***Stableyard***

Ronin slowly eased his shield down from a ready-battle stance as the young woman introduced herself and complimented him. "Uh...Cordi...ah, please rise."

Smiling, he returned the shield to his side as he regained his composure, his mind still turning over what she said and trying to make sense of it. It certainly fit to a point, he wore well crafted armor and was in fact a landed noble, though why she presumed him to be a treant he couldn't ascertain.

"My dear Cordi, I am appreciative of your compliments and the respect you show me does you great honor. However I believe you are misled, I am no treant, nor lord of forest or woodland. My home is a land of desert and verdant oasis and much further than the Chondalwood. Speak, of course, as you desire, you need not my leave to share your mind."

"Master…?" Cordi said sheepishly as she arose. She seemed rather disappointed in the fact Ronin was not the lord of these lands. She was drawing various designs in the loose dirt with her toes as she asked "If you are not a treant, then what are you, master?"

Though before allowing him to respond, she beamed a huge smile and outstretched her right hand while slinging her spear to her left, stretching her back in a large arch. "It is beautiful and huge, might I be permitted to touch it?" referring of course to his armor, more directly his helmet hung on his hip. Making a sad puppy dog face she added "please master, just once?" She was completely mesmerized by his large shiny helmet.

Ronin chuckled at Cordi's child-like innocence and wondered if it was an act she used to get peoples trust or if she were genuinely so care free. He'd give her the benefit of the doubt and take her at face value for now. Removing the helmet from his hip he answered her, "you need not call me Master, Cordi, and you certainly may touch the helmet if you promise to tell me about yourself as well."

The knight held the gleaming and engraved helm forward, the jewel inset just over the visor gleaming in the light as if just polished.

"I am a half -giant in answer to your first question, descended of humans and sand giants," Ronin answered though in truth his lineage was probably more mixed then that; he probably had some death giant in him too given how his flesh tended to coal-black in some places, but he didn't feel that needed mentioning.

Cordi didn't hesitate to take Ronin's helmet. She then did a back flip and landed on top of a water barrel behind her, land with one foot on each side. She bent down at the knees over the top, her legs spread apart. She turned the helmet over and over, studying each and every tiny detail with great precision.

She then looked up at Ronin, smiling brightly. "A giant?" she asking puzzled. By this time she was looking into the helmet. "What does Master require of me?" Cordi asked. She held up the helmet and began to lower it on to her own head. The mammoth headgear would swallow her entire head whole. She stopped shy of doing just that while grinning ear to ear. "This is most wonderful!" She exclaimed happily before offering it back to its owner.

***Market***

Beiro watched as some troupe of performers selected a bard woman from the crowd. The jokes were largely lost on him, having not been a regular member of society and mostly a loner since the bloody loss of his family. Their alternate meanings were not something he was used to hearing. He watched as she began to play a song, and that was not lost on him. He found it as entertaining as the woman was beautiful.

He tossed a silver or two in the hat as it passed by but he lost track of the bard, and was unsure of where they said they'd be performing again. A shame really, oh well, he wasn't going to try to track her down in the crowd.

He looked about, attempting to take in the crowd. Something about one of them seemed somehow off, very unnatural. He wasn't sure which however, and couldn't seem to focus on just one. It must be the great number of people near him; he wasn't used to this. Beiro looked up to the sky. He began to wonder if it was going to rain, and what would happen to all these people if it did.

Beiro took note of his surroundings once again; something out of the corner of his eye had alerted him. Attempting to gaze past the various patrons arriving for the festival, he caught another glance of that which had interested him.

It was a woman, and she was wearing grey wrappings about her body and carrying a pack. If he had to guess, she was an assassin or an avenger, a person who required stealth to do their work. Truly to see such a person making their way through this crowd, dressed like that, was not normal. He would assume most working for a client would prefer to blend into the crowd and this person could blend well, but those wrappings also alerted him to something more.

Ondea carefully worked her way through the crowd. Most gave her the space she wanted. Most dared not let their gaze linger upon her. Her violet eyes stared daggers at whoever dared to make eye contact with her. Constantly she looked around, making herself aware of her surroundings, making sure she knew exactly what was around her at all times should the need arise it.

