Act One: Fragile Peace

Despite her sour mood through the journey, Lucia was happy to be back in Morningveil. The familiar sight and smell of the city set the girl at ease, although that didn't prevent her from stealing an anxious - no, curious - glance at Elizabeth's direction every now and then. She should be impressed, she thought. Morningveil is simply bigger and better than her town.

The foreign shaman didn't seem to appreciate their home, though. Maybe it was an arrangement between her and her spirit, but... As Elizabeth went on to set up her own camp, Lucia couldn't help but watch in disbelief until she addressed her directly.

"Well," she started, somewhat pleased by her choice of words. It was the priestess' job to provide help, and the sooner she acknowledged that, the better. "There's nothing that you should be concerned with, really... The city might be rather bright in the evening, since we make sure that the houses remain lighted at all times. It's our way to worship Lady Eos, and not something to worry about." Her lips was on the way of curling into a smirk as she almost added, except when it turns out to be a fire attack, but she thought the better of it. Her spirit had advised her against such attitude, after all.

"...At any rate, let me prepare a meal. It's almost lunchtime." She shot Tobias another icy glare, just for good measure, before starting to head inside.

As expected, Tobias was left alone for the journey home. After the shamans entered the gate, the lad hung back to say a few quiet words to the gate soldiers. He left them with hands shaken and pleasant nods - words of reassurance from a friend, nothing more.

In silence, Tobias stood by, behind the group as Elizabeth set up her camp; expected, given her spirit. Stepping forward as the earthy shaman spoke with the probably still-seething priestess, the young smithy shaman weighed in on her new home.

"If you're going to stay out here, guards will end up being posted to the area." He added, perhaps, with a less than exuberant tone - a little more fitting of a day-to-day soldier than a shaman of Morningveil. "Just so you know." He added, in the same lacklustre tone, turning in the direction of Lucretia - and proceeding to turn straight past her, without even sparing her a glance.

Completely cold-shouldering the priestess, paying her no mind what so ever, Tobias kept his hands behind his back as the new shaman demanded, in a way, to see them. He sighed, softly, and turned to one side, looking off at - of all things - the temples.

"It would be best if you would concern yourself with the priestess and your actual work, not issues that need no attention... I'll deal with my problems, you deal with yours." Briefly, Tobias' gaze dropped to a hand he had brought around from his back, the bandage still tightly wrapped, if a little dirty.

"Might also be wise not to assume when I may or may not be useless. Risky assumption to make. Just saying." He called as he turned back slowly, squaring his shoulders, and took a strong first stride toward the crowds surrounding the temples. "Enjoy your stay." He added, striding away briskly, but with no real urgency. Despite his squared shoulders, he seemed... Down; hard pressed to figure why, though - surely the small personal burns he had scored earlier hadn't been enough to sour Tobias' usually unshakeable optimism.

There were no crises during the trip back. It wasn't as though this wasn't closer to the norm, yet somehow, Vivian was relieved. Paranoid fears had been nagging at the back of her mind lately, ever since...well. She was certainly not the only one. Still, there was nothing like the youthful shenanigans of the other shamans to set her mood right.

It was a shock to her for only a moment to see Elizabeth settle in outside the barracks. She must feel more at-home outside amongst the plants, the commander decided. Not unlike Lucretia was something of a morning person, active and vibrant as the sun was rising (or so she guessed), and how she herself was capable of sleeping most anywhere when sleep called to her.

"He's a bit of a quiet storm, isn't he? The boy's of a temper only the Spirits could know." Vivian shook her head as Tobias wandered off. "Well, it can't really be helped. I've known much rowdier men with much less reason." She offered another smile to Elizabeth, one that froze awkwardly a moment later, as if she were trying to decide something.

"...Erm, Miss Ashcombe, if you'd prefer to stay out here, you're quite welcome, but there IS a room ready for you should you change your mind. And in the new barracks, no less! Hardly any boards threaten to snap when you step on them. Fresh wood for a fresh start, hmm?" Again, a small laugh at her own little joke (if one could call it that). "The young priestess will show you around the city; please contain your enthusiasm. If you need me...I have some people with whom I need to discuss some recent events. I'm certain you girls can find me between the two of you. We could call it a test of cooperation, of sorts." And with a gentle smile that, perhaps, once shone like the sun (but now carried a certain bitter chill), the Commander made herself scarce.

And then went pub-crawling.

Malcharion had stood silently by as the more talkative of his fellow shamans began to leave their guest, one by one, each of them citing some valid reason to abscond (as in the case of Lucia and the Commander) and not reason at all (Tobias simply walking away, but not after huffily rebuking the offer of healing made by Emesh's shaman). As always, the silent tower of spiked armor and skulls had nothing to say about this, simply preferring to keep silent - but he did glower a few moments longer at the young man's retreating back, the crimson light illuminating the eye slits of his tusked helm flaring with what could almost be called disappointment.

It is when that he is the only shaman left alone with Elizabeth that the golem makes a sound; echoing inside the massive hunched shell of brutal plate armor, it sounds more like a hellish beast's grunt than anything else. But anyone who has spent any time with Malcharion would have known that the giant - the supposedly emotionless tower of spikes and skulls - was actually sighing.

There is a crunch of joints as the golem turns towards Willow Glen's shaman. After a moment, Malcharion bows his tusked head, plates of armor clanking together in the motion.


With a metallic fist large enough to crush Elizabeth in its entire grasp, the golem gestures to the shaman's tent.

[UNNECESSARY. LODGINGS. AVAILABLE. BARRACKS.] A moment more, and the spread fingers, each one the size of a mortal's arm, closes. [OFFERING. ASSISTANCE. IF. NEEDED.]

Not exactly one of Morningveil's shamans. Only a visitor. Vulkan had made that obviously clear in her introduction. A tolerated outsider.

Perhaps it was the reason that Malcharion felt more in kin with Willow Glen's shaman than anything else. Or maybe he was just trying to be polite.

The bustle, or hustle, of the markets drifted entirely over Tobias' head. He breezed through the stalls slowly, letting his mind empty, and the waves of life and purpose of others washed over him, putting him at an odd ease. Feeling strangely free from the demands and... difficulties of his shaman companions, the lad lingered in the market area, gazing up at the temples.

Something nagged at him, however, as he vanished almost seamlessly into the market crowd.


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