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Obscure Harmony ~ The Trapped World

Discussion in 'Statistical Roleplays' started by Masquerade, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. Masq smiled uneasily, waving his hands in front of him. "Oh, it's no worries," he said reassuringly. "The people around here are very...informal. I've seen people with worse manners, so don't worry about it." He let off a slight laugh and tried to mask it with a cough. Clearing his throat, he took on a more serious look to fit the situation, for what he had learned from Old Dalen was in fact very serious. "Well now. About the serpent. Just as I had thought prior, it is definitely not an indigenous species. Dalen informed me that it isn't even a normal animal at all. It is the solid manifestation of a curse." He paused for a moment, taking a sip of water to wet his mouth..and to let the information set in of course. "This curse wasn't placed on us, however. Instead, it was one placed on the people of Sineria, a race that has been growing more and more arrogant as time passes. They used to believe in a god known as Saturn, but in recent times, they have rebuked him and all that he stood for, proclaiming their disbelief and becoming a people of their own without some deity lurking above. In legend, it was said that a god would curse his people through different means, and one listed in Sinerian myth was the cursing of the river: the Sineria River. That explains why it was down here. The river doesn't stay in just the Sinerian region, but here as well. The legend goes that the serpent will appear in the river every night and kill anyone who draws near the water if it is in the area. Even if it is killed one night, it will regenerate the next, for when the daylight hits it, it dies. Death by sun, rebirth by moon."

    The meeting with Old Dalen flashed through his head again. The old man had seemed worried about their encounter with the beast. Masq frowned. "But clearly, this is no myth, as we have witnessed earlier. Saturn has grown angry and jealous and finally cursed the people that betrayed him. Called him powerless. Now, everyone is at risk because the Sinerians are so set in their ways now that they're likely never to admit the truth--that Saturn does exist and he does possess power. They're too prideful." He shook his head and decided to munch down a cracker, plain. After swallowing, he concluded, "And that is why tomorrow, I'm setting out to Sineria to have a talk with the people in charge. Not only are they putting themselves in danger, but the other regions as well, and I....I won't stand for it." He seemed to tremble a bit, his hands closing into fists. He had come to love this place very much, and knowing that there was a threat each night that someone he cared for might get whisked away, gobbled up by a vicious serpent...he couldn't take it.
  2. Celestine had been silently contemplating Masquerade’s story. It was not entirely unusual for people to forsake their own deities - t’was human nature, after all. She had leaned in, listening wide-eyed like a child hearing about the way the world worked.

    Diago shook his head. “So if the people of Sineria are spreading this curse throughout the world, what can we do?” He clenched his fists, breaking the cracker he was holding in the process. He picked up the crumbs and ate them. “Sorry for that.” he stated, acknowledging the mess he had made. “As you say, we have to stop Saturn, then. I will certainly accompany you.” He looked at Celestine, unsure of how she would react to his hasty decision-making. He honestly expected her to look away, but when she held his gaze, he wondered in earnest just what was ticking behind her unreadable eyes. Usually, Diago could tell exactly what a given person was thinking, based solely on their eyes… but Celestine, she was different. A living wall of stone when she wanted to be.

    She, on the other hand, had turned to look Diago in the eyes. Her thoughts were a mess; he wanted to travel with Masquerade. This could finally be him having a goal that he would actually keep. Her lips curved into a smile, as she turned back to Masquerade himself. “Obviously, you’re a good influence on Diago. What can we do to help you, Masquerade? I’m in as well.” She gave a small laugh, signifying just how strange it felt to be running away from home. “We’re going to save the world… one serpent omen at a time.
  3. Masquerade's face was a bit frozen in shock. He hadn't expected it to be a group venture, though when thoughts about visiting Sineria shifted through his mind, he couldn't help but shiver. It would nice to have company going with him. He was lost in thought for a few moments before his expression melted into one of gratitude. He bowed his head to them. "Just having you accompany would be help enough," he explained. "One person....the Sinerians might not take seriously. But the more that go, the more dire the circumstances will seem. Though, I can't help but feel this will be all for nothing." Masquerade knew the Sinerians well, having stayed with them for a while. Back then, they were moving away from worshipping their deity. He was surprised to not see this coming, though he remembered a time when he didn't believe in deities either. Betrayed by his own people. Masq couldn't help but feel sorry for Saturn. If getting through to the Sinerians wouldn't work, then maybe he could talk to the god himself. Many things he thought impossible before seemed to be possible after all. Perhaps, there just might be a way.

    "Well, if you do plan on coming, know we're setting out first thing tomorrow morning, so you'll definitely want to get some rest. We won't be walking all the way to Sineria; it would take far too long, so I've hired a coach to take us. I do hope that is okay with you two," he explained, still smiling like a madman. The thoughts of this little excursion were getting him a bit excited. He probably wouldn't sleep well tonight. "For sleeping arrangements, I have a guest bedroom for each of you. Just leave this room and go right down to the end of the hall. There's a room on the left and one on the right. If you don't get up before I do, don't worry about it. I'll be your wake-up service," he mentionied with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, for he didn't let them know what he meant by that.

    "Oh, wait. Do you have any questions? I feel like I'm trying to rush through things. You'll have to forgive me," the musician apologized, bowing his head once more.
  4. Diago stood up and stretched. Masquerade seemed very excited to accept their help, which boded well for a good trip. Despite only meeting him today, Diago felt that both he and Masquerade would get along quite well. A smile crept its way onto Diago’s face, and before long, he was lit up as though he were a child opening his first Christmas presents. “Don’t worry, Masquerade! We will do everything in our power to help you with this problem with the Sinerians. No need to worry.” He stretched his arms high above his head, trying to stifle a yawn. “…Though that will definitely have to come after some well-deserved rest.

    Celestine giggled, “We certainly will get some rest. Thanks so much for your hospitality! It’s very, very appreciated.” And it most certainly was. Everything seemed to be going the right way tonight, having met Masquerade and Clarissia. “We have no more questions, so I suppose that means that it is time to bid you a goodnight.” She walked over to Masquerade and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. Diago simultaneously reached across the table to shake his hand, and off the two of them went.

    Exiting Masquerade’s room, they headed over to the indicated resting areas that they were supposed to claim for themselves. “So… I uhh, wonder what Masquerade has planned for us when we wake up.” Diago broke the silence between them, trying to start up a conversation. Unfortunately for him, he had stumbled over his words a little bit. Celestine only laughed, and said “Unlike you, I won’t oversleep, and hopefully therefore won’t be needing Masquerade’s help to wake up.” Deceptively, she gave him a wink. “Good night, Mr. Castellui. Hope you sleep well… for it will be a long day tomorrow.” She walked over and flung her arms around his neck, grinning as she craned her neck to kiss his cheek. Then, she went into her own sleeping quarters.

    Goodnight, Celestine…” Diago murmured, turning on his own heel to enter his room. It was homely, and quaint. Just like the rest of the inn. He had a silly smile plastered upon his face that had not left his face since talking to Celestine. He knew in the back of his mind that it was intended as a solely friendly gesture, but it had him well and truly confused about the state of their affairs. He shrugged, climbing right into bed in his clothing, not once stopping. He closed his eyes, and entered a dreamless slumber, waiting to be roused by Masquerade, and whatever trickery he had planned.
  5. Feeling much more reassured, Masquerade offered the duo a smile. He raised his eyebrows in embarrassment as Celestine gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, but he shook it off as he vigorously shook Diago's hand, bidding both a good night. As they made their way to their rooms, Masq stayed put and let out a sigh. Tomorrow, he was setting out for Sineria once again, a place he had promised himself never to visit again for as long as he lived in this world. The Sinerians were too...even thinking about it, he couldn't figure out a right word. He felt a sense of deja vu settle over him, and he wondered if he ever had figured out the right way to describe them. The only thing that kept him motivated was that he wasn't going it alone. Two complete strangers offered their help to him, but they were definitely more than that to him now.

