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About Bahr

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    The Crimson Marauder

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    The Tarot

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  1. In the end, she was right. Countless lives had been lost in the midst of this catastrophe, and it would be selfish to value what they had over that. Diabolical, even. Perhaps Bahr was just trying to rationalize what he considered to be a gift in all of this madness. There was a part of him that felt guilty for doing so, but he almost couldn't help it. Nothing in his life had ever felt so right. Fit so well. There had to have been a reason that, in the middle of all of this darkness, he'd found a light. That they both had. There was something to that he just couldn't ignore. "But if it matters at all, I like to think we'd have found each other in the real world. Maybe ended up in the same lobby in a game, or met each other on a forum, or something. I really do think we're - a good fit. Maybe we were meant to find each other, and it just happened to be here." Bahr had never really been the sort to believe in things like that. Destiny. It was a word that never sat well with him. He had always felt like it implied that his choices - and the choices of others - had no bearing on the grand plan put forth by 'fate,' 'God,' the universe, or whatever other way people chose to rationalize their existence. Bahr understood that there were things and forces that were beyond his control, but he hated the idea of surrendering his will to the whims of some Great Magnet that made all the decisions of his life for him. He'd always liked the idea that, with conscientiousness, perseverance, and determination, he could blaze his own path and select his own fate. If he were to deny that, then what was the point in all of this? But he couldn't deny that he felt it, too. An indomitable attraction. Maybe one that could even transcend his own choices. He, too, felt like they were meant to meet one another. He felt her eyes on him. Tracing his features, looking for a sign. He wasn't sure what he was feeling in that moment, other than an intense desire to put her at ease. So he smiled. Pulled her closer, did his best to reassure her. "There's no need to apologize. I'm happy you're being honest about it," he responded truthfully, keeping his eyes on the dimly lit path. "You're right, anyways. Too many people have been lost. I'm just being a bit selfish, is all." There was a beat of silence, and then, "And we were meant to find each other. That much, I know." A warm glow began to gradually light the dark path before them, shreds of light cast through the leaves of the trees ahead cascading toward them. He recognized them as telltale signs that Manderly was close. Right where they'd left it. Briefly, Bahr felt a compulsion to challenge Lessa to another race, and dash forward with the playful enthusiasm he'd displayed his first time visiting. But that would mean separating himself from her, and he didn't want to do that. So instead he kept his arm around her, and maintained the steady pace they'd had the entire trek back. "Bringing me back to your place after the first date, huh? How scandalous," he teased, the grin we wore heard in his voice. "Can't say I can blame you, though. It was a pretty magical first date, after all. Just the first of many." His mismatched eyes flickered to hers. "You get to plan the next one, though."
  2. Bahr

    Macradon: The Blazing Typhoon

  3. 'Of course it's a yes.' He'd heard that right, hadn't he? Not like he needed to. Her body language told him everything he needed to know. "Alyssa..." "So hey. It's getting pretty late. Would you be up for walking me home?" "Yeah. That sounds perfect." When had he become so light? It almost felt as though he was levitating as they made their way out of the homely tavern, touched by the ethereal kiss of the clouds. Lessa's discarded shawl had been left behind, replaced by Bahr's jacket, draped over her shoulders to keep her warm as they took their time meandering through the streets of Snowfrost. The falling fractals of ivory, too, had a unique shimmer he hadn't noticed before. He felt the warmth in the streets more than the cold. Everything felt new; lighter, brighter, more detailed. He knew that everything about that night would be etched into his memory with perfect recall. There was no way he was letting a modicum of it escape. He wouldn't let her walk alone, of course. Even a couple of feet between them felt like to much in that moment. He walked close, his palm against hers, fingers interlaced, keeping his strides short and slow as they gradually made their way to the teleport gate. When they finally arrived and were consequently deposited on the twenty-second floor, the air suddenly became more tepid. Warmer, certainly, and vibrating with an energy Bahr couldn't place his finger on. Or perhaps it was his own anticipation. It was difficult to tell for sure. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation, at any rate. He knew the road to Manderly was long. It would be awkward to walk its entire length in silence. So he gently squeezed her hand as they traced the trail up the hill, back to the very same place they'd started the day's adventures. It felt like so long ago that they'd started, even if it was just earlier the same day. So much had happened. So much had changed. Ah, so that's what was in the air. Change. "I don't think I've been this happy in a long time," he admitted, abolishing the silence that had settled between them during their stroll. "Not even before Sword Art." He thought back to their first conversation at White Rabbit, where he had postulated that there unique moments and opportunities in the game that made the experience worth it on a certain level, despite its grim circumstances. There were things that neither of them ever would have experienced had they not gotten trapped in the game, such as meeting one another. Facing fierce monsters that almost stole their lives. Freeing people from the clutches of dictatorial cult leaders. Sharing their first kiss. Attending festivals together hosted by mystical apparitions. Holding philosophical discussions about the meaning of life, what constitutes it, and when it deserves to be respected as such. Sharing stories from their past beneath the impossibly clear canopy of night, where even neutron stars were visible and close enough that you swore you could reach out and touch them. Back then, she had stuck to her guns. Being trapped in SAO was a horrible endeavor that had derailed her life entirely, and nothing that she gained here could possibly outweigh what she lost there. Though Bahr could see her point at the time, he couldn't help but shake the feeling that he'd found something within the game that had changed his life; awakened something that had laid dormant within him. He wasn't willing to let go of the idea that SAO had provided something very valuable and necessary, and even become a part of him to some extent. Especially now that he'd found her. He wondered if her opinion had changed at all. "Do you ever think about that conversation we had after we first started hanging out? It was right after the Lich," he began, nonchalant tone belying the uncertainty that rode just beneath the surface. "Back then, you seemed to wholeheartedly feel like being stuck in Aincrad was a purely negative experience. Even if you experienced things here that you couldn't hope to in the real world, you focused on the tragedy that was, and is, our reality. I've always wondered since we talked about that, whether or not you had started to see things a bit differently." They wouldn't have met if not for the circumstances of the game, after all. "Do you still feel the same as back then?"
  4. Bahr watched as her wide blue eyes traced the contents of each message individually, carefully soaking in the information of one before passing her glance to the next. With each she read, her smile grew, casting its own light that the subtle luminescence of the screens paled in comparison to. Under ordinary circumstances, this bright glow would be enough to put Bahr at ease. But now, there was a linger anxiousness that he couldn't shake. It was the sharper half of the double edged sword; leaving himself vulnerable had been a relief, but so too did it inflict a nervousness. "Bahr." And then she stood. Strode slowly around the table toward him where he, too, tentatively stood in response. Allowed her shawl to slip from her shoulders and occupy the scuffed wood floor around their feet, before wrapping her slender appendages around his neck and balancing against him. Her eyes focused beyond, and he could feel the subtleties of the tendons in her arms as she fiddled with something. Still, he couldn't pry his eyes from her cerulean pools. That was, until she revealed what she had been working on behind his head, and rested hers against the nook between his shoulder and neck. Much in the same fashion she had, his mismatched orbs trailed along the curves of each character as he committed the message in its entirety to memory. Each word read was like a step closer to enlightenment, punctuated by the touch of her soft skin and the heat of her breath against his collarbone. He willingly took these steps, one after another, further into utter elation. And when he'd finished, he would start it all over again, just to experience the sweet hormonal concoction it elicited. Oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and vasopressin whirling together into a palatable cocktail of pure bliss that set his every nerve on fire. So when he'd finally had his fill, he would dismiss the window. Lean back, gently tilt her chin upward. Meet his lips with hers, and pull her body impossibly close into his. He concentrated on the feeling of her frame pressed against his, the familiar aroma of lavender perfume, and the sweet taste of her lips on his. His heart throbbed in his ears as much as it did in his chest, banging against his eardrums like a mallet against a drum, becoming the only thing he could hear. Whether his every sense was filled with a blast of the same feelings from before, or Lessa herself, he couldn't tell. He would hold them there, refusing to let go until the time felt right. Though, through the euphoria he was experiencing, time had become a distant and almost indecipherable construct. It felt like an eternity and the blink of an eye all at once; an experience that would be burned into his memory for as long as he drew breath, but left him wanting more. The perfect moment, however fleeting, in a world where they were scarcely experienced. "So..." The word felt heavy and distant. As his senses gradually shifted from her and back to normalcy, things slowly came back into focus. "I'll assume that was a yes."
