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Hidden 11 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by TheDuncanMorgan
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TheDuncanMorgan The One True King

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Hidden 11 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by TheDuncanMorgan
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TheDuncanMorgan The One True King

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Hidden 10 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by Fading Memory
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Fading Memory The Final Flame of a Fiery Bird

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Hidden 10 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by ZB1996
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Hidden 10 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by Nib
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Ignocious Phlemonte. Phlemonte- I've heard that name before.

She chewed her lip, working her mind over the name scrawled on the note in her hand. Soon she began to giggle.

Did I kill a Phlemonte? No, no, that was a Flimmonte not a Phlemonte. Easy mistake.

Her laughter, while already soft, died shortly after her words as she folded the note away. She'd gotten the recommendation of one 'Ignocious Phlemonte' when she went to search for her usual contact for poisons... but apparently the fellow had moved town, changed names, and in all likelihood hired bodyguards after Vivian's last visit. This loss of a once-reliable source of her poisons had lead her to search for another...Trustworthy sort of alchemist, and the word around the metaphoric grapevine- Nyhem had no grapes on vines as far as Vivian was able to find in her limited searches, but perhaps she had neglected to check by the Grand Temple or the noble's homes- was that the man who's name was scrawled on the parchment she folded away didn't care much about what he was asked to make, or who was asking.

Where was she?

Oh right, the alchemist. She moved her way through the quieting streets of Nyhem; night time was falling, and this woman- dressed in a simple maid's outfit, shrouded in a heavy black cloak- had somewhere to be, somewhere she would prefer to get into quietly. She pulled the hood up about her face, shadowing her features, as twilight settled across the city, and once night fell proper she stopped her meandering. She knew it was implausible she had been tailed or even 'made', as spies are wont to use the term, but her enriched paranoia had kept her alive all these years and she wasn't about to abandon it now.

Should I pay him, threaten him, or seduce him? she thought to herself as she began to head into an alleyway of Nyhem's streets, hiding herself fully in darkness and out of torch light. As she began to scale the side of a building to throw her tracks further off the ground, juuuuust in case she had been followed, she decided to answer her own question;

I suppose it'll depend on how 'e looks... but you've never been picky old girl, just do what the Old Man asked and get your payment. If he'll give you poison for a kiss, hell...that's the best margin of profit, now ain't it?

Vivian then began to silently make her away across a few of the rooftops, cautiously avoiding any stray lights that might reach her hidden vantages and taking her time to ensure she didn't get spotted. This was all to satisfy her paranoia, the possibility she had been followed, and after an hour of silently crossing rooftops she finally descended back into an alley, then back out onto the streets.

She already knew where Ignocious lived, and now that she'd satisfied herself with covering her tracks, she went directly there.

To knock on the front door, or break in and say hello...Oh, why not, it could be fun to surprise him. If he gets loud, I'll just kill him and find another apothecary.

And thusly the woman decided that breaking into the (in)famous alchemist's house was the best course of action for this evening.

-------------

This is odd. He's definitely home, I can tell that much, but this place is bigger than I expected. Rather empty, though- I wonder what he does with his money.

The cloaked woman slid her hands behind her back, where she had slung a crossbow discreetly; the weapon was a lighter, smaller, crossbow than most, and the heavy cloak shielded her form to a satisfactory degree to have hidden the weapon as well. She chewed her lip- a tick she just couldn't seem to break, whether it was a seductive tick or a nervous one such as moments like this, where a plan didn't happen precisely as she thought it would.

It wasn't until the form of Ignocious Phlemente, the very man she sought to employ temporarily, was nearly right in her face did she come to a realization- Of course someone like this would have secret passages in his home! she chastised herself, as yet unnoticed to the alchemist, as she composed herself and leaned on the wall some short distance behind him, aiming her crossbow at him through her cloak to keep it hidden.

The woman then cleared her throat to get the man's attention, having caught him in the process of emerging from a hidden room. she couldn't discern the nature of the room from her current position. She also didn't really care: knowing this man's secrets wasn't her job.

"Ignocious Phlemonte? I've got a job for you." She said swiftly afterward, not giving him a chance to react before her words were said. Her voice carried nothing but a...sort of flirtation. A very pretty voice, soft and rolling out of the heavy hood as if whispered by the wind. She kept her face and body hidden by the heavy cloak, for now.

The only acknowledgement Ignocious gave to the sudden voice in his home was a brief pause in shutting the hidden entrance to his lab, before walking down the sparsely decorated hallway. Without waiting for a reply Ignocious strode up to a doorway down the hall and began fishing for keys from his trouser pocket.

“Well…,” was all he said as he slipped a key into the door and pushed it open, finally turning to look back down the hallway.

"A poison. Not of the body, but of the mind. I need something that'll scramble a man's brains, but not kill him in the process. Can you do that?"

