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Accidental Herald

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Sephiroth wasn't sure what that magic he'd just had pelted at him was exactly, but he could honestly say he didn't like it, and had to move the hand not on his sword to shield his eyes from the heat of the magic whirlwind what whipped around him. It stopped after a hard gust from behind that made him stumble.

Kero was flinging herself from her bed before Sayvil's cry had faded, ignoring Eldan's sleepy start. Trews were pulled on as she stumbled for the door, and only after she had the tunic on did she realize that it was Eldan's, because it was far too large (and actually white). Barefoot, she pounded down the short hallway and leapfrogged onto Sayvil's back before the Companion took off for the Grove, a few other marks of white indicating where other Heralds had been dragged out of their beds.

:There's magic. A Gate, but not a signature any of us recognize.: Kero held on tighter, the sword she'd absently retrieved held in one hand.

He lowered his hand slightly with a vague look around, and that movement brought a sharp sense of dizziness that sent him to his knees, Masamune biting into the ground as he tried and failed to catch himself. He hadn't ever felt so disoriented in his life. It was kind of painful. He didn't fully register the approaching figure.

The blade - the armor, as odd as it was, became far too obvious as one of the Herald-Mages who'd come threw up a mage light so they could see the intruder. Sayvil slewed to a halt in front of him, Kero bringing her sword around to a guard position as she eyed the stranger closely. "Who are you?!" Despite the urgency, she did her best to keep her words clear - he looked more Tayledras than anything with that hair, but the clothing and blade didn't look like anything they'd produced.

He lifted his head and gave her a somewhat disoriented look as his first thought was 'what the hell is she saying?'. Blinking, he moved the hand he'd had over his eyes to shove his hair back, focusing to get an idea of her intention. Oh. That was a sensation he recognized. "Sephiroth."

When Kero saw those eyes, her own gaze hardened. Changechild. And something like feline eyes wasn't something easy to produce - as seen by Nyara and An'desha. "Why are you here?" Her sword didn't move.

He gave something like a shrug and looked around then blinked, before outright staring at the horses. He thought those things were limited to Odin summons! He blinked a few more times, trying to reconcile the idea of those beasts outside of summons with what he knew. Time to get off the ground then.

"Hold." He wasn't going to be going anywhere just yet, and she'd much prefer him on the ground where he wasn't quite as much of a threat. Because he was a threat. Which was why she was rather glad that there were a few Herald-Mages here, and she heard someone back toward the Palace keeping to Guard from getting closer.

His gaze whipped back to her, but he didn't pause in pushing back to his feet, though he wasn't exactly steady. He kept a lean on Masamune to stop his wavering. What exactly was making him feel this wretched? He didn't even realize he was pressing a bit around in his subconscious search for the connection he'd had since he was a child.

Her eyes narrowed and she was about to order one of the mages to bind him when one of the unpartnered Companions shoved past the inner ring, then literally leaped over Kero and Sayvil to land neatly next to Sephiroth.

The mare tucked herself neatly between the Herald-Captain and the SOLDIER, eyeing Kero for a moment before turning her head to meet Sephiroth's eyes, reaching back for him to help ground him. :I Choose you.:

He blinked at her a few times before prodding back at that voice, figuring out how to push back along it in reply. :What does that mean?: He tilted his head a little though, the sickly pain sensation easing away in a sense of warmth that was highly unfamiliar. Considering that with a high amount of curiosity, he raised a hand to cautiously rest on the other's face, surprised the fur was so soft, yet not. :And what are you?:

She sighed with relief as the bond closed around them, setting up basic shields around him to help steady him. She wasn't as good at this as others, but she could help. :It means I'm your Companion. And that is what I am as well. A Companion.: The love that marked the Herald's bond swept around the both of them, and she nuzzled him gently.

Kero - and the other Heralds, for that matter - continued to stare in shock. An older fellow finally cursed in irritation and turned his Companion to head back to the Palace.

