Off to the side of the single story ranch style house in training next to steel plate targets, Dretphi stands out in a clear, grassy area under the shade of a tree. She carefully lifts a long, broad, two-handed sword up, readies herself, and performs a series of swings, cuts, and lunges. The drills are slow, purposeful and allow her body to feel the entire motion of the weapon. She mentally reviews every movement of the sword and herself, occasionally pausing to correct a misstep or adjust a path. After many minutes of consecutive actions of her training regime, she slows to a stop, lowers the blade down to rest down on the ground, and frees a hand from the handle. She wipes the sweat off her tan forehead, leading a number of blonde braids back over her ears and shoulders. She rolls her shoulders in a stretch, and leans her upper body out forward, back, and side to side to flex free tension. She gazes back down at old two-handed sword. As she rolls the blade, a beam of sunlight through the tree's shading canopy highlights the many nicks, scratches, chips, and dents. In the midst of the scars of many battles, flashes of sun reflect inside faint series of orderly, tiny grooves throughout the blade.

A mixture of frustration and determination fills Dretphi's face and she tightens her grip upon the two-handed sword's handle with both hands. She hoists it up, points out angling upwards, straightens her posture, and closes her steely gray eyes. With brief contortions of her focused expression, she stands still and silent, directing her attentions solely somewhere within. Seconds later with momentarily twists of her face, a faint trickle of red glow flows via the many small channels upon the blade. As the crimson energy travels from the handle up the blade, branches light up from the central pathways pour out on the dull edge of the worn weapon. Dretphi breathes carefully, slowly, with the lift and lower of her large chest. The red magical energy approaches the middle region of the sword, and progress slows tremendously. The years of untold damage upon the physical blade hinders the progress of flow and often halts it completely. Dretphi strains her expression and curls her upper lip in sneering flits. She grimaces and winces her eyes as the magical flow stymies to a deadlock against the many obstacles. Her grip fluctuates between tensing and relaxing as the strain of effort contends with need of calm focus. Bach's voice shifts from apologetic to curious behind her. "Hey! Sorry for taking so long to get out here, Sotalia had a question- Uh, what are you doing?"

Dretphi spooks and her body shudders to attention. Her focus crashes back into the awareness of her surroundings and her posture snaps rigidly straight in surprise. The red flow retreats back with wisps of stray energy venting from the edges, dissipating into the air. Within moments of awkward silence, Bach's eyes scrutinize the blade carefully and meet Dretphi's fading surprise when she glances over. "Is that a flow blade?"

Dretphi blinks off to her normal calm with hints of embarrassment lingering as she smiles slightly. "Oh. Yes. An old flow blade."

Bach steps closer to the side of the blade as Dretphi holds it up. He examines the weapon with a growing grin and interest. "Wow! I didn't know you had one of these. It's been awhile since I've seen one. Last time I remember seeing one, it was way back in school."

He glances up to Dretphi with excitement filling his smile. "And the collection they had on display was locked, sealed, and guarded by some really humorless people. I've actually never been this close to one."

Dretphi's smile at Bach widens with a sense of pride. She looses her grip on handle, moves a hand to support the end of the blade, and presents it level to show off. As Bach inspects it with respectful restraint, Dretphi's smile warms. She rolls, rotates, and angles the sword following the cue of Bach's interest. Seconds of investigation later, Bach nods and stands back with a smile. "That's pretty amazing thing to have. The way they are constructed and the materials used are fascinating. The non-magical magical weapon."

Dretphi delightfully nods and gazes upon the scarred, two-handed sword. "It was my mother's first flow blade. Flow weapons are her favorites. She gifted me this to practice with."

Bach perks an inquisitive brow to Dretphi with a mischievous smirk. "Despite the wear and tear, I bet it still could do some serious damage when charged up. So... could you...?"

He eyes the sword briefly and glances expectantly to Dretphi. "If it's not too much to ask?"

Dretphi bites her lip, rests an embarrassed expression upon the sword in her hand, and sighs sadly as pride falters. "It. Is."

Bach blinks blankly and stumbles his expression awkwardly to a sincerely apologetic tone. "Oh! Uh... I'm sorry. I didn't know and I apologize for bringing it up and-"

Dretphi grips onto the sword, frees the hand supporting the blade, and pauses Bach's rambling by waving a hand. "No. It is nothing bad. It is..."