The woman slipped the crossbow back behind her back, satisfied she wouldn't need it in this situation. She strode up the hallway after him, closing the distance rapidly as she let her silken voice roll out to him. Once she had established herself well within the concept of 'personal space', she let out a giggle.

Of course, poison. Why else would someone break into his home instead of coming to his lab? He watched her move lithely down the hall toward him. If her breaking into his home and her cloak weren’t enough, her movements revealed her as an assassin to him. As she stepped right up to him he arched an eyebrow at her then sidestepped away from her and into the room he had unlocked. It was his personal study. The walls were lined with bookshelves, and every surface was covered with papers and books. He stepped around his dark wood desk and settled himself into the armchair there.

“Your request is an interesting one. I have read of such poisons before but have never made one myself. With time, I will be able to make what you ask.”

"With time, eh? Time means money, Phlemonte. What kind of price do you have in mind?"

Her honeyed words came quick that time, no slow coy meander. Same silken tone, just rushed with the speed of someone who wanted to get to the point. She walked forward across the room and disregarded his possible organization by gently pushing some papers aside on his desk to make room for herself, then she slid forward and sat on his desk- leaning over the surface to lean over him. This revealed the lower half of her face from the hood, where her deep red lips were curled up in a smirk.

"I'm a resourceful gal: whether it's gold or a service you want, I can get it."

Watching her slide his work aside to sit caused a pang of irritation deep in his chest, but he kept his composure as he spoke.

“It certainly does. First, tell me what happened to your last supplier,” he kept his tone even, eyeing her from behind his hands, fingers laced together.

"He left town. I was less than cordial with him- he had a family I could find." Her silken words carried poison within them. "But I'd never threaten you, Ignocious~" She teased.

“Don’t think me a fool. You’d threaten me as soon as you believed it would get you somewhere. That’s beside the point, though. For my fee, I would call upon you when I am in need of your skills. You will undoubtedly be checking up on me as I research and concoct the poison you asked for, so we may as well open a correspondence and make this a symbiotic relationship.”
Vivian licked her lips, a slow, calculated, gesture.

"I see. You want me to offer my services in return for the poison. Well, Ignocious, if you ever have need of my services just leave this..."

She produces a sanguine-shaded handkerchief from her cloak pocket, embroidered with an elaborate 'S’, and hands it to him.

"In your window. I'll see it and visit you when I can. Keep me interested, supply me with new and fun tools, and I’ll do whatever you ask~”

Ignocious took the handkerchief and slipped into his trouser pocket.

“I trust you can show yourself out without being spotted?”

Vivian lifted a hand and kissed her palm, before blowing the kiss to Ignocious. She giggled and slid off the desk, before throwing a hand up in farewell- that little bit of a smirk now hidden once again- and moving from the room.

This is going to be fun. she thought, laughing in her mind.

Ignocious watched the woman go, lost in thought about the exchange. She had said her previous supplier left town. He would have to check on that in the morning, find out local apothecaries or other alchemists who had recently left the city. He shuffled the papers back into their previous places on his desk.
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Hidden 10 mos ago Post by Fallenreaper
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Fallenreaper ღ~Lil' Emotional Cocktail~ღ

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Dyril

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Location: Winter Haven Inn
Time: Morning, a week after the riots.



The Winter Haven Inn was a very well off Inn. Ideally located on the edge of the Garden District of Nyhem, it saw customers from both the nobility and the masses of lesser people and travelers of the great city. Thanks to its wealth, it was well guarded by both the City Guard and, often, its clientele. And because of this, it had been lucky enough to avoid any damage from the terrible riots that had rocked the city a week ago. As horrific as they had been, its proprietor, Marius Rothemor, was rather thankful for them. Many other Inns had been damaged or wiped off the map by fire or crazed lunatic, and their loss was his gain.

Not since the deposing of the Mad King had he seen such good business. And with that business had come information…

Dyril’s head was bent down. Her four fingers rubbed her temple as she read through the letter for what felt like the hundredth time. Each calligraphic letter made one thing absolutely clear: she requested more time in Formaroth. It all came with valid points, but most were elaborated with additional details about selling magic wares to the High King and the profit they might make. She purposely left out the attempt to grow mandrakes within Formaroth purely because she suspected they would try to sabotage it.

Relaxing from the weight being lifted, her back leaned against the chair. She then raised her arm to summon a waitress and order something to eat. Dyril slid the letter to the table’s side closest to her before puzzling out her next action: where would be the best place to grow the mandrakes. Being a foreign element in the continent gave her sparse knowledge about, even possibly outdated.

Marius had been watching his most unusual client ever since she arrived. It wasn’t every day he could claim to have served an Elf, much less a half-elf. She had seemed stressed and busy at first, and so he had not interrupted, but when the women finally deigned to summon one of his people, he took the chance to go and have a chat as well.

