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With the cooling season of Autumn, Ice-types are starting to re-emerge from their hibernation as Ghost-, Normal-, and Flying-types swarm in the largest numbers they will all year. In comparison, wild Fire- and Bug-type populations are falling in number. The migration of Flying-types to the south in search of warmer weather has also started, as Istin City starts to re-freeze and Autumn marks the beginning of Cypwater Point's rainy season. Handlers and Rogues alike should be wary: Ghost-type powers are boosted during this season, at the cost of being more prone to their triggers.

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 Lachlan Manitou's Travels, Kaia
Adelulf
 Posted: Jan 5 2016, 12:26 AM
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Tier 4 or Die Trying
******
Banned
Total Posts: 742
Member No. 1545
Joined on 8-April 14.


Characters:
Leodel "Leo" Degen, Rodric Steiner "Hatchet", Reva of Fough

Awards: 4




Welcome to Harper! Go ahead and post in the Update Request section after every reply, and maintain an Egg Count at the top or bottom of each of your replies! If you wish to know your egg's primary typing, go ahead and poke Khaleesi! Also, you can now add your travel link to your signature as instructed in the application acceptance post.


Prologue



The sky was a clear, Winter's blue by the time Lachlan stumbled into the outskirts of Miramossa. The smith was covered in equal parts dust and snow as one kicked up from beneath his feet and another had decided to fall upon the land in a small amount hardly a hour before. One thing was certain based on the temperature alone; Lachlan was still headed north! Despite the downpour of sunlight, there was almost no heat to be found from its touch, as the lack of clouds meant it all seeped away into the sky, and what little lingered near the surface was whisked away by a stiff westerly wind.

Several of the townsfolk waved as Lachlan steadily marched by, however none of them seemed bothered by the cold in the slightest. Their homes were made of thatch and mud bricks, and the occupants wore thin pants, if they wore full length pants at all. Several it seemed, were carrying either fishing nets, or woven baskets full of magikarp and feebas, despite the lack of a water body to support such an ingrained fishing industry.

The instant he would reach to clear grit from his eyes, or close them for anything but the briefest second, the scene would change. Lachlan's eyes would re-open to view a gloomy collection of dark colored stone hovels and a population of warmly dressed and slightly scared citizenry who shooed their children inside at noticing the large stranger passing through their village.

Other travelers would also pass him by on the road, with some matching the current scene and others not. A few would give him a casual nod but most would ignore him as they went about whatever business they had at hand. This would continue for roughly half an hour before a large, two story building became visible over the lower lying hovels. This one drew in the most foot traffic of any other and even as portions of the surroundings shifted once more, this construct remained the same.

Several signs were strewn about, one of which declared this building as “The Miramossa Building”, detailing the various stores and establishments that were housed within its walls. The ones of greatest note were the General Store, a weapons shop, The Miramossa Branch of Harper's Passion, and a tavern. Several smaller shops filled in the rest of the board with a variety of different wares or services. Before Lachlan could make a decision as to what to do, or even try to search for the caravan that he had fallen free from days ago, someone would collide full on into his back.

”Whoa there! Sorry about that.” The voice was male and still carrying traces of vibrant youth amid the raspy forefront. The owner was a man in his late twenties or perhaps early thirties, it was hard to tell given the impressive beard covering the lower half of his face. The hairs were a rich brown and healthy in appearance if a bit wild and unkempt. Bright, pale green eyes rested below a wide brimmed leather hat that looked equal parts constructed of dust and hide. His clothing seemed much the same, as if the man spent so much time on the road that his traveling leathers were forever ingrained with the dirt of those very roads.

He spent a moment patting down Lachlan, looking for any injury and brushing off some of the smith's own impressive collection of dust, before meeting Lachlan's eyes. ”So terribly sorry, I was trying to figure out if that milkmaid over there was a mirage or an actual resident.” He pointed over his shoulder but no one seemed to be there. He swore. ”Well damn, I guess I'll never know. Anyway, please forgive, I should have been paying more attention. Good grief though lad, you look weary and half frozen to boot. Here...”

The stranger pulled out a water skin from his long leather coat and held it out for Lachlan to take. Given the distance he had traveled, the smith would be nearly out of supplies if he had managed to ration out anything this long. Whether the man could tell that or not wasn't certain. He also took off his coat, revealing a lighter version of the same beneath it, and handed it to Lachlan. ”Take this as a start to making up for my blunder. As for the rest, you go ahead and get yourself taken care of at the Building over there, and then come and see me over at my wagon. I am set up just beside the Bulletin Board over that way, can't miss it. I know I have a spare cloak in there you can have free of charge in exchange for my coat back. I'd go with you to the Building, but a few caravans are looking to head out in short order and I wanna try to ply my trade with a few before they do so. See you in a bit my friend!”

The fellow was off in a blink, calling back over his shoulder after he was a fair distance away, ”Oh, I'm Matteo by the way! Like I said, you will find me by the caravan's at the Bulletin Board!”

With the whirlwind of a traveler now gone, Lachlan was left to his own devices, plus one full water skin and a heavy leather coat. Based on what Matteo had said, Lachlan could easily resupply at the Miramossa Building, and if he wished to save a few coin and still keep himself warm during the northern winter, he could find the man near the Bulletin Board which could just barely be seen from where he currently stood. Matteo had also mentioned caravans...



If you decide to visit General Store or something of the like inside the Miramossa Building and don't want to spend a lot of time Rping the process, go ahead and write your response, generalizing the trip inside before moving on to other things, and leave a list of items you wish to try and purchase at the bottom with their prices!

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Kaia
 Posted: Jan 5 2016, 05:56 PM
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Top Handler
*****
Background Mods
Total Posts: 365
Member No. 2161
Joined on 29-December 15.


Characters:
Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




(Egg count 1)

Lachlan was woefully unprepared for his arrival in Miramossa. At first the smear of a city looked like any other from afar. Lach was happy merely to find himself so close to his goal. He was cold, exhausted, and sore as all hell. He was hungry, having shared more than half of his portions with Rhea. They'd been lucky to discover berries on the way there, and that Rhea could eat the tall grasses along route four. Even so, Lachlan had been down to one meal a day with very little left over in his bag. He hadn't been sure if he'd ever find his way to Miramossa. He wasn't wholly certain he was heading in the proper direction. The sight of the city in the distance boosted Lachlan's stamina and he pushed his pace harder.

Upon entering the city, however, Lachlan found himself at a loss. Fishermen? In the desert? Brows creased as Lachlan stared, confused. Not a one of them acknowledged him when he asked about recent visitors with a big caravan, though most of them waved. His mother had said Miramossa was strange but she'd never been there. Neither of his parents had gone further than Fough place, preferring the comforts of home. The man who took Lachlan on as an extra pair of hands to Miramossa had given him a funny look but hadn't said anything about Miramossa either. Strange didn't begin to cover what he was seeing. It was freezing and there were men and women walking around without proper clothes! He shivered just looking at them.

The whoosh of wind tore at his cloak and dug beneath his clothes to chill him to the bone. And damn Lachlan hated being cold. He tugged at the edges of the cloak and pulled them tight, ignoring the way the rough fabric scraped at his chapped, raw knuckles. Even though he was cold, hungry and moderately confused, Lachlan knew he'd been extremely lucky. Just over two days and he'd made it to Miramossa despite having never traveled on his own before. Granted, Rhea had been his company so he wasn't wholly alone. Currently Rhea was tucked away in her pokeball so as not to tire her out from the long walk. He hoped to spend more time with her after he hopefully found the caravan he'd ridden with most of the way to Miramossa.

But first he needed to recover that shield. And get food. And maybe a thick coat.

The relentless wind brought tears to his eyes, itching and white-hot with its persistence. He rubbed his eyelids with the back of his hand, wiping at the damp corners. As he blinked away the blurred colors and refocused, Lachlan stopped where he stood. People cowered around him. Heads down, thick coats pulled tight. What in the world? He stood in the middle of the road and stared, eyes flicking from the huddled citizens to the passersby who barely nodded in his general direction. What in the world was wrong with this place? Even the buildings had changed to depressing shacks of disarray. He shuffled forward, wary. At least these people looked reasonably fitting to the setting though they were entirely less enthusiastic. No more weird baskets full of fish. Then again, he could have paid a few gold for some delicious fish...Lachlan licked his lips and moved on.

He also avoided touching his eyes again, no matter how much the wind slapped him and the chill made his eyes water. He did not want things shifting all over again. Once was plenty. The houses looked derelict--he didn't want to classify them as houses but people seemed to occupy them. They looked unsafe at the very least. He shivered. Was this really the place his mother's client lived? Maybe he was a traveler and this is where he was spending his time. But why? This place was nuts! The large two-story building looming from afar was the first actual building in Lach's purview so he headed in its direction. He kept his eyes focused on the building and not on the shifting street around him. He outright refused to acknowledge their changing, subtle or not. It took longer to approach the building than expected, and was a lot larger than he'd anticipated. By the time Lach made it the building towered above him, bearing a number of identifying signs. Among them was the general store. That could be good. It had a bit of an ominous look to it, though maybe that was the vibe Lachlan got from the city itself. But at least it looked somewhat--oof.

Lachlan careened forward, arms pinioned as he tried to right himself. He barely managed to keep his footing. He whirled around, expecting--well, he wasn't sure what to expect. The friendly, if brusque-looking young-ish man neither defied expectation nor fell below par, and he was so exuberant and talkative. Lachlan wasn't sure how to respond. Chatter really wasn't his strong suit. But then the man held out a water skin and Lach's eyes widened. He gripped the precious gift with both hands and licked his dry, cracked lips. His fingers trembled and struggled with the stopper, and lucky for him they did. If he'd opened the container he might have dropped it trying to balance it and the coat the man handed over. Lachlan gratefully pulled off his pack and drew the coat over his arms and clutched it to his sides, leaving the cloak over his shoulders oddly bulky and distended. Magnificent warmth sunk into his skin and he sighed audibly, the skin of water clutched to his chest. "Thank you so much," he began. He was interrupted before he could fully exclaim his appreciation.