With a self-reflective roll of the eyes, she groans with frustration and relays her admission. "A personal deficiency of ability."

She catches the careful confusion upon Bach's face and sighs with a weak smile as her tall stature shrinks slightly. "I have troubles flowing the blade."

Bach nods as his concern fades and he dons a supportive smile. "Oh. Okay. I actually might be able to help you there. If I'm not overstepping any boundaries."

Dretphi's smile perks up and she shakes her head. "You would not. I have not explored outside help before..."

A smirk graces the corner of Bach's lips and he lifts a brow. "Proving something to yourself?"

Dretphi grumbles and nods slowly in acknowledgment of the truth. Bach rocks his head sympathetically, shrugs his shoulders, and tugs at the corner of his mouth as he glances down at ground. "I understand. I may be able to help, but I first need to get an idea of how you use a flow blade."

He lifts his head back up to notice Dretphi presenting the sword handle first to him. Bach cautiously grabs hold of the two-handed sword with both hands, and hoists up the mass of the blade. His body slightly teeters in a sloppy attempt to find balance and Dretphi almost catches him with a guarding hand. Bach tightly smiles, chuckles at his own expense, and steadies himself. Dretphi stands off to his and demonstrates a proper large sword wielding stance. Bach roughly mimics the posture and position of the arms. Dretphi quickly averts her gaze, forces a humored grin off the face, and watches Bach with a supportive, calm expression. Bach draws a long deep breath, exhales slowly, and closes his eyes. Moments pass in silence. A flow of red rises up the blade. Crimson energy branches out through the tiny channels and ducts, and wicks out tthrough the blade. The magical energy reaches a quarter way and eases the pace. Bach quirks a brow, cocks his head to the side, and contorts his mouth. Dretphi watches, swaying between excitement and intrigue, as the red flow retracts from the edges of sword and purposefully moves down specific pathways. The energy encounters different nicks, scratches, dents, and chips and they visibly impede the flow. Bach grimaces as his magical surveying continues. After a minute, the flow retreats back to the hilt and Bach relaxes with a flutter of his eyes. "Okay! Wow! That was NOT easy."

Dretphi pulls her head back slightly and blinks in honest surprise. "You had difficulty?"

Bach nods and glances over to Dretphi, eyeing the sword. "Oh gods, yes! The wear and tear makes it tricky, but... Damn... The channel material it has is NOT the easiest to get through. The resistance isn't the worst. But, the capacitance you have to overcome is SIGNIFICANT."

He loosens his grip of the sword, shifts his hands to support it by the flat of the blade, and offers it back to Dretphi. "Your mother certainly gave you a challenge right there. I'm certain you can do it. But... Gods... That's like teaching someone to climb using sheer cliff face."

Dretphi grips a strong hand onto the handle of the sword, hoists the tip upwards, and eyes the upright blade briefly with a slight sneering frown. "That is a..."

Her steely gray eyes search her mind and settle upon the specific term to express. "VERY... appropriate description of her teaching style."

Noticing Dretphi's expression, Bach pivots slowly towards the backyard, surveys the forest line, and cracks smile. "Well, there's a few things that can be done. You've done really good on your own, especially with what you have been working with. But, I think the first thing to do is to get you something that's actually approachable to train on."

A brow perks on Dretphi's face and she gazes over to Bach as she rest the blade flat on her shoulder. "What would that be?"

Bach glances back with a grin. "A larger version of the small magical training focuses. A staff of sorts. They're sort of like magic flow puzzles and training tools that a lot of mages have to keep in practice."

A spark of excitement lights up Dretphi's eyes and an interest tints her tone. "Can you create a staff?"

Bach scratches the back of his head and points over to forest. "Well, I figured while we are doing laps, we could swing by the forest and look around for large tree branch."

Dretphi cocks her head to the side and puzzles at the idea. "Does it need to be a branch?"

Bach shrugs his shoulders with his arms out to the side. "Well, no. So long as you can lay down some basic magically conductive material in the object and embed a few little magical augmentations, it'll work. But, I thought it'd feel a bit more personal using something unique. I mean I could use the broom in the hall closet."

