User:Arrow Quivershaft/Back to the Grove

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3P story universe

Back to the Grove

Author: Arrow Quivershaft

The boat had left the next day, so we all got up and made it. It wasn’t Nick’s first time by boat, and he seemed to handle it better than the other two had. He was also in seemingly better shape than Alex and Blossom had been, so we made excellent time heading down to Selene’s grove. It only took us a bit over a day. Nothing really major happened, either. A few stormwings got close, but once they sensed Nick had a mark, and they saw me, and realized I was in no mood for any more bullshit, they more or less left us alone.

It was about midday when we arrived, and Nick was panting. He was more used to this, clearly. He’d required a lot less oversight than Blossom had, being able to signal when he needed a break, and keeping himself hydrated for the most part. It was actually relaxing a bit for me to not have to babysit quite as much, and just work with someone who had experience. It was about midday as we crested the mountain and descended into Selene’s grove.

At the edge of the grove as we approached was the rest of our group. Alex and Dawn were there, both with a bit of sweat on their brows. I’d seen them out flying a bit ago, so they’d obviously spotted us and landed to greet us. Blossom was there too, some flowers in her headfur, her robe hood pulled down. I still swear she looked like a healer out of some fantasy game.

"Hey dudes." Alex said sheepishly to Nick as we approached.

"Hey Blossom...Alex?" Nick said, taking a guess. Alex nodded with a hurt look to Nick.

"Dawn, Nick. Nick, Dawn. And Alex." I introduced, adding Alex as an afterthought.

"Hiya Dawn." Nick said politely.

"Welcome to... What I'm finding out is actually a half decent vacationing hole." Dawn said, a bit of surprise in her voice.

I smiled a bit at Dawn. "Surprises, surprises."

Alex smirked.

Blossom went over to hug Nick, robes swaying a bit in the breeze as she did so. I suddenly noticed that the flowers were vines that she’d braided into her headfur. "This is Selene's realm. I welcome you to the grove." she smiled widely up at Nick.

Nick sighed, looking at Alex. "Sorry Alex, I really am."

Alex nodded to him quietly, but said nothing.

Blossom broke the silence. "It has been a long time since I last saw all of you."

"Yeah..." Nick said, picking Blossom up in a fatherly hug. "Sorry..."

I just stood by, letting them have their reunion. Nothing to say for the moment and I didn’t want to interrupt.

"Its not your fault." Blososm said, breaking the hug. Dawn hung out with Alex, since he wouldn’t be getting any hugs.

I looked to Dawn. "Anything of note occur?" Dawn shrugged and looked to Nick.

"Yeah...things have gotten complex." Nick said. He wasn’t who I was asking, but as good a time as any.

"Yes, but come we can discuss this a little deeper in the grove yes?" Blossom said eagerly.

"We probably should, yeah." I said. There’d be some more privacy and better surroundings, and we could all sit down.

"Alright." Nick agreed, and we headed in.

After a while, Blossom led us to an open circle surrounded by rocks. Once we stepped in, outside noise seemed to be dampened to a dull background effect, leaving us in almost complete silence once we were all sitting down. I’d heard of these. Meditation circles, they were called...they used a magical effect to minimize outside stimulii, in order that those inside could meditate or speak in peace without outside noise affecting them. There were rocks for us all to sit on as we settled in. Selene keeps a nice place.

“Do you folks need me for this part?” Dawn asked.

“You can come too, Dawn. It should be safe,” Blossom said.

Dawn glanced to me, since it was more aimed at me as a question anyways. I nodded to her. “Actually, I would prefer that, yes. If you’d be so kind.”

She nodded to me, and came along, sitting down next to me. It was nice having her back by my side for a change...I hadn’t realized how used I was to having her around until I was split up from her for so long. We’d need to take some good quality time to ourselves after this whole trip was done.

Alex hung around the outskirts, but Blossom gently put a hand on his shoulder. Very carefully, not to get cut. He flinched back a bit, looking to Blossom. “It’s ok...we’ll fix it.” Blossom said serenely. I have to admit, this place was a natural fit for her. She withdrew her hand after a moment.

