2024-02-10: In From the Cold

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<Pose Tracker> Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna has posed.

    New Arctica is a settlement borne during the time of the War with Mother -- formed of survivors from Arctica, Eluria, and other villages and settlements in Elru, as well as even some of the Tainted Hyadeans and those that've been deceived by her. The town's gotten some of its footing back in the years since, with some more buildings and comforts set up. A ferry line connects it to New Wayside, where the Wayside Outreach has been supporting the town with all their efforts.

    Here, some Drifters who've just came from Eluria have brought some survivors, freshly cleansed of Malevolence. The local inn has taken them in for the time being, and they're now free to linger around the town for the rest of the night...

    Amongst them is one such survivor -- someone who's been dwelling in Eluria for the last seven years.

    Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna is seated on a crate outside the inn. She is a woman with ice-blue, nearly white hair dressed in crystalline knight armour, though tarnished and ravaged by the passage of time; she has a black blindfold over her eyes, and her right arm hangs limp.

    The Holy Sword next to her is stabbed to the ground, gleaming bright and softly translucent from its crystalline nature.

    "... tonight bears a cold promise too..." she whispers to herself.

<Pose Tracker> Ruth Pauling has posed.

    One of the 'Beasts,' one Ruth Pauling, is among the party in question. The scent of the corruption isn't immediately present, leaving her in her former shape - but even that is not bereft of curious, monstrous detail on more subtle levels. Not once does she seek shelter from the cold in the journey back, and even now having made it to New Arctica...
     She, too, doesn't seem to seek much in the way of rest in the traditional sense, sitting on a crate opposite of Caoimhe. Her weapon isn't stabbed into the ground like hers, kept on her back. The hood of her shawl is up over her head, hands clasped like all the part of a pious statue one might have once found in Eluria.
     She can't make out Caoimhe's whisper, only the sense of the muttering, a slight turn of her head but nothing said.

<Pose Tracker> Shige Kiwako has posed.

Shige's far more familiar with New Arctica than she likes to admit. She's spent the last few years going out of her way to avoid returning. A sense of duty ate away that resolution though and in doing so, confronted not one, but two fears.
 She's still sober too! Clearly trying to avoid ducking away from everything going on.
 The roaming Hyadeans are given a wide berth. She at least tries to pass it off as her roaming, but she can't help it. Even if she is trying. Even if she did promise to help.
 She did manage to do a short stint helping out at the inn which probably contributed to that. She doesn't drink on duty. And that might even be why she's wandering, lantern at her hip and looking around slowly. Almost sniffing the air in a sense. Sure most don't need her help-

 A newly familiar face gets her to pause. Slowing down. Watching Caoimhe briefly from a short distance away.
 Eventually she makes her way over, raising her usually free hand in greeting, "Hey. How're you holding up?" It's mundane, but somehow she feels mundane might be helpful here.

<Pose Tracker> Luna Meitner has posed.

Luna declined to travel with the party to New Artica, and yet...

Here she is anyway.

She is a startlingly young woman of only 15 years, often wearing a serious, stoic expression. She is, apparently, quite capable with a spear (which is Perfectly Ordinary, as the others have witnessed--smooth wood and a simple steel head) and alchemy alike. She has dark, reddish brown hair tied back in a ponytail, dark green eyes, and a red tunic over a chainmail shirt, and leather leggings, boots, and gloves. She's also carrying around a backpack and a bow and quiver.

As she approaches, to those with a fine enough sense of smell she has the scent of a freshly slaughtered deer about her, though there is no deer or carcass with her now. She pauses as she sees three familiar faces, giving them each a scrutinizing look in turn, and each for their own reasons.

Finally, in that subdued manner of hers, she says, "Greetings. How far the soldiers?"

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Noeline has multiple places she can call home - multiple cities that have shaped her life in ways she never would have imagined when she first left the Photosphere. With the Fereshte's return to Ignas and Elru, she's that much closer to three of them.

    Visiting the newly-moved Wayside had been a priority. It was a strange mixture of nostalgia and excitement, old faces and new locations and the inevitable influx of Tainted and Hyadean refugees. And a strange nervousness, as well - she and Riesenlied had been away for so long, it was almost impossible to imagine the warmth that would be waiting for them.

    But a part of Noeline will always and forever be Arctican, and it isn't long before she comes to see what's become of the Elurian city. Here too she's a mix of swirling emotions - pride in the fact that the Arcticans were never truly wiped out, the lasting fear of watching Riesenlied be captured by Alhazred, and the enormity of everything around the fall of the Photosphere - so it's kind of a relief to see it doing well, and to just... walk into it. No fighting. No yells. She's just here.