Seconds later, a suspiciously sly smirk creeps up on Dretphi's face and she grows a small grin that bites her lip. "Curious. Would Sotalia USE the broom then?"

Bach opens his mouth and lifts a finger to respond, but his thoughts stall out the words. He closes his lips and gradually wags his finger up and down in thought. He entertains a reserved smile. "That... Hmm... Now, I'm tempted to actually do that."

His blue eyes meet Dretphi steely gray eyes, and he flits a brow with a mischievous grin. "I'll test the process out on the broom first. It has been awhile since I've made one after all. I wouldn't want to accidentally waste any choice materials we find."

Dretphi dons a tight, guilty smile and nods in agreement. She steps over to the trunk of the shade tree, sheaths her two-handed flow sword, and leans it securely against the trunk. She signals Bach and the two start jogging laps around the large backyard field, moving closer to the forest tree line.


Bright sunlight glows out from the frosted skylights set into the high ceiling roof and joins the extra illumination from the rows of light fixtures spanning the lengths of support beams. Between sections of open areas packed with vendor stalls, aisles of products and goods upon shelves, and a long row points of sale stations, customers wander through the massive grocery market. A constant ambient music plays in the background and frames the din of shopping activity. Sotalia pushes a wire frame shopping cart in front of her with one hand, while the other hand thumbs through a scrolling list on her aetherphone. "Okay, we are looking for a very particular brand of ice cream for Aristespha."

Bach and Dretphi each peer over a side of Sotalia's shoulders and examine the picture on the display, an ice cream carton with Evuukian writing on it. Bach squints briefly and nods. "Okay. I'll see if I can find something that looks like it. I can't read Evuukian that well."

Dretphi perks a brow and studies the image on Sotalia's phone. "What flavor is it?"

Sotalia brings the phone close to her golden eyes, takes her hand momentarily off the shopping cart handing to brush dark red hair out of her view. "Let's see... Coffee, green and black tea, dark chocolate. Swirled in a rich cream... You know, I might get a carton for myself."

Sotalia leads the shopping cart around a corner into a long aisle of glass door freezers units. A variety of frozen treats fill the icy shelves and prominently display themselves with colorful packaging to prospective buyers. Small signs hang out from boom mounts on top of the freezer units with brief terms in different languages. In the main walkway, near the other end of the aisle, a grath family stands around their filled shopping cart. Two grath women observe the pleads of a grath boy and girl. The raven haired grath woman shakes her firm stare between the two, speaks a few words in grath, and glances to the other grath woman. The other woman resolutely nods in agreement, shakes a few strands of chestnut hair forward, and addresses each child in a similar dialect of grath. The young girl with flowing black hair and hazel eyes gazes pitifully towards both women. The boy with light brown hair and the similar hazel eyes glances over to the girl, thinks a moment, and speaks with a very nice but blatantly begging tone. Both women exchange resolute looks. The dark haired woman crosses her arms and the other places her hands on her hips. Both return their stares to the children, simultaneously shake their heads, and voice clear denial. Sotalia snickers quietly and Dretphi cracks a humored smirk. Bach searches for an answer between the two of them. "So, what's going on?"

Sotalia rolls her eyes with an amused smile and continues to survey the items through the freezer windows. "Oh, the kids are trying really hard to get their moms to buy something."

Dretphi shakes her head slightly with a tight smile as she scans another frosty refrigeration unit. "The dangers of venturing close to this aisle."

A grath man, carrying arms full of grocery items, rounds the corner and walks up to the two women and two children. The two mothers stare up towards the grath man. The two children spin around and beam up with brilliant hope and anticipation. The man blinks his hazel eyes, carefully places the cooking supplies from his arms into the cart, and awkwardly inspects the situation before him. He wanders his gaze between the mothers and the children. Both children release a spree of pleas and latch onto the man's legs. Dretphi briefly looks over and returns her attention towards searching the frozen shelves, sneaking a bite of the lip under her reserved smile. "Unfortunate timing."

