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[F2-PP] Fragrance in bittersweet nostalgia

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Tasks complete, chores laid to rest for but one more day. A tinge of amber had claimed the stars, a waning sun played happily with the clouds. Charko had its supplies, Byakko was destroyed once again and the flames it bore were sated. Restless and on edge, broken away from settlements that would see him too driven to let the troubles of the day to pass.

A soft breeze carries across a field, lifting aloft a sprinkle of crimson. It dances on the current in folds and bends, no direction the same in a soft but warm breeze. With it, a scent that lingered in one's nose. A honeysuckle sweet that stuck and made the muscles in one body feel limp and frail. The high fields of crossing were in full bloom, and patrons gather to take in its beauty.

A single swordsman clad in red, a lingering fate as red as the robe on his back still tied around his throat. A noose that had yet to tighten, as he worked against its ever closing vice. Taking a section for his own, a remove of his burden for but one day as it builds a blanket. A slink of a single book written by an author that could stand to practice. It was all he knew and all he had aspired to with a number now stagnant and unwavering. He could grow no further, and the gears within a machine he built with his own two hands covered in blood no longer required his sweat to function.

Pride as he removed the lenses from his face, polishing them on his right shoulder as he undertook his most difficult challenge.

To relax, was harder than any conflict...

Raidou | HP:1790/1790 | EN:176/176 | DMG:20 | MIT:106 | EVA:1 | ACC:3 | REC:1 | TAUNT | LD:5 | BH:89


Raidou, The Red Wanderer
Level: 88
HP: 1790/1790
EN: 176/176

Damage: 20
Mitigation: 106
Evasion: 1
Accuracy: 3

Equipped Gear:
Weapon: Auric Sol - Corona [T3/Perfect/2HSS]: Damage 3
Armor: Red Wanderer's Robe [T1/Perfect/L.A] +3 Evasion
Misc: Commander's Scrutiny - Duress [T1/Perfect/Trinket]: +2 Accuracy, Taunt

Gatherer [Obtained]
Two Handed Straight Sword [Rank 5]
Extended Mod Limit R3 [Obtained]
Parry [Obtained]
Howl [Obtained]
Battle Healing [Rank 5]
Fighting Spirit [Obtained]
Light Armor [Rank 5]
Searching [Rank 5]
Charge [Rank 5]
Extended Weight Limit [Obtained]

Extra Skills:
Familiar Mastery: Protector

Active Mods:
Focused Howl
Finesse Rank 3
Sprint and Acrobatics
Justified Riposte

Inactive Mods:
Vengeful Riposte
Emergency Recovery
Bull Rush

Battle Ready Inventory:
Teleport Crystal*1
Pillar Fragment [Unique/Glowstone]
Eternal Watch - Tenacity [T3/Perfect/Trinket]: Recovery 2, Accuracy 1
Mass Heal Crystal*5
Incarceration [T1/Perfect/Debuff Song] Double DoT*2
Hypnosis 2 [T1/Rare/Debuff Song/Instant] -2 Accuracy*3
Tactician's Gaze - Ogma [T1/Perfect/Trinket]: +3 Accuracy
Eye of Midas - Larceny [T1/Perfect/Trinket]: +3 Prosperity

Housing Buffs:
Well Rested: -1 energy cost for the first three expenditures of each combat
Squeaky Clean: The first time you would suffer DoT damage in a thread, reduce damage taken from DoT each turn by 25% (rounded down)
Hard Working: +2 EXP per crafting attempt and +1 crafting attempt per day
Filling: Increase the effectiveness of a single food item consumed in a thread by +1 T1 slot.
Item Stash: +1 Battle Ready Inventory Slot
Delicious: Turn 3 identical food items (same quality, tier, & enhancements) into a Feast. A Feast contains 6 portions of the food items sacrificed.
Relaxed: Increases out of combat HP regen by (5 * Tier HP) and decreases full energy regen to 2 Out of Combat Posts.
Col Stash: +5% bonus col from monster kills and treasure chests
Advanced Training: +2 SP to a thread. Limit one use per month [0/1]
Multipurpose: Gain +1 to LD, Stealth Rating, Stealth Detection, or Prosperity to one post in a thread. Can be applied after a roll
Decor []: This buff affects the player and their choice of up to two party members.

