Episode 32

In the large back yard behind the two-story house, a swift evuukian man, wielding dual wooden training short swords, repeatedly attacks a stoic grath man holding a large practice blade. Between quick, precise incoming strikes, Trakenthin promptly blocks each motion deftly. Modoran hops away from Trakenthin and rolls his shoulders into an exaggerated stretch. Shaking his head of short, white hair, he draws a smirk across his dusky, bluish gray skin and briefly chuckles. "Damn. You are deceptively fast."

Trakenthin cracks a confident smile and readies his wooden practice sword, a faint muffled laugh slipping out. "You are an acceptable challenge."

Rolling his dark blue eyes, Modoran brushes the hair off his long, pointed ears. "I will take that as a compliment, from you."

He changes his stance and carefully analyzes Trakenthin's body language, waiting, seeking. The two combatants maintain cautious watch of the other, searching for the opportunity. Both launch into flurries of movement. Loud, dull thunks sound out from training equipment clashing into each other. Keeping low, Modoran dashes around Trakenthin in circular motions, broken by lunges at a perceived opening. Holding his ground, Trakenthin swiftly intercepts Modoran's assaults with his practice blade and furrows his calculating brow. He tenses up, directs all his focus upon Modoran's approach, and swings out. With cunning deftness, Modoran shifts his momentum and forces his body into an evasive dodge, diving out of the way of the incoming blade. He instinctively rolls away on the ground from Trakenthin's reach and springs up back onto his feet. Brushing flecks of grass blades and leaves off his tight fitting training gear, Modoran wrestles a smirk and sighs. "Too close. I almost gave you that one."

Repeatedly drawing in long breaths of air, Trakenthin briefly removes a hand from his sword handle and wipes sweat off his dark bronze brow. "Have been training for an hour. Advisable to break. We may grow careless. Should not burden our medical mage with needless injuries."

He glances over towards the back sliding glass door of the two-story house and gives a respectful nod to Deedri. Spooking at the sudden attention, Deedri gathers her composure and awkwardly waves towards both Trakenthin and Modoran. "S-sorry. I didn't want to interrupt. I admit it was exciting to watch."

Modoran turns his head in surprise and blinks, pondering Deedri's existence near the door. "How long have you been out here watching us?"

A flash of embarrassment fills Deedri's light face, and she averts her gaze with a shy smirk. "Um... Just the last ten minutes... Maybe? I lost track watching you two."

Trakenthin grins, puffs out his chest proudly, and nonchalantly props himself up with his sword. "Fan of martial combat?"

Stepping away from the brick wall of the house, Deedri walks out towards Trakenthin and Modoran and furrows her brow contemplatively. "Well... Somewhat? I don't mind good, non-lethal competition."

Arriving near both Modoran and Trakenthin, she searches inside one of the large pockets of her apron and retrieves two plastic, flip-top containers with liquid inside. With one in each hand, she holds them out to Trakenthin and Modoran and smiles happily. "I was working on potions and medical supplies in the kitchen when I saw you two start sparring. So, while the main batch is slow cooking, I mixed up some simple stamina boosters from the leftovers."

She eyes the two vials with a tinge of uncertainty and gazes at both Trakenthin and Modoran a bit more confidently. "The orange one has a citrus flavor, and the yellow one is closer to banana. Unfortunately, protellow flower petals aren't that consistent when it comes to flavoring. What you taste might... vary? It can be really unpredictable once you mix it up."

Glancing towards Trakenthin, Modoran gestures at him and waves nonchalantly towards the vials. "I'll let you choose. Both sound good to me."

Trakenthin drifts back to a stoic presence, and his eyes momentarily scan around the area. He grasps hold of the yellow liquid filled container and nods appreciatively. "Thank you... I prefer banana."

Deedri presents a bright smile. Flicking her furry ears with the tickling of the wind, she gives the remaining container to Modoran. "Drink up! The mixture is only potent in this form for a few hours. After that, it's just flavored water made from kinda expensive ingredients."

Trakenthin and Modoran each flip the tops of the small containers and pour them back into their mouths. Trakenthin carefully closes the lid and returns the vial to Deedri. Nodding a few times, Modoran smacks his lips, ponders to himself a moment, and gives the other vial back. "That was really good. Thank you."

He slyly smirks and aims an intrigued lift of an eyebrow at Deedri. "So... Have you done any fight training before? I am sure we could show you the basics, if you want to join in."

Deedri's auburn eyes widen, her furry, tufted ears perk up, and she bites her lower lip, fighting between interest and hesitation. "Well... Any training I've ever done has been strictly for defensive purposes. Medical mages aren't exactly supposed to lead the charge into a fight. So, we are trained to avoid and evade."

Wrestling a faint frown, she sighs uneasily. "If THAT fails, we are supposed to use magic from as far as possible to disable or impede long enough to allow for our escape."

