As James headed toward the Doman gate the next morning, he found himself preoccupied by yesterday's events in the library. Unable to shake the recollection of his meeting with his coworkers the day before, his mind lingered in particular on the girl he'd met, the one wearing the black robes--and that fantastic blue hair. There was the other girl, as well, and the "Bulworth" character he had not yet been introduced to, but at the moment, James was fixated on the girl who had referred to herself as "Zea." And no matter what he did, nothing could stop him from thinking about the conversation that they'd had.
"So, what do you do, anyway...Zea, was it?"
"Yeah. You're James. You... you need something?"
"Yeah, an answer to my question would be nice. What do you do?"
"Necromancy, mostly. I have a couple of side-projects going on, but that's my specialty." She had turned out of the doorway to the library, as if waiting for James to follow. "A lot of people have problems with it, but they deal." She had glanced back at him, perhaps trying to see if maybe he would be one of those people.
"Problems? I can imagine that. It's unfortunate, the way people are so quick to reject talent just because it's a little...unconventional." At this point, James had grinned again, clearly showing his cocky side. "I think genius should be respected, no matter what form it takes. And you and I practice similar arts." To demonstrate, he had created a little flare of black energy from his fingertips, then snapped his fingers and blew a little, as though snuffing out a candle, and the "flame" winked out of existence.
She'd smirked a little. "I don't know if I'd call it genius, but it's good to know we're not going to have problems resulting from my choice of magical habits. Now I just have to worry about the others. I'm still getting used to being up here, so I try not to run around screaming 'I animate dead people! Isn't it great?' if I can possibly help it."
That last bit caught James's attention as being somewhat unusual. "Er. 'Up here?'"
"Yeah. I'm actually... kind of from the Netherworld. And by kind of I mean born and raised."
James had blinked at this point. An odd thing for him to remember so discretely, but it was associated with the slight shock of learning his companion's origins. "You're from the Netherworld? You're...you're a demon?"
"Not really. For a place with such a dark and ominous title, there are people other than demons there. I guess I'm related to a few, but you can hardly call me a demon."
This was the part that had caught his attention. The girl was right, for the most part--she hardly looked demonic. But blood was the source of power, and if her lineage really was ultimately demonic, somewhere down the line, she was likely a fairly talented sorceress, not to mention the fact that she definitely had a noble background. If nothing else, he had definitely met someone worth knowing. "Really!" Looking back on it, James realized he had done a very poor job of containing his excitement. "My mother's a demon, too. If you couldn't tell." Fanged grin. Wing flick. Accentuate your best features, James, you brilliant demon boy.
"Believe it or not I could tell. My mother's side of the family is the demon side as well. She's a half-demon, and she spends a hell of a lot more time up here than I do. She... really really likes it here." She'd grimaced a little. Perhaps her mother's social habits did not provide the most fantastic of mental imagery. "I grew up in my grandfather's house, but I thought that maybe I ought to come see what this particular locale has to offer."
"Doma is a decent place to grow up," James had noted, waving a hand somewhat dismissively, "but it's a lame place to hang out. People are always telling me that so much is happening here, but I get bored, personally. So whenever I get the chance, I go out and do something exciting. Like this. I'm in it for the adventure. What good's the money if you're not having any fun?" That was the key, he had decided. Make sure she knows you're an exciting guy, full of enthusiasm and wit.
"Makes sense. To tell the truth, I like money, but it wasn't my main motivation either. Signing up here seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Whether I regret it or not remains to be seen, but I don't think I will. For now I'm just trying to get a handle on the routine, figure out how things are done." She'd shrugged. "Besides. Everyone should do the adventuring thing at least once."
"Have to make a name for yourself somehow, right?" Things seemed to be off to a decent start. If nothing else, Zea would be an interesting travelling companion--and he had no doubts that he could count on her to kick a few asses in a tough situation. "Anyway. I suppose we'll be able to talk more tomorrow, when we're actually on the mission. It'll be a pleasure working with a fellow demon. We're always so much more talented than the surface-walkers up here, you know."
