
"How deep do the pipes go then? I never heard any gears while bathing."
"They're quite deep, you'd be surprised—shush!" Gaelus said, stopping. Trista stopped. Gaelus sudden switch from amiable to alarmed worried her.

Then she noticed. The forest was quiet. Eerily quiet. No birds, no small animals, nothing except the rustling of the wind through the leaves. She eyed Gaelus who was turning his head as if he was hearing something. She wanted to speak but he cut her off with a sharp gesture, telling her to be motionless. He tilted his head and listened. It took a while but she heard it too. A soft batting sound, as if a large towel was waving in the air. She tried to focus on the sound when she spotted Gaelus moving. She turned and saw him running towards her, full speed, eyes wide. He was going to tackle her!
"FIREDRAKE!" he screamed and rammed into her, bowling her over. Half a second later a pillar of flame set the patch they had been standing on ablaze. The fire incinerated everything near instantly. Bushes and trees alike were returned to ash in seconds.
"Run!" he shouted, rolling through and getting back up, pulling her along with him.
"What's a firedrake!" she shouted back as she ran after him.
"Dragon family. Nasty bastards, cunning and damn evil!" he shouted back. He tilted his head again, listening for something. She couldn't work out for what, her heart was pounding loudly in her head and obscuring every sound.
"Turn!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her into a different direction. Once again his timing was impeccable as a massive roar followed them, before a flash of light and nearly unbearable heat washed over them.
"Why is he after us?"
"I don't know!" Gaelus didn't let go of her hand this time and kept running. Suddenly he turned again and Trista changed direction with him, once again allowing them to narrowly dodge a torrent of fire.
"How do we escape it!" Fear started to get a hold of her. She kept it under control, used the emotion to fuel her feet and run faster. She had to commend Gaelus for staying level-headed and somehow keeping ahead of the beast's wild attacks. The heat that washed over them after every attack told her that if a single burst hit them, they'd both be incinerated on the spot. No amount of healing magic would save them if they were reduced to a pile of ash.
"I don't know! Keep running!" he shouted back. Not the answer she had hoped for, but as they once again turned into a different direction before the forest next to them burst into fire, she realised it was a pretty solid plan. She sure couldn't think of anything better.

Then they were out in the open and out of the trees. She looked down and saw the blackened earth beneath her feet and connected the dots.
"There!" Gaelus shouted. She turned and followed his outstretched arm. The colour drained from her face as she saw the massive beast. As big as a horse and cart, dark green scales, wings the size of a house and smoke puffing from in-between its fangs. It arced gracefully through the air and beat its wings, rapidly picking up the speed it lost while turning and dived at them again. She stood there paralysed, in awe of the beast as it opened its mouth. She saw the rows of fangs glistening, how a flame appeared at the back of its throat and was expelled towards them, somehow surpassing the speed of the creature itself. Then Gaelus violently rammed her into a undergrowth and she closed her eyes instinctively as the flames missed her by mere inches. She screamed as the heat flared past her, followed by a hot liquid dripping on her. She opened her eyes again as the disgusting scent of burnt hair filled her nose.
"Bralk!" cursed Gaelus, falling back into a language she couldn't understand. She heard the flames sizzling out and saw blood running down across his limbs. His black hair seemed bright red in the light of the fire and his eyes seemed to be lit aflame. He jumped up with surprising alertness and turned towards the beast as it started another turn. He looked back at Trista who regained her bearing and got back to her feet.
"It's got my scent and taste now. You run. I'll distract it." Her eyes widened at that. Her thoughts raced, this was just like with the barbasts where she could do nothing but run while he'd make a stand to buy time. But unlike with the barbasts there'd be no way out here. She opened her mouth to protest but he smiled at her, making the words fall still in her throat.
"Don't worry, there's only one enemy this time. And he chased off every animal in a wide area, so you'll be perfectly safe going back." He reached down and pulled two daggers from his armour, ignoring the blood dripping from his back. Trista could do nothing but look horrified at his blackened back. Looking at how casually he was behaving she guessed he was in shock. Her eyes fluttered back to his eyes and what she saw there made her take a step back. It wasn't pain. That was completely absent for some reason. It was a mixture of anger and excitement. Facing a flying monster that could spit fire, blood trickling from his back from severe burns, and yet the way he held himself showed that he was completely calm, confident even. He looked at the weapon hanging on her back, at his daggers, back at the bow and then put his daggers back.
"Bow," he simply asked, and she handed it him numbly. He grabbed a handful of arrows out of the quiver on her thigh and patted her on the cheek.
"Now go."

He walked amidst the scorched earth and notched an arrow, aiming at the beast, ignoring the sputtering flames around him. He stood there, a statue of calm amidst a raging storm. The beast roared a challenge as Trista turned around and ran, leaving Gaelus to make his final stand. She threw him one last look and saw the air start to shimmer as the inferno approached. With a grin on his face he let loose before catapulting himself to the side. A deafening howl rang through the forest as the arrow hit. The flames were cut short as it cried out in pain, the arrow sticking deeply in its mouth. Not a threatening wound for a creature of that size, but a very painful one none the less. It thundered past, much lower than normal, the pain keeping it from fully focusing on flying. Then Gaelus was out of the thicket again, laughing madly and diving amidst the flames as they were still dying out, pulling back the string and letting the arrow fly two seconds later. An earth shattering crash followed soon after and she saw him fire off another handful of shots in rapid succession, each followed by a loud roar. Having run out of arrows he turned in her direction. His face showed surprise when he spotted her standing there, half hidden between the trees and he let out a wild laugh. Catching up with her in no time he slapped her hard on the shoulders and ran off. Shaking off the bewilderment she gave chase, looking over her shoulder every so often to make sure the beast wouldn't come after them.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:05 pm

Trista and Gaelus ran as fast as they could. Behind them the firedrake was thrashing in pain and anger. From time to time a roar shook the forest but as they kept going the sound grew more distant. Gaelus stopped. Beads of sweat rolled down from his face as he panted. Trista wasn't in much better shape, but was sweating considerably less. Now that he was standing with his back turned to her, she could properly assess the damage he took. She sucked in a sharp breath. His entire back was charred black, with only a few red cracks breaking the surface. Blood seeped from those cracks in a steady trickle. She winced at the sight. She had suffered minor burns before, but that was nothing compared to this. She was surprised he was still conscious.
"Well, aren't we unlucky? Seems like it's impossible to hunt without disaster striking us down. He turned around and gave her a tired smile that she returned. He handed her the bow back and steadied himself upright.
"Right, we've got a long way to go and I could really go for an ice cold bath," he sighed. He grimaced, steeled himself and started walking again.
"I don't think you should be moving right now... Can you even feel your back at all?"
"Oh, I feel it alright," he grunted.
"Stings like you wouldn't believe it. Good thing I'm tough or the poison would've done me in already."
"Poison?" she gasped, increasing her pace slightly to walk next to him rather than behind him, so she wouldn't have that gaping wound in front of her eyes constantly. She could already tell that the sight would haunt her dreams for the next few nights.
"Firedrakes' flames are magical," he explained, wincing as he miscalculated a step.
"It burns at incredible temperatures, lasts very shortly and I don't know if it's magical in origin or because of the contents of their stomachs, but it's a poisonous substance. They usually leave no survivors."
"Then that's all the more reason to rest!" she protested.
"I have plenty of things at home that can help me. Here I'll do nothing but slowly die while the poison saps my stamina. The pain doesn't help either. But primarily... that thing is still out there."
"It's not dead?"
Gaelus snorted, amused, and then winced.
"Shouldn't laugh, that hurt. And of course not. I shot an arrow in its mouth when it came at me. The arrows are pretty tough and made of sibar wood. That wood doesn't burn. Sibar trees grow in volcanoes. Literally. They grow in magma. That distracted him to the point of flying way lower than he should have, and I shot the next arrow into his wing-joint. And that sent him into the ground. It didn't disable his wing, but that arrow is lodged there pretty solidly and using his wing is going to hurt him slightly less than he hurt me. For good measure I perforated his wing as well." He turned to her.
"Note of advice: if you want to disable a drake and escape, shoot only one wing."
"Why's that?" Trista asked, genuinely confused. "Surely shooting both would be better?"
"You'd think so, but no. Flying is a very delicate thing. Keeping the balance between your wings is a very unconscious thing. Doing it consciously is a lot more complicated than you'd think. Now he has a pretty sizeable hole in one wing, meaning he'll have to compensate. Not only that, but he's also got an arrow in the joints there. You see where I'm going with this?"
"So he won't be up in the air anytime soon."
"Not for a month, at the very least."

