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No title.
(2012-12-29 - 2012-12-29)
No description.
Avira It is an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day in the Old Kingdom. The kind of day that makes a person forget about the ongoing fight against the darkness. The sun shines brightly overhead and there is not a cloud in the sky. The temperature even seems unseasoably warm with no threat of snow. There is a slight cold breeze that creates the occasional wave of grass throughout the hills.

For those seeking peace, it is an ideal place to be. There are very few people to encounter out here-just the occasional cottage attached to a farm. Villages are out there, but sparse, and easily avoided. Perfect for those with odd appearances, really, between mutates and giants.

It is out here that Avira sought some refuge from the crowded Traverse Town as she learned last night not even sticking to the outskirts could prevent her from running into a very awkward and depressing conversation with Will. Of course, as to not worry her fellow VALKYRI, Avira had taken steps to alert them to where she was going.

Avira can actually be spotted quite easily-a black, furry dot against one of the green rolling hills. She lies there, sprawled out on her back and staring skywards.
Lavi Unlike the unfortunate mutant, the titan Lavi was not ashamed of her unusual stature nor inclined to hide from those who might try to ridicule or harass her about it. She looked mostly human despite the incredible size difference and her imposing armor and weaponry tended to dissuade the common rabble from trying to pick a fight.

She strides through the open fields bold, nodding to the occasional farmer or peasant when her path crosses theirs or strays near one of the scattered cottages. The array of sensors throughout her armor samples the local air and soils, taking note of its rather startling lack of pollutants and magical residue. This world was usually clean.

The scientific readings make for an idle distraction as she travels until atleast the HUD blinks, flashing the combination of runes which matched her readings taken of the VALKYRI leader upon their first meeting. With a grunt, she looks up from her musings and casts her eyes over the rolling landscape, quickly spotting the black smudge on the horizon.

A few minutes later her great strides carry her to Avira's side. She makes no effort to hide her approach and the muted thuds of her boots in the dirt announce her presence long before she comes within speaking range.

"A fine place you have chosen to hide yourself away," Lavi offers with an amused grin. "The scenery is quite charming."
Skoll Ulfang Skoll isn't actually here for Avira. He hasn't a /clue/ she is here. He just happened to be nearby really. The werewolf was just visiting the wolves in Bramble Forest, and managed to get them to come for a walk. With which is meant - they ended up following him, and he failed to shake them through the forest. So now he's just kind of given up, has his hands in his pockets, and is walking the countryside's hills... with a small army of wolves in tow. Twelve of the grays and browns that would probably scare the living bejeesus out of the townies if he went too close to the cottages and farms.

It's during that walk that suddenly, one of the wolves makes a barking sound, alerting Skoll to something on the ground. Or rather, something the wolf specifically 'smells' on the ground. Its tail goes a-wagging and the bark is soon joined in on by the others, and then they go on and run off into the distance!

"What, hey!" Skoll calls out, reaching a hand out as they go dashing off with their tails flicking about happily. Skoll just stands amidst the field for a little while, dumbfounded, before he realizes what just happened. The scent... he smells it. That's Avira!

Basically, Avira and Lavi are joined not moments later by the concert of wolves crowding her, winding around her legs, and generally nuzzling her at leg or waist-height... and Skoll is casually following along at a distance, approaching the two. He's eyeing Lavi - not recognizing her. She's... kinda /huge/ after all.
Mercade Alexander Mercade's been looking for Avira. He wants to meet with her for,,, some reason.

He'll tell them about it later. Maybe. Since she wasn't around Traverse, he checked in with VALKYRI (bypassing the imaginary 'no boys allowed' sign) and found out she was out in the countryside.

Thus, Mercade approaches in the distance, a small parcel tucked under one arm as he travels.

He's easily seen (or smelled, he has a particular preference in cologne) as he approaches, but he'll be with the growing group shortly. He isn't sure what to make of the giant Lavi, but that's the typical wolfpack!
Maximilien There is a little cottage, in the Old Kingdom; it's small, tucked away in the woods, and marked on no maps, forgotten about by the townsfolk nearby. Once upon a time, it was owned by an old woodsman, who had built that cottage by hand, selected every tree the construction, hammered every piece of furniture, blown the glass in the was a well-loved place, and his death has not stolen any of the love from that place. The forest creatures still avoid it, not out of fear but of respect.

Not everyone avoids it. It is, after all, a good hiding place for a thief; a private place for him to disappear, to think, to dwell on life. It is so much like home, the Old Kingdom; perhaps not exactly, but similar enough that it makes him feel...


Maximilien Amadeus Renaud-Sylvianne does not like spending time in the Old Kingdom. It is a convenient hiding place, yes; few people come here, fewer still to the forest home he discovered, fewer still to the forest itself for fear of the beasts that lurk within (though Max has no fear of such creatures; he can avoid them well enough, and handle himself more than well enough to stop them). It gives him privacy from prying eyes; perhaps that was worth the cost of his comfort. How entertaining, that he had become more at home among the worlds than in France itself...but then again, it was, perhaps, like staring at the twin sister of a dead lover; beautiful, familiar, and yet different and disappointing all the same.

Max had emerged from his little forest cottage earlier to go shopping at the village - actually shopping, too, exchanging Munny for goods like a real person at the poorer shops. Munny that may have slipped out of some arrogant nobleman's pocket, admittedly, but munny earned nonetheless. There had been little he had kept, however...

Max's lip quirks upwards in a smile as he moves through the hills. A man could always steal a slice of bread, after all; he'd nipped one from the shop at the edge of town, the one with the smug baker that he absolutely could not stand. Now, the baguette tucked under his arm, Max makes his way through the countryside, thoroughly enjoying the view.

And now he has two new views to enjoy.

The caped man lands a bit between Lavi and Avira, baguette still tucked under his arm. He just sort of appears out of nowhere, landing gently, his opera cape fluttering around his legs as he lands; he carefully avoids landing on the wolves, or even too close to the wolves. He beams. "Madamoiselle Avira, bonjour! Comment allez-vous ce matin belle? And who is your beautiful companion, if I may? Bonjour, madamoiselle; a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

He flashes a grin at Mercade. "And you as well, Monsieur Alexander. Comment allez-vous? And your rather lupine companion, of course."
Avira She can hear barking in the distance. Familiar barking that certainly belongs to the pack of wolves she had befriended a month ago. How interesting-did they follow her through here?

Avira can hear Lavi's approach, though she does not bother rising to look. Something about those heavy footfalls clued her in to the identity of the visitor rapidly nearing her location. Of course, it could have been some OTHER giant roaming the French Countryside but rather than remain paranoid, she pushed herself towards optimism today.

Only after Lavi speaks does she tilt her head upwards just slightly to see her large friend. "Isn't it? It's like something out of a fairytale. What a treat to have places like this. Especially for you, I'd imagine..." Reaching over, she pats the grass next to her with her hand. "Come, join me."

Before much can be said, another shape, dark to her perspective against the sun, appears with them. Squinting upwards, Avira is quick to shade her eyes with a hand, finally able to make out the familiar form of Max. There is a blank stare from the mutate for a moment as she processes the question in French. He'd said such to her before, but not with the 'ce matin belle' part on the end. It didn't sound like her name...belle, though, didn't that mean beauty? The silence stretches into 'awkward' territory before Avira actually manages to answer.

"Hello Max. I am fine today." At last she sits up, her ears tilting forward as she sees the familiar pack of wolves approach, followed by a familiar werewolf. Avira laughs, reaching out and petting the wolves that come to nuzzle her.

"Don't worry about these guys." she explains to Lavi and Max, "They're friends. They won't hurt you." Unless Avira says to, but she would NEVER do that with this crowd. As she greets her animal friends, her nose twitches. That smell...

...Mercade? Out here? It can't be. But that was definitely him.
Lavi The howling of the woodland predators in the distance is all it takes to put the giant knight on alert. She wasn't particularly worried that some horrible beast was going to come bounding out of the trees to destroy them all - such a creature would be hard pressed to explain so near the peaceful settlements she had passed. There were no defensive walls, no ragged moats filled with spikes and poison, nor towering battlements laden with defensive turrets or archers. This world knew very little of such harships.

