The Scoundrels of Virtue

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Walking through the cave passed rather uneventfully after Lorcan's outburst; neither him nor Torianna spoke to each other for a while. Endel suspected that their companion had just vented three day's worth of pent-up frustration, so he'd probably not talk again for months. At any rate, most of his focus was on the cave itself, which seemed to be growing narrow and steep, not to mention a great deal drier. What direction were they even headed?

 

A few minutes later Skallin came to a halt at what seemed like a dead-end wall, but it soon became apparent there were cutouts in the sandy rock for climbing as well as a vertical shaft presumable leading out of the place. Thankfully it was a very short climb; Skallin could be heard above trying to move something large, and suddenly light flooded down from the exit. They all scrambled out of the dry shaft to find themselves in...

 

A graveyard? Endel slowly recognized it as the collection of tombs outside Kakariko Village, so they must've come a long way. "At least we know where we are." He said, pointing down the only road out of the graveyard. "That should lead us to Kakariko. We have a... contact for the Scoundrels of Virtue there." Endel blushed a bit at that statement. Telma, in the few instances anyone had ever heard about her, was infamously enamored with a healer in the village named Renado, but the two had a very tumultuous relationship that was currently very icy. If Kakariko wasn't a place friendly to their organization, everyone might end up spending the night in a jail.

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Skallin was, frankly a bit embarrassed. As embarrassed as was possible at least, given his temperament. “I...apologize. It appears there was very little here worth investigating. It seems the truth of my identity is to be kept a secret a little longer. I know that you have all devoted your lives to this purpose, but I still ask for your forgiveness...and…” Here he paused a moment to find his words.

“I wish to join you. You follow a noble purpose, one I would be proud to aid. In addition, I believe that though the trail has run cold here, whether we want or not trouble will find us. And where there is trouble perhaps…” He paused again to return his sword he had held ever since battling doppelgangers, to its sheath. “Answers will follow.”

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Posted (edited)

Endel smiled, looking to Cheval for confirmation before turning back to Skallin with a broad grin. "There's nothing to be forgiven, Skallin. And of course you're more than welcome to join us."

Skallin looked up a little, and although he didn't have facial expressions, Torianna couldn't help think that if he did, he'd be grinning like a Cheshire cat.

With that, the group took off on the path towards Kakariko. Torianna didn't say a word as the group slowly progressed. Lorcan was still striding ahead of the group, his hands clenched into fists and his lips set in a firm line. She wasn't quite sure how to feel about Lorcan's unexpected outburst - part of her found it absolutely hilarious, but the other part of her felt a little shaken by the whole ordeal.

"Don't take it personally," Endel muttered to her as they rounded the corner. "I doubt he means anything by it."

She forced a laugh, flipping her hair over her shoulder. "Take it personally? Please! It was funny seeing him loose his temper like that!"

He gave her a skeptical glance, but said nothing more on the topic as they approached the village of Kakariko.

It looked... run down, to put it politely. The buildings were crumbling, constructed from a messy mixture of red rock, clay, and wooden paneling. The pathway that ran through the village was nothing more than a dirt track and couldn't support more than two horses abreast. The group came to a stop, glancing around them wearily.

"Which way?" Torianna asked, hooking her thumbs into her pockets.

"Well... it's a bit of a gamble really," Endel muttered, squinting in the late evening sun. He appeared to contemplate for a few moments, before pointing to a small, round house made from red rock. "That seems as good a place as any..."

Edited by NayruGoddessOfWisdom (see edit history)

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Trying to re-establish himself as group leader, Cheval took the lead into the rather simple building. Everyone filed into the room rather slowly behind him, but the person in the room wasn't Renado.

 

It was Telma.

"Well, what do we have here?" She said, looking rather surprised to see her Scoundrels of Virtue mixed into a motley crew. Telma looked like a barkeep from backwater Hyrule, but even when caught off guard her mannerisms were surprisingly articulate. "I'm guessing you're the group that Ashei mentioned. Don't know what brought you to Kakariko, but you folks look like you've been through a war."

