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Quest The Mysterious Play: Hierophant of Skies (Accepting votes!)

Sub Genres
Anime, Magical
Yes I absolutely think we should make a good first impression! BUT!! BUT BUT BUT!!! We should leave that to Elias and Xander!! We're supposed to be keeping a low profile after all! And not gonna lie, we don't exactly have the highest charisma score...
 

DreamBeat

Two Thousand Club
Xander doesn't seem very inclined to have me recognized or noticeable at the moment judging, so it might be safer to just stay silent and have the other two take over for now. They could have a better idea of what to say in this kind of situation. Who knows? It wouldn't surprise me if they've gone through something like this before. Even if they didn't, I bet they could still communicate with a scary-looking guy with an axe better than me. Though, I would keep Rondo where I can reach it (does it have a gender?..) just in case... I mean, the dude has an axe!
 

Minako

Not in a good place.
Rosalina Chandra

Location: Tarrin Village/ Tarrin village tavern!
Mentions: @Idea @Felis @BestrJestr @Koruma Murasame @DreamBeat
Interactions: Scias, and--!
TRY TO MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION: Y/N?<<

The fact we're even given this option makes me want to choose the "no" option, so I'm going with that. Is it smart? No. But it sounds rather...amusing :P
You should REALLY stop tempting yourself...

Before you end up incinerated by Scias...

I'm always for making a good impression, but trying to make one isn't the same as succeeding at it... A simple greeting usually works wonders, though as tongue-tied as I am right now, the best way to make a good impression might be to say nothing for the moment and let Elias and Xander handle it.
Pfft... Mine's longer. I think a friendly greeting would be a good idea, but maybe in a more stern manner as to let him know he can't intimidate us. I'll put on my best DnD voice and give him a hearty: "Hail friend, we seek no trouble" whilst keeping my Halberd ready for use.
You hyperventilate and try to calm yourself, but--!

Yes I absolutely think we should make a good first impression! BUT!! BUT BUT BUT!!! We should leave that to Elias and Xander!! We're supposed to be keeping a low profile after all! And not gonna lie, we don't exactly have the highest charisma score...
Xander doesn't seem very inclined to have me recognized or noticeable at the moment judging, so it might be safer to just stay silent and have the other two take over for now. They could have a better idea of what to say in this kind of situation. Who knows? It wouldn't surprise me if they've gone through something like this before. Even if they didn't, I bet they could still communicate with a scary-looking guy with an axe better than me. Though, I would keep Rondo where I can reach it (does it have a gender?..) just in case... I mean, the dude has an axe!
You stiffen up, make sure Rondo is strapped right where Elias left it, and decide it would be best to leave the greetings mainly to Xander and Elias, almost wanting to fan your cheeks from how hot they still are, but given how cold it is supposed to be up here, you would just look silly and that's the LAST thing you wanna look like in front of Scias!

"Hel--" Elias begins, trying to be as friendly as possible... until he is rudely interrupted by Cora's cousin.

"WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE AND WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT?!" Scias immediately begins to interrogate you angrily while frowning so hard you suspect his face is stuck like that for forever.


Ack! D-did you already do something to annoy Scias?! His eyes may have the same ruby-red color Coras do, but unlike hers that have warmth and comfort behind them, these eyes just have pure rage and hate...​

You've never met a more wrathful person before!!

Cora may have warned you he was hot-headed, sure, but it seems she MASSIVELY UNDERPLAYED how much of an angry jerk Scias was!

G-good guy at heart?!

Is the catch that he has no heart and therefore there isn't a good guy underneath it...!?


"A-ah! Please, Scias, we're just--" You begin before anyone else can say anything, opening up your mouth before thinking, when you as well are interrupted by wrathful man.

"WHAT?! HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW MY NAME!?!" He asks, now setting his attention on YOU, your heart stops as his eyes narrow and he seems to be examining you for a second, like he was trying to see if he recognized you, adding, "AND WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT THING ON YOUR FACE?! USING IT AND YOUR HOOD TO COVER YOUR UGLY!?"

"EXCUSE ME?! SHE IS NOT UGLY!" Elias snaps at Scias, for the first time ever losing his cool and sweetness and glaring back at the red-haired man just as intensely.

Wow! You never thought there could be anyone in existence who didn't like Elias, or who Elias didn't like, but suddenly Scias shows up!!

"MAYBE SHE SHOULD STOP TRYING TO HIDE HER FACE THEN! AND ANSWER MY @#$$#ING QUESTION!" Scias demands, getting worse and worse with every sentence he spits.

"That's none of your business! And wearing the hood and glasses don't make her ugly! What kinda logic is that?!" Elias almost shouts back in retaliation, also getting angrier.

"YOU QUESTIONING ME?! I'LL #$%$# FIGHT YOU, YOU SCRAWNY BLOND WHELP!" Scias "answers".

...Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand your first impression is: You DO NOT care for Scias.

In fact, you're already kinda starting to hate Scias...

Not only is he so wrathful... but he kinda does a good job of bringing out wrath in others as well... Oh Celosia, say it isn't so! Say this awful man isn't your fire-bearer!

You haven't seen him use flames yet as final confirmation, thank goodness, so you're daring to dream he's not...

Still... A hot-head like him could easily be seen wielding flames... Though, honestly, given his wrath, maybe not, because if he did he'd surely have burned Tarrin Village to ash by now... And that's with all this ice and snow around!!!

Plus, you already can't see him as a person painstakingly using up his power to HELP this village--

"The first and last person you'd suspect"

Aw, craps, he probably is the fire-bearer... Shoot...

"Enough. Both of you," Xander, brilliantly keeping calm, cool, and collected, interjects between the escalating tension the two other men present were having, actually answering Scias' question, "We're just here to visit the Village, that's all. The reason we know your name, Scias, is because we come from Auran and just happen to be acquaintances of your cousin, Cora, from the palace, and she told us about you before we journeyed here. It wasn't hard to tell you were related given your resemblance."

Heh.... Your big brother would always tell you to "stay frosty, even in times when it's hard to keep your cool"... Xander really is your brother of this world... You're so thankful and lucky to have him beside you on this journey... Him and Elias make you believe you'll be okay by the end of all this... Because they're beside you.

Even though Xander wants to tell Scias off, he knows nothing will come out of making an enemy of Scias, fire-bearer or not, and the best way to keep Scias under wraps is to be firm, but friendly with this man... Your heart has now ebbed the rising tide of wrath Scias tried to rile within you, and all you feel is gratitude and calm now.

"AH!" Scias shouts, shocked, and almost changing his tune (and finally lowering his dang Ax!) as soon as the name Cora was said, sorta, but not his volume, "YOU KNOW CORA?! S-SORRY!"

He clears his throat, and tries this greeting once again, still loudly, and somewhat cranky, but not oozing with wrath like before. Seems knowing Cora might have been the "golden ticket" to get that much needed connection to Scias... Especially if Celosia granted him a crest.

"WELCOME TO TARRIN VILLAGE, WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF YOUR STAY!?"

...Oh, shoot! You were so focused on getting here and trying to formulate a plan to find the fire bearer with definite proof that you forgot what you should say to the villagers to explain to them why you're here to start! Y-you just got here, you can't reveal you're the Hierophant and Elias is a crest-bearer yet!! Y-you don't know what this village even believes about crest-bearers and the Hierophant!

"This couple hired me as a guard to take them to Tarrin village on a vacation, they wish to see what this winter wonderland as to offer," Xander plainly states casually as he lies to Scias about the true purpose of your stay.

WAIT, WHAT?!

"Yeah!" Elias smiles (you can feel him smiling) while confirming, having seemingly absolutely no problem with this as he lovingly squeezes you in his arms.

"Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y-YES, TH-THAT'S RIGHT!" You loudly exclaim, not really thinking of your volume while you're flustered at Elias holding you so intimately, while stiffening your body.

"I LIKE YOUR GUMPTION!!!" Scias compliments and shouts at you as you also "confirm" this lie.

You feel bad for lying, but also are extremely grateful to Xander for coming up with an excuse to enter the village on the spot! Like your brother, Xander thinks on his feet.


Before the four of you can say anything else you all hear indistinct shouting and as Scias turns towards the village entrance. You see a figure, getting clearer and clearer the closer they get, approach you all!

Their shouting gets more decipherable as well!


"Heeey! Scias! I'm here! I'm here! Your shift for guard duty is over!" The figure shouts while cupping their mouth with one hand to sound louder as they approach.


A dark-haired young man in navy blue winter gear runs towards Scias and your group while waving down the red-haired man. Much to your relief, he has a genuine and sweet smile on his face once getting closer, already seeming more amiable by comparison to Cora's cousin.​

"GREAT! THANKS, GALESON! I'LL SEE YOU ALL LATER THEN! TELL THESE PEOPLE WHERE THE INN IS SINCE THEY'RE STAYING A FEW DAYS!" Scias informs the new approaching man, who you're guessing is here to take over for Scias.

You wish you guys had gotten here a little later so as not to have been greeted by Scias but instead Galeson, though since your number one suspect by far is Scias perhaps it was fate TO meet him before anyone in Tarrin Village.

"Have fun at your Blacksmith shoppe!" Galeson heartily waves him off.

"O-oh! He's the village blacksmith!? That's amazing you have two jobs, Scias!" You sort of praise the man you detested only a few moments ago.

"THAT'S NOTHING! THIS GUY OVER HERE HAS THREE JOBS!" Scias directs the praise at who he thinks is more worthy as he walks away, into the village.

"WHOA!" You, Elias, and Xander gawk at this great man named Galeson.

"Aheh, Well I do my best to clean up at the tavern, help with this guard duty, and help the miners! It's all in a days work! Everyone in the village is pulling double duty to keep Tarrin Village up and running, so I wanna do my part! Only hard work and dedication will see this this village prosper!" Galeson determinedly informs all of you of his intentions, making the complete opposite first impression Scias did.

Hearing his words of passion and diligence makes you wanna work even harder, too!

Why couldn't GALESON be the potential fire-bearer?! You'd so rather have this diligent, friendly man than the rage-filled hot-head that just left!

"Wow! You're incredible!" Elias compliments the new guard, clearly also preferring him over the previous one.

"S-so... uhm... N-not to be rude, b-but..." You begin meekly, genuinely hoping this isn't an offensive question, but needing to ask it anyway, "Scias... i-is... w-well... N-not the most welcoming person... Wh-why...?"

"Hahaha!" Galeson heartily laughs, obviously knowing where you were going with that question, and answers happily, "I know, I know. Scias isn't... the most welcoming person in Tarrin Village... But! He's actually one of the best soldiers here that we're happy protects us in case robbers try to sneak in here and steal what we mine before the trading carts arrive and he made every single weapon in this village! Our quality weapons are only thanks to Scias helping us out!"

"YOU'RE KIDDING ME!?" You gape loudly in shock.

At first, you thought it was poor judgement that Scias man the front gate, but once you think about who normally might come through here, suddenly their best warrior being a good line of defense against would-be bandits (one of the purple-haired variety who lives just in the forest before the mountain trail leading to this very village comes to mind) makes perfect sense! Plus, Scias is probably familiar with all the trading carts sent, so he's probably at least a little less unwelcoming to those he's familiar with.

He may not be the best to greet the trading carts or potential tourists, but that wrathful face would keep any would-be thieves away if the cold didn't!

"Hah! Yeah if his angry scowl wasn't scary enough to keep everyone away that attitude will!" Elias chirps, joking along.

You can't help but smile shyly to yourself as Elias didn't insult Scias' scar, but his expression. Like that un-easing gash didn't exist. What was important to Elias wasn't his outside, but inside...

You love that about him.



"Well, it won't bring in too much tourists to Tarrin, for sure, but between you switching shifts with him every now and then and bandits and such that are well equipped to face the ice and snow here it seems like this system works for the most part. Though, do you guys really get enough thieves to justify putting Scias on greeting duty often?" Xander nods.

"You'd be surprised how desperate some bandits could get..." Galeson grimaces while informing Xander.


There's that feeling about Calliope again, doing what she's doing out of a huge necessity...

Calliope....


"Anyway!" Galeson cheers, pulling you back to reality, "So! Welcome to Tarrin Village! Now, The Ox Fur Inn is at the very back of the village straight ahead, you can't miss it, and if you go right just beyond our entrance is our tavern, The Starving Miners Pub."

You sort of raise your eyebrows and look at Galeson to make sure you didn't mishear what he just said, but he briefly chuckles and clarifies:

"It used to be known as The Gluttonous Miners Pub, as Chlo took great pride in her food and bringing an end to appetites everywhere with excellent food and happy stomachs afterwards... but, well... what with the Isle-wide famine and all..."

Oh! That's right! Cora told you that Chlo was the chef of Tarrin Village!

"Yeaaaaah, I can see why the name changed... Not exactly appropriate right now," Xander duly notes, probably a little bitter about the situation as well given how he'd like to eat much more than he can right now as well.

"Poor Chlo..." You murmur to yourself, not fathoming how hard her job and passion must be with such a lack of resources.

"If you want a tour of our mines, the shallow parts that aren't dangerous to tour of course, I think Harv or Whitey should be hanging out around the Starving Miner right about now, so one of them should be more than happy to help you for a couple of tallons... Though, don't ask Harv, even jokingly, if you could keep a gem or something as a souvenir... He hates that!" Galeson warns you while smiling.

"Thanks Galeson! We'll keep that in mind!" Elias thanks the friendlier, dark-haired man.

"Alright, we better get going, we've got a lot to d- er, see!" Xander almost slips up, though he quickly corrected himself, earning a rather odd look from Galeson for a moment.

"Thank you so much for everything, Galeson! We'll see you later!" You happily wave good-bye and smile at him while you and the boys make your way inside the village, though you can't help but feel uneasy as Galeson smiles back at you while waving as well, but then he tries to get a good look at your face and narrows his eyes a bit like he's debating whether he's seen you before... You hope he's just too polite to ask about your glasses!!

Man, are you glad Hellie hasn't been here before, hating the cold! This would be a thousand times harder if she was!

Though, now you can't help but wonder if other parts of Cion Isle where Hellie has been might be a problem searching for the other crest-bearers...

You're starting to really bank on these people running on the same logic as everyone in Metropolis (or really that whole universe) who can't tell Clark Kent apart from Superman because of his glasses!!



Finally, you enter Tarrin Village. It's both beautiful and frightening to see icicles decorate all the edges of the buildings, and the winds (along with their howling) don't help. You feel like you're inside a freezer almost. You could describe this place as both a winter wonderland and a winter wasteland...


"Alright, so, where do we start?" Xander asks you now that you've all reached your destination.

"Oh! Y-yes! So--" You begin, slowly un-jumbling yourself to get your thoughts together on the next steps and trying to sound as much like Elmiel as possible, "First we need to figure out what this village believes about the Hierophant and the crest-bearers. The least suspicious way to do this might be to just casually ask what they all believe about Celosia themself. Basically, everyone is a suspect until we can confirm who the crest-bearer is, and for that we'll need to see them use their powers with our own eyes and, of course, locate their crest on their body. We should probably start with gathering information before doing anything else. Once we get a good, clear picture of everyone's stance on me and Elias, we'll decide whether or not it would be best to reveal ourselves and ask the village help us search for the fire-bearer. Elias, you mentioned this village has an abnormal source of heat, so the best thing to do would be to start asking about that."

Elias smiles at you angelically, happy at how competent and determined you sound.