Lavi was, however, concerned for the safety of the smaller woman. A pack of wolves would be a challenge for any single human to handle. Her attention is drawn to the sudden appearance of the elegantly dressed man, staring openly at his strange language. How had he managed to get so close without her noticing? That alone is enough to impress her but his charisma doesn't hurt either.

"Aren't we the charmer?" She grins down at him, resting the hands on her hips. She glances back over at the wolves as they draw closer but immediately notices they aren't in a hunting formation. They look... more like happy dogs. And then the tide of furry bodies hits them and begins sniffing around, which elicits a deep amused laugh. "Woah! Friends of yours?" The question is aimed at both the wolves and the gaggle of men, her head turning to regard Skoll and Mercade with a friendly nod.
Skoll Ulfang Skoll raises a single hand in order to greet Mercade, when suddenly... Max appears out of nowhere! This actually stops Skoll right in his tracks, and he quickly looks left and right. This man!! How did he sneak up on him!? Where'd he come from!? How mystérieuse!

Skoll continues on, and looks at how Avira finally sits up - which probably means she's about to get some face-licks if she's not careful. "They smelled you even before I did." Skoll comments to Avira, "They were following me around for a while now, but when they smelled you, they just sped off to meet you. Guess you must have really left an impression on them." The werewolf comments, before shiftings his weight and coming to a halt a few feet from her - feeling a bit uncomfortable amongst so many people he doesn't know. His tail kind of does that irritating 'swish-swish' motion, and one ear flops down along his scalp while the other remains reared up.

Or maybe it's just Max's behavior, or his way of speaking. He doesn't really speak French after all. And why is this man jumping between two languages? Is that a thing? Knowing Skoll, if Max isn't careful, he'll start picking up on it and mimicing bits and pieces of that. And nobody likes a French Werewolf.

Upon being nodded at by Lavi, he raises a hand from his pockets. "Yo." He greets, before returning his hand to his pockets. That's around the time that the wolves notice Lavi... and some of them get adventurous enough to start sniffing her.
Mercade Alexander Mercade walks up to the gathering, and grins as he sees everyone. "Avira! I've been looking for you. And hello Skoll, good to see you and your friends are doing all right. I heard about some trouble recently..." He shrugs. And then Max appears. Mercade blinks, stepping back in a reaction before he realizes who it is. But only ONE MAN would appear so flamboyantly! "Max." Mercade greets. "I'm doing fine, thank you." He says, using Avira as a hint on what the Frenchness means. "We've got a bit of a gathering here, don't we?" He looks to Avira. "I hope I'm not intruding."
Maximilien Max had his ways; he was, after all, the worlds' famous Phantom Thief, though those who were outside the Agency certainly didn't need to know that. The smile on his face never fades as he digs into his coat; a moment later, there's a rose in Lavi's hand. "I am many things, madamoiselle; to limit me to nothing but a charmer would do me a great disservice. However, I am always in the business of forgiving beautiful women. Je m'appelle Maximilien." He steps back and bows, both to Lavi and to Skoll, then straightens.

The baguette is still tucked just under his arm, which probably makes the whole thing look not just a little bit silly. He's okay with that.

"Indeed, it is quit the gathering, Monsieur Alexander; two beautiful women and three handsome men in the middle of the rolling hills of France. Most auspicious, mmm?" Max taps his foot backwards, stepping back a little bit and brandishing the baguette like a rapier, levelling it at Mercade. "And with a meal to split between them, no less! If only I had a basket, we could make this a true picnic...alas, we shall have to settle. Come, mmmm, and let us break bread together~, that we might get to know each other better."
Avira Ironically, Avira HAS faced these wolves as combatants before. In a straight fight, exposed like this, no. She could not handle them. Those harrowing days were spent fleeing and hiding from the pack up until a certain Reaper came along and changed the game entirely. Strange how such a thing worked out in the end, really. "They are all friends, yes." Avira confirms, referring not just to the wolves, but of Skoll and Max and the approaching Mercade.

The mutate sits up fully and as she does, a white, faintly glowing crystal dangles back and forth around her neck. Skoll would recognize this though when he had gifted it, it certainly did not glow. An alteration, maybe? "That is Skoll, by the way." she explains to Lavi, "He's a-"

Before she gets very far, she's assaulted with FACELICKING. "Ahhh noooo~" Avira giggles, trying to push the wolves away. It doesn't really work. Once one is pushed, another one noses in to lick her face.

"-ahaha, have you, Mercade? Well, you have found me. Wait, is this about the note you left with my gift?" Her eyes fall upon that package in his arms.

Though the magic of Max, Avira suddenly picks up on a new French word. Or phrase, rather, to be used with introducing one's name. "You know, a picnic is a great idea, Max. This IS the perfect place for one." She motions for the others, Skoll especially who is looking wary with that body language of his, to come join.
Lavi The titan just grins broadly as the furry beasts let their curiosity get the better of them, standing in place while they investigate the myriad of unusual smells centered around herself. The magical aura projected by the mana crystals that fueled her suit has a distinct metallic tang that resembles fresh ozone, like the aftertaste left by heavy electrical discharge. Various oils and fluids run through the pipes and hoses within its steel shell, likely strange to anyone unfamiliar with advanched machinery. Even the woman herself has a scent unlike any human; similar but different.

Lavi's attention is once more pulled away by the dashing gentleman as something brushes against the sensors in her gauntlet. Holding the object up, she can't help but laugh at the sight of a beautiful flower and his blatant flattery. "Easy there, young man, you're about to make an old woman blush."

The rose is quickly tucked behind her ear, its stem disappearing into the thick mane of golden hair. "Maximilien, is it? Or would you prefer Max?" She turns, stepping carefully to avoid smoothing any wolf paws or toes in the process, to look at the others and gives them all a fluid salute, banging a clenched fist on her chestplate. "And Skoll and Mercade. I greet you all. You may call me Lavi."
Skoll Ulfang "Trouble?" Skoll's ears change - in that they switch rolls. The left now perks up, and the right is flat to his head. "I don't know what you speak of." He then adds - trying not to lie about there being no trouble. Lying is dishonorable after all - but he does indeed not know what Mercade speaks of. The werewolf glances over to Maximillien's way, who is trying to 'charm' the larger woman - Lavi. Where'd he get that rose from!? There's a twitch at his right brow. For some reason, he doesn't like this man... but he doesn't know why. Just something /about him/ is annoying him.

And then bread is offered. And mentally, Skoll is already reeling. Bread!? Bread is not a man's food! And surely, he can't expect someone as beastly as Avira to eat /bread/, or even digest it properly! Surely, meat must be the only answer here! But the only thing he has with him is some dried jerky. He could portal his way to the Shard Seekers HQ, grab some bacon and and and...

No, that'd probably be a bad idea. Bad reputation on those portals and all that.

He gets distracted as Avira speaks up. He makes a little clicking sound with his tongue and the wolves stop triyng to get all up in Avira's face for the moment, and kind of just... form a circle close against her and curl up amongst eachother. The ones that had been curious enough about Lavi, first end up 'sneezing' at the icky scents around her before leaving her alone. Within moments, there's a wolfpile of panting and drowsy wolves. That's when Skoll finally notices the 'glow' to Avira's necklace. It had actually glowed a little when he'd given it to her - meant to be truly a 'light' in the darkness. But it's far brighter now indeed. Was it different somehow?

Skoll tries not to think about it too much and just kind of wanders around in a half-circle, and ends up laying with his back against the wolves - so he's behind Avira. "Not that hungry, but I'll stick around." He comments, laying his hands to the back of his head and kind of just... relaxing. Guess he'll keep an eye out on these guys. And at least behind behind Avira should stop her from being able to read him quite so well... like his tail remaining close to his legs, and his ears remaining half-down. As for Lavi's earlier greeting? He raises a hand, goes "M'lady." And then returns his hand to that place behind his head - between the wolves and himself.
Mercade Alexander Mercade smiles to Avira. "Why yes, it is." He says. He looks over the group present again. "A pleasure to meet you, Lavi. I'm Mercade Alexander, with the Twilight Detective Agency." He flicks a hand, producing a business card (this time pointing to Traverse Town!) and provides it to Lavi. He sniffs a bit, scenting the ozone. "You've got a very... interesting armor design, Lavi. Where are you from?"

