Jennifer stared dumbfounded at Rumina as the red-head rushed inside, making her way past an equally surprised and confused Nathaniel.
“What are you doing here? How- how did you find me?” Jennifer asked, as Rumina made her way in, eyeing the members nervously for a moment before she hugged her.
“I didn’t it was-”
“I did it, ye got plenty of crap I could’ve used to find ye. Like that appraisal ring charged with your mana,” Haireth snorted as he stomped inside. “Stop getting into so much trouble ye dumb little brick, yer friend was worried for you,” he said, before he turned his eyes towards the others sitting in the room.
“So, which of ye bastards pulled my girl's hair after chasing her through the city? Ye lot don’t seem like no thugs to me, that yellow guy there’s a ranked one for sure. Never thought I’d see a ranked adventurer chasing around little girls,” he said, glaring at Viel and the others.
Nathaniel turned, closing the door once more. “It’s not like that, we were’-”
“Let me be straight with ye,” Haireth interrupted. “I really don’t care what it was like, and why ye did it. Matter of fact is, that I don’t think Jennifer knows any of ye, because I’d damn well know if she was hanging out with ranked folks.” He said, a frown on his face as he turned back towards Viel.
“So, what ye have done is take a girl from the city, and then drag her here to the guild where then ye all sit across her all intimidating like in a private warded off room. Sera save me but I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t be shouting to all hells about ranked plates kidnapping a girl?”
Jennifer felt the air turn slightly heavier, and she looked at her master. Surprise flashed on her face as she saw her master keeping his strong presence even among ranked adventurers. She turned towards Rumina, the red-head looking back at her as she walked a bit ahead and grabbed her hand.
She squeezed back, turning towards Viel as she ignored the pang of guilt that filled her chest.
“Allow me to apologize about the events that transpired. I hadn’t intended to chase her, but circumstances led to this sequence of events and Jennifer possessed something that made it so that I could not let her go as it involved the security of Lienmont as well, along with her life.”
Her master turned towards her for a brief second, before he continued. “Leaving the issue of what this so-called thing is and how it would endanger her. Do ye think that it was so immediate that she could not even inform her friend and family, that she sent her friend running in a panic to call the guards on ye? The city is in turmoil as is and then I find her friend running to me in a panic, and tell me about a man chasing her. Do ye not understand how that looks?” Haireth said, folding his arms and Viel dipped his head in reply.
“I apologise for causing you worry. I could’ve handled things a bit better. It just came to me as a surprise to find a child. But even then, my decisions were made with my role as a ranked plate in mind, and I do not think that they were wrong,” Viel said, leaning ahead, his face resolute.
Jennifer noticed her master frown about to reply when she interrupted. “Master! Umm, we need to talk,” she said. “Outside,” she added for the others.
Her master turned towards her, still frowning but he did not say anything and nodded. She got up, still grabbing Rumina’s hand as they walked out of the room.
Her master leaned against the wall, folding his hands as he turned to look at her expectantly. Jennifer stood awkwardly for a moment before she spoke up.
“I’m sorry, I just panicked when I felt another mark and ran away, and then he came and asked me to follow him and I couldn’t really tell anyone,” she said, looking down.
“Not yer fault, this time anyways,” Haireth huffed, rubbing his beard once. “One of them has another one of these marks, don’t they?” he added and Jennifer nodded.
“What’s going on Jenn,” Rumina asked, looking at her, and Jennifer looked at her friend’s worried face, her gut churning.
“Ye haven’t told her?'' Haireth said, raising an eyebrow, “just like you to try and keep things hidden I s’pose.”
“She hasn’t told me what?” Rumina asked, looking at Haireth for a second before she turned towards Jennifer.
“I- Okay. Rumina, I will tell you things in detail, but all I can explain right now is that I have something on me. I can’t show it out here but it’s magical and it gives me...well, something similar to foresight.” She paused at the incredulous look on her friend’s face. Which soon morphed into one of suspicion.
“No I’m not lying, I know it’s a bit out there but I’ll explain to you I promise. I can sense other people with similar marks and that guy, Viel, he’s one of them. I’m being asked to join the adventurers guild because of it, for reasons and- just, I’ll tell you all of it. I promise. But right now I need to talk to those people and-”
“What’s there to talk about, is what I don’t understand. What is it that they want from ye?”
“They want me to join a delve in the dungeon with them,” Jennifer breathed out.
“What?! Are you mad Jenn? You’re going to go on a delve with those guys? Ranked adventurers? I don’t even know what to say anymore, what about your admission into the academy?”
Right, I completely forgot about that.
“It’s going to be delayed soon, as I said, many things are happening Rumina,” Jennifer said, feeling exhausted.
Rumina stared at her, confusion and disbelief flashing on her face. “Why do you keep hiding things from me Jenn? The glass magic, all these little secrets, that message. I-” Rumina paused, clenching her hand.
