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Fiori Terrowin

Character Info
Name: Fiori Terrowin
Age: 18
Alignment: TN
Race: Elf
Gender: Female
Class: Caster
Silver: 329
Every decent business had connections, especially to their customers. After she monopolized several sources of silk and shining gems for her fashion line in Canelux, the ever ambitious fashionista set her sights towards Onnen. She had learned of each country's customs in the continent and carefully cultivated growing relations within the upper-class. Even with countries that declared they had none, which was always a bold-faced lie. Fiori was not surprised to find that many fashion focused merchants and seamstresses had refused to change their clothing's structures to fit the new tails, ears, or body types of Onnen people. It was their loss. Fiori found profit in specializing clothes to make the wearer beautiful, regardless of their physical builds or appearances. Her clothes brought out the beauty in everybody. But in order to bring her business to the continent, she first had to bring it to the people with wealth, power, and connections. In order to do that, she had to get it there in the first place. 

That was the true issue. Flying to Cameroon had been a breeze but it was the travel through the Sandawe Savannah that had given her pause. Warlords, bandits, beasts and a variety of other threats constantly patrolled the realm. If she wasn't travelling with carts full of silk garments and delicate jewelry, she would've just used one of her portals. Alas, life was cruel to wealthy fashionistas with a heart for gold. So she hired an upstart group of mercenaries. Their reputation was small, almost non-existent and they lacked the many years that other mercenary companies held. However, she could see potential in the group and hoped her trust wasn't misplaced. If they managed to arrive safely with all the goods intact, she would do more than just pay them. She would spread their names to every connection she held. From nobility, to commoners, to scholars, to merchants, and anybody else in her many social groups. Networking was key after all. 

Fiori herself was prepared for such a journey. The dresses were all packaged away in a collection of bundles and placed carefully on the back of a group of elephants. Each elephant had been temporarily given her for use from a noble in Cameroon. The packages on their backs were tied tight but also enchanted so the weight wouldn't make the animals uncomfortable. The elephants also were enchanted so they wouldn't notice the presence of a certain mount, a massive lion, half the size of a normal elephant. Fiori had bonded and trained this giant cat since she was sixteen, when one of her family members gave her the baby lion. She rode on its back comfortably, her hair done up in a bun and with minimal makeup. The dry heat of the sun would shrivel all of them up so there wasn't much need for makeup. Still her outfit was chosen carefully to allow her easy movement while still looking acceptable and kept her sword attached to her belt. 

Fiori's band of elephants along with herself waited at the edge of Cameroon with the mercenaries. She watched for any sign that they were ready for this long trip. The young fashionista wondered how the mercenaries would behave and if this would all be worth it in the end. 

Derek

Character Info
Name: Derek
Age: 26
Alignment: LG
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Mercenary
Silver: 144
Sweat was dripping off Derek's face as he trudged along with the rest of the company. They had been warned that this latest contract was going to lead them somewhere new, and to be prepared for whatever came next. How could anyone prepare for this? The air was heavy with moisture, humidity like he had not experienced in a long time. He briefly remembered jungles, or was it rainforests, running and fighting for his life against the insectoid people. That had been bad. This? Well, at least he could see the sky. He, and most of the rest of the company, had stripped off their heaviest pieces of armor and weapons, sticking to only what was necessary to look sufficiently imposing. Derek would opt to look slightly disgruntled rather than mean if it meant taking off his leather cuirass. The irony was, he had been so excited to receive the full set of leather armor only weeks ago, glad for the added protection it would afford him. Now it was piled up in the back of one of their carts, just one set among so many others.

It wasn't all bad news. He was sure of that. He kept telling himself that. He had joined this band of mercenaries to fight off an invasion and stayed because, for the most part, it was a pretty easy job which allowed him to see the world. He had been all over, and his time as a city guardsmen was a different life. Most of their contracts involved what this latest was, traveling with some merchant who had too much money and somewhere they needed to be. Your average bandit wasn't going to pick a fight with sixty armed mercenaries, no matter what was being hauled by that merchant. Just like your average mercenary wasn't going to take a contract which looked to be too dangerous. Which is why transporting a caravan of whatever it was this time across some plains on a new continent didn't worry Derek. Just another contract, right?