She clasps her hands in front of her upon her apron and shrugs with an innocent smile. "It's very frowned upon for a medical mage to have to heal themselves due to their own fault of endangering themselves. We're not supposed to become a patient."

Her eyes wander from the gazes of Trakenthin and Modoran, and she rocks ever so slightly to her bashful admission. "But... We do receive some very discipline specific training for strictly defensive close quarters combat."

Modoran sheaths his practice swords into the scabbards attached to his belt. Crossing his arms, he entertains a curious, interested smile upon his dusky bluish gray face. "Well, THAT is interesting. What did they teach you that's so specific?"

Her fluffy tail wagging below her skirt, a delighted smile appears on Deedri. With a chipper perk of her posture and her tufted, furry ears, she eagerly recounts, tracking bullet points on her fingers. "Oh! A lot of grappling and escaping different holds. We drilled on being grabbed and shaken, and how to react properly. So many hours of concentration training to teach us how to focus magical flow when surprised or under duress. And also, some common throws and pressure points."

Trakenthin nods plainly, stretching his back. "Sensible. Useful collection."

Cocking his head to the side, Modoran places his hands on his hips, tugging the corner of his mouth in thought. "Okay. Any examples you can show us?"

With a reserved nod, Deedri takes a step back, plants her feet, and takes a long breath. "Yes. If you could grab my shoulder, Modoran, I will demonstrate."

A few blinks processing Deedri's change in demeanor later, Modoran glances to Trakenthin, shrugs his arms out to the side, and reaches a hand out for Deedri's shoulder. "Like this-?"

His hand grabs onto Deedri's shoulder. Clamping tightly with both hands onto Modoran's forearm, Deedri swiftly spins inwards into his space. She tugs Modoran's arm forward, full force, and sharply ducks with all her might. The rest of Modoran follows his arm across Deedri's back and over her shoulder. With a loud thump, Modoran flattens the grass beneath his back. Moments of quiet pass. Modoran stares blankly at the blue sky above and the clouds conveniently obscuring the noon sun overhead. Deedri's concerned face graces Modoran's view of the world. Kneeling down next to him, Deedri quickly checks him over. "Are you okay?! I'm so sorry!"

She wrestles a surge of guilt and strains an embarrassed breath in. "Gods! We always trained pretty rough to make sure we'd do it properly when we had to. And... Being classes full of medical mages, we were prepared to handle most injuries on the mats."

Wandering his focus from the skies above, Modoran gazes into Deedri's auburn eyes. Staring up at her in the lost seconds, he eventually regains his composure and gallantly grins. "I am just fine. THAT was an impressive throw that I just wasn't expecting from you. So, allow me to truly apologize for underestimating you."

A blush of color highlights Deedri's cheeks, and she quickly breaks eye contact, standing back up. Modoran sits up, brushing more grass off his sparring gear, and notices an extended hand from Deedri. He graciously accepts the assistance, and she helps pull him up. Scratching his chin, Trakenthin quirks an eyebrow with an analytical narrowing of his hazel eyes. "Good form. Good results. Needs practice."

He straightens his posture and grins smugly. Pushing his practice sword upright into the dirt, he rests his hands on his sides. "I, respectfully, doubt you could throw me. Did you receive instruction in confronting opponents of my stature?"

Deedri's furry, tufted ears perk up, and she pulls a slight grin across her face, tints of apprehension slipping out. "Well... With great size differences, we were taught to use a DIFFERENT approach. I can show you, if you want. But, it won't be as dramatic as a throw, since I don't want to harm you by accident."

Cocking his head to the side curiously, Trakenthin stares down at Deedri, his visibly puzzling out implications. "I am interested. What do you need me to do?"

Extending an arm out, Deedri demonstrates to Trakenthin. "Just hold your arm out like this."

An incredulous air obscures the honest wariness, and Trakenthin reaches his muscular, defined arm out. Holding it in place, he cautiously watches Deedri. Carefully, Deedri places the palm of her hand underneath Trakenthin's forearm, near the elbow. Moments later, a flicker of auburn lights up her eyes. Trakenthin's wrist sharply rotates inwards, his forearm muscles tense, and his lower arm seizes into shaking definition. Witnessing the spasm in wide-eyed bewilderment, he moves his arm slowly and observes the phenomena from different angles. Seconds later, the muscles relax back to normal, and he flexes his released wrist and hand. "WHAT. HAPPENED?"

Clasping her hands back together, Deedri rests them in front upon her apron and proudly smiles. "It's a use of medical magic that locks the muscles up by causing them to contract. I used a VERY LOW strength variant on you. That way it was short and painless, but hopefully demonstrated the point."

Shaking his head side to side, Modoran breaks from his gawk at Trakenthin's arm and glances to Deedri. "I have to admit... That's a bit scary. And..."

A sliver of a frown forms on Deedri. Modoran cracks a small smile and nods encouragingly. "Impressive."

