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Dretphi lowers her head from gazing up at the white, fluffy clouds above in the blue sky, and smiles at Bach with a persuading hint in her voice. “I thought we could practice close quarters maneuvers. Weather is suppose to be bad Tuesday. Take advantage now. Practice magic flow when we do not want to be outside.”

Bach blinks, glances around the immediate vicinity, and scratches his head of longer, brown hair. “Uh, sure, I guess. The ground mat isn’t out here. Do you want me to go get it? I think I remember seeing it in your room against the wall.”

Shaking her head, Dretphi kneels down, picks up a well padded practice shield, and stands up with both hands holding it and a growing grin. “No grappling. Punches. Kicks. With this shield. We will take turns.”

His stare widening, Bach’s uncertainty leaks out and he averts his eyes away, searching for a diversion in vain. He nervously chuckles and struggles to demonstrate a nonchalant exterior. “Well... Uh... Maybe? I’m not that good at the whole close quarters thing... I’m sure you know...”

The smile on Dretphi’s face wavers and she gazes down towards the ground, lowering the shield down. “Yes. I know. We can start slow. Simple. Easy.”

Bach notices the shift in Dretphi’s body language and grimaces. “I guess. I just don’t think I’d be the best one for this.”

Dretphi smiles hopefully and bites her lower lip with a shrug. “You are the best I have.”

Bach cocks his head to the side and puzzles at her statement. Dretphi sighs, fights back embarrassment, and briefly twists her mouth. “We have similar weight. Height. Strength potential. Sebastian helped before. He can not now. Cideeda tries. Too light. Aristespha helps. Have to be careful to not wear out our medic. Sotalia...”

Both Bach and Dretphi make eye contact, ponder similar thoughts, and roll their eyes. Bach nods with an understanding groan and snorts. “Yeah... I can imagine that would get a bit old after a while.”

Dretphi smirks and hides an impish flit of satisfaction. “When I tire of her... Hit the shield hard a few times. She stumbles. Wants to do other things.”

Bach chuckles and shakes his head with a sigh. “Yeah... You do have a point. I’ll do what I can... But, don’t expect that much.”

A bright smile appears on Dretphi’s face, and she lifts up the padded practice shield along with her spirits. “Thank you. I think I am the best to help you practice. You know how... resilient I am.”

She stands in front of Bach, holds the shield up at the ready, and waits expectantly. “Go first. Punch. Try it out. Take it slow. Work on form.”

Bach glances over at the practice pad securely positioned by Dretphi, pauses in thought, and slowly changes his stance. Carefully balling up his fists, Bach rolls his shoulders and breathes in preparation. He pulls back arm, aims his posture, and glances towards Dretphi for confirmation. She quickly releases one hand from the shield, demonstrates a proper form with her arm, and gestures towards deficiencies she sees. Bach studies a moment, adjusts his raised fist, and waits for Dretphi to return her hand to the shield. He tenses his muscles, drives his punch forward, and lands in the ample padding of the practice pad. Dretphi barely rocks from the meek force. Bach pulls back his hand, readies himself again, and glances over again for confirmation. Dretphi lifts a curious brow and nods quickly. “Punch. Hard.”

Bach narrows a stare at the middle of the practice shield, stretches his muscles, and flings another punch into the cushioned surface. He repeats the process many times and switches to his other hand. Dretphi studies each impact and watches the form of each of Bach’s punches. After a number of punches, her expression towards Bach hints at annoyance, and she examines the motion of each attack. With another few impacts, she steps back, stands up straight, and focuses her scrutinizing stare upon Bach. “You are NOT punching hard. Why?”

Bach gradually lowers his fist, blinks at the examination by Dretphi, and fumbles for an answer. “Uh... Um... I... Well, I don’t want to hurt you?”

Dretphi cracks a confident smirk, glances at the thick, ample cushioning of the practice shield, and places her hands on hips with faint flexing of her muscular frame. “Appreciate the sentiment. I should be able to manage.”

Studying Dretphi’s figure for seconds, Bach blinks back to awareness, sighs uneasily, and shrugs his shoulders. “Well... I’m just a bit hesitant to go full strength in attacking anyone really. Probably sounds silly given our current line of work, but...”

A warm smile appears on Dretphi’s face and she relaxes her stance. She holds the practice shield low in front of her with both hands, nods understanding, and calmly explains. “It is not. Restraint is admirable. A good quality.”

She steps forward, turns the shield around, and presents it to Bach. A eager grin sneaks out from the corner of her mouth and she lifts her eyebrow as she gazes at Bach. “You should not sacrifice potential from over restraint. This is practice. This shield will soften powerful impacts to a small force. Here.”