    "They're very kind. I could not be more lucky to have such wonderful companions joining me," he said contentedly to himself, standing up from his chair and stretching. He gathered the remains of the food and took it to the kitchen, saving what he could while disposing of the rest and washing up some things. Placing the dishes on a small wooden rack to dry, Masq departed the kitchen and headed for his own room, opening the door and walking inside. He remembered that he hadn't removed his violin case from his back and did so. He had carried it around with him ever since he got the thing when he was first found in Ardyne. A bard was playing in the small village square in Iala, and Masq felt compelled to play as well, asking the bard if he could play some notes on the instrument. The bard, a jovial fellow, was curious and handed it over only to be amazed as the guy played a song that was completely out of this world. It was then that some of the people that had gathered put some money together to buy Masq the violin he had now. It was very special to him in that way.

    Setting it aside, he sat down at his desk and produced a pencil from a clay mug that was on the desktop. There was already a piece of paper laid out, and thus he began to draw. The tip of the pencil skated across the surface. Buildings could be made out along with several non-distinct people. He made snow everywhere in the drawing. It was a picture of Iala and the bard that was playing there. He didn't know how much time had past after he had finished, blowing off eraser shavings from the work, but his eyes grew immensely heavy. He was surprised he didn't pass out earlier, but he knew that even if he had lied down, he wouldn't have fallen asleep. Now, however, he stood up from his desk and crashed into his bed, slowly getting underneath the blankets. He closed his eyes and let his thoughts slip away for the night. Slumber found him quite easily, and took him within its wondrous embrace...

    * * *

    The door to Masq's secluded section of the inn swung open and stomping could be heard coming down the hallway until it came to an abrupt stop. Clarissia stood there tapping her foot against the floor. She was wearing a short, dark red dress fringed with yellow cloth. On her right foot was a red boot that matched her dress, lined with yellow, but on the other foot was a knee-high black boot. She wore black sleeves on each arm that went up to her elbow, fingerless. Wrapped around one hand was a long, red ribbon. "Anyone not awake needs to get their act together! You're going to make the coachman impatient!!" she shouted loudly so that at least everyone in Masq's little section of the inn could hear her.
  6. Celestine was already mostly ready, just finishing fixing up her hair in the mirror of her room. She was lucky that she did not have to work too hard on her outfit, simply slicking her dark-blonde hair back into a ponytail seemed to work out nicely. She grabbed a flower from her bouquet, as well, to adorn her hair... it seemed like a nice touch, to her. She heard the voice pierce the air, loudly. A familiar, feminine tone.

    "Anyone not awake needs to get their act together! You're going to make the coachman impatient!!"

    Celestine chuckled. So THIS is what Masquerade meant when he told us about the wake up call? Sending poor Clarissia after us? She clicked her tongue a few times. The poor girl. Obviously she wants us to be ready... Better get Diago. She felt at least mildly presentable anyways, and strolled contentedly out from her room, across the hall to knock on Diago's door. Without a doubt, he would still be fast asleep in his bed, safely within the clutches of the dream world.

    The door met her fist with a loud, powerful *BANG BANG BANG* sound. She drummed her knuckles along the wooden frame, hoping that she would be wrong in her assumption that Diago was still in bed... but alas, there was no answer. "Damn, Diago... why do you always have to make us late?!" She rhetorically asked aloud. Truthfully, she herself didn't mind the laziness of her friend, but Celestine knew that so many other people were driven by punctuality... and in this world, there was nothing to be said for people who were allegedly 'sloths, slowpokes, and generally lazy individuals,' like Diago.

    "Alright then, coming in. You asked for it..." She sighed, turning the knob. It opened the door, and sure enough, she saw her companion sleeping soundly.

    "You could sleep through a bomb dropping, I swear." She walked over to the curtains, pulling them open forcefully and letting the warm morning sun blast into the room to waken Diago. He sat up with a jolt, obviously confused as to where he was, and why he had been pried from sleep. "Hungh.. wh-what?" He muttered incoherently, and as his eyes focused, they narrowed as he saw Celestine. "D'you have any idea what time it is?!" He rubbed his eyes, removing his last link to sleep from them.

    "Far past the time we said we'd be going. C'mon, sleepy head, get dressed. We've got Sinerians to talk some sense in to. Clarissia's already waiting with a coach, and I don't think you want to get on her bad side so quickly." She walked out of the room, off to meet with the other girl herself.

    Diago sat in silence for a moment, Yeah... bad side. Just like yours... he thought to himself. Women... happy with you one moment, and completely unpredictable the next. Wonder if Masquerade has to put up with this... He threw on his clothes from the day before, and wandered out the same way he had come in, grabbing his equipment as he passed.

    Just my luck. Sun's as bright as... no, BRIGHTER than it was when I got up... Diago thought to himself. He saw Celestine waiting for him by the door, and she grinned at him. He returned a half-hearted smile back at her, before removing it from his face. He turned, and looked at Clarissia. "G'morning, Clarissia. Sleep well?" His tongue was still addled from his drowsiness... Celestine chuckled, and added a quiet, "Good morning! Have you seen Masquerade yet? He said he was going to wake us... but I guess you did a lovely job of that instead."
  7. Clarissia was about to respond promptly, a grin on her face, before rustling from Masquerade's room could be heard. The door opened and the fellow stepped out, neatly dressed and groomed. He had his violin case on his back and a small bag at his side which seemed to hold some materials. He was practically ready to go, though he seemed a bit shocked that Clarissia had shown up. "Clari, what are you doing here?" Masq asked, eyes still open in surprise. He saw that the other two had gathered and blushed a bit in embarrassment. "Oh, my apologies. Good morning, Diago. Celestine. How rude of me to not acknowledge my guests. I hope you were able to sleep well last night."

    The young girl he had addressed first tapped her foot against the floor. "What do you mean? I'm going with you to Sineria!" she exclaimed with somewhat theatrical frustration. "Did you really think you were just going to leave me here? How cruel...." Clarissia pouted and crossed her arms.

    "I don't have any problems with you coming along, but what about your parents? Did they say it was okay?"

    "Daddy said to have fun. Mom, well, she was still asleep when I asked Daddy, sooooo, yeah." She seemed a bit nervous and that caused Masq to shake his head solemnly. "What? She'll probably be glad to have me out of her hair for a while. Her and Daddy can have some...alone time." She shuddered.

    Masq let out a laugh, turning to Diago and Celestine. "You two don't mind an extra person, do you?" he asked with a smile, still chuckling a bit from Clarissia's comment.

    "Oooo~ Diago and Celestine are coming too?!" With a brisk moment, she approached the two and put an arm around each of their shoulders. "Go on. Say that it's true. It will make my day! This trip is going to be soooo fun!!"
  8. Thankfully, yes, I had a lovely sleep. Thank you, Masquerade!” Celestine began, with great enthusiasm. “Some of us present may have enjoyed the beds a little TOO much, wouldn’t you say, Clarissia?” She gave a wink and a grin at the other girl, as though they were best friends for ages sharing some sort of big secret. However, it seemed that Clarissia was already held in the trance of conversation with Masquerade, and she seemed very adamant on her position that she would be joining the journey into Sineria.

    Before Celestine could further comment, Diago entered the conversation, seemingly shaking his previous drowsiness and dropping the non-conversationalist act. “Guess you’ve been planning on going all along then, eh? I certainly wouldn’t mind the extra company! The more the merrier, and all that.” He seemed happy to let her along. Maybe then we can be spared any awkward conversations with some changes of 'scenery'… he mused, silently to himself. He knew that he wanted some time alone with Celestine, though primarily, he had agreed to the adventure with Masquerade in order to have just that - a bit of spice in his life.

    Celestine was equally happy to allow Clarissia to join them. Another girl would certainly be beneficial in balancing out the levels of tension that would be placed by gender differences… And I can certainly use some variety… and someone I can relate to… not that Diago and Masquerade are bad people, but I just… Agh. This was a moment that she was very glad that nobody could see past the smile she had plastered on her face. Though she welcomed the relief when Clarissia commented on her parents being alone. A big, almost wry grin crossed her face, replacing the previous contented smile. “I… don’t even want to think about it. How are you managing with that image in your head now, Clarissia?