Deedri perks up with a faint smile. Trakenthin finishes stretching his arm and wrist out and gazes at Deedri, with a renewed interest. "What else can be done?"

Wagging her fluffy tail with her thoughts, Deedri searches her mind and ponders out loud. "Well... The simplest measures take the least amount of energy and concentration, which is normally what you want to do. Conserve your effort for more important things, like treatments. So, targeted muscle locks and nerve signal disruptions are the first things you'd attempt. If needed, with the more advanced techniques, you can completely disable limbs, cause coordination issues, and... "

She bites her lower lip and averts her auburn gaze, wrestling a bit of embarrassment. "Invoke... Violent evacuations."

Exchanging uneasy glances, Modoran and Trakenthin return their wary gazes at Deedri, a hint of curiosity shared. With the faintest trace of an evil smirk, she sighs at the silent question. "Either AND both ends."

Modoran and Trakenthin blink long and gaze wide-eyed, silently and visibly contemplating with imaginations painting the scenes. Grimacing uncomfortably, Deedri settles to a modest frown and steadies her tone against the subject. "In very dire situations, medical mages can be extremely destructive, despite it going well against our principles. We can sever tendons, rip muscles, shatter bones, and rupture organs. Death is horrifically easy in comparison."

Trakenthin tenses his posture back straight and contorts his face gradually. "You have my sincere respect for your capabilities."

With a series of quick nods, Modoran attempts a confident smile upon the strained facade, the betrayal of his thoughts leaking through. "Please, let me know if I do anything to make you angry. I WILL absolutely apologize and dutifully correct it."

Her furry, tufted ears drooping down to her shoulders, Deedri deflates sadly. "PLEASE UNDERSTAND, I really don't want to ever use my training that way. It's not at all why I chose this career. I want people to be happy and healthy."

Perking up slightly, she eyes Trakenthin and Modoran with a shy smile. "If I'm ever going to be aggressive, I only ever want a sparring weapon in my hands."

A sly grin appears on Modoran, and he winks to Deedri. Drawing out a training short sword from a sheath on his belt, he hands the wooden practice blade handle first to Deedri and nods to Trakenthin. "I think we can help you there."

Deedri grasps hold of the training weapon and smiles bright and appreciatively to both Modoran and Trakenthin, her tail tip wagging with her perking furry ears.

Sitting around the dining table, Aristespha, Sebastian, Bach, Dretphi, Sotalia, and Cideeda intensely listen to Nash's voice through Aristespha's aetherphone in the middle of the tabletop. Nash echoes out into the living room and the eerie silence of the gathering. Nervous glances aimlessly seek around the area. Nash drags out a long groan. "So... That's all I got right now. Not exactly the news I really wanted to give you all on a Saturday evening. But, I figured you all needed to know what exactly was there... Despite how grim it fucking is. I'll honest, I'm still trying to comprehend it all. Just, damn."

Rubbing the temples of her head with both hands, Aristespha releases a long, dumbfounded sigh and flutters her violet eyes. "THAT was not exactly what I thought it would be. Though, I can not say it was not out of the realm of possibility."

Nash remains silent for a few moments and sounds out a similar sigh over the phone. "Yeah. I'll send you the rest of the information and documents we got as Harvos and his team puts them into the system. Unfortunately, I don't know how much more I'll be able to get you, since higher ups are getting involved."

He grumbles in defeat. "Which is never a great thing."

Sliding into a sly tone, he playfully whispers loud. "But... I'll be sure to relay what I can when they aren't paying too much attention. They're still administrators and get distracted easily enough. HOPEFULLY, something else will pop up to keep their attention."

A smile cracks on Aristespha's face, and she rolls her violet eyes with a momentary lift of the brow. "As always, thank you. I will let you go now. We all will need some time to process all of this ourselves tonight."

Nash laughs with a confirming cadence. "YEAH. Can't blame you there. I'm going to go back to researching alcoholism and archaic video games. You all take care."

Reaching her hand above the phone, Aristespha hovers a finger over the on-screen button. "You too."

With a light tap on the display, the phone ends the call to a plain icon layout. The group exchanges mixtures of uneasy, tense, and uncertain postures between themselves, a looming, silent pressure weighing down upon all. Sebastian's ghostly form drifts back from the table, through his chair, in thought, and he takes a few moments to gaze around the living room. His attention rotates around the room, settling between Bach and Cideeda. With his blue eyes sorting through his mind, Bach stares down distantly at the tabletop, his face blank. An occasional twitch of his cheek precedes a blink. Cideeda squirms in her seat with arms crossed. Her hands cover her elbows tightly, her tail subconsciously coils up defensively around her waist, and her stature shrinks, drawing her inwards. Sotalia gently rests a hand upon Cideeda's shoulder and rubs her back comfortingly, whispering. "You okay?"

Returning her awareness back to the group around the table, she nods slowly with a weak smile. "Yes. Just old, not so great memories coming back."

