To Drakovia


You're awoken by a satisfied sigh coming from directly behind you, a pair of arms tightening around your chest. You're not entirely awake when you feel a leg curl around yours. Craning your neck to see behind you, you notice a mass of purple hair sleeping soundly with the figure's arms around your chest cuddling you tight. Despite how discomforting the sensation is, considering you just met this girl, the feeling of the security of another's arms is reassuring. Residing to try to wake her slowly, you tap her arm a few times, muttering her name, trying to rouse a reaction. Grunting and tightening her grip, she grumbles under her breath something about wanting five more minutes. It's kinda cute, but you feel your rib cage starting to crack and protest under the pressure. Nudging her a little, you call her name more forcibly, her eyes slowly creaking open.

"Mmmmph..." She mutters, smiling at you for a moment. "G'mornin'..." She lies there, still grappling you like a life preserver as she drifts in the sea, before you finally request she untangle herself from you for the time, which she reluctantly agrees to. "But you're so warm and snuggly..." She heaves a heavy sigh before pulling away. "If you say so... I probably should have mentioned this earlier... but whatever I said last night... disregard it." Standing out of the bed and dressing quickly you ask her what she meant. "Which was it? Dense woman who seems to have nothing in her head then air? Did you spend half the night wondering if you'd wake up with a knife in your back?" You tell her what happened last night. She nods and thinks for a moment before replying. "Oh, that's good... means it's Wednesday today. I get to be myself." With a piqued eyebrow you press your questions hoping the next words will explain things. "I'm cursed. On Mondays and Thursdays, I'm a murderous wretch. On Tuesdays and Fridays, I'm a ditzy airhead who can't concentrate... on Saturdays and Sundays... well... I think 'Raving Nymphomaniac' describes me perfectly on the weekends." You're about to ask how exactly it is she came about being cursed, but decide, for the sake of your sanity, it's best left unasked, you also take the liberty to make a mental note at this time to be nowhere near her on the weekends.

"Captain said something about us heading west today, to Drakovia. For some reason Ren'Saigon sticks in my head..." You explain it's the name of the city you're to visit. "RIGHT! Right... sister city to Ren'Tkak..." She rubs the back of her head some. "Sometimes, my ditzy half sneaks out on days she's not supposed to." She smiles a little and begins to dress, covering her underwear in her interestingly painted Guardian armor (Gunmetal gray with black Shatter Paint) and takes the sheathed blade at her bedside, hooking it to the loop on her belt. "Before we go, I think you should be informed of my abilities, as they'll make this milk-run more pleasant. I've grown up with a blade since I was three, so my fighting skills are on par with Instructor Wolfblitzer. I've dabbled a little in magic, but I can't seem to grasp the complexities of offensive magic, so I stick to buffing and debuffing. I can talk, too, might I add, and I've been told I could talk the pants off anyone I wanted to... but I'm not willing to try. You're calling the shots on this job, so I'll follow you, and take your orders. So, now that that's done with, is there anything particular you want from me?" You answer with an instruction that if she watches your back, you'd return the favor, and she smiles. "I hope you won't be watching it too carefully..." She flashes red in her cheeks. "Sorry... curse talking. No restrictions..." You shake her comment off and hook your sword to your belt, readying to go back out into the world.

Pushing the door open, you're greeted by two younger Guardians who had their ears pressed to the door, eavesdropping. Startling them and knocking them back with the motion of the door, they look up at you with shocked awe, almost as if you're going to beat them senseless. Piqued eyebrow, you question exactly what it was they were doing, laying one hand nonchalantly on the hilt of your sword. The first, a young elven boy, answers with the obligatory 'nothing', while the second, a Drakel, seems too scared to answer. "We heard someone we didn't know went into Arla's room last night and -" You cut them off with a smile, and finishing his sentence with asking them if they were trying to protect her. "Yea! That's it! We just wanted to make sure she's alright! She's one of us, and we Guardians have to stick together!" The drakel Guardian rolls his eyes. Sidestepping, you show the kids that Arla's very much alive and unharmed.