***

Captain Ormund upped his pace, and the mounted men and women behind him followed suit as he went on ahead of the rest of the company to meet their new employer. He was wondering whether this contract was going to be as easy as he had first thought. He had never been to Onnen, and they were relying on a local guide to get help them with this new area. The fact that his price to be their guide was a permanent positon with them as their quartermaster seemed to be cheap. As long as there were no hidden strings attached, this was going to work out in their favor. Especially after what happened to their last quartermaster, Brun, on their last job in Bohar… Well, the less said about Bohar the better. Old news. Onto the new.

Speaking of new, the elf they were going to be working for was just up ahead, along with her caravan. It looked like it was ready to go, a great sight as there is nothing worse than waiting around for your employer to get moving. Well, if she was this professional Ormund was going to have to do his best to appear the same. The heat didn't bother him the same way it did his men, but he couldn't allow his men to show him up. He glanced over his shoulder to make sure they were all sitting straight in their saddles, and doing their best to look like they could hold off the banditry and monsters waiting out in-

A strong scent caught his attention, and it was all he could do to fight his instinct and not rear up. There was a large predator nearby, up by the elephants in fact. A lion of impressive size. That was going to spook the horses, and they had just calmed down around their quartermaster. He clicked his teeth in frustration and held up his hand, halting the mounted knights behind him. Well, this was going to be great. He'd have to keep them away from the caravan, perhaps use them as scouts to avoid the horses getting spooked around that lion if it was going to be coming with them. Well, he was just going to have to change things up a little bit. The first of the scouting parties was just behind the horsemen, so Ormund waved them forward to get them to increase their pace.

***

Derek glanced up just in time to see the centaur, his captain who had only just passed them, wave them forward. This couldn't be good. They upped their pace, until they caught up to the captain, the caravan of elephants just up ahead.

"You're coming up with me to introduce ourselves to the employer, and then we will find out how she wants to proceed." Ormund barked, in that special way he had of making everything seem like a command. It was unnerving. Sure, this was a command, but even when he was talking something as simple as the weather it seemed more like the centaur was commanding the heavens to do as they were told and not ask any questions just get out there and do it. Derek winced, inwardly, because he knew better than to flinch around the captain. That was how he found himself stepping trotting forward, hoping he didn't look too disheveled, as the captain reached their employer and introduced the company.

"Lady Terrowin? We are the Crimson Kings, and I am captain Ormund Starfall, at your service." Derek flinched reflexively at the tone in the captain's voice. He needed to work on his people skills, because he sounded downright angry, and Derek knew, from experience, that this was far from his angry voice. 
Fiori Terrowin

Character Info
Name: Fiori Terrowin
Age: 18
Alignment: TN
Race: Elf
Gender: Female
Class: Caster
Silver: 329
Despite the extreme heat, Fiori felt comfortable. The threads of her long sleeved white tunic and deep red flowing pants were woven with magic. Part of why her clothes had taken off in so many countries is because they were enchanted. Her clothes would adapt to the weather, getting warmer or colder depending on what the user needed. Right now it was cold, a pleasant refresher from the heat. At the sight of the mercenaries, she was about to urge her lion forwards but when she spotted the horses and centaur, thought better of it. She had forgotten to bring something for their horses, a neglectful act she silently kicked herself for forgetting about.

There was no going back. They would have to adapt. Fiori dismounted from her lion and walked towards the approaching two mercenaries. One was a centaur and the other a disheveled human. This was the captain Ormund Starfall she had been informed of. His fierce voice made the other man flinch at the tone and she almost gave him a pitying look. The only reason she didn't flinch as well was due to her mother. When Simone had a temper, her shouts were more terrifying than raging dragons. 

"Thank you for meeting me here Captain." Fiori politely responded with a smile, "What a charming group of mercenaries you all are." 

