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RP:The Gathering Flame

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Part of the What You Leave Behind Arc


Summary: Lionel summons the team of volunteers for the upcoming mission into the Shadow Plane. Together with High Priestess Leone, he asks the stalwart men and women willing to risk life and limb beside him how they will contribute to the expedition and if they have suggestions to increase their odds. For the Shadow Plane is a perilous place, perhaps the most perilous place of all, and they have little choice but to dive in blindly or else compromise the element of surprise they so desperately need.

Frostmaw: Snowless Training Yard

Lionel | The world is on fire. Villages burn. Cities are conquered. Pouring through magical portals from the shrouded and deadly Shadow Plane, the warlord Kahran has spread terror in every corner. People do their best to find slumber knowing they may awaken to the flames of massacre. Stubbornness keeps cobblers mending shoes and fishermen netting catches, but fear comes in at the eyes. The alliance Lionel forged started out innocuously, its true mission concealed. Long before Kahran revealed himself, Lionel suspected a hand like his in events both big and small, and set to work amassing companions far and wide. He pushed them against the saurians, the haathian insectoids, even briefly against Macon’s Larket, but ever they stood in the thralls of something worse. After that something made itself known, the alliance began to swell. Somewhere along the way, a sentiment has formed that holds the ragtag organization together despite their wild divergences of race, station, ethics and actions... albeit barely. In the wake of this terrible war, the alliance has become a titular ideal, a capitalized concept: the Alliance Against Kahran.


Lionel | The fire nevertheless spreads. Merchants travel better-armed in a world besieged. Still they vend their wares, defiant against the terms that every trek runs far greater risk of disaster now than it did mere months ago. Fewer and fewer clients are willing to chance their hard-earned coin when they could become grief-stricken refugees on the turn of a dime Every allied victory is met in turn by defeat, like a dance: Gilwen’s Aer’athrad and Kreekitaka’s uyeer and Beldur’s Frostmawian friends and the assassin, Blut, have overthrown General Qybek and his cruel experiments in the Southern Sage, but only hours later news has spread that Schezerade has fallen. With Kahran’s troop presence in Lithrydel growing by the week, it’s the worst kind of dance there is, and it’s on-track for a fatal misstep, and soon.


Lionel | To put out the fire, the Alliance Against Kahran needs something it has sorely lacked since the beginning: real, actionable information. Lionel O’Connor, with assistance from the High Priestess of Frostmaw, Leone, has brewed the plot that may hold the key to obtaining that information. For Leone is one of the precious few who can open up dimensional portals of her own, and even breach the gap in realms between this world and the Shadow Plane. Lionel’s surrogate sister, Khitti Elysse von Schreier, only recently lost her ability to do the same. Lionel knows that if anything should prevent Leone’s rare gift, all hope on this front may be lost. For this reason and many more, an expedition into perhaps the most dangerous place there is must be undertaken. Lionel, arms crossed in his customary scarlet silk shirt and slacks, peers into the roaring flames of a pit dug into a trench in the snowless training yard beside the Academy of Aramoth. It is here that he has overseen many such conversations. It is here that feels most appropriate to him to commence another. He is flanked by Esche, his elven ally. The men do not speak. Time enough for words momentarily. This is the calm before the storm.


Leone is here. She's always here, it seems. Not the training yard per se, but Frostmaw. The priestess is near the fire, her vivid yellow-green gaze stretching out past the flames and toward the entrance to the school. The fire had been burning here so fiercely, and so often, that the permafrost directly surrounding the pit has melted, leaving a soupy, muddy mixture in its place. The petite woman is mired in it, her sturdy workboots consumed up to the ankle by the muck. One of the wyverns stabled on the far side of the yard winnies, an eerie noise half way between a neigh and a caw, and the farrier's head snaps sharply toward the sound. The last time she was here, a flank of archers had attacked the meeting, and caused much damage. The smith's piercing, peridot gaze swivels again, this time landing on her paladin and constant companion, Bertram. The farrier thrusts her chin toward the school, a silent direction for the tall (seriously, is he half-giant?) male to check it out. He leaves with nothing more than a nod of confirmation. The smith adjusts her gloves, cramming each digit between its brethren, causing the leather to creak in protest. Lionel and Esche are eyed from between the flickering flames, though the smith's verdant sights wheel back toward the entrance as attendees begin to arrive.


