Curses! I could have died! Stupid fool! Ignoramus!
As soon as the door behind him, Lucius immediately berated himself inwardly. Even if it did work out in the end and Elrond didn't turn out to be a homicidal maniac like most Players were, he still wasn't happy with what happened at all.
He was absolutely livid with himself. If Castarossa's ghost had been following him ever since he left the castle, then the old man, even as a spirit, would've probably torn him a new one already. Or maybe laughed at his carelessness, considering how they parted ways.
I let my curiosity overshadow my sense of caution this time. I need to make sure that something like this does not happen again.
Lucius thought of the many other ways the encounter could've gone wrong and a gut-wrenching feeling overcame him, but with gritted teeth, he managed to shrug it off as he kept walking. It had been a long time since he felt this way. Castarossa made him pay very dearly for every single mistake he had ever made throughout his training, and after years and years of mental conditioning, the word error had already become taboo for him.
Now facing the stairs that led downward, Lucius slowed his steps and breathed in heavily. He tried to think of the positives that somewhat outweighed the possible consequences of his carelessness.
At least I now have a place to stay. Besides, that Outworlder elf seems genuine enough with his promise, although...should I hold him to his word?"
He had to admit that he was not expecting the Outworlder's actions at all. But then again, no one in his position would've.
For the longest time, he thought that Outworlders were heartless, greedy savages who killed other people just for their belongings that they kept calling 'loot' for some reason, or worse, just for the thrill of it, so seeing one break down to tears while apologizing to him was something beyond even his wildest dreams.
Maybe I should've taken his hand after all.
Lucius could do nothing but sigh as he remembered the look on Elrond's face while looking at him. He saw a lot of sadness—a lot of regret within those eyes. The elf couldn't even stare at him properly, and it was as if he was being tortured by something within him whenever he did.
What he wanted was more time to talk with the Elrond, but he could somehow tell that he was not the only one who felt uncomfortable being inside the room despite the obvious disparity between their Virtus. Even the Grandmaster's strange last words, Lucius guessed, were said with a smile in an awkward attempt to ease the tension between them before he left. Too bad the Providence of Babel didn't provide absolute comprehension of Outworlder terms. Looking back, it was just strange.
What is 'padawan' anyway? Tsk, nevermind. I need to slow down for now and collect my thoughts. There is much left for me to do.
Lucius huffed before taking his first step down the stairwell. It was going to be a long, long way down, but he consoled himself, thinking that at least going down the stairs was way easier than climbing them.
"Gah!" Lucius grabbed the railing, looked up, and saw a familiar face staring down at him with a smile. Fuming, he continued, "Tissette? What is your problem? You will be the death of me! Aren't you supposed to be training?!"
"Oh, don't be such a baby," said Tissette before leaping down the wall above the stairwell with surprising dexterity. "Anyway, you okay? You look like you were havin' a mental breakdown there for a sec."
"I am now," Lucius said, his face flushed as he stared at the girl. "Do you have any idea how many people have died after falling down the stairs?"
"Wait, really? What a dumb way to die." Tissette tilted her head. "See Lucius, this is exactly why you should train your coordination. Simple tasks like—"
Instead of arguing, Lucius sighed in annoyance before looking away and walking down the stairs—leaving Tissette and her ramblings behind. He didn't get far, however, as the girl immediately caught up to him being as light on her feet as she was.
"Hey, I'm sorry okay?" Tissette said with a wry smile, one of her arms scratching her head lightly. "Why are you being so touchy anyway?"
"I am not 'touchy'. You're touchy!" Lucius said, his tone dripping with annoyance as he stopped and looked at the startled Tissette.
It was then that for the first time, he caught a hint of sadness and insecurity on the Allagorian's face. It was almost bothersome to see, as he had already considered the girl the literal embodiment of walking sunshine and rainbows.
Almost too bothersome, in fact, that it completely caught Lucius off guard. As it turns out, he wasn't completely devoid of conscience even after all those years living with the Asherii, and Castarossa who was the epitome of indifference, no less.
"I...I'm sorry," Tissette said with her eyes averted. "Clearly you're not in the mood to be bothered."
"No. It is I who should be apologizing," Lucius said whilst shaking his head. "You have done me a great service, Lady Car—uh, Tiz. It was wrong of me to vent out my frustrations on you."
Much to Lucius's relief, Tissette instantly perked up after hearing his words, but then he sighed inwardly as he watched the girl's uplifted expression turn into that of confusion.
Here it goes.
"I'm glad you already think of me as a friend, but you're frustrated? Why? Is everything alright? Wanna tell me about it?" Tissette said in a quickfire of words, not even stopping to take a breath.