Alex nodded. “Yeah...anyways, let’s get to it.” He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and shuddering a bit as he exhaled, then looked over at the rest of us expectantly.

"To what exactly?" Dawn asked.

"I don't know what you’re talking about?" Blossom said curiously.

"Well, Nkosi and I need to get together somehow." Nick explained.

"Yeah, that's figured." I said.

"I can try to determine where he might be?" Blossom offered.

"And well I'm not sure what you guys learned on your travels but I can't go back to England." Nick said, then shook his head at Blossom. "I think he's in Tel Aviv still, no reason for him not to be."

"No? Why?" Alex asked.

“Bast wanted you and Blossom marked in Tel Aviv which I don't wanna allow...even if I could." Nick explained.

"Ah..." Alex nodded.

"Giving you up is a no-no, so we came here early." Nick explained.

"Early is alright." Blossom said.

"Other then that I dunno how we can refuse together, or lure him out yet." Nick shook his head again.

"I am training to be a warden of the grove and have had some..unique experiences.." Blossom said, enunciating the last part slowly as if something was wrong.

"Oh?" Nick said.

"Experiences?" Alex asked.

I looked to Blossom, then glanced around the circle before looking back to her.

“Bad dreams.." Blossom said slowly.

"Oh." Alex frowned disappointedly.

"Yeah tell me about it." Nick sighs

"Involving the people here." Blossom clarified.

"What happened?" Alex asked.

"I don't remember all of it, but something about you." she pointed at Alex. "And you" She pointed at Nick "A dark shadow reaching for you."

"...Bast maybe since we're both Feline." Nick posited with a shrug.

Alex nodded at that but said nothing.

"I don't know.." Blossom admitted. "It only happens when i sleep."

"That's dreams for you." Alex noted.

"Bad dreams...ugh." Nick said with disgust.

I had those sometimes. I’d learned to ignore them, mostly as an occupational hazard by this point.

"I bet you’re all tired from the trip, do you want to stay the night?" Blossom asked.

Nick nodded. "Yeah...though honestly I wonder."

"What’s that?" Blossom asked.

"How we'll get out of this...all different markings and need a reunion..." Nick said with a sigh.

"I’m sure we’ll find a way, don’t worry too much." Blossom said reassuringly.

Alex nodded at Nick. "Yeah ..."

"I do worry too much." Nick admitted.

I decided to break up this train of thought to something more productive. "You will need a significant plan in order to accomplish your goal. I'll say that right now."

"Enjoy the grove, its very beautiful..the springs are very refreshing." Blossom said, trying to add some levity.

"I have ideas but nothing's gone to plan so far." Nick sighed.

"Ok, what are they?" Alex looked to him.

"Nkosi is probably uber by now we need to lure him out of Tel Aviv and drag him either to Selene or Athena." Nick said.

"If he is so strong, then how do we capture him?" Blossom asked.

"Something non-magical, if we get him out of the realm. Magic won't work outside a realm so he can be taken out with drugs or whatnot." Nick mused. "Big question is how to lure him out of Tel Aviv."

"Some drugs work in the realms as well, but in the interest of full disclosure I should mention I can't utilize any poisons." I admitted.

"Tranq." Nick said.

"It doesn't have to be a poison." Blossom said, shaking her head.

"Tranquilizer is all I'm saying...anyway that might, might not work." Nick mused.

"I've learned a lot of things in the grove about plants and their uses so i could probably make something to help put him to sleep maybe?" Blossom offered.

"That's what a Tranquilizer does." Nick nodded.

"If you could do such, that'd be good." I said. Tranquilizer isn’t a poison, is it?

"I could talk with him.." Blossom said hopefully.

"Talking won't work." Nick said. I silently agreed.

"Have you all considered that he may know this is coming?" Dawn pointed out after a moment.

"Exactly, he might expect this." Nick said.

Blossom went over and took a seat next to Nick. I was getting a real father/daughter vibe from their relationship. "I still don't know how to get Nkosi out in the open...but I’m sure it will come in time.." she said.

"We don't have much time, he gets stronger as time goes on." Nick pointed out.

