Lyria was surprised at how easily she woke the next morning, being one who loved to sleep in as late as possible and considering how exhausted she was yesterday. However, she rose with the sun just as it slipped over the horizon and sent brilliant light beaming into the tent. She was rather eager to begin her training for the day, so she took as little time possible to fold up her bedroll and freshen up for the new day. With many battles in her future, she had to be in peak performance, so she had no qualms with long hours of training-regardless of how frustrating it was.

She was clasping her cape to her shoulders just as Calsifer strolled in the room, looking as awake and ready to go as a pawn could be. Lyria found it amazing how pawns could function without sleeping. She was almost a bit envious, thinking of how much extra time she could have if she did not require sleep. But it soon passed, as slipping into a dream world was often enjoyable and sleep satisfied her lazy side.

"Good morning, Master," he spoke as he entered.

"Morning, Cal! Oh—you don't mind if I call you that, do you?" she greeted him, already feeling comfortable enough around him to shorten his name.

"As I said before, you may call me whatever you wish."

"Oh…right," Lyria mumbled, scratching the back of her head. As she moved to pick up her longbow, she continued, "So, methinks we should do some real training today. Not with those silly bags of hide and straw but real monsters."

"Are you sure that is wise, Master?"

"Aye. It's only goblins and the like out there. You're not afraid o' goblins, are ya?" She replied in a jesting tone and with a confident smile. She knew that she should be careful from now on about diving into things unprepared, but these were just goblins and maybe wolves. Nothing Lyria couldn't handle.

"No, Master. But there was never harm in being careful." Cal's words of wisdom for the day. Lyria thought it best to heed his advice as she strapped on her quiver and belted her daggers to her waist.

Stifling a yawn, she said, "Let's track down Rook and head out then, shall we?"

"Lead the way."

Together they stepped out of the white tent, into the bright sunlight of the morning. It was the perfect day, complete with a bright azure sky free of clouds and the melodious chirping of birds. Fresh dew glistened on the patches of grass and dampened Lyria's shoes as she walked across them. Soldiers paced to and fro going about their morning duties: changing the guard around the gates, readying their weapons for training, and gathering supplies. Some pawns milled about as well, waiting for direction. Rook was amongst them, the forest green on his cloak standing out amidst the blues and grays of the soldiers' armor.

He was quickly at Lyria's side once he became aware of her presence. The polite pawn that he was, he spoke a formal greeting and inquired about their plans for the day. Calsifer informed him as Lyria lead them around the encampment. The only thing on her mind at the time was not strategies for goblin hunting or where to avoid bandits, but rather what was on the menu for breakfast. Her stomach grumbled with lust for food. After all, who would fight on an empty stomach?

It didn't take her long to find the area where soldiers were being served a soup of sorts with soggy vegetables and steaming broth along with a chunk of bread. Lyria gratefully accepted a helping, despite how unappetizing it appeared to her. She wasn't too surprised to learn that pawns didn't need to eat either, though it was a bit uncomfortable slurping down soup with them staring at her. The food wasn't terrible, but it was weak in comparison to the food back home in Cassardis.

With the growling of her stomach quieted, the trio began making their way to the gates leading out to the trail to Cassardis. Lyria, gnawing on her piece of bread, casually eyed the busy atmosphere around her as they made their way towards the exit. As she looked around, she noticed something out of place amongst the hustle and bustle of the encampment. Exiting the gates a few paces before them was someone clad in a black cloak with their face shrouded by a hood. Whoever it was kept their head low and their hands concealed within the folds of their long sleeves.

"I wonder who that is?" Lyria thought aloud, before swallowing her last bite of bread.

"A traveler, most like," Rook replied.

"A traveler up to no good." She felt a strange urge to follow him and find out who he was and what mysterious business he was up to. A mischievous smile crossed her face. "Let's follow 'im!"

"Master…" Calsifer began.

"…I know, I know. But I want to know what he's up to. If we are quiet, he won't know we're there," Lyria reasoned—rather poorly, but her loyal pawns went along with her.

They slipped through the great wooden gates before the men in the gatehouse could shut them tight. Just down the path, the stranger in black stalked down along the dirt trail in the direction of Cassardis. He was not yet aware of the Arisen and her two pawns, and they intended to keep it that way. Lyria crouched down and darted behind a tree, using the cover of shadow to hide her. If the stranger looked behind him, he would see nothing but the wide open plain and the walls of the encampment.

Staying on her toes, she slowly crept along behind him as he moved down the trail. A sinking feeling entered her stomach when they grew closer and closer to Cassardis. Something about this person did not sit well with her. The way he carried himself, keeping his head low and his face hidden, indicated that he wanted to go as unnoticed as possible. Maybe he hid some dark secret that drawing attention to himself would give him away. Something inside her gut told her that this man should not be allowed in her home town.

It wasn't long before the walls of Cassardis's gatehouse towered before the trio, standing guard for the town's protection. A smile crept onto Lyria's lips when she heard the call of seagulls and the crashing of waves on the sand. These were the sounds of home and it filled her with warmth to be back.

The guards on duty allowed the cloaked man to step through the gates. They even nodded to him and bid him good day, though he ignored them. Frowning, Lyria leaned against the tree, wondering what business he could have in her home town. Why did one person make her feel so uneasy?

She pondered it a few moments before walking out as normal and fully visible. One of the guards waved up to the gatehouse. They knew Lyria and were sure to let her in as quickly as possible. They spoke greetings as well, to which Lyria politely returned.

"This is your home, is it not, Arisen?" Calsifer asked as they stepped through the threshold into Cassardis. He must have recalled what she told him about it the night before.