"Karros? Dalphon? The hell are you two doing up here?! This is the girl's dorm! How'd you..." She notices the boys carrying a grappling hook and a good length of rope with them. "Cheeky buggers... When I tell Captain Kreiger you'll-" You calm her by saying they were only concerned about her, and that their intentions were purely chivalrous. "Either way, you boys would be in such hot water! Go! Get out the way you came!" Running a hand through her hair, she sighs as the two make their escape.. "Those two, I swear... Karros is the leader of the group, that little Drakel can get into so much trouble... And he just drags people down with him..." She watches them disappear over the edge of the window. "They were probably spying on us, thinking we were doing something against code." You make the passing comment they probably thought the two of you were sleeping together. "Well, it's kinda true, just not in that sense..." Making your way down the stairs, you hear the tell-tale sounds of women waking up for their morning training and for some, their morning duties.

"I'm surprised the Captain let you up here, honestly." Arla mentions as you leave her quarters, the woman locking the door on the way out. "I mean, you're not an official Guardian, so you shouldn't even been let into the tower and..." She pauses for a moment before correcting herself. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be bringing this up. Captain Krieger must have a good reason for what he's doing, and I trust him." Realization comes to her face quickly. "Ohmigod, I just realized I never asked your name!" You smile as her face turns a cute shade of pink, her hands covering her mouth. Fighting the smile and the chuckle trying to escape, you tell her. "Kind of a weird name..." Correcting herself she continues. "FOREIGN! I meant it was a FOREIGN name, not weird like that, I promise!" It's like she said, she seems to have absolutely no idea what the right thing to say in any situation is. You begin to wonder exactly how this mission is going to work and, more immediately, how you plan on living past tomorrow.

"Ah, good morning, Arla. I see you've already met your partner." Comes the familiar voice of Maria Despair, speaking as you descend the stairs into the main lobby, she enters the front door with her daughter, Gale, in tow. You offer her a salute, which she waves away. "Now, now, now, kiddo. I'm not your instructor yet. I won't stand idly by as you call me Instructor Despair, or some crazy thing the kids these days call their elders. Maria's fine, so long as I can call you by name, too." Before you respond, Arla chimes in.

"We're heading off to Drakovia! Any hints you can offer us, ma'am?" She asks in that innocently naïve voice she has. Maria thinks for a moment before smiling.

"Aye." She answers as Gale runs to talk to another Guardian in the corner, someone she knows, apparently. "Ren'Saigon, were you're off to, is damn close to a Super City called Ren'Tkak. I've already told you this;" She gives a little nod to you, then turns back to Arla. "...but I'll tell you as well. Go nowhere near Ren'Tkak. It might be in ruins, but those are dangerous ruins. Don't get any fool notions of going in there and looting the place, because it'll turn into a deathtrap." You both nod. "Other then that, be respectful to the Drakel. They're an ancient and proud race, and they won't hesitate to kill you if you offend one of them. Never been to Ren'Saigon myself, but from what I've heard from travelers and merchants, it's a brutal city. They built an arena in the center, for heaven's sake, and hold death-matches daily." She pauses. "Watch your step, and your tongue, and you may not end up as the show for the night." She pauses once more for another moment. "But on THAT note, if you're hurtin' for cash, and are confident in your skills as a team and individual, I hear it's a great place for pickin' up extra gold..." She shakes the thought from her head. "Krieger would kill me if he knew I told you that, please don't tell him." She watches Gale prance about with another girl, a Guardian in Training, for a moment before smiling and turning back. "One last thing, and this is important. Artix didn't tell you this, because he doesn't perceive them as a threat, but they are. Drakovia's the boarder of Shadowscythe territory."

"Shadowscythe? The Undead Empire?" Arla speaks for you. You've heard whispers, usually from drunk tavern-goers, about unliving knights in red armor who kill for sport, and are damn near invincible. Maria nods at Arla's question and continues.

"Haven't heard much, but from what I've picked up, they're incredibly powerful, and ruthless. You either walk away the victor, the knight dead for good... or he walks away... with you dead. They don't take prisoners, they don't give a lick about mercy. If you meet any of their agents, don't hesitate to run. I won't think any less of you." You ask her why Artix doesn't give them any creedence. She shakes her head with a grim frown plastered on her pale face. "Artix is a good guy, don't get me wrong, and I love him as a friend and commander, but he's a bit dense sometimes. Artix is pretty well rooted in his Paladin beliefs that the Undead are stupid, unorganized. Yea, that's true, most of the time, but the Shadowscythe? They're different. These aren't your average Necromancer-Spawn he's used to. These undead are different... smart... hell, their stronger members are smart enough to speak, and they never travel alone. Where one knight is... another is sure to be around. They fight with the zeal of twenty men, and the strength of fifty, and in the event of their stupider, weaker members... there's usually fifty or sixty of them to one of you. Quantity over quality, and such. So just... stay away from the Shadowscythe, alright?" The two of you nod, and she smiles.