Mercade glances over to Skoll, squinting slightly. Maybe it's the ears. "Well, if there's no trouble, then there's no trouble." He says, pleasantly. He's not going to press... THIS TIME. Max's proposition of a bread-based picnic causes Mercade a moment of pondering too. He likes meat as much as anyone else, but bread will do the job, he supposed. He finds a spot and sits down, pulling the package out from under his arm. It's wrapped in a plain paper, and is thin, but about a foot across length and heightwise. "A picnic should be fine." He says, "Though I don't consider myself /that/ handsome." He chuckles.
Maximilien It doesn't take Max long, upon seeing the wolves all cluster around Avira, to shift his smile to a smirk. Oh that was /funny/. That was *funny*. Mercade probably wouldn't find it so funny, assuming Mercade picked up on it at all...the man was a great detective, but very poor at dealing with women. He does his best not to laugh out loud, instead breaking off a piece of the bread and tossing it to Avira. It's good French bread, too; proper French bread, baked in a stone stove. The guy who made it might be enough of an ass for Max to rob him blind, but he was still a pretty good baker. You had to be, to compete in a small town without a real capitalistic economy.

"Madamoiselle, you are only as old as you feel, mmm? Perhaps empty words coming from such a young man, but nonetheless true, or so I understand. Please, call me as you like; I have no preference." He smiles; it's earnest enough, but...

Well, he certainly conducts himself like a fairy tale character, that's for sure. He seems like he literally just stepped out of that quaint French town and...okay, literally just *popped into existence* in that quaint French town. He straightens, breaking another piece of bread off for Lavi. "Monsieur Alexander, you are too down on yourself! You are quite the handsome man, mmm? I understand Madamoiselle Avira is quite taken with you, or so Madamoiselle Duvalis claims. Women like men with confidence; be more confident in your appearance!" The third piece of bread is broken off, and Max is smiling at Mercade now, and it's pretty obvious what he's trying to say with that smile: you'd better make your move, you indolent fool, or things will go poorly for you.
Lavi The giantess reaches out to accept the business card with two fingers, glancing at the printed text in curiosity. There were no such things in her world, after all when there's only one city in the entire world still standing it's not hard to find someone, but maker's marks on goods were similar and she suspected this wasn't much different.

The paper is slipped into a small pouch at her waist. "My world was called Astoria and I have found none like it thus far. Which is a good thing," she adds with a wink. "Rather unsavory place - unless you like radioactive wastelands, carnivorous plants, and feral mutants, in which case, it was a paradise."

The offer of bread is accepted equally as gently, allowing him to deposit the fluffy chunk in her open palm as she grins back at him. "In that case, I am quite old indeed, Maximilien." She prefered using proper names, an old habit carried over from belonging to a formal knightly order for around two centuries.

Lavi moves over to where the detective has seated himself and plops down nearby in the grass, inhaling the morsel of lunch in two quick chomps. Hardly a meal for someone her size but then she didn't really need to eat all that much to begin with.
Avira At last, relief from licking! Skoll receives a thankful look from Avira as he seems able to contain their enthusiasm. Once they've circled around her, the mutate leans forward and rests herself against one of the wolves. It looks like this is something she's done before and in her current form, she seems doubly at home with it.

CAN Avira's new body metabolize bread properly? It's...actually hard to say. She has noticed that when eating certain foods now she gets a little sick afterwards. Not so much with meats, though, and she assumes that animal genetics had something to do with that. Still, she tries to rebel and consume things as a human would. Case in point, she actually will eat that bread even if it does make her sick later.

Part of it is about being polite. "With the Shard Seekers maybe?" Avira guesses at Skoll's confusion.

"Wow, I'm kind of surprised you brought it all the way out here." Avira says, tearing off a piece of bread like a vulture might tear flesh off of carrion.

Max suddenly dives into courting advice, bringing up Celina's relentless teasing. Immediately she becomes flustered. "I've only met Celina once! All she really knows about me is what has been said on the TDA network! I, for one, am extremely put off by her nosiness into who I might like!!"

Avira unleans herself from the wolf and folds her arms over her chest. "I expressly FORBID this from being a conversation topic at this picnic!"
Skoll Ulfang Skoll at least, doesn't mind considering himself 'handsome'. Or at least a young man with /style/. There's a reason he wears those chains, besides their use in battle. And then there's the rest of the whole getup. That includes the collar, that Avira had been so very interested in last time he saw her. He remains laying against the wolves, completely clueless to Max's thoughts! The only thing that happens when Max talks about Mercade and his 'liking' for Avira, is an annoyed twitch of his wolfish ears... who knows what the werewolf is thinking of that, but at least Avira should be able to 'hear' that annoyed ear-twitching for a moment. Strong ears and all that.

As for the bread, Skoll won't stop Avira - he's not sure about her diet after all.

"Shard seekers are fine." He replies - "I don't really have any problems with them. They're doing their own thing and all that." Another one of those dismissive motions is made with his hand, and he just keeps on listening. Further twitches follow when Avira apparently forbids 'who she likes' becoming a conversation topic...

"That a common thing to be brought up huh?" Skoll offers, looking behind him for a moment. Two other men who are both being fancy 'around' Avira. He remembers something Hati recently said. Something about other bigger wolves trying to steal one's prey. Tssk. Girls are not prey! His both ears fold down and his tail bats the ground restlessly, and he brings out a bit of his dried jerky and pulls a piece out that he dangles over Avira's head...

Something that gets a few wolves looking up... but they know not to go after it.

But now there's like six wolf-heads all /entranced/ by jerky over Avira's head. It looks kind of silly.

"Place sounds kind of awful - Miss Lavi. I don't think I've ever come across a place like that on my travels."
Mercade Alexander "Well then." Mercade replied to Lavi. "That explains the armor. You must have had some pretty incredible adventures there." Because an adventure is someone else having a terrible time. He smiles to Lavi, though. "It's good to see that you appear to be prospering regardless."

Max gives some advice, and Mercade takes the bread, taking a bite to avoid having to respond immediately. "Compared to you, Max, no one's confident." He chuckles. "As Avira says, Celina is pretty nosy. She seems to enjoy teasing people about relationships. She's got a strong maternal instinct and likes to meddle with people... But she means well. It's a pretty strong personality quirk." He looks like he might say more, but Avira's objection causes him to nod. "Yeah, I'm not sure this is the best place for this kind of conversation." He arches an eyebrow at Avira, and smirks. "Anyway, I wanted to get this to you, Avira, because it's, well, late. Sorry about that."

Mercade doesn't seem to notice Skoll's irritation with the situation. His eyes are on Avira right now. Despire her wolfish form, Mercade doesn't appear to be repulsed. The mention of the Shard Seekers causes Mercade to look over. "The Seekers are pretty good people. They have their hearts in the right place. I just hope Reize and Ivo will be up to the responsibility of leading a group like that. Still, they've both got strong personalities. They should have time to learn just fine. In the meantime, the more people they can help, the better."

He peers at the jerky being dangles. "You're being such a tease, Skoll." He laughs, before he picks up the package and holds it out to Avira. "Here, Avira. Let me get this to you before I forget. Merry belated Christmas, all right?" He smiles.
Maximilien "Nonsense!" Max sits down with his own chunk of bread, laying out against the grass to stare up at the sky; his cape spreads out behind him, preventing his nice clothes from being stained. Capes - more than just a fashionable accessory for bad guys and dashing rogues! "There are only two things in this world that grow better with age, madamoiselle Lavi: fine wine and finer women."

"Oh, indeed?" Max hides his knowing smile in a bite of bread at Avira's protests. He chews for a long moment, hiding his smirk amongst the chewing motion. Finally, he actually swallows and shakes his head. "Forgive me, madamoiselle; I did not intend to gossip. Monsieur Alexander is my friend, after all; I should hate to see him lose his chance at love because of flagging confidence and an uncertain will. Other men, with just as much to offer, have failed because of a simple failure of the will." He doesn't mean the Sherman one, though he does have some choice thoughts about the Hobo King nonetheless...