Guild Hall Buffs:
Lucrative: Reduce LD needed for Salvage by 5 (10+ for Alchemist crystals, 6+ for everything else). +2 EXP per craft. Rank 9 crafters receive +1 crafting attempt per day. Rank 10 crafters receive +2 crafting attempts per day.
Col Deposit: +5% bonus col from last-hit monster kills and +10% bonus col from treasure chests.

Scents of the Wild:
Kumatetsu Statue: +1 Base Damage for a thread


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Violet found herself practicing her swings in the middle of a field, away from most of the settlement. a crimson flame danced across her rapier, bathing her briefly in a deep red and gold light. Her familiar was curled on her shoulders, watching her every move. Her little friend hardly knew it, but her presence was a balm for her soul, one that numbed away her troubles, and soothed the aching in her heart on even the toughest of days. She glanced up at the sky, a pensive look on her face as she watched the sky turn a vivid crimson and purple, the light of the afternoon slowly giving way to the darker hues of night. She clipped her sword back into its sheath, hidden neatly under her hair. It would be an impractical choice were this real life, especially given her choice in weaponry, but this was merely a game. As such, her hand never faltered as she drew her blade from its home. A soft breeze ruffled her hair and clothes, a ripple flowing through the long grass of the field.

Violet drew her cloak a bit closer around her body, a tired look on her face. It was already rather late in the day. She should've started heading home quite a bit sooner than this, but she found that the peaceful air was too much to pass up. It wasn't a hectic scramble here, it was simply as though she had taken a mere stroll in the late afternoon, rather than just training with her blade. She glanced down at the ground, watching the wind toy with a small cluster of wildflowers, the tiny blooms twisting and tossing in the soft winds. She pictured the idea of a group of children running through these very plains, laughing slightly. "It would certainly brilliant If i'd have lived near something like this back then... eh..?"

her eyes caught sight of a young man cloaked in red, and polishing a set of glasses. His dark brown hair held a stark contrast to his clothing, making a balance to the brilliant color. Her own clothes were just a simple black turtleneck and a pale pink skirt that reached just below her knees, a simple white cloak draped over her shoulders to keep her warm. Violet quietly made her way over to him, her eyes scanning him carefully to see what he would do. Akame had perked up, her ears sticking up, and her eyes watching the boy just as carefully as her friend.

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Simple and clean a lingering scent that drew him to a woman he had all but forgotten, her face fuzzy and obscured through a rose tint of the past. It produces a sense of longing and a break from the shackles of captivity, although in some way it was as if he was saying goodbye. Even still he had to keep trying, pushing, and striving for the metal to give way. For the prison built around them forming a dream to which no man could escape.

A world in which it is manifested in such a way to paint itself as perfection, a world to replace its predecessor before a row of teeth would form and consume you within the nightmare. A single step toward him triggers a detection like sonar, a passive activation of a skill that had become muscle memory. It's source? A female that paled against others in her ability to hide. Her weapon sheathed and a defense that was almost unmatched shows him complacent and soft, doing his best to leave her to her own. But the distance between closes on a passing second, a dial twists and carries with it the faint hue of violet that overtakes the orange.

Within his serenity, a shift and twist of a pair of lenses to his brow offering nothing more than a shift to the next page. A trick he had learned through an understanding ripened by time and and exchange of words, he was getting better at being human.

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Violet felt the man's gaze fall to her, watching her carefully for any sign that he would make a move against her. even though she was rather weak, she could still hold an air of power to her. Here, it was all too easy to pull such a feat off properly, however, in the real world her friends would often laugh and joke about her kind-hearted actions, calling her a big ol' softy wrapped in a punky exterior. While that still held true to a certain degree, her words had lost most of their kind edge, instead taking on a biting, sarcastic tone most of the time, especially with strangers. The kind words were still there, sure, but they were swallowed whole by her newfound attitude. that was why peaceful times were simply a fragrant balsam, swaddling her in the comfort of the quiet lulls, and soothing her enough to bring buds of her old demeanor to the surface.