"Good! You kids are smart to listen to the older generation." She turns her attention to Gale and gives a stern, but gentle barking command. "Gale! Come on, dear, we're going to be heading up soon." She calls back with a soft 'coming, mom!' and jogs over towards your group. "Look forward to seeing you two on the field of battle." Taking Gale's hand, she walks over towards the stairs, heading up. "Oh! One more thing..." She looks at you again before you can leave. "Artix says you can take a horse if you want. Know how to ride?" As Maria motions to a nearby Paint Horse, you nod; Arla shaking her head. "Good. Arla can ride with you." You roll your eyes some. Oh, goodie. More together time for you and the pan-sexual. She gives a little clap as you start out again, Maria walking up the stairs with Gale in tow.

"I get to ride with you! Joy of joys!" She cries, you echoing her last three words in a less-then-thrilled tone. "You don't sound too thrilled." She practically pouts, crossing her arms. Walking towards the paint horse which Maria motioned to, you begin to explain that she practically stripped you to nothing last night in a fit of ditzy concern. Putting an armored boot on the stirrup, you look back to see a pretty crimson veil fall over her cheeks as she tries to hide from your gaze. "Oh... Did I do that again?" You raise an eyebrow at the word 'again'. She's done this before? Your heart slumps to think such a thing possible. "I guess you and I do have a bit to talk about on the way over, huh?" You suppress a sigh and help her onto the back of the horse, her arms wrapping around your waist. She seems cautious of placement, even replacing her hands several times in several different positions, until settling that around you waist was not only the most comfortable of locations, but also the most effective to the job at hand. "So yea..." She started as you trotted the horse out of the stable into the morning sun. "About last night..." You end the conversation before it begins with a simple 'it's over, let's forget about it', which seems to work for a time. The horse rears back as it begins a steady trot out of the stables.

Drakovia; a section of forest on the very western edge of Darkovia, is home to a reclusive group of Drakel who you happen to have had dealings with in the past. They typically keep to themselves, choosing not to interact with outsiders as not to jeopardize their solidarity, or risk another war between the Humans. They keep concealed in three Super Cities, all sister-cities to the long-dead Ren'Tkak. Ren'Saigon is the largest; their capital. You've visited Ren'Saigon in the past, and have a bit of a history with their Primogen, a relationship you hope you can milk for a bit in this situation.

It's late afternoon by the time you and Arla arrive at Ren'Saigon, the girl behind you sleeping soundly on your back. She's a lot more attractive when she's not talking... Rolling your shoulders, you wake her up slowly, letting her know you've arrived.

"Oh... we here already?" Leaning back in the saddle, she stretches and yawns loudly, rubbing her hair vigorously to wake herself up. Dismounting from the horse, she looks around in awe at the masterful craftsmanship of Drakel architecture, taken aback by the subtle curves of the buildings and the rugged edges of the doors and windows. "It's so pretty! They're buildings are so... exotic!" You give a little laugh as you get down from the horse's back yourself, patting her on the back in a 'follow me' manner. Walking towards the door which leads to the city proper, you quickly inform her of you job here. "Yea, yea, yea... I got the same lecture from Captain Krieger." She put on a much more masculine-sounding voice, impersonating Artix. "Figure out of the Drakel will stand by us in the coming battle, but don't make enemies out of them." With a well-placed raspberry, she returned to her usual voice. "As if I ever make enemies out of anyone." As you advance on the door, two sleep-looking guards perk up and stand erect, spears standing beside them in their hands in a non-aggressive, but alert manner. The closer you get, you make sure they know you mean them no harm, keeping your blade sheathed and informing Arla to do the same. Feet from the guards, they address you.

"Hold your ground, stranger. You're not from the city, are you?" You shake your head and reply with the short-short version of why you're here. "No outsiders are allowed inside the city, Regent's orders. You'll have to return to your city." The guard speaking to you makes a 'turn around' motion with his free hand and almost shoos you off. You tell him this isn't exactly something you can give up on, to which he responds with a nonchalant shrug and repeating. "No outsiders are allowed inside the city. Regent's orders." Sighing, you say you were sent by Captain Artix von Krieger of the Battleon Guardians. At the name, his face softens. "Krieger?! Why didn't you say so earlier?" Pounding on the gate, he shouts to a Drakel seated by a large horn. "Sound the entry horn! Inform the Regent he has a guest!" From inside, you hear a thundering horn blare in one long, loud burst signaling your entry. Shoving on the heavy door, the guard who was idle as you spoke to the other, opens the door for you and motions you in.