    Diago laughed powerfully at this, although it really was a disturbing mental picture. “With that said, I think I’ll turn m’mind to the journey ahead, instead. Hope you don’t mind, all.” He was happy. The group was getting along very well; shockingly so, for two pairs of strangers who had never before met. It would be interesting to see what the journey before them brought… “Well? C’mon, then! The world won’t save itself!
  9. Clarissia groaned as she drew nearer to the wall of the corridor and proceeded to smash her forehead into it multiple times. The thought of Diago rolling around in his bed enjoying it and refusing to get up so they could get a move on was present in her mind, but at the mention of her parents having alone time...well, she had done it to herself. "Oh Celestine...I'm not dealing with it very well at all...," she murmured solemnly, clutching her stomach with one hand as if she were sick. Her whole body trembled and, as she smashed her head into the wall one final time, her form sank to the floor in a crumpled heap. The girl had no shame. She honestly wished that the thought had never crossed her mind. Diago's words seemed to rouse her, however, and she arose anew as a phoenix did from its ashes. With a certain fiery flare in her gait, she made her way to the exit. "Diago's right. We'll never get anywhere standing around here. Away we go~!" Not a moment wasted, she broke off into a dash, rushing with surprising speed towards the coach waiting for them in front of the inn.

    At a loss for words himself, Masquerade offered a sigh to the other two, and with both on board, walked with them to the coach. Clarissia had proven to be at least a bit correct; the coachman that was hired for their trip wasn't the most patient of the lot. He ushered everyone into the coach, save Masquerade whom he spoke with for a couple of minutes. After their talk was complete, the coach hopped aboard his seat and took the reins. The horses he commandeered were brutes of beasts with wild black manes and brown bodies. They seemed tame enough, but if they ever decided to rampage, it would be a disaster. Their leg muscles were especially strong, something required for tasks such as long distance running. Wranglers made a job of capturing wild horses for domestic use; the wild ones were always stronger than those bred between domesticated horses. It was a job that was rough as hell, but it sure paid a lot. The coachman cracked his whip to get the horses started, and away the group went towards Sineria, leaving the wondrous lands of Lasala behind. The coach took the main road leading out of Cordan, one the group was familiar with. It was the one they traversed to get to Cordan from Raym Falls the night before. The horses dashed along, kicking up dust from the road as they pulled the coach onwards, all the way until they reached a branch road heading north. The coachman expertly steered them onto the new path, the one that would take them into the Sinerian marshlands.

    The scenery remained rather similar as they continued onwards. Out of the windows of the coach, they could see the tall trees and shrubs that were native to the Lasalan region, but after a while, the woods seemed to thin out just a bit. Rather large bodies or murky water or straight mud could be seen amongst the grasses, now taking on a rather pale green hue. The leaves of the ground plants, their stems in roots stuck in mud or beneath water, were droopy and apathetic--miserable plants, at least by appearance. The trees had rather thin trunks with nearly naked branches. The leaves were a dark brown in shape, many of which were floating atop the waters. It was on this part of the path that the coachman was forced to make the horses go more slowly for fear of their hooves getting stuck in the sections of the road that happened to have succumbed to leakage of mud or water from the nearby marsh. Neighing from the horses resounded through the air as their eyes caught sight of the long, vibrant green marsh grasses farther along. The sun reached its pinnacle in the sky, and started its descent. When the road appeared to straighten itself out again, not having any run-ins with the marsh, the horses were able to go full speed.

    Just when it seemed as though this land couldn't possibly be inhabited, the coachman snapped the horses to attention and they slowed themselves as they trotted through the large wooden gates leading into a rather large settlement bordering what appeared to be a decently sized lake. The main road came to a stop at the center of the city, a large circle with a gray stone obelisk shooting upwards surrounded by a circle of oddly shaped rocks. From the circle, more roads shot off in different directions. Some were bordered by large wooden buildings on dry land, while other buildings could be seeing floating on the water on large, hefty rafts roped to stakes on the drier roadside. A rather larger building made of more impressive wood was built right off the side of the main circle. A sign was on the front, but it was written in a different language. The coachman came to a stop in the main circle and hopped off his ride. He was greeted by a couple of...little people. They were immensely short, probably coming up to an average-sized person's knees, or thighs at most. Their skin was of dark complexion, from light brown to rather black. Their hair was light brown and dusty, or downright blonde...or at least that was the hair color of the majority. Their clothing was rather modest considering the rather warm and wet conditions of the marsh. Not only was it modest, but it was fanciful as well. They all looked prim and proper; it was almost humorous.

    Masquerade stretched a bit and opened the door to the coach, stepping out into the fresh, warm air. The smell wasn't...too bad. Deeper in the heart of the marsh, things were known to smell horrible, but at this location, the air smelled of muddy water and moist grass. They were the aromas of the environment seeping into the city. They sky was painted a light pink and orange, with tinges of violet threatening to take over as day turned to night. Masq was impressed at how quickly they had arrived.

    "Whoooo~ We made it! Such good time right?" Clarissia was the next out of the coach, making room for Diago and Celestine to step out and join them. "Let's see...this is the capital of Sineria right? Rizan-dae. I'm surprised they held onto that name, even after all that's happened..." Her voice seemed extremely dampened by a strange sadness. Her eyes were cast down sideways to the ground, and her stance became uneasy. It wasn't something she had thought about before she knew the true condition of Sineria and its people and their relationship with their deity, Saturn.
  10. As enthused as ever throughout the ride down the long pathways that would eventually lead the group to the capital of Sineria, Diago craned his neck in order to see the passing landscape... Like an overexcited little pet. thought Celestine, shaking her head and chuckling. He was awestruck by the amazing views of the nature... though he could not help but noticing the increasing trend of the sickness that seemed to plague the world as they neared their ultimate goal. His mood dampened a little until it got to a point where he simply returned inside. "I don't get it... what is it that happened?" Diago almost seemed to be pouting. "Surely their deity wouldn't ignore even the very nature of Sineria? Trees and marshes can't have faith..."

    As the journey came to a close, the air of the fairly pungent nature wafted through the nostrils of the group. Celestine looked on with curiosity at the goings-on of the small-but-bustling citizens who inhabited the town - Rizan-dae, Clarissia had called it. "Do you know much about this place, Clarissia?" She looked rather puzzled, as the history of the realm was not exactly her forte. "I haven't heard what it was that 'happened' here..." Though perhaps that is for the best. the girl thought to herself, unsure of just what the magnitude of the land's blight was.

    Diago, however, was more taken with the people themselves. He looked intensely at the nearest passing little person, narrowing his eyes and cocking his head. "Gotta say, this is one place I hadn't pictured myself coming to!" He looked back to the other three, "I think I like it here. Nice architecture, too." Diago smiled, a shadow of trickery in his eyes. "Don't suppose we could do a little bit of exploring of this place before we continue on with out world-saving mission, can we? I'd like to get a bit of the local flavouring."
  11. Clarissia shook the heavy look off of her face. "I don't know much more about this place than they teach in history class in school," she replied to Celestine sheepishly before trying to reattain a more serious demeanor. "Apparently, the name of the capital Rizen-dae was named as such when Saturn first became patron for the people of Sineria. They welcomed him with open arms as their deity, someone who would care for them and guide them along the path of life. That first day...they called it the 'Day of Transcendence' in our own language. They named their capital that, only in their own Sinerian language. But now that they've turned their back on Saturn by indulging on their prideful natures, it seems that the past means nothing..." her voice trailed off as she thought about it again like she had before Celestine had asked, and she couldn't help but to feel sad. Looking around at all of the Sinerians carrying about with their everyday business, how could they not be sad as well? Was there not at least one amongst them who felt bad for Saturn? A betrayal of such grand magnitude would have at least one sympathizer. Right? Clarissia jumped as she felt a hand on her shoulder.

    "It's all right, Clarissia. I know what you're thinking but that's why we're here. And maybe it would be best that we wait to speak with the leader of the city tomorrow. Diago has a valid point; I think after the long trip, we could use a night to just relax," Masquerade said softly. It was his hand that had fallen upon Clarissia's shoulder. Through his touch and through his words, he hoped to get her mind off of things.