She may have missed it at first. Maybe she hadn't. She couldn't be sure.

Her violet eyes met his dark eyes briefly. She glared at him briefly, and continued on her way. In her mind, she thought he looked out of place. She continued to look back periodically to see if he was still watching her.

Beiro's eyes meet the young drow's from across the crowded street. He felt strangely drawn to follow her, almost as if she had selected him from the crowd to speak with. He could tell she was no slouch, but he didn't feel as if she'd attack, so he began to follow her. Beiro was wondering why he felt drawn to her; he had no delusions of grandeur, he knew she wasn't seeking him for good looks, and he doubted she was seeking him because he was her target. Maybe she wanted to hire him for some task, but wanted to speak privately, not uncommon really, most who looked to hire a scout, guard or tracker didn't want to discuss it with so many ears around. He noticed the young lady had gone into an alley way so he followed, unsure of what to expect.

*****

Ondea saw he was following, but why was he after her? The only weapon she had readily available was the small dagger in her boot. Her other weapons were nicely bundled with her armor in the cloth that made up the burden on her back. She was skilled enough without weapons, but unarmed combat was not exactly her preferred method of defending herself.

She ducked into an alley, doing her best to hide in the shadows. It wasn't the most clandestine move, but if he was after her, she didn't want to lose him. She wanted to question him.

Something didn't feel right to her. He was following her, yes, but when he looked at her, it was more curiosity than anything else. Perhaps he wanted to do business?

Well, she would see what he wanted, and if need be, defend herself to the best of her ability.

***Stableyard***

Ronin released a thin whistle, impressed by Cordi's acrobatic display and easy balance. He hadn't even noticed the water barrel and certainly couldn't have balanced on its lip even if it could support his weight, at least not as easily as she could. He watched as she played with the helmet, half talking to herself and half talking to him, the thought of her putting the over sized "bucket" on her skull gaining a restrained snirk from the knight.

Taking his helmet back from Cordi, he affixed to his hip once more and turned to the saddle bags of his steed, fishing out a fistful of carrots for the great beast. "I have rarely seen a green-elf before and never in a city so grand as this. May I ask what brings you here Cordi, and what you intend to do now that you've come?"

The Wild Elf grabbed the edge of the barrel with both hands and then did a handstand, hands opposite each other, grinning upwards through her tangled dreadlocked hair, she lowered herself face first into the water before submerging her entire head. Her native upbringing had taught her no shame of her body, so if anything was exposed during this, she showed no embarrassment. She then pushed herself up out of the barrel landing on her feet behind it, bending down and lapping water from it much like a dog would.

Cordi looked up and replied "I followed you here, wishing to speak with you about your fine majestic clothes." Cordi began to skip about the barrel, swinging her spear about as a marshal in a parade. She stopped, turned to the knight and dropped into a crossed legged sitting position. She grinned at him cheerfully and produced from her scarce garments a handmade reed flute. "I'm not sure what I'll do now that I'm here with these horses. I'm enjoying talking to you, master, I might travel back to that city when we are finished talking." She then held the flute up to her mouth and began to play a sad little tune, which seemed to cause the horses to become very calm.

'Impressive,' noted Ronin at Cordis' antics, not just for her physique but for her physicality. Given her slight frame it was quite the feat for her to, seemingly, easily balance on her hands and nothing but, to say nothing of the dexterity. Ronin knew for a fact he couldn't do that, despite the fact he was more then strong enough to support his own weight with just his arms. Petting Ralchard and leaving the great steed to more or less mind himself Ronin listened to Cordis playing, noting the effect it had on the animals and once more impressed by the, to him, diminutive girl.

"I'm glad you found this as enjoyable as I have Cordi, you are quite the interesting girl and your playing is superb," complimented the knight. Musical talent always impressed Ronin because he had absolutely none to speak of. Nodding, he began walking towards the city proper, "unfortunately I cannot stay here long, there are matters and issues I would like to take care of in Silverymoon."