He petted. What else was one supposed to do? He'd had birds so it was reflexive to try to figure out how to scritch. Now he felt just as disoriented by the new good sensation as he had by the older pain. :This isn't where I was on mission, where is here?: He shifted slightly to start the process of freeing Masamune from where he'd entombed the weapon. She never liked when he did that and he could feel the faint hum of almost displeasure from her.

The words gave her a sense of things, and she nodded absently. :The Kingdom of Valdemar, in the Capital City of Haven, in the Companion's Field. You are...You're a very long way from home, Sephiroth.:

"Look, hold up. You. Companion. Just what do you think you're doing?" She didn't recognize the mare off the bat, but that wasn't too much of a surprise just now.

The mare turned her head again, interposing herself between them again as Sayvil stepped forward.

He leaned against the warm side to look at the newcomer, arching an eyebrow as he finally fully freed Masamune. Once she was clear of the ground, he vanished her to where she preferred to rest. He'd found that keeping her out and about after he learned that trick led to a blade that didn't want to cooperate with any spellcasting. :I do not know the words they use.:

The sword got incredulous looks as he pulled it from the ground, and...kept pulling it. It looked utterly impractical for the most part. When it vanished, however, that drew shocked whispers.

:I know. I told you, you're from far away. I don't know if they'll be able to understand you either,: she said, turning to nose him again. :I can translate, and teach you Valdamaran, though. Mindspeech is not in any one language.:

:Boy.: Kero rolled her eyes as Sayvil decided to take the direct route. At least it was more expedient than asking Sayvil to ask the Companion to ask the stranger to answer a question and then passing it back down the chain.

He rankled at the new voice in his little conversation. It shouldn't be there. :Sephiroth, as I mentioned aloud, unless you happen to have a tendency towards being hard of hearing.: He glanced around the people again. "This is the language I know, if any of you know anything even remotely like it, speak up." He switched to Wutain. "Thus back again with this language, I've never been fond of strangers in my head."

Sayvil snorted. :I have more than a right to call you "boy" if I feel like it,: she said calmly.

Kero narrowed her eyes at the two languages. One sounded...almost like Karsite, though he looked nothing like the harsh people of that land. "A small of this, know I," she said in that language. Really, she knew enough to generally curse at Karsites before she stabbed them, though the stabbing part had gone away with that new treaty. They generally relied on Alberich for translations, and he was away at the moment. Then she added in Shin'a'in, "And while I doubt you understand this, it's the closest I know."

:That was Karsite,: the Companion informed him. :And the second was Shin'a'in. She's cousin to the Clans.:

He ignored the older voice of the two and looked at the woman critically, replying to the first. "The second makes no sense at all in your reply."

And where was someone who knew Kaled'a'in well? She shook her head in frustration, eyeing the mare who was still standing determinedly at his side. "You white targets," she told her, "are a pain." It was absent and frustrated. Then she looked back at him. Her Kaled'a'in was worse than her Karsite. "I am Herald-Captain Kerowyn."

A sense of curiosity came from the Companion, as she wondered just what he'd heard.

He passed along the rather... lewd meaning he'd gathered off her comments earlier, getting used to that contact quickly. He nodded slightly and went for his full name and title. "General Sephiroth, highest First of SOLDIER." He pondered, then looked to his Companion. :You have given me no name.:

So. High-ranking someone. Kerowyn rubbed at the bridge of her nose to try and take care of the headache she could feel building. She really wanted someone with a better grasp of the language. "You are here why?"

She couldn't help the whickering laugh. Kero would be annoyed if she knew now, but it would probably amuse her later. After a thoughtful pause, she said, :Vianna.:

He snorted softly. "Because a mutated creature I was fighting caught me off guard. It was painful arriving." Considering something, he started to tap at his various abilities to make sure they were all working. Then noticed that the grief of his two friends abandoning him years prior was finally.... less all consuming.

