[The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Bjorn had needed to hop to avoid the sudden change in Willow’s clothing, and was as much more surprised than the rest when she hadn’t noticed the change. In the classic manner of the Allomancer, she made her case for the solvency of her own wardrobe, but Bjorn could only look back and forth between her face and the clear, evident threads she now wore. As he opened his mouth, Noble’s hand came down flat on Willow’s back.

“Now these are the garments of a hero!” he exclaimed, unaware of the force and power his half-horse, half-human frame carried. In similar gusto, he threw his hands at Smart, “Again, her wisdom and skill is shown, Smart is truly the greatest of us! To make such clothing with a mere glance!

Smart was taken aback, and even more off balance from the compliment and immediately began to deflect.

“What? No. No, I just… I had nothing to do with…” managed a flustered Smart.

“Girl, just take the complime–,” hissed Clever, over on Noble’s shoulder.

“Willow! Can you not see the wondrous gift you are given?” asked Noble, almost with laughter in his voice, “You give and she gives in turn! Truly, her generosity, her virtue is unmatched! Certainly you must feel some sense of gratitude; be reasonable!”

For her part, Smart had taken to tucking her new pants close to her chest, trying to mumble something about how much she had actually contributed, but could not manage much more than that.
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“Ah!? Ha… AhahaHAHA!” Willow stammered into forced wooden laughter as a blush began to grow. “A joke! Human joke! Funny human joke. It… uh… didn’t translate well! Of course I noticed the clothes on my own back! They look amazing! Thank you Smart! Enjoy your pugs!”

With that, Willow turned away from the artisans. In part to inspect the new regalia closer, but also to hide the embarrassed look on her face as the growing blush surely was becoming noticeable. Screwing her eyes shut she mentally berated herself as she took some steadying breaths. With one final deep inhale, Willow set her face and stood up tall again so she could actually get a look at herself.

Wow, she was shiny.

And wowza, this outfit was slick!

She soon found herself stretching her limbs and craning her neck to get a better view. The most noticeable was the leather duster. Shorter than other dusters with twin coattails that ran down just to the base of thighs, and tapered up towards her hips to leave access to her belt. The coat’s lapel was etched on the left side with W.F. and braided willow boughs that ran the length. This was over top of a rustic button up collared shirt with a vertical line pattern. Around her neck she found a simple white bandana and a pair of goggles that looked like her great-grandpa's vintage pilot goggles; both of which she could pull up during high speed flight.

Running down from her left shoulder was a bandolier with sturdy pouches for storing vials of metal inside; sadly they were empty. This ran down towards her waist where she found a solid belt with similar pouches, and a space for a knife sheath; or, in this case, perhaps for a saber. Her pants were, well, pants. Simple, no nonsense, but comfortably worn in slim denim jeans. As she set one leg down to swing the other up for a look a satisfying metallic clack sounded from her boots. A nice pair of cowboy boots, slim with a nice profile, and metal caps on the toe and heel; she’d be able to deliver some serious kicks with these babies. The tops of the boots were hidden under slender, form fitting half-chaps that bore more willow bough etchings.

On her hands Willow was wearing what looked like a spin on MMA gloves. They were fingerless so she could keep her dexterity, but with a bit of padding on the palm to reduce the chance of fracturing fingers; and the outside of the glove had padding to protect her knuckles, but with a hardened surface to make her punches pack a wallop.

To top it all off, literally, her hat. Her hair had been tied back in a simple ponytail, with a nice looking flat brimmed gambler hat; although the brim curled up a bit in the back left, almost like an Aussie slouch hat. It had a collar running around it with brass rivets, and what looked like a hawk feather sticking out.

“It’s no thrift store hodgepodge, but yeah, it looks hella keen,” Willow said in appreciation, her tone light but shifting towards genuine. “Thanks, Smart.”
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“It’s something,” snickered Clever.

“I have to insist,” blushed Smart, waving one of her hands, thankful for having something to occupy the other three, “I didn’t do anything. It’s quite literally a reflection of you. It’s an ideal. You were wearing it when you dream-walked. If anything you should be thanking yours–”

“As nice as Metal-eater’s clothes are,” interjected Creative, cutting the gushing short, “they aren’t going to do much more than keep her warm on her way to Diligence, and the Slumberer.”

“The Broken,” corrected Clever’s homunculus.

“The Dreamer,” checked Noble.

“The Unwoken,” insisted Smart.

The conversation slowed again as all four of them exchanged tense, annoyed glances. Creative was the first to break the silence, “Perhaps we should agree on a name.”

“You know that will never happen,” Smart said, “only the Sage knows our true names.”

“The Patron,” answered Creative.

“The Maker,” growled Clever.