Bach takes hold of the shield. Dretphi gestures with both arms and demonstrates. “Hold it like this. Brace one foot back. Stand firm. Not stiff. Flex with the force.”

Nodding slowly, Bach grips hold of the practice pad by thick, well made straps, shifts his stance, and readies his upper body. Dretphi waits patiently as Bach presents the shield in front himself, while cringing uneasily in anticipation. Quickly assuming a proper posture and maintaining her form, Dretphi targets the shield with her steel gray eyes, pulls back her tensed tan, faint gray striped arm, and launches a fast fist solidly into the cushioning of the practice shield. The force radiates through the outer fabric covering, and sends a shock wave of air rippling outwards from the center to outer vent holes. The whole shield pushes upon Bach and rocks him back smoothly. Following the force through, Bach bends back and returns forward with little effort. He blinks a few times in surprise, examines the padded shield closer, and smiles amazed. “Well shit... That wasn’t that bad at all. Just a general push backward, but nothing sharp or hard.”

Dretphi grins eagerly and gestures her fists at the ready. “Want to continue?”

Bach shrugs his shoulders with a snort, holds the practice shield to Dretphi, and plants his feet back in preparation. “Well, sure. Hell, if that’s all I’ve got to worry about, I’ll be fine.”

Dretphi unleashes series after series of punches into the cushioned pad, waiting for Bach to return to the ready after each volley. She motions for Bach to move the shield to another position, explains her intentions, and waits. After Bach resets to a new direction, she performs a new series of physical attacks upon the practice pad. In between breaks, she explains the maneuvers in careful and specific detail, and slows the process down to showcase motions to Bach. Minutes later, Dretphi wipes her forehead of sweat, rolls her shoulders as she stands straight, and holds her hand out. “Your turn. I will hold the shield.”

The two switch jobs. Bach cautiously attempts a series of punches, with each repetition growing more forceful. Dretphi smiles encouragingly and utilizes the lulls in Bach’s flurries to point out areas of improvement. Going through a similar routine, Dretphi leads Bach through and changes the shield’s positions for another type of attack. Bach maintains his pace with plenty of panting from the intensity of the work out. Minutes later, Bach performs a series of sloppy maneuvers under the influence of tired, heavy breathing, and Dretphi steps back afterwards with a hand out. “Switch. That was good. This time, move the shield to a position away from center. I will hit it. You choose a new one when you feel like it. Repeat.”

Bach nods as he takes the practice shield from Dretphi, draws a few deep breathes, and tries to stem his panting as he rolls his shoulders. “Okay. Sounds good. I’ll see what I can do.”

With a spring of excitement, Dretphi flexes her form, assumes a readied posture, and waits. Bach grips the padded shield with both hands and maintains in the center. He watches Dretphi’s eager gaze upon the target and ponders a few moments as a smirk grows. He slides the practice shield in one direction, feels the impact, quickly shifts back to the center, and chooses another spot. Leading with a series of slow transitions, Bach speeds up the pace and varies the where the next spot will be. Dretphi’s attention focuses upon the developing game between her and Bach, and she smiles happily as the challenge continues.

From across the field behind the ranch style house from the corner of the lot, a distant but audible groan from Tassilda rises out of the natural background. “... Again... You must FIRST perform protective incantations BEFORE you do the other parts of the spell...”

Veevi’s distinctive irritated whines peaks into the airspace, but very little traveling the distance remains coherent. Bach and Dretphi both pause, glance over confused, listen a moment, and simultaneously roll their eyes. Bach shakes his head and smirks with a grumble. “Okay. A few more rounds, and let’s go inside for a bit.”

Dretphi nods in agreement and twists her mouth, fighting tinges of frustration. “Yes. I like peace when I practice.”

The two resume as Bach shifts the practice shield to a new position and Dretphi tags it with a swift punch. Tassilda’s voice breaks out in shrill shout. “...What are- OH GODS! FIRE IT UP IN THE AIR! NOW!”

A small bolt zips up into the sky, past the corner of the backyard. Bach lifts the practice pad up in front of him. Dretphi pushes forth her fist towards her target. A sharp, jarring crack concusses out suddenly into the area. Bach startles, reflexively tenses his upper body, and snaps his eyes towards source behind him. Dretphi’s focus switches to the origin of the sound for a moment. Bach returns his gaze forward in time to catch a glimpse of Dretphi’s fist approaching and realizes the shield followed his tensed arms down. Dretphi returns her gaze ahead to her fright. In mere moments, she loosens her tight fist, attempts to will her arm another direction, curls her hand inwards, and turns her body away. Despite her best efforts, momentum continues to carry her forward. The back of her wrist lands solidly into Bach’s upper cheek and slides rigidly across his nose. A wet snap sounds from the collision. Bach’s head turns away from the impact, and leads the rest of his body in a stumbling twirl. Dretphi lands on her side upon the ground. Reflexively, she puts her hands down to push herself, and winces sharply when her wrist bends. Back on her feet, she rushes over to Bach as he steadies himself, still on his feet. “Are you okay?!”