The pair walked on in silence after that. It quickly became clear to Trista, that with every passing minute Gaelus was struggling more and more. His face was contorted in pain and rivulets of sweat ran down from it. His breathing steadily became louder and louder, but his pace showed no signs of exhaustion. If anything it seemed to quicken. After over an hour of walking in silence she couldn't take it anymore.
"Gaelus, stop, you're going to drop dead at this rate!" She grabbed his arm, planning on forcing him to stop. He snarled at her and whipped his arm free, throwing her several feet backwards, before she tripped over a root and fell down. She stared at him in shock. There had been unbelievable strength behind that move. She looked into eyes and could swear they were blood red in colour. He seemed to come to his senses instantly and looked down in shame, extending a hand to the fallen Knight.
"I'm sorry." His apology seemed genuine and after a moment's hesitation she took his outstretched hand. He pulled her up effortlessly. She eyed him, highly suspicious of him. That he was a lot stronger than her was something she had known ever since the barbasts But the red glint appeared in his eyes... He looked up at her and saw her squinting at him. He sighed when she took a step back to create more distance between them. The red in his eyes was still there.
"I'm kind of focusing on the poison. I can't afford to rest. I need to get back while I still have the strength to deal with it. Otherwise I'll find out what happens after death pretty quickly. I—" he paused, realising she was still staring very intensely at him. He touched his face, prodding it with his fingers.
"Did I get hit on my face too?" he asked, sounding worried. His response surprised Trista.
"You don't know?"
"Know what? Ah, my hair's a bit burnt, but nothing too bad I hope? I—"
"Your eyes are blood red," she cut him off. He stopped touching his face and looked at her.
"Oh, that. That's the poison. Nothing to worry about." He shrugged in response. Trista gave him a look that conveyed her doubt.
"How can poison make your eyes go red?" He shrugged again and started walking.
"Due to my blood reacting with it." He threw her a tired smile.
"Honestly it kind of feels as if my blood is boiling right now." His response didn't dissuade Trista's worries entirely, but she didn't know enough about poison to question it. Instead she gingerly brought her fingers to his back to touch one of the cracks. As soon as she got close she could feel the heat emanating from it, far warmer than a human body had a right to be. She grit her teeth and pressed her fingers against it. Gaelus yelped in pain. A droplet of blood fell from the crack and onto her skin. The intense heat contained in that tiny droplet caused her skin to blister instantly. As Gaelus jumped forward and turned, she stumbled backwards and clutched her finger, both yelling out in pain.
"What gives!" he shouted at her, giving her an angry look.
"I—" she looked away guiltily.
"I got curious..." she mumbled
"And you decided to poke an open wound!" he yelled. She did her best to disappear on the spot and made herself as small as possible.
"Sorry," she whispered. Gaelus looked at her in bewilderment.
"Honestly I'd expect that from the girls, but not from you," he sighed.
"Come on. We've got a long way to go." He shook his head disparagingly as he started walking again. Trista hurried after him, feeling thoroughly chastised.

It was late in the evening when the pair finally arrived at the mansion. Mira and Mina spotted them first. Gaelus was leaning heavily on Trista at that point. His face was as pale as a sheet and every step visibly taxed him. His breath came out in short, ragged bursts. Mira ran out to help support him while Mina ran inside to get the Priestess. A bit later she returned with Glissandi and Lisa in tow. Glissandi took one glance at his state and rushed over to him. She tried to replace the obviously tired Trista, but she shook her head and pointed towards his back. She ran around them to see what she meant and cried out in shock.
"What happened?"
"A firedrake ambushed us. We managed to dodge its flames for a while but then he got scorched. Gaelus succeeded in hitting it with a few arrows and we could escape. He says the flames are poisonous though."
"That's because they damn are! Lord preserve us, how long ago was this?" Lisa cursed at hearing that a firedrake was near and ran inside, shouting at Mina to come help her equip herself.
"Around noon I think, hours ago." Glissandi paused and threw her an incredulous look. Trista nodded to confirm it. The Priestess turned to look at Gaelus who was managing to give her a weak smile.
"You should be dead."
"Well if you let me lie here for another hour I think I can fix that for you," he joked.
"You have to be blessed by the Lord if you're still alive and have the energy to joke around." She nodded towards Mira.
"Get him into the bathing house. Trista, how far behind you is that drake?"
"Very far," croaked Gaelus, now fully leaning onto them, his left leg having stopped working entirely.
"He's going to be rather occupied with that toothpick I shot into his gaping hole." Mira giggled at that.
"And I shot his left wing to bits. He's not going to be flying nor will he give chase until he gets those shafts out." He suddenly started giggling, the idea of the drake picking its teeth amusing him no end.
"Right, you're delirious, great," Glissandi sighed, unsure whether to be annoyed or relieved that he was still conscious enough for it.
"So it's not coming after us?"
"Not yet, it'll be days before he comes after us," he confirmed. Trista felt the blood drain from her face. So that gigantic monster would be coming after them.
"Trista, go get my green bag. Hurry!" Trista nodded and ran off as fast as her tired legs could carry her.
"There's a red bottle in the kitchen. On the shelf just next to the door. Made of crystal. Get that first!" Gaelus shouted after her, his gaze becoming clear again for a bit, before he collapsed again. Trista gave Glissandi a questioning look and the Priestess nodded. She had enough faith in Gaelus to assume that he knew what he was doing.

A few minutes later the two managed to drag a semi-conscious Gaelus into the bath house. Without much ceremony they half dragged and half threw him into the cold baths. Gaelus sputtered and grabbed hold of of the edge, his knuckles turning white. It had brought clarity back to his eyes and mind however. He brought himself level to Glissandi who slid into the water with him, unable to suppress a shiver.
"You have no idea how badly this hurts," he whispered, his voice barely audible and his eyes taut with pain.
"I don't," confirmed Glissandi, forcing Gaelus around and placing her hands on his back.
"Don't!" he hissed. Glissandi hesitated.
"The poison is spreading through your body, by all accounts you should be dead already. Give me one good reason why I shouldn't start healing you right now," she demanded. He looked down and sighed, trying to think of an answer when his thoughts were interrupted by a violent cough. He brought his hand down from his mouth and was surprised to find it covered in blood. Glissandi saw it as well and pressed her hands firmly against his blackened back, pulling forth her magic and be damned with his reluctance. She closed her eyes and immersed herself in the healing.

She felt how the energy flowed through her body. She grabbed hold of it and pushed it outwards, changing the direction and making it flow out of one hand, into Gaelus, and back into her through her other hand. She felt how the drain was considerably less compared to pushing it fully out through both hands. A small but significant difference. She switched her focus from the sensation onto the task at hand and sent the energy to search and eliminate the poison. It was magical in origin, so she shouldn't struggle too hard with it, in theory at least, as victims struck by it usually died within minutes of being infected. She found it and send a surge of energy to destroy it, only to have it beaten back by something else that was in his system. She frowned and tried to get a  feel for what it was, but it felt so utterly alien that she couldn't even begin to guess. Whatever it was, it was doing an admirable job of keeping the poison at bay. The strange energy blocked the poison at every opportunity, and even though the lethal substance slightly seeped through the defences, it was robbed of its lethal energy. Before she could study it further the poison reacted to her interference and launched an attack in her direction, trying to enter her body through her magical stream. She blasted it back with a surge of her own.

She exhaled loudly and took a deep breath, before resuming the process with renewed determination. If she couldn't examine whatever it was that was defending him, she would have to work on the physical damage first, relieving his body of that burden at least. Carefully weaving a gentle web of light, she pressed it into his destroyed skin. Gaelus inhaled sharply but she ignored it and pressed on, forcing the web to fully sink into his body. She could hear him gritting his teeth but she saw parts of the black skin flake off. Since the web was directly connected to her inner flow of magic it could draw whatever energy was needed for the process from her. It was supposed to be a slow and steady process that would take the better part of an hour, so when the drainage increased exponentially it took her by surprise, forcing her down on her knees. She grit her teeth and stood back up, drawing on her considerable reserves and looked for the cause. Searching along the tendrils of energy she found the poison battering away at the net. With a scowl she sent a bolt of energy at it, dispersing it. She had never dealt with a poison this insidious before, behaving as if it was conscious.
"Break it off!" Gaelus roared, collapsing on the edge. Glissandi nearly fell backwards but caught herself and kept her hands steady.
"I know it hurts but—"
"It's sneaking in you, you idiot!" he hissed. She paled and brought her full attention and intellect to bear, double checking every tendril of energy. There! The tiniest strand of poison sneaking through her defences. She prepared to strike down on it, to obliterate every trace, but the poison knocked her off guard by launching an all-out assault, forcing her to break off her own attack and attending to her own defences instead. She was taken aback by the ferocity of it all. A poison was supposed to be a dumb thing, without an intellect, not something capable of acting with cunning and intelligence. The attack didn't abate but kept brutally banging against her defences over and over again as she had to start giving ground. She felt the urge to panic but did away with it. She would not lose to a Lord damned poison in a battle of magic. She was a prodigy! Solidifying her defences she prepared for a counter-attack when she felt a terrifying rush of alien energy crash into both her defences and the poison alike. It was that strange power that had been in Gaelus and it tore into the poison with an ice cold, brutal efficiency that shocked her. As it flushed against and over her defences it tracked down every last trace of poison in her system and utterly obliterated it, before making a hasty retreat into Gaelus' body. The shock from its sudden arrival and departure brought her out of her concentration and she fell backwards, splashing into the water. She got back up just in time to see Gaelus cough violently and see far too much blood drip from the hand covering his mouth. She realised Gaelus had sensed the danger and forcibly pushed her out of harm's way, foregoing his own defences. He retched violently and spat more blood onto the tiles, barely managing to keep himself from letting go of the edge and sinking into the water. In the corner of her eye she saw Mira panicking, her eyes wide in fear.

Trista burst through the doors carrying the thin red bottle and the Priestess' bag. She froze mid-stride as she saw Gaelus and the sorry state he was in, but his eyes lit up as he spotted the bottle. He tried asking for it but ended up vomiting out more blood instead. Trista's training kicked in and she suppressed her fear, running over with the bottle. Gaelus nearly ripped it out of her hands and downed the contents in one go. He closed his eyes and muttered something nobody could make out before he slipped underwater. Trista dove in the water the same instance Glissandi reached out for him and the two narrowly avoided colliding thanks to a spectacular twist of Trista in mid-air. Pulling his head back above the water Glissandi pulled his eyelids open. She let out a sigh of relief when his pupils moved to meet hers. The blood red in his eyes was worrisome, but considering that he had at least stopped coughing out blood, she considered that a minor issue.
"The next time I tell you to not do something," he croaked weakly, the ghost of a smile playing around his lips, "will you listen?"
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sun Apr 23, 2017 12:18 pm

Glissandi pushed down the urge to drop him and let him drown and chose to feel relief instead. He closed his eyes again and took a deep breath before sliding out of Glissandi's arms and getting up. He turned towards her, his smile a lot more solid now.
"I appreciate the effort that you put in, but if I say something I expect you to oblige me and listen. The world is far more vast than you can comprehend and you've seen but the tiniest fragments of it. There are things and beings out there that you can't understand the way you are now." His voice was solid, almost serene. For a minute he didn't look like the man she had come to know, but as a being far above her. He vaguely reminded her of the Mother Supreme when the woman had visited the monastery where she resided. Then he turned around and he looked normal again. His blackened back came into view and she called out to him.
"Wait! At least let me heal that!" she said, pointing towards the burnt skin.
"Ah, that." He smiled at her. Something in that smile made her feel like a child, bothering a wise adult. His hands fell down to his sides as he closed his eyes and concentrated. Within seconds Glissandi could feel that alien energy swirl around inside him, in much greater quantities than before. She whispered a spell and looked at him through magical means as well as physical but didn't see a difference. Whatever that energy was that he was using, it wasn't magical in nature. Trista's cry shook her out of her concentration. The blackened skin started flaking off, revealing normal skin underneath. It happened at an astonishing pace. A healing spell was a complicated thing that drained the energy out of the person being healed and exhausted them in direct relevance to how much damage was being removed, but Gaelus had no external help and was healing faster than should be possible, without it seeming to tax him in the slightest. Within the minute his back looked normal again and the Priestess averted her eyes once she realised that the nakedness of his back extended significantly southwards.

