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"Why did I even let them talk me into this?" 


The sun beamed down on the sparkling sand and glistening waters of Costa Del Sol, it's patrons chattering and bustling about in their various forays. The first ever cross-cultural auction was picking up speed, with various patrons eyeing the events and games of chance and fortune. Would that Serenity could take part in the festivities, but alas... She'd been nominated to represent the Arcanist Guild for the charity. Even worse, her role was to be showcased for one of the Grand prizes of 'A day with your own Arcanist'. Call it what you may, Serenity knew it was little more than a ruse to stage a 'win a date with the beauty' auction. She'd seen the other incumbents from the other guilds... All were either obnoxiously pretty or ruggedly handsome. 


"Why did I even let them talk me into this?" 


Taking her place in line beside her fellow prisoners, the Miqo'te did her best to fake a smile. In truth she detested the idea of being up there and gawker at. She'd rather be under a palm tree researching the Summoners of yore. However, her senior scholars made sure that her participation was a demand and not a request. And here she found herself, knees quivering as the thought of being scooped up by an undesirable patron for a day made her want to cry. 


Her lifelong friend Tryxlia was her sole saving grace, and accompanied her up on the makeshift stage with its signature flurry of colours. Had it not been around there would have been no way she could have mustered the courage to be where she was. And with that thought, she heard her name called up to the stage. With a deep breath, she gave a warm smile as she passed through the curtain and into view. 


As she walked, the announcer of the event informed the crowd of the essentials. "Next up, we have Serenity Maescia representing the Arcanist Guild! This gorgeous young vision is stunning in her one-piece striped swimsuit and has been studying with the guild for nearly half her life! Those who know her say she's very soft spoken but can be lots of fun with the right people with her. Now's your chance to spend a day with her and get to see what she's all about! We'll start off at a hundred Gil! Any takers?"

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"The agreed price was three thousand...This is barely fifthteen hundred."


The large Roe gave the small miqo'te a shrug before picking up one of the crates and hoisting it over the counter. Rini, who looked quite irritated at this point, stared him down coldly as the soft clattering of her sandals tapped again the deck. As he reached back for another crate Rini swatted at the large hand. The roe looked up to meet her glare.


"Hey...I'm just following what the boss tells me. He said fifthteen, you get fifthteen. If you have problems with payment go talk to him about it; I have work to do." The man replied with sigh, taking the box and stacking it with the rest.


L'rinhi closed her eyes and calmed her nerves, trying to recollect herself. "You're right...Sorry." She apologized, her words returning to the soft, meek tone that her voice held. "Where would your employer be?" She asked in return. The Roe, who had now turned his back to her, lazily lifted a hand to point behind them with his thumb. As she turned her eyes fell upon the crowd and the stage and her ears flickered.


"Thank you..." She replied regretfully as she began to make her way to the large group of people. As she waded through the crowd, realization struck her.


"What does...His boss look like..." She stated to herself, feeling dumb and forgetful yet again. Suddenly, she heard the crowd erupt as she looked up to see a young girl standing on stage, looking nervous as the announcer introduced her.

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Serenity's gaze twitched from one individual to another. Steadily, she heard her monetary worth climb, with offers from all manner of races, both male and female alike. Secretly, she hoped that at the very least she'd be paired with someone who would be interested in more than just her body, but that choice was no longer up to her. 


Fidgeting with the skirt of her bathing suit, Serenity quietly chewed her lip, her potential suitors slowly dwindling as the number continued to climb. Whispering to her elemental companion, Serenity attempted to blow off some nervousness by trying to make light of her predicament. "W-well... Maybe now I might find a partner... What do you think, Tryx?"


Tryxlia shimmered in the sun, it's response flowing silently through the air and touching at Serenity's mind. This was the bond the two shared, and they had it since Tryxlia had first appeared to Serenity all those years ago. "Hmm... But if it's a male... What should I do..? I don't... Well I guess some look ok, but... I'd still rather... Well, you know..."


A gust of wind blew gently, lifting Serenity's golden strands into the air, her hair flowing almost whimsically in the breeze. How is it that she'd managed such a competition? She didn't think she was anything special... Just a bookish girl who wanted to further her abilities. Though... If someone strong were to claim victory... Maybe...

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"No gil, no entry." One of the many larger Sea Wolves folded his arms and exhaled hard through his nose whilst glaring down at Tira. She was almost sure this was somewhat of a shakedown but she knew there was no way getting into the event with this guy in her way.


As she headed back toward the main road, she noticed a fence opening around the side and decided to take a chance to sneak her way in. She looked up at the fence not far taller than herself and readied herself. Glancing over both shoulders before she jumped up grasped the top and swang herself over. She was in!