"He is probably already very strong right now." Blossom shrugged. She had a point. There was probably a limit to how much Bast could buff him. I didn’t say anything though, because I had no firm idea in that regard.

"Exactly." Nick sighed. Blossom nodded silently at that, and Nick glanced around. After a few moments, he focused in on Nick and addressed the elephant in the room. "So anyway, Alex you doing alright?"

"He's getting pretty good with the body." Dawn said encouragingly.

"Yeah." Alex said, without a shred of enthusiasm.

"That is good to hear...I’m sorry I wasn't there to help." Blossom said lowly.

"Nothingyoucandoaboutit." Alex muttered quickly, clearly uncomfortable with the conversation.

"I'm really sorry dude." Nick said, laden with guilt.

Alex sighed and looks down at the ground.

"I'll say it again, Alex, you've done... Very well." Dawn said sincerely.

Alex looked up to Dawn. "Thanks," he said, after a moment.

"It is too bad we couldn't help you Alex.." Blossom said.

"Hey dude...cheer up, it's my fault. Everything here is my fault, I shouldn't throw my friends at my problems." Nick said with a bit of guilt. Blossom glared at Nick with a “shut up” glance, and Nick frowned a bit, looking down.

"Lets just get us fixed." Alex resolved.

"I just hope you all understand what you're getting into..." Dawn said.

"What I've already gotten into...anyone told ya Dawn?" Nick asked, not with any snark, just a legit question.

Blossom took a deep breath. "We do, we know.."

Dawn nodded. "Yes. You understand that this could kill you?"

"Of course." Nick said,

"Yes, i won't let that happen." Blossom said, a bit naively. People die whether they want to or not. She stood up. “I need to go find something out.”

Alex looked over but remained silent. Nick, on the other hand, stood as well. “Hold on...can I come?”

Blossom nodded to Nick. “Of course."

"Okay." Nick went to follow Blossom.

"I shall be right back, I just need to ask something." Blossom promised. I wasn’t sure I agreed, but that was her prerogative.

I glanced over to Dawn as they left, then to Alex.

Dawn looks back to me, and smiled weakly. I echoed the sentiment, then looked back to Alex. He was staring at us, but not impolitely. It is an unusual relationship.

"Whell ..." Alex waited until the other two were out of earshot. "... good to see those dudes again."

"I'm sure it is, for you, yes." I nodded.

"Though I don't have a clue how we're going to pull this one off." Alex admitted. At least one of them was being realistic about it.

"Eh, Blossom's a good kid..." Dawn said. I had to agree. She wasn’t a bad person, just...naive and romantic.

"Yeah, she's a gem." Alex nodded. He tapped on a few rocks with a talon.

Nick came back after a few moments, minus Blossom. “So...yeah.”

"Welcome back." I said.

"Blossom's still busy?" Alex asked.

Nick nodded to him. "Thanks, what's up?" he said to me.

"Mm... Just enjoying the familiar company." Dawn said, glancing at me.

I looked over the people, then spoke to Nick and Alex. "When you two are finished chatting, I need to bring something up. So finish up."

"Well, what's on your mind?" Nick said, focusing on me. Alex also looked at me, putting all eyes on me.

"There may be another one of your people here," I explained.

“What do you mean?”

"A short while ago, someone submitted some evidence that it's speculated has to do with a retro-engineered wolf virus." I said. “Which Fenrir apparently wants, and apparently left the realms himself for. Something with some ‘werewolf’ or such. It’s like nothing anyone else has ever seen.”

"Great ..." Alex complained. “Brilliant!”

"Shit." Nick echoed.

“That was on the 30th; this report came out on the 5th..." I elaborated. "But needless to say, I'd personally GREATLY prefer if nothing happened on that particular end."

"But where the hell would that have come from?" Alex asked. Nick gave him a meaningful glance, and he elaborated. “I mean, the virus. It had to come from something; virii don’t live long.”

“Someone is here with it." Nick said.

"Exactly, so there's another one of us weirdos out there. Unless he's dead already, which is likely." Alex said.