 

Cheval stepped forward rather quickly. "You'd be half right, ma'am. We ran into some trouble in a cave." Everyone else was quiet as the thief gave a recounting of their journey. Telma raised her eyebrows at the mention of a strange mirror and a voice guarding it. It took her a moment, but those deceptively powerful brains of hers were able to think up a plan that must've been brilliant, because her face lit up at the revelation. "Sounds like that voice is the next clue then." She reckoned.

 

"Alright, good work out there today, boys and girls. But this job isn't over yet." Endel's back visibly slumped as Telma began her orders. "It sounds like you ran into a Great Fairy. They're stubborn old maids if I ever met one, but they have a weak point; if a maiden commands them, they'd do just about anything. We get ourselves a royal maiden, and we've got the perfect interrogator for that Great Fairy." The three thieves in the group had their spirits rekindled at that moment, because they knew exactly where Telma was going.

 

"Everyone go on and get some rest now, because tomorrow night, you'll be stealing yourselves a maiden right out of Hyrule Castle!"

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Lorcan, Cheval and Endel shrugged off their armour as they sat down on their temporary beds. Torianna was sharing with Telma across the way, and Skallin was in a room on its own as none of the beds were quite large enough for all of that armour.

"How will we get into a place like Hyrule Castle?" Endel pondered.

"The guards aren't exactly top-class," Cheval said, "but they're still there. We need a way for all of us to get in without them batting an eyelid."

At that, Lorcan remembered something abruptly. He looked around and found a piece of chalk, sketching lightly on the wall of the room and clicking his fingers to get the attention of Cheval and Endel. 

"A celebration?" Endel asked, looking at the drawings. "In Hyrule Castle?"

Lorcan nodded happily, and Cheval clapped his hands together, apparently remembering something. 

"You're right, for the ending of the Twilight Crisis!" he said. "Perfect. We need to get in there somehow."

"Almost every citizen in Hyrule is invited," Endel commented. "It wouldn't be very hard at all."

Lorcan left them to their, in need of a good sleep after today's ordeal. That damn Torianna... No one made him snap like that! If he was honest, he may have gotten a little carried away with himself when he lost it, but there was a lot of frustration built up and letting it out had been absolutely exhausting, if slightly satisfying. He could only hope he'd put that Torianna in her place.

For now, though, he simply closed his eyes and slept deeply.

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The group woke fairly early the next morning. Telma made sure that they were well fed before she readied them for the road. She found them two horses and a four man carriage before setting them out on their journey. Torianna sat in the carriage along with Cheval and Skallin while Lorcan and Endel drove the horses as they trundled out of Kakariko.

"So we're going to attend the celebration tonight," Cheval said to Torianna, filling her in on what she missed last night. "It seems like the perfect place to find a maiden, someone who works in the castle, to help us."

"Wait, the celebration?" Torianna asked disapprovingly. "But that means we have to dress all classy..."

"We're going shopping first, don't worry," Cheval replied, then paused. "Well... I say shopping-"

Torianna let out a sigh. She wasn't keen on the idea of having to wear some fancy dress, she'd never been one for dresses.

"Okay," she said as she leaned forward. "What's our plan?"

"We need to work together to try and find a maiden that we think is suitable. She has to work within the castle, and she has to have a good nature otherwise Telma says that the faeries won't want to listen to her."

"And she shouldn't put up a big fight!" Endel shouted from the front.

Cheval nodded. "Yes. Seeing as we're technically kidnapping her, she can't be someone that would be willing to fight us off."

"Okay..." Torianna muttered, nodding as she took it all in. "And what do I do in all this?"

"You'll be the one to first approach her," Cheval replied. "She's least likely to be weary of you because- well, because you're a girl! You need to tell her that someone has been injured and needs assistance. Lead her outside where Endel will be waiting. He'll delay her, feigning injury, until I can approach from behind and get her into the carriage. You get in, Skallin will be waiting inside, Lorcan and Endel will shut and lock the doors and clamber onto the horses. Then we'll set off, while you explain to the maiden that we don't want to hurt her, we just need her help, and as long as she cooperates with us, she be returned home safe and unharmed."

