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The Hound Awakens
(2014-02-27 - 2014-02-28)
With their subquest queued, Reize and Ivo spend the interim cleaning up Shard Seeker Headquarters to render them more presentable to future clients. Little do they suspect that their merry band is to be joined by a truly formidable force. This guest character can use as many potions as he likes.
Ivo Galvan Some sidequests are their own reward.

The long absences of the Shard Seeker captain and vice-captain have left their headquarters in dusty disarray and their finances in a worser state. The latter should be ameloriated somewhat come their venture into the sandworm tunnels in the coming days, when their redoubtable allies rejoin them. But the former can only be fixed with time and elbow grease.

"If I had to die by choking..."

And Ivo has one of those two things, at least.

"...I think there are more appealing options than on dust."

The dark-haired swordsman has temporarily acquired a salt-and-pepper look unbefitting of his youthful visage, looking down with a rueful smile at the long table he has only half-cleaned. A feather duster, left over from their bacon-frying maid party, is held in one hand, and already looks in need of a dusting-off itself. Light pours in through the windows of the wide lobby, displaying every scintillating mote dancing through the air.

"I'd have rather waited until more help arrived," Ivo says mostly to himself, "but if we're going to receive any more clients, we can't have them leave as unimpressed as Ms. Clarence did, even if she did hire us." Thus does he begin dusting again, covering his mouth with a cloth and squinting as he goes. "Reize," he calls over his shoulder, looking away from a burst of grey. "Can you open another window in the kitchen?"
Reize Seatlan "I can try to call the other Shard Seekers, but I haven't heard back from them as of late."

Enter the leader of the Shard Seekers. This wayward traveler looks to be much younger than the more mature swordsman. However, there is always that youthful energy that the kid bears. It is the adventuring Boy with the Long Yellow Scarf.

Reize spent the past couple of days sweeping the floor of all debris. Thankfully, their client was staying at the headquarters for a bit and baked some delicious apple pie. It was more than enough to warm Reize's stomach after trying some.

While Ivo voices his complaint, Reize grunts, "That's why we must clean up the place! It will not clean itself!" He leans against the broom in hand, frowning slightly. "It took me a while to get the weed out and put them on Lily's side." He exhales a sigh, "...I don't know why she wants to keep those things." He grimaces.

The young hunter shakes his head, "Sure, let me take care of that." The boy makes his way towards the kitchen, idly opening up the window. Fresh air comes blowing as the passage allows it to. The boy leans his head forward, taking in the brisk air with a pleased look on his face. "Ahhh, much better!"
Jean Faraven The world was a crazy, chaotic place where you never knew how far you were going to get before a band of marauding horrors came by to ruin your day.

As long as the people of the world were willing to pay good coin for a sword (or gun, or nunchaku, or whip) to do what they lacked the skill for, there would be a need for the young men and women of SeeD.

And as long as there was a SeeD to do a job, Jean Faraven would be there to tell them how to do it.

Yet it's not that most storied of paramilitary organizations that has brought the infamous Hound of Balamb far afield from his usual haunts, darksteel gunblade slung over-the-shoulder and half-smoked burning a lone ember into the dark. No...the students of Balamb were not the only young potentials in sore need of a guiding hand, and Jean meant to see to it.

There is the creaking sound of old leather as polished boots came down succintly over dusty floorboards, the shuffle of fabric as a stranger crossed his arms and beheld the sight before him in a lone, brown eye that held high the scale of judgement in its appraising domain.

"Well.." The instructor drawled with a puff of smoke, "I had heard the Shard Seekers were back in business, but from the state of this.." He kicked an overturned side emphatically, "It seems the cart has gotten ahead of the horse. Maybe I should come back later."
Ivo Galvan "Maybe we could host another maid event with VALKYRI," Ivo muses, "only this time, the maids just clean." Alas, today his brilliant strategizing constructs merely castles in the sky. His gusty sigh does little to stir the remaining dust before him. At least the floor is clean, thanks to Reize's earlier efforts.

