♕ The Reign ~ [The Roleplay Thread] ♕

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"Are you expecting that tardy merchant to appear over there?"

Demitri's voice interrupted her thoughts as Arcana once again found her gaze drifting over towards the corner of the room. "Hmm?" She returned her attentions on to him. "Oh, not quite. There's nothing there." She purred cryptically.

'Yes, that's the problem. There's nothing there.' Her inner monologue echoed.

'What does that even mean?' Arcana mentally scolded herself.

Finding no explanation, she shook herself off. Dismounting from Titan, Arcana pushed herself on to the ground. She strolled over towards the practice beam and removed the handles from the saddle. "Try once more. Grip the saddle like so."

Arcana demonstrated the maneuver. "And then push off the ground and flip over this way." 

Arcana once again kicked up, she was skilled enough to keep her legs straight the entire time as she flipped herself onto her stomach. Swinging a leg over, Arcana slid off the fake horse. "Keeping your legs bent will make it much easier on you. If you have some trouble finding the proper muscles to use there are a few training exercises I can teach you on the silks." With a charismatic smile, Arcana stepped back to allow the others to give their shot.

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Denva Beaumont

"You know, if we need a way to stand out, I can ask my Ashreaper cousins on my Mom's side to send us some riding wyverns or dragons. They'd make a huge splash in your circus act if becoming Queen doesn't work out for you, Arcana. And wyverns are natural acrobats. Seeing this maneuver with them would be so worth it." Denva offered, figuring that was something she could contribute to the group. If one of the events had to do with flying creatures like riding dragons and wyverns, she'd have the advantage with that skill set as she had prior experience riding them 

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Ashton Bál | Ashreaper

After the Truthkeeper's explaining, they broke up to explore the room. Ashton's first set his gaze on the largest bloodstain, playing out the actions that caused it in his head. However, he wandered over to the desk the merchant finished inspecting. He glossed over the parchments that were on top of it and subtly looked at the corner of the desk. The wood was almost immaculate, with minor chips and scratches scattered around the edges, most probably gained over time. Although the one his eyes landed on seemed larger than the others, and was at an awkward angle, making it appear smaller than it is. The Ashreaper was certain that one could pull at the crease and take a chunk of wood from the desk. His deflected knife was to thank for that, but the man was sure that it was a small enough detail to overlook. Turning away to find something else to look over as to not raise any suspicions. He skimmed over the books as he did the night of, and then eventually made his way to the cabinet. Opening it and glancing over to a particular place of interest, letting out a silent sigh as his eyes found the cape he admired still missing. Internally cursing the one-time partner that had taken it. Ashton closed the cabinet and then wandered up to crouch at the bloodstain. More so looking around it in search of faint footprints or even dirt that could give a trail. The quick glance didn't give away anything, but he brought his attention up as Malik spoke.

 

"Was Marigold known to have issues sleeping?" Ashton looked at the poultice the blond was examining. Remaining silent as Malik cracked a joke, but he didn't have much to add, so he stayed crouched at the bloodstain as he listened.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

After giving his order, Chandra lingered where he stood. His peridot eyes darted across the room, perhaps searching for where to start or ensuring the two men did as they were told. He crossed his arms, stilling the subtle twitches of his fingers, and closed his eyes.

Ever since the contestants settled in the palace, the Truthkeeper’s senses had been subjected to an influx of mana. It was nothing he was inexperienced with, it felt just like whenever he was outside the palace ground. However, he hadn’t quite sorted out which mana was whose. It was as if a pile of plain untabbed paperwork was dumped on him and he was obligated to file them for his own sanity.

Nevertheless, he had at least somewhat discerned his assistants’ mana. Malik’s was rather hazy like Marigold and Herbert’s, likely indicating he possessed little to no magical power. Ashton’s showed otherwise though the medic didn’t dig into the specifics, merely enough to vaguely recognize his presence. Still, Chandra was positive that the Ashreaper had yet to express his powers, which meant the swirl of mana he just sensed belonged to an unrelated party.

He wondered if it was the perpetrator. Although, their mana carried a certain familiarity. It was not one he frequently came across yet he believed he had sensed it somewhere in the past. Then again, numerous people fell into that category and with the palace brimming with guests from all sorts of background, there were too many options in his hand.

Even so, he could easily identify the seemingly invisible stranger right then and there. All he needed to do was perform the same technique he used to identify Marigold’s traces. Although...

Chandra opened his eyes, arms falling back to his sides. Without a word, he sauntered over to where Herbert stood and watched the two men. The general inquisitively eyed him though offered no commentary. Eventually, Malik asked if Marigold had sleeping issues while pointing at a herb package, jokingly remarking that the Head of the Royal Guard required it for being so uptight. Chandra approached the object in question, cradling it in his hand.

“Most likely. This is what we normally give for those with sleeping problems.” He peeked through the package, chuckling at the contents. “And judging by the amount, he sorely needed it to loosen that dense long stick up his a.ss, alright.”

Herbert pointedly glared at them, a firm reprimand resting at the tip of his tongue, only held back by knowing it had no effect on the Truthkeeper.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"You know, if we need a way to stand out, I can ask my Ashreaper cousins on my Mom's side to send us some riding wyverns or dragons." Denva's voice broke Arcana’s concentration.

"Huh?" She hummed

They'd make a huge splash in your circus act if becoming Queen doesn't work out for you, Arcana. And wyverns are natural acrobats. Seeing this maneuver with them would be so worth it." Denva continued 

Arcana tensed, the tightening in her jawline evident as slowly turned to face Denva. 

'If becoming Queen doesn't work out for me?' 

Alpha cleared his throat, rushing over and placing a hand on Arcana's shoulder. 

The ring leader absolutely refused to imagine any other outcome, and often became aggravated if anyone dared suggest an alternative. She had spent her whole life daydreaming for this moment, and she was very intent to get her way. Even if she lost this competition.  

"uh... we have a strict "no dragon" policy at this circus." Alpha explained.  "They are far too large to keep in a contained space while we travel. Besides... we learned the hard way that dragons can be... temperamental."

"Mm. Lots of fire." Arcana murmured,  seemingly recovering from her earlier affliction. 

Aztec's irritation did not help Arcana, it made her more impatient and testy, something she was trying hard to get a handle on. 

 

((I've been waiting for Geek, but it's been a while so I'd figure I'd do something lol))

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Denva Beaumont

Denva blushed, realizing how her comment must've sounded, particularly about the Queen not working out thing. 

"Right, I should've guessed. While Wyverns aren't as big as dragons, they can be tempramental with new riders. Trust me, I learned that the hard way too. I've been dunked into the water trough and hay bales more than once by my mounts." Denva replied, rubbing the back of her neck as she tried to think of a way to apologize for her "not working out as Queen" comment 

(me too - and I think Denva just realized how her comment sounded, lol) 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Arcana and Denva briefly dicussed the prospect of bringing wyverns to practice on. The other male, Alpha, politely dismissed the notion with a few reasons as to why. The librarian very much hoped they'd not have to ride another creature after the horseback riding test, though Demitri realized he held little clue as to what any of the future examinations would consist of.

The pale haired man examined the saddle now that Arcana had removed the handles, mentally reviewing the maneuver that the woman had shown before pausing to speak with the Ridgestrider.

Demitri was aware he would have to significantly strain to straighten his legs out as evenly as Arcana had, which was confirmed by her advising the others to bend their legs when about to flip over the back of the practice beam.

The Truthkeeper decided to attempt the maneuver, choosing to experiment by merely changing the bending motion of his legs. It did seem to help quite a bit, giving him far more ease in springing further up along the side of the wooden figure. Though, the entire movement in order to righten oneself in the saddle remained strenuous. It was very difficult to emulate the motions as fluidly and in as few precise movements as Arcana had. Demitri needed to more slowly jump up alongside the beam, then seperately struggle into the next few movement and lastly into the upright position.

Demitri paused for a moment to catch his breath after exerting his body during several more attempts. The young man slid off the saddled beam. While even that had helped, he was curious about the exercises Arcana had brought up earlier.

"Perhaps you can show us those... silk exercises you mentioned," Demitri entreated, wishing to understand as specifically as possible how to enhance his mobility.

 

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik chuckled at the Truthkeeper's crass response, not unaware of the glowering guard still standing stationarily by the doorway, seeming to disaprove of the other mens' jesting. Malik merely smiled at Herbert before once again scanning the room.

"Good, good," Malik piped, turning on foot to survey the space again from his current vantage point.

"But," Malik suddenly added, bringing his red eyes back to rest on the long-haired Truthkeeper. "Faramund, you're the palace medic, correct? Yet it doesn't sould like you personally gave this to Marigold, in its large qunaity. Is there anyone else you can think of that he could have received such a large dose of sedative from?"

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Denva Beaumont

When Demitri mentioned the silks, Denva felt her face go pale. While she was comfortable with riding wyverns and airships, she got vertigo with anything else that she wasn't comfortable with. Though she shook herself, forcing herself to calm down. If she was going to be Queen, she was going to have to do things that she wasn't comfortable with. She might as well start with heights and her vertigo problem. 