  5. "Pinball? But he-" She knew him. One way or another, they'd crossed paths. These were the circles of hell that just kept on giving. "Bahr. It's fine. It's fine now." Nothing is fine. "It's cold out here." No [censored]. "We should go to the Rabbit. Warm up, grab something to eat." Yeah. Okay. We'll just pretend this is all normal. "And then we'll talk." At least she was willing to. Bahr silently nodded, then started walking back to Snowfrost. There was no use allowing more words to spill now. They could do that once they'd had time to settle in. Though, Bahr knew it was a monumental task ahead of him. How could he possible capture the walking catastrophe that was Pinball with words alone? There was no possible way to illustrate the essence of his evil through talking. So what alternative did he have? He'd need to show her.
  6. Bahr

    Ceres' Evaluations

  7. He laced his fingers and rested his elbows against the table as he listened to her, attentive to every word that rolled from her tongue and even the most minute changes in inflection. She talked about how much she loved talking to him. How natural it all was. How they would never run out of things to talk about, or learn about one another. How much she enjoyed when they did things together. How much they'd gone through. She expressed how much she loved all of that, and how she wanted to experience more. Unending. To continue being a part of one another's lives. "So of course I picked you. There's no one else." So she felt all of the same things that he felt. It was such an unbelievable sensation hearing it out loud, as though the weight of the world had been lifted from his shoulders. It made what would come next a lot easier. "Why me?" He cleared his throat. "Because not long after we met, this started happening," he stated as he unfolded his hands, removed his elbows from the table, and brought up his menu. He navigated to the messaging panel, then to the archived messages, and started to populate them. As each message populated, Bahr cast it into the air. They circled around the table and pair, one after another, until the dull glow from their panels filled the space with artificial light. "I just couldn't stop thinking about you, and trying to reach out to you," he explained, trying to ignore the heat building up in his cheeks. "These are messages that I've archived instead of sent to you, ever since Lich King." He took a deep breath. "I punched Alkor. Because he... made you cry. And I went back and killed the Lich King again for having the audacity to hurt you the way it did. And I made sure the Dominic is locked down as tight as possible, and with as few privileges as possible because of what he put you through." A brief silence, and then, "And I went and said goodbye to the woman I knew before I met you, because I met you. Not in the literal sense, since I haven't found her, but... More metaphorical, I guess." ... "I'm telling you all of this because I don't want to hide anything from you anymore. I don't want to go into this keeping anything from you, because neither of us deserve that. I want you to know who I am at my best, and who I am at my worst. And if you see both sides, and still 'pick' me..." He dragged his finger across the final message flicking it over to hover directly in front of Lessa. "So what do you say?"
  8. A secret, huh? Bahr couldn't bring himself to judge her. After all, he'd been pretty elusive about the destinations and activities of the day's outings. He'd had his fun with it, so it was only natural that he should give her the same privilege. Rather than pry, he finished hiss mac and cheese - which was admittedly not as horrific as he'd originally imagined - and move onto the grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Between mouthfuls of the sandwich, he caught glimpses of her happiness. It shone brightly in her eyes, rode the rosy hues that blanketed her cheeks, and played across her seemingly permanently upward curled lips. She was happy. And he'd seen her happy before, but this was completely different. Their troubles seemed so far away from them now. Here, in White Rabbit, surrounded by candlelight, there was no darkness that could touch them. It was like they were in their own little world. He finished up right around when she did. He slouched in his chair a bit, then patted his stomach enthusiastically. "I'm stuffed," he admitted, letting loose a long sigh. It had been the last thing he'd officially planned for the day and, now that it was over, he felt almost lost with what to do next. They had the whole place to themselves. They had the romantic setting. It was time to make the most out of it. "So why'd you agree to come along today?" he inquired pointedly. "I know I'm not the only man in Aincrad who's interested. And I'm probably the only one that almost got you killed, too. So why pick me out of the bunch to go on a date with?"