Right, she hadn't understood more than half of that. Her frustration was probably rather obvious in her expression, and she shook her head before turning to the assembled Heralds. One was already moving though, speeding off to (presumably) retrieve a better translator.

:They wounded you badly,: it was a whisper. :I wish I could have been there to help you. But you were too far away, and even then, I was too young.: As he tapped each one, she followed his mind delicately to trace them, making sure to back off at the sign of being at all unwelcome.

He noticed, but felt an odd lack of urge to brush off the touch. His magic was fine, though he'd have to thoroughly run through that later. His levitation, fine. Flickering, fine. Masamune obviously fine. Obviously his reading skills were undamaged.... Good. those were the most important of them, and his healing would show itself on injury. :I am used to things not going as I wish them to, there's no cause to be upset by that matter. I'm simply pleased you rid me of that horrible sensation I acquired on arrival.:

:Mage Gift, Fetching, Firestarting, I'm not sure about your Masamune, and...that feels very much like Empathy, but I don't think that it is. Interesting, you've got quite a mix!:

He blinked slowly and got a slightly puzzled look as he eyed her. :What are you on about?:

She looked back at him with an amused blue eye. :Those are the names we use for your various Gifts.: She touched them in the order he had. :Mage Gift, Fetching, Firestarting. As I said, I'm not sure about your sword, though I think that's more like what Need was supposed to be. Then there's something like Empathy, that isn't Empathy. And, rather obviously, Mindspeech, considering you can hear me.:

He scowled a little at that. :Of course I can hear you. I've had that issue off and on since I was a small child. It was a pain.: He shook his head and looked around at those people still here. "I require such a crowd?"

"You appear in the heart of our city? Yes." Kero's attitude was rather frank.

:The other Heralds are keeping the Guard away even now. Even with my presence, they will doubt you.: Vianna shook her head a bit. :But you should no longer have difficulties with your Mindspeech. I've shielded you, and we'll be able to teach you how to ground, center, and shield yourself as well.:

"I shouldn't be shocked. At least you aren't attempting to do me bodilly harm, that gets old quickly." He shook his head once, sharply. :I know how to ground, though you're suddenly the considerable focus of a sensation I hadn't been aware of previous today.:

:They may have tried eventually if I didn't show up,: she admitted. :But it would be more likely that one of the mages would have bound you instead.: As to the subject of grounding... :Not consciously. And not here. You're likely going to have to re-learn a bit of it. You were tied to where you were before in a way much like our bond. But I can consciously direct this, so it helps.:

He hummed and ran a hand over her neck almost absently. He never did have much contact with anything outside his bird. He looked around the many people in white. "Uniforms?"

Kero snorted at the word, her voice derisive. "Targets."

:She says Heraldic Whites make people targets. They do, but it's also a function of our station. She and Alberich have made it almost a tradition for the Weaponsmasters to wear dark grey instead, though. And if you see anyone in pale grey, they're Heraldic Trainees.: She passed him the rest of the basic information on what colors meant what - Bardic Scarlets and the rust-red of their trainees, Healer Greens and the pale greens, and then the Unaffiliated students who wore pale blues.

He made an amused noise and showed her the uniforms for his ranks quickly, touching on Genesis' preferences as well. "Ah." He flicked his hand to indicate himself. "Preference."

"Good luck."

:I think we'll be able to make an exception for you,: Vianna said wryly.

He made an amused noise and shook his head, though twisted around when he caught a spike of the recent energy behind him. Zack flailed a bit as the creature hit him with a final attack like the one he'd seen Seph get hit with earlier, and put up his buster to catch himself, yelping. Blinking, he realized he'd caught himself on Seph, and that said Seph was okay! "SEPH! I thought that thing managed to kill you!" Balance grab went to hug fairly quickly, and he ignored Seph's look of 'I will kill you if you don't let go'.

Kerowyn twitched. Another newcomer. And a quick mindtouch told her that someone had finally found a translator and was on their way back at all speed.

