A Science Fantasy Space Opera

  • Nobles of Null is a forum based roleplay site where sci-fi and magic collide. Here, Earth remains fractured and divided despite humanity reaching out to the stars. Worse still, the trans-human slaves of one major power have escaped, only to establish their own Empire, seething with resentment at abuses of the past. Even the discovery of aliens, though medieval in development, has failed to rally these squabbling children of Earth together with its far darker implications. Worse still, is the discovery of the impossible - magic. Practiced by the alien locals, nearly depleted and therefore rare, its reality warping abilities remains abstract and distant to the general populace. All the while, unseen in the darkness of space, forces from without threaten to press in. For those with eyes opened by insight, it is clear that an era is about to end, and that a new age will dawn.

Okigira: Testament

Raymond's warm lap held Ghelina's head and she dozed, Raymond's hand gently touching her back as she lightly slept. The light grew brighter, the sun cresting over the horizon. Early in the morning his father walked down the stairs, caught in his tracks. His father Balasar was a bronze dragonborn, tall and strong from his work as an armorsmith. His eyes were wide, looking upon his son. He smiled, and sat down across from Raymond. "Hello son. You seem troubled." He was the sort to not say much that didn't need to be said, his wisdom apparent in what little he said. Raymond could hear the family coming to life upstairs, his mother would be the next to appear.

"Yes..." Raymond let out a loud yawn. "I made some mistakes, and I was let go from the Observatory. I don't know if I'm still part of the guard." His stoicism melted away, his face turned distraught. His tail curled tightly around one leg.

His father leaned forward, placing a hand on his shoulder. "Look inside yourself, and the path will be made clear. Speak to Captain Esesks, find out if that job is still offered." He smiled, eyes crinkling with the gesture. "You look tired son, you need rest." His eyes slowly moved down, looking upon the lizard in his son's lap. "Also, if I may ask, who is this?"

"The source of my troubles. Well, part of it." Raymond replied tiredly. He started telling his dad how he first met Ghelina, the investigations surrounding the Talentless Tavern, and the real cause of his departure: the human inspector Eaves.

There was a thunderous roar of feet upstairs, and a frustrated growl. "I swear to the gods, you three break anything in this house I will send you to them to explain yourselves!" A rougher, though more femanine voice shouted from up the stairs as three uncannily similar dragonborn youths came barrelling down the stairs, causing Ghelina to jump from her nap wide eyed and ready to fight or flee if she needed too.

"See you dad!" The three shouted in unison as they all left just as quickly as they appeared. They were followed down the stairs by a more frazzled, wilder Dragonborn with golden scales, just as powerfully built as Raymond's father.

She placed her hands on her hips and shook her head disapprovingly. "Ever since they got those city jobs, they don't even have time for b-" She said as the realization of who was in their sitting room dawned on her. "Raymond?!" She asked in far more expressive shock, before her face turned to anger. "Raymond! You know I've told you a thousand times if you're here for us to fix your armor you need to make an appointment" She said, scowling. "I have half a mind to give you a proper b- Oh who's this?" She asked, immediately switching tunes as she noticed Ghelina, who seemed very confused by everything that was happening. "You brough home a date? How wonderful!"

"Hey Ma," Raymond smiled with a sadness. "No, she's not a date, as I've explained to Pa. You know I'm not allowed to make love."

"I don't remember that mattering before the City went up." He smiled, standing up, walking over to the counter to open the store. He looked over to Radia, Raymond's mother before looking to Rayong once more. "Before the city stood it wasn't, back when I was your age, the Star Father didn't seem to have a problem with it. Though, she's a little small if you ask me."

"That's not the point." Raymond replied. "The celibacy was there to maintain discipline and focus on my training, which I intend on continuing, with or without the Observatory. Regardless, can you take care of her while I go to talk to the Captain? I need to figure out how to deal with this inspector."

"Celibacy my left breast!" Radia snapped at Raymond. "See Balasar, I knew that school was sticking stupid ideas into his head," She said with a groan of frustration. "I'd take a lame footed goblin as daughter at this point, you sir, need a mate that can challenge you," Radia said, crossing her arms. "No matter, your captain can wait until after you and your friend have had breakfast."

Raymond's father nodded, grabbing his tools from behind the counter. "A good woman is noted by her strength of will, a challenge yet also an answer to opposition. Once you have one, keep hold." He turned to Radia and sighed. "I'll eat when I have time. Don't interrogate her too hard." With a smirk and a nod, he turned to work the forge outside. Their store required they wake up at the crack of dawn, and so the hard work began.

Radia sighed and shook her head. "No one wants to sit down and eat anymore," She said, before looking to Raymond. "No excuses. Kitchen. Now," She said sternly, before looking at Ghelina with a smile. "I hope you like bacon!" She said, before walking into the kitchen.

Ghelina blinked, obviously very confused by the interaction. "Big Scales weird..." She said, looking at Raymond.

"In a sense, yes."

Ghelina looked at Raymond. "Me no think going to big scale good idea. Big Scale work for flat face. You admit to take paper. Big scale lock you up. No fair. They no fair."

"What else can I do? I either try to appeal to his morality now, or he comes for me in front of my family."

"Then they lock up other big scale," Ghelina sighed, shaking her head. "We need find proof. ?Make small head big scale eat words. Think he knows, does not care. Something bad happening, can feel. Be like me fight you without sneaky sneak."

"..." Raymond slumped down into a chair to figure his situation. Within a night, he just renounced two decades of work under the Master of Understanding. Well, not quite. The training was still there, though the relationship was definitely broken. More concerning in the short term is what the inspector's next steps are. Sooner than later he's going to find a reason to come after him, then what?

Time is running out, the situation developing far faster than Raymond can keep up with. The lack of sleep didn't help. Ghelina looked at Raymond, the scowled, taking his arm and starting to pull him. "You go sleep. Ghelina distract. Need sleep so make big head moves. Will deal with bigger big scales," She said, yanking on his arm roughly.

Raymond nodded in agreement. "Make sure no one lays a finger on my family." He then stumbled upstairs to find a flat surface to lay on.

His room was converted into a room for his new siblings ages ago, but there was a bed all his own still in said room. He fell into bed, and his eyes shut. he didn't stand a chance against sweet temporary oblivion. When his eyes opened again, the position of the sun told him it was noonish, perhaps a little after.

With a hand on his head, Raymond's first instinct was to find a window and kneel in front of it to pray. Afterwards, he got up and headed down stairs to find his mother and Ghelina sitting in front of the table talking to each other.

Radia looked over at Raymond, then smiled. "You're in a tough spot, aren't you?" She asked coyly, leaning back in her chair. "Ghelina just finished telling me the whole thing. From the monster at the outer walls, to last night. Quite the talker once you figure out how to talk to her," She said looking at one of the counters. "I saved your breakfast. It's cold now, but Ghelina was quite... Assertive in her attempts to stop me from waking you up. Was a little adorable honestly."

"Thanks." Raymond started plowing through his meal. As he did, he looked up. "I'm surprised you're so nonchalant about this, given that I'm technically a criminal, if they tried hard enough. Here I was thinking I might have to leave the city."

His father was working the store in the front, close enough, however, to be listening. "As I said, you should speak to Captain Esesks, he's an honorable man. You have done nothing wrong in accordance with your soul, and as such you deserve no such backlash."

Ghelina immediately started spouting off in a language Raymond couldn't understand. Radia looked at Ghelina then back at Raymond. "She says that's not a good idea. The... Flat Face... Is his boss. So while I don't disagree with your father, maybe a plan B is in order?"

"I need to understand the information we have first." Raymond drew a piece of paper and started writing down the names and addresses he remembered from Ghelina's spoils last night.

"There was also something about two red moons..." Raymond pondered out loud. "If I had access to the Observatory I'd do some research."

Balasar spoke again, scoffing. "The Observatory is not the only library in Bastion. You should go to the library of Elias, in the upper middle ring. Perhaps they will have more information. Or the Lotus Collection, but they are odd."

"Me can get into observatory," Ghelina said quickly. "Sneaky sneak, then grab. Need know what look for," She added. "No read."

"Let's take the option that doesn't add to the crimes they can chase us after for." Raymond responded. "Pa," He stood up, "If the Captain wants to talk to me earnestly, I'll be at the Library of Elias."

"If he asks, I'll tell him." His father nodded sagely, sitting behind the counter. "Be safe son. Come back to us, or Cosmos and the Mother Dragon will hear of my displeasure."

"I should be the one saying that. Star Father had me for two decades. The least He can do is keep my parents safe." Raymond jested. "Were I to say that in the Observatory I would've been removed immediately."

"Then perhaps you should have left earlier," he said simply.
 
Radia nodded her head. "He's right you know. The more I hear about the Observatory, the more I think they are making the gods an exclusive guild, rather than the creators of us all. If it were up to me, I'd tear it down," She huffed.

"She'd do it too son, and I would help." He nodded sagely again, and then remarked, "You don't need a building to worship anyway. You being alive is proof of the existence of The Mother and Father."

"Well, you two did put me in there." Raymond smirked, then waved them goodbye.

Ghelina was a little slower in following Raymond this time, going from her cheerful, attentive look to a look of fatigue. "Too much grub grub. No allowed to stop..." She sighed, plodding along. "Feel like go big boom," She muttered. "Much talk, many questions. Big scale no let me alone..."

The Library of Elias was always an odd stop in Bastion, one people didn't make often. It wasn't that the place felt like it was haunted, it just didn't come up all that often, and people didn't want to talk about it unless there was no where else for the conversation to go. The Library was once a mansion said to have burned down in a tragic fire, the original owner never seen again. As such, his estate was rebuilt into a library, as the City lacked them at the time.

Raymond entered the wrought iron gates with ease, the double doors were open. Raymond got to work, searching for information of Red Moons. As per an hour of study, the Red Moons have to do with occult imagery of the Red Queen, one of the beings said to reside in what is known as the Forbidden. The Forbidden is a mystical land said to reside south of the Badlands, called the Forbidden for the simple reason that none who ventured there ever return. Such is the tales of the Forbidden, becoming like legend to frighten little Badlanders from staying up past sundown. It is said that the Red Queen will break from her bonds one day and paint the moons red, signifying a new world. This is folklore.

Information on mind manipulation is similarly based on folklore and hearsay, with some amount of magical information. The mind is a complicated beast, and the power to manipulate it is similarly complicated. However, small nudges, undetected, can bring entire crowds to fury, or make disagreeable individuals agreeable. Mind Manipulation magic is also shadow banned by most civilized societies.

"By your accounts," Raymond talked to Ghelia, "The inspector was experimenting with mind manipulation. The man we captured was one of his test subjects." He shook his head in frustration. "I have no way to prove he conducted such tests."

"Grabbers," Ghelina said, waving her hands in Raymond's face. "Flat face take grabbers. Lookers too. In case work big good."

"I'm not sure if the inspector would've kept them around though."

"Means we find More," Ghelina said, lowering her head into the desk. "You big bad problem fixer. Find magic affects hands. Find More strange flat face."

"We don't have much to go on." Raymond stood up. "There is another stop we can make before we start wandering the streets aimlessly. The Lotus Collection. Pa said they were weird, but weird is what we need to trace right now."

"Weird not bad," Ghelina said as she got up from her seat. "You think me weird. Me not let down yet."

