A Hole in Threading (7.39 x Dao Ma)

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#1
The chimes of glasses hitting each other resonated in the small break room "We did it!" A cheerful looking blonde hummed, gulping her drink until there was nothing left in the cup. Noire only took a small sip of hers before setting it down. A small smile rested on her lips while her far more rowdy coworkers celebrated their victory. "Well, more like Noire did it. Sorry for shoving so much of the work onto you," continued while throwing an arm around her friend and bringing her in from a less than welcomed hug. Though she didn't resist the affection, instead of that she waved it away as something insignificant.[/FONT]

"You lot organized it for me, so it was just a matter of filling in blanks." She picked up a slice of the pizza, the gooey cheese clinging to it's neighboring slices. God, it feels great to cheat. She thought as she took a bite of the unhealthy goodness. Within moments it became the last slice as two men picked up the remaining pieces, a little too excited over a pizza.

"A bar should be next," One of them suggested

"I want to go to Wild Wings," The other added, it was more of a demand than a suggestion.

"I'll just be going home," Noire announced while wiping the grease off her fingers. "I have work in the morning after all."

"So do I!" The blonde slammed her fist on the table in outrage to her coworker's healthy life choices "But we worked hard to clean up all this paperwork and numbers," the word came out as if it was something disgusting she had just eaten "We should spoil ourselves in the end."

"I did." She gestured reassuringly to the empty box of pizza and sugar-packed drink while rising from her seat. A small cry of protest rose from the group, but she paid it no mind as she waved them goodbye while exiting the door. "Be sure to call for a cab and drink safely." With that, she was finally alone. The only sound in the hallways was her heels clicking against the tile floor; it gave the empty building an eerie feeling. Like a monster would come up around the corner and devour her. The idea was quickly brushed aside as she exited, greeted by the busy streets and cars honking at each other, Noire smiled as she looked back at her own building to see a handful of lights from the windows and was able to tell exactly which one was hosting their small party. It was time to go home, collapse in bed, and repeat the cycle, without further delay she walked herself home, the city thinning out and the streets becoming less and less crowded until it was only her walking into her darkened apartment, slamming the door behind her as she collapsed onto the couch.

He took a careful step from his hiding spot, his hands tightening around his knife as he approached. His face was twisted in pain as he stood over her body, her sleeping face looked blissful, absolutely unaware of the danger she was in as the knife was raised above his head. "I'm sorry," He muttered almost desperately. Noire's face twitched at the sound of his voice, and just as she began to rise from her sleep, the knife was brought down on her throat. Her eyes widened, her brain frantically trying to process what was happening. Noire could only muster so much strength to reach out to grab the shirt of her attacker just to have the knife forced deeper into her throat. Her body fell limp, but death didn't come as quickly as TV had made it seem. Frantic apologizes slowly became blurred, sounding as though they were submerged underwater, but before her vision blurred, she saw the small symbol on his neck. All her hard work to live a peaceful life, destroyed by the ghosts of her parents.

Noire's eyes snapped open, her arms immediately pushing her body up in a panic before the rest of her knew what to do or what was even going on. Her hands sunk into the soft dirt, under her neatly painted black nails she could see grass and dirt underneath. It looked as though she was clawing at the earth. Hesitantly she looked around to see nothing but trees. "F...orest?" She was shocked at how hoarse her voice sounded. Noire saw her bag not far from her, and without hesitation, she lunged for it as if it would run away. Her nightmare crept back into her memories while tears began to fill her eyes. Her phone's lack of service did nothing to soothe her. Noire's hands covered her face, wiping away tears as she tried to collect herself.