He offered Cordi a short bow and a hand up, though he doubted she'd take it given her acrobatic abilities. "Though if you wish to come along with me I would not at all be displeased."

Cordi stopped playing her flute and quickly tucked it away. She grinned at the large knight's outstretched hand and took it quickly. Any chance to lay her hands on this massive creature of wonder delighted her. The fact she didn't climb up his back and attempt to ride him piggy back was something to wonder at for any who knew her. Though to any paying attention, the joy she was experiencing at spending time with Ronin was very much akin to a child opening gifts on their birthday.

After being helped up, she dropped back down onto her knuckles much like a gorilla and began to walk alongside the knight, wherever he may go, at least for now. She'd examine each and every mound of grass or pile of rocks as if looking for something.

She then turned to her new found friend and smiled gleefully at him. "Will you let me see your gargantuan stuff later?" Cordi stopped and smiled at him. "Your weapon is most impressive. How much does it weigh? Where is the best place to rest? Where will you eat? Why did you come to this place?"

Ronin raised a hand in mock defense as if trying to shield himself from Cordi's stream of questions in the universal though good natured body language of 'too many questions'.

"Of course I'll let you see my equipment, Cordi," laughed Ronin, the girl's exuberance and energy was both infectious and warming and he couldn't help but smile at her broadly.

"I'm not entirely sure how much my sword weighs, I've never had to define it, but probably close to half as much as you," he pondered for a moment, given Cordi's slight build if even half of her could equal his sword's size. He was forced to realize, then, that the weight of his items and even his person was never anything he'd exactly nailed down, in fact he had no clue how much he weighed, just "close to a horse" if he had to guess. Shaking his head with a chuckle he continued.

"Truthfully I am not certain where the best place to rest is," admitted Ronin before winking playfully at the wild-elf. "Near friends and family would be my best guess, Silverymoon is a big place and I'm sure there are accommodations of varying quality to be had for those with coin and luck. As for where to eat, that too is a good question, it has been some time since I sampled the delicacies of The North but I think I will look for some fish. Fish of any sort is rare in my homeland so I think I will look for a dockside restaurant as the evening comes. Lastly I came to Silverymoon to witness and partake in the Silver Festival. How could I miss a celebration that only takes place every five years..."

Ronin paused in thought as they drew near to the city proper, looking to Cordi as she examined some tuft of foliage or something in it he could not see. "Were you aware that there would be a grand festival starting in a few days Cordi?"

"Fish!" Cordi exclaimed with unbridled joy. "I can catch fish!" She stood up and faced Ronin. "I'll use the flames to cook them, they will be good!" She looked about cheerfully, as if searching for something.

"Which way is the water?" she asked Ronin "I'll go get the fish! I love fish!"

She leapt up and landed on all fours. "Fish are good! Is the festival for fish? I don't have the metals the men want for their cooked fish, I catch my own. I will catch you fish too! How many fish do I need to catch? Can you eat five fish?"

Cordi stopped and seemed to get lost in thought. "What should I call you master?" She snorted and turned her nose upwards. "They said I don't dress proper enough to eat food with them. I need a dress." She snorted.

"I will catch us fish! Anyone who wants to join can join wearing whatever they want!" She grinned ear to ear. "You can wear your shiny clothes though, they are beautiful!"

*****

Possessing the spells she needed, or at least some of the spells she desired, was only part of what she wanted to achieve. Even if one had the most powerful scroll in the world it meant nothing if the caster couldn't understand and focus the energies to direct said magic. Normally she would leave this smelly, crowded place to return to her forest home and practice her new found acquisitions in peace but she still hadn't found all she was looking for. The Cobbler –Ben, was it?-- said he could direct her to a mage with spells relating to more erotic/reproductive nature to satisfy her first query, later, so that meant leaving town would be counter-productive. So… what then?

Maybe she could rent time at one of the mage colleges to practice her art, surely they had an area for students to practice their spell without danger of destroying the things around them, and given the nature of the spells she procured she might even find someone to test them out on, once she felt she mastered them enough of course. It was as good a course of action as any...

