The Calm After The Storm

AN: I decided to do a quick drabble because I missed the Defender RP I have with Taji and I really wanted to showcase something to do with Adelle’s character. She suffers from various disorders, including depression, anxiety, and paranoia. As she has not been properly treated and instead forced into more struggling situations with her conditions, she’s far worse than she’s ever been before. Now under the care of Thad’s family, the good doctor is now able to treat her properly. However, there are those bad days and the doctor wants to be able to show Thad just how much work it will be to take care of Adelle. I really wanted to capture some perspective on someone suffering from these disorders and just how little others understand about them. There are genuinely people that suffer a great deal every day because of these disorders and its important to know how to work with them, etc. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy! Miss you Taji and hope we can start this RP again soon~!

 It was well past midnight yet Dr. Ventril had not stopped pacing in the main lobby of the hospital, his eyes focused on the chart in his hand as he studied the latest results from Adelle’s tests. The good doctor couldn’t keep still, his mind a constant race of thought for his charge that evening. Part of him wondered just what was taking that boy Thaddeus Normanle so long. He clearly expressed urgency in having him return to the hospital with haste…perhaps that troublemaker Elliot was causing such a delay.

The screeching of tires forced the older man to lift his tired eyes from the clipboard, the sight of Thaddeus quickly stepping out of the car without awaiting the driver’s usual protocol; a welcoming surprise. At least there was some urgency to be seen from the Normanle pilot as he charged into the hospital and came to a halt at the doctor’s side,  Kelphalos barely able to cling to the master’s shoulder.

“You’re late,” Dr. Ventril bellowed with a huff.

“I’m here now, Elliot was being a proper pain this evening when we got the call,” Thad muttered, a hand rushing through his untamed mane. It seemed he was in such a hurry he didn’t take a moment to tend to his looks. He did view this as an emergency. Good. “He wanted to come along but I advised against it. He needed rest after the day’s assignments and lord knows that if I brought him along you’d likely force him to stay the night to recuperate. As much as I enjoy grinding his gears, I felt it wasn’t the best time to do so.”

“I agree with you in that regard. I must say this dear girl has been giving us a handful,” the good doctor explained, noticing a rush of color fade from Thad’s cheeks as he heard the news. “Let me first say that though I remained vague on the phone I do feel it wise to say that what’s going on isn’t life-threatening…at least by a certain standpoint.”

Even the smallest hint of good news showed some relief in the pilot’s eyes. “I’m glad to hear that at least. Though I wish you were more forthcoming of the details before.”

“I felt it wise to get you here as fast as possible to showcase something I feel you haven’t fully grasped. I’m sure you are no stranger to this type of situation but I wanted to be entirely sure you were able to see firsthand what we have been dealing with since Miss Adelle was brought into our care,” Dr. Ventril explained, motioning for Thad to follow him down the corridor of the overnight wing.

The pilot did as instructed though he couldn’t help but feel on edge, especially with how silent the good doctor was being about the whole situation. He couldn’t help but feel more anxious than ever about Adelle Hughes condition and he feared what he would find when they arrived at her room.

“Here we are,” Dr. Ventril said as he came slowly to a halt, nodding through a large window to a faintly lit room. Inside, there was a small, single-bed room. And in that bed there was…no one. Raising a brow, Thad leaned in closer to the window to peer inside completely.

“Where is Adelle? She’s not in the bed.”

“She’s on the floor more than likely. She’s been ending up there a lot today,” Dr. Ventril explained, never missing a beat despite Thad’s outrageous expression at the news. “With cases as severe as hers, it’s best to let the patient allow themselves to be as comfortable as possible in their surroundings as long as it doesn’t hurt them. The nurses made sure to place blankets and pillows on the floor and are constantly making an effort to keep the girl hydrated, medicated, and so forth. Adelle prefers to be close to the ground when these severe fits of hers occurs. I have yet to find out the reason for that. Likely something in the psychosis.”

The pilot frowned at the doctor’s words, “what are you talking about? Adelle shouldn’t be left to her our devices like that. She shouldn’t be curled up on the floor like an animal or a child. She should be properly resting in her bed.”

Dr. Ventril glanced towards Thad for a moment before allowing the boy a peek at the chart. As her guardian, he had a right to what was going on in the girl’s mind. “Adelle Hughes suffers from Major Depressive Disorder or in shorter terms clinical depression. Her fits such as these are just one of many problems this girl exhibits. In her state right now, she isn’t very responsive and more fearful than in any normal circumstance. Her fits are triggered by some unknown cause currently. I have yet to properly speak with her on the matter or have a psychiatrist colleague speak with her. However, what you are witnessing is very serious. And what you are witnessing is the result of neglect by her guardianship.”

A sudden bang sent Dr. Ventril on high alert, the pilot at his side securing a punch into the frame of the window as he glared into the room ahead of him. “Crane is a fucking asshole. We all know that. He neglected her and hurt her. And you’re saying she’s traumatized by all this and that’s what’s going on right now? She’s reverting to those times in his care or lack there of?”

“Her condition suggests it spans even further than Crane’s reign I’m afraid. It stems even further than her coming to this timeframe I believe,” the doctor explained, a worrisome glance to the boy at his side. He could tell from Thad’s expression what he was thinking. There was an internal struggle going on with the pilot, his eyes swirling with emotions. “I want to be very clear that since her being placed with your family and beginning treatments by myself, she has gotten better and on a correct route for at least some form of healing. However, these scars of hers our deep. I’m sure being a time traveler heightened the pain she feels and her conditions. However, I think it is safe to say she was exhibiting and wasn’t being properly cared for even as a youth. Do you have any knowledge of what happened in this girl’s life before coming to our time?”

Thad glanced away at the question, a slight pout forming on his lips as he said, “no, she’s never shared such information. Nor do I feel it is necessary to pry.”

“I wasn’t asking you to pry, she must willingly come forth with such information if it is to be truly helping her,” Dr. Ventril muttered as he turned to the Normanle boy. “You have doubts in her?”

The question visibly tensed the pilot as his body shook, “what do you mean?”

“You have doubts in Miss Adelle. You wish her to just be stronger and shake away these feelings she has. You wish her to stand up and fight this instead of shaking like a leaf on the floor. You wish her to just be happy,” the doctor clarified with a frown.

“I don’t have doubts in her. I-I don’t doubt her at all. I’ve seen her show how strong she is. She willingly goes above and beyond to do her job and to protect her team,” Thad muttered, a clear tension in the air around him as he spoke. “Adelle Hughes is not weak. She can beat whatever is going on inside that head of hers. She will beat it.”

“Not alone,” the doctor grumbled with a glance towards the boy beside him.

“She’s not alone. She’s got you, Elliot, me-.”

“Until we can break this wall in her psychosis, there will be fits like this where she will collapse and be unable to function properly. And will you be able to keep up with this type of treatment? Will you be able to go along with her struggles and help her when she needs it? It’s a lot to ask out of someone. But as a primary caregiver…and I hope a friend…you are one of the most significant links she will have to reality,” Dr. Ventril’s tone grew rather quiet as he stepped back from the window, taking in the full sight of Thad watching the room with a fierce gaze. The boy was serious. Good, he needed to be. “I wanted you to see firsthand in a safe environment what could happen in the field. I wanted you to fully understand what your family…nee, you…would be signing up for by accepting her as one of your charges. Do you understand?”

 Thad didn’t waver. “I knew what I was signing up for. I’m not backing down now. Adelle Hughes is happy with us. She said it so herself. I’m not going to allow her into someone else’s care. Not after everything we’ve been through already.” There was a short pause in his words, a slight hesitation before the pilot then glanced over his shoulder to the doctor. “Can I go in?”

Dr. Ventril raised a brow at the boy’s words. “She may not even see you. Are you sure you-?”

“She doesn’t want to be alone,” Thad retorted, a small grin forming on his lips as he ran a hand through his untamed locks. “So I’m not going to let her feel that way.”

Though hesitant at first, the doctor relented with a heavy sigh. There was no shaking that confidence the pilot before him suddenly displayed. It seemed Adelle truly found herself with the best friends anyone could ask for. “You may go in. I’ll monitor from out here. If I feel there are any negative effects with you in there, I’ll have you removed immediately.”

“Sounds fair. Though let’s be real, such a lovely maiden such as Adelle Hughes would jump at the chance to spend a moment in my glorious company,” the pilot joked before slowly stepping into the room, ignoring the doctor’s grumbles as he maneuvered himself past the bed to assess the true situation.