An hour had passed before the young woman calmed herself down, she had moved from the spot she had woken up in, wandered around and ultimately settled under a tree that looked as though it was being exiled from the rest. Her heels sat next to her covered in dirt after many failed attempts of trying to walk in them on the soft earth, and after opting to go barefooted her tights clung to all the dried grass and dirt they could. Thankfully the wet wipes in her bag proved handy in cleaning her hands and face making her feel just a bit more civil. "I can't be here forever," Noire reassured herself in false confidence while she cleaned off her shoes "I'll be home soon enough, after all, there are people who love camping or hiking. I wander far enough I'm sure to find them." She sniffled, tears threatening to spill over again, she held her breath and let go of a shallow sigh that said this is fine. Noire turned her attention to the crescent moon that hung high in the starlit midnight sky that shined like city lights; it offered her some peace.

Though the order was short-lived, a sound broke the silence as if it could rip through the sky, and moments later a body flew overhead, blocking the moonlight and driving an ice stake through Noire's heart. Though it was far, she could still see the wings and the figure she could only see in fairy tails. Hurriedly she grabbed her shoes and bagged and sprinted in the opposite direction. Even if it isn't a dragon, whatever it was it definitely wasn't something I've ever seen before, and staying anywhere near this place is almost signing for death. The sticks snapped under her feet, but the urgency to escape a creature that flew as though it ruled the sky was more significant than the sheering pain.
 

Dao Ma

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#2
"Sire! It was last seen soaring over the forest. It most likely is heading toward the southern mountains!" A man called as he rode his horse along side a more decorated stallion. A full body of armor sat poised on top, all but missing the rider's helmet. Randulfus looked to the sky as he held the reigns. His gaze slowly began to lower, following the clear lines of the sun beginning to set for the day.

"We ride through the forest then."

The nearby men in his party looked at one another cautiously. It was clear that they were hesitant about the idea. "Sire..." One of the men decided to speak up, hesitantly approaching Randulfus. "That forest far too dangerous at night. Villagers nearby claim the demons come out when the sun disappears behind the mountains--"

"Is it that you are saying that the Hunters of Garza are afraid of a night hunt?" Randulfus barely glanced at the man in the corner of his eye. His focus was on the trees. However, his men could feel the shrill intensity coming from his comment. How dare they accept fear into their hearts and back down from an obstacle? Quickly their reactions changed to dissolve that thought.

"O-of course not, Sire!" Chimed in the men and regained themselves and their horses.

"Then we ride." Randulfus responded simply, as if it was the expected result. Without much of a warning, he marched his horse onward into the forest, followed by his men.

The journey in was simple enough. The journey through became nothing more than a game as they spotted more and more nightly beasts emerge from the trees. Hissing and slithering came the serpentine creatures that hid well among the branches. Large rodents crawled about and shrieked any time a hoof came too close. No demons attacked from what the group had come to find.

And then the winds began to change. They looked above to see what they could of the sky be cast over by a large shadow. Randulfus knew exactly what that meant. Two dragons in the same day heading the same direction. There was a nest nearby. A smile cracked at the corners of his lips. "We continue southbound!" He called back to his men, whom now had torches to light their way. They continued onward.

They moved as quietly as they could, cautious for what could ever pop out at them. The further and further they were from the village, the closer and closer they were to more danger. Faintly, something could be heard in the distance ahead. It sounded like something was coming their way. Something was running? Was it charging at them? Randulfus raised his hand to halt the group and then made a sign to which a few of the front line men as well as himself stepped off of their horses and readied their blades.

Randulfus took the initiative, brandishing his sword and taking steps further. Whatever was running, he would meet it head on. Trudging through a thin patch of brush, he paused when he saw the figure ahead. What light illuminated on it revealed that the figure was a person. And by size and stature, possibly... "a girl?" He mumbled to himself. Soon enough she would be able to see the fire from the torches.

"Stop where you are!" He called out to her. Even a girl could pose as a threat in these parts. Who knew if she wasn't some sort of illusion.
 
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#3
Noire's lungs felt as though they were being shredded and her feet felt as though they would fall off. As she ran through the forest, she began to take note of creatures she didn't notice before, carefully hidden among the tree branches. The sharp glint of red in their eyes told her to keep going. Everything else seemed to blur in her mind gradually, tuning out the danger around her unaware that it was thinning slowly as she neared a the gentle glow of a flame. Flames. Torches. People. A lump began to form in her throat that she couldn't swallow and a wave of relief washed over, although it was short lived as she drew nearer to see the men in armor and horses nearby. Noire's heart sank as soon as she had caught sight of the blade in his hand. As she neared them she slowed from a sprit to a jog and at the strange man's command, she stopped, just feet away from the group.

Her golden eyes remained trained on the sword while her hand went to her neck, covering her nonexistent injury. A bunch of weirdos LARPing. She thought, she couldn't convince a child with this let alone herself. The silence hung for what seemed like decades, of course, she was in no situation to demand answers, but it took more willpower than she expected to peel her eyes away from the weapon. Once finally accomplishing such a feat she stared down the men with nervous eyes, yet it looked like she could burn a hole through their skulls with how hard she was staring. "It's...dangerous this way," She began choosing her words carefully. Everything looked too real to be some shitty group of shut-ins larping and the flying beast from earlier only added on to the fear this was all real. "My name is Noire Kian," She added hesitantly, offering a curt but polite bow. In Noire's eyes the man who demanded she stop seemed to be the most dangerous out of the bunch, the rest just looked as though they were suppressing their urge to go home. "I seem to be a bit lost, I saw something fly overhead and in my panic, I strayed too far from the path I was on."

Noire's voice shook slightly as she spoke, it was obvious she was trying to maintain control of it. She determined it was safer to have them point her in the right direction of a town or something.
 

Dao Ma

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#4
As the girl neared enough for the group to see her in the light, they all seemed to have one thought in common. She looked very odd. She must have been foreign with those clothes that she wore. The materials and colors and style didn't look anything like what they were used to seeing. Was she from the far east? Far west? The men looked to each other once again, then to Randulfus for order. But there was no order to come yet. Sharp eyes trained on the girl, watching her every move just in case she decided to pull some kind of weapon or trick on them.

But even though Randulfus was cautious, he was also quite curious. What would lead a young woman to be out in a dark and dangerous forest like this all by herself? And for her to tell them it was dangerous? Red flags could be thrown everywhere to this one. "And yet you run through this dangerous forest by yourself." Randulfus scoffed back at her. Her name led him to confirm that she was indeed a foreigner from a far off land. But how was it that she ended up all the way over here? He took a step closer to her, any concern he had was concealed by confidence. "Where are you from, girl? And why are you here?" He asked, tone revealing a hint of curiosity.

He moved closer, closer, until he was just out of arms reach of her. She hadn't done anything yet. In fact, she just seemed like a normal scared woman. And that, was even more suspiciously bewildering. "You say something flew overhead. What did it look like? Which direction?"
 
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#5
She bit the inside of her cheek to stop her silver-tongued remark from falling out of her mouth. It didn't seem like anything bad would happen so long as she remained passive and cooperative, but it was only a small gleam of bravery in her situation. "You're wrong," She announced meekly, taking a step back as he took a step forward. Immediately she stopped realizing it was a reckless choice to try and stay comfortable in her situation, even the simple act of walking right now made the pain sting more than it already did. Noire paused for a moment examining the man from head to toe; she averted her eyes as phantom pains began to creep into her neck. "Don't want to be here, that's the only reason I'm running." The way he spoke struck her as odd. "I'm from Ulsan, I'm here because I woke up here. I tried to follow a path and I panicked and strayed from the closest thing to a map I had." She smoothly added this small comment in, remembering her previous remark on getting lost.

Noire did not attempt to hide her discomfort, he already seemed confident in the situation, and given the significant fact he could stab her on a whim it would be wiser to keep his confidence as high as she possibly could, though he seemed much more eager to hear about the creature from earlier as he quickly piled his questions on top one another. "It went that way." She pointed over to the mountains if it was still headed in that direction it was obviously too far away to be seen now "It had a large body, and when it flew over it covered the moon for just a moment." She paused, Noire was hesitant to describe the beast, to her she sounded like a child babbling on about an imaginary friend she had just made today. "If anything it looked like a dragon," She mumbled sheepishly, her ears were red with embarrassment at the remark.

"I do have a question though, where am I exactly? And what are you doing out here?" It seemed like a justified response. It should be just as weird that he's wandering in a forest he knows is dangerous.
 

Dao Ma

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#6
"Ulsan?" Randulfus echoed, clear that he had never heard of such a place. He tilted his head to glanced back at one of his men--the navigator of the group. The man seemed to be in deep concentration trying to locate the place in his mental map. But when he came up answerless, he shook his head at the knight. Randulfus turned his attention back to the woman. Clearly wherever this Ulsan place was, it was out of his men's geographical reach. Or, obviously fake. The way she spoke though seemed to grant a little clearance to her mythological place though. She did sound a bit odd.

When Noire began to explain what she had seen and where it had gone, a flicker of amusement crossed Randulfus' face. That was exactly what she was looking for. And there was no doubt that they were going the right way now. As she asked her questions, he began to put away his sword, then motioned for one of his men to come closer. The man rode up and hopped off of his horse to stand beside the knight.

"You are in the Huntfell Forest at the edge of Murel territory belonging to the noble family of Garza." Randulfus began to slowly circle around her, taking a better look at her. She really was an odd specimen. How does one just fall asleep one place and wake up another so far away? Had she been kidnapped? Maybe a spell cast upon her? He had a lot of questions to ask her, but not enough time. "I happen to be looking for that thing you had seen in the sky." He stopped in front of her again and crossed his arms over his chest. "I offer you my services, and will take you to safety." He once again looked over to the man that had stood beside him. "Marcus, let her ride on your horse." Of course that meant he would be guiding the horse, but she wouldn't have to walk any more.

Marcus nodded and stepped forward with his horse. He offered his hand to Noire to help her up.

"We will stop by the village once our task is completed." Randulfus sounded almost... cheery. As if he had silently had a victory to boast about. Other men dismounted from their horses and began to lead them onward. From that point, they were headed into the second half of the forest on foot.
 
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#7
Noire furrowed her brow at the way he said her cities name. Confusion? The wordless exchange with one of his men had given her a sense of unease. Her brain frantically began processing the situation and trying to come up with answers, her train of thought was promptly interrupted by the sound of his sword being sheathed, the look on her face thanked him despite the words never being said. She pressed her lips together tightly; it was her first time seeing an actual horse, her eyes hid a small glint of excitement as the animal trotted over. Though her attention was quickly brought back to the situation at hand.

"Huntfell forest..." She mumbled the hand that was once on her neck crawled its way up to the top of her head, applying a small amount of pressure as if it would help squeeze out information. That sounds like nowhere in Korea. She had to ignore the fact the man was circling her like she was a show dog being judged, after all, what he said answered almost nothing for her and instead only raised more questions. His choice of words was now undeniably weird, and noble family? What part of the world even bothers with blue blood anymore? All I'm missing is my own Toto, and I can say I'm not in Kansas anymore and almost mean it. She almost sighed until the man spoke again, obviously going to put everything on hold, a small pit in her stomach formed as he announced he was after the creature, and shortly offering his help only made him look a bit insane to Noire's modern eyes.

"Ah...thank you for your help, sir. You as well, M-Marcus?" Noire wasn't sure how to refer to people, she assumed a first name basis was alright since she wasn't given the last name after all. She curtly bowed her head at the nameless man and hesitantly took Marcus's hand after adjusting her purse on her shoulder. His change of tune scared her more than she expected it to, but as long as his mood was good, then that probably meant she was safe. Brushing her doubts aside she hoisted herself onto the horse with the help of Marcus, while the others got off theirs. It somehow made her feel lazy, but right now she didn't care. She immediately felt relief. Noire stared intently at the horse, settling to hold onto the mane rather than the reins. She didn't have faith she would be able to stay on it otherwise.
 

Dao Ma

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#8
The group furthered into the forest without much more conversation. Part of the way through, one of the men offered a blanket from his travel pack to Noire just in case she was cold. Marcus kept hold of his horse to help guide it along so the girl didn't have to do much besides sit and ride. Occasionally there would be murmuring on which direction to go and how long they had been traveling.

The forest began to thin and Randulfus turned to his men to tell them that they would stop for the remainder of the night to rest. They unloaded their packs and set up a fire. Randulfus was sure to have them set up a bed area near the fire for Noire. Partially to keep her safe and partially so they could keep an eye on her. The knight expected they had another half a day's worth of travel before they reached the mountains. From there, it would be an interesting climb upwards.

The night watch was established, and the rest of the men settled into their blankets to sleep. Randulfus found himself too much awake to try and sleep though, and sat pensively by the fire. Sharp eyes reflected the colors of the fire's light. He was mapping everything out. He knew the way in. How, exactly, he wasn't entirely sure. But he could just feel that he knew. An odd wave of anticipation anxiety filled his chest, but it was something he would never reveal to anyone. Especially not his men. And especially, not this strange woman. After a while, his attention turned to her. He let his eyes wander from the fire to the girl.
 
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#9
The silence felt more like a ball and chain that comfort to Noire who nothing about what was going on. Though the men that took her in seemed kind enough, enough to offer her a blanket (that she graciously accepted and would promptly return as soon as possible) and steer the horse she was on, sparing her the embarrassment of not knowing anything at all. She wrapped the blanket around herself and allowed herself to lean a little more forward on the animal, it was sturdy so rested her head on its neck and closed her eyes. Not to sleep, just to listen to the footsteps and sounds of the forest.

When the men halted at their leaders command she rose her head. She was tired, but anxiety kept her from sleeping, but she was sure she would finally exhaust herself at some point during this camping trip. Unfortunately for the men, she was utterly useless in the process of setting up camp, but they didn't seem to pay her much mind, though the placement of her bed made it clear they were still very aware of the fact she was a stranger who could yet be trusted. Noire brushed their suspensions off her mind like dust on her shoulder, it was a wise move, a bit problematic for her but this also meant she was in the safer spot in the camp. Or as safe as she could be when she shared the same space as a man who looks as though he wouldn't hesitate to cut down small children.

To Noire’s dismay, all the men had settled into sleep save for the night watch and man whose name she has yet to learn. For a while she watched him just sit there, staring intensely as the fire reflected in his eyes. It was apparent whatever it was he was thinking about it was serious, it had to be if he was willing to march all these men towards a creature she thought was a dragon after all. It was hard to believe how calm he was, but calm was good after all. Just as she was about to get up, his attention shifted from the fire to her, and suddenly she felt panic.

"I realize I never asked for your name." Noire offered a nervous smile, grabbing a fistful of the blanket she refused to let go of.
 

Dao Ma

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#10
The girl moved, and Randulfus seemed to focus on her a little more. Whether she was intending to just move or try to leave, he didn't particularly care. He was more concerned of whether he could see something that would give him absolute proof that she was up to something no good and her story and claims were false. But she only met him with a fabricated smile. He tore his eyes away to pick up a nearby stick to poke at the fire.

"Randulfus." He finally responded to her. No need to scare her with his full name and title. He wanted to see how she would respond without knowing she was in the presence of the lord of these parts.

After a moment, he glanced back at her, his gaze much less intense but still highly curious. "Would you be offended if I asked you a few questions? My mind is stirring."
 
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#11
She was silent for a moment, repeating his name in her head a few times before saying it aloud. "Randulfus, huh?" It didn't come out quite right; she had a bit of an accent while saying it, the curse of living so long in Korea. "Just that?" She tried to lighten the mood with a small laugh that came out sounding as nervous as her smile "With how you carried yourself I expected more. You'll have to excuse me though, your name is a bit odd from Ulsan, and I can pronounce it correctly just yet."

Slowly Noire got up from her spot and moved a bit closer to the newly named Randulfus; it felt more like she was yelling across the camp despite that being an obvious exaggeration. It did put her at ease to learn it was just Randfulfus, though she knew better than to take that without a grain of salt. "Questions are fine; it can be the least I do for your help so far. I might have some questions for you afterward that I hope you're just as willing to answer." Noire felt a small pit form in her stomach, already dreading the answers she might hear.
 

Dao Ma

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#12
Randulfus had so many questions that they could practically bury the girl. Just her trying to say his name properly sprung up many questions about this place called Ulsan. Where was it? What were the people like? What was the social structure? How far away was it exactly? What was their main products of trade? Were they rich? What languages did they speak? What was she doing all the way out here instead of safely in Ulsan? He decided to not overwhelm her though. Not yet, at least.

"More?" He let out a small breath that could have passed for a sound of amusement. "How much more were you expecting?" He was interested in just how perceptive she was. Did this deduction mean she was educated? What kind of education did Ulsan have?

He watched as she came closer, but chose not to move any. He simply brushed some loose dirt away with his foot so she didn't have to sit on it. "A fair trade of information." He mused, nodding in agreement to her return request. "Lady Kian, correct? How old are you?" Maybe it would be better to start simple. "What is your profession?"
 
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#13
"Just a last name if anything," She hummed maintaining her smile. The fact she was expected to just take a first name implied it was common to go about life here without a last. A hand that was gripping her blanket had let go and crawled its way up to her face to rest on her chin. The noble family of Garza. She glanced at him a moment before being absorbed by her own thought process. Not to mention they were using torches earlier instead of flashlights... Noire felt a bit defeated to think of such a thing on her own, but the idea of being thrown into the past became more and more likely every time Randulfus talked. She was waiting for someone to pop out of the bushes and yell sike, that hope always stood firm in her mind.

"Just Noire is fine." She mumbled, somehow being called Lady Kian felt the same way as being called ajumma. "I'm just 19, and I work as an Office Manager." Noire was quiet for a moment, her brain picking the most important thing to know and began to speak carefully.

"I know earlier I had asked where I was, and to put briefly, you said it was in Garza's territory. That didn't really give me much of an answer since I don't know where that is. What country is this? The current leader and I consider this a must know basis, that thing that flew over earlier?" Noire bit the inside of her cheek, realizing the words just fell from her brain to her mouth.
 

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#14
Randulfus kept back the smile that threatened to reveal itself. Common folk didn't always have last names here. Yet she was curious to know his. He let that part of the conversation go unanswered as they transferred into different matters. It was odd, for a young woman to want to be called her name with no formalities. Was this a common thing for Ulsan people? Or did she already assume familiarity?

Her age would have struck him as odd for being out alone, but what drew his attention in more was her profession. "Office...? A book keeper?" He wasn't entirely sure what she meant by 'office manager', but he could give an educated guess that she was some kind of scholar apprentice. Despite speaking so oddly, she spoke well. She seemed smart as well. She had to have been in some kind of scholarly setting.

The conversation instantly changed to more important matters. If she really was a spy, she was playing dumb and was trying to exact their location. He would have to choose his words carefully. She noted her and her current leader... a king's attendant? Was she some kind of royalty? Then it definitely wouldn't make sense that she was alone. "Finor, is the country." He replied shortly. "And what you saw, what indeed a dragon."

He leaned back a little and took a breath. "My men and I have been ordered to capture it." He knew at this point his questions would fall upon deaf ears. He would have to pry once she had her fill.
 
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#15
Randulfus's confusion had only confused her, and for a moment she hesitated to speak anymore. "Ah, kind of like a bookkeeper," She didn't sound very confident in her answer since it was just a dumbed down version of her actual tasks. "I also had to organize finances and stuff like that, since my co-workers relied on me more than they should have I ended up doing most of their work along with it." It wasn't anything impressive, but it probably meant some lucrative pay in this world.

His next answers were curt, naturally cautious of what he told her, and for a moment she was calm, registering what she was being said. "What?" The word came out harsher than she intended like she had caught someone pulling a prank that would bring more harm than laughs. "A dragon? Do you honestly expect to capture it?" As far as she knew dragons were huge, the size of buildings able to level cities, creatures of fantasy to be feared not captured like common cattle. Noire couldn't make herself deny their existence, especially seeing one not long after waking up in Finor. Another important point made itself clear to her. She was going with them.

"Are you really being paid enough to risk your life and others? Have you fought dragons before?" It was obvious she was beginning to panic, she wanted to kick herself for not realizing this earlier when he seemed all too happy to hear the description. No matter how reliable he appeared, Noire couldn't believe he could slay a dragon, let alone capture one.
 

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#16
From what Noire was saying, she sounded more and more like an apprentice adviser. It started to make Randulfus feel more and more cautious. Would soldiers be after her soon enough? If she hadn't heard about this territory or the Garza name, then surely her people wouldn't have either. Then again, there was the option that she was lying about all of this. And no one would come after her. But why lie? What was there to hide?

Her surprise only ebbed his internal concerns slightly. "I do." He replied confidently. Okay so maybe the girl's reaction to all of this was a little too amusing. He couldn't help but crack a small smile. Smug, but a smile none the less. It wasn't like he hadn't seen that reaction before. He had seen it many times before. Anyone that he encountered and were told the story automatically thought he had a death wish. Yet after every hunt, he came back whole.

"I have, actually." He replied simply, going back to poking at the fire to keep it alive. "A few times." He glanced over his shoulder slightly at her. "Do you not have anything like dragons in Ulsan? ...And what about your king? You seem to be on close terms with him?"
 
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#17
Noire wasn't prepared for his answer, and his confidence didn't help ease her anxiety. If anything it probably made it worse. The young woman took a shuddered breath and buried her face in her hands, pacing her breathing so she wouldn't forget how to breathe altogether. His answer replayed in her head, and her lips parted slightly forming a small o shape. If he has gone toe-to-toe with dragons, he's most definitely higher in social status than he wants me to believe. Just as she lifted her head to catch him in his lie, she found his smile.

He's laughing at me. Her words went out the window along with what was left of her pride. It was apparent the girl had just deflated, defeated with minimal effort. "No, where in the world is there Dragons, the closest we have is Komodo Dragons, but those are short legged monitor lizards. Not saying they aren't terrifying, but they're much more manageable to capture and put in Zoos than a flying lizard." She sighed as she said this, leaning back and using her hands to keep herself propped up. His second question threw her in a bit of a loop.

"I'm not. Never met him either." She furrowed her brow wondering what she had said to imply any closeness with the president and almost as quickly as the question was asked it was answered: "Ah, my bookkeeping job has nothing to do with politics or the king, for me, I dealt mostly with Sales, occasionally finance if they were behind. It seems as though you're on bad terms with your king, to send you on this death march and not even grant you a name," She said this as jokingly and light-hearted as possible, all the useful knowledge she had learned from playing video games and reading fantasy books being put to work.
 

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#18
Her reaction was priceless. Did they really not have anything like a dragon in Ulsan? How bizarre! What a barren land it must be! He would have to request information about the kingdom when he got back to the castle. How she shuddered and cringed into her blanket. He couldn't help but have it feed his ego. Just a little bit at least.

Some of the things she said didn't really make sense to him. He didn't know what komodo meant, or what a monitor lizard looked like. And he had absolutely no idea what a zoo meant, but he deduced it had to be some kind of large container-like structure. Maybe these words were comparable to things he knew, just... maybe there was a language barrier. He didn't bother asking her about it now. It could be something to discuss on the way back from the hunt.

Randulfus was a little more confused by her response. She wasn't a scholar then... a merchant then? "I see..." he mumbled, slowly piecing things together and her status rank. It still didn't make sense as to why she was out here alone and have no idea about the land she was in. It would be something he pressed to know further later. For not, Randulfus couldn't help but let out a laugh at her assumption. "I suppose that might be possible." He replied, now fully smiling. She was witty, he had to give her that. "Or a great honor. It is only a death march if you are marching into a situation unwise and underprepared." He leaned back, putting the stick down. "You should rest. Tomorrow will be very eventful."
 
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#19
Noire didn't think when she clicked her tongue at his answer, or maybe it was the fact he was smiling so smugly and even laughed that irritated her so much, but she looked more frustrated and defeated than annoyed. It was all she was willing to show on her face. Nonetheless, his shift in demeanor felt embarrassing than she anticipated. Her last sigh of the night left her as she glanced at him one last time He's at least on good terms with the landlord if they let him cut through their forest. Noire got up from where she was sitting, Randulfus's ego clearly well fed with how he looked. Though the second she got up she felt how weak the rest of her body was, the stress and sleep deprivation finally catching up to her, so she didn't need to be told twice to go to bed.

Even so, she couldn't merely agree just to do as she was told. "I think taking on a stranger on your travels is a bit unprepared, but whatever you say, Randulfus King of Dragon Slayers." She tried to keep her tone light but the sarcasm was almost a bit suffocating, but it was clear she had no ill intent with what she said. Dragging her feet, she went back to her bed and collapsed, hiding under the blankets and wrapping them tightly around herself. It took a minute to doze off; she occupied herself with miscellaneous thoughts until she finally drifted off.
 
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#20
The morning bustle was enough to wake Noire from her sleep, a small pang of disappointment seeing the men from last night running around the camp, cleaning up and preparing to head out for what she assumed was day two of their travels. "So it wasn't a dream..." She mumbled pulling the blanket off and cracked her neck and back. It was her morning ritual, the most normal thing she could do right now. Reluctantly she collected her own items, and with Marcus's assistance hopped back on the horse. Today though it didn't seem like Marcus would guide the animal, instead, it was some other man. A bit of a dent in her plans but she gritted her teeth and bared with it as they all walked in deafening silence. She listened carefully to the chatter, though it was mostly going over directions, and men talking about their personal lives. Calmer than she was yesterday she realized none of them were speaking Korean, and if she was able to communicate so well that means she wasn't either.

Though Noire did learn some things on their travels, Randulfus was their commander, he's as reliable as he seemed given that he's lead them on so many missions that sounded more like a death wish, and there was some incident in a tavern that threw the men into an uproar that drowned any other questions she had, it was only natural they would reminisce over the past with another present victory though. She was just grateful to be back on a horse; the climb upwards was too steep to bring the horses along safely, so they had to be left behind and returned to later. But the whole ordeal was much more anticlimactic than she had thought it would be, entering the cave alone and exiting with a single ivory tooth seemed all too easy, it didn't seem nearly as big as she had expected it to be but definitely was too big to belong to any normal predator.

Noire glanced at Randulfus who, naturally was leading his men back home. She could almost feel the pride leaking out of his pores with every step his horse took. All she could do was wish something would scare the steed and knock him off, but they approached a castle gates before that could happen. She clenched her jaw as her eyes went wide at the sight, any suspension she had of this being an elaborate prank had gone out the window, since aside from historical landmarks, nothing like this existed in her world as far as she knew.