"I wouldn't say no to learning a new skill." Denva commented, still a little uneasy but ready to at least give it a try. The worst that would happen was that she threw up her breakfast on somone unfortunate enough to be under her if her vertigo got to her or she passed out and landed on the matt 

(IRL I get vertigo easily, and I got it once just looking down into a pit at an archaeology site I was working at during high school)

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana observed Demitri's attempts with a mixture of amusement and levity, her eyes crinkling in her enjoyment. 

Demitri propped himself up, his chest heaving from the exertion of the movement. "Perhaps you can show us those... silk exercises you mentioned." 

Arcana giggled and nodded. She tilted her head up towards the rafters where Angel was silently observing.

"Will you do us the honour, my little poison berry?" Arcana hummed. 

Angel nodded, walking delicately across the support beam towards where the apparatuses had been hung up. They were suspended by a thick strap on the beam and the tails hung up by a small rope to keep them off the floor. Angel gingerly unclipped the carabiner from a red silk, allowing the tail end to fall to the floor. Then she settled back down, curling her wings around her arms.

Arcana caught the fabric's tail, allowing it to drop easily to the ground. She tugged on it to ensure that the apparatus remained secure to the top beam. Seemingly satisfied, Arcana turned back towards her pupils. She glanced at Denva's expression and laughed. "Don't worry, luv. You won't be climbing it. These exercises keep you real close to the ground."

Smiling, Arcana slid off her boots and padded over towards the silk. She wrapped her whole arm around the fabric, grabbing a hold of the tail and then pulling it through the loop that she had made. The result was a sturdy knot at about hip height. 

She peeled the poles of the fabric apart. "Put it on like a backpack." She instructed,  pulling the fabric over her arms so that the knot settled on her lower back. "And start with marches." She allowed the fabric to take her weight and pulled her knees to her chest before lowering them again. "Once you feel comfortable, you can start to invert. Like so. Push against the poles of the fabric to help get you upside-down." 

Arcana bent her knees, pulling them towards her chest. She flipped upside-down and straddled out her legs. 

"Try to lower yourself down with straight legs as slowly as possible and then repeat. This will help you figure out the type of core muscles you will be using on the horse." Arcana flipped out of the fabric. She pressed her fingers to her mouth and whistled. 

A yellow fabric dropped down for Denva to use, thanks to Angel, and Arcana tied the knot in that one as well. "Here is the second exercise for you to try out. It will help you get used to the movement required to flip yourself over the horse."

Arcana pulled the poles apart once more and flipped her legs up and over the knot so that the front of her hips landed inside. 

(It is basically this but on a sling instead. I could not find any example of it on a sling so this is the best I can do).

Grabbing a hold of the fabric once more, Arcana slowly reversed the motion.

“Make sure to come down slow and controlled. Yes, it is more difficult. That is the point. If you need help getting up, feel free to jump into it.” Arcana instructed as she stepped away from the fabrics. “Alpha! Mat please.” She called to her second hand.

Alpha nodded and strolled down the sides of the ring, flipping open a hidden compartment beneath the chairs of the front row. With Arcana’s help, he pulled out two large-sized mats, adjusting them underneath the silks.

“In case either of you take a tumble, I won’t be liable.” Arcana folded her arms as she appraised both Denva and Demitri. “What are you waiting for? Go.” 

She shooed them towards the fabrics. 

 
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Denva Beaumont

Denva sighed in relief, going over to the gold fabric and doing as Arcana instructed. She put on the ribbon like a backpack and the marches were easy enough. She'd had to do similar exercises before riding her wyvern. However, when she tried to do the other exercises...

"Help!" She managed, finding her arm pinned to her with her hand stuck to her face, her legs entangled in the ribbon and completely tangled up in the yellow-gold ribbon 

(I would totally get tangled up my first time, lol)

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

At Malik’s smile, Herbert sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose as hard as he could. One brazen Faramund was already a handful and now he had to deal with another at the same time. He rubbed his face and decided to just bury himself in Chandra’s report, even though knowing it didn’t add much to the case. At least it was done professionally, which was a much needed reprieve.

 Chandra hummed at the Tideseeker’s question. “Indeed, Marigold was never my client. However, I don’t think my colleagues would’ve given anything but the regular dose. We would have added complementary medicine or advice on lifestyle changes instead.” He paused. “Honestly, I thought Marigold simply insisted on more but now that you mention it, we aren’t exactly the only medical practitioners in the palace.”

His mind travelled to a certain abode in the far end of the palace quarters belonging to the enigmatic Jaida. She was already in the palace when he returned, seemingly granted asylum for saving the late queen’s life. The other medics often told how she was usually contacted if they didn’t know what else to do. Nowadays though, she was more of a fortune teller. He heard she was eerily accurate, especially when it comes to hearsays. Not only that, apparently she always somehow bypassed guarded places to leave notes detailing favors owed to her. He didn’t know how trustworthy that last bit was, however. He couldn't omit the possibility that it was only a tale to spread more animosity towards the so-called witch.

Yet, now that there was an invisible stranger in his company, he couldn't help but wonder.

"Her name is Jaida, or better known as the palace’s witch. She offers intel these days but she is well-versed in medicine, even once saving the late queen from an unknown illness years ago. Other than us medics, she’s the only alternative means of gaining medicinal herbs here,” he added, “What of it?”

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Jaida

It was honestly funny when the investigation fixated on, of all the things in the room, a pouch of herbs that Jaida immediately recognized as one of her own. She remembered having given it to Marigold, after he came to her complaining of insomnia and lamenting that the official medicine practitioners wouldn’t give him as much as he wanted – or needed, as he put it. She hadn’t asked too many questions, simply supplying him with the amount he demanded. After all, it wasn’t as if an overdose of hops could k.ill him.

She didn’t believe for a moment that Chandra, with all his medicinal knowledge and expertise, thought that her pouch was responsible for Marigold's death (letting the body vanish into thin air but leaving the ‘murder weapon’ in plain view...) but it did seem like they were gravitating towards her as possible perpetrator, if only out of sheer desperation. Or a role as accomplice, knowing or unknowing, because of the hops' sedative effect. Which probably meant a visit in the very near future.

Jaida nodded along to Chandra's words from where she leaned against the doorway, allowing for a quick escape route that didn’t involve having to go past them. She was reasonably sure Chandra had sensed her mana, even if he likely didn’t know it was her. If she left now, while she was the subject of conversation, she would make it absurdly easy for him to put the pieces together.

Whereas if she timed her departure to the moment they left Marigold’s quarters and then used a shortcut or two to reach her own before they did, she might be able to trick him into thinking what he sensed was only an imprint left in the rooms. Then, if questioned, she could play it off as having visited the crime scene earlier without anyone knowing and leaving some of her mana lingering behind.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana had directed her attentions towards the librarian for merely a few seconds when a small and pathetic squeak caught her ear.

"Help!"

Arcana pinched the bridge of her nose and slowly turned to face Denva.

The girl had somehow managed to cross the fabric around her back, pinning her across her face while her legs were all wound up inside of the fabric. 

"How on earth did you manage this?" Arcana  hummed, placing her hands on her hips. "You were not supposed to do any wraps." 

Sighing she meandered over, picking up Denva with one hand in an impressive display of strength. She used her free hand to begin to unwind the girl from the confines of the ribbon. "Twist your hips towards me and slide your right leg out of the loop, luv." She cooed. 

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Denva Beaumont

"I was trying to do the splits you showed us and I guess the ribbon got caught on my foot or something. Next thing I know, I was hog tied like a bull at the rodeo!" Denva replied, doing as Arcana instructed, getting herself disentangled from the yellow ribbon. She was able to get free and do the correct maneuver to stretch out her core as instructed 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri removed his boots, missing how Denva had managed to tangle up in the hanging fabrics. Opon walking up to the empty silks and looking over the strands grasped in his palms, he found he could not judge the Ridgestider's predicament; the librarian felt he could easily find himself in a similar situation with any wrong movements.

As Arcana saw to aiding the younger girl, Demitri slipped the fabric around his arms. At first, Demitri felt very uncomfortable allowing only the cloths to bear his weight. Upon taking his feet up from the floor, he found that the situation was quite stable. The Truthkeeper then pushed to the next step Arcana had demonstrated. The man had to force himself not to flinch or grit his teeth as he began to fall towards the ground, only the thick fabric keeping him from landing head first into the padding Alpha had placed.

Slightly disoriented for a few moments as blood rushed to his head, Demitri soon recovered. Most of his uncertainty regarded the fabrics holding him in just a precarious position. As they seemed sturdy, he straightened his legs and lowered until he was right side up again. He repeated the action several times, slowly getting more used to the unfamiliar feeling of floating upside down in the air. The librarian made sure to focus on his muscles after the inital first few test exercises, trying to figure out the areas similar to the maneuvers they had performed on the practice beam.

 

((i dont know how to really accurately write this, so bear with me lol))

 

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik cocked his head, not expecting to hear there was a third-party medicine handler living within the palace. He usually associated herbalists or fortune tellers as more of working in town. However, the information of the woman saving the late Queen for a time cleared up the reasoning for her living within the castle while not serving as an active medic.

