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Character Count: 101
Ml: 48 - Fml: 51 - Oth: 2
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Season: Autumn

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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 Diana "Talia" Stoneseeker's Travels, KoroSensei
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 Posted: Jun 14 2017, 07:49 AM
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Aneirin "Nirin/Nye" Vaughan

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{ welcome to harper again, koro! you should know the deal with everything. don't forget to keep an egg count! }

roleplay sample


Once Barrie was done with the clear ‘formalities’ of this conversation, she glanced over her shoulder at one of her most trusted Rogues – a man skinny and unassuming, with dark, mussed up hair. His hair fell lazily into his eyes and he gave an eyebrow raise at Barrie, but said nothing. She turned her face back to Talia and gave a smile, “I do actually have a rather interesting errand that you might be perfect for. Shall I inform you of it?” Barrie, of course, asked the rhetorical question without really expecting an answer. She turned and took a few steps towards a rather well furnished chair. She took a seat, letting the fabric of her normal looking, but outwardly classier clothes, fall around her.

"From what I’ve been hearing, there’s a rather small gathering going on tonight, just down the way from here. A lieutenant is holding a rather interesting little get together for some newly commissioned junior guardians. Nothing super fancy; semi-formal, at best, but you’ll be rubbing shoulders with guardians who are just up and coming.

"What I’d like for you to do is to go with my friend behind me – his name is Joshua – to go with you to this… guardian party and get as much information as you can, without openly saying ‘look, I’m not an actual guardian.’ I have some word that there’s going to be a raid of guardians on a Masque location, so I want you to just follow up for me,”
Barrie pointed out. When Joshua’s name came up, the man behind her shuffled in his spot and tugged at his clothes as if trying to make a name or an appearance for himself to Talia.

Of course, before the older woman prone on a knee could say anything, Valarie was speaking again, “Unless, of course, you find this too much of a challenge for you, I’m sure we can find something a little… easier, per se.”

Valarie Barrie would then let Talia answer. If Talia decided to go with the guardian party scenario, she might earn extra merits with Valarie and the Order of the Masque. Then again, who knew what sort of Pokemon or adventures Talia could get into if she decided to go with an easier task? Whichever she wanted to choose, Valarie Barrie was waiting for Talia Stoneseeker’s answer.

--------------------
Aneirin "Nirin/Nye" Vaughan
profile | travels | dev | training

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Korosensei
 Posted: Jun 18 2017, 07:32 PM
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Stupidface McNoctowl
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Talia was definitely not expecting the next words out of Barrie's mouth.

Getting accepted into the Order meant that she would have to do strange things. She knew this, but a Guardian party right off the bat? It was ludicrous at first glance. She was far older than the average Guardian, and between her age and her stature, she was likely to be noticed nearly immediately. It felt almost like she was being thrown into a soiree of Caledonian nobles with nothing but her wits to keep her safe. If this was a test, it was certainly a high-risk one.

And yet, she would have to accept it. She knew the patronizing tone Barrie then adopted as she implied that the mission might be too hard. There was always the possibility that Barrie was testing Talia's ego, seeing if she would deliberately take on a mission that was too difficult for her because of her prior station, but that was not what drove Talia forward. If she asked for something easier, she would likely get stuck in a rut, taking on deliveries and simple things best suited for those without a lifetime of experience of conniving. Talia could do far more than that, and showing Barrie could help her move up the ranks of the Order.

"I'll take the party," she confirmed her choice, "but there is more I will need to know. How will I get in, given that this lieutenant is likely to have security, and is there a way to convince this group of Guardians who all know each other that I am one of them?" She did not mean for Barrie to do all the work, of course, but by showing her thought process, perhaps Barrie might be more inclined to see her as valuable, and thus, worth helping.

She looked to Joshua for answers as well, noting the way he held himself and the nondescript clothing he wore. She would listen to him carefully, trusting in his expertise, but she would also try to shine on her own and demonstrate her own merit. Too long had she depended on the merits and deeds of others to create her reputation; now, it was time to do it herself.