"Unlikely...” Nick noted. "If Fenrir wants a werewolf then he'll track it down."

Alex nodded.

"Break out the silver, ma." Dawn joked. Alex smirked.

"Yeah silver'll do it." Nick said a bit drily. “Anyway.”

"Yeah. Just so you're aware that I may want that lead followed up on as well." I said.

"Yeah we'll figure that out." Nick nodded.

"No probs." Alex agreed.

"Then...anything else?" I asked. That went faster than I’d expected.

"I'm...I dunno how to describe it." Nick said, sheepishly.

"You could describe it with cash, perhaps..." Dawn led.

Alex smirked at that and nodded.

"I'm sure you two'll appreciate that." Nick smiled. "I mean emotionally." He sighed and looked over to Alex. "Alex, I swear I'll get you back to normal."

"Thanks. I'm holding out okay for now." Alex said. I couldn’t tell if it was a lie.

"I really do feel bad, you've been through alot." Nick moped.

Alex eyed his toes. "I'm okay." Yeah, it was bravado.

"Yeah, no offense but that form is really quite awesome incase Nkosi gets rowdy." Nick said, trying to butter him up.

Dawn looked to me. "They thought I was joking..." she whispered.

I glanced back. "Shh, for now."

"All the physical strength in the world couldn't defeat you." Nick continued to Alex, not having noticed our exchange.

Alex spread a wing and held it out. "Really?"

"Heh yeah, give him a hug and he'll be crying uncle." Nick nodded.

Alex smiled weakly. "Yeah."

Dawn kept her mouth shut at that. I did too. Didn’t wanna be the bearer of bad news at this junction. I did steal a glance at Dawn, though.

Nick rubbed his eyes for a moment. Probably had ‘something’ in them. For a tiger, he gave off kinda a pathetic vibe at the moment, I’ll admit. After a moment, he sighed, looking up.

"We'll fix you." Alex said.

"Yeah...despite everything I have to try." Nick said.

"Ok, so what's the plan?" Alex asked.

"I honestly don't know." Nick admitted. Great. "Gotta idea, but a concrete plan...So far so bad, I thought you and Blossom would come with Nate, visit Selene and come back to England." He sighed. "You and Blossom got marked and we were chased out of England."

"Recall that Blossom did so voluntarily." I noted.

"Yeah which is good for her...still quite a shift in the plan." Nick countered.

"Thank God." Dawn said to me.

"What form does Selene force people into anyway if she drags em in?" Nick asked.

Mental facepalm. "Is this the right place to talk about that?" I asked.

"I think Selene is one of the rare ones that doesn't force." Dawn explained. "Which, if I recall, was one of your reasons for choosing Athene, Nathan."

"Yes, it was." I affirmed to them.

"I think Selene is awesome, and if she's listening no that's not brown-nosing. I wish I woulda landed here or in Athens rather than Tel Aviv." Nick proclaimed. Kinda a shift in tone from his earlier statement.

Alex nodded.

Nick fell silent after that. I glanced around to the others.

“Anyways... Lex, if you want to show Nick around the glade a little, or take him outside of it so you can show him what you do to bushes..." Dawn said, seemingly wanting a bit more time with me. It *HAD* been over a week.

"...huh?" Nick said, uncertainly.

Alex smirked. "Sure. Nick, you coming?"

"Uh sure, got my curiosity piqued..." Nick said, standing.

Alex hopped off his rock and walks over to Nick. "Guided tour of the glade, or do you want to see the bushes first?"

"Heh sure. Now I wanna see what you do to the bush, not in the bush." he joked.

"Hmm, I don't know how stormwings do that...." Alex said, as they headed off in a direction out of the grove.

Dawn, for her part, went to drag me off to a good, more private camp spot, taking us out of the meditation circle. And then we spent some time catching up, which we both desperately needed to do.

Separator k.png

It was the next morning. We had found plenty of food and shelter with the hippie commune in Selene’s grove. They were...about as stereotypical as hippies come, according to Dawn. I wouldn’t have known either way, but I trusted her judgement. Most of the ones we met professed to be from North America, or Western or Central Europe. They weren’t bad people, just a bit...odd, for me, I guess. But hey, whatever worked for them.