Torianna grinned. "You've really thought this through!"

Cheval shrugged. "Planning crimes is what I do."

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The horses and carriage were parked in the stables as everyone split up to acquire their outfits. Endel was thinking of just breaking into a noble's house when something caught his eye. Tucked into an alley was an elderly woman selling her wares, among them a well-kept party outfit. Without blinking, Endel approached the lady and bought the clothes at asking price. He was walking away when someone tugged on his sleeve; it was Torianna.

 

"What was that about?" She asked, but Endel only gave her a confused look. "You bought clothes from that old lady instead of stealing some?" At the question he gave a warm smile. "Stealing always comes second to helping the less fortunate you know. If I could consistently save Hyrule by any other means, I'd ditch thieving in a heartbeat." He replied as if he were sharing something profound, but Torianna only continued to look baffled.

"Bah, you'll understand one day," he dismissed her.

 

Eventually everyone met up at the stables to witness something that wiped the earlier encounter from Endel's mind completely. At the carriage door was Cheval, dressed to impress as his female persona, and Torianna beheld the scene as if the master thief had covered himself in burlap. "I... you're-"

"Beautiful? Thank you ever so much darling!" Cheval said with potent femininity. He'd forgotten to warn the others about this guise Cheval used to sneak into the castle, and now even Skallin was exhibiting some wonky posture as he tried to figure out what was off about the womanly man.

 

Getting into the castle was easy enough. Even Skallin was able to disguise himself with some Hylian Knight armor added to his exterior (when told that Cheval had found it miraculously on a passed out guard Endel declined to hear more about it), so they all blended in with even the elite guests. After a bit of searching and sifting between far too many women that were either too wicked, snobby, or off-putting, Cheval called for Endel over at another table. "Master Endel," the hidden thief said in that same womanly tone, "allow me to introduce you to Maia. I do believe she would make a wonderful acquaintance for yourself and our social circle, don't you agree?"

 

The maiden Cheval had picked was definitely unique. Her intricately tied blonde hair somehow accented the mystique of her grey eyes, and the delicate outfit she'd been adorned in could only have come from inside the castle. If this was one of Zelda's own handmaids, they had just hit the jackpot.

 

"Why yes," He replied, "She would be perfect. Madame Maia, was it? If you please, I'd like to escort you over to the rest of our comrades near that carriage."

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(( I kinda wanna join this but I seriously doubt my longform roleplaying skills... ))

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"I'm really not happy about this," Torianna says with an exasperated sigh.

Lorcan only glared back at her, one hand holding hers and the other resting as lightly as was possible on her waist. They moved awkwardly, in the same square foot they'd found themselves in from the start.

"Lorcan, Torianna," Endel called them from a few feet away. Lorcan looked about for him, spotting him with a young blonde girl.

"Hey, bigfoot!" Torianna snaps. Lorcan looked back to her, before realising he'd stepped right onto Torianna's foot.

He jumped back, letting go of her, and she huffed impatiently.

"Whatever," she said. "You didn't look made for dancing at all, anyways. Let's see what's going on over here."

Lorcan nodded his agreement, and they turned to meet Endel and Cheval, along with their new guest. Torianna grumbled about her foot, just loud enough that he could hear.

He didn't let her see it, of course, but he was incredibly smug.

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"Well I'm sorry," Maia apologised, "I really shouldn't leave the castle." Zelda needed her. 

"Just a short moment Madame," he insisted. "It really won't be long, it's just to introduce you."

Maia bit her lip. She knew that she wasn't supposed to, but she was so curious. Why would these people, so high on the social ladder, want to meet her? 

She was hesitating, but her curiosity won. She nodded.

"Great."