It was not uncommon, in this particular Inn, to see the proprietor at a table with his customers, talking merrily, sometimes softly, sometimes boisterous and loud, drink in hand. (Though the keen eyed observer would note that the one drink always lasted the whole night). And so it was, that he siddled out from behind the bar, and as the waitress left with the Elf’s order, he sat down across from her.

He held out his hand in greeting, politely beginning to speak as he did so. “Miss Dyril. A pleasure to meet you at last. I am Marius Rothemor, owner and proprietor of this Inn.”

Dyril’s posture stiffened abruptly when she spied movement from the corner of her vision. Her head turned to identify the owner then all her rising tension evaporated immediately. The riots had shown there was a xenophobia among a few of the city residents. This was enough to put her on high alert and expect any attempts on her life. Thankfully none had happened since the riot a week ago.

Softly exhaling, her lips curled into a natural smile. She was pleased that it was merely a curious individual rather than a thug intending on beating her to a bloody pulp.

“Hello,” She began, a little cautiously. An idea flickered into her head then as she began the digging for information.

“I’m a bit surprised you know my name. Most individuals usually ask it, but you got it right and even pronounce it correctly. That’s an interesting little trick.”

“Oh, I am just a humble Innkeeper.” Marius said in a well practiced way that would fool no-one used to courtly tones. “It was difficult not to hear the name of the Cities one and only Elf. My apologies if I acted too familiar. I only seek to show that this great City can be welcoming and pleasant, despite recent events.”

“I will admit, my first time in Formaroth was… unexpected. It is one I rather not repeat any time in the far future,” Dyril casually took a sip of her tea and cringed at the surprise bitterness dancing upon her taste buds. She struggled back a cough as she set it back down.

“It seems a lot is different here in Formaroth than Beilokias. The tea is more bitter than I expected,” Dyril chuckled to hide the roughness in her throat over the discovery. The half-elf continued on, she decided to ask him for assistance.

“Just another thing that wasn’t in the Elven library back at Norastir.”

“The cuisine of this land can be something of an acquired taste, it is true. Thankfully, I know of a little shop that sells several Beilokias native ingredients, if you’d prefer not to risk your taste buds every night.” He said with a smile, procuring a small folded map of the city from inside his waistcoat. He proceeded to point it out and give a few directions.

Dyril naturally leaned in. She knew that Kiseo would need direction to fetch them in the future, possibly even finding something suitable for the Mao’s tastes too. After memorizing the paths, she settled back into the chair then continued the conversation.

“You seem to know a lot about the city, were you born and raised here?” Dyril asked, trying to confirm her suspicions.

“Guilty as charged.” Marius mockingly bowed. “I have seen much in Nyhem, and Nyhem has seen much herself. I don't know if you have such a place across the ocean, but Nyhem is the heart of Formaroth. Everyone and everything worth knowing eventually arrives here, and if I have not spoken to them, I have spoken to their friends or family. For all its flaws, there is no place in the world quite like Nyhem.” Marius’s pride and love of his city came through in his voice strongly.

“We have many actually, but inland is where most of our more important individuals chose to gather. So in a few ways, Nyhem is as you put it is rather unique,” Dyril agreed while she considered her job had just became much easier.

“Any well known individuals able to move large quantities of goods for a negotiable price? Preferably those who take pride in their job rather than become careless over it.”

“By sea or by land?” Marius asked, before answering both possibilities anyway. “There is a Merchant Lord by the name of William Flin who might provide the services of his fleet for coin, though my dear, if you have any of those mighty Elven Caravels, you need not waste time on local ships. Mind you, the seas are far safer in this time of uncertainty. The war may be over now, but the church is split in two and bandits rule the lands. I’d suggest you find some mercenaries, or perhaps persuade a King to lend you some troops, if you need to transport valuables by land.”

“Getting Elven ships to travel outside Beilokias is much harder than one might imagine,” Dyril bitterly noted.

She was pretty much the runt in the litter when it came to any of her relatives, especially when every single one was untarnished by human blood. She sighed a bit then decided on the mainland method because of the mandrake requirements to grow.

“How would I be able to get a hold of this William Flin? Is there a common place he visits or found that I could find him?”

“I’m sure.” Marius said knowingly. “But don't underestimate how much of an impact even one or two can make here, even crewed by us lowly humans. One Caravel might be nothing to you in Beilokias my dear lady, but its a King's ransom here in Formaroth. Or at least a Princes.” He laughed, then proceeded to point to some more spots on the map. “Rumor has it Mister Flin will be relocating to Nyhem from Akki very soon, and you’ll find him at these spots if he still follows his old habits.”

“But if you feel the need to buy a few local ships for yourself, I’ve heard that a Grand Tide Master from the Summer Isles has just landed at the docks not two days ago. Make nice with her and you might get a good price on some captured pirate ships.”

“What might be her name?” Dyril inquired while she wrote down the information on another slip of paper.