"I do apologize, however. I will have to accompany you on whatever you have planned." With a smile you nod to him, confirming you have no problem with this. "Very well, we speak with the Regent." Leading you through the winding streets of the city, he brings you closer to the large spire in the center, the Regent's Fortress you'd hazard a guess. You stay close to the guard, and make certain that Arla stays close to you. As you draw closer to the tower, you run what you're going to tell the Regent through your head a couple dozen times, even mouthing it inaudibly, just to see if it sounds alright. Before you can finish your thirty second dress rehearsal of what you planned on saying, you find yourself standing before a rather regal, important-looking Drakel. Walking from a chair, he looks you over with clouded, cataract-enforced retinas, almost studying you.

"I recognize you." He mutters through haggard lips. "What brings you back to Ren'Saigon?" Bowing respectfully, you go about the best sounding explanation, telling him about Artix and his fears of the Devourer. As you talk, the weathered Drakel seems to think on your words. When you finish, he retracts to think, scratching his chin, deep in though. "Relations with the humans are strained as of now, whelp." He mutters, using a rather distasteful slang term for a young Drakel. You take the insult in stride, showing no reaction to it. "And you choose this most... inopportune moment to bring this to our attention. I have to question my old friend's meanings for sending you here. Where is this 'prized Guardian' he always speaks so highly of?" You open your mouth to speak, but he interrupts. "Don't try to claim this title for your own, whelp, you wreak of inexperience. The woman he speaks of could slay a colony of dragons by herself. You'd be lucky if you could crack an egg." Tired of how you're being treated, you finally speak up, growling something about how if Artix's thoughts about how willing the Drakel were to make amends were wrong, then you'd gladly be on your way. Suddenly, the Regent switches to a defensive position, smiling. "That's more like it. I will make you a deal, whelp." You still wish he'd stop calling you that... "There is a tournament coming up, in just a few days. If, perhaps, you were to enter said tournament, and show the Drakel here that the Guardians of Battleon were not all weak mongrels, then perhaps I would be more inclined to listen to your plea." You knew this wasn't going to be easy.

"We'll do it!" Arca answers for you.

"We, nothing, girl." The Regent barks to her, causing her to recoil in place. "There will be no 'we', little human. Only one may enter, no teams." Arca looks at you and you look at Arca. "So if you plan on entering, only one of you will be able to do so." You step forward and declare, rather boldly, that you'll enter.

"Wait, what?" Arca asks, slightly dumbfounded. "No discussion? You're just going to jump in?" You reply that it's your job to enter, as you made the request; muttering how it'd be a shame if her pretty face got messed up in the process. She blushes deeply and stumbles for words.

"Settled then. You will rest here for two day's time. At that time, on the eve of the third day, you will be fitted with the equipment you are to use, and instructed on the functions of the tournament, and what's expected of you. If you leave the city, you forfeit your chance, as well as us as allies. Agreed?" With a firm motion, you nod. "Good. Godfrey!" He shouts to the guard who brought you in. "See these two to their room, would you kindly?" Snapping to a salute, he motions you out of the room, towards the door you entered from.

"So... you'll be participating, will you?" The guard tries to make idle chat. "Don't be offended, but I don't think I'll bet on you. You don't look like much, even as far as Guardians go. 'Sides, I hear Grill'thok the Massacre is going to be participating this year, and I'll tell you, you ain't never gonna beat him in a million years." A nondescript chill runs up your back at the name. People don't get names like 'the Massacre' for being panzies; this guy was going to be tough, you could feel it in your bones.

The guard remains silent for the remainder of the trip, coming to a stop at what appears to be a brothel from the outside. "The closest Inn doesn't take non-Drakel. This is as good as I can offer."

"We're supposed to sleep... ugh... here?" The guard's look goes very rancid.