Zack's appearance had the Companion leaning to rest her chin on Sephiroth's shoulder, eyeing him curiously. :So, this is Zack.:

Sephiroth grimaced and pried the man off him with deft skill. "Tell me you at least managed to kill that thing before it used that attack on you." He put him at arms length away, keeping a grip on him to keep him there. :Indeed. and here I'd believed I'd escaped him. He's too hyper:

Zack gave him a sheepish grin, rubbing the back of his head. "Well, yeah. It just final attacked me, and er. Wait." He looked around, then pointed. "Odin Steeds! How the hell'd you manage that Seph? Are they cool? What do they do? Why are all these people staring at me?" He looked around and waved with the hand he'd pointed with. "Hiya, Zack Fair, First Class."

"Great Agnira, what have I gotten myself into?" Kero muttered, lifting one hand to rub at the bridge of her temple. Finally she swung off of Sayvil, turning to look at the rest of the assembled Heralds. "You all. Go away and assure everyone else that we're not going to die. Someone make Eldan get here faster. And you," she added, looking at the Companions. "You can leave too. You'll get your gossip eventually anyway."

Vianna whickered laughter at both of them. :It seems like an attitude you could benefit from a touch of every once in a great while.: A thoughtful pause. :In small doses.:

He turned his scowl onto his Companion at that. :I don't care to hear that.: Then he looked back to Zack "They're staring at you because you're you Zack, obviously." He released him with a backward nudge once he was sure he'd calmed down some. "And apparently they're called 'Companions' and they're highly sentient. Unlike you, I had a small issue on arrival. Also, this isn't Gaia, I've established we're in a place called Valdemar." He paused, then gestured slightly in a stay motion. "And no, most people have no idea what is said in either standard or Wutian."

Zack stuck out his tongue at him, then looked around with bright violet eyes. "Well, I actually understood her a little I think." He turned a brilliant smile on the woman who seemed to be in charge and fell back to his Gongaga dialect. Just cause Shinra swept in didn't mean it killed the local tongues. "It's not the same, but I kinda get you. Thanks for taking care of grumpy."

Well, at least that was more understandable. A little off, but close. "I'm assuming he's 'grumpy?'" she asked wryly. "Herald-Captain Kerowyn. This is my Companion, Sayvil." Said Companion nodded in greeting.

:We're not Odin's Steeds, Zack,: Vianna said, ignoring the usual rules on bespeaking. There wasn't a point to them in this situation. :We were first brought about by a very different deity. But hello, I'm Vianna.:

Seph sighed as Zack fell into the nonsense that only a handful of people ever seemed to understand. He was in a land of Zack? Gods save him now.

"Hell yeah he is." He looked at the Companion. "Ohhhh? Which one? I might've heard of it? Doubtful but maybe?" He bounced on his heels slightly, then waved a little at the other one. "Hello miss Sayvil, do you talk too? Oh! And Seph's one, you didn't tell me your name with that and Seph is fail at introductions."

:No, I simply stare wisely until people figure out mystical instructions on their own.:

He noticed, but decided not to press, though he found it funny Seph was thumping his forehead against Vianna. "Ohhh, so you're like Seph then. He does that a hell of a lot these days, then again..." He looked sideways at Seph and grinned as the man just eyed him suspiciously. "He was clearer before, but at that point I just wanted to beat him up for saying the things he did, so it's likely better that way."

"Actually, it's a perogative of Companions everywhere. Stupid mystical horses."

:Not horses.:

"Stupid mystical not-horses then!" The argument wasn't really an argument, but she was tense and it helped calm her down.

Vianna eyed her Chosen with amusement as he continued thumping against her shoulder and Zack snickered and reached over to put his hand on Seph's shoulder, going back to a language he knew. "Ah c'mon, I was just letting them know you've gotten a stick up your butt in the last couple years." He grinned wider as the man gave him a dark glower of a look, but he stopped the thumping. Win. He dropped back to his dialect and grinned. "Horses? What're horses?"

