A note from Kyfe

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The dancers eventually left the dance floor after the musicians played several more compositions. Reivyn heaved a sigh of relief once they stopped playing, and Teilon finally came to the table with Kimberly, a smirk on his face. Their faces were flushed from the exertion of moving, and Teilon was in high spirits. Kimberly seemed to be quite pleased, herself.

Reivyn tuned out the subtle digs and displays of one-upmanship from the two girls. Other than touching me when Melissa spilled the water, nothing they have done has been anything exaggerated. They seem to be staking a claim more than anything, most likely for their families. Melissa has never displayed any kind of interest in me before, and I hardly know Lin at all.

The girls practically ignored Reivyn as they continued their verbal spars, but the Count mounting the little stage where the musicians had been put a temporary stop to it.

"First, I want to thank you all for coming. Everyone here played an integral role in defending the city from the Dungeon Break army that accosted us," The Count surveyed the entire venue. His gaze paused on Lin for a moment before he continued. "Also, the esteemed guests of the Duke's Army. I thank you for sending several teams of your finest troops ahead of the main force to assist us. Please convey my utmost gratitude to the Duke when you return.

"I won't bore everyone with long speeches, and I won't be patting myself on the back, either. I have thrown this victory feast simply to personally convey my gratitude to everyone who braved death in the face of impossible odds. I won't extend the banquet beyond dancing and the meal, but I have prepared rewards for everyone.

"In a moment, I will instruct the chef and waiters to deliver the food, and I'll go around and personally hand out the rewards while you eat. I think everyone here can agree that it makes much more sense than to have a long, drawn-out ceremony that will quickly get old as we end up saying the same things over and over again.

"Without further ado, let the food be served."

The count looked to the side of the banquet and lifted his hand to gesture for those waiting in the wings to come in. The doors opened, and many waiters and servants came in with large, covered trays. They walked about the room, setting them down on each of the tables, and the Count motioned for everyone to begin eating without preamble.

The Count stepped down and joined Knight-Captain Reifold and his Mage-Liaison as he started walking to each table, conversing with the people seated there. Reivyn watched as he moved about, talking and joking with people, and he had multiple servants to hold things like scrolls and other awards that he passed to the people. An advisor was on standby to give him the names of anyone, but from what Reivyn could see, the Count hadn't needed it, yet, as he seemed to know everyone's name.

"He's quite shrewd," Melissa said, forgetting about her little competition with Lin for the moment. "He must have some sort of social Skill that allows him to remember names, faces, or both. It's not uncommon for nobles and other people dealing with social interactions." Melissa glanced at Lin then at Reivyn. "I can help you get such a Skill and work on it in our free time at the Academy. It should help you a lot in integrating. We have a couple of years together to work on it."

"That's not a bad idea, Reivyn," Lin interjected with a smile. "I can lead you out to where my men are camped and get you a big boost to the Skill Level by having you interact with the Duke's soldiers." She turned to look at Melissa, "You wouldn't want Reivyn to hobble himself by not allowing him to meet more people, would you?"

"That's an excellent idea," Melissa replied. "I've always wanted to see the inner workings of one of the Retinues of the Kingdom's top nobles. I'm sure you run a tight ship, and nothing will be out of place."

"Quite," Lin snapped the tessen open and peered at Melissa over the top of it with narrowed eyes.

Reivyn rubbed his temples with his hands. I need to put a stop to this.

"Ladies," Reivyn said, putting his hands down and looking at each of them in turn with a meaningful look. "Let's keep things civil."

"Of course," Melissa said, placing her hand on his forearm. "Miss Lin and I have been nothing but."

"Yeah, Reivyn," Lin replied, reaching over to adjust his collar with her free hand. "Melissa and I are getting along just fine. What are you worried about?" Reivyn rolled his eyes as he sighed.

"I'm not worried about anything," he said. "I just want to enjoy the banquet. We have time for all of those other things, later. I would be happy to visit the camp and see how things are run out there, and I would obviously welcome learning new Skills. But let's enjoy the food for now."

"Certainly," Melissa said with a sweet smile.