Bach pivots slowly in place to face Dretphi. His eyes water and red streams out of bent nose. Bach snorts out a crimson spray from his nostrils and blinks through his hazy vision with pained, unsure tone. “Uh... Maybe? Ow...”

Dretphi pales in horror as she covers mouth in shock with her other hand, and speaks direly apologetic phrases of Grath. She quickly places her free hand upon Bach’s back and gently guides him inside the house.




Aristespha quirks an investigative eyebrow and narrows her glowing violet eyes towards Bach’s nose. Her medically gloved hands carefully guides his head around as he sits in a turned around dining table chair. After a few more sways of Aristespha’s head and focusing her attention to crooked ridge of Bach’s nose, she nods her head with a neutral smirk. “Certainly broken, but nothing too serious. It seems to have fractured cleanly in a few locations. So nothing that can’t be fixed quickly.”

Cideeda passes another clean bundle of paper towels to Bach and plucks the red spotted mass of old sheets from him. Sotalia leans close and curiously stares at the swollen section of cheek and bent nose. She blinks in surprise and glances over to Dretphi with an ill-humored smirk. “Good gods, girl. What did he do to get this from you?”

Dretphi snaps a unamused glare back at Sotalia and gently rubs her wrist while she stands away from the gathering. “Nothing! It was... An accident...”

Bach gradually nods, sniffs shallowly with a wince, and glances over to Sotalia. “Yeah. Some loud noise startled both of us at the wrong time. I think it came from the other team. At least the yelling sounded familiar.”

Frowning as she watches Bach explain, Dretphi rolls her shoulders uncomfortably and keeps her gaze low. “Yes. Tassilda. Veevi.”

Cideeda twists her mouth in thought, places her hands at her hips, flicks her furry ears, and squints her emerald eyes through the glass of the back sliding door. “That explains where that noise I heard came from. Still don’t know what it was.”

Sotalia cross her arms, rolls her eyes with a groan, and shakes her head of fiery orange, wavy hair. “Gods, probably another magical mishap from that annoying little shit not following instructions. Tassilda really needs find a way to get out of teaching that pink bitch anything else. As nice as it would be for her to blow herself up, she’d probably take all of us out doing so.”

Sebastian hovers next to Bach and cranes his head over with a smirk. “Damn, bro. Looks like quite the hit you took. Should be able to get you fixed up. But, gods, that has to hurt.”

Bach manages a smile through discomfort and breathes out a laugh. “Yeah. But, I was at least still standing. Even if stumbled around a few times. To be fair though, Dretphi pulled it as much as she could at the last second. Probably would have knocked me out cold otherwise.”

Dretphi’s shoulders tense and she bites her lower lip. She averts her gaze and tries to hide the growing embarrassment and shame upon her face as emotion obviously seeps into her body language. Aristespha sighs, adjusts her chair opposite of Bach, and stares with a professional demeanor at him. “Okay. Since it is very recent and clean, I can perform a very powerful series of spells to realign it all back into place. Then, I’ll fuse the bones and bind the softer tissues enough that it will secure it. After that, a few alchemical treatments to aid the natural healing process.”

Bach nods in understanding, pads up a slow trickle of blood from under his nose, and shrugs his shoulders. “Okay. That sounds good.”

Aristespha draws in a long breath breath, and sighs with a grit of her teeth. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of the spells involved and how much focus and care they require... I can’t afford any magical pain management during the process.”

Bach’s gaze towards Aristespha shifts quickly towards uneasy and he awkwardly smiles. “Well, any other options?”

With a calm, proper demeanor, Aristespha explains the situation to Bach. “I can’t use anything alchemical before the procedure. I can give you some mild pain relievers, but those will provide very limited relief and take time for your body to process. Ideally, we do this as soon as possible. The longer we wait, the longer it will take to properly align and fuse tissues together, as I will have to fight more of the body’s natural reaction to this injury over time.”

She presents a reassuring smile and patient, calm exterior. “There are other options, but they will take a lot more time and effort to perform over the course of two weeks or so. It’s up to you on how I proceed.”

Bach ponders and his eyes search his mind. After a few seconds of thought, he sighs with a grumble and rolls his eyes at himself. “Let’s just get it done now and quick. We all got bigger things to deal with. Shit, even I have better things to worry about.”

Aristespha nods with a slight, confirming bow. “Understood.”

She glances over her shoulder and gestures Dretphi over. “Dretphi? Could you come over and hold the sides of Bach’s head.”