The man looks down between the children. He lifts his head up and checks the expressions of the two women. Each lift inquisitive brows in return. The raven haired woman resets her crossed arms and the hazelnut haired woman sways her hips to the other side. The man reluctantly sighs, gradually kneels down, and places a hand on a shoulder of each child. He speaks calmly, shares his attention between both, and asks a simple question. Both children go silent, glance over to their mothers, and return with honest shakes of the head. The man shrugs, presents an explanation, and gives an acknowledging nod to the mothers. Both women agree with a similar gesture. The man grimaces as he watches the children lower their heads sadly, and ponders to himself. He holds up a thought with a finger and winks to the mothers. Sotalia perks a brow with a curious smile and directs her voice to Dretphi and Bach. "Oh, dad has an idea."

The father gets the attention of the two children and proposes a possibility. The childrens' minds ponder the plan and both warily look to each other. Both mothers forcefully flatten smirks and present stoic fronts when the children cautiously pivot around. The boy and girl both gaze up to their mothers. The boy asks warily and the girl waits in anticipation. The two women dramatically mull the question over and a sly glint appears in their eyes. The raven hair woman loosens her arms, leans forward to both children, and pans a judging stare to both. She states a demand to the cringes of the children. The chestnut haired woman nods in total agreement, motions a point over them, and states her own request with a firm tone. The children process the terms and silently deliberate if the arrangement is worth the costs. Seconds later, they both nod to each other and relay determined acceptance to their parents. The parents gesture the children off down the aisle. The children rush down in glee past a few freezers and stop to excitedly gawk at the selection of frozen treats. While the children debate their options, the parents share stifled snickers and humor at the situation. Sotalia grits her teeth briefly in amusement and shifts down to check another freezer unit. "I don't know. Cleaning up the yard would have been a deal breaker for me."

Dretphi shrugs as she opens a windowed door and reaches inside. "Depends on the yard."

She picks up a box of frozen fruit ice cream cups and shows it quietly to Sotalia, hints of guilty pleasure leaking out. With a glance, Sotalia shakes her head with a sly smile. "I'm certainly not going to object."

Bach kneels down, levels his head to a row of products, and squints. He gazes over towards Sotalia. "I think I found the brand over here. What did that box look like again?"

Sotalia steps over, squats down, and taps a long, black nail on the glass. "There is it. We really need to teach you some basic Evuukian and few other languages."

Dretphi eyes Bach with a lift of a brow and neutral expression. "Grath would be useful."

The children finally cease their discussion, agree upon one item, and retrieve it from the freezer. They hurry over and present their choice to their awaiting parents. The mother and fathers inspect the item, allow it into the cart, and usher the children quickly away from aisle's influence. Bach stands up and steps clear of the door as Sotalia opens it and reaches for a carton inside. He walks back to the shopping cart with a sigh and an ambivalent shrug. "I know I should. You have to understand, I've barely passed every language class I took... and I really tried."

Bach checks over his shoulder to the departing grath family before they clear out of view and returns his attention to Sotalia and Dretphi. "The most I ever retained was bits and pieces of history and culture. But, there's still things I don't quite know. For example, is there any standard structure with Grath family houses? I never found anything official."

Dretphi eases a few stray blonde braids over her shoulder and pulls her mouth to a side with a slow shake of the head. "Many tried to implement structure in early practice. No structure was agreed upon. No official structure since."

Bach watches Sotalia place the evuukian labeled carton of ice cream into the cart and quizzically looks at Dretphi. "So, pretty much whatever the members of the house decide?"

Dretphi nods with a slight smile. "Houses are for flexibility. My house, Veranattin, formed between my birth mother. My birth father. My two house fathers. They served together in the military. Adventured for years. Never felt good about separating."

Sotalia grips onto the handle bar of the cart and pushes it forward down the aisle. "I always thought that was really nice reason."

With a slight twist of the lips that settles to a small, awkward grin, Dretphi rolls her eyes and sighs with tinges of amusement. "My mother thought my house fathers would starve to death without clean clothes if they did not continue together."

She notices Bach's blinks of thought and tilts her head to the side with a gradual shrug of the shoulders. "They concurred. A doctor. An engineer. Both intelligent, excellent fathers... Unfortunately... Both require domestic guidance?"

Sotalia snorts with smirk as she scrolls through a list mixed with pictures on her aetherphone. "Given the stories I've heard from you, that's a really nice way to put it."

Bach pulls a corner smile and quirks a brow towards Dretphi. "Yeah, I remember you telling about how you nearly stabbed your house father with a sword. Because he didn't listen to your birth father to get back from the training area."