"I suppose nothing much," Malik muttered. "It is possible that contibuted to Marigold being in a weakened state if he was awoken by the attacker. I just wonder if the perpetrator knew this beforehand or it merely accidentally aided them in the committing the act. But other than that, it doesn't seem very odd if he was known for using the plant."

Malik smiled once more. "I am not suggesting anything by this. But perhaps asking this Jaida will aid in understanding how long Marigold used the herb beforehand, or if it was a more recent suggestion he added to his sleep routine."

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

((You're doing fine. Funnily enough,  a lot of people can't even invert their first few tries. I climbed to top my first time at aerial xD. So the spectrum for beginners is super broad. There isn't much to get "wrong" when trying to write it.))

 

"I was trying to do the splits you showed us and I guess the ribbon got caught on my foot or something. Next thing I know, I was hog tied like a bull at the rodeo!" Denva exclaimed as she slipped out of the knots.

Arcana chuckled. "It's a straddle, not a split. I don't expect you to have that sort of active flexibility yet. But maybe one day." 

She nodded approvingly when Denva correctly performed the exercise, watchful to ensure that she did not manage to tangle herself up once more. Once she was satisfied by Denva's progress, Arcana turned her attention to Demitri. 

Arcana folded her arms, pleased to see that Demitri was doing well. He even had the core strength to lower himself down with straight legs. She decided to give him an extra challenge. "Lower yourself down as slowly as possible.  Keep it controlled." It takes a tremendous amount of core strength in order to do reverses, Arcana was purposefully giving him the difficult challenge to push his limitations slightly. 

Flipping onesole over onto a horse was basically the exact reverse of these exercises. And if they had the strength to maintain straight legs on the way down, they would definitely have the strength to do it with bent legs on the way back up.

"Remember to keep your toes pointed and your knees turned outwards. Yes, it's more difficult. But it prevents you from injuring yourself." Arcana called out to both her students

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Denva Beaumont

Denva tried the exercise again, this time doing as Arcana instructed without improvisation. She didn't want to get tangled up a second time. That would just be even more humiliating. But hey, just because she was a royal relative, that didn't mean she was perfect. Far from it. She had just as many flaws as the next person did. She did the stretches Arcana instructed, keeping her knees straight and out with her feet pointed the same way. 

"Like this?" Denva asked, feeling her core muscles stretching as she made her way down the cloth. She was actually starting to have fun with this. 

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

Chandra hummed. It was indeed possible that the perpetrator used the herb to their advantage, regardless of whether it was premeditated. Although, he had no clue either of when the other man started using it. As he pointed out, he never handled Marigold, likely because he never did veil his animosity towards the young Head. Marigold must have taken his morbid jests seriously.

"Paying her a visit, eh," he mumbled. He never quite had a proper conversation with the so-called witch. She didn't seem keen on doing so either, or with anyone really. Sometimes it made him wonder how she came to possess a plethora of private information. 

Then again, the Truthkeeper thought, mind wandering to a certain masked Tideseeker he was acquainted with, everyone has their ways.

"I see no harm in doing that. She should be available. Rumor has it she never leaves her abode," he chuckled, "I suppose we can see that for ourselves."

He turned to Ashton, who was still crouching on the bloodstain. He wondered what the Ashreaper was looking for there. "Well then, should we wrap things up here? I know we found almost nothing but there's nothing much to begin with."

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Ashton Bál | Ashreaper

"-I know we found almost nothing but there's nothing much to begin with." Ashton had followed the conversation from his spot, standing as Chandra concluded they're done here. Taking another glance around the room to tame a jovial smirk that was threatening to show at the comment.  Hoping the slight muscle movement could be passed off as pursing lips rather than a smile.

 

"So, where's this other healer reside?" he cooed.

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri paused when Arcana stopped to offer advice to him. What the librarian was already doing seemed challenging enough, he wasn't sure how he was meant to slow the descent downwards. However, he understood how performing it in such a way would show an increase in control. He decided to give it a try, nodding to Arcana before settling back into the silks.

The first attempt was far too similar to before Demitri had even attempted to slow the lowering process. He grunted, gathering his bearings before pursuing the controlled endeavor several more times.

After further efforts, Demitri stopped movement for a moment, gathering his breath. While he'd been able to start to figure out how to slow his descent, the movements were very difficult to control. He'd pointed his toes with bent knees as instructed, which had only increased the difficulty of the entire process, though it was to enhance the skill.

The librarian sighed, thinking the situation over. He figured there was only so much he would be able to fit in a day's worth of activity; being able to gather the core strength needed for both performing perfectly on the silks and the maneuver on the horse would take much longer than an afternoon. Demitri knew he needed to lower his aim from perfecting his descent to just bringing it to a manageable level for the amount of time he had.

Demitri turned over once again. The descent still seemed far too fast for his liking, but he was managing to control it far more than he had in the beginning where he had been closer to just free falling with only gravity dictating the speed.

 

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik glanced once more around the room as Ashton finished up where he was inspecting. He hadn't contributed to the conversation much in the room, but then again, the Ashreaper did not seem especially talkative. Malik hummed to himself as he padded to the doorway where Herbert stood, waiting for Chandra to lead the way to Jaida's lair.

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Jaida

“I see no harm in doing that. She should be available. Rumor has it she never leaves her abode. I suppose we can see that for ourselves,” Chandra mused, with a small smile that matched her own. He turned to Ashton, who still seemed unusually preoccupied with the largest bloodstain. Jaida wondered why. She knew blood had a special kind of morbid attraction, pulling and repulsing in much the same way as an abyss, but as a beast tamer he should be well used to it.

“Well then, should we wrap things up here? I know we found almost nothing but there's nothing much to begin with,” Chandra pressed, also staring at the man. Rather than responding directly to that, Ashton rose to his feet and inquired after her residence.

Still looking at him, Jaida took a step to the side, removing herself from the doorway as Malik approached. She would wait until they were gone, then depart into the opposite direction herself.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"Like this?" Denva asked, straining her core muscles on the way down.

Arcana nodded with a grin. "Looks good." 

Dimitri had adjusted his workout as well, moving with signifigantly more control. Although he was still a little hasty, Arcana did not have unrealistic expectations. They had already far exceeded her expectations by getting as far along as they had so she was about about to complain.

"Once your core starts to burn, push through it for an extra 10 seconds and then stop for a rest." Arcana folded her arms as she glanced between the two. "Working your core too intensely without the proper warm up can be hazardous and I just wanted you to get a feel for the muscles you will be using during this mount. After you feel sufficently rested, we may try again without the handle... and then finally on Titan He is very steady and comfortable with this movement and I want to make sure you both have mastered it before we start trying to get your horses comfortable with it. It is a very peculiar and odd momentum, and I do not want to accidentally spo.ok them." 

Arcana glanced at the massive shire horse was going to be admittedly very difficult for them to spring up on given his sheer height. But it was currently the best option and if they could not make it up, Arcana would bring out a few of the smaller circus-trained horses. 

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Denva Beaumont

Almost as soon as Arcana spoke, Denva started feeling the muscles in her core strain, not unlike when she helped out in the stables and had to pull herself up into the loft to get food for Hoseki and Lemonice when someone pranked her by moving the ladder somewhere she couldn't find it. 

"Good thing Lemonice isn't the jealous type. Or I wouldn't have Hoseki." Denva commented, flipping herself right side up and sliding down the silk, landing on her feet on the mat under her. 

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Demitri awaited the burning

Demitri awaited the burning sensation the ringmaster had mentioned. The librarian had felt a steadily growing warmth throughout the exercises. That mixed with swinging around, even if he'd gotten somewhat used to the blood rush to his head from hanging upsidedown for various lengths of time, had started to wear the young man out. While Demitri did not consider himself an inactive individual, even despite his work position that could indicate so, he never had worked on such movements.

Demitri finally felt he'd reached his limit, trying not to show too much relief at ceasing the continuous activity even if only for a few minutes.

The Truthkeeper gingerly escaped from the silks, making sure his legs felt steady enough to bear the weight of his body after spending so long without standing. He was a bit hesitant about the horse, Titan. The steed was absolutely massive, though he supposed that could be an advantage in that the animal could well withstand any small miscalculations when performing the remounting maneuver. As for the human performing them, however... it was far more intimidating.

Luckily, they would once more attempt the maneuver on the practice beam, giving Demitri and Denva another chance to figure out if they could improve anything more about their tactics, and without the aiding handles from before.

After breaking for several minutes, in which Demitri had put back on his riding boots, the librarian glanced to the Ridgestrider.

"Would you prefer to go first, or shall I?" Demitri inquired, unsure if he preferred to go first to get it done with or slyly take on any further details of how to attempt the maneuver without the handles by watching someone else. He decided to let Denva decide.

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Denva Beaumont

"I'd rather you go first." Denva replied, gesturing to the wood horse they would use to practice the move before trying it on Titan. 

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Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri was slightly surprised when Denva offered for the male to try first. She seemed to have been doing well at the exercises, save for having gotten tangled the one time. But she could have also tired from the activities, or perhaps was hoping to stall for a bit longer to take in any more dos or don'ts from his successes and failures.