A wince appears upon Sebastian, and he uneasily contorts his mouth with a long ghostly sigh. He gazes upon both Cideeda and Bach with concern and dutiful resignation. "I know it's a really uncomfortable subject for the both of you... Especially, since it's come up recently. But... Is there anything you two are willing to tell us about Nightmare Geists, from experience? You are the only two people I know of that have had first hand encounters. So..."

Watching the growing discomfort on both Bach and Cideeda, he backpedals along with his hesitation. "If it's too much, I understand-"

A small, stronger smile solidifies on Cideeda, and she gazes up to Sebastian. Stretching some tension out of her body, she unfolds her arms, guides her tail onto her lap, and combs the fur with her clawed fingers. "It's FINE. I just don't know what I can really add. My encounter was over twenty years ago, and I was just six years old when it happened. So, I only remember bits and pieces, at best."

Her shoulders stiffen. Rolling them out with an uneasy exhale, she briefly, distantly stares into herself. "I remember what it looked like when it tore out part of my mother's old house and... grabbed hold of me."

She pauses for a long time. Supportive concern appears upon the rest of the group. With a considerable amount of visible effort, she navigates her emotions, pushing them out of the way, and furrows her brow. "I remember the black flaming aura it had. Its grip was cold. The dark fire felt like it sunk into your very being..."

She closes her emerald green eyes, leans into the chair back, and breathes out a shudder. "And... it tried to... negate your very essence? Existence? Gods, it's really hard to describe. It felt like something was trying to cancel out a part of your very being. So weird..."

Gripping her tail tightly, she summons up a strong, smiling exterior. "After that, all I remember is my father firing his imbued Perimeter rifle, falling into my mother's arms, and a group of adventurers firing all kinds of spells at it. Then, I must have passed out. Because, I didn't wake up until a month later."

A grimace overtakes her light brown face, and she sighs out her frustration, shaking her head. "I try to remember more each time I think about it. But... That's all I have right now. I wish it could be more useful."

Sebastian nods graciously and presents a thankful smile. "Hey, it's fine. Any details you can give will help us all."

Glancing to Bach, he waits a few seconds, watching Bach's silence. He tilts his head to the side. "No pressure, bro. If you don't feel comfortable now, we can-"

Staring distantly into his mind, Bach interrupts into a serious, explanatory tone. "Four to five meters tall. Black... Almost light absorbing, magical miasma that radiates out like fire. Two legs. Two arms. And, a mass at the top that served as a head, of sorts. It was completely featureless..."

His eyes lock forward, oblivious of the stunned stare from Cideeda across the table. "But... Something like eyes... LOOKED at me."

A few tense, strained breaths enter and leave. Bach blinks back to the current reality, noticing the attention upon him, and sighs. "It was late afternoon. Near dusk, on the fourth day of the assignment out at some old ruin that once served as a magical power collector. Condenser, maybe? Either way, nothing was supposed to be out there. I mean, it was a gift shop away from being a tourist trap at that point. It was supposed to be a local safe place to look at old ruins."

Lifting his head up, he frowns sharply, recounting the events to the rest of the group between old pains. "An hour after we set camp up, it walked right into the area. Immediately, saw us. And... ROARED."

He shudders, tension building in his body. "It sounded like bellowing, enraged, distorted static. It just charged at us. Absolutely no other warning. We scattered out in a near panic, just hoping we could keep rotating distraction spells so we all could get far from it. But..."

Furrowing his brow, he sighs sadly, a darkness coloring his words. "It didn't care."

Bach sits up straight in his dining chair, crosses his arms tightly, and shrugs up his shoulders with a cringe. "Most of our spells did absolutely nothing to it. Well... Some temporarily knocked out chunks of it. But, those reappeared back in seconds. Raw energy blasts did the most to it, but nothing really damaged it. Unless it was missing a lot of itself, it did NOT slow down for anything."

Closing his blue eyes, he solemnly draws in air, a grim cadence tinging his voice. "It knocked down my instructor and was lining up to run down the three other students. Two, who could barely walk, were trying to get another unconscious student out of the area. So..."

With a hard swallow, he tightens up his shoulders and grimaces. "I decided to give IT something else to worry about and hit it with a D-Ball."

Interest piquing, Sotalia's attention latches on. Bach opens his eyes wide and shakes his head. "THAT... was one of the dumbest things I have ever done, even with everything I've done recently. It turned out the D-Ball hurt it, deeply. It wailed out in utter, I guess, anguish? After that, it paid attention ONLY TO ME. That's also when I noticed it was missing a bigger chunk than normal."

Aristespha attentively watches Bach, and Sotalia leans slightly over the table in anticipation. Groaning from the past defeat, Bach's frustration colors his tone. "But, gods dammit. It still reformed. I literally saw the shredded magical essence that comprised it recondense back onto its body."