Two other persons joined their small group. "Is she coming?" one of them asked.

"Yes."

"Let's make sure you meet everyone," a man said and he put his hand on Maia's back to lead her outside. 

Maia was feeling nervous. Something just felt, off... 

"Here we are," a girl said. 

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"Here we are," Torianna said, motioning to the carriage.

The girl didn't get a chance to respond. Endel moved swiftly, wrapping one arm around her body and pinning her arms to her side while his other hand clapped over her mouth. Her eyes widened with fear and she let out a muffled squeal of protest.

"Quick, get the doors!" Endel commanded. Torianna jumped into action, ducking in front of him and ripping open the carriage doors. She clambered in, quick as she could and Cheval followed just behind her. Endel shoved the poor girl inside before he and Lorcan pressed the doors closed. The sound of metal grazing on metal could be heard as the bolt was slipped into place, firmly locking the door. Skallin, who was already waiting within the carriage, watched the whole scene in silence.

"Please, I don't have any money!" the girl cried, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "I don't have family to pay a ransom! Please don't hurt me! Just let me go, please!"

The cart shuddered into life. The sound of hooves clopping against the ground could be heard as they began to roll away from Hyrule castle. The girl broke down into sobs then, trembling with fear. All the while, Torianna watched her with one eyebrow raised. She wasn't exactly accustomed to dealing with people who cried.

"Hey, look at me!" she said, snapping her fingers in front of the girl. She looked up from her hands, her cheeks wet with tears. "What's your name?" Torianna asked her firmly.

"M- Maia..." the girl stammered.

"Okay, Maia," Torianna replied. "I'm Torianna. This is Cheval and Skallin, and the boys out front are Endel and Lorcan. We don't want to hurt you."

The girl blinked, confusion evident in her grey eyes. "Wh- what..."

"Okay look," Torianna sighed. "We need your help. As long as you just cooperate with us, we'll return you home safe and unharmed, and you'll have a nice little story to tell your friends, okay?"

Edited by NayruGoddessOfWisdom (see edit history)

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"Poor girl," Endel said, leaning back with his hands on the reins. "She's probably terrified. And Torianna doesn't seem like she's too well-equipped to deal with her either."

Lorcan shrugged, sitting back so he could hear what was happening in the carriage. It seemed their kidnapped maiden, Maia, was having trouble dealing with her situation, even as Torianna tried to explain to her what was happening in a calm manner.

"Hopefully it won't take long, though," Endel continued. "All she's got to do is make a request to the Great Fairy. She doesn't seem skilled at all in combat, really. She barely put up a fight when I grabbed her there."

Lorcan nodded his agreement. Maia didn't seem to be strong in any way, really, but only time would tell what kind of a person she was. For now, though, they'd succeeded in finding someone to aid them, if reluctantly. He could only hope Torianna wasn't scaring her off or anything with her big mouth.

"Nice dancing, by the way," Endel said with a grin. Lorcan scowled, sitting up straighter and focusing his attention entirely on the horses.

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If any resistance was mounted to their escape, it was slow and feeble enough that they never saw it. Before long they were back on the road to Kakariko, where hopefully they could get a few answers from that fairy. Maia, Torianna, Skallin and Cheval had settled down in the carriage while Lorcan and Endel continued to steer the horses. The ride through Hyrule Field was just as uneventful as their escape from Castle Town, and soon they were back at the familiar ledge where they escorted a shaking Maia to the rope she would have to climb.

 

"Er, it might not be the best idea to have her climbing in that dress..." Endel figured, as he and everyone else had managed to change back into their regular clothes while Maia had no such option. "No need for concern," Skallin objected, "the young lady can hang on to me as I climb." He trusted the darknut knew his own limitations, and so left the matter to him as they began their descent. Their captive was maintaining a cooperative mood, even if she looked to be on the verge of sobbing again, so Endel sought to brighten the mood up a bit. "You know, you're pretty well-composed for a hostage," he told the maiden as they travelled through the cave.