But Ivo quirks a smile as his younger friend mentions Lily's peculiar preference. "I'm rather fond of her lack of conventional prejudices," he remarks, "even when it proves inconvenient." Or makes a third of the garden a weird mess of unattractive overgrowth. "I've elected to see it as a metaphor for our group. And your hair." Still smiling, he casts Reize a sidelong glance. "When we're out of debt, I'm finally buying you a comb... and if that doesn't work, giving you a dunk in the b-a-t-h." He's not a dog, Ivo. He can spell.


The sound of boot on floorboard summons Ivo from his banter, and not only that. Insensitive to the spiritual as the erstwhile knight is, this presence is unmistakable. It has been a long time since their last encounter, but the one-eyed warrior is unforgettable. After all--

"Sir Faraven..."

He's the only paternal figure who's ever seemed to remotely approve of Ivo.

"Ah, no, please stay."

Also, the background music probably changed to something much manlier.

"Pardon our temporary disarray," Ivo continues, recovering his uncharacteristically shaken composure and placing his feather duster on the table, righting a chair and gesturing toward it in welcome. "We've taken a job already, as it so happens, so we're in a bit of a rush trying to straighten all this out. Er, would you care for some tea..."

Brief hesitation.

Reize Seatlan "...Not sure if I want to wear a maid outfit again." Reize looks thoughtful, then he gives a sheepish smile. "It was embarassing wearing one the first time when we did the event. I think I broke Sora earlier when he found out that one of the maids was me." It is a good thing Riku was not there.

"Perhaps so, but it doesn't do anything for the garden." The boy squints at Ivo, "They are not particularly useful when you're trying to grow crops. They generally take up more nutrients, sunlight, water, and other resources that many of the other plants typically need." Reize rubs his forehead, "We generally kept them out of the garden back in Iselia." There is a brief moment where Reize looks reminiscent of his own village. However, he quickly shakes his head. "Nevertheless,-----HEY!"

Reize's antenna hair points at Ivo with a hiss. The boy shoots his older friend a glare. "What is wrong with my hair?!"Pause. "I can spell, Ivo! I am a writer!" He grits his teeth, looking annoyed. "We'll see about that---huh?"

The boy turns towards the sight of an older man who enters, "...Ivo, you know him?" It looks like Ivo does know the individual. The boy falls silent to allow the two to speak together. Reize is opting to start sweeping along the floor.

However, Reize chimes in, "We separated due to an adventure that ended a bit rough. We were separated from the other members for months. However, we have been working on calling everyone back." He rubs the back of his head, "Thankfully, things have not turned out too badly here."
Jean Faraven Jean is going to tacitly pretend he did not hear Reize talking about wearing a maid uniform. It may well be the most charitable act he ever performs during his history of association with the adventuring troupe. "Funny thing about gardens.." He transitions smoothly, spinning back around on his heel and striding across the floor with the sort of natural swagger only experience could purchase when Ivo insists on his presence, "If you don't know what you're planting a head of time, you'll never be able to manage it."

"Ivo has a good memory. We ran into one another way back, when the calamities were just starting. You all were a little rough around the edges, but I saw a good dynamic. There was potential." He just /glanced/ at the seat, and you could swear it somehow shook a bit of the dust off itself. When the Hound of Balamb seats himself in it his presence is no less demanding than from the operating chair in the Garden's infamous Situation Room.

"Too bad about the separation, but a good group will come back together no matter the distances that keep them apart." His eye narrows on Ivo as he mentions Tea, relenting in its steely contemplation as the offer suddenly become one of alcohol, "Sometimes the right mission is all you need to find that special something again." He'll proceed to hold out a glass (Where did it even come from?!) to receive the potent drink, enjoying a stout gulp with the cigar smouldering in his other hand, "So, this job. Let's hear about it."
Mir Clarence The squawk of a chocobo outside HQ, in addition to the rickety rolling of a wooden cart, would give those inside a hint that someone else had arrived. Muffled voices outside came next. "Okay Coco, watch the cart! And deal with any customers that come by!" A pause, and then it started up again. "...Hah? Of course you can do it! You're not like those /other/ Chocobo! Believe in yourself a little!" A dejected 'kweh' followed and then the front door of the Shard Seeker's HQ opened up with a click as a small girl stepped through.