Despite being sweaty, grimy and having the expressions of a depressed donkey. The elf sincerely hoped her intuitions weren't wrong about them. But her words weren't entirely a lie. They were composed of mostly fit individuals, which had to count for something. Fiori dropped the pleasantries fairly quickly as her eyes grew serious. She plucked a map from the satchel she carried and handed it over to the captain. There was a route drawn on the map. She had done her research before hand and worked with a few trusted locals of Cameroon who traveled to the city regularly. The route was decent, avoiding areas she had been warned about but it noticeably avoided most stops near water. 

"We can adjust the route to make sure the horses get more water," She stated, "I do have extra packs on the last elephant if we need them but I'd rather avoid stopping near watering holes."  

Her words weren't unfounded. Her experience with traveling in the desert had informed her that water sanctuaries in hot locations were dangerous. Animals and beasts gathered around them. Yet it was the people who were the most dangerous. Bandits were a problem but she it was the local warlords who concerned her. They usually didn't attack merchants unless they had earned their ire but it wasn't unheard of for warlords to attack caravans out of desperation or greed. And they almost always knew to target water sources.

Just as Fiori was about to continue the conversation, her lion had walked up behind her and was nudging her for affection. The lion was clearly female, due to its lack of a main and seemed to have its eyes on the other two. Almost glaring at them, daring either of them to try something. While the lion was staring them down, Fiori just turned around and started petting the giant lion, as though it was a giant kitten to her. 

"Oh, sweetie I'm trying to have a conversation at the moment. Be patient. Awww you're just an itty bitty kitty aren't you?" She cooed. 

When she scratched the giant imposing lioness under the chin, the beast seemed to melt. It tried to snuggle for more attention but Fiori simply shooed it back over to the elephants. The lion hesitantly obeyed, its tail swooping low as it rested next to one of the elephants. Fiori with a smile, turned back to the mercenaries, as if all of that was normal and there was nothing odd about it. 

"Sorry about that dears. She gets so restless when she doesn't have anything to hunt." Fiori explained. 

Derek

Character Info
Name: Derek
Age: 26
Alignment: LG
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Mercenary
Silver: 144
Ormund grunted as he took the map from the client, a frown creasing his brow as he looked down at the map he had been handed. There was nothing wrong with a client providing a preferred route, they were the ones paying after all, but he was going to have to check with their own guide to be sure. There were times the clients were clueless, though, and thought that just because they had hired a little bit of muscle then they could go through the deepest of dangerous territory, whistling a merry tune because everything would be alright. The darn lion wasn't helping his mood, he had to admit. While he could justify scouting ahead with the mounted group, it wouldn't be right. He was going to have to-

The lion came forward, and it was only iron discipline that prevented Ormund from drawing a weapon to protect the elf from the predator about to pounce on her back. It was practically licking it's lips as it stared at her, unprotected and unaware. At the last moment it seemed to change it's mind, and instead of mauling the client, it nudged her. The look it gave Ormund was pure smugness, showing it knew it could do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted. The animal was going to be a problem. Ormund heard his teeth creek within his jaw as he clenched it, and had to work hard to relax as the client began to coo and fuss over the killer monster. This was going to be a long contract.

***

Derek smiled as the big cat, a lion he had recently learned due to their new quartermaster, came up behind their employer. It was kind of cute, and he could almost see it as just a big housecat if he didn't pay too much attention to the gleaming claws and sharp teeth filling it's mouth. He wondered if the lion was male or female, but he had not had the chance to learn a whole lot about lions. The quartermaster had introduced himself as one of the Khukwe, a lion-person he had explained. Derek could see the similarities between him and the lion nuzzling their employer in an adorable way. The only different, other than the quartermaster being smaller, and humanoid, and wearing clothes, was the long, shaggy brown hair the quartermaster had on his own head. He supposed that was just a Khukwe thing, they had hair just like a lot of humanoids. Derek was about to ask, when he remembered he was standing next to the captain and then clamped down on his good humor. Serious face.

"Yes, quite." The captain grunted in response to their employer sending the lion back to where it had been waiting previously. "We should get moving." The captain's tone was clipped and Derek was back to cringing inwardly. Why hadn't they gotten one of those nice charismatic captains you heard about in the stories? "Wright, take this map to the quartermaster. Ask him if any changes need to be made. If not, have him distribute copies to the scouts, then tell the knights they will be scouting ahead."