The man was helpful to say the least, with good recommendations. Yes, the general store would be a good place to start. Lach could pick up food, supplies, and the like. Hopefully he had enough on him. But the man kept talking and Lachlan stared dumbfounded. Free of charge? Near the caravans? Before he could work up the words he was sure he had prepared a moment ago, the man - Matteo he said - was walking away. "Th-thank you! I'll be there!" He called after the man. Lachlan stood wavering for a few moments near the building, working the the stopper off the water skin. After he guzzled as much as his stomach would allow, Lach headed for the building. Inside he purchased food, three basic potions and two full heals. He also retrieved a pokecard, for obvious reasons. Then he rushed right back out the door, hunting for the bulletin board. He had to find Matteo--and the caravans, hopefully.

His feet took him as fast as they were able, and the notion that there were caravans still posted in Miramossa drove all his varying aches and pains right from his head. By the time he reached Matteo beside the bulletin board his heart pounded in his chest and a faint sheen of sweat clung to his temples. "Hi," he took a deep breath before continuing. "Thank you for lending me your coat, it was really warm." He pulled at the sleeves and adjusted his bag until he worked the coat off, then held it out. "You said there were caravans nearby? I need to find one that probably only just reached Miramossa. Maybe one of them tried to sell a really nice shield?" He hoped not but it was a logical decision for people who made their living on the road selling wares. He wouldn't even hold it against them--some strange kid shows up for a week or two then disappears on the road without a trace? No normal person would hold onto that shield just in case. Lach could only hope no one had been able to afford it as of yet.

He was also hoping Matteo would hang around for a little bit and maybe answer some questions. Rhea was Lach's first pokemon and while he knew a little bit about Handlers and all those other classifications, both from gossip and research, discovering and capturing a pokemon was a bit different than reading about them. And who knows, maybe Matteo might know what Lachlan might do now. He couldn't just go home after all this. Going back to Fough would be a bit of a disappointment. He wanted adventure, after all. And he had Rhea. She certainly deserved more than to become a mascot for the family smithy. But first, deal with Mother's client. Then run around the realm all by himself. Hopefully he had plenty of time for random questions.

--------------------
Namid and his Travels
PCR

user posted image
Kalliope and her travels
Incredible sprite by Mackay!


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Adelulf
 Posted: Jan 10 2016, 02:45 PM
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Tier 4 or Die Trying
******
Banned
Total Posts: 742
Member No. 1545
Joined on 8-April 14.


Characters:
Leodel "Leo" Degen, Rodric Steiner "Hatchet", Reva of Fough

Awards: 4




[+0.7 exp. -150g for (3) Potions, (2) Full Heal, Food stocks]

Lachlan had no issues ducking into the Miramossa Building and acquiring the basic supplies he felt he needed to continue on his journey. Most folk inside looked much as he did; road weary and cold. Those who entered this building often were either intending on a quick resupply before setting off once more for their final destination or planning on a few pints before a night's rest at the small inn housed within one wing. The General Shop Keeper picked out Lachlan's items from his stock, took the coin needed and sent him along without so much as a question or “Good luck”. This was Miramossa after all, and one didn't show up without knowing what they were getting into.

When the smith's son stepped backed out into the wind, the leather coat borrowed from Matteo did its job and kept the cold air from sapping away his body's warmth. With one less distraction to worry about, Lachlan would find it easy enough to locate the Bulletin Board and Matteo's wagon parked nearby, as it was just past a few low lying buildings across from the building he had just exited.

The traveler's wagon was nothing special, just a simple covered wagon of typical size. The owner was in the process of packing up several crates into the back of various size. The wide brimmed hat waved in the breeze as he worked. The fellow met Lachlan's greeting with enthusiasm. ”Ah! Welcome back, stranger. You made quick work of what you needed! Figured you would at least pause for a warm meal or something of the like. But no matter, I struck a deal with you, so...”

Matteo lifted himself just inside the edge of his wagon, reaching in to pull out a thick woolen cloak. He extended it out for Lachlan to take in exchange for his own coat back. Once the smith made the trade, Matteo would swing his coat back onto his form and Lachlan would find that this new cloak was far better suited to northern winters than his southern style one. As both re-adjusted themselves, Matteo would address Lachlan's caravan concern. ”Don't you worry about the loan, friend. I was the one who nearly planted you in the dirt there. But yes, I just tried to sell a few of my wares to the one parked behind me here.”

He gestured to the other side of his wagon and indeed there was a small three cart wagon housing and odd group seemingly comprised of a well wrapped Navdian woman, a middle aged farmer, a pair of twins, and one burly ox of a man, among a pair of others out of sight. Lachlan would recognize no one, as this was a different caravan than the one he had been previously traveling with.

”They just rolled in a few hours ago, but I didn't see any sort of shield on the wagons. Just some ore and the last of the excess harvest from Dedrius. I just missed a couple others though which should be near the eastern edge of the city. If they have a shield, they didn't come to me with it. Not exactly my area of expertise. Now, if you need some quality nick-nacks, or perhaps a small charm for good luck, then I can help you there! Or are you looking for work? Things have been a bit slow lately, what with all those totems the mages handed out during the Grand Festival, but I could use a second pair of hands to ply the product if...”

“Is that you Lachlan?” From behind the smith, a semi familiar voice would sound in surprise. If he were to turn, he would see a face he did recognize from the caravan. A young farm hand who fancies himself a spearman named Jackson was approaching at a trot. “Sweet Arceus man, the boss had a pair of boys back track to hunt for ya a full day when we realized ya vanished! What happened? They never even picked up a trail, just a patch of tossed earth where a scuffle seemed to take place. We showed up yesterday and waited to see if you would just pop up. Boss took care of your shield by the way. He recognized the insignia on it as belonging to a lord up north of town and sent someone to deliver it. Figured it was the least we could do for your family in case, you know, we never found you again.”

The lad gave an embarrassed smile given how he practically admitted the group had all thought him dead. “Oh, but hey, if you still have somewhere to be, we are continuing on to the Cape to sell the good stuff from the wagons. I was just popping over to grab a luck charm from the fella behind you, after seeing you disappear and all.”

Well, is seemed the two biggest worries for Lachlan were settled - surviving and getting the shield to the client – so now what would he do? Head out on his own? He also now had two offers of employment quite literally standing beside him.

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Kaia
 Posted: Jan 11 2016, 07:49 PM
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Top Handler
*****
Background Mods
Total Posts: 365
Member No. 2161
Joined on 29-December 15.


Characters:
Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




(Egg count: 2)

Lachlan took the offered cloak and unhooked his own, folding it carefully before stuffing it in his pack. One never knew when they might need an extra blanket to sleep with, and winter was cold. Colder than he'd ever experienced. By the time he situated the fresh cloak around his shoulders and sighed with the instant warmth surrounding him, Lach's eyes had found the caravans. Standing in front of Matteo, seeing caravans piled behind Matteo's wares, sent a shock of hope through him. He completely misheard the first few sentences out of Matteo's mouth as he searched for someone he knew. Unfortunately, they were all strangers. The look of disappointment spread. He tried to cover it and meet Matteo's eyes once more but it wasn't easy. "Oh, I see. I appreciate you letting me know." Had he missed them? Damn, he should have moved faster. Or paid better attention in the first place.

Lachlan found the offer of a job surprising. This man was much too kind and generous - or Lachlan looked a lot shittier upon scrutiny than first glance. He must have looked like a down on his luck, scruffy, mangy dog. He decided he'd make sure to get a good bath and some proper food. After he found that caravan, of course. But even as Matteo's offer began, a familiar voice flipped Lach around on the toe of his boot. "Jackson!" He exclaimed, deliriously happy to see the young man. But not nearly as happy as Lachlan became when he heard the shield had been delivered on time. His shoulders slumped with relief and a long, slow breath filled his lungs to bursting. Everything's okay. It was delivered. He sighed happily. There went his biggest worry. "Thank the boss for me, would you?" The offers were nice. To join back up with his original caravan, or to tag along on Matteo's trip. For a long moment he was torn by the idea. Someone who would keep him moderately safe, keep him company and pay him for the trouble.

If he went off on his own, who knew what might happen?

"I appreciate the offer, Jackson," he rubbed the back of his neck. Cape was really, really far off. And their caravan traveled particularly slow. It would be better not to sign up for an extended period of time tied to a single group of people, especially with Rhea. Lachlan wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life, now that he had Rhea and a chance at a whole new adventure. But he definitely didn't want to bog himself down to them for who knew how long. "It's probably best if you go on without me. I've caused enough trouble for you guys, I'd rather not bog you down all over again." It was honest, but it wasn't the complete truth. He hoped they'd forgive them for it, but he didn't want to be rude and shove their offer in their faces.

He held out his hand. "Thank you for everything. I wish you luck on your travels." He stepped out of the way, in case Jackson needed to speak with Matteo again, while he deliberated. It might be better to go off on his own...but making a little money and accompanying Matteo, who had been so kind to him so far, was a lucrative offer. He waited until Jackson had left - as to not be rude - before reapproaching Matteo. "About your need of a pair of extra hands? Perhaps I could accompany you? At least until the next town." He bit his lip, suddenly curious. "Where do you plan on going next? And how long might you be staying here?" Lachlan had heard in the market building a mention of some starry acres place where they sold ponyta to ride. He might not be able to afford an already saddle broken mount but he would love to have the extra companionship and an opportunity to ride such a beautiful creature through the realm. He had been hoping there was a way to get directions and go back for a time, if only long enough to purchase a ponyta and head back on his adventure.

As if he had any idea where he was going in the first place.

--------------------
Namid and his Travels
PCR

user posted image
Kalliope and her travels
Incredible sprite by Mackay!


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Adelulf
 Posted: Jan 17 2016, 12:42 AM
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Tier 4 or Die Trying
******
Banned
Total Posts: 742
Member No. 1545
Joined on 8-April 14.


Characters:
Leodel "Leo" Degen, Rodric Steiner "Hatchet", Reva of Fough

Awards: 4




[+0.7 exp. You can now apply for Freeforms!]

Jackson wholeheartedly shook Lachlan's outstretched hand. “Think nothing of it, pal. It was a pleasure to meet you. I'll be sure to let the boss know you turned up and are as well as one could expect for a few nights alone out here. Good luck on your travels as well!”

The fellow ended the shake and gave Lachlan a friendly pat on the shoulder as he slipped past to talk to Matteo. While the smith deliberated with himself, the other two men talked shop.