“The Lord has his reasons,” sharply interjected Noble, sensing another argument, “but this is not the place to discuss them. Willow, would you like me to escort you to the northern gate? I think there are some things you should know about Diligence before you leave.”

Creative took the opportunity to say something snide in answer to this, but he and the other two artisans shrank away as Noble’s wings rose sharply. The warlike, tall centaur looked down at Creative with a gaze as hard as Ms. Smith’s. The thespian merely shrugged with an idle smile, the unevenness of his stance showing how unnerved he was.

Noble gave his attention back to Willow, only a few degrees less serious, “You won’t think less of me if I insist, will you?”
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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"The Drowsy Bint," Willow said in an aside as the names started getting thrown around.

"Dorm Mother," she continued up until Noble turned his attention her way. She had been working on belting the saber, and merely shifted her eyes to look up at the centaur; and eventually over to Creative to track the following tense stand off. As soon as the focus was once again on her she stood up straight and donned a wooden neutral look to avoid touching any nerves.

"By all means, insist!" Willow offered a forced laugh as she planted a hand on the saber hilt, and raised the other in a thumbs up.
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Noble carried himself with a sense of reluctance, but took the lead to the north road. The other artisans said their good-byes, but only Creative gave his with a degree of concern. Afterwards, the centaur carried on in silence, a small path emerging in the parting of the smallkin.

“I’m sorry,” apologized Noble, his hand fidgeting in the butt of his rifle, “for all of that. We have all been a fractured bunch; since I banished Diligence. Creative and Clever disagreed with me, Smart sided with me.”

This was when it became apparent to the artisan to explain his vagaries, “Smart, in all her work, discovered that…”

He gave her a sheepish glance, “... among the dangers humans pose…”

Then, ducking under a sign he continued, “... that the world is always plunged into oblivion by the threat of a traitor. We would have dismissed the former if it hadn't been for your appearance, and the latter if not for the nightmares that began to plague Diligence. He came to me in confidence, and admitted that his nightmares had convinced him that he was the traitor. Something animal had awoken in him, a guilt he had never known before and…”

With uneven breaths, Noble stopped his fingers tensing over the rifle butt.

“... I cast him out. In the last meeting he attended, for the safety of the realm, I banished him to the Jormundjaw Mountains. It was a contentious decision. He cursed us all, Creative cursed me, Clever took her sister and all quit the city.”

At that, Noble continued on, “And so, this is the situation you find yourself in. I wanted you to know before you entered the mountains. It is his realm, and his quarrids bar any entrance to the pass. None enter. Only his carts come and go, dropping off material for the city at the base.”
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow for the most part made her see-ya-laters with her typical bravado and grinning, with assurances that the next time they saw her it'd be with good tidings. Once she had departed with Noble however the panache faded into the awkward silence that Willow began to fill by making soft popping sounds with her mouth. She had a pretty good rythym going with some pats against her leather belt when Noble finally spoke up.

Part of Willow wanted to try and make some jokes to helpp lighten the mood, but something told her to probably play this one straight laced. So instead she made a deep exhalation through pursed lips while rubbing the side of her face.

"I can see why he'd be angry, and, not to salt the wound, segregating someone with mental issues isn't a great approach. Antinemo up in the tower could snag you some brochures the next time he plane hops," for what it was worth, Willow's tone was serious even if some of her vernacular was still colorful. "But be straight with me Noble. I'm not too worried about dodging his band of Pop Rocks, but when I get to his hall... when I get there, do I need to worry about him at all?"

Willow was looking over and up at the centaur.

"He got cast out for fearing he was the traitor, and now I, a human and destroyer of worlds, am just gonna traipse up to his door and ask for help. Should I prepare for anything?"
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“He does not fear he is the traitor,” answered Noble, not meeting Willow’s gaze for all his bravado and honor, “he knows it. It has consumed him.”

A wide span of marble rose over them in the next street as they came to a gate. The arch that preceded the edge of the city looked as though it used to be beautifully adorned, but was brought down by something powerful, something that looked as though it had raged to leave. Several smallkin worked at polishing off what looked like repairs from a long restoration project. From the threshold of the arch, Willow could see the North Gate, and through it, the growing mountains.

“I am told he suffers from a deep depression,” told the centaur, only pausing briefly to appreciate the work, “brought on by his dreams and his exile. He only rises to work, and he only rests to work, so is his name, but in sickness.”

It was then Noble brought his eyes back around to look at Willow, “He was a ferocious one. We fought side-by-side at the Taming of Vengeance, the Barrowhold, and at the Waking of the Wraiths. In that time, he had no fear, he did not know the meaning. He was Diligence, an unstoppable force of fire and iron, an unremitting taskmaster, and paragon of everything that is possible in good, honest work. Now?”