"Well, if her highness doesn't approve of the living quarters, there's plenty of room in the street!" He growls to her in a most unfriendly tone. Cutting in, you push Arla slowly away from the guard, and tell him these will be just fine as you attempt to diffuse the boiling situation. Regaining his composure, the guard nods and clears his throat. "Very well. The Mistress of the establishment will get your rooms set up, and can take care of anything you need." He shoots you a dread stare. "Treat her nicely, outsider. She's a personal friend of mine." You nod and bow which seems to satisfy him for a time. With a return of your nod, he takes his leave as Arla slowly pushes the door open and looks at you expectantly, as if you're supposed to go in and see if it's clear. You ask her this in a droll tone almost hoping that's not what she wants.

"It... would be nice." You roll your eyes and make your way into the door, looking about the open foyer you find yourself in. Across the carpeted room, you see a slender, almost gaunt face of a young Drakel female who smiles at you, beckoning you in.

"Welcome, weary travelers." Her initial reaction seems much more lenient then that of the guards at the gate. "Welcome to my humble hostel. I regret it is not much to look at, but I'm afraid 'tis the best I can do." Her smile melts into a frown, which quickly fades. "But enough of that, how can I be of service to you?" Taking the initiative Arla seems to lack, you give her a curtious bow and explain who you are and why you have come. Her smile quickly returns to her when you tell her you're both Guardians. "Oh, so you're the Guardians everyone's been in a rucus about. What brings you to Ren'Saigon, O esteemed Guardians?" Playing the humble card, you let her know there's no reason to be treating you any different then her usual customers; you may be Guardians but you can still be civil. She smiles at your humble approach and quickly agrees, reiterating if there is anything she can do. You inform her of your role in the tournament, and how you're to remained confined to the city's walls for two day's time. "Of course we'll take you!" She answers most quickly, opening a massive book on the counter. "Please, if you'd sign your names here, please, I'll see about getting you a room." As you and Arla sign your names on the pages of the book, she begins to search on a little map of the place for a room. Her smile scrunches up into a frown as she looks at the pair of you.

"Unfortunately, I only have one room available... and I don't think you'd be too inclined to share..." You ask her to clarify what she means. She gives you a passive smile and continues to explain that not many married couples like having room mates. Your turn to go defensive. Hands in front of you waving like flags in a hurricane you hurriedly tell her the pair of you are not married, nor are those plans even in anyone's considering. You even go as far as to tell her if she's only got the one room, the couch in the corner's looking mighty comfortable. Arla looks confused, almost insulted that you'd tell her that. "Well, if that's the case then, if you two don't mind sharing a room, I have one with a young man who came in not too long ago, I think he would quite like company." You nod profusely, telling her six or seven times it'll do just fine. "Certainly then!" She smiles, taking a pair of keys from the nail board behind her. "Here are your keys. You're to stay confined within the city, but not within your rooms. You can come and go as you please, but just be courteous of the other guests, if you wouldn't mind." You and Arla nod and set off to find your room, a call from the clerk calling you back once more.

"Say... you two look more or less like apt fighters... what do you say I make you a deal?" You're not sure if you like the sound of what she's offering or not, but honestly, it beats sitting on your butts for two days. With a nod and a confident acknowledgment, you agree to whatever she's got up her sleeve, but somehow it doesn't sit right with you. "There's this guy... an elf... he's made a living in the city as a black market weapons dealer, operating outside of old town. I don't know how familiar you two are of Drakel customs... but we frown on the Black Market. Heavily. Recently, he's gotten it into his head that he can do what he wants to a few of the women around town... namely me. He's been going around, trying to get them drunk so he can... have his way with them. As of yet, he's been unsuccessful, but he's starting to bother some of my friends and acquaintances."

"What would you like us to do with him?" Arla asks, knowing what's coming next, but not the details. The girl behind the counter gives a sly smile, drawing circled on the desk with a finger.

"I think it would be poetic justice if his actions were seen by the city guard, and properly punished? Don't you?" You point out that doing something like that would require something of bait. She nods, knowing full well what she's asking. "I know... but I also happen to know that the particular elf I'm referring to is a bit... loose on his preference of partners."

"So... what? He's – Bi?" Arla continues, prompting a nod from the clerk.

"I've heard rumors that he's been known to ask out as many men as he has women, but more specicially he doesn't give race a consideration... humans, Drakel, Elves... hell, even an Ethereal or two." This is an awfully dangerous situation she's putting the two of you in, one that if not handled with express care could very easily back fire of all three of you. You point this out to her with a careful set of hand picked, choice words.