“Oh my. My dear you’ve caught me in a rare moment of ignorance. I know she is the daughter of Grand Tide Master Arthur Zerrikan, so your best approach will be to look for one Lady Zerrikan. Naturally though, it will be easy to find her. The most exotic ship in the harbor will belong to her, and i’m sure her crew will be willing to help a seafarer such as yourself.”

“My last experience on the sea was a fairly good one with the unfortunate case of a pirate who took down our escort ship. It was a terrible ordeal to witness as they set the ship on fire, burning it and the crew alive,” Dyril shivered at the memory then pushed it aside for a better focus.

She wrote the name beside Flin’s locations.

Marius shuddered as his guest recounted her experiences. Fire consuming a ship was a terrible and often very final thing. “My condolences. With any luck, the Blackwells will see to the securing of the Oceanic coasts now that the war is over. At least the inland seas are quite safe.”

“I hope so, or getting additional goods from Beilokias will be difficult, if not impossible.”

Dyril finished writing out her notes then decided to address one final thing, the most important tidbit. Her hands folded back on the table while she spoke again.

“Where would I be able to find information about Formaroth’s various environments? I’m intending to set up a production for a rare and sensitive crop that needs the right conditions. In order to determine where, I need records over rainfall and other conditions.”

“Oh, well, that is hardly my specialty…” Marius said, a little dejected, before perking up. “But I can tell you who might know. That kind of record keeping on paper is definitely the area of the Circle of Magic. If you’re lucky, the farming focused Noble Houses might have records of their own land, but you’d certainly have to cut them in on the profits when you sell whatever you might grow on their lands. There I go assuming again… You do plan to sell this crop don't you?”

“Some might be sold, yes. Others will be more ingredients in the manufacturing of specialized goods, something they might be interested in since it aligns with their focus,” Dyril said, feeling she hinted too much to the nature of her request.

“Ah. Well, the ones most likely to be able to fulfil all of your requests are the Kings. His Majesty Alasdair is the local one, but he has been… embattled of late. I’m sure he’ll bring the land out of this mess eventually, but swapping from advisor to High King and having a war and a religious schism in the first year of your rule… well it’ll either look really good in the history books, or it’ll be, shall we say, a very short entry for the scholars to study. Eli Blackwell on the other hand, is an ambitious upstart. A very rich one at that. I’d wager we’ll be seeing him in Nyhem soon. He isn’t going to get very far politically if he hides away in Mercy. The Blackwells are a bit different. They respect skill, not prior titles. If you’ve expertise to demonstrate in any field, he might be willing to help you out. Just remember, it's a land of opportunity out there right now. The really powerful Kings have barely been in power longer than you’ve been in the country.”

He paused there, then lowered his voice. “Oh and one other thing. Careful of the religious types. The church leaders may all be filthy rich, but they are even more petty and likely to stab you in the back, or the front, than the nobles. You didn’t hear that from me.”

“I think I’ve gotten a good glimpse of the church’s opinion over magic and things related to it. I do aim to avoid them purely for self preservation,” Dyril tried to lightly chuckle, but the sound made it obvious her heart wasn’t in the performance.

Again, her quill went to paper to write down the information and possibly list her options. She wanted to avoid being tied to one individual source of income because one thing she did learn from her Uncle was that limitations often spelt terrible consequences. Especially when the funding individuals felt they could control the production purely by withholding their support. Not eager to brave that storm, she polite thanked Rothemor.

“One last thing, for the moment. I need to ship this off to Beilokias. Is there any trustworthy ships or ways to get it there with the least risk?”

“I think I know a man.” He wrote a name on a slip of paper and handed it to Dyril. “This captain should be sailing for Beilokias in a few days with a sturdy ship. Tell him I sent you and he might take your letter at a discount.”

“I’ve solved several issues thanks to your information and for that, I’m grateful to you.” Dyril said as she began to collect her papers, stacking them up and ensuring she had it all.

“Happy to help.” Marius said, a glimmer in his eye. “There is plenty of greed and hate in the land, I like to do my bit to counter it out every now and then.” He stood then, nodding politely. “It was a pleasure to meet you in person.”
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Hidden 10 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by Klomster
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Klomster The man, the myth, the legend.

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Aftermath of the riots.
Following the riots of Nyhem, the Steel fist had captured hundreds of dissidents, if not thousands.
It was not his place to keep track, that job he happily left to his logistics officer, Katrina Nikos. Whom had proven to be an invaluable asset to the fist since she joined.
Claus himself had retreated to his tent following the work in the final hours of the last night of the riot. He had done as ordered and focused on the districts indicated by the high king and the Steel fist had dealt with the rioters flawlessly.
That's what he is gonna write in the report anyway, to be fair there had been flaws, a few in the fist had gotten minor injuries and several of the rioters were badly bruised. Not to mention the guy who was shot in the leg.
But in truth, the steel fist hadn't killed a single person during this riot. Something Claus could feel pride about, not a single one...