There in a bundle of sheets and blankets sat Adelle, the girl’s face practically hidden from her wild, wavy locks that had fallen from the makeshift braid the nurses likely did for her hair. Her honey-colored orbs were wide and shaking, her vision probably completely shot as she quivered there in her little nest. Before him, Thad thought the time traveler looked weak…and he didn’t like that one bit. With a nod, the pilot took a step forward and held out a hand towards the girl.

“A lovely maiden like you will catch her death of cold in a place such as this,” he hummed, keeping his eyes on hers while she stared off into nothingness. As he grew closer, he could see her struggle to breathe as she shook. She was clinging so tight to her cover, almost desperate to shut out the world around her. And those eyes were so frightening to behold. He could see the internal struggle and he despised it. He just wanted the Adelle Hughes who battled his flirtatious remarks with snarky comments, who’s light sparked at the sight of technology and all the things she could build, who became as much a troublemaker as Elliot when the two worked together. Thad wanted her back…and was going to fight for her return. “I had to practically force Elliot to his room for once when he heard I was coming to visit you. I swear any other time he’s off hiding somewhere snoozing but not tonight. I guess he’s missing you a lot. I’ve been missing you too. You’ve been in here for a few days you know…realized it got quieter at home when you aren’t around.”

Still no reaction from the girl as he came toe-to-toe with her bundled form, Thad shifting his glance towards the window where Dr. Ventril watched quietly. The good doctor had a knowing glance, clearly the one who knew her best in her fits. He knew well enough there would be a lack of reaction from Adelle in that moment, even if it were Thad trying to reach her.

Reaching up to his shoulder, the pilot took Kelphalos into his hold, brushing his fingers across the cold surface of the Defender core. “I know how much you’re fascinated by the cores. You love the Defenders too. I think I heard you call them your babies once. Ha, with all the work you put into them to make sure they run properly I’m not even surprised by that,” Thad mumbled for a moment before gulping hard in his throat, the pilot making the decision to take a seat next to the girl.

He could feel daggers staring from the window, the doctor likely disapproving of such rash actions but he didn’t care. Thad had to be on Adelle’s level to truly understand her. He focused his stare upon the bundled time traveler, her eyes never faltering from the nothingness she was so focused upon. Her shivering never ceased. And what’s more is that she showed no signs at all of realization that he was even there.

“I can already hear Elliot making a snide remark about allowing myself to sit on the dirty floor of the hospital for a chance to flirt. Ha, he’d probably sit between us with a grumble before forcing you to share your blankets with him,” Thad continued, his words growing quieter and quieter with each syllable uttered. He knew the good doctor could overhear everything he said…and some things he’d rather keep between him and the woman beside him. “I don’t know much about your life, besides what little I know about your time with Crane. I don’t know much about why you are…the way that you are. But I know that you are a strong person and you are not alone in any of this. I’m not going anywhere. Elliot isn’t going anywhere. We’re all here for you. So no matter how long it takes, heal properly.  Cry if you need to. Scream and shout. I’ll be right here. And I’m never-.”

Suddenly Thad fell silent, his eyes wide as he glanced down at the hand holding tightly to his arm. Adelle’s grip was strong yet shaky, her focus still forward into nothingness yet it was clear he had reached her in some way.

“You’re one of the strongest people I know,” he hummed with a knowing grin, leaning his head back on the wall as he prepared for the long haul that evening. There was no way he was going home now unless Dr. Ventril kicked him out. Adelle held tightly to him and he wasn’t going to let that moment pass him by. Her path to healing was important and that was the first step towards recovery. And he had to admit he was a little selfish in some regard…he couldn’t wait to rub it in Elliot’s face that Adelle trusted him enough to reach out to him when she needed help. “You’re stuck with me Adelle Hughes. Stuck with me to the very end. We’ll beat this together. I promise you.”

*~End~*

Coffee Shop

AN: This post is inspired by a little something I found on tumblr (link) and I thought it would be so fun to do that with Baye and Martin and some mine and Taji’s Dragon Hunters RP characters. And from there I also came up with a new character to add to the cast. I’m so excited to introduce her! Hope you guys enjoy!

*~For Taji~*

It took a wealth of coaxing to convince Bayelei out of her usual hunt for jobs, Martin still rather shocked he was able to coerce her to the small coffee cart in the marketplace. His desire for a warm drink was met with a growing spark for her attention, the elder Jamerson brother thus beginning his bargaining for her company. Part of him held a small hint of hope that simply asking her would bring her along for the ride…however, time was money for the hunter and she had no interest whatsoever in making her way to a cart in the middle of the bustling marketplace to waste money on that “caffeinated filth” she deemed it.

After a battle with his own pocket change, Martin finally held the woman’s interest with the promise of a hefty sum of money. Of course he’d be holding such sweet affection for the only woman in town who would literally have to be paid to go on a date. He didn’t mind so much however…if it meant they got to spend even a moment together, Martin would go broke ten times over.

 “You’re fidgeting.”

The soft whisper forced Martin to stumble from his maze of thoughts, his surroundings coming back at full attention. He stood together with Bayelei in one of the longest lines he’d ever seen at the coffee cart, the owner apparently having received a shipment of expensive beans up for grabs. Up ahead he could see Miller and Wendell close towards the front, the nurse likely ecstatic at possibly having a fancier cup of coffee for a few days. Nearly twenty people were standing between Martin and his warm drink, including Kyle and Sarah just ahead of them with a curious Roxanne at their feet. Bayelei noticed them as they arrived and had the notion to go in line with them but the elder Jamerson was quick to hold her back. He issued an excuse that there was a young woman standing behind them and it would be rude to cut…though in truth, he was rather selfish and was tired of sharing the woman with others. Kyle was her bloody roommate after all; he already saw enough of the hunter.

“You’re fidgeting and ignoring me now,” Bayelei chimed in again, her hands shoved into the fur-lined pockets of her new jacket. Martin couldn’t help but grin at her small pout on her lips, the woman practically buried in the warm bundle of the coat he recently purchased for her as a gift. He could tell she wore it with such care and treasured such a simple gift. Though she probably would never admit it to him in speech. “You ask me to come out here with you and you ignore me. Class act.”

“Huh? Did you say something? I was lost in such a wonderful view to behold,” the elder Jamerson brother hummed with a smirk, his muscles flinching as the hunter forced a fist into his shoulder. “Ouch. You inflict me with such pain? I guess its true what they say…love hurts.”

“Your witty banter doesn’t excuse poor manners I’m afraid, you shameless prick,” the hunter growled with a roll of her eyes, a hint of enjoyment in her voice as she nodded to the line. Already Martin could see it had grown nearly double since they had arrived; who knew such news of an expensive brand would cause a town full of penny pinchers to actually spend their money. “All of this for caffeinated filth? Clearly I live in a town full of fools.”

“I’m sure you’d actually enjoy it if you allowed yourself to taste it. We can certainly share,” Martin retorted, rocking back and forth on his heels. It seemed once more his motions had attracted the attention of his companion for now her full focus was upon him.

“You’re awfully excited for a warm drink,” she mentioned with a raised brow. “You can barely sit still. It’s almost like when you discover a new piece of tech to take apart.”

It was finally noticeable to him that what she said was true. He was practically bubbling with excitement, all for a simple trip to the coffee cart. “Well, can you blame me-?”

Bayelei interrupted, “I can.”

“I mean, we’re here together for a nice little outing, just the two of us,” Martin bounced back from the interruption, his grin as wide as ever. “You’ve been working so hard and we never get to go out together, you know, just us together. Yet here we are, Baye and Martin, a pair of lovebirds just-.”

“You are a dork,” the hunter hummed under her breath though a hint of a smile pulling at her lips was enough for Martin to know she was enjoying herself.

“And you’re so cute, I just want to scoop you up in my arms and-!” Martin chimed as he tried to take the woman into a hug. Unfortunately, Baye was quick to shove a hand into the man’s chest , pushing him away from her in a huff. Most times Bayelei wasn’t a fan of public displays of affection. It seemed that moment was one of those times. “Guess I’ll have to be quicker on the draw next time,” he hummed and turned his attention back towards the line before them. For the last fifteen minutes it seemed a woman at the front of the line had tried every possible angle to barter with the shopkeeper, her efforts proving more futile by the second as an impatience settled in upon the line. “We still haven’t moved an inch. This is getting quite ridicul-.”

“Well well well, fancy meeting you lot here!” A familiar voice chimed in from behind the duo, Martin soundly objective as he and his date turned heel to see a grinning Baila bounding her way towards them. “In line for a cup of joe huh?”

“B-Bail-.”