Sat atop one of the many wooden platforms over the golden white sands, Tira watched the bustling crowd. Swaying her head to the sounds of light cheery music coming from a couple of bards either side of the stage. "I could never be brave enough like her. To be up there in front of all those people." She thought to herself as she gazed at the miqo'te who took to the front in her swimsuit.


She noticed the same roegadyn that she had been confronted with earlier and quickly dived onto a lower platform behind a row of towering crates. Tira let a few moments slip by before bringing herself back to seat herself up.


As her eyes scanned the area for the roe and back over the crowd, she squinted upon noticing a distinctly familiar white haired and tiny frame bumbling through the masses of rowdy excitement. She chuckled mischievously to herself and pulled a peashooter from her pouch aiming for the white haired miqo'te...

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L'rinhi's tail swayed from side to side as her eyes glazed over the sight. Her lips had sunk into a frown as she listened to the men and women bid on the woman like a piece of fresh meat. She hated these events. Many times before had she seen them and, while some actually had good taste, she did not have good experience with them in the past; there was even a point where she was pressured to hold on for donations for Wayfarers, but she held her ground on her beliefs.


The annoyed, slightly angered, look faded into sympathy as the crowd mused and egged the girl on. Suddenly, Rini felt a rock peg her upside the back of her head. Her eyes widened from the shock as she wrapped her hands over her head and yipped.


"Two thousand to the girl in white."


Rini blinked awkwardly as she glanced back to see Tira. With a slightly playful scowl, Rini's eyes could bore a hole through her before looking to the stage, not realizing she had upped the bid.

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Hearing the amount and following the announcer's gesture, Serenity's gaze fell swiftly onto the young L'rinhi. Her mouth drooped open ever so slightly, not expecting someone so young to have offered such an amount. Having seen her other potential suitors and not being entirely... Impressed... Serenity pleased to whichever gods would listen to have the bidding stop there. 


Tryxlia also took notice of the younger Miqo'te, it's colours shifting as it worked out all manner of questions and probabilities. Hovering closer towards its friend as if to guard her, the elemental emanated a soothing, cool rush of air to let it's friend know she was safe no matter what.

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Rini glanced back at Tira, her eyes widened as she realized what had just happened. Rini glanced around, the seconds seeming like hours as she waited for someone to outbid her.

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Serenity's heart was a jackhammer pounding in her chest. Each second lasted an eternity as she watched the crowd whispered and commented in the last moment bid. The male Xaela who had previously held the high bid looked particularly furious, which his navy scales turning a deep shade of purple from being one upped. 


And just like that, Serenity heard the announcer waive her off, his hand gesturing towards the stunned white-maned female that had quickly been singled out from the crowd. A sigh of relief passed through Serenity's lips, from breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Remembering her place, the blonde slowly made a bow before making her way offstage to introduce herself to the lucky winner. 


"Uhm... Hi, I guess... I'm Serenity. It's, uh... A pleasure to meet you, miss..? "

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As L'rinhi watched the auctioneer's gesture her heart sunk. With her ears falling limp, Rini sighed, muttering lowly to herself. "Well...There goes any profit I was going to make." The young woman lifted her gaze as her heard the small voice. "Oh..Hi..I'm Rini..." She answered, disappointment in her voice. "What...Exactly did I win?" She asked, shooting a glare back at Tira and sticking out her tongue playfully.

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"Two thousand to the girl in white."




Tira quietly gasped and laughed at the same time realising what she may just have been the cause of what just happened. She raised her palms slightly with the peashooter tucked into her thumb and expressed an amused but apologetic look toward L'rinhi and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry!"


As the crowd was focused on the just-auctioneered off girl and the security goons dotted around muttered and guzzled ale among themselves Tira rolled herself off the deck and in doing so, the strap of her satchel had caught a loose cork of one of the kegs stacked among the crates. The sweet and bitter aroma began to take flight as the dark brown ale flowed across and seeped into the grooves of the deck.


Drip... drip...


Tira was stood underneath the platform as a drop splattered onto her shoulder. She wiped it off thinking nothing of it and oblivious to the trail left behind her chain of reckless actions, she darted into the crowd to find the two miqo'te.

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The sound of L'Rinhi's voice was not at all what Serenity had expected to hear. She was caught quite off-guard in fact, thinking hat perhaps there was something about her that the young teenager wasn't fond of. "Uhm... Well, you've won... Me, I guess. For a day, at least. Am I... Not to your liking?"

The blonde's ears twisted as she heard two sets of footsteps coming towards where she stood; one she could tell was probably the event organizers coming to collect what was owed, but the other... She turned her head to see a woman with rather vivid green hair making her way closer. Tryxlia shimmered, the air around it becoming ever so slightly warmer as it prepared to defend it's friend if needed.