Not quite by herself, she realized as she contemplated the egg inside the bag that she already wanted to protect, and the poke ball Barrie had given her upon joining the Order. The ball was warm, making Talia suspect a fire-type, but she considered her location and doubted it. Why would there be a fire-type in Maritime? It would just make her stand out. Mentally, she ran through a list of types, wondering what kind of pokemon she would get to train as her own. It would be her first pokemon to train by herself, and the curiosity began to eat at her as she wondered what it could possibly be.

Soon, the curiosity became too much. She hoped she didn't presume too much as she said,
"I would want to know who my partner is on this mission before I depart," relishing the warmth of the poke ball in her hand as she sought approval. Once she obtained it, she would press the white button in the center of the ball, wondering what Barrie would see fit to give her. Thoughts and ideas churned in her mind, but when the red light resolved, only one remained.

You smell like home.

She looked down at the small creature, a bittersweet smile cracking her face as she beheld the numel. How could Barrie have known exactly what she wanted? A common fire-type, one that often worked with its handler to maintain heat at a forge or a smithy, generally regarded as a working man's pokemon - and it was beloved to her for that exact reason. She had never seen one so small - this one looked like little more than a baby - and its eyes widened as it looked up at its new handler.

"Numel?" the pokemon said softly, the voice feminine enough for Talia to recognize that it was a girl.

"Hello, little one," Talia whispered, nearly overcome with emotion. But there was a part of her that knew this numel, this sweet taste of her past, would be a test as well. How would she deal with a pokemon she used to see every day when she lived peacefully with her brother and sons, a pokemon she knew all too well and whose mere sight threatened to bring tears to her eyes? She had to look tough for Barrie, not like some sniveling widow.

Then again, it would help the "blacksmith's widow" disguise quite well. She would say this numel was bred from her husband's camerupt, if anyone asked - and, if not for the distance between her current location and her former home, she might even suspect that Barrie would think of something like that to trip her up. According to her pokecard, however, the egg moves were different from the one that used to work near Thomas' forge, so her fleeting thought was good for nothing more than something to bolster her disguise.

And to make her feel more confident. Somehow, with the frightened-looking baby numel by her side, Talia felt strong. Her memories were a weak point, yes, and the one weakness that would be easiest to exploit, but they could also be a great strength. Her thoughts of Thomas and her boys would propel her forward, and the little numel would remind her that the world would continue to turn, and there would always be more to fight for.

"Zuna," she eventually said as she looked down at the numel, recalling the name and its meaning from her homeland, and the small turtle pokemon crouched near her legs, accepting the name and seeking comfort from her new handler.

She turned to Joshua once the numel settled down, asking simply, "How would you like to begin?" She had her own ideas, of course, but deference was important in this early stage. She couldn't let Barrie see her as a Stoneseeker woman who still sought something above her station. At least until the Trictess left, she would be a model of obedience and restraint.

And once she was gone, well. Only time could tell what Talia would do with her new life.

--------------------

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Rosalie
 Posted: Jul 5 2017, 04:11 PM
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.7!

Valarie let Talia speak, the picture of a young and proper Lady-in-waiting whose parents dearly hoped to make her the Queen-in-waiting instead. With impecable taste and unconscious grace, Barrie let the questions sit just a single beat too long as she looked over the exile's face below her. Then, delicately but firmly, Valarie turned ever so slightly away from her and asserted, "Diana Stoneseeker, as I undertand it, you have been playing at the position of commoner for quite a long time. It is understandable, then, that your mistake is one of a simple forgetfulness. This time, I will pay it no mind but remind you that here, in Harper and exile, you are no more noble than the commonest dirt and you are speaking to the heir to a noble house and in line for the throne. Our region is unified as yours is not."