    "... it's rather hard to avoid cold promises here, I feel. The best way to manage it is to stay inside the inn rather than out," she notes rather wryly, aloud and to the open air. "Arctican secret." There's a lightly steaming bag in her possession, because to her joy she's found a taste from her youth, and even if the roasted chestnuts aren't quite the same as back then she'll take it.

    She doesn't seem terribly bothered by the cold either, though she can still relish the warmth in her hands; she offers it forwards. "Care for one?"

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    The Outreach, among other things, sends aid when it can to the people of New Arctica. From time to time, the people who live here still find survivors out in the wastes of Arctica and Eluria: not everyone who survived the destruction wrought by war immediately fled to the major points of safety, for one, and for another...

    The presence of the survivors here tonight tells the additional tale of Eluria, one that has added additional layers to the concerns that Avril possesses in abundance of late.

    Those who know the young woman might scarce recognize her: she's braided and pinned up the bulk of her long silver hair as best she can, a few long trailing locks left to fall over her shoulders where they escape from the kerchief she's donned. At a glance, she's dressed much like any of the other assistants that have come with the Outreach to lend aid: starched whites, well-mended skirts, and a shawl that wraps about her shoulders to keep out the everpresent chill. Only the look on her face might perhaps put her at odds with the rank and file: try as she might, Avril cannot but regard the area around her like a queen might survey her court. Even her body language bespeaks someone used to being in charge-- even if she takes orders without complaint.

    Tonight is a cold one, indeed.

    And they have new mouths to see fed and evaluated. "Is aught amiss?" she asks, drawing near the woman who speaks of the cold. One of the survivors, she assumes. Perhaps an Elurian knight, recently cleansed?

    ...Still, there is something about that sword...

<Pose Tracker> Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna has posed.

    Riesenlied, too, holds Arctica in high regard; though it is not as much of a home as Noeline sees it, she has spent a lot of time there, in her time as the Tainted, until its fall. She still feels a lot of guilt for her hand in things, and as such... she, too, is here with Noeline and Avril -- though she's currently occupied, speaking to one of the quartermasters regarding arrangements with the rest of Ignas on what the settlement requires.

    And thus there are two people, unable to do things like rest like proper people inside on a chair in the hearth or on a bed or anything like that! No, they have to sit on crates outside!

    Shige asks Caoimhe how she's doing, and the paladin breathes the cold air in deeply for four seconds. "... there are many scents in this settlement. So this is the aroma of a town with... life. Such variety..."

    Luna is, surprisingly, present! She declined to travel with them, but they arrived in the same place regardless. "You have the aroma of the Hunt on you." A pause, and then she gestures... somewhere. "They are being cared for by the innkeeper. I heard that one of their relatives was present."

    Noeline arrives, and the paladin palpably draws in another breath. She can't see her -- the blindfold proves that -- but Caoime turns her head to her for a longer while. "... my tongue scalds easily. But... perhaps that would stave off the cold of night."

    Caoimhe does not know Avril, but indubitably, there is a scent of 'cold' coming off off her; one that doesn't seem all that far off or different from how she bears herself.

    "I am Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna, devotee of Granas... and paladin of Eluria. I have been present in the city since the fall of the Sorcery Globe... until these Drifters cleansed a few of my former comrades of the sickness."

<Pose Tracker> Ruth Pauling has posed.

    Ruth does catch the scent of freshly slaughtered deer, but she also probably had one herself not all that long ago.
     Her head rises a bit at watching the steam rise up off the roasted chestnuts, which is one of the only cues she has to know when something's hot. She shakes her head at the offer, perhaps more out of concern for Caoimhe and her ability to adjust to changing circumstances. Ruth fought a bloody war for years, and then a bloody whatever the hell everything else for years after that. There's a bit of shared empathy and understanding how one does not just simply stop in the span of a night, unless one has become dead.
     Even that's not a guarantee, sometimes.
     "Ida saw to their Purification," Ruth gives further clarity to Caoimhe's story. "Many of them became Hellions because of the presence of a Fell Dragon."
     Memories of that last near-encounter are a little fuzzy, but elements of what she felt in the reach of their Domain will stick with her. The process of emotionally digesting it is likely one reason she's elected to chill out with Caoimhe, the other... maybe a sense of support, for someone who had to lead a lonely, suffering-filled fight for years.

<Pose Tracker> Shige Kiwako has posed.