Dretphi blinks to attention, nods, and steps over behind Bach’s chair. Aristespha gazes her glowing violet eyes at Bach and precisely gestures out an incantation. She readies her hands near Bach and calmly explains. “I’ll be as gentle as I can when moving bones in place. Stay as relaxed as possible. Stay as still as possible. You will have some help there.”

She glances to Dretphi and motions to the sides of Bach’s head. “Just keep his head from reflexively turning away. It sometimes happens even when people are trying their best.”

Dretphi nods, places both hands firmly but gently on either side of Bach’s head.  She subdues a wince as the wrist on one hand bends. Bach eyes over to the side as he feels the subtle quiver of Dretphi’s hand. His eyes scan through his recent memory and search through hazy details. Aristespha smiles comfortingly with hints of amusement, and rests her gloved finger lightly upon Bach’s nose. “Here’s the glamorous part of my job they tell don’t anyone.”

Each of her pinkie fingers slide into respective nostrils of Bach’s nose and flows of magical energy stream through her hands into a radiant coating upon the nasal structures. She stares at Bach and signals him with a nod. Bach closes his eyes tightly. Aristespha concentrates her full focus and prepares. After a few seconds of study, her fingers move quickly and precisely. A wet series of muffled crunches spike into the air over the next minute. Sotalia quickly covers her pointed ears, shudders in full body wince, and wretches briefly as she steps away. Cideeda’s ears droop back and she grits her teeth, tensing her shoulders. Dretphi presents a stoic facade but barely hides her discomfort and concerned gaze upon Bach. Sebastian twists his mouth as uncomfortable familiarity washes over his ethereal visage. Bach staggers a gasp through his teeth. “G-g-gods... Fuck...”

Aristespha keeps her attention upon her task and pauses briefly to update Bach. “The bones and cartilage are back in place. Now to secure them to each other. Hang in there, Bach.”

The energies surrounding and within Bach’s nose flash up to a bright glow. Bach opens his blue eyes wide shock and painfully grimaces. His fists clench, forearm muscle tense, and gasps in air. Dretphi keeps Bach head in place against unconscious motions to turn with a cringe. The few minutes pass by slowly for Bach and the group. The flows fade out quickly, and Aristespha gingerly removes her hands from Bach with a relieved smile. “It’s done.”

Dretphi releases Bach from her hold. Bach sways his head side to side in a momentary daze and blinks back to clarity. Dretphi rests her hand upon his shoulder and steadies him in the chair. Bach sniffs up a long draw of air through his nose and flutters his eyes. “Wow! Just... Wow... Oh, holy shit...”

He eyes Aristespha briefly with a weak smile and laughs lightly. “So... Can I get something to help the natural healing process... And my sanity?”

Aristespha grins in commiseration with a single nod, removes the thin, transparent medical gloves off her hands, and tosses them into a nearby trash can. “Yes. Most certainly.”

She glances over to Sotalia with a smile. “Could you get me a vial from the latest batch of analgesics we made?”

Sotalia nods and departs quickly, occasionally shuddering and shaking it off mid stride. Bach pauses in a thought briefly and curiously glances up to Dretphi concerned. “Oh yeah. How is your wrist? Now that I think about it... That’s what actually hit me. Not your fist.”

Dretphi eyes widen and she glances around in a thinly veiled facade of calm. “Oh. It will be fine.”

Bach hoists an unconvinced eyebrow up on his face and tugs at the corner of his mouth. “How is it, currently?”

Embarrassment leaks out into Dretphi’s uneasy smirk with hints of guilt, and she sighs uncomfortably. Cideeda pulls out a chair from the nearby dining table, slides it over next to Bach’s, and gestures Dretphi into it. Aristespha turns her chair to face the new seat. Sebastian smiles understandingly and shakes his head slowly. “It’s okay. Bach is fine. You’re next. Sit down and let’s get it taken care of.”

Dretphi sides steps around, sits down in the empty chair, and presents her aching wrist. While Aristespha examines her injury, Dretphi turns her head towards Bach with a soft tone. “I am... very... sorry. I wanted the training to be fun. Not end like this.”

She frowns and exahles sadly. “I will understand if you are hesitant to participate in the future.”

Bach slowly angles his head to face Dretphi, shrugs his shoulders, and grins nonchalantly. “You don’t have worry. As if I’m letting something like this stop me, especially at THIS point. It’s not like it’s the first injury I’ve gotten by accident from friends or family.”

A wave of relief washes over Dretphi and she smiles warmly towards Bach. “Thank you.”

Bach groans with a twist in his smirk. “Also, it’s not like I’ve haven’t been in your position before.”

Sebastian rolls his eyes and grumbles ethereally as he crosses his arms. “No shit there, bro.”