“I was told you sell totems and charms? Or at least, things of the like.” Jackson, just previously jovial and as confident as men that age are, now had a slight timidity to his voice. Was it fear, or perhaps he was just a bit shy around total strangers?

”Indeed, good sir!” Matteo clapped his hands together, gave them a little rub. ”I couldn't help but over hear that you were looking for a 'Luck' totem. What kind of luck are you needing?” At this point the vendor swung back behind his wagon and pulled out a wide chest - wide enough that, depending on the contents, even Lachlan might have to work to carry it – with relative ease. He placed it on the ground between himself and Jackson, unlocked the bolt, and opened it for all present to peer inside.

Depending on Lachlan's personal views on things of superstition like Luck Charms, Fertility Tokens and the like, or perhaps his view on hand crafted art, he would see one thing or another. It could just be a chest full of simple yet useless sandstone and clay sculptures. Or maybe it was full of finely, and tenderly worked pieces of earth, for even these simple trinkets were of a finer quality than one would find at a similar vendors stall. Then again, these might not only be finely crafted pieces of art, but ones meant and truly capable of offering the protections and blessings implied by the man who sells them. Perspective is such a fascinating thing.

Jackson was of the latter persuasion it seemed, and let out a small, audible gasp. This was clearly one of admiration, however. Matteo's smile somehow broadened, but not in any sort of slimy, trickster way as some who sell these types of wares have a reputation for being. He actually just seemed happy to have his work appreciated.

”Now, if it is coin you wish for, perhaps this meowth totem? Simply rub its coin three times a day for seven days and riches may find their way to you! Or perhaps you wish for safety in trying times ahead? Take an Alakazam for mental fortitude and clarity, or Bastiodon to protect you from bodily harm! Or maybe your uh...” He gave a small nod below Jackson's waist, ”friends need a bit of help finding their way up stream? A chancey can help with that.”

Jackson went a bit red in the cheeks at that last bit, but kept his composure. “Umm...what does that Cubone do? They're the Lonely Pokemon, aren't they?”

Matteo's face practically glowed. ”I see you are a man well versed in his pokemon!” He picked up the cubone with something near to a reverent touch. ”I take special care in making Cubones. You see, they are indeed the Lonely Pokemon, but the charms I work into them are unique. Just as the Cubone always longs for its lost mother – though between you and I, most are raised by both parents, I don't know where this silly 'the mother always dies' business comes from – this totem, when worn around your neck, will always guide you back to those who you think about as the stars fill the night sky. Some of my best work goes into these. Since you are a friend of Lachlan here, you can have it for a discount of 30g! And all my cubones have a money back guarantee.”

Jackson was hesitant at first. Maybe this wasn't what he was looking for, or the price too steep? But in the end his face set and he fished the money from his purse. Matteo helped to set the piece over his head so it set against the center of the man's chest and wished him luck on his journey, and a safe trip home.

As Lachlan approached with his acceptance of the extended work offer, Matteo's smile shrunk to a toothless one, but it was no less warm than the one he had given Jackson just a moment ago. He inhaled deeply and looked up and around at the cloud filled sky. ”It is a good day, don't you think? Aaaahhh...” a leisurly sigh. ”You are of course welcome to travel with me for as long as you wish! The greatest spice of life is getting to meet to people, hear their stories and learn new things! I have an extra bedroll for you, and tent should you need it. As for travel plans, I intend to leave as soon as you are ready to go. It has been a while since I headed out to Dedrius so that was my next stop. Should only be a two day trip or so with one wagon, and I can teach you what I have in stock, though my main stay is what lies within this chest here.”

He closed the lid on the box once more, unless Lachlan would like to take a closer look at any of the pieces withing – as there seemed to be at least a dozen different pokemon figures scattered about – and hefted it back into place on his covered wagon. ”As I said, the mages have made work for me a bit slow, flooding the market with magicked totems apparently, but I can pay you a commission of twenty percent for everything you sell. It isn't a fortune, but its honest work. After all, I carve and prepare each piece by hand. And in the end, it is a person's own faith that will decide if they work their intended purpose.

“If all that seems fair, you just give the word and we can be off. Then while I teach you about my work, you can teach me about yourself! Haha! It's going to be a great trip!”


So, is Lachlan ready to head off on his first...well, second...whirlwind adventure? If he had questions, Matteo seemed like an open book, and the man himself had said learning about others was a spice of life.

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My Split Personalities
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Kaia
 Posted: Jan 20 2016, 05:13 PM
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Top Handler
*****
Background Mods
Total Posts: 365
Member No. 2161
Joined on 29-December 15.


Characters:
Kalliope Tamsin, Namid Waagosh'Giizis

Awards: 3




(Egg count: 3)

Lachlan was absolutely fascinated by Matteo's wares. He stared wide eyed at the marvels carefully protected in the massive chest. Each piece was beautifully crafted and Lach was impressed by the attention to detail. Add to that their potent abilities, Lachlan thought they must have been worth a fortune. He'd spent plenty of time around well-crafted, pricey pieces but he'd never seen magical amulets before. The awe of standing before a whole treasure trove of items had him speechless. He peered at every item Matteo pointed out, memorizing the details as each was described. Though he wasn't altogether sure what Matteo referred to by the 'stream', it seemed Jackson got the message just fine.

He thought about asking for a better description but he didn't think he could afford any at the moment anyway. Though the description of the Cubone amulet's power made him a little wistful. He didn't have anyone he could think about while staring up at the stars. Sure, he loved his family. But he was excited to be off on his, seeing the realm. But it would have been nice if he had someone to dream about while staring up at the stars. He let the thoughts slough from his head as Matteo sold a trinket and began to speak directly to him. Lachlan agreed that it was a nice day - if one could get past the chilly weather and the disorienting town. "I appreciate your helping me out, sir." He dipped his head in appreciation.

"If you don't mind, I think I'll stick with you at least until the next township, maybe the one after that. I've never been so far from home before and--well, I fear even with the routes clearly marked I'll manage to get lost." He grinned ruefully, knowing full well his sense of direction wasn't fantastic. But then he'd made it to Miramossa. With a little help - and maybe a map - he might do alright. Still, he liked the idea of having company at least to Dedrius. Someone to talk to, someone who clearly knew the realm and had experienced life properly instead of shut away in a forge.

"I'm happy to help wherever you need me, and I'll learn everything you want to teach." He smiled and tugged the new cloak around his shoulders, enjoying the warmth of its embrace. Honestly, Lachlan was surprised Matteo was willing to pay him even twenty percent of commission. He hadn't anticipated any money at all. "It sounds more than fair. I'm ready if you are." He had everything he owned on his back, his trusty pokemon at his hip. He had a new companion to travel with, and he had a real destination. Granted, there was nothing driving him toward Dedrius but this friendly caravan owner. He was happy all the same. "By the way, is Dedrius any warmer than Miramossa?" He asked, rubbing his arms beneath his cloak. If it was even colder, he'd learn to adapt. But he sure hoped the sun would stay out on the way there.

Oh, well. Experiencing new things was part of the journey!

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 Posted: Jan 24 2016, 09:41 AM
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Matteo laughed heartily once more and clapped his hands together to rub them in excitement. ”Think nothing of it, my friend! Now climb aboard and let's get this show on the road!””

The totem man hopped onto the wagon bench and barely waited for Lachlan to take a seat of his own before giving his two tauros a quick flick of the reins to get them moving. The cart rumbled into motion and jangled with the rocking of the wares he had stored under the arched canopy. He leaned over to Lachlan so he could be heard over the clinking of bottles. ”And don't you worry. Finding your way around these parts isn't so hard. Just in case though, we can find you a map or two once we reach Dedrius. As long as you are in my company though, you need never fear being lost; I like to think I've a special connection with the earth. You could almost say it speaks to me, after a fashion.”

When Lachlan asked if the weather was warmer in Dedrius, the merchant's smiled from ear to ear and gave the deepest, longest laugh the smith had yet heard from him. Apparently he thought it was the grandest of jests.

With that the journey would begin and Matteo begin to inquire as to Lachlan's origins and goals in his travels. He would be extremely interested in the work of a smith, being a humble creator of merchandise as well and avid fan of such arts. His own enthusiasm for any subject discussed would reflect Lachlan's own, as he was a man well versed in reading others and knew when to press for more information and when to let a topic lie.

Eventually, say an hour or so down the road, Matteo would stare out ahead intently and rise a bit from his seat, like a patrat locking on to some unseen object. There was nothing to be seen as far as Lachlan could discern, especially now that a light drifting of snow had begun to fall along the trail. After a few seconds he smiled and thumped back down, giving Lachlan an enthusiastic slap on the knee. ”There is a small settlement up ahead, one of a few along this route, and it has served me well in the past. More than likely there will be folk walking about the trail, even in this weather. Being from Fough, you know what to expect from the Edgewood typically, but the folk who live in the north are a hardier breed if you don't mind me saying.

But, they often fancy themselves a few trinkets so this will be a good trial by fire for you. When we come across someone, the key is to observe them and try to understand who they are. Once you get a gist of that, you can guess as to their wants and needs. From there it is just a matter of picking out the appropriate piece, be a totem, or potion in some cases.”
Matteo stared off in thought for a moment, his free hand scratching at his beard. ”Let's just stick with totems for now. Most my potions are just herbal remedies an old friend taught me to brew in case of emergency or needy traveler and the like. Oh, and remember, a warm smile and open attitude is the best way to get someone else to open up to you. A basic enough concept, but one people sometimes forget. Now, let's see how our luck plays out.”

The cart continued its rocking way up the road, and low and behold, a trio of villagers appeared walking in the same direction they were heading. ”Aha! Now remember, observe them, see what you can gleam. I'll slow us down a bit to give you more time, then I'll pull up along side them so you can work your magic. Don't worry, most folk around here may be hard, but not unkind to strangers.”

True to his word, Matteo would tug lightly on the reins and his tauros would slow. This gave Lachlan about five minutes to study his first potential customers. There would be three in total, one male and two female, wearing thicker clothing or layers as befits the weather. The cloth will be simple and repaired in a few places. One villager was a hand taller than the other two, who were the females. What few glimpses of their faces from this rear view that Lachlan could manage would show enough similarities in the facial structures to imply relation; possibly a mother and her two children.

