Inside The Warrior's Hearth

Result 12 – Part 8

The two remaining students, strangers to each other but connected by their shared curiosity, decide to come along as well. The six of you make your way towards the tea house.

Inside The Warrior’s Hearth

(Ai-generated image produced using Stable Diffusion)

Entering the tearoom, you, Sin, Terris, Ameronis, and the two other students, Kemon and Jent get in line to grab some food and hot tea and take a seat at a large table to eat.

Between eating a sandwich and sipping tea, Ameronis tells a story about a time before she met you, where, whilst trying to set up camp for the night, an angry local farmer and his two sons appeared out of nowhere and started accusing her of planning to steal their crops or livestock or something in the dead of night, and where threatening her with their tools. Her attempts to diffuse the situation were shouted down, and it was only after they threatened to beat her, at which point she beat them instead, that they were sent packing, threatening to call the town guards. She let them go and packed up, disappearing into the night before they returned.

“Ah, the joys of unexpected hospitality,” Sin says. “You handled it well, though. Sometimes a good brawl is the only language some folks understand.”

This reminds you of your previous encounter with the three bandits who attacked your camp, so you share that tale as well, telling of how you fought them off with your battle axe and the kettle of boiling water.

Sin leans back, giving you an approving nod.

“Quick thinking with the kettle. Resourcefulness is key in a tight spot. Reminds me of a time in the alleys here in Durna…A midnight chase through the maze, pursued by some former rivals. Heh.” He chuckles as he sips his tea.

“Wait, what happened?” Ameronis presses Sin on his tale.

Sin smirks. “Well, it involved a case of mistaken identities, a handful of questionable characters, and a narrow escape through the city’s underbelly. But let’s just say I left them all scratching their heads in confusion.”

“Mistaken identities or not, you have a knack for stirring up trouble, Sin,” says Terris, with a hint of scepticism.

He shrugs with a smile. “Ah, but where’s the fun in a quiet life, Terris?”

“Fair enough, Sin. I can only imagine what it was all about”, says Ameronis, opting not to push for more info. “And what about you, Terris? Any tales to tell?”

Your group eats, drinks, and shares stories, and even Kemon and Jent share snippets of their own encounters in the bustling city; the two of you are the only ones from outside it, and have had adventures along the way.

Around you, others come and go; students, workers from around the area, and a few of the other instructors. Eventually, the lunchtime social begins to wind down, and Sin has to get ready for his own class. Upon asking him for clarification on what his next class is, he tells you it’s another fitness segment of the day; his next class will work on the climbing frame, and after that, the running track. Meanwhile, Captain Cedric will be running the obstacle course. Both provide excellent options for getting in shape.

Ameronis considers his words for a moment, before pausing.

“Wait, that dangerous-looking contraption is your climbing frame?! … And, exactly how many people have died horrible deaths trying to get up there?”

Sin laughs. “Looks scarier than it is, I promise. Sure, a few have taken a tumble, but none worse for wear. It’s sturdier than it looks. Adds a bit of spice to the exercise, you know? Keeps you on your toes. But don’t worry, I’ve got a keen eye, and safety always comes first.”

As he speaks, there’s a hint of pride in his voice.

“It’s all about overcoming fear and pushing your limits. Makes you feel alive, doesn’t it? If you’re up for it, give it a shot. You might surprise yourself!”

Sin finishes gathering his belongings and stands.

“Well, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you all. If you ever fancy a challenge or just want to hang out, swing by. Hope to see you around!”

With a salute, he heads towards the door. Terris, leaning back in her chair, has a big stretch before standing as well.

“Do you have another class now too?” Ameronis asks.

“Mmm, I’ll be doing fencing a little later, but for now, I got some time to kill. Might take a nap, or see if anyone else needs a hand in the meantime.”

Ameronis looks thoughtful as you and the remaining members of your group gather yourselves and start making your way out of the room, gently ushered out by the staff members there who wish to begin tidying. Out in the courtyard once more, you thank Terris for the lesson, and she disappears into one of the other buildings as you say goodbye to Kemon and Jent.

Now full and with plenty of options, you consider what to do next. The idea of risking your life on Sin’s hell-tower is an intriguing one, now’s probably not the best time for it. Your casual clothes are fine for archery, but would probably snag or rip whilst climbing, with the same being true for the obstacle course. And you’ve no plans to get soaked with sweat running around on the track. You’d need to bring a suitable outfit for those exercises.

Oh, that’s right; you still need to collect your clean laundry from the washhouse. You’ll worry about trying some of the other activities here another time. They still have classes in the afternoon and evening, with another tea house social in the night that lasts up until closing time. Until then, might as well take care of business.

You mention that you’re going to go collect your clothes and ask Ameronis what she plans to do. Is she going to stay and join or watch the classes? She had considered sticking around to preview Sin’s climbing class, but, remembering that she had agreed to report back to the washerwomen on what she’d found at The Warrior’s Edge, she’d better come with you and fulfil that promise. You offer to fill the washerwomen in on her behalf, but Ameronis doesn’t want to come across as dismissive and push off her promise onto someone else. But, you point out that she wants to stay a while and watch, but she waves that off; it’s not that important.

Instead, you offer to compromise; you’ll stay for a while to watch Sin and the others with her, and then you can both go to the washerwomen. Yeah, that will work.

The two of you follow the thoroughfare around again, to where Sin is preparing to begin, making sure the thick mats are properly in place. Several attendees are already there, warming up and waiting for him, so they look like they’ll start soon. Taking a seat out of the way, but within view of the scaffold, you watch as Sin greets and speaks to the group, and soon has them start climbing, some on the easier, shorter part, with others tackling the more difficult parts of the structure. Sin prowls below, offering guidance and warnings.

You watch one climber in particular, who, after managing to climb up to and dangle from a ledge about 9 feet high, is attempting to hand shuffle across it, but seems to run out of stamina halfway through and simply hangs helplessly in the middle. His companions shout at him, encouragement and jokes, but he remains where he is, though seems amused himself, from what you can tell. Ameronis nods knowingly.

“Yeah, that seems about right…”

Despite encouragement from Sin and a weak attempt at continuing, the climber is forced to give up and drops back down onto the mat, falling back onto his backside in the process. He’s unharmed, and he stands back up and shares a laugh with his friends, whilst looking quite worn out already, just a few minutes in. Sin speaks to those watching and goes to the scaffold himself, elegantly getting up to the ledge, and beginning to shimmy across; he pauses periodically and can be seen making gestures and showing where to place the hands and how to hold oneself, easily managing to hang on with just one hand while the other waves about. Finally, he crosses the ledge and climbs down on the other side, completing his tutorial. The original climber is too tired to continue for now, so another student has a go instead. Meanwhile, on the taller part of the structure, some of the others are making great progress.

It’s interesting to watch. You also notice, off to one side, a man, who you assume is Captain Cedric, setting up obstacles for his course, along with Milo from earlier, and another person who you don’t recognise. The course looked gruelling enough as it was, but as they bring out the parts stored away safely from any rain, it takes on a whole new level of torment.

The two of you watch for a while longer until Ameronis gently nudges you and says that she’s ready; are you? You nod, and the two of you get up, and, Ameronis follows you as you lead her to Rorora Washhouse.

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