"Better?" he asked, turning around, causing Mira to look away and blush as she now was facing his backside. Glissandi and Trista both noticed that the red in his eyes wasn't abating in the slightest.
"Your eyes are still red," the Knight remarked.
"I suspect they are, yes," came the reply.
"You told me that the poison caused it," she added, obviously displeased about being lied to.
"Ah." He smiled. "But the poison did cause it." His smile turned into a grin while his blood red eyes peered at her until she was more than slightly uncomfortable. Glissandi came to the distraught Knight's aid.
"Explain yourself. And what was that energy that I felt within you, combating the poison?"
"Something that's a part of me, but not of you." He shrugged and turned around, but this time the Priestess didn't look away.
"But what is it? It's not magical and it's not natural."
"I can assure you it's perfectly natural."
"Then what is it?"
Gaelus didn't reply and pulled a bathrobe out of a nearby cupboard and put it on, covering his backside to Mira's relief.
"Gaelus, what is it!" she repeated, more insistent this time. Trista lurched out of the bath and moved in front of him.
Gaelus frowned at her and waited for her to move. When she didn't he gave her an increasingly annoyed stare that was matched, until he grew tired of it and grabbed her leather armour with one hand. He lifted her up as if she weighed nothing at all and with no more effort than if he were swatting at a fly he tossed her into the baths again.
"If you're going to be hot-headed, you might want to cool down. You are my guests, but this does not give you the right to demand things of me." He turned back towards the door and was met with a sword aimed at his throat.
"No," Lisa said, standing in front of him, fully armoured. "But the Lord grants us that right."
Gaelus regarded her with an ice cold stare and when he next spoke his voice was made out of winter-ice.
"Put that sword away or you're going to find out how well you can swim with that."
Lisa responded by pushing the sword against his throat. Or at least that was her intention.

As soon as she brought the sword closer to him he doged to the side faster than she could follow. Grabbing her sword-arm by the wrist to keep her from using her blade, he moved and casually pushed his other hand against her armour. With a smooth motion he tugged on her arm, lifted her up with his other hand and launched her into the baths. Weighed down by her outfit she sunk like a stone, forcing Trista to dive after her senior before she'd drown. While the warriors got back to their feet, Gaelus turned and faced the three adults with blazing eyes. Mina, who had tagged along with Lisa, stood next to her sister and both looked equally pale.
"If I may say it is exceedingly bad form to threaten your host. Even more so if you do it on the grounds that your Lord, whom I do believe does not find it fitting to talk to you face to face, tells you that you were allowed to do so. Regardless of that, you do not threaten me with violence. Firstly it is simply impolite and unneeded. I abhor violence. Secondly, if I want to keep things about myself and my past hidden from you then that is well within my rights. Thirdly, all of you combined are no match for me if my eyes are as red as this. It means I'm drawing on a power I strongly prefer not to use. I will however give you my word that it's not evil or heretical. It is something I was born with and that potion I use is nothing but an extension of it. Also, we're going to need that strength." He looked at the trio, obviously displeased. Glissandi shivered, both caused by the cold of the water and the scrutinising gaze Gaelus threw at them.
"I... I apologise," Glissandi said, bowing in deference, the words genuine.
"Priestess you ca—" Lisa yelled before Trista's words cut through like a knife.
"What do you mean? We're going to need it?"
Gaelus turned to her and looked so surprised at the question that the tension evaporated.
"Well, obviously, we're going to have to kill that firedrake."
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Mon May 08, 2017 4:54 pm

As Gaelus made a dignified and swift exit Glissandi turned to face the two warriors. The anger she had hidden while he was present bubbled to the surface and she exploded. "What do you two think you were doing!"
Trista recoiled and tried to hide herself behind the Paladin. Lisa frowned and made a rather obscene gesture towards the Priestess. "The man is obviously possessed Priestess! Stop trying to protect him and admit it! We need to kill him before he brings whatever evil he has planned into fruition!" Lisa countered.
"In case you didn't notice both of you were just flung into the water without him breaking a sweat! And he shrugged off a case of drake fire like it was nothing! Aside how retarded your claim is that he is possessed, do you think you can even lay a finger on him?" the Priestess shouted back, the accusation throwing the angry Paladin off balance.
"His eyes glow red," she huffed.
"And that means he's possessed?"
"Why else would his eyes be red?"
"Because of a large amount of hemoglobin in his eyes?"
"Hemo— What?"
The Priestess sighed, then frowned. "I will write a report on what we have found, who we have found, and what my thoughts are. I will add yours to them and then you will go back home to deliver the report and ask for backup. You will not stay here and further stir up trouble!."
"Priestess, you can't be—"
"You will not question my authority any longer!" she screamed, sending a torrent of water at her that launched her out of the baths and made her crash onto the tiles. Glissandi's eyes were ablaze with anger and energy.
"I respect your opinion, experience and position, but you will obey me without question from now on. I will not tolerate your insubordination any longer! You have cost me in your short moment of idiocy nearly all the goodwill that we have gathered since our arrival! You are a blunt instrument, a weapon, a crude tool! You are not suited for this task and you will leave!"
Lisa crawled up and knelt on one knee, ignoring the wounds the crash had given her. With barely contained anger she replied. "As you wish, Priestess."

A short time later a refreshed Glissandi, having changed into a dry set of clothes, managed to track down Gaelus in one of the libraries. She knocked on the door to get his attention but he didn't stir and continued to write. Gathering her courage she broke the silence that surrounded him. "Gaelus? I apologise for Trista's and Lisa's behaviour."
"No need for an apology," came the quick reply. "It was only a matter of time before Lisa poked her sword at me. Still, it's good that you're sending her away."
Glissandi paused upon hearing that and took a step back. "How did you know I'm sending her back?"
Gaelus' pen crossed across the paper while he absentmindedly responded. "I hear a lot sharper now. I wasn't even back inside the mansion when you two started screaming at each other."
She blushed furiously. As a Priestess it was highly unbecoming to be caught 'screaming', let alone at a Paladin.
He put the pen down. "Still, it's a good call." He blew on the paper and waved it a bit until the ink was dry, before rolling it up and putting it into a small canister. "Also, thanks for attempting to save my life. It was a nice gesture."
"Even though it backfired."
"It's the thought that counts, really. I also don't hold your wayward Paladin trying to poke holes in my throat against you. Thought you'd like to know."
Glissandi let out a small breath of relief as Gaelus sealed the canister while getting up. He pulled open a drawer on the desk and took out a small whistle. "What's that?" she asked, trying to change the subject.
"It's a shopping list" Gaelus held open the door and motioned for Glissandi to follow him. She obeyed, curious.
"You see, I plan to kill that damned beast. But while you have magic at your disposal, I'd very much rather avoid getting toasted. And I assume Trista would prefer being a human over being a pile of ashes on the ground. So I need to make some armour that can resist it. Problem is I don't have everything. So I'm sending an shopping list to a certain merchant that prowls the area. He usually never visits but he does bring me specific items I request. Pretty quickly too. I pay well after all and I'm one of the few people who takes his rare stock off him in this area." Gaelus explained as they left the mansion and went towards the forest. He put the whistle to his lips and blew hard on it. Glissandi felt a strange annoyance creeping up on her, but didn't hear a sound. "What was that?" she asked.
"Give it a bit. He lives quite nearby but considering that there's a firedrake lurking half a day from here he's going to be wary of showing up."

Glissandi contended herself with being silent and observing the calm forest around her, leaves rustling softly in the evening breeze. Everything around her was so peaceful, without the noise that hinted at human presence. That's why when the soft batting of wings resounded through the sky she noticed it immediately. She looked around scanning the empty heavens for the source but found nothing. When the massive bird landed a few feet away from Gaelus she back-pedalled, tripped over a root and fell down. It screeched loudly at Gaelus, standing nearly as tall as him. It was definitely taller than the Priestess. Gaelus smiled at it and patted it on the head, resulting in another, quieter screech and the giant eagle turning his head slightly, giving the human better access.
"Glissandi, this is Vaël. A good friend of mine."
Glissandi scrambled back up, trying to regain the dignity that she seemed to be in a habit of losing lately. "It's... It's nice to meet you, Vaël."
"Vaël, this is Glissandi, my guest," he introduced her. Vaël looked at her with eyes that were far too intelligent for her taste. When he screeched at her she nearly ran away again. Then the beast stepped over to her, towering over the smaller Priestess, before it bent low and pushed its head against her chest. She stood perfectly still, petrified, before she realised what it requested and scratched its head.
"Vaël truly enjoys head scratches," Gaelus said, smiling broadly. The bird turned back towards him. "Right Vaël, I need you to bring this message to Drailin. Can you do that for me? I need some equipment from him to go hunt that firedrake and—" a loud, angry screech interrupted him. "I know, damn bastard scorched me too. I plan to kill him. And when he's dead you'll get your fair share of the meal." A happy screech this time. "But I'll need Drailin's help for that. He needs to bring me the items I need. So fly far and fast. The beast won't chase you, I shot his wing to pieces, so he can't fly right now." Another screech. Vaël took a few steps back, turned around and spread his enormous wings. With a short jump he set off into the air and gained speed with every beat until he rapidly disappeared from sight. Gaelus waved at him until he disappeared past the horizon. Glissandi looked at the exchange in awe.