From there, as they drew even closer, there could be snippets of conversation heard. Mostly about the size of last years harvest and how long the stocks could likely hold out before they had to start cutting back on portion sizes. Did they have enough furs to keep themselves warm when the brunt of winter arrived? A tease from the sister about a girl the brother seemed to fancy, and a not so teasing comment in relation from the mother.

Nothing stood out immediately, as it was just a casual conversation, but Lachlan would have to find something that would peak the interest of these folk if he wished to be successful. Again, he would have only a few minutes before Matteo pulled them up alongside and Lachlan would have to greet these folks and start his pitch.



[OOC: Get with me via PM or the like a bit later. I'll start working on a list of totems Matteo has and what each does. But for reference in your next post, just try to think of what someone like him would be offering. His trinkets aren't magical really, as he has claimed, but what he says they do is within the bounds of human capability. If one were to believe in the totems powers hard enough or it helps spur them to a moment of courage or strength, then people continue to believe they work. Really, they are like a placebo item; the people he sells to think they work, and so in the end when something favorable happens in relation to their described function, their mind tells them it was all because of the totem.]

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 Posted: Feb 16 2016, 07:42 PM
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By the bells, it was cold! Lachlan huddled under his cloak, grateful for the upgrade he'd been given out of the kindness of Matteo's heart. He knew he had to get used to the frigid weather but he wasn't particularly happy about needing to do so. He hated winter. He hated cold. Why hadn't he traveled the realms during the height of summer? Oh, well. He was a mostly optimistic person, though he did glare mildly at the falling snow. He needed to buy gloves, too. The list of necessary travel items kept growing. Lach glanced back at the wagon on which he rode. At least he could earn a little coin off of what he helped to sell. And maybe he could work on communication in the process. He wasn't a complete dolt but in all honesty he stuck his foot in his mouth a little more often than not.

He spent their time traveling by answering all of Matteo's queries and asking a few of his own. How long the man had been traveling, how he came to create amulets. Of course he asked questions about what totems each represented and how they worked. He'd seen so many in that great chest and he wanted to start memorizing early as he could. And there were a lot to memorize, for that matter. Lachlan was impressed by the breadth of totems the man carried with him at all times. He had been going over the details in his head when the bench of the wagon shifted. He turned just as Matteo rose from the seat and looked out, his own gaze cast across the soft, pale road ahead. Snow drifted lazily around, flakes melting the moment they brushed his cloak. But the ground retained the white powder, albeit tentatively. It was beautiful if one didn't focus on the chill creeping in around them.

Other than snow and a mostly empty road, Lachlan saw nothing. His mouth pursed as he tried to deduce what Matteo spotted. Chapped fingers tugged the hem of the cloak tighter. Lach jumped at Matteo's voice, so caught up was he in spotting whatever awaited in the distance. His eyes flicked from the road to Matteo's face and back. Had there been some traveler's sign? Maybe Matteo had simply visited often enough he knew the trail by heart. Talk of a village close by had Lachlan's spirits up and soaring. His first chance at hawking Matteo's wares - which would arrive sooner than the young blacksmith expected. Plus new experiences! And a warm inn, perhaps by a fire--no, discomfort is normal for traveling. Adventurers don't spend their time thinking about luxuries! Lachlan straightened his shoulders and a smile ghosted across his lips as he listened.

Understanding who they were. That was the task Matteo set for him. He could do this. He could succeed. Mother rarely let him handle sales personally. She liked him best with his hammer and a beautiful piece of steel or copper. Plus he'd made a few mistakes over the years when it came down to haggling--selling expensive equipment for cheap was a dangerous game to play. He had never managed the knack for it, and rarely enjoyed the opportunity to try. Lach hadn't minded much at the time, finding himself more uncomfortable than elated at the prospect of standing in the storefront until someone showed up. Somehow this was different. This was Lachlan going out into the world and showing people what great totems Matteo carved. This was a challenging task, something in which he could excel or fall flat on his face. Sure, the latter would be unfortunate. But what fun would there be in giving up out of fear of disappointment? Lachlan had always been the trial and error sort.

Lachlan grew quiet with thought. He wasn't a gabber on a regular basis with strangers, though Matteo brought with him such sunny warmth with his personality Lachlan opened up easily to the man. He glanced to the left, flashing a smile. "I'll give it my best shot. Thank you for giving me a chance." He sat perched on the edge of his seat, mind running rampant. Could he do this? He would do it. He would find a way to prove to Matteo he had been a good investment. He wanted to repay Matteo for his kindness and if selling a whole bunch of beautiful totems was the way to do it, Lach would find a way. He'd probably make a lot of mistakes at first, but he was stubborn. He'd keep working until he managed to succeed. That was just who he was.

Lachlan spotted the trio a few moments after Matteo pointed them out, squinting through the light flurries falling around them. As Matteo spoke Lachlan tried to obey, studying them. Understand who they are. They pulled up just close enough for Lachlan to make out a few words of their conversation and he pieced them together as he watched them interact. They looked like a little family. They must have been, the way they teased the tall boy. He mustered up his courage and listened some more. Girls, fear of starvation. Would they even be interested in a totem? Perhaps the small gold given up for a totem might boost their hope for the future. Plus, a little extra luck could go a long way. He ran through the few Matteo mentioned, plotting exactly what he would say. In the five minutes he went quiet, eyes unfocused. By the time they pulled up to the trio, Lachlan had mentally run through the pitch a few times to make sure he could say it without stuttering or forgetting a line. Still, shit happened.

"Hello, there!" Lachlan lifted a hand in greeting and rose off his seat. He swept a short, rocky bow and straightened, a wide smile overtaking his face. "My name is Lachlan and this kind gentleman beside me is Matteo. I apologize for my interruption but I think we may have some items you might like." His voice cracked over a word or two and he cleared his throat before speaking again. "Matteo here crafts beautiful totems, you see. And each one has a special gift, a charm if you will." He didn't have any on hand but he plucked the ideas from earlier and splayed them out in a little speech, beginning with a deep breath. "We have a pair of plusle and minun totems for sale. They are always sold together, you see, for plusle and minun represent companionship. With siblings they promote peace between one another. And more!" He spread his hands out, palms up. "When you wear these complementary totems, you will always have a part of the other with you. You can remain close even when one might be out of reach. And you can always find each other, as long as you're wearing them." He'd remembered this one specifically because he didn't have siblings. It warmed his belly when he heard it the first time--siblings or friends who could be a part of each other's lives even if one was far away.

That closeness was something he envied, and he remembered it distinctly. His attention traveled from the pair of siblings to what seemed to be their mother - though he didn't speak the term aloud in case she was merely a much older sister. Awkward and insulting would not sell amulets. "I understand winter has brought much hardship to this area. I'm sorry for the difficulties you've been facing, not to mention the weak harvest." He knelt onto his seat and folded his legs beneath him. "Perhaps you would be interested in a meowth totem. It sends good luck in monetary gain your way. Every little bit helps, right?" The chill clung to his skin but his face was flushed with adrenaline. He was nervous, so nervous! His hands shook under cover of the cloak and hair clung to his temples, thankfully disguised by the damp from melting snowflakes. But he was nervous. What if he failed? Granted this was his first try. He would have plenty of opportunities in the village. And practice was good!

But he wanted to impress Matteo. It was a selfish thing to think. It was why he spent so much of his five minutes cultivating the best speech he could, giving few moments of pause between offers. He'd even used the meowth Matteo had mentioned to Jackson earlier - though he worried that might count against him. But he was certain in what meowth charms could do, having heard the pitch earlier. And maybe, just maybe the woman would consider parting with a few coins in the hopes of finding more. This was such a strange occupation. How did Matteo persuade people to purchase his wares? Well, the man probably had plenty of good sales ideas in his head. And he was good at reading people, that's what he told Lachlan to look out for. What they looked like they needed. But there were so many charms with such specific details. He worried he offered the wrong trinkets. But he was putting in his best effort. And that was really all he could do, wasn't it?

"If either of those interest you, or perhaps you'd rather give them a look yourself, we'd be happy to stop and give you the first pick before we get into town. But it's completely up to you, if I've bothered you in any way I'm sorry to take up your time." He shouldn't have added that last part but he couldn't stop himself. Nerves revealed themselves in subtle ways but he had a feeling Matteo would spot them immediately. Well, he would feel apologetic if he'd bothered them instead of offering them something they might like. All he could do was wait and see how they reacted.

--------------------
Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Adelulf
 Posted: Mar 30 2016, 04:17 PM
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As the cart rumbled up alongside the trio, all three turned to give their attention to Lachlan. They walked at a steady pace as Lachlan spoke, trusting their instincts on a road they no doubt had walked a hundred times or more. When the rookie salesman mentioned the minun and plusle totems, the younger of the two women nudged the young man and gave him an impressive eyebrow wriggle. The second woman could now be easily determined as older given the crow’s feet and laugh lines at her eyes and lips. She also shared a massively similar facial structure to the two younger individuals, along with the exact same eye color. If Lachlan could fight to stay observant through his nervousness, these clues would help solidify the assumption that this was indeed a mother and her children.

The mother would be the least animate throughout the speech, but anytime Lachlan’s voice caught or his nerves seemed to surface, she would offer a kind half-smile, of the like only a mother was truly capable of mastering. And although the siblings whispered a few words to each other here and there, all three politely absorbed every word spoken to them without interruption.

When Lachlan relinquished the floor, the mother raised an eyebrow that was dotted with flakes of snow and turned toward her children.
”I think a bit of unification and peace sounds fantastic, actually.”

The daughter laughed and elbowed her brother in the ribs. ”Ha! Fat chance of that working Mamma. We just don’t mesh well enough. Buuuut,” She twisted a wicked, mischievous grin toward her taller sibling. ”I know someone that meshes very well with Liam. Something like that could go a long way in making sure you two connect all the more in the future.”

Liam, as he was now identified, sputtered an unintelligible defense as his cheeks began to burn even brighter in the cold. His sister cackled with glee at landing such a pointed strike and even Matteo barely suppressed a snort of laughter behind Lachlan. The sister wasn’t done there though, but now her gaze had fallen upon Lach. With a long step and a small hop, she was balancing on the step of the wagon and holding onto the canvas just by the young smith’s head. At this point, she was so close that her fogging breath mingled with Lachlan’s own before being carried off in the breeze.