The waiters arrived at their table and placed the covered trays down, removing the ornate covers after getting everything settled to reveal what was underneath. There were many selections of food available, and it wasn't served in the same way as the previous banquet he had attended. The first banquet had been served courses in turn, but this time, everything was placed on the table all at once for everyone to pick and choose at will.

There were several different whole fowls, cuts of steak, and cuts of lamb. That only consisted of the meats made available. There were several other side dishes of a variety of fruits and vegetables, salads, and desserts.

Conversation temporarily ceased as everyone heaped servings onto their plates and tucked in with gusto. The food was clearly expertly made, and nobody was going to give up the chance of tasting such exquisite dishes while still hot and fresh.

The Count continued to make his rounds, and he eventually arrived at Reivyn's table. Reivyn watched him out of the corner of his eye, and he noticed that his strange behavior whenever he encountered Reivyn had apparently been gotten under control, as he only paused for a second instead of abruptly stuttering his whole body.

"Young Reivyn, Teilon, Kimberly. Miss Melissa and Larissa Bluefayre, and their trusted bodyguard Erik. Captain Lin," The Count looked at each person as he greeted them all by name. "I humbly offer my thanks for each of your contributions to the defense of the city.

"Young Reivyn, you did an excellent job of stepping forward and issuing commands to the troops when we were ambushed. Teilon and Kimberly, your efforts in assisting the administrative soldiers in keeping the quivers stocked didn't go unnoticed, and I'm proud to have citizens willing to face the Revenants despite not being able to use Mana Skills on their own.

"Miss Melissa and Larissa, I am grateful for such esteemed guests to lend their magical expertise from the Magic Academy. I will be sure to send a letter to your family head to express my gratitude. Erik, you continued to show your stalwart character as you never hesitated to stay by the side of those you are entrusted to protect.

"Miss Lin, I greatly appreciate you recognizing that you wouldn't be able to make it in time, and you made the decision to send some of your stronger troops ahead to mix with the Adventurers. I've drafted a letter of thanks to the Duke, and I'll send it along with you when you depart."

Knight-Captain Reifold nodded to each of the individuals at the table as the Count addressed them and pointed out their contributions as he had personally witnessed them. The Count motioned for one of the servants carrying scrolls to step forward and hand him some.

"These are just a paltry official declaration of my thanks. They can be used as Letters of Recommendation in certain situations, and you can take them to the Adventurer's Guild to have them recorded on your file. They contain all of the individual deeds you accomplished in the battle. Reivyn, after consulting with Sword-Priest Josn, yours also contains the details of your warning at the Dungeon Town."

The Count personally handed over each scroll, and Reivyn and his friends offered their thanks. I already have a lot of accomplishments listed, but more couldn't hurt. We can take care of getting everyone officially in the Party at the same time that we record these, as well.

"Thank you, sir," Reivyn said as he took the scroll. The Count smiled to everyone, waved, and then moved on to the next table, followed by his subordinates. Reivyn and his friends continued to eat the delicious food once they had departed far enough away that it wouldn't be rude.

Yeah, we'll finish lunch here - Teilon and Kimberly might want to do some more dancing before we leave - and then head to the Adventurer's Guild to record the accomplishments. We'll handle the Party issue while we're there, and then we can head out to the Duke's camp for a stroll. Speaking of, I'll have to get that social Skill when we're done eating.

Reivyn picked up the pace he was eating. Years of proper manners at the table instilled by his mother, though, ensured that he didn't appear to be a mannerless barbarian. Reivyn glanced at Teilon out of the corner of his eye to see him with sauce smeared all over his face, and Kimberly was attempting to not laugh as she picked at her food in a much more dainty manner.

Reivyn sampled each of the dishes, and there wasn't a single thing on the table that he didn't enjoy, but by the time he had tried everything, he began to get full. He politely wiped his mouth, got a drink of water to wash everything down, and then cleared his throat as he looked at Melissa. She obviously had a smaller stomach, as she was already done and patiently waiting.

"Let's go get that social Skill," Reivyn said. Melissa smiled as she nodded. She stood up and led him away from the table by hand. Lin watched them go while continuing to fan herself with the borrowed tessen.

"Basically, we're just going to meet a lot of people in quick succession," Melissa said. "We'll walk up, introduce ourselves, make some small talk, and then leave quickly to the next group of people. Your job is to look each person in the eye, repeat their name back to them as you study their face, and say it to yourself in your head a couple of times as well.

"Once we've met everybody, we'll stand to the side, and you'll point out each person, discreetly, and try to recall their name. We'll do this over and over until you unlock the Skill."

"Sounds like a great time," Reivyn said.



Skill Leveled Up!
Memorization {Social} (1 ->7)

Reivyn looked at the Notification as they walked as a group out of the Lord's Manor. He had unlocked the Skill rather quickly, long before he had actually met everyone they had intended to, and the rest of the interactions had simply assisted in rapidly increasing the Skill Level. Reivyn didn't tell Melissa right away, though, and he went through with the entire plan.

Teilon and Kimberly had gotten the chance to do a bit more dancing while he was working on his Skill, and Lin had joined them at one point. She and Melissa had retracted their claws, however, and they had simply moved about the room, talking and interacting with all of the others in attendance.

Reivyn had been surprised at the number of people who recognized him. It seems like a lot of people were paying more attention than I gave them credit for during the battle. I guess they just froze up and didn't know exactly what to do without the commands coming down. It had only been a split second before I stepped in, after all.

He spent some extra time conversing with Josn and the other sword-priests who had accompanied him. The other man appeared to be back in high spirits again, and he was perfectly precise with his military poise and discipline.

Lorin and Cal had ended up sitting at the same table. They and their Parties had received an invite after word of them stepping up to assist the sword-priests in the retreat had been communicated to the Count from Josn.

The more Reivyn learned about the Sword-Priest, the more he felt he was right in starting a friendship with him. He's strict on his men and military discipline, but he recognizes merit where it's warranted and takes care of his people. He might have seemed a bit inexperienced, not understanding how to balance how hard he was before, but it looks like everyone has grown to respect him, and he's more comfortable with receiving it rather than demanding it.

He had bid farewell to the acquaintances he had made in the Dungeon Town. Who knows, we might meet each other in the Capital or at some other Dungeon in the future.

"Ok, it's time to get you guys on the Party, officially," Reivyn said as they exited onto the main thoroughfare. Lin tagged along with them. "I temporarily listed our Party as The Ravens, as I didn't really have any other ideas at the time. Does anyone else have any suggestions?"

"Oh, oh, oh, I have one!" Larissa said, hopping up and down. Reivyn nodded at her to give her suggestion. "The Frostfire Mages and Their Trusted Lackeys!" She pumped her arm up in excitement. Melissa smacked her with the back of her hand, and Teilon bent over laughing. "What? What did I say?" Larissa tilted her head, confusion on her face.

"Yeah, no," Melissa said. "We're not going to refer to our other Party Members as "Lackeys."

"Other Party Members?" Larissa asked. "I was referring to me and Reivyn. You're a Lackey, too," Larissa teased her sister.

"Haha, looks like you're a fellow Lackey, Melissa," Teilon said after he recovered from laughing.

"I don't see anyone else offering any suggestions," Larissa said, crossing her arms. Reivyn could see a slight twinkle in her eye and knew that she wasn't serious about the whole Lackey thing. I think.

"What about the Flower Knights?" Kimberly said. "We have those Flower Crowns that we wore on our way to the Dungeon Town that your sisters made for us, and I'm sure they could make more for the others." Melissa had a contemplative look on her face at the name, and Larissa didn't seem to mind either.

"Yeah, I don't think so," Teilon said. "I don't think anyone would take us seriously with 'Flower' in our name. I know I wouldn't."

"Our reputation could speak louder, with time," Reivyn pointed out.

"Yeah, with time," Teilon nodded. "But our name will be the first impression, and then we'll have to work double-time to fix it. Also, I bet a lot of others would think we're a group of all girls."

"Fair point," Reivyn agreed.

"You're also not Knights," Lin supplied. "You can be a bit loose with naming conventions for Adventuring Party names, but some nobles or their knights might take exception to using the term."

"That makes sense," Kimberly said.

"What could we use that conveys the same intention, but sounds fierce, instead?" Teilon scratched his head in thought. The others were silent for a moment as they thought about the situation.

"Thorn," a voice intruded on everyone's thoughts. Reivyn turned to the source of the word, and Erik was walking along as if he hadn't just spoken up.

"Hmm, yeah, that could work. So we use 'Thorn' instead of 'Flower,' but what do we use instead of 'Knight?'"

"Oh, oh, oh, let's combine the two!" Larissa said in excitement. "The Frostfire Thorns!" Melissa tapped her lips in thought, and Reivyn looked between each of the Party Members.

"I don't have a problem with it," he said. "In fact, it might just grow on me. It combines the 'Frostfire' nature of Melissa and Larissa, and it conveys a fierce connotation along the 'Flower' theme that Kimberly mentioned."

"Yeah, I like it," Teilon said. Kimberly and Melissa nodded their heads in approval. Erik kept silent on the matter. He would probably be fine with Flower Knights.

"I guess it's settled then," Reivyn said. "From now on, our Party will officially be known as 'The Frostfire Thorns.'"

I have to admit, I like it better than "The Ravens," Reivyn thought to himself. It combines concepts from both of our initial groups, and it doesn't sound too feminine.

"Is Miss Melissa Bluefayre the rose on top of the thorned stem?" Lin joked, glancing at Melissa's dark red hair. Melissa lifted her chin and threw her shoulders back as she walked.

"Maybe I am," she said. The others chuckled as they made their way to the Adventurer's Guild.

The process of getting their accomplishments recorded was a simple, quick affair. The scrolls the Count had given them were designed to be used in such a manner for ease of use. I would bet that most things issued by the nobles will have a similar function. There was a spot to hold their tokens to - the two Magic Academy students had Student Tokens instead of Adventurer ones, but they were still recognized by the Guild - and then the receptionist had them hold their tokens to a copy of their record on file to record it for the entire Guild.

The whole ordeal had only taken a couple of minutes to get accomplished. Reivyn then pulled the record of their Party which had been generated when he supplied the information on the Dungeon, and they got their official name put in place.

"It's still early, so let's go ahead and head out to my camp," Lin said as they left the building. "I can introduce you to the other officers and leaders in my Company. You can Level your Skill some more, and get some more connections with some of the lesser scions sent to military duty for the Duke. Someone of your caliber, about to attend the Magic Academy, can definitely benefit from making some more connections."

"I can't disagree with that," Melissa said. "I won't be able to vouch for each of their families, but while they're in service to the Duke, their family politics should take a backseat to their duty."

"Just so," Lin said. "It was a special circumstance, and not just involving my own family, that I was dispatched to clear things up last time."

"Alright, sounds like a plan," Reivyn said.

"Do you guys plan on going back to the Dungeon? There's still some time before the next semester begins," Lin queried. Reivyn looked at Teilon and Kimberly, both of whom just shrugged.

"I've accomplished what I wanted to at this time," Reivyn said. He looked over at Melissa and Larissa. "What about you two?"

"We did what we wanted to accomplish, too," Melissa said. "It makes more sense for us to get back to the Academy sooner so that we can get credit for all of the information instead of some other students who might show up and run the Dungeon themselves. Technically, the information has already been supplied to the Adventurer's Guild, but students can get bonus School Credits for being pioneers and being the first to officially inform the Academy."

"Well, then," Reivyn said, "I guess we're in agreement that we can go ahead and move on to the Capital at any time."

"Excellent," Lin said. "Then may I offer that you head in that direction with us? We won't be escorting you 'officially,' but we'll be moving in the same direction - the Duke's domain is located just outside of the Capital - and you can travel the road in peace without having to worry about the occasional goblin attack." Reivyn once more looked to his Party members for their opinion, and they once more simply shrugged.

"Alright, then," Reivyn said. "We'll take you up on the offer; however, there is one last thing I need from you." He gave Lin a pointed look, and she tilted her head in confusion. "Can I have my tessen back, now?"

Lin chuckled as she extracted the war fan from where she had placed it in her inner breast pocket and handed it back to Reivyn.


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