    The girl offered a light laugh in response, her face brightening instantly as she gazed upon Diago. "I think he'd run off and do as he pleased no matter what you said, Masq, but you're right," Clarissia subdued. She didn't want to feel sad. And in light of everything, the four of them might be able to get things to turn back to the way they used to be. Such hope resting upon her shoulders along with the shoulders of the others felt magnificent to bear instead of troublesome. Clarissia knew that Masq did not care for Sineria much. She wondered if he was doing it for the people and Saturn as well as for the others that were suffering from the resulting curse. He had a rather laid-back look to him, probably already clocking himself off duty for the night which was perfectly fine for her. The leader of Rizen-dae would still be there in the morning, and was probably off duty himself or herself as it was getting fairly late into the evening.

    The coachman finished speaking with the two Sinerians and hopped aboard his coach, marching his horses down one of the side roads just a little ways. One of the Sinerians departed while the other, a male with wavy blonde hair and startling emerald eyes standing out against his caramel-colored skin stepped towards them. He gave them a dazzling smile as he straightened his dark green waistcoat even though it seemed relatively secure as it was. "So, you're hailing from Cordan? I heard you needed to speak with the mayor, is that right?" His voice was about as comical as one would expect, though his tone expressed the utmost professionalism.

    Masquerade stepped forward to answer him. "That is correct, but we're assuming he or she has retired for the evening, correct? If so, we will just speak to him or her in the morning," the musician explained politely.

    "Ah, so you suspected as much. Good, good," he replied before pointing in the direction that the coachman had driven. It was a road on the west side of the main circle. "You'll find lodgings in that direction. Mention that you are an ambassador from Lasala. You should get nice rooms for free," he chirped. "You're free to wander around town at your leisure. There's no curfew or anything." Without waiting for anymore questions or replies or farewells, he just walked away.

    Masquerade slammed his palm into his forehead. "Amazing how these people can be so nice to you and then just off they go. At least we know where we're staying even though he neglected to tell us exactly where on the road the inn is and the sign is probably in their language..." He sighed heavily. "When you're done looking around, just keep an eye out for the coach we took when looking for the inn. That's probably where our coachman is staying."
  12. "Hmmm... I guess they are creatures of habit, just like us humans..." She turned, looking at Diago, who was starting to walk off on his own, still admiring the architecture as though he had never seen a building before. "Well, I suppose it's... nice to check out some new things every once in a while, but sometimes, nothing beats the familiar." She smirked slightly, as though she were once again holding something back from Clarissia. She snapped her head back, breaking from her trance. "Sineria seems like an interesting enough place, though. Lots of history, and I know I'm not the only one waiting to experience it all," Here, she giggled. Diago had already been wandering around long enough to encounter one of the locals, and was taking great, laborious pains to not step on any of the Sinerians as they bustled about.

    Diago, himself, was clearly very absent-minded. The architecture was phenomenal, and the locals were so curious. Their short stature was intriguing, and their eyes... were rather hypnotizing. Without a second thought, he reached down, and picked up the nearest one which he had already almost stepped on. "Good day, sir. Could you explain anything about Sineria to me?" He looked intently at the little Sinerian in his hands, which he had more than likely startled in his rash behaviour. "Hope you'll excuse me, I'm just getting a closer look." He narrowed his eyes, squinting as though trying to peer past the Sinerian himself and into his mind. Celestine saw this display occurring, and immediately broke through the crowd to try and stop her companion. "DIAGO!! You can't just pick up the locals! That's so rude!" She took the Sinerian from his grasp and placed it carefully on the ground. "Sorry, sir." Celestine took a low bow, as a sign of apology, before turning and glowering at Diago. "Some of us don't understand the concepts of personal space." She turned and whacked him firmly on the shoulder. "Ouch." Diago said, rubbing his arm. "I slept funny on that, you know. Hasn't returned to normal since." But Celestine would not hear him, having already turned back to her more mild-mannered companions, who were presently talking to a Sinerian as well.

    As the Sinerian departed, Celestine caught the tail-end of his speech. "So we're waiting until morning to talk to their leader? I'm alright with that... I'd like to get some rest, eventually, but exploring would be fun. Do you know the area well, Masquerade? I don't really know where to go about here..." Diago returned from his encounter with the Sinerian, and Celestine continued, "...and some of us don't know how to interact civilly with locals." Diago shrugged, shutting his eyes, "Life happens fast, Celestine. You've gotta seize the day when your knowledge is short! But getting the rundown of Rizen-dae would be nice. We've got the history, now let's get down to the practical!"

    With that, he started walking away on his own, obviously looking to sate his own curiosity. He seemed to be walking on his own down the street which the coachman had turned down. It'll be good to at least get the lay of the land around here... It'd have been cool to sample Sinerian wares, but I'm a bit strapped for cash. He turned his head down to see the Sinerian locals around, ...Or am I? Maybe I could... grab a few things. He quickly checked over his shoulder, and saw Celestine staring down after him. Ooooooooor... then again, she'd kill me if she found out. I told her I'd give it up... Bah. Such a tough habit to break...

    Celestine could tell the look Diago was shooting her from a mile away. "God, that snake. He is going to try and con the locals. Moron." She was disgusted that as a guest, he was even THINKING about stealing from the poor Sinerians, especially after his little exchange with the one he had picked up. "I'm sick of babysitting him. 'Let's go on an adventure!' he told me. Don't get me wrong though, I l-" she stopped, catching herself before she said something rash, "-ike his company. He's an interesting man... and a good friend, with a heart that's in the right place, most of the time." She blushed furiously, not wanting to say something that she would have to commit to later. "Look, I know it's a bit rude of me to ask, but would it be too much if I were to ask one of you two to go with him today? Just today, I promise. I just want some rest..."
  13. The miniscule Sinerian gentleman had been on his way back home after picking up a few things for his wife. Just walking around the main circle of the town, the man felt himself lifted up, plucked like a leaf from a bush by an obvious foreigner. "I'm afraid I'm in a hurry. Ask a tour guide," the man huffed, glaring at this rude outsider. Rizen-dae didn't have a lot of tourists, but when outsiders did come, they didn't do anything as preposterous as this. This fellow refused to put him down causing the Sinerian to glower at him some before a beautiful woman from nearby, also an outsider, came to set things straight. She took him gently from the man's grasp and set him down back on the ground where he belonged. He instantly set about fixing his garments and said nothing more to the duo, merely walking off because he suddenly remembered that he was in a hurry to get home. On the way back to his house, he made sure to keep his eye out for creepy outsiders that might pick him up out of nowhere.

    Masquerade sighed as he turned around to face Celestine. He had missed out on the spectacle while talking with the other Sinerian, but he noticed a really nervous look on Clarissia's face. "Y-yeah, it seems like we're going to spend the night here and take care of things with the mayor first thing in the morning," Masquerade affirmed, still not particularly sure about had went on while he wasn't paying attention. He paused thinking about the city itself. "Well, I tried to play out in the open back when I stayed here, and make friends with the people. After I had realized that was going to be impossible, I just kept to myself in the house I was living in. There should be a few restaurants around with marsh specialties and some nights they hold a little get together down by the shores of the lake. Music, food, dancing, all done in the midst of lantern light and the light of the moon and stars on clear nights. I'd say that was about the only enjoyable thing around here," he said, a slight smile crossing his face at the memories. At least there were some good memories about Sineria. "We could always head to the shore right now and wait until it gets a bit darker. They'd probably be setting up," the musician continued to explain, but it seemed like Celestine had her eye on Diago.

    "I can keep an eye on him if you want," Clarissia chimed in with a bold smile, her eyes sharp and stance strong like she were a soldier. "If he tries anything that would get him in trouble, I can just drop kick him." She gave Celestine a reassuring thumb's up. "I can understand if you need a break from him. We don't doubt that you 'like' him," the girl said, placing an interesting emphasis on the word 'like.' "You can go to the lake with Masq since that seems to be where he's headed right?"