Red met gold, and she felt a strange inkling that the boy was familiar to her somehow, though she could hardly place the feeling. perhaps they had met during an event raid? It would be the most likely scenario after all, since that tended to be how most players met others, aside from running into each other by a simple chance. A fond memory of her running into Itzal and Jon came to mind almost instantly, along with the thoughts of her meeting with Domarus and Black, their smiles dancing in her head.

She carefully moved forward, keeping her stance loose, and as unthreatening as possible. Akame was watching the red-coated man with narrowed eyes now, looking about ready to pounce on the poor man. Violet quietly bonked her on the nose with a single finger, shaking her head no. A dejected 'Hyuuu...' escaped her familiars throat, the tiny feathery dragon hanging her head for all of three seconds before perking right back up again. Eventually, violet was next to the man, standing over him for a few moments, before allowing herself to flop to the ground, a soft sigh escaping her throat as she landed in a seated position. "It seems a bit late to be out in the field all alone, ne?" she said softly, turning slightly to look at him. "It is rather beautiful this time of day, though, so there is that much I suppose."

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Each step forced his skin to stand on end, like static clinging in the air before a storm would begin. His nerves still present and although he had found a way to master them, Raidou was still riddled with them regardless. The goal of the girl still stay airborne, held aloft by the pure circumstance alone without exchange to determine it. Assumptions aside, somehow he was pleased.

Before through efforts intentional, he'd avoid these affairs, dodge the eyesight of many. Before he would have run from this, the moment he could feel that static of eyes looking upon him. Something had changed through his journey, finding a footing to see eye to eye and stare back in the daggers that punctured his skin unfazed. As the girl sat beside him, his suspicions are all but confirmed.

A serpent, akin to that of legend in its scales. A Familiar, no doubt and as it cooed in resistance to an owner's swat, Raidou shifted off to his side. For a pocket on his robe now playing blanket, he removed a small white disk and offered it to the girl. A failed pheromone but an adequate treat to train regardless, a sweet disk of orange that most pets found palatable. "It is, and I could say the same to you." The nomad remarked softly folding the leather-bound book up and placing it on his leg. "Strange isn't it, that right before the light fades it always looks like a painting." He quipped with a glance into the tapestry above, finding the slight memory of Tanabata and its veiled meaning within the newly forming stars. "It's quiet here, a place to think and reflect. I would assume the same for you?"

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She sighed a bit, a pensive look on her face. "maybe it is... but I feel like this time of day is the best for clearing your mind." Violet said softly, petting her familiar, who cooed in delight at the gentle measure. "It also makes for good nap material if you need a break... though I personally don't partake in that, as I prefer the view." Her eyes drew up to the sky, the hue shifting ever so slightly more to the Deep blues and Purples of evening. A faint greenish-gold light flickered to life in front of her face, taking her by surprise for a moment. 'Eeh..?! Glow bugs?' she thought, her eyes wide. 'But isn't it winter still..? I thought insects disliked the ... cold?' her train of thought gave way to awe as the glowing insects slowly started to light up the field, gold, green, and even blues and oranges dyeing the field several colors at once. "Perhaps this is what kept me out so late... I wonder if this was a subconscious thing..?" she mumbled, her eyes wide.

"Mmm... I could definitely see this as a painting, especially while its like this. All these vivid colors would paint a lovely story." She said softly, glancing at the man. "Was that why you wanted to stay out as late as this..? did you want to paint the fading afternoon light?" Violet eyed the strange orange disk with a cautious gaze... until Akame darted forward, and snatched the disk away from the man, fluttering a bit in mid air before landing on his head with a happy chirp. "?!! Akame! get off of his head!" she spluttered, making a grab for her familiar, who darted out of the way almost immediately, landing on his shoulder next, causing her hand to bounce off of the man's head, Prompting Violet to facepalm, a frustrated look on her face. "Agh, I'm sorry I hit you on accident. She's not like this always, I swear. I think it was whatever you were trying to give me that set her off..? Oh... wait, was that a familiar pheromone?" She reached over with both hands this time, and managed to grab the small dragon off of his shoulder, placing her in her lap. "That would make a bit more sense, then...."