  9. Stunning the creature was a good plan, and one that Bahr was certainly capable of carrying out. But he was the primary damage dealer in this fight, and burning a turn using a less powerful Sword Art didn't seem like a good way to go about it. His eyes wandered to NIGHT, who carried a weapon akin to his own. "Mrimph 'eaphing th' phtuhn o oo." (I'm leaving the stun to you.) Communicating with the hilt of a gigantic sword in your mouth was no easy task. Had she gotten what he had said? She looked hopelessly confused. He'd need to press on and hope that the essence of his statement hadn't been lost in translation. His attention back on the Blood Bane, he glowered as his sword shone scarlet. He ripped it forth, black tendrils dancing their way along the blade and into the creature's flesh. A massive helping of health was dropped, and the perfect situation began to unfold. Were NIGHT successful in stunning the beast, they would surely bring it down before it was able to strike again. If she missed, its attention would still be on Bahr, and he could continue tanking hits for the party.
  10. "Stay still for a minute. Just breathe. You can do it. Just try." Had he not heard similar words escape her lips before? Here we go. Just breathe. You can do it. Just try. Exactly the same as when they'd first met. It was the second thing she'd ever said to him, the first being that he should lie on his back. He'd been unbelievably pathetic in that moment, a shaky pile of tears and unrelenting anxiety. He thought she'd seen him at his worst that day. Turns out he was wrong. Even now, the sensation of breathing was the same as before. Strained, difficult. Like he had to force each breath in against his lungs' formidable desire to shove its contents out. If the lack of oxygen wasn't enough, the lack of health could be. Scarlet pulsed at the edges of his peripheries, and he could only barely make out the features of her face now. Slowly, but surely, his health was beginning to crawl back up. And the more Lessa's visage came into focus, the more Bahr couldn't bear to see it. So he looked away. "I had to," he stated quietly. "I couldn't. But I had to. I had to, because..." Why, again, exactly? Because he'd killed Kirbs? Killed others? Ran off Kit? All of these were true, but even Bahr was beginning to realize that they didn't fully justify his rage. This was something that ran extremely deep. Deeper than the surface level reasoning, and further back than he'd ever crossed paths with Pinball. Why had this youth taken the spotlight, and drowned out the rest of Bahr's plans and goals? It probably had something to do with that damned Monument. "He would have destroyed everything that I love. Everything you love. Anything anybody here loves. I know for a fact that he would, because he's done it to me before."
  11. Bahr

    [F5 - PP] <<Arabian Nights: First Night>>

    "I really don't see the problem here," Bahr mused, crooked grin belying the seriousness of the situation. "The problem is that you cheated!" a particularly rowdy man responded, pounding a closed fist against the table. Glasses and coins that dotted the wooden surface clinked and plinked in protest, silenced only by the violet icon that blinked into existence to herald the object's immortal status. "Nobody get's that lucky," another chimed in. "How many more aces have you got stashed away?" "No more than three, maybe four, surely," Bahr taunted, much to the chagrin of his disgruntled company. "So he admits it!" the third called as he puffed his chest triumphantly. Try as he might, it didn't look like he'd be extending his rib cage past his gut any time soon. "No, you idiot. He's making fun of us." The trio rounded their collective gazes back on Bahr, whose fingers idly toyed with a piece of col that had strayed from the massive stack he'd accumulated. The same wry grin from before still played at his lips as he coyly looked up at them, feigning ignorance. "Hey, I can neither confirm nor deny that. You'll all have to draw your own conclusions." This was all a farce, of course. All gambling was dictated by the Cardinal system, and couldn't be tampered with by a simple slight of hand. Still, it was amusing to see the NPCs so riled up by his inordinate luck. It had been a lucrative evening. There was something else that had caught his eye that evening, though. A noob of sorts, as made evident by his default equipment. What was he doing here, of all places? Certainly there were taverns of a much safer variety within the confines of the Town of Beginnings. Bahr's mismatched eyes traced him as he meandered through the foyer, past the rambunctious goons and "talent" that occupied much of the space, straight to none other than Ali. That's not quite right. They struck up a conversation. Really not right. "Sorry, gentlemen, but I think it's time I took my leave." He stood and began scooping up his col, ignored the defeated cries of his former adversaries. He had to get over there, and quick. He made it just in time to see the quest window populate before the youth. "You'll die, you know," Bahr stated flatly, leaning back against the counter top. "Not a quest for noobs. I'd come back when you're a little more capable."