The reminder would be as good as a slap for her demanding questions and recall to Talia abruptly that her homeland was not only ill regarded in this region, but also that the ranks of upper nobility here exceeded those of the smaller kings of Caledon beneath their High King's rule by virtue of their unity and far more expansive holdings. Valarie would nod, and let the moment pass. She was Trictess here, yes, and had forgone many of the formalities, but the reminder of manners stood. With a gesture, Joshua stepped forward.

"Joshua, she is eager to be seen as a clever woman. This, we can indulge. The identity you were to supply to her will no longer be necessary. In this, she may have the latitude to conduct this as she sees fit... Do not allow her to get herself killed, of course. She is still under my purview." Or perhaps she had not entirely let the slight pass out of mind.

Joshua nodded and agreed with a quick 'ma'am' and waited until Barrie had turned and left with her remaining people to walk over to Talia. Once he had, he offered the old woman his arm carefully and without deference. "Looks like you're my mess now, hey? Take care with her, if you've any sense. You come to the Order instead of seeing asylum from her parents, you oughtn't expect to speak to the Lady like an equal. Jus' be sure to make it up to her, somehow. She doesn't hold grudges... well, not often anyway. Usually fixes 'em before they last long enough to become a grudge."

Once Talia was standing again, and likely with a sore knee and some creaking of old and abused joints, Joshua nodded that she should meet her pokemon. It was a good thing she had waited to do so until the Lady had left -- no doubt it would have gone badly. Talia might have come for freedom from her past, but if she expected to find freedom from nobility she ought to have chosen another Trick.

"Its your call, lady, Madam Barrie said you were to have the run of this, so I'll keep to myself on this one. Since you're new in town, though, I'll tell you that the Guard have outposts all over the artsy streets in the city that aren't all manned all the time. Makes the folks what come for touring or vacations feel better about themselves." He gave her a grin before apparently remembering that she wasn't really a rogue and probably didn't really know what that meant and continuing back on the topic, "Their little party's gonna be ouside tonight on account'a the weather, in the gardens east of Seadra Square. S'private property, that, one of them has a house and a bit of land there inherited from family. Your call what comes next and who you want 'em to think you'd be when we show up all innocent and smelling of flowers. If that's how you wanna do it."

He held the warehouse door for her. If she chose to stick around this area, on the fringe of the active industrial areas, she might find several pokemon sneaking through shadows or watching out from rooftops, and even one sunbathing in the middle of the street without a care. That one looked more wild than feral, and certainly too strong to approach. If she chose to head toward the arts district downtown, Joshua would follow her, occasionally giving a tip on whre to turn and picking pockets as he went (not that Talia would be likely to notice the latter). They would end up at a Guardian outpost near the Bard's Hall where performing minstrels with the favor of the nobles would play. They were closed today, and with a wink, Joshua would tell her that this particular on was empty. He'd ask how she thought she'd like to get inside to pick up the necessaries of a uniform.



http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/skin_images/726_zps8qhqql5o.png Lv. 30 http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/e335252.gif
- subathing
- relaxed, but clearly comfortable with his dominance of the area


http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/278wingull.png Lv.07 http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/e335251.gif
- Flying above, looking for a spot to land on a roof

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/109koffing.png Lv.03 http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/e335252.gif
- Hovering in a shadow out of the day's heat, dozing

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/324torkoal.png Lv. ??
- glow from its shell barely visible in the gloom of an old building with a hole in the wall.

--------------------


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Korosensei
 Posted: Jul 7 2017, 02:16 PM
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In the single beat between when Talia finished speaking and Trictess Barrie began, Talia could tell that she had made a mistake.

She recognized the pause that often meant I dominate this conversation, and its secondary message of You can wait. Her time was unimportant to the Trictess, as were her questions. The only thing Barrie wanted was information, and that would only come from Talia keeping her mouth shut and getting the job done.

It was a misstep, she realized. She should have saved her questions for later - and, yet, in a way, she was glad she had tested the younger woman, if only to learn more about her new boss. The trictess was eerily calm, not allowing her anger to get at her, a careful and likely trained response. She kept business on the forefront of her mind at all times, and offered not even the smallest bit of leeway for a new employee. And she knew how to test her new people as well, insulting Talia's own status and her home country.