Demitri sighed through his nose, drifting over to the wooden beam before Arcana might interject about his balking. He inspected the saddle handles, remembering that Arcana had mentioned that they were to attempt the maneuver without them. The librarian removed the additions, holding them up with a raised eyebrow before tossing them gently out of the way.

The Truthkeeper initially approached his new attempt much as he had prior to the silks. Even after resting for a period, Demitri knew the last hour or so of activity had drained him significantly. He had to pause longer between every attempt of springing onto the saddle, regulating his breath and making sure not to strain his muscles beyond his limits. Not to mention, without the aid of the practice handles, it was even more difficult than before.

Still, it was more accurate to how the maneuver would occur on regular horseback. He had a better understanding of which areas of his body he needed to use to perform each step, so it was definitely more successful in terms of fluidity. The maneuver in no way reached, or probably ever would, the pristine form of Arcana's demonstration or even Denva's more nurtured horsemanship.

Despite himself, and the exact thing Arcana had looked down upon during his horsemanship demonstration earlier, the librarian had seemed to come up with a rather specific set of steps for how he approached the remounting process. The largest variation Demitri allowed to fit, only if he felt the need, was to slyly use his ability as he had earlier. He was not against utilizing it, especially if it aided in correcting any missteps that would ruin his form otherwise. However, he likewise avoided it anytime it would be too obvious to save himself.

Practicing in a routine format helped Demitri feel he had a fairly solid grasp of how he could comfortably and adequately execute the movements. He hoped this to be even more true if he performed them freshly the following day, without his strength already having sapped from repeated activity. The primary issues Demitri saw with his last several attempts were probably most prominent in that there was less power backing his movements than earlier on.

"Anything... you would like to offer?" Demitri forced himself to ask Arcana, hopping to the ground. While his body screamed to him to immediately self conclude and allow Denva to go next, his mind at least wanted to consider any critiques. Especially before attempting on Titan.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana seemed rather content to lean against Titan, fiddling with a dagger while she waited for her pupils to finish their sets and take a short rest. She once again found her gaze drifting upwards, scanning the folded circus seats around the arena.

What was with that today?
Shaking her head, Arcana diverted her attention back to her dagger, trailing her fingertips over the thin bladed edge. Her distracted mind caused her to apply slightly too much pressure, resulting in a thin bead of blood poking out from under the pads of her fingers.

Arcana appraised it for a few moments before bringing her fingers to her lips, flicking the blood off with her tongue. The small amount left a metallic taste in her mouth although, much to her disdain, it was not entirely unpleasant. Which was likely Aztec's doing. She had to stop herself from eating the raw fish they fed to the chimaera earlier that day. 

""Would you prefer to go first, or shall I?" Demitri's voice jostled the ringleader from her thoughts.
Arcana glanced up, sliding the dagger back into its sheath strapped to her thigh and hidden underneath her tailcoat. 

"I'd rather you go first." Denva admitted.

This prompted an eyeroll from Arcana. She was about to work up the breath to yell at them for wasting her time when Demitri made the move towards the practice beam, removing the handles off the horse. 

He moved mechanically and rigidly, seemingly practicing a routine he had constructed in his mind. A series of steps to achieve the desired result.

How scientific of him.

Of course, there was an inkling of suspicion that stirred within Arcana. Denva was athletic in nature, if her many tales were to be believed. Arcana did not have much doubt as to her abilities especially since she claims that she is familiar with the process. 

Demitri on the other hand?

That was stretching it. He was a librarian. He liked books. He did.... book things. Arcana highly doubted he had the right disposition of muscle concentration to perform the manuever as he did. 

What was he hiding?
Was he secrectly a warrior? Training under the guise of being a librarian? Or was he somehow just weirdly passionate about fitness and never told anyone? 
The idea was ridiculous, but seemed to be one likely scenario. Of course, there were a few ways Arcana could test that. 

"Anything... you would like to offer?"

"Hmm?" Arcana inclined her chin towards the librarian as he stared expectantly at her.

"Your form sucks. Your clearly tired. Rest." Was all Arcana had to say. She raised her right hand into the hair, making a quick and decsivie gesture with it by bringing her index and middle finger flush against her palm and flicking her wrist to the side. 

That was when Alpha released the dagger. 

He was not as percise as Ravi but he managed. 

The small weapon went hurling through the air, heading straight for Demitri's back. Arcana fully intended to adjust the knife's centre of gravity if it looked like Demitri was actually going to get hit and send it sailing off to his right instead. But she was going to let it get real close first. 

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Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri huffed irritably through his nose, stepping away to allow Denva to attempt the practice beam next. However, the librarian suddenly felt an odd sensation creep over him. Any perspiration that Demitri had built up around his temples from the workout seemed to grow cold.

The moment was minutely brief, to the point Demitri was unable to clearly process the situation with any sort of mental clarity. A mixture of pure instinct and adrenaline pushed Demitri to react to the sound of a small, sharp item hurtling through the air.

The librarian's reaction was not by moving out of the way; there would not have been enough time, even if his mind could have decided to scream to his body to react.

Instead, Demitri's instinct took over, telekinetically maneuvering the object. It was not a difficult aspect of the power to control, though there wasn't exactly an established way of being taught telekinesis. Furthermore, Demitri did not have experience of having sharp objects thrown at him when utilizing his power in such a way.

Due to the spontaneity of the situation, the dagger orbited shakily around the librarian for a few moments, before zipping rapidly back towards the direction it came from.

While the object had flown steadily towards Demitri's back, the telekinetic fling had turned the object off course, allowing it to flip over itself in the air. It narrowly passed back by Alpha, the blade harshly embedding itself in the nearest post propping up the tent top. While Demitri could not tell from here, it'd formed a significant crack in the wood due to the force.

"Wha-wss?" Demitri sputtered. Unlike under his usual demeanor, he was unable to articulate wording for what had just occured. He only could tell his power had activated. The librarian's mind tried to piece together the varying details, such as the dagger now sitting snuggly in the nearby post, as well as the little bit he'd visually seen of the situation.

"Whh," Demitri faltered again, figuring out the knife had to have been thrown at him for it to have ended up back in the direction it'd been flung by him.

However, Demitri was not sure if he was more horrified by the fact the dagger had been thrown or that he could have swung it back and significantly injured someone, or worse.

"I knew we should not have joined this," Demitri voiced in a deathly serious tone, feeling nauseous but fighting back the feeling. Demitri had no clue what the circus-runners had planned, his mind, on overdrive, jumped to the conclusion they wanted to off other competitors in the privacy of their own tent.

Demitri neared Denva, though he was not exactly sure what he could do if either Arcana or Alpha decided to attack either him or her again.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana did not know what she had been expecting. 

Maybe for Demitri to catch the blade, or deflect it in a manner only a trained warrior could. Perhaps he would have merely side stepped it, allowing it to zoom past him. 

She was not expecting what actually occurred. 

The dagger zipped towards the librarian, getting uncomfortably close to piercing the spot just where his neck connected to his spine. 

Arcana poised herself, ready to shift the knife's gravity into the pummel, causing it to lose momentum and fly wide. 

But she never got the chance to. 

Demitri redirected the blade,  never once making physical contact with it. It defied the laws of momentum as it orbited around the librarian,  and ended up soaring back towards Alpha.

In a panic, Arcana reached towards it but was helpless to cease the speeding dagger. There was no plausible way she could prevent it from striking Alpha. 

Fortunately, the weapon twisted wide, embedding itself into a wooden post with a gnarly crack.

Fractures spider webbed across the structure, splitting it apart with an ominous crackle and pop. Thankfully, the beam did not give way now that it had been structurally compromised.  Although Arcana would likely have to replace it to ensure the safety of her performers. 

However, that detail was at the back of her mind. 

As she finally twisted her head back towards a sputtering Demitri, the librarian was retreating back towards Denva, glowering at her with mistrust. 

Arcana whistled, not allowing the shell shock feelings work their way onto her facade.  Instead, she presented herself with a cool neutrality, and knowing glint in her eye. "Well, that explains how you got up onto the horse." She chuckled, folding her arms. 

"I knew we should not have joined this," Demitri hissed, mentally tossing his own daggers at Arcana. 

Arcana shrugged and lackadaisically moseyed over towards the wooden post, removing the dagger from its supple surface. Shr expertly twirled it in her fingertips, sparing one final glance at Demitri before passively handing it back to Alpha. "Relax. If I intended to kill you, you would have been dead a long time ago."

Strolling forward, she paused before completely closing the space between herself and the librarian. 

"Dont take me for a fool." Arcana pinched the bridge of her nose. "I'm not daft enough to try and assassinate you in broad daylight,  with witnesses and nothing but a meagre knife. You are smart. Really smart. Smart enough to figure that out. If I really wanted you out of my way, I'd make you completely disappear. As though you were never born." 

Folding her arms, Arcana tilted her head towards him. "But you don't have to worry about that.. I had no intention to harm you. You are my ally and I gave you my word. I still need you. And you still need my resources. I would have interfered if the situation got out of hand. Because I will protect you. But.  A word of advice. More discretion regarding the use of your abilities would be beneficial.  I suspected from the first moment you managed to pull yourself up onto that horse. You, with no experience. No muscle tone. Not the slightest inclination towards athleticism.  You only solidified my suspicions by looking around so guiltily as though you had done something wrong." She held up a finger. "You have a gift, Demitri.  Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. But don't let people suspect."

