Standing outside the ornate door were only two individuals- one, a returning member that Shana recognized as Argon, and two, a blonde and doe-eyed woman whom Shana did not recognize. She blinked, looking from the tall, muscular man, to the thin, unassuming, and soft-looking woman.
"...Argon, is this truly the only recruit you could scrounge up?" The dark-haired man answered with a gruff-sounding "Yes." Shana sighed. This was not good, not good at all.
"What's your name, girl?" The blonde sniffed lightly, looking at Shana with a strange look in her almond-shaped eyes.
"Talia. Talia James. I was told that Ravenmore was recruiting, yes? I am a healer, and I believe I could be of great use to you." Shana tilted her head slightly and listened. A healer? That could definitely prove useful. But was she any good in combat? A large percentage of the people that had left the guild were the skilled fighters, and they needed a lot more if they were going to succeed in any combat sort of situations.
"How can you fight? Are you any good with a blade, or magic?" Talia shrugged and Shana felt the urge to roll her eyes. A healer was useful, yes, but they couldn't just have someone that couldn't defend themselves going on job requests, especially if they were alone or only with a few other people. Even a healer could get killed easily if they did not have the proper skills to protect themselves against an oncoming attacker, in the event of an ambush or something of the like. They needed to be prepared for any sort of situation that could arise.
Talia seemed to notice the skeptical look in Shana's eyes and her chest puffed up a little bit, as if she were ready to defend her skills.
"I can use magic," She said firmly. "I just...get a little...nauseous, while doing it, ever since...well...this might come as a little strange to you, but, I am...with child." Instantly Shana's eyes were widening and she felt more than a little displeased.
"Argon! You brought me a pregnant woman?!" The man in question huffed a little bit.
"She wanted to join, so who was I to say no? I just figured she could go on the, you know...less...demanding jobs." Shana growled softly at Argon.
"The whole point of us opening our doors to new members was to get more people to go on risky missions! Really, we went over this several times! We can't have a pregnant woman on any even slightly dangerous jobs! Really, what were you thinking?!" The man did not answer and instead glared sharply in her direction.
"..." They fell silent for a moment.
"..." Still silent.
"...Fine. She can stay."
Argon grinned victoriously and then patted Talia on the back, who smiled brightly and looked at Shana with a look of thankfulness.
"Thank you so much..." Shana shrugged.
"Whatever, just don't get in the way of anything. And I'll need to see your skills up close, to see what kinds of job requests you can really do. I'll also need to know if you have any diseases, disabilities, or any otherwise hampering circumstances that could affect your performance here." Talia beamed and then tapped her chin as if in thought.
"There's nothing, really. I can make potions and salves and I can bandage and make casts, anything you could really need. The only thing I can't do would be...well...I haven't discovered it yet! I guess...well...being in crowds is a little difficult for me, but I can manage! I just prefer to talk one-on-one...it's easier that way." Shana nodded with understanding. She was somewhat the same way when it came to talking to people and dealing with individuals.
"Alright then," She said. "Let's get you started. Before you can officially join the guild, you need to accompany someone on a job. Don't worry, it won't be something too stressful. We just need to get a good idea of your skills, like I said before." Talia nodded, a few strands of her white-blonde hair falling out of her dutch braid.
"I can use a sword, sort of," she tried to explain. "It's just that, healing is my forte." Shana nodded.
"Alright," she murmured. "Follow me to the sparring room. We'll get a couple of wooden swords and then see how you can hold up. Remember, it's just to test your ability, I'm not going to really hurt you or put you in danger. Contrary to what Argon might have told you on the way here, I'm not a heartless bitch who will kill your child if given the chance."
Talia giggled softly and Argon put his hands up as if to say, "I didn't say anything like that." But Shana ignored them and led the duo through the mostly wooden halls of the Ravemore guild, all the way to a room in the back that was stocked with cloth, training dummies, and different unsharpened weapons. The room had been collecting dust for a while, and Shana was glad to get to use it again (despite a rather annoying series of sneezing that the dust in question had caused).
She turned to see Talia with raised eyebrows and a rush of embarrassment ran through her. This was definitely not the most glorious room of the guild hall, but did she have to look that displeased with it?
"It's...nice..." Talia said slowly, as if to test the waters of what Shana would do. Shana didn't answer.
"It's not as pretty as it used to be; many of the things that used to make this place grand were taken when about half of our guild members left. We used to have an archery range, complete with moving targets and five different kinds of crossbows and bows, but now we only have like three old rusty bows, thirty-three arrows, and four targets. But, it's better than nothing, I suppose." Talia nodded in agreement.