After all, he wasn't on his post there in the inn, Dyril needed help and Claus was sent not as captain of the steel fist, but as a concerned individual.
Sent? Perhaps the gods were at work, who knew.
The steel fist hadn't killed anyone, but he... how many were there? Five? He didn't know, he tried to not care, they were just numbers, numbers who tried to kill and maim a friend of his, of course he should've saved her.
But they were still dead.
It was different with civilians, in the Beilokias he could more easily ward it off with them not being human, they were birdmen or lizards and with soldiers and militia they knew what they were getting into, they had some sort of training.
But these guys...

He realised his thoughts had run off again, the dreams with the faces of the thousands of dead that haunted him at night didn't help either. Claus was sitting at his makeshift desk and writing letters, reports and logs to keep the company in order.
At first Dyril had welcomed the safe haven the Steel fist camp had offered, but the following morning she had realized that the chilly weather, multitudes of bugs and a bedroll that seemed just a bit too thin was not something she would endure in the long run and had returned to the city and one of its inns as soon it was deemed safe.
Too bad Claus had thought, he had hoped to have a proper party to celebrate long time no see, but the sad truth was that now had a buttload off work to do after the war and all.
The casualties, the final pays would need to be sent to their families along with condolences and their equipment would need to be evaluated.
After that there was the new guys, they needed drilling, since the discipline right now was NOT up to snuff with steel fist expectations. Sure they would form a line and hold it roughly, but they were a troupe of individuals, not a team effort like the steel fist required.
And admittedly, some of the drill was for show, it helped when negotiating prizes.
Lastly he needed a lot of new gear and to sell off more of the loot. He had claimed a few nice sets of harnesses and weapons from the Mandarass baggage train, nothing amazing, but still several sets of high quality scale mail and a plate armour.
Not to mention he probably needed a full new suit of armour himself, the one he got was severely banged up and worsley, it was warped.
Guess that's what getting squashed by an elephant does to ya.

Outside the drills were coming along, the new guys realizing the truth about the steel fist.
The steel fist was the best mercenary company in the world. Why? Drill. Punishing and exact drill.
Not one step out of line, not a single order ignored or done later. The companies renown as drunken idiots was not really deserved considering how serious they were.
Several of the new guys quit the first day, many more during the following.

A duel of ill fated.
The days passed and life returned to normal, Claus always almost got to have a rest before some unexpected events needed his attention.
The meeting with the king, the strange happening with old man Blackwell and following that the prisoner exchange to the royal troops.
They would probably end up in the dungeons, a lot of them.
After all the fist had captured roughly four thousand dissidents, most of them would not fit in the dungeon.
As there was a breakout of rats in the grain storage, Claus realized he had once again not gotten a moment of rest before the duel next day.
He was sitting among the troops in the vanguard who had a pot of pig porridge.
Grain, water and salt, made to a porridge and served with butter, hopefully... this was one of those days and he exhaustively but happily munched on his salty food when Roogel and Katrina came up and joined him.
Roogel was about to speak when Claus boomed out.
-"NO, i am not needed anywhere... apart from here with my dinner." To which Roogel laughed once and sat down.
-"You're in luck then, Katrina just wanted to give you some thoughts on your enemy tomorrow." Roogel said heartily as he gave Claus a good whack on the back with his right palm.
Claus ended his spiel and looked to Katrina while eating his porridge. It took a while before Katrina understood she was supposed to talk.
-"OH! Um, yes. It is Alice Rallar, she served the Remonnets in the Remonnet Mandarass civil war, she's apparently a bit of a war hero since she commanded so well the old king rewarded her with the advisor's seat for her service."
Claus didn't look up as he sarcastically answered.
-"Great, i have to kill a war hero. That'll look good on my resumé."
-"Furthermore, she is a very skilled swordsman, apparently fighting with rapier and a dagger. She's also deceivingly strong." Katrina worriedly kept on.
-"You know Claus, you don't have to fight her, you could...." Katrina tried to reason, but Claus stopped her.
-"I do have to fight her. I saw it in her eyes, she is cornered. Don't worry though, i'll manage. I get to try my new toy as well." He finished with a smirk.
-"So boss, what about a few training bouts?" Roogel's optimism was welcoming as always.
-"I don't wanna.... but i guess i have to." Claus weariness was obvious, but he didn't have familiarity with his new weapon. Plus getting a new sword would take days, or he'd get a ready made sword he wasn't familiar with either, so he might as well use the new one.
It would also be a moment to show off himself.