Sure, she lied a little. The librarian having magical abilities was the last thing she suspected. But in hindsight it explained quite a lot. And they didn't have to know that. 

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Denva Beaumont

Denva had seen the glint of the dagger as it escaped Alpha's hand. If she had to, she had been ready to protect her favorite librarian with a diamond barrier, one of her favorite tricks. Her eyes went wide when she saw what happened to the dagger. 

"Telekinesis! That's a common ability among Truthkeepers! I remember reading that in my history book about the different families! Like gem or metal manipulations are in my Ridgestrider side and animal communication in my Mom's Ashreaper side." Denva recalled, glad she had a good memory for little factoids like that. 

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Demitri glared suspiciously

Demitri glared suspiciously at Arcana, critically gauging her visual reactions as much as her more easily construed words. The librarian found the woman’s riposte to the situation odd. While she had indicated a level of unawareness to Demitri’s display of magical ability, it was still shockingly neutral.

Magic was not common on the continent of Astrin. The general art had been abandoned by many. It was often no longer purposefully detected, so even those with low levels of magical mana may never know they have the potential for an ability. Then there were instances like Demitri, people who awakened their ability but did not publicly display it if possible.

Much of the reasoning behind being private about mana prowess was due to the stigma surrounding magic in Astrin. Non-magical users took unkindly to those with powers, believing them to be weapons used to provoke fear in and control of the ungifted.

While clearly an unfairly broad stroke to brush over an entire subgroup, it was not an entirely unfounded fear. The neighboring kingdom of Zemir was ruled by power-wielding leaders who horrifically used their mana-given abilities against the non-gifted of the nation. This became the primary reason for Astrin’s involvement in the multiple wars over the decades, having erupted from the corrupt abuse of power.

Demitri had read an unprecedented amount of information regarding the topic. Not only because of his position at the palace but having gained an innate interest in the topic when he’d roused his telekinesis as a child. Having no known mentor-like telekinetics to take questions to, books were one of the only other valid ways to teach oneself.

Denva interjected into the situation, offering up some knowledge of her own. While powers were rare, telekinesis was definitely a more prominent one seen among the Truthkeeper faction than any other, should one find themselves with an ability.

“Oh, spare me,” Demitri shook his head, listening to Arcana’s speel and feeling hardly reassured. He was unsure if he was still more in shock or angered, but all he knew for the moment was that he needed answers of some sort.

“Instead, tell me how exactly were you planning to stop the knife from hitting me if you weren’t trying to strike? I would hardly have had time to avoid it, even knowing it had been thrown. Pray tell, how would you have stopped it from all the way over there? Not to mention, you have not given one explanation for the action in the first place! I might actually consider your word more if you can back it with some proof.”

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"Oh, spare me." Demitri grumbled.

Denva seemed completely unphased by the entire situation. 

Demitri,  on the other hand, looked ready to kill her. "Instead, tell me how exactly were you planning to stop the knife from hitting me if you weren’t trying to strike? I would hardly have had time to avoid it, even knowing it had been thrown. Pray tell, how would you have stopped it from all the way over there? Not to mention, you have not given one explanation for the action in the first place! I might actually consider your word more if you can back it with some proof.”

A smirk curled Arcana’s lip. "Truly, Demitri.  I run a circus." She lifted her hands into the air, gesturing to the big top around her. "This is where all of the runaways run to. This is where every beggar, misfit, and outcast can finally feel find somewhere to belong.  The people society rejects are the people I accept. We are a family here. If you think that many magick users are not under my employ, you'd be sorely mistaken."

Placing her hands on her hips,  Arcana tilted her head. "I'm also under constant moderation.  I'm a huge target now. I won't let happened to Teri happen to me. I have surveillance. Alpha isn't the only individual from my circus with us today. And should they choose to reveal themselves they may. But I don't blame them for wanting to keep their abilities hidden."

The purpose of Angel who remained up in the rafters, now quietly drawing in a library book, was revealed. But she wasn't alone. 

The chairs in the audience were sloped, each row sitting on a flat form at varying levels to allow the audience to properly see into the ring without their view being obstructed. 

For ease of transportation, the platforms were hollow. It also acted as a method for cast members to discreetly travel from one end of the arena to another without being spotted. Handy for transporting set pieces and magic acts. The small cracks on the wood enabled them to see out into the ring well enough to understand their que.

Emerging from a false panel inside of the floor amongst the audience, Ravi poked his head out. His face and calloused hands adorned with the usual bandages from leading a careless life. 

Clambering out of the pit, Ravi tilted his head.

"Sorry to spoil the magic for you." Arcana chuckled towards Denva. "Alpha."

With that word, Alpha launched several knives at Ravi. 

Ravi put up a hand, causing each of them to lose momentum and stop entirely, floating harmlessly before him. With a snap of his fingers, the knives floated in a circular momentum behind him, their tips facing inward in a mesmerizing pattern of movement.

One by one, the daggers shifted to face outwards, not moving from their circular motion they created behind Ravi.

The precision and movement of each individual knife was masterful. But then again, Ravi had practiced such small precise motions since he was very young and nearly every day from then on. It was his job. His grasp on the concept was astonishing. He lacked expertise in showings of brute force and struggled to lift heavy objects. Something that Arcana discovered when a fallen boulder had blocked their path through a mountainous trail.

The knives around Ravi began to spin faster and faster.

And then he released them.

One by one the knives shot out of the circle, hitting the same wooden post like a series of bullets, one right after the other in a quick and silver succession.  

Arcana sighed. "You guys really hate that post today, don't you?"

Arcana knew that there were a few more, but they were posted outside and around back to keep an eye and ear out for danger and had probably chosen to remain concealed. Which Arcana respected.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

“In one of the far ends of the palace,” he replied to Ashton’s question while approaching the doorway, “Not quite where we palace dwellers are normally situated but well, she’s always been a special case.” He stopped before Herbert, who immediately looked up to the younger man. The general didn’t budge from where he blocked the doorway.

“You know,” Herbert sighed, “I’m sure you already realize but the reason I called you back-”

“Shhh.” Chandra shoved his index finger against the general’s lips. Herbert raised his brow, eyes darting between the finger and its owner. “No need to worry your knightly gallant head, I’m the prime investigator here. All you need to do is follow my orders.” He smirked. “So be a good boy and do as Master says, hm?”

“You-” Herbert repeatedly opened and closed his mouth, at a loss of what to say. Or rather, preventing himself from lashing out. It wouldn’t do to lose his composure again, especially not when he knew full well how the Truthkeeper enjoyed toying him. Mentally, he counted to five before slapping Chandra’s hand away and walking out of the doorway. The younger man laughed, mercifully saying nothing else as he followed suit.

Passing through rows of palace quarters and flitting servants, the group eventually neared Dawn’s former quarters. The guards still stood vigil there, preventing anyone from entering. Seeing them again, Chandra wondered just how effective they were, what with the palace brimming with various individuals, especially those possessing magic if the mana influx was anything to go by. Although, upon witnessing the guards shooing away a curious onlooker, he supposed they did serve a purpose.

He thought back to a particular spot he detected in his initial investigation. He wasn’t quite sure why he had left it be. Both his magic and instinct told him something of significant importance was laid there. Yet, he decided to do nothing.

A flash of mirthless smile crossed his face, so quick it was hardly different from his usual smile. To think he had his beloved mother figured out, only to be back to square one. Although, he supposed it was too early to jump into that conclusion. It was very likely that it was merely coincidence. Regardless, pondering over it wouldn’t take him any further.

“I changed my mind,” he announced, tone indicating nothing of his fleeting disposition. He gestured towards the guarded door. “I believe it’s clear that the quarters over there used to be occupied by Ishmael Dawn. I haven’t investigated it, which I assume is why the general was so keen to have me back. We should check it first before questioning Jaida.”

“This is exactly what I wanted you to do,” Herbert remarked, glaring at the medic.

“And I’m doing exactly that. Be grateful, General,” Chandra retorted as he passed by the older man and approached the doorway. Instantly, the guards let him in but not before simultaneously glancing at the general, probably conveying their moral support in what little interaction they were allowed to do.

“You know that’s not what I meant,” Herbert muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose. Nevertheless, he entered the quarters, resigning himself to standing by the door and watching over the unlikely trio as if he were a glorified caretaker.

Chandra stood at the center of the room, looking towards his assistants while gesturing to the entire room. “Well, you know the drill.”

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik observed Chandra’s bold exchange with the general. Herbert appeared to consider how to respond for a few moments, choosing to ignore the long-haired Truthkeeper’s goading words.

Malik bit back any laughs or comments, simply following Herbert and Chandra. Malik glanced around as the group neared a guarded room, pondering for a moment to whom it must be affiliated with. He was finally able to piece together it as belonging to the other missing throne candidate, the seamstress Ishmael Dawn.

Chandra suddenly paused in front of the aforementioned doorway, indicating his interest to investigate the quarters. Herbert grumbled in agreement to the proposition.