Hope flattens within Sotalia, and Aristespha nods solemnly, her mind processing the new information. Bach blinks, stares distantly at the scene playing back out in his mind, and harshens his grimace. "Fortunately, the other students escaped. Unfortunately, it was coming right for ME."

He furrows his brow, stiffens his posture, and tightly flexes his fingers. "I threw... D-Ball AFTER D-Ball at it... Gods, I don't even remember how many. A dozen or so? Man, I was totally freaking out. Not thinking clearly at all. I had NEVER thrown that MANY before. I don't know how it was possible even today."

Sotalia's golden eyes widen and sort through mental calculations. His distant gaze drifting towards the tabletop, Bach tensely exhales. "I got cornered eventually. And, I was completely tapped out. I'd hoped to slow it down enough to get away from it. But, very little phased it. When it stood over me, I had never been more scared in my life. It reached down for me..."

A long silence follows. Bach's blue eyes dart around the scene in his mind, and his face contorts to the internal replay. Tension shrinks his posture, and he sinks into his seat. A firm hand grasps Bach's shoulder, and Dretphi speaks calmly with concern on her tan face. "Do not stress yourself. We understand if it is difficult. Painful to recount."

Bach's reality returns to the warmth of the living room and the supportive attention around him. Attempting a smile in spite of overwhelming emotions, he shakes his head with a sigh. "It... It's okay. It's just a really hard part to remember. Because... I'm not entirely sure what exactly happened. It feels so disjointed, and I don't know how to piece it together to have it make any kind of sense."

His body language loosens up, and he vents out the tension in a long exhale. "All I'm sure of is that there was a bright flash that came from... SOMEWHERE. Next thing I can remember clearly is waking up the next early morning to the sounds of rescue teams searching the area."

Attempting levity, Bach shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly against the residual stress and unfolds his arms out with a smirk. "So, I really don't know how useful of information that all is. Well, except don't piss off a five meter tower of black fire burning magical destruction. And well... RUN AWAY, if possible."

Craning his head around, Sebastian leans forward and meets his brother's gaze, smiling. "Hey, it's good information. Thanks for telling us, bro. Really. Every bit helps."

Holding her chin by an ivory hand in thought, Aristespha glances over to Bach with a curious perk of her brow. "I remember reading reports stating that narrow spectrum, specialized energy spells do very little to a Nightmare Geist."

Turning his head towards Aristespha, Bach slowly nods to confirm. "YES. I don't think it even felt those kinds of spells that hit it. The disintegration spells and raw, broad spectrum energy attacks did the most harm. Still, kind of relatively little. And, it seemed to recover eventually."

Cideeda shakes her head in disbelief and grins in astonishment, her tail tip flicking. "I can't believe you PICKED A FIGHT with one."

Rolling his eyes at himself, Bach groans, wavering into embarrassment. "Yeah, THAT was really NOT my plan. BUT... To be honest, I really didn't have a plan at all. I mean, I just felt I had to do something and threw the most dangerous thing I could think of at it."

An amused, proud grin appears on Sebastian. With a quizzical hoist of an eyebrow, Sotalia narrows her golden eyes at Bach and raps her long, black fingernails on the table. "A dozen of those disintegration ball spells?"

Bach shrugs awkwardly and briefly grits his teeth into an uncertain grin. "Well, I guess? Maybe a little less? I was REALLY DISTRACTED while flinging one after another to keep an exact count..."

Pausing a moment, Bach's words replay internally, and he winces his resignation to the possible interpretations. A devious grin reveals itself upon Sotalia, and she sits back into an air of renewed interest. "OH. That's REALLY intriguing to hear."

Aristespha nods in thought and focuses. "From the research I have read, that makes sense. The currently held theory is that elder energy can permanently harm a Nightmare Geist, since they were designed and mass produced to neutralize Elder Geists. Accomplished by, quite literally, charging into contact with them."

Dretphi perks an eyebrow and tilts her head to the side. "They are suicide tacklers? Sacrifice themselves to destroy the target by contact?"

Resting her arms on the table, Aristespha nods slowly and idly plays with her aetherphone. "Yes. Exactly. They were an unfortunately effective solution to what was thought to be an invincible defense."

In the moments of idle thoughts, she picks up her phone from the table. Angling the screen into her view, she taps through a few menus. "So... On to other business... I know we have some food we could eat here. But, in light of recent news, I would really like to order in from that multicultural buffet place, again. A little comfort food sounds delightful, right now."

The rest of the group shelves previous topics and shifts immediate concerns towards dinner. Debates form on what to add to the quickly growing order.

Deedri wanders between sections of the U-shaped kitchen space. Rows of neutral toned cabinets encircle the main area. Stretches of patterned countertops line the plane beneath, breaking for appliances and the dual basin sink. Deedri's furry, tufted point ears flick behind her, tracking a sound source somewhere upstairs. Resting a pot in the larger basin, she pauses near the kitchen sink and waits. Her furry ears minutely adjust and twitch, picking out faint voices leaking into the room through the walls and sifting in from the entry. She releases a long, disappointed sigh, lifts the handle on the faucet, and guides the spout over the pot. Her toe claws pressing upon the tile floor, she quietly murmurs to herself. "...they argue so much..."