The Lotus Collection was also an odd location, a private library owner by a rather eccentric individual. Casual study never brought you to her, yet this was not casual study. In the upper ring laid this building, a mansion carved of marble, looking over the two of them. The entryway was held up by marble columns with etchings carved into them, depicting history from the top down. Such a place felt as though it should be guarded, yet the door was open to visitors. Entering brought the two of them into a massive room, made into a library. The shelves, however, were shut by wooden panes. A sign at the entrance said one was allowed to wander, the Lotus of the Desert would be with them shortly. The Lotus of the Desert came to them soon enough, a pure-blooded elven woman with a golden hue to her skin, her eyes golden, with light blonde hair. She wore a long flowing dress of red, and moved with grace alien to the Badlands.

Her eyes travelled over Raymond and Ghelina, and she smiled. "Visitors to The Collection are welcome, once they are known. Sit, sit, serpents of the Cosmic Father and Earthen Mother, sit, and we will learn of your intentions." She sat in midair, a spectral chair appearing below her to vary here, two more appearing behind Raymond and Ghelina. "What do you seek in my Collection, sweet children of the Badlands?"

Ghelina decided not to sit, her tail making such a concept difficult at the best of times. "Pointy ear is strange," She whispered quietly.

Raymond ignored her, first answering the elf. "I heard you hold more exotic knowledge here. I need to know everything about the Red Moons and mind manipulation."

The elf woman, smiled, placing a hand to her chest. "And you come to me for help! How charming. It isn't often I get visitors, so I'm taking this very seriously. Red Moons? Hmm." She snapped her fingers and the chairs began moving, the wood panels opening from the bookshelves. "I know one of the leading experts on such topics, one Hunter Bandango. Guy's a nut, but hey, so is everyone to an extent!" She giggled for a solid 10 seconds, which dragged out longer than was necessary. "So floofy too..." She pulled a book from a shelf, opening it up. "The Red Moons is related to the Blood Queen, one of the 7 Queens of the Forbidden. Actually one of her aspects is the mind, and it's manipulation. Blood is symbolic of the lifeforce, and the mind moves the lifeforce, thus blood equals life force!" She turns back to them, smiling. "You're still following me right?"

Raymond mentally took note. "Yes."

"So, where did you see the Red Moons? They're not a common occult symbol, but they represent power and dire precedent, like something's going to happen."

"Red moon picture in shelter," Ghelina said, tugging on Raymond's arm. "In bedroom. Me see when looking. Big picture. Normal picture in desk room."

"In who's bedroom little cutie? Who has the Red Moons is just as important as having them."

"Flat face... Inspector," Ghelina said, nodding her head. "Got big scale kicked out of round school thingy."

"I really have no idea what you just said, but it was adorable!" She giggled, placing the book before them on a table that grew out of the ground as she set the book down. "But, an Inspector of any kind having the Red Moons in their room is odd. Ordinarily they prefer more concrete iconography."

"... Can I trust you on a sensitive matter?" Raymond asked in a hushed tone.

She blinked, smiled wide and leaned in, and spoke in a hushed tone. "Absolutely. I know many secrets, yours will be a simple addition to the pile."

"How much do you care about the well being of this city?" Raymond continued dodging his request, inquiring further.

"Well all my stuff is here, and I'm working on like three different projects... yeah I care. Why?"

"We have reason to believe that the inspector is dabbling in the occult and inciting chaos in the city." Raymond admitted. "We don't have hard evidence beyond what we've witnessed ourselves."

She leaned back, blinking, staring at the two of them. "Oh that's spicy. Oh that's immensely spicy." She leaned closer again. "So there's an Inspector looking to cause chaos? How can you tell?"

Raymond started describing the victim's behavior after he chased after him that night outside the Talentless Talks, the mental assaults he himself suffered, how the inspector was so quick to resort to excessive, violent torture, and finally what Ghelina witnessed and how the inspector lied directly into their faces afterwards.

The Lotus sat there enthralled, leaning her chin on her hands as she leaned forwards. "Holy damn, that's... if you survive this you really should write a book, that would be epic. Or get someone to write it for you, I don't know. Hmm. The library is open to you, and I think I'll discreetly see what some of my friends can do. Discreetly of course!"

"Thank you." Raymond nodded, then started looking around.
 
Raymond's research wouldn't reveal much more than he'd already found, which was perhaps a positive, for as soon as he ran out of material Captain Esesks entered the Collection, looking around. He spoke to The Lotus, who pointed him to Raymond. Esesks sat next to Raymond, sighing. "So, the zealots tossed you out on your ass huh?"

Ghelina immediately growled when the Captain approached. She had dropped the habit of trusting anyone involved with the inspector at this point, and wasn't afraid to make that impression known.

"Easy there, he's kin." Raymond patted Ghelina on the head, then looked at Esseks. "Well, I assume you aren't here to arrest me or fire me, so I'll speak freely. Yes, my Master did remove me, though I left partly on my own volition as well. Are you aware of the circumstances for my departure?"

He shook his head. "Not here to arrest you, because for the life of me I can't think you've done anything you didn't have a reason for. You're a square, Ray. You're a cute little rectangle that never strays from the lawful path." He sighed. "Master of Understanding," he raised his fingers to complete and air quotes around those words, "sent a letter to say you were exempt from further work with us. But, they can't actually stop you from working with me. This is a whole load of bullshit if you ask me. It feels like they're trying to get rid of you or something, which doesn't make sense. You're a zealot too, no offense."

"No offense taken." Raymond shook his head. "So you're not aware of everything going on with the inspector?"

"Not all of it, but I can assume it's some racist bullshit, or some nerd on a power trip. You wanna fill me in or no? Can I help?"

For the third time this day, Raymond explained everything surrounding the Inspector.

"If you can provide me the legitamency and resources to investigate this Calcian, that would be ideal." Raymond ended.

"Flat face big mean," Ghelina muttered. "Me hear everything. No care. No talk good, so no believe. Me no talk good, not broken lookers or Sounders.

"Right." He sighed, running a hand over his head. "Okay, let me see what I can do. Best case scenario, I get you some sort of Investigator status, worst case I'm handing you files under a desk." He pulled out a flip notebook, which was small in his hand, and wrote something down. "What are you doing after this? Surely reading ain't gonna help you too much with investigation?"

"I was going to talk to you, but you came to me on your own." Raymond replied, then came to a thought. "If you can do me one favor, that's making sure the inspector doesn't frame me or Ghelina for stealing his documents. That way we can still roam the street freely."

"I can't directly make sure he doesn't, but using some legal bullshit I can throw up a bit of a smokescreen so anything takes fuckin' forever. You still have free reign. so that's good. What did you do with the," he looks over his shoulder, checking around, before whispering to Raymond, "evidence?"

"Burnt it."

"And your friend here?" He looked to Ghelina, speaking to her now. Finally, someone who talks to her like a person. "Were you seen at all, left anything behind that might be used as evidence against you?"

"No see. Big sneaky sneak," Ghelina said with a nod. "Much hard find proof. Small marks on outside wall."

"As long as they can't pin the whole thing on you, we should be fine. Any number of Bastion citizen have claws, that's like basing accusations on someone having a tail. Good. So no evidence can finger you, but... on the flip side you don't have any evidence against him. Might want to work on that."

"Me hear whole thing!" Ghelina whined in frustration. "Me hear it! Me not talk good me no not listen!"

"Well..." he looked to Raymond, shrugged, and looked back to her. "Okay. In your own words, what did they say?

"Didn't you say you speak Draconic well?" Raymond asked Ghelina.

"Me speak Badlands," Ghelina said. "Like big scale in your shelter. Me no speak well," she said simply.

Esesks smiled, and nodded. "I speak it as well! Very handy language, because we're in the Badlands." He looks to Raymond. "Come on, the zealots must have taught you Badlander, 'less they were trying to keep you here."

"To some degree," Raymond admitted, "I learned most of it from you, mostly for work."

Ghelina immediately started talking, but she wasn't speaking common. She was speaking like she was at Raymond's house to his mother, just as quickly, just as energetic.

Captain Esesks' Badlander tongue was clearly a rough cut one, one of the dialects from the northern tip of the Badlands. Those dialects were known for having 12 different ways of saying Kill, based on the intensity of the Kill used. "Well done then, Little Lizard and Golden Warrior, your work is... at least important to you. So I will assist." He stood, up, looked around, and nodded. "The work begins my friends, may your god give you strength, even if your religion will not." He nodded respectfully to the two of them, and walked out of the Lotus Collection.

"What did you say to him?" Raymond asked Ghelina.

"Explain," Ghelina said, looking at Raymond. "Much better not common. No speak well."

"Alright." Raymond nodded, then stood up. "I'll walk around town, mainly the Third Circle. You sneak, as usual?"

"Big sneaky sneak," Ghelina said, nodding her head quickly. "No find," She added, before jumping up powerfully and beginning to climb up the nearby wall.

"Oi!" came the shout from the Lotus herself. "No climbing on my walls young lady, I had them freshly oiled!"
 
Leaving the library, Raymond decided to visit the Census office first. It was a long shot, but maybe he could find some information about the inspector's past there.

The Census office was in the First Ring around the Castle, against that ring's wall. The office itself was boring, a Wildling woman with glasses sat behind a deadwood desk, a filing cabinet alone against the wall here. She looked as though she didn't want to be there. "Can I help you?"

"Yeah. Give me information on Inspector Eaves, the Calcian immigrant." Raymond paused. "I'm asking on behalf of Captain Eseks."

She let out the most unsatisfied sigh, and stood up to look through the filing cabinet. "Course he's interested, probably worried the good inspector's gunnin for his job, or maybe he's just bored." Her eye darted back to Raymond. "How's the Cap doing by the way? Haven't seen him around in a while."

"We just talked earlier, he's doing well." Raymond replied awkwardly.

"Hmm, next time you talk to him maybe tell him Falan-scar is waiting for a reply on her letter." She pulled a file from the cabinet, and then waggled her finger towards Raymond in a 'follow me' motion. With her non-verbal cue complete, she walked into the next room. The next room had far more cabinets than the first room. She began looking into cabinets, but it seemed like she was stalling for an answer.

"I will." Raymond answered simply, not understanding the subtext of the situation.

She pulled the file from the cabinet, seems like she'd been holding it for a couple seconds, waiting for him to affirm her request. She presented it to him, her face still seeming bored. "Here it is."

Opening the file, it was remarkable how squeaky clean it was. Allegedly he was a model citizen of Calcia, despite not being into one of the myriad Houses. Unhoused, he proved his intelligence in the Calcian Intelligence Collective, and was given command over a military unit for a time. Under the heading "Why did you decide to live amongst those that may view you as the enemy" he wrote:

"I have done many things in my past I am not proud of, but it was the order to cull a village that forced me to flee from such an oppresive society." His statement was looked into, and proven to be a true statement, Calcian reports placed a hit on a border village that was to be disguised as a tribal dispute, and one deserter from the Calcian side fleeing the scene. Since then he again proved his intellegence by besting the King's Consort of Wisdom in a game of wits, which she fiercely contested. He received his diploma from the City to conduct private investigation work.

Something to note, it seems that his services had recently been hired to look into the same case Raymond was put on, which matched with Raymond's experience. However, he was not hired by the Guard, nor by the City. It is not known who he works for currently.