"How did you train it?"
"It? Vaël's a he! And I didn't train him. I get along with him," Gaelus huffed, offended at the notion.
"But he's a wild beast!"
"He's a sentient being. More sentient than that firedrake anyway. Any sentient being can be talked to and reasoned with."
"Then where do you draw the line between a sentient and a non-sentient? Is a dog sentient to you?"
"Some are, sure. Look into their eyes and you can see intelligence shining in it. Some animals are sentient. Some aren't. I mean, I'm quite sure you've looked some humans in the eye and found no intelligence in there. If you can reason with it, it's sentient. If you can't reason with it, it's not sentient and it's free game to hunt and eat it. Whatever the animal. Now if you'll excuse me, I got some work ahead of me. Goodnight Glissandi, sleep well and good luck with your report." He walked away with long strides, leaving her alone in the rapidly darkening sky, letting her ponder his last words.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sun May 21, 2017 8:10 am

Glissandi dipped the quill into the bottle of ink. Tapping it to the side to get rid of the excess of the liquid she brought it to the parchment and started writing. She opened her report with the usual prayers and greetings. After finishing the last line she paused and stared into the flame of the lantern hanging from the wall in front of her. She pondered how to write about Gaelus and his mansion in a way that would convey the importance of getting him to their side. She knew that she had likely only skimmed the surface of his knowledge and abilities. He was mysterious, intelligent and powerful but both of those paled in comparison to the limitless information that he carried with him inside his sharp mind. Unlike Lisa she hadn't mistaken his easy-going demeanor for a lack of ability. He was hiding more things than she should have been comfortable with, and had revealed that he could had easily take all of them on simultaneously. Not only that but she had also accepted that with his apparent knowledge of downright everything he could have simply poisoned them and not a spell she had would have been able to detect or deter it. And so she had chosen, rather than be wary of his every move and motive, to take him at face value. He was kind. He had been a very polite host. Not once had he told them a lie, and at worst he had withheld information from them, which was his fair right to do so. Finishing her line of thought she brought the quill down and started writing.

During our travels we have stumbled upon a mansion in the middle of a large forest. Unlike our previous encounters this place showed the touch of a learned hand. It was properly maintained and had a large selection of herbs growing around it in carefully pruned gardens. Upon entering the mansion we were greeted by its owner, a man called Gaelus. We received a warm welcome and he invited us in to stay as guests. Wary at first, the invitation has since seemed genuine. During our stay we discovered more about the mansion and its owner. Much is still unknown, but I can report that this place holds levels of technology rivalling and in some ways surpassing what we possess in the Order. This ranges from extensive libraries, armouries that hold weaponry of the kind with which neither I nor the Warriors in my party are familiar with, but that they have praised extensively, a pipe system for water, both cold and warm, without a clear source of heat. It fuels both items large and small without issue or sound, from things as small as a kitchen sink to those as large as a bathing house. The man, who introduced himself as Gaelus, possessed a remarkable knowledge of which I have only scratched the very surface. He has revealed a tremendous physical ability and some mysterious energy that I cannot place. This came to light when he was wounded by the breath of a firedrake, saving Knight Trista in the process before managing to wound the beast and retreating. He suffered the severe wounds for several hours before consuming some sort of concoction that greatly increased his strength and made his eyes bright red. I attempted to heal him but the poison proved cunning and tried to sneak past my defences. That is when Gaelus interfered with an ability of his own. The energy was not magical in origin but it was powerful none the less. Shortly after that there was a scuffle with both Knight Lisa and Paladin Trista, where Trista threatened him at sword point. He responded by throwing the fully armoured Paladin into the bath without seemingly exerting himself. Despite that, his friendly demeanour hasn't changed in the slightest. He merely informed us that he would not share some information about himself with us.

I am confident however that Gaelus is, while a disbeliever, not a heretic or demon worshipper or servant of the dark and that he is a good man at heart. I have had several conversations with him about the Order and he generally admires the good that we do. He has expressed a seething anger when I told him about the End Times but has not told me the reason for that anger.

However I feel that my abilities are woefully inadequate to convince him to put himself in service to the Order. I believe much could be gained if he were to support our case. Therefore I humbly request reinforcements that are more capable than I am, to further inform him about the nature of the Order. He has proven to be my intellectual superior and natural charms seem to have no effect on him, but he is greatly interested in conversations and seems to enjoy our company tremendously, leading me to assume that he has spent many years alone, despite his youthful appearance.

I will send this report along with Paladin Trista. I have chosen to send her because I believe her to be the most able person to swiftly deliver this, as well as due to different opinions regarding how to treat Gaelus. She believed she could subdue him and make him talk that way, but the overwhelming difference in physical ability he displayed mere hours prior made me believe my choice in diplomacy was the better option, and I have chosen to remove Paladin Trista from the mansion to avoid her further antagonising Gaelus.

I pray this message will find you in good health. May the Lord protect you and the messenger, and may He grant us the wisdom needed to overcome this challenge.

Priestess Glissandi Di Elianta

She blew softly on the parchment to dry the ink before rolling it up and placing a seal on it. Whispering a simple spell she added a magical lock to it that would keep others from opening it. She slid the report into a small container and grabbed the lantern. Enjoying the cool night air and the silence she retreated to her room, wondering how different her report would be from Lisa's.

Last edited by Floris on Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sun May 21, 2017 8:40 am

"wondering how different her report would be from Trista's."
I'm wondering too! Also wondering how both letters are going to be received at the Order. Keep writing! Razz
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:47 am

Lisa got up well before dawn. She intended to prepare her horse for the journey before anyone else was up, to avoid anyone interfering. She donned her armour and sword quickly and quietly before slipping out of her room. She trod carefully across the wooden floors to avoid making any sound, not an easy task for a fully armoured Paladin. She paused at the stairs. There were no windows here, no traces of moonlight guiding her way so she would be forced to rely on her memory. She moved forward carefully until her fingers found the railing and she started to descend. She felt her age press on her as she made her way down without a sound, the controlled movements exerting her slightly. She would never openly admit it but yesterday's events had mentally disturbed her. She had faced superior foes before. For all her training she could not match an Ogre in raw strength, an Elf in agility or a Troll in durability, but she could overcome those gaps through intelligence, cunning, using everything she had at her disposal to work around it. That was something she couldn't do with Gaelus. When she had faced him, ever so briefly, every instinct had screamed at her to run the moment he dodged her sword. Her warrior's instinct honed through hundreds of battles made it clear to her. This was a foe she could not defeat. It hurt her pride and left her a worried soul, for she was in charge of protecting the others and she could not perform this duty. And it was obvious to her that Gaelus was a threat. The fact that he chose not to act on it despite his martial and physical prowess was a sign he was up to more devious plans. The idea that the Priestess had put forward, that he was merely a bored soul glad to have company and someone to talk to, was so preposterous to her that she didn't even consider it an option.

She left the staircase behind and made her way through the hallway, enjoying the feeble rays of moonlight that lit her path. Without a sound she traversed through the mansion and pushed open the front door just enough for her to pass through. She closed it and moved towards the stables. She was glad for the little light the moon offered, otherwise she would have had to resort to either a physical fire or to a magical light, both of which would have undoubtedly gathered Gaelus' attention. The scheming bastard seemed to know everything going on in and around the mansion. She turned her head and looked over her shoulder, confirming that the mansion still lay motionless and that nobody was awake.
"Bit early for a stroll, isn't it?" Gaelus' voice came out of nowhere, prompting the Paladin to reach for her sword. She barely restrained herself from drawing it and settled for silently cursing him. Gaelus turned his head slightly, leaning against a trunk whilst sitting on a branch several feet up from the ground. Lisa ignored him and continued to head for the stables. She couldn't sense him at all. No aura to betray him, no breathing noises, not a slight adjustment that caused friction with the bark of the tree, nothing. The practical warrior aspect of her admired his abilities. Every other part of her loathed his very being. A vile heretic was what he was and nothing more. And an insidious bastard at that, as he was worming his way into the hearts, minds and souls of her party.

She caught a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye as he hopped down and walked towards her. She ground her teeth. His presence was only just bearable at the best of times. Now was not the best of times. He overtook her with a few strides and stopped in front of her. She took a short step back, her sword hand resting on top of the hilt.
"You do not like me and I can't say I'm terribly fond of you either," Gaelus started, "but I will request this of you none the less. If you plan to return here with a group who shares your intention of fighting me and bringing ruin to this place, you will put your lives at risk. I'm not saying that as a threat," he hurriedly added, raising his hands defensively as he could practically feel the angry frown forming on her leathery face, "I abhor fighting more than you can imagine and the thought of causing physical harm to a sentient creature sickens me."
'Liar' she thought.
"But I will not allow myself to be hurt easily either, and I especially will not allow you to desecrate this place."
"I am not in charge of this. I am merely going to give my superiors both my report and that of the Priestess. They will decide what will happen." She fought down the urge to add that she would see him burned to the stake if she had any say in the matter, knowing full well that he could kill her on the spot, then do away with the rest of her party on his own terms. Glissandi was far too trusting and Trista was still slightly recovering from her previous ordeal and the girl was weaker than Lisa was in terms of combat ability. And the twins wouldn't pose a threat at all; they were already hanging on his every word as he trained them.