Her voice dropped in volume and became far more…let’s say friendly in tone. ”But what about you, handsome? I might be able to put a bit of magic like that to much better use than my brother, especially with a strapping adventurer like yourself. I do have to wonder though, if you get half of the magic, do I get a discount?” She added a wink for the full effect and if Lachlan looked to Matteo for aid, he would find none, as the merchant would only give him a thumbs-up as he smothered his laughter.

Lachlan would have to navigate this social maze without him.

The following silence would last a few heartbeats or until Lachlan tried his hand, thankfully though, reinforcements were not far away.
”Laura, leave the poor lad be. He is trying to do his job and folks outside the village have a harder time figuring out when you are just playing around.”

Laura would huff in mock annoyance before giving Lach a final, firm wink and slipping off the wagon. Once she rejoined her mother, the older woman would speak again.
”Now back to the actual reason for your trip, I think. I may in fact be interested in buying something from you gentlemen, but I wouldn’t mind taking a look at the rest of your stock. If my memory serves me, I do think I remember one of your prior visits to our humble village, Matteo.”

Lachlan’s patron leaned forward in his seat and waved. ”I have in fact been through these parts a time or two, madam. Lovely country in warmer weather, but it still holds a beauty all of its own even as the bite of winter sets in. I find myself fond of it.” The man’s smile was warmer than a cottage hearth in mid winter. ”But you are of course welcome to browse as my companion mentioned. We have the chest right in back. Go ahead and pull it out, Lachlan.” Matteo pulled on the reigns and the two groups of travelers came to a stop.

Once Lachlan came around to retrieve the chest, he would find that the item was far heavier than it had seemed previously when Matteo had hefted it, as it would even give his muscled smithing arms a bit of a strain. The mother would sift through the massive bin of totems intently for a few moments, seemingly immune to the snow continuing to fall upon her. Eventually she would look to Lachlan as ask for prices.

The wagon would tilt as Matteo leaned over to peek around the canvas. ”Oh, my apologies, I left my poor friend in the dark on that part by mistake. The average price is typically 20 gold. Some are more, some are less. For instance, the meowth totem is just 15 gold, while those minun and plusle are 40 given that they are a pair.”

”Hmmm...” The woman glanced back into the chest, giving Lachlan an opportunity to perhaps speak on some of the ones that had been put on display before. She would only consider things for a moment more however as her eyes were drawn north and skyward. There was nothing there of major note, a least not that Lachlan would see, but then again he wasn't a local of the north.

”Well, crops were actually fine this year but even on during a good year it takes effort to last out the winters this far north. So the prices are a bit steep for me. If these were guaranteed to work, perhaps I could be swayed to put up the coin, but - and no offense meant Master Crafter, - I am not much for superstition. I am still interested however, so how about a deal. A storm is rolling in off the mountains. I'd say we have two, maybe three hours before it hits town. We can get there in about half an hour and you can set yourself up in our home. We have ample amounts of room and we can keep you warm and fed until you decide to move on. In exchange, I get a totem, once I figure out which one suits me. As it stands now, you aren't likely to be doing any peddling until tomorrow at best, so your only other options are to tough it out with whatever gear you have in tow, or find one of our neighbors willing to lend space in their barns for the night.”

Matteo glanced over his shoulder at the distant mountains and something in his face showed that he may not see what the woman did, but he believed her. Despite this, he simply shrugged and addressed Lach. ”It seems we have a practiced haggler in our midst, my friend. What say you, is it a fair trade?”

With that, all eyes fell upon the young man standing next to the chest of trinkets.

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Kaia
 Posted: Apr 26 2016, 06:17 AM
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The rapport between family members baffled Lachlan but he covered his surprise. He appreciated their patience, not something he could easily hope for on his first try. Lach glanced politely away as Liam flushed. He had little experience with attraction and sympathized with the youth. Grateful he hadn't been teased by his loud but relatively easy mother, Lachlan continued without commenting on Liam's embarrassment. Nothing he said lessened the embarrassment after all, though his cheeks brightened to a ruddy pink. Rather from the cold, his face reddened from the memory of the chancey totem Matteo showed off in Miramossa. He decided abruptly to avoid that totem unless they asked about it specifically.

Laura startled Lachlan, nearly knocking him off his feet and onto the hard wooden bench. Her close proximity made him nervous. Her offer didn't incite the reaction she might have hoped for. Instead of embarrassment, he looked panicked. Girls really weren't his thing in more ways than one. He glanced back at Matteo for help but found no sympathy. "Um," Lachlan stared at the wagon rather than the girl. "I don't know about discounts." He admitted, stunned into honesty. He regretted the blunt and useless comment as soon as it left his mouth but there was nothing doing. Lach was supremely grateful for their mother coming to his rescue. He found social expectations uncomfortable in the best situations, untried as he was. A flippant flirtation from a stranger he was trying to pitch a product to was so far out of his depth he might as well try to fly. In fact he might have better luck taking to the skies.

"Yes, of course." Lachlan nodded as the mother directed their conversation back on topic, quite relieved when Laura descended. Despite his attempts to curtail it, a smile escaped and spread across his face. She was interested! Lachlan hopped off the wagon before it finished moving in his exuberance to pull out the chest of tokens. The chest itself overburdened even his hard-earned strength and he walked bow-legged and arms aching to offer their wares to the woman. Once set down, opening the chest was a far simpler task. Lachlan knew Matteo's previous visits colored this woman's interest in his wares as more than Lachlan's skill at persuasion but he counted it as a win she hadn't ignored him in favor of Matteo himself. Instead she was happy to include Lachlan in her haggling and that was more than he could have asked for. He patiently watched as she sifted through the stock, mentally assigning details he remembered from Matteo's tutelage and puzzling over ones he hadn't yet learned.

Lachlan flummoxed for the stretched silence following her price inquiries. Matteo hadn't yet covered prices. Generously Matteo saved him from fumbling through his own paltry apology. His attention slipped between Matteo and the potential customer with mounting anticipation. Would she buy? She seemed interested. He thought perhaps she glanced at one of the totems in particular and jumped to speak up. This one he vaguely remembered in broad strokes. "That spoink totem brings joy and good omens into your life. Wear it and you'll find sour moods lighter and heavy burdens eased." He ad-libbed a bit as he tried to remember all the details. There were so many. Fortunately she seemed less inclined for specifics. Her intent on the skies troubled Lachlan but she answered his unasked questions in good time.

How was he to believe crops were good in weather like this? Lach was too biased in his dislike of the cold. He needed to work on that. He was unable to guarantee that the totems worked - this was his first day after all - but he himself believed in them. "If you give them a chance, I'm sure they'll surprise you." His face filled with the vigor of his belief. He believed anything was possible if one put their whole self into the task. These totems helped those dreams along, either through magic or power of suggestion. Lachlan was too stubborn by half, once a decision was made to do something he followed through no matter what.

He hedged as he mulled over her request. Matteo's blank expression gave him nothing to work with, though his prompting pushed him to answer where he would have considered for longer. Even so, his words formed slowly and he spoke with deliberate steadiness. "Well, your offer is very generous." He glanced at the woman and her children. It was a kind offer, if favored on her part. There might very well be an inn within town for cheap this time of year and they could do better luck there. However, this way they lost no money and the exchange seemed fairly reasonable. Twenty gold wouldn't cover separate rooms, food for them and their pokemon, as well as breakfast and possibly another night's stay. But he didn't want to be taken in too easily either.

"It seems a fair trade. However, the condition is you get one totem of your choice. If you choose one of a set like the plusle and minun we will give the first for free but you'll pay for the second." He gave her a smile, warm despite the chill in the air. "Of course, if we stay for more than a week it's up to you to haggle again for a better arrangement. We wouldn't want to take advantage of your kindness." He set them up to pay more in tokens on the off chance they stayed overlong. But truthfully he felt they were getting the better end of the bargain after thinking it through. Even if they managed a cheap room or begged leave of someone's barn it wouldn't come with free meals and friendly company--Laura's advances aside. And he didn't want to appear ungrateful for her kindness by refusing her proper payment. The woman might be shrewd, Lachlan couldn't begin to guess, but she seemed kind. Plenty more compassionate than his own mother, Arceus bless her.

Lachlan held out his hand to the woman. "If you're in agreement, we'd be happy to stay with you during our visit. We appreciate your generosity, Miss...?" He hoped he made the right choice and Matteo wouldn't berate him after they found themselves alone. At the very least he aimed for the forgiveness over permission route. And Matteo left it up to him, anyway. All he could do now was offer the woman a smile. A warm meal and a place to sleep teased Lach with the possibility of warming up after all this frigid weather. Really, it was just his luck to join up with a merchant whose route took them north. He only hoped they might move somewhere warm afterwards. Cypwater perhaps. Or the Crater. Anywhere the sun managed to heat the earth rather than frantically scramble for a bit of space in overcast skies.

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Namid and his Travels
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Kalliope and her travels
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Adelulf
 Posted: May 18 2016, 12:47 PM
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Tier 4 or Die Trying
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[+0.7 exp. So sorry for the delay but I tried to make up for it in length. The plot change that struck me while outlining this is the main culprit but I have a feeling it will be worth your while.]

Lachlan’s counter offer was met with thoughtful consideration. The mother brought a hand up to her chin, the index finger resting vertically over her lips as her eyes, an olive green in color, seemed to stare straight through the novice merchant. When Lachlan extended his hand to attempt and seal the deal, hey eyes glanced down at it, then back to his face. For a brief moment she didn’t move, but in the end the edges of her eyes curled up in as they would when one smiled although that smile hadn’t yet reached her lips. It soon followed however, along with a soft peal of laughter as she gave his hand a firm shake.

“This one is still young and nervous, Matteo, but much better with improvisation than the last. Thank you, uh Lachlan was it? You can go ahead and put that away for now, we can poke into it later.” The older woman laughed more as she disengaged the shake.