"This is it. Lovely place, isn't it?" she replied cheerfully. Being back home put her in a better mood.

"Aye, 'tis most pleasant."

With much vigor she pointed out each and every building. There was Heraldo's grocery where she spent many hours preparing fish for sale. There was the tower atop the village chapel on the hill. All around were the rooftops she ran across, offering an excellent view of the sea. She would have offered to show him around and introduce him to the villagers, but they had more pressing matters to attend to. Where did the stranger get to? He seemed to have disappeared completely, as though the air just swallowed him up and hid him from sight. People wandered about as usual, going about their daily activities. None were speaking about a man in black. He didn't hide in the shadows or linger in any shady spots. He simply vanished.

Lyria let out a sigh, feeling as though her time was wasted. "You…did see him, yes?" she asked her pawns, making sure he was not just a figment of her imagination.

"Aye, Master. He seems to have disappeared," Calsifer responded, seeming rather confused as well.

"Oh well. We might as well spend some time here, since we are here." She motioned for them to follow and the trio walked down the sandy path towards the beach. She was a bit eager to find Quina or the chief or maybe Valmiro and tell them all that happened to her. There were big things ahead of her and she could use some of Adaro's wisdom or the support of her friends.

As they ambled down the path, a voice echoed, "Ah, the venerable Arisen returns…" His voice was sinister, as though he were of malicious design. It was clear that his words did not match his true feelings.

Stopping in her tracks, she turned around slowly to see the man in black standing behind her. A chill went down her spine when she laid eyes upon him. Where did he come from? His face was still invisible and his fingers were knit together. Somehow incapable of speech, she stood there wide-eyed. Did he know she had been following him? Had he purposely lured her here, knowing this place held meaning to her? How could he know such things about her…?

"Are you come to lead the pawns in a quest to slay the dragon? Those equivocal husks?" he spoke again, his tone rather deriding. His comment struck a chord within her, as though he knew of her indecision. Lyria was still unsure if she wished to combat the dragon. She did not think herself fit to lead anyone into a battle that could very well be the cause of their death. Her skills were not enough to even consider confronting the crimson beast.

Somehow finding the words, she stammered, "I…I lead no one...yet...These pawns chose to follow."

The man chuckled, amused by her hesitation. "Will or nill, the Arisen is always drawn to the dragon, as puppets strung in fate's own thread."

With furrowed brows, she inquired, "What do you mean by that? Do I 'ave no choice?"

The man stepped one foot forward, then the other at a slow pace that made Lyria nervous. Closer and closer he came, making her take an instinctive step backwards. "Many have come before you, eager to stand tall atop the grand capstone of worldly truth that is the dragon…"

His voice was rather…ominous, as if he were laying bare a great legend. He did not stop until he was inches away from her. Though Lyria was not the tallest person around, this man made her seem like a giant. If she looked down, she could see the top of his head covered by black cloth. Her blue-green eyes stared daggers into him, filled with confusion and a bit of fear.

"Arrogance!" He exclaimed, making her jump. "The dragon is ever born anew into this world, and with it too, the Arisen. All Arisen seek out the dragon, but lucky are the few who attain an audience with the beast…"

He lifted his head up then, allowing the shadows of his cloak to vanish. "…While they yet live." His face was visible and clear as day. It was grotesque, with scarred olive skin on his rounded face. A malevolent grin was plastered onto his face, showing his jagged teeth. One of his eyes was gone, the wound sealed shut so all that remained was an uneven scar surrounded by bruised purple skin. The other cold blue eye stared straight at her, turning her insides to ice. His gaze terrified her, as did everything else about him. When she saw his face, she couldn't help the gasp that escaped her lips. She stumbled backwards even more, wanting to be rid of this man.

"Ours is a weak, fragile world and little within it is more frail than man." He turned sideways and pointed at the gate leading out of the town. "In yon encampment they gather up their knights and hired steel. They think to grow their numbers and hunt the dragon. But they shall soon learn their lot will e'er be as prey."

With that said he lowered his head once more and hid his hands in his sleeves, just as Lyria had found him. As though they had not spoken, he ambled towards the open gate and disappeared behind the stone walls. She watched him go, stunned at what had just occurred. Did he offer her a warning? Or was it more of a statement, telling her that fighting the dragon was futile. There was no hope of victory. There couldn't be! Lyria was afraid and unsure, but there were things far too important in her world to just…give up! Whatever she chose and whatever happened, she had a feeling this wouldn't be the last time she would see the man in black.

Someone shaking her shoulder threw her out of her troubled thoughts. It was Adaro. Her spirits lifted to see him, ready to tell him everything see saw in a mere day. But she held her tongue when she saw the worried look on his usually jovial face. It seemed there was no time for greetings and idle chatter.

"Chief! You…are troubled," she said, not wanting more bad news. Wasn't a dragon enough for one sitting?

"I'm glad you've returned, minnow. It is Quina. I fear something has happened to her."

A/N: Sorry for taking forever to write some more of this, for those of you who actually read it. This isn't exactly my priority project, but rather something on the side to practice my writing skills. So, yeah, my original stories come first. But I didn't forget!

I should also explain a bit. I know that a lot of this side-questy stuff in Cassardis is supposed to be after the hydra battle, but for it to make sense (in my head at least...) I put it before. It just didn't seem likely to me that the Arisen would keep everyone heading to Gran Soren waiting while she does some side quests. Or leave the city when there's important stuff to be done. So yeah. Just roll with it.

Hopefully I'll write more at some point. Thanks for reading!

Dragon's Dogma belongs to Capcom of course.