With a clawed finger hovering over a paragraph in a nearby book, she reaches out to the oven and turns the temperature dial down. The pot in the basin fills up halfway. She cuts the water off, lifts the pot, and places it on the electric stove top burner. Navigating around the surroundings of the kitchen, she sweeps up herbs into a bowl from a cutting board on an adjacent counter top and plucks a few roots from plastic bags resting on the bar joining the kitchen to the dining area. Swinging open the refrigerator door, she pulls out two glass flasks, dimly glowing blue. She slides over to the stove top, clicks the knob to the appropriate electric burner, and glances behind her, squinting at the book. With a confirming nod, she mumbles with her thoughts. "Hmm... ...might need a little more protellow fluid extract..."

Peering over the countertop bar from the other side of the dining table, Trakenthin watches attentively. With building interest, he observes, his idle hand keeping his place within a thick novel. Over the minutes, Deedri darts around the many stations of the encircling kitchen. Respectfully waiting for a lull in activity, Trakenthin inquires in genuine curiosity. "Did you not finish potion brewing yesterday?"

Standing back up with a pot lid from a shelf under the oven, Deedri places it on top of its mate. She spins around, blinks her auburn eyes in thought, and smiles with a nod. "Yes. I finished brewing potions yesterday. I'm finishing up reagents and other materials today."

Trakenthin slowly acknowledges, blinks his hazel eyes, and scratches his head of short dirty blonde hair, returning his attention to his book. "Oh. Understood."

A prominent series of muffled stomps upon the carpet covered stairs resonate through the house framework into the area. With a long, rising growl, Tassilda rounds the corner of the archway leading to the kitchen. Grimacing in a simmering, light blue on black eye twitching rage, she stands stiffly and flexes her long, black nailed hands. She exhales a shaky groan of boiling irritation. "The NERVE... of THAT... CREATURE."

Trakenthin offers a simple blank stare with a slight lift of the eyebrow toward Tassilda. Pivoting in place, Deedri glances over at Tassilda, stirring a spoon in the contents of the pot. "What's happened now?"

Slowly stepping forward, Tassilda summons up her composure and rolls the tension free from her shoulders. She readjusts her tight fitting workout pants and top with an exaggerated sigh. "SHE has Chad convinced that somehow I will be able to teach HER anything about the magical arts anytime soon. The only thing that wretched little snake is good at is finding the right beds to keep warm in at night."

Deedri frowns, shakes her head side to side, and weakly pleads, uncertainty betraying the original intent of her words. "We should, at least, try to give her a chance?"

Both Trakenthin and Tassilda stare at Deedri incredulously. Deedri's furry, tufted ears droop towards her shoulders, and she bites her lip, her eyes averting from the attention. "I'm TRYING. I like to give everyone a chance, but..."

The faintest hint of ire surfaces on Deedri's fair face. "She's really making it DIFFICULT to do."

Shaking his head respectfully, Trakenthin slightly frowns. "Noble intent. Wasted. Noble still."

Graceful, proper confidence returns to Tassilda, and she sighs out a mix of sympathy and frustration towards Deedri. "Your efforts are commendable, but I question how long you will be able to keep THAT attitude. Especially given that I suspect she is going to overstay her welcome."

Deedri blinks and winces vaguely, twisting the corner of her mouth. "OH... What do you mean?"

Turning her head, Tassilda tilts her blue on black eyes down, and lifts an eyebrow on her gray face. "Given recent... nocturnal activities... I think her internship is going to last far longer than any of us would like."

With a cringe and long grumble, Trakenthin relays his irritation. "I must concur. I have HEARD Chad's approval."

Narrowing his eyes, he snorts derisively, flips over to the next page in his book, and stares idly at it for a few moments. His upper lip curls into a sneer of disgust, and he sternly states. "I have yet to NOT hear both in recent nights."

Tassilda rests a hand upon her chest and closes her eyes, twisting her head with a visible cringe. "Oh, you have my most sincere sympathies. I can't even begin to imagine trying to sleep with THAT going on."

Contorting her face with concern, Deedri sighs and glances over to Trakenthin. "I have plenty of medical grade cotton that works well in the ears for dampening sounds. I know from personal experience..."

Glancing between Trakenthin and Tassilda, she nods into a softer tone. "You can have as much as you need."

A sly smile graces Tassilda, and she shifts her weight with sway of the hips, eyeing Deedri. "Speaking of things medical... I was curious to what the procedure would be if a member of the team was to experience discomforts of a... Social variety?"