"He's a private investigator." Raymond mumbled to himself. "Wait." He looked up, then looked at the Wildling. "Remind me the laws of this city for what private investigators are allowed to do? Furthermore, where can I find who employed him?"

She let out the most exasperated sigh, rolling her eyes, before moving to another cabinet. Pulling another file out, she read from it. "So, they have most of the basic rights of the Guard, except the ability to formally arrest people. They can't attain a warrant, so any evidence gained illegally doesn't matter unless the case is dire, and they are due a monthly inspection by the City to ensure everything is moving smoothly."

"So what are the penalties if they take a suspect into their own quarters and interrogate them?" Raymond asked.

She blinked, looking over the file. "The usual consequences, jail-time to blood price depending on severity."

"And what about this inspector's employer? Is there a way I can find out who that is?"

"They're not required to say, so you'd have to ask them. Only they'd have the papers, and there might not be papers. These sorts are notorious for taking verbal deals, less of a paper trail."

"Alright, thank you." Raymond left the building. "Ghelina." He said out loud, calling for her. She dropped down landing on his back and looking over his shoulder. While sudden, she was... reasonably light.

"Find stuff?" Ghelina asked, looking at Raymond. "Me go sneaky sneak? Capture flat face?"

"Go find Captain Eseks. Tell him to get a familiar into the Inspector's residence, preferably a rat to get into the basement. Hopefully there's still proof he tortured the man."

Ghelina immediately smacked Raymond hard on the head, growling. "You know he did," She snapped. "You see with lookers. He tell you other flat face die because. He say all these things," She said, smacking him again. "You guard. You not Ghelina. Use head or be small head. Need use to grow big!"

"Look," Raymond rubbed his head, "The Captain needs to see for himself. There's a couple other things. One, I'm going back to the tavern to figure out who that man was, see if he has any friends or relatives searching for him. Two, one Falan-scar is waiting for a reply."

Ghelina grumbled, before using Raymond as a boost to get back up onto the roof, shaking her head in irritation as she took off in a leisurely run.
 
Ghelina hopped from one roof to the other, avoiding the crowds on the street level. She found the whole idea of not being able to eat the chickens left wandering around to be irritating. They were perfect for eating. Still, ran up to the building Captain Esesks was in, jumping across the gap and grabbing hold of the windowsill. She pulled herself into the office. "The big idiot figured out something to use on the flat face," She said, feeling far more comfortable speaking badlander. "He's going back to where we found the first person, see if anyone knew him or are looking for him right now. I can tell you all of this, if you like, or I can take you to the idiot."

She watched Captain Esesks look at her with surprise as she just crawled through his window, but he seemed to get over it quickly. He responded in kind, "Hey, that big idiot is one of my most no-nonsense guards I've got." He chuckled. "So I'm glad he's finally doing shit on his own, I need to see this."

"I wouldn't say on his own," Ghelina muttered, hopping off the windowsill and walking into the office better. "I've been poking him pretty hard. Also, if he is your most no nonsense guard, my condolences for you and the struggle of your command," She added dryly. "Also, Raymond didn't tell me, but the wilding in the building sent you a letter and wants you to reply."

His eyes widened again, and he looked around the room. "Hmm. There's no chance she'll think I'm dead, otherwise she'd have heard. I can't contact her, bitch is crazy. It's that job, the city work, it drains you of sense and emotion, turns you into a bored zombie. Not literally, but still. We went on one date and she assumes it's a relationship."

"I'm not sending a letter or message for you," Ghelina said looking at the desk. "Unless you can also, in turn, make my life much easier," She said, her voice implying a deal.

His eyes narrowed. He leaned forward, interested to at least hear it out. "You seem to imply a transaction. What's the deal? I was just gonna ignore her until I die eventually."

"You are as hopeless as Raymond," Ghelina groaned, shaking her head again. "Look, I'll get her off your back, you make it a non-offense to kill any bird in public spaces unwatched. Deal?" She asked, setting her fists on her hips. She was a fit little thing.

His eyes ran over her once, smiling, though he did tilt his head. "They're not supposed to be in the street anyway goddamnit. But I can't enforce that because I can't just go out and..." he smiled wider. "Oh what a delicious loophole!" He held a hand out to her. "You get the crazy bitch off my back so I can focus elsewhere, you get the pick of the lot. Deal."

"I would certainly call it delicious," Ghelina sighed, looking out the window. "I caught a chicken in the street, and Raymond said I broke the law. Now I want to eat them, and not break the law. Then I can make him eat the next one I get," She added, getting rather intense towards the end of her statement. Then she eased up a little. "Your female problems will be easy," She added, stepping back up onto the windowsill and squatting down on it. "I won't apologize if she fights me though."

"Hate to watch you go, love to watch you leave, but seriously, don't murder her. She's nuts, not evil." He paused. "I'm about 98% sure. And if you bring me a 'free-range chicken' you get one free warcrime."

"I don't commit warcrimes," Ghelina said simply. "I don't participate in wars. I participate in hunts," She added, before giving Esesks a slight smile. "And be careful how much you love watching me leave. Might have to fight Raymond over it," She said. "I'll see about the chicken."

Now he was just confused, letting out a scoff. "Raymond couldn't tell the scent of a woman if he was trapped in a room with a dozen naked dragonborn strippers, I think his cult did a number on him."

"I blame this city," Ghelina said. "I haven't been able to taste a single female other than myself since I got in the walls. I am his until I pay my debt however."

"Kinky," he nodded. "There's a market for that."

"I taste the air, moron," Ghelina muttered flatly.

He raised a hand, shaking his head. "No small scales, the debt thing. Fucken weirdo. I taste the air too, we're serpents to different degrees. Just go actually do your job, pay the sex debt, or whatever."

"Life debt," Ghelina said, "But leave it to a citydweller to make it all about the sex," She sighed, turning around. "Go find Raymond, I'll catch up shortly," She said, jumping off and vanishing back into the city.

Esesks rolled his eyes, standing up from his desk and grabbing a sword. "Leave it to the desert dwellers to sap fun like it's going out of style." Ghelina watched as he strode into the city, moving with purpose towards Outer Ring.
 
Ghelina was almost at the census office when she dropped back down onto the road, looking around her to make sure nothing felt off. She couldn't taste anything familiar, so she wasn't too concerned as she walked up to the building and walked into it. She looked side to side, then went the way Raymond went, trying to find anyone who could point her in the direction of the lady she needed to talk too.

The first woman she found in the census building turned out to be her. She was sitting at a desk, reading a book, head held up by one hand, bored out of her mind. Her eyes moved to meet Ghelina's, and she sat up. "Can I help you?"

"You send paper to Big scale?" Ghelina asked, crossing her arms. "Tell big scale earlier, looking for flat face. Big big scale. Big like, want see?" She asked, holding out her arms,.

She blinked at Ghelina, nodding slowly. "Oh the golden one, came for the Calcian info. What's it to you?"

"He no want see you," Ghelina said flatly.

She tilted her head, sitting up a little straighter now. "Goddamnit, I'll just have to meet him face to face then, then he can't just drop me like a sack of potatoes."

"No," Ghelina said, shaking her head. "No good. Big mean. No worth. Try mate me in same long talk. You better. Find better."

She stood up suddenly, glaring at Ghelina. "Really?! You?! You're, what, 4 feet tall when excited? What the hell is he thinking?"

Now it was Ghelina's turn to looked confused, before looking at herself. "What me small matter? Big scale not seem choosy."

"Apparently! Apparently he doesn't have the standards I thought he did! Otherwise I can't see why he'd bother hitting on you."

Ghelina just stared at the wilding flatly, before letting out a sigh. "You done?" It was such a simple question, and it spoke volumes. "Me small, me get. You big, me get. No get be mean. What point?"

"The point is, I wanted one thing in my life to be exciting and the bastard's off fucking..." she looked at Ghelina, "little barbarians."

"Leave city if want exciting," Ghelina said, rolling her eyes.

"Go suck a cock ho. Get out of my building." She sat down pointedly, glaring at Ghelina.

"You leave big scale alone?" She asked. "He no want. No waste time, he no send paper back."

The woman just stares at Ghelina. "I said what I wanted. Out. I will have you removed like any other animal if I must."

"Me no think that big head idea," Ghelina said just as flatly. "Me small, yes. Me need know you leave alone."

"You don't need to know shit. Get out." The woman was growing more and more enraged, her fingernails digging into her own arm as she crossed her arms over her chest. "I will... fucking kill you, go away."

Ghelina stood there for a moment. There were several things she could do... And the Captain did say she could fight her... Indirectly. "Me no think you can. City flat face no big head. Ghelina big head. Ghelina no leave till know leave big scale alone."

"More like long head." She smirked maliciously, waving her hand dismissively. "Alright, fine, now get out of my office."

"Me come back if no leave alone," Ghelina said, curling her lips back. "Me no talk next time." She warned, baring her teeth.

"The second you touch me, I scream, and any self-respecting individual comes by looking to see what's the matter." She leans forward, smiling angrily. "They'll put you down like the animal you are. Get out of my office."

"Me keep in head, not let scream," Ghelina said simply, turning around. "Leave big scale alone. Me mean it big!" She added as she started walking out of the office.

"You probably take it big too, stuck up lizard whore," was the parting shot from the rather disgruntled city 'official.'

"Me no mate yet, silly flat face," Ghelina grumbled. "Me still get more attention. Maybe why you big mean. Want be me."

There was just a very angry growl from the desk jockey, and the sound of what must have been nails scraping on wood. 'Fuckin'... lizard... cocksuckin' motherfuckin' animal-' the door closed, she had nothing of value to say anyway from the sound of it. Ghelina didn't care. As far as she was concerned, her job was done. Which meant... She had a stop to make. So once she left, she climbed back to the roof and went off to find a familiar place... Where she found that first chicken.
 
She found her way to the small home the chickens seemed to flow out of. The farmer man she'd seen when she made her kill was there before his chicken coop, raking sand. Chickens seemed to move all willy-nilly, wherever they pleased. She watched from the roof, until she saw one that was very clearly not where it was supposed to be. In the middle of the street, carts having to slow down for them, people walking around it, standing there like it owned the gods damned place.

She waited a moment, slipping down from the roof, snaking her way through the streets, before tackling the Chicken, and holding it in her hands so it couldn't get away from her. She didn't care that it was screaming at her to let it go. That was, in part, the point. She turned to look at the chicken farmer, holding his chicken, which was meant to be in it's coop.

The farmer heard the sound of a creature begging for it's life in it's native language, squawking horrendously, and narrowed his eyes at Ghelina. He shook his head, his hand slowly moving to hold his rake like a weapon. "Don't you dare."

Ghelina maintained direct, uncomfortably intense eye contact with the farmer as she opened her muzzle, moving just enough to put it's head between her jaws.

He shook his head harder, lips pressed against each other so firmly as he waggled his head. "Don't do it. I'll have to smack you if you do it."

Ghelina wanted to make the point that she knew exactly what she was doing, and she wasn't afraid of whatever consequences this farmer thought he could bring down on her. She was untouchable. She was the new goddess of death to all chickens not in their coop, and he was going to be her first messenger. So, she let her tongue snake out of her muzzle, wrapping around the chickens neck.

"I will actually attack you if you kill that bird, that bird is money." His knuckles were white from how hard he was holding onto that rake.

With that, Ghelina snapped her jaws down onto the bird, crushing it in a bloody mess and holding it in her jaws. She then tilted her head back, and swallowed it right there, licking her muzzle after the bulge vanished into her stomach.