  12. Did she really not think she deserved it? After everything she had done for him? He'd done all of this because he knew that she was worth it. Even the day they'd shared failed to communicate the intricacies of how he felt about her. What she meant to him. She absolutely deserved all of this, and more. She deserved the world. "All you had to do was be who you are." The person he admired most. Bahr slowly unraveled the ivory cloth that contained his utensils, picking the spoon out of the bunch and scooping up a dollop of the applesauce. "So how does this work, anyways? I just put it in here and mix it around?" he inquired as he hovered the spoon of mashed fruit over their cheesy counterpart, looking to Lessa for confirmation. When she gave it, he scrutinized the spoonful of liquidized apple, shrugged, and plopped it into the bowl. He then followed through, mixing the opposing solutions together until it was impossible to tell one from the other. "I figured it would be nice to try out all of these strange meals you're always raving about," Bahr said as he brought a spoonful of the mixture to his lips. He deposited its contents into his mouth, chewed thoughtfully, then swallowed. "Not nearly as bad as I'd thought it would be," he admitted as a grin crept across his cheeks. "Pretty decent, actually. I could see myself getting used to something like this." So he took another bite. Then another. Then a fourth. He was about to go for a fifth, but stopped himself. It probably wasn't exactly impressive that he was pigging out on their first official date. He could probably afford to reel it in and make the dinner last. "So," he began, "now you've seen how I thought a perfect date between us would go. I'm curious. If you were to plan a date day for us, what would you have us do?"
  13. And, of course, she was stunning. A column of violet hugged her slim frame, accentuating features that Bahr had noticed before, but now couldn't seem to pry his eyes from. The way she had her hair secured, the subtle shine of her lips, her natural curves, and those hips. Part of him felt a little rude for ogling her like he was, but it wasn't as though she'd been subtle about doing the same only a few minutes before. He was almost disappointed that a shawl covered the rest, though it did wonders for leaving something to the imagination. By night's end, perhaps he'd see what she was hiding underneath. "Hi." He was completely hopeless. It was like he'd forgotten how to greet someone. "Wow," was all he managed to utter when she'd finally taken her seat across from him, still trying to wrap his head around the magnificence he was contending with. Then he cleared his throat, opened his mouth to say something, and promptly closed it. What could he even say? You're beautiful? Extravagant? Radiant? Sexy? None of them did her any justice. "You're everything," he finally said. Stupid. That was really stupid. Luckily, Alexander had returned. Carrying two platters covered with round silver cloches, he strode from the kitchen, around the counter, and to the small table they shared. He placed the platters down - one in front of each - and wrapped his fingers gingerly around the handles of the lids. "Compliments of 'Chef Bahr'," he said with a grin before removing the cloches from where they rested. They revealed mac and cheese. Yes, mac and cheese. Albeit, of the gourmet variety. The noodles were large shells, which perfectly cupped creamy pools of the cheesy solution they marinated in. Of to the side was a smaller dish filled will a dollop or so of applesauce. To round out the bizarre meal was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Grilled. She'd off-handedly mentioned to him once that she enjoyed them, and he thought it was just weird enough to include with the other components of the meal. Alexander took a bow, and then his leave, offering the pair absolute privacy. "I know it's not fancy. But it was too perfect an opportunity to pass up. I thought you might appreciate it."