Malik once more passed by Herbert as the older man stationed himself nearby to the guarded chamber doors. The sailor regarded the space. It was far sparser than Marigold’s rooms had been. It only made sense; Ishmael’s room arrangement was temporary, only having been officially given to the guests as of midday the day prior.

With no personal possessions, the space had fewer clear indications of disturbances. It only seemed to increase the difficulty of comparing it to Marigold’s room, which had signs of displacement. Ishmael’s room looked as if it had not even been touched, which did raise some suspicion on Malik’s mind. Who would make sure to keep their room appearing as untouched as possible if were expecting to stay within it for the next foreseeable future?

On the flip side, disappearing after a potential murder, leaving his room in such an odd manner, was sure to bring about distrust. Malik doubted the seamstress was a stupid man; even if he was the perpetrator, something must have gone wrong for him to flee the castle and willingly cast the brunt of the suspicion for Marigold’s disappearance.

Malik glanced around the space more closely, but the space was virtually spotless like he’d already interpreted. He glanced at Ashton to see if he had seemed to find anything of note.

“Despite the circumstance of Dawn’s disappearance along with Marigold’s,” Malik hummed, meandering towards the windowsill on the other side of the room, sweeping his vinaceous-tinted gaze across the virtually vacant nearby desk. “He also seems to be the most difficult person to find anything to prove he was involved as either a perpetrator or another victim.”

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

The revelation of Arcana’s troop consisting of magic users did not much to ease the influx of emotions Demitri felt. He was rather shocked by the indication of many having abilities in one space. The librarian could not recall ever knowingly being around so multiple magical individuals at once.

There was a certain level of irony to a band of ability-gifted individuals grouping together in a circus troupe. Using real magic behind the guise of trick-based performances was quite the way to hide one’s abilities in plain sight.

Demitri watched the display of the male who had appeared from within the seats and utilize his ability to manipulate several knives at once in the air. The boy neatly floated the objects around before mentally tossing them into the same post Demitri had unwittingly thrown a knife into prior.

With attention brought back to the post from Arcana’s comment, Demitri winced at the crack he had caused earlier. The new knives could not have helped the already weakening wooden beam.

Demitri felt a level of regret at having been the first one to enfeeble the post, but he quickly pushed the feeling aside.

They’re the ones that brought out the reaction, He thought to himself.

The librarian still did not feel comfortable about the tension Arcana had created, but he supposed there was not much more he could argue about. She was far too unpredictable for Demitri’s liking, but he considered that was the nature of the situation of running for the throne and creating shaky alliances.

“Fine,” Demitri muttered, glowering at the ground as he crossed his arms. “I will accept that you hypothetically had the situation under control. But that does not mean I did. I know you were not aware of my powers, but I heavily warn against trying such a stunt again. I may not be able to miss the next time.”

Despite his word of warning laced with what may sound like the inkling of a threat, Demitri only felt a wave of disrelish at the thought. The entire atmosphere made the librarian completely second-guess joining the fight for the throne. If he could hardly handle this, both the practice for the first test and the unforeseeable situation that had just occured, how could he fair against the many other exams and contestants?

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana observed with with amused quirk to her lips as the gears in Demitri's head churned. She could see the realization on his face as well as the brilliance of Arcana's circus scheme dawned on him. 

"Clever boy," Arcana hummed with a wink.

"Fine,” Demitri muttered, glowering at the ground as he crossed his arms. “I will accept that you hypothetically had the situation under control. But that does not mean I did. I know you were not aware of my powers, but I heavily warn against trying such a stunt again. I may not be able to miss the next time.”

Arcana simply laughed.

A joyous sound that bubbled from her lips, spilling into the air around her. "Understood." She smiled, seemingly not the least bit concerned with Demitri's poorly veiled threat. "Your secret is safe with me."

If she wanted to, she could crush his heart under its own weight with the snap of her fingers. 

Ravi, now that his abilities and position had been exposed, offered a wink in Denva's direction before settling down in the audience. He no longer made any attempt to conceal his presence.

Arcana began to mentally stew over the thought of revealing the nature of her circus. At least some of it. She could have chosen to protect her own magical identity, or that of her troupe. So, she chose her own. 

If it got out that Arcana held any kind of magical abilities, she could count herself out of the race for the crown. No one would trust a magic user as Queen. Which was something she could possibly use use blackmail Demitri if he proved himself to be a nuisance. Of course, he could spill the beans about her troupe, but rumours of them being real magick users had already existed long before Demitri received confirmation. Arcana doubted his word was reliable enough to be counted as more than just another one of the whispers.

furthermore, it would be amusing to watch him struggling to separate magic from illusion within her troupe. What was real and what wasn't. Who had a power and who did not, 

Arcana could use that to mess with him if she wanted, which honestly sounded like fun. 

Her face betrayed none of these thoughts, instead, they remained hidden under a charismatic grin. Clasping her hands together, Arcana addressed the group. 

"Since we are being so forthcoming," She turned towards Denva, "how about you, Miss Beaumont? Do you have any special abilities you'd like to share? I'd like to know the full extent of what this alliance has at its disposal. Knowing our strengths is crucial to success."

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Denva Beaumont

"I can manipulate gemstones, which is why you always see me with jewels on. My Father can manipulate metal, but Mom, being an Ashreaper...honestly, I'm not sure if she even has powers to be perfectly honest with you. My Father and I are well known for using our abilities to make jewelry. And I have a cousin and Aunt who can both construct Golems on his side of the family." Denva replied, demonstrating her ability by pulling a gem from her bracelet and expanding the amethyst to the size of a small dinner plate. She made it spin in the air, changing shape at her mental commands before shifting back to it's original size and sliding back into place. 

"I can only expand the gems to a certain size, but that all depends on the gem's structure. I have to know the gem inside and out to be able to manipulate it to full advantage. Otherwise it's not as effective in a combat situation. I can even use diamonds to make near impenetrable barriers too. Trust me when I say that comes in handy when you have an angry Wyvern after you." She added, letting a few twirl around her hand in a gyroscopic manner before they returned to their slots on her bracelet. Her father had specially designed it with her powers in mind

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"I can manipulate gemstones, which is why you always see me with jewels on." Denva explained.

Arcana tilted her head at the realisation. 

Denva continued, "my Father can manipulate metal, but Mom, being an Ashreaper...honestly, I'm not sure if she even has powers to be perfectly honest with you. My Father and I are well known for using our abilities to make jewelry. And I have a cousin and Aunt who can both construct Golems on his side of the family."

The girl demonstrated her ability by pulling a gem from her bracelet and expanding the amethyst to the size of a small dinner plate. She made it spin in the air, changing shape at her mental commands before shifting back to it's original size and sliding back into place.

Well, that was certainly usefuil. Arcana mentally mused. Almost infinite funds, all Denva would require would be a small fragment of the gem to expand it in size. 

She was not often at court and was largely unaware about the rumours in regards to Denva's family. All she knew was that they were grotesquely wealthy. And that would explain why. 

"I can only expand the gems to a certain size, but that all depends on the gem's structure. I have to know the gem inside and out to be able to manipulate it to full advantage. Otherwise it's not as effective in a combat situation. I can even use diamonds to make near impenetrable barriers too. Trust me when I say that comes in handy when you have an angry Wyvern after you." Denva concluded.

Diamond, as Arcana discovered, was largely quite brittle due to its extreme hardness preventing any kind of flexibility. Using it as an armour would not be ideal, nor would it be so as a sword. A decent hammer or puncture of an arrowhead would cause it to instantly shatter. She wasn't quite sure how exactly useful a diamond wall would be but the point remained. 

Arcana was glad she now had the sponsorship of Denva's parents as part of the deal for her participation in the alliance. This would make things signifigantly eaiser.

"Wow, a lot of magick users." Arcana whistled. "I'm impressed. Do you suppose think Malik can do something as well?" She mused as she once again sent another glance towards the tent entrance. "If he ever actually cared to show up, that is." She mumbled bitterly. 

Her gums began to ache, a constant persistent itch that refused to subside, causing her to grind her teeth together like a teething puppy. Sighing, Arcana folded her arms. "Let's break for some food. Then we will continue where we left off, with Denva attempting the mount without the handle and then moving on to trying it on Titan." 

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Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Despite Arcana’s face providing no clue of her innermost thoughts, Demitri was still quite vexed by her earlier comment: 'Your secret is safe with me.'

Demitri narrowed his eyes, but he bit back a start of a snappy remark. He instead lowered his hands to smoothen out a few wrinkles on his shirt as he attempted to regain some composure. The librarian forced himself not to instinctively ball his knuckles into fists due to his current state of perturbation.

The man now listened as Denva quickly offered up an explanation as to what her powers consisted. While he did not show it externally, the Truthkeeper felt that the Ridgestrider could be more cautious about detailing her abilities. While Arcana had offered up the information about the circus consisting of magical individuals, there were far fewer actual details to be had in exchange.

"Let's," Demitri quickly chimed in agreement to Arcana's suggestion. He was quite happy when the topic switched to the break; both because of the change in topic and his current fatigued state.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva nodded, going over to the others to get something to eat. She wondered if she could use her ability to her advantage here...maybe a diamond platform or something? Or maybe using one of her other gems like the amber in her earrings... 