Krice 's wyvern, Gylworliath, lingered near the others and seemed just as unsettled, but she managed to keep her discontent to a minimum, seemingly aware that her loudness could draw undue attention. The warrior himself moved behind Leone, standing perpendicular to her, his eyes on their surroundings in a speculative sweep. Though this was a meeting, not a -mission-, he had learned over the years to always expect the worst when it came to the gathering of various people, especially when times were so tense. He turned, looked upon his divine companion, and then glanced pats her toward Lionel for the start of their meeting.​ Dressed in his usual black attire and wearing robes too thin to adequately protect against Frostmaw's icy climate, he devoted a moment to the nearby priestess, resting a hand lightly against her back between both shoulder blades. His expression asked after her well-being, lips closed in a pensive line. Undoubtedly she was an important part of the team, perhaps -the- most important; her ability to open up portals was simultaneously vital to the success of the resistance, but just as detrimental to her health as an individual. It had long been established, however, that Leone had accepted that responsibility, to sacrifice herself for the 'greater good'. As others arrived and milled about to engage in the meeting, he acknowledged them all with fleeting glances.


Blut sat by the flame much like he did last time but this time he was rather well composed. Mana surrounded the bottom of his boots to prevent mud and grime. He held a book in his hand reading like it was just another day at the park. He wasn't intrested in socialising nor was he one for small talk. He avoided people and vice versa.


Celaeno came in, garbbed in her winter robes and wolf-fur lined cloak. Her eyes searched the meeting for any she knew, familiar faces. Seeing none, aside from the steward himself, she sets up near the back, clutching her cloak tight. The young necromancer tended to do that in crowds, but this information was vital, so she hovered there, notebook in hand and inked stylus at the ready to take notes.


Hudson has brought his daughters to this meeting. Alvina had some sort of urgent woman outing featuring margaritas with her friend and semi-permanent houseguest Emily and no other childcare could be arranged, sry lol. The girls are well behaved, though. They are suited up in snow clothes and immediately commence playing quietly a few paces from their father. Luna has brought along her favorite doll, her Queen Josleen Lithrydel Girl Doll, and on the way they purchased (for the sake of peace, though Hudson already regrets it) a Steward of Frostmaw Lionel Super Action Doll. Luna will only ever be Josleen, so Harper, natch, is in charge of roleplaying both Lionel and also a large stuffed dinosaur with a ketchup stain on it. Presently, Harper is brandishing the dinosaur at the Josleen doll and saying, "Raaaawwrr!" Luna responds, daintily, on the Larketian Queen's behalf, "Please don't eat me! Somebody help!" It's at this juncture that Harper double fists the Lionel doll to intervene: "Back away from her!" And lo, the Lionel doll beats back the dinosaur, who is declared dead and given to daddy for safekeeping. 'Queen Josleen' next says to 'Lionel,' "My hero! You're waaaaaaaay cuter than Macon," and then they kiss and start talking about adopting a dog (naturally). Anyway, for obvious reasons, Hudson is going to be easing up on the dirty looks he sends Krice tonight. Hudson and children had arrived with Joanie and Uma by carriage, though Joanie and Uma had quickly broken away to stand closer to Leone. "Hello!" whispers Uma warmly, not wanting to attract attention because what she has to say is sort of banal, "I like your scarf!" "It's very warm looking," agrees Joanie. Both women nod greetings at Krice, who is also standing near them.