"Mou... I... I'm not one that likes to reflect on things too much, at least... not old things." she mumbled quietly, a somber look on her face. "I don't believe I caught your name, though... Would you share it with me? I'm Tricolor_Mina, though I'd prefer if you'd call me Mina, It's what most of my friends call me." she held out a hand, and a firefly landed there, flooding her hand with a brilliant golden green light. She turned to watch the brown haired man, a curious look on her face as it was illuminated by the small insect on her palm.

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A single pause as the familiar wrapped around him rather abruptly, this one seemed the excitable sort. Of all shapes and sizes, it was no surprise that they came in varied personalities, it offered him no issue as he fixes some flustered frames. Abloom in green built upon the place, casting lantern luminescence over the fields in dim burns. With it the shadows of a retiring few, finding the day rounding near closure as they made for the main settlement of the floor. The soft clatter of heels upon the stonework as they did, for shelter and hearth from the dangers of the wild. New dawn would beckon them on repeat, as they ushered around in tedium to a success that was ever fleeting.

"I am not much of a painter..." He quipped held vision to one of these small little bulbs, as it fluttered faintly in the open air. "A failed one yes, occasionally they just don't work out as planned. The result is nothing more than an orange-flavored sweet, but familiars seem to enjoy them all the same." He spoke leaving the finer calculations to the wind, no one wanted to hear him spout formula and theory. A hidden interest that was best-kept secret. Patient and soft, his words were broken into what flowed as a sonate would letting his mind linger and mix with the surroundings.

"No matter, I am used to being hit." Raidou remarked in a joke, but it came off as brutally honest and placid so you could hardly tell despite the smile. "Mina, I would say learn from old things but do not let them control you." With a glance down to the book on his thigh, finding her gaze in a soft glow that washed over her face making an emboldened red strands light in contrast. "Some call me the Red Wanderer, but those who know me better I am just Raidou."

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"Mmm... s' not a very good thing to be used to, ne? Good to know you have a sense of humor, though." She quipped dryly, a wry grin on her face at the man's dry humor. "I'd suggest not throwing Akame treats like that, though. I may not bite, but she'd probably nibble your fingers off...." violet trailed off, checking her menu for the time. 'Jon usually sends me a message saying that he's waiting on me... it's a bit strange that he hasn't yet..' she thought, furrowing her brows slightly. 'Ah, well... I might as well stay a while since I don't go out as often as I should.' with a flick of a finger, a menu popped into existence right in front of her, before she retrieved a small bag filled with snack foods. A sweet smell filled the air as she drew out one of the items, a fish-shaped piece of bread.

Rosa, as always, had sent her off with various snacks and meals that she could take with her on the off chance that she decided to stay out of the tavern or her home for once. A hand extended forward, she offered the Taiyaki to the newly-named Raidou. "Ne, It's nice to meet you, Raidou-san." she said softly, a crooked grin on her face. "Here, take one! My friend always bakes way too many of these, so I tend to hand them out to people whenever I can. Ever had any of before?" She pulled out another one, taking a bite out of it. "Either way, they're pretty great. I have some other stuff if you aren't fond of this kind snack, just lemme know, ok?"

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A bit of reluctance and a spry and ginger acceptance, he'd not be rude and decline. Taiyaki he'd not had since he was a child, through festival alone as it's ushered into his hands with a faint memory. "Quite." Raidou remarked but the single word with a grin, unsure if he should define if he was joking or not for it was the truth. For but a moment he weighs the name spoken as if he had heard it from somewhere before, and then it stuck. The raid meeting, that's where he saw her. Which meant the blonde she was with must have been Jon.