    Masquerade smiled sheepishly and walked in the direction of the lake which happened to border the east side of the town. Diago had meandered off to the west. There was no telling what he would find. Most of the larger shops are closed right now. He'll probably find plenty of food though, he thought to himself, pausing to look back at the two women. "Yeah, I'm gonna head off to the lake. We can all meet up there when it gets completely dark. You'll see smoke start to rise once they light the bonfire. Are you going to come to the lake with me or head to the inn for a bit of rest, Celestine?" Masquerade inquired. She had spent a long day cooped up in the coach. The composer figured it would be best to move about after all that confinement, but whatever she wanted to do was fine. He didn't want to force her into anything.
  14. Smiling, Celestine was happy to hear the recounting of Masquerade's last time in Sineria. The festival down by the lakeshore sounded very beautiful, and she was delighted to be able to experience the beauty that Masquerade spoke of firsthand. "Amazing, really, that there can be so many diverse cultures in this world, and we are simply the vessel of something so little..." In a trance, she scanned over the horizons. Rizen-dae was a truly magnificent city, if a bit odorous. And the people, the Sinerians... what had really caused them to turn away from their god? Why are we here? Can we four truly make such a widespread difference in this world...?

    She looked at Clarissia, who commented on her choice of words in the way of Diago. Celestine instantly felt her face go various shades of red. "I-I don't mean like THAT! We're just friends." She laughed slightly, trying to ease the tension that she felt, before suddenly growing slightly distant. "We could never be like that..." She trailed off, though it was clear that she would not be mentioning very much more on that subject. "As long as you don't mind babysitting him, Clarissia... you really don't know what you're getting into." She chuckled slightly, closing her eyes. "You are pretty capable, though. Just don't let him pickpocket anyone. He's had enough... erm, exchanges, with the locals around here." She gazed in the direction Diago had headed once more, unsure of what he had done in the mean time. "Thank you again, Clarissia." She turned to the girl and smiled. That's really nice of her... though I wonder if she feels the same way with Masquerade...? I guess that's a subject I shouldn't touch... We've really only just met, after all. The thought passed as soon as it had come.

    Masq started off in the opposite direction, and then began to speak, as though beckoning Celestine along. The girl herself had been rather tired, though she was alright to stay awake and stay moving for as long as she could. The ride over had been exciting enough, if a little long. "I think I'll join you at the lake. It'll be fun, exploring the local flavour, like Diago said." She offered Masquerade a warm smile, her dark blonde hair waving in a trail behind her as she walked. Suddenly, Celestine furrowed her brow, knitting her eyebrows together in a deep form of puzzlement. "So what makes them so impossible? The Sinerians, I mean. Why are they so apathetic towards everything?" It didn't really make much sense to her, these tiny people on their constant bustle around. In a much more hushed tone, she wondered aloud, "Does... this have to do with why they turned on their god?" Masquerade seemed very knowledgeable about the strange land she had found herself in. "And the lakeshore festival... do you think we'll be welcome here, after how rudely Diago just plucked that Sinerian from the crowd?"


    Diago himself was perfectly happy weaving himself through the crowd. Effortlessly, he evaded the little ones as they scrambled about. He knew better, now, than to pluck them out from their natural current and progression around him, though he was still very curious about their appearance. None of them seemed to pay him any mind, however, which was peculiar to the man. Guess foreigners don't really mean much around here... though I sure feel like a sore thumb. He originally figured he would have been able to pawn a few things from the local vendors, but now it seemed far less likely of an idea, having thought it through a bit more fully. As much as they don't seem to care about my presence now, I think they'd see me a bit differently if I were stealing. He walked up to a smaller little place that had some particularly aromatic smells wafting out of it.

    Entering the little restaurant, he remained largely unnoticed by the Sinerians who were in the midst of dining. He walked up to someone behind a counter who he assumed was someone who could direct him to find some food at a fairly low price... or perhaps some that he could steal. "Pardon me, sir, but are you in charge of this establishment? And if so, how much would I be looking to pay?" A devilish thought began to form in the back of his mind, Maybe I could snag some spares off the side of the tables... He kept thinking, however, and decided he did not want to anger the locals and put off the safety of their mission. Without waiting for the reply of the Sinerian, Diago started talking again. "On second thought, nevermind. I have somewhere I... have to be."

    Exiting the little restaurant, he thought to himself, Where is Celestine? I would've thought she'd be getting after me if I were alone in a crowd... He shrugged to himself, Eh, guess not, and took the lack of his companion as an excuse to further survey the crowd for someone he could snatch a little bit more spending money from. Maybe he'd be able to replace his sorry excuse for a weapon with a more sturdy blade from around Sineria... or get some food in him. He was, after all, a tad hungry.
  15. Clarissia waved a hand dismissively and began tailing Diago, hoping he wouldn't get too far ahead of her. "Don't worry, Celestine. We all know what you mean," she called back to the woman. "And don't worry about it; I'm sure Diago won't be too much trouble. Not with me looming over him, that is." With that, she dashed through the street, dodging around the Sinerians that were still in the streets. Diago seemed to have gone into one of the buildings, but it didn't take him long to exit again. Once he was in her sights, Clarissia charged ahead again, skidding to a halt next to him. "Not so fast, mister," she said, her stance firm with her arms crossed over her chest. "I hope you don't mind some company. We're gonna linger around until dark and then make our way to the lake shore for a little festival. If that's all right with you. Masq said it would be fun, so I think it'd be good idea to enjoy it--all four of us, that is," she chimed, her eyes softening a bit. Her gaze was directed to the sky, and she figured they only had an hour to meander around at the most. It would be dark soon. Some of the marshland insects were already chirping and making noise. Clarissia really wanted to see the stars and the moon. The night sky was always something she took pleasure in viewing, hence why she spent so many nights at the Raym Falls. It was such a beautiful place, and she was sure the lake shore festival would be just as amazing.

    "So what's the game plan, Diago?" she inquired with a grin. A wondrous aroma drifted up her nostrils, tantalizing her senses. The building Diago had just come out of must have been a restaurant. Was he looking for food? "You hungry? I've never had any Sinerian specialties before. Should we go and see what we can find?"

    Meanwhile, Masquerade patted Celestine gently on back once as they walked along the street that would lead them to the lake. He listened as she launched some questions at him. He had to take a minute or two to think about the answers to said questions, however. "Oh, we'll be welcomed. Of that, I can assure you," Masquerade replied with a nervous smile, choosing to answer the easiest of her questions first. "I...didn't quite see what happened myself. So, he picked one up? Well, if there wasn't a large commotion, then I'm sure everything will be fine. And the Sinerians aren't exactly apathetic towards everything. It's more like they're completely scatterbrained. Their minds tend to be all over the place all the time. As a race, they've sort of mastered their minds. They can achieve focus, but it's always a decent struggle for them to stay on track. That's why they seem as apathetic as they do; it's only because they forget things. Makes me feel bad that I kind of detest them. They're nature isn't completely their fault." Masquerade sighed as he thought about it. "As for their god, Saturn, he was the one that gave them hope. Despite their constant problems, he was always there for them, guiding them along and giving one them one focus that they could never forget: to live. I guess the Sinerians reached a point over time where they just thought they could manage themselves without Saturn. It goes back to their arrogance. Even if they don't need Saturn anymore, they forgot that it was him that supported them in their time of need. They forgot..."