  14. "Goodbye, Bahr." He's getting away. Bahr remained glued to the ground, immobilized by the concoction of hormones rushing through him. He felt as though he was being drawn and quartered by his thoughts, emotions, goals, and duty. He wanted to kill Pinball. He wanted to. In that moment, there wasn't anything that he desired more. And he'd convinced himself that it was for all the right reasons. To rid Aincrad of a menace, to do what little he could to right the wrongs of this scourge. But that wasn't entirely true. It was more vengeance than anything that guided him through the motions. His desire to avenge his fallen friend, though he knew it wouldn't bring her back. He still felt a duty to do so. But he feared what that would make him. He feared becoming the same as the man he aimed to abolish, who may have started out right where Bahr was right now. The first kill was the hardest. But every after that, less so. Bahr would be different. By the time he'd finally managed to sit up straight and pry his eyes from the ground, Pinball had vanished. He should have apprehended him. Pinball belonged with the likes of Dominic and the other criminals they'd locked away in the prison on the twenty-fourth floor. Instead, their paths diverged once more. One way or another, he'd spared Bahr again. Or had Bahr spared him? The lines were blurred at this point, just as was Bahr's vision. But he could still see her, waiting in the treeline, hesitation preventing her from joining him in the clearing. Was it fear that Pinball still lurked, ready to strike the moment they were vulnerable? Or was it fear of Bahr? The only thing that was certain was that Bahr had never needed her more than he did in that moment. So, shakily, he wrapped his fingers around the hilt of Dawn's Demise and used it to push himself into a standing position. With each step forward her, his entire body screamed in protest. The blight had run its course. The bleeding had stopped. The throb of the burn had subsided. All of it had left behind a man who barely clung to life, sways turning his steps to shambling as he approached her. He could make out basic features, such as her golden locks and the violet cloak she wore. But he couldn't make out her face. Was she happy he was alive? Mortified by what she'd just witnessed? Scared? Confused? He couldn't tell. Her visage was a blurred mosaic of rough shapes and hues. He wrapped his arms around her. Once again, she was tasked with supporting his weight. But he didn't derive the comfort in it that he sought. She flinched at his touch, and remained stiff as a board. The affection wasn't reciprocated as he'd hoped, and that stung even more than Pinball's concoction had. He needed her. He really needed her. But she didn't want him. Or, at least, that how it felt. So he let go, and staggered back. "Sorry," he choked. "I'll go."
  15. "So what's the next stop on the date, Romeo?" The edges of his lips curled upward, and a single snowy brow raised. "That's for me to know." But she was right. The sky had been painted orange, and it wouldn't be long before night descended upon the castle. It wasn't like they had a strict schedule to follow, but they probably couldn't afford to linger in New Sanctuary too much longer. Lessa seemed completely enamored by the space, though, so they didn't have to leave just yet. He lightly nudged her with his elbow, maintaining the same askew grin from before. "We're totally getting our groceries here from now on," he asserted, the grin now stretching into his signature cheesy smile. There was a moment of silence, and then, "Well, you might. I'm not allowed to cook anymore." Bahr stifled a laugh at her wry response, which ended up developing into an inadvertent snort. It was almost cute that she didn't yet believe he'd prepare her every meal if it made her happy. By the end of the day, she'd know. "I guess we can get going. But we'll be back," Bahr assured, offering a nod. "This place is incredible. Wouldn't miss it for the world." He turned his head and looked at his blonde companion. "So what do you say? Should we let these people get to it?" With her nod of approval, they began their rounds to say goodbye. There seemed to be a sentiment shared by the majority of the former flock of disappointment that they had to leave early, but acceptance that it was getting late. Their swan song complete, they departed from the collection of shops and homes and began making their way toward the center of town. "This next part's special, just so you know." Which, he imagined she did. "I put a lot of thought into it." Without another word, he slipped his arms out of his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. She'd need it where they were going, which she'd likely pieced together by now. They sauntered through the