Narrowing his glance briefly at Sebastian, Bach grins mischievously to Dretphi and points generally to a few of his front teeth. “For example, the points on two of Sebastian’s canines are... or were reforms.”

Snapping his glare at Bach, Sebastian’s ethereal form tightens his arms and sneers. “Well, maybe if SOMEONE had remembered look for the pieces after he ACCIDENTALLY lead me into that metal post... I wouldn’t have had to sit in that dentist chair for hours as they formed new ones!”

Concentrating an accusatory glare to Sebastian, Bach mumbles loudly as he flexes his wrist and holds it with his other hand. “Oh, only fair after convincing me to jump THAT creek with my bike. Again, that cast up to my elbow was SO MUCH fun.”

Sebastian’s expression blanks and his eyes search around the area to avoid Bach’s stare. “Uh... Well... In all fairness, bro, I kind of thought you’d make it. And, you did... But... I just didn’t know that rock would catch your front wheel like that on the other side.”

Aristespha rolls her glowing violet eyes as the brothers continue to dig up old sibling battle wounds and smirks to Dretphi before inspecting the wrist further. Dretphi leans close to Aristespha and smiles whispering. “Reminds me of my two brothers.”

Quirking her brow, Aristespha responds in similarly quiet manner and directs her voice to Dretphi. “Including the accidents?”

With a slight grumble, Dretphi curls her upper lip slightly and nods slowly. “Unfortunately.”




A bright orb of light hovers above Meredosia’s palm as she swings it slowly around. The light casts a few meters upon the floor of the massive, cavernous, and dark space. Walking carefully ahead, she shines the illumination upon large industrial machinery and golem parts at many stages of construction. Speckles reflect from stone, glints flicker from metal, and light diffuses through crystal in the area. Meredosia narrows her dark crimson eyes out into the shadowy space at the perimeter of her light and snaps her head down upon the floor. She kneels down, and pulls her gray hair out of the way and over a long, pointed ear. She cocks her head in a mix of curiosity and worry as her ivory fingers trace out unfamiliar, recent footprints in the dirt and dust. She lifts her head up, stares ahead determined, and stands up with a growing sneer.

Meredosia maintains a cautious pace but keeps her attention forward towards the tunnel archway past a small building within the gigantic, dark cave. Her gaze shifts briefly towards the wrecked interior of the structure and strewn debris sprawled out in front of its entryway. Squinting through the dim outer edge of her light, she speeds up her pace towards the huge tunnel archway. She stops momentarily, and studies the dust disturbances upon the smooth floor. Her hard stare follows five distinct, recent trails upon older tracks matching the outlines of her boots. She closes her eyes, and remains silent. Only the faint sounds of air flowing contrast the eerie silence, as her long ears twitch. Her eyes open up with a dark crimson glow radiating out.

Each of Meredosia’s steps propel her forward at a fast pace down the tunnel leading to the barely ajar, massive double doors at the end. She grits her teeth and grimaces as concern, dread, and anger mix upon her ivory face. She quickly slips through the gap between the doors, stands upon the dimly lit stone path surrounding a deep, dark pit. Snapping her head to either side, she searches the immediate routes down the walkways and focuses her attention to the crystal embedded cave ceiling overhead. Puzzlement overwhelms her and she mutters a series of confused Evuukian phrases as expectation remains unsatisfied. Blinking her glowing crimson eyes, she returns her gaze forward towards the platform. Her jaw drops open. Her eyes widen in absolute horror. She silently gawks blankly at the partially collapsed central platform. A few squeaks of disbelief escape her lungs as she recognizes the scattered and strewn parts of the dire wolf golem, draped upon the ruined structure.

Stepping slowly and staggering, she yells out a single word in a dialect of evuukian as the light orb in her palm dissipates in sudden puff of miasma. Her astonished gawk searches vainly between the devastated mechanical corpse of the dire wolf construct and the torched, tipped central platform. Her attempts at speaking start and stumble to abrupt halts as comprehension evades Meredosia entirely. Horror fills her face as she curls her fingers in her gray hair. Seconds later, her ivory face reddens deeply and she throws out her arms down in a pained scream of rage. She gasps for air, panting unsteadily, and tenses her whole body. Enraged words shriek from her mouth and each new phrase leaves her with peaking levels of spite and hate. She stomps down the walkway towards a twisted central access ramp, diverts from her course, and stops to scream out a single name. “NOXIAN!!!”