He stared at her, dumbfounded, before his entire face lit up with absolute rage. He rushed forward, rake held high, bringing it down where she was a second ago. Immediately, Ghelina grabbed the rake and tore it out of the farmers hands, tossing it behind her and crouching a few feet away. Close enough that she was very much so the center of his attention, but just far enough away that she could react if he tried anything silly. "Flappy no allowed in space to walk... Me told can eat," She said simply, looking at the other chicken wandering around like they owned the place. "You take metal from big scale... Not your metal... So... Flappy, or metal?" She asked, narrowing her eyes.

The farmer was even less pleased now, and started backing away. "You ain't getting a dime from me little lizard, and you ain't taking any more chickens." He'd backed up to the chicken coop. He reached his hand back, staring at Ghelina the entire time, and...

He pulled a second rake out. 'So get along little one before I make some extra holes in your torso."

Ghelina looked at the rake behind her, then back at the farmer with a confused "Are you serious?" look on her face.

"You hear me." By now other people were looking at the scene, most with confusion, some with fear, some with anger, and the farmer looked around at them. "Come on, get away! Else I'll have you turned inside out and made into a handbag!"

Ghelina bared her teeth, hitting her chest with a hand. "Me right here. Turn inside out. Me like see," She challenged.

"Oh I won't do it. The city guard will!"

"Who you think let Ghelina eat flappy?" Ghelina asked. "Me ask big scale guard. He no want flappy in street. Say me eat if want on street." She said simply. "Big rule in place."

His eyes narrowed further. "So you resort to chicken murder? Typical. I'll be having a word with Catpain Esesks, if he did authorize this I'mma put a legal boot up his ass."

"Me think leg break if try," Ghelina mocked, sticking her tongue out and snorting. "Keep flappy off space to walk. No belong."

"It's a metaphor you thick sack of onions! You haven't seen the last of Farmer Geff!" Still holding his rake like a weapon, he glared at her. "You heard me. Git."

Ghelina sat on the street. "Me on space to walk. Me allowed be here."

"You're holding up traffic. That's an offense apparently, so get out of my sight before I-" he jams the rake into the ground. "No, I'm not doing this. You're a moron, you're barely a person, I'll put the chickens in the coop and then I'm going to end your boss' career out of spite for you. Git along before I need to stick a completely non-metaphorical boot up your ass."

"Me eat flappy more big scare than you," Ghelina said, rolling her eyes, rolling to the opposite side of the street so she wasn't in anyone's way. "Me no guard either. Me just told me allowed eat flappy."

He turned around, and went back inside his house, shaking his head. She could periodically see him looking out the window, checking to see if she's still there.
 
Raymond headed for the Talentless Taverns. Upon arrival, Raymond would head straight for the bar.

Raymond sat at the bar of the Talentless, the woman behind the counter looking at him with suspicion. "Can I help you?"

"Yeah." He slid her a couple coins. "Get me a light ale and see if you can tell me who this guy is." He went on to describe the man he captured the previous night in vivid detail.

The woman stares at him, nodding. "Yeah, he's the one you chased out of the damn tavern." She leans forward, a snarl on her face. "Care to tell me what you did to him? Ain't seen him since."

"You first tell me if he has any friends or family that I need to talk to." Raymond ignored her question.

She frowned, stood up from her leaning position, and moved into a back room. She came out with an axe. "No buddy, you don't get to ask the questions. One of my regulars was last seen running from you, and now he's gone. You answer my question, or I start taking fingers."

"I'd put the metal down if I were you." Raymond stood up. His tail swung side to side, his eyes leery. "It seems like you care enough about him. Put it down and we can talk this through. Maybe save the city on the side as a bonus."

She stared at him, and kept staring at him as she swung the axe into the bar, keeping it close. "Talk Golden Boy, and maybe we don't show you what we think of your daddy Goldie Pants up in his tower."

"So you're not pleased with the King. Interesting." Raymond sat back down. "I'll tell you what happened to your customer. I chased him down and I blinded him. I brought him to a Calcian inspector for questioning. I was removed from the premises after I attempted to heal his wounds. I discovered he was murdered later, and now I'm seeking justice for him." He eyed the axe, then back at the woman.

"Be the better person and don't pick that up." He eyed the other patrons. "There's three ways this will end. You start a fight and somehow manage to get the better of me. You just enacted violence on a guard and the city will come after you sooner than later. You start a fight and as I am allowed to do under city law, I kill you all out of self defense." He spoke coldly. "Finally, you don't start the fight, and we go after the Calcian who ordered me to do all this. I'll answer for my crimes afterward."

She stares at him for a long couple seconds, mouth agape. Her face then hardened, eyes aflame. Her gaze moved past him to someone behind him, then shifted. Someone ran out of the door behind him. "You think for a second I could possibly believe a story like that? You kidnapped a man, took him to one of those genocidal nutjobs, and you expect me to believe any of that? Much less that you're the good guy in this scenario? Either way, you killed him." She pulled the axe out of the table. "This one's for Daren you shiny motherfucker. Way to prove so many people's points." She hoisted the axe in the air, bring it down to where Raymond had been seconds before he'd moved back. Behind him, people were running around, his senses catching the sound of blades moving from scabbards, of club-like objects being grabbed. He was, again, under attack by civilians.

"I'm giving you one last warning." Raymond stood up, his tail whipping around, his spear in hand. "Either I have to kill you all, or the Calcian playing us against each other gets away with everything." He snorted embers, his tone still calm and cold.

"So either way we lose? Who taught you to bargain, a banker?" She stood up on the counter, pulling a dagger from behind her back. "We're not going to take this shit anymore from you Inner Ring fuckers!" She held a hand up, and everyone around stopped. "Let him attack first! Then they can't hide behind their city rules!"

"Yeah, that's not going to happen." He slowly started moving towards the entrance, leering everyone down. "If you refuse to cooperate, I won't press on."

A bar full of angry peasants stood against him, watching his as he backed towards the door. "Get out of here Golden Boy, tell your daddy we don't tolerate being stepped on around here." The same woman was still staring him down.

From behind Raymond, the door opened, Captain Esesks stepping through. He stopped suddenly, looking around the room. "Raymond. Buddy. You alright? I thought you were coming out of your shell but this is a little much."

"Just conversing with angry locals." Raymond kept his eyes on the peasants. "I got as much information as I could. Now I need to go look up a name."

Esesk nodded slowly, leaving the door open for Raymond to leave through. "Let's just all back away slowly, and let this hang in the air until it cools off. Yeah?"

"Agreed." Raymond remarked, then backed out of the establishment. "I got a single name out of them. Daren." He looked as Esseks. "You have familiars on the inspector yet?"

Esesks blinked, closing the door on the tavern. "Familiars? I can't just send familiars into someone's house, that's an invasion of privacy. What's this about familiars?"

"So Ghelina didn't inform you." Raymond muttered. "Fine. We need proof that the Calcian tortured the man. He's a private investigator, right? He can be put in jail for that. Do you know who hired him anyways? It didn't show up in the records."

"No, I don't. I assumed it was the city or something, but now things are weird. Either way, I can't just let a familiar into his house, I could lose my job, spend years in jail. I have a lot of women that need tending too, not to mention I like having freedom."

Raymond raised an eyebrow. "Do we have sufficient cause to issue a search warrant? Between what I witnessed and the man's public disappearance."

He thought for a moment, walking with Raymond away from the hostile tavern. "Maybe. Maybe I can get something from the Magistrate. Look, it's getting late, and it'll be some time before I get an answer. You're staying at your parents yeah?"

"Yes." Raymond nodded. "Do you still want me on patrol?"

"Go rest. I'll see you in the morning with whatever the Magistrate comes up with, hopefully we can search this guy's house. Besides..." he looks back at the tavern, "you don't seem to be very diplomatic."

"Understood. Good day then, Captain." Raymond put his fist to his chest, then left.

Esseks called after him, "And find a way to loosen up a bit, you're wound tighter than a snake around prey." He turned away with a smirk, leaving Raymond to his own devices.

As Esesks was walking away, a dead chicken was dropped on the ground in front of him. Looking up, Ghelina was hanging upside-down by her tail, wrapped around a beam. "I'm late, it looks like," She said, looking down the street. She had a few more chickens in her backpack by the look of it.

Esesks picked up the chicken, looking it over with a smile. "Well thank you citizen for your public service! What a shame about the law being enforced now, but I suppose now the chicken keepers will just need to keep their chickens housed." With a triumphant chuckle, and took a meaty bite from the chicken. "Ray's heading home, if you want to catch up to him."

"Farmer Geff says he'll have your job," Ghelina said, dropping down and stretching out, her body popping a couple times as she did. "I had to make a point. Send the message. Keep your chicken off the street," She said simply. "And your female problems are either over for good, or I'm going to have to make a return visit."

"Promises, promises Ghelina." He chuckled, waggling the scaled ridges over his eyes, a Dragonborn stand in for a suggestive eyebrow wiggle. "Jokes aside, thanks for trying. Trust me though, my females problems are far from over. See you in the morning." He nodded to her, and kept walking.
 
Raymond approached his family's anvil, on which his Dad was working. He didn't mind the flames and soot around him; quite the contrary, his shoulders relaxed in it. "Hey Pa, I'm back." He set his spear against the wall. "Had a run in with the Outer Ring peasants today."

The sound of rhythmic clanging came to a halt as Balasar looked to his son, a confused look on his face. "Run in? Ruffians or something? I hear there are a couple gangs, but they're practically harmless. That change?"

"Well, I flat out stated to them what I did to that man I told you."

"Ah," came the simple answer, as he resumed his work. "Did you not think that telling people about the man you chased down and blinded would put them on edge?"

"I told them what was a matter of fact. If they decide to think with their hearts over their minds, so be it." Raymond shrugged.

Balasar sighed, stopping his work to look at his son. "Raymond, my son. That's what the issue was. You spoke to them as if they were others of the Observatory. Talking to real people is far harder, and far more rewarding."

"I'll try that." Raymond nodded. "Admittedly most of my interactions with the locals as a guard has been a yes or no matter."

"What's been a yes no matter?" Radia asked, carrying a tray of food into the shop. "Oh, where is your little girlfriend? I thought she would also be here?"

"She's not my girlfriend, unless you mean it literally." Raymond replied. "The little one was sent to talk to Captain Esseks. He did talk to me, but I don't know where she is."

Balasar smiled, continuing his work again. One couldn't pause so often in this line of work. "Honestly she may be the only female you've actually met outside of the Observatory, and they won't be doing anything for you. You don't need to hold the tenents of your rejectors so close to your chest."

"I think he's just shy," Radia smiled, setting the tray down. "I mean, she's only two or three years older than you," She added, looking at Balaskar. "Are you going to stop for a moment and eat the meal I made you?" She asked, her tone scolding.

"I'm not shy, I just feel... nothing. There's no attraction." Raymond replied.

"There usually isn't with our kind," Radia said, rolling her eyes. "Our eyes aren't as important as our noses," She said, tapping her snout. "See what they did to our boy?" Radia asked, shaking her head. "Doesn't even know how his own species mates," She sighed. "I told you this would happen."