"...Thank you. I've been trained to behave myself in trying times." She replied, as if they were at some sort of manor having a casual talk. Something's odd about this, he thought to himself, I bet there's more to this girl than her uncanny pleasant demeanor.

 

Soon enough, they were back at the large cavern, everything reset to it's place as if they'd never been there before. "Okay, here's what you're going to do." Cheval said, "There's a Great Fairy somewhere in here. We need you to command it and ask what it's doing here." Maia nodded and obeyed her simple instructions. 

"Great Fairy, come forth!" she called, and just as Telma had suspected there was a pink flash. Before them all stood a slender, glowing creature with the body of a young woman and several large wings on her back; it must've been an incredibly powerful Fairy. "If you would, Great Fairy, tell us why you guard this place and who put you here."

 

The magnificent creature stood as if it were in the presence of a superior. "The Great Fairies are watching over many dark monsters trapped away throughout the land," She began a reply, "I am guarding one of many examples. As of late several agents of darkness have trespassed on my domain and that of the other fairies. Maiden, we suspect the tides of evil are on the move again."

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"The... oh..." Maia muttered, the fairy's words falling on her like a heavy burden.

Cheval frowned, stepping forward a little. "So you sealed away this dark monster... why not just destroy it?"

The Great Fairy regarded him with a cool disengagement, to which Maia responded: "Please answer his question. If you would, answer any and all questions asked of you."

The Great Fairy nodded, slowly rising up above the group. She moved with all the elegance and grace of a classical dancer. "The sealed creatures are not monsters nor demons. They were children, taken by a dark and powerful sorcerer. He stole them from their homes and corrupted them with cruelty and evil magic until they became as beasts. They cannot be slain, only reverted to their prior state."

Torianna frowned, her mind swimming. "How do we change them back?"

The Great Fairy spun then, whirling around as she descended to her previous position in front of the group. "There is an antidote, a potion that can slowly reverse the corruption. Unfortunately, it's name has been lost with the ages, the recipe for which is closely guarded by the Scholars of Hyrule. It's location, as of now, is unknown."

"The scholars of Hyrule..." Endel muttered. "Thank you..."

With a gleeful giggle, the Great Fairy leaped into the air above them, vanishing in a burst of pink, gone in but an instant.

"A... scholar?" Torianna muttered, looking thoroughly confused.

"There used to be a scholar among the scoundrels, but he moved on... I couldn't tell you where to..." Cheval said, turning to face the group.

"Telma might be able to help us with that!" Endel replied, grinning.

Torianna rolled her eyes, sighing softly. "Let me get this straight;" she said. "We're going to ask Telma for the whereabouts of this scholar, which she might not even know. We're then going to find said scholar, who knows none of you, and ask him whether or not he knows anything about a potion: the name of which we don't know?"

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Lorcan couldn't help smiling in amusement at Torianna's assessment of their situation - she made quite the point. They really were clueless.

"That's exactly it," Endel said with a nod. "It's really all we've got to work off of."

Torianna seemed reluctant, but she agreed and the group left the cave once more, proceeding to make their way back to the carriage, where the horses waited anxiously.

Cheval took the reins alongside Endel, this time, leaving Lorcan to hop into the carriage, seated next to Skallin.

"Scholars and mysterious corrupt children," Torianna said with a huff. "It's all very strange, really."

Maia said nothing, her fingers laced together as she shook ever so slightly. Skallin merely acknowledged her statement with a slow nod, seeming to be lost in its own thoughts.

"Anything to contribute, Lorcan?" Torianna asked. When Lorcan shook his head adamantly, she heaved a sigh. "You're all so quiet, honestly. I bet Endel and Cheval are actually discussing something back there, unlike the rest of you!"

Lorcan scowled back, folding his arms neatly and refusing to look at her. Instead he tried to focus on Skallin's armour, looking at some of the finer details now that he had the chance to.

"Great," came Torianna's sour voice. "I can't wait to get back to Kakariko."

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