    Masquerade's voice trailed off. The lake was starting to come into view. There were several Sinerians on the shore, setting up chairs and tables and lighting torches and colorful lanterns. Gentle waves were lapping at the sand of the shoreline. A few of the younger Sinerians played in the shallows while the adults set things up. There was an outsider standing in the water with fishing rod, the line already out as he waited for a bite. Masquerade was oddly silent after his conjectures. He suddenly felt sorry for the Sinerians, and he felt sorry for Saturn, especially. All of them had fallen victim to nature, their relationship severed by what could not be controlled. "I wish I knew why the Sinerians accepted help from Saturn in the first place if they've always been so prideful. Maybe they hadn't always been that way in the past. Granted, it doesn't matter. We're still going to try our best with Saturn. He's distraught enough to curse the people, so I hope he'll be willing to listen to our reason." Here, the composer paused and his expression grew deathly serious. "Celestine...," he said softly, taking the woman's hand gently and stopping in his tracks. "You do realize what we're getting into might be really dangerous, right? I have no idea what to expect, but I can guarantee this won't be easy. Would you still be willing to go along with it if it comes to the point where we have to perform drastic measures? I don't want you or Diago or Clarissia even to do something you're not comfortable with."
  16. While eyeing a particularly wealthy-looking Sinerian (if Diago were to be the judge of such things, of course), a voice pierced his subconscious. The rogue winced noticeably as he realized that he had been caught. Busted. he thought to himself, entirely rooted to the place in which he had stopped treading. Slowly, and with a very exaggerated air of caution, Diago turned on his heel to face the source of the voice... though it was not Celestine, as he had been expecting, but Clarissia who had caught him. She walked closer to him, almost bouncing along with each step. Well at least one of us is happy with this outcome. Diago smirked to himself. The girl's lengthy brown hair danced a similar bobbing pattern that she herself did as she came to a halt beside him. "No, I'd very much appreciate the company... so long as you don't mind watching an expert at work." Diago winked at her, playfully. He crept over towards the same Sinerian, who had halted almost too easily... though Diago realized his position and backed down. The Sinerian would, without a doubt, catch him if he were to try to pilfer even the slightest amount of money.

    "Ehhhh... I guess I can hold off for a bit." Diago turned back to Clarissia, who was gazing into the sky. With any luck, she didn't catch that little exercise. He caught her talking about a festival by the lakeshore. "A festival? Sounds like my kinda thing." The same, playful smirk came over his face, as though he were planning something that was no good for any of them. However, before he could open his mouth again, his stomach rumbled dramatically - the perfect timing. "You wouldn't happen to have money on you, Clarissia?" He felt for his wallet, only to find that it was as flat as it had been when he had... 'acquired' it. "I'm sort of... ill-funded to be taking you out for dinner. That's why I was looking for something to spend."

    "On the other hand, though, that building I just came out of has some great-smelling grub. If you're interested, I'd love to grab a bite." He smiled genuinely at her. Her company was much appreciated, despite Diago's initial reluctance to have another companion reprimanding him for wanting to get a feel for the locals... literally, by stealing and picking them up. It was fun, though. And life's gotta stay somewhat entertaining, right? He chuckled, heading back inside. This time, he ought to make his presence a little more... subdued, so that there would be no ruckus should he... 'sample the wares'...


    Celestine felt Masq's hand on her back, and blushed slightly. His touch was warm and his hand was sturdy - perhaps it had to do with his musical talents. Sturdy, but gentle. Warming. Soothing. Reassuring that everything would end up for the better... Celestine was called back to reality by Masq asking her a question of his own. "Yeah, he... decided it would be a good idea to arbitrarily pluck a Sinerian from the crowd. The poor thing looked frightened, but then went off on its own way..." The explanation of it seemed so simple; the little people were so focused on the flow of moments that everything behind them was simply irrelevant. "It's weird, isn't it? How they can just... forget what happened moments before?" She wasn't sure, but there was something in Masquerade's eye that showed a sign of sadness. Almost a longing, if Celestine were to take a guess. She averted her eyes, looking instead back out at the lakeshore.

    Sheepishly, she crossed her left arm across her chest, clasping her right elbow in the grasp of her hand. The Sinerians played happily in her view, enjoying a game - the likes of which she had never seen, so she assumed it had to have been a local custom. The adults readied themselves for the night's festivities. Celestine opened her mouth to speak, "It's rath-" but Masq cut her off with a gaze that would have silenced anyone. She listened intently.

    "Celestine... You do realize what we're getting into might be really dangerous, right? I have no idea what to expect, but I can guarantee this won't be easy. Would you still be willing to go along with it if it comes to the point where we have to perform drastic measures? I don't want you or Diago or Clarissia even to do something you're not comfortable with."

    She blinked rapidly, almost scared to hear what Masq might say next. His tone was one of grave importance, and it had concerned her a little bit after the small talk they had been making before. Regaining her composure, she smiled at him, warmly. Eyes betraying nothing but the kindling of a warm fire, almost as though she were trying to comfort Masq herself. "Masquerade. I am perfectly alright to be coming along on this journey. Had I not assumed there would be danger, I would be a fool... from that first night with the Curse Serpent, it was clear that I was to be a part of this. Fate is playing a song for me to dance to, and I could have no better partners than those that were given to me." She turned back to the shore of the lake. "And Diago? He is a man of adventure. The very reason I was brought here... He lives for this."

    Turning back and holding Masq's gaze steady, turning her hand to meet the composer's in a grasp. Her voice was nary more than a whisper, now. "Clarissia is here for you too, Masq. She thinks you special. I can feel it... call it, woman's intuition..." she mischievously trailed off, letting go of Masq's hand. Giggling slightly, she turned, letting her hair flow in the wind. "You can see it in her eyes... or maybe you can't. You men... so oblivious to the language of the unspoken..." She trailed off, speaking nothing more, but smiling in an almost triumphant way at the man.
  17. Clarissia patted herself down before digging into a small pouch at her side to feel some spare gold inside. She grinned enthusiastically. "Yeah, I've got some extra money here. Enough for dinner for the two of us, to be sure," she told Diago, gesturing for them to go inside. Inside the wooden building, the mutter of dining Sinerians filled the space. A lot of them were speaking in their own language while others deigned to speak the common language. The mix made it hard to pick up on different conversations, but none of the Sinerians themselves seemed too bothered, probably because they were fluent in both. The lights were dim and a few fans were going overhead. Clarissia spotted two open stools at the bar and quickly took one, patting the other stool indicating it should be where Diago sat. A Sinerian waiter climbed a ladder and slid over to where they would be sitting, setting down a couple of menus. There were quite a few things listed such as fried tubers, catfish, crawdads, something called 'bog soup', and the special of the day being a fresh marshland salad. Drinks included tea, water, lemonade, and alcohol for those who were of age which was 18 in Sineria. Sinerians weren't ones for importing food from other regions. Only the most swanky of restaurants did such a thing which was primarily to cater to any important foreigners that should chance a visit to the marshland city, like ambassadors or political figureheads from other regions.

    "Soooo, Diago. What're you good for? Seems like there's some pretty...interesting things on the menu," Clarissia commented with a sheepish grin plastered on her face, already set on what she was getting. She waved her hand and the Sinerian waiter slid back to them after having dashed off upon delivering the menus. "Give me the frog legs with a side of fried potatoes and a biscuit. I'll take a glass of tea with that, too," she told the fellow as he produced a notepad and pen, quickly scribbling down her order with ease. The fellow looked intently at Diago.

    "And what will you be having tonight, sir?" the waiter asked politely, tapping the tip of his pen to his tiny tongue before placing it to the paper in preparation to write. "Might I recommend the bog soup? I find it quite delectable myself and it's quite popular with the locals."

    Masquerade laughed, for Celestine's words had shattered his grave demeanor. "Me? Not a master of the unspoken language? I'm a musician, my dear," he reminded her jokingly. He knew what she had meant, of course. Reading body language and such happened to be something he wasn't that great at, unless it had to do with composer signs with the hands and such. It lightened his heart greatly to know that everyone would be going along with whatever happened. They're certainly brave, that's for sure. Something I can respect them for, the musician thought as he followed Celestine along until they made it to the shore itself. He had completely let the comment about Clarissia thinking him to be special fly completely over his head. It was something he didn't feel like discussing. He and Clarissia hadn't had a good chance to speak since the night of the serpent attack. The song he had played that night was one explicitly for Clarissia, but she had never told him how it made her feel. There was no doubt that Masquerade loved Clarissia, but...what could be said of what the other thought? Celestine seemed confident enough, but was she right?