The following morning he moved out, he wore his full suit of armour, whom Katrina and a few others had done their best to look better, he marched with a full fifty people from his vanguard, two of whom carried his blade. Along with Roogel and Katrina on his side. Roogel was also carrying the banner of the Steel fist. A ragged and stitched black banner with the white clenched gauntleted fist on top, with the most heroic deeds of the fist embroidered on its surface.
The procession entered the city and moved towards the arena.
There were thousands who were flocking to see the event, the arena was packed. Nobility, burghers, it was said even the king was there to witness the event.
It was honestly difficult to get there before Claus began to make himself known via horn calls.

The arena was packed, people from all social stratas had gathered and Alasdair was looking down upon the arena from the kings podium, he sort of wanted the whole ordeal done with as he gently rubbed his temple, but in truth he was early.
Claus had not even arrived and Alice had barely gotten inside the arena's preparation rooms. Which was fine with him, it had gotten him a lot of time to set up the 'plans' for this combat event.
Known only to himself and one other, the water Alice would be offered would be poisoned. Not a strong poison, she would not die. But her judgement and her awareness would be hampered.
He momentarily wondered if he'd need to get rid off the man doing the deed later, but his train of thought was interrupted as a chilling horn-call was heard from outside.
It repeated itself four times, each time it was closer. The call was deep, it cried war, blood and death. A few who had heard the horn of the steel fist before were reminded of its meaning. Others needed no prior knowledge to be chilled to the bones.
After the last call, one of the kings servants snuck up to Alasdair and told him that Claus had arrived.
Finally.
He stood up and unusually, there was no cheers from the crowd. They had gotten into other thoughts, as Alasdair stood the much more happy and joyous fanfare of the brass horns called everyone's attention and silence befell the arena.

-"People of Nyhem, we gather here today to witness the conflict of old versus new. So without further ado, let us commence!" Alasair used the most imposing 'king voice' he could muster, the clever design of the arena also made it easier for his voice to travel to those who would need to hear it.
A cheer was heard from the crowd as two of the arena doors opposite to each other opened to reveal the competitors and their aides.
Alice had gathered several imposing soldiers in nice cuirasses and with capes in her heraldic colours, they carried only shields and had their swords in the scabbards, the four of them formed a square behind her as she walked up to her designated spot, the marshall was overseeing the event from the arena floor and instructing the combatants on their positions.
From the other side, Claus exited, he took a few steps and raised his horn and called the two tone call for march, out from the door behind him came his entire entourage in formation which was not how anyone expected him to arrive. The marshall was not happy to say the least.
With perfectly matching footfalls, the troupe went to their spot and claus stopped the formation with a shouted order. Followed by 'Form wall.' which the troop did with a shout in perfect unison and formed a spear wall behind him. As usual in flawless straight lines.

The arena was silent for a moment before Alasdair motioned for another fanfare.
-"Competing for honor today, are the champions seen before you. In the southern field, ser Alice Rallar." A cheer came from the populace, the southern field was the one further from the king, symbolising that she was the one who challenged the one in the north.
-"In the northern field, we have captain Claus Rotstein, advisor of war to the crown." Alasdair's last sentence had stirred some murmurs, the changing of advisors of war was still rather new and many had not gotten assurance that that was the way it was.
-"Marshall, you have the word." Alasdair happily let the marshall explain the rules, he didn't let it show in his voice though.
The marshall's voice was booming and clear.
-"Thank you high king. The format for today is a duel to the death, fought between the champions with the arms they best see fit. The champions will now give praise to Timtos, so that the battle will be honourable and fair." With that Alice drew her sword and knelt, Claus however reached his left hand to the back and Katrina nervously strode up to him with a cloth wrapped package. Claus took it by the hilt, nodded to Katrina and with a one-handed swing to the right followed with a flourish he cast the cloth off the sword revealing it as he in one fluid motion knelt as well.
The weapon was nothing like most of those present had ever seen, constructed with dragon scales and talons. It's size made it look almost like a caricature more than a sword, but Claus wielded it seemingly without hindrance.
This event got an noticeable response from the crowd as gasps, hollers and ooh's were let out.
Finally the marshall knelt together with the aides as a priest came and led those present in a prayer to Timtos, god of battle and honour.

As the prayer finished, the aides left the arena leaving only the marshall, Alice and Claus.
-"Now we pay respect to the king!" The marshall commanded and those present knelt for king Alasdair, even if Claus was slow to kneel.
With that Alasdair waved to the populace and nodded to the champions.
He held a striker for a gong for everyone to see, walked to the bronze gong and showed he was ready to strike.
Claus and Alice assumed fighting stances and were given a few words.
-"Now i will strike you down for your impudence! I will have my honor, you will be.... dead." At the end of her sentence, Alice felt a bit groggy, loosing her focus for a second. She thought of it no longer.
-"Impudence? I don't even know what that means! HA! I'll cut you up since you wanted that, good chance to try out my new sword as well!" Claus was grinning broadly as he tried to piss off his opponent. He ended by fastening his visor with its buckle and spinning on the rondel in the back with a flick.
There was a brief moment of silence, but seemingly from nowhere the gong sounded and the duel had begun.