Meredosia’s bright crimson gaze locks onto an old crate and she sends a clenched fist into the ancient wood. She pulls out her hand, kicks another box with all her might, sending dry rotted splinters into the air. Her fury wanes with each outburst until she drops to her knees. Tears stream from Meredosia’s eyes with each wet, angry sob, and spatter upon the dusty, carved rock walkway. Doubling over at the mercy of her emotions, she slams her fists upon the hard path, punctuating each charged evuukian word leaving her lungs. Her vigor leaves and she collapses fully onto the floor in panting, shaky pile. Minutes pass as her exhaustion leads her to silence in the massive crystal cave. Over time, her breathing returns to normal and she gathers some semblance of composure. She gets her arms underneath her, and gradually rights herself up in a sit upon the cold stone walkway. Meredosia releases a long sigh and stares distantly, her attention well within her own mind. While her blank gaze wanders aimlessly around her vicinity, a gradual flow of air flutters a pile of debris nearby. Meredosia’s long ears twitch and she slowly pivots her stare upon a few recent, medical supply wrappers. She reaches out, plucks the paper off the ground, and puzzles over the writing. In a daze, she reads the ink stamped writing next to the printed text out loud. “... Sold at Amaranth Valley General Pharmacy...”

She tilts her head to the side and ponders the torn wrapper in her hands as idle silence returns to the crystal speckled cave.




Veevi dons a determined grimace, hoists up her wooden practice sword with both hands, and side steps in a circle around Trakenthin. She stops after a few meters as the wind blows locks of her pink hair in her face. Keeping her pink pupil eyes upon Trakenthin and hands on the sword, she tosses her hair back, tenses her muscles, and grits her sharp teeth. A moment of silence falls upon the back lot of the two story house, with only the bored, annoyed sigh from Trakenthin contrasting the quiet. Veevi digs her feet into the grass, charges forth towards Trakenthin, and swings for an open spot upon the tall, large grath. Trakenthin watches halfheartedly, waits for Veevi to get with a meter, and swiftly swings the mop handle. With slight shift in his stance, Trakenthin parries Veevi’s attack, redirects her momentum, and lightly presses the pole in the exact spot to throw her off balance. Veevi yips in surprise as her shoulders tip past her center of gravity and she flops awkwardly onto the ground. Her fuzzy ears flick and her short-haired tail wags with her agitation. She lifts up her head from ground, draws back her hair from her face, and spits out a few blades of grass.

Trakenthin glances over at the half-fvalian annoyed and maintains his stoic front. Veevi hops up to her feet, brushes off her tight fitting shirt and shorts, and readies her practice sword again. She ponders a few moments, changes up her pose, and switches up her grip upon the sword. After circling around the stationary grath a number of times, she sprints suddenly at Trakenthin. Her attack swings to another perceived opening. Trakenthin deftly handles the sloppy attempt upon him and guides Veevi back onto the ground with minimal effort. The cycle repeats with Veevi rotating through variations of attacks, approaches, and methods. Each meets a similar minimal effort counter from Trakenthin. Finally, Veevi flops on the ground and remains upon the grass, panting.

She grumbles to herself, lowers her ears, and pulls up a handful grass as frustration flares up on her face. Working the grimace off her face, she narrows her eyes in thought, glances over to Trakenthin, and smirks slightly. Switching to a lighter expression, she sits herself up on the ground and catches her breath. Trakenthin quirks a curious brow with a hint of hope coloring his tone. “Finished?”

Veevi presents a cute smile with a flutter of her eyes. “Oh. No. Just taking a break. Having to spar with such a big, tall, powerful warrior is a bit tiring.”

Trakenthin twitches his upper lip and rolls his eyes with a sigh. “Whenever you are ready.”

Veevi smiles slyly, props herself up with her arms behind her, and arches her back in long, figure revealing stretch. She extends her legs out, gradually flexing her form, and works herself into near side split upon the ground. Donning a seductive, sharp grin, she gazes towards Trakenthin. Her facade falters as she notices Trakenthin’s attention poring through paragraphs of text on his aetherphone. With a sneering frown, Veevi sits up, folds her legs, crosses her arms, and petulantly pouts. Her glare examines Trakenthin and settles upon the many faded spots and scars upon his dark bronze skinned arms and legs. Veevi smiles sharply and lifts an intrigued dark pink eyebrow. “You seem like such an amazing fighter. You’ve certainly shown me your... impressive skill. But, I have to ask, where did you get all those scars?”

Trakenthin’s hazel eyes flit wide, but he maintains a calm, stoic exterior. Veevi stares blatantly at Trakenthin, rests her head upon her hands, and grins with a seductive tone. “Hmm. I can barely imagine the amazing battles you must have been through.”

Trakenthin’s cheek twitches and a frown lightly weighs down the corners of his mouth. With a soft, alluring tone, Veevi sways with her tail and bites her lip. “After all you’ve shown me, I find it amazing that ANYONE got even a chance to put a scratch on you.”