Vianna met his eyes. :Horses.: The word flashed up associated images and information.

He paused, turning that over. "So they're like really dense and not as smart types of you guys then. Physically anyway."

She nodded. :Something like that, yes.:

Kero was content to lean back against Sayvil as Zack chatted with the others. Which was, of course, the perfect timing for Eldan to show up, there to play diplomat and translator. He'd taken the time to change into a fresh set of Whites and pull his hair back neatly, the gray streaks on either side barely wide than they had been when the two of them had met.

He turned to see the new guy and waved a hand. "Yo, Zack Fair, SOLDIER First Class, pleased to meetcha. You just showered to come meet us didncha?"

Eldan smiled back and slid down. "It didn't seem as if you were going to be aggressive, and so taking the time to at least clean up seemed prudent." He spoke in clear Kaled'a'in, despite the oddly-accented Valdamaran the darker-haired man used. Bowing slightly from the waist, he added, "I'm Herald Eldan. The pleasure is mine."

Sephiroth couldn't help some relief as they finally switched to something he understood without too much difficulty. It was an added bonus that Zack had to pause and focus harder since he obviously didn't know the tongue as well as the other two. "Is that what he asked then. I know Zack can at times be... forthwrit in ways that aren't terribly prudent." He shook his head slightly. "General Sephiroth, SOLDIER First Class."

Zack looked from one to the other and huffed. "You don't have to talk about me like I'm not here Seph, that's just mean, and no matter how mean you pretend to be, I know better."

Eldan chuckled. "After dealing with many of the others here at the Court, not to mention in the Circle, I'm well used to those who see no need to censor their words." Like gryphons, for example. "Welcome to Valdemar, General. I'm sorry that your entrance couldn't have been easier."

:He means it,: Vianna added for Sephiroth.

Sephiroth looked a bit dubious, but inclined his head fractionally just the same. "It wasn't so difficult, just unexpected. It's not as though anyone was attacking."

Zack snorted and looked over at Seph, then flashed Eldan a wry grin. "Yeah, trust him on that, in Wutai back when I first met him standard greeting was fireball or bolt to the face."

"I should hope not. Considering the location, as well as the fact that you've been Chosen by one of the Companions, a proper Herald would never offer violence." Of course, there were some Heralds who weren't "proper," but Heralds were as human as anyone else. That was why they'd initially been sent to keep the Guard from rushing in and attacking, and then dismissed with the others.

Kero added in her stilted Kaled'a'in, "If you speak of a combat situation, I see not why that would be a bad thing."

Sephiroth arched an eyebrow at that. "I have no particular desire to injure those weaker than myself, though the time Zack speaks of was the very end of a nearly nine year war of which the Wutai people were on the receiving end of." He gave Zack a look. "This is actually the language of said people. I had quite a few names from them, many using the word Demon in some form or another."

"You and Angeal both." He wrinkled up his nose and shook his head, then grinned a little. "I like spars though, that won't get him in trouble will it? Me and him sparring? Not right here obviously but he'd get all rusty and I'm the only one that's been able to give him a run for his money since I met him since asshat went rogue on everyone."

Eldan laughed. "There are rumors among the students here that Kerowyn eats babies on toast for breakfast."

"I don't," she added. "Not until lunch, at least."

"As for sparring, we have both an indoor and outdoor salle. You'll need to talk to our Weaponsmasters, Kerowyn and Herald Alberich, before you use them, but I imagine neither of them will have a problem."

The two men exchanged a glance, and Sephiroth inclined his head. Zack looked back to the other guy with a sheepish smile. "It would have to be the outside one. With how much air Seph can get, and how much I can sometimes... Better not to risk damaging the building if you don't have anything like a holo training room."

The word 'holo' was one that neither of them knew, but Eldan simply nodded. "Of course."

:You're going to surprise them quite a lot when you actually spar,: Vianna commented.