Blanking her expression, Deedri browses her mind, briefly quiet, and recounts the protocols. "After an initial questionnaire, a visual examination. If necessary, a manual inspection. Possibly a few tests to determine more details as to the nature of the ailment. Magical remedies may be needed in extreme cases, or to alleviate severe discomfort. But, typically, a prescription antibiotic or curative compound will handle it."

She rests a curled finger upon her mouth and ponders out loud a moment. "Thankfully, there are many potions and creams that the patient can effectively self administer after initial treatment."

An evil grin overtakes Tassilda's gray face. Perking her brow at Deedri, she rests her hand upon a hip, guides her raven black hair over a swirling horn, and ices her words in heavy sarcasm. "Oh! I am so glad you are so well versed in such procedures. I feel given the interactions between our illustrious leader and our... spirited... intern... Your knowledge may be put to the test, in the near future."

Deedri pauses stirring the contents of the pot upon the stove top. Realization washes over her into a wave of discomfort down her body. Her stare grows distant, and her tufted, furry ears pull back low, pointed tips nearly touching her tensing shoulders. Fighting a chill down her figure, she visibly shudders. Moments later, she recovers and resumes mixing the boiling concoction in the pot. "Understand... It is my DUTY to the team to satisfy all medical needs to the best of my ability."

Eyeing Tassilda and Trakenthin, she sighs out her disgust. "But... I sincerely hope that certain functions of my position in the team are not put to THAT particular test. Especially when it is readily preventable..."

Deedri's furry ears flick towards the kitchen wall, and she expectantly eyes the archway, puzzling at the space between. A faint, nearly transparent, shimmering figure darts around Tassilda, swiftly moves around the side of the table opposite to Trakenthin, and reaches the sliding glass door. The door opens slightly, and the figure blurs with activity. An invisible force rolls out onto the backyard and disturbs the grass, leaving a long flattened trail. The mass of visual distortion lowers down onto the floor, lifts up the white tablecloth, and slips underneath the dining table. Deedri's furry ears twitch towards another source from the stairwell. Her auburn eyes widen, and she devotes her full apparent attention to mixing the contents of the pot.

Light, rapid steps cascade down, and Veevi rushes out into the kitchen and dining area. She glances at Trakenthin studiously reading a book, Tassilda watching over the kitchen, and Deedri preparing a mixture. Brushing her pink hair out of her pink pupil eyes, she scans the rest of the area, spotting the open sliding glass door. She puffs up her chest boldly underneath her midriff length shirt, placing her hands upon her short shorts. Swaying her hips, she proudly struts to the door with a sly, smug smirk. "If I had my guess..."

Veevi slides the door open the rest of the way, peering out into the backyard. Excitedly snickering, her eyes trace the trail in the grass. She steps outside, closes the door behind her, and eagerly follows the path of parted grass. Trakenthin slowly raises his head from his book, rests it pages down upon the tabletop, and stands up slowly. Stepping over to the sliding glass door, he inspects it, engages the lock, and conceals it, pulling the vertical blinds over. He sits down and picks his book back up, cracking a dry smirk. Tassilda grins sinisterly, pivots in place, and strides towards the front door. "Well. I'll get the other door."

With a flip of the tablecloth, the transparent visage rises out from underneath the table and grows more opaque, revealing Modoran's worried face. "GODS. I will so be glad when this internship is over. She is a persistent little pain in the ass. I can not even hang out in my own room with her pestering me to teach her how to sneak around."

Trakenthin rolls his eyes, and Deedri frowns. Returning through the archway, Tassilda furrows her brow. "OH. About THAT. We have an interesting to tell you."

Pulling her upper lip up into sneer, Sotalia flicks a finger across the surface of the tablet. The imagery on the display flickers light onto her light tan face, and she sprawls out in the extended recliner. She swipes through various screens of official text, the absence of satisfaction growing obvious. Let the tablet flop onto her stomach, she stretches her arms out to her sides with a defeated groan. "Gods! All these jobs are either boring, annoying, or BOTH, so far!"

She rolls her head to the side and gazes over to Cideeda and Dretphi on the living area couch. "You two find anything good?"

Pulling herself up from a slouch on her pillow upon one couch arm, Cideeda sits upright and glances over her shoulder toward Sotalia. "Meh. Found a few ruin survey and inspection jobs near that other place we had suspicions of being a Noxian hang out. Might be able to take care of a few jobs there and check out that one location at the same time."

Sotalia angles her tablet up into view and taps the on-screen map. With a vaguely interested lift of an eyebrow, she brings up a new listing upon the screen. "Okay... THESE look a bit better."

Rolling her golden eyes, she twists the corner of her mouth. "Well... Comparatively."

Sitting opposite to Cideeda on the couch with her arm propped upon her knee, Dretphi supports her head with a hand. She squints at a tablet upon the coffee table and cocks her head to the side. Puzzling at the description on the device, she furrows her brow intrigued. "There is a local whelp removal job."