Dretphi sighs and trails grumble as she grimaces closing her eyes. "Such traits have presented themselves in my two brothers. Occasionally. Thankfully."

The shopping cart rolls out into the one of the wide, perpendicular walkways and Sotalia turns to the right. She spots an item on the phone list and shows the screen to Dretphi. "I think that might be on the other side of the market."

Dretphi squints her eyes briefly and pivots around to face down the long run, checking the aisle signs as she scans forward. "I believe that is correct. I want to check the vendors. See which ingredients I can get fresh. Meet up near the checkout?"

Sotalia nods and resumes driving the cart forward with a spark of determination. "Sounds good, girl. We'll try to finish it up quick."

With a brief wave, Dretphi departs, her pace hinting of excitement. Bach watches Dretphi move quickly away, realizes the growing distance between himself and the shopping cart, and speeds over to keep up with Sotalia.


Deedri walks next to Tassilda in the main walkway of the market. She surveys over the contents of the cart, idly bites a claw tip in thought, and eventually nods slowly. "I think that's almost everything... A few cans of vegetables... And, well, the things that Veevi wanted."

Tassilda redirects her stare from a wall display and indirectly glares at Deedri with her light blue on black eyes and an unamused narrow of the brow. She sighs with the hint of a growl and faces forward while pushing the shopping cart onwards. "If that miserable wretch of a creature wanted her pastries and sweets, she could have been dropped off with us. Instead she's going with Chad on some errand he failed to tell us about."

She quirks her brow and eyes Deedri with a snide smirk framing her commentary. "If I had my guess, it would the quest to find the trashiest alley to explore themselves in. Her native environment."

Deedri tries to maintain a decent smile that quickly crumbles to an awkward feint. A long sigh escapes her lungs and she faces forward, averting her eyes away momentarily. "Well, I still think we should get what she requested. Maybe she'll be more cooperative... with a good faith... gesture?"

She glimspes the unmoved expression of Tassilda and her tuft-tipped ears droop to the side as she resumes a wary stare ahead. "Well, I guess it's for the best. She asked for a lot really sugary and fat heavy things. Even if they are the light and diet versions."

With a flit of the eyebrows, Tassilda's interest piques sharply and a devious grin creeps between her lips. "Really? Well, in that case, I think a bit of goodwill MAY actually be in order. I wonder the how packaging differs between the regular versions and light versions?"

She lifts her head up to read an overhead sign and directs the shopping cart down the next aisle, immediately aiming her head towards the nearby shelves of canned goods. "What exactly did we need down this row, again?"

Deedri steps into the mouth of the aisle from the main walkway and watches Tassilda kneel down to examine an array of cans. She pans her view down the aisle, seeking all the way towards the other end of shelving row. "A few cans of carrots, corn, peas, and-"

Her eyes shock open, jaw drops, and tail fur frays out, her sentence trailing off. Bach blinks in surprise and momentarily grits his teeth when he locates Deedri at the opposing end of the aisle. He notices a pair of familiar, swirling horns cresting above the top handle of the shopping cart and the emin woman behind attached to the horns. Bach and Deedri exchange awkward nervous stares. Sotalia's attention remains upon a selection of canned vegetables next to her entrance of the aisle, unaware of her distant surroundings. Bach cringes over to Sotalia and Deedri grimaces towards Tassilda. Bach and Deedri search frantically for a solution silently between themselves. Eyes dart around and heads search the area, disaster looming closer.

Finally, Bach points to Sotalia, leads gesturing finger point out behind him, and nods with a thumbs up. Deedri replies with a fast rocking of the head. She motions towards the cart, pantomimes its movement with her hands, and waves a hand in front of her eyes before tilting her head to Tassilda. Bach quietly raises two thumbs up and focuses upon Sotalia. Deedri watches Tassilda carefully as she slides around the shopping cart. She gently grips the front lip of the cart's large, wire-frame basket and gradually maneuvers the end to obscure the crouched Tassilda from view. With a final inspection, Deedri stands to further intercept, facing away from the distant end of the aisle. Bach steps out into the wide, perpendicular walkway and desperately searches the area. A hope of relief sparks in his face as he finds Dretphi contentedly carrying a few wrapped bundles a number of aisles away. He aims his voice at Sotalia with faint veneer of concern coloring his tone. "Oh, hey! It's Dretphi. Oh, I think she's trying to wave us to come over."