But Talia was not untrained either. She knew to take the mistake, to not even make an attempt to fight back. She knew not to rise to either insult, because that would only give power to her Trictess, and as Barrie implied, she had an awful lot of that already.

The interesting part, in Talia's opinion, came when the trictess informed Joshua to not use the identity she had already constructed for her. Whether or not this was a bluff designed to throw Talia off guard, she soon knew that she would be able to prove herself in this way. If her questions were an ill-received way of showing that she meant business, she would have to take matters into her own hands in this other way. She would have to take the lead on this mission.

She couldn't deny that the thought made her more than slightly nervous. She was in a new country, and every heartbeat reminded her painfully that she was alone. Not the daughter-sister-mother of one of the smaller kingdoms that littered Caledon, but independent, the mistress of her own journey. In a way, this might even be better, she tried to convince herself. She needed a way to regain some of her old confidence.

When Barrie left, Talia intoned her head with a small bow, then stood up, trying to resist the impulse to massage the skin of her knees. She tried to forget the sheer indignity of the time she spent bowed on the ground like she was no one - like she was dirt, as Barrie had said - and decided to try to move forward with the mission.

She only had one weapon beyond the longbow that she would try not to use unless her very life was in danger. The pokemon Barrie had given her was still a mystery, but once she released the numel she soon named Zuna, she felt a spark of hope. No doubt Barrie had given her the numel, a common-as-dirt pokemon, to remind Talia that she was no better. But instead, the numel reminded her of better times, of happier memories that could keep her going throughout the mission and her journey as a whole, provided the little one was by her side.

Her mind made up, she turned to face Joshua once more. After she had chosen to interact with her pokemon rather than respond to his tips with more than a nod of her head, she realized she had to speak now. She couldn't be thought of as rude. "Thank you for your advice," she said, then she dared to ask him about the beginning of the mission.

True to Barrie's word, Joshua seemed almost deferential, another metaphorical slap in the face to Talia. Barrie was the true mistress here, no matter how much Joshua let Talia run the show. She did not have his loyalty, and she would have to trust him before she could have a chance to know him. With the promise of not being "allowed" to die on the mission fresh in her mind, however, she began to plan.

"A less-manned outpost, or preferably an empty one, would be a good place to start," she agreed with Joshua, looking around the area as he spoke, trying to find one of these outposts for herself. She continued to listen to him as he described the party, an outdoor soiree in a private property. A garden, of course - a place where her numel would be about as welcome as an Order rogue in disguise.

Which meant that she couldn't be an Order rogue in disguise. "Smelling of flowers" might not be the best way to go about it - someone trying too hard to make themselves not seem suspicious could wind up doing exactly the opposite - but she had to come up with something, some way to get herself into the party in the gardens long enough to hear what the Trictess wanted. "A disguise would be a good idea, although due to my age, my options might be somewhat limited." She didn't beat around the bush at all; new Guardians were not likely to be her age, and her aching knee reminded her of that with every step. "It would be odd for someone my age to join, so I'll either need an alibi so perfect the Queen wouldn't see through it, or a relation to a new Guardian - a mother, a servant, a nanny." None of these could be executed particularly well alone, however, which meant that Talia would need to rely on Joshua for at least part of this. "Is it safe to assume you would be going in with me?"

Alone, her alibi was weaker. But, alone, she might also have the opportunity to prove herself more, to rely on her own strength and cunning to get through the day.

For now, however, that step was still too far to consider. "We will need Guardian uniforms for any means of infiltration - unless you already have one?" she asked. "Perhaps we should check the outposts near here to see if any of them are unmanned." They were still near where she had first seen Barrie, who likely preferred to do her business dealings out of the sight of inquisitive Guardians. Then again, she had the perfect alibi and no shortage of confidence, so perhaps it didn't even bother her.