Eleanor ‘s tall black boots barely crunched against the ground as she made her way to Frostmaw by dubious means. Stowing away into doorways here, stepping through shop entries there, disappearing into the fray of people coming and going with only the faint wisps of arcane residue in her wake betraying the course. At last she appeared as though stepping from the academy’s front door itself, although any glimpse past her would reveal not the academy but the back room of a bakery; at least until the door was shut behind her, returning to its former self as nothing more than an ordinary door. Decked from head to toe in that somber black ensemble she seemed to favor more and more lately, her simple cloak concealed weapons and tattoos as she made her way toward the roaring flames, and the priestess. Arriving after a handful of others, it was easy enough for the woman to deftly skirt around the gathered, her flaxen hair twisted into a single braid shifting as she listed her head this way and that, picking up the excited bubbling of Hudson’s twins, who each earned a curious and amused stare from the celadon-eyed spell-rogue. Without any care to conceal her identity, at least appearing as normal as she could be, she was quick to offer up a slight nod to Hudson in greeting before sidling over toward Leone at last. Preferring for now to remain silent, she chose instead to stand vigilant near the plover, sculpted arms crossed over her chest, the gem in her diadem dull for now.


Gilwen , accustomed to Lionel’s meetings, and due to the increased presence of Kahran and his troops these recent weeks it seemed, was accompanied with an elven entourage- as she was most days when she wandered outside the borders of Sage. They stood close to the fire, but, for once, Gilwen’s dramatics remained in check, and the entire Sylvan group looked morose, but attentive.


Lionel watches as they gather. Like the Alliance itself, they come from every walk of life, dressed in vibrant differences. They’re heroes he’s stood beside before, or else newcomers for whom his closest confidants have vouched. Some have fought battle after battle against their common foes. Some have yet to draw blood. None could ever have their bravery questioned. “I’ve said it before,” Lionel begins. “You have my deepest gratitude for agreeing to this mission. Each and every one of you. But my gratitude doesn’t mean a thing; we aren’t here to earn approval points toward one-another. We’re here because the world is ending otherwise. Even so, I won’t lie to you: the Shadow Plane is perhaps the single most dangerous place we can be. Precious few have been there before, and -none- know more than brief passageways and harrowing ordeals.” Yet it harbors a strange beauty. “But it is -- because of course it is -- exactly where Kahran dwells. Ever since Cenril… no, since before Cenril, we’ve pushed his dark armies back just barely. Sometimes, we’ve failed.” Lionel turns to Gilwen and nods calmly. Esche stands beside the Catalian and bows in turn. “Your forces were instrumental in the Southern Sage. We struck a major blow. Yet just hours later, we received news that Schezerade fell to the enemy. This turnabout is par for the course, but it isn’t the sort of thing we can endure indefinitely. We’re going to the Shadow Plane, a small contingent following probable paths. We’re going to find where Kahran dwells. We need that information if we’re ever going to have a chance to stop him. We need to know where he sleeps, if bastards like him ever sleep. We’ll travel by way of Leone’s portal, and we’ll strike the only kind of victory that will amount to anything for long: the kind that gives us the sort of knowledge that Kahran and all his jackass generals have had on us since our name days. We’ll be quiet, but we’ll come prepared for battle. Because let’s face it, people: battle is usually what it comes to, anyway. The flora and fauna of the Shadow Plane are rumored to be as killer as any foreign invader. We need actionable ideas tonight. We want to hear them from you, anything you think will help. We’ll weigh it and gauge it and go from there.”


Leone nods to Krice, a shallow but reaffirming one, to be sure. Another glanced is cast in the direction of the armored paladin and his marching orders, looking for an all-clear sign. Uma and Joanie are greeted with a dual handshake, and a broad smile. Hudson receives a nod as well. Eleanor's presence beside her is acknowledged with a dip of the head and a sly wink toward the rogue. Once Lionel begins to speak, the smith looks toward him, her hands folding at her stomach in deference. Once the Steward has finished, the smith steps forward. "The Shadow Plane, and more specifically opening a portal into the plane is both difficult and dangerous. It comes at great personal peril, not just to me, but to all involved. It's direly important that we make a full exit from the plane. We won't know what's on the other side until we open it. Any activity before our launch time will alert them to our potential presence in the area. The plane is very different from our own, and as such we have to take special precautions while there, so we need to know not only what you think we need, but also what you can provide, even if someone else doesn't suggest it, if you think it's at all useful, important, or precautionary we need to know," the lilting, grit-and-gloss timbre adds to the golden-haired male's sentiments.