“I’m just here for moral support while Martin drinks up this filth,” Bayelei mentioned with a shrug, her interest piqued at the new arrival. Despite the elder Jamerson’s obvious objections, the newcomer shoved herself behind the couple, all the while no one allowed themselves to offer up complaints for fear of punishment from the brutish woman. “You too?”

 “Ohoho, I’ll be honest with you Baye my dear. I’m just here to be an unwelcome third wheel,” the grinning hunter joked, a fit of laughter erupting from her throat as she slammed a hand upon Martin’s back. The man pouted as he eyed his date for hopes of her taking care of the interruption; but alas, it seemed Baye was much more interested in the newfound company than he was. The two female hunters had practically become best friends and though it was wonderful to see his love so invested in others’ company, couldn’t they meet at more…appropriate times? Couldn’t he catch a break? “Aw what’s the matter Martin my boy?”

“You could be a third wheel to literally anyone else in this line. Miller and Wendell are right up there. Go bother them!” He hissed with a frown. “Hell, Kyle is literally two people ahead of us. He’s alone. Bother him!”

The gatherer responded to his name with a glance over his shoulder, a knowing grin on his lips as he winked. “I mean, I wouldn’t say no to-.”

“Martin, don’t be rude. Baila isn’t a bother,” Bayelei mumbled with a roll of her eyes, the female hunter completely turning her full attention onto the newcomer. “Anyway, I heard about your latest job with Aaron. Bummed I couldn’t come along. I very much would have loved taking down that Ridgeback.”

“Yeah I’m sure it would have gone down much faster with you along for the ride. Surely that will be something to consider for our next dragon hunt,” Baila answered with a wink to the woman beside her. “The dynamic duo of Baila and Baye would be sure to take the dragons down within minutes.”

“Seconds even.”

 Already Martin was a fuming mess, his fists balled at his side as he glared forward towards the front of the line. The damned bartering woman still held up everyone, the shopkeeper growing even more impatient than the guests. An explosion of frustration was sure to happen in that line sooner or later. Yet who would crack first? It was hard to say.

When Martin came up with the plan to invite Bayelei out that morning, it was simply for a chance to spend time with his love. He wanted to talk with her, smile with her, hold her hand, and enjoy her very being at his side. And then bloody Baila had to come over and steal her attention away. He had to get the upperhand again. But how?

Suddenly a light bulb sparked in his mind, a grin returning to his lips as he thought of a plan. He would take her hand in his and pull her back into focusing on his company. It was such a simple yet brilliant plan. There wasn’t a moment to lose to achieve his goal. So with a heavy sigh, Martin made his move.

“This is just so crazy! At this rate, it’ll be nightfall before we get such a delicious roast,” the elder Jamerson muttered under his breath as he calmly reached out and scooped up the cold hand at his side. And immediately his eyes widened at the touch for he knew that this was not the hand he had held before. This was not Bayelei.

His cheeks hinted pink as he then turned his head to stare upon the hand he had scooped up, his eyes then following the trail of an arm to see the woman who’d been stationed in front of the couple the entire time they’d been in line staring back at him with vividly green orbs. She was a newcomer to Eastwyvern for sure, as his family knew just about everyone in town and she was nowhere in his memory. Half her hair was cut short, leaving the other half long and swept. She had a bit of muscle on her and a noticeable scar hidden on her scalp by her hair which led him to believe she was a hunter like the girls behind him. “Y-You’re not my girlfriend.”

“No,” the woman muttered, her tone hinting she was disinterested as she kept her eyes squarely on the man holding her hand. “No I’m not.”

“Martin,” a voice sounded sharply through the moment, the man glancing over his shoulder to see Bayelei eyeing the joined hands with an unsure look upon her face. Martin could see her mind reeling behind those cold orbs of hers and he struggled with what to do next. It was an accident; she had to know that. Behind her stood Baila, her eyes wide as she gawked at them with anticipation for what her friend would do to the elder Jamerson brother for such madness. “You’re holding the wrong hand, Martin.”

The nervousness in his voice was apparent as he tried desperately to come up with an excuse for what had happened. Honestly the truth would have been fine. But in the heat of the moment it was hard to bring his mind to a grinding halt and allow himself to explain the situation properly. “Y-You sure?”

“We’re very sure,” the newcomer retorted, continuing to await some sort of action from the man. Why was he still holding her hand?

For some reason, Martin still continued to talk…and dig a further hole for himself with Bayelei. He could see the hurt in her eyes, and he could also see the hatred she now burned into the back of the head of this unknown woman. Behind her Baila knew exactly what was happening but it was clear she would help to make the matters even worse. “I mean, I feel committed to finishing this adventure with you now. Clearly this accident must have a silver lining.”

“I’m not paying for you,” the woman said without a second thought.

“Well that’s a bummer,” Martin huffed, his witty banter at the end of the line as he then turned back towards the two women behind him. “Well, I suppose that ends our little adventure together miss. I’ll just return to my girlfriend and-.”

“I’m sure as hell not paying for you,” Bayelei snapped as she glared upon him, Baila’s ‘ohs’ sounding off as the elder Jamerson gulped at his mistake. So much for their date…

Suddenly Kyle turned heel towards the group, his interest piqued as he held out his hand with a grin. “Well then, you come hold my hand then Martin. I’ll buy you whatever coffee you want!”

Baila’s eyes sparkled at the declaration, the events transpiring before her even more interesting than she could have ever imagined. All the while Bayelei watched with a frown upon her lips as Martin then pulled away from the newcomer and without a second thought took hold of his companion’s hand, the two of them turning back towards the front of the line.

“Well, at least someone cares about me,” the elder Jamerson remarked, the feeling of daggers burning into his skull likely his dearest Baye ready to rip him a new one. Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong on their little date. Lucky for him, it seemed he truly had some backup when everything went to hell. “T-Thanks for the help, Kyle. I-I don’t know what just happened but-.”

“Your mouth was quicker than your brain is what happened. That’s usually what happens around here. That’s how I get all the juicy bits of information,” the man said with a shrug. “Baye’s gonna need to cool down from this. You’d best apologize sooner than later though or it’s gonna get real nasty for you.”

“I-I know,” he said with a loud sigh erupting from his throat. “S-So you’re paying huh?”

“Not a chance. I’ve already done too much by saving your ass from a furious Baye. You buy your own damn coffee. And mine too while you’re at it.”

“Great…best date ever…”

*~End~*

Dragon Hunters RP Five – Mae and Taji

AN: Ok so here’s the deal: Taji wanted to continue on with the storyline with the characters nowadays so we are just kind of assuming the Dragon Hunters 4 RP was finished and we shall eventually write more on the Prequel at a later date. So here’s the latest RP we have in the group, it’s ongoing so check back for more updates soon! Hope you guys enjoy!

*~START~*

Tajiface: (I had to double check that we are actually on our FIFTH dragon hunter rp! I am so excited! Feel free to have Baye or any character hop in on any of the situations in here, I used Kyle as an opening point of view ch but he doesn’t have to stay!)

The morning had promised abysmal winter weather and Kyle prepared accordingly. He donned his heaviest coat, an old ski coat he had only used once at a resort back in the days luxuries were still readily available, and double layered his clothing as best as he could. His newest companion Roxanne trotted around with a child’s raincoat he had found by chance in the old thrift stall in the corner of the market. He had to tear it quite a bit until it finally fit snugly and comfortably around the dog. He finished her outfit with a battered, but clean, towel under the coat to offer her more insulation. Every layer the two wore was put to good use as the weather turned out to be even worse than he could imagine.

Rain steadily drew attention away from the bitter cold, and Kyle was still in shock that it hadn’t turned to snow yet. In fact, large icicles even decorated the rocky mountainside beside them yet the rain still refused to switch into snow. Kyle stopped walking for a moment to take a deep breath, which exhaled as a full cloud into the air before him. His boots sloshed into the puddle he had just stepped in with a resounding, dismal splash. He sighed then watched the new cloud escape into the air again. Roxanne was oblivious to his pause and continued to explore the path around them. She enjoyed the muddy areas just beside the road instead of the road itself for some reason. While she happily sniffed around the ground for new scents his other traveling companion had stopped and eyed him.

“Are you serious?” Sarah, one of the first shop keepers he had befriended since being forced to Eastwyvern, simply raised a brow at him. Unlike Kyle she sported a heavy, waterproof jacket which reached down to her knees. He still marveled at how the locals of this area seemed completely unaffected by the cold.

Kyle exaggerated a shiver and made an overly miserable expression. “I am just not made for this weather… ”

“We are not taking another break, you lazy sloth. It’s time to get some muscles on those small bones of yours!” Sarah said with a grin. “Besides, I’m already late opening the shop. You’re making me lose business!”