There's a slow nod from Shige. Not.. quite the response she was expecting. "It.. is. Yeah." She starts to try and get a better look when Ruth shows up. Which gets a split focus for her. Maybe they're in a similar spot? She is dressed for the cold like the others, for what it's worth. A cozy scarf, an old fisherman's jacket, long skirt and her everpresent beat up boots provide plenty of warmth. Also some heritage and familiarity.
 "It'll take some time for all of them to adjust." She nods to Luna, being intentionally a bit vague there. She finds herself a seat near the others and settles in.
 She didn't quite catch the whisper, but she's also wearing a hat. And.. really her ears kinda swivel a lot since she's listening to more than just the conversation here and now.
 "You get used to it." She comments towards Noeline with a wave. "Inside's best though probably."
 Avril's offered a wave too, though she's unsure how to politely address the question and leaves it to the others.
 Her eyes go briefly back to Luna at the mention of the hunt. Sniffing lightly, then tilting her head. Spear hunting deer..
 "Yeah I couldn't help with that part." The purification part. That's a subject she actually kind of wants to poke at. "I don't.. think I should anyway? Probably not healthy."

<Pose Tracker> Luna Meitner has posed.

Luna is not... impolite, per se, but there is a seriousness with which she studies those around her as she passes by them that is perhaps a little out of place on the face of a 15-year-old, even one kitted out as she is.

She studies Noeline as she draws near, as if trying to gauge something, and says a simple, "No thank you" to the offer of roasted chestnuts.

There is an equally inquisitive look as Avril draws near, watching her facial expressions, her body language, weighing them against her manner of dress. Interesting. But a moment before it would turn into true rudeness she looks away once more.

Luna does not look surprised that Caoimhe identified what she had been up to. "Indeed. I prefer to hunt alone." She says that simply and matter-of-factly, as if that explains ditching the rest of the group.

(There is, coincidentally enough, a few freshly-delivered deer carcasses elsewhere in town and a few freshly-received coins in her coinpurse.)

But one of them has a relative. "That is fortuitous. And what of yourself?"

Luna emitted very little concern or worry or fear for Ruth to sense... though the arrival of a Fell Dragon was certainly enough to elicit such a reaction from her. (As well as Ruth's impromptu hellionization, with the collapsing building perhaps being a distant third to those two.)

Caoimhe introduces herself, and Luna nods in turn to the others. "Luna Meitner." After a pause she says, "I serve no gods."

There is a nod to Shige, as she says they'll take time to adjust. "That is understandable."

She takes a crate of her own for a perch, pulls out her spear into her lap, and then fetches a whetstone from a side pocket and sets to working on sharpening the spearhead.

She might have been spearhunting, but she's also got a bow and arrow! (Then again, she sure does love her spear, it seems.) After a moment, she says, "All I did was harry the transformed for a moment, nothing more."

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Noeline would never dare to give an order to Avril, of course, and chuckles softly under her breath at the side of the 'incognito' Ice Queen. "I cannot say I've seen anything particularly of concern," she notes with a wry grin. "We are just all too tough and battle-hardened to do something like go inside and curl up in the warm. Funny how that tends to happen here of all places."

    She's already done what she can to try to take stock of the situation with New Arctica alongside Riesenlied, but to be honest she's still trying to catch up with its new needs and expansion. It's heartening to see, once again, the lengths that people can go to when they start to work together. Adlehyde's reconstruction, the growing strength of Wayside, and now Arctica - a place she thought she'd truly lost - is starting to flourish again.

    Noeline is halfway to building a small little pyramid of chestnuts for Caoimhe's later consumption when her hand stills at the woman's introduction, and the bright grin on her face fades to a note of surprise. "I was not aware that any of Arctica's orders had survived. ... my name is Noeline," she adds with a light bow of her head. "Once, I called myself a citizen of Arctica. I would like to think I have reclaimed that right, if just a little. As such, allow me to thank you for your vigil."

    She barks a soft laugh to herself at the hunter girl's rather... bold declaration about who she doesn't serve. It's almost nostalgic; Noeline would probably have said the same thing once upon a time, before she had to stare some of them down.

    ... she'd somehow managed to forget that Elru has a Fell Dragon hanging around, though. Her first memory of it is terribly misty, practically a lifetime in the past, long even before the fall of the Photosphere. Part of her was hoping that it might have left along with the Sorcery Globe, but she's past hoping for her homeland to be so lucky. She sets that thought aside for later, instead grinning towards Shige with a huff. "Oh, I can remember much colder times than this. Why, back when I was a young child..." croons the woman who really doesn't look old enough to bust that line out.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    She inclines her head slightly upon sighting Shige; perhaps one might easily think that they've become familiar with one another since arrival in Arctica.