Krice diverted his attention from Leone as the sounds - and smells - of children wafted his way. He looked toward Hudson's kids, and then to Hudson himself, but Uma and Joanie's arrival by the priestess ensured that his focus would drift their way. In response to their greetings, he offered a single nod meant for both of them, his features pleasantly neutral. For an unstated and indiscernible reason, his eyes lingered on Uma just a moment longer. With the arrival of Eleanor and Gilwen, both nearing Leone as well, the warrior stepped clear of the small group gathering around the priestess but still greeted them, respectively. Moving to a halt just outside the border comprised of runic energies, he looked inward across the heads of the shorter women to spy Blut seated nearby, the odd man holding his attention. Lionel's words were immeasurably more interesting than a lurker, however, and Krice once again turned his head, this time to align his crimson stare with the Steward's. He frowned slightly upon hearing of Shezerade's failure to Kahran's forces, but soon acknowledged Gilwen for her success in Sage. As Leone moved forth to speak her piece, the warrior lifted his chin to volley a reply her way, speaking loud enough for everyone to hear. " You know my capabilities. Stealth, offense, defense, distraction. Wherever I'm needed most, I'll go." He offered a nod to Lionel as well, extending the offer to the Steward just so.


Celaeno glances up from her notes, nose wrinkling as she recalls something she remembered form her discussion with Lionel and his Aid de Camp about this particular place. She flips through her notebook to one of its older entires, seven particularly nasty curses scribbled down in her shorthand. She bites her lip and hesitantly raises her hand to speak, one silver gauntlet rising over her hood. "Ah, excuse me. I...am learning the dark arts and I believe Miss Khitti said that those powers were amplified in the Shadow Plane. I can help make some cursed ammunition that will heighten the damage inflicted to any enemies that might crop up. I know a few things that I've seen applied to bolts and arrows to good effect." A certain Redskull fight came to mind. "Aside from that I...am learning the Black Tides and can attempt studying up on my barriers in the meantime as well. And that is what I can potentially contribute, though my combat skils themselves are rather lacking." Her stormy eyes dart between those gathered, unsurity clear in her hunched posture. The playing children, the entourage of elves, the rather intimidating silver warrior by the looks of things...that priestess responsible for the portal she finally remembered tearing into herself with a dagger, that odd shadowy figure, a couple of those in fact... It all sent her heart racing and frankly seemed quite daunting, all considered, not even thinking about the mission proper just yet.


Hudson had waved to Eleanor but mostly is splitting his attention between the meeting and the girls. The plot currently being roleplayed by Harper and Luna (who have no interest in this meeting at all) has sort of a limited run, the girls have moved onto the next episode: 'Queen Josleen' and 'Lionel,' now a married couple with a dog, have a playful argument over Lionel leaving the toilet seat up. (This content is obviously lifted from actual events at home.) 'Queen Josleen' declares that she will make it 'innegal' to leave the toilet seat up. 'Lionel' responds, in an eerie imitation of Hudson, "Why are you like this?" "I demand three cannolis as tribute!" proclaims 'Queen Josleen.' Hudson can't wait to tell Alvina about how cute and good their girls were. #Dad Uma, who has a son about their age, remarks discreetly to Joanie, "This is the difference between little girls and boys. Marco would have broken something by now." When it comes time for people to speak up as to how they will assist the mission, Uma next raises her hand and offers, "I think you may all be familiar with my specialties, but they are support oriented. I can provide magical barriers and buffs. Might be helpful when going in." She looks at Joanie next, in an unspoken cue. Joanie, who is in her 50s but aging quite gracefully, chimes in nonchalantly, "I'm a good shot with my wand. Very capable sniper," she looks at Hudson, whose attention has at this point wandered back in their direction. "I'm a werewolf, have to go with Joanie though," he offers, with no further explanation.