“Who would be out in this mess anyway?” Kyle muttered as he caught up to Sarah’s quickening pace.

She shrugged. “You’d be surprised what people endure when they need money to feed themselves or starving kids.”

“Ouch, you turned all serious on me again. I was setting up for the perfect compliment.” Kyle imitated flinching. “I was going to say ‘nothing could keep them away from the most dazzling, beautiful shopkeeper in all of Eastwyvern.'”

This earned a laugh, although Kyle knew Sarah saw through his false flattery. She was probably laughing more out of his poor attempt at it than the compliment itself. He found that he liked this about her, which made the number of residents in this town he actually liked bump up to three people. He had learned the tricks of his trade fairly early in his life, even before they became his only avenue of survival in this new world. In a new town he always started friendships in certain places he knew would provide him the best route to contacts and information. One of them was, of course, the market, where he met Sarah. Her shop was somewhat hidden and out of place from the others so he didn’t notice it at first. Only after accompanying Bayelei to the store did he even find out it existed. This was either a bad sign for a shop or a good sign. After witnessing Sarah’s interaction with customers, showing them both charm and firmness, he determined she was a very capable vendor indeed. He judged that the shop was somewhat hidden because her reputation was enough advertisement.

On the days he didn’t spend with Bayelei he often walked with Sarah to the market. Here he started his day of fraternizing with the locals and gathering as much gossip and facts as he could. Today, though, he wondered if he should have just stayed home. The weather was atrocious and showed no signs of improving. Once they actually reached the marketplace, though, his day started to get better.

Eastwyvern’s market was really just a collection of crumbling buildings and tents made with a variety of patched together cloth. The higher end and specialty stores were in the actual buildings, but to get into them a shopper had to venture through a tunnel of these tents with vendors selling all kinds of wares. There was an actual grocery store still in operation at the corner of the market, and tents were especially clustered around this busy section of the market. Bayelei assured him the grocery store was rather unreliable during the winter months, though, when any kind of bad weather disrupted the meager supplies sent out here.

They entered the market by cutting through the old university which stood center in the town. Once they arrived at the market there was clearly a commotion happening near one of the open squares before them. Sarah continued to walk as though there was nothing happening down the street. She even started digging in her pockets for the key to her store. It took some convincing until Kyle finally persuaded Sarah to join him and watch the showdown. Kyle glanced down at Roxanne, who stuck close on his heels as he pushed his way through the gathered spectators. He was tempted to pick her up in order to keep her safe from careless feet, but he knew she disliked being held in front of a large number of people. He decided it best to leave her be as she seemed to be following close enough.

He turned his attention to the scene before them with glee. Situations like this always ended rather… profitable for people like him.

They seemed to had just missed a rather large brawl. The ground was smeared with streaks depressed upon the mud, which formed where tents did not cover. A man lay still on the ground, as if he had simply fallen over and chose to slept there. Kyle could see some blood, though, dripping into the ground. Another man hunched over the one on the ground, checking over him with a hand. Kyle recognized this man as one of the free lancer hunters who hung around the job office quite a bit. He looked like a badly patched up figurine. His clothes had several tears which were jaggedly sewn together. Mud was smeared all over him as well, and Kyle could tell it wasn’t just from this fight. The man’s own face looked like a patchwork job too. Blood dripped from where he had clearly been hit before and bruises littered around these cuts making the image even worse.

Kyle followed to the opposite side of the makeshift ring of spectators who circled the combatants. He had to suppress a laugh at the sight. The other fighters were clearly soldiers, although only one of them looked as though he had participated in the fight. Two soldiers stood at full attention between the opposing fighters. Behind them was a man kneeling with one knee on the ground. He looked just as worse for wear as the other fighters, with even more mud plastered all over the face. The soldier breathed heavily in his stance and useless tried to wipe away mud from his forehead only to add more. He would never have thought he’d see Barlet look no different than a street thug.

Kyle nudged Sarah. “Who is that man again?”

“Kyle, I have told you dozens of times who that is!” Sarah whispered, exasperated.

“Sorry, bad memory I guess.” Kyle said with a sheepish smile.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “That’s Barlet, he’s the head of the military around here again. I’m not surprised to see him out here on the streets. I heard he’s rather protective of the town after he returned from getting Miller. He’s often out here patrolling on his own now.”

So he has something to prove… Kyle thought to himself. He often acted as though he didn’t remember who people were. Every time he asked someone for a reminder they seemed to drop different details than before, which helped him to paint full profiles of those around him.

“Ah, yes, that’s right… and speak of the devil, isn’t that the Eastwyvern Hunter right there?” Kyle asked innocently.

Miller had been on the scene all along, of course. Kyle noticed him shouting things halfheartedly at Barlet from behind. They were too far away for him to hear what was being said, though.

“Yes, yes, and before you ask, because I told you this already too, he took on part-time work with the military when he got back.” Sarah turned to leave and Kyle had no choice but to follow.

“Doesn’t he help run the guild?”

Sarah shrugged. “They aren’t always hunting, you know, they do other odd end jobs sometimes. This is just one more of them, I guess.”

Kyle nodded, his mind rolling over this new information. Bayelei so rarely shared information about that guild with him. Sure, they were fairly infamous around town and he picked up quite a bit of rumors about them. Nothing he heard could be confirmed, however. Once again he was thankful for Sarah’s immense value as a friend in this town, as she seemed to have all the connections he wanted.

“How does he find the time?!” Kyle asked with mock astonishment.

They had reached her shop at that point. Tents of dull colors ran along the building her shop worked out of, which was part of the reason he hadn’t noticed it before. They easily passed through these until they were at her door. She started to unlock the door when he asked the question and paused for a moment. A cloud passed over her eyes for the briefest of moments and Kyle only just barely caught the look.

“I suppose he likes his time mostly taken up for now instead of being idle.” Sarah pushed the door open and grinned back at him. “Also he’s closer to Wendell when he’s working the part time job. Now get in here, slob, and make yourself useful if you’re going to loiter at my business all day again.”

Kyle frowned as he stepped aside for Roxanne to step inside. Sarah cooed at the dog and pulled a towel from somewhere behind the counter to help wipe Roxanne’s wet paws. Kyle gave one glance back to the streets before entering the shop after them.

Maeeverglow: (Hiya! I wish I could have replied sooner 😦 my phone finally kicked it and I didn’t notice the lack of battery until it was too late. Anyway I love this start to the RP. So Barlet is brawling now? Was that what’s his face? The guy from the prequel? Also I hope my reply is ok :/ I debated what to write for a while so I could be over thinking things again)

The muddy puddles sloshed with each step of Bayelei’s boots, the woman’s jaw clenched as she traveled along. She could hear the splashing of stomps behind her but she chose to ignore them. After all she knew exactly who followed her…and she had little interest in speaking to Vita after what she had done.

The simple jacket stuck to Bayelei’s slender figure, barely any sort of protection from the rain pouring down upon her. Each drop felt like icy daggers digging into her skin. Usually she would have kept her travels to the shadows under whatever cover she could manage but no matter what she did, her sister still remained at her heels. It seemed the elder of the two grew accustomed to the antics of the sister she’d only recently been reunited with.

“Don’t you walk away from me Bayelei Corde,” the military woman called out, her short dark hair dripping along with the rain as she did her best to keep up with the other’s strides. “We need to talk about this right now. Let’s get to someplace warm and have a chat!”

“No,” the hunter hissed under her breath as she adjusted her movements, her steps made with her toes as she began to gain speed through the rain. Vita groaned at the action and matched her movements, ignoring her manners as a military official and instead carrying on like the stubborn sister she was. They were so alike, the Corde siblings.

“Damn it Bayelei, you will stop and listen to me. We need to talk about this or things will never get better. I had a talk with the doctors and Wendell and it seems someone has not only not properly cared for her massive injuries but that same someone has continued to put herself in dangerous situations that have only made things worse for wear. Do you understand what this means Bayelei?” Vita noticed a slip in her sister’s step, likely the cause of a leg injury flaring up. It was the perfect time to make her move, the woman slipping fast before her sister and blocking her path completely. “Bayelei, at this rate you may have been causing yourself permanent damage. You can’t get better if you don’t allow yourself to rest. Yet you seem to be working yourself even harder since returning-.”

“Living costs money. Money requires jobs,” the younger sister muttered, her eyes fierce as they glared at the woman before her. “Move.”