Those gold eyes of his fell, “Just hate. Hate for me. Hate for the city. The only thing that stirs him is that hate, otherwise, he cannot be drawn from his work. I can’t claim to know what he’ll make of you. Taking you for a destroyer would be as much as accepting his own fate as a traitor.”
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Straken
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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"Coooooooooooool," Willow let the word carry and drop like a slide whistle. "A depressed demi-god. Query: He wouldn't possibly ever considered killing humans he might see in attempts to absolve himself of his perceived traitornous, would he? Cause, I'll be honest, I sort of just bumble my way through helping people by being affably oblivious most of the time, and without metals to burn that's all I really got going for me."

Willow snapped her fingers quickly in a rhythm while also clapping her hands together. Once she was done she made a feigned flourish like Manon would do, but more punctuated and no confetti.

"So unless Dilly Mad-Hammer is in a particularly giving mood like the rest of y'alls, any tips for how to supplicate the next gallery member?"
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Kokuten
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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“Fight him.”

The words came out of Noble’s mouth before he even realized it. When he had a chance to think of what he said, he shook his head, screwing his eyes shut. “No. No. Foolish. My mind is stuck in the past.”

The gate facing the north was an imposing figure, capping off the head of Navipolis. A road wound from the mouth of the portcullis and stretched over bridges connecting the disparate islands. Much like when she had departed Jotungard and reached the Cairn Hills, Willow would find her journey ahead long.

Nearby, a couple canidaer were checking a cart from a pair of spriggans. The Allomancer could make out that they were arguing about a kind of customs for the material they were hauling. One of the spriggans rattled that they had metal fresh from the Jormundjaw mountains, but the guard informed them that they check any wood-hauled cart coming from the north. The spriggans cried profiling as well as urging a frustrated response from their arboreal beast of burden that resembled a woody boar.

Noble set out a small pack for Willow on the road, a small leather satchel that he had taken from the cart earlier. The flap opened as it touched the ground, revealing a few provisions for the road. It was a plain sack, save for a familiarly-stamped electrum coin sewn into the leather. A cloud raining spears downward was depicted on it, rounded by what seemed to be a word.

AKANUS.

“This should get you to the mountains, and to the forest. Should you dispatch Vengeance, the Lord himself would sustain you for whatever journey beyond that,” assured Noble with the utmost sincerity, “For Diligence… Try to appeal to his sense of duty. Do not open with the fact that you’re a human, but someone here to defeat Vengeance. It is my hope that he is not so far gone to allow you to leave without having contributed something to your cause.”

At that, Noble took Willow’s hand, and pressed a handful of nuggets into her palm. There were three of three kinds of metal: mythril, pewter, and brass.

“This is all I could find on such short notice. The Lord told me that you prefer to eat Pewter, but this is all I could find in… edible amounts. You used brass on the wraiths and you seemed to make use of mythril, so I was able to convince Smart to part with some of her alchemical reserves,” explained Noble as he curled Willow’s fingers over the last gift, pressing it shut, “And… if you cannot rouse Diligence to action… Use his fury. Diligence is an admirer of martial prowess in all of its displays. If you can convince him to a duel, and survive…”

Willow could see him hesitate as some emotion stilted his next words, “... you will have no finer friend.”
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Re: [The Dorms] A Perilous Acquaintance

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Willow balked slightly at Noble’s initial recommendation, but caught herself as she watched the other's own reaction to the comment. Sighing noticably in relief she gave a wry laugh as though it had been a joke. Her attention shifted as they passed through the rest of the city as she made herself take in the fact that she was still in a fantasy world. A notion that was lightly parodied by the sight of the legal disagreement near the gate. No matter where you went, the rozzers were still rozzing. Just as she was considering intervening with the zero authority she had on behalf of the spriggans in exchange for some of their metal her attention was drawn back to her centaur companion. More accurately, to the satchel he had set down. Then after accepting the electrum, she listened to Noble with undivided attention. She was taking this seriously.

"I will do everything I can," Willow affirmed as she gripped the proffered metal chunks in her hand. It was amazing; Noble's last suggestion was the same as his first, but with Pewter in her hand it struck her as far less absurd. Mithril, Pewter, Brass, and, unbeknowst to Noble it seemed, Electrum. With these metals she felt like she could take on a demi-god if it came down to it. Feeling refreshed to simply have more metal, she said a thank you to the world in general before tucking the nuggets into her bandolier, and the Akanus coin into an inner pocket of her duster.

"Thank you, Noble. I mean it. For everything. Especially the not shooting me part. That was top," Willow was back to grinning. "I owe ya. So iffen I see a chance to do for you and Dilly like I did for Sam and Clem, I'll see what I can do. Now, unless there's anything else, I best be off."
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