She looked around the immediate area, her gaze falling on a strange pokemon she had never seen before. Her pokecard told her it was a torracat, a fire-type like the numel who sat beside her, seemingly also sunning herself. The torracat looked so comfortable with its dominance that it could fall asleep in broad daylight and nothing would hurt it. A pokemon like that, she knew, would be amazing in the Order, with the confidence of a trictess and enough strength to back it up. She didn't dare challenge it, not with her untested numel, but she couldn't resist remarking about it. "That's a fine pokemon, no doubt about it - no handler, no measure of safety, but all the confidence in the world." Her words wouldn't go beyond admiration, but perhaps Joshua might be able to tell from her tone and her unwavering gaze on the cat pokemon that she would feel pride in having a pokemon like that on her team.

She noticed other pokemon in the area, but made no other remarks about them. The koffing stank, and although it would be helpful to have more than one pokemon on her team for the new mission, she doubted that a disgusting-smelling pokemon would help her fit in. It was, she realized with a small chuckle, the exact opposite of how Joshua had told her to fit in, smelling of flowers. The slight glow from the back of the warehouse intrigued her slightly, but the glow was most likely coming from another fire-type pokemon. Unless it was truly remarkable, like the torracat in the street, she was unlikely to want another fire-type on her team. The wingull in the air was interesting, especially because of the vast type difference, but she would have to watch it for several moments to see if it was the right caliber of pokemon to add to her team. She didn't have much time to waste, but she would observe the wingull for a short while (and her eyes would return to the torracat, much as she tried to pretend they weren't).

After that short time, if the wingull didn't seem to be of the correct caliber for her team, and if the torracat was still out of her league, she would follow Joshua to the arts district, trying to remember which ways they turned as they passed through the town. An empty outpost was certainly promising, but the fact that she didn't know how to pick locks meant that she would have to be creative about getting in. "I'll look for pokemon lookouts, but I don't want to be seen conspicuously messing with the lock. An accident from a fire-type is another story," she mused, her voice soft. She would peer around and see if there were any pokemon in this new area, whether owned or wild, before she would investigate the lock to see if her numel's fire would be able to break through whatever kept the door shut.

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Rosalie
 Posted: Jul 20 2017, 07:36 AM
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It's a box of spiders.
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[.5! This last reply was probably twice as long as it needed to be and suffered a lot in quality/effectiveness/readability for it, and messed up the timeline set up in my last update -- remember that length isn't the same as quality! http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/emoticons/1.png ]


Joshua looked at her, an expression of concern on his face a she mentioned ideas for a disguise that barely concealed amusement. "A disguise? Naw, old broads long past their sell-by date show up in secret blueback parties all the time here!" He started to grin, then glanced over her once and gave it up promptly, reminded that she was Not One Of Them. Probably never would be, really, at her age. He shrugged it off and leaned on the wall while she mused.

"Oh yeah, I'll be here. But you gotta remember that my job isn't to help your alibi, lady. I'll be in my usual kit, just makin' sure no one stuffs you in the dungeon before my Madam gets the chance!" He tipped her a wink, and folded his arms. Without knowing exactly how much he had been told about her and her past -- and her reasons for showing up on the doorstep of the Trictess in the first place out of all possible and more viable options -- there was little that Talia could do to argue. She was a grown woman, though, and was clearly expected to have the competence to match her age. She would have to hope she could live up to the expectation.

Outside the warehouse, he took one look at the torracat and started to back away to a different route -- and then noticed the old woman had decided to stand there, right in the middle of the way, staring directly at it and pulling her pokecard out. He shook his head in disbelief, hooked her arm and dragged her off after him before the fire type's narrow-eyed glare at the staring became an insult. "You crazy old broad, don't you know anything about wild pokemon? Just leave it alone, don't go starting a staring contest or nothin' -- the damn thing'll eat you fast as blinking, bein' in its territory and all." Joshua pointedly rolled his eyes and refused to listen to either explanation or complaint at the abrupt and rough handling that would all but prevent her from so much as seeing the other wild pokemon in the area.