Cideeda twists her mouth and briefly sticks her tongue out in disgust. "PASS. YES, I understand that they may be pests. But, I REALLY don't like killing the little guys."

Sotalia's head rocks against the cushion of the plush recliner in a rough nod of agreement. "Too cute for me to annihilate with my spells. Now give me some really nasty vermin or SLIMES, THEN we can talk."

Lifting her head up, Dretphi gazes towards Cideeda and Sotalia, honest surprise manifesting on her face. "They want them captured alive. Unharmed."

Cideeda and Sotalia exchange curious glances with Dretphi. Touching a search button on the display, Sotalia eyes over to Dretphi, her interest piquing. "Huh. Girl, what's the job number?"

Cideeda presses a few spots on her tablet and waits. Dretphi drags the document down to a large header and reads off the encoded number. "Three six one six dash eight six seven eight."

Seconds later, golden and emerald pairs of eyes scan the literature upon respective tablets. With a childish delight, Sotalia excitedly squirms in the couch chair. "OH. MY. GODS! These are fancy whelps! Oh, I SO wanted one of these when I was a teenager. I just could NEVER afford to get the one breed I wanted."

Slowly examining the documented list, Cideeda's brow furrows, and she stares at the inventory, surprise building with the individual descriptions. "Wow! I can see why whoever wants them captured unharmed. If I remember right, these are some EXPENSIVE breeds. AND, the job pays decently, too."

An amused smile seizes Dretphi, and she glances over to Cideeda and Sotalia within an air of satisfaction. "Should I bookmark the job?"

Both Sotalia and Cideeda nod in unison, and continue reading the details of the job. Across the room at the dining table, next to the kitchen bar, Aristespha, Bach, and Sebastian survey a collection of documents, maps, pictures, and other articles upon the tabletop. Aristespha hovers a pencil over a spot on the map, taps idly, and ponders, staring at a page of paperwork. "It all checks out. Though, I still can NOT believe it."

Sebastian slowly shakes his head and floats above the dining table, carefully inspecting the spread of data. "Yeah... It was a HUGE operation to create the place and almost as huge to conceal it afterwards. I don't think we would have ever found it unless we got those coordinates from that bunker computer system. I mean... There would be no reason to even stumble near the area for any other reason."

Lifting his head away from the organized chaos upon the table, Bach blinks hard, long, and rubs his eyelids free of the strain. "Man, we printed this much off, and there STILL is more coming in. I mean, it was nice they included an office printer as part of the house rental. But... I hope they don't charge per page afterwards."

Aristespha pulls back her silvery blue hair over a long, pointed ear, and sighs, playfully smiling with an eye roll to Bach. "No. Thankfully, they charge a flat rate per month."

Furrowing her brow, her violet eyes survey the layers of paper coating the dining table. "BUT. They may, justifiably, reconsider that after we are done."

The tablet near Aristespha vibrates upon the wooden table top, amplifying the rumble. Aristespha taps the screen, reads the notifications, and slides it over to Bach. Leaning back into her chair, she groans in vague defeat. "Oh gods... Another batch. Could you look through them? I need to focus on what is out here presently, for a bit."

Nodding, Bach guides the tablet over. He slides the old, necklace and blue ribbon wrapped journal off to the side, and maneuvers through a series of menus on the tablet. "Yeah. Sure. I'll see if it's anything relevant."

He sorts through the lists of document files, peeking at the contents through previews, and stops upon one large image file. He taps the preview on the screen, and it expands the image out to the borders of the screen. Bach closely examines the scanned photograph of a team of people lined up in the rows. Motioning on the display to zoom in, he scans from the top, across the rows of faces. Reaching the bottom row, he ends his search at the right corner. "Hmm. Here's a picture of one of the teams..."

His finger drifts near the close button. Recognition boils in his mind and freezes him in place. Familiarity seizes Bach's full attention, and his eyes lock onto the people in the bottom, right corner. Enlarging the section more, he stares closely, unconsciousness guiding his conscious search. His head lowers closer to the picture. He scrutinizes a man, a woman, and a child. Minutes of pondering and staring later, he slowly rotates his head and gazes upon the old, necklace and blue ribbon wrapped journal. His eyes widen. Reaching over, he lifts the blue ribbon in hand and snaps back to the blue ribbon in the little girl's hair. He squints at the woman and notices faint lines draping from her neck. Blinking hard, he feels the necklace and exhales with a stammer. His focus falls upon the child's bright blue scarf. His eyes open fully. His pupils shrink. He withdraws his head far away from the tablet. Aristespha and Sebastian observe Bach curiously, concern building between them. Sebastian sinks down lower to Bach's level and inquires. "Hey... Uh, what's wrong, bro?"

Raising the tablet display towards Aristespha and Sebastian, Bach points at the bright blue scarf. Second later, Aristespha covers her mouth in shock, and Sebastian's visage visibly pales.