With a sign, and the clattering of tools into a trough of water, Balasar joined them at the table, pulling up behind his wife and kissing the back of her neck before sitting down. "The Observatory turned him into an emotional eunuch, I should have known. Never did trust religous leaders that take people off by themselves into some gated community." He ate similarly to his son, as if a ravenous beast was taught manners. He didn't use utensils if the food was solid.

"Again, you were the ones who sent me in at five." Raymond retorted plainly.

"You were the one who wanted to stay." His father fixed him with the most fatherly searching gaze possible.

"Regardless," Radia said, crossing her arms. "One day, or night, you and Ghelina are going to be wandering around, and it's going to hit you very hard. You're either going to like her, or you're not. Then maybe, I might actually get some gods be damned grand children," She said, grumbling as she walked back into the main house.

"I'm not planning on keeping her near my side for long. The little one needs her own kin eventually." Raymond pondered out loud. "Plus, the triplets will provide plenty of opportunity for grandchildren."

"Eventually." His father noted, before chuckling. "I know a surefire way of ensuring she has her own kin." He left it at that, smiling impishly.

"Funny, Pa." Raymond gobbled up the rest of his meal. "Anything you want me to help on?"

"Aside from continuing the bloodline, once our meal is complete, you can help with the forge." He finished rather quickly, dabbing a napkin on the corners of his jaws, and taking his plate into the house.

Raymond followed his Dad, this followed him back into the forge to help with the blacksmithing by carrying around some of the metal.

The two of them worked until the sun sank just above the horizon, setting their tools in their proper place before turning into the house for the evening. Dinner would be soon, and after that they may finally rest from a day of work.

When they walked in, Ghelina and Radia were in the kitchen. Radia was removing the feathers from 3 whole, fat chickens, and Ghelina was watching carefully, occasionally chittering, which Radia would respond too in turn, managing to keep a cheerful look on her face despite the more guttural language she used. Then the two looked at Balskar and Raymond as they walked in. "Oh wonderful! Dinner will be shortly! Ghelina brought home a couple of chickens for us," She said happily, finishing with the last chicken and beginning to prepare them to go into the pot over the fire. "Wasn't that sweet of her, Raymond?" she asked pointedly.

Raymond let out a grunt. "Did you go steal someone else's chickens again?" He frowned. "I told you not to take other people's animals off the streets."

Ghelina started chittering, and Radia looked at her with a surprised look. "Huh, you don't say," She said, looking at Raymond. "She says Captain Esesks told her if they were on the street, she could take them. She is apparently doing the guard a favor in the process," She said, looking at the chickens, then shrugging. "So long as she has the guard's blessing I suppose."

Raymond looked at Ghelina, then back at his mother, then shrugged. "If the Captain is allowing it, fine."

Balasar moved into the kitchen with his wife, intent on helping the meal come to fruition. "I'm sure the Captain has his reasons, and besides, meat is a delectable meal regardless of the hour. Help your mother Raymond, and thank your friend for her generosity. Surely they didn't sap your manners from you at the Observatory?"

"Of course not. Thank you, little one." Raymond nodded to Ghelina, then picked up a knife and helped his mother as his father requested.

"I'm stealing her tomorrow," Radia informed. "Given your attitude, I assume you will think this to be a gift too you," She asked, pointing to a pile of potatoes. "She's a clever girl, I could use her help with a few errands tomorrow while you... do whatever it is you plan on doing tomorrow. I hope, something productive? Your father could use help in the shop since I will be gone." She practically voluntold him.

"Understood." Raymond didn't bat an eye as he attempted to pull the guts out of the chicken, but only managed to get blood and gore all over his clothes.

"Raymond," Radia said, putting down her own knife. "I love you, you're my oldest child. Stop trying to cook, you're clearly terrible at it," She said, jabbing her knife at the potatoes. "You can cut up the potatoes I hope, yes?"

"Luckily you're better at assisting me in the forge. Leaves me plenty of time to talk to you." Balasar said pointedly with a smile, moving to take Raymond's place with the chicken. "There seems to be a lot to talk about."

Raymond nodded, then quietly started chopping the potatoes. Radia continued her own work, recovering Raymond's chicken as best she could. "Also, I made sure to make your bed. I've already told Arghull that you're getting his bed," She said simply. "His has an extra six inches to the width, and while he prefers the larger bed, you have someone joining you," She said, smiling at Raymond. "Unless you would like to keep the smaller bed."

"Thanks. Will it be the little one?" Raymond asked.

"It's only polite," his father mused, "and besides, lizards get cold easily."

"Just don't be too loud," Radia snickered.

"Ghelina still hear," Ghelina said, looking at everyone, awkwardly just standing there with nothing to do. "Me no speak well. Me understand big good."

"Sorry Ghelina," Radia said, looking at the smaller lizard. "I'm just having a little motherly fun is all."

"Neither Ghelina nor I snore." Raymond tilted his head.

His father sighed, the deepest, most actually disappointed, sigh. "I have failed you, my son." He turned around, staring at his son, making direct eye contact. "She's talking about fucking, boy."

Ghelina rolled her eyes. "Me even know that..." She muttered.

"I was thinking you might be a little big for her to keep quiet about, is all." Radia said, covering her muzzle to stop from laughing.

Ghelina opened her mouth, about to defend her suddenly wounded pride, but snapped her muzzle shut as a look of dejected realization crossed her face at what she would have to say to defend herself from that statement.

Raymond looked at Ghelina, then at her parents. "I don't plan on having sex with her."

"Goddamnit." His father turned around and went back to cooking, disappointed. "Don't make us show you how it's done. Honestly, shameful."

"You know we only push because we want what's best for you, yes?" Radia asked, having finished butchering the chickens, and taking the chopped potatos and other already prepped vegetables, tossing them all into the water with some salt to parboil before adding the chicken.

"So what's best is for me to have sex with a lizardfolk I've barely known for a couple of days." Raymond raised an eyebrow.

"Or at least start the process," Radia said simply. "If you don't get too it, you'll be too old and all the good women will be taken," She said, sounding a little cross.

"Just show an emotion, anything. Annoyance, horniness, bashfulness, anger, rage, something. Bottling everything inside oneself leads only to destruction." His father didn't sound cross, exactly, more so he sounded like he really needed to make a point. "The stars have aligned my boy, from being ousted from the Observatory to a scales and blood woman being forced to accompany you. Just do something."
 
"I'll try." Raymond replied simply.

Radia shook her head. "You two go get washed up," Radia said simply. "Me and Ghelina can finish this meal off, and hopefully the boys will come home in time for food, otherwise they'll get whatever's left," She said, turning back to the pot and going back to talking quietly with Ghelina.

Balasar nodded, leaving the kitchen to wash up, assuming his son would do the same. Dinner went off without a hitch, little conversation happening but the soup was good, even if Ghelina grumbled a little eating it. Her muzzle was not made for liquids, but she tried. The triplets eventually came home, heading for bed without eating, to ragged to muster up the strength to stay awake long enough to entertain such an idea, and soon Ghelina and Raymond were left alone as his parents went to bed.

Ghelina looked at Raymond, furrowing her brow a little, then looked back at the floor. "Sleep?" She finally asked, standing up.

"Yeah." Raymond headed to the bedroom. "I'm going to pray first." He remarked, kneeling to the ground with his body masked in star light from the window.

"Me get ready then," Ghelina said, pulling off her backpack and starting to remove all the different belts and straps she wore, leaving her truly naked for the first time since they had met. She hefted her pack, and looked at Raymond, waiting for him to finish praying. "Where go?"

"Bed." Raymond took off his own clothes, leaving himself in a plain shirt and underwear, climbing onto the wood box that was covered by fabric.

Ghelina looked at Raymond for a moment, then sighed. "Why sleep in dirty cloth?" She asked, pulling at the shirt. "No need it. No good."

"Force of habit." He lightly swatted her hand away.

"Me know you not touch," Ghelina grumbled. "Cloth bothersome," She muttered, hopping into the bed.

Raymond ignored her, curling up into a fetal position. With two snorts, his body warmed up like a pot of tea over a small fire. The position was not conducive to Ghelina being able to lay down anywhere, even with the wider bed, so, she just crawled on top of him, and flopped down, closing her eyes. Like a lizard on a grumpy rock. The dragonborn didn't mind the small amount of weight at all, quickly going into a soft snore.
 
The next morning, Raymond was woken up by the sound of his brothers crashing out of the house in their seemingly usual fashion, lacking the presence of Ghelina laying on top of him.

Balasar's deep voice cut through the room, calling to Raymond. "Not only did they teach you how to be an unfeeling suit of armor but apparently they taught you laziness, wake up! Work must be done, and then more work follows." His statement made, he moved from the doorway and returned to the forge.

Raymond got up promptly and did his morning prayers first, then following his dad down to the forge, grabbing a bite of bread along the way. The day wasn't long, but it was hard as Raymond took over the more menial parts of the forge work, while Balasar worked on the final details and the customers. His body was sore once the sun was going down, and his mother burst through the door excitedly.

"We're home~!" She half sang, looking, different from the previous night. Shinier, her outfit was a little more generous with showing off her scales, but was still within acceptable modesty for the city, if a little strange to see ones own mother wearing an outfit clearly meant to attract a mate. "I haven't been able to have a day like that in... Welll, years! Since you were a small babe at the very least," She said with a grin. "What do you boys think?"

Balasar's face brightened, both because his wife returning meant he'd have someone to talk to that was a far better conversationalist than his son had become, and because she looked absolutely desirable at the moment. "Join me in the bedroom and I'll show you what I think. Actions speak far louder than words, after all." He smiled impishly, "Though you can prove me wrong in there, see how loud it gets."

"Maybe," Radia said with a wink. "But, I'm not the only one who looks a little different," Radia said, looking behind her, then frowning. "Oh the poor thing. Took me almost 2 hours to convince her to get in the chair and now she's too shy," She said, starting to talk through the door in Badlanders. Ray could at least understand his mother was coaxing the small lizard out.

Raymond would feek his father's eyes on him. His father was gesturing to the ladies, mumbling under his breath. "Come on, try and gently get her in here. Use your words."

"You look good, Ma." Raymond nodded, then looked past her to spot Ghelina. She eventually poked her head out, and then stepped into the forge room. First thing that was obvious was that she was clean, even down to her mouth which had been, while not absolutely disgusting, her teeth were now white, and her scales and mane shined. The dead plants and bones weaved into her hair were replaced with obviously inexpensive, but pretty gems and new desert flowers.

Furthermore, her old, worn and tattered straps and belts were replaced and even added too. Before they were purely there for utility, now they were utility, and drew the eye even more to how she was naked, with tribalistic body paints accenting it even more. Despite still looking like a badlands tribal, she was still quite attractive, even to a more traditional eye.

Radia let out an excited hiss. "She's been getting the most exciting looks on our walk home," She explained, looking back at Raymond and Balasar.

"Gem make sneaky sneak hard..." Ghelina muttered, looking uncomfortable with the fact she was being looked at so much. For someone who relied on not being seen, standing out like this would make her a little jumpy, but there was also another look on her, which Raymond couldn't quite place, but could tell was the reason she even allowed his mother to do this in the first place.

Balasar had noted the little lizard looked good, that didn't matter. He was looking at his son, hoping for some sort of reaction. Anything, that proved there was a man in that shell.

Raymond looked at her, then shrugged. "You want to change into something simpler, don't you? I don't know how Ma convined you to get into all this. It looks nice though."