"Demons are just people, like anyone else. I for one don't think I really count as anything other than human. There's nothing wrong with being a demon... but there's nothing wrong with humans either. My father is a human and my mother's half-human. It happens. Humans get around." She had frowned a moment in thought, then grinned a little as she spoke. "Though, since you grew up in Doma... doesn't that technically make you a surface-walker? If I'm a demon for being from the Netherworld, I think maybe you're a surface-walker for being from Doma." She'd raised her eyebrows playfully, obviously baiting him a little.
He'd been a little hurt by the comeback, but decided not to let it bother him too much. "Yeah, I guess. You've got a point, anyway. Humans aren't terrible. I am half-human, after all. I can't really berate them all that much. If you want to think of me as a surfacio, feel free. I don't get the impression you're going to hold it against me, anyway." He wasn't going to blow this opportunity. Even though he felt that Zea should take more pride in her demon side, he did, from an honest perspective, understand her point, and in the moments when he was being true to himself, he knew she was right. Being human was hardly the worst thing that could happen to you, and he had certainly known some very talented humans. Perhaps he was just a little bitter that the world seemed to primarily recognize the half of himself that he personally found less impressive.
"I'm just making the point that your race isn't about who your grandparents are or where you're from. It's how you choose to think of yourself. I consider myself human. You consider yourself a demon. Both are completely valid. As far as I'm concerned that's enough."
Worried that he might be losing ground here, and furthermore worried that he might offend Zea and lose the opportunity to call her his friend (a rare thing for James, certainly), he had simply nodded at that. "Yeah. You're right. As long as you're happy with your decision, that's what ultimately matters." He would have to give the matter more thought later, when having too contrary an opinion would not ruin his chances for a friendly relationship. "Well, whether you consider yourself a human or not, I'm going to be judging your level of talent by demonic standards." He had winked at Zea, trying to let her know that he was, to a certain extent, joking. To a certain extent.
She'd chuckled at the compromise. "That sounds fair. I hereby submit to being judged as though I were a demon even though I'm only quarter succubus." She'd winked back at him. "Though the demonic talents of that particular strain are not something I'm willing give a demonstration of until I know you much better than I do currently. You'll have to settle for displays of necromancy, if that's not too much to ask, James."
Whoa, James had thought. That's SOME innuendo! Having been momentarily distracted, it took the half-incubus a moment to regain his composure. "That," he had noted, smirking, "will be more than sufficient. I'm looking foward to seeing you warp the astral to serve you."
She had laughed with an amused shake of her head. "Great. I'm glad you're so enthused. I'll have to animate something interesting just for you." She'd paused, and her eyes flew open wide at some sudden epiphany. "Actually! One of my side-projects is hybridizing undead with live plants. If you use shadow magic you might be able to help me out sometime. I'm still having some trouble with it, but you might find it interesting at the least."
"That," James had said, "sounds positively fascinating! I'll have to see that, sometime. I imagine you're having difficulties with the shadow energy sapping the life force from the plant matter too rapidly...a shame, because I can certainly see a few advantages to such a hybridization." And this was no exaggeration or lie--he was fascinated, because magical research in general was a fairly interesting subject, especially when it involved his preferred schools. "However," he had added, somewhat regretfully, "I think we ought to part ways for the moment so as to prepare for tomorrow's journey. We're going all the way to Baron, and that could potentially take a good bit of time, so I want to have prepared myself properly."
"Yeah. Probably. I still have to fix the door to my house. But I'll see you in the morning." She had then made her way to an outside door and pulled her hood over her head again. It was odd the difference a simple hood could make. One moment she was a pretty blue-haired girl, and the next she was just another black-robed mage. She'd stopped at the doorway and waved a short goodbye to James before heading outside.
These were the memories that persisted, it seemed, no matter how hard James tried to think about the job ahead. But today, he had to focus, at least a little bit, on the fact that he was going to be doing a mission. That was when he spotted Jessie, and, walking over toward his employer, James saluted him with a cool smirk.
"James, reporting for duty," he announced. "I hope the rest of our companions show up relatively soon. It would get somewhat boring, waiting around here all day..."