Sotalia lifts her head up, spins herself around, and walks out into the wide pathway. She spots Dretphi and chuckles to herself. "Well, looks like she found plenty. We better get the cart over to her."

Bach steps around Sotalia, firmly grasps hold of the cart, and motions Sotalia politely in the direction of Dretphi. "After you."

A sly smile graces Sotalia's lips and she graciously accepts the gesture. She strolls forward out in lead towards Dretphi, drawing her dark red hair over her horns and fanning it back past her shoulders, a hip sway in each step. Bach turns his head down the aisle and aims a whisper at Deedri. "Thank you."

Deedri's tufted ears flick back forward and she lifts her hand up, showing a thumbs up over her shoulder. She continues to block sight of Tassilda. Sotalia's playfully mocking voice calls out from he distance to Bach. "Well? Do you need my help to push?"

Bach snaps his head forward and shoves the cart into motion. As the cart rolls, he fishes his aetherphone out of his pants pocket and struggles through menus to tap out a message. After a few seconds, he manages to stumble out a message and send it. Moments later, Dretphi glances down at her shorts pocket, balances her load of packages to a single arm effortlessly, and works her aetherphone out into view. Her eyes flit wide briefly and she quickly returns her phone to her pocket. With a smile, she locates Sotalia, and waves happily at both Bach and Sotalia.

Deedri glances over her shoulder, gradually guides the cart back into its original position just as Tassilda stands up with a few cans in her hands. Tassilda places her hands back on the and pushes forward, spotting the cans of mixed vegetables at the other end of the aisle. "I have never understood the logic behind how they arrange stock in these places. They must scatter everything on purpose to keep in your in here for as long as possible."

Deedri follows along to the side of Tassilda, and releases a long, quiet exhale of relief.


The garage door on the ranch style house rattles and parts from the concrete slab. The large, wide sections of the door follow along tracks on both sides of frame and hinge briefly at the crest of the track. Outdoor light casts into the garage. Common household cleaners and tools of the domestic trade line the shelves of one wall. The daylight glow reflects off the dull, worn metal housing of the large plasma particle cannon and the scarred barrels of the minigun resting upon the long workbench. Partially disassembled robotic mountings and electronic connections lay out on the wooden tabletop from each weapon. In the corner of the garage, a golden magical energy barrier with rough edges faintly flickers.

Bach kneels down and inspects the engine area of his sidecar motorcycle, wiping dust and light dirt off with a rag. With a content nod, he stands back up and admires the vehicle before him. He brushes off his armored duster, adjusts his vest, and settles his feet in his plated boots. He eyes the helmet upon the motorcycle seat with an eager grin. Sebastian's ethereal form phases through the kitchen door. He scans the area quickly, locks his gaze onto Bach, and coasts over to his side. "Hey, bro! What are you getting into?"

Bach glances over to this brother and shrugs nonchalantly. "Oh. Uh. I thought about riding around the back roads in the area. It seemed like a nice day and Aristespha didn't seem to have much for me to do today."

He rolls his eyes towards the motorcycle with a chuckle and shakes his head. "And honestly, brother, I'm curious if the thing is riding right. Haven't had a chance really to check it the last two months."

Sebastian nods in thought and drifts his attention inwards. Bach cranes his head around to Sebastian, reads his brother's mannerisms, and puzzles during the wait. Sebastian's focus returns and he meets the anticipating gaze of Bach with a hopeful demeanor. "That gives me an idea! Bro, I need a favor from you."

Bach slowly nods his head and narrows his eyes, pulling a corner of his mouth along with the inflection in his tone. "Okay... What would that be?"

A pleading tinge colors Sebastian's ethereal sigh. "Would you let Aristespha ride along when you go out?"

After a number of confused blinks, Bach cocks his head to the side and nods simply. "Uh. Sure. I've got no problems with that. It's not going to be exciting or anything. Really, just driving by scenery to the fuel station and taking the long way back I mapped out."

Sebastian smiles wide and bows his head forward in relief. "Perfect. That's what she needs right now. Just something to distract her from her own thoughts for an hour or two would be perfect."