Ghelina furrowed her brow, then seemed to deflate a little. "Me change," She said, scurrying off much quicker than she entered, Radia taking a step to try and stop her.

Then Radia turned to Raymond, walked up to him and slapped him, before grabbing his muzzle and pulling him down to her level wish it roughly. "Raymond, I swear to the gods. You may not want to bed her, and you may not understand her but if I ever have to remind you she is still a person and has feelings which you just hurt, I will castrate you myself!" She hissed agrily. "I don't care what that school taught you, because I'm not likeing this elitism."

Balasar was no friendlier, looking so damn disappointed. He shook his head lightly, not bothering to look at Raymond. "I need to have a talk with that Master of Understanding, give him a piece of my mind. Turned my boy into a glorified golem."

Radia shook her head. "No, I really think it's a matter of what's better. I'm starting to wonder what I should think at this point, since I'm not much smarter than her, I can just speak common. Wonder how I would be treated if I still only spoke badlander," She added, turning away. "I'm going to make dinner, maybe someone should make sure Ghelina isn't upset, hmm?"

Raymond snorted a couple puffs of soot. "I'll go do it." As if his mother didn't even slap him, he left the forge to go after Ghelina. Ghelina was in his parents room, looking at his mothers vanity, picking at the gems in her hair with frustration. He could see that she had pulled out a few of the quills, the gems being held into her mane quite effectively. "Are you alright? Did I offend you?" Raymond asked flatly.

Ghelina looked at Raymond, then back at the mirror. "Ghelina no meant look pretty," She said, matter-of-factly. "Me no think good thought when told, big scale say it okay," She said simply.

"No one's stopping you from looking pretty." Raymond shrugged. "I just thought Ma forced it on you."

"Me get," Ghelina muttered. "Me no speak well, me animal," She said, resting her head on her hands. She really was too small for his mothers vanity chair. "No use animal look pretty. Me small head."

"I don't think you're stupid. I just thought you didn't like dressing up." Raymond replied. "Though, the first impression you made for me was trying to make me eat raw chicken off the streets, so that probably didn't help matters."

"Big scale guard eat chicken raw," Ghelina mumbled. "Maybe me should take his bed like asked..." She mumbled, letting her head drop onto the vanity.

"You can have sex with whoever you want. I just want to make sure you have a place to call home. If you believe the Captain can provide for you better, feel free to go." Raymond said flatly, without any hint of negative, or positive, emotion.

"Me," Ghelina growled, "No, CAN!" She screeched, spinning around and slapping Raymond hard. Despite her small stature, she hit much harder than his mother had, and Raymond could feel his face sting as Ghelina shot up and hurried out the window leaving him alone in his parents room. He was bleeding. Ghelina had raked her claws across his face, and his mother had thought it wise to have them sharpened. His mother, who was standing in the hall behind him, looking at him with no small amount of disappointment.

Raymond looked back at her, then into the mirror to examine the wounds. Quietly, he raked his own fingers across them, searing them shut. He hissed under his breath as the heat pained him, and, for just an instance, a small tear squeezed out of his eye that quickly evaporated. Wordless, he walked past his mother and into his own room.

"I think you should go," Radia said flatly as he walked past him, stopping him from entering his room. She didn't look at him. "I don't know who you are, but it is not the caring boy I agreed to send to that damn school," She said, before turning around and heading down the steps.

Raymond looked down, then quietly nodded, packing his belongings into the same sack that he carried with him from the Observatory. Promptly, he carried it downstairs. His mother refused to look at him as she made dinner, but he could tell she was angry by how she was cutting the various roots she was going to be making.

HIs father worked at the forge, only turning his head to watch Raymond move along. "Find yourself again, then come back." He turned away again, continuing his work.

Raymond snorted embers, leaving his home. Once he stepped out though, he furrowed his eyebrows. Without warning, his tail whipped around furiously, his maw went wide open, and a great fireball blew up right in the middle of the street. Steam rose around his head as he seethed for a few moments. With a final flurry of embers out of his nostrils, he headed for Captain Esseks' residence.
 
Captain Esesks lived in the outer section of the Middle Ring, in a small apartment in a cluster of other buildings. Raymond had never had a reason to visit, but he knew where his boss' house was because Esesks invited anyone over at any time.

Raymond knocked on his door, the sight of the Captain appearing as he opened the door in turn. He was bare-chested, wearing only short pants. He had to duck to fit the medium sized horns on his head through the door. He smiled with a pleased confusion, opening the door further. "Ray! I didn't expect to see you here. You bring the little morsel along with you? I gotta spare room if you need it, hehehe." He chuckled, looking down at Ray, though his smile faltered quickly. "You look packed up to go, everything alright?"

"Little mor---" Raymond muttered with some unease, then shook his head. "No, my parents kicked me out. I need a place to stay for the night." Without asking to be let in, Raymond described the one sided anger from his parents and Ghelina onto him. Even though his descriptions were as matter of fact as possible, the Captain clearly noticed Raymond's tail whipping somewhat aggressively, and he was snorting out embers far more often than usual.

Esesks sighed, and stepped aside. "Get in brother, I got a couch for just such an occasion. Killed it myself." He closed the door behind Raymond after he entered, and he sat down on the couch, putting his feet up on a table, stretching one arm over the back of the couch. "Sit down, take a breath. I've never seen you so steamed, if you catch my meaning." He chuckled again, pointing at Raymond's nose.

"Am I?" Raymond set his sack down and sat on a chair awkwardly. "I suppose given that I was kicked out twice from my residences and slapped twice today by kin, I should be mad." He twiddled his thumbs. "I'm more confused than anything."

"I'll be honest bud, and you can trust me on this, I have a lot of experience with women, if you've been slapped twice today you fucked up. Or things were getting hot and heavy, but this is you we're talking about so that's out of the picture." He poked Raymond on the chest with a claw, making a point. "Ordinarily you're a block of wood I give a paycheck to every week, and recently you've been hit with some shit. Talk about it. Feel some emotions. You've got anger down I can see, let's see if we can make some more emotions, and find out why you got decked twice."

"I don't know." Raymond confessed. "It seems like whatever I do earns the ire of everyone else." He looked up at the Captain. "My feelings are secondary though. Now that I'm here, I have to ask, what's the progress with the Magistrate?"

Captain Esesks stared at Raymond, seeming to battle something in him mind. "Unimportant." He leaned forward, looking at Raymond with a critical eye. "Why do you think your feelings are secondary? Who said your feelings don't matter?"

"They matter much less compared to this city." Raymond frowned. "Unless you believe the selfish necessities of a single person are greater than the livelihoods of thousands."

Esesks leaned back, throwing his hands up lightly. "I figured out the problem!" He smiled, holding his own hands before him. "You don't care to look after yourself. You'll perform basic maintenance sure, but you haven't learned to look after yourself have you? Go ahead, name for me a time you took a day off for yourself, treated yourself to something nice?"

"I've never felt the need." Raymond shrugged. "Adequate sleep and meals are mostly what I need."

"Nah." Esesks shook his head, standing up and pointing out a window with busted shutters. "That's not how a man is supposed to work. If you get up, work, sleep, repeat forever you will go insane. The grind is killing you my guy, we need to get you out there tonight to do some shit." He walked back over to Raymond, squatting to look him in the eye as he sat on the couch. "If a man can't take care of his own emotional needs, he needs friends that'll force him to look after himself. You might think you only need food and sleep, but you're not an animal. You're a Dragonborn, a person, and a Golden one at that. You and me, we're going to see what trouble we can get into, see if we can loosen you up a bit." He nodded in agreement with himself, putting some chainmail on and pulling a shirt over it.

"As long as it's nothing illegal." Raymond stood up. "Do I really need armor though?"

Esesks looked over Raymond, a hand to his draconic chin. "Not all of it, ladies love a man in uniform. Means they're responsible, and can protect them. Granted," he put a dagger under his belt just in case, "this is the Badlands, so all that means is you can pull your weight when your woman is also fighting. Come on, make yourself presentable."

"You can go woo women." Raymond crossed his arms, but then threw on his armor nonetheless. "I'll just have an ale or something."

"No, I'm finding us a pair of twins, twins are hot. I will at the very least get one to feel you or something, I'm trying to help you." He rolled his eyes, and opened the door. "Come on, you first, I'm not letting you slink away,"

"I'm not going to touch a woman romantically." Raymond stood his ground. "That goes against my code."

Esesks turned around, narrowing his eyes. "And what the fuck did that code do for you? The second you looked like trouble the Master threw you on your ass, and it's turned you into a plank of wood pretending to be a person. Tell me, what are the benefits of your code?"

"My Master may have flaws, but my code holds worth." Raymond replied sternly, "In this case, intercourse without the intention to raise the next generation of kin is only a distraction from more important matters."

Esesks shook his head. "That's not a plus on your side. That's not a bad code, but that's the only mark for it, and it's a very flimsy for. If all you ever think of is the big picture, you will be forgotten by people with more power than you. But, if you look after yourself, care for yourself, you'll be far happier in life. Come on, I'm stress testing your code, the one that hasn't done shit for you." He held the door open. "Come on. Hell, you don't even need to touch one, they know how to do all the touching."

Raymond gave a reluctant look at the Captain. "Let's agree to disagree. I'll follow you, but don't be upset if I turn someone down."

"Fine. Honestly, you're a stick in the mud." Esesks moved Raymond along, driving him like a dog drives sheep along to the more iffy part of the Middle Ring. It was getting late, but that didn't seem to matter here, people moving around, the sound of drinking and people talking still hanging in the air. "Alright, what sort of woman are you looking for? Sorry Bishop Ray, I mean if you were capable of being tempted, what woman would you prefer to spend time with?"

Raymond sighed. "If I didn't not join the Observatory, I would've sought out a fellow dragonborn who can produce strong kin. Like Pa and Ma did before me."
 
Nodding, Esesks started walking into a bar, the sign reading 'The Thick Sip.' The bar seemed to cater to a specific clientele, horny people. The place was sporadically populated by people milling about, wearing a pointed amount of very little. Esesks seemed right at home here, walking up to the bar to get a drink. The bartender, an orcish woman with an axe at her side, seemed to recognize him. "Esk, you red jackass, I didn't realize you were in the business of pulling Golden bois to shady places." She smiled at Raymond, leaning forward. She was wearing what essentially equated to a tank top, and she seemed to make a point of showing off. "Welcome new kid, to our little arena of flesh."

Raymond slid her a few coins. "I'm just here for a drink."

"That's what all Esk's newbies say, but that's not what they stay for." She winked at him, grabbing the coins and turning around to fetch him a drink. Esesks patted Raymond's shoulder, tilting his head to the room at large. "Come on, take a look! Browse a bit, there's plenty of women to pick from around here." He scratched his chin with a 'hmmm.' "Granted, a little skinny for your alleged taste. I have no problem with... let's call them city chicks, but we're here for you, we're looking for someone strong, sexy, and available."

Raymond rolled his eyes. "I'm just here for a drink." He repeated.

"Entertain the idea for just a while, alright? You don't need to follow those rules any more. Think about it, that code did nothing for you when the Master got tired of playing around with you, it's basically a political movement to hate you now in the outer ring, and your own parents don't recognize you." He raised a questioning hand. "So why keep with it? Fear? Stubbornness? Tell me!"