"I did not—" Faced with Tissette's almost-childish, yet kindhearted nature, Lucius paused before smiling wryly and shaking his head. "Maybe some other time."
"Oh. That's cool. I can wait," Tissette said as she looked at him with a wide smile—two of her pearly white fangs on full display.
With an awkward exchange of nods—both of them finally continued walking down the stairs.
"We're friends now, right?"
"Yes," said Lucius without much thought.
From then on, Lucius had to endure Tissette's endless and highly energetic chatter as they descended the equally endless flights of stairs.
To his surprise, it was not that bad.
Tissette looked around, and after seeing that there were no other people nearby, she suddenly jumped off of the last few steps with a chuckle. "First!"
Lucius, on the other hand, was almost out of breath as he took his last step—his ears drooping down on his head lazily.
Going down the stairs might've been easier, but he was still a bit tired from climbing and walking a long distance earlier. Not to mention his legs were already sore and shaking in the first place.
I really need to improve my Corpus. The sooner the better.
"Where are we going now?"
Lucius stretched his legs, and after a short breather, he finally answered, "I was told by the Grandmaster to go to the Registrar's Office."
"Do you even know how to get there?"
"Walk northeast after going down the stairs and exiting the main hall through the left side door, then walk just beyond the gardens and keep at it until you see a building with a red roof. Take two rights turns, a left, and another right then you will see it. That is what the Grandmaster told me." Lucius said, repeating what he remembered word for word.
"Nice. You remembered all that?" Tissette said, grinning. "Anyway, you might want to put that off for now."
"Because I want to introduce you to my other friends!" Tissette said, her eyes practically gleaming.
Despite being interested, Lucius gave Tissette a noncommital look. "Do I have to?"
"Come on, it'll be fun! I've already told them to gather at Ardy's dorm room! I mean, we were supposed to meet anyway because of the party later, but I managed to convince them to go there early!"
With nothing better to do anyway, Lucius eventually agreed to Tissette's proposition with half a nod. While he originally planned to visit the library first to gather information, he had to admit that the prospect of meeting new people and keeping his mind off of the complicated things for a while sounded much more appealing.
"Great! Let's go!"
Tissette led Lucius through the halls where crowds and crowds of rowdy, rambunctious people were enjoying themselves. Some, he noticed, enjoyed themselves far too much. Almost half of the people they passed by were drunk to some extent, and if they weren't, they certainly acted like it.
Pieces of colored parchment, used cups, plates, and sometimes, even random articles of clothing were scattered everywhere—being trampled upon by the rowdy crowds of students who were also singing as loudly as their hoarse throats allowed them. Never had Lucius seen such a spectacle, and he was just as amazed as he was confused.
"Is this not a bit much?" said Lucius as he looked around in a daze while walking.
"A bit much? You haven't even seen the best of it yet!" Tissettes said with a hushed voice as she and Lucius weaved through the crowd. "Though I wouldn't advise mingling with anyone for now. They may be all festive and crazy for now, but—"
"Hey, Tissette! Come 'ere, you fucking bug!"
Lucius turned his head and saw a Ferrian with a big, curved horn staring at them, or Tissette, rather, with a huge smirk. Even from afar, he could barely see the Ferrian's horizontal, rectangular pupils glint in anticipation.
"Oh, crap!" Tissette's eyes widened as the Ferrian drew closer and closer.
"Why, who is that rude fellow?" Lucius said with a frown. "And why did he just call you—"
Lucius didn't get to say another word as Tissette suddenly grabbed him by the hand and ran—her grip a bit too tight for his comfort.
"What is the meaning of this?!" Lucius tried to struggle against the girl's grip, but to no avail.
"No time to explain, just run!" Tissette said before shouting, "‹Windrun›!"
Windrun has been cast on you.
Your mobility has been greatly improved.
Duration: 30 seconds
Bonuses: ↑20 Corpus
What in theeeEEEE!
Regardless of his prior exhaustion, Lucius suddenly felt as if he was running like the wind. Quite literally, as when he started running, gusts of wind spurred him onwards with a mad howl. His feet were barely even touching the ground.
Lucius's eyes widened in surprise as he looked at Tissette who was dragging him by the arm—not even daring to look back.
W-Windrun? Not only is she a great warrior, but she's a magus as well? Curses. Is she truly the same age as I?
The students that were caught unaware of Tissette's spellcasting were blown away as Lucius fled with Tissette, leaving the chaotic scene and the shouts of the horned Ferrian behind.