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Tira tried to keep low within the crowd whilst sending a wave toward L'rinhi and the girl beside her. "Hey Rini!" She pulled herself through the last obstructing figures and skipped toward the two then placed a hand on Lrinhi's shoulder. "Oh phurbles i'm so sorry..." She snickered trying to make the poor girl smile with her own beaming cheese grin.


People pushed and shoved and threw their arms in the air cheering on the next announcement of the stage. Tira's face screwed up as a lady roegadyns armpit came within ilms of her and wafted one of Tira's most disliked smells. She looked at the miqo'te next to L'rinhi. "Gods be good... Can we get out of here?"

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Rini stuck her tongue out at Tira again, looking slightly annoyed but remained more playful than anything. She abruptly turned her attention to the miqo'te, almost forgetting that she was there for the time being. Rini's ears flickered again as her fingers began to drum against one another nervously.


"I...Well...Didn't exactly 'mean' to win you...But..." She glanced around the crowd, noticing the men approaching. "I...Suppose it's for a good cause...I hope." She muttered her last words lowly as the proprietor met her with crossed arms.


"Congratulations. I'm sure you three will have a lovely time, but before you do..."


Rini turned to the voice but saw nothing, just two large Roegaden standing there silently. After a brief moment of awkwardness, Rini looked down to see a small Lalafell rubbing his fingers together, looking to her expectantly.


L'rinhi's brow furrowed at the gesture, the previous conversion with the bartender coming to mind.


"What's wrong? Have trouble hearing? I believe the bid ended at two thousand so please, if you would, give what is due." The small man said lowly, though a demand nevertheless.


"What's due?" Rini retorted with a snarl. "What's due?! I just delivered over five cases of wine to your little event and didn't even get half of what I was owed." She spouted off, showing a side of her that rarely came out.


The Lalafell's eyes widened as he began to stammer. "Miss...Kett?" Rini nodded in acknowledgement, reaching into her pocket and pulling out a familiar looking parchment. "Should we look over our contract? Specifically the payment part?" She added, attitude flaring. After a few awkward seconds passed he began to rub his hands together and smile. "Well then, I suppose we are all even here then. You have your girl and a little gil on the side and I have good quality..Err..Goods..Yes... You two enjoy your day." He said slyly, trying to smooth things over as Rini continued to glare down at him


The little man motioned to the guards and hastily retreated into the crowd as Rini stared daggers into his back. After the group departed, she glanced back to her 'winnings' and gave out a soft sigh. "I...Am not really looking for a date." Rini stated honestly, her hands clasping together behind her back and leaning forward a bit. "But at least you aren't...." Her eyes wandered to a couple nearby that were invading into another contestant's personal space a bit -too- much. "Well...Like that.." She finished, starting to feel a bit better about her mistake.


Her attention was grabbed by Tira in which she replied with a simple nod. "Yea...I think that would be for the best..." She looked back to Serenity and shrugged. "You don't have to follow me...You can go home...I don't believe these sort of things are right to begin with." She remarked boldly, but retained the soft spoken nature that was mostly drowned out by the crowed; nevertheless, her expression would reflect the same gentleness as her tone.

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Upon hearing L'Rinhi explain rather flatly about the predicament they two were in, Serenity was unsure of how to feel. Tryxlia had since backed down, floating behind its companion as it watched things unravel. Serenity looked down to the sand, twisting her toes as she mustered up the courage to press forward. Finally, eyes still on the ground, Serenity reached out for L'Rinhi's hand with her own.

"Well... As much as I appreciate the gesture... I'm also here of my own... Choice. I can't get too much into it, but... I'm happy with the outcome. Please... If not because of the auction, then... Because it's something I'd... I'd like."

Serenity did her best to sidestep the mention of a date, knowing this girl was a might bit younger than her. Still... There were worse things than an age gap... Finally lifting her gaze to see Rini's reaction, Serenity offered a genuine smile, free of worry or doubt. 

"I'd at least like to get to know you... I'm... In need of friends."


Seeing the verdant hair out of the corner of her eye, Serenity smiled, nodding happily. Gesturing towards the cabana, Serenity wordlessly offered to the two girls to relax in the shade.

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Rini's eyes widened before blinking twice as Serenity took her by the hand. Her cheeks flushed from the touch and she swallowed nervously before smiling and giving the girl a nodding gesture. "Oh...Well...I mean..I.." The subject matter was starting to make her sweat, still not comfortable due to previous, recent circumstances.


Just as Rini was going to pull her hand away she heard the word 'friends'. The young Miqo'te stared at the woman for a moment, her expression blank as her mind raced. Reluctantly, Rini squeezed her hand in return before letting it go with a another nod following. "Serenity was it? If you're worried about being by yourself out here I promise we won't leave you....I've spent most of the past year helping those I could...I don't plan on stopping that now." She said softly, slowly, trying to convey a peaceful tone.