Max takes another thoughtful chunk from the bread, plucking it with his fingers with an air of refinement long-practiced and long-affected. A man must be polite, after all; a thief must be a gentleman, for a gentleman thief is beloved and exciting, but a thief is merely scum. He laughs, a merry, ringing laugh at Mercade's comment about his own confidence. "I suppose that may be true, monsieur, but I think to say it aloud moves from confidence to arrogance; a man should never be arrogant, mmm? Arrogance leads to mistakes, to overestimating one's skill; better and worse men alike have fallen prey to its siren song, and I am not one who fails to learn from the mistakes of others."
Avira "Has Reize at least managed to keep your hookshot in his hands? I'm assuming yes because I haven't heard any announcements for Reize's funeral. Yet." A throaty chuckle escapes the beast, who seems all too eager to jump on any topic that doesn't involve the one she has expressly forbid.

...though she will say a word or two, "With this woman, yes." she mutters, glancing to Max and Mercade. Avira's a little relieved that Mercade agrees that this isn't an appropriate conversation topic. She seems about to say something else when a familiar smell hits her.

Meat. JERKY! Jerkyjerkyjerky. All the sudden she's looking around for the source, finally looking up to see it dangling above her. Avira goes very still.

If Mercade is familiar with dogs (which he seems to be) this should also seem familiar.

Her tail wiggles a little, then without warning, she pushes herself upwards and snaps at the jerky with her teeth. Just the jerky, though, she doesn't want to take Skoll's hand off.

Afterwards, she accepts Mercade's package, immediately noting that despite the size, it seems pretty heavy. "Well Max..." Avira says softly, "I do somewhat agree with that, though it seems to be the case only with men. Fortune...does not always favor the bold."

She starts to unwrap the gift, slowing suddenly as she catches a glimpse of what's inside. "...whoah...this is.." Avira withdraws a circular piece of stained glass that has an image of herself in it-in her human form at least. There are smaller circles embedded within it, each of a person that Avira is friends with. In the background where Avira stands, there is a howling wolf. "...amazing."

Yet...somehow very familiar. Avira couldn't put her finger on why.
Lavi "Indeed," Lavi says at both Max and Mercade, swallowing the last mouthful of bread in one gulp and letting out a contented sigh. She leans back in the grass, resting on her hands and staring up at the clear sky free of twisting aetherical energies and corrosive pollutants. Yet another thing she has learned to enjoy in the last couple weeks.

"Every day of my life was a harrowing struggle for survival. But it is what I was built for; To combat the monstrosities born from that very arrogance you speak of, Maximilien. I guess that is the easiest way one could describe the history of my world: a mistake born of arrogance."
A broad smile is beamed at the two men suddenly with the subject of conversation brought up. She seems to have little interest in their talks of match matching. Despite her casual flirting with the Frenchmen, her body simply isn't designed for such concerns. "Would you care to hear of it? I have plenty of stories to tell."
Skoll Ulfang "A tease? I wouldn't know what you are talking about." Skoll jokingly comments along, before adding; "They'll get their meal after 'Vira. As for the Shard Seekers?" He pauses for a moment, trying to find the proper words. "They'll be fine. They're not exactly your typical leader types, and they have some rough edges... but they'll make it work somehow. They always make it work somehow." Suspiciously... it always goes right in some way.

There's sadly not much Max says that draws his attention on need to speak, though internally he does agree that too much confidence becomes arrogance. And a man should never be arrogant. When Avira finally 'snaps' at the jerky, Skoll confidently holds on until she takes it from his hands. A simple thing to some, a sign of trust to others. This is followed by a pat on Avira's head, and him taking some jerky for himself, and then offering some of the individual wolves. They love meat after all. Some of them stir up the pile a little while they're at it.

"Well, if he loses the hookshot, I'm not making him another. That was a lot of work. But supposedly, he's using it well so far. So... guess no phoenix downs for Reize yet." His ears then perk when Avira goes 'amazing'. Curiousity and all that, the werewolf turns around and kind of 'lays his head' on the pile of wolves and looks around the corner to see what Mercade gave her...

It's pretty. Really pretty...

That design... that familiarity with the girl. How much does he even /know/ about Avira anyhow? His ears go flat, and he turns around and lays back against the wolves again. Lavi's offer at least is a good moment to distract himself from that thought. "I'd like to hear what you guys did for fun there." He notes, while thinking about the other people in his life. Does Zia have any friends? He knows about the Shard Seekers... but he doesn't know OF the Shard Seekers. He's amongst them, but he doesn't know them all that well.
Mercade Alexander "I certainly can't deny that there's a lot to be said for a fine woman." Mercade says, glancing from Max to Avira. He glances back. "You've probably had a lot of opportunity to learn from others in your craft." He says.

Lavi describes her situation in her homeworld, and he frowns. "That sounds horrible. I can see why you've had to resort to those kinds of measures to survive. If you want to tell some stories about your travels, I'd love to hear them."

"You don't, huh?" He says, as he watches Skoll give Avira some jerky. He frowns faintly to himself, but sighs, shaking his head and looking away for a moment.

And then he hears Avira's response. He brightens as he hears her, and he looks to Avira, smiling. "You like it? I'm glad... Something happened recently that reminded me of you, and well..." He shrugs. "I wanted to thank you for all the help you've given me."

Skoll's responses go unseen. He can't see over the wolfpack, after all. "Poor Reize. He's got the worst luck." He laughs. "I can't imagine him whizzing around on a chain."
Maximilien "I would love to," Max replies cheerfully. Truth be told, it wouldn't work out between them, anyway, even if she was capable of such. There were just too many complications. But he still had an attitude and a reputation to keep! "Tell us, then, mmm? That is why we are here in this world, is it not? To form new attachments?"

Max finishes off his own hunk of bread, folding his hands behind his neck to pillow off them and stare up at the sky. He doesn't need to say anything to Mercade or Avira at this point; he's already stirred that pot enough to get it bubbling. Skoll...well.

It's enough to be quiet for once in a while, mmm? Not everything needs to be a nonstop conversation. Max just lays back, staring up at the clouds to listen to the stories and conversations, a wry smirk plastered perpetually across his face.
Avira "Ooh. Yes. Tell us a few stories, Lavi." Avira chimes in with the requests. From all she had heard about Lavi's pretty terrifying world so sounded /fascinating/. Surely there were some important lessons she could learn from all of the giantess's experience at that, seeing as how much Avira appreciates harrowing struggles for survival.

Swallowing her jerky, Avira reaches over to pet one of the curling wolves. "Yeah, funny you should mention that, Skoll. Have they told you what happened with the Black Chocobo mark? How Reize and that other girl show up right after me and Sable and that Luso guy wore it down and just /caught/ it? ...well...more like it caught Reize by biting that little dangly piece of hair of his."

Very carefully, Avira shows those here the stained glass piece. Then, just as carefully, she begins wrapping it back up in the packaging. "I do like it." Mercade receives a look of curiosity from Avira when he mentions the 'something that happened'.
Lavi "For fun?" Lavi looks thoughtful at this question, rubbing a hand on the back of her neck. "Hmm. I guess that'd be up to who you asked. The people who lived on the frontier spent most of their efforts merely trying to survive. Everything was deadly in Astoria and I do mean /everything/."

She gestures up at the sky before leaning back again. "There was a great war that broke the world, leaving all but a single city in ruins. Uncontrolled magical energy warped and mutated the land. The air became foul and poisonous in many places, pure water was scarce, every form of wildlife was twisted into some horrible nightmare whose only purpose was to kill or be killed."

The titan's hand clenched at the grass, pulling up a fistfull of the green blades and letting them drift away in the wind between them with a grin. "Even the plants were deadly; poisonous or carnivorous, some even became sentient after a fashion and would set traps for unwary prey. But I digress."