    "Well, I'm glad to have you have my back. Here's hoping things don't get as bad as I think they will," Masquerade eventually spoke up, still gazing about as the Sinerians continued getting things ready for the festival. A few grills had been brought out and lighted. Potatoes, onions, catfish, and wild pork were tossed on the grills and the air filled with the scent of good marsh food which drowned out the rather horrid odor of the marsh itself. The man doing his fishing had retreated to the shore and lit up a cigarette, plopping down on the sand to smoke. He shot a glance at Masquerade and Celestine before focusing on the gentle waves of the lake. Masquerade seemed not to notice. "Anyway, so you really believe in fate? I would think it would be an odd coincidence for all of us to have met that night at Raym Falls. Out of all the people that could have come to our aid, it was you and Diago. It's quite curious. Not to mention we all hit it off perfectly," Masquerade recalled with a gentle laugh. They had been so quick to become friends, and now here they were. It was amazing, in retrospect.

    He took a moment to think and quickly added, "And if you do believe it in, what do you think it has in store for all of us?" A quick smirk crawled onto his face, his tone playful in nature. 'Twas always interesting to think about the future and all of the possibilities it held. He sincerely wondered what Celestine thought of such things. The composer shut up and listened intently to what she had to say.
  18. Diago returned Clarissia's grin with a wide-mouthed, toothy one of his own, "Right on! Let's go get some, then." He didn't realize it, but he was particularly famished, having not eaten... well, at all today, save for perhaps a little snack along the way. Could really have gone for something a little earlier, though... He realized now that he was in a foreign land with equally foreign delicacies... What if none of them appealed to him? Ah well, food's food. He thought, before realizing that in all actuality, his life as a petty thief had led him to eat some pretty strange things as it stood. None of his targets had been Sinerians, however, so this was an entirely new experience.

    Despite having been in the restaurant just moments prior, Diago found himself, for the first time, taking a good look at what all of the locals were doing. It was clear that they were very caught up in their own conversations, but having witnessed firsthand the sudden loss of interest of the Sinerian he had lifted, he was slightly confused. He leaned over to Clarissia, and quietly mumbled, "How do they keep talking if they care so little about each other? Or really anything?" He scratched the back of his head sheepishly, and in an even quieter voice, asked, "Wasn't Masq saying they just abandoned their deity? Why not each other?" Diago continued glancing over the conversing Sinerians, even as they sat together. He finally broke his thought train when a menu was placed in front of him, and he acknowledged the Sinerian whom he had seen before in his first entrance to the restaurant, "Oh... Thanks, sir." He flashed what he tried to muster up as a genuine smile, but it probably seemed at least a little forced.

    His mind really was elsewhere, soaking in all of the information that was flowing around him. He tried to eavesdrop for some extra information about the place, and perhaps hearing just what it was nearby locals were talking about. Hmmm... Rizen-dae is a very strange town with stranger folk. I can understand why Masq didn't like his time here. Nobody notices you.

    He noticed that the waiter was looking at him expectantly, as Clarissia had made her order without him hearing. "Oh... uhh..." he quickly glanced over the menu, clumsily so as he fumbled around to try and find something appealing... though the small Sinerian waiter asked if he'd like to try their special. "Uhh, sure. Let's try that. Bog Soup sounds... appealing?" He looked over the table at Clarissia for reassurance that his choice was not one he would regret later. Diago passed his menu over to the waiter, "I guess sampling the local flavour is what I'm here for!" He shrugged, and hoped dearly that Bog Soup was not a literal term...


    Masq seemed a lot more at-ease having been able to finally laugh, and Celestine continued to smile at him. "Musician or no, Masquerade, you've obviously got a long way to go with body language!" she chuckled, winking mischievously at the man. The shoreline of Rizen-dae was quite beautiful, she had to admit. The way the gradually-setting sun was hitting it cast an air of slight ominousness about it, which intrigued Celestine. The canvas of the shore was coated in a wonderful light... a dance of light and shadows, in fact. Endlessly intertwined...

    Celestine was broken from her trance by Masquerade once more. "Oh, Masq. I don't see why you feel like things won't go well! You and Diago handled that serpent easily. No problems, there!" she smiled at him, once again trying to reassure him of their presence and how they were willing to help. There's really no need to worry... is there? A shadow of doubt was now crossing her own mind, though she refused to let it show on her face. Masq may be unnerved by something, but there was truly no sense in worrying about things they had yet to encounter. "I mean, really, what is the worst that could happen?"

    For a bit, they walked under a blanket of silence. The ambient noises of the shoreline provided enough to pay attention to, and Celestine closed her eyes in order to absorb it all... Beautiful... breathtaking. She opened a single eye to look over to Masq, who seemed to be deep in thoughts of his own... though his face was practically unreadable. Was he shaken by her ill-placed comment on his relationship with Clarissia? "I-I'm sorry if I... you know, made hasty assumptions..." she blushed, looking away so as not to meet his eye at this point. It was awkward conversation to be making, but it was some that would at least fill the air.

    However, he surprised her by asking about fate. "I do. I believe in some sort of force, pushing us along to its own beats and rhythms. I don't really think it was coincidence... though Diago was trying to impress me, I'd think... or maybe I'm just thinking about it too much. He's just a friend, that's all." she spoke, almost hollowly that last bit. "But certainly fate's hand had a role to play. Diago and you did all of the work on the serpent... I just watched." She seemed slightly discouraged... If only there was more I could do... she thought. A further question from Masq piqued her curiosity, however. "What does it have in store for us. That's an amazing question..." she looked skyward, as though her answer would be written within the clouds busily moving along. The sky seemed too occupied, perhaps, to answer her question. "Well... I'd like for everything to turn out right. If we can get a chance to talk to Saturn, or at least plead with the people of Sinerians... I just want things to go alright for everyone. Maybe that's a bit too much to ask, though. Time will give us all our answers." She shook her head. Obviously a mere girl could not control the fate of the world... though Celestine was prepared to do anything to help that was within her rather limited power. She looked to Masq. "What do you think of fate? Do you think it's a bunch of lies? That's what I'd expect from you." She winked; in all actuality, she was anticipating his answer as much as he had seemed to be awaiting hers...
  19. Clarissia watched as the waiter scribbled down the rest of the order and sent the ticket off to the kitchen. The girl would take the time they had to wait to answer Diago's question, granted she wasn't particularly sure how to go about it. "Well, for one, we don't know what they're talking about. They either talk in all Sinerian or a mixture of our common language and Sinerian. Even though they seem like they're intently talking about something, in truth, I think they could be jumping from topic to topic as quickly as lightning flashes," she offered her explanation in a hushed voice. The duo might not understand what the other customers were talking about, but she was positive they would understand her and Diago easily. She gave Diago a half smile, thinking about why they actually would band together. "As for why they don't turn on each other, I think their pride is more of a pride of the collective instead of individual pride." She nodded her head before giving the waiter a polite 'thank you' as he delivered her iced tea with a fresh slice of lemon. Taking a sip, she went back to her conjecture. "Yeah, so if they all have pride in each other, there would be no point for them to turn on each other. Somehow with their little scatterbrained minds, they manage to stick together and work together. It's an interesting society, that's for sure. I've heard there aren't too many anthropologists that volunteer to come here to study though. Same goes for sociologists. They probably avoid this place for the same reason Masq had been doing before now."

    Taking in a deep breath, Clarissia felt herself salivating. The smells from the kitchen were so strong since they were sitting right at the counter. The waiter came back and placed a plate before Clarissia. It had frog legs on it that looked boiled--steam drifted into the air from them. There seemed to be a few spices sprinkled over them. The potatoes had been cubed and fried to perfection, doused in creamy butter with green herbs sprinkled over them along with some white cheese. A hot, fresh biscuit rested to the side just waiting to be devoured, the crusted thing being a beautiful shade of golden brown. The waiter also sat a bowl of...something before Diago. It was also steaming hot. The bowl was filled with murky water that was heavily salted. A few marsh plants had been boiled and placed inside. Random items like crawdad claws, sliced pieces of different fish, and little black specks that turned out to be marsh gnats. The water of the soup rippled momentarily and a crocodile eye breached the surface looking straight up at Diago.

    "Do enjoy your meal. If you would like anything else, just let me know and we'll promptly get what you ask for," the waiter said, sliding off to take some more orders from some of the newer customers. He seemed polite enough and even managed to stay focused. It must take a gifted Sinerian to hold down a job like this one.