Fighting a curl of his upper lip, Trakenthin lifts his gaze up from his phone and stares ahead with a distinctly unamused tint. “My scars came from no battles.”

Veevi blinks surprised, and presents an impressed smile. She slides gradually along to grass towards Trakenthin, keeping her gaze upon him. “Well. That’s interesting... Would you tell me how you got them? I’m sure each has a story... I’m especially interested in the ones that... I can’t see right now.”

A wave of discomfort over Trakenthin cracks his stoic demeanor and he stares distantly ahead. Moments into his mind, he shudders, shakes his head briefly, and plainly states. “No good stories. Came from training. Long time ago.”

Veevi cocks her head to side, genuinely surprised. She halts her stealthy approach towards Trakenthin, musters back her seductive demeanor, and dons a sly grin. She reaches out her hand, moves it near Trakenthin’s leg, and hovers a finger over a faded scar on Trakenthin’s thigh. “Wow... That had to be some serious... intense... training. It certainly made you quite the tough, strong man.”

Tension builds up in Trakenthin’s shoulders as he grimaces. He shakes his head with a cringe, and quickly regains awareness. His cold, irritated stare aims down at Veevi, and he snarls his upper lip. With loud snort, he raises the mop handle above Veevi and growls lowly. “DODGE.”

Veevi glances up bewildered right before she touches Trakenthin. “Wha-”

Her pink pupils narrow and her eyes widen in terror as she witnesses the tensing muscular arms of Trakenthin and the mop handle at the ready. She reflexively cowers backwards onto the ground and crosses her arms in front of her face to shield herself. Trakenthin narrows his glare upon her, watches her squirm awkwardly away, and rolls his eyes. He relaxes his arm, sighs out his anxiety, and regains his stoic facade. “Pay attention. Keep your weapon with you.”

Veevi peeks out through uncrossing arms, nods her head, and turns to grab her practice sword. As she faces away from Trakenthin, a satisfied, sinister smile creeps upon her lips. She quickly hops up on her feet, and pivots to Trakenthin with her sword ready and a confident grin upon her face.




Aristespha and Bach sit cross legged upon folded towels on the floor in the middle of the garage. Sotalia touches up the complicated magical markings encircling Aristespha and Bach, draws a few paths near her with a fine tipped piece of chalk, and glances over to read from an open tome. Sebastian hovers overhead and floats down to land next to Dretphi. Patiently waiting and observantly watching, Dretphi stands at the ready with the sword in its scabbard just outside the circle. Cideeda adjusts an electronic camera on a tripod a few meters way and leads a cable up to the holoplayer resting on a workbench near the corner of the garage. Bach surveys the activity around the room, slowly squirms in discomfort, and grumbles lightly. “I know a lot of this is precautionary and for information purposes... But, I really can’t shake the feeling I’m some kind of dangerous science experiment about to go wrong.”

Aristespha presents a comforting smile to Bach, and nods calmly. “I know. You aren’t the only one. I think we’ve all seen those movies. Still, if you don’t feel comfortable with doing this, we should be able to try it another time.”

Cideeda shrugs her shoulders with her clawed hands upwards at her side, and smirks nonchalantly. “Yeah, it’s not like we park anything in this garage. We can keep the monitoring equipment set up for a while.”

Sotalia looks up from her thick, large book, smiles with a kind tone. “Don’t worry. We’ll work with you.”

She resumes her examination of the detailed information in the tome and slowly turns the page with great interest. Bach twists his mouth in deliberation and shakes his head with a smile. “No, it’s okay. I need to do this. Well, at least start figuring out what... I can do...”

He sighs, rocks his head gradually side to side in a stretch, and straightens his posture. “With everything going on... The golem attack... Whatever crazy shit Meredosia is trying to do... Finding all those Elder energy collection platforms, especially at that hidden factory. And, well, Noxian in general. I... I just need to stop putting off exploring this more.”

Sebastian nods to Bach with a proud grin on his ethereal face and appreciative voice. “Hey, bro, we’ll do what we can at whatever pace you choose. Don’t think I don’t understand the fact you’re putting yourself at risk here.”

Bach smiles, draws in a deep breath, and exhales out his nerves. “Thanks. Okay... I guess I’ll try to draw out a small orb. A very little one.”

Aristespha nods, blinks her eyes to a glowing violet, and prepares herself. “That’s a good place to start. After I prepare a few protective measures and Sotalia charges the circle, you can begin.”