"Most common folk passed the time with drink and song. They were a tough lot, not much got them down. There were card games that were popular among the settlements closer to the trade routes. Knights tended to spend most of their time training or drinking or bedding women. As for myself..."

The woman smiled even broader as they came to her favorite subject - herself! When you're worshipped as a demi-god for two hundred years you get an ego, okay? "I enjoyed the thrill of chasing down the nastiest of the mutated creatures. No two were ever alike. It was always a fresh challenge. I suspect this love of 'adventure' as you put it, is by design but since I'm designed to enjoy it... well I do! Hahaha."
Skoll Ulfang "They didn't actually. I've been..." Skoll pauses... blinking... and reaching for his forehead. "Don't know really... I've been... places I guess. No, I don't think they mentioned it." He sounds confused as he says this, and shakes his head a little to get rid of that annoying and nagging feeling. He must have been on auto-pilot for some of his traveling, he figures. "Figures a Chocobo would go after his hair though. It's like a fat worm, wriggling around all the time. Just like Reize - just won't stop moving."

The wolf that Avira ends up petting rubs its head up against her hand and makes a wolfish yawning sound, followed by it opening its mouth all the way for the /actual yawn/... and then lays his head back down. Skoll ends up dangling some more jerky over Avira's head - this time not attracting as much puppy attention. "Another bite?" He offers. "It's not as good as the bacon I made for 'ya last time, but it'll do in a pinch. Sorry - I don't have anything better on me I'm afraid."

Lavi's story however, reminds him a bit of his own world. While not with the plants or the water or the sky... "Monsters back home - at least in my region - all were a good hunt. They had to be, with my people around. Strong predators that can use magic, spawn more strong predators that can use magic - and all that." He notes. "So I can certainly understand the thrill of chasing down nasty monsters. Me and my dad used to do that too in the later parts of his life..." Before it was ended.

Feeling like he should share a bit about his world, he adds, "Hunts were often a prime thing for my people to enjoy, as well as telling stories. No cardgames I am afraid, and the only ones who had the power to do the 'bedding', as you so call it, were the Alphas." There's no blushing, no embarassment. "'was supposed to become an alpha after me' dad, but I guess I'm just too different from him."
Mercade Alexander Mercade doesn't comment on further evidence of Reize's haplessness. "We can talk about it another time, Avira." He says. It's not something he feels comfortable talking about in public, apparently!

He looks over to Lavi, instead, who tells a story. "You were all pretty amazing to have survived an apocalypse like that." He shudders. Not everything that can go wrong is related to the Heartless... "What did you do with the monsters you killed?" He asks.

Skoll dangles more jerky over Avira. This time, his expression doesn't change. "Your society was pretty heavily patterened after hunters and packmates then." He mentions. "Unfortunately, the only prey I tend to find is usually of the more criminal variety, or perhaps choice morsels of information. I'm not a warrior like that."
Avira Avira doesn't volunteer a damn thing about her past. From the detective to phantom thief to werewolf to space marine, there is pretty much nothing worth talking about in Avira's opinion. She will gladly listen to Lavi talk or Skoll explain the structure of werewolf society a little more. It did explain a lot of what she saw when she glimpsed into the past.

"What was your hardest hunt, Lavi?" Avira asks before she is distracted by more jerky. Much like before, she gets all quiet and still before snapping it out of Skoll's hand again.

She doesn't speak again until she's done eating. "Mercade's right, it sounds a lot like a wolfpack." She tactfully doesn't comment on the bit about alphas though. Could that really apply when he no longer had his people with him? "...wait, you can make bacon?"

It sounds like this is a concept that Avira has never really considered before. Regular people, not some big food company, making bacon. " do you make bacon?"
Maximilien Indeed, not everything that goes wrong is the Heartless. Meddling thieves are often a frequent cause of things going wrong. Very, very wrong. Max considers this for a moment before sitting up and looking at Mercade. "You give yourself too little credit, mon ami! You are most definitely an 'Alpha'. People flock to you for help; you are a leader, even if you do not wish to be such. You simply need someone capable of supporting you, of understanding your trials, mmm?" He laughs, then lays back out on his cape.

"My, my...are we all going to share stories of home? I admit that I am fascinated by such fantastical worlds; that people like you even exist is really very marvellous." He says, despite looking and acting like he stepped out of a story. " will have to forgive me if I do not wish to share my own stories. I am a private man, after all."

"Ah, madamoiselle; do you not know how to cook? It is not so terribly difficult. Would you like to teach you? Men appreciate a woman who can cook, and Mercade is certainly quite incompetent in that respect..."

The topic may have been dropped, but /damned/ if Max isn't good at needling.
Lavi Lavi tilts her head and grins towards the werewolf in response to his own slice of insight into the world he came from. "It was quite the opposite for us, we had to adapt to the new world or be consumed by it."

The knight waves a hand in the air dismissively at Mercade after this, shaking her head. "Oh no, I didn't survive the Great Fall. I wasn't created until many years later by the Council. The Council... these guys were... well I guess you could say they were the foundation of society. Six people who had learned some pretty crazy secrets of the universe. Most of em were over a thousand years old when I was born. Closest thing to family I had though they were more like teachers to me."

She sits up now, rubbing two fingers on her chin. "My hardest hunt... That's actually pretty difficult question. Each mutant was challenging in its own way - oh I usually left them to rot, sometimes took trophies, none of which came with me sadly - but ah anyways, after two hundred years you start to loose track, heh. I suppose I could tell you about the one that came the closest to killing me."
Skoll Ulfang Skoll nods his head a little behind that bunch of wolves. "That's basically how it was. Hunters, packmates. We generally remained within the same region though." They weren't immensely nomadic. "Kinda... miss it." He adds - but only in a whisper this time. Things back then weren't this complicated. His sister didn't hate him. His parents were alive. No Gaudium lords, no whole days missing from his memories...

Then Avira goes on to comment about Bacon! "Well, yeah. How else do you think I have the stuff stocked at the Shard Seekers?" He asks. Skoll never really bought from stores - not food anyhow. He's used to hunting after all. Sure, he'll eat at cafes. But bacon in packages? Heck no! "As for how you make it..." He then starts to explain what parts of a pig it comes from, how one goes about 'retrieving' it from the animal... and basically tries his best to avoid any gory details - and instead tries to make it sound appetizing and... well... something that makes one desire more Bacon. From there, he goes on to describe how to make the perfect bacon in its own fat, using a frying pan.

"But yeah - wolfpack." Skoll tries to close the subject, trying not to take away from Lavi's tale. They asked for her to tell a story after all, and here he went blabbing about... stuff! "Oh please, do tell. I'm curious."
Mercade Alexander Mercade shakes his head. "Um... You make it by putting the strips in a frying pan. It sort of does the rest? I never really quite got it right." He says. He shrugs at the comment from Max regarding food. "Some men appreciate a women even if they can't cook. There's always takeout. As to the rest..." He pauses, looking down. "I'm just doing what I can. I'm not nearly as good as the old Boss was." He says. "They wanted me to stay, so I guess I'm doing well enough."

He trails off, and then listens to Lavi. "The Council... How did they get that kind of information? Couldn't they stop the apocalypse that destroyed your world?"

Mercade winces at the alluded description of butchering a pig for the bacon. "That's pretty intensive, Skoll. You're a really... do-it-yourself kind of guy."
Avira "I can cook things!" Avira blurts out, clearly embarassed. Of course, with single living she never really endeavored to learn how to cook elaborate meals or anything of that nature. Why bother, when just cooking for herself? Sure, there was the occasional dinner she had for her parents, but... "I just didn't know that you can make bacon from, that is...a regular person."

Her ears droop and she looks over at Mercade, who is no doubt just as embarassed now. "Maybe, Max...when things aren't so dire, alright? I've got a lot to think about right now." Avira settles back down at this point, lying on one of the wolf's fuzzy flanks. She tries, very hard, not to salivate as Skoll goes into the process of making real bacon and cooking it. Great. Now Avira wants bacon.

"Near death counts as hard, Lavi. Let's go with that story."