The next morning most of us had gathered back in the meditation circle. All of us were there except Blossom, actually. I was sitting there with Dawn by my side. Alex was perched on a rock unhappily, Nick was lazing. After a while, Blossom showed up, looking a bit troubled. She still had her robes on and the vines in her hair, and smelled slightly of cannabis.

"Morning." she greeted us as she entered the circle. "I hope you slept as well as me?"

"Eh...I'm feline. I nap with the best of ‘em." Nick joked, trying to insert some humor.

"I did, thank you." I agreed.

"Yeah, I got some shuteye.” Alex said.

"That is good," Blossom nodded, then scratched her head. "I had the weirdest dream last night."


"This one was much stranger." Blossom said.

"Oh...kay, what's up?" Nick said to her. I just listened for the moment, having nothing to add.

"It had Nkosi and someone else I don't know of...but they were going to fight. Fenrir and Bast were there too..controlling them."

Alex glanced to me at that. I shrugged, looking uneasy.

Nick quirked a brow "Fenrir?" He sighed and shook his head.

"Scandinavian wolf god." Dawn explained.

"Mentioned him yesterday, remember?" I reminded.

"No offense but hope nothing comes of these dreams." Nick said, head down.

"I don't know but maybe it means something." she describes what sounded like an anthrowolf, roughly matching the description I’d seen in the news of the other realmie.

Alex stared at her, but said nothing. He recovered after a moment.

“Eh...” Nick shrugged. “I bet Nkosi gets in fights all the time, we need to fight him too."

Alex nodded in response.

"I thought it was kind of funny that Bast and Fenrir were using them like puppets," Blossom said, giggling slightly.

"Blossom that's not funny...I am Nkosi." Nick said.

Blossom stopped dead, glaring at Nick and growling at him. "You are not!" Alex backed up slightly in surprise, and fell off of his rock with a loud clatter of metal-on-metal.

"We split in two, she's using me just like she's using him." Nick said to Blossom.

"Whoa, settle down..." I cautioned Blossom. Last thing we needed was a fight amongst ourselves.

Blossom ignored me. "That doesn't matter, you both are two separate people...and if i hear you talk like that again I’m going to pull your ears off!" she grumbled at Nick.

"Separate for now, we're working to get us together." Nick said.

Alex picked himself up with a groan. Dawn glanced to him.

“Sorry, sorry. I’m ok.” Alex said.

Blossom was taking deep breaths, calming down. She exhaled loudly, then looked at Nick. “No more talk like that. We’re going to fix this."

"Exactly..." Nick said with a sigh. I looked around the group, waiting.

Blossom nodded to Nick, seemingly pleased with that response. She spoke again. "Alright now, does anyone know the other person I described?"

“No.” Nick said, frowning.

Blossom looked to Alex next. "E-eh, no." he said, sounding a bit evasive. I glanced over to Alex with a look at that, curiously, but let it slide for now.

Blossom looked to me and Dawn. “Nothing more than the news.” I said, as Dawn wingshrugged.

Blossom nodded. "Well in any case we have to maybe find this person." I browquirked at her unusual statement.

"We do." Alex said. He paused a moment. “If he needs a name, it could possibly be Aaron.”

"Aaron? Again..." Nick looked concerned.

"I'm missing something.” Dawn said.

"Well we need to find him.” Blossom resolved. “I saw a map but not sure where they were coming from, where is Fenrir located?" she asked us.

"Fenrir would be in the Scandinavian realm.” I explained. "Except for his recent jaunt out of the Realms recently."

"To where?" Blossom asked.

I shrugged. "Didn't say. He's back in the Realms now."

"No offense, but Fenrir...really isn't a priority at the moment." Nick noted.

"None taken. Was just giving info." I explained.

"Well, Aaron-if it’s who you say it is-was headed for Bast, walking across the map." Blossom noted.

"I do not know him but that was my dream." Blossom said.

"What's the significance of this Aaron guy?" Dawn asked.

"... umm ... " Alex said, clearly uncomfortable.

