After running for what seemed to be an eternity, Lucius finally saw a signpost atop a series of gated areas that said 'Primus Dormitories'. Inside the gates were massive and well-built buildings.
The duration of Windrun has expired. You no longer have increased mobility.
Bonuses: ↓20 Corpus
Lucius looked down and felt a bit disappointed that there weren't bursts of gale and breeze anymore. Instead, below him now were only his boring old feet that trembled every time he took a step.
Windrun, was it? What a nice spell to have. Too bad it ended too quickly.
On a more positive note, it was the first time he had a spell cast on him that wasn't meant for his 'discipline'. After running faster than he could've ever imagined and being imbued with the power of the wind temporarily, he had to admit that he felt a little giddy inside, although he could never tell Tissette that. He didn't want to give her the satisfaction.
The running continued, and regardless of Lucius's breathless pleas for the girl to slow down, Tissette dragged him towards one of the larger buildings and took him to the highest floor. There, he was thrown into one of the rooms where several other people were all seated on different couches while chatting, or at least, they were before Tissette came barging in with him in tow.
"Sorry about that Lucy," Tissette said after shutting the door behind her with a wide, awkward smile.
Lucius threw the girl a look while rubbing his wrist. "Could you please warn me before you cast a spell on me and dragging me along next time? We're not all tireless, I'll have you know."
"Next time?" Tissette eyed Lucius with an upturned brow and a smirk. "Of course."
Lucius quickly realized his mistake and what the cheeky expression on Tissette's face meant. Frowning, he immediately replied, "That is not what I—"
"Everyone, look! It's Lucius!" Tissette shouted, ignoring Lucius's attempt to correct her.
Lucius turned around and saw that Tissette's friends were already looking at him expectantly.
The Ferrian at the corner of the room with a wild, golden mane looked at him with a small smile, while two humans and an elf that were all seated together each regarded him with a courteous, yet friendly nod.
Tissette then pointed at each person in the room and introduced them in quick succession. "That one who's sitting by the lightbox is Althea, those two eating pizza by the couch are Mort and Ardy, and that lanky dude sitting beside them is Orlen. Got all that? Hah, 'course you did."
Never before had Lucius heard anyone talk that fast. He would feel amazed if it weren't for the impending feeling of dread that he felt inside as he looked at the strangers before him.
Not wanting to be embarrassed in one of his first-ever introductions once again, Lucius breathed slowly through his nose as he put on the best smile that he could.
Then the doubts came in.
W-Was it too early? Should I have waited a bit more to socialize? My training might be—
"Well, what are you guys waiting for? Go on, say your best introductions!" Tissette said before gently pushing Lucius forward.
With Tissette's strength, the slightest push was enough to make Lucius stumble over his steps clumsily.
"Uh, good evening to you sirs, ladies," Lucius said as he managed to end his stumbling with a bow.
Curses! I forgot to get rid of the bow!
Seeing that there's no turning back, Lucius held his smile and bow. An awkward silence ensued until one of the humans chuckled and took a step towards him, making him sigh in relief inwardly.
Heh. I did it.
He watched carefully as the human—Ardred—put his hand out towards him with a warm smile. He shook the hand firmly, and he could tell just from his grip that the boy was strong. Not just physically, but the human also exuded copious amounts of aether that was quite unusual for his kind.
"Well, as the host of this party, I guess I should introduce myself first! Hi there, I'm—"
"Hey, just because the party is in your place doesn't make you the host! I thought we already agreed the other day that I'm the host!" the other human—Mort—said while pointing at Ardred.
"Nope. I'm pretty sure decided that on your own," Ardred argued back. "Besides, I didn't see you volunteering to introduce yourself first, did I? Don't you think that the host should always be the one introducing themselves first?"
Mort frowned. "False. I was about to but you just beat me by one second."
"Just let him be the damn host, Ardy. I don't want to have to put you two on timeout again."
"Timeout? Who the hell are you, our mom?" Mort said—Aldred nodding with him as they both looked at the elf who just spoke up.
Lucius turned towards the elf—Orlen—who had a tired, bored look on his face. He was surprised to learn that the elf was pureblooded—his amber-colored pupils shining bright and elegantly just like Elrond's.
Lucius doubted Orlen's elegance in conduct, however, as the elf just kept on spouting out expletives towards the two humans who never stopped arguing ever since they got started.
Just like that, Lucius was left hanging and forgotten as the trio launched into a barrage of petty arguments and jests.