He gestured for her to follow him, and led into the arts district to the outpost by the theater, informed her with a wink and a click of the tongue that this one in particular was empty. He smoothly ignored her question about the uniform and outposts, considering the answers obvious considering where he'd taken her, and stepped back with a quick courtesy, "You do your work, lady, I'll mind for scouts." A tap to his belt and a bright eyed rattata was out. It needed no orders or direction after a glance around, and scurried up to a perch just on the edge of the roof's overhang where his sharp eyes and clever nose could keep watch.

The lock was, indeed, something that a numel's fire could break. Once Talia released the numel, Zuna would take some time but little enough real trouble to handle the lock, reducing the metal contraption to a red-hot melted blob of slag and the wood around it to fragile charcoal. The door swung open under its own weight without any remaining latching mechanism and would reveal a small space that looked like little more than a booth with a desk and chair and small brazier and accompanying paraphernalia meant clearly for heating the small space in the heart of winter or for warming water to steep tea herbs. An alcove contained spare uniforms. Talia was unlikely to notice, but they had dust on all their shoulders, indicating that Joshua had known they would not be missed and would be safe to pick from. Nothing would fit her perfectly, but there was one that was slightly long and loose and another that was slightly short and tight enough to be somewhat restrictive. Either could be made to serve so long as she wasn't planning to imitate someone of wealth.

When she emerged, the rattata would hop down, cheekily using her shoulder as a spare step before leaping to Joshua's for a berry and being returned to its ball. He nodded to her and cast a glance at the lengthening shadows. "All set there, I see. We ought to get a move on -- runnin' outta daylight. You can change in the alleys once we get close to the Square and then get into the garden however you like. I'll leave you once you're in the area and meet up with you once you're inside. If'n you get into trouble, well, scream." Another almost-joke.

Once they were close, true to his word, Joshua would leave her with a nod so she could change. If she approached from the front gate, a young and clearly new page would challenge her for entry to state her name and rank before letting her through. She could also push through a hedge if she didn't mind potentially dirtying the uniform a bit, or even sneak in through the servants' entrance in the back gate, unlocked for deliveries and to facilitate the staff and kitchen boys in their serving efforts.

From there, it was up to her to select an appropriate group to begin interacting with. There were three young men who were almost certainly the aforementioned new junior guardians hovering near a table with a fruit platter and cups of ale in their hands, insisting to one another that they weren't nervous as young men do, with bawdy jokes and familiar ribbing. A group of older, clearly senior guardians sat arrayed on the patio, trading news -- one was from Cypwater but had been born in Seaway, another on leave from Navdia and boasting the beautiful dusky skin and thick braids to prove it. The three others were Seaway natives, from the conversation, and were engaged in a sort of casual and friendly pissing contest over who had seen the strangest and most complicated jobs in their years.

The lieutenant himself, identifiable by a badge and formal cap, was a middle aged woman with fire-red hair like wires that was severely braided and pinned without a wisp out of place. She was deep in conversation already with -- Talia would have to do a double take. Joshua, with perfect posture and non of the casual slouch, wearing a decorated uniform and dressed to the nines with his rattata on his shoulder and clearly respected enough to have the lieutenant's confidence. They had strayed off to the side at the edge of the firelight where the gardens were beginning to be cloaked in shadow while the sun set. Talia could not hear their conversation, but saw them toast, tapping the rims of their wine goblets together briefly and smile despite their otherwise serious expressions.