'Old Boss' though? Huh. Avira will have to ask Mercade about that later.
Maximilien "/Take-out/." Max says the word as if it's a swear, closing his eyes and shaking his head. /Take-Out/. "Disgusting. You may as well plant your gun in your lips and taste lead; it will be swifter than killing yourself with /take-out/, and likely taste better besides!"

"Cooking is an art. It is something you put your heart and soul into; the blade of your knife requires nothing less than the same precision of a master swordsman, the blaze of your stove no less than the kiln of a master sculptor. The arrangement of the food itself is even part of this; it takes a keen and sharp eye, an understanding of aesthetics as thorough as if one studied at the feet of the great painters themselves. Good food is health for the soul and the body at once; /take-out/ is the poison of lazy men unwilling to improve."

"It is like cleaning. The lazy man hires another to clean his house; the fulfilled man learns to clean it himself, and understands the joy of a clean room under his own power."
Lavi Lavi laughs out loud at that question, slapping a hand to her forehead at the thought of such a thing. "Stop it? They /caused/ it."

With a grunt of effort and the hissing release of steam as accuators in the armor adjust for the sudden shift of weight, the giantess pushes back to her feet so as to better elaborate upon her story. Can't have a good adventure tale without some pantomime. She allows Max to deliver his retort to the cooking commentary before continuing, grinning at his righteous indignation.

"Remember that thing I said about our history being a mistake of arrogance? Well that was the mistake. Before the Great Fall there were other lands beyond the Crystal City but they weren't nearly as advanced or peaceful. They wanted all the fancy toys they couldn't make themselves so they banded together and invaded - and they were winning." The knight begins to pace back and forth, moving far enough away that can do so without having to worry about where she's stepping.

"So the Council decided to use their ultimate weapons to wipe out everyone else. They figured they could just rebuild after it was all said and done. But they couldn't predict the reaction the nukes would have with the latent magic in our world. Only the Crystal City survived and that was just barely. The rest of the world mutated and the few pockets of humanity that survived were left to fend for themselves."

She pauses, allowing them to get a nice mental image. "Now after this terrible backlash the Council feels responsible, like they should, so they gathered up their forces and started to send sorties into the wastes to find survivors. They did this for about fifty years before they realised they wouldn't be able to make enough of a difference as things were. Not enough knights to protect everything and some of the truly terrifying beasts were simply beyond their power to deal with."

Lavi puts a hand on her chest, indicating herself with a grand flourish. "And this is where I come into the picture."
Skoll Ulfang "Well... we learn to take care of ourselves. As a cub, as a rite of passage, we're sent into the forest to learn to live on our own for a few days. Usually, we're watched in some ways by the parents -- but you know... it's tough. We have to be prepared to do whatever task. Be it gathering for berries like the females, or hunting and skinning the meat. My father didn't really... appreciate... the weak in his pride." The weak... in his pride. Hati. Why had he never seen it? Why'd he never seen the trouble his father had put his sister through? His mother for that matter. His ears slowly are starting to come back up.

He then nods in agreement with Max. "I agree. Take-out is pretty bad. But... there's a place for everything. Even us wolves sometimes had no time or desire to hunt. Sometimes it's okay to borrow from another party. It may not be as good as food at a good restaurant or self-made, but at least you have more time to spend with... you're loved ones." His ears fold down again as he says this last part. Grrr, stupid memories. "Besides, I don't really do the aesthetics thing, and I eat just fine. Just as long as you make yummy and good food - who cares about how it looks? I mean... some would say bacon looks awful on its own. I think it's delicious."

He then shuts back up and listens to Lavi's story. It paints a... horrible picture. It reminds him of how Zia spoke of the humans from Manhattan. How people spoke of Xanatos with doubt and suspicion at times. "But come on! Talk about that hunt that almost killed 'ya! Was it big? Strong? Was there anyone to back you up?"
Avira Take out had been a part of Avira's 'cooking' too. Though at the same time...she lived in New York City. There was no shortage of good food there, actually. So when Max starts ranting, Avira's ears fold down and she looks a whole lot like a puppy receiving a scolding. And nobody told her that she needed serious cooking skill for a...

Avira banishes the thoughts completely, focusing instead on Lavi talking of her world's history. "So your wise men brought the disaster on themselves by using those weapons." She repeats, marvelling at how Lavi doesn't even seem so angry about this. Then again, she did say she was practically made to hunt monsters and enjoy it. "Then made you to clean up the mess?"

Avira's silent for a second. ", you're really lucky to get such an opportunity to save a world like that." she observes. Or at least she was since that world no longer exists.

Skoll adds a bit to his history and Avira thinks of that glimpse of the past she saw again. How Odin was treating Hati. Maybe that's why Hati was such a resentful jerk now?
Mercade Alexander Mercade Alexander is definately looking embarassed at the moment, especially after Max engages in waxing poetic about the /meaning/ of cooking.

"Well, I... uh..." He doesn't look like he can mount an actual counter to that at the moment.

And Skoll tells his own story, and it's all Mercade can do to just nod, especially since Skoll... moderates the cooking issue, but certainly doesn't bring up an alternative point much. "Yeah... well..." He trails off, still looking embarassed.

He seizes upon Lavi's response. "So they destroyed the world, and then people went to go live under them anyway? I guess they didn't have much choice..." He nods. "So you were given your abilities to help fight against the mutated beasts of your world."

He looks away. "Were you given a choice?"
Maximilien "Of course aesthetics are important. Certainly you cannot /always/ eat with an aesthetic eye, but even in such situations, a great chef's hand moves the meal itself to appeal to the eye of one who eats it. Only an animal, or someone who eats like one," Tom Magnusson, "Sees every bit of food as the same. I would wager even those wolves you have congregated so protectively around Madamoiselle Avira even know that a meal that both tastes and looks good is better than one that simply has been thrown together for the sake of /swiftness/."

Max doesn't comment on loved ones; he stands up, folding his arms over his chest. "Take-out in the animal kingdom is different from the take-out humans have created. Animals do not seek the cheapest and worst scraps of meat; beasts know to avoid such things unless they are desperate. Humans regularly shovel it into each others' mouths for profit; it is disgusting. To look into fast food and takeout is to look upon something man was never meant to know. Perhaps I will show you sometime, monsieur Alexander, madamoiselle Avira; I assure you that one look in the kitchens of a fast-food restauraunt and you will never seek to eat there again, unless you are truly desperate and starving."

Max snaps his fingers. "Arrogance is confidence beyond belief; the mistakes of one arrogant man can change the course of history. You are living, if phenomenally beautiful, proof of that, madamoiselle Lavi; you illustrate my point quite well, mmm?" After that display of single-minded lecturing, Max dropping back into his cheerful foppish mask is probably almost unnerving. How many faces does the man have, that he can change between them so effortlessly?
Lavi "I'm getting there, scruffy! A good story needs a set up." Lavi grins back at him, putting her hands on her hips. Just be glad there's no booze here or she might be inclined to deliver this story via song!

To Avira she turns, laughing incredulously. "Lucky? That's the first time I've heard it put that way. An apt description, however. And no, I wasn't given a choice, Mercade." The titan crosses her arms. "You seem to think that I was modified, that I used to be human like you - I wasn't. The Council took their staggering knowledge of magic and science and used it to create what they considered to be the ultimate warrior - me."She winks at Max's newest flattery.

Her arms spread open again, as if she were indicating the entire world or planning to give someone a bearhug, it's hard to be sure with body language sometimes. "I am told it took them five years to complete the process. And still it was not enough. This armor and these weapons were required to even the playing field, so to speak. Twenty years I spent assimilating all knowledge still on record about our culture, our history, our science and the arts of war. Then I went out and started to take back the world from the monsters they had created."

Lavi starts to pace again as she gets on towards the main event and the story they seem to crave. "There are many adventurous tales I could share with you for I roamed Astoria's broken lands for the better part of two centuries. With my strength to strike down the most dangerous foes, the knights were able to make real progress but it was very slow. Even when the Heartless came we had taken only half of the continent back - roughly," she adds with a handwobble.