"Good plan, but, again, where do we start asking aro--"

"I know!" Elias chimes in before Xander even finishes asking his question, suddenly also filled with diligence and determination, "The Starving Miners Pub."

"Uh... Elias, I enjoy a drink as much as the next man, but--" Xander begins to protest skeptically, but is again interrupted by the golden-haired boy.

"No, I'm being serious. Think about it: If there's any place to gather information anywhere, it's at a tavern. The casual environment and drinks make it a perfect place to talk and eavesdrop with little to no suspicion. It's how I even found out about Tarrin Village's situation to start. We wanna find out about it's warmth and beliefs? We're gonna wanna start at the Pub. Trust me on this."

After he says this his smile isn't goofy or silly, but mature and captivating! You didn't really stand a chance when he added a wink in there as well...!


Looks like you weren't the only one bringing out your inner Elmiel...
Wow, when Elias' sweet and kind demeanor also adds Elmiel's cool, calm, collected, and calculating maturity... Elias is just incredible...



"A-HEM!" Xander "clears his throat" while looking at you coyly.

Craps! You're making your feelings too obvious!!

"Uh-uh-uhm! L-let's get g-g-going! W-we c-c-can't dawdle!!" You try to stutter out straightly while turning away to hide your cherry-red face.

"Riiiiiiight," Xander smirks at you coolly.

Elias refuses to let you leave his side takes you by the hand inside the tavern with him first while Xander deposits Cocoa and Xerxes into the giant, warm stable beside the pub.


Approaching the pub you can see the outside looks folksy, well maintained and cozy. Stacked stones and pillars make up most of the building's outer structure.

It's impossible to see through the closed windows, but the warmth from within can be felt even from the outside.


As you enter the tavern through the thick, heavy wooden door, you're welcomed by a feeling of comfort and the slight smell of alcohol. You're surprised at just how warm it is inside, almost hot, and you kinda want to take off your hood (had it not been for Xander stopping you from revealing your face too soon).

It's as lovely inside as it is on the outside: Giant pine tree logs support the roof and the chandelier attached to it. The walls are littered with all sorts of fur (no doubt for further insulation) though you don't really like to think about all the poor little arctic creatures that died to keep the fur on the walls... The pub isn't that big from the inside, probably because it doesn't need to be granted it's just a small village here, so the small amount of pelts to keep everyone warm doesn't bother you too much, especially since the fur isn't going to waste. The tables have thick covers and pretty glowing bottles as center pieces while the chairs are very sturdy looking with some bits of fur on the tops and seats of them.

There are some people in this room who look like promising leads, which is probably why Elias stands still at the entrance, surveying the room.

"Where do you think we should start?" He asks you, again whispering in your ear and sending chills tickling down your spine.

Doing your best to fight your feelings, you look around the room and try to see who you think it would be best to start talking to:


  • Whoa! Check out who is most likely the chef and bartender (you're guessing from their clothes), Chef Ginny Weasly! Rocking cartoon-ishly orange hair (not unlike the color and shade of the scarf that Scias was wearing earlier) and a beautiful line of freckles tastefully across her well-shaped face, she certainly looks like she could pass for the adult version of the famous wizard's love interest. Ginger women are usually always drop-dead gorgeous, so you're not really surprised at how pretty the Chef is, but you are a little shocked to see her wearing an ascot in a very familiar shade of red aside her apron. This has got to be Chlo!
  • She's talking to--- Whoa... Certainly a very attractive, golden-haired young woman with beautiful emerald eyes (she'd almost look like a female version of Elias, if her eyes were blue) but something about her looks... She's not drop-dead gorgeous (like, say, Cora or Chlo), but definitely... hm... How to describe it.. Cheer-leader cute? Yes, you're almost taken aback as you see her in such regular tavern wench (you're pretty sure that's what they're called!) attire and not a cheerleader uniform! Visualizing her in school attire and then a cheerleader uniform, you wonder if you had made more friends in your world if she might have been this worlds version of your would-be more popular friend? You're far too nerdy and dorky to have even thought about befriending a cheerleader, but now you're sort of intrigued by this seemingly modern-looking beauty...
  • Sitting down at the table next to the two women merrily talking like close friends is a young and dark-haired, almost east/southeast Asian looking woman (You're a bit surprised to find diversity in this Isle, but you suppose the Isle must have been big enough and had enough people for it...) that is fast asleep at the table, using her folded arms as a pillow. She doesn't look sleep deprived or anything, but maybe she has narcolepsy? You can't blame her being comfortable and "hibernating" in the warm tavern which is a sanctuary from the bitter cold outside, but it's still odd. From the movements of her mouth and nose, she might be snoring... Given how much things there are to do to keep this village up and running, and what with Scias and Galeson pulling double duty (Galeson triple duty!) around here, you can't help but feel her sleeping while there's work to be done as highly inappropriate... Though, honestly, you don't exactly have a lot of clue what she should be doing based on what she's wearing... It's surely winter attire, suited for going to and fro her house to this tavern, but... What is she supposed to be doing for employment in this village, exactly?
  • A few tables away is a-- DANG! A light, silver-ish, short haired, hazel-eyed, clean shaven, hunk of a young man is sitting down! Sure, Scias and Galeson are cute, but this man is in the same league as Elias and Elmiel! His coat is hung on the chair behind him and his shirt is nearly all un-buttoned and you can see his well-sculpted chest! Not as provocative as you're guessing Elmiel probably is without a shirt, but this silver stud's totally not too far below him at all...! You wonder if he is one of the miners Galeson was talking about? His body sure shows he works decently, at least! Actually, very much like the cute almost-cheerleader, this man probably wouldn't look out of place in your world at all had he a normal hair-color and were he wearing a sports uniform! He definitely looks like a jock, and the look on his face doesn't disprove your hunch, but you're really trying not to really judge him, or her, without getting to know them!
  • Sitting at the same table as the silver-haired stud is a nice-looking young man with mid-length dark brown hair (almost yours and Hellie's color) neatly in a pony-tail. He, like the silver stud, is also clean-shaven, and seems very regal with his dark-purple clothes and winter coat, also hung behind him on his chair. You'd almost wonder if he was a prince had he not been in a village with a Chieftain and, of course, Hellie herself! He's mostly turned away from you but even then you sense a rather pristine and haughty presence about him, but despite that you don't get any unfriendly vibes from him for the most part. Both men actually look rather bored, even though they have a deck of cards on the table they're at, but (judging from the two empty seats beside them) you're guessing they want at least two more players to join...
  • Lastly, a very young girl (compared to the teenagers/young adults present), looking barely into adolescence and probably only three or four years younger than you, with yellow-ish and hazel-y eyes, having the same hair color as the purple man pulled up in a high pony-tail and bow with messy bangs framing her face nicely (she sorta looks like him as well... are they related?) is sweeping the floor of the tavern. Along with Galeson, you're assuming this girl is also most likely why this pub is so spick and span. She's seemingly meek and quiet, and you almost didn't even notice her at first! The girl is wearing a very cute, long, and humble light yellow dress with a long, white apron and you can tell they aren't wanting to make a spectacle of themselves. You think they're pretty amazing to be so young and have a job already, and now sweeping so close to the sleeping woman you kinda think she makes the slumbering one look even worse by comparison. You punish yourself lightly for making so much judgement before saying a word to either of these people, as you don't want to think ill of the slumbering woman just yet.
"Rosie...?" You hear Elias ask after a little bit.

"I-I... I..." You start to say, unsure of where to start.

You suspect Scias only on the faintest of hints, and even then... Anyone in this village could be your fire-bearer right now, technically.

Anyone in this very tavern could be your fire-bearer...

Where do you even begin...?!

>>WHICH PEOPLE WILL YOU TALK TO FIRST AND WHAT ORDER AFTER THAT??<<

While you have the option to talk to whoever first, certain conversations can be overheard by the others and, as such, affect other future conversations with the other patrons. Choose wisely who you choose to talk to first, because that conversation will most likely lay the foundation for the conversations with the rest of the patrons as well.
code by RI.a
 
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Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
Ok, so here are our options:
-->The chef
--->The cheerleader girl
---->The hunk guy
--->Sleepy Asian
--->Gambler Pontytail
--->Janitor Girl

First, we definitely don't want the gambling. We run the rik of getting caught up in their game and losing precious time (and potentially even money). The Janitor girl almost certainly has some kind of sob story to her if we go by how things usually go, but she's not likely to provide directly useful information.

The sleepy one is probably some kind of mystery or hidden badass, but she's a asleep. Nobody's in the best mood if they're forced to wake up.

So, that leaves the chatting ladies, which is great cause gossip is exactly what we need. Between the two, the "cheerleader" seems like the shallowest option- therefore, probably not the best one. That leaves the chef, and cooks and bartenders do tend to have the best info tips.

So, my vote is for this order:
Chef---->Cheerleader--->Narcolepsy--->Janitor
 

BestrJestr

New Member
I think we should start with the hunky guy and his friend, since the others are either working there or asleep, they're the only ones I'm worried will leave while I'm distracted with the others.
 

Felis

Meow?
I think it's best to start with the chef, then since we're already next to her, the cheerleader girl. Depending on whether she's still asleep, either the Asian-looking woman or the young girl next. I'd save the two guys at the table for last (unless the Asian-looking woman is too fast asleep for us to talk to, then second to last) - they won't leave immediately if they are waiting for two extra players and just saw two people come inside, and I'd rather wait for Xander to come along before we gamble ourselves into a debt we can't pay.

So my preferred order is Chef -> Cheerleader -> Narcolepsy -> Janitor -> either of the guys, unless that woman is really fast asleep, then Chef -> Cheerleader -> Janitor -> guys at the table and add in the sleeping woman last or whenever she wakes up.

I don't really want us to wake her up ourselves if we don't have to, that's a great way to get off on the wrong foot with her.
 

Minako

Not in a good place.
Rosalina Chandra

Location: The Starving Miners Pub!
Mentions: @Idea @BestrJestr @Felis
Interactions: Chlo, Cheerleader, Nacroleptic, and Janitor girl!
Ok, so here are our options:
-->The chef
--->The cheerleader girl
---->The hunk guy
--->Sleepy Asian
--->Gambler Pontytail
--->Janitor Girl

First, we definitely don't want the gambling. We run the rik of getting caught up in their game and losing precious time (and potentially even money). The Janitor girl almost certainly has some kind of sob story to her if we go by how things usually go, but she's not likely to provide directly useful information.

The sleepy one is probably some kind of mystery or hidden badass, but she's a asleep. Nobody's in the best mood if they're forced to wake up.

So, that leaves the chatting ladies, which is great cause gossip is exactly what we need. Between the two, the "cheerleader" seems like the shallowest option- therefore, probably not the best one. That leaves the chef, and cooks and bartenders do tend to have the best info tips.

So, my vote is for this order:
Chef---->Cheerleader--->Narcolepsy--->Janitor
I think we should start with the hunky guy and his friend, since the others are either working there or asleep, they're the only ones I'm worried will leave while I'm distracted with the others.
I think it's best to start with the chef, then since we're already next to her, the cheerleader girl. Depending on whether she's still asleep, either the Asian-looking woman or the young girl next. I'd save the two guys at the table for last (unless the Asian-looking woman is too fast asleep for us to talk to, then second to last) - they won't leave immediately if they are waiting for two extra players and just saw two people come inside, and I'd rather wait for Xander to come along before we gamble ourselves into a debt we can't pay.

So my preferred order is Chef -> Cheerleader -> Narcolepsy -> Janitor -> either of the guys, unless that woman is really fast asleep, then Chef -> Cheerleader -> Janitor -> guys at the table and add in the sleeping woman last or whenever she wakes up.

I don't really want us to wake her up ourselves if we don't have to, that's a great way to get off on the wrong foot with her.
You decide it's best if first you approach Chlo and her close friend before anybody else currently present in the Starving Miner.


"I-I think talking to Chlo and her friend might be our best bet right now," You whisper right back in Elias' ear, determined NOT to screw this up!

"Ch-chlo?"

"Y-yeah, Cora told me she's the Chef of Tarrin village. She's also Scias' beloved, it's cute they wear neck-gear the color of each others hair!"

"Y-yeah... Mm-hm... Yeeeaah...B-beloved..." Elias mumbles back weirdly as you tell him the information Cora told you.


You size up Chlo and her friend with determination while deciding what to say at first.​



You approach the two ladies with Elias following closely behind you and...

Well, Chlo, being the more accurate description Cora gave between her and Scias, smiled even more brighter with that super pretty face of hers and waved at you enthusiastically and joyfully as you approached... While her friend, almost as you predicted, stiffened her face to a more strict and concentrating one, as if she was analyzing you or something...

You feel like you're being scanned top to bottom by a super robot... Like that famous robot that traveled back in time to save that one mom who was gonna give birth to that worlds savior and hero...!

After a brief assessment the golden-haired beauty looks dismissively at you and... er... like she's looking at something she "low-key" finds revolting...

She, uh... There's a good chance this girl finds you kinda repulsive...


You tense up and feel a slight lump in your throat from nervousness as you approach them while the almost-cheerleader stares you down.

"Uh-uhm, h-hello Chlo, I-I'm Rosie! A-and this is Elias! It's nice to meet you...!" You introduce yourself shyly, feeling a bit small being stared down at by the pretty golden-haired girl, turning to address her out of politeness, "I-I'm sorry I don't know your name miss, Cora never told me, but i-it's nice to meet you as well, I-I'm sure!"

As soon as you said "Co" of Cora you got such a nasty glare from the golden haired girl and she lets out such a menacing and evil snarl-like sound that you legitimately fear you'd be unborn if it was recorded and played backwards. You're so scared you tense up and take a step back, almost crashing into Elias approaching behind you and being caught by him (Thank Celosia)!

Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhh, you definitely mighta said the wrong thing to her...

"Yes, WELL, I'll BET that FAT COW wouldn't have told you MY name! Too busy thinking she's too good to stay with the rest us to remember all the 'little people' here at Tarrin, no doubt!" The practical cheerleader nearly SPAT at you, a fierce look in her eyes.

"Awww, c'mon, Jamie, don't be mean to them just because they come from Auran and know Cora... This is exactly why she told them about me and not you..." Chlo immediately tries to keep Jamie's hate from scaring you away, complimenting you to help, "I like your cool mask-thing on your face, by the way!"

"Hmph! Whatever," Jamie looks away, not forgetting to shoot you a clear look of animosity, while flicking her beautiful hair almost in your face and growling coldly.

"You'll, uh... H-have to excuse her... Sh-she, uh, doesn't like Cora that much..." Chlo explains her friends rudeness while simultaneously being high-key embarrassed by it in both her tone and body-language.

"Che! What's there to like!? Her disgusting fat cow body? Or maybe it's her sub-par food...? Her stupid face, perhaps~?" Jamie at first spits the first few parts out (again) but then slowly evolves into a sickeningly sweet (and so obviously super fake!) tone and you are both very confused and starting to REEEALLLLYYYYY dislike this would-be cheer-leading bimbo for the uncalled insults towards your friend and Hellie's most trusted care-taker.

"Jamie..." Chlo sighs exasperatingly, probably dealing with this so many times she is just too tired to deal with it once more.

"Stay frosty, Ro," You hear your brother internally in your head, remembering you can't afford to blow this.

You make an enemy out of this girl here and now and you will gain NOTHING. You'll have to dismiss her comments for now: Whatever rivalry Jamie and Cora have going on (sounds more like Jamie's just jealous of her, though, if you're honest with yourself...) cannot interfere with the gossip gathering you and Elias are doing right now.