    "So you have come from Eluria," Avril remarks, regarding Caoimhe anew. "A paladin... I cannot say I have met one before." Scarce has she heard of them, either: outside some of the fairytale books she had chanced upon in her travels, or in the legends of the holy knights of Granas, it would seem that the status of 'paladin' is one relegated to Filgaia's myths and legends. But, to hear that such status still exists...?

    "I am sorry. It must have been quite difficult for you," she says soberly, folding her hands in front of her over her skirt. She glances at Ruth as she explains that Ida had assisted in the cleansing of Caoimhe's comrades. "Yet, you are in good hands now. Is there anything which we might do to assist you or your comrades?"

    There is a lengthy pauses as Shige suggests (and Noeline chimes in regarding) that, perhaps, it might be a better idea still for them to go inside. Where it's... warmer?

    "It is... quite cold out here," Avril says slowly, tightening the shawl about her shoulders. "Perhaps it may be best to remove ourselves indoors?"

    But there's a glance around at the lot of them when Luna introduces herself, as Caoimhe had, and Avril... visibly hesitates. She stares for a moment at Noeline, as if to silently ask for her, or someone else to introduce themselves first, but however it goes, eventually the onus does fall upon Avril, and so----

    "I am known as Avril," she says, gesturing slightly towards herself. "I am... assisting the Wayside Outreach. It is a pleasure to meet you."

    This is as incognito as it gets, perhaps...

<Pose Tracker> Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna has posed.

    "Fell Dragon," Caoimhe mouths the words as if trying the term out for her own. "Yes, that is the term given to the Beast I have been hunting for years. I have not been able to fell it on my own, no matter how many skirmishes I entered with it."

    "They are of great fortitude, but... even I do not know what is like to be cured of a sickness thought incurable, and having spent years as a ravenous beast," speaks Caoimhe. "Such second chances were thought... unknown, to us."

    Luna introduces herself, and Caoime turns her head towards her once more. "Are you travelling away from this continent?" She notices how she introduced herself the same way again, and then laughs now that she has more time to digest it.

    "... tis not a healthy habit, to serve a God..." says the servant of Granas?

    Avril mentions of how she has not met paladins before, and asks if there's anything they can do to assist her or her comrades. And also introduces herself. "Are paladins... truly so rare? Avril... the Wayside Outreach. I see. I have heard it mentioned multiple times here in this settlement..."

    A pause.

    "I have... been lurking the ruins of Eluria for the last seven years. I have no connections to the world. I thought that I may start... here."

    Noeline's comment is responded to with a quiet snort, as she does admit: "... no amount of battle experience will have me underestimating the cold. Frostbite is a killer of soldiers and farmers alike. But I sense that you are quite different. Your flesh does not react to the cold in a similar manner to mine..."

    Wow, how strange! Noeline introduces herself, and she seems to smell the chestnuts being stacked in front of her. Caoimhe puts one into her mouth, and then--

    "hoh hoh hoh hoh"

    Her tongue is out and scalding as the roasted chestnut plops to the snowy ground.

    The paladin of Eluria, hunter of the Fell Dragon for years, has been destroyed by a roasted chestnut.

<Pose Tracker> Ruth Pauling has posed.

    With the rounds of introductions, Ruth faces forward as she summons the words from the depths of a psyche that detests all that it means into a gently spoken set of words. "I'm Ruth. Ruth Pauling."
     Her name carries significantly more infamy on the opposite side of Filgaia. Here... she's just another Drifter, even if many parts of her have never really left various places in time and space.
     Her head does turn towards Luna as she helps herself to her own crate, regarding the far younger one amongst them.
     "You've had to grow up far sooner than you should have," she surmises of one so young and yet so self-sufficient. Where Shige mentions whether she should or shouldn't help with 'that part' - purification - the Hellion among them asks as such.
     "Do you want to?"
     ...This question asked, she faces back towards Noeline, Avril, and Caoimhe as the latter of the lot laughs. '...tis not a healthy habit, to serve a God...'
     Ruth looks to her rosary, and clenches her right hand to feel its material as she considers all that's been said by the likes of Xander. And yet, she can't really let go of it.
     She looks up sharply moments before the 'aah,' 'ooouuh,' 'hoh hoh hoh hoh.' Like a beast scenting a meal, Ruth all but throws herself off the crate to Caoimhe's side, reaching down to pick up the dropped roasted chestnut.
     "...Too warm, was it?" She asks like all of a sudden she's not sure.

<Pose Tracker> Shige Kiwako has posed.