"Excuse me! I'm coming in!" She called out, hands resting on her hips as she advanced further in. "Anyone here? Anyone at all?" She was keeping her expectations low. Especially after last time. "Huh...looks like it's not the pigsty it was before...not bad." And a nod of appreciation.
Ivo Galvan "Really? I thought I looked quite good as a maid."

He didn't.

"Well, I--" But Ivo is silent as Reize begins to talk about his home. Nostalgia is a rare occurrence from the ever-wandering boy, at least openly expressed, so he simply listens to the frankly-stated farming facts, a little more surprised than, upon reflection, he should be. "Yes, it is impractical," he concedes, no longer playful toward the topic. He'd like to hear more, but now likely isn't the time.

For one, that antenna hair is /hissing/ at him. Somehow.

"It's autonomous, that's what's wrong with it! Anyway, what do you write, picture books?" So much for no longer being playful. "Reize, the only thing you'll ever have to do with writing is as a character in slash fict--"

Actually, maybe they don't need maids. Maybe they just need Jean to glare at the furniture every morning. "Reize, this is Jean Faraven, the Hound of Balamb." He has a good memory not just for personalities, but for the rumors and legends surrounding them, too. "He's a... teacher." Of gardening, presumably. Ivo has produced a flask from within his voluminous cloak and is pouring it into Jean's cloak. Amazingly, he actually had some. Or something close enough.

"Yes, things haven't turned out... too badly," Ivo confirms, albeit with slightly different intonation than his younger compatriot. "But we've taken on a diverting little venture to square accounts." Euphemisms are probably useless around Jean, but speaking this way is in Ivo's nature. He's a little surprised by the Hound's seeming interest, but obliges by continuing. "Our client is a traveling baker in search of a plant that grows in sandworm tunnels beneath the desert, 'mugwort'. It feeds off parasites that nest in the carapaces of passing worms, and is sensitive to the faint flickering of light off the gemstones embedded within. It's thus doubly dangerous to seek, due both to its environs and to its apparent tendency to lash out at anything reflective, including metal equipment."

Looks like his position in this group isn't purely for show.

"The Shard Seeker Device should be sensitive to whatever treasure the main mugwort plant has incidentally collected, so as long as we can navigate the sand tunnels safely and snag a seed pod without losing our gear, we--" He stops as the door opens, and then smiles, brushing some of the dust out of his hair. "And here's our client now," he concludes, gesturing toward Mir.
Reize Seatlan This is a boy who grew up in a forestly hamlet where there were wood-cutters, hunters, gatherers, and herbalists. The small hamlet consisted with people who played in integral roles to keep the place as a self-sustaining place despite of it being a small area. The boy mused over his Isalian pride. However, those thoughts soon burst away as Reize glares at Ivo regarding his hair.

The boy squints at Ivo before his cheeks puff up. His indignanty is subsided with the guest about. Jean is an interesting person. "...Huh?" The boy blinks for a moment, "So you had heard of us when we first started?" He squints, then he looks over to see Ivo and Jean's interactions. However, the approach of the baker is what gets his attention.

"Oooi! Mir!" The youth has a beaming smile, "Yeah, this is the client who hired us!" He gives a bright smile, "She bakes some great pies, too!"
Jean Faraven "By chance." Jean acknowledges Reize's interest with a slow shrug of his shoulders that suggested the young man shouldn't let that go to his head /too/ much. The tequila went down strongly, and he availed himself of a smaller sip as Ivo recounted the particulars of their assignment. Yes, there were codewords and euphemisms abound in the description-it was clear the Shard Seekers had fallen on something akin to hard times recently-but the Hound of Balamb was not here to twist the knife, at least not when there was no opportunity to learn from it.

So he'll listen and drink, nodding his head at every other point and considering the best angles of attack from which to approach the drop. "Mugwort's a nasty customer like that. You'll certainly want to dull down the shimmer of any reflective gear you've got before going after it-a thin layer of good particulate should do the trick without compromising any function. Beyond that..." He scratched at his chin thoughtfully, puffing out a smoke ring or two, "Well, sand worms are known to be territorially aggressive. They navigate by the vibrations the feel in the ground, so just setting foot in those tunnels is like stepping on a spider's web. Not only that, if you're unlucky enough to encounter an old, big specimen..." He grunted, "Well, depend on your team. Who else have you got?"