A single glance forward with an aversion of his eyes, shielding them from her view as he performs a routine check. Another pulse rings from his position on his HUD, an echo that would mark any that wished to remain unseen. He wasn't one for sweets, even moderately and mildly sugary things such as these. Even still he takes a bite and chews slightly, weighing his words and dismissing them all with a mental scratch of a list. It was here where he was at a loss, unable to produce a phrase or strike a conversation with another. The wanderer knew how to lead, how to fight, and how to plan. But be normal, that was where he was nothing more than a child.

A twist on her question, a desperation to find an outlet and to bridge that gap as he peered across a cliff that seemed ever out of reach. "I haven't had them since I was young, a very long time ago with my mother." Within that brutal honesty were a longing and a stinging pain, for the woman he was already content with never seeing again. Reaching for the glasses on his brow, an anchor to keep him stable and solid on what had to be done as they reflected what faint light was around them both.

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Violet paused, watching how he'd reacted. It was very slight, but she could've sworn she'd caught a hint of sadness in Raidou's eyes as he took the treat. She checked her inventory for something else, before pulling out a bottle of spiced mead. 'Jon might be right about me becoming an alcoholic here, but the normal alcohol just tastes like shit, and so does the juice.' she thought, shaking her head slightly as she produced a pair of mugs, listening to. "Hmm... maybe this would be a safer bet... make sure you speak up If I'm bringing bad thoughts up, eh?" she said, shaking her head. "Mmm... nah, I think I might be confusing something else with nostalgia, though... You say you haven't had those since you were a kid, ne?"

She sat the bottle and mugs down on the ground, before pouring some of the alcohol into one of them, before opening her inventory again, and flipping it so that Raidou could see the menu. "Here, I'll let you pick whichever one you'd like. I've got mead, plain ol' beer, wine, eggnog, fruit juice, ale... Take your pick, and I'll pull the one you want out." A few names always stood out to her on the list of drinks. Dragon's tooth, which was a delicious spicy wine, Pale ale, a faintly fruity-tasting alcohol, Silver nail, a rather strong-tasting Vodka, Honeymoon, A delightfully sweet scotch that had just the faintest hints of butter and salt, and a few other drinks that were a bit more bland. Even though alcohol couldn't dull ones senses in this world, it still was a nice thing to have access to, if only for their taste. It was better than just drinking water all the time, and it was easy to indulge in something that couldn't hurt one's body in this world, or the real one.

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With a look to the list and a stare into the glass, she was clearly picking up on some of the little sour curdlings that tend to linger on everything he did. What she was sensing was more than superficial abrasions but something that had run deep for what felt like lifetimes long before Aincrad. "A story perhaps. A song I am sure." Raidou seems to shift demeanor as he took on almost an instructor style tone. A pause and slide of her menu over, he ushers for his own with a quick flick of his left wrist like a conductor calling an instrument to play.

From within his menu, he produces a single bottle in a rounded bottom flask, upon it a loosely drawn kanji hung to a label around its rim. Taking one of his own empty apothecary potion vials out and removing the cork stopper, he pours into it clear fluid akin to water and the scent of ash. "You've given me plenty if you would allow me to return the favor." he offers her it before pouring his own. "A child, to which a seat was given upon birth with a mind for inquiry. Expected a weapon held when in his grasp a pen was wished instead. A crown forsaken and a father scorned. No, not shall I a painter be, but a poet I do beseech thee. To the blood of a barbarian, I was born, and through this path, I am reminded of the torn. To each, their own a taste of this sorrow, but I assure that mine was not on borrow." A soft exhale to allow the air to escape his lungs, for the bitter burn of the sake to be laid to rest before its quaffed in full. For within this poetry his mind was allowed to speak freely, and he broke his own rule but was capable of letting it flow unhindered.