Gaelus nodded and stepped aside. "I already saddled your horse and put down enough provisions in the bags next to him for your trip back. You're free to take them if you wish." With those words the short conversation ended and he walked away briskly, the dark of the night claiming him quickly. Lisa glared at him until she was sure he was gone before continuing on to the stables. There she found him to be true to his word. Her horse was saddled and the nearby bags were filled with travel food that stayed edible for long, as well as plenty of water skins that were of considerably better quality than those she owned. Without a word she emptied the entire bag and started putting her own things in.

A few hours later Glissandi and Lisa exchanged a cold farewell. She had given Mina and Mira an exercise schedule earlier along with a warning to not get their heads filled with nonsense and to not be negligent in their prayers. She had left Trista with a few tips and a wagonload of warnings regarding Gaelus. That the Knight had nodded gravely at every one of them had filled the Paladin with hope that not everyone in her party was under his influence yet, and that at the very least members of her faction remained true to the Lord without getting twisted in complicated plays of loyalty and allegiance such as the one the Priestess claimed to play. Turning her horse around she set off in a calm jog. Gaelus had made himself scarce before the goodbye. Obviously he wanted as little to do with her as she wanted to do with him. Waving a final time to Trista and the twins she turned around and disappeared out of sight, starting her long trek back home. She was wary however. She didn't put it beyond Gaelus to have her ambushed along the way.

Gaelus showed up a bit later. He chatted with the twins for a bit and showed them a new set of exercises for their weapons. A complex series of hand movements, each movement being a command to how the contraption would behave. He explained to them that every finger could issue a set of commands that would extend, stop or retract the wire, give them direction, adjust the speed of the wire coming out, make it more rigid or loose, and how the finger movements could be combined. Impressing on them the level of finger control needed to accurately wield it, he made sure they understood the importance of the exercise. The girls greedily listened and then ran off to do their own thing, having been left free throughout the day. Smiling as the two younglings sped off he turned back towards the mansion. He had something to ask of both Trista and Glissandi and he didn't doubt it'd be an awkward discussion. At best.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:42 am

Gaelus found both Trista and Glissandi inside the library. The Priestess was intensely studying the books he had given her and didn't notice his entrance. Her lips moved quietly in accordance with the spells she read. He smiled as he felt the lack of magical energy. She had remembered his warning to not cast spells in the library. Trista was hiding between two aisles and searching them high and low. If his memory served him correctly then those aisles contained the section of old, ancient heroes and kings long forgotten. Neither of them had picked up on his soft footsteps as he entered the library. He remained still in the doorway for a bit, not really looking forward to the coming conversation. After a short minute he decided that delaying it wasn't going to make it any easier and he coughed softly, drawing their attention. Trista left the aisle and Glissandi put her book down, her eyes watching him curiously. It was the first time either of them had seen him in a less than perfectly confident state and he obviously had something to say.

"Right," he started, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "As I let Glissandi know the other day, I've started preparations on some armour for you Trista, armour that will let you withstand the firedrake's flames and will significantly heighten your physical abilities, so that you won't die should you take a direct, physical blow. I have ordered some specific items that I need for the last bit, but I have the materials required to make the base of the outfit. Glissandi, I gave it some thought about whether or not to equip you too and I think it'll be for the best if you wear an outfit too. While your role will be to keep your distance and to support us from afar, I think it'd be a great boost to your abilities if I equipped you similarly. That way you won't have to worry about keeping a constant shield up and you'll be free to concentrate your energy and abilities on your other spells." Glissandi and Trista nodded, both women showing minor signs of eager anticipation at the thought of receiving armour of that level. Glissandi frowned slightly too. She wasn't very fond of heavy armour, preferring normal clothes that were augmented for magic users. Neither had she forgotten that Gaelus still looked slightly uneasy.

"What about weapons? I'm fairly certain that the weapons I have can't penetrate its skin," Trista asked.
"I'll give you something for that. I'll make it personally attuned to you, though I will want it back afterwards. The armour you can keep however. All of what I'm going to make will be personally attuned to you, meaning that any enhancements and enchantments that are put on it will not work if someone else puts them on." He tilted his head as he ran a few calculations in his head. "Unless they are your off-spring. Although they won't work that well. They'll be about fifty percent weaker." This caused Trista and Glissandi to look at each other in puzzlement as they had no idea what he could possibly be referring to. "So since you are a front line fighter I'll be equipping you with proper plate armour. Glissandi, as I doubt that would be of much use to you, I'm planning to make you you a proper gown. Not the low quality things you're wearing now, something with proper enchantments and fortifying properties in it." Glissandi took a short step back, running a hand across her priestly gown, slightly offended at the remark. "Anyway..." he trailed off, taking a deep breath and obviously gathering a bit of courage for the next part. "Since everything will be tailored precisely for you two, I will need to take measurements." The two nodded, understanding the request but failing to grasp the source of his uneasiness. He cleared his throat. "Very exact measurements," he clarified. Glissandi stared at him, aware that she was missing the underlying meaning but not able to figure out just what that meaning was. Then Trista turned beetroot red and she caught on instantly, her face mimicking the Knight's.
"You can't be serious! I've never heard of anyone needing measurements that precise!" Trista objected loudly. "A small layer of clothes really won't make a difference!"
Usually it wouldn't," Gaelus admitted, who managed to convey that he wasn't any happier about the situation then they were. "But we'll be facing torrents of fire, meaning the tiniest gap can easily kill you. Other than that, you're used to dealing with armour made by the smiths of the Order. Maybe those at the Bastion can rival my skill, but what I'm going to make, even if it's far from being the highest grade materials, will be leagues above anything you have ever worn."
"But..." Trista protested weakly. Then she seemed to change her mind. "What type of boosts are we talking about then?" Glissandi threw her a stare filled with disbelief that the Knight could change her mind so easily.
"Significant overall strength boost that will multiply every physical ability by at the very least a factor of four, to five, I'd say. Aside from that the armour will be able to protect you even should you suffer tremendous blows. For example, you'll be able to brush off a blow such as the one you received from the barbasts. It will take some time to get used to it, but the armour will slowly give up more of its abilities as you grow more accustomed to it. Don't ask me to explain how that works, I'm not going to. It's a form of natural interaction with the wearer that is also related to the same characteristics of it being solely attuned to you." Trista nodded, not seeming too happy about it but at the same time the worries she had were quickly subdued by the intense desire that her eyes expressed for a suit of armour with such powerful properties.
"So you want us to what, let you measure us in our underwear?" Glissandi asked, not entirely convinced about the entire ordeal.
"Priestess, if I may give you my honest opinion here," Trista interjected. "An outfit like that would be worth its weight in gold. If we take it back to Order—" she paused and turned to Gaelus. "Can we take it back?"
"The outfits, sure. They're attuned to you anyway and I doubt that the Order will be able to recreate the enhancements the way I do, but they might learn something from the smithing quality itself." He nodded, but seemed to be holding something back, something that made him more uneasy than his earlier request. Glissandi was too busy struggling with her own emotions to notice it, but Trista had been looking at Gaelus at the time. She was confused for a few seconds and then her eyes went wide as she realised the full extent of what 'exact measurements' entailed. She gritted her teeth for a few seconds, before deciding that an armour set like that would be damn well worth it. She would certainly sock Gaelus if he did anything untoward in the measuring process. She decided to not tell this to the Priestess. Partially because she wanted to avoid that debate, and partially because she wanted to let Gaelus deal with that fallout alone. She hadn't quite forgiven him for throwing her into the bath.
"Right, let's get on with it then."
"Glissandi, would you mind waiting here a bit while I go to measure Trista first?"
"No problem..." the Priestess responded, still sounding insecure. Gaelus nodded towards Trista and the young woman led the way to the room she occupied. On the way there she directed her thoughts towards the armour, and trying to distract herself from what she'd need to do for it. A minor price, all things considered. Now if only she could convince her own mind of that.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:27 am

Glissandi had been pacing back and forth in front of Trista's room for the better part of an hour. She had been getting increasingly nervous about the whole thing with every passing minute and only the promise of armour that would stun the blacksmiths and craftsmen back at the monastery kept her from calling it off and running away. That combined with the strange desire she had to avoid Gaelus' regarding her as a cowardly for something that should be trivial. When the door finally opened she was close to being a nervous wreck. Trista walked out of the room, fully clothed but looking thoroughly dishevelled, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. The Knight gave the Priestess a weary look that spoke of utter exhaustion. Glissandi stood there in shock. Whatever she had expected, this was not it and the sight of Trista's state made her mind enter panic mode, mental training thrown to the wind. Then Gaelus stepped out of the room looking perfectly fine. Trista slowly walked through the hallway, struggling to stay upright.
"I'll be in the bathing house if you need me, Priestess," she croaked. Glissandi's body wasn't sure whether to stay frozen in panic or to make a run for it, but the choice was taken from her when Gaelus stepped in front of her and she met his red eyes. He gave her a smile that she believed to be comforting and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. Despite the lack of pressure and the soft touch it shackled her more firmly in place than chains could have done.

By the time she regained control of her struggling emotions she found herself inside her own room. Gaelus was standing a few feet away from her, patiently waiting for her to start undressing. He gave her a reassuring smile.
"If you don't want to, you don't have to, but I won't let you tag along to go hunting for the firedrake without proper equipment," he told her, offering her a way out. She gathered her courage and responded with a shy smile and a short shake of her head. Somehow it was easier to collect her thoughts now that she was face to face with him rather than letting them run astray. She quickly catalogued everything in her mind again. He had been nothing short of a perfect host so far and had been unfailingly polite and honest. Therefore it would be logical to assume that he was being honest this time as well and that he truly did not have any ulterior motives. Then the memory of Trista's dishevelled look when she exited her room jumped to the forefront of her mind and threw her into a turmoil again. Her train of thoughts was broken by Gaelus' voice.