From the driver seat Matteo beamed with a satisfied pride as he dusted snow from his weather-worn jacket. ”Oh you know me, Helen, always looking to improve whenever I can. Glad to see your mind still doesn’t dull with the passage of time. And thank you once more for succor when the weather threatens to turn most foul.” The artisan gave a deep, off-kilter bow from atop the bench, catching his hat as it tried to slide from his head. The woman, Helen, responded with a wink almost identical to her daughters and a smirk.

Overall, the atmosphere among the individuals here had just changed very rapidly while Lachlan stored the chest and prepared to be underway once more. Observant as he was, it would be plain that his employer and these, supposed strangers on the road, were not in fact strangers to one another. Given the air of joviality, this whole scene may have been a test. Matteo’s next words to Lachlan would only support that possible assumption.

”Well done, Lachlan. By far the best I’ve seen of one of my recruits to date. The last time Helen faced off with someone in your shoes she managed a full totem pair and we had to repair a fence all out own. Now go ahead and secure everything then hop back on. Don’t want to waste much time before the storm.”

The other three were already back to walking along the snow coated path, seemingly uninterested in hitching any sort of a ride. This left Matteo and Lachlan alone for most part once the wagon started moving again. With that opening, Matteo would inquire as to Lachlan’s own thoughts and questions about the entire ordeal.

True to her word, hints of civilization would be visible within half an hour. A few small cottages stood outside a large copse of trees just along the road and several trails of smoke could be seen working their way through the trees from what was the village proper behind the curtain of the thick trunks and evergreen plants. For one foreign to this region of Harper, all would seem in its proper place, but the three leading them were noticeably disturbed and even Matteo seemed curious if not a bit uneasy.

A small discussion took place among the family before Liam bolted down the trail, strong legs carrying him through the few inches of snow in great strides. The two women made their way back to the wagon and climbed onto the sides much as Laura had earlier, with Helen besides Lachlan this time.

The matriarch spoke with tense tones.
“Something is wrong. Plenty light fires in their home this time of year, but they should be smaller plumes. If you don’t mind spurring your pokemon a bit faster, old friend, I would appreciate it.”

Matteo gave a solemn nod before pressing his hat more securely to his head and giving his tauros a few prods. The wagon lurched forward slightly with the increased speed but all held firm as every pair of eyes was locked forward, imagining what they might find ahead.

A few minutes later they would have little left to ponder. Many huts and homes seemed just as they should, but it almost appeared as if the town had been laid to siege. Several buildings, some only identifiable as buildings by their remaining foundations, were torn completely asunder. Some were absent a roof, others entire walls had been peeled opened like a corn husk to expose the contents within if said contents weren’t strewn out across the ground. Wails of children hung in the air, blending with cries of agony from those who lie wounded all across this odd path of devastation.

The entire populace was milling about, most tending to fires before they could potentially spread, and many others tending to those more wounded than themselves. Whatever the threat had been it seemed to be over for now as no one was moving about the streets armed or otherwise preparing for some sort of assault, but there was far and away much to be assessed of the damage. Amid the steadying chaos Liam stood locked in an embrace with a young woman with wavy golden locks whose face was marred by trails of tears etched in dirt and ash. She caught sight of the cart over Liam’s shoulder and made him aware of his family’s approached. The young man’s face was a sketching of worry and despair, but instead of calling the group on he waved them away.

Helen leaned over, tears clearly forming in her eyes but she had yet to let one fall, and spoke to both of the men on the cart.
“I don’t know what happened but he’s telling us to head to the house as best I can figure. Liam might be a bit timid sometimes but he is wise for his years. I suggest you heed his signal, but I need to see where I can be of aid. Bring us left, Matteo. I trust you remember the way.”

”Most certainly ma’am. Please, let us know immediately if there is something we can do.” The tradesmen’s words were dry and all the joy that seemed permanent in his demeanor was gone entirely. And he may have been speaking to Helen, but his eyes never strayed from the scene before them, often lingering on the splashes of red that speckled and splotched the pure white snow. He was already turning the cart before he had finished speaking.

“Laura, make sure they get unloaded and inside as fast as possible. If your father is there, get what information you can from him and make sure he tucks the wagon in the barn. If he isn’t, then do that last bit yourself and then stay inside. I’ll try to locate your father if he’s about.”

Her daughter nodded, ”Yes, Mother. Please hurry back though. I really don’t see Pa sticking around in the house if he was aware all of this was happening.” All of the bravado and intensity of the girl’s previous mood had vanished and her face was a near mirror to her mother’s other than the fact that tears were starting to flow freely down her cheeks. Helen gave her daughter a determined half smile – as determined as such could be – and hopped down from the wagon to hurry of deeper into the town.

Matteo soon stopped looking around then and stared straight ahead as he guided the wagon around obstacles and people. It was a short trip, as small a village as this was, to the home of Helen and her family. A small sign, snow piled atop its post, read in simple carved lettering “Richard & Helen Fairfield”. The home itself seemed a size larger compared to others, as all those one this side of town seemed to have been spared the disaster, and a modest barn stood behind it alongside what was now barely discernable as a family farm plot beneath with white. A thin wisp of smoke rose from the chimney and several candles were visibly lit inside.

Now it was Laura’s turn to disembark, bounding through the snow much as her brother had earlier, hardly noticing any resistance it provided. She had the door open in but a moment and disappeared inside to search for her father. This left Matteo and Lachlan to their own devices outside for the time being. The former pulled the wagon close to the barn doors and leapt free of the bench.

”I am sure you have just as many questions as I do, my friend,” The merchant began, ”but in times of trouble it is wise to listen to the locals advice. So let’s be about doing as Helen suggested and once we know more we can plan our next move from there. Until then we are just likely to get in the way. I’ll grab the chest if you grab the sack of food stocks hanging from the canvas and the bedrolls which should be tucked along the right side. Everything else I think should be fine out locked away in the barn.”

Speed fueled by anxiety pushed Matteo to the back of the cart. He deftly undid the latches holding the back in place and pulled his chest free. Even in such a rush it didn’t seem as if Matteo even strained to carry the burden as he managed an odd jumping step to try and navigate in the building snow to the front of the house. While Lachlan did what he must to cope with what he had just witnessed and tried to go about following Matteo’s request, the other man would holler from the home, ”Oh, and there’s a crate, stuffed with rags it would seem, on a shelf of sorts just above where the chest sat. Grab that as well but make two trips if you need! There are vials in there that might prove useful soon but they are fragile!”

Laura would return from the home in the process, hurrying to open the barn and move the tauros and wagon inside. The girl was stressed and possibly on the verge of panicking. As such her hands, already growing cold in the winter air, fumbled often with the straps and harnesses. Her rush didn’t seem to be aiding her any, and no doubt a helping hand would go a long way in easing her troubles. Then again, Lachlan also had more than his fair share to try and carry out, and his own mental status to cope with – whatever that may be – so was another task something he was up for?


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Kaia
 Posted: May 20 2016, 05:18 PM
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-------

Lachlan held his breath as the woman deliberated. Strenuous was the process of haggling and Lach was nowhere near adept. But he put his best effort forward and could only hope it was enough. The exhalation of released breath and tension shook him a little when she gripped his fingers in a firm hold and he smiled. Lach also didn't take offense at the laugh, nor the unexpected familiarity settling around them. So Matteo knew this Helen from previous trips? Rather than upset he'd been duped, he wondered how long Matteo traveled with his trinkets and how many apprentices he'd taken on over the years.

While prosperous enough to keep Matteo happy and healthy, Lachlan held no secret dreams of becoming a merchant himself so he considered himself a more temporary bit of assistance. He liked Matteo well enough. A warm demeanor and kindness went far in the way of gaining Lachlan's trust. Perhaps that made him naive. He liked to think of it as optimistic. His mother was such a forthright person. No such thing as optimism, only real, hard work. She never prefaced anything with gentle nudges. Lach learned well in absolute expectations but Matteo's generosity and patience went equally as far, it seemed. All this ran through his mind as he hefted the chest back into place with a stifled groan.

How could anything made of wood and filled with trinkets weigh more than a couple anvils?

Perversely, Lachlan wondered if something else might be hidden in there. But he forgot the curiosity about the time he finished strapping the chest down and maneuvered toward the front. "Thank you," Lachlan mumbled, a little ruddy around the cheeks and not from the chill in the air. Compliments were seldom given in his household, not out of spite but form the very highest standards. "I'm grateful for your kindness as well, Ms...Helen." He bowed to cover his awkward attempt at thanks. "You could have taken advantage of my inexperience." He believed it, too. Especially if she'd gotten a pair of totems and free labor out of a few nights' stay. He wouldn't have minded helping if she asked, and probably would have willingly added a couple helping hands to his offer.

In the wagon and meandering, Lachlan turned his attention to Matteo. He inquired about where he might have improved - besides taking a deep breath and not overthinking himself to stutters. Lachlan had confidence in what he believed he could do but lacked any self-reliance if not absolutely certain of his skill. He asked how long Matteo knew Helen - though politely didn't prompt any more personal questions than that for fear of reddened ears and an inability to meet the very proud and commanding mother of two. He might not have wondered at all if he hadn't spotted the expression Laura used on him not a few minutes earlier. He'd fallen into more questions about the totems when Liam dashed off.

Lachlan glanced around. He had little experience with smaller villages, growing up wholly in Fough and rarely departing from there. He didn't see anything wrong from this far away but he read the concern in the two women's faces. He looked up at Helen as he spoke and attempted to scoot so she might have a more secure place to stand or sit, his own hands on his belt. The left neared his blade. Light from the village was, indeed, too bright for the time of day. Nearing, Lach's tenuous touch to his blade turned to a proper grip and his jaw tightened. Mouth thin, he took in the sight with mounting horror. The wailing was the worst; their tiny voices rang in his ears like the baleful cries of the lost.

Wounded splayed in the snow, staining white with hideous black. Where bright crimson speckled and dented the snow, Lach averted his gaze. He was sick to his stomach. Not at the sight of blood, but that such devastation could wreak havoc across so many and with no rhyme or reason behind it he could see. No one fought off attackers and whatever had rushed the town vanished. He searched but found no sign of them. He was no tracker. The footsteps marring the hard-packed road meant nothing. The scuffle marks and the fires weren't indications of intent so much as remnants of horror.