You quickly look at Elias, who isn't pleased either at all the shade being thrown at his friend either, but he seems to be taking your lead and not letting it get to him.

!!!

Cora is practically the head servant at the palace! If Jamie keeps talking about HER how long until she smack talks Hellie?! You can totally picture her saying something horrible like "She's stuck babysitting the brat of an Empress!" o-or something!

How would Elias react to that!?

OH CELOSIA, Nipping that in the bud right the heckie now!

"R-riiiiiight," You say nervously, all too eager to change the subject as far away from Cora (and, consequently, Hellie) as possible, "S-so, y-yes, now that you know where we come from... I-I was actually hoping we could visit here a-and take in the sights! I-it's really warm inside here for being up high in the cold, cold mountains, h-huh?"


A good segue into talking about the mysterious warmth of the village disguised as small talk! Good! Good!
Just as planned!

"Ugh, obviously it's going to be WARM INSIDE, little church-mouse, what did you expect? We'd be freezing inside our own buildings as well? Hmm?" Jamie condescendingly questions you in response to your question, earning herself a slight jab from Chlo to hush her.

"Jamie, stop it!" Chlo scolds her, the golden-haired beauty simply rolling her eyes in retaliation, while Chlo continues much more kinder, "Y-yeah, Tarrin is pretty cozy once you get inside and cuddle up by our special fires!"

The moment she said those last three words, Jamie shot her a look that CLEARLY indicated she should shut up and Chlo covered her mouth as if she said something she shouldn't have!

Looks like you're getting somewhere!

You exchange glances with Elias and nod to yourselves, time to push this subject to the limit!


"Yeah! I'm really surprised! I heard you guys are super warm even in a blizzard! At first it's hard to believe, but, being a little toasty in here confirms the rumors are true!" Elias pushes forward, finally his turn to speak.

"Well, it can't be THAT warm in here... Your little church-mouse of a girlfriend's bundled-up like she's stuck outside IN said blizzard..." Jamie duly retorts while judgmentally pointing at you... with your hood up!

"Yeah, Rosie! Why do you still have your hood on, sweetheart? You can take it off, you must be sweating a bit in it inside!" Chlo amiably offers you reveal yourself to feel more comfortable.

OH CRAPS! Now it looks like they've got you in the corner!

"I-I can't!" You loudly (too loudly) blurt while yanking the hood even more towards covering your face, terrified of what may happen if one of them DID know what Hellie looks like, spewing out without thinking, "M-my eyes a-are v-very sensitive to the light a-a-a-a-and I need my hood t-to shade my eyes a bit aside my glasses!"

Oh gosh, you hope they buy that!

"Glass what? ...Che! Whatever. I'm not surprised a church-mouse like you isn't used to the light and wears masks, people can't see you that way like mice don't want to be seen," Jamie dryly drops the subject while looking like she could not actually care less about you and your hood.

"So, about that fire..." Elias (trying not to be irritable towards Jamie) tries to get everyone back on track by looping back around to that fire.

"E-er, uh-uh, wh-wh-what about it?" Chlo, bless her heart, tries to have a poker face and sound nonchalant but she sounds too nervous and like she has got stage-fright to... She must be a terrible liar!

You can work with that! You've got them on the ropes again and one of them is too honest to lie! Whhhheeewww, this is some hard work going back and forth just to ask about some fire!

"Ugh, listen, you little love dolts," Jamie rolls her eyes and scoffs while seemingly saving Chlo from having to directly answer Elias' question, "You're going to be staying here for a bit, right? Of course you are, no one is here for only a day, not even the traders. When you get to the inn and book your little love-shack of a room, simply pay close attention to your hearth at night and you'll see what all the fuss is about. You're not the first tourists here to see our fires for yourself and you won't be the last! We just don't have the time to entertain each and every one of you that stops by with the same stupid question that could be answered their first night at the inn!"

Ouch... You sorta see where Jamie is coming from, although...

You look at Elias, and it looks like he's also feeling a little bad and guilty as you are, though you don't miss something else behind his eyes.

He's thinking about something as well....?

"Sorry about that, miss, we really didn't mean to be a bother.... I can't help but wonder, though... Did someone else tell you guys to keep quiet about the fire?" Elias asks kinda out of the blue.

!!!!!!

Oh, you were almost thinking the same thing yourself!!


"N-no, wh-why and who would wanna do that...?" Chlo "answers" his question (not so) "honestly".​

"The very nerve! And who, exactly, would tell us to keep our mouths shut about this!? And WHY!? Everyone who has been here before already knows about it, and new-comers find out about it night one, so what would be the purpose of keeping it quiet, hmm!?" Jamie offended-ly asks back with a bit more confidence than Chlo... but probably not more honesty.

"E-er... U-uh..." Elias hesitates to respond, not wanting to tell Jamie that you guys had only suspected someone gave them the order to keep quiet until SHE opened her mouth and removed all doubt.

Hmmm... Well the good news is you'll find out something important tonight in your room in the hearth AND you're pretty sure you and Elias hit the nail on the head with the very strong theory that someone instructed Jamie and Chlo to stay quiet about the fires...

Did this person instruct everyone else as well to remain quiet about the fire? If so, then you can guess it was probably a higher up in this village that did so, like their Chief...?

Only one way to find out...



"W-wow, sh-she's really fast asleep, huh?" You ask, seemingly going on a tangent but really intending on questioning her once she woke up as well, while pointing to the sleeping almost-Asian woman behind the ladies.

"Hm? Wh-- Oh, for Celosia's sake!!" Jamie asks almost indignantly until she turns around and spots the sleeping girl, groaning irritably while looking like she was going to strangle her while stomping towards her!

"J-jamie, let the poor girl sleep!" Chlo pleaded to friend, hopping out from the bar while chasing after her, you and Elias close behind.

"Not a chance! If she's going to be here she's going to pull her weight!" Jamie gritted back while reaching the poor, slumbering woman.

"B-but she already did! She used magic to duplicate our logs! We've still got plenty of firewood!" Chlo tries to defend the sleeping woman while Jamie already starts attempting to wake her up.

"ARCH! ARCHER, YOU LAZYBONES! GET UP!" Jamie shouts, lifting Archer by her coat and shaking her to wake her up!

The golden-haired beauty is surprisingly strong now that you think about it...

Oooooh goodness you regret this plan very much now!!! Aaack!

"Mmmmm... J-jamie...?" The once sleeping girl groggily muttered while slightly opening an eye to look upon the displeased and upset tavern wench violently shaking her awake.

"I swear, you are such a slothful girl you should go BE with the sloths! Be with others about as productive as yourself! Always sleeping! ugh!" Jamie angrily sets her down once the woman was awake enough, placing her hands indignantly on her hips and frowning at the once asleep woman.

You admit that you kiiiiinda thought the same thing about Archer, but not quite so harshly and you certainly didn't wanna shake the poor thing awake!!

"Wuz yer problem now?" Archer lazily yawns while rubbing her eye and stretching to become more awake.

She's drowsy for sure, but... She talks a bit... Peculiar...?

"My problem is that you're supposed to be here to help us make sure we're supplied enough with logs and you're here sleeping! The Chieftain doesn't pay you to sleep about!" Jamie hollers while slightly huffing.

"Well, I mean..." Chlo again chimed in to defend her other friend, "Technically we still have some logs left, so we didn't need Archie awake just yet..."

"That's not the point!" Jamie protested huffily, "The point is she gets paid to be here and use her magic to duplicate our logs so we don't constantly need resupply during the day! And she's supposed to be AWAKE for it!"

AH! This Archer girl has an affinity for magic!

"Elias," You quickly motion for him to lean down so you can whisper into his ear, "Sh-she's magically inclined! D-do you think that maybe...?"

"Hmmm, actually, it may be just the opposite..." Elias begins, whispering right back in your ear (making it really hard to focus but you're trying here!), "Duplication magic is pretty powerful, yes, but it's not like interfering with Celosia's enchantments like Calliope... Plus, if she's so wiped out after using it... She couldn't possibly be a crest-bearer... Especially since she's using magic other than the actual fire magic the crest should give her to supply the fire... It would just be easier for her to use that than duplicate logs..."

"Oh, good point..." You mutter sadly.

Well, at least now you know one person in here who definitely isn't the fire-bearer...

"Ugh! Can't you two go five seconds without whispering sweet nothings into each others ears?! Disgustingly affectionate in public, are we?" Jamie sneers at the both of you as you both finish your whispering.

"We sure are!" Elias happily chirps in response innocently, completely unaware Jamie was insulting you both and not complimenting at all.


Despite having strong feelings for him, this acting like you're an actual couple thing is going to prove to be difficult...​

Archer stares at you and Elias silently and possibly confusedly (or maybe just half asleep) then stares at Jamie, then back at the two of you again...

Oh no... Does she recognize you? Recognize Elias?

You feel your heart stop as she stares endlessly at you...

"Ohh... I get it now. I get it... Jealous Jamie's jealous cuz she can't get as far with Whitey as you and your mans are, Small fry. Girl, you needta calm down with all that envy... You green with it..." Archer (who almost talks like a modern day gangster, but it's a bit bizarre and surreal since her speech is still also a tad eloquent and sounds slightly sophisticated as well...) lazily bellows while nodding more to herself than anyone else.

Big Oof for poor Jamie!! Where did Archer learn to talk like this to be throwing around all that shade?!

"EXCUSE ME!? I AM NOT JEALOUS!!!" Jamie shouts at Archer (with a truly unholy sounding tone of voice...) and grabs Archer by her sweater, shaking her again.

"Sure, sure, whatever ya say, Jay," Archer yawns and nods sleepily, incredibly not minding being shaken like a box of Shake-n-bake!


Jamie's totally jealous of yours and Elias' "love"...​

"J-jamie, we believe you, okay? Just calm down, please..." Chlo begs her friend while raising her hands to Jamie's shoulder.

"Che! I swear! How a slothful girl like you is married to the most diligent man here, with three jobs, I'll never know!" Jamie snorts indignantly while putting Archer down and back into her chair.

Wait... ARCHER IS GALESON'S WIFE!?

WHAT!?

Daaaaaaaaaaannnnngggg!

"Least I got somewhere with my mans... Ya just need to make a dang move already..." Archer stretched, sounding a bit more alert.

Ooooh! Perhaps it's not so hard to believe, on second thought. Another look at her more awake face shows Archer is actually quite pretty in her own right! She also seems like a really nice and laid-back person, proven by how Jamie's basically going for the kill when Archer could care less. What an odd friendship...

"I can handle my love life perfectly fine, Archer, thankyouverymuch!!" Jamie indignantly flicks her hair in Archers face while sneering at her and the almost-Asian woman doing nothing in retaliation.

"Heh... Your parents named you Archer even though you're a magic user? M-must be confusing..." You meekly try to mildly joke around with her, as you suddenly want to kid around and befriend these lovely girls (even Jamie, kinda)!


"Ha! Girl, you don't even know..." Archer smiles and chuckles at you, already seeming to like you while adding, "For like the first month I was on working duty, when I was old enough, he would hand me a frickin' bow and arrow and I'd be like 'wut am I s'ppost ta do with this'?"

"Hahaha! Really!? Oh my Celosia!" You giggle while beaming at her.

"It was pretty funny, not gonna lie!" Chlo snickered while chiming in with your joking.

"He finally DID stop giving her those and assign her to actual appropriate magic-user tasks... Almost a year afterwards!" Jamie rolled her eyes while heartily chuckling herself.

"Haha! No way! That's so funny!"

"Are you guys talking about the village Chieftain?" Elias asks curiously.

"Of course we are, silly boy! Who else in a village assigns tasks and roles for their villagers?" Jamie asks.

Hmmm...


"Guys! Sorry I took a while!" You hear your big brothers voice coming from behind.

"Ce- Uhm, Xander!" You happily cry as you and Elias turn around to greet him.

"Sorry that took me a bit, I just wanted to make sure everything was secure and that the horses would be warm enough inside the stable."

"That's alright!" You cheer at him, just happy to have him with you again.

"Sh-she's traveling around with TWO attractive men...?!" Jamie gasps, a bit gossipy as she's loudly whispering more towards Chlo than anyone else.

"I'm sure there's a proper explanation for this..." Chlo whispers back.

"Kay, maybe Jay should be a lil jealous..." Archer mutters while almost whistling like she was impressed.


"N-no! No! I-it's not like that AT ALL! H-he's my brother!!" You blurt, embarrassed.

"You... Brought along your brother to your vacation with your lover...?" Jamie interrogates skeptically.

"Damn, girl! You kinky!" Archer shouts as she is now fully awake and slamming her hands on the table in sheer shock, unknowingly announcing the fact you're "kinky" so everyone in the tavern could hear...!

The small girl, hunk, and posh purple man are beginning to stare at you...



"L-ladies, I assure you I'm just here to chaperone them and make sure they stay safe and don't get too crazy!" Xander almost stutters, "At night w-we will MOST DEFINITELY be staying in separate rooms..."

"Y-yeah..." You and Elias mutter, also still embarrassed.

"Ah, I see..." Jamie nods, accepting Xander's answer.

"Told you guys..." Chlo rolls her eyes while expecting that to be the case.

"Man, these guys could have been the most interesting people to come here..." Archer snaps her fingers while sighing disappointed.


J-just how starved are these guys for entertainment to assume such uncouth and scandalous things and prefer those to the actual explanation?!?!?​


Before anyone could say anything else, you all hear Chlo's stomach grumbling extremely loudly.

"Aha... S-sorry..." Chlo blushes while excusing herself.

"Chlo! For Celosia's sake! You don't have a single bone in your body that isn't focused on food! Such a pig!" Jamie huffs, clearly not caring for Chlo's gluttony.

"I can't help it, I'm just soooooo hunnnggrrryyy! So hungry! All the time! I just want to eat all daaa-aaa--aayyyy..." Chlo whines, grasping her stomach like she's dying.

"Ugh. We just ate not long ago. Our portions are pre-measured and they're fine! We're not starving or anything!" Jamie scolds Chlo.

"Fine for YOU maybe..." Chlo complains and retorts under her breath while pouting.

Jamie scoffs disgustedly and rolls her eyes.

"I could duplicate some food for you, if you want?" Archer offers Chlo.

"No, it's fine... It's not as tasty as the original when it's duplicated..."

"Girl, it literally tastes the same! What is your tongue going on about it tasting different???"

"I can taste the difference!" Chlo continues to complain about food.


"So, what now?" Xander asks you kinda quietly so as not to catch the bickering ladies' attention while they're occupied amongst themselves.

"Well, the bad news is that they won't tell us directly what's going on exactly, we think the Village Chieftain gave them orders to keep quiet. B-but the good news is tonight, in our rooms at the inn, we'll see first hand this special fire they have, and it could be a really big clue as to the fire-bearers whereabouts... Also, since Archer is a magic user who gets drained easily using strong magic, we're pretty sure she's not strong enough to be a crest-bearer..." You debrief Xander on all the information you've gathered.

"Good, that's good. Not bad, Ro, not bad at all," Xander compliments you while gently patting your shoulder, calling you the exact nickname your brother does...

"Could you tell us more about the Chief?" Elias suddenly inquires.

"Ugh, why don't you ask the boys?" Jamie shoo's Elias question away, as if she couldn't be bothered to answer, while pointing at the exact table with the hunk and purple fellow that you DIDN'T want to approach.