Blut rose to speak placeing the book in his pocket. "Well why don't we send some people on a suicide mission. Send some foke to be captured with a tracer crystal imbeded within them. Then it's a litteral case of following the line. Pretty sure you got criminals who would fight for that honour and I'm sure alot of people here wouldn't mind dieing a martyr" Blut spoke unapologeticly. Lionel knew his abilities he felt to need to remind him. "If your not comfortable with that send me in early to scout. I don't need to eat drink or sleep so I'd have no issues staying there for a while." Blut offered he's immortal and has made deals with devils he's not gonna waste this chance.


Celaeno scribbled all the while at her most current entry. One did need to be thorough at these briefings.


Gilwen’s features hardened with the news of Shezerade's current state, as do the elves around her, and the acknowledging glances, words, and Esche’s bow were met with a curt nod. She usually wasn’t in the best of moods during Lionel’s briefings, but this instance was excused by yet more death of her people from earlier in the week; the mourning lingered, as did the pure hatred for Kahran and those associated with him. “I doubt there is a way to retrieve a plant specimen from that realm and effectively study it before our departure,” Gilwen said, her questioning gaze shifting between Lionel and Leone. The elves accompanying Gilwen look towards Blut and his suggestion with open disdain; they had not been a fan of the rosary bombs he had insisted all wear on their prior mission, and they clearly weren't a fan of this suicide mission.


Celaeno may have exhaled a small sigh of relief when Uma pointed out her support services. The figure brashly proclaiming his unique abilities to everyone gathered has both her eyebrows going up. The silver-haired man near the priestess...well he wasn't much of a surprise, she expected as much from a glance. The werewolf comment from the apparent father of the girls had her lips pursing, those she had heard of at least. Gilwen, she remembered her as much, and possibilities of plant life had her curious. Was nature magic the idea? The accented woman...she too seemed the capable type, much like Krice had been. All those thoughts are, of course, jotted into the little book nearly as quickly as they were spoken.


Eleanor was silent a long while as she thought on the ways she might contribute to this impending adventure. It wasn’t like the spell-rogue to so easily offer up the measure of her abilities, and even the mystery of her gem was touched upon only at great cost to herself. As those she found herself among spoke in turn, the woman’s head canted to the left, her gaze flicking toward the speakers as she pursed her lips into a vague line of contemplation. At length, the woman’s thick, husky burr rolled forth, a certain coyness curling around the syllables, “I'll dae whit Ah can tae help. I've still got whit Ah took up north.” She referred to the remains of the arcane barrier surrounding the Ouroborus tribe, and as if on cue, the gem in her diadem flickered briefly with reflected firelight. However, she wasn’t terribly keen on going into further detail on her multitude of tattoos and their enchantments in such mixed company, and relied on their trust with a slight nod to Leone and Lionel in particular. If she had anything more to offer, she kept it to herself, for now.


Hudson is being handed all sorts of dolls. The girls are over this meeting now. Luna wants to be picked up. He obliges her. She puts her head on his shoulder. "Cannoli, daddy," she whispers. "OK," he whispers back, with a small amount of alarm watching Harper amble over to Blut. "Hello, do you like dogs?" she asks him. Hudson's about to go collect his kid but Joanie abandons Uma to handle. "I'm bored," complains Harper, now being steered back to her father. "Your daddy will take you home soon," says Joanie. Well, they can't be perfect angels indefinitely...