"How does the measuring work in the Order?" he asked, redirecting Glissandi's anxiously straying thoughts by giving them something to focus on.
"Usually they just measure us around our waist, chest, arms, legs and everything. The normal things, really. Then they make the armour, we try it on, they make a few adjustments to make it fit properly and that's the end of it. Of course, gowns are easier to make than the armour the Warriors use."
"That's..." Gaelus seemed unsure how to phrase the next bit and so silence formed between them for a few seconds, before he continued, "...shoddy. Proper armour is supposed to fit like a glove, move with you like a second skin. In ages past all good armour was made like that. Sure, you had mass fabricated pieces, but anything that was considered to be more than just the essential basics was tailored on exact measurements." Glissandi had the feeling that he was annoyed about the process the Order used.
"How do you measure then? I must admit I have never heard of a different way of measuring." Trista's tired look flashed through her mind again. "And what happens through the process that made Trista look so..." She made a sweeping gesture with her hand.
"It's a very intense process," he explained. "Since the outfit will move along with your body even in combat, it requires a much more in depth analysis. It's why all capable armour smiths and craftsmen have such good memory. You can't write down most of it. The density of the muscles as they flex and how the body shifts its weight slightly alters its shape as it dances through the complex movements of exertion." His eyes seemed to lighten up as he explained. He paced around the room, his hands accompanying his every word with wild gestures. "If you stretch your arm to cast a spell, your muscles will move slightly, meaning that armour that fit perfectly when you were at rest won't be properly in place anymore while you move. So we compensate! We measure just how your body changes and make the cloth move along precisely with your every movement!" He imitated a swordfight, parrying and blocking invisible attacks, stabbing and slashing at imagined foes. Glissandi let out a laugh, feeling more at ease. She felt surprised too. It was the first time she saw Gaelus this animated. He paused mid-lunge and turned towards her, a broad smile on his face. It reached his eyes too and Glissandi couldn't help but return it. She found it harder and harder to maintain her Priestly composure around him.

"That's why it's such an extensive and exhausting process. Everything needs to be measured. It's why Trista was so exhausted at the end. You have to perform all sorts of movements, positions and hold them, repeat them over and over again while I get every minuscule scrap of information memorised. The more precise I can measure, the better the armour will be, and I can promise you that it will be unlike anything you have ever seen before!" He looked directly into her eyes now, his own ablaze with a mixture of well earned confidence and pride in his skills. His enthusiasm started to rub off on her and her own worries started to fade into the back of her head.
"Right then!" she said, clapping her hands. "Shall we start, before I lose my nerve?" Gaelus stopped his imaginary sword dance and nodded in response and gestured for her to start. She took a deep breath and loosened her gown, letting it slide down her body. She still felt nervous about the whole ordeal, but realised that it would be selfish of her to forego the chance of an outfit that would let her serve the Lord better. She forced down the uneasiness creeping up on her and willed herself to stay calm as she put the gown away, standing in front of him in naught but her underwear now. When Gaelus didn't move but remained where he was that uneasiness returned. It wasn't until Gaelus indicated that she was free to continue that she finally realised the full implication of 'exact measurements' and the colour drained from her face. Gaelus face turned from patient to worry.

"Are you alright?" he asked, moving towards her. She hurriedly took a step back, tripping over her own gown. In a swift movement Gaelus closed the remaining distance and caught her before she could fall. He was incredibly close now, his body pressing slightly against hers, something she was all too aware of and her face turned from pale to red as she rushed to escape from his hold. He put her back up without effort and she made a swift retreat to a wall, trying to maintain a semblance of composure.
"I thought... I mean..." she stumbled on her own words. "Nude?" she asked incredulously. Gaelus nodded. "And Trista..." Another nod.
"I can assure you though, when I'm measuring I am fully focused on my job. I need to remember a significant number of things, so I won't be distracted and I can promise you I won't do anything immature. Neither my eyes nor my hands will wander, and I will do my best to finish it as quickly as I can so that you'll be inconvenienced as little as possible," he tried to reassure her. It didn't really work.

Glissandi paced back and forth, several emotions struggling for supremacy inside her head. Gaelus reassurance that his eyes would not wander was one that caused a strange mixture of relief and, though she was loathe to admit it, annoyance. As much as she had disagreed with Lisa, the Paladin had been spot on when the older woman had pointed out that Glissandi felt some attraction towards Gaelus. But it was when he had added that his hands would not wander that her mind had practically collapsed in on itself. This meant that his hands would be all over her body in the first place. Unbidden her dream jumped to the forefront of her thoughts and if it had been possible she would have turned even more red. Instead she settled for increasing the speed of her pacing and covering her face with her hands.

Gaelus watched her pace back and forth for a bit as the Priestess struggled with herself. It had become every bit as awkward as he had feared it would become. He was at a loss for a few minutes before he resorted to a more direct approach, one he hadn't used for a long time. He walked over towards the young woman and placed his hands on her shoulders, pressing down enough to force her to stand still. She brought her hands down and saw him looking sternly at her.
"Trust me," he said. There was an authority to his voice that hadn't previously been there. She stopped fidgeting and stood still. Without waiting for her permission his hands slid down from her shoulders to her back and he undid the straps holding the fabric together and removed them. Glissandi sucked in a sharp breath, utterly taken aback by the move. He didn't pause there however and knelt down. His hands left her skin for a moment, only to land again on her hips and with a swift move he pulled down the remaining cloth, leaving her fully naked. While Glissandi tried to make sense of the situation as her brain was now hopelessly lagging behind the events, he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the middle of the room. He forced her to make eye contact with him. She looked into the pools of red and felt herself sink into them.
"Relax," he said. He didn't raise his voice, didn't put any emotion into it at all, but to her it felt like an undeniable command. She felt her limbs go limp as her muscles lost all tension. He didn't waste time. His hands slid across her body, softly pressing into her skin where ever they went.

As Gaelus went about his task with an almost surgical precision, treating it as if the entire ordeal was perfectly unexceptional, a semblance of normal thought returned to Glissandi. On one hand she was completely naked in front of a man she didn't know all that well, on the other hand Gaelus wasn't making a big deal about it and was being true to his words. His movements felt methodical rather than intrusive or caring, and while part of her mind struggled with the unasked question which of the two she would mind more, the rest of her was glad for it. She shifted her thoughts away from the ordeal as she closed her eyes, moving her lips in a silent prayer to serve as a distraction. If he was true to his word the armour would be more than worth a moment of inconvenience to her. It was a small sacrifice for the good of the Order and the cause of the Lord. That prayer was cut short when his hands slid down her hips and continued southwards. She became intensely aware of the location of his hands and how eerily familiar it felt to the dream she had. She squirmed slightly and she could feel Gaelus glancing upwards at her with annoyance.
"Hold still," he reprimanded her. His tone reminded her of one of her teachers when he lectured her and her classmates for talking in class. His hands wandered lightly and quickly, squeezing down onto her body with a weird intensity. The sheer speed of his movements surprised her. If he was actually memorising everything he did than his abilities exceeded her own by such a measure she couldn't even begin to fathom his limits. He went lower, past her knees, ending at her feet. He raised her legs, one by one, his fingers sliding across her sole. She stiffled a giggle at the feeling and was surprised to be face to face with Gaelus again the next moment. Or rather, face to chest. She looked up and felt a tiny stab of annoyance at the emotionless look on his face.

"Imitate how I stand." From the short sentence he spoke she could sense that his thoughts were elsewhere. As he stretched one leg backwards and raised his arms in complicated movements she tried to imitate him and struggled with it.
"Now move back to your original position, and keep switching between the two," he instructed her. She did her best to comply, but found it difficult to smoothly transgress from standing still to the position he instructed. To make matters worse, whenever she didn't stand exactly the way he wanted he made her repeat it. It felt beyond alien to her. His hands were everywhere, from her head to her toes and everywhere in between, including places where no man had ever touched her before. He was tender, careful, but so thorough it sent shockwaves of emotions and feelings through her. It was intrusive, yet gentle. He was methodical and cold, yet his touch felt warm and welcome. How much of that was his doing, and how much of it was her own emotions running rampant she couldn't discern. She had given up all attempts to aim a prayer to the Lord at this point. Her full attention was divided between keeping up with the increasingly difficult movements he made her perform, and trying to figure out how she felt about his hands on her bare body. Within minutes she felt beads of sweat forming on her body and trickling down. If it bothered Gaelus, he didn't show it. Shortly after that exhaustion began settling in and she started panting and struggling to keep up with his demands. He didn't relent and she did her utmost to keep going as long as she could. Eventually her limited stamina gave out and she collapsed in his arms, mind and body exhausted. He somehow caught her. She felt strangely comfortable in his arms as he held her tenderly. His touch was different now, more reassuring and firm. She closed her eyes as he picked her up, too tired to keep them open. She felt sleep tug at the corners of her consciousness and put up a short struggle against it before it simply washed over her meagre defences and completely overwhelmed her.

She woke up a few hours later. She jumped up, startled, memories and dreams so tightly intertwined she didn't know where one had ended and the other began. She blinked the sleep out of her eyes and saw the covers slide down her still naked body. She looked around in her room and was only slightly surprised to see Gaelus sitting on a chair next to her bed. He was putting a book down and moved towards her, a smile on his lips that was mirrored in his eyes. She reached down to pull up the covers but before she could do so he pressed his hand against her chest, his fingertips resting at the base of her neck. He held it there for a few seconds, then nodded and his smile broadened.
"Heart rate fully back to normal. Do you want to continue right now, or would you rather have something to eat and drink first?"
She blinked in surprise as her mind refreshed her memories and tried to push away the dreams. She felt a flush settle on her cheeks and decided she'd rather have it over with as soon as possible. "Let's continue."
Gaelus' smile broadened and he gently grabbed her hand, pulling her out of bed. Once again she was reminded that she was fully naked in front of him, but he resumed the process with a speed that startled her. Within seconds she was forced to banish most thoughts out of her head as she struggled to keep pace with his demands.