Vita refused to stand down, her hands raised to block the furious hunter before her. “I won’t allow you to put yourself in danger of hurting yourself further…or worse, kill yourself with your own stubbornness. You are not running away from me this time. I told you before-.”

“You will move out of my way,” Bayelei’s tone grew venomous as she hissed at her sister, fists bawled at her side leaving the skin a milky white from the stress. Chills traveled down Vita’s spine, the woman knowing that tone well. It was reserved for those her sister truly despised. And that same tone was aimed at her. There was a suspicion the hunter wouldn’t take her intrusion on her personal life well…but never to such a degree. “Now.”

“B-Bayelei I’m only trying to he-.”

“Help me? You’re trying to help me? You have used your damn connections in this entire town to make sure I don’t get any jobs at all!” The younger sister howled, her voice ringing out through the dreary streets and dismal weather. It was rare to ever force the woman in such a terrifying display of fury. Vita’s actions must have been the final straw of all the horrible things that went against Bayelei in a while. “You made sure the customs office didn’t allow me to be approved for any jobs. And when I began searching for clients elsewhere for a under the table gig I come to find out they’ve been specifically told not to hire me for anything. You paid them off! Do you understand what you did? I can’t find work! I can’t earn money because of your interference!”

“My interference is for your own good! Think about all the rest you’ll get when you cut hunts out of the occasion for a good while. You will be able to work through these injuries with ease!” The military woman explained though she felt the intensity of her sister’s stare. That look in her eyes was deadly. “You don’t have to worry about money Bayelei. I’ve got you taken care of. You will stay with me and Emmett from now on. Then you will have food, shelter, clothing, everything taken care of for you. You won’t have to worry about a thing Ba-.”

“I don’t accept handouts. And I won’t accept anything from someone who went behind my back to screw me over completely,” Bayelei snapped and ducked out of the way of her sister’s wall, charging off towards the market area to find a place to hide out and gather her thoughts. “I love you Vita but this was…too far!”

The military woman turned heel as her sister began to disappear into the haze of the rain, her own anger boiling up from such an outburst. “Bayelei, you can’t just keep doing this to yourself! You need to start trusting me! I only want what’s best for you! And you know this attitude of yours is exactly why Vette almost-!”

Her words trailed off immediately as Vita realized what she had said, her eyes wide as she saw her sister’s slender frame pause in the rain. No, she never intended to say anything like that. She didn’t mean it. She didn’t-.

“You’re not my mother,” a cold tone cut through the storm before Bayelei vanished completely from sight. “And neither is that bitch.”

“Bayelei please!” It was too late and the military woman knew it. Her sister was gone. She truly made a mess of things. “Damn it all, what am I going to do now? She’s going to get herself killed.”

*****

The marketplace was bustling despite the weather, Bayelei barely strolling in to view the aftermath of some sort of brawl. Her icy orbs narrowed on the scene with mild interest until she noticed Miller and Barlet part of the display. What on earth happened? The military brute looked a common thug with mud smeared upon his clothing and skin. And the bloodied figure on the ground before them looked a messy heap himself…a familiar heap nonetheless. She debated entering the fray but immediately thought against it. She had fury boiling within her. And Barlet always tended to make things worse for her.

No she needed to keep moving. She had to keep moving. She had to come up with a plan. Desperation forced her forward without so much of a word to those she knew well.

(Ok I couldn’t decide really on which I wanted her to encounter because I love both scenes. She should find Kyle soon or talk to someone from the guild. She won’t reveal what has her upset and she will try to hide any information she can from them. I wanted to leave it up to you who wanted to talk to her. She can keep moving and Kyle sees her or someone there sees her 🙂 hope its ok!)

Tajiface: (That was perfect! I feel sorry for both sisters LOL … thanks for replying even though you had a full day 🙂 And Miller is going to be the one to see her, I’ve got a (hopefully) good surprise for her coming soon, and she’ll need to be with Milller for it)

Miller could only watch anxiously as Barlet collected himself. He had offered to help the other up only to be batted away. The other two soldiers stood awkwardly between them, glancing back and forth with uncertainty. He hadn’t seen exactly what had started the fight and one didn’t have to be a genius to figure it out. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a mother behind one of the stalls under a tent huddling her child close. She kept a close eye on a lockbox which had sunken in the mud a small distance from her.

This was just one of many times Miller had seen Barlet take a firm stand in protection of an Eastwyvern citizen since they returned. Just a year ago Barlet was rather aggressive about protecting the town, to the point that he isolated himself. Now, though, the pretentiousness was almost gone and replaced with an idle rage that brewed any time there was a ruckus. A ruckus such as a couple of traveling free-lancers who decided to bully a merchant for money.

Miller broke out of his thoughts when he heard Barlet finally stir. The man finally stumbled to his feet and decided to ignore the mud caked on his face.

“Barlet?” Miller held a hand out, ready to stop him should he decide to go after the other one.

“Matthew, Tyler, arrest them for stealing then return to your patrols. Miller, you are in charge of collecting the interviews and conducting the final report.” Barlet accepted the soldiers’ salutes and observed as they followed their orders.

The crowd had finally dispersed around them and Barlet still stood in one place with his arms clasped behind him. Miller waited until the soldiers hauled off the screeching men to speak again.

“You never let me write the final reports.” Miller commented. “Something about you being a control freak.”

Barlet sighed. “I just like to be in control of all the variables. A mismanaged report can cause a criminal to go free. Besides, this time… I don’t think I’ll be able to write it.”

“Why not?”

Miller snapped back to him in concern. Sure enough Barlet stood stock still on purpose. The only clue that the man was in any kind of pain was his ragged breathing. Miller had only caught the end of the fight, but had seen Barlet receive a solid kick to the side. He doubted any bones were broken, though. Likely it was causing a nasty bruise on top of the other scrapes and cuts.

“I might have some trouble making it back to base- No, don’t help me, there are people who can see!” Barlet growled in a lowered voice.

Miller rolled his eyes. “Well, princess, you can’t just stand there all day- Oh, Bayelei! Hey!

Barlet groaned at the outburst and turned on his heel. The movement knocked whatever composure he had and the man began to fall to the ground before Miller grabbed an arm. He ignored Barlet’s complaints and helped him a step or two. This was as far as he could get, though, as the man was much larger than him.

Miller called to Bayelei, who was some distance away. “Help me get this joker back to the base? There’ll be a nice tip in it for you…”

Maeeverglow: (The Corde girls never get a break, even if it’s just the two of them it seems. Bayelei knows her sister is trying to help her and all but she has way too much pride for all of that nonsense. If she wasn’t hunting or doing jobs, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself honestly. And surprises? I love surprises!)

At the first utterance of her name by her tracker friend, Bayelei thought to ignore him completely. ‘Just keep moving forward and don’t stop until you have nowhere else to go.’ Her thoughts were soon interrupted however to a single word that sparked the fire within her soul.

A tip? A job? What? Turning heel at Miller’s request, Bayelei eyed the situation carefully to assess what she would be dealing with. Barlet looked worse for where and though his expression fought to keep his pain to himself she could see it in his eyes just how much he needed someone to help. The tracker had one arm already, casually trying his best to pull up the military man from the muddy ground below.

A sigh escaped the female hunter’s lips as she then maneuvered to the duo’s side and carefully knelt down to lift up her charge with her knees. She didn’t allow the man to argue or grumble at her as she slowly lifted him up and threw his arm along her shoulder blades while she placed her hands lightly on his chest and back to steady him.

“Barley playing hero again?” She remarked with a small grin to her companions. “You ok there Barley boo?”

Tajiface: Barlet practically growled at the remark. “I don’t need any help-”

“Yes, you do.” Miller interrupted casually.

He started towards the military offices with the other two reluctantly in tow. Once they cleared the prying eyes of the market Barlet seemed to relax more in their grips. Miller took this as a good sign. He quickened their pace as best he could with the weather hindering them. Eventually they passed through the makeshift gates surrounding the military controlled part of the campus, which served as their headquarters. Many offered help as they half-dragged Barlet through the base only to be denied either by Miller or Barlet himself.

Barlet had changed his office’s location upon their return to a ground floor room. Miller suspected the old office had many hidden compartments that were discovered by others during the take-over, although he also silently wondered if the room simply held too many memories for him. He was especially grateful for the change today. Dragging Barlet on ground level was hard enough; he didn’t even want to imagine getting the stubborn man upstairs.