"And right over here," Shana pointed to an open space on the floor beside two racks of wooden swords, "Is where we will spar today. Pick a sword, any sword. But, uh, one of the wooden ones. I'd prefer that you not slice me to pieces by accident." Talia and Argon chuckled a little bit at the same time. Shana cracked an uncharacteristically genuine smile, just slightly amused. There was a refreshing chemistry between Talia and Argon. They were getting along well, and that was always a good thing. Briefly, Shana wondered if Talia would be able to get along with all of the newer recruits. Hopefully, it was a yes, and there wouldn't be any fighting. But there was always tension in a group with new people, so Shana supposed she couldn't hope for too much. Still, it was nice to imagine that they'd all get along well.
"Alright," she said, taking the first slightly rickety wooden sword that was hanging on the rack. "Get into your fighting stance and take a couple of swings at me. Don't worry, I can take it." Talia nodded, shifting her position into an attack pose. Shana watched carefully, looking for errors in her form. So far, the woman was doing fairly well for someone whom she had assumed was only okay at using a blade.
Then all at once, Talia came after her in a mad dash, and what little respect Shana had for her form was gone. She was easily able to sidestep the lunge forward and counter it with a small swing of her sword, knocking Talia back a few feet by pushing swiftly at the side of her ribs.
"In a real fight, that could easily have killed you," Shana muttered, looking Talia up and down to make sure she wasn't going to bruise. The blonde looked embarrassed.
"I...I know...that's why I'm a healer instead of a fighter. I'm really not cut out for this sort of fighting, I was really hoping I could just accompany some warriors and do what they-" That was where Shana cut her off.
"Stop. Just stop. There really isn't an excuse for not knowing how to fight in a world like this." Talia looked down in shame, and Shana almost felt guilty for reprimanding her. She supposed her people skills could use some work- perhaps it was because of Shana's rumored strictness that people chose to stay away from Ravenmore. After all, most people didn't like to be demeaned when they tried their best.
"Look, please don't feel sad. I didn't mean it in a negative way. I just meant that there's no excuse not to learn- you're a beginner swordswoman right now, and that's okay. It's just that I'm used to having more...experienced people join us. I know this isn't your forte, since you are a healer. But that's why you're here isn't it? To improve. We can work on your swordsmanship, and in the meantime I can see to it that you have some work healing the others- stuff you're more naturally comfortable with. Alright? I'm sorry if I was too harsh. It's been a...rough day." Talia nodded, looking a lot less upset.
"Alright," she said softly. Shana hoped that she hadn't scared their only new recruit away.
"Let's try again, okay? Just try to be a little quicker this time- try to foresee what possible counterattacks I could launch in response to what you are doing. Also try to work on the timing a bit- timing is very important. Even a beginner, if they caught me at just the right time, could probably land a reasonable blow on even the most experienced of swordsmen."
Talia nodded once more and got back into a fighting stance. The second time she charged was quicker, yet at the same time, obviously more calculated. It was clear to Shana that she was learning fast.
The rest of the day progressed in a similar manner, with Talia attacking and Shana defending. Occasionally Argon would step in and help her with her offensive skills, but for the most part it was just Talia on her own.
Nearing the end of the day, when the sky was turning orange and the sun was starting to get low, the duo stopped. Talia was covered in sweat and panting softly, Shana similarly so.
"You did well," the leader said happily. Talia beamed up at her.
"Now, as it is getting kind of late, I believe you should head home. Get some rest, drink some beer, eat some food...come back in the morning. I'd say you've earned the rest of the day off. Tomorrow we'll see about getting you hooked up with a job and testing your healing abilities. Oh, and if it's possible, you might want to bring some painkillers. I have a feeling you're going to be pretty sore tomorrow." Talia nodded in agreement, wondering what kind of a job she would be sent on and what kinds of things she would be doing for the guild.
"Very well..." She then headed off, closing the door to the guild hall behind her with a soft click. Shana took a deep breath and looked at Argon. "Busy day today...try to find some more recruits tomorrow, alright?" The man nodded and then said nothing before leaving himself. Shana stretched her muscles and then yawned, looking through one of the windows where the remaining golden orange light filtered through. She smiled. Ravenmore, in the evenings, could be a pretty beautiful place.
End of Chapter 1
(A/N: Thank you for the submissions, everyone! I hope you enjoyed this chapter! It took me about three hours, since I'm a relatively slow writer. I hope this is good...it is my second completely original story that I've published (the other one was on quotev and I deleted it a while ago). Submissions for characters are still open, as I am hoping to get a lot of different guild members for this story. To the people who have already submitted a character- thank you. If you'd like to submit a second one, you may. Also, to the creator of Talia, thank you. I am sorry if you don't like the way I portrayed her. I really am doing my best with how I think a skilled healer would do. I've never really done a character like her before, and I hope it was enjoyable to you. Alright, I think that's all! Please stay tuned for the next chapter! It should come in a while. Also, I want to thank my awesome beta-reader/editor for helping me with this! Thank you! )