The scene repeated itself several more times throughout the day. Glissandi had limited stamina, unlike Trista, and Gaelus tired her out to the point of collapse time and time and again. Shortly after she had awoken for a second time, Gaelus forced her to stop and he disappeared out of the room, to shortly reappear afterwards with a hamper filled with light food and water, as well as a towel. Not making a fuzz about anything he just wrapped Glissandi into the towel and dried the sweat off of her. At this point her mind had grown quite weary of finding it strange and she was getting accustomed to being fully naked around him, to the point that it barely registered anymore. This had freed up her mind enough that her dreams were now constantly lurking in the back of her mind, and despite her best attempts to deny it she had to admit that his touch was pleasant. Simultaneously she had begun to grow slightly annoyed at his lack of wandering. While part of her admired his dedication to the job, she was a young woman and was somewhat slighted at the lack of a reaction to him seeing her naked body.
They shared the meal while happily chatting about a dozen small things as she further explained the Order to him, telling her more about her past and her upbringing. He was a rapt audience. Listening attentively and occasionally interjecting with well thought out questions that forced her to rethink her answer on several times, including having to readjust her opinion about a few teachers that she had. After the short meal they went back to the measuring.

It was late in the evening by the time Gaelus declared he had everything he wanted, and Glissandi would have collapsed on the floor if he hadn't caught her once again. She struggled to keep her legs upright and rather than make a fuzz about her weak reassurances that she'd be fine, he simply picked her up. He put her down on the bed and wrapped the covers around her, before picking her up again. Holding her against him with one arm he pressed open the door. Had it been a few hours earlier she might have made an issue about him carrying her outside wearing nothing but the bed covers, but now she was too tired to put up any struggle whatsoever. Instead she settled for making herself comfortable in his arms and dozed off slightly, only to be awoken a few minutes later. Shaking her head softly to clear her head she realised they were in the bathing house. Gaelus chuckled softly and pointed at something deeper in the baths. She followed his outstretched finger and saw Trista, as naked as her and fast asleep in one of the smaller baths where she had no risk of drowning. Gaelus made a point of knocking loudly on the door and the Knight jerked awake, looking confused for a few seconds before she saw Gaelus holding the equally exhausted Priestess.

"Priestess," the Knight greeted, seemingly unperturbed by being naked around Gaelus. Glissandi thought she saw a flash of something in Trista's eyes when the Warrior saw her in Gaelus' arms, but she wasn't sure. A weak smile appeared on the Knight's face. "Do you feel as broken as I do?"
Glissandi laughed. "Worse, I'm afraid. I don't have your iron constitution." Gaelus put her down on top of one of the tables before he went to fill another bath for her. Glissandi quickly got rid of the covers, the bathing house was much warmer than the mansion and she was starting to sweat again rather than cool down. While the women were used to seeing each other naked, it was surprising to them both that neither of them felt awkward around Gaelus being there with them, despite being fully clothed. A short while later he stopped filling the bath and picked Glissandi up again, ignoring her protests, and lowered her into it. Her protests quickly turned into a soft mumbling as the soothing warm water smothered any complaints she had. It felt heavenly on her exhausted muscles.

Gaelus stepped over to Trista's bath and crossed his arms while looking sternly down at her. Despite being a Knight with years of combat experience she withered like a young girl under his gaze. "Look at you!" he accused her. "How long have you been staying in that bath! You're as wrinkled as an old grandmother!" A bathtub away Glissandi giggled while Trista did her best to sink lower in the water. Gaelus wouldn't have it however and reached down. Trista spluttered and struggled, shouting at him to put her down and that she was perfectly capable of getting out on her own. It helped her none, Gaelus' strength outclassing hers significantly and she quickly gave up the fight, looking like a wet, angry, wrinkled kitten as he plucked her out. Holding her with one hand as if she was a towel he walked to a nearby cupboard and pulled a large towel out, before walking to the table he had put Glissandi on earlier. Despite her exhaustion the Priestess watched on curiously. Spreading the towel with one hand he put Trista on top of it. The Knight grumbled slightly at him, but the measuring had obviously taken the fight out of her. Without saying anything he placed her hands on her legs and started an incredibly thorough massage. Trista shouted out in pain. She considered struggling against it, trying to make her escape before realising that if he didn't she'd pay a much heavier price over the next few days, and that she couldn't escape him anyway. Grumbling and muttering curses under her breath, she caught the Priestess trying to suppress her giggling and failing. Ignoring rank for a moment she threw her superior a dark glare.
"I wouldn't laugh too much, oh Priest–OW–" she winced as his fingers pressed down hard on a cluster of nerves, earning him a dirty look, before she turned back towards Glissandi. "You're up next I'll wager."
The giggling stopped instantly.
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:49 am

As soon as Gaelus stopped applying his 'tender ministrations' to Trista, the Knight made a break for it. Hopping off the table as swiftly as her exhausted body allowed, she hobbled out of the room, only pausing to grab her clothes on the way out. She smiled weakly as she heard Glissandi protest that her magical prowess would let her heal any muscle damage, only to be completely ignored by Gaelus. Then she slipped out of the room entirely and banned all thoughts out of her head safe for one; her warm, comfortable bed.

"Is this really necessary?" Glissandi complained, weakly trying to escape Gaelus' grasp as he put her down on the table and started drying her off.
"It is. I have coaxed more movement out of your muscles then you'd manage on your own, and if I don't do this you'll find yourself immobile for the next few days, and I really don't have the time to feed you when I have armour to make," he countered sternly. Despite his tone he was surprisingly gentle, taking her tired body in mind as he rubbed all the water off her skin.
"But I can heal it with magic easily!" she tried again.
"And exhaust yourself in the process, because that's what we want when we go fight a firedrake, our mage at half her capacity."
She grumbled quietly and sucked in a sharp breath of air when he stopped drying her off and wrapped his hands around her calves instead. His fingers dug deep into her skin, but to her surprise it hurt significantly less than she had expected it to. While still painful she could keep herself from crying out the way Trista had. That was explained a few seconds later when Gaelus grunted appreciatively.
"You're lucky you didn't soak into that bath for hours like she did. I can't believe she fell asleep like that. The water had gone cold and she just slept right through it. Her muscles were all stiffened up. Yours are properly relaxed by the hot water."
She let out a sigh of relief while Gaelus steadily progressed, steadily moving higher up her body. Once he left her legs behind it started feeling differently. Rather than a swift, in depth and painful process he started going slower and Glissandi felt herself fully relax, sinking deeper into the thick towel underneath her. A small part of her told her that she could get used to this sort of treatment, causing another part of her to remind her of her duties to the Order and the Lord. Most of her told both parts to stuff it and enjoy it, too tired to deal with an internal twist.

She shifted her full focus to Gaelus' hands and the feelings they caused. It was soothing and threw her feelings into a further twist. She could not deny that she felt a fair amount of attraction for him, and even though she had to ignore it fully due to him being a non believer, she could not help but feel that he was a good person at heart and somehow felt that this made up for his lack of faith. It was something she should not feel and strongly deny, but it wasn't helped by her bodily desires and barrage of dreams she had lived through during the measuring. Despite her extensive training at the monastery, something that helped her countless times when she used her bodily charms for conversions, Gaelus managed to tear through her defences as if they were nothing more but paper. She should have listened more to Lisa. The Paladin had warned her for this. Attractive, young, intelligent, saved her life, and now she could add that he had touched her everywhere to the list. Not in the way Lisa would expect, but it would certainly cause the Paladin to scream at the Priestess.

Gaelus' fingers pressed in around her back, his fingertips reaching quite close to her chest and the sudden realisation of that caused a firm blush to settle in on her cheeks and her body to react in ways that made her glad she was laying on her belly. When Gaelus took no note of that, despite her blush being obvious, she started to wonder what kind of past he had that he was so immune to the allures of the flesh. As she pondered that he moved on to her arms. Her blush slowly receding now that his hands moved further from her chest, she turned to look at him and saw a ponderous look on his face.
"What are you thinking about?" she asked him. Despite Gaelus' friendliness it was hard to gleam information from him through the usual means, and ironically enough blunt questions were the easiest way to get him to answer.
"About your body," came the casual reply.
Her blush returned and deepened several shades of red. "My body?" she repeated, dumbfounded.
He nodded and turned around around, laying her on her back now. She instinctively moved her arms over her chest and nearly shouted when Gaelus softly but insistingly pushed them aside. Without explaining why he laid his hands on her breasts, his fingers softly prodding her skin. She was too stunned for words, the sensations and the sudden shock paralysing her utterly. Her confusion grew when she looked up at his face and saw that same ponderous look on his face. Not the look she had expected of a man with his hands on her chest. Then he moved his hands away and pressed them softly to her face and a frown formed.
"Your body has been magically altered, hasn't it?" he asked, shattering any physically focused illusions the back of her mind had been throwing at her. "It's subtle," he continued, tilting her head slightly as his fingers traced her cheekbones. "Not a forced mutation. Very slow process. Was it done to beautify your physical image to make it easier when you're out conversing people?"
Glissandi's mouth dropped open, closed, then dropped open again. She was aghast. "How do you know?" she whispered. It was a closely guarded secret.
He gave her a conspiratorial wink. "I know a lot about the human body. A whole lot. It felt off to me and I'm rarely mistaken about those things." He walked away to fetch the covers.
Glissandi sat up straight, any shyness about her nakedness completely forgotten. Nobody should be able to discern that from a glance and a touch. She jumped off the table and nearly fell, only catching herself at the last second as she forgot how tired her body was. "How?" she demanded to know.
Gaelus returned and wrapped the covers around her. "Not gonna tell," he replied, smiling at her as he motioned to pick her up.
She tried to push him away but nearly fell backwards when he didn't budge. He caught her easily to her annoyance. "How!" she repeated, yelling this time. Her eyes showed anger and worry, perhaps for the first time since her arrival seeing Gaelus as a possible threat. For once she considered his intelligence and abilities frightening rather than pleasant or protective.
Gaelus gave her a broad smile and stood still. "Told you. Not gonna tell." He took a swift step forward and before Glissandi could do anything he had scooped her up and she was in his arms again, wrapped up in the covers and unable to get out of them, much less escape from his hold. She looked up at him furiously and met his bright red eyes, to find them looking down seriously at her, and worse, through her. "I would really appreciate it if you did not push me for things I do not wish to divulge of my own accord, Priestess." His cold words cut through her and evaporated her anger. She had forgotten just who she was dealing with. She looked away, frightened.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
Gaelus responded with a soft chuckle and by holding her a bit closer to him. "No harm done. Let's blame it on you being shocked and forget it ever happened. And you'll have to excuse me. I'm not too used to company so I may come of as harsher than intended. To be fair I'm really glad you chose to stay. I missed having company. It's nice to not be alone anymore." Glissandi gave a soft smile at that.