Derek stared for a second. He was used to being an errand boy, but telling other units what to do was well above his pay grade. The problem was, there was a discreet lack of a chain of command in their small mercenary band. The captain was in charge, not doubt about that, and the scouts had sergeant Longbottom to organize them. Everyone else, however, was just lacking in the leadership department. If he was going to tell the scouts to get moving, he would talk to Longbottom. If he was going to tell the knights, he was going to have to get them all together and explain to them that sure, they were the superior race and all but this little man on his feet before them was just there passing on the message. Get moving. This was going to be great, definitely not going to come back and bite him in the rear later.

Derek dutifully nodded, took the map, and got moving. Moping about the decisions of those in power could come later, while they got to stand around and talk to the nice elf lady and play with the big cat and he was trying to get everyone else to listen. First stop, the quartermaster. They had been having a little trouble in that department, never keeping one quartermaster for very long. Almost like the gods were punishing the position until someone, somewhere, bought the right companion to make the position permanent. That was just crazy talk, though, and Derek didn't hold with that way of thinking. He was your average do-your-job-and-get-paid-for-it kind of guy, and right now he was being paid to do something which should be passed on through a proper-

No. He was not going to get sucked into that train of thought again! The quartermaster had pulled up the cart to the end of the caravan, a cart loaded up with their gear and water, hopefully enough to see them through to the end of this. He smiled, sharp teeth revealed under the mile, and waved a hand with nails which looked to be just as sharp and dangerous. There sure were similarities between him and their employer.

"Hi there…" What was his name again? He had rattled it off and, upon seeing their confused expressions, sighed and told them to call him… "Leo! Hi Leo." Great save, Derek. Smooth as silk. "Have a map here, captain wants you to take a look."

What followed was a lot of humming from Leo as he examined it, nodding to himself, and muttering under his breath. Something about being a good choice, or so Derek thought he heard. Well, in that case… "Hey, do you think you could copy that route onto some of our maps for the scouting units?"

***

Ormund watched the scout head off, and turned his attention back to the client. Thankfully the monster had slunk off, back to plotting how best to eat them all, if he had to guess. Maybe they would all get lucky and be picked off by bandits, instead of being taken one-by-one by their own client's pet creature.

"I was thinking," he managed to grate out between clenched teeth, "of sending the horses on ahead to scout. They can move faster than the caravan and will do well letting us know of upcoming problems." And also be far away from the death dealing lion. Win win. "Then we will have spearmen at the front of the caravan, soldiers at the back, and spread the mages throughout. The scouts will spread out all around, to give us some warning if anything approaches from that tall grass we're going to be passing through." Was he asking her permission? Or telling her? Not even he knew. But, she was the one paying them so… "Does that sound acceptable to you?" 

***

Derek whistled quietly while he waited, and then snatched up the maps and took off, calling his thanks back over his shoulder to the quartermaster. Nice guy. Sure did hum a lot though. He found Longbottom not too far away, sticking to the back of the caravan and away from the captain, where he couldn't be shouted at. Leading from the rear, that was Longbottom. Derek smiled and waved the stack of maps in the air. He kept his explanation brief, telling him this was the route they were set on taking until everything inevitably fell apart. Next, he needed to walk on up to those knights and tell them to take a map and get moving.

The knights, the whole darn lot of them, just stared at him silently from up on their horses as he held out the map for one of them to take. Who was meant to take it, though? "Come on, Trevor, take the map so I can get back to doing all the crap work." Derek was trying his best not to just throw the map on the ground and walk off, job done. Not his fault if the captain didn't come back here and do things himself, was it? "Captain wants you off ahead of us." There were some grunts, and muttered curses, but eventually they got moving. Yay. Derek was sure this was going to come back and haunt him. Now, was he meant to report to Longbottom or back to the Captain…
Fiori Terrowin

Character Info
Name: Fiori Terrowin
Age: 18
Alignment: TN
Race: Elf
Gender: Female
Class: Caster
Silver: 329
Fiori silently wondered how much Ormund's dentist was being paid. It had to be a fortune if his habit of clenching his jaw was any indicator. She could see him needing dentures in the next few years if he kept grinding them like that. But she kept that part silent, expecting that such a message would only cause more suffering for his teeth. His plan utilized the horses as scouts, the spear men at the front, soldiers in the back, and scattered mages. The plan was sound and she was trusting his expertise with the situation. These people were his men and he would know best on how to use them. However… there was one little detail missing. One that prioritized communication in strategy. 