Shige's ear stops twitching and focuses towards Caoimhe's comment on solo hunting a dragon. "Planning and cooperation are a necessity there." It's the obvious comment, but.. "I've seen two go down now." She suppresses a shudder, but the fur of those tails are on end for a moment.
 She does shift to an easier subject, albeit one that's almost painful in a way with Noeline, "Sitting out on the deck with my dad on a boat was probably the coldest I've seen. That water clings to everything." She mutters in an undertone, "And made me look all floofy."
 Luna's straight forwardness is given something of a quiet observation. She swats at something behind her idly. "Help's help." AT the very least.
 "First one I've met." She admits to Avril. She hesitates. Then looks down and says, "Uh. First living one I've met?" She might have met some lingering paladins. She tilts her head back, ear perked towards an unseen voice, then replies in a quiet undertone. Then a shrug. "Yeah I don't.. remember."
 "Did.. I introduce myself the other night? I can't remember. Uh, I'm Shige. Ghost wrangler." Then a short moment later she snorts in laughter.
 Which turns into an actual laugh as Caoimhe's struggling with chestnuts. After what she'd seen, something so mundane is genuinely kind of funny to her. "Careful careful. You okay?" She pulls something from her everpresent packs. A smaller bottle is offered up, "If you imbibe I'm fine sharing." It's an open offer. To most of them. It's also a whiskey today!
 Ruth's question is met with a wry look. "I'm pretty sure both methods I would provide have the same outcome. It's just a theory though. And while I'm firmly in the pragmatic sense, I figure there's other methods available."

<Pose Tracker> Luna Meitner has posed.

Oh yeah, also, Luna has long, pointed ears. And it is one of these ears that seem to pick up on something, and Luna herself looks up to Noeline with a flat stare. "... is there something amusing?"

Luna looks next to Avril, as she introduces herself. There is a single nod as the name as given, when Avril says it is a pleasure to meet. Luna has already given her name so she simply says, "Likewise" in that same, muted way of hers.

Luna doesn't appear to be suffering in the cold, at least. Her tunic does have a hood attached, but it's currently pushed back behind her. The rest of her, at least, looks pretty warm under all that armor.

She does turn her head to listen with interest as Caoimhe describes, again, how she tangled with the Fell Dragon again and again. She has already expressed to the Paladin what a feat that is, to remain untained for so long, so does not repeat herself again.

As to the question... A small shake of her head. "Not precisely. I am merely passing through." She looks down to her spear again as she keeps working on it. "I travel where the wind takes me." There is, perhaps, the barest, tiniest flicker of a smile as she says that.

Maybe some private little joke to herself.

'tis not a healthy habit, to serve a God.' Without looking up, Luna comments, "That is why I do not make a habit of it."

She pauses in her work as she looks up to meet Ruth's gaze, seemingly unheeding of the Hellion's preference for avoiding eye contact. Growing up too fast... "What makes you say that?" She is brusque, in some sense, when she talks, though she does appear to wait and listen for the answer with some level of interest.

Luna looks to Shige with a simple nod. "Indeed. It was a collective effort." Even if, as might be observed, she doesn't quite appear to work in a team setting all that often, as self-sufficient as she is. She does study the shaman curiously as she appears to listen to things that aren't readily apparent.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    "It has been a terribly long time since I last saw one as well," she notes towards Avril with a thoughtful frown. "It was not as if your average Arctican got to see them often, even if I did have a habit of sneaking into the training grounds to watch the Guard practice." She does catch the glance that Avril gives her, but tilts her head in a quiet nod. She'd rather Avril pick how she wants to introduce herself, but is at least there to back her up: "The Outreach was formed to offer assistance and aid to those communities having trouble. We have been assisting New Arctica for some time."

    She hesitates at Caiomhe's question, not really sure how much history the woman might be missing. "Time... was not kind to Eluria. I had thought that everything from it was damn near lost, history and religion and all." Blindfold or not, the woman picks out something unusual about Noeline - and she huffs out a soft and quick breath. "You are correct - I am a Hyadean. But I love, and have loved, this city for a very long time."

    Anything more meaningful she could offer is swallowed in desperate attempts to cool off. With another snort, Noeline looks towards Ruth. "They never feel as warm as they do once you start to chew on them. The trick was to only buy a few and stretch them out as long as possible by sucking on them rather than chewing them. Not for the taste, but for the warmth."

    Now that her secret's out, she lets herself loose amongst her memories, and allows herself a brief shiver. "... I do remember being freshly let loose on Elurian soil and underestimating some lake ice. That would have been a particularly embarrassing way to go," she sighs rather theatrically.