"Huh? Why?" You ask, confused.

"Because they know more about the village Chieftain than us, being a bit closer to him and all. They're almost like sons to him along with Scias," Chlo answers for Jamie, much less snippy than the golden-haired beauty would have been.

"Oh..." You sigh, not hiding your disappointment well.

"They won't bite, Honey," Chlo smiles and comforts you as she senses your hesitation.

"Yeah, they cool," Archer confirms.

First, we definitely don't want the gambling. We run the rik of getting caught up in their game and losing precious time (and potentially even money). The Janitor girl almost certainly has some kind of sob story to her if we go by how things usually go, but she's not likely to provide directly useful information.
You weren't really keen on meeting them before due to the possible gambling temptation, much less now that the silver-haired stud is eyeing you up from across the room.

You cringe uncomfortably as he winks at you and you swear he's about a second away from blowing you a kiss!

"Uhm... E-excuse me, miss?" Comes a cute and small voice you hadn't heard before.

You turn to see... OH! It's the janitor girl! Seems in all the hollerin' and hootin' you were all raising, she came to you!

"Oh! Hi sweetheart, what's up?" You smile at her brightly while turning to face her.

She's a small and humble girl, with a familiar uncertainty about herself you're no stranger to, with a tiny and shy smile on her face.

"I-I just wanted to... uhm... I just wanted to introduce you to my big brother, Harv... I-if you want... H-he's a bit nicer when he knows they're my friends... N-not that he's not a nice person in general!" The small, pony-tailed girl flusters her way through her offer.

"Just a lil arrogant and prideful is all..." Archer jokes.

Looks like you were right! Her and the purple man were related! So, the purple man is named Harv... and if what Galeson said was accurate... That silver stud's name must be Whitey!

"Uhm..." You hesitate, as you didn't want to really talk to them to start, but... Well... You do need to learn more about this village Chief and why he'd want to keep the fire hush hush, especially when people figure it out during the night?

"Thank you for the offer, Dulcie, you're very sweet, dear," Chlo beams at the cute, tiny girl while patting her head (you're kinda jealous you don't get head pats from Chlo... Oh no! Jamie's jealousy is rubbing off on you!!)

"What do you think, Ro? Should we ask this lil' one to introduce us, or just go up to those guys ourselves?" Xander asks you, pondering how consequential accepting or declining this offer is.

"I don't really want to go up to them at all is the problem... They probably are going to want to play... We have neither the time nor money," You think to yourself, but don't actually say it out loud.

"Either way, we should be fine, but for the best first impressions we probably should take her up on it..." Elias nods to himself.

"Hmmm..." You think, perhaps in taking Dulcie with you, it might incline Harv NOT to want to gamble... but then again, maybe not...

If you didn't have to do this you wouldn't, but... You might have to... It seems now talking to those men is inevitable to learn more valuable information you need...

You look again over at their table and Whiteys giving you a look...




You, uh... Don't think you have to worry about Whitey making moves on you regardless of Dulcie's presence...?!

>>LET DULCIE INTRODUCE YOU TO HARV, OR HANDLE THE FIRST MEETING WITH THEM YOURSELVES??<<

code by RI.a
 
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Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
>>LET DULCIE INTRODUCE YOU TO HARV

Letting the guy's sister introduce us seems like the best possible scenario here. It lets us start on the right foot, while also having a bit of a shield in case the guy trying overstepping his bounds (Do you really want to do that in front of your sister, dude?). There's also a chance she might bring something up herself while we're talking to him, since little children tend to have less of a filter.

PS: It may be a little rushed to suggest the village chief was the one who told them to hush. It seems more likely whoever has the crest requested people stay silent to protect themselves, as like some sort of condition.
 

Felis

Meow?
I agree, we should take Dulcie up on her offer. I can't think of any downside to it.

We'll just have to stand our ground on the gambling issue. I wouldn't worry too much about Whitey making advances, though. My first impression is that he wants to mess with Elias first and foremost (and possibly make Jamie jealous? What are the odds that they actually both like each other and aren't straightforward about it?).

And yeah, it's more likely the fire crest bearer is the one who doesn't want them to talk. Unless for some reason the village chief happens to be the crest bearer, of course.
 
I agree with all above, making it four for Dulce intro. I am slightly concerned though that we may need to do some emotional damage control for Elias after this encounter... He seems... concerningly possessive, and I think his feelings may be hurt or something.
 

Minako

Not in a good place.
Rosalina Chandra

Location: The Starving Miner Pub!
Mentions: @Idea @Felis @DreamBeat @Koruma Murasame @BestrJestr
Interactions: Whitey, Harv, Dulcie, and--!

>>LET DULCIE INTRODUCE YOU TO HARV

Letting the guy's sister introduce us seems like the best possible scenario here. It lets us start on the right foot, while also having a bit of a shield in case the guy trying overstepping his bounds (Do you really want to do that in front of your sister, dude?). There's also a chance she might bring something up herself while we're talking to him, since little children tend to have less of a filter.

PS: It may be a little rushed to suggest the village chief was the one who told them to hush. It seems more likely whoever has the crest requested people stay silent to protect themselves, as like some sort of condition.
I agree, we should take Dulcie up on her offer. I can't think of any downside to it.

We'll just have to stand our ground on the gambling issue. I wouldn't worry too much about Whitey making advances, though. My first impression is that he wants to mess with Elias first and foremost (and possibly make Jamie jealous? What are the odds that they actually both like each other and aren't straightforward about it?).

And yeah, it's more likely the fire crest bearer is the one who doesn't want them to talk. Unless for some reason the village chief happens to be the crest bearer, of course.
This is cute lol. What I wanted to say has already been said, so this makes it three for Let Dulcie introduce you to Harv
I agree with all above, making it four for Dulce intro. I am slightly concerned though that we may need to do some emotional damage control for Elias after this encounter... He seems... concerningly possessive, and I think his feelings may be hurt or something.
I feel like there's no reason not to let Dulce introduce us so I think all of our schizophrenic voices are in agreement!

Yeah, if anything, Dulcie's presence may keep the fighting to a minimum!!!

"E-elias...?!" You gasp, sorta taken by surprise by his newfound and concerning possessiveness....

Your face is too hot for you to lie to yourself and say you didn't like being held close by the man you love, but... Well, you think you know who he's really being possessive over and it's not really you...

Sad to say, but, shouldn't he be used to losing his crush by now...?

H-he lost Hellie to his brother and had to watch their romance blossom practically all his life... And he loves Elmiel too much to ever be jealous of him or possessive of Hellie... S-so...

So what just happened here, exactly??



"H-huh...?! Wh-wha...?!?" Elias shakes, suddenly back to normal, as if he had just woken up from a coma or something.

He looks at you, realizes he's holding you so close, and promptly lets you go with a face (you're assuming is) as red as yours.


"I-I'm sorry... I-I don't know wha--" Elias began, extremely flustered, clearly back-pedaling, "M-my brother... I-I, Hel--"

"N-no, please, I-I get it, it's okay... Y-you should just be aware of when you do that and stuff... I-I know how you feel about... uhm..." You do your best to mumble understandingly, adding that last bit in a whisper, stopping him from saying her nickname because you're scared someone may put the pieces together if they knew the Empresses true name...

...At least you sure hope that's why you stopped him from saying her name...

Elias looks pained and says nothing in return.


You two are right next to each other, but in this moment it feels like your hearts are a bajillion miles apart...​




"Hey, guys? What's going on?" Xander, possibly missing what just happened, asks about the sudden gloomy mood between the two of you.

Pulling you and Elias closer together he says quietly as you all follow Dulcie, "Is everything ok? Remember, you guys are supposed to be the happy couple here."

"R-right," Elias mutters, still fresh from the earlier pain.

"S-sorry, Xandie," You quietly respond back.

Dulcie turns to look at you guys from all the whispering and you awkwardly smile and meekly wave at her. She smiles as you nod, accepting her offer finally, and walks toward the table with the two men, the three of you close behind.




As you all approach the table you're happy to see Harv's bored and dull facial expression light up upon seeing his sweet little sister and Whitey look a little disappointed... while looking at you... Wh-what is this mans deal?!


"Dulcie! Sweetheart! Did you finish up the sweeping?" Harv smiles and kindly asks his sister, looking over at your group and then asking, "And who are your new friends?"

To your surprise, it's not just this man's style that's posh and fancy... He almost has a british accent! It's not quite one, but also not a poor imitation either... Wow, first Archer talks like an oddly medieval gangster and now this man almost talks like he's british... This village is so odd but interesting!!!

You wonder who taught Harv how to talk, and how Dulcie lacks this accent?

"Yes, Har-Harv, I did. It was nothing, really," Dulcie (predictably) meekly downplays her tavern chores to her big brother.

"Good girl, Dul," Harv pats her head while praising her.



Y-you're a good girl, too!!


...Celosia, Jamie really IS rubbing off on you...



"These are new tourists to the village! I wanted to introduce them to you!" Dulcie then answers Harv's question while happily handing over the spotlight to your group.

"Soooooo, Cutie... Any truth in what Arch--" Whitey begins to ask you, you're willing to bet your life, about Archers (unnecessarily loud) comment about you being "kinky" when Harv shoots him a dirty look and interrupts him as soon as he catches on to Whiteys shenanigan.

You turn away to hide your blushing face... Even Whitey's voice is appealing...

"WHITEY! For Celosia's sake!" Harv scolds his flirtatious friend, then turns to you and sighs, "Terribly sorry, Miss. Believe it or NOT, this lusty scoundrel IS filtering himself with Dul around."

Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes... Not much of a filter... You'd HATE TO THINK how this would be going down WITHOUT Dul-- Wait...

You turn to look at Dulcie and she smiles innocently at you for a moment... And then winks...

Did... Did she actually offer to come with your group to keep Whitey toned down purposefully and not so that Harv would be nicer to you at all...?

This girl may actually be craftier than she looks...



"So long as he takes 'no' for an answer and doesn't actually try anything..." Xander, himself going into over-protective big brother mode, dryly warns while you're guessing giving Whitey a look of his own.

"We are here as a couple, so you can keep your lecherous remarks to yourself, you!" Elias adds to that, and you feel his arm wrap around you and gently pull you closer to him.

Embarrassed, you cover your face (totally smudging up your glasses) and nod in agreement.

"I don't see Celosian pendants around your necks, unless she's got hers under her coat... In which case--" Whitey looks the both of you up and down a moment before expressing his doubt, when he jerks at Harv kicking him under the table and stops before he could most likely request you take your coat off.

You cringe and sort of withdraw a little, not that you'd be stripping taking off your heavy winter coat, but Carbuncle fell asleep in your coat a bit ago and you don't wanna wake him up taking it off... Plus, you don't wanna take it off just for Whitey!

"What?! Of course you don't, you idiot! Why do you think they're here?! Why do you think every couple that travels here is here for?!" Harv asked as if Whitey was stupid.

"I'm just saying, man..." Whitey rolls his eyes subtlely at Harv while replying.

"Are you planning on asking Scias today if he can make you both pendants? He doesn't close up too soon, but the sooner you ask him the sooner you'll have it," Dulcie innocently asks Elias.


Huh...?


...Wait... Wait... Hang on a second... Village famous for mining precious metals and gems... Winter wonderland but hot tourist spot... Couples come here often... "Engagement rings" are pendants...

....

.......

...........

Hold up....​

"E-e-er! Uh-uhm!" Elias blurts, taken off guard and completely flustered and bashful, "I-I was gonna ask him just after we're done here, a-actually! W-we wanted to... Uh-uhm... G-give Scias a moment to settle back into his blacksmith shoppe, you know! W-we're v-v-v-very eager to get married, b-but w-we don't wanna c-c-come across a-as pushy...! H-he seemed i-irritable, a-after all...!"

OH DEAREST, DARLINGEST CELOSIA!!! THIS VILLAGE IS WHERE COUPLES COME TO ASK THE BLACKSMITH TO MAKE THEIR ENGAGEMENT PENDANTS. YOU AND ELIAS ARE HERE UNDER THE PRETENSES OF AN IMPENDING PROPOSAL!!!

"Y-YES!" You shout, as if the realization hit you like a minivan. A fully loaded minivan.

"Ugh, that's a smart move, actually..." Whitey groans while leaning back in chair and almost whining.

"Yeah, maybe a little... Ever since the accident Scias has been rather insufferable..." Harv shakes his head while duly noting.

"H-huh? Accident? What happened to Scias?" You ask curiously.

Whitey and Harv give each other a look, clearly internally debating whether or not to answer you, Harv finally clearing his throat and saying something after a while.

"W-well... It's not really anything hidden, since anyone who sees his face already can guess something happen... So..." Harv debates between himself when whitey just spills the beans.

"When he was making their Celosian pendants Scias had a freak accident that scarred his face and took his eye! It's been nearly a year already, but I guess he's still mad about it, so..." Whitey actually answers you.

"Oh! Poor Scias!" You cry out unthinkingly.

"Yeah... I can't imagine scarring my face up that bad while I was getting my Celosian pendant..." Xander sorta quietly sympathizes with the blacksmith.

Elias almost looks guilty upon hearing this (remembering their first interaction, you're sure) but he doesn't really say anything in response.

You almost want to ask more details about what happened but you think it might be rude...


"Chlo might be waiting a while for a proposal, if any... Er, D-d-don't tell her I said that, please..." Harv nervously and quietly speculates, probably being right.

Poor Chlo...


"S-so, You, Whitey, Scias, and Galeson are all like sons to the Chief, huh? He must have been so worried when he heard what happened to Scias," You ask, seeing your way to slowly shift the topic to the Chieftain for just a tad.

"Yeah... He was... He ran over to Scias as soon as he got the wounds... Luckily he and Archer were able to help Scias, and him losing his vision in that eye along with that nasty scar was the LEAST amount of damage possible considering how much worse it could have been... The Chief was an excellent support while Archer was using healing magic," Harv explained nodding his head.

Huh... You're starting to see a little bit into how magic users work: They're possibly sort of like jack of all trades but masters of none, while the Crest-bearers and their relatives are more specialized...? You'll have to run this theory by Elias later, when you two can talk in private...

"Oh, wait, he was supporting? Like wiping off the blood off of him while she healed him?" Xander asks, taking your lead in smoothly shifting this topic to the Chief.

"Yeah, unfortunately, Archers forte is more duplication magic than healing, since she's used the former type practically since we were all around Dulcie's age, but the Chief provided such expert support she was able to mostly heal him fine," Whitey nodded sympathetically, sighing, "Poor guy. A man's face is his life! Too bad Archer wasn't a stronger magic-user... She mighta been able to really heal him up."

Isn't the phrase a woman's face is her life?

Wait... stronger... magic-user... LIKE A--

"Haha, yeah, can you imagine if a crest-bearer had been there to heal him?" Elias asks, almost like he was reading your mind!

Wowie zowie... you two are totally in sync!

This is it! This is your guy's chance to figure out what this village believes in!

They must think good...

They must! Th-they're... They're protecting the Crest-bearer by keeping quiet, r-right?!


"Huh? Crest-bearer? Like the legend with the Hierophant, who is allegedly a being from another world?? That old wives tale?" Harv looks at Elias like he's the dumbest boy in the room and shoots him a concerned look, "I mean... I guess? Maybe? That's like saying to an edge-dweller 'Whoa, friend, wouldn't it be wild if the winged beast showed up and ate us?'... Aren't you a little too old to be believing in that?"

Wait... WHAT?!