Lachlan swallowed the gorge in his throat. He spotted Liam with a young woman and though he barely knew this young man, a flash of Liam's embarrassment at his sister's teasing came to mind. This was his special someone. He trembled with a sense of relief for the young man. She wasn't one of the dead or dying. Small miracles. Liam's gesture and Helen's explanation were the only things that stopped Lachlan from leaping off the wagon and going to help, though the obstacle of getting around either Helen or Matteo and Laura both hampered. "I will help in any way I can." Lachlan offered on the tail end of Matteo's own. He lifted his chin, stubborn and determined. He would not sit around and hide in safety if there were people injured. But he accepted Liam's warning and direction. As soon as he could, he'd be back.

Matteo focused on the path ahead but Lachlan watched the horror in their wake. Too many injured. How many had passed on? What happened? "How long were you away from the village?" He asked quietly as they road. His eyes were on the dead. How many would have been needed to take a village this size quickly? He hadn't really meant to ask out loud, knowing full well how upset she was. But the question niggled in the back of his throat and a bit of his mother's influence showed. She wouldn't have stayed in the cart, no way. She'd have been out in the road carrying the wounded while his father offered water to those too hurt to be safely relocated quickly. He wouldn't have wanted to leave Laura to get home on her own or expect Matteo to take care of the cart himself.

But he wished there was more he could do. Lach spotted the sign proclaiming the Fairfields and memorized the name absently, some small shocked part of him wondering what Laura's father might be like and if they got on well. The way she bolted from the wagon the second she was home spoke volumes. His attention split between watching her slog through the snow and the village's injured. And the blood. He couldn't get the pattern of it out of his mind, the vivid white against scarlet. The stench of smoke and the strangely sweet, iron scent of blood. So faint one might not even smell it, but Lachlan was exceedingly familiar with the scent of iron and smoke. And they had plenty of time driving through the village for the vapors to affix themselves to his nose and perforate anything else.

He hopped off the wagon behind Matteo on the opposite side and around to the back to watch Matteo and await his turn. Matteo's words didn't ease his need to run off and help but he understood the man's warning. They could very easily get underfoot. But any extra pair of hands would help. Any way to speed up the safety of those dying in the street, and those who very well might be saved if given the chance. "I've got it." He nodded. He was in work mode, the way his mother taught him. Feelings and chatter are all well and good after the fact, but during serious matters cooperation and hard work mattered more. Whatever questions Lachlan had fell to the furthest reaches of his mind. He dug out the food and bedrolls, cinching the bedrolls under one arm and the sack hanging from the same hand.

Lach was halfway toward the house when he heard the second request. He nodded without speaking and twisted on one heel to go back the way he came. Going down was easier in the wake of both Matteo's and his own footsteps. He hopped onto the lip of the wagon and sought the crate. Rearranging things, he tucked the bedrolls atop the crate and the food between them, then lifted the crate carefully. He hoped the soft fabric and slight pressure of the bedrolls would keep the vials from bouncing too much in the rags, and he was more than capable of carrying this without taking a second trip. But before he could do so, he spotted Laura fumbling with the wagon.

With only a slight pause he settled everything gently into the wagon, using one bedroll to brace the crate so it wouldn't slide around. Then he loped through the snow to Laura's side and took her hands. "Don't worry about the wagon, I'll take care of it. Surely there are more important things than this to put your hands to." He released them, stepping toward the straps and harnesses. He'd never worked with the before but surely he could figure it out. "And I'm sorry. For whatever happened. We won't go anywhere until you and your entire family are safe and secure." What a promise. Could he even back that up? He had no idea. But he smiled at Laura and nodded his head toward the house, letting his own chapped fingers fight with the straps.

Whether or not she took his advice, he didn't stop to look. The straps were more confusing than expected. Her expertise might have helped him but she seemed too upset to concentrate and she could get hurt that way. He smoothed his fingers over the tauros' side and murmured, "Give me a few minutes and I'll have you toasty warm and unbound." It took upwards of five minutes to finagle the last of the harness and straps but finally the tauros was released and the wagon tilted with the lost weight of the beast. Lach did the opposite of what he remembered Matteo doing when they set out from Miramossa, resetting everything that should keep the wagon from running off. Then he pulled out the bedrolls, food, and crate and locked up the back.

Finally everything was settled and the packages situated in his arms. He didn't feel comfortable setting the crate on the snow to shut the gate, but couldn't shut it on his own. He resolved to run back to close it as soon as he finished setting everything inside. He didn't rush, though he wanted to, using the pathway Matteo and Laura had broken to ease his way. He set everything just to the right of the doorway on the interior, so it wouldn't be in the way but also not so hard to spot they would kick it if they walked past. Then he bolted back to the barn and locked up properly, running again to the house. The extra exercise kept his blood pumping and warmed him up against the ever present chill of the northern weather.

Man, he missed the heat of a good forge. Oh, well. Before he entered the Fairfield's home, he stomped off as much of the snow and muck from his shoes as he could. "Matteo? Laura?" He called as he scraped. "Everything in the barn is settled and I have our bedrolls." He didn't mention the crate; obviously he had that. "What can I do?" No doubt later tonight he would weep for the dead and wounded. Visceral nightmares would plague him. If he slept at all after everything, it would be a miracle or bone-deep exhaustion. Right now, though, he couldn't think beyond what he could offer as assistance. And though questions burned inside, demanding to find out what happened and who did this, they remained unasked. Matteo was right in that respect. No questions would do. Too much else mattered, took priority over answering his inquiries.

(note to self: end of this post lach is level 1, and 0/4 posts with Rhea taking the effect of being sleepy)

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Namid and his Travels
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Adelulf
 Posted: Jun 21 2016, 08:07 PM
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[+0.7 exp]

Matteo's performance review


Lachlan's quiet question initially fell on deaf ears as they had neared the Fairfield home. The horror that filled the other section of the village clouded all thoughts in Laura's mind. It wasn't until Lachlan's large hands enclosed her own small pair that she addressed it in a fashion.

She took a deep, slow breath as Lachlan offered her a reprieve, and with it some of the shaking in her hands stilled. ”Honestly no there isn't anything more for me to do. Someone had to make sure the house was safe, and my father isn't home so he is either out helping already or...or...” The young woman choked back a sob but the tears fell freely down her face, freezing to her cheeks. She refused to wipe them away however, gently freeing her hands from Lachlan's instead and setting back to work.

“Thank you, Lachlan. I know your words are true and that you grieve with us. I just don't understand it. We couldn't have been gone much longer than a couple hours. Even raiders haven't done nearly this much damage before.”

With the smith's aid, Laura had the wagon unhinged and the barn open in short order. She set the pokemon up into one of the many stalls while Lach handled the wagon itself. She attempted to assist with carrying the items from the cart but this time Lachlan's nature would win out and she would be left to help pack down the snow before him further.

Inside the air was warm and the décor very...well homey. The lighter colored wood made everything seem a bit brighter in the fire light, even with Matteo casting a huge shadow from it as he crouched over a pot of water. The merchant seemed to have transformed himself into a chef and was handily dicing a multitude of vegetables into the pot as the water came to a boil. When Lachlan stepped inside with the goods, he hurried over and snatched the bag of food stuffs from the pile.

”Excellent, thank you ever so much, my good man. We should have something nice ready for everyone by the time they get back so long as a certain something isn't frozen solid.” He pulled a bundle from within the bag and unwrapped it, revealing what seemed to be a well and dead combusken. Judging by the pleased sound when he poked it, the beast wasn't frozen and would no doubt be the main ingredient in his soup. Matteo tossed the bird over to Laura without a word and she set about plucking the pokemon with an efficiency Lachlan could understand came from long practice.

Other than preparing the food however, there was little to do and the pair seemed to have that well in hand. The most Lachlan could potentially do was set up the things from the wagon in a spare room Laura would point out off to the opposite side of the hearth. Once that was done, waiting was the last remaining option.

----

It was nearly an hour more before the crunching of footfalls could be heard nearing the door. Laura sat straight in her chair by the large center table with her eyes locked on the entryway. A few stomps on the step stone preceded the opening of the door and a man of similar size to Lachlan was the first to enter, followed by Helen. When no others entered and the door closed, Laura immediately posed the first question. ”Where is Liam?”

Her father, Richard if the sign out front was correct, responded with soft, but weary words. ”Be at peace, my dear. He is helping Isabelle and her family repair a bit of damage to their roof before they have to start shoveling snow from their home. He will be staying with them for the night but is in good hands, as you know.” He glanced at his two guests and extended a hand toward Matteo. Richard paused as he caught sight of the streaks of blood still frozen along his forearm. Laura hurried to collect a large bowl, filling it with snow from outside and setting it by the fire to melt. ”Ah, it is good to see you again, Matteo, though I wish the circumstances were not as such. Please forgive our state, we haven't had time to clean up, as you might imagine.”

The merchant tossed in a few herbs into the soup and a handful of diced onion before waving off the other man's apologies. ”Don't fret about such trivial things as a bit of mess, my old friend. Just relax for now. Dinner should be ready soon. My companion and I kept your seats warmed for you in your absence. Speaking of which, might I introduce Lachlan Manitou, a skilled smith from Fough Place and honest traveling partner.”

Matteo would extend a hand toward Lachlan, giving him an opening to include his own introductions to the head of the household. Richard was similar in build to Lachlan, though likely from logging rather than working at an anvil. A beard, twice as thick as Matteo's own, covered his face but it was well groomed with a few streaks of grey hidden among the brown beneath of dusting of snow. His hair was cut short and matched the color of his beard. Warm blue eyes met Lachlan's, but that warmth was dulled by pain he was holding within.

The patriarch gave a nod of his head in response to Lachlan's greeting and returned it. ”Well met, Lachlan of Fough. Please make yourself at home. A friend of Matteo's is a friend of the Fairfield Family. Now excuse me, I have some cleaning to do.”

Richard picked up the bowl from the ground, the snow having quickly melted within, and his wife snagged up a few rags lying about. They both took seats at the table and set to wiping the filth and gore from each others' limbs. Laura sat still beside them, unsure as to what to do next, or what questions to ask. Even Matteo was silent, solemnly stirring the soup in front of him. None would speak until the residence were finished cleaning themselves and disposing of their waste outside.

Again Laura was the one to breach the topic first. Her words were barely audible, hardly more than a heavy breath past her lips. ”I saw some of my friends lying in the snow, Papa.”

