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a Hailey goes to school in Erebonia
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    "Well, it seems you've cooled your head at least," Laura comments at Machias.

He sighs. Grumbling-ly. "Yes. I've calmed down now."


"Good to see you lot," Hailey says. "I wonder if the missing ones will turn up at some point."

She looks around thoughtfully.


"We're still missing the Albarea, and that silver-haired girl..."

The quartet of boys and the quartet of girls come together in two lines, facing each other.

"At any rate, I believe introductions remain to be made, do they not?" Laura says to the boys. "I'm Laura Arseid, from the town of Legram. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

    "Huh... Legram..." the bishonen boy repeats thoughtfully.

    "That's down on the southeastern outskirts of the Empire, isn't it?" the cute ginger asks.

"Correct. It's an old castle town on the shores of Lake Ebel. We're connected to the rest of the country by train, but other than that, it's a fairly remote region."

    "That name sounds so familiar..." Machias startles. "Wait! So your father would be-"

"Yes. My father is Viscount Arseid, lord of Legram. Do you take issue with that?"

    Machias blanches. "N-No! Not at all."

"...Machais, was it? I can only speak for myself, but I don't feel I've ever done anything to bring shame upon myself in Aidios' eyes. And I fully believe the same to be true of my father."


Machias' attitude toward nobles is rather taking a hard back seat in the face of an honorable, beautiful, female example of the class.

"P-Please, I meant no offense. I'm sorry if I... if I, uh..."

Machias quickly turns to the kindest-looking and most approachable-looking person present who is not Laura.

"Say, I don't believe we've been introduced."


Emma allows herself to be used as a distraction in this manner, and bows politely.

"I'm Emma Millstein. Like Laura, I come from a distant region of the Empire. I was only able to attend Thors thanks to a scholarship, in fact."

She smiles in a way she hopes will ease the tension in this conversation.

"It's very nice to meet you."

    "A scholarship. Hmm, indeed. Now that you mention it, our instructor did say yours was the top score on the entrance exam." Machias lowers his eyes and frowns. "To think I was outdone... and by a girl no less..."

    The tall rugged boy chuckles. "You must be quite the prodigy."

Emma's smile gets a little bashfully awkward as she giggles demurely.

"Maybe it seems like it now, but really. I'm not. I don't have any training in the martial arts either, so this is the weapon they recommended for me."

Emma shows off her orbal staff.


"Oh, cool. You got an orbal staff too!"

The cute ginger peers at Emma's staff.

"Yours looks different from mine, though."

He deploys his staff and sets it upright to show off. Where Emma's is purple and hook-shaped, his is a pale green and shaped more like an inverted bell.

    Emma examines it curiously. "So it does. I wonder if it's just cosmetic..."

"I guess we'll have to figure that out. Anyway, my name is Elliot Craig. I'm from Heimdallr, which is about as not from the outskirts as it gets," he jokes.


It may or may not be the case that Alisa is glaring at the black-haired bishonen, but on his end he's definitely interpreting her expression as a glare.

He obviously wants to say something to her, but at a loss for what, he instead simply addresses the four girls as a group.

"I'm glad to meet you all. I'm Rean Schwarzer. I'm from a mountain town called Ymir, and uh, I'm a dabbler in the sword."

He has a tachi, hung on his belt. In the course of not wanting to stare down Alisa, his eyes fall on Hailey.


She looks around appraisingly, nodding. "I'm Hailey Topferin. Before coming to Thors on scholarship, I lived in Parm. I use these orbal batons to channel wind, and have practiced with daggers."

She says "Parm" with a deceptively mild tone of voice that still somehow suggests that she'd never like to see it again. Despite living there over a decade, it is most definitely not where she's from, but she doesn't know these kids well enough to talk about Hamel yet.


"It is a pleasure to meet a fellow Student of the Wind here in Erebonia."

The tall rugged boy offers Hailey a warm smile.

"Gaius Worzel. I'm a nomad from the Nord Highlands. Tell me, how exactly do your 'orbal batons' channel the wind?"

He gestures with his spear, a long red thing with a cross-shaped steel blade at the end.

"The spear I use was laced with Air sepith during its forging, according to techniques passed down through the generations of my tribe, and I have spent much of my life training with it and meditating on its nature, learning to attune myself to the wisdom of my people's element. I must admit I'm rather fascinated to discover a kindred to my Craft represented in the modern technology of the Empire."


"Oh? Interesting. I'd love to learn more about your techniques at some point, if there's anything you don't mind sharing. Maybe we could compare notes. I'm mostly self-taught, and largely stick to wind-blades, concussive strikes, and air cushions when maneuvering. These batons are derived from aileron tech, miniaturized and modified for more portable and flexible use."


Gaius seems pleased at Hailey's interest, though there is a slight edge of confusion.

"It sounds like we'll have a lot to talk about as classmates."

His gaze then moves over to Alisa, who is the last to have yet to introduce herself, and who is still not-glaring at Rean.


Hailey looks over at Alisa, noticing that she's still distracted by Rean, and leans over to give her a gentle elbow nudge. "Introductions, Alisa?"


Alisa huffs reluctantly as she realizes she has no reason to refuse. She's all tense, and she's not letting herself think about why.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm Alisa 'R'. From Roer. It's a pleasure to meet..." her eyes fall on Rean again, and she hates herself for it a little bit but instinct takes over and, "almost all of you."

There is a long moment of awkward silence.

    Emma peers over at Alisa with a disappointed frown. "A-Alisa..."

Alisa ignores her. Maintaining her own composure is taking a lot of effort at the moment.


Elliot speaks up, hoping to smooth over the awkward.

"Roer, huh? What's it like living there? There's probably a new technological breakthrough every week."

    "The Reinford Company is based in Roer," Machias recalls, "and they're the largest heavy-industry corporation on the continent, aren't they?"

Elliot nods.



"I, suppose they are," Alisa agrees, very carefully and very neutrally.


Hailey rolls her eyes at the blatant exclusion of Rean, and quirks a skeptical eyebrow at Alisa's avoidance of acknowledging the Reinford name at all. She manages not to snicker. Somehow.


"So, hey..."

Rean is just going to cast his luck out into the dark waters, here.

"I guess that bow must've been in that case you had with you when we first met, right? I've never seen one like it. Is there some kind of orbal mechanism build in?" he asks curiously.

    "There is but I don't see how that's any of your business," Alisa responds in a flat, rushed tone.

"Ouch..." Rean mutters to himself.


"Umm... Yeah..."

Elliot has no idea how to help in this situation, so instead he's just going to try to nudge things along.

"Anyone got any ideas on what to do now? We've all run into each other wandering around. How about we stick together?"


"I think that would be for the best. It's not safe for a group of girls to travel alone. You may require prot- "

    "You needn't be concerned about that," Laura interrupts with calm poise.

"...I beg your pardon?"


Laura unslings her massive sword and assumes a basic stance with it, again defying the laws of leverage to wield her sword despite its weight.

"I don't mean to boast, but I'm confident in my swordsmanship and in our shared battle prowess. For now, I think it's best to remain in separate groups. There are still two of us who remain unaccounted for."


Hailey allows herself the briefest moment to savor Laura being amazing, in martial prowess, physique, and shutting Machias' overprotective chauvinism down elegantly.


"Given that we can handle ourselves, and that this place is a maze, we can cover more ground in two groups than one. Just try not to backtrack."


"That's right," Emma agrees. "We'll have a better chance of running into that silver-haired girl in that case."

    "Two teams is twice as much ground covered," Gaius also agrees.


    "I have no objections," Laura says. "Let us begin our search, then."


Oddly, Machias is the only one who yelps in complete shock, so startled he almost drops his orbal shotgun. Alisa also jumps, but controls her reaction better. Elliot merely squeaks.

Rean and Gaius, Laura and Emma, all four of them are surprised, but each of them sensed the silver-haired girl's presence in their own way, in the instant before she revealed herself, perched on the railing on the right-hand side of the eastward hallway.

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