"There were many close encounters. Countless men died under my command, bravely facing dangers that no mortal should ever see in their quest to provide a better world for their children. But only once was I defeated so soundly that I believed I might actually die. This most ferocious of beasts was one that the Council dubbed..." The large woman pauses for dramatic effect, grinning to herself before she turns back to face them.

Skoll Ulfang When Avira's ears fold down, one of the wolves moves his head up and rubs his cheek against her neck. It doesn't know why she's suddenly feeling upset, but it wants to make her feel better. At least the girl isn't whining! That would end up... worse probably - if last time is any tell of this. What interests him though, is Avira's reply to Levi. Lucky to get the oppportunity to save a world? "Saving the world isn't all it cuts out to be most of the times, Avira..." He whispers just for her to hear - and her specifically. "Especially if you fail." Ugh, what's he suddenly being melodramatic about and ruining the mood for? Mercade's comment about not having a choice doesn't help much.

"The wolves..." Skoll raises his voice a bit, so his former whisper may further go undetected, "... know good food by instinct. They know it by smell, not looks. They will know if something is diseased, but whether it's 'fresh roadkill' or something they killed themselves... that doesn't matter to them. They may know good food, and only kill when they need to. But the fact is - they're not human. They're not something you can compare."

Skoll then slowly sits up and stretches his arms up. He's interested in Lavi's story, but something about Max is starting to piss him off. The holier than thou attitude and all that. Still, his ears perk when Lavi speaks of a beast named Bahamut.
Avira Man, that makes two of them completely cowed by Max's ranting! Mercade gets a sympathetic look from Avira since he was the one that brought up the dread words 'take-out' in the first place. "I don't think we're going to have to worry about fast food for a while." Avira murmurs, nuzzling against the wolf that had shifted to rub her neck. -it was kind of amazing, actually, just how queued to Avira's body language they were. Especially since Avira isn't even aware she's reacting like this-it just came naturally in this form. Like instinct.

"Alright already." Avira tries to interrupt Max. "We get it, you can stop flogging us both now." And he does stop. Thankfully.

"Yeah. Lucky. You've got all these gifts. I've had to...struggle to get where I am." She comments quietly to Lavi.

That name is mentioned. "...Bahamut? in the king of dragons? I mean, in Ivalice and all that name's associated with that, that is."

Skoll whispers to her and her shoulders sink. "...yeah..." she says quietly to Skoll. "...I know." Manhattan illustrated this point pretty clearly.
Maximilien "Perhaps that is why they are simply beasts, and we are not. We know better," Max replies, carefully hiding his smirk from Skoll's eyes by tilting his head upwards to look at the clouds. He's been needling Skoll the entire time, since he noticed how Skoll treated Avira; the werewolf wasn't really even trying to hide his affection for the woman, and that complicated things. Mercade was...fragile.

He was a fragile man; he blamed himself, bore the weight of the world on his shoulders, and was disappointed when he tripped and fell. Others looked to him for guidance, flocking to him whether he was ready or not. Max had always been good at reading people, even back then, years ago, on the streets of Paris...

A pickpocket had to be good at reading a mark. Cynical, perhaps...but then, he had developed something of sociopathy since entering the worlds at large. He had to have; he had to divorce emotion and empathy, attachment, and all those things that might complicate what he may do - what he may /need/ to do, to see events come to pass as he sought. To risk what he desired because of something as stupid as attachment...only a fool would do such a thing.

Max laughs cheerily. "Je m'excuse, madamoiselle; cooking is a favorite hobby of mine. I learned how to cook from a most skilled man and his grandmother; he in turn gifted me with a love of the art and a passionate distaste for all things assembled without such care. I get quite...carried away. Forgive me, mmm? I mean nothing by it; it is not my life to live, after all. Please, take no offense from me...though if you are ever so interested in learning, I would be happy to teach and demonstrate."
Mercade Alexander Max, clearly sensing an opening, continues to press the attack. "Okay, okay! I get it!" Mercade says, holding up his hands in surrender. "Learning to cook is important, got it." He sighs, reeling a little.

Lavi spins a tale, going on in epic fashion to describe her nature and the situation she was brought up into. "A created life..." He says, trailing off. "And there's just you? No one else?" When Lavi mentions that name, he looks shocked. "Bahamut? Seriously?"

He has no idea who the hell Bahamut is. He's just good at faking it sometimes. However, Avira helps fill in what he'd need to know anyway. He chalks up another one to her.

He reaches over and puts a consoling hand on Avira's furred, massive shoulder. "Don't worry, Avira. We've got an idea of what we have to do now. We can get Manhattan back. As long as we're alive, we can try again."

While Skoll clearly likes Avira, Mercade seems to have not noticed. Or maybe he doesn't care? Which one could be worse?

The Detective looks back to Max. "... Maybe I will take you up on that sometime." He says to Max. Maybe he can at least get basic competence, instead of relying on Celina to do the cooking.
Lavi Lavi allows them to soak up the dramatic tension but her thought process is interrupted by the notion that this name is not unique to her own world. She hums thoughtfully, rubbing at her chin again as she stares down at Avira.

The Council had revealed precious little of their beloved secrets to her over the years with the excuse that she was not ready to know everything. The demi-god had come to suspect over time that they knew a great deal more than they ever let on but in the end it had not saved them. This little piece of coincidence, this tiny fragment of a jigsaw puzzle beyond comprehension - it make her wonder if they had known about the multiverse as well.

The thought zips through her mind, processing the possibility in an instant, and she turns back to the story at hand. "Yes, seriously. Though I am surprised to hear that you know of the name. It raises some interesting questions. King of the dragons... yes I could see that being an apt description."

"To answer your other question, yes, I was the only one. Many of the resources required to perform the rituals necessary were all but destroyed in the Great Fall. They had only one chance." And they failed, she muses internally.

"Anyways, on to the good part. About fifty years into my crusade on the western coasts, we came across something we had never seen before. There was a village on the beach, a city actually, that had survived mostly intact somehow. The majority of the structures still standing were near the water line and there was evidence of habitation - recent. But we never found any people, nor any bodies to suggest a failed defensive action."

She pauses, recalling the scene in her mind with a simple act of concentration, seeing it before her eyes as if it were just yesterday. "While this was already quite the discovery the thing that truly stood out was the crater." Lavi faces them and holds up her hand, linking her first finger and thumb together to create a circle. "A perfect cylinder bored straight into the earth at a ninety degree angle in the middle of the ruins and nearly fifty feet wide. The walls of the hole were flat and smooth as if it had been burned out with a laser. However, no weapon of that magnitude existed."
Skoll Ulfang The funny part about this whole situation is... Skoll isn't really showing Avira that much affection. Sure, he's offered her some meat - but that's because he knows she likes meat. Is that really so strange? There's very little reason to try and chase him off. But then, if he knows that Maximillien is trying to somehow chase him off, he's not noticing it. In fact, he's prettymuch clueless.

"Anyhow." The youth then slowly gets up. It certainly does seem that Maximillien's plan is succeeding though. He then takes a little pocketwatch out from his pocket and clicks it open in order to see the time. "I should get out of here. Think you can bring the pups back to the forest?" He asks Avira. "I've got a long journey ahead of me still." He pats his pants in order to get rid of any dirt on them.

Still, he stays around for at least a bit more of Lavi's story. As curious as he is, and captivated, he feels he has to leave. "I'll have to ask for the end of that story some other time. You certainly lived an interesting life." And with that, the werewolf wanders on off, ears slightly down and tail remaining close to his legs.
Maximilien Who knows what's going on in the thief's head? Certainly not anyone in the area; he's an intensely private man, unwilling to volunteer anything about himself but little hints and tips. Maybe he IS trying to drive Skoll off, seeing him as a threat to Mercade; maybe he's just prodding the other man to see how far he can prod, to get a measure of him. Maybe he's just messing about for his own amusement. Who knows?

Well, Max does. It's a little bit of all three, really. Mercade was a fragile man, as mentioned before; deceptively fragile. He had a strong will, but that will got him into trouble. (So did the other Will, but that was unrelated.) He had need of Mercade, had need of the man to be as skilled s he could be and at the top of his condition for events to come. Similarly, he hadn't taken the measure of Skoll yet; he had needled Mercade in his own office, too, and still did more often than not.