They think you're just a made-up legend with no chance of being real?!

B-B-BUT THE FIRE?! A-A-AND PROTECTING THEIR CREST BEARER!?

H-HARV MUST BE ACTING... H-HE MUST BE!

"E-er... uh..." Elias uncomfortably shifts in his seat, trying to find the proper explanation and response to Harv's condescension.



Before you, Elias, or Xander could say anything else, you squeak as loud as you can: Carbuncle woke up and is shifting around in your coat!

"C-carby! A-alright, alright! I-I'll let you out!" You are barely able to giggle and squeak while slightly opening up your coat so they could pop their head through.

"Chiiikaaaaaaaaaahh...?" Carbuncle looks around and peeps curiously, as if something someone had said had called it's attention...??



"WHOA, HOLY CELOSIA! SHE HAD A BUNNY IN HER COAT, POSSIBLY BETWEEN HER BOSOMS?!" Whitey shouts while pointing to Carbuncle

"AND IT HAS A GEM ON IT'S FOREHEAD?! HOW DID IT GET A GEM ON IT'S FOREHEAD?! HOW VALUABLE IS THAT RABBIT?!" Harv also notes while pointing, almost seeming like he wanted Carbykin's forehead gem (as noted by the not-so-subtle grabby paws Harv's hand was doing after pointing at Carbnuncle).

There are two types of people in this world...



"CHI-CHIKA-CHIKA! CHI! CHI-KAH!!" Carbuncle yells at both of them like they had just insulted it's mother while digging back inside your coat indignantly, apparently mad at the two men before you now.

"Touchy lil critter, ain't it...? Lucky son of a...." Whitey said something and then mumbled something else you didn't quite get.

"I-I guess I would be too if I had something that valuable on my forehead and only seen as valuable b-because of it..." Harv bashfully stated as he blinked, apparently missing Carby already.

"Great, thanks rabbit, now we'll never be able to ask them anything more since you stole the spotlight..." Xander sighs under his breath while looking away.


"Y-yeah, th-they're a bit of a weird bunbun, huh? A-ahahaha..." You mutter nervously, hoping their reactions wouldn't be too freaked out by your new furry friend.


"My Ivana would LOVE that little cutie! Adorable AND valuable!? Right up her alley!" Harv smiles at you and chuckles, almost like he's about ten seconds from asking you how much you're going to sell Carbuncle for.

"H-heh heh..." You mutter, clinging to lil Carbykins a little more tightly as if to indicate there was no way in heckie you were selling your precious, new bunbun friend!

"Dude, Ivvi's almost as hot as Cora, I'll give her that, but your lady's kinda a gold-digger... Lil' bit greedy is all I'm sayin'..." Whitey rolls his eyes at Harv while breaking it to him what he thought of this Ivana.

"H-hey! Don't you say that about her! She just has tastes for the finer things in life! There is no shame in liking the extravagant every once in a while!" Harv immediately jumped to his Ivana's defense and Dulcie peeped in too!

"Y-yes, please don't talk about my s-sister-in-law like that! Liking nice things doesn't make someone bad at all!" Dulcie pouted, clearly also being fond of Harv's apparent wife!

"Alright, alright, if you two say so..." Whitey exhales, thinking it's more trouble than it's worth to continue this conversation.



"Uhm... S-so about the Chief and the special fires...W-we were wondering if it's not too much trouble for you guys to tell us just a bit about them...?" You begin, trying to again reel everybody back on track.

"...I think the Chief's story should be told to ya by the Chief, but... About those fires... I may have something..." Whitey begins slyly, looking away from you for once but still with an oddly smug look on his face?

"R-really?! Th-that you wouldn't mind telling us?! W-would you be so kind!?" You gasp, not expecting Whitey to cooperate so easily.

"....Mmmmm, I don't know.... I might be so kind..." Whitey then directs his gaze back at you looking exactly like a wolf who's spotted a poor little lamb, "If you'll kiss me."



OVER YOUR DEAD BODY! ALSO WHY THOUGH!?
You're just a dorky, shy little thing who is probably the ugliest girl in the room! WHY is this essential jock even bothering to look at you that way?!

"NO WAY ON CION ISLE!" Elias shouts back,directly placing himself now between you and Whitey.

"Then I guess I have nothing else to say," Whitey smirked pompously at Elias and leaned back on chair like it scarcely mattered if you accepted the offer or not, those were his nonnegotiable terms.

"Hhhhhhhhaaaarrrrvvv...?" You, trying not to hyperventilate, turn to his more reasonable (and less lecherous) friend to see if you'll have better luck with him.

"So, hypothetically, if you WERE to sell that rabbit, how much--"

"BROTHER!?" Dulcie scolds her arrogant elder brother as he practically asks to buy Carnbuncle.

"S-sorry, Dull, but our anniversary IS coming up and Ivana HAS been wanting a pet as of late... Imagine how much greater she'll think I'll be if I hand her that rabbit!" Harv pleads Dulcie to be alright with this.

"Brother... It's sweet you want to get her something unique and special, and the bunny is VERY CUTE, but the hooded miss seems to be very attached to it, and it to her... Have a heart and don't even think of separating them... Chlo would be happy to bake you two a lovely cake like she has the last 2 years you've been married... There's no need to lose humility when getting her a present, she knows you love her and already thinks you're the greatest around. Remember what father taught us: Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real," Dulcie nods her head while reminding her brother of what they were taught when growing up.

Whoa, it's not just this girls demeanor that's humble, it appears to be her mantra and theme as well!

"Well... I suppose Whitey's theory is so far-fetched and full of fallacies with no proof it would be a waste of time to try to convince him to talk anyway for useless info that won't be of any value to our friends here..." Harv sighed, not having the heart to continue his offer after Dulcie's short and sweet speech.

"HEY! My findings are FULL PROOF! FULL! PROOF!" Whitey huffs at Harv essentially discrediting him.

"More like a fool's 'proof'..." Harv mumbled nearly under his breath, now borderline ignoring Whitey and gathering up the scattered cards on the table and shuffling them.

"I heard that!" Whitey shouted irritably at Harv while Dulcie turned away and giggled quietly.



"...You play those, or just use them for fancy card tricks?" You suddenly hear Elias' voice and spring your head up back from where it hung, essentially defeated.

You raise a brow at Elias and wonder what he's up to...?

"I happen to be the best card-player in all of Cion Isle," Harv also raises his brows at Elias and pridefully (also arrogantly) proclaims his immense skill.

"Second best card-player in all of Cion Isle," Elias almost just as arrogantly corrects him as he (rather coolly) pulls up a chair and sits down, joining their table... and practically asking for a game.

"Oh ho ho ho ho ho! I LIKE where this is gooooooiiiiiinnnnng~" Whitey sing-songs, shooting you a... A rather haunting look on his face and if he licks his lips you swear you're gonna faint...

Oh Celosia... The lurch in your stomach tells you that you know EXACTLY where this is going...


"Uhm, can you gentlemen give us a second???" Xander practically yanks Elias out of the seat while excusing the both of them from the table momentarily.

"WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING?!" Xander "loudly whispers" at him from under his breath as best he can without others hearing and making a scene.


"Relax. I think I can beat them," Elias smirked, almost cocky.

"Okay, well, first of all, this isn't about us trusting your skill or not! Secondly, It's about not gambling what isn't yours! Carbuncle isn't yours to sell and it's UP TO RO to decide who she gets to kiss or not!" Xander almost seethes at him, and you want to say something but you're a little tongue tied in all of this.

You DO have faith in Elias, but... YOU REALLY, REALLY DON'T WANNA KISS SOME STRANGE GUY!

Whitey's attractive, sure, there's no point arguing THAT, but he's also a lusty scoundrel that only brings out lust in you and makes your actual desire lose it's appetite.

"I'm not letting Harv take Carbuncle OR Whitey kiss Rosie, that's a fact," Elias (again) says so coolly and confidently it sends the butterflies in your stomach (that you already have seeing him) whirling even faster.

"I've literally never seen you even HOLD a deck of cards in your hands, much less PLAY them. This guys the BEST of the BEST. He will CRUSH you!" Xander warns, "And then Rosie will be without Carbuncle, and given who she is, PROBABLY HAS THE RABBIT FOR A REASON. A reason we haven't and probably NEED to figure out. Which we won't if we SELL THEM. And--"

"I-I have stake in this, too! And I won't lose. Elmiel's taught me how to play cards since I was small. I know I can beat him," Elias pleads.

"...A... Alright, Elias," You suddenly hear yourself say, "Do it. I trust you. I know you won't make me kiss that guy OR sell Carbuncle."

"Rosie..." Xander hesitates, then sighs exasperatedly, "Fine. If she's fine with it, I guess I'm ok with this... For now... Don't blow this, Elias..."

"Thank you, Rosie. I won't let Harv get Carbuncle OR Whtey lay a finger on you, much less a kiss, I PROMISE!" Your golden boy promises and smiles at you.

"Right!" You chirp, not afraid at all once you look at his smile.


Elias and Xander again approach the table, Both with Whitey and Harv looking expectantly at your group.

"Fine. We play one round of 'Crowns of Chance'. If Xander or I win, then you tell us everything we want to know within reason," Elias begins to bargain, your heart nearly stopping.

"And if you guys lose...?" Whitey inquires, looking over at you a moment and then at Elias smugly.

What is this mans damage?! Why is he being such a leech to you?! Again, You're not particularly pretty or anything!

"Then we'll agree to your terms as well..." Elias sighs, frowning at Whitey.

"HAHA! Okay, you've got yourself a deal!" Harv excitedly states while Dulcie gives him a look of disapproval.

"Sweeet~" Whitey whistles, extremely satisfied at how everything is playing out.

You have hope in your heart at least if, Celosia forbid, Elias DOES lose, at the very least Dulcie might not let Harv buy Carbuncle (though at that point he'd have won him fair and square, though) but Whitey...


The two men who travel with you join the other two men at the table who don't, and you nearly hold your breath as Harv shuffles the cards before you.

You have absolutely no idea what on Cion Isle "Crowns of Chance" is and the cards look... odd...

You can tell very... hm... Old-ish (which is no surprise since this world is almost in the time period of the middle ages) versions of hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs and they are nowhere as neatly on the design as they are in modern versions of cards (they didn't even have numbers on them, just the symbol however many times it was the card of: The ten of hearts had just ten hearts on it, without the actual number '10' actually showing up on the card, for example...) and have pictures aside the king, queen, and jack... They almost remind you of tarot cards...

Admittedly, though the cards seem faded due to the crude material they were printed on back and front (obviously not made from what cards in your world are and extremely used and loved by Harv, granted he's supposed to be the best card-player around) you do admit the design on the backs of the cards are beautiful! It's a stained-glass like painting of a gorgeous and majestic dragon that is so pastel blue it almost blends in with the sky in the background had it not been for the masterful detail on the dragons scales... You hold yourself back from asking Harv if you can at least see a card when the game is over, but just barely! For some odd reason, you're extremely drawn to that picture... Asking Harv for a card or not, you're definitely going to ask ABOUT it as soon as you can!

"S-so, how exactly do you play this 'Crowns of Chance'...? I-is it all up to luck?" You carefully whisper to Dulcie, who you almost didn't notice had made her way in front of you with all the distractions, and she's kinda blocking you from seeing Whitey...

Or is it the other way around...?


Hmmmmm... Curiouser and curiouser as to how clever Dulcie's letting on she is...​

"It's basically a card game of skill AND luck, so even if you're dealt a bad hand you can still use a good strategy to get a turnabout victory if you're smart enough," Dulcie smiles and whispers back, "I'll explain when they start playing."

Oh boy... Smarts, huh? Elias' weakness....

The silver-haired leech is totally gonna be your first kiss, isn't he?



"So just one round, huh, golden boy? You sure about that? I might feel sorry enough for you if you lose terribly enough to Harv to make it best two out of three... Though, you may just lose worse to him in other rounds, heh heh... Still, either way, no take backs: One round, then?" Whitey asks teasingly.

"Not to brag or anything... Oh, who am I kidding, I LOVE to gloat, but this man is right, Whitey: One round of terrible defeat should be enough humiliation for him. I'm the best of the best, and I'm sorry to say I have no intention of going easy on you even in the slightest," Harv arrogantly and pridefully states while attempting to warn Elias of whats to come.

"Pride cometh before the fall," Xander narrows his eyes at Harv and practically growls in response.

"My name is Elias. Call me that. One round is fine. You gonna deal, or not?" Elias, sounding VERY MUCH like Elmiel, replies in a very alluring serious tone.


"Then let the games begin, and may the best man win!" Harv declares while straight up shuffling the cards like it was some sort of magic trick or something, making a true spectacle of the event while then arrogantly adding, "And by that I mean me, of course. I'm the best man and I'm going to win!"

You roll your eyes at how Harv's pride is kinda getting annoying, but deep down you're kinda thankful he's giving you something to focus attention on aside Whitey making you uncomfortable.


"The objective of 'Crowns of Chance' is simple: You try to get either the King OR Queen of all the Suits first and whoever gets them before the other players wins by being "crowned" by either the Kings or Queens," Dulcie explains quietly to you the rules of the game.

"Oh, so it doesn't matter if, say, like, someone has three of out four of the Kings and someone else has all four Queens, then?" You ask, double checking what you were told.

"Correct, Miss: The person who had all four Queens would be crowned because the other person only had three Kings," Dulcie nods, seemingly happy you got it.

"A-alright, thank you... So, how do they gather the Kings or Queens?" You ask quietly again as Harv is nearly finishing up dealing the cards.

"Well," Dulcie explains, "They players decide whether the flow is either right or left, then they hand a card they don't need onto the next player, and then they hand another card they don't need, and so on and so on."

"But how do the players who only have one or two get the other Suits?" You ponder, worried.

"The Jacks and Jokers," Dulcie nods, "When you put a Jack or Joker on the 'throne', which is just setting it down on the table, you can either request a King or Queen from ANY player you suspect may have them."

"I see!" You gasp, sorta understanding this game.

Wait... Hang on...

"One second..." You begin, going wide eyed and looking like a deer in headlights, "If the only way to win is to either get all four Kings or all four Queens... Then... Wouldn't it be possible to win right off the bat?!"

"I'm afraid so. This IS a game of skill as well as chance... There is a reason it is called 'Crowns of Chance' after all..." Dulcie grimaces.

OH CELOSIA! SO ELIAS AND XANDER COULD ACTUALLY LOSE AS SOON AS THE GAME STARTS?!

...Th-they could WIN, too, but... Ack!

You fight your mighty need to hyperventilate and pay attention as best you can: The game has begun...

Each of the four men have four cards and they decided it would start from Xander's seat to Harvs. The order of turns is Xander, Elias, Whitey, and, last but certainly not least, Harv.


Dulcie is trying not to obstruct your view of the table and such, but if she's going to block Whitey from creeping on you she'll at least block a little bit of it to block him... You try to get a look at Elias' cards to no avail, and you're happy to see both boys look satisfied with their hands!

Good! Good!

...Oh no... Harv is grinning ear to ear...

"If... If they automatically get dealt all four suits of either crowns they don't have to wait their turn, right?" You ask meekly, hoping Harv isn't a second away from winning!

"That's correct," Dulcie confirms.

Harv may be smiling, but he hasn't SAID anything yet... You exhale and try to lower your heart rate.


"You, Give me a Queen," Xander starts this whole thing off by pointing to Whitey while slamming down a jack of diamonds on the table.