    Clarissia gazed at the soup with wide eyes. "Wow....just wow...," the girl murmured, completely in shock. "At least it looks...hearty?" She remained silent for a few moments before bursting out laughing which she hastily stifled so she wouldn't draw attention to herself or Diago. He was probably going through an even worse time since he was the one that was going to eat it...maybe....

    "You know, I'm mostly with you on this one," Masquerade answered, his voice gentle as the night breeze that tousled loose fabrics, banners, clothes, and hair all along the shore where they could be found. It was comforting. "I do believe in fate, and it undoubtedly led us to be together. It certainly isn't a bunch of lies. As odd as it sounds, not only do I think things will turn out just fine, but...I have a feeling that there's something more to this world than meets the eye. I feel like I'm constantly missing something--something imperceptible. Well, like you said. The future holds all of our answers. Don't want to get all bogged down in it right?" he said to her with a soft smile, but it didn't last very long. "And you didn't have to apologize about making assumptions..." His voice trailed off as he gazed out over the waters. They grew darker and darker as the sun continued to sink lower and lower under the horizon. It was unsettling, yet wondrous at the same time. He had seen his fair share of sunsets, but it was like no matter how many you saw, they always had the same effect on the soul--somewhat calming and inspiring. It definitely helped when he was creating music. The thoughts of music took his mind back to Clarissia and what he had said to Celestine which would probably need further explanation.

    "To tell you the truth, I love Clarissia with all of my being. When I played that song at Raym Falls, it was all for her. It was meant to convey my love--music hits the heart directly where as words can be misconstrued. I wanted her to know the truth," Masquerade explained, clasping his hands and hiding them behind his back. "We haven't had the chance to talk since then because of all the craziness going down. I don't know how she feels about it, but she's acting like nothing's changed and that worries me." He paused and took a finger and placed it right beneath his eye, feeling something warm and wet fall onto the tip. He couldn't believe he was crying even though he was positive that he had gotten over his past. "I used to love another girl. She was young and wonderful, and for a while I thought she loved me as much as I loved her. However, when I finally confessed my love, she turned me away. The love was unrequited, and my heart was broken to a point where I thought it could not be repaired. But I was just being overly dramatic." Despite the stream of tears running down his face, he still smiled and laughed at that statement. "I obviously recovered, but I certainly didn't want to fall in love again, but I did. I knew Clarissia was special. We became friends so quickly and we were inseparable. But...something deep inside keeps nagging at me--telling me that that's the way it's going to stay. Just friends. Which would be fine with me, but I don't know if I could take another defeat like the one I had before." He took a moment to wipe his eyes. He couldn't believe he was crying in front of Celestine; he had just met the woman yesterday.

    "Sorry about overwhelming you with all of this," Masquerade said sheepishly, bowing his head to Celestine in apology. "I just...I just wanted you to know that you didn't have to be sorry. Your assumption was somewhat correct."
  20. "Strikes me as a bit... weird that they can have some level of care for each other, but so much ignorance for everything else around them." Diago stated plainly with a shrug, "Though I guess we humans aren't all that different... if you think about it, at least, we all keep ourselves shut off from one another. Blatantly cut off at certain points, choosing to reveal only selective things to certain people..." he suddenly trailed off, his thought process having ended. "Everyone's the same, at the core, I guess." He wondered to himself why more people hadn't taken an eye to the Sinerians; it was pretty clear that their society was possibly one of the most well-structured places. He voiced this thought aloud, "Why doesn't Masq like Sineria? There's gotta be something a little deeper than them just ignoring his presence... Has he mentioned it?" But before she could answer, the Sinerian man was back, giving Clarissia a plate of some wonderful-smelling food.

    Diago looked at the delectable meal that had been placed in front of Clarissia with wide-eyes and an equally ready stomach. The smell of the meal was causing his mouth to water... he could hardly wait to dig in, if it meant eating something that could smell that good. "Wow, Clarissia... they really don't slack on their food here-" he paused as the waiter placed a very interesting looking bowl in front of him - what could really only be described as... bog soup. The smell was really... pungent, Diago found. "Hmm... I guess it never..." he stifled a quick gagging noise at the scent, "...hurts to try. Thanks, good sir." He nodded at the Sinerian who had already been off on his 'merry' way - at least, as merry as a Sinerian could appear. He looked from the soup to Clarissia's meal to Clarissia herself, who was obviously going to great lengths to not laugh out loud at his present predicament. "Don't laugh! It's not funny... just because I wasn't paying attention!" he looked at her, grinning himself. "I wouldn't really say it's a hearty meal though... especially when I can see it looking at me." He gingerly picked up his spoon, and prodded the eye so that it was looking at Clarissia instead... before lifting it entirely out of the soup, and placing it in the middle of the table.

    Diago mustered up an accent to sound a little bit like the Sinerian that had just served them, "I do so hope you enjoy this wonderful centrepiece during your dinner." He bowed his head in mock sincerity, still wearing a grin on his face. He looked back at his dinner companion. "Well, I guess you should enjoy that meal... and I'll be giving this a shot." He gulped deeply as though for effect before taking the spoon to indulge himself in what was surely going to be an... interesting meal. Here goes nothing...! he thought to himself, shutting his eyes firmly before putting a spoonful of the locals' bog soup in his mouth. He shuddered as the flavour hit his tastebuds. It was certainly a very salty, flavorful dish.

    "Well, it's not half bad. Definitely better than other things I've eaten..." he winced at the thought of remembering just how low he had stooped when he was still just a petty pocket thief... before Celestine had come back into his life to change him... A darker time, to be certain. "Really has a bitter aftertaste though. How's your meal?" the gourmet potatoes and frog legs were definitely a far-cry from what was in front of him, but Diago was never really one to be too picky and choosy when it came to meals. He did, however, wish he had paid a little closer attention to the menu before he chose just what it was that he ate...

    "Oh, Clarissia... Before I forget. What are Masq and Celestine up to? You said they were getting ready for the festival later..." he scratched his head and took another mouthful of the soup, taking care to avoid the marsh plants and the gnats, "But what sort of festival are we even going to? As much fun as it sounds..." He shrugged his shoulders, swallowing what was in his mouth. It tastes a lot better when you get away from the appearance, at least.


    "I must admit, I'm a little surprised to hear that you believe in fate too." She smiled weakly at him. "I thought you'd be one who thought it was all a bunch of silly fairy tales." It was interesting that the two of them shared similar views on the matter... "So do you think it's one person controlling us? Or just some sort of outside force?"

    Celestine's hair was ruffled by the gentle wind, drifting in front of her face like some sort of mysterious veil to her facial expression. Her violet eyes sparkled as she listened to Masq tell her of his love life... Divulging such a personal aspect of himself. I... never knew he had such emotion... I wonder if... no... In the short time that they had known each other, she felt rather sheepish that he had shared such a personal side of himself. It was a rather intimate moment as he spoke, and she could not for the life of her imagine that a girl could reject the clarity of Masq's emotions. "I'm... so sorry it didn't work out between you and that girl." She reached out, placing her hand on his shoulder. "She wasn't worthy of you, if she was to shut you out like that, Masq... Any girl would be lucky to have you." she smiled, brushing the hair out of her face. His tears tugged powerfully at her own heartstrings.

    "Nothing makes us so lonely as unrequited love, Masq. I'm..." she averted her gaze for a moment, looking back to him and stepping away. "I'm sorry that I had to separate you and Clarissia. I shouldn't have; she should be here so that you two can finally be able to talk..." her face was rather flushed, and she could feel a tear hitting her own eye as well. "S-sorry. My fault..." She turned away. It had been wrong of her to impinge on their time together. I just don't always want to be babysitting Diago... he should know better by now. I thought he'd changed...

    But her attention turned back to Masq. "Don't worry about overwhelming me. I'd rather you talk to me about it than let it all well up inside of you, at least." she offered a quaint smile, as though it would hopefully reassure the man. " And if it makes it easier, don't think of it as a defeat, either. Think of it as a lesson. There are going to be girls everywhere, but when you've found someone who means enough for you to play such beautiful music... well..." she glanced upwards again. "We can just assume that it's going to be alright. You have plenty of time to capture her attention. I can help you, if you'd like..."

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