Alice did not wait for her opponent, she knew he had range advantage and wanted to get in as soon as possible. Claus held is sword straight up in front of him with both hands, his visor slightly open revealing the focused eyes within.
Claus simply let his sword fall, he guided it and made a surprisingly quick thrust towards Alice face, she however realized in time and pushed the sword away with her rapier, she was going for a quick stab at Claus face with her dagger when she realized he was already punching in with the quillon of the sword, the dragon talon looked wickedly sharp and she literally threw herself backwards to avoid it hitting her torso.
Even if she wore a reinforced cuirass, she wasn't going to take chances with a strange new weapon like that.
Claus renewed his pose and swung the sword above him into a diagonal slice to his right, pursuing her relentlessly. She moved low and aimed for his leg when she once more felt groggy.
She stumbled, barely avoided the slash and was pommeled in the side by Claus.
Alice fell over and rolled away from Claus, luckily for her Claus was backing off as well. The pommel strike didn't have the proper force that a stronger wielder could have gotten in, it had however dented the cuirass and put in a visible indentation of the dragon snout of the pommel.
The truth was that the blade was heavier than Claus was used to, so he had overswung. The force needed to reroute the weight in the large sword was a bit much, so he had gotten in a poor blow... of sorts.
It had still dented steel plate.
Both of the fighters were now breathing heavily, one because she had been struck in the side, one because his sword was far more unwieldy than his usual weapons.

Alice was now getting worried, she wasn't feeling well, her focus went in and out and she felt groggy and wheezy. The combination of nausea and the pommel strike made her throw up.
But unbeknownst to her, the poison had already taken effect, even if she got some of it out now, it was too late.
She stood up with a noticeable shakiness to her gait, cheers were all over as she pointed her weapons at Claus once more.
-"Nice to see that blow didn't stop you!" Claus shouted at her with a smile, he changed his guard to a half swording stance. He realised that the weight of the sword would not do well against her skill, even if it gave him a reach advantage.
For he realized it now, her attack against his leg had hit, luckily the armour had pushed it off safely.
She moved in with a flurry of blows, all would have been fatal against a lesser opponent. But Claus managed to dodge parry and block most of them. One had glanced off his shoulder while another struck his arm.
The dagger pommel strike to his arm had hurt like a bugger though and he shouted in pain.
He leaned in, pushed Alice off him and seemingly swung madly in what looked like someone trying to row a boat. The manoeuvre was less stupid than it looked though as the repeated attacks threatened her from several points of danger, the edge, tip, the quillon and the pommel.
She took a step back, began to move to her left when once again her vision blurred.
Her movement had slowed and Claus took the chance, with a downward stab with the blade-tip, which hit her in the right leg, it sliced through the armour like a sharp knife through cloth and opened a rather messy wound through her leg with an opening towards between her legs.
Claus followed up with a full on pommel strike with all his might, she however countered with a quick thrust from above and both attacks hit home.
The force of the pommeling sent her literally flying, half a metre or so. Her strike had however left the rapier stuck in Claus helmet. It swayed ominously up and down.
The arena was in uproar, Alice was scrawling on the ground as Claus just stood there for a moment like a statue with a sword in its head.
Alasdair stood up trying to get a better look, boos and cheers were rampant as the crowd was in uproar.

Then with a stiff twitching motion, Claus moved his left arm, took Alice rapiers hilt, dragged the sword out of his helmet.
With mad cheers from the crowd.
The blade had hit his right cheekbone, bounced to the side and sliced his ear slightly, then it had gotten bent to follow the inside of the helmet.
As he pulled it out blood flowed visibly as he hurt more of his cheek and ear, booming cheers were rampant as he took a few steps and tossed the sword back to Alice.
-"Take the weapon! FIGHT!" Claus voice boomed over the arena, it had more presence than both Alasdair and the Marshall.
Alice was beginning to get a hold of herself, took the sword and began to sit up. The blow had pierced her cuirass and hurt her stomach quite badly.
But she wouldn't give up, she managed to kneel with the weight on her left leg, resumed her guard with the now bent rapier and shaky hands.
-"Good thing i brought the visor, otherwise you'd have put that one in my mouth i reckon." Claus spoke to Alice as he responded with a guard pose as well.
-"Anything to shut you up!" Alice spat out as well as she could. Before summoning the best of her power, standing up and charging in on Claus with repeated thrusts and slashes with both sword and dagger.
As her onslaught began Claus just began an echoing sinister laugh, her movements were now slow enough so that Claus could read them and easily defend himself.
He let her strike his armour several times, every time the blades making a deep score, but with each strike they became weaker and weaker.
At one point he headbutted the sword arm of Alice away followed with a hearty punch to the stomach. Something Alice barely could handle and stumbled a few steps backwards holding her wounded stomach with her left arm.
It was here Claus changed grip once more, took a step forth and made a massively telegraphed upwards strike. However Alice was too weak to even notice.
The strike hit her right armpit, with seemingly no effort the dragon-sword lopped off her arm cleanly at the shoulder, as she noticed her arm was hit she looked at it, and felt the kick on her chest which sent her flying to the ground.
She saw Claus stepping over her and with a massive two handed thrust he roared as he struck down with the blade vertically.