"I'm well aware of this. I also happen to know that he can't hold his alcohol. At all. One, maybe two drinks and you've got him staggering about. You could use this to your advantage. There's guards posted outside every bar in the city. If you can get him drunk and brash enough to get him to spill his plan to the city guard, they can arrest him. With his criminal record, that should be enough to keep him in jail for a very long time." You catch Arla in a bit of deep thought, her head tilted down slightly, and her eyes scanning the floor at her feet constantly, zipping back and forth between several unknown points. With a snap of your fingers and a sharp word, you break her from her trance and ask her to share her thoughts.

"Sorry... just thinking. But I think I have an idea. I might be able to channel a bit of my ditzy self for this little endeavor, and I might be able to get him so drunk he'll be boasting to everyone about what he's planning to do. Risky as it seems." You blink a few times before continuing to ask if this is something she's serious about, or if she's just jerking around. "Oh, I'm serious. I'll need you right there with me to back me up, though, just in case things go south. With a nod and a grunt, you tell her you'll be right behind her the whole time, which brings a smile to her face. "Thanks. Where does this elf haunt? A bar... or something?"

"Aye. It's a tavern on the east side of town called the Ravenous Natator. Small little hole-in-the-wall place, but they have good food." You and Arla both nod as the Drakel woman goes into details of how to find this tavern, before wishing you good luck. You take another shot on your way out to talk Arla out of this fool thing she's about to do. As you open the hostal door for her, she shakes her head.

"Nope. Sorry, can't talk me out of it." She responds. "I can hold my own in a fight, but... this is where I really shine. Trust me. If you watch my back, I can do this." The pair of you start down the road towards the tavern as she goes over a very rough plan with you, ending with 'when I give the signal, jump in'. You blink as you arrive a few minutes and the same explanation seven times over later, Arla quickly stripping off her armor to reveal a tank top and a pair of cut-off shorts below. She stashes her armor behind a dumpster in an ally, covering it with cardboard boxes before turning to you and smiling. "How do I look?" You chuckle a little and mention she looks like perfect Pervert Bait. "That's the idea!" She looks at the bar then nods back to you once more. "Got my back, buddy?" You nod and, satisfied you do, she walks in with you around three minutes behind her.

You walk to the bar (after taking you own armor off and stashing it with Arla's) and take your seat scanning the room for Arla. You find her in a booth in the back, sipping a drink slowly as she looks like every other patron in here (sans the fact she's the only non-citizen of the city in here), simply enjoying her night.

"Can I get anything for you?" A burly Drakel man asks as he notices you sit down. You pull your attention away from Arla for a moment to smile and nod at the man, asking for something strong. With a grunt, the man dives under the bar and begins to mix the contents of several bottles together into a small glass, eventually handing it to you. Reaching into your pocket, you put a couple of gold coins down on the table, the man's hard expression suddenly lightening a little before your eyes. "Not every day someone comes in and pays with cold gold... I usually only get these sods who have a tab... thanks." You acknowledge him and take your drink, turning your attention back to Arla. Looks like she wasted no time picking up your target. Arla is seated in the same booth, with a very thin, very effeminate looking elf sitting across from her. You run her half-assed plan through your head, before you realize something horrifying. You forgot what the signal looked like.

Shit... You watch with bated breath as she talks and gets the elf drunk, hoping, praying you can catch her signal when she makes it... praying she made it something noticeable and big. You slowly sip at your drink as you keep your eyes locked on Arla and her conversation subject, waiting with stifled breath for her sign.

Ten minutes pass... then twenty... and soon you find yourself sitting there, staring at her for thirty minutes, the elf having downed three drinks already, you can see the affect of the alcohol to his body, his head and torso lolling about as though he was on a ship set to sail. Arla has, intelligently, kept more or less sober, only drinking one drink the entire time. It's at this time you see it. Arla raises her hands over her head and cracks her knuckles. It hits you like a train. That was the signal! You stand slowly and start over towards Arla, tapping her on the shoulder as you arrive, smiling and apologizing for being late.

"There you are!" She stands and hugs you as she takes note of your arrival. "It's quite alright. This nice young man was sharing a drink with me. Have a seat! Have a seat!" She scoots over in the booth and allows you a chair. You finally get a glimpse at the elven man. He has light brown hair and short, pointed ears. His eyes are a bubblegum pink and he has a very thin, lithe, almost feminine shape to his body. His eyes have a problem focusing on any one subject, he speaks.