streets. Into the town square. Up to the teleport gate. Then Bahr issued the destination he'd been waiting to get to all day. "Teleport, Snowfrost." Their avatars deconstructed in a flash, and rematerialized on the fourth floor just as swiftly. Frosty vapor assaulted their lungs as snow wisped about in the wake of their arrival, but there was still a certain warmth that permeated the space as well. It was an ambiance unique to the air of Snowfrost; an intermingling of biting cold that was ever so subtly and smoothly assuaged by the dim glow cast by street lamps, smoke billowing from the many chimneys, and the sense that a contained inferno raged within a fireplace hidden beyond any given door. There wasn't anywhere else in Aincrad that captured the essence of heat and cold at once so neatly, and in a way, it reminded Bahr of home. Places such as this had become a bit nostalgic for the pair - this place, in particular. Though their footprints from the time before had long been filled, they traced a path they knew well enough not to need them. The mellow soundtrack of the floor played out all around them as they strode through streets layered with undisturbed snow like icing atop a cake; the light squelch of the powder compressing beneath their boots, the occasional muffled laugh emanating from within one of the houses, the whisper of the wind as it jaunted between the buildings, slowed, then faded back into comfortable silence. The last traces of sunlight hugged the horizon by the time they'd arrived, a scarlet glow that touched both the edge of the world and the edge of endless darkness. Twinkles of light had started revealing themselves, but they were nothing compared to the view they'd shared in Manderly. Perhaps, if things went well, they'd get to take it all in again before the night was over. Bahr stepped forward, opened the door of the White Rabbit Tavern, and motioned gracefully for Lessa to step inside. Ladies first, after all. Within was a sight neither of them had ever seen before. White Rabbit was never a place of extraordinary bustle, but it had loyal patrons that would fill its seats at any given time during business hours. But not tonight. The space within was quiet, empty, and dark, lit only by the candles that dotted its tables and the fireplace that never seemed to run out of fuel. Furniture had been rearranged, allowing Bahr and Lessa each their favorite armchairs, which were pulled up to opposite ends of a small, intimate table that rested in the center of the foyer. It wasn't conventional, by any means, but this wasn't about being conventional. This was about them. Bahr would trail in behind her, changing into his more formal attire while she was preoccupied with the scene unfolding before her. By the time she looked back, she'd see a completely different man. A white button-up tucked neatly into black trousers, unbuttoned near the collar, with a black blazer tying the whole ensemble together. "I've been expecting the two of you. Welcome to the White Rabbit," a familiar voice would call. It was none other than Alexander, similarly dressed for the occasion. He wore what one might consider to be a stereotypical butler's uniform, complete with an ivory cloth that dangled from his forearm, which extended stiffly from his elbow at a ninety-degree angle and ran parallel with the ground. "Did you make a final decision, Bahr?" "Yes," Bahr remarked, offering the man a smile and a nod. "We're going to go with what I cooked earlier." There was a certain magic to the way food worked in Aincrad. One could create a dish, convert it into an item, and populate it again months later so long as its durability didn't fully deplete. No matter how much time had passed, it would remain in a fixed state, and emerge just as fresh as when it was created. "If you wouldn't mind showing her to where she can change, then retrieving the food. We should be settled in by the time you bring it out." This was where the "something nice to wear" would come into play, but it didn't bear reiterating. Lessa knew what this was. "Very well," Alexander replied. "Right this way, milady." It was as he led her to an adjoining guest room that the aroma would start to play into the mix. There was more afoot here than Bahr's cooking, or the typical scents that usually lingered here. A batch of Alexander's cookies were waiting in the wings, no doubt kept warm in the oven at the perfect temperature until Bahr and Lessa were ready for them. As Lessa retreated into the room, Bahr settled into the impossibly comfortable chair and waited. One way or another, he managed to quell the incessant anxious bouncing of his leg and at least give the appearance that he was holding it all together. Despite his confidence, there was a nervousness that played through him as well.