Raymond knit his eyebrows. "Captain, by that logic I should shun all rules of civilized society if it's perceived that society has failed me. This is what the peasants of the outer ring think, do they not? They believe that the king has wronged them, so they take it as a sign to threaten guards and even attempt to assassinate guards. We only appreciate the rules in place once they no longer exist."

"Or maybe you're both wrong," A cute wilding girl pipped up, another standing behind her looking bashful. Esesks unintentional wish had come true. The girls were quite similar in appearance. "Maybe diving headlong into either belief is bad, and the answer lies somewhere between them?" She asked. "My name is Mindy, this is Mandy, my sister. I couldn't help but overhear your conversation," She said happily.

The gold dragonborn looked at his partner. "I'm not participating in this. You can have both of them."

Esesks gently held Ray's arm, tilting his head towards the girls. "Dude, don't be rude, this is you chance." He let go of Raymond's arm, turning to the ladies with a rakish smile. "And I am pleased to meet your individual and collective acquaintance Mindy and Mandy! You'll have to excuse my friend here, he's... shy, let's say. A real shame, look at him, golden, armored, available." He nudged Raymond with an elbow. "Just talk to them, come on."

"New to this scene, huh?" Mindy asked, sitting down next to Raymond, as her sister sat down next to Esesks. "Don't worry, we don't bite," She giggled, before looking at her sister. "I don't, at least," She said, making her sister go red in the face. "But what do you think hmm? Maybe you're both wrong?"

Raymond sighed, replying to Essesks. "Fine. I'll humor you. A request though." He turned to the two sisters. "We only talk. Here at the bar."

"I am not affiliated with any unfun deals he makes, that's his own business, since he's so set on depriving himself of such delightful company." Esesk said, shooting Raymond a disapproving glare.

"Oh it's fine," Mindy said with a grin. "I can smell confused observatory folk from a mile away, through the desert storms," She said, looking at Captain Esesks. "I spent fourteen years there after all. You think I sat here because I thought Raymond of Mephis would be a possible lay?" She asked, leaning her head on her arm. Mandy remained strangely quiet.

Raymond raised an eyebrow. "I was there for twenty years. I'd know when someone leaves the Observatory."


"Faith," Mindy said with a coy smile, taking Raymond's drink and helping herself to a sip. "Is not bound by species. Are you sure you were there for twenty years? That's pretty fundamental."

Esesks snickered, breaking into a chuckle. "Oh he's fundamental alright, wound tighter than a hand over the last branch over a cliff. Very tight."

"You didn't answer my question. Why do I not know you? The Observatory makes a fairly big deal of people leaving, and I'd like to believe I have good memory out of necessity."

"They threw you out on your ass in the dead of night didn't they?" Esesks probed, looking at him pointedly. "Probably forgot to tell anyone about it too, just let you drift off to drown."

"Probably because I didn't leave formally," Mindy said, getting a little more comfortable in her seat. "I mean, they hate it when people leave of their own volition, they would much rather make a spectacle of throwing them out. I just took the spectacle away from them," She smiled happily. "You might say, my faith in the teachings of the observatory were shaken."

"The Master's methods may be flawed, but the teachings hold value." Raymond grumbled. "I'm curious why you left in the first place."

Mindy looked at Raymond, keeping his attention as Mandy got bored, grabbing Captain Esesks arm and lightly tugging at it. "She can't speak," Mindy said offhandedly, without breaking eye contact. "As for your question. The teachings are filled with... Unnecessary additions," Mindy explained. "You might notice, over time you start to think those in the city are below you. That to listen to them was to somehow fall from the teachings, but..." She said softly, taking another sip. "You need to listen to understand, don't you?"

Esesks decided his efforts were best left elsewhere, with the silent but magnificent Mandy. "Luckily, I'm great at non-verbal cues. You're on your own Ray Man, I tried." He let himself be dragged along with Mandy, washing his hands of the situation.

Raymond squinted his eyes, keeping eye contact with Mindy as he took the glass of light ale and slowly sipped at it. "Get ambushed by peasants with crossbows, then tell me to listen."

"They do not listen either," Mindy said simply, leaning on the table. "I mean, conflict only happens when there is a lack of understanding," She said. "They think they are right, and you are wrong. You think you are right, and they are wrong. Are you listening to them? Are you speaking with the intention of getting them to listen to you?" She asked. "I don't even think you understand the point of the uptight nature in the Observatory."

"The Observatory's singular purpose is to observe the world around us objectively and unemotionally." Raymond answered. "As a guard, I do not listen, nor do I care for other people to listen. That is not part of my duty. I take the laws of the city and apply them to maintain order. Nothing more, nothing less."

"Then maybe you are not fit for the Observatory," Mindy suggested, "Due to your role in the guard," She said simply, looking over to where Mandy and Esesks were starting to get to know each other quite well. "But... Captain Esesks is your superior... And he doesn't look at everything quite as objectively as you do. Seems you are not the best at understanding, or at keeping order? Strange little position you are in."

"Esesks being in the Captain position has nothing to do with my own competence at being a guard. I don't yearn for that position either. As for the Observatory, perhaps you're right, given that I was removed, but its teachings still hold value, as I've stated before."

"Like what?" Mindy asked calmly.

"Patience, honesty, kindness, service, I could go on. These are the pillars of civilized society, values that united the tribes in a strong entity that allowed our kind to resist the aggression of the Calcians."

"Patience, honesty, kindness, service..." She said with a slight nod of her head. "You weren't very kind to me and my sister a moment ago," She said simply. "Rather cold, and unwelcoming actually. Probably why my sister stole your friend away."

"I simply denied your services." Raymond didn't even bat an eye. "Were you on the street without food or shelter, I would've brought you in and provided for you to the best of my abilities."

Mindy's jaw dropped at what he just said, starting to laugh in shock. "What do you think I am? Some kind of prostitute?" She laughed. "I joined your conversation! Not ask for you to fuck me for a few silver you jackass," She added, not leaving. "How very kind of you!"

Raymond was taken aback slightly, looking her up and down. "Are you not? If so, I apologize for the false assumption."

"So much for understanding," Mindy said, taking his beer back. "I think you owe me my own drink for that stab," She added, shaking her head with continued disbelief. "No wonder you're so stuck up. You're kinda an idiot."

The dragonborn tosses a few coins at the bartender, sliding a drink towards Mindy, snorting a few embers. "Yeah. I've been getting that a lot lately."

"So," Mindy said, taking the drink and giving Raymond back his. "You got thrown out of the observatory. You're still a guard I assume, so what got you thrown out?" She asked.

"That I will not say for reasons beyond the Observatory." Raymond shook his head. "I might be an idiot as everyone claims I am, but I still get to keep my secrets."
 
"You do," Mindy said. "But that just tells me you started digging for something, and someone didn't like that," She added. "Makes your wonder. Why do they throw out those who seek understanding through research and investigation, but keep those who will follow them blindly?"

Raymond stayed silent, then his face darkened. "Where did your sister take the Captain?"

"Probably somewhere to fool around," Mindy suggested. "That's why we are here, but poking at you seems more interesting for the moment," She grinned. "Why, would you prefer I go join her in making your Captain's evening?"

"This is no joking matter, woman." Raymond responded coldly. "Lead me to him."

Mindy looked over Raymond's shoulder, then pointed across the room. "I don't need to?" She said, with a smile. Mandy, was straddled on Esesks lap and the two were quite eager to get to know each other, hugging the line of what was acceptable even in this place. "Do you think I'm an assassin?" She asked.

"What made you think that?" Raymond stood up, then gulped down his ale. "Thank you." He then walked over to the Captain. "Give me the keys for your house. I need to pick up my weapon."

Esesks looked displeased at the interruption, glancing back to Raymond even as his hands were palming the ass of the Wildling in his lap. "Alright, fine. You're boring as hell, you know." He reached into his pocket and tossed the keys over his shoulder at Raymond, before smirking at the two ladies. "Don't worry, the evening doesn't have to be a total bust."

Raymond caught the keys, then headed out without a word. He walked with a fast and determined pace back to the Captain's residence, coming out with his metal spear. Silently, he then made his way towards the Observatory.

Leaving his friend to the mercy of two horny women, or two horny women to the mercy of his friend, Raymond set off through the moonlit streets towards his old home. The Observatory sat in the night like it always had, however it no longer felt like a home, like somewhere safe. The gates were closed, the night shift guards standing before them. Through the gates, the night shift in the Observatory could be seem milling about.
 
He stopped at a distance away from the Observatory. He clearly didn't think this through. How was he going to get in to confront the Master of Understanding? There was no way the guards are going to just let him in, and he didn't want to hurt anyone inside either. He walked around, pacing, unsure what to do.

His pacing seemed to accomplish nothing but to put the two guards on edge, both of them watching him pace like a madman. While they sat focused on Raymond, a small bundle of silent fury dropped from the wall, eliminating the two obstacles with only the sound of their unconscious bodies hitting the floor. Then Ghelina gave a slight whistle, showing the now unguarded door rather frustratedly in a way that said "Are you coming?" before climbing back up onto the wall and disappearing into a low window.

Raymond frowned. They better not be dead. Still, he wasn't going to let the opportunity go to waste. With a mighty shove, he pushed the gates open. The gates opened as if they'd been unlocked, allowing Raymond passage. The Observatory proper sat before him, the telescope moving as it kept it's gaze on the stars. Ghelina stood there, and it wasn't hard to tell she was still upset, but she was still gussied up. "Better be worth it," She muttered.

"Are they still alive?" Raymond asked without directly replying to her.

"You get upset if no," Ghelina said. "Even if more trouble."

Raymond puffed out embers, and growled quietly. "I knew them." He then steeled himself. "For the greater good." Going silent, he threw a hood up over his head and made his way to the Master of Understanding's quarters.

The Master of Understanding's quarter was in the Observatory proper, a little ascetic room to the side. If he wanted to do this quietly, he'd have to get past the Stargazers working the telescope. Besides, Raymond wasn't sure the Master actually slept, ever.

"Plan?" Ghelina asked quietly, looking through the door.

Raymond didn't answer, then looked up at the telescope. "You think you can go up there and smash the lens?"

"With what?" Ghelina asked.

Raymond handed her his spear. It was long that she was tall, but with a resigned huff she took it and started her climb. Her climb took her to the top of the Observatory, many Ghelina's worth of measurement from the ground. The telescope moved under her claws, slowly, in it's eternal search for something. Finally, she looked down at the glass at the tip of the telescope, seeing mirrors and gears working away inside of it. She had a spear and a mission, and with a grand heft of the spear she struck the lens, cracks running through it.

From below, Raymond recognized the sound of people gasping from within the building, and ducked behind a crate as two Stargazers tried to look up at what had happened to their very complicated and very expensive telescope.

On que, Raymond rushed behind and past them and headed straight for the Master of Understanding's private quarters. Raymond moved quickly, the two Stargazers not noticing as they tried their best to troubleshoot this issue. Raymond was immediatly met with the sight of a dozen other Stargazers, some on ladders to see what had happened to the Observatory, some looking over reports, others just talking. They hadn't seen him, but he needed to move out of line of sight fast.

Raymond kept his hood over his head, then quietly walked towards the Master's quarters as if he was one of the Stargazers. The Stargazers were busy working, and thanks to chance, science, or the will of Cosmos himself, he stood before the door to the Master of Understandings room. He opens the door, to see the Master of Understanding standing just beyond the doorway, staring at Raymond. "Do come in." He smiled coldly, gesturing for Raymond to enter. "Make your case for such an egregious act of lawlessness and untoward impulse. Really, I thought I trained you better."