    She seems completely unfazed as Luna rounds on her, a bright smile on her face. "No, no. I appreciate your stance. I'm just the sort of person who tends to be more flexible, I suppose. I must admit, I'm glad to see everyone pitching in somewhat to help here."

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Noeline gives her the space to make her own introductions -- a grace that Avril appreciates, though she would have expected no different. The calculus has shifted since Meria Boule. While she would expect no partisans to the Veruni Radical cause out in New Arctica, she has been far more mindful of what 'face' she presents of late. ...even if some things are not as well hidden as all that.

    "It is a pleasure to meet you as well, Luna," she greets the other new face with accordingly.

    "A Fell Dragon..." Avril voices, growing ashen. They had been set upon by a Fell Dragon on their flight from Althena's holy city, but--

    She grows still, recalling one other very important fact regarding Fell Dragons: they are what happens to Seraphim afflicted by Malevolence. In time, they... succumb, and transform into a Fell Dragon. From what she has heard, the transformation is irreversible. "...I see," she says, turning her gaze from Caoimhe. "And it lives, still?"

    She assumes such, at least.

    "It is... difficult," she says, glancing the once Ruth's own way as if to silently ask after the woman's own comfort regarding the subject. "Yet, I am certain they shall rally quickly."

    '... tis not a healthy habit, to serve a God...'

    Avril, who has pledged her aid to the cause of Guardians, remains silent, her gaze downcast. "..."

    Are paladins truly so rare? "I have not yet met one," Avril says for her part, which in context is truly limp support of her attestations, given that Avril's experience of the world and its goings on are still somewhat faulty in some respects, given the whole 'amnesia' and 'on ice for five thousand years' things.

    (Paladiennes, at least, certainly do exist.)

    "Yes," she affirms, on the matter of the Outreach. "Should there be people in need, the Outreach shall cross the seas to reach them. ...That is our pledge," she summarizes. "As such, if there is anything we might assist you with...?"

    Speaking of assistance, here comes Noeline with the chestnuts, fresh from the fire. It's not a circumstance that Avril thinks twice regarding but--

    but tragically, Caoimhe, paladin and hunter of dragons, has a cat's tongue

    "Oh! Are you alright? Have you burned your tongue?"

    She's offered a drink as she hovers near the paladin's side! "Ah... thank you, but I mustn't," she says, declining Shige's offer. She may well be on the clock.

    Still, that's quite the tale that Noeline shares, regarding chestnuts. "Is that so...? I did not take you for the sort, Noeline," she says, regarding the woman afresh.

<Pose Tracker> Caoimhe ni Maoilgrahna has posed.

    The paladin lets out a little hiss, tongue sticking out.

    "The chethnut... burnth with the wrath of a thittle thun."

    She takes a moment to regain her pose and grace. It is difficult! And embarrassing!

    Caoimhe does not know the name Ruth Pauling. Aquvy is two continents away, and her knowledge does not extend as far as that, but... Ruth is already a very remarkable individual even aside from her history to her.

    "Tis a folly. To square childhood away as a time of shelter from hardship." Caoimhe remarks as Ruth mentions Luna grew up too fast.

    "But... in turn, we often paint adulthood as only an age of hardship. We fool ourselves into believing there is no mirth there..."

    So two Fell Dragons have been felled.

    "Oh, yes..." Caoimhe suddenly doesn't sound terribly lucid, like she's far off somewhere. "I knew full well the joys of camaraderie... to have such trusted partners at your back and side..."

    Her head lulls to one side. The laugh she carries in the air is eerie.

    "Ha ha ha..."

    Avril asks if it still lives. "Yes. We eluded the Fell Dragon just yesterday. It was at the peak of its power." No one has heard of one... perhaps she has become a rare breed indeed.

    Shige offers her whiskey, but Caoimhe raises her left hand in refusal. "... I do not hold my drink well. And it is very dangerous to partake, for someone such as I." Someone who is blind and missing the use of one arm... is it really that dangerous, how well she carries herself?

    Luna explains how she travels where the wind takes her. Caoimhe seems to note the amusement in her as she says it. "Winds make for better anchors than kings and Gods... though they are just as fickle."

    Noeline does not know many paladins from Eluria... but the Fenrir Knights could be called such. Noeline explains the Outreach as well, and how Eluria is lost to history...

    "Ah... we are lost, are we? The grandeur of our kingdom... the little petty intricacies of its politics... its intoxication with arms, in the wake of the disasters that befell it..."

    Her voice is starting to drift again, like she's talking to someone so far away.

    Noeline identifies herself as a Hyadean. That seems to draw a long, enigmatic chuckle from the Paladin, and that she's loved the city for a long time.