It's about then that Mir makes her apperance, and Jean nods his head, "Ma'am." He doesn't inquire about just /why/ she'd want the mugwort or anything, professional courtesy and all.
Mir Clarence TIlting her head, Mir spotted Ivo, and then Reize, and then Jean. "Ivo. Reize. ...." There was a pause as she looked over Jean. "...And-oh." She took a few more moments to scrutinize the man seated in the main area. "......" And then suddenly her demeanor grew a couple times less energetic. "...H-Hello..."

Who was this man? He was so intimidating, she couldn't find her voice all of a sudden. Like something had just grasped her throat and kept her from speaking clearly. "...." Smiling in a nervous manner, Mir averted her eyes, a bit of red staining her cheeks at Reize's praise. "I-Idiot, it's my job, so of course I'm good at it...Use your head."

Feeling embarrassment setting in, the fair crossed her arms and looked another way to avoid making direct eye contact with the presence that was Jean, lest he somehow work some kind of mind control over her. "...I see you guys have been looks nicer than before. Slightly."
Ivo Galvan Ivo half-suppresses a smile at Mir's charming reactions. The young woman puts on a tough show, and it's surely not all show, either; she would have to be tough to wander about the worlds like this without being a trained warrior herself. But Jean is a little much for most people to handle, and her flush is quite endearing. "That's right, use your head, Reize," Ivo says breezily. "Of course she's good at baking pies when she's such a sweetie pie herself."

He really shouldn't antagonize their clients, but when a young woman is looking embarrassed, pushing their buttons is just the natural thing to do.

"But thank you, Ms. Clarence," he continues, more graciously. "Sir Faraven here glared at the room and it abruptly cleaned itself." There goes all Reize's credit. "He is a man of many talents."

Including expounding on further mission details. Ivo shuts up for long enough to take all this in. Some of these details were unknown to him. He had briefly considered dulling the shine of their equipment, but with this, it now seems imperative. "We've received word that our old friend Sir Faruja Senra will be joining us, and the Dennou sisters may as well. The former is a formidable warrior and healer, and the latter could offer observational support adequate to evading the worst-case scenario, a sandworm encounter."

Ivo winces slightly at the thought of facing a big one.

"If it comes to that..."

But this time, he maintains his composure.

"We'll manage, as we always have, I'm sure."
Reize Seatlan Reize looks rather thoughtful towards Jean regarding their name being mentioned by chance. The youth smiles a little more, "Well, at least we managed to gain more of a reputation as the time has passed." He closes his eyes, "However, with our absence, it is natural that it died down." He gives a considerate nod.

Although Mir chides Reize over him not using his head, the boy grins, "Well, of course it is your skillcraft, but it's always nice to hear someone being appreciative of your skill, right? Knight's Code: Sixty-seventh Vow: Always show appreciation towards others' craft as it lets them know that you care."

The boy beams happily, then he glances over towards Ivo, who comments about Jean glaring at the room clean.



His antenna hair flops low and the boy grumbles. Someone did not follow the Knight's Code! Reize chucks the broom in frustration, giving Ivo a 'ththhhpt' of a raspberry.

...And speaking of the broom? It's high in the air.

As the boy moves towards the shelf to procure a few things.

The broom is falling on Ivo's head.

"Sandworms?" The boy glances over to his journal at the counter. "This would be interesting to note. It would be nice to do some bestiary entries again." He grins, "Normally, hunting in the forest is my specialty, but... I've gotten used to the desert."
Jean Faraven "Field work in the desert has its challenges." Jean grunts, "For one, sand gets everywhere." He lifted his one-eyed gaze to Mir, dialing down the stoic a bit, "I was just dropping by to check on these boys. Seems you know them a good deal more than I do." Was there indeed more to this young woman than met the eye? The Hound would keep note.

Ivo's roster is technically sound, to be sure. Healers, attackers and heavy hitters to round out every role a functioning mercenary group needed. Yet he couldn't avoid feeling the sense that it was all a bit too neat and orderly. Maybe it was just instinct, but the fact that their plan was hoping /not/ to run into enemy contact rather than planning specifically for it..

"If it comes to that..."