The older man's eyes and lips pressed shut. Sorrow was etched into every crease and wrinkle on his face. Strong as his body appeared, for the moment we was a striking image of weakness. He battled both with his own feelings of what he had seen and the fact that he now had to face the pain of his child. It was a monster even the bravest of pokemon handlers trembled before, one that could drain your soul just as surely as a Chandelure. Still, the father turned to take his daughter into a mighty embrace.

”I know, Sweetheart. I am sorry. We will help tend to the wounded and honor those lost tomorrow, I promise. For now, let us enjoy a meal with our family and friends, and be thankful for what we have tonight, when others now sit beside empty seats.” Helen made silent work of setting the table as her family comforted one another. As she passed by Lachlan, she would set a hand upon his shoulder, as he was not one to hide his emotions, and gave him a small smile. It was both meant to reassure and thank all at once.

Matteo would waste little time pulling the pot over to start serving everyone seated. As he did so, he posed a question of his own. ”I apologize for remaining on this topic during dinner, but does anyone know what happened? I couldn't make any sense of the damage done.”

It was Helen's turn to respond.
”No one understands what happened, but all accounts say a tornado ripped through town. Which is impossible, since they are rare in these parts even when the weather is prime for spawning them, let alone mid winter. But that is what happened it seems.”

”I was told be Stevenson that it started at the Inn.” Richard started to add. ”He was leaving it he said, halfway out the door, when he overheard a fellow inside talking to another patron about needing to get ahead of the storm, but his friend said it couldn't happen. 'Nowhere else close enough to take shelter before it hit.' He said. Stevenson he turned back to agree and saw the fellow fiddling with some odd little statue shaped like a man sitting on a cloud or something of the like. Next thing he knows he was flung out the door by a massive gust of wind and the Inn was being torn to shreds.”

As Richard mentioned the odd device, Matteo fumbled the ladle and nearly lost it into the pot. He recovered it and composed himself with an apologetic nod, but his face had gone pale. ”You say this fellow was trying to get out of town in a hurry? And he had a strange statue in his hand?”

Richard nodded.

Matteo filled the last bowl and set the soup back atop the fire. The man's legs nearly gave out on him as he took his seat. ”Sweet Arceus above...I think I know what happened...”



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Kaia
 Posted: Aug 30 2016, 02:42 AM
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(Okay, Abra egg is count 1, Starter egg is count 7. Starter egg receives 12 counts for Lach leveling up four times via schism posts to make it 19. Abra receives an extra...three? six? I'll go with three. Three counts for being present for at least one of Lachlan's level ups so Abra is now at count 4. Feel free to hold off on hatching the egg if you'd like, or go ahead if it seems to fit. Whatever works ^_^)



Lachlan did indeed spend some of that hour setting up the spare room with his things and Matteo's. He also unpacked and reorganized his bag so it filled out properly, as well as checked on the egg he'd discovered on the way to Miramossa. Not frozen at all. Still quite warm, in fact. That might have contributed to Lachlan keeping it on his person and under his cloak at all times thus far but maybe it was simply warm with life. He tucked it into his bed pallet so it would continue to stay toasty warm then headed to the front room where Laura and Matteo made dinner. He would offer to help where he could but if waved off would instead find some place to sit and stretch out on the floor. His mind would wander all over the place.

What happened to the town? Even an outsider could tell something was wrong. Poor Laura and Helen worrying about their family members and having so much fall on their shoulders. Lachlan found himself grateful Matteo was such a generous and kind man. No doubt Matteo stuck around and saw everything through when tragedy struck. Another, more greedy seller might simply move on and never look back. Having an honest person for a temporary employer eased a lot of Lachlan's fears. At least right now he could be of use and had someone to back him up.

Richard's arrival brought Lachlan to his feet with blood rushing to his head. First danger shot adrenaline through his veins, then relief cooled the sudden flush of his skin. The quiet sort, Lach held back while Richard and Matteo spoke. However once introduced he stepped forward and took Richard's hand. "Pleasure to meet you. I mean, not--I'm very sorry. For everything that's happened." His shoulders tightened and his jaw twitched. "Anything you need, I'm here to help. I'm sorry for the inconvenience of our arrival." Awkward to say the least. But hopefully his sincerity won out the duel against the slack jaw.

As the adults cleaned off Lachlan kept to the far side of the room against the wall, hands fidgeting in front of him. Out of place was putting it mildly. Kind as Richard had been Lachlan was not a people person and being in a stranger's home during such a painful time weighed heavily on him. Tears welled in his eyes and crashed down his cheeks as Laura and Richard discussed the dead they knew and already sorely missed. This was--brutal. Lachlan had gone out to the world to explore. Yet the first day with Matteo landed him in a place full of sorrow. Was this what the world was like? People died and loved ones wept?

He wondered...

Helen startled him with a hand on one shoulder but he took it as the comfort she offered, his face a wash of pain and worry. He couldn't help the bare emotion though he scrubbed quickly at his face before going to the table to eat. The story of what happened baffled Lachlan. How could anyone know a storm was going to hit? And a tornado? Lachlan had never once seen such a disaster, nor had he heard of the like. Supposedly it happened in flat lands and such but fought was built into a cliff and he'd never been further than that until last week. The closest he'd seen was a tsunami on the water's edge on the route outside Fough Place. Even then he'd been miles away and had gone home immediately to the safe elevation.

But it was Matteo's reaction that startled him the most. Statue? Mattteo sold statues exclusively--though none human shaped, now Lach thought of it. "What was it?" He asked quietly, face red. He kept his eyes on the table. "If...if there's something we can do, please tell me. I want to help." Lach couldn't even take a bite of the delicious smelling soup under his nose. All he thought about were the dead strewn about in the street and the look of fear on Laura's face. The way she wept when she thought her father might never come home. Even Helen, strong and proud as she was, had looked crestfallen when they'd arrived in town. "Whatever's happening, we have to stop it. Right?"

The question he directed to Matteo, though he flushed brighter red if anyone so much as glanced his way. After everyone's kindness and the sorrow still carved on every face at the table it was the very least he could offer.

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Namid and his Travels
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Adelulf
 Posted: Sep 28 2016, 01:17 PM
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Joined on 8-April 14.


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Leodel "Leo" Degen, Rodric Steiner "Hatchet", Reva of Fough

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[+0.7 exp. I’ll start planning for the egg intro in the next post or two!]


Matteo’s hands were visibly shaking as he buried his face in them. Between his elbows his bowl of soup sat half eaten. Lachlan’s question hung in the air for a moment before settling over everyone at the table. The artisan didn’t respond until after a heavy, quaking sigh. “Were any of you able to attend the Grand Festival celebrations that were held outside Cape Augustine? I’m sure you had festivities held locally, but did you travel instead?”

His face was taut, expression grim. From around the table the Fairfields all shook their heads. Matteo’s eyes fell to his soup and he stared into the opaque surface, hands wringing as they rested on the table. His voice was quiet when he continued but his voice carried well enough given the near silence in the home.

“The Cape holds the largest of the celebrations in Harper, as I’m sure you are all aware. The events and vendors draw in absolutely immense crowds and attention. This year however, there was an unfamiliar tent pitched near the heart of the meadow. Bobbles, statues and trinkets dangled within like a thousand spiders on their webs and chests sat open and full to the brim with much the same. Visitors were encouraged to take a single item of their choosing, free of charge. I can’t imagine how many hundreds or possibly thousands partook of the offer. Normally, being a merchant myself, I’m not against a bit of a giveaway now and again; but this wasn’t some casual artisan’s stall.”

The man’s eyes rose again, the typical warmth within them hardened and dark. “This tent was owned by the Mage Guild. Every single item within it was a creation of their making. I remember seeing a totem very similar to what you just described hanging within.”

Matteo let the information sink in. Lachlan, whether he had made it to the Cape or not, would have known about the Mage items from previous discussions with Matteo as they discussed his own similar wares. This connection did however mean the discord starting to sweep the region had now reached this small village.

“As far as I can figure,” Matteo said, “the trinket must have malfunctioned. I saw a man on the road running faster than a dodrio while holding one of those and he didn’t spawn a weather phenomenon anywhere near him.”

Richard was the first to react. “Sweet Arceus, you’re saying magic did this? That there could be more of those in town?”

Matteo shrugged and nodded at the same time. “Yes, not that this was the intention of the magic. Word is some are breaking and causing horrible consequences for the wielder. Of course, the Mage Guild isn’t too worried about that since this was all a test for them as they push the boundaries of elemental magic and the like. And yes, there could be more but that’s hard to know. This fellow that had this totem sounded like he was just passing through.”

Lach’s employer turned to him them, his shoulders dropping as he leaned back in his chair. “As for my business, I doubt I’ll be the only one to come to this conclusion, so it will be best if I didn’t try to sell anything for a time here in town. My wares aren’t affiliated with those that were given away, but I don’t think some folks will bother to make that distinction. As for you, my friend, I am sure there is still rubble to clear and a strong pair of arms can always come in handy. Aside from that, there is really nothing else we can do. No villain to stop here and no real way to right a wrong we didn’t commit.”

Silence would take the family once more, leaving Lachlan the only one to potentially offer more for a time. Helen would chime back in soon enough.


“Well, at least that answers the most pressing questions.” Helen’s bowl sat empty before her. “And in that case, all we can do for now is finish our meals, regain our strength, and get a full night’s rest. Then we prepare for tomorrow. The two of you can just leave your bowls where they are when you’re finished. I’ll clean them in the morning. Sleep well.” She stood then and made her way to her own room. The other two Fairfields mulled over what had been said for a bit longer before finishing their own soup and following Helen’s example. Both wished Matteo and Lachlan a fair night.

Lachlan would be left alone in the room a moment later as his patron slurped the dregs of his meal down and went about rummaging through the items they had carried inside. If Lachlan hurried, he would be able to catch the fellow tucking a bastiodon pendant into his cloak as he hung the garment on the door. Matteo would check the vials Lachlan had brought inside and then settle himself down to sleep. Even in the dark though, it would be clear that the man was far from the cusp of slumber. This would leave he and Lachlan alone in their silent room until the smith either broke that silence, or succumb to rest.

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My Split Personalities
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