I let Dawn do the talking for the moment. It let me listen for now.

"Well, Fenrir was controlling him, going to fight Nkosi." Blossom repeated.

"Nothing, he's just a guy we knew.” Nick said. He paused, and Alex opened his mouth. "Fight Nkosi?" Alex closed his mouth without saying anything, clearly having had the same question.

Blossom nodded. "That’s what it looked like."

"So..." Nick led.

"After all this we can find him." Alex said.

"But do we have the time...?" Blossom said, hmming uncertainly.

"Dunno, but if we do, we do." Alex said.

"Nkosi first, then Aaron." Nick agreed.

"Or maybe..hes headed towards Bast?" Blossom posited.

"If he wants to help us, fine. If he wants to join Bast, then he's in for trouble." Alex said darkly.

"I meant... Is he one of your group?" Dawn asked.

"Not that I know of." Nick said. Alex shook his head.

"Is this Aaron significant in some way besides being an agent of Fenrir?" Dawn asked.

"No." Alex said. Dawn nodded, and let it go at that.

Blossom went back to the original topic. "So what do we do? Should i make something to help capture Nkosi?" she asked.

“Yeah, that would be prudent," Nick said.

Blossom looked a bit confused for the moment. “That would be a helpful, Blossom,” I translated for her.

"Alright. I shall make something a bit later." Blossom said, with an understanding nod.

"If whoever is giving Blossom information is hinting that this Aaron may be squaring off against Nkosi, it may be time we contact him." Dawn pointed out. Alex shivered a bit at that statement, seeming uncomfortable.

"I could only guess and say its Selene." Blossom said uncertainly.

"Maybe it's just a dream..." Nick shrugged.

"Perhaps a bit of both." Alex said.

"Well, we still need to do something. Maybe find something or someone to draw Nkosi out?" Blossom paused. "I have an idea about that but...I’m not too sure you will like it."

"What?" Nick asked, rubbing his brow.

"Well if i can get close enough to uhm..'talk' with Nkosi then i could give him the potion I’ll make." Blossom offered. I didn’t like the idea of tricking him into being poisoned, but this was their discussion, not mine.

"Problem being is that he is abhorrently violent." Alex noted.

"He won't hurt me." Blossom said, confidently.

Nick shook his head. "I doubt he'll let ya..."

"He did not want to hurt me the first time in fact he refused to and helped us flee." Blossom said.

"Coulda changed in that time." Nick said, then sighed heavily. "So what're we gonna do anyway? We travelin' to Tel Aviv? At least the border?"

Alex shrugged a bit. "I don't like the idea of moving into Bast's territory."

"We might have to, if we can’t get Nkosi to come to us." Blossom pointed out. Alex nodded solemnly.

"Nah going in is a bad idea..." Nick said. "Border is rough."

"You don't want to face someone like that with a group like this inside of his realm... Or any realm, actually." Dawn stated.

"Inside he's the most dangerous." Nick agreed. Quick study.

"So then the real question is how do we draw him out." Nick said, lying back on the grass with a sigh.

"Perhaps with something Bast wants."

"Me." Nick shrugged against the ground. " arrangements?" he looks to me and Dawn.

"To Beirut? Expensive and difficult." Dawn stated.

"Don't have a ton of time, especially if bad dreams keep popping up." Nick noted.

"This is going to be fun ..." Alex muttered, looking at his wings.

"You need to calm.." Blossom said, looking to Alex.

"I am calm!" Alex snapped back. Nick looked over to him, frowning.

Blossom shook her head. "Sorry...but you seem tense."

"Honestly... The best approach I can reccommend is the 'wait and drum up allies' approach." Dawn said.

"'re we gonna go about that?" Nick said sarcastically.

"I know you all want to get moving, but this group... No offense, but it's disjointed and not exactly directed..." Dawn said, trying to keep her cool and mostly succeeding.

"It's hard being relaxed when you’re a complete freak.” Alex moped.

Nick shook his head "I know...I know, the problem is I don't know exactly what to do." he says between Dawn and Alex and stood up.

"You’re not a freak Alex, believe me. I know this most of all." Blossom said.