"It's an excellent plan Captain." She responded, "The only thing I'd ask is to have at least one mercenary travelling close to me in case I need to communicate with you or anybody else." 

Fiori knew running around trying to find the Captain if there was a problem would only become a headache for them. She was their employer and part of their job was to ensure their paycheck was safe. How could they keep her safe if she was never in one place? Years of growing up with bodyguards and servants had taught her to learn how to stay put. But if there was an issue with the caravan or her lion smelled a threat, she would need to be able to communicate with him. Keeping the captain by her side was unrealistic, as he was the leader of the entire group. Not to mention… she had a sinking feeling that he didn't care for her little lion pet. Having a mercenary as her communicator was the best thing she could think of. 

"Is there anything else we need to discuss?" She asked with a smile, "If not, I'd like to get moving when you and your men are ready." 

Her caravan of elephants and their riders were prepared a long time ago and eager to get moving before the elephants fell asleep. The elven woman treated the Captain with a careful respect. Although she was paying them, she still understood that the men followed the Captain. She wouldn't dare command them in any way and would leave the strategy to him. In fact, she hoped to avoid combat entirely but knew better than to expect such things. 

Derek

Character Info
Name: Derek
Age: 26
Alignment: LG
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Mercenary
Silver: 144
Ormund grunted by way of acknowledgement to the client's request for a babysitter, and wondered for the briefest of moments if she could possibly expect him to be the one to stay with her. On one hand, it would put him close by here should anything happen, on the other… His eyes flicked to the lion, waiting there, licking it's chops. Just waiting for Ormund to turn his back and leave himself exposed to an attack. His back leg gave an involuntary twitch as he wondered if he would be faster than the creature, able to draw his khopesh or get his shield up in time. A shudder ran down his spine, and he didn't even hear the client's next question. He was just about to awkwardly find a way to excuse himself from being the unlucky guardian of the elf when the soldier Wright returned…

"Just the man I wanted to see!" Ormund exclaimed, his voice flat, "Wright, you're to guard the Lady," he put the correct amount of respect into the term, "and take care of her needs and requests." Ormund turned from the human and elf and roared at the top of his lungs, "LET'S GET MOVING!"

***

Derek froze in place and cursed himself for a fool for not reporting to Longbottom. 'Guard the lady' was just a polite euphemism for 'be her slave for the rest of the journey'. He hated being at the bottom of the heap, the lowest of the low, the newest recruit (even though he had been with the band for four years now!). It was hard to rise up in the ranks of a mercenary company when you just weren't that keen on the fighting. He did what he had to do, what he was paid for, but there were times he missed being a simple city guardsman. There was no point looking back now, though. He would just have to keep practicing and hope Longbottom retired…

He realized he had been lost in his own thoughts, and he cleared his throat and looked over at the lady. Or should it be Lady? He realized he knew nothing of their employer, other than she was standing in front of him expectantly. Had he missed anything? He didn't know. He had to recover this somehow. What was he going to say? How was he meant to talk to a stranger, let alone an important stranger?

"My name's Derek" he held out his hand, then quickly retracted it, "I mean, I am private Wright. At your service." He straightened up and tried to look over her shoulder and not directly at her. Behind her, the caravan began moving. "Er… Do you… Ride or walk? Ma'am. Lady. Miss…. Sir?" He was going to fall through the floor, any second now.
Fiori Terrowin

Character Info
Name: Fiori Terrowin
Age: 18
Alignment: TN
Race: Elf
Gender: Female
Class: Caster
Silver: 329
Fiori expertly hide her expression to a neutral state with an easy smile and unrevealing eyes. On the inside she couldn't help but find Ormund's unease with her lion amusing. She understood his position would make it difficult for him to trust a lion, let alone like it but his clear fear of her little friend made her imagine how he would react to the dire wolves and dragons that other nobility may bring. No doubt he'd run for the hills at the sight of a true beast. Suddenly, the young mercenary returned and promptly became Ormund's sacrifice. As Ormund fled, Fiori looked the young man up and down with her eyes, observing every part of him. She judged that he would be a fine runner in the event he was needed. The young man cleared his throat and stumbled over his words but Fiori hardly missed a beat. 