Bach squints at Sebastian's face and searches for more information. Sebastian frowns, tugging the corner of his mouth, and explains. "She been obsessing over the whole Noxian, Orth Ridge, and Grand Library situation the last few days. Normally, she's really good about pacing herself, but... This stuff hit a bit too close to home."

Hints of frustration snarls Bach's upper lip and he grumbles. "Plus our... Neighbors... haven't made themselves easy to ignore."

Sebastian rolls his eyes with a long groan and rubs a hand on his ethereal forehead. "No shit, bro. I've gotten pretty good at understanding evuukian, but there were things said on that phone call that I don't think I have the capacity fully understand."

Bach dons a smile and gestures towards the door. "Well, you should probably check with her to see if she wants to go."

A sly grin parts Sebastian's mouth and he floats back towards the kitchen door. "Oh, I can convince her, bro. I have my ways."

After Sebastian phases through the kitchen door into the house, Bach's eyes search around his mind for the context to that comment. He gives up on the venture with a shrug and pivots towards the motorcycle. Stepping around the vehicle, he leans over, reaches inside the sidecar, and feels around. After reaching up to the very front, he grabs hold of an object and pulls his arm out to reveal another helmet. He carefully inspects the riding helm, checks the straps, and quells some embarrassment by cleaning a layer of dust off the shell. A few minutes later, the door to the garage opens and an unamused, casually clothed Aristespha exits the kitchen, moving down the few steps to the garage floor. As Sebastian hovers close to her side, she flashes a sharply narrowed glare to him. Sebastian weathers the visual onslaught firm and stern. The couple stares in deadlock for over a minute. But, Aristespha finally closes her violet eyes, sighs deeply, and softens her expression drastically. "Okay. I agree, Sebastian. Maybe a distraction would help."

Sebastian smiles lovingly to Aristespha and shrugs nonchalantly. "You know Cideeda, Dretphi, and Sotalia will keep the sword safe. And TURN OFF your phone, dear. We'll call Bach if we need to call you."

Aristespha's lips flit into a snarl. She draws out her phone from her pants pocket, exhales out her irritation the moment she holds down the power button, and nods in agreement as the device shuts down. "I promise I will not turn it before I get back, dear."

Sebastian grants a single proud nod and motions towards an awaiting Bach. Aristespha follows the gesture and gazes upon the riding helmet resting Bach's hands. Bach smiles with blatant uncertainty. "Honestly, I got this helmet in hopes that someone else would ride with me someday, a long time ago. It should still be good and I think it might have ear adjustments, but I'm not sure. Uh... BUT, I might be able to-"

A genuine smile graces Aristespha's lips as she watches Bach explain a feasible process to accommodate her. She glances over to Sebastian with a humored grin and returns her attention to Bach. "It will work fine."

Bach blinks back to awareness, puzzled. Guiding her fingers through her long, silvery blue hair, Aristespha splits the strands into a bundle over each shoulder, lifts up both around the front of each ear, and carefully envelops the long tips in a protective, concealing layer of silvery blue. A quick, loose braid secures the fashion. Aristespha picks up the helmet, adjusts the straps, and slides it on without trouble. She gracefully walks over to the vehicle and hops into the sidecar. "Well? I'm ready."


Late afternoon light casts modest shadows from the trees arching over the paved two lane road. The rolling green hills smoothly divide out stretches of farmland upon flatter fields and the creeks in rocky beds. Bach casually pilots the motorcycle along the gentle curves and inclines. He cruises through the shaded tunnels of canopy, rolls carefully over old scenic bridges, and navigates the sparse, nearly forgotten intersections. When Aristespha's gaze fixates on something of interest, Bach gradually slows the pace and eases the vehicle closer to that side of the lane. Both take turns pointing out old structures, random animals, and other sightings along the way. Shadows grow longer as the sun edges closer to the horizon.

Upon a long, straight stretch of road, Aristespha firmly pats Bach's side and directs his attention out to a section of the road side. She signals to stop and points out a location ahead, across from the target. Bach nods, eases off the throttle, brakes to a halt, and parks the motorcycle on the shoulder. The engine shuts off and Bach peers out into the forest on the other side of the road. "So, what are we stopping for?"