"What did you just call us?" Dawn said warningly at Alex. I winced unconsciously, putting an arm on her shoulder to try and calm her.

"I didn't call us anything, just myself." Alex shot back. Dawn glared, but didn’t say anything else. "Sorry, sorry. It's just hard ..." Alex slumped.

"I could get you some herbs if you want?" Blossom offered.

I shook my head. "Probably not the best idea, Blossom."

Blossom shrugged. "It’s quite relaxing..."

Nick stood up. "If you guys'll excuse me...waiting seems to be the best idea...I'm gonna go off and think something up." he headed off in a random direction.

"Do you want me to come with?" Blossom asked him.

"No...I'll be fine." Nick said, putting his hands in his pockets.

Blossom sighed and stood up to stretch as Nick walked off.

“Maybe I should go talk with Nick...” Blossom said, and started after him. Alex also wandered off, looking like he was trying to meditate on the edge of the circle.

Dawn shook her head at that and glanced to me. “Nathan, I think we could use a chat at the fortress of private strategic planning."

After a few moments, Nick stopped just beyond the barrier of the circle, turned abruptly around, and headed straight back to me and Dawn, nodding to Blossom as he passed her. I glanced at that and sat there, waiting, looking all business. "With or without Nick?" I asked Dawn. She motioned for me to wait.

"Nick?" Blossom asked. She watched him, and then headed off for the temple area.

"Just a minute." he said to her. He got close to us, in conversational distance again. “Nathan...Dawn...”

"Yes, Nick?" I said.

"What's the best course of action, waiting and hoping to see Selene? Learning more here or doing all that on the way?" He looked between us. "I'm admittedly impatient just...gotta bad feeling."

"I think Dawn and I will need to discuss that. Offhand, I couldn't tell you." I said, trying to be diplomatic.

Dawn cut to the chase. "Nick... These kids... You can't take them fighting."

"I don't wanna take them fighting...just need a tranquilizer." Nick said.

"Like it or not, Nkosi is an accomplished fighter by all indications." I pointed out. "And while it’s true you just need a tranquilizer, that's called gambling on a best case scenario."

"Hire professional questers and keep them somewhere safe." Dawn suggested.

I nodded in agreement. "Professionals would be good, yes."

Nick sighed, not liking that answer. "Where could I get them?"

"Put out a call through R.I." Dawn suggested

Nick nodded slowly. "Okay so what'll I do after that?"

"Wait." Dawn said.

"How long?"

"Until they come back or don't."

Blossom came back at this time, with some plants and flowers wrapped up in a cloth bouquet, and with a chrysanthemum in her right ear. I was again struck by how much this lifestyle...’worked’ for her, for lack of a better term.

Nick looked around at the others, and then back to us. “Alright...” he said reluctantly. “Whatever works...I’ll go put that call in.” He nodded, then started walking off. He patted Blossom on the head once as he went, and then exited the circle.

Afterwards, Blossom took a seat nearby, crossing her legs and closing her eyes, looking like she was going to be meditating. Fair enough, that WAS the purpose of the circle.

I looked to Dawn. “Now, about that chat.” I lowered my voice so that we’d be difficult to hear.

"We can't take them, Nathan. Christ, I've never seen anything like this." Dawn exclaimed.

This wasn’t something I wanted to hear, but I’d kinda known it might be coming. "I know...but what're we supposed to do?"

"Not sure there's much more we /can/ do." Dawn noted.

"Let's see who we can get on the R.I. ad." I said.

Dawn smirked. "Looking to commission Robbie?"

I chuckled a bit. "Heh, probably not the best idea."

Dawn wingshrugged a bit, then smirked. "Come on, Nate. Let's go get some lunch and some alonetime."

That sounded like a good idea to me. "Ok." The two of us headed off going away for lunch. During that time, we decided we’d head outrealm to post the ad and review a few potential candidates, and that we’d leave tomorrow. With just me and Dawn, we’d be able to hit Corinth the same day, and hopefully catch a ship.

Preceded by:
Meeting Nick
Three Pantheons Succeeded by:
Lecce Pit-Stop