L'rinhi turned to Tira and nodded before walking toward the area mentioned and taking a seat on the ground.

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Tira followed them both behind but whilst keeping a lookout over her shoulders for the man she had seen earlier knowing that she would be out on her ear should he clap eyes on her.


She sat down with the others with her back to the rest of the event, unscrewed the waterskin at her hip and gulped a few mouthfuls of water to rehydrate herself. She was not used to this sweltering weather one little bit and seemed a little fidgety unable to find the shade she was used to finding with ease back in the Shroud.


"So... It seems Rini bought herself a... date?" Tira teased at L'rinhi but still, she jested. Her ignorance to the fact it could possibly be one. Then turning to the other girl. "Oh, i'm Tira by the way. Don't be afraid!" She reassured with her usual wide and friendly grin and extended a hand to shake.

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Lloyd stood against a tree, his arms folded across his chest as his gaze was locked into the ground before him. Lloyd is not one to often enjoy events such as these, but with the path he is taking in life, it couldn't hurt to come out every so often. His eyes open slowly as his gaze rises out in the distance, seeing a familiar green haired woman following another familiar faced Miqo'te and another person that he doesn't recognize "Heh, I guess Tira isn't stuck in the shroud today" he mumbles under his breath before stepping away from the tree, picking back up his blade and locking it on his hip.


In the distance, Lloyd could be seen giving a lazy wave over at the two people he knows before starting to depart.

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Hearing L'Rinhi mutter and seeing her blush spoke volumes to Serenity. She knew what it felt like to be nervous, and she immediately hoped she hadn't managed to mess her chance up before it even began. She chewed her lip, slowly relaxing as Rini continued, affirming that Serenity was indeed welcome around the teen. However, it was her promise to never leave Serenity alone that caused the older blonde to swoon ever so slightly. She'd never heard those words from anyone... Ever. And now, to hear it from Rini... Her hear skipped several beats. But no, she needed to not... Mess this up. 


Sitting across from the two women, Serenity let out a deep sigh, trying her best to relax. That was foiled rather quickly by Tira's comment about L'rinhi buying her as a date. That alone made Serenity a brighter shade of pink than her cherry blossom earrings. Did this really count as a date? What did a date consist of? Should she be holding her dates hand? What should she talk about? 


"O-oh... Ummm... I guess it's... Up to miss Kett. I mean... If it is, I... I don't... Mind."

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L'rinhi's gaze fixated on the horizon for a few moments, lost in thought. Her eyes would soon catch a glimpse of a man waving back to them from a distance. Rini smiled softly and waved nonchalantly back to Lloyd before turning to Tira and elbowing her side playfully.


"Very cute Tira. I am glad that you don't have to...Well...Do whatever you would have had to with that other guy...The crowd here seems a bit..Touchy..."


As Rini's ear caught Serenity's reply she dipped her head for a moment before clearing her throat. "I...Don't actually date..Sorry..Not something I'm very good at. Anyway, I do have your time though...Soooo..Tell us a bit about yourself."

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The Miqo'te straightened up, feeling a tinge of sadness at the admission of Rini not dating. Nodding slowly, Serenity made herself a silent promise, smiling softly as she indulged the two in her story. 


"Well... You already know my name... I'm twenty-seven years old, and... Well, I've been on my own for... Too many of those years. I've devoted myself to arcanism and hope to learn all I can about Summoners and their talents."


Gesturing to Tryxlia, Serenity explained her friend. 


"This is Tryxlia. She appeared while I was practicing my aether manipulation. It's been my only friend for... Well my entire life. I'm sorry, I don't mean to sound negative.. Might just haven't led the most exciting life."

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Tira remained quiet, listening to the two get aquainted until she noticed a friendly, familiar face. Wide-eyed and excited like an arcanist who just cast their first spell, she waved back at Lloyd before he went on his way.


Then she turned back around, plucked a pouch of berries from her bag and continued to listen to Serenity and L'rinhi, offering them a snack as she did so.

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Serenity lowered her ears and her face became sullen and somber. Thinking on her past always brought negative feelings. "My family... I have no family. I've managed just fine with Tryx." Her brow furrowed as she remembered her childhood. "I'm happy the way I am... Though I would like a family of my own. How about you..? If I may be so bold to ask, that is..."

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Rini raised her left brow inquisitively as the woman stumbled on her words for a moment. "Serenity..." she kept her tone soft, clearly heard now that they were away from the crowd. "You don't have to relive it if it bothers you that badly...My childhood was spent homeless mostly. My tribe was...Well, let's just say my brother and I have been on our own for a very long time as well....But I've met a lot of nice people along the way...Like Tira here." She continued.

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