"Mmmmm, No, I don't think I will..." Whitey grins while sliding an Ace of spades down.

"Ah!" You gasp, tugging on Dulcie's dress for an explanation as Whitey grabs another card from the top of the deck.

"S-sorry, I forgot to mention: Ace's neutralize Jacks and Jokers," Dulcie shyly mutters, "If you have an Ace of any suit, you don't have to give the other opponent anything despite a joker or jack."

"G-great..." You mutter, cursing that darn Ace for possibly letting Whitey keep his Queen or King and be all that closer to winning.

"Uhm, you going to go, Elias?" Harv asks, apparently Xander ate up his turn using the Jack.

"Here," Elias takes a card and hands it to Whitey, and Whitey in turn hands another card (you can't really see which it is from this angle) to Harv. Harv... Harv looks too satisfied with the card Whitey just gave him...

"When the cycle is finished, the last persons whose turn it was places their unwanted card on the bottom of the deck while the first persons whose turn it was takes from the top and the turns start again," Dulcie continues to inform you and you nod.

This is both fascinating and nerve-wrecking.

Xander hands Elias a five of diamonds and Elias nods, taking it while still protectively hiding his hand.

Maybe that's for the best... Harv is also looking at you occasionally and he'll be able to tell how good Elias' hand is by the look on YOUR face, after all...

Elias hands Whitey a card, and almost as soon as Harv gets the card Whitey hands to him Harv puts down a Jack of clubs on the table and points to Elias.

"I know you've got a King. Give it to me," He requests with so much arrogance it irritates you.

"Mmm," Elias mumbles, sure enough, taking a King of spades from his hand and giving it to Harv.

Harv's smirk is devilish... Oh Celosia... He's got at least 2 Kings now... You know... You just know he's got at least 2 kings now...!

Whitey is also... Hey! Wait a minute! If Harv had a jack before, why didn't he use it his previous-- Unless Whitey gave him one! Grr!

"D-dulcie! Are players allowed to help other players?!" You whisper in her ear, trying to be discreet so as not to offend the other men.

"Hmmm, It's not really against the rules to give away Jacks if the player really wants to discard them... Though, until just then, I can't imagine another player would willingly do so, as it doesn't really benefit them to give it away instead of use it..." Dulcie observes and states, hesitantly disagreeing with your call.

"Darn..." You mumble miserably.

You bury your face in your hands, praying the fourth King doesn't see anyone's hands but Xander's or Elias',

You suddenly hear a happy gasp and your face darts up.

Oh, finally something good! It came from Xander!

"Shh," You hear Elias gently shush Xander, rather stoically.

"S-sorry..." Xander bashfully mutters while scratching his head... kinda blowing it and handing a card to Elias.

"Thanks," Elias nods, himself handing a card to Whitey.

"Guess it's just my lucky day, Celosia must want the kiss to happen," Whitey rather surprisingly states while placing a Joker on the table.

WHAT?! NO!!!

How is it possible... Elias couldn't have given him THAT card or the two jacks...So... S-so... HOW COULD HE HAVE STARTED WITH TWO DEMANDING CARDS AND A NEUTRALIZER RIGHT AWAY?! SO NOT FAIR!

"Just ask already," Elias groans irritably and you can tell he's rolling his eyes.

"I know you just got something good. Give it to me," Whitey demands while pointing Xander.


Xander gives a pained yelp and hands him... OH CELOSIA!
NO!
Why did your big brother just hand Whitey a King of Hearts?!​

"S-sorry again, dang it..." Xander mumbles.

Dulcie is tensing up and is now standing protectively in front of you.


You want to cry. You also want to scream. You also don't want to make a scene. In your flurry of emotions you're getting dizzy and you really don't notice much of anything else.

Whitey hands Harv a card and Harv just looks like he's just about won the game... Or at least... is one king away from doing so... How can it not be against the rules for players to help other players?!

You'd be stupid to deny it: Harv has three kings.

Harv is going to win this!! Ugh!


He places a card at the bottom of the deck and Xander grabs one from the top.

You're holding your breath as Xander passes a card to Elias when-- Ack! Of all the times for Xander to have butterfingers!?

As Xander passes the card to Elias, he drops it to the ground and you scramble to pick it up before anyone else "helps" by seeing what card Xander just gave him!

"E-elias! H-h-here!" You stutter nervously catching a glimpse at Whitey who definitely has that "pucker-up" expression on his face as he sees you.

SERIOUSLY!?



"Thanks Rosie," Elias shoots whitey a look and then beams at you.

You hand him a card, careful not to let others see it and--

Wait...

Another Joker!? That's right, how could you forget in every deck of playing cards there are always TWO jokers?!

What are the chances?!


You look at Elias in shock and he winks at you before resuming the game. Obviously his very next move was to use that joker and get a card!

"I want your Queen of Hearts, Harv," Elias demands while placing the joker down on the table.

"H-how did you know it was--?!" Harv begins to ask as he hands Elias the card.

"Because I have the rest of them."

Sure enough: The Queen of Diamonds, Spades, Clubs, and, finally, HEARTS are all neatly set out the table!


Elias wins!!!

"What the-- When did you?!" Harv gasps, dumbfounded at being beaten, sure enough dropping his cards on the table to reveal the King of Hearts, Spades, and Clubs... but no Diamond!

"Simple: When Whitey began sorta helping you by handing you his spare Jack, and I knew that's what was happening because if you had one Jack or Joker to start you would have used it first, Xander did the same with me, and just like you started out with a King, I started out with a Queen. I knew Whitey would cut his losses and just let you be crowned once he knew you had one, since either one of you winning would win the bet, and Xander got lucky every time he drew from the deck, so he decided to do the same thing. To throw you off, he acted like he just got a King when he had one from the start and really got a queen and I went along with it, so you'd take the King away and not the Queen. When he and Rosie handed me that Joker, I knew what I should do with it... And I was right: Not only were you a King away from victory, but you had a Queen on you as well, meaning that once you put her at the bottom of the deck on your next turn you'd gather the four Kings well before the Queens could be gathered. You know, you really are kinda a good player strategy-wise, but you really shouldn't rely on luck too much and you need to work on not gloating during the game... If you weren't so full of yourself I might not have felt so pressured to use that Joker when I did. Luck and skill is what this game is all about, you know..." Elias explains, practically sending your heart flying out of your chest.

"Heh, don't lie Elias, you were plenty pressured before this and you KNOW it..." Xander coyly teases him, but he genuinely sounds proud of his friend more so than giving him a hard time.

"W-well..." Elias blushes and bumbles, purposefully NOT making eye contact with you and then clearing his throat, finally getting back on task and claiming the groups rightful reward, he frowns at Whitey expectantly, "A-anyway! Start talking. What's this theory and what do you know?"

"Oh brother... This again..." Harv sighs, clearly disappointed in the loss, but also sounding like Whitey's reveal just adds salt to the wound, which doesn't bode well...



You hope all that stress and tension and almost kissing Whitey wasn't for nothing!!

Like dropping a bomb on your group, and though still sore from the loss, seemingly making a speedy recovery at being listened to about this, Whitey makes a face and gesture and says only one word.

Or, name, rather:


"Scias."



...WHAT?!

ALL THAT JUST TO LOOP AROUND FOR WHO WAS YOUR FIRST SUSPECT ALREADY!???!?!?!


Nnngh, and if what Chlo said is true about Scias and these boys being like sons to him, and the head honcho wanting to PROTECT the fire bearer...

Are you serious, Celosia?!?! SCIAS?!


"Wh-what..." Xander mumbles, speechless himself while a displeased sigh escapes Elias.

"See? Told you it wasn't worth it..." Harv shakes his heads and mutters.


"NO, I'M SERIOUS! HEAR ME OUT!" Whitey insists so vehemently you kinda are poked by curiosity, "Look, I can prove it."


Whitey then fishes through his coat and pulls out... OH! A map of Tarrin village!


Huh... Ok, it has a trail marked on it...?​


"That's the trial Scias walks through during his night patrol," Whitey explains, his eyes almost lighting up as this must be what you imagine conspiracy theorists feel like when someone will actually listen to them, "And.. It just so happens to be exactly the route the fires start... At around the same TIME."

YOU'RE KIDDING!?!??!?!?!


"Wh-wha?!" Xander and Elias gasp, you too stunned to say anything but just gape with your mouth wide open.


"Oh my Celosia, GIVE IT A REST WHITEY!" Harv punishes him, "It's just coincidence! So what if the fires do start when Scias goes on patrol!? This may be shocking but he goes on patrol WHEN IT GETS IT'S COLDEST DURING THE BEGINNING OF THE EVENING! The fires START because of the cold, not because SCIAS CONTROLS THEM! And, AND, even IF he did, which I'm not agreeing with you at all on, HOW WOULD HE START THE FIRES without ACTUALLY COMING INSIDE THE HOUSES WHILE ON PATROL!? This whole thing is ridiculous and no wonder he hates you spying on him so much like he's doing something nefarious or magical while doing his job! He can't even use magic!!"

!?!?!

Scias isn't even a magic user?! Well... Maybe It IS possible to hide a crest and magic (you'd imagine)... But he woulda used it when healing himself from the accident, right??? Unless Archers and the Chiefs presence kept him from doing so...???


But still... He can't do two things at once...


ARGH! He keeps shifting from first to last suspect and Celosia's "hint" (too vague to really be of any use!) keeps nagging at you that this all cements he's your fire-bearer EVEN MORE SO! Arrghh!


"That's just what he WANTS you to think... And chimney's ARE a thing, you know..." Whitey counters like a true conspirator.


Harv, in return, slams his head on the table in pure exasperation.


"...Can I have this?" Elias asks out of the blue while examining the map further.

"FINE, I guess I have more where those came from and you DID beat us..." Whitey grunts while shooing Elias away as he begrudgingly "gifts" his map to Elias.

"Thanks!" Elias smiles at Whitey while pocketing the map.

"Another time, then, cutie," He flirtatiously winks at you while smugly implying he'd like another shot.

"I-I-I-I'M FINE, TH-TH-THANK Y-Y-YOU! A-A-AND TH-THANK Y-Y-Y-YOU F-F-F-FOR THE M-M-M-MAP!" You (unintendedly) shout at Whitey while quickly hiding behind Elias.

"Don't count on it," Elias mumbles dryly while giving Whitey a look.

"Thanks for talking to us, anyway. We'll check out this map and stuff," Xander nods while getting up, clearly indicating to you and Elias your time here was up.

"No need to thank us, you guys played a good game... Irksome you won and I can't buy the rabbit off of you, though..." Harv sighs dismissively.


"Th-thanks for everything, Dulcie... Ah! S-sorry, I-I'm not sure if you caught my name, but I don't think I've said it before... I-I'm Rosie," You stupidly finally introduce yourself to your small savior.

"Hee hee, I know. I heard you say it to Chlo and Jamie. And don't worry about it. It was nothing, really," Dulcie humbly squeaks and smiles as you hug her in gratitude while she acts like she also didn't play a part in protecting you from the silver-haired creep.


You and your group wave everyone off, happy things turn out the way they did,

"By the way, HarHarv, I've been meaning to ask: What's 'kinky'...?" You hear Dulcie ask her brother as you all make your way to leaving the Tavern and waving to everyone good-bye.

"...DARN IT, ARCHER! WHITEY!!" You hear Harv undoubtedly yell at the two as you exit.





"Th-thanks for helping us get that map and info, Elias..." You trot beside Elias as you both exit the Pub, wanting desperately to hold his hand as you both walked on.

"I should be thanking YOU, Rosie," Elias beams and states, "You were my Lady Luck back there. I don't think Xander and I would have gotten nearly as lucky as Whitey and Harv without you there..."

"H-heh, y-y-you think so..?"

"I know so!"



"Celosia, that was insane..." Xander exhales, not sure if purposefully or accidentally interrupting your guys moment, as your group keeps walking away from the tavern and makes their way towards the inn, "All just for a conspiracy... But I guess Scias DOES sound suspect... We should probably begin checking him out before anyone else..."

"I was thinking the exact same thing!" Elias chirps, still proud of himself due to his recent victory.

"Should we go visit Scias now?" You ask, tilting your head in confusion.

"Eeeeh... While I'm sure he doesn't exactly hate us or anything... I'd rather give him some time and not get off on the wrong foot again..." Xander hesitates.

"I can go see him right now while you guys check in at the inn and we can meet in our rooms," You hear Elias bluntly state.

"Eh?!" You gasp, his offer sort of catching you off guard.

"There was something I wanted to ask him about anyway!" Elias cheers while beaming at you.

H-he's... H-he's not actually going to...

...WH-WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! O-OF COURSE NOT...!!



"You sure? I mean, I'm assuming it won't take long... But even still... I don't like you being separated from the group, all things considered..." Xander groans.

"It will only be a minute, and we'll cover more ground this way: I check out Scias and his shoppe, and you guys go check in!" Elias chirps.

"I-I trust you..." You nod, agreeing to this (hopefully VERY SHORT) departure.

"Thank you, Rosie. I'll see you guys in our room really soon!" He gives you a quick hug during the farewells.


>>ELIAS HAS TEMPORARILY LEFT THE PARTY<<


Something tells you that this isn't just about Scias now officially being a true fire-bearer suspect... Even if he wasn't, Elias would still be parting ways for a moment to see him...

H-HE CAN'T WANT TO M-M-MARRY YOU, R-R-RIGHT?! Y-Y-Y-Y-YOU TWO AREN'T E-E-EVEN A-A-A-AN I-I-ITEM A-A-AND N-N-N-N-NOW T-T-TO JUMP STRAIGHT I-I-I-INTO M-M-M-M-MARRIAGE?! Y-Y-Y-Y-YOU B-B-B-BOTH A-A-A-ARE MI-MI-MISSING S-S-S-SOME K-K-KEY ST-ST-STEPS I-I-IN TH-TH-THIS RE-RE-RE-RE-RE-RE-RELATIONSHIP!!!

...

Wait... No... You know who he REALLY loves, and who he REALLY would want to make those pendants for... And it's NOT the dorky, bespectacled version of the girl he REALLY loves... There's no way that could possibly ever, ever be it...

Still... You wonder what Elias could possibly ask of Scias if NOT pendants...?


"C'mon, Ro, We've an Inn to check into," Xander places his hand over your shoulder and guides you to the inn as you try to see Elias off to the Blacksmith shoppe.




You enter the Ox Fur Inn, which looks like it's made of Lincoln logs or something from the outside (obviously with real wood, but it just looks so cartoon-ish with the snow covering up the details of the wood), which is adorable to you, and the inside looks just as cozy as the outside does cute!

A warm, seething fireplace hogs the attention at the center of the entrance lounge, big chairs covered in pelts for extra warmth, a nice wooden table, some books on a small shelf, and a pretty wooden desk harboring a... Celosia, you're beginning to think nearly every woman in this world is meant to be stunning because the beautiful brunette behind the desk could be a super model!


Her eyes are gorgeous and honey-colored, and her brown hair is in a rather complicated (but sophisticated) half-up-do. She almost also looks like royalty in her own right with all the gold embroidery on her goldenrod colored clothes, but you know better than to think shes a princess or something (much as she's as beautiful as one).​

She sees both you and your bro-- Er, and the Captain and raises her hand to wave enthusiastically at the both you with a smile almost as dazzling as Cora's!