"My, yer not bad lookin' yerself, ya know... Yer sister 'ere was jus' talkin' about'cha." You calmly explain how Arla's not your sister, just a good friend. This seems to give the man an idea. "Well tha's good! Hey... how would you two like ta go back ta my place an' have a l'il fun, eh?" You turn to Arla and blink a little, which causes her to speak next.

"You know... we'd really love to... but I just don't like getting picked up by person in a bar you know... I mean... you could be anyone..."

"Don't worry baby! Yer not getting' jus' anyone. I'm Elis Swiftwind!" You eye a Drakel guard walking behind him at this time. Oh... sweet justice. "I'm the biggest dealer of Black Market Weapons in Ren'Saigan!" The guard stops, walking up behind the elf.

"Did I hear that right?" The guard asks the elf, who turns around and pales.

"Oh... well, if you say that, my friend and I might just be drunk enough to take up your invitation..." The guard growls at this.

"Little missy, this elf isn't going anywhere but to prison!" He hoisted the man out of his bench, over the back, and to the ground in shackles. You smile and make some smart-ass comment about your 'night of fun' being ruined by a convenient placement of the guards, which makes Arla smile and laugh.

"You're so bad!" She responds, batting your shoulder playfully. Another guard approaches as the first drags the elf out of the bar.

"Thank you, by the way, for helping us apprehend this ignorant dolt. We've been trying to this moron for years now. Thank you, outsiders, for your help." The pair of you nod and tell the guard it was no problem. "You two must be the Guardians who rolled in earlier... I heard you'll be participating in the Tournament this year... I don't envy you. Grillthok the Massacre's going to be entering..." You nod and tell him you've already heard about Grillthok, and the man nods. "And yet still you remain. You're either very brave or very foolish. Either way... you've got my bet. Do me another favor, alright? Don't die and loose me any money." Arla laughs and nod, a motion echoed by you. Arla finishes her drink as the guard walks away, putting the glass on the table and nodding to you.

"You ready?" She asks you. You reply, rather sarcastically, that you could stay here all day, but that doesn't thrill Arla any. "I'm glad you could. I hate bars. Too many men trying to pick you up." You blink and shake your head, saying you wouldn't know. She simply shrugs and hobbles over you to get out, and giggles. "Slow poke! Come on, I'm beat. Let's get some sleep." You slowly get to your feet and follow her out, back into Old Town, and back towards the hostel.

Upon re-entering the hostel, you wave to the mistress, who looks upon you with bated breath. You report your success and relay to her the story of what happens. When you tell her of the elf's arrest, a smile curls upon her her lizard-like lips. "Serves that scum-sucking, pink-fleshed idiot right! Maybe he'll think twice before he goes to a bar trying to get a cheap date. I owe you two more then I can ever repay, and the women or Ren'Saigan thank you as well. A promise is a promise. I know how this is going to work... it's how it always works. They'll save your entry into the tournament for last... you'll be fighting Grillthok. But you've got one advantage. Grillthok is half blind. He relies on his opponent moving for him to see. If you stay as still as possible, he can't get a lock onto you." You blink and ask her how this happened. "Grillthok is a veteran of so many wars and conflicts he's lost count. He nearly lost his eye in the last Drakel War against the Humans about twenty years ago. He was honorably discharged from the Military when they found out he couldn't see perfectly." You nod at this.

"Why's that?" Arla asks. You casually explain that a soldier's eyesight is their life. A soldier who can't see perfectly well, is useless in combat. She makes an 'o' shape with her mouth as the hostel Mistress continues.

"I want Grillthok beaten, but not dead, alright? He's arrogant, and his tournament streak has gotten to his head. Please, beat him, but leave him alive. Let him retire with at least his life and honor, please." You look her dead in the eyes and nod, confirming that if it is within your power to do so, you will do your hardest to keep him alive. She frowns a little, but nods. "Not... the answer I would like to hear... but I know you're being honest. Thank you very much..." You nod and pat her on the shoulder as you and Arla begin up to your rooms.

Unlocking the door and pushing it open, you're greeted with a fairly normal hostel room, two beds against a back wall, one occupied by a man who was snoozing soundly within. You turn to Arla and look her dead in the eyes, saying you know you're going to regret this, but it looked as though the two of you were bunking together again.

"YAY! You won't regret this!" You roll your eyes unseen to her and mutter about you already are.