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Violet raised an eyebrow at his comment on songs, wondering idly where he was going with that until he made a gesture for her to put her menu away for now. A few moments later his intentions became clear, as a bottle of what appeared to be Sake appeared in his hand. "Mmm.. so you prefer bitter to sweet or spicy... good choice, honestly." she downed her mug quickly, sending the unused one back to her inventory as the one she'd finished started to crack and splinter as its durability ran out. The durability on the bottle was about halfway gone, so she immediately stowed it away. Better to play it safer than sorry with food items. the sound of tinkling glass indicated the mug shattering into gleaming blue fractals, dancing in the evening breeze.

She gently picked up the apothecary vial, raising an eyebrow at the unorthodox usage of the potions tool. Violet quietly drank from the vial as Raidou began to wax poetry, the soft timbre of his voice providing a calming feeling to accompany the elegantly crafted speech. "Someone a fan of poetry?" she mused, a faint smile toying around her mouth. "Let me think for a sec... Ah, there we go.. here's one of my favorites. 'If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain' -Emily Dickinson." The brief poem was one of her favorites, and a bit of a motto for her to live by. Even if she couldn't go back to her old self, she could certainly go about helping others with her words and actions. She took another drink from the vial, this time savoring the soft burn of the bitter liquid.

She opened her menu again, this time pulling a square board from her inventory, lined with 32 intricately carved pieces. She gave raidou a wry grin. "Say, dear wanderer, you wouldn't happen to enjoy playing chess, would you?" she asked, tilting her head. "If you do, would you indulge me, and play a game of it with me? I may not be much of a challenge, but I do enjoy a good match when I can get one, and you seem rather smart."

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With a bit of a twist, she recognized the kanji so either she was Japanese outside or well versed in culture. Either was graceful to the palette. "I do." Raidou quipped at the end of her recite of the poetry of her own, a reaction he'd never seen which put a burning restlessness on ice. A lift of his hands to his brow, a pluck of placebo from it. Allowing his fingers to fold the lenses up and place them to his side, a pair of eyes twist down as he routines the board to its sections. Last his favorite piece in black: A rook.

"A muscle may fade, beauty will flicker and die through age. But knowledge and wisdom..." He reached for a single pawn on the field feigning to move it, before shifting it around and offering white to Mina to make the first. It was here, sitting and staring down on a field filled of black. He begins to remove pieces one by one, replacing them with strange-looking figurines that would act the same role in a faint silver polish. "I hope you don't mind I use these instead, it is what I am used to these days."

The figurines shift to:
His rooks became a pair of hammers crossed & a potion bottle
His bishops A tiny microphone & a ring meant for a finger
His knights turn from horses to a knife and a fork & a needle with twine
His queen a scale
His king another scale with different color, instead of silver a tinge in purple

Each piece as they are replaced, he finishes the original phrase. "These will never fade." he reaches for a small stone from his robe pocket, a light tap offering a greenish glow as the pillar fragment triggers. It offers a soft light like a lantern that mixed well with the torch bugs around them both, the game was about to begin. The question was, how many pieces would he have to sacrifice and would he end up winning.

Vanity Tag (Oh boy here we go): @Freyd - The Whisper in Shadows@Haine@Katoka

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Violet had an amused look on her face as he casually twirled the board around, and replaced his side with various pieces of seemingly sentimental value, speaking more soft words that painted quite the picture of what kind of person he was. "Words are the thinking man's sword, you know." She said, closing her eyes. "Though, just like ink or pens, they can paint a vivid picture of just what kind of person you are.". The side that was left, when Raidou was completely finished, was white as snow, shining in the light. '... hmph, he gave me the first move, ne?' She thought, glancing down at the board. 'Interesting... I wonder if he was trying to be a gentleman with that one..? No matter, I don't see how it'll effect this match.' The odd lantern that He had produced was glowing enough to provide the perfect amount of light for their game. She quietly picked up the white queen, the color of the piece burning her eyes with its purer hue. "I've never been too much a fan of white, its far, far too pure for these hands of mine." she said softly, placing the queen back on the board. She nodded in his direction, her eyes burning a bit brighter at the advent of a challenge. "Here's to a fun match, and a hope that it ends up teaching us a bit about each other."