Lionel could never argue with Krice’s analysis of his own considerable abilities. Those abilities have quite literally saved Lionel’s life multiple times over. He nods curtly, but his azure gaze lingers on the man, the friend, for a few stray seconds. In that time, he’s weighing the words they shared by the wyverns the evening before another expedition into another unknown: the Ouroboros. The understanding they shared in that discourse is all Lionel will ever need in order to understand Krice’s bravery. Celaeno’s words snap him from consideration and he blinks at her. She’s young, although how old was Lionel when the fates intervened? His lips twist slightly as he considers his sister’s budding friendship with the girl; it’s starting to make sense now. Celaeno speaks of invaluable dark abilities to be used in the Shadow Plane and Lionel winces very subtly. Khitti said the same thing. What Khitti has had to endure since has been torture just to behold. Nevertheless, all must be accepted or Lithrydel will surely fall. “Thank you,” Esche speaks up beside him. Lionel has spent too much time regretting her involvement to be the one to say it. “That will be of extraordinary help, Cel,” Lionel decides to call her. Uma’s aid is almost as unspoken in Lionel’s mind as Krice’s. Without her and numerous other witches -- Valrae chief in his mind among them now -- Cenril would have been slaughtered in full just months ago. In the conflicts since, she and her rebel witches have stood beside him again and again. Many of those witches have been deployed in forward camps across the realm, fighting and too often giving their lives for a global cause. “I owe your people greatly,” he tells Cenril’s mayor, bowing. Lionel almost never bows. “And the debt will continue.” Thereafter, Esche, who has begun to trace a path through the yard, stands between Krice and Uma. His thin elven form casts a small shadow between them. “Gilwen,” he says, evidently having stood between the two allies for no real reason but to reach his fellow elf. “As it happens, I have acquired plentiful specimens of the fauna found in the region of the Shadow Plane roughly interposed over the forest in which Khitti von Schreier first took us to its ethereal and deadly locale. I hold only substandard expertise in such trades but I presumed someone of great import would come along who could use them to even greater effect. They are yours for study.” He speaks words in her native tongue and bows more gracefully than Lionel could have availed. “Leone will tell you where we’re headed, and why,” Lionel begins the wrap-up. Leone will also reply to those he has not spoken with himself.


Blut doesn't look at kid that approached him. The man sighed before saying "can't say I do runt." Blut had heard many men call kids runts he didn't know why nor cared he just wanted the kid to leave him alone.


Leone looks to Krice first, a nod given to the swordsman, "Your skills are without question, of course. And, I take it, if we need you to carry anything, you'll be willing?" Celaeno's statement is given heed, the query bringing the smith to a halt in her speech and she looks between the student of darker arts and Lionel; this is totally his ballpark. The smiths' attention swings toward Blut, and her lips purse. "If we can track them, they can track them," she says plainly, "And I'd rather not give them any more advantages than they already have. We're on their turf, after all," she insists toward the assassin, "Plus we want people we can trust doing this, not some hopeful convict that could turn on us if someone offered them a better deal." Her face echoes the disdain of Gilwen's elven contingent, though to a lesser degree. The cleric, it would seem, finds this suggestion entirely distasteful. The smith touches her forehead briefly, and nods to Eleanor. The same nod is issued to Uma and Joanie. If nothing else, the party will be well protected. The forces combined should be more than enough - if the party stays in a tight enough group. "We will be launching from the Nameless Desert. Some of you may have heard of this...mostly forgotten portion of our lands. It's beside Gualon, and south of Kelay. We must take caution here: the Desert has been unholy ground for quite some time. It is...fraught...with spirits and dark energies. Even more than exist in the western wilds of Frostmaw, I'm sorry to say. There are perpetual lightning storms, and passage is difficult. It takes timing and finesse. But it's currently under the control of no one. It holds no alliances nor allegiances, and thusly makes it the perfect place to launch our plan. Due to its history, we'll not likely be discovered or interrupted, either. We'll mark as much of the path as possible, though it will be subtle. If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions in the coming week, please don't hesitate to contact me," the farrier proclaims above the quickly crescendoing sounds of impatient children and collaborating ranks.


Krice bowed his head to Lionel, accepting the man's reply. He listened thereafter, but Leone's words in relation to the task to come--their travel through unholy lands and into other realms--meant that his focus on -her- was inevitable. He fixed the woman with a pensive stare, obstructed briefly by Esche's passage en route to Gilwen. Speaking to Leone, he added, " I'll carry whatever." His subsequent expression was pointedly leveled on the woman. He could scout ahead with her assistance, if need be.


Blut walked over to the pair. Blut knew these deserts intimately he spent alot of time there to practice his lost craft. "If you need help getting round the place I have a friend that can help with transport. I myself kniw these deserts quite well." Blut explained walking away from the child.


Blut raised a hand to his chin "also I don't think it's his terf. The necromancer shouted at him mentioning that the he was "looking from a realm not even his own." Whatdo you think that could mean" Blut asked now looking at Lionel.