"Miss Fiori will do." She said politely, "I thank you for your assistance, private Wright." 

Fiori gave him a smile then was distracted as the caravan began moving. 

"I think I'll walk for now." Fiori responded, "It would do me well to keep my legs moving. And what shall you do, private Wright?" 

As the caravan and elephants began moving, so did her lion rise from it's rest and walk close behind Fiori, gazing upon the open landscape as if searching for any threats. Fiori began walking too, following along with the caravan as if she was just another part of it, not the owner. Her move was strategic for the most part. Although she didn't lie about her desire for a walk, she was more concerned about standing out.

"So private Wright, may I ask if you intend on climbing the ranks of this mercenary group?" She asked. 

Her eyes were like a hawk and hardly anything escaped her notice. She could see the ambitions in a young man's eyes. He wouldn't put up with all of this unless he was desperate or ambitious. Perhaps both. There was potential in him but she wouldn't pry to far if he seemed unwilling to answer. Fiori appeared to be just interested in him but her question subtly poked at the state of the mercenary group itself. Depending on his answer, she could learn more about their state. 

Derek

Character Info
Name: Derek
Age: 26
Alignment: LG
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Mercenary
Silver: 144
Derek hoped that this would get a little easier, or there would be some kind of attack which would see him injured and out of action. It would be less painful, surely. He nodded at her words, repeating, "Miss Fiori, you dolt" in his head, to make sure he would get it right. Maybe she just wouldn't talk to him, and he could just pretend to be the strong, surly bodyguard type. He could do that much, surely. Then everyone got moving, and she asked him a personal question. Wouldn't be right to ignore it, but how was he meant to respond to something like that?

He took a moment before answering, thinking it through. Should he tell the truth? What was the truth, anyway? Did he want some kind of a promotion to a position of rank? Right now he didn't really have any responsibility. He did as he was told, and he got paid, same as any job. The pay wasn't even too bad, more than he had received as a city guardsman. He'd get paid more, if he moved up, but then he would be responsible for other people. Not just responsible for them, but responsible for their lives. Having to make decisions which would see his friends and men dead. Was that worth the money? He bit his lip, thinking about it, and realized if he didn't say something soon then he risked looking like an idiot, or rude.

"Well miss.. er, Fiori. I think everyone wants to climb the ranks, eventually. The problem is whether everyone is suited to it." He paused, gathering his thoughts again. Was he suited to it? He could be, he supposed, if he had the right training. And time. And the ability to not stand around looking lost all the time. "I think I could be suited to it." Bravo, Derek, he thought. You are a wordsmith.

***

Ormund watched as the caravan got moving, everyone following his own orders and those of their client. He grunted, in satisfaction, as everyone fell into line. As they were just beginning this trek out onto the plains, he did not foresee any complications any time soon. It would not be the first time things had fallen apart before he had expected it, though. Best to be on guard. The scouts, and the knights, started streaming out and away from the main caravan, and Ormund found himself in a strange position. He would normally spend more time with the client, but he had no desire to do so. Not right now, anyway. Maybe in a day or two. The smell of the lion was too strong, and he was still not sure it wasn't going to get loose in the night and try to kill them all. If they survived the night, and the lion didn't go on a killing spree, then tomorrow he would make an attempt to spend more time with the client.

So, what to do now? An inspection, perhaps, would kill some time. Introduce himself to the elements of the caravan brought together by the client. Get to know them, and get a feel for them. The lion had thrown him off, and the more he ordered his thoughts, the more he realized how much he had allowed it to get to him. His people were more sensitive toward predators, but he was meant to be a hardened mercenary. He needed to get himself under control.