She carefully recites a long chain of incantations, precisely gestures out a series of complicated motions with her hands, and concentrates upon Bach. Sotalia places her hands upon intricate lines leading to the encircling runes around Bach and Aristespha. Magical flows swirl gently around her forearms and sink into the paths upon the concrete floor. A faint glow radiates throughout the protective circle and gradually pulsates idly. Bach glances around, notices Cideeda press a record button, and Dretphi grip the sword tightly. He closes his eyes for a few seconds, and reopens them a bright blue. Magical energy from all parts of his body flow out and condense into complicated structures around his arms and upper body. Layers upon layers materialize from the magical miasma venting from Bach. Minutes later, Bach carefully draws a nervous, wary breath, and slowly exhales as he musters his focus. Lifting his hands close in front of him, he aims his full concentration to a space between his palms. He remains silent as everyone’s attention shifts. The growing tension causes minor shakes, twitches, and shudders to flit across Bach’s body. Gritting his teeth with a pained grimace, tiny pinpoints of white shine in the middle of Bach’s brightly blue illuminated eyes. The sword vibrates in Dretphi’s secure grip and Sebastian’s ethereal form wavers and flickers.

“NEW FLOW DETECTED. FROM FAMILIAR SOURCE.”

Bach’s hands tremor constantly, his face wears an ongoing wince, and his breathing staggers. He brings his hands closer as he struggles to will something out from within. Punishing moments later, faint threads of white drift out from Bach and travel within the encapsulating confines of the magical constructs around his arms. The flows dissipate into a mist near Bach’s hands and condense gradually into a bright white point between his palms. Swirling miasma gathers slowly onto the tiny, hovering orb. With each minute, the ball of Elder energy solidifies larger from the cloud of magic vapor around it.

The threads of flow fade off completely and the final traces of energy haze collapses upon the brilliant white orb. Bach’s tense muscles relax slightly, pain lessens from his form, and relief sounds out in each of his breaths. The dimmer blue glow in his eyes seals away the bright white. He braces his arms upon his knees by his elbows and shifts his hands underneath to cradle the tiny ball of Elder energy. Aristespha studies the orb in absolute, pure fascination. Sotalia gawks in utter, sheer awe. Cideeda stares in astonishment, occasionally switching her attention to the holoplayer’s unsteady holographic display. Dretphi gazes upon Bach with concern, and notices a shift in Bach’s body language.

Aristespha blinks back to awareness, glances ahead to the exhaustion quickly overtaking Bach, and gestures towards the sword. Dretphi promptly drops down next the containment circle and brings the sword close to the small white orb across the circle perimeter. Aristespha carefully steadies Bach by his shoulders and watches as wisps of energy peel clear from the ball into the sword. As Sebastian’s visage warps, he furrows his brow searching his own sensations. The sword vacuums up the last of Elder energy in seconds. Aristespha inspects the vicinity with her glowing violet eyes and calls out. “All clear. The sword absorbed it all.”

Bach’s head sways back and the rest of his upper body rocks back. Sotalia and Dretphi move in and each steady one of Bach’s shoulders. Cideeda steps over swiftly with a medical kit the second Aristespha lifts her hand to gesture her over. Consciousness surges up in Bach. He shudders back awake, and balances himself. He rubs his eyes to a pinch of the bridge of his nose and winces briefly as he removes his hand from a tender spot. Glancing around, blinking off his daze, and sighs in relief. “I’m okay. I think? Gods... It's so weird. The second I stop flowing... It just hits full force.”

He gazes around the rest of the group as Aristespha performs a routine inspection, and inquires. “Um... Have to ask, but what did you all see and feel? Kind of curious, since I’ve never had anyone else around in such a controlled environment.”

Aristespha twists her mouth, sighs uncertainly, and slowly shakes her head. “It’s hard to describe. I’ll need some time to think through it all.”

Sotalia gently rubs Bach’s back and presents a comforting smile. “Well, it felt similar... BUT... noticeably different from Noxian’s use.”

Bach nods in between deep, long breaths. Sebastian hovers close to Bach and deliberates. “Well, from what I’ve felt so far while in this sword, that was a very small amount that got sucked in.”

Cideeda shrugs and sighs with an unsatisfied smirk. “Wish I had anything to add, but the readings were everywhere. But, the video looks like it recorded. We’ll see how good it was.”

Aristespha frowns and slowly shakes her head. “I apologize I can’t be any clearer at the moment. I just can’t think of the right words at the moment.”

Bach snorts and chuckles weakly. “Ah, it’s okay. I’ve been dealing with this for far longer and I have less information about it.”

Standing up from her seat, Aristespha nods in agreement and dons a hopeful tone. “It was just a first attempt. And... I, of all people, should know better than to expect all the answers from the first trial. When you want to try again, let us know. I think this process worked.”

Bach sighs out his relief, lifts himself up with help from Dretphi and Sotalia. “Yeah. Thanks for the assistance. I’m up for another go... in the near future.”

Dretphi pats Bach’s back and looks to everyone. “Dinner?”

The group agrees and departs through the door leading inside to the kitchen.