"That's a lie, else you wouldn't have removed me from the Observatory." Raymond's tail slammed against the floor. "My mistake was why I didn't question my removal in the first place. What did the Calcian tell you?"

His face never wavered from it's cold smile. "He warned me about the illegal acts your charge had committed, and as you claimed responsibility for it, you were the one the blame fell to. Really, you only need to think about it for two seconds to know you deserved being thrown out. But, there is a chance for redemption. I know your own parents don't want you, and you have no friends outside of this facility that understands you, and that really you'd prefer to just let this all settle. You could return to the fold, if you wanted. No one else will take you, my son."

"I'm going to stop you right there. I assume the Calcian claimed that it was the little one who clawed the man's eyes out and cut off his hands." Raymond pointed a finger at him.

The Master tilted his head. "No, the main issue was the theft she committed, most likely at your discretion. This is the first I'm hearing of the rest of that man's fate. I knew only that your charge had blinded the man, unjustly. You've soured our reputation with the peasants in the Outer Ring, and by appearing before me in the dead of night you've shown that you are simply not stable enough for this life. If it were up to me you'd be stripped of your guard position as well. Why did you return?"

"I came to ask why you are so quick to take the Calcian's words at face value and ignore the pleas of your student who so loyally served under you for two decades. The Calcian seeks to throw this city into chaos, yet you deny me the resources to investigate the matter, and went out of your way to remove me without remorse." He slammed his tail again. "Where is your consideration for your own kin, dragonborn?"

The Master's face stayed in the same expression, like a mask or something, as he shook his head. "You failed to see the big picture, my son----"

"I am not your son." Raymond growled. "Quit the act and say it for what it is. You think I'm an embarrassment."

"You should let your elders finish young man, you might learn something. Very little, given your impulsive attitude, but something. The big picture, boy," he spat, still keeping his expression the same, "is that the world must be set right. Like we all must, you need to accept your place in the bigger vista of Understanding. Your role will be made clear, boy. Let the stars fall where they may, and maybe one day you can return to us, the only family that will have anything to do with you."

Raymond slammed his tail for the third time, but kept his neutral tone. "That was a lot of nothing. You continuously speak of greater purpose, yet you refuse to answer my questions directly." He raised his voice. "Why do you blindly take the word of the Calcian?"

"I have never been blind, for I cannot be. I see all options with what I know, through the grace of the Stars. I take the Usurper's word because he unknowingly will assist in strengthening us, the Badlands. THAT," his voice boomed suddenly, before falling back to his normal voice, "is the bigger picture. I am going to protect us all."

"So you admit his wrong doing, yet you cooperate in it for this so called bigger picture you speak of." Raymond's tail whipped side to side. "Yet with every instance, the conflict between the Outer Ring and the Inner Rings grows. I won't stand for this." He turned towards the door.

"Oh but my boy you've been instrumental in it. The second you were met with opposition in the tavern you drew your weapon and threatened to murder everyone in that room. You're an animal, a very useful one. You have so many useful qualities, I think the Star Father for you. You are golden scaled, the same scales as the King, you are an impulsive child, and you are dangerous. You are the poster child for a monarchy of tyrants, and you don't even know it." His face grew into a grin, teeth shining. "You've done nothing but help me fix this land, Thank you, my son. Go in good faith, and know you have been a fantastic servant of mine."

Raymond paused, then continued, closing the door behind him, revealing it to be scorched by whatever came out of his nostrils. He ignored the Starkeepers as he walked out of the observatory, heading for the gates. No one stopped him. He could still feel the eyes of the Master boring into the back of his head, watching, until he left the gates.
 
Ghelina dropped down next to Raymond, looking at him. "Get what want?" She asked, her little legs moving quickly to keep up with his 7 foot self.

"I hope so." Raymond reached down for his spear, but also picked up Ghelina and put her on his shoulders at the same time. "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings."

"Big scale is small head," Ghelina said simply. "But small head can get bigger." She added. "Where go now?"

"To Captain Essesks' place."

Upon arrival, Raymond set Ghelina down on the couch. "Get some rest. I'll wait for him. Can't help but feel we've done this before."

"Me no tired," Ghelina said, looking at Raymond. "But me big no like sleeping next metal. Me stay awake."

"Fine." Raymond laid on the couch and heated his body up, steadily falling into a snore.

Ghelina stood watch as Raymond slept. Esesks eventually entered into his house, his shirt crooked, his armor off, with a large, pleased smile on his face. He locked the door behind him, and then turned to Ghelina. "Oh good, he made it back alright. Nothing crazy happened while I was out?"

"He break into big building with small head big scale," Ghelina said, enjoying her time laying on Raymond. "He allowed leave, no chase, not know what happened," She added, looking at the captain. "Oh right," She said, switching to badlander. "You can speak. You taste of sex and alcohol. You took Raymond to a bar?" She asked, standing up, letting Esesks get a better look at the makeover Radia gave her.

She saw his eyes roll over her quickly, a smirk on his face. More important though, she wanted an update on his friend. He set his things in a corner and sat on the table. "I tried. Parents apparently threw him out, slapped him or something. He came here, and I figured out what his problem is. He's never been allowed to give a fuck about himself. What he wants, how he feels. So I tried to yank it out of him, took him to a... how to say..."

"Whore house?" Ghelina asked pointedly, crossing her arms. "How thoughtful of you."

He raised a hand, waving it dismissively. "No no, not a whore house or he'd have melted on the spot or something, no I took him to a bar that I know... singles meet up and fuck. I wasn't saying he had to!"

"Less expensive whore house," Ghelina grumbled, hopping up and sitting cross-legged on the table.

"That implies we pay them. No, it's a mutual thing."

"You spend something on them," Ghelina said with narrowed eyes. "Usually a drink, like what Raymond bought Mindy."

"That's how flirting works sweetheart," he paused. He looked down at her, contemplating something. "If you were there, why not show yourself? Or did you hear about it later? I am half buzzed."

"I am his," Ghelina said matter-of-factly. "I am never far, so that I can fulfill my duty. That does not mean I am not still mad at him."

"Apparently you're part of that club, yeah. Seems he's hit a snag in his life." He leaned back on the table, sighing. "Hopefully I can teach him manners or something."

"He apologized," Ghelina said, looking at the sleeping dragon. "It's a start."

"Yeah, an alright start." He looked back at her, and eye ridge raised. "So, why are you all good looking all of a sudden? Not that you weren't already, but you seem to be trying to rock the sexy savage look."

"His mother..." Ghelina said, rolling her eyes. "Argued with me for two hours before I finally agreed. I had people picking and prodding at me all day, and she wanted to make some big reveal as she is obsessed with the idea of us having children, and the first thing he does is ask if I want to take it off..."

"In a suggestive way or a dismissive way?"

"In a Raymond way," Ghelina muttered. "What would I have to take off for us to do anything anyway, I am not wearing anything."

"Yikes." He looked at her apologetically, sitting back up. "Damnit Ray, come on." He looked over to Raymond with a sigh, shrugging. "If your current outfit wasn't enough to get a rise out of him I don't know what will. I know I'm enjoying it."

"I would take the compliment," Ghelina said, looking at Esesks. "If you didn't seem to want to mate with anything that could carry young."

He chuckled, nodding to himself. "Yeah... call it a vice. At least it's a fun vice, great for all involved." He stood up and stretched, taking a deep breath. "Well... I'll leave you to your jackass. Answer one thing for me Ghelina," he looked back down at her, smiling inquisitively. "You were disappointed he didn't look at you any differently than usual, weren't you? Otherwise you wouldn't have brought it up like that."

"Do you think I am somehow strange?" Ghelina asked. "Like I don't want to be considered pretty, or better, not a burden to someone I am bound too?" She asked, looking at Esesks with the same flat stare she usually had when she wasn't frustrated.

He looked at her, nodding slowly. "You think you're a burden then? Something annoying latching onto his life all of a sudden?"

"He acts like I am..." She muttered. "I blame the city. Most men would think me the greatest blessing. Protecting them, hunting for them..." She trailed off. There was more to that list, but she didn't continue it.

He slowly sat back down, looking at her still, though now with a much less horny eye. He wasn't sure what to say, though he was reminded of Raymond's earlier statement. "Not sure if it's any consolation, but I asked Ray what his ideal woman would be. Not sure if you were shadowing us yet, but I'll tell you what he said anyway. He said he'd like a strong woman that could produce strong offspring." He was rather conveniently leaving out the part where Raymond specified a Dragonborn woman, because that wasn't important right now, what was important was getting Raymond to stop being a block of wood.

"Wonderful," Ghelina said. "Then I suppose we wait until my heat cycle. Only way to know for sure," She said, curling up some more. "Lizard and dragons don't mix well usually though. Your kind usually hate it when we go into heat."

"Pfft," Esesks waved a hand distastefully. "Then that just means they weren't right for you, forget their asses. Sure you might need to do the smell test, but that doesn't mean you need to mope till then."

"I'm twenty seven years old," Ghelina said, looking at Esesks. "I haven't had a single mate, and now I'm life bound to a dragon. I feel I have plenty of reasons to mope."

He shrugged, trying to figure out what to say. "I'm not sure how to help with that. I mean, there's..."

"You could legitimately try to kill Raymond and let me die saving him," Ghelina offered.

He shook his head. "I... I can't do that. I really would rather you both survive, if I'm being honest." He was holding his hands together, sighing, deflating a little. "Look, you can't give up hope just yet. I know that's easy for me to say in my run down apartment, but I'm trying to help you. I firmly believe we, or at least you, could possibly turn the stick in the mud into a real man. Like... mentally. I'm not giving up hope, and from the sound of it you can't afford to either."

"I'm a little surprised you didn't ask Raymond if you could have me for a night," Ghelina said. "Given how you stare at my tail when I leave."

"Yeah, I'm a horny dude, but I'm not a jackass. I know there's no sexual claim to each other between the two of you but it'd still feel weird. 'Yo bro, can I fuck your lizard servant?' That's not a conversation I want to have." He smiled a bit, and looked back over to Raymond. "Besides, if he doesn't have you as an option he's fucken' doomed. He's not gonna go out and look for a mate, he's gonna die thinkin' celibacy was good for him or something. So by not trying to pound them lizard cheeks, I'm trying to help him, maybe, eventually, pound those lizard cheeks."

"You have such a way with words," Ghelina said, giving Esesks a toothy smile. "What, the thought of my lips around your member isn't enticing enough?"

"Oh no it's a wonderful thought, truly, but" he gestured to Raymond, "no offense but I can get lizard lips. I know a lot of people out of the City, most of them horny dangerous women. I'm taking one for the team, helping a bro out. Now, if it seems like he'd rather die than do anything to you, you know where I live." He stood back up, shrugged his shoulders trying to get a kink out of them, and nodded his head towards the door. "Any place, any time little morsel, I'm on call for all the ladies in town. Now imma sleep, try and keep Ray from fighting peasants in his sleep." He started to walk away, before turning his head back to her. "Oh, and because you probably needed to hear it, you look fucken' fantastic." With a nod, he kept walking into his room.

Ghelina rolled her eyes, letting out a snort before walking back over to Raymond, climbing up onto him, and closing her eyes.
 
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