Celaeno offers Lionel a perhaps overly courteous bow of her head, partly to hide the red tint spreading over her cheeks at his statement. She gulps a moment at Leone’s mention of a subtle path through a desert fraught with perils. The biggest danger hovering over her mind is her tendency to get lost without having been somewhere prior. Another sheepish hand is raised toward Leone’s direction as she speaks up once more. “Will we be expected to travel in a group following a guide who knows these markers? Or separately to a meeting point so as to avoid detection?” Blut’s overheard mention of being able to arrange transport does have her pointed ears perking and shoulders sagging with a bit of relief. That gave her at least a smidgen of hope. She starts a rather lengthy to do list in the meantime while awaiting an answer to her question, glancing up every so often at others.


Eleanor pursed her lips, quiet per usual as she mulled over everything learned, every piece brought forth today to fit together in a careful machination. The spell-rogue's gaze darted, briefly, toward Blut, and her lips twitched into a frown, her eyes narrowing subtly, but she said nothing to him. Instead, when she spoke again, it was to Leone. "Ah woods spick wi' ye mair, suin." El angled her chin down in a respectful not to the priestess, before withdrawing a few paces back. She lifted that gaze again, letting it tumble over those gathered, particularly on the less-familiar faces of Gilwen and Celaeno. Soon thereafter, the rogue leader was making her departure, back up the steps toward the academy's front door.


Celaeno hurriedly cast nods toward those who had met eyes with her, as she scurried between listening and writing. Eleanor and Krice are among those.


Hudson, as Leone talks, strategically palms Luna's head to earmuff out what the priestess is saying. Luna, as the better behaved but slightly bossy child, tolerates this because it happens sometimes. Harper is allowed to hear everything, but she is somewhat distracted between glaring at Blut, who is, for the next ten minutes, her Nemesis, and asking really rude questions, such as, "Daddy, whhhhy does that man have long hair?" about Krice. Hudson, for his part, hisses, "Harper!" at her and makes the grimace all parents do when it's getting late and their children spontaneously start developing into gremlins and it can't be stopped. Harper doesn't care if she's bad. "Daddy, can I go play over there?" she asks her father, pointing at a literal ditch of mud. "No," he whispers, tersely. "Daddy, I'm bored," she declares. He gives her a long-eyed warning look. Now he is thoroughly embarrassed of how rude Harper has been, talking over Leone! Ugh. She had been so good! "I wanna go play over there," Harper says more passionately, stomping her feet. This does not portend well. "Thank you so much for hosting," Uma says graciously to Lionel and Leone in an attempt to politely ignore the incipient meltdown. "Sweetie, let's go back to the carriage," Joanie is in damage control mode. Harper's face has crumpled and she has started to emit a high-pitched, sustained whine. Fortunately, she allows herself to be led away by Joanie and Uma. Whilst still making the noise. It's fine. This is fine. Luna, thumb in her mouth, looks drowsily over her father's shoulder as they go.


Celaeno winced at that whine, her points actually drooping a bit, and jots another note about children in her little book along with the flurry of everything else.


Gilwen's attention faded from everyone except Esche, and despite the mournful look that lingered in the set of her mouth and the lines of her eyes, a small excitement grew from the druid. "I wish to look over these specimens as soon as possible. Lionel explained to me that my magic might not work the same over there, but if I can at least have knowledge of the plant life." She trailed off there, her attention drawn back toward Leone by a soft nudge from one within her company, just in time to catch were exactly they will be entering this new plane.


Leone crosses the yard soon after Krice, a hand stretching out to land upon the swordsman's shoulder in the midst of the remark of, "Hey, want to drop me at home?"


Krice slowed as a hand fell to his shoulder and he glanced sideways, noting Leone. He halted a moment later, her request earning a nod and the offering of his right elbow. " Sure," he said, agreeing to her request without hesitation, despite his writer's derp moment. Presumably linked at the arm, he would lead the priestess to his wyvern, who would undoubtedly be ecstatic to see her again, before flying once more in the direction of the fort.