"Hello! Welcome to the Ox Fur Inn! How can I help you?" She greets the both of you, like Chlo, very sweetly and warmly. You've only just heard her voice, but already it sounds like a river of the sweetest honey... Too bad this gorgeous lady was born in this time and world and not yours... She'd definitely be a super star!

"H-h-hi!" You reply back to her starry-eyed.

"Hello, Miss, We're here to check in. Two rooms, please. One for--" Xander begins the sign in process when suddenly a door behind the "reception" area starts to open--

"AAH! Nothing like a day full of hard work to pursue our passions!" Roared a mighty, booming voice suddenly as the door swung open.


Oh! An older-ish big, BIG muscular man (he's not that much bigger and taller than Xander, but considering Xander is 6'4 and this man is at least two inches taller than him...) with spiky, orange hair (not unlike Chlo's, sort of, just a shade or two off!) that was styled in a way that reminded you of a lion's mane, and a short, scruffy (kinda-ish) beard carrying a TON of logs (he's STRONG!) with gloved hands and... something in his pockets... comes out!​

Poor man... You could just tell in his prime he was once one of the handsomest men in the village back in his twenties and possibly even thirties, but all the graying and wrinkle marks across his face (like smile marks, crows feet, and huge forehead wrinkles) now due to the effects of age and time, along with stress and some SERIOUSLY dark-bagged eyes (you thought YOURS were bad) have made it pretty obvious he's most definitely in his late 40's or early 50's...

"Ah! Chieftain!" The beautiful brunette greets him while noticing the things he's carrying, shaking her head while chuckling, and adding, "Oh Chief... Building things in your room, again? You haven't shown any of them to any of us ever... You sure you wanna keep wasting logs like that?"

"Haha!" He merely laughs heartily at the jab, "I'm on the verge of something, You'll see! You know what they say: You only fail when you quit! I won't give up!"

"Alright, alright..." She rolls her eyes while almost face-palming, "Just don't use too much logs! Ah! I almost forgot! Do you want I do inventory on the lo--"

"E-er! U-uh! N-no, dear, no! I-it's fine! I've always taken care of it, and I can manage it now...! B-besides, it seems like extra work for you and I-I don't wanna tack more work on on top of your regular duties..." The Chief stumbles and fumbles, as if he REALLY doesn't want her to do inventory for some reason... What an odd man...

He finally notices you and Xander and you can't help but beam at his warm smile.

"Ah! Well hello! Sorry, I didn't see you there, little one... Awwww, Aren't you adorable?" He chuckles while examining you up and down, setting one arm of logs down (too) easily, and patting your head lightly afterwards.

He's... He's so fatherly... A-and warm... This man must be married... Surely he must! Where are his wife and actual child or children????


"I-it's fine! ...S-so, you're the village Chief, th-then?" You ask curiously, blinking while giving him your best puppy dog eyes for optimum honesty.

"That I am! How can I help you today, sweetheart?" He inquires as he dotingly pats your head again (he must have liked your facial expression when he did it the first time).

"Well, we were just wanting to check out Tarrin village, it's a pretty special place, and we JUST HAD to see who ran this amazing village! You're doing an excellent job," Xander pitches in, seeming to also like the Chief already himself.

"HA!" The merry orange-haired man, finding Xander amenable, chuckles and shakes his head, "Well, I hope I don't disappoint. This starry-eyed old fool simply fills out paperwork for traders so that the village gets what it needs and makes failed inventions..."

Hmm.... You wonder...

"You do a great deal more than that, Chief Kai," The pretty brunette defends him again his own self-depreciation.

"Thank you, Ivana, that means a great deal to me," He warmly smiles at her.

Wait... Ivana... Ivana...

Like... Like HARV'S IVANA!? HE'S BEEN MARRIED TO THIS SUPER MODEL ALL THIS TIME?! Wow! No wonder Harv relies on luck so much and is so prideful... He IS lucky and pretty great to get such a beautiful woman's heart!

"I'm so sorry to meet and greet rather quickly, but I simply must get back to my business... I'll try to catch you all if you're in the lounge or pub in the morning, alright? I do hope you enjoy your stay!" Chief Kai gives you one last head pat while readjusting the logs in his arms and walking off.. somewhere... Probably to his room?

Awww... He's leaving...? Already...? But...

But you wanna talk more... And for some reason you find something doesn't add up... But you don't know what...

You sort of... You wave weakly while watching Kai leave and...

And you turn around and see Xander is too busy signing in the Inn's logbook or something and Ivana is narrowing her eyes and counting the logs by the fire place for some reason, as if she's making sure she counted it right before...

If you did go to follow the Chief, you don't think anyone would stop you...

But you have to decide NOW! While they're both distracted!

>>FOLLOW THE CHIEFTAIN OR REMAIN WITH XANDER SIGNING IN?<<

code by RI.a
 
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Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
>>FOLLOW THE CHIEFTAIN

here's how I see it: We come from another world. If the chief is hiding something, we'll get to see it. If not, he's probably trying to invent something that has already been thought of in our world, to a greater or lesser extent. Lets bring some modern knowledge in, help the guy with his personal struggles, and earn his favor as chief...and use that to get more clues and/or favors when we need it!
In a way that sounds less manipulative...lets help him out and befriend the heck out of them!


 

Felis

Meow?
I say we follow him as well. Let's find out why the number of logs probably doesn't add up (since he doesn't want anyone else to do the inventory) - does he need extra ones for his inventions, or does it have something to do with, say, special fires? If it's inventions, maybe we can actually help, and in any case, it's better than waiting around for information to come to us (which it likely won't do on its own).
 
I think I should stay put with Xander, as much as my curiosity is nagging at me. Surely we can ask the Chieftain later, possibly tomorrow, and besides, wouldn't following him to his room kind of be a slight invasion of privacy?? I don't know... The log counting is odd for sure but maybe those logs he was carrying were duplicated by Archer when she did her normal log cloning for the day? We could probably confront him about it later if it bugs me that much.

(Poor Chlo, not getting to be engaged yet because Scias is being a dunderhead. Maybe we should find out what kind of pendant she wants, commission it from him and then say "Actually, This Is For Your Girlfriend, Ya Big Silly". But later, of course, much later, but planting the seeds of ideas can lead to blooming fruition later down the road, so who knows?)
 

DreamBeat

Two Thousand Club
I'm also of the mind to stay with Xander. It's just... First off, if I were to follow the Chief, I'd rather not do it alone. Also, if someone were to see me sneaking around, people might start thinking that I have something to hide. Worse off, I wouldn't know what to do if I get caught by the Chief himself if I followed him. I would just wait and see what happens. Something doesn't seem right, but we might find out tomorrow. I don't think we should always act on that nagging feeling at the back of our heads.
 

Minako

Not in a good place.
Rosalina Chandra

Location: The Ox Fur Inn/ Bathhouse
Mentions: @Idea @Felis @Koruma Murasame @DreamBeat @animegirl7676
Interactions: Ivana, Xander, and--!
>>FOLLOW THE CHIEFTAIN

here's how I see it: We come from another world. If the chief is hiding something, we'll get to see it. If not, he's probably trying to invent something that has already been thought of in our world, to a greater or lesser extent. Lets bring some modern knowledge in, help the guy with his personal struggles, and earn his favor as chief...and use that to get more clues and/or favors when we need it!
In a way that sounds less manipulative...lets help him out and befriend the heck out of them!


I say we follow him as well. Let's find out why the number of logs probably doesn't add up (since he doesn't want anyone else to do the inventory) - does he need extra ones for his inventions, or does it have something to do with, say, special fires? If it's inventions, maybe we can actually help, and in any case, it's better than waiting around for information to come to us (which it likely won't do on its own).
You really DO want to help the Chief through struggles and endeavors, but--!!

I think I should stay put with Xander, as much as my curiosity is nagging at me. Surely we can ask the Chieftain later, possibly tomorrow, and besides, wouldn't following him to his room kind of be a slight invasion of privacy?? I don't know... The log counting is odd for sure but maybe those logs he was carrying were duplicated by Archer when she did her normal log cloning for the day? We could probably confront him about it later if it bugs me that much.

(Poor Chlo, not getting to be engaged yet because Scias is being a dunderhead. Maybe we should find out what kind of pendant she wants, commission it from him and then say "Actually, This Is For Your Girlfriend, Ya Big Silly". But later, of course, much later, but planting the seeds of ideas can lead to blooming fruition later down the road, so who knows?)
I'm also of the mind to stay with Xander. It's just... First off, if I were to follow the Chief, I'd rather not do it alone. Also, if someone were to see me sneaking around, people might start thinking that I have something to hide. Worse off, I wouldn't know what to do if I get caught by the Chief himself if I followed him. I would just wait and see what happens. Something doesn't seem right, but we might find out tomorrow. I don't think we should always act on that nagging feeling at the back of our heads.
I think it would be safer to stay with Xander.
3 to 2, staying with Xander!

You really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really want to follow Chief Kai... but...

You also really don't think breaching his privacy is a good way to get off on the right foot with him, especially when you platonic-ally like him so much already!

PLUS!

I'm also of the mind to stay with Xander. It's just... First off, if I were to follow the Chief, I'd rather not do it alone. Also, if someone were to see me sneaking around, people might start thinking that I have something to hide. Worse off, I wouldn't know what to do if I get caught by the Chief himself if I followed him. I would just wait and see what happens. Something doesn't seem right, but we might find out tomorrow. I don't think we should always act on that nagging feeling at the back of our heads.
I think it would be safer to stay with Xander.
You and Xander were already wary just letting Elias leave the group and hang out next door with Scias a second... You can't exactly turn around and be a hypocrite a moment later and break apart from the remaining group no matter how drawn you are to the Chieftain! Plus, if YOU start acting shady... It might be sooner rather than later people start suspecting YOU of something, and you don't want anyone catching on about you or who you REALLY ARE until you're good and ready!!

And again, there is something up with this village.... You don't think the Chief would hurt you, but this place IS suspicious, and not exactly one you want to be wandering ALONE in...

If push comes to shove, when you get Elias back, you can inform him how you feel about the Cheif and maybe devise a plan, but for now...




With a heavy, heavy heart... you lower your hand, hang your head, and stay put with Xander.

"Alright, that is two rooms a night, for one night, so that will be about 30 tallons for now, and you have until tomorrow afternoon to pay for another night if you wish to stay longer," Ivana chirped happily as Xander finished signing the papers.

"Thank you so much," Xander nodded and smiled, fishing a handful of coins from a coin pouch he had on him and trying his best not to drop any while placing them on the table.

Ivana happily hums and begins to count the coins to make sure, and, you can't help but AT LEAST ask questions about the Chief.


"S-so... You all must be like son's and daughters to him, huh?"

"Oh yes!" Ivana answers heartily while smiling as she thinks about the Chief, "Chieftain Kai's been like a father-figure to all of us! When my mentor, Caridad, left the village with her family to help impoverished villages hit by plague and famine, he promised to protect me and watch over all of us! Well, him and my Harv promised, of course!"

"Wow! It must have been hard for them to part from you...!" You ask, impressed by the people this village has produced!

"Mmmm, yes, it was... But... As much as I loved singing and being taught by her, Cari's calling has always been charity. These villages need her charity more than I need her singing... But I have faith one day she'll return to at least visit and we can sing for the village together again!" The beautiful brunette smiled brightly.

Awww! That's so sweet! That's probably why she took this job to start! To be one of the first people Caridad sees when she returns!!


...Well, that, and counting coins daily... aheheh.....

Maybe Whitey didn't peg Ivana's slight greed wrong entirely...​


"I'm sure the Chieftain and his family would love that!" You cheer happily while smiling back.


Your smile doesn't last, however, as when you said that Ivana looked extremely pained, cringing, while trying to be subtle about it... But not being very subtle at all.

"A-ah... D-did I... S-say something wrong...?" You ask, pondering if she has stage fright just thinking about singing in front of the village or something...

SHE mentioned it first, though, so...?

"N-no, no... I-it's not like you could have possibly known, just meeting him and all, b-but... The Chief's... They... Th-they..." Ivana began hesitantly and then couldn't even bring herself to finish that sentence, her voice almost breaking those last words she tried to utter.

She looks like shes about to cry...

"...They're not around anymore... Are they?" You pop your eyebrows as high as possible as you hear Xander figure it out and fill in the blanks.

"No... They're not..." Ivana painfully confirms while looking down and growing silent, wiping a small tear from her eye.


DANG IT, CELOSIA! YOU SHOULDA GONE TO FOLLOW HIM!!!!!!


Without thinking, you turn in the direction the Chief left to, and just as you're about to make a mad dash for him you feel a HARD YANK on your coat and you turn around to give Xander puppy-dog eyes, but he's just not going for it...

"We can talk to him when he's not busy tomorrow morning, ok? Besides, I'm fairly sure he wouldn't like a stranger consoling his loss no matter how long ago it was..." Xander, reading your mind and intention, warns and prohibits you from following the chief.

"B-but... but..." You plead again, almost going teary eyed yourself.

"Ro..." Xander, like a stern father, firmly holds his stance.

"O-okay..." You sigh, defeated and accepting you long lost your chance to talk to the Chief for the moment.

It may be over for now, but you're gonna learn more about this Chief if it's the last thing you do!



"I-it's for the best, darling, trust me," Ivana peeps, sliding the money into a box she was holding and then placing it under the desk and then pulling two copper keys from the same place.

"So, our rooms are just up the stairs, then?" Xander asks as he receives the keys from her.

"Ah, yes! They're the last two rooms on either side of the hall! And please, don't be afraid to head downstairs to use our underground hot springs! I'm sure after your long journey here you'd like a steaming bath!" Ivana offers while pointing to another door just beyond the center fireplace, regaining her pep upon realizing she had a job to do.

Ooooh! A bath!

...Actually... The last time you showered was when you were back in your own world... So... Maybe that's not a bad idea??

"Great! Thanks! You're a life saver!" You cry.

"Thank you, Ivana, we'll see you later!" Xander calls out while motioning for you to follow him.

You smile and wave at Ivana, and your heart skips a beat when she beams back at you as you both walk off to your rooms!



"So, those rooms..." You nervously mutter as the two of you stand in front the last two doors of the upstairs hallways, where the rooms were located.

"Here you go, Elias should hopefully be back soon. The lounge at the center seems big enough... When he gets back you and I can train there IF you want! In fact, I'll go get our bags and weapons from the saddles the horses have in the stables... You wanna go take a hot bath while you're waiting for Elias?" Xander asks you with a smile while handing you a room key.



A HOT BATH! YOU DIDN'T THINK YOU'D GET A HOT ONE HERE IN THIS WORLD!​


"Y-yes! Thank you so much!" You accept the key happily while eagerly wanting to go downstairs and bathe.

"Great! Don't take too long, alright? Elias should be back soon," Your brother sternly requests of you.

"I-I won't! Uhm... S-so... E-elias i-is shar---"

"You and Elias are sharing a room, of course. Your cover is that you two are a happy couple so it would be odd if you two didn't share a room, after all," Xander explains why he gets a room to himself while you and Elias share one, then he adds protectively, "Just let me know if he ACTUALLY tries something funny you don't like in the night, ok?"

You blush and lower your head while thinking about sharing a-a room... a-a-and bed... with ELIAS of all people!!!

"O-okay, Xandie," You nod while agreeing to this.

"Alright, Ro. I'll see you in a bit. Try to relax and take your mind off things while bathing, ok? Elias is probably going to come back with some valuable information on Scias, and he may be the fire-bearer if Whitey's correct... We'll get more solid evidence tomorrow... I'm thinking finding where that mark is on his body to start!" Xander determinedly states.

