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"Hades," Urania huffed into his neck as she watched him work, slender arms hugging his shoulders and chin perched on his head as he sat at his desk. "I'm creating a new astrolabe."

"As you usually do around this time of year."

"This time is different. New styles are all well and good, but I would like to finesse the aether conductivity. So, I turn to you."

"I'm sure it has nothing to do with your having picked a fight with Hythlodaeus."

Urania pulled back a bit, sullen. "He shouldn't have tested me. He knows I'm no good at them. Nevertheless, you are my only hope."

Hades tilted his head back to be able to peer up at her. "Well, then. If I'm to be your only hope, I may be able to oblige."

"You're such an ass." Urania laughed into his hair, squeezing him lightly. "Let me get my blueprints. I've not made the frame yet, so you'll just have to pretend."

He waited for her to move towards her desk, leaning back in his chair as he watched her back, the flutter of her dusty rose hair falling over her shoulder in her hurry. "What have you decided to name this one, my dear?"

"I haven't decided yet," she admitted. "It's usually the last thing I think of, truth be told. I do think I'll try to stay true to our traditions, however," she brought a loose fist to her mouth as she turned around, spreading the blueprint on his desk.

Hades found his brows raising. "Ambitious."

Urania groaned softly, shooting him a scathing look. "Oh, I know that tone. 'That's beyond your ken'. Elidibus likes that tone."

"Elidibus can overlook potential," Hades said. "And spite. The latter of which you have in spades."

"I hope you're trying to defend me, or I'll take my blueprint right back." Urania gathered a few locks of his long white hair, tugging faintly, clearly not actually upset but willing to play along.

Hades let her tug, examining the schematics again. "You will have to sacrifice some aesthetic choices for strength, but it is not out of your purview. It is, however, ambitious, and the Convocation has many meetings in the coming week. You'll be exhausted."

"But it can be done, you agree?" Urania plopped her head on top of his, and Hades didn't need to see her face to know that her eyes sparkled with opportunity.

"It can be done," he sighed, fighting the exasperated smile at the edge of his lips.

"What is that thing?!" Allumette took a small step back, staring up at the massive Sin Eater looming over them.

Arenlona turned sharply, staring in horror as it lumbered over towards them in the middle of their battle. "Allu, get down!" She tried running in, axe raised high, knowing she was too far away to get there immediately.

The Viera only barely managed to glance to the side before the Sin Eater took a swipe at her. She managed to raise her astrolabe up to grab the brunt of the hit, crying out as the pain ran up her arms and down her back. Her ears pinned back as she was thrown backwards, the Sin Eater following after her.

Bringing her astrolabe between her and the Sin Eater again, Allumette ground her teeth, her muscles straining and aching from her now open wounds. It only took one more swipe to shatter it – pieces of metal shrapnel and glass littered the grass of the Greatwood. She brought her arms in a cross in front of her, awaiting the finishing blow.

"Get out of here!"

Arenlona spoke through gritted teeth, and Allumette looked up to her friend as she drew not only the Sin Eater but the other wild monsters she'd been fighting.

"If I leave you here—Dunya can't heal you!" The Au Ra in question didn't say a word, only clenching her jaw as she gripped her lance tighter, tail flicking uncertainly. Doubtless she was regretting not bringing her codex.

Arenlona also didn't answer. Instead, she turned her head to bring her fingers to her mouth, whistling loud and clear through the wood.

Allumette's eyes widened, realizing what she was doing a split second before it happened. "Don't!"

Emet-Selch appeared with little flourish for once, taking one glance between the party and letting out a slight tut. "What a fine mess this is," he said. Two steps towards Allumette later, he was disappearing, the Viera in tow—reappearing a fair bit away, out of danger. Allumette only lasted a second before she struggled to get to her feet, to scramble back to them.

"I thought you were supposed to be smart! They've no healer with them right now!" She turned on him when he grabbed her, pulling her back with aggravation clear in his face.

"And can you help them, in your state? Think it through, hero," He said, and his words made her still, wilting slightly. Without her astrolabe…

A sigh escaped him, exasperated and uncertain, but Allumette turned away from him. She fought the hand on her shoulder, meaning to pull away from him, only to be faced with an astrolabe in front of her eyes.

It was not hers. She knew that immediately as it was placed in her hands. Her dark skin pinkened slightly, fingers curling slightly as it hovered over palms.

Emet-Selch cleared his throat. Allumette nearly jumped, looked at him, and then back at the astrolabe in her hands.

He was expecting a thank-you, doubtless.

Yet, all she could spit out was…

"It feels… warm. It's like I'm holding your hand."

The Ascian went silent, and then turned away. "Don't say odd things, you troublesome hero. You've a party to save, don't you?"

"Ah!" Allumette jerked her head up, and as Emet-Selch disappeared, she swore she saw a bit of pink at the edges of his ears.