Sephiroth tilted his head and looked sideways at her. "Hmm." Then he looked back to the man. "At the moment, I suppose we should determine what else must be done at the present time because of us?"

"Considering the hour, I would like to suggest that we find quarters for you to stay in for the time being, and then we can continue this in the light of day when we've all had more time to rest and prepare ourselves," he offered.

Zack and Seph exchanged another look, then Zack grinned, falling back to his dialect. "Okay! But me and him were in the middle of the afternoon not half hour ago."

"It's three in the morning here," Kerowyn said wryly. "You two might be ready to go, but even Heralds need some time to prepare."

Zack made an amused noise, then stepped back to bump shoulders with Seph, who glared at him for it, as he defaulted back to the Common tongue. Which these two knew as Karsite. "Okay Seph darlin, bedtime. And stop giving me that look, it's your own fault you finally got me to stop being mad at you, suck up being my focus."

Kero twitched slightly, then sighed. "At least you'll be able to understand Alberich."

"So," Eldan added. "Would you care to accompany me? I'm sure that we can get you acomodated shortly."

:Ask for the ground-level suite in the ambassador's wing,: Vianna said.

There was a blink, then Sephiroth tilted his head slightly. "Of course, I understand there's a ground level suite in the ambassador's wing?" He none too gently pushed Zack out a couple steps, causing the man to grin.

:It has a door into the gardens, so I'll be able to come and go when I want,: she added.

"Hm?" Eldan raised an eyebrow, then nodded. "Yes, I think that should do nicely. It has recently come open." He turned and led the way, his Companion at his side.

Zack started after him, looking at the new Companion. "So, what's your name? I have everyone else's."

Sephiroth just shook his head and started that way, surprised that he was still having a tiny bit of unsteadiness.

"Ah! My apologies. This is my Companion, Ratha." Eldan's expression was chagrined, and Ratha nodded in greeting.

:Most Companions hold to what is called the Silence. Generally we don't speak to anyone except our Heralds, and each other. Companions whose Chosen are twins are a bit of an exception, though.:

Zack blinked slowly. "So most of you guys act like priests under a vow? Oh man that sucks. That'll cut out a chunk of interesting convos I bet." He shook his head. "Ah well, doesn't mean I can't tryyyy." He smiled and looked back to Eldan. "Thanks!"

He chuckled and shook his head. "Various people have been trying for several hundred years. Perhaps you'll be the first to break their Silence when they don't wish it!"

"Personally, I could do with a slightly less chatty not-horse," Kero grumbled, ignoring Sayvil's smug attitude.

"I like talking, and hey, I've gotten something out of a few things people ain't supposed to be able. Like... Moogles. Everyone knows they're special, but nobody can get them to say anything but Kupo. Buuuut, I've managed to get essence summons off them like several others sooo... I'm sure making goo goo eyes at people would do something."

"Pardon me, but...what are moogles?" There wasn't any incredulidity in his voice, at least.

He considered, then held his hand out to Seph. "Materia, I know you got an unlevelled one in there somewhere, and my moogle likes to make them stronger for me."

Sephiroth made an annoyed face, but twisted his bracer to get one of the green orbs and handed it over. "It better not be one of the offensive summons."

Both of the Heralds watched closely, for differing reasons.

Zack just grinned and wiggled his fingers, which got a few more, and then he winked. "You'll get them back. Ohh, and this one is almost mastered, so you'll have babies too." Then, he clasped his hands in front of himself, turned to open air and drew up magic as the little white red and black moogle appeared. Going through his normal motion, he smiled. Which got all the materia taken, as per expectation. After it was tossed back, he turned to the others with a grin, passing Seph's back as the little figure vanished. "Moogle."

"Hm. Interesting. Not any sort of creature I've ever heard of, but I tended to focus on magic applicable for specific combat situations, either from Grandmother or Quenten." Though some of those uses hadn't exactly been common. And having Need around had helped a lot after she'd made Captain.