"Alright, let's give this some thought. What if we consider using our abilities in combination with the techniques we learn here to put some flash in our performances with the horses? Lemonice is used to me using my gems from her back. I could use it to do that butterfly kick trick of yours or something." Denva suggested as they gathered around the food tables some for the competditors. She knew her tricks with jewels were well known for her jewelry making and for their aerial rescues. 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|
Demitri appeared two seconds away from decking Arcana in the jaw as he forced himself to calm. 
Arcana maintained her gaze, fixed in him in an unwavering calm as if daring him to try and hit her.
"Let's." He finally voiced. 
An easy grin spread across her features. She was about to start calling orders orders Denva sports up, the light of an idea glistening in her gaze. 
"Alright, let's give this some thought." Denva suggested. "What if we consider using our abilities in combination with the techniques we learn here to put some flash in our performances with the horses?"
Arcana merely chuckled in amusement. 
Denva seemed undeterred in her idea. "Lemonice is used to me using my gems from her back. I could use it to do that butterfly kick trick of yours or something."
"Oh, lass." Arcana murmured, tilting her head as she gently rested her hands on Denva's shoulders. "I understand that your family's abilities are well known. But it is my job to keep you safe. Using your abilities so publicly will make a few very important people very uncomfortable. And when important people get uncomfortable,  people like you and me pay the price. Magick isn't a trusted artform in these parts. If it were, there would be no need for places like my circus. Safe havens. If Ravi is willing to share, he may be able to tell you about what happened to him."
"The young lady is gonna have to buy me out with some food first. Or a date." Ravi called out from his perch in the audience with a wolfish grin and cheeky wink, spinning a knife around his finger tips.
Arcana rolled her eyes affectionately but largely ignored Ravi. She took a few steps back, folding her arms. "And besides, using your gift so liberally could cause others to feel as though you have an unfair advantage. You could be kicked out of the competition.  Or you could be assassinated.  When you're in court, you have to pretend like everyone is trying to hurt you or else you will get hurt." She looked mournful as she conveyed this. "Just give it some thought. I don't want anything bad happening to you."
Sighing, Arcana rubbed her itchy palms against her coat. Her teeth were truly beginning to ache, and her canines appeared ever so slightly longer. Sharper. "I don't know about you two, but I am famished."
Beckoning them over, Arcana walked towards the exit of the tents. "Come. We will be joining the others in the mess hall. We all eat together here, like one big family."
Ravi leapt to his feetm excitement gleaming in his eyes. "Finally! No more hard tack!" He bolted past Arcana in a flurry, booking it to the mess hall before all of the good stuff had been taken.
Alpha chuckled, strolling up beside Arcana.
"Get the carpenter up here and see if she can give us a time frame on fixing that beam." Arcana mumbled to her second hand, "I don't feel comfortable letting my aerialists up there when a structural support has been compromised."
Alpha whined, pushing his way out past the curtains. "Can't I eat first?"
"Yes, fine." Arcana scoffed. She paused for a moment to turn her gaze upwards to Angel.
The young child merely gave her a thumbs up before swooping downwards to lead Titan back to the stables to eat. 
Nodding, Arcana led the other two out of the big top, not bothering to check whether or not they were following. 
She set a brisk pace, winding through the tents.
However, two dark figures followed the group, trailing behind. They moved as though they were part of the shadow itself, flickering in and out behind tents and over pass ways. Following. Watching.  Hidden.
 
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Denva Beaumont

Denva sighed, her shoulders slumping a little. She knew Arcana was right, again. Using her power too much might be a bad idea. Unless there was a competition specifically for magic usesrs, she would have to be subtle with how she used her crystalokinesis. She glanced up at the older woman, a somewhat dejected look on her face as they headed back to the mess hall for lunch. 

"I guess you're right...unless they have a competition specifically for magic skills, I might as well keep it subtle." She replied to Arcana, appreciating that the woman was looking out for her. She supposed this is what it was like having a big sister. Burakku wormed his way out of the shadows, the Nekomata trotting over to his girl with a curious mewl as she picked him up. 

"Come on bud, let's go get some food." She told the black cat, giving him a snuggle before following the others. She only lingered long enough to hear Arcana tell Alpha to get someone to fix the support beam. Had it been compromised? She never would've noticed. But it was definitely be better safe than sorry. And she had to giggle at Ravi's comment about buying him lunch for his story. She looked up in time to see Angel swoop down to get Titan fed, Lemonice following them with another hand leading her. 

"I hope they have beef stew. The palace staff makes a good one!" She told Arcana, waiting for the woman to catch up to her and her cat, not noticing that they were being followed 

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Ashton Bál | Ashreaper

Ashton slightly tilted his head at the snap decision to investigate another room, removing the growing confusion as he was made aware of the unit's occupant. Or previous occupant. The room was completely untouched, making Ashton question if they were guarding the right room, or got mixed up in the mapping of what room was actually given out to the contestants. Doing another lazy search of the room to find nothing of particular suspicion or personal interest. The lack of actually living in the room didn't throw Ashton off too much, he simply chalked it up to not having much time to actually stay in the room. Probably exploring the area as others were, and attending the banquent with the rest. And of course, the encounter he had with the Ashreaper. The male's mind began to wander as he thought of that night, wondering where he disappeared off too after. Although, Ashton couldn't exactly complain, as long as he was gone, Ashton was safe. But, his thoughts still echoed possible excuses to use if he were turn up again. His thoughts seemed to have rambled on for longer than he'd hope, seeming to just stare absentmindly at the desk until Malik spoke up again.

 

“Despite the circumstance of Dawn’s disappearance along with Marigold’s. He also seems to be the most difficult person to find anything to prove he was involved as either a perpetrator or another victim.” Ashton wasn't entirely sure how to contribute to that, knowing exactly which category he belonged to. But, he figured he should say something so he didn't fall into another staring contest with a structure of wood again.

 

"Yeah, there's not exactly anything here" He hummed out, lazily looking around once more to gesture to that lack of evidence.

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Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri appeared largely disinterested in Arcana and Denva's exchange, but could not help but agree with the former woman's advice. Demitri knew the Beaumonts were a more liberal family in terms of not hiding their power using members from the public, but there was a reason the librarian and many others usually opted to hide their gifts. Demitri was still rather upset he had been forced to reveal his own, but he knew there was little he could do but hope Denva, Arcana, and other circus members did not somehow use the information against him.

The librarian silently followed the women out of the tent they'd been practicing in, the ringmaster leading them off to another area of the camp that would provide them with lunch.

Along the way, Demitri was preoccupied with his thoughts, and not just regarding the situation of a knife having been flung at his back. Right before the group had exited the previous tent, he took particular notice at Acrana's teeth as she'd been speaking with her second-in-command. If there was something Demitri took pride in, aside from his knowledge, was his attention to detail. The last time Arcana had opened her mouth, the Truthkeeper noticed she had rather long canines. While on its own none too peculiar, it was something he was surprised he had not noticed about her before.

With the ringmaster walking in front and not currently speaking, the librarian had no way to do a double-take. Demitri decided to assume it was just a trick of the light, or perhaps his mind was trying to focus on specific things regarding Acrana due to his growing discontent. Lost in his theories, Demitri's focus was largely aimed at the back of Arcana's head, not taking in much of their surroundings for the time being.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva had also noticed Arcana's longer canines when they had been speaking. She wondered if that had anything to do with her magic. She'd felt the Ringmaster use it during the sneak peak performance she had gone to the day the contest was announced, the day before her birthday. And again when she had gone to the official show later that day with her family and cousin to purchase the two Manticore, Kitty and Purry. Denva's cousin was already showing them off to anyone who asked to see them. 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Performer|

Arcana lead them winding through the tents, the mumbling sound of distant chatter growing louder with each passing step. She eventually emerged into a clearing, surrounding by simple grey tents on all sides. They were signifigantly less elaborate than the tents in the main portion of the circus grounds as this area was restricted for guests. It was primarily residental in nature. 

A large green tent stood in the centre of the clearing, supported by thin metal poles. The sound of chattering and clamouring of pots and pans emenated from within. 

Arcana smiled brightly and peeled back the curtains, revealing its contents with a grand sweeping gesture of bravado. "Welcome, to the mess hall."
The inside was not fancy by any means, rather it was set up to be practical. Cheap collapseable tables lined the walls, creating a small pass way of which to walk through. And it was packed. Nearly every seat had been claimed by someone, people laughing and talking as they brought their plates, heaped high with food to the tables. The scent of food wafted from the tent, a tantalizing scent of chicken and spices, along with a hint of something sweeter underneath. 

Circus folk, usually donned in glittering sequin costumes and brazen makeup wore plain clothes. Unlike Arcana, who always dressed to impress, they looked quite ordinary despite their choice in careers.

Overall, the atmosphere in the mess tent was incredibly jovial. People were singing songs, laughing as they shared tales of past performances or exchanged hushed whispers. 

"It's usually first come first serve so everyone has a tendency to rush here as soon as the lunch bell rings. Especially if Chef Aeronwen is cooking. Which, she is so you're in luck." Arcana winked at Demitri and Denva as she spoke. "Everyone is expected to pitch in. We have everything on a schedule so that every member knows their tasks. Some are slotted in for the early mornings to help Aeronwen make breakfast and others help with clean up and dishes. It's no small task. And since you two are taking a meal, you are expected to help as well." 