Finally, Skoll kind of reminded him of Tom.

Max straightens and stands. "I am afraid that I too must be away; places to be, work to do. Madamoiselle Lavi, it was an honor to be in your presence, both your story and your beauty magnificent; madamoiselle Avira, monsieur Alexander, I have no doubt I will see you shortly enough regardless. Au revoir, mmmm?"
Avira Avira mentally adds je m'excuse to her list of handy French phrases, which she assumes is the equivalent of 'please forgive me.' "Well as long as you don't think less of me for eating take-out pizza and McDonalds. Though uh...haven't eaten at McDonalds for months now. As I said...I would be interested in learning, but at a time when things are less..." she looks at her furry arms, "Dire."

Mercade puts a comforting hand on her shoulder and Avira leans towards it a little, perhaps on instinct, "..we /will/ get it back..." she confirms for Mercade.

Skoll stands and she looks up to him, watching him. "You have to go? Aww...of course, I'll lead them back to Bramble Woods." She waits, watching him leave, watching those ears of his and the tail. He was still bothered by something-that was not relaxed language. Max, clearly, as that little exchange with the frenchman sounded less than friendly.

She glances over to Max briefly, then looks back to Lavi as she explains this Bahamut business.

"Ivalice has legends of large godlike beasts called espers. Bahamut could be considered the highest one." Interesting that Lavi had a similar sort of legend in her home. Then again, there were parallels between Norse Mythology and Skoll's world, so this was not unheard of to Avira. "Go on...-oh, see you later, Max."
Mercade Alexander Mercade waves to Skoll. "Have a good trip, all right? Good luck, wherever you're going." He smiles, bidding the werewolf farewell.

Mercade doesn't reinforce Avira's instincts this time. He pats one more time, and then lets go. "We'll find a way to fix that too." Mercade mentions. He doesn't know where, but then, he's been out of the loop on that problem.

He nods to Max as he makes his leave. "Good luck in your travels as well, Max. See you around!"

Finally, he gets back to the story. He listens intently, letting Lavi paint the picture of the situation around them. "That's really odd. I've never heard of anything like that before." Mercade says. "Then again... Heh." He shrugs. Not like he's some kind of expert. Avira would know more than him!
Lavi "Any time, scruffy!" Lavi calls out after the wolf, pausing long enough to watch him leave. Strange fellow, that one. Bit too obsessed with bacon. And Max is leaving as well, which actually earns an over-dramatic farewell from the tall demi-goddess, kissing her fingers and blowing it towards him.

"Farewell, Maximilien. Do be careful with that wanton flattery, lest you break too many young hearts. Hahaha!"

This short break is used to restore some moisture to her throat as well. A small tube extrudes from the inner wall of the gorget and the knight leans her head forward to wrap her lips about it, sucking up some fresh water before it disappears just as quickly. "Now then, where was I... oh yes."

She looks at her two remaining members of the audience with a mirthful grin. "Naturally, we were quite curious about what could have caused this phenomenon! We spent three days examining the ruins for clues or signs of the people who must have lived there without even a trace. Our "lucky break"," she adds bunny ears in the air to puncuate the sarcasm here, "came on that very evening."

The titan exhales wistfully at the memory. "I'll never forget the sheer size of the beast that came swooping down out of the mountains. It was enormous... atleast sixty feet tall with a wingspan twice that size." Her arms are held out for emphasis. "It utterly decimated our forces. Only a handful survived the initial attack, so sudden and ferocious was its might. Most died merely when it landed upon the ground, crushed under claw and tail. We had not noticed its prints in the ground upon our first inspection because we did not believe such massive holes could be attributed to a living thing! Godlike... again a very apt description."
Avira "Yes. Though..." Avira thinks. The cure. It had to work, right? She shifts, lying on her side now. "-hey. His name is Skoll." Seems Avira's kind of offended on Skoll's behalf! Well, Avira would be angry if she was called scruffy.

Though she returns to being captivated by the story of Lavi's fight with the dragon god. Sixty feet tall, twice as much wingspan. It does sound like Bahamut being described...but a horrible mutated version of Bahamut.

"...then what? Wer eyou even able to fight it?"
Mercade Alexander "That's completely ridiculous." Mercade says, in shock. Though he doesn't sound like he disbelieves. "How could you..." He looks to Avira, and nods. "Like what she said. How could anyone even fight something like that?"
Lavi "As you might already suspect, even someone of my stature is nothing compared to such a beast." She grabs one of the elaborate crystal swords at her waist, pulling it free of the magnetic lock with a sharp snap and holding it out infront of herself as if sizing it up. A neon blue glow of magic fills its transluscent length, humming softly with power.

"Even these mighty blades were like the thorns of a rosebud upon its armored hide. I struck out at this creature, lashing it with all of my strength but to no avail. I was merely an ant to it."

Lavi grins, looking back at them. "Ofcourse, even ants can be annoying if they find a soft spot. So I crawled upon its scaley body until I reached the head of the beast." She holds the glowing sword into the air with both hands, point turned down towards the earth. "And with a great thrust, dove into its eye!" The blade bites into the dirt, sending a plume of fire and smoke erupting up from the ground as the affected blades of grass are instantly immolated by the energy with a sizzling hiss.

"Naturally, it was quite displeased with this and smote me with its massive claws. The force was such that almost every bone in my body was broken and I was sent hurdling into the nearby fields. Fortunately, its pain drove it to flee back into the mountains and I never saw it again." The blade is restored to her waist and she crosses her arms. "It took me nearly a week to heal enough to start crawling back towards the nearest settlement and two more past that to actually reach it. Only this armor, broken but still firm, held me together. And that was the worst I was ever injured."

Ofcourse, this is a vastly simplified version of the actual account leaving out a great many interesting details - but ones she's chosen to keep to herself for the time being. The less these mortals know of her true power the better, she thinks. The temptation to rely upon that strength was far too strong when it could be asked of her.

"The crater I mentioned before was later discovered to be the wound left by the beasts awful breath. Pure condensed magic of terrible power. But I never witnessed this myself."
Avira Avira's eyes are upon Lavi fully now as she finishes up her story and she remains in silence for several moments afterwards, taking it all in. Unfortunately, Avira's knowledge of Bahamut ends with 'he's the dragon king and an esper' so any similarities to attacks that were reflected in the tale are lost upon her completely.

"But it was still out there. And it could come back one day." Especially if Lavi's world is restored. That was both a terrifying and somewhat...exciting thought.

"But that's pretty amazing!"
Mercade Alexander Mercade nods. He's on the edge of his seat, and with the addition of the craziness of the special effects provided, he gasps in awe. "That's completely incredible!" Mercade says, exclaiming with Avira. "I couldn't imagine fighting something like that..."

He then blinks, looking down for a moment and flushing as his gaze turns inward for a moment. Odd...

"Thank you for the story, Lavi." Mercade says, seemingly distracted for a moment. "It's getting late though. We should get moving." He stands. "Avira, let me know if you need anything, all right?"
Lavi The giantess bows slightly. "Thank you. It was a rather interesting experience and a humbling one as well. It is not often that a warrior gets to learn her own limits and survive to put that knowledge to use."

A nod is given to Mercade. "Ofcourse, I do tend to lose track of the time when stories are involved. You'll have to forgive me. It was good to meet you, Mercade. Avira, I shall see you again soon."

And with that, she turns and begins trodding back along the hilly countryside for some more sightseeing before heading back to work.
Avira "It was time well spent." Avira says as she finally stands, the wolves around her rousing and looking up at her. The mutate stoops down for a second to ruffle one of them behind the ears.

"Let's go back to Bramble Woods." she tells the wolves, turning to grin at Mercade as she carefully tucks his gift under her arm. "Of course. See you around, Mercade, Lavi."

With that, she takes off on foot, the pack of wolves following her in her wake.

This scene contained 59 poses. The players who were present were: Skoll Ulfang, Mercade Alexander, Avira, Maximilien, Lavi