That was when she caught that scent, forest and steel, a ...a man releasing just a hint of sweat, of exertion. A person not too unlike herself, a person who understood the wilderness, at least in part, was in the area, quite close, and so was another scent, this one much more familiar to her; a drow. A drow, here? That could be very bad, but more likely would be very interesting. A... yes, a female drow and a forest man, yes, very interesting. Frøya smiled to herself. She could practice magic whenever but she'd have to follow the trail now...

*****

If Beiro was aware Frøya was following him, he wasn't showing it. Though his senses weren't heightened enough to detect scents, he was unaware he was following a Drow. He arrived at the entrance of the alley and looked about, taking in all the details. Beiro was still uneasy. His hatchet was safely tucked away in his pack; he figured the fewer weapons on his person, the less attention he'd draw from the over-zealous guards. At this range, he'd never get a good shot with his bow before the mysterious female managed to ambush him, if she so choose to do so. That left him with his long sword and his long knife. He thumbed them both before assuming his best bet would be the knife, the alley was tight and left little room to swing a sword.

He left it sheathed, no point in provoking the young woman; for now he'd assume she was an ally. He looked about watching for the girl and noticed her after a brief moment; his eyes weren't trained to find people in city streets.

Beiro took a few more steps forward, presenting both hands palms open and forward to show he meant no harm. "I'm called Beiro, or some call me The Wanderer. Were you drawing me her to discuss something or am I mistaken?"

Ondea raised an eyebrow at Beiro. Drawing him here to discuss something? "We did no such thing. You were following us." she stated, eying the man and his exposed weapons. He was an elf, or at least, part elf. His features were not quite what one would expect, but he lacked the facial hair common to most half humans. He wasn't overtly threatening her, but that didn't mean she was just about to trust him.

"We are called Ondea." She bowed slightly and slid her pack off her back and set it down gently beside her. If there was going to be a fight, she wanted to be as light and maneuverable as possible. "We are what you would call a mercenary."

She watched him to see what he would do. Perhaps he would be interested in hiring her. Perhaps he would try to fight her. Perhaps he'd get bored and just walk away. She had no idea what this man wanted, nor what made him think she had wanted him to follow. This one before us is indeed strange...

Beiro was lost now. He had felt so drawn to this young woman. Maybe it was divine intervention. No, he didn't believe in such nonsense. He just wasn't used to being in a city and had gotten confused. He watched as Ondea slid her pack down and sat it on the ground. He just couldn't shake it from his head. It had to be the heat, he wasn't used to being in the sunlight, and as nearly always, he had his hooded cloak on, with the hood up to hide his face. He always tried to keep his face hidden; if Quoros had taught him anything, it was that he wasn't an elf and being half-human was nothing to be proud of in life. His half-human side made him hideous to all who would dare look upon him. Now, he was following women into alleys, feeling drawn to them for unexplained reasons. It must have just been his stupid curiosity.

Beiro lost what little confidence he had, and now his curiosity had left him in a bad spot. He wasn't sure, but he thought the girl before him was an elf. Elves were always attractive, so this girl had to be also. No doubt she was completely disgusted by being in the presence of a half-human abomination like him. Beiro began to back off. He could hear Quoros laughing at him from his grave inside his head, the roaring of the laughter drowning out Ondea mentioning she was a mercenary. He raised his hands attempting to hide his face better. "So..soo…sorry to… to have…bother…bothered you, miss," Quoros' laugher was a roar far mightier than any horn could produce. "My… my mistake."

It wasn't that Beiro was afraid of girls, it wasn't even that he was afraid of Ondea or even elves in general. He was afraid that Quoros was right about him, that he was worthless and that no one would ever really be close to him. He'd buried Quoros' remains personally all those annuals ago, but still Quoros' cruelty towards him lived on inside his head.

Beiro managed to clear the alley and back off to a nearby cart. There he collapsed into a heap, careful to keep his eyes on the alley, though still slightly shaking. He'd regain his composure soon enough, and then move on.