Arcana gestured to the list pinned to the wall behind her. It was alphabetized by name and time, cycling everyone fairly through the various chores that needed to be completed.

Arcana stepped inside, drawing a bit of attention. Many heads swiveled around the acknowledge the presence of their leader before turning away and resuming conversation. It was not unsual for Arcan to join the rest of her troupe in dining, but many still felt obligated to acknowledge her out of respect. 

Arcana lead them down the thin hallway, aptly dodging out of the way of people balancing their numerous bowls. Chuckling, Arcana caught someone as they stumbled forward, almost spilling the contents of the bowl.
"Careful." She warned.

"Yeah, thanks, Arcana." They replied before hurrying off to their seat.

Arcana headed towards the far back of the tent where a slot in the wall revealed a secondary smaller tent that made up the kitchen. A buffet-style line had formed with circus members helping themselves to some kinda of spiced soup like meal. 

"Aeronwen!" Arcana called through into the kitchen, garnering the attention of a very small tan-skinned woman with soft features and pointed ears. Her hair was pulled tightly up into a bun, her hairline noticable receeding from the sheer tightness over a long period of time. A cap was placed over her hair to prevent any stray foods from landing into the food. 

She looked incredibly busy, running around frantically to grab a taste of something or desposit extra spice into a massive pot which was bubbling over a fire.

"Busy!" She called in a clipped and distinctly french accent. 

"What's for lunch?" Arcana asked.

"Curry!" Came the short response. 

Arcana grinned as she was handed a bowl by a rather skinny looking teenager who had been slotted to work the kitchen during lunch hour.

"We came across some exotic spices recently from a faraway land during our travels." Arcana turned towards Demitri and Denva. Her and her troupe had been all over, even across the seas a few times to perform for distant kingdoms. "It was granted to us by the king as a "thank you" for his services. Aeronwen learnt a few of their cultural recepies while we were there. She was so exicted to make it for us, look's like today was the day. Do be warned, though. It's spicy." 

Arcana passed a bowl to Denva and Demitri before filling up her own with the thick substance simmering over a lit fire. "You got any hardtack or jerky back there?!" She yelled out once more.

"Why in the WORLD would you want that stuff?" Aeronwen snapped back, drying off her hands as she hurried to the back, pulling out a few bags.

While they were on the road, Aeronwen, as talented as she was, could only do so much. It was while they were in town that she was able to be elaborate and the crew recieved hot meals. Usually hardtack along with other basic foods was all they had to eat. 

Still, Aeronwen handed Arcana some jerky and hardtack through the window, albeit begrudingly. 
Arcana merely flashed her a winning smile before grabbing her bowl.

What she did not notice was the faint shifting outlines of two figures standing outside of the tent. They were gone in a flash as the lightsource around them shifted.

 

((Edit: Changed some phrasing to be more accurate to the setting)) 

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Denva Beaumont

Denva lit up at the smells of spices and cooking meats permeating the tent that served as the "mess hall" for the circus. It smelled wonderful! She smelled paprika, coriander and several spices that she coudln't identify at all but still smelled appetizing. She could also smell cooking bread - she wasn't sure what kind it was, but she suspected it was there to helpcut the spice from the curry.

"Oh wow! It smells amazing! Good thing I like spicy food!" She told Arcana, Burraku meowing agreement as the cat also sniffed the air and they went over to the food line. She couldn't help getting some of everything: the curry, the breads, (some non spiced meats for Burraku), and of course, the dessert provided! Some sort of chocolate thing that smelled like it was filled with some sort of nougat recipe.

"Everything smells wonderful! I can't wait to try it!" She told the chef when she was at the window, to get food, Burraku meowing from her head in agreement 

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Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

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Demitri's attention was soon stolen by the scent of food fragrancing the air. Ducking into the new tent, the smell only heightened, full of aromatic spices that the librarian could not immediately place.

Arcana led her two guests through the area and down a small hallway-like passage. Despite not often liking large crowds of people, Demitri found the ambiance of the tent to be relatively pleasant. He also thought that the chore-based system of everyone helping out to be rather fair.

Approaching the counter, Demitri found a bowl pushed into his hands by Arcana. After filling it, even through the material of the dish he could feel how hot the meal within it was.

"Thank you," Demitri told the woman who Arcana had mentioned to be called Aeronwen. As Demitri turned away, his eyes glanced towards the opening of the tent. For a moment he thought he saw a figure or two approaching the entrance. Demetri's subconcious merely assumed it to be some other performers coming to retrieve their meals. However, as soon Demitri's eyes completely looked to the spot, he realized there was no one there.

Demitri blinked a few times as if testing his eyes, focusing on the area for a length of time, which only confirmed it to be empty. Demitri cocked his head to the side, but decided seeing a few odd shadows was not enough reason of concern to bring up with his companions.

"Where should we sit?" Demitri distractedly asked Arcana, remembering all the tables earlier seemed almost exceedingly full with occupants already.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Performer|
Demitri appeared to be growing more comfortable as the promise of hand made food arrived. 
Fastest way to a man's heart is his stomach, or so Arcana was told. 
"Everything smells wonderful! I can't wait to try it!" Denva beamed at Aeronwen.
The stocky woman fixed Denva with a sharp stare. 
Despite the wrinkles on her face, formed from the frown lines and her olive skin darkened by sun exposure, Aeronwen appeared quite youthful. Even the salt and peppering in her dark hair did not give a clear indication of her age. She looked simultaneously 50 and 15. Arcana was not sure exactly how old Aeronwen was, and the chef never seemed to specify. The ring leader was far too nervous to ask, afraid that she'd get beaten with a frying pan for asking a question so personal and rude.
"You're darn right it's wonderful, fille bruyante." Aeronwen snapped. "You two better not screw with my flavours because of your weak Astrinian palate, understood? Any complaints can be taken up with my frying pan." She scarily twirled the pan she was holding around her fingers, spinning it by its pummel before slamming it onto the stove to prepare the next batch of chicken, "pouah, filles riches dans ma cuisine." She mumbled under her breath,  sparking a fire within the frying pan rather aggressively. 
Arcana chuckled nervously as she moved to stand beside Demitri.  
"Where should we sit?" The librarian asked.
Arcana scanned the crowded dim, "I have a spot." 
She pushed her way through the crowds towards a back corner table where her main troupe sat to eat. Alpha, Sniper, Phoenix,  and Angel were already seated. Luckily, two were missing.
"Arcana." Ravi acknowledged, "Denva." That time he winked at her. "You can sit next to me."
Phoenix rolled his eyes, his gaze turning towards Demitri momentarily before shifting away.
Arcana seated herself next to Alpha.  "So, how is it, guys?"
"Delicious,  as always." Alpha proclaimed.
Phoenix nodded in a solemn agreement. "Aeronwen is a very talented chef, the crown was foolish to turn away her services."
"That mouth of hers got her into too much trouble with the guard." Arcana grinned wickedly. "And I can't be more thrilled that we got her instead."
 
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Denva Beaumont

Denva squeaked a little in alarm at the intensity of Aeronwen. She couldn't help it, that woman was intimidating without even trying! She supposed even a circus chef had to be to keep these guys in line. 

"Yes ma'am!" She squeaked, Burraku also squeaking in alarm as she scurried off to join the others. She giggled when Ravi tried flirting with her and accepted his invitation to sit beside him. 

"Sheesh! Aeronwen is scary! I can see why she'd be able to boss even the royal guard around!" Denva noted, making a mental note to stay on Aeronwen's good side. She looked over at Angel, finally able to see the girl up close.

"By the way, Angel, I loved your performance the other day. I also heard you singing this morning. You have an amazing voice. And your wings are even prettier up close." Denva told the winged girl, glad for the chance to talk to her as she gave Burraku his unspiced share of the meat she got for him 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|
"Sheesh! Aeronwen is scary! I can see why she'd be able to boss even the royal guard around!" Denva exclaimed. 
"Yeah, she's intense." Arcana agreed. "You get used to it."
Arcana began to gnaw on the hard tack straight up, not using the curry or the ale to soften it. Sighing softly at the relief of pressure it caused in her aching, itching teeth. 
"By the way, Angel, I loved your performance the other day. I also heard you singing this morning. You have an amazing voice. And your wings are even prettier up close." Denva cooed 
Angelica shriveled up slightly, pulling her wings tighter against her frail form and lowering her gaze as if trying to retreat under the table. 
"Be polite, Angelica." Arcana gently chided her.
Angel lifted her chin and leaned over, whispering softly into Arcana's ear.
Arcana nodded then turned to Denva. "She says thank you."
Angelica resumed nibbling on her food, not daring to look up at Denva.
Her large feathered wings were quite bulky on her small stature, causing her to awkwardly sit hunched over in order to avoid knocking the table over. 
Ravi huffed slightly in jealousy as he folded his arms. "She only speaks to Arcana and she's mute to everyone else. I feel unloved." His voice sounded more teasing than offended.
Angelica stuck her tongue out at him, causing the latter to laugh,