"Ha! Maybe we should ask Chlo! I'm sure shes seen a lot of his body and would know!" You playfully joke with your big brother.

"Heh! I'll leave that TO YOU, then! That's definitely talk for the ladies! Anyway, enjoy your bath!" Xander chuckles, patting your head before making his way to fetch your bags of clothes and weapons.

"I will! See you soon, big bro-- Er, Captain!" You call out while waving at him.

As soon as he's out of sight you rush into your room and throw your coat off to the nearest chair while now cradling Carbuncle in your arms.

It's a quaint and cozy little room, with a huge bed and...




...Huh?


It smells... Of something...
There is assuredly no smoke, but you're sure it smells as if a fire had just been put out....

It's a nice slight smell of ash... And a quick look around would solve why: The fire place is almost completely black with soot!!

Sure, it has been cleaned from time to time, you can tell, but still...


Also... The fireplace seems to be missing... something...

Sure, it's not lit, but is it supposed to be completely empty? Maybe that's why the Chief went with all those logs? To chop the wood for the room's fireplaces?



The name escapes you at the moment what they are called, but you're sure fireplaces are supposed to have those iron curvy thingies to hold the logs burning, right...?

Also, doesn't a fireplace have tools or something...? You know there's at least a pointy thingy that's supposed to poke at the burning wood, right?

How strange....



You decide to shrug it off and examine the rest of the room: It's about the size of a living room with really just a bed covered with beautiful blue blankets and quilts over it and a small, short-ish table (like a coffee table) that matches the lounges furniture with chairs covered in pelts that also match. There's a window with a beautiful view of the mountain and some trees even!

It's a small room, but it is cute!!



"Oh Caaaaaaaarbbbbyyyyyyy~" You gently rock your sleeping bunny friend awake, "Caaarrrbyyy~ Wanna come take a bath with me?"

You figure why not take Carbuncle with you? They probably could use a bath, too!

Plus, thinking back to what Xander said at the pub, Carbuncle probably came to you for a reason (Celosia practically gift-wrapped this bunbun for you, even) and you should probably figure said reason out... Quality bonding time with them might not be a bad idea at all! Especially to understand them!

"Chiiiiika?" Carbuncle squeaks lazily as he awakens from his slumber, looking around and sniffing the room, twitching their wingy ears as they also stare at the fireplace.

"Hee hee, smells nice, huh?" You ask them happily.

"Chikah!" Carbuncle nods.

"C'mon, let's go clean up before Elias gets back, Carbykins! I'm eager to get in the water!" You cheer, remembering all that time you spent swimming as a child.

Your childhood house didn't really have a pool... But your grandfathers did!

Your mother would always take you and your big brother there as children to swim around for a while! She'd always take you out to eat on your way back home and even got you a candy bar, too!

Heh... Thank goodness Xander is here... He... He sorta keeps you from getting too homesick...


"Chiiikaaaaaah~" Carbuncle singsongs as the two of you head back downstairs to make your way to the baths.



"Long time, no see!" You giggle as you wave to Ivana while passing her by on your way to the baths.

Her face just LIGHTS UP when she sees Carbuncle cuddly in your arms.

"Oh, what a cute rabbit!" Ivana fawns over Carbuncle, Starry-eyed.


"NU. HE'S MINE AND YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM," You greedily hog Carbuncle while making it very clear they are not for sale.​

"Chika?" Carbuncle tilts their head in confusion.

"Awwwwwwww," Ivana pouts sadly as you walk by.


...Oh gosh, now Ivana's greed is rubbing off on you... Celosia...





You make your way through the lounge and to the door leading to the baths. When you open the door to the baths...

Oh...!

Oh, the breeze actually feels heavenly compared to how toasty it is inside the Inn....


Once you get through the door the sudden temperature change rushes past you as it basically looks like you opened a door into a cave... That explains why it's a tad colder inside. It looks like it's going downward....


You walk down the long passage and come across a rather large, circular room with three doors with symbols carved on them.



Huh... You definitely recognize the symbols as male and female... but you're surprised the middle door has both!

It's a unisex or gender-fluid bath? In the middle ages?

WOW! How progressive!!!


You smile at the unisex door and then proceed to go through the door with the female symbol on it on the far left. It leads to another passage almost as long as the one that led you to the three doors before and finally to the underground hot bath.

Oh! It looks great! And BIG!!

You notice there's a shelf with cloths and a strange soap-looking bar on it right next to the spring's entrance... It looks like the cloths are made of wool or linen and the bar looks to be made of lard or fat.... Huh, you wonder if the cloths were there to use as a towel and that bar as soap?

Probably!

You notice there's a small area next to the shelf with the "towels" and "soap" with a small bucket and a stone that's the size of a couch ottoman you sit on... That area looks VERY WET... There's a sign and, while you can't exactly make out what it says (your language barrier covered speech and comprehending that while also being understood, but it appears it didn't cover reading and writing...) you're pretty sure with all the red and urgent looking symbols you're supposed to use this area first.

Oooooh, you get it now!

You grab some water from the spring into your bucket and set it down next to the stone "ottoman". Getting the bar from the small shelf, you douse yourself with the water and scrub and clean your body up good!

"Chika?" Carbuncle looks at you confusedly.

"Oh, I'm just washing myself, Carby! We are kinda in a bath place, right?" You inform the rabbit-like creature.

"Chikachika!" They nod and respond back quickly.

Hmm... Still not quite sure what they're saying... but they grab some soap themselves and start cleaning away, too! You help Carbuncle carry the bucket to rinse themself off when they're ready.

When you're done, you get another bucket to rinse the "soap" lather off and make sure you're squeaky clean before diving into the spring.



Once you confirm with Carbuncle it's finally alright to get into the water, you and Carbuncle race up to the hot spring and hop in with verve!

"Whhhhheeee~!" You laugh and cheer as you immerse yourself into the water.

It's warm and bubbly and wonderful!

The spring is just big enough and you are just small enough to be able to swim around in it! You and Carbuncle splash around while playing.

"Chikah! Chikah!" Carbuncle merrily squeaks while attacking the waters surface with their winged ears.

"EEeeEe! Carby! You're splashing me!" You giggle while lightly splashing them back.

"Chikaaaah~" Carbuncle almost sounds apologetic while cheering.



After a while, You sigh tiredly and decide to lay flat on the water, floating as if you were a log on a lake.... Or, well, you attempted to for all of a second until Carbuncle jumped on you and made your tummy their new bed.

"Hee hee, silly bunbun!" You snicker as you stroke their back lightly while they lay on you.

"Chika!" Carbuncle replies.



Gently back-stroking through the spring, like it was your tiny, personal pool, you try to use this time to figure out how to get Scias to reveal he's your fire-bearer....

Or rather, how to convince him to leave....


(Poor Chlo, not getting to be engaged yet because Scias is being a dunderhead. Maybe we should find out what kind of pendant she wants, commission it from him and then say "Actually, This Is For Your Girlfriend, Ya Big Silly". But later, of course, much later, but planting the seeds of ideas can lead to blooming fruition later down the road, so who knows?)
Now that you think about it... Isn't it all for the worse if Scias really IS your fire-bearer despite his personality?

He'd have to leave Chlo behind for a bit if he was.... And you actually want to try to poke him with this stunt to pop the question because a freak-accident is tragic, of course, but there's no sense elongating that tragedy even a year later by keeping Chlo and Scias not engaged....

So now not only will it be hard to convince him to leave and stop keeping his friends and family warm, but he'll also be leaving behind his (if all goes according to keikaku) new fiance...

And all signs seem to be pointing to him being it...

You hope Elias can deliver some good news when you see him again soon....


Though.... Now that you have a little more hope in your heart with Elias in your thoughts, perhaps if Scias is as secretly noble as you suspect all you have to say is that the whole Isle is at stake and maybe... maybe he'll go and just promise Chlo he'll be back someday soon, once all the crest-bearers are gathered and Celosia is summoned...?

"Chikaaaaaaaaaaaahh," Carbuncle whines and almost growls, looking at you with concern in his eyes.

It seems they can sense your immense worry and anxiety.

"Heh... Sorry Carby... J-just have a lot on my mind right now..." You pet your new bunny friend reassuringly and try your best to smile.

"Chikaaa," They nod, laying across your stomach and making ripples on the waters surface with their ear.


"You know," You chortle while thinking back on a funny memory now that you're in the water and pushing yourself to think of less stressful things, "When I was a little girl, like little little, 7 or so, I was afraid of the water."

"Chika? Chika chika?" Carbuncle immediately stopped what they were doing and gave you their full attention...

Somehow... Somehow you... You just could tell they were a little surprised to hear you say that.

Ah, of course they were. You practically raced them to the water, after all!


"It's true!" You chirp while holding back another giggle, "It took me a loooong time to swim by myself! I-I was so scared I couldn't breathe in the water and I floated on my tummy, so my face was still facing the water..."

"Chikaaaah," Carbuncle nods, as if expecting that of someone so young.

"Well, I usually swam at my Grandpa's house, a-and my Grandpa... Haha... Oh my Grandpa..." You sigh, disappointed in yourself for trading one stressful set of thoughts for sad thoughts instead.

Your grandfather had passed away in December of the year before last, ten days before Christmas and right after your winter finals...

"Chikah?" Carbuncle looks at you expectantly, as you trailed off mid sentence.

"O-oh... My grandpa... He's... He's gone now... H-he had a heart attack about a year and a half ago, almost...." You explain, "He... He always wanted us to test our limits and go beyond our comfort-zone.... One day, when I was about 9 years old and still too scared to go into the deep end of his pool he said to me 'You're too old to be afraid of the deep end!' and just threw me in!"

"Chikah!" Carbuncle gasped, placing both their adorable bunny paws on their adorable bunny cheeks.

"I-it's true! I-I had gone to his pool countless times before, but always stayed in the shallow end of the water... Until that day. When I realized the deep end of his pool was nothing to be scared of I swam around that pool like a fishie in a tank ever since!" You guffaw, the oddly fond memory making you miss your crazy Grandpa you still love regardless, "He... He was a bit wild, a-and made ton's of mistakes with my Grandma I'm sure he regretted in the end, but... He was always there first to any party you invited him to, gave the most money because he knew he didn't connect with his grandchildren enough to get them a gift they'd like, and treated his daughters and sons with the utmost respect... Especially my Mom... She was his youngest.... Heh... It's... It's sorta silly to say, but... That memory of him kinda reminds me of being here in a way... I was just kinda tossed into this world, definitely in WAAAYYY too deep, and... And then I met Elias and... And now I feel maybe... With him... Maybe I can 'swim around' this world and find those crest-bearers... I-it's what I'm meant to do after-all...Right?"

"Chi! Kah!" Carbuncle again nods in agreement, crawling over and nuzzling your cheek, then they point to themselves while protesting, "Chi Chika chi!"

Wait... Hm... Oh! Could they mean...!?

"Haha! Of course, I'm going to need you by my side as well, Carbykins!" You giggle at his cute jealousy and nuzzle the bunbun right back.

"Chiiiiikaaaah~" Carbuncle sweetly thanks you for that.

It's not exactly understanding what they're saying, but... It's a start...



"Huh? Churchmouse?! Is that you!?" You suddenly hear an all too familiar voice not that far away and all, and the moment is quickly ruined as you dart your head around to undoubtedly see none other than the infamous jealous tavern maid herself!!!!


"J-jamie! A-ah! I-I'm sorry! I-I didn't mean to stay here so long a-a-and bring my bunbun here i-i-if it's not allowed!!! I-I can leave i-i-if you want! Th-they washed before th-they came in a-as well!" You sheepishly offer to make your exit as Jamie's look of absolute and genuine bewilderment sends you STRAIGHT into a panic.​

"Wh-what are you doing in THIS BATH!?" She questions, sincerely puzzled from the confused as sin look on her face and sending your heart near into enough shock to think you might have a heart attack yourself!


Wh-wh-wh-what does she mean what are you doing in this bath!? This is the women's hot spring, right!? Was it opposite day and you went through the wrong one?! Do the symbols mean the opposite or something!?

N-no, it can't be! She's right here naked, too! In THIS bath!

You are completely without clothes yourself, right in front of her, and she is eyeing you up down like an actual fish might make more sense being here than you!

You're covering up your... g-g-girly bits... but's obvious you definitely are sporting FEMALE equipment!! And she CAN SEE THAT! She can see SOME OF THE "GOODS"!

S-SO WHY IS SHE ACTING LIKE YOU BEING HERE IS AN ABNORMALITY WHEN SHE CAN CLEARLY SEE YOU'RE FEMALE!?

HOW DO YOU EVEN ANSWER HER QUESTION!? Why WOULDN'T you be IN THIS BATH!?!?

Does she mean Carbuncle!? Is she talking about Carbuncle!? You hope to Celosia she is!


WH-WHAT'S GOING ON?!

A-A-AND WHY DO YOU SUDDENLY FEEL LIKE YOU REALLY, REALLY, REALLY JUST SCREWED UP!?!?

>>TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHY JAMIE THINKS YOU'RE IN THE WRONG BATH??<<

code by RI.a
 
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Idea

The Pun Tyrant The Gif Hydra
Helper
Ok, so the problem is in being in this specific bath. I don't think we got the genders wrong (except the middle bath, which I assume is a mixed bath, not some kind of alternative gender type), so its probably something to do with whatever that red sign said. We probably weren't supposed to go in the bath because of it, I imagine it would be something like a "forbidden entry" type of sign, either like "currently under maintenance" or "staff only". Probably closer to the first.

The other thing I can think of is the weird fireplace- that fireplace is clearly meant for a magic user of some sort to lit up and control the flame.

So, if I am to throw a wild, wild guess, I'd say this lady here is our crest bearer, and the sign was put there in hopes people wouldn't come into the bath while she "does her thing" if you will.
 

Felis

Meow?
So I may just be confusing the floors, but didn't Ivana say to go downstairs to the baths? As far as I can gather, we went through a door on the same level as the lounge/entrance to get to these baths, so maybe that was a mistake as well? Unless she said because the passage slopes downwards, of course...

The door we went through does appear to be the correct one, but I second that we probably missed some important information on the signs we couldn't read. It doesn't seem like Carbuncle is the problem, either, Jamie didn't mention it at all.

Is there another spring/bath/tub/whatever you call it in this room? Jamie seems to be a bit hung up on us being in this bath. Maybe we didn't look around enough before jumping into the water?
 

DreamBeat

Two Thousand Club
Okay, so I don't necessarily think that Jamie thinks we're in the wrong bath, per se. There were three options from what we (think we) understood: women, men, and unisex. Maybe it's not just unisex, but a bath for couples. Maybe Jamie was surprised to see us in the women's section because we supposedly had Elias? Of course, the other reason could be because of those signs we couldn't read. It's really an inconvenience that we can't read the language. It looked important.

This is a bit off-topic, but I think the story about Caridad was a little suspicious grouped together with Kai gathering wood and the fireplace thing. I think that whatever was in the fireplace was burnt by magic since it's soot now and even Carbuncle noticed it. If it's necessary for a crest-bearer to learn to control their magic, then one of my suspicions is that someone has been training their abilities in secret. Maybe it's a bit far-fetched but on the off chance that Scias doesn't turn out to be the bearer, then my suspicions would transfer to someone from Caridad's family. Would it also be far-fetched to say that I think that the chief might be hiding someone?
 

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