***

Derek wanted to get the conversation away from himself, so as they began walking, he decided he would try to be a little brave.

"Miss Fiori, what is it you do, exactly?"
Fiori Terrowin

Character Info
Name: Fiori Terrowin
Age: 18
Alignment: TN
Race: Elf
Gender: Female
Class: Caster
Silver: 329
Fiori carefully listened to Derek's words as he explained what he wanted. With his forehead furrowed and his eyes staring out in the distance, she could practically see his thought process. He hadn't thought too much about this idea before. Perhaps he had a general direction he wanted to take but never worked out the details on which path would suit him. Then again, perhaps he was just figuring out how to speak properly in front of a client. His words were simple but expressed his desire in a humble manner. 

"I see. I wish you well on your endeavor." Fiori responded earnestly. 

The plains were wide, open and warm. The heat bared down upon them all with its warm rays and glaring brightness. Once in a while the land showed mercy by sending in a gentle but refreshing breeze, though it carried loose dust and a few stray blades of grass with it. The elephants seemed unaffected by the weather and carried on, each holding onto the tails of the other in a line, to avoid getting lost. They carried the weight of the cargo but seemed perfectly comfortable and eager to move a bit faster. The drivers of the elephants kept them in careful control and at an easy pace. Never too slow. Never too fast. 

Derek redirected the conversation to ask her what her occupation was. Fiori was all too ready to share. 

"I design clothes and jewelry for customers."
Fiori explained, "We are headed to the city where these garments will be sold and exchanged to the local upper class. I hope to build stronger connections there but we'll have to see how it goes." 

As she spoke, a burning passion alit in her eyes. Her polite speaking patterns remained the same but her voice was full of excitement at the prospect. The fear of failure lingered in the back of her mind but she shoved it down for the moment. If she began fearing for the worst, then she would never get anywhere. When she was done, she realized how little this probably meant to her new mercenary friend. His world contained battles and living from one day to the next. Then there was the fact that this is what he was risking his life for. A few dresses. 

"I suppose it may be disappointing to find you're risking your life for only clothes?"  Fiori inquired. 

As they spoke, the caravan continued uninterrupted. Fiori's lioness kept a careful eye on something in the distance but made no move to inform Fiori. Whatever it saw was far enough to be little of a problem. The lion had caught smell and sight of a small group of buffalo and was keeping an eye on it. Anybody unexperienced would simply believe the lion was hungry but anyone who had the misfortune of fighting a buffalo would understand how deadly they could be. Fortunately, it was far enough to not be a problem and the animals usually neglected to attack larger groups than themselves.  

Derek

Character Info
Name: Derek
Age: 26
Alignment: LG
Race: Human
Gender: Male
Class: Mercenary
Silver: 144
Clothes? They were out here guarding clothes? Derek had been involved in guarding the passage of more frivolous items, he supposed, but he had never really had a client just out and say it like that before. Normally they would just refer to "cargo" and everyone would just assume that whatever was inside was something important enough for other people to want to get their hands on. Just like the bandits, he supposed. They saw caravans, and within them they saw whatever they wanted to find. Gold, silver, gems. Clothes, though? He had to fight a smile as he pictured the look on a bandits face as they opened a locked container to find assorted undergarments and frilly things. It would be worth a the watching, if the bandits getting their hands on all the goods didn't mean that Derek and all the others would be dead. Now, there was a sobering thought.

Her question caught Derek off guard, and he flushed guiltily as her question came close to his thoughts. "Well, er, miss, it really isn't my place to say…" How did he feel about risking his life so this lady could take what amounted to a pile of cloth from one side of the plains to the other? Were they not able to make clothes themselves, where they were going? Maybe there was some kind of a shortage, in materials, or workers. That could explain the need. But if there really was a high need for clothing, why were they not rushing it out there? What would a clothing emergency look like, anyway? Hundreds of villagers running around, leaves clutched to their chests? No, he didn't think that was the case. So, maybe these were special clothes. "Magic clothing? Is that it?" Derek almost tripped over his own foot as he realized he had said that aloud, mistakenly.

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