Gaelus carried her swiftly through the mansion and carefully laid her down in her bed, before leaving the room shortly to grab new covers for her. Left alone with her thoughts she tried to rearrange them and put together what she did know of Gaelus. He was a mysterious man, with knowledge that put hers to shame in every subject she had breached so far. He possessed a self control in regards to aura that was unheard of. He was stronger beyond what should be humanly possible, magical means excluded. He knew things that frightened her to her very core, yet was very friendly, honest, and seemed to desire nothing more than company, demanding nothing from them but offering much. He was an enigma and her tired mind and body weren't helping her see things clearly. Thinking back on the past days it was little wonder she felt as jumbled as she did. Life threatening situations, discoveries that shook her to her core, a non mage lecturing her on magical abilities, Lord above, she was a young Priestess! Her superiors would struggle to deal with him, if they managed at all, she never stood a chance. She felt as a fly, caught in a spider's web.

She felt exhaustion tug at her consciousness. Sleep beckoned her, to rest, forget about it for a while. She would welcome it but she had no doubt the events of that day would haunt her dreams. Panic seeped into her mind as she slowly began to realise that they were utterly at Gaelus' mercy, and prayed fervently that he was as honest and gentle as he made himself appear. That he truly abhorred violence and that this was not an elaborate plot with a goal she couldn't possibly conceive. She was so deep in thought that she didn't realise Gaelus had returned into her room until he put the covers onto her bed. She jumped slightly at his sudden closeness. He looked at her, his eyes locking onto hers and once again she felt as if he laid her bare without meaning to.
"What are you?" she whispered.
Gaelus smiled in response, softly pushing against her shoulders and making her lie down in bed. "Sleep, Priestess."
She wanted to resist but found that the bed was too soft, too comfortable and she drifted off before she even realised it.

Gaelus left the room without making a sound, a nostalgic smile on his lips.
"That question, Priestess, was the first one you should have asked me."
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PostSubject: Re: A story   Tue Jun 06, 2017 5:51 pm

It was already nearing noon by the time Glissandi left the mansion and joined Trista and the twins outside. The Knight spared the confused looking woman a short glance and greeted her with a short nod, before returning to her training. Her sword cut through invisible enemies as she danced and weaved her way through her rhythmic exercises. She had been pleased to discover that Gaelus had been true to his word and that his massage, horrible and painful as it was, had prevented her muscles from becoming stiff beyond usage. The Knight still felt a certain exhaustion and stretching them fully stung, but she could manage a little pain. Performing a sharp turn accompanied with her throwing her arm up as a preventive block, she finished the set with a sharp stab, killing the imagined Ogre. She enjoyed these exercises. They kept her on her toes and allowed her thoughts to wander. Her sleep had been blessedly calm, no dreams to haunt her, no thoughts that plagued her. Instead she was left to deal with them now, and had been doing nothing but ever since she got up. Gaelus had only joined them for the early breakfast, before announcing that he'd retreat into the deeper parts of the mansion and would be working non stop for the next few days until the armour was nearly finished. Then he'd call on them so he could attune the armour to them. He had given the girls clear instructions in regards to their own exercises, even going as far to write them down, along with showing them every nook and cranny of the kitchen, including how to work the hobs and oven. To Trista's annoyance the girls had figured it out quicker than she had, the technological marvels far surpassing anything her engineering instructors covered.

A short movement caught her attention and she put her sword down. She walked towards the Priestess who had a confused look on her face.
Glissandi made a short motion. "Call me Glissandi, Trista. I think it'd be best if we do away with etiquette while we're here and Lisa is not here to yap at us both for it."
Trista gave the Priestess a confused look. This was a major breach of something the Order considered near holy. Yet the Priestess did outrank her and was her superior. "Are you sure?"
The slightly younger woman let out a sigh and gestured towards the mansion. "Has anything been normal since we arrived? Was yesterday just a day like any other? I'm beginning to feel as if nothing makes sense anymore and its grating on me. For once, I would like the opportunity to talk to you about it. Without ranks. Just one believer to another."
"As you wish," Trista acceded, earning her an annoyed glare. The Knight felt a strange honesty in Glissandi's voice and she could not easily associate it with her usual demeanor.

The pair walked in silence, putting some distance between them and the practising twins. Once Glissandi felt she had created enough distance to avoid being easily seen, she sat down on the grass, inviting Trista to sit next to her. She brought her arms around her knees and gave the Knight the impression that yesterday had left a far greater impression on the Priestess than it had on herself.
"Are you alright?" Trista asked, sitting down next to the huddled up Priestess.
"Honestly? No. Not even close. I don't know what to make of it anymore. I feel so blackened incompetent and useless. You know how much headway I've been making with converting Gaelus? Nothing! Not one bit. He does what he want, how he wants it, whenever he wants it. He's so... so..."
"Flawless?" Trista offered. The Priestess gave her a sad look of agreement and nodded.
"And a non believer." Glissandi added.
"And he will point out any mistake you make, but will do so without malice, as a parent teaching a child."
"Exactly," the Priestess agreed. "It's infuriating. It's making me doubt myself. And yesterday's events left me more insecure than ever, as if me nearly killing us all with the barbasts wasn't bad enough," she opened up, glad that the Knight shared her annoyance with Gaelus.
"I sympathise, Glissandi. I've been training for years. My body is marred with scars from lessons I paid dearly for. I worked so hard to get to the level I have now. Compared to everyone we have met on our journey so far I'm nearly a saint. And then I barely managed to kill a single barbast while the second one nearly killed me in return, only to see Gaelus run by, cutting them down like a scythe cuts down wheat." She sighed and somehow managed to look both sullen and happy at once. "And yet, I can't hate him. He's nice, friendly, gentle, shares his knowledge freely, and his words ring true..." she paused and looked at the ground, shutting herself up. She hadn't meant to said that. Her facial features slid back into an emotionless mask. Luckily enough it seemed that Glissandi had been too locked up in her own thoughts to have noticed her mishap. Despite Glissandi's seeming earnest desire to drop etiquette, the Knight considered it a bad idea to talk about her doubts in the Order with a Priestess.

Silence fell over the two women for several minutes, both lost in their own thoughts. It lasted until Glissandi let out a deep sigh and gave Trista a weary look.
"I honestly think we're both a very horrible match up to go against him," she started, receiving a nod from Trista in response. "But regardless we should make the best of our situation and don't cease to try to convince him of our cause. If he refuses to acknowledge the Lord, then we should at least convey that the Order is a force of good, and attempt to foster an alliance. Or, failing all that, stay on his good side as a last resort."
"So continue what we have been doing so far?" Trista asked, confused by the Priestess' behaviour.
"Yes, of course. It's just..." Glissandi looked around to make sure Gaelus wasn't nearby and that the twins were still busy training, before turning to Trista. She had shed off her entire priestly demeanour and in her stead came a frightened, young woman. "He scares me, Trista. He makes me feel things I don't want to feel. Makes me think things I don't want to think. He... I'm scared I'll fail the task entrusted to me, and I'm scared because part of me doesn't mind."
Trista's eyed went wide at that revelation. What she was hearing now was skirting with dangerous territory, far more so for a Priestess than for a Warrior. The Knight felt a mixture of anger and pity for Glissandi. Anger because of what the Priestess had entrusted to her, another burden to bear on top of the ones she was already carrying, and pity because the woman was obviously at her wits end, intellectually, spiritually and romantically. And while Trista knew that the Priestess had her beat by miles on the first two, as a Knight she was distinctively more familiar with the latter.

Foregoing protocol entirely for the sake of honesty and heartfelt compassion Trista put a hand on Glissandi's shoulder, and pulled her nearly weeping Sister into her arms, hugging her.
"I know," she whispered. She ignored a number of her own emotions swirling around inside her and focused on those that would help her calm the Priestess. To her surprise the hug was returned with an almost desperate need, Glissandi's hands grabbing tight hold of Trista as the woman broke down in soundless sobs. At a loss of what to do she just kept holding her for what seemed an eternity, until the sobbing finally lessened and eventually ceased. When the Priestess pulled out of the hug she seemed a lot more like herself again.
"Right," she said, wiping the tears off her face. "Since Gaelus will be busy for the next few days, I'm going to use that time to reconnect myself to the Lord. Would you care to join me for prayer, Trista? There's no need if you don't want to. I won't judge you if you would rather focus on your physical training."
Trista considered it. Part of her wanted to say no so that she could be alone with her thoughts on her own terms, but she had the feeling that Glissandi could really use some company and that the Lord dictated to help those in need. And she was the closest thing Glissandi had to a friend and vice versa. Not only that, but she could use some time to reconnect with her own faith and compare Gaelus' questions and answers to her own knowledge.
"I'll gladly join you, Priestess," she replied, giving Glissandi a warm smile that came from her heart. "I think I could do with some spiritual support."
Glissandi beamed and grasped the Knight's hands. "Thank you Trista."

Gaelus smiled at the two as he closed the window. He had taken a short break from his tireless smithing to get some fresh air, just in time to witness the closing part of the chat his guests had. As he returned to his work the smile remained firmly planted on his face. His guests were finding solace in each other and were happy, despite the doubts and worries he had unintentionally caused. Life, he thought, was good.
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