"If any of us had been hurt, he would have cast cure over us." He gave an impish little smile. "He's one of my healing ones."

She raised an eyebrow. "Odd sort of Healer."

"My healing ones are Moogle, Phoenix, and what I learned from Aeris." He looked sideways at Seph. "Don't you say anything, the one I have off you is damn violent."

"Huh. The mages are going to want to pick you over something fierce, I imagine." They'd passed through the gate into the Field just after his little show, and were almost at the Palace now, the huge stone building looming over them. "I'll leave you guys here for now, and run off to talk to Talia and the others. I'm sure they're dying for information."

"I'll see you there," Eldan agreed, nodding to her as she headded off. "I'll take you straight through the Palace, though it's possible to walk to your suite. It's just quite a bit longer route."

There were two nods before Zack grinned. "I'm the only SOLDIER with my talent. I essentially, once I have really strong feelings about someone or a lot of exposure to it, like the summons and creature shades, I can just... put together a limit that's part of them, just, y'know, me. It baffled, and worried, eh heh, Angeal no end."

"Hm. I imagine Kerowyn's right. You'll likely have the various mages here frantically trying to figure out how you do what you do." Eldan said as he held the door open for them. Vianna followed them inside, but Ratha gave them all a nod before cantering back toward Companion's Field.

Sephiroth looked around the room as they slipped into it, interest obvious, and he rested a hand on Vianna. Zack just laughed. "They won't get anywhere, gods knew the doctors were baffled enough by it, and they're pretty damn aggressive when they go looking for answers."

:Those are doctors. These are mages - both Valdemar's mindmages and practitioners of schools of wildly different disciplines, including the Tayledras.:

Eldan's expression was more restrained, but still amused. "I imagine that the Tayledras, at least, will come as a bit of a surprise."

:They're very different from what you know.: A pause. :I rather think Zack will like Firesong. You'll like Darkwind, though. The gryphons, too.:

Zack made an amused noise. "We don't really have anything you could call a mage back home." He shook his head, shrugging.

:Firesong and Darkwind? Interesting names.: He looked to the man with his eyebrows quirked though. "Not much surprises me."

She showed the both of them a mental image of Firesong in one of his more flamboyant outfits (not that they weren't all flamboyant).

Zack blinked, then grinned. "Ohhhh, cute. Look Seph, people with your hair color."

Seph just scowled at Zack, and sighed. "Does his attitude match?"

Eldan's sigh had an edge of tiredness. "Firesong? Yes. He's... young, dramatic, extremely intelligent, and the most magically powerful person to come along in the past several hundred years."

:He would add that he's modest, too.:

Seph looked the tiniest bit alarmed,. "And you want me to introduce him to Zack?!"

Zack looked offended at that. "I'm not that bad."

Eldan chuckled then. "He has discipline, at least when it comes to magic. And he's rather devoted to young An'desha right now, so though he's shaych, he'll keep his flirting to a minimum. Plus, Darkwind and Lady Elspeth can keep a handle on him when they need to."

Vianna showed them images of the people mentioned - Darkwind, silver-white hair dyed forest patterns, in more sober gear (though it was still exotic by Valdamaran standards), and Elspeth, her brown hair slowly silvering, in the Tayledras-styled Whites.

"You are so that bad, Zack Fair. You made first within months of making grade in the program. You only stopped advancing because of what Angeal did." He shook his head and turned slightly, ignoring the swiftly buried hurt look that caused. "Besides, putting what sounds like two of you in the same place is just a recipe for disaster."

"If I didn't know it was just your disorientation I would accuse you of disliking me."

He remained quiet and allowed them their banter, though he was amused by the rather quick back-and-forth between the two of them.

He finally turned back to the man. "We'll try to rest until morning."

"My thanks. I'll send- a Herald Trainee, likely, to wake you." Eldan bid them both a good night, and took himself out.