She quietly picked up the right-hand knight, moving it to H3. "En Guarde, Raidou-San. It's your move." she said calmly, her eyes locking with his, waiting for him to make his first play.

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A shift of his fingers as they linger over the pieces, shuffling for his own knight in a needle and twine forward past his pawns to the forefront. Taking it in his left he drops it almost center field at F6, and releases it. "They are, and they tend to move mountains much easier than any sword or fist would." The swordsman remarked with an intense stare as if he had taken on an entirely different demeanor now than a simple conversation. The words spoken had some gravity and strength behind them, as he held the state of the board in his mind and pressed forward three more steps. Was there some courtesy to his offering of white? "Purity in white? No, white is for the brash that makes the first move. For the ones with the courage to push first when things are difficult. White is also the instigator."

He'd not elude to his motives, but it reflected his personality as a whole making that decision. To the bottle at his side, offering more of the cleared fluid into it as an aged old man he takes another sip of the bitter wine. "To a fun match." Raidou rolled the taste on his teeth, pretending that he didn't just rig the odds and force her next move. "I am eager to see what your next will offer insight into, what will you do now and what are you willing to sacrifice to reach for victory." For Mina, it may have just a game, but to Raidou this was no truer a mirror of the world which he walked.

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  • 1 month later...

"I see, thats a rather interesting take on it you have, Raidou-san." Violet said carefully, her eyes narrowing as she moved the pawn in front of her king two places, ending at e4. "Tch...! I'd much prefer finishing shit before it gets out of hand, though. Not much of a fighter unless I've been pushed to do so... like I've been forced to so many times before." Her tone carried a bit of bite this time, though she took a deep breath before staring at her pieces with sorrow in her eyes. In place of the bright pieces, she saw her friends. she was standing next to Jon at center field, their hands intertwined. Itzal and Zandra were right besides them, taking the place of her bishops. Baldur and Rosa were standing in the place of her knights, Rosa in particular was standing strong in the face of the needle and twine. A twist of the older woman's head showed a look of unerring trust for her actions. She spotted Hestia and Domarus standing in the place of her Rooks, the kind, bubbly detective, and the stoic but soft DPS were standing as firm as they always did. Domarus still had his confident smile on his face, and Hestia bore a goofy grin as she looked over at Violet, giving her a thumbs up.

'They mean more to me..' she thought, a sad smile crossing her face, 'They Mean more to me than I could've ever imagined I would be able to, now... I couldn't ask for better friends... They Saved me.' She glanced up at Raidou, the sad smile dropping from her face as she raised her own flute of wine. "And the same to you, Raidou-san. You seem like an interesting person, ne?

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A soft exhale as Raidou claims the first knight, the one exposed at F6 as he claims the extended white pawn with a twist of his fingers. The first piece down as the smaller piece enters his palm. An exposed piece that was an easy to take unit, no reaction available. The seemingly weakest piece, but the one with the greatest potential. Raidou could not help but see the comparison, the fact that in chess it was always these pieces sacrificed first. Here in Aincrad it was all too similar and it made his heart burn. There was a reason that his knight made the first move and his pawns had yet to.

He wouldn't sacrifice anything if he could help it, which undermined the very state of the game. It was the hardest puzzle to solve.

"I understand the sentiment fully, my hand had been forced long ago. Maintain your stance and keep to your own devices, try to enjoy the day and leave the fighting to others. Fighting is a choice and not expected for everyone to make..." He anchored that little piece down, his DPS cooks almost center field as they were prepared to slay more of the field. A glance to Mina with a sour look on her face, causing her cheek to quiver for only a moment. A look he understood in that split second being the perceptive sort, one that he had seen on others too so many. A semblance of pain drawn on their skin that they hoped to hide, he included.

His eyes stay fixated on the board between them both, a soft but intense stare as seemed almost lost in it. "If you would enlighten me, which one is Jon to you and the others? The 'interesting' ones." The question was in part a deflection and an honest peel of the bandage that was slowing the wound from healing in its infection. 

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