The friend.
Earlier, as Claus entered the arena doors, he and his entourage was shown the directions where to go by some servants, he was however approached by someone in far nicer clothes whose thin frame and young appearance stood out.
-"Mr Rotstein, if you may? I want to speak with you."
-"I'm busy." Claus responded without stopping.
-"I am Alex of Nyhem, advisor of law, please listen." The young man informed, which had Claus stop for a second.
-"What? Am i breaking the law or something?" He ended with a smirk.
-"No, but please, listen, you are fighting Alice, i heard it was to the death. Is that so?" Alex was worried and genuine, Claus just responded in his serious tone.
-"Yes, she wanted it this way, so she'll get it. Now i have a fight to win, anything else? Or move out of the way."
-"Mr Rotstein, you must listen, i... i, want to ask a favor of you." Upon this Claus moved up to Alex and led him off a few steps.
-"I am listening." His face in that most sinister look.
-"You see, Alice is my friend, i don't want to loose her... but i can do nothing except... well... talk to you. Since i fear things will go bad for her, and i don't think the whole ordeal will be honest, I'm not thinking you will do anything.... but someone... so please... spare her." Alex spoke with true words, Claus had seldom heard more genuine words.
Claus pondered shortly before answering.
-"We shall see, i'm really tempted to kill her you see. But if i spare her... you owe me." At the end Claus pointed at Alex for a while. Then he left, leaving Alex as worried as before.

The crowd cheered and booed like madmen as they realized the blade had missed her head, it was embedded a good half metre or so into the arena floor. Claus bent down and took her dagger held it up high and walked towards the nearest spectators as he boomed out.
-"I have, DISARMED her! So now i spare her life!" He then tossed her dagger up to the spectators so that they could take it. A small fight broke out up there to take it.
With this the marshall signaled the duel was over, there was a clear winner, a clear loser and a massively entertaining fight.
He realized that the words of Alex held some weight to them. She was good, he had been weary and hadn't got time to recover after the war. She was completely fresh and seeing how she moved, she should have won...
But something was amiss. He didn't care though, now he had taught her a lesson and he had earned a favor from that kid back there.

As medical staff hurriedly took Alice off the field and began to treat Claus cheek and ear, the king stood up once more and motioned for a fanfare to prelude his words.
-"Thus, we have a winner. Congratulations Claus Rotstein, such a performance. Let us now celebrate!" The crowd was cheering, the mood was unexpectadly good.

The corpsmen of the steel fist now entered the arena and they ran up to Claus who had gotten a chair to sit on and was brought his sword.
They gawked at his wounds, messed with each other and Katrina was worried, back to normal so to speak.
Back to normal Claus thought with a smile on his face.

Back to normal.
The following day, Claus thought it was time, he gathered the steel fist at a certain town square, and stood upon a certain speakers podium.
-"Gentlemen of the Steel fist! My friends! We have persevered through a harsh conflict and are now here to claim our prize. I can contain you no longer!
You deserve this time to feast, for you drink not only for yourself, but also for the fallen. So i implore you....
STEEL FIST! It seems we failed last time, DRINK THIS TOWN DRY!!!!" A mad cheer erupted as hats, boots and hollers were tossed to the sky as the steel fist began another victory celebration.
A few of those present managed an 'Oh no' before corpsmen began to take over all the local pubs.
Roogel went up to Claus and asked.
-"Was that a wise move? With the riot and all? Not to mention last time..."
-"You know i am right, i cannot contain them anymore. They were getting skittish, they've earned this. And it would never be long enough time after the riot." Claus stated, Roogel simply nodded and turned to Claus.
-"True true you little idiot. Now, are we gonna show our troops how it's done?" Roogel laughed with a massive grin.
-"You know it's time, i know just the right place as well!" Claus smiled as he got this mischievous look on his face.
Later Claus, Roogel, Katrina and several from the vanguard entered a fancy restaurant which clearly remembered them from last time.
This time they had even less chance to stop them since Claus brought about fifty from the vanguard this time and made sure to buy three bards to have one hell of a party.
The butler from last time just left, he perhaps even quit his job right there, or perhaps not, certainly no one from the steel fist Cared.

Once more the steel fist was let loose upon Nyhem.
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~|Fond Memories and New Threats|~

Location: Nyhem
Time: During the Party
By: @Klomster & @TheDuncanMorgan & @Fallenreaper




Claus sat and took a hearty gulp out of his goblet as Alasdair held his speech, he applauