OOC Early afternoon on a summer day. Clay was dressed in a simple, light-gray cloak that covered him from his shoulders to his knees, with pockets on the inside to hold money and other small belongings. He kept his hand on his coin pouch and fiddled with it anxiously. Clay didn’t visit this part of the city often, but he needed to meet with someone to discuss a potential job that he’d heard about. And while the name 'Atvance' wasn’t commonly associated with pickpocketing — or really any high crime rates, for that matter — it still didn’t hurt to err on the side of caution. As Clay walked, it soon became apparent that there was some sort of commotion happening up ahead. He was still too far away to see much of anything, but he could hear shouting, and caught glimpses of crowds gathering in the city streets up ahead. "What in the world…" he mumbled. As Clay approached, he could see more and more people gathering in the center of, well… whatever was going on. Up ahead, he could hear chanting, "Ace! Ace! Ace! Ace!" Soon enough, Clay made it to the outer edge of the crowd. Everyone was gathered around something, but, even with his height, it was hard to see past them to discern exactly what they were all looking at. Clay then heard a commanding voice cut through the roaring crowds. "Settle down, subjects!" The chanting quieted down soon after. "It’s time for the people of Atvance to hear what I have to say…" What came next was partially drowned out by the continued murmuring of the crowd. At any rate, Clay wasn’t in the mood for any of it. "Whatever’s going on, it’s blocking up the roads…" Clay mumbled. "…And I have places to be." After letting out an annoyed sigh, he began to weave his way through the crowd, muttering a "sorry" or "'scuse me" whenever necessary. Soon enough, he made it to the front of the crowd. There, he saw a human man standing in the town square, on top of some sort of raised platform, apparently acting as a stage of sorts. The man appeared to be in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He was a bit pale, and his hair was a deep black color. He dressed like a noble, and wore lots of dark purple and white. He had a charismatic smile, but there was something devilish about it, too. The top hat on his head completed his showoff-y look. "People of Atvance," the man spoke. "I’m here, because I want to save this kingdom…" Clay raised an eyebrow skeptically. "Altera is stifled, bound in by the Pyrans to the West and the rat hordes to the North and East… we have Heiana, yes, but the ocean that stands between her and the mainland is not a creature of kindness. Many-a sailor have been lost to the hydras and the great water dragons that dwell there. And while the hordes — terrifying forces of nature, truly — would be a difficult obstacle to clear, it is Altera’s struggles with Pyros that are the most embarrassing truth about the current state of our dear kingdom. The barbaric Pyrans keep battering us from the West," he narrated, swinging his arms dramatically for emphasis. "And what would king Heian have us do? Fight back? No, he’d rather have us retreat into the seas!" the man exclaimed, with his apparent supporters offering their own chorus of "yeah"’s and other words of support. I’m no expert on politics, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how that works… Clay added silently. "As you know, citizens, a new prince will soon be chosen, and it is of the utmost importance that we ensure that the man who winds up on that throne is the one that this kingdom needs. And if the royal court has even the tiniest bit of sense left in them, that man will be me — Ace Dominyx!" The crowd began cheering wildly again as the chanting started back up. "Ace! Ace! Ace! Ace!" Ace, smiling confidently, gestured for them to quiet down. Once the chanting petered out again, Ace turned to the more silent sections of his audience, the crowd of confused and curious townspeople such as Clay, and continued to speak. "Now, I’m sure many of you are wondering — if my place is in Tarocchi, then, what am I doing here? Well… in order to return Altera to the prosperous state it once was, I need your help, people of Atvance!" he exclaimed. "The journey to Tarocchi is a long one, you see. And although I was gifted with this brilliant mind, I was not born into riches." "Could’ve fooled me." Clay muttered under his breath, eyes narrowed skeptically at Ace’s outfit. "I need enough supplies to make it to the next town, enough money to survive in the town after that… If I’m to make it to Tarocchi, it will be because of you, citizens!" "Ugh, he’s just some con artist? Why is anyone even paying him any attention?" Clay muttered. "…Wait a minute, why am I paying attention to him?!" he exclaimed, shaking his head as he tried to pull himself out of his thoughts. "Ugh, I don’t have time for this…" he continued muttering to himself, trying to keep his head down as he walked along the front of the crowd, inching his way to the other side of the square without stepping into Ace’s spotlight.