Once they approached the door to his office Barlet straightened himself up and broke out of their grips. In a few minutes he located the key to his office and pushed forward to the room. Inside was a room a bit bigger than Barlet’s old office, with a large set of windows overlooking the military grounds. Right now the windows were covered with heavy curtains which blocked out the gloomy weather. Barlet slumped over his desk and turned on a light. The lamp provided only minimal visuals within its dim haze. This was the lamp Barlet turned on when he was plagued with a migraine. Without any words to the others the soldier found his way to the large couch and settled in, dropping only his muddy coat onto the floor before doing so.

“You’re going to get the couch filthy.” Miller sighed. He picked up the coat and placed it on a coat rack in the corner of the room.

“Mhmm.” Barlet draped a hand over his eyes, ignoring Miller.

The tracker, of course, was not one to be ignored. He kicked one of Barlet’s boots, which were draped off the couch thankfully. Barlet spared one disapproving look, at least. Miller frowned. The man looked even older than usual like this. The migraines were coming more often and he didn’t seem as full of energy as before. In fact, the man looked older with every passing day. He complained of more and more pains as time went on. He was becoming forgetful, too, and Miller wondered how mismanaged things would be if the tracker weren’t there to help delegate duties. Miller hid his worries, however, and searched for a towel in the room’s closet.

“I told you not to go out today if you had another migraine.” Miller couldn’t find a towel and instead pulled a pile of blankets from the closet. Most of them were aged and thin anyway, he figured Barlet wouldn’t mind just one sacrificed.

“I didn’t have a migraine; my back was just a little out of sorts.” Barlet rasped.

“That’s even worse! You really need to see Wendell about that eventually!” Miller shouted.

He glanced at the door to be sure it was securely closed. Miller was thankful Bayelei had the sense to close the door as they came in. The thought made him jump as he realized how rude he was being to the woman.

“Ah, sorry you have to see him like this, Baye,” Miller offered a sheepish smile.

Barlet lowered his hand to stare at the hunter. “Why is she here?”

“Shut it and clean yourself up.” Miller threw the blanket at Barlet’s face, effectively cutting the snark away. “She was nice enough to help get you here, so you’ll pay her a nice sum for the trouble and thank her for it.”

“Gah, this is wet, it’s freezing!” Barlet held the blanket as though it were diseased.

“I’m not traveling down the hall to get hot water for your sorry butt. Now hurry up and clean yourself off.”

Barlet muttered under his breath but did as Miller instructed. Miller was too involved in the moment to really see the role reversal of the situation. Or rather, he purposefully turned a blind eye to it because it worried him.

The mud was gone within a few minutes of scrubbing. Barlet looked more like the recognizable soldier he was, albeit rather tired. He placed the blanket beside the couch with no care. His mind seemed to be on only sleep right then. Miller wondered if he pulled an all-nighter again.

“Her pay is coming from your check.” Barlet grumbled.

“It is not. The service was for you, not me.”

“I didn’t ask for-”

“And that’s why you hired me part-time, isn’t it? To ask for you?” Miller said with a grin.

Barlet opened his mouth to say something, then stopped. He rolled onto his side which looked rather awkward because he kept his boots dangling on the ground instead of the couch.

“Fine. Finish that report and then you can go for the day.”

Miller raised a brow. “You don’t need me for the afternoon? We don’t have any hunts planned until next week; I can manage my guild obligations in the evenings until then.”

“I’m sleeping until evening. Unless you want to stand there and sing me lullabies all day you won’t be needed.”

“Fine, fine,” Miller turned to Bayelei. “How much does Barlet owe you?”

(a loaded question LOL)

Maeeverglow: “You two are seriously from a comedy bit,” the female hunter mused from her place against the wall, her back pressed hard on the surface as she folded her arms across her chest. Her icy orbs followed their actions with mild interest, a hint of concern in her expression as she watched the exchange before her. It was true that Barlet was looking worse for wear as of late and she found him more vulnerable than she ever thought before. And this made the interactions between him and Miller all the more meaningful.

With a shrug of her shoulders, Bayelei mumbled, “well you know my services aren’t cheap. So I suppose you could make an offer and I’d let you know if that is even close to the proper payment. Though if you lot would be so kind as to talk to the customs office or a few others and allow me to do hunts again, I’d be more than happy to take that as payment.” With only a pause to nod towards Barlet’s lounging form, she added, “Seriously though, is Barley boo ok? He’s seen…better days.”

Tajiface: “The customs office?” Barlet asked aloud.

“Ah- Well we can figure out the details of the request later, don’t worry about it. For now just get some rest, Barlet.” Miller quickly replied.

He waved off Barlet’s suspicious glare and headed to the door. “Bayelei can you come with me to get that report? There’s something I need to ask you on the way.”

Maeeverglow: With a raised brow, Bayelei eyed the suspicious man before nodding along and following the tracker out of the room. Only when they were safely out of earshot of Barlet did she offer a word to him. “I must admit more than one request in one day from you leaves me slightly worried Miller. What’s up?”

Tajiface: Miller gave a sad smile. “I guess not being around many adults I didn’t notice it at first. Barlet’s getting older, for sure. I think he’s still healthy for a middle aged man, but these past years have definitely taken a toll on him.”

He led Bayelei down the hall, avoiding the busy foot traffic of a well-oiled military base. As they walked he pulled out a candy bar from his jacket. He found it surprisingly easy to find candies and chocolate on the base. Of course they weren’t nearly as good as what used to be found common in stores. Still, they were decent and he never passed up an opportunity to swipe some for Wendell and himself. In fact, he found it hard to pass up food at all anymore.

“Anyway, we heard about your issues with the customs office and jobs. Barlet hasn’t, though, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.”

Miller paused to take a bit out of the bar. They were now standing just outside the office building. Just ahead was the old police station which served as the jail now. Miller dreaded dealing with the rabble now. They were just two more of the new freelancer thugs who seemed to be returning to town. He figured he would just pick up the transcripts of interviews and write the report quickly to be done with it.

“Listen, Aaron wanted to wait until a more… cheerful day than this rainy muck, but I don’t see any harm in telling you now. Besides, you look like you could use some good news.” Miller turned to her with a huge smile he couldn’t contain anymore. “We’d like to extend to you an official invite into the Eastwyvern Hunters Guild! Joining us would bypass the job blocks of your sister; she can’t stop the guild from taking jobs and doling out which members handle them. There are other benefits, too, which I’m sure you know. There are also a few limitations, though, as I’m sure you also know. Being affiliated with a guild is more than just in name, and Aaron wasn’t sure if you’d ultimately prefer to be chained to one.”

Miller paused for a moment to catch his breath. He was a little more excited than he though. “Anyway, we want to give you plenty of time to think it over, so of course you don’t have to give us an answer right away.”

Maeeverglow: The sudden announcement caught Bayelei completely off-guard, the woman stumbling back at the outburst as she repeated Miller’s words in her mind. An official invite to the Eastwyvern Hunters Guild? Sure she’d often have the casual invite from Shamus and his guild of Raiden boys and she’d handle those with ease, brushing them off with little interest in being tied down in one area or by a group of people. Guilds meant rules and regulation. They meant commitment. And being part of a guild meant Bayelei wouldn’t be able to travel about on hunts for a certain figure from her past.

The Raiden group worked in less honorable ways and it wasn’t hard to just shrug off Shamus’ invites, though the infatuated man kept them coming despite her lack of interest. But the Eastwyvern Guild was-so much more than just a group she’d come to work with on more than one occasion. She wasn’t one for having many true friends but she’d found such friendship with many members of the group. Miller, Aaron, Wendell, Balia, Jarell and Martin…they were more than friends really. They were practically close to family at that point in her life. They put up with her antics, her greed, her snide comments…they witnessed troubles from her past and allowed her to remain at their side despite it all.

Bayelei didn’t know what to say, her gaze wavering as she bit hard on her lip. Her fingertips teased the fabric of her jacket as she gulped hard in her throat. “W-What are you saying? Why would you-why would you offer me such a thing? I-I’ve caused you all nothing but trouble. Remember Vette-she was here raising hell because of me. That was my fault. And lord knows Barlet has quite a few colorful expressions reserved for someone like me. I-I just don’t understand. Why would you extend such an invitation to me?”

Tajiface: Miller finished the candy bar while Bayelei spoke. He wasn’t entirely shocked by her reaction and waited until she fully expressed herself to respond.

“You guys had to travel days to come get me because of my family’s issues… Or rather connections to mine.” Miller replied seriously. “We look at our members differently than most guilds.”

Miller paused and stared ahead. Surprisingly the rain seemed to had shifted into a mixture of sleet and a little ice.

“If we chalked up how much each member caused trouble we’d never keep members!” Miller cringed a little at his own remark despite meaning it as a joke. The fact stood, though, that each member of their guild seemed adept at causing some kind of ruckus.

Maeeverglow: A small, saddened grin crept up on Bayelei’s lips as she stood with Miller in the harsh conditions. She knew the tracker was right about that in that regard. Meeting the guild and getting to know them personally showed they were indeed a hilarious bunch of troublemakers who shouldered one-another’s problems so no one had to deal with things alone. The Eastwyvern Guild was a unit that worked together. Wait, no…they were different than that. They were a family.

And they were reaching out as a family to the hunter, leaving her a struggling mess. Part of her wanted to take up that offer on the spot, feeling more at ease with the crew than most times within her harsh life. In fact the only time she ever felt truly at ease and protected was when she was still at the side of…

Corso Corde…her father…

Tears wanted to form, cascading down her cheeks and mixing with the freezing mixture descending from the sky. Everything was so overwhelming at the moment and when her mind finally worked towards such a thought she wanted to curse herself for such a mistake. With everything that had happened, with all the friends she met, with all the adventures she had…

Did she truly forget her purpose for coming to this god-forsaken town in the first place? Did it hide away on her thoughts as she found herself more and more at the side of such a crazy group of hunters? Bayelei was there simply because of one reason. There was a tip from Kyle that the man she described was possibly hiding out there. Corso Corde was in Eastwyvern. And she needed to find him.

She cursed every distraction in her mind, how comfortable she’d gotten with all these crazy people there. Bayelei was at a moment of weakness, her struggles leaving her a quivering mess. Luckily the weather covered it up well, eluding the cold soaking her to the bone had finally gotten the best of her. Everything was too much…too soon…

“I-This-Um-,” Bayelei began, her voice caught in her throat as she dug her heels into the ground. “I need time to think. I-I need time to-.”

She had already turned her heel and darted out further into the storm, her speed still unmatched as she raced off into the grim world she’d found herself so attached to. She had to get away and think. She had to-oh shit she forgot her payment. The whole thing started with her getting a good payment for her time helping Barlet. Money was on the table. She had put herself in an uncharacteristic moment.

“D-Damn it I have to do something now. I have to go Miller so-so save my money and don’t you dare spend it!” The woman shouted, feeling the daggers of rain and ice on her skin as she vanished into the storm.

*****

Bayelei eyed Sarah’s shop cautiously from her stance in the dreary storm, the woman shivering uncontrollably as she remained stationed in place. She knew well enough Kyle was inside…her best friend who had remained loyal despite everything they’d been through together. Her best friend…who was also a greedy son of a bitch when it came to juicy bits of gossip. Bayelei doubted even she who had formed a partnership with his was above the man’s standards in gathering such items of currency for his talents.

Seriously why the hell did she think coming there was such a good idea in her state. What the hell was wrong with her…what was wrong…with Bayelei Corde…

The woman moved quickly to the alleyway and found it remotely dry, her body sinking to the dirty ground below as she buried her head into her arms. Overwhelming feelings bubbled up and the hunter wasn’t sure how long she could hold off anymore. Bayelei was about to break again…how she hated such things…she truly felt weak and alone…and unsure of what to do…

Tajiface: Miller waved as Bayelei hurried away from their spot. He had expected some kind of reaction to the invite, and given her state of mind recently Miller wasn’t too shocked at the display. He turned heel towards the police center but was stopped quickly by Luke.

The man appeared seemingly out of nowhere and pulled Miller aside without hesitation.

“We’ve got a problem.” Luke grumbled.

Miller shrugged at the comment, which was a common complaint on the military base. “Well I’m officially off duty now, so you’re going to have to use your own lackeys to solve it.”

Luke glanced up at the sky as it continued to churn out more sleet. “This is a slightly bigger problem than usual.”

“Then get more lackeys, I have things to do.” Miller retorted.

“Fine,” Luke quickly responded. “I’ll just get Barlet out of his office to help with these correspondence.”

Miller groaned. “Why do you military types always have to pull out the dirty tricks to get your way?”

Luke grinned without missing a beat. He shoved folders at Miller’s direction. “It worked, didn’t it? Anyway, this information will prove useful to your guild as well. We’ve got something big heading our way.”

~~~

Kyle looked somberly across the alley to see his good friend down and out, it seemed. Roxanne had patted at the door as though she needed out, and Kyle was glad to oblige. Of course the busy street quickly took Roxanne’s attention away from what originally distracted her, which was Bayelei’s scent. The dog stepped gingerly around mud puddles and quickly forming icy patches as she made her way around the street to sweet smelling food and people.

Kyle allowed her to wander off, as the dog was good about returning to him when they were headed home. He turned his attention toward his friend. He walked to Bayelei’s side and crossed his arms, looking down at her with concern.

“Bayelei, I know you are better than this. You would have your ass kicked in two minutes flat and all your money stolen if we were back in the city.”

Maeeverglow: A soft chuckle sounded off in her throat as she lifted her eyes to stare up at her best friend. “I would have cut off their hands and unmentionables for trying. Of course you and I both know this is not the city.”

Bayelei’s shoulders slumped at the statement she made, her body slowly climbing to her feet as she stepped to be completely hidden by any onlookers. And with a sound sigh, her head buried into her friend’s shoulder. She didn’t cry and didn’t whimper. The hunter simply stood there, soaked and shivering, close to her companion.

“Kyle I need to talk. I need to talk and you are going to listen to me because right now you are the only one who can. You will get as much dirt as possible on me listening so it’s not a loss for you. So let’s go someone quiet and soon because I need to talk. I don’t know what will happen if I don’t…and I’m rather scared to find out.”

Tajiface: Kyle nodded over the nestled head and smiled. “If that’s what the lady wants, then that’s what she’ll get!”

Maeeverglow: It didn’t take long for Kyle to lead their small group to his apartment, their steps quick as they sought protection from the storm brewing all around them. Bayelei didn’t waste a moment to scoop up Roxanne as the dog found her way to them, Kyle entering the building with a booming cheer with his companion close at his heels. The hunter didn’t offer much in response, only speaking once they were safely behind the closed doors of his home.

“Do you remember how I ended up here Kyle?” Bayelei asked, holding the creature tight to her chest as she slumped to the floor against the wall.

Tajiface: Kyle took a seat opposite of the girls. He nodded as he leaned over to undo his now-filthy boots.

“Of course. Some guy, right?”

Maeeverglow: Bayelei gently petted the beast in her grasps as she spoke, “yes, a man of tall stature delving into thievery and other criminal acts. Following the few descriptions I’ve ever provided to you…because you know, the trust thing is sort of difficult for me…you led me here and I began my hunt again for the one I sought.”

She paused a moment, debating what was worth sharing with her friend. All the while snuggling the pup close. “I came here with every intention to finish my hunt and return to the city. I expected things to go by quickly without a hitch. I expected to already be gone from Eastwyvern. I expected-,” Bayelei frowned, a heavy sigh escaping her lips. “I don’t know what happened…well I guess I do know what happened but I don’t know how along the way I forgot my damn goal. I met the guild here and I guess became friends with them, my sister arrived and we were reunited, my mom the craziest bitch of all came and screwed up a lot and yet things worked out for the better. All these things happened and I ended up staying in this damn place for so long. You even ended up here. How the hell a crafty cretin like you go stuck here in a place so unsuited for you is beyond me.”

Baye then lifted to her feet and placed the pup down, the woman walking to her friend’s side as she dipped a hand into her soaked satchel. She slowly pulled out a pair of spectacles, the initials CC carved into the frames. She tossed them to Kyle and continued her words.

“So many things have happened…are still happening…and I’ve allowed myself to neglect my duties that brought me here. Since Vita’s been making it her sworn duty to make sure I can’t get a job in this town I suppose now is this best time to handle things. I can’t accept being cooped up in her house while she takes care of me…it’s not right and I would never be able to relax. And the Eastwyvern Guild’s invitation…well, what matters right now is that I continue my original hunt. Kyle, I need your help in finding Corso Corde, the man I’ve been searching for since I was a child. Kyle, I need you to help me find my dad. I’ll give you whatever you want but – but it’s become clear I can’t do this on my own.”

Tajiface: Kyle’s eyes widened a little at the revelation of who the man was. He hid his surprise, though, by turning over the glasses in his hand.

“Whatever you need, Baye,” he began but paused. “It’ll take a while to dig up any more information, though, especially in a small and tight knit town such as this.”

After turning over the glasses one more time he gingerly place them on the table beside him.

“But Baye, just remember that life isn’t all about absolutes.” Kyle beckoned Roxanne to his lap and smiled as he ran a hand through her fur. “You can still look for this man- your father, and have a satisfying life in this town. There’s nothing preventing you from that.”

Kyle hugged Roxanne tightly to him and rubbed his face against the now-struggling dog. He grinned up at Bayelei and added, “Don’t forget to spend as much time with your lovely friends like us as you do on personal missions!”

Maeeverglow: Baye allowed a grin to form on her lips as she lightly cupped the pup’s face in her hands. “You are right, how could I not spend every waking moment with this lovely creature. Oh and I suppose you are a package deal hm?” She then wrapped her arms gently around them both for a hug as she sighed. “I-I’m trying my hardest to change. I suppose without realizing it I’ve changed more than I ever thought possible. But it’s been so long since Dad left me alone…and he was the only one left at the time who truly cared for me…he protected me from Mom when she began to slip. He took care of me and made me who I was. And then he was gone, on the run for his criminal deeds. I’ve been searching since I was a child for him…and I truly feel for once in my life that I’ve gone in the right direction in finding him. So Kyle, do your magic. I’ll give you whatever you want. I’m good for the money. You know that. I always repay a debt.”

 Tajiface: The change in Bayelei was a welcome sight for him. Maneuvering in the smaller town of Eastwyvern was a bit more difficult than his usual information tracking jobs. He knew this would be no easy task. For his old friend, however, he was more than willing to try.

Kyle brightly smiled. “You can count on me!”