Looking at the rowdy, almost-comical sight unfolding before him, his eyes twitched as he barely held himself back from shaking his head with a sigh. He couldn't believe that he was actually looking forward to this.
Th-This wasn't in the books. Is this truly how social interactions usually go?
Lucius turned towards the Ferrian girl —Althea—who suddenly approached him with a shy smile on her face.
While looking more or less the same as humans, those with Ferrian blood had several characteristics and physical traits akin to that of animals', thus bearing them a great gift that was unique to each of their clan only, and one look at Althea's bright, golden mane and the similarly-colored fur of the ears on top of her head was all it took for Lucius to realize that the girl had many gifts. Althea was a lionkin—one of the most ferocious and highly-respected Ferrian clans in Elyssia in his time.
"Uh, hello there," said Lucius with an uncertain smile—a bit taken aback by Althea's sudden approach.
"Where—what're you...Where are you from?"
"I...I don't know."
"Oh. Okay. Good talk," Althea said before nodding to both Lucius and Tissette and walking back to the 'lightbox' at the corner of the room.
His mouth slightly ajar, Lucius turned to Tissette and gave her a confused look. Now he really had no idea what to do with himself.
"Sorry. They're not usually like this," Tissette said with a wry smile. "Even though it's a holiday right now, we'll have to take the exams soon, so they're kinda—"
"You idiots really will be the death of me!"
"I don't care! He started it! I was supposed to be the host!"
"Kinda on edge—"
"The heck? How is this my fault? I'm not the one who didn't bring any food to the party, am I?"
"What does that even have to do with anything?"
"The host always brings food, you—"
"Alright, that's it! Everybody SHUT IT!"
Tissette's sudden outburst surprised everyone including Lucius, and just like that, the room was quiet again.
"What?" Orlen said, his head tilted sideways while tapping his foot impatiently.
"Oh uh," Tissette muttered, looking uncertain as to what to say next. A few silent moments passed until finally, she smiled and continued, "Lucius has something to say."
"What? No, I—"
Lucius breathed unsteadily as he once again basked in the slew of expectant gazes around him. Even Althea who only had her eyes glued to the lightbox joined the others and looked at him as well, as if waiting for something to happen.
"I-Is this a party?"
Tissette, Mort, and Ardred stared at each other for a moment before laughing out loud. They patted each other in the back playfully and even Lucius, much to his confusion, was patted on the back as well.
Was it something I said?
After a few giggles, Tissette put a hand over Lucius's neck and said, "Now that's what I'm talking about! See, even Lucy here gets it better than you guys! And he's actually pretty uptight!"
"Yeah, sorry about that. Lucius, was it?" Ardred said with a grin. "I hope you don't mind the thing Mort and I have going on. We go through this all the time that it's almost a routine, to be honest."
Genuinely confused, Mort said, "Wait, what do you mean?"
"Well basically, I hate your guts and you hate mine. Kinda like brothers, but better," Ardred said with a thoughtful expression and continued, "And we almost always manage to drag Orlen into it. Now that I think about it, isn't he kinda like our dad?"
Both Mort and Orlen looked as if they were about to argue otherwise, but instead, they paused for a bit before nodding with pursed lips.
Ardred waved his hand. "Well anyway, I hope we didn't scare you off. We're a pretty friendly bunch. Although, Mort's a bit too sensitive so you're gonna have to wait a bit before—"
"I'm obviously kidding. Geez, Mort. And you wonder why I make fun of you all the time," Ardred said, rolling his eyes before grabbing Mort and Orlen with each arm and walking away.
Ardred, however, turned around surreptitiously and shook his head at Lucius with a wry smile before mouthing off the words, "I wasn't kidding."
After a short discussion, the trio finally started to do their work around the room with Ardred and Orlen cleaning up the table and Mort walking towards what seemed to be a huge block of steel at the far corner of the room and retrieving containers full of food and drinks.
Fascinated by the strange apparatus, Lucius looked at the steel block that emanated chilly air and vapor before it was shut close once again.
Despite his curiosity, however, Lucius shrugged the matter off before following Tissette who joined the others with the preparations. It wasn't the time for silly questions, after all. Not when there was yet another foreign thing unfolding right before his eyes.
Except for Althea who would only sneak a few occasional glances over the lightbox, Ardred, Mort, Orlen, and Tissette finally started to prepare the amenities and decorations for the party.
The four friends chatted with an excited grin on their faces. Grins that eventually rubbed off on Lucius himself as he watched them work together—completely unaware of the small smile that crept across his face and Althea who was looking right at him with a blank expression—her pale, amber eyes glinting ever-so-slightly.