Jennifer felt guilt stab through her gut and she took a step ahead and hugged her friend. “I’m sorry,” Jennifer whispered, “I’m sorry for not telling you earlier, it’s just been so difficult and-” her eyes watered as she buried her face in her friend’s shoulder.
Why am I hiding all these things? I...can I tell them? Just like that? I don’t want to keep running away from everything.
“I think I’ve decided,” Jennifer said, as she wiped her eyes. “I’m going to hear what they have to say, and I’m going to tell them. What I saw happen, warn them about the incoming danger and ask them to protect all of you. I can get that much at least.” she said, towards her master.
“Don’t do it all on your own, I’ll be there with ye. If ye want to talk, then talk freely,” Haireth said and Jennifer smiled.
“I’ll tell you Rumina, follow me,” she said and as she knocked on the door. Nathaniel opened the door for them, his eyes tracking Haireth and then Rumina as all of them went in.
“We do seem to keep getting interrupted in our talk,” Viel said with a slight smile. Jennifer didn’t reply, silently taking a seat ahead of him.
“I have something to share, but I’ll hear you out first. I know about the delve thing, I was given this iron plate as well,” Jennifer said, pulling the metal plate out before she heard her master scoff, before she quickly stuffed it back in.
“Jennifer Laine,” Irwys spoke up. “You’re an enigma. You know my name, and you claim to have seen a dream where another mark rampaged among the city. You have a mark, but do not know how to use it. You look at me as if you’re surprised by my presence, like you do not expect me to behave the way I do. It doesn't all tie together very well,” he said, leaning back in his seat and Jennifer paused.
“I could say the same,” she retorted. “You haven’t been very forthright with me either. I was brought here, and then was told that not only am I an adventurer now, but I also have to participate in a secret delve of Ranked adventurers. Why do you need me there? What do you want from me?” Jennifer asked, looking Irwys back in the eye.
“Very well, let me tell you of our offer Jennifer. I am here, on behalf of my Prince, as a form of alliance between the guild and his highness to control the trial and to reach the Library. We are gathering all the marks willing to cooperate with us and we will provide shelter to all those who need it,” Irwys said, his silver eyes gleaming as he momentarily glanced behind Jennifer at Rumina and her master.
“The other marks try to kill each other, to absorb their marks into their own. All till only one remains, but my prince refuses to participate in a barbaric trial where people rush at each other’s throats. He has found a way to open the library, without all the twelve keys required.”
“This is our offer to you, Mark of Time. Join us, and help us reach the library, to end this trial once and for all,” Irwys said, a powerful note in his voice.
Jennifer sighed, about to reply when Haireth interrupted her. “Hold up lass, I know ye’ve made yer mind. But if you think I’m letting ye delving into the depths then you’re sorely mistaken,” He turned towards Irwys.
“I see ye got some royals behind you, and ye say that ye’re collecting these marks. If ye’ve got others then you shouldn't need her mark should ye?”
“She needs to be able to protect herself,” Viel spoke up. “The marks have unknown abilities and Jennifer has to be capable of protecting herself when in danger. She doesn’t even know how to use her mark right now, it’s a bright beacon to anyone looking for it. She’ll need to learn how to use her abilities properly,” Viel said, in a sharp voice, before he relaxed.
“Besides, we don’t plan to force anyone. She’ll be trained and there will be danger, yes. But it’ll be in a controlled environment with multiple ranked adventurers there to help her. She cannot avoid the danger now that she has gotten a mark,” Viel said, before he turned towards Jennifer, looking her in the eye.
“If by the end of the month, you still think that you are not prepared then we won’t force you. The delve would’ve happened even without you. It all comes down to your own choice Jennifer.”
Jennifer clenched her hands, looking down for a moment before she looked back up, drawing her back straight she extended her hand, looking Viel into the eye as she leaned ahead and extended her hand.
“I’ll join you,” she said and a smile covered Viel’s face as he grasped her hand, shaking it back.
“I’m happy to hear that Jennifer,” Viel said and Jennifer saw her mark start glowing, her eyes went towards Viel, his own mark shining with a golden colour and she felt a link form between them.
She looked up surprised at Viel’s face and he smiled. “You’ve much to learn about marks, but we have time.” he said and Jennifer turned towards her master, a frown on his face. He looked back, patting her shoulder once as he nodded.
“Before we move on. I...have a few things to share,” Jennifer said, as she metally tried to come up with where she should start. She sat for a moment, thinking before she looked back up.
“My ability. My power, it let me see the future,” she said, and got an acknowledging nod from Viel.
“I have seen this month happen, and at the end of it, I saw Lienmont burning, invaded by the demons and the sand tribes, as they razed the city. A mark, using storms of sand flew among them. A strong mage, leading the charge as they tore through the walls."
“I saw a massacre happen at his hands, right before he took my life.” she said, her voice quivering at the end. She felt Rumina’s stare on her back but resisted from turning around.
She saw Viel frown, turning towards Nathaniel for a moment as they both stared at her. Irwys leaned ahead, cold silver eyes staring into her as he spoke.