    "You speak as if you have a need to explain yourself. The Hyadeans assaulted Eluria many a time. ... but is that any different than our little war games with Slayheim or Elesius?"

    But Avril offers her assistance, should it be required. "Perhaps I will... take to the seas and visit the world abroad. Eluria requires a change in strategy... for it has not borne fruit, and many factors have been introduced to me... so if I may ride on the next ship out..."

    Finally, she rises from her crate, drawing the Holy Sword from the ground with her as she moves towards the door of the inn.

    "... a Holy Sword must hunt evil, still..."

    This sounds terribly menacing, but all she does is enter so that she can get out from the cold, fumbling the door several times. Maybe she needs a sheath for the thing, after carrying it in an open battlefield for so long.

<Pose Tracker> Ruth Pauling has posed.

    Ruth's lived her Hellionized life for some years now, and some of the talk about things being cold and associated strong memories of it feels increasingly alien now, in an existence that no longer requires nor benefits from physical warmth.
     Shige seems sure of her ideas and methods, and there's not much she can offer there.
     Luna, however...
     Ruth freezes when Luna looks her in the eyes like that. To look at Ruth's gaze, there's something distant enough to a place a smile can never reach. For someone whose very nature is driven by surrounding feelings of pain and vulnerability like it were sweetest, most fulfilling sustenance... to stare her in the eyes with such unflinching fear and conviction is startling enough that a faint hiss escapes in exhalation.
 t"That look in your eyes." Ruth gets words out, right hand going to her opposite shoulder as the sudden freeze of her entire body makes its chronic pains flare back up to levels she can't ignore, sharply looking off to the side. She doesn't clarify further than that.
     "...If they've reclaimed their humanity, then... that's who they are," is the commentary she has for the mention about one's hopes for their recovery. She doesn't sound explicitly uncomfortable with the subject. Being around the Oracle of Fire and her Seers for as long as she has, she doesn't sound envious of their second chance. To her, this life is her second chance to... by all accounts, make a lot of the same mistakes and miraculously get different results sometimes.
     She looks up as Caoimhe's voice starts to trail off, in that way she found deeply unsettling when they first met. So much so, she stops talking, and allows Caoimhe to have her last say as she goes inside the inn with that declaration about a Holy Swords and what it must hunt, still.
     Caoimhe is not like her, in the sense she is not a Hellion like herself, but some aspects... even what is reflective of the Holy Sword feels like there's a little too much uncomfortably familiar when she looks at it.

<Pose Tracker> Noeline has posed.

    Noeline's smile to Avril is positively bright, her eyes alive. "Even I was once a wide-eyed urchin sneaking around and gaping at everything new and shiny. Just because I didn't technically need the warmth didn't mean I was going to be stopped in trying to share in it. ... I was positively drowning in new experiences back then, and soaking them all up like a sponge. Some of those children were my first brush with humanity."

    There's a fond smile on her face, and it only fades a little at talk of the Fell Dragon being alive and well. If she stops to think about it, the inevitable question is how it feels about its lair having been ripped from it - is it going to retaliate? Will this make it start to move?

    She shakes that thought away, because Caoimhe is taking her words the wrong way. "No. Arctica was _thought_ to be lost. But even I severely underestimated the strength of its people," she adds with a quieter smile up towards New Arctica. "It lives on, even if the form is slightly different. I can also personally confirm that at least one person is still terribly intoxicated with its arms and forms." She still has the memory of getting hit by a Quick Draw.

    The paladin's next point is one Noeline has to snort at softly. "... it is an old habit. My past with Arctica is rather complicated, after all. And I would not blame anyone for having some due ire towards me for it, even as I try my best to atone."

    She goes to say more - but there's apparently more evil to vanguish inside. Maybe cocoa is evil? Noeline has some doubts.

<Pose Tracker> Shige Kiwako has posed.