A passing maid would offer her a cup of spirits of her choice and then a boy would pass with small sandwiches and offer her those too. She would notice that only small pokemon were out of their pokeballs for the night -- Joshua's rattata, a togedemaru in the Cypwater guardsman's lap, and a lazy sandslash sprawled out asleep between two of the senior guards' chairs. The only anomaly was a long and sleek serperior who didn't seem beholden to anyone in particular lounging mostly in a fountain of cool water just beyond the circle of firelight.


http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/19rattata.png ? ?
- Joshua's

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/777_zpstbrbuezb.png ? ?
- Belongs to the Cypwater Senior Guardsman

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/28sandslash.png ? ?
- Sleeping, sprawled out, probably the Navdian's

http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/497.png ? ?
- Bathing in the pool, may or may not be owned; paying no attention to anyone

--------------------


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Korosensei
 Posted: Jul 24 2017, 01:09 PM
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[[OOC: Thanks for the feedback! Let's see if I can do better this time http://files.jcink.net/uploads/harperregion/sprites/emoticons/1.png ]]

Eggs Count (Starter and Horsea): 3

Talia kept her mouth shut when Joshua offered his thoughts about her disguise, and similarly, about the torracat. As Joshua pulled her away, she shook her head, trying to clear her mind. It had been a long time since she'd needed to focus like this, but keeping herself in line would be the only way to keep herself alive.

She followed Joshua to the locked outpost, giving Zuna instructions to break the lock and smiling a little as the numel got the job done. Sure, it took longer than Talia would have liked, but when she got inside the outpost and realized it was safe to take a uniform, she felt bolstered by her first success, no matter how small. She would shake out some of the uniforms, eventually choosing the too-tall, too-loose one to hopefully make her look slightly taller and not draw too much attention to herself.

Once she had the uniform in her arms, she folded the other one, trying to minimize the fact that the place had been broken into. She then left, waiting for Joshua to lead her to the proper place, and more aware than ever that things were about to escalate a great deal.

It was only after Joshua slipped away that she began to truly doubt herself. Was she cut out for this kind of work, or was she in over her head? The mission was a complicated one, as the Trictess had said, and she hadn't exactly done great in Joshua's eyes so far. She would need to not only complete the mission, but do it well enough to redeem herself in the eyes of Joshua and Blackwell. But was she cut out for that task?

Even though her blood meant nothing in this land, she told herself as she slipped out of her clothes, she was still a lady. A princess, even if her family's old kingdom was only a small swath of land with a single castle in a country more disorganized than her thoughts had been so far. She could do this.

After she changed into the Guardian's uniform, and recalled Zuna for being a fire-type in Maritime and sticking out too much, it was only a short walk to her destination. Eyeing the guard by the door, she recognized the look in his eyes. Young and eager, he could fall into either two types - either studying too hard beforehand and knowing too much, or so scared to be at this function that he knew too little. The only way to know was to stride up to him with all the confidence she could muster and state her name and rank. "Hilary Smidge, Guardian," she would say. She couldn't possibly be a junior Guardian at her age, and Guardian was a safe and encompassing enough rank that she would trust in it - and in the "mom look" she could wield at a moment's notice.

Assuming she was granted entry, she would first notice three young, nervous-looking men who seemed out of place. Perhaps this was their first major gathering? It might be easier to earn their trust, or perhaps their respect, but she didn't quite trust herself to go over there immediately. An old woman seeking the company of young men for no reason might be seen as odd, after all, and the false Guardian knew better than to stick out for any reason. She turned away.

She was startled to see Joshua talking to a very decorated Guardian who she assumed to be the lieutenant. She stood stock-still, evaluating her options again. She needed to pick something, and fast.

Her eyes roved over the senior-looking Guardians quickly. They were likely to know too much, which was too dangerous. She then saw a group of three Guardians telling their most interesting stories, and made the decision to approach them. Stories were something she could do, and with the information they shared, she would hopefully be able to bring something back to Blackwell and redeem herself.

She would take a small sandwich from the boy and a drink from the girl before making her way over to the small group. Respectfully waiting to hear the end of the current story, she would try to join in the banter, interjecting into the group: "That's a good one, but wait until you hear about the kid in Doran who thought he'd try to ride a merchant's kingler in the middle of the square." She was prepared to introduce herself and then begin the true work.

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