Aristespha twists around and lifts herself up in the sidecar, and scans the area. "I thought I saw a protellow over in this- There it is!"

She excitedly motions a circle out towards the massive fallen plant stalk laying in the woods with her hand. "Sotalia mentioned the girl at the reagent shop had heard about protellows in the area. I think it was something about one falling on a car?"

Bach briefly squints into the distance, lifts his visor up, and searches for similar objects within the layers of forest. "I think there's a few more in there. But, I can't quite make them out."

Settling back into her seat, Aristespha glances down over the side, and spots a partially eaten protellow seed in the mix of road debris. She sweeps her arm down, quickly snatches it off the rock speckled dirt, and holds it up for inspection. An eager grin grows across her mouth and she pulls out her aetherphone from her pants pocket. She glances at the dead screen of the phone, lowers her finger to the power button, and freezes abruptly. With a careful exhale, she reminds herself, places the phone back in her pocket, and humbly requests. "Could you check where we are? There's probably more protellows in the area to look for."

Bach's attention returns from the treeline and he retrieves his aetherphone out. He taps though menus and a map loads up on the screen. "Okay. It's still narrowing the fix, but we took that turn and have passed that one access road, but haven't made our next right. Close to the house, actually."

Aristespha's interest piques and she lifts her head up to see Bach's phone. "Really? Let me see."

A flash horror splashes over Bach's face when memory recognizes an important detail of the area and the very reason for the next right. "U-um- I'll mark it on the map for you. It's going to be dark soon and we should really get going-"

Suspicion directs Aristespha's eyes and she hoists herself up from the sidecar to a better viewing angle of Bach's phone. Her eyes immediately notice the route back and the strange semicircle detour. She gradually lowers herself back into her seat and points ahead with a stare to Bach. "It will be dark soon. So, we should go the most direct route home. We should skip the right turn."

After a few moments of pondering, curiosity guides Bach's nod once with a blank stare ahead. He flips a handlebar mounted switch on, drops his foot hard on the kick start, and revs the throttle as the engine rumbles to life. He holds a finger up to Aristespha as his eyes glow blue and lowers both his hands down each side of the motorcycle just above exhaust. A flow of blue energy spills over the exhaust piping and radiates out to the muffler and manifold. Sounds of the engine disappear from the ambient din, and Aristespha presents an amused smile. Bach sighs amused with a shake of the head and grasps hold of the handlebars. "That spell exists because of my brother."

The motorcycle shifts into gear and rolls up to speed. After a few minutes, the vehicle crests over a small hill and a particular two-story house becomes visible down the street. Aristespha's eyes flicker violet and she leans forward, scanning the area in front of the house. A devious grin creeps ear to ear and an evil glint sparkles in her eyes. She turns her head slightly and directs her voice to Bach. "Stop in front of the driveway behind the black SUV. There's something I have to do."

Bach grumbles and drives the stealthy sidecar cycle closer to the two-story house. "Gods dammit..."

Aristespha's eyes flash violet, her hands gesture quickly, and she quickly speaks a series of incantations. Bach coasts the motorcycle near silently to target and glances over to Aristespha. "Okay, what's the next part of the plan- The fuck is that?!"

He gawks bewildered at the four centimeter diameter, swirling rainbow colored orb cradled in Aristespha's hand. A blue flash fills Bach's eyes and he puzzles at the magical ball while Aristespha continues her gestures and incantations. The moment she finishes, Aristespha quickly scouts the vicinity, launches out of the sidecar, rushes up to the back of the black sports utility vehicle, and carefully pokes the rainbow orb up a tailpipe. She bolts away, jumps back into her seat, and throws her arm forward. "GO!"

Bach grits his teeth, cranks the throttle hard, and steers the lurching motorcycle down the street. Some distance later, he calls out. "Okay! What the fuck was that spell?! And, what the fuck was I just an accessory to?!"

Aristespha settles back into the sidecar seat with a sinister grin and relaxes with a reassuring wave to Bach. "Don't worry. It won't damage anything."

Bach groans and glances at Aristespha. "Well! That's a good start. So, what does it do?"

A sinister chuckle escapes Aristespha and she shakes her head. "Oh, you'll see. We might get lucky and see it on tomorrow night's episode! This is one of my favorites from Nash."

This fails to dismiss the unease within Bach.