Shige's offer goes untaken, so she uncorks it, takes a light pull and stashes it away. Patting it quietly in that bag. She doesn't seem particularly upset. It's being polite to share and it's not like she's completely tanked. Probably for the best.
 "It's chilly enough even if you're used to the weather. And I've been.. gone a while so I've lost some of that." Not all of it admittedly! She seems cozy enough, but who's going to complain about going in where its warmer? Besides, she's a cat. She likes warm places.
 With Ruth she offers a faint ghost of a smile, "Concentrated death is probably the same as dead right?"
 Luna's statement's met with a simple enough nod. She ignores the funny look. She's used to them! Though while she's lounging back, she cracks one eye briefly towards Luna and says simply, "You can just ask." Even if she did admit she was a spirit herder.
 She starts to respond to Noeline's comment on how much was lost with a, "Too much-" when the second half of that statement comes out. And the cat's up on her feet in a hurry. She catches herself. She really is trying! Her body language betrays her and it's clear there's a definite response to having that catch her off guard. She tries to cough into her hand as she turns on her heel and says in a practiced, even tone. "I might return later. I want to finish making sure no one left behind needs help." She's wearing gloves so it's not clear that she's digging claws into her palms at the moment.
 It's better than the last time at least. Barely. She'll keep trying.
 When she gets herself back in order, practiced again, but for her shaking hands. She's pulled a cigar free and is using that as an excuse to distract herself. "It's fine." She glances to Caoimhe as she carefully opens the hatch on her lantern to light the cigar with one side bitten free. "I'll check up on you later. Might.. have you write some details out for me so I can go check on people." Nodding to the others as well. "S.. stay safe Luna." She adds, still concerned that someone that young's out here. Not that she's THAT much older. Avril's given a simpler, "Later.. sorry." before she hurries off.
 She might feel guilty about it later.

<Pose Tracker> Luna Meitner has posed.

There is a small nod to herself as Noeline cops to being a Hyadean. But as for history and more being lots... "We recovered a box of mementos that someone had been attempting to salvage. I believe Ida sought to see them returned to their owners."

Lina gives a small tilt of her head and a slight frown as Noeline laughs, as if trying to decipher the reaction. For someone who seemed, more or less, unphased by the presence of bandits, hellions, a Seer, a symbologically locked door, or a collapsing inn (she was alarmed by the presence of a Fell Dragon, however), it might be the first hint the others who met her in Eluria have seen of her not immediately accepting and rolling with what is before her. "I see."

And then right back into her stoic demeanor after that brief uncertainty passes.

"I take it you are of a different mindset?" One might be forgiven for thinking she is addressing Noeline... but while she is facing Noeline her eyes have shifted over just slightly to watch Avril's downcast expression.

She looks to Caoimhe, and there is a small nod at her words. "It is surely not."

Luna does watch as Caoimhe seems to slip out of lucidity a time or two. She makes no comment, but she is listening closely. She makes note, of what she says of camaraderie.

Better anchors than Kings and Gods. "I have always found them so," she agrees. Fickle... "Perhaps," she allows.

But Caoimhe takes her leave of the outdoors, moving to the inn after expressing her desire to set sail to see more of the world. "Good luck with your hunt, Caoimhe."

Ruth has... a rather interesting reaction, to Luna's stare, to put it mildly. And though Ruth breaks eye contact first, when Luna looks down to her spear again, it is not out of a sense of guilt, or superiority, or mercy... she's simply done looking now. "Perhaps you are right," she comments, quietly.

She caught that hiss, though. Interesting.

Shige's comment, however, is met with another nod, but no follow-up question. Instead, she merely comments, "You seem to converse quite freely."

With several others making their exits, she puts her whetsone away in her sidepouch and stands up. She doesn't offer any explanations or even pleasantries aside from the simple statement of. "I will take my leave, now."

And then she heads, not for the inn, but for the road out of town.

<Pose Tracker> Avril Vent Fleur has posed.

    Avril glances away again. "I see..." she remarks, on the subject of the Fell Dragon that remains, apparently still able to harry those who would venture into the ruins of Eluria. "Then, it would remain a danger." And a Fell Dragon is not so easily slain. Of the ones that she knows of that has been destroyed, one had only just been 'born' and the other must have been weakened by its long interment beyond a seal. What would it take to eliminate one that was at the height of its power still?

    She will have to be mindful of the danger, should she ever venture within the ruins of Lost Eluria.

    "So that's how it was for you... Hm," Avril remarks, tilting her head slightly to the left as she considers what Noeline has just told her. Even someone like Noeline was once seeking the heat and life of the way 'humans' lived. "No one is born as what they become. Is that not the case...?" she says, as if striking upon something profound. ...it really isn't, avril.

    "If you would do such... I think you would be pleased, Lady Caoimhe. But first, you must rest and heal," she says, taking the injured arm for a wound that will surely 'heal' given time and attention. "Might you come inside--"

    But Caoimhe rises to her feet, the hunt seemingly calling her once again. It's at least a journey that takes her into the warm, for now.

    Avril can but watch as she heads for the door. Avril shivers involuntarily, and not because of the cold. She had a sense just now of... but there, it retreats once more. "It's like something out of a fairy story..." she murmurs, furrowing her brow as the others begin to similarly depart.

    Like a fairy story, 'but' -- that unspoken conjunction hanging in the air.