~~~

The guild house’s kitchen itself was oddly silent in the waning hours of the evening. Miller watched as the icy rain switched halfheartedly to snow outside the window. Only he and Aaron were seated at the table. The rest of the guild members were cluttering around the dining room in the warmth and finishing a meager supper. Their laughter and loud talking were only slightly muffled by the door separating the kitchen. Miller had eaten at the military compound earlier before finally being able to leave. Aaron quietly flipped through the papers Miller had brought with him while he sipped on a small bowl of soup made mostly with broth. Their low food stash showed in their meals, as soup became the common dinner with less and less ingredients.

“I already apologized, I’m not sure what else you want from me.” Miller broke the silence.

Aaron sighed. “I don’t want anything from you. I told you it couldn’t be helped with you taking extra shifts. We’ll just have to manage now that your time is divided between us and those military brats- sorry, sorry. I know I shouldn’t have said that.”

Miller shrugged. “I can only watch our inventories so much anyway. You need to keep a tighter hold on who goes pilfering the storeroom for snacks.”

Aaron closed the folder containing all the paperwork and looked to Miller. It took awhile, but Aaron finally figured out Miller would not tolerate undue criticism. Especially if the criticism implied his new responsibilities at the military base were hindering his attention to the guild. They had already argued many times over it until Aaron finally grew to accept it.

“According to this we only have a day, maybe two, to really prepare. How are we going to restock in time?

“In the morning Martin and his brother are going to visit the stores that are still open with the money we have left. It certainly won’t be enough, though.” Miller replied.

Aaron tapped the side of his bowl in thought. “We’ll have to wait until Bayelei is here to be sure if we can even accomplish this… but our only bet is to down a dragon and get the money before the storm gets really bad.”

Miller glanced out the window. The reports he handled before leaving the base indicated this small snow storm was only a prelude to a larger one on the way. Looking out on their peaceful yard, however, no one would think of the oppressing menace about to descend on them. They waited for Bayelei to arrive after sending her a message earlier. Both he and Aaron were hopeful she would even make a decision about officially joining. For now, though, Miller didn’t want to rush her into any decisions. He decided getting her help in a last minute dragon hunt to support their guild might be enough to show her the benefits of joining.  At the very least he hoped she would spare them her exorbitant fees in their moment of crisis. One thing Miller knew for sure, though, was her help was required in such a time sensitive dragon hunt.

 Maeeverglow: Frigid winds began to rip through the icy streets as Bayelei dashed along the road towards the Eastwyvern Guild Hall. After her episode earlier and her talk with Kyle, the woman was quite determined to remain indoors for the rest of the evening and avoid any contact with the guild hall. Even Martin’s company seemed much too hazardous to her health…

But then a message found its way to her ears, a job proposal from the very guild who’d seemed willing to recruit her. For the prospect of money, her interest grew piqued and she had quickly bundled herself up in her winter clothes to combat the snow cascading down from the rolling clouds of deep gray. 

Her boots crushed through the icy mush covering the streets, her balance thrown on only one occasion before she raced on towards the guild hall. Already the faint glow from the windows could be seen in the distance, the hunter making her way onto the porch before brushing away the snow from her shoulders. Memories of the talk she had with Miller earlier plagued her mind but she quickly shook them away before entering through the door. 

Bayelei needed the work. She’d deal with her conflicting feelings later. 

“Yo Bossman? Anyone here?”

Tajiface: Aaron grinned and waved at their visitor. “Yo Baye!”
 
Miller offered a small wave as well before moving to another seat and offering his previous chair to her. He reached across the table and slid the papers to her.
 
“It seems we are in need of an excellent hunter to assist us in a quick dragon hunt.” Miller patted at the papers. “Otherwise our guild might be in a bit of a tight spot before this blizzard hits.”

Maeeverglow: Bayelei couldn’t help the small smile peeking from her lips as she slipped into the offered chair and scooped up the paperwork. How she missed being offered jobs. 

“What dragon are we targeting? How big is the team? We have to be extra careful due to conditions,” the hunter was chatting a mile a minute as she scanned the documents carefully. “When do we leave? If we want to beat the brunt of the storm we should probably leave soon.”

Tajiface: Miller felt relief over the return of Bayelei’s normal demeanor. Aaron beat him to the explanation.
 
“We’re thinking just us three, the less humans clambering around the more likely a dragon won’t spook.”
 
“We want to leave before dawn.” Miller followed up. “It’s a tight schedule, but we need to kill the thing before afternoon otherwise we have no chance of getting the corpse back before the storm.”
 
Aaron leaned across the table and pulled out a map that had been shuffled into the papers. He pointed at three circled areas on it.
 
“These are the only three sights reported to have dragons currently lodging. If we’re lucky we can run into a migratory dragon, but odds are we’re limited to these three.” Aaron explained.

 “All three are holed up fairly nicely in caves and abandoned buildings,” Miller continued. “Which is why they’re the only three left. No one has been able to successfully hunt them.”

Maeeverglow: “They’ve only escaped the kill because I have yet to hunt them. Looks like I’m in. What’s the cut?” Bayelei hummed with a wink towards Miller.

Tajiface: The three hunters spent time haggling over the monetary terms of the hunt before settling in for the night. The next morning proved more bitterly cold than the previous day, which didn’t surprise Aaron too much. With the coming weather he had suspected the temperatures to drop heartily. He had dug out his heaviest hunting coat and even borrowed a pair of heavy outdoor pants from Martin. His pack for snug against his back, holding provisions of all sorts in case the weather turned nasty earlier than expected.

To his right Miller was already surveying the road stretched before them. Miller, of course, was decked out in similar gear as Aaron. Growing up in a family of hunters and trackers had prepared Miller for almost any scenario of the wilderness. This reason alone was enough for Aaron to push his friend on this expedition.
They had traveled outside Eastwyvern’s boundaries far before anyone had even stirred from sleep. Except the guild’s cooks, who always seemed three steps ahead of everyone when it came to providing meals to the members. They ate a quick breakfast before finally setting out in the bitter chill of the morning. Overhead the clouds swirled with an ominous pink which he could make out even though there was no light out yet.
Aaron rubbed his arms and took a deep breath of the frosty air. He glanced around them hoping for Bayelei’s arrival. Sitting around too long in this cold was just not in his plans.
Maeeverglow: A frigid cold loomed in the air as Bayelei stepped through town, her warmest outfit snug around her as she moved with quickened steps. Various blades were hidden on her person and her favorite crossbow she had pretty much stolen from Kyle at some point in her travels rested on the holster along her back. 

She made a point to avoid Vita at all costs to keep this little trip a secret…among other things she’d rather her not find out just yet. Entrusting Kyle with such a secret was all she could manage for now. She had hoped to discuss it with Martin as well but she wondered how much she could even share with him. If she started to chatter about the invitation, it may soon lead into her discussions of why she came there in the first place. It was hard enough finally revealing that information to Kyle…it would likely be an even larger hurdle to bring it up to the older Jamerson brother.
Soon Aaron and Miller fell into her sights and she did her best to shake away her worries, lightly punching the leader’s arm upon arrival as she grinned.
“Man it feels like a sauna out here. So toasty!” She joked with a wink towards the boys. “Ready to set out?”
Tajiface: