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The appointed day was comfortable. It was the day after market day; despite the winding down of the influx, many people still flocked to the multitude of vendors that lined the streets of Porthcaul, the great trade city of all of Veritae. The center of the city was warmed by the great amount of activity. The outskirts, however, would give way to the ever-present winds of the neutral grasslands.

A comfortable ways away from the main marketplaces was a shop, a single-story, wooden building. Upon first sight and first entry, some believed it to be simply what it appeared to be: an antiques shop, perhaps with not just antiques but a one-stop place for anything out of the ordinary, and the exceptionally rare. Weapons, herbs, artifacts, and other curious trinkets, perhaps anything that those with an eye for the unusual might covet or fancy. But behind closed hands, whispers have spoken of the masked members that man the shop's curiosities, that they were dealers in act or item, and those who were familiar with the underground and the black market would've certainly known or at least heard of the Treasure Lamp; the legendary mercenaries who were renowned for their daring exploits, remarkable efficacy, and ability to acquire even the rarest of materials upon request. The shop, also bearing their name, served as the group's contact base for their clients.

It was behind this shop that the recruits had been instructed to appear on that midmorning. Behind the shop, there was an expanse of the long prairie grasses characteristic of the neutral lands, the space only interrupted by a large stable just above twice the usual height, also made of wood. One of the two beasts within was a great, sky-blue bird, its neck long like a swan and large enough to be mounted upon. Upon sight of the first to arrive, it ruffled its feathers and looked up at them with its large, orange orbs, curious.
Damian arrived a little earlier than was necessary, and was thankfully the first one to arrive. The slight breeze that blew the grasses around him also slightly touseled his light blond hair. His deep navy eyes scanned the area, finding it very peaceful. The young nobleman was dressed in his usual: his sky blue cloak with white trim, white shirt, black trousers, black boots. Hopefully he didn't, but something told him he stuck out like a sore thumb.

He heard a noise from the direction of the stables and smiled slightly as his eyes alighted on Zephyr. He walked over to the Aelorie and held out his hand and reached toward its torso. The bird seemed to recoil out of hesitation at first but as Damian touched him, he seemed to be okay with it. The mage absentmindedly stroked Zephyr for a few moments, before he looked around again.

Upon doing so, he realized this place was familiar to him. Wait...this was in my vision... he thought. He stepped away from Zephyr and looked around. He knew it was here...somewhere. Following a hunch, he walked around the back of the stable and found what he was looking for.

Before him was a stone memorial, no doubt to those that Ayura had lost in those tunnels. He approached it and lightly ran his right hand over the names....
"Excuse me! Coming through! Pardon me!" Lance called, moving his way through the thick crowds. "Never thought the city would be this crowded, guess that's what I get for it being the day after market day..." He concluded, shifting his way out of the crowds and back into the outskirts of the city.

"Okay... Let me see..." He pulled out a small notepad he had scribbled in numerous times for various memos and even some doodling. "Nope. No... Ah. There it is. So I need to head-" He paused and pointed off towards the general direction of behind the shop. "There." He said to himself, heading off towards the meeting site.

The gun mage's brown cloak-like trenchcoat flowing behind him as his hazel eyes looked around the grasslands around the city. He had long since ditched his hat in favor of letting his hair feel the wind. He felt peace in the grasslands, something he hadn't always found in the forests of Aesteshire.

He took note of the stables, still a fair distance as he saw both that and the other individual out in the grassland meeting point. He moved his hand in his coat and reached inside his sea blue messenger bag to put away his notepad. With a firm sigh he swallowed his innate anxiety and gave a wave. "Oi! Hello over there!" He called out to the stranger.
The Treasure Lamp (played by 8TigerBunnyTora) Topic Starter

Damian would feel the bird's torso hum lightly as he continued to pet him, and as the mage wandered off, the Aelorie looked over after him, losing sight of him around the corner.

The stone obelisk behind the stables was a solemn fixture, and from the lack of wear upon the stone, one could assume that it was placed there fairly recently. The names were carefully and painstakingly carved, once after another, upon it:

Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

Characteristically, Katlina was a bit-but-not-quite-late in arriving. She'd had a tougher time than anticipated pawning the silver necklace with ichor infused diadems. Suspicious glances had told her who to approach and who not to, and finally she'd recieved what she felt was an sufficient sum for the trinket she'd appropriated. It would now make some villager in the outskirts of Arkaria very wealthy in comparison, or, very beautiful.

With the unrest soaking Arkaria, she'd not stayed long in its depths after Sparrow, nay - Katlina smiled to herself... Kaito , after Kaito had left her abruptly with specific instructions. Now, butterflies roiling in her belly, she strolled carefully, yet with studious nonchalance through the teeming marketplace and out back of the seemingly innocuous antique shop. There, just as described, was the stable.

It seemed that she had arrived at just the right time, as usual. Her stormy grey eyes, visible just above a sheer black scarf which was wrapped about her face, covering her full dark rose lips and petite nose. Her mahogany hair hung over her shoulder in its classic braid, an iron ring detailed with beautiful symbols securing it. In her upper right ear was looped a small ring, but no other signs of jewelry addorned her, her necklace being tucked beneath the scarf and her sleeveless dark grey tunic. She had packed away her light leather armor for the time being, and it was folded nicely within the satchel that hung over her squared shoulders.

Gracefully, she strode upon softly booted feet towards the male figures that had by now clustered near the stables. No one had recognized her face as she'd made her way here. Though she hadn't ever appropriated anything from Porthcaul itself, often wanted posters were bulleted for any who called themselves bounty hunters. It seemed that the authorities were already moving on to newer targets. Good. She'd perhaps laid low long enough.

Now her sometimes turbulent hues moved over the figures nearby and she stopped a mere few yards away from them. After what seemed a long moment of quiet ovservation, in which she tried to glean the important details, she dipped her head in greeting, a casual smile just barely visible behind her scarf. "Hello." She offered, her tones light. "It would seem we have a similar purpose." Her musing words were lifted with a bit of curiosity. Indeed, she wondered if they were here as she was, in search of a family. Best not to reveal too much, though.

The breeze, and the day itself, was a calming one, perfect perhaps for making new aquaintances, but Katlina wasn't swayed by the cheery landscape, nor by the hushing of grasses around them. Her stance held a lazy guardedness as she moved to lean against the side of the stable, her hues turning to regard the animals within. Beautiful....
As he continued to run his fingers over the names of the fallen, the solemnity of the monument seemed to wash over him. He closed his eyes and sighed. May the gods rest their souls, he thought, reopening his eyes. "I promise I won't disgrace your memory," he said softly to the memorial. After he said that, he heard movement from the other side of the stables. He walked back around the structure and saw a male figure in a brown trenchcoat.

The figure waved and called out to him. Damian approached him. He too was feeling some anxiety, but he pushed it to the back of his mind for the time being. "Hello," he said in return. He then looked over at the woman, and returned her apparent smile with a small one of his own. The mage gave her the quick once over. He looked back and forth between the other two. "It would seem so, wouldn't it?" Damian said. "I was actually unaware there would be others."
"Well I wondered if I would be the only one on my way here, but hey, the more the merrier as I like to say." Lance said with a smile to the other two. He shifted to a slightly more relaxed stance as he followed up. "I kinda prefer not having to be alone, nice to see at least a few others here." He nodded. "I would assume we are here for a similar cause..."

He gave the two a look over quickly, thinking to himself what kind of lives brought the others here. "Say, if I can ask you both something, where do you both hail from? Region wise at least." Lance asked. "I'm from the forests of Aesteshire, Albirion if you want to be specific." He said, pausing before giving a small bow. "Right, where are my manners. I'm Lance Faulce." He introduced himself.
Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

She didn't miss the once overs that first the muscular blond sent her way, and then the one who introduced himself as Lance. The perusal of the others didn't bother her in the slightest, given she'd initially done the same, but as Lance asked his question she would inwardly tense, though she schooled her face to give nothing away. When she turned her currently light grey hues upon the brown haired man, she would note that he came from Aestshire with a brief brushing of curiosity. She wondered vaguely if he'd been there recently, if he knew how tensions were throughout the land... burying her curiosity deep, she layered her face with a neutral expression. It shouldn't matter to her. Not anymore.

But... she had to give Lance something , after all the man was trying to be friendly. Conversation was not Kat's strong suit, but she'd be danged if she made enemies before she'd even been introduced to Kaito's family. Finally, she tilted her head in an inclination, acknowledging Lance's introduction. "You can call me Katlina." She responded smoothly, "and the world is my home." She tacked on in answer to his sudden question. Time would tell if they'd get to know one another well enough to divulge a more personal response. It was enough she'd given him her name.

As she spoke to him, she seemed to focused solely on Lance, her eyes perhaps striking in their intensity. Her hands hung loosely at her sides, where on her left thigh a knife hilt could be seen tucked into a holster strapped there. At her hip was another, slightly larger knife, with several smaller palm sized knives slipped into small loops on her tooled leather belt of thin crisscrossed strips.

Once she'd responded, she flicked a glance to the other, the blond, interest in her hues as she waited to hear his own.
"Damian Nazael," Damian said. "I'm from Cae'bril; more specifically, Illustra." He debated telling the other two just who he was, but he wasn't sure how they'd take it. He wanted to be personable as possible, but he didn't want to give it all away at once. They probably could tell he was upper crust, though. Over the last few days, he had finally regained his straight-backed, resolute posture that had mimicked his former Mentor's. His cloak - colored the telltale sky blue and white of Cae'bril - was made of a very fine material. In fact, if he were to hazard a guess, they were probably wondering how "rich boy" managed to "luck his way" into this whole thing.

There was no luck about it. In fact, the mage felt the exact opposite

((Nazael is pronounced "nah-zeel"))
Lance listened and observed the two as they replied. "Well aren't you a mysterious one Katlina." He said with a joking smile. "And well met Damian." The gun mage spoke. He gave a small glance around the area, one of his hands slipping into his coat to just rest on one of his pistols, something he caught himself doing quite often when idly chatting or standing. He still recalled everything that occurred on his way there, mostly uneventful after his departure from the Doppler, but he trusted his words and hoped everything here would go soundly. Or as good as it could go when dealing with things like this.

"Right, just for clarification, you both are here for..." He paused and tapped his foot. "The Treasure Lamp! That's the name. I tend to space out and forget small things from time to time, but yes. The Treasure Lamp. Or is there other business you both have? Just to clear things up. I don't exactly travel or talk to a lot of folks til recently." Lance said to the two, being more chatty than usual.
Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

Katlina had been to Cae'bril, she knew the colors that Damian wore. When she'd been there she hadn't paid close attention to the nobility except to pawn information from those around her- people who frequented the taverns and inns - learning who was snobbish and proud, who most disdained the people. That information always helped when she chose a mark. But usually she didn't stay long enough to see many of their faces.

Now, she inwardly groaned, wondering if she'd have to work with some pompous ass who liked to let his money speak for him. As she quietly watched Damien, trying to look past his high society visage, she wondered if perhaps he wouldn't be that way. Hers would be a hard habit to break without surrounding herself with marks. Hopefully she hadn't stolen from someone he knew, or gads forbid, his own family.

Blinking, Katlina realized that Lance was speaking again, and she whipped her head away from Damian, realizing she'd stared too long. Perhaps he thought her rude. Ah well, first impressions. So important, but so easy to mess up. She grinned suddenly as she remembered her first impression of Kaito. Focus she sternly reminded herself and regarded Lance, noticing his hand slip into his coat, then her gaze shifted to his face as he asked yet another question.

"You could say that." She tried to think back if Kaito had ever spoke of the Treasure Lamp. But of course, she knew of the black market dealings, the jobs... She'd heard rumors in her own dealings. Was she here for the Treasure Lamp? She was here for a family, for Kaito. Trying not to seem standoffish she reached up to finally tug her scarf down and offered another smile at Lance, her eyes warming from a cool grey to a bit of a darker hue. "I was instructed to be here, and so I am." She elaborated a bit. The face revealed by the absence of the scarf was feminine, petite even, but its angles and a lack of extra softness spoke of a life spent athletically, the rest of her body lithe as well. She had curves in all the right places, yet they were easy to pass over due to her roguish clothing and confident stance.

She'd decided that if she were to truly be working with these two, as well as Kaito's group, there was no sense hiding her face. If they recognized it, well... they could have it out right here. At that thought she sent another glance at Damien, her gaze clear, as if daring him to speak up if he recognized her. At least the stable was a ways off from the bustling marketplace. She didn't want a fight, though, didn't want to ruin her chances. Hopefully the man wouldn't want to either.
Damian didn't find the staring particularly rude. Indeed, his gaze lingered on Katlina as well. He had a sneaking suspicion, based on her attire and weapon, that she was a criminal of some sort, maybe a thief, but he couldn't be entirely sure. However, if she wasn't one, why would she hide her face in such a manner? Either way, Damian pushed this out of his head for the time being as she looked at Lance and lowered her scarf, offering him a smile. It was a nice smile, and it seemed genuine. "So that's what the group is called," Damian said to himself, but loudly enough for the other two to hear him. "I was instructed to be here as well."

The mage then saw Katlina look at him, scarf down, with a look on her face that seemed to dare him to say something. He wasn't sure why. He had never seen her before today, and if she were prepared to fight, he didn't know why. He had no quarrel with her. He offered her a small smile, both reassuring and slightly questioning.
"Well then I guess it all adds up, I don't recall mention of others... But hey, better than being alone if you ask me. I've spent enough time being lonely its nice to meet new people." Lance spoke with a nod. His mind wondered what all these two had been through to get here. He figured if it was anything like going into the Mountains of Oberon then they were fairly strong fighters or just in general good with whatever weapons or magic they wielded. He shrugged the thoughts off, acknowledging he would probably learn more about them later on.

The gun mage had a natural, warm smile on his face. He normally found a way to look on the bright side of things, even if the situation was bleak. He had picked this up from working alone and drifting from job to job as a mercenary of sorts in Albirion, but he wanted something more stable. He looked forward to whatever this would entail, even if the doppler had called it just mercenary work.
Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

Ever the horrible conversationalist, Katlina's hues roamed between the pair of men, the stable, and the grassy countryside surrounding it, her lips falling into a neutral line. She wished the bright eyed and wild haired fae would show up. A sudden smirk kindled a glint in her eyes. Wouldn't it be spectacular if he travelled here in his ...earthy fashion? It would no doubt prove a surprise for the others. As she mused on the recollection of her flight 'neath rock and soil, she wondered if the fae traveled that way often. She'd have to ask... but there was so much she still didn't know. This new adventure would bring hefty learning curves, no doubt for the lot of them.

On impulse, having remembered the incident when the Treasure Lamp had indeed been brought up between herself and Kaito, Kat turned her greys upon the men nearby and cleared her throat softly, stepping a bit closer so she could maintain her quiet tones.

"I find myself curious to know... have either of you heard of the Black Lense?" As she spoke the name, she watched their faces carefully, for even if they knew and didn't wish to offer their information, perhaps she could glean some from their expressions. After her run-in with the group, Kat felt the need to learn more, though Kaito had filled her in with a few facts about them. She wanted to find more of the story behind their interactions with the Treasure Lamp. Perhaps even where they were based. Stories were currency in some parts, not to mention intriguing. It wasn't out of the question they'd be facing the group again someday either. The faint scar still present upon her cheek spoke of the hairy situation she'd been in, better to be even more prepared next time. So with nothing better to do while she awaited the coming meeting, ignoring the annoying butterflies, Kat posed the question.
Lance paused and rubbed his chin in thought before shaking his head. "Can't say that name rings a bell to me. Then again I'm not incredibly knowledgeable of things outside Albirion so if you would, who are they?" Lance questioned in return, his mind spinning for answers. 'If they're anything like those cultists in the Mountains of Oberon I guess I'll have to be ready for anything...' He thought to himself.

With a shrug he decided to wait for Katlina to speak again or Damian to reply to Katlina's question. He just wanted some explanation of who the 'Black Lense' were. His mind went to think it was some sort of mercenary or bandit group, but another part of him said that it may have been something completely different.
Damian lapsed into thought for several seconds. He had vaguely heard of a few criminal organizations in Cae'bril, but this "Black Lense" wasn't among them. The mage shook his head slowly, looking back at Katlina. "That name doesn't sound familiar to me either, unfortunately," he said, an apologetic note in his voice. "Who are they?" he asked, echoing Lance's question.
Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

Apparently she had only stirred up questions, rather than answering any of her own. Maybe she shouldn't have brought it up... but if they were to be working together, they should probably be aware. Would they be working together? Kat flicked her gaze around, wondering where Kaito had gotten to, wishing to get the meeting over with, or at least begin. She was no stranger to the waiting game, but something about this upcoming meeting was making her more antsy than usual - what if she botched it?

"The Black Lense, from what I've heard, is a group that formed during Arkaria's war and they dabble in banditry, prostitution, slave rings and the like. They may also have ties with the rebels." She turned back toward the other two as she answered, her eyes sweeping them one more time before scanning the area again, trying to make it seem like she wasn't just fidgeting.
Damian lapsed into thought again. "Sounds like a veritable hive of scum and villainy," he said. He thought a bit more. "And if they do in fact have ties to the usurping forces...well, that would certainly make things more interesting." He had only been to Arkaria once before. Almost five years previously, Aiënon had taken him to the Arkarian seaside to celebrate his 70th birthday. Even though the two of them had been there for several days, he had heard no talk of the Black Lense.

It was then the mage looked at Katlina. He saw her eyes moving back and forth between him and Lance and then scanning the area around them. He also saw her fidgeting somewhat. "Is something bothering you, Katlina?" Damian asked her, a note of friendly concern in his voice.
Katlina (played by BreezyDawn)

Releasing a soft breath, Kat bit her lower lip and returned her stormy hues to Damian, weighing her response as if unsure to be honest or not, but she shied alway from outright lies. Honesty was the best policy, especially when trying to breed friendly feelings. It was an oddity of hers, given her rather shady inclinations.

"Truth be told, " she finally admitted in a softly rueful tone, "I hate meetings like this, when I feel like I must make a good first impression. I'm never good at introductions, so I'm ready to get this one over with." She didn't add just how much she hoped it went well, nor how much she needed to be accepted into the family. Would this be her last chance at actually having one? She recalled the words Kaito had spoken of in reference to the Treasure Lamp, how close they all were. She wanted that now more than ever.
The Treasure Lamp (played by 8TigerBunnyTora) Topic Starter

She could still see it. She could still see the image of him rocking back on the two hind legs of the chair that she currently sat upon, his eyes trailing upward thoughtfully.

The elf's hands were currently folded on her lap, an arrow resting comfortably in her grasp. Today was the day, and it seemed now more than ever that the realization of what she was about to do came crashing over her. She didn't want to let them go. Never mind that it seemed that she too had brought a candidate of the table, but it hurt. Just the thought of going through with it seemed to hurt.

The door to the bedroom opened, and her violet eyes looked up to see a tall figure with deep mauve skin and striking blue hair. his near-neon green eyes contrasted the rest of his palette, and they fell upon her. "'Ey," he greeted her, stepping partway through the door. He too seemed to pause, looking around at the bedroom that for the past six months had been empty aside from its current visitors. The emptiness had haunted him as well. "How th' hell'd I know ya'd be 'ere?" he mused softly, quietly walking up to her. He was about to plop himself down on the bed, near the unstrung bow that hung just above its headboard. He suddenly paused, thinking better of it and simply leaned against the desk instead. "Y'know, it's time."

"I know." Her voice was small, and she held the arrow just a mite tighter. "Kai, I don't know if I can." The sound from her seemed to almost crumple, and by the time she had reached the last few words it was barely a whisper. "It feels like we're replacing them."

Kai gave her a sharp look, one that likely betrayed his own stab of guilt, but after a moment he instantly forgave her, the instinctive dagger-stare melting away with the quickly dying flicker of hostility. The Fae stepped closer to her, placing both his hands on her shoulders, assuring that she was facing him. "We are not. Replacin' 'em," he said firmly, his own voice heavy. "Don' say that. We doin' this ta keep it all alive. This bis'ness. Our legacy. Their legacy."

There was a long silence from the elf, in which she kept her eyes downcast. "Okay," she replied, collecting herself as Kai allowed his hands to slip away from her shoulders. "Where are the others?"

"Upstairs, waitin' on you," he cocked a thumb towards the door as the elf rose from her seat, pausing only to take another long look at the room's decor before walking out with the Fae.

Katlina, Damian, and Lance would notice when the back door to the shop would open, and five hooded, masked, and cloaked figures of varying heights would file out. Brown, mottled green, black, royal blue, and orange. The brown-cloaked figure in particular stepped forward ahead of the others to greet the three by the stables. Zephyr, the large blue bird that sat within the stable's confines, looked up at the figure as she approached, emitting a caw.

About ten paces away from the newcomers, the slender figure paused. "Thank you for coming," she stated simply, her statements neutral. "I'm Xyla, and I'm the leader of the Treasure Lamp. We are, in essence, a small guild, yet, a very effective one. Our base is the shop here before you, but we often travel all over Veritae to accomplish our ends." Her violet eyes looked at each of them in turn. "You are all here because you have met with one of us, and we have deemed you trustworthy enough to join our endeavors. And we have yet another measure in place to assure that you are who you present yourself as." She glanced back at the others. "Sparrow?"

One of the taller figures, this one in mottled green, stepped up aside Xyla. His neon-green eyes crinkled slightly in what seemed like a smile of greeting towards Katlina in particular. "What's m'name, Kat?" he asked, relaxed and even a bit jovial.

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