Jean finished off the tequila and slammed the bottom of the glass squarely down on the desk, shaking the dust off it in another powerful demonstration of his powers, "You'll have me along as well." The seasoned soldier will rise from his chair like it was all settled and done, casually re-adjusting Anubis so that the gunblade didn't chafe over his shoulders, "Just so happens I have some free time...not only that, but we've been meaning to start mapping out the sandworm tunnels back at Balamb for a while. They could make for effective underground bunkers once the sandworm problem is dealt with."

His arms cross, and the full weight of Jean's regard comes down on Reize in particular, "What do you say, Reize Seatlan? Am I good enough for your team?"
Mir Clarence Ivo's praise just drew even more embarrassment from the girl. Cheeks reddening further, though this time it was definitey from anger. "Now you're just making fun of me! Shut up before I dock your hazard pay!" Pointing indignantly at the Shard Seeker strategist, she used her other hand to wipe her cheeks, as if that would make her blush go away.

It didn't.

Calming down just a little, Mir glanced at Reize and managed a small smile. "...Yeah, it is nice sometimes. When a customer tells me how much they enjoyed what I made. ...It's a good feeling." She fell quiet for a few moments there, recalling past service encounters.

Jean's voice snapped her out of her idle reverie however and she once again remembered the man's imposing presence. "....." Oh man, what the hell was she supposed to say around these sword swinging, monster slaying types? Words caught in her throat again and she just...stood aside, rubbing an arm uncomfortably.

Well, at the very least, he looked like he'd actually pull his weight. Unlike Twig Boy, and Dusty Cape here. "....Hehe-" The thought made Mir smile, forgetting her nervousness for a moment.

It was then that she decided to speak up. "...Ahem. A-As the client here, I'm willing to throw in a bit extra to have him along. He looks...really capable."

More than you guys.
Ivo Galvan Ivo's smile broadens into a grin at Mir's continued reactions, which he mostly stifles at her outburst. He's rather missed this sort of interaction, to be honest. Most adventurers are either too thick-skinned or too soft-witted for this kind of repartee. "Well, I wouldn't want that," he murmurs lightly, averting his eyes toward the thoughtful Jean. He doesn't bother to look Reize's way as the boy starts chattering something about Knight's Vows again. Ivo is a knight, probably, and he's never heard anything about these vows. They go in one ear and out the other.

There's definitely nothing Ivo needs to see Reize's way.

Besides, what Jean is saying is blowing Ivo away. Some part of him might have hoped against hope that this was the cause of Jean's interest, but Ivo never truly anticipated this. His eyes widen slightly, not bothering to obscure his true sentiments. Mir's assessment is quite correct. Quickly, Ivo, as Shard Seeker strategist, must advise Reize on the correct course of action. With absolute resolve in his eye, the swordsman turns, mouth opening--


--and promptly clacking shut as a broomstick lands directly on his head, clattering to the ground. He stands staring into space for a moment, brow furrowed in an expression of mild perplexity, before stepping back and, with a thoughtful air, settling onto their dusty couch.

"Ggrhfn," he concludes, and slumps forward.

Reize, it's up to you!!
Reize Seatlan "Yeah..." Reize murmurs in agreement with Jean, "Tell me about it." The boy looks over towards the surroundings, "I actually had to learn my way around the desert when I first traveled there with Shiki. We were supposed to meet here in Fluorgis with Ivo and Lily." He thinks over the ordeal, "It is amazing when you realized that you had to fight a cactaur for their juices." Even more amazing that Reize was made into a pincushion.

That day was sad times.

The boy looks over at Mir once her smile grows. It is good to see her happy, even if it is to hear someone compliment her works. After all, nothing is more meaningful than being appreciated.

Once the soldier makes his interests known, the boy blinks a few times. "Really?" The boy smiles once more, then he grins happily. "Of course! We would be glad to have you in the team!" It actually goes without saying. Reize is not going to turn help away, especially when this man seems to have some kind of experience. It's almost a fatherly atmosphere.

Of course, Reize has forgotten about Ivo. Why? Well, Ivo broke Knight's Code, Sixty-seventh vow. Right now, Ivo is DEAD to Reize! Hmph!

This scene contained 17 poses. The players who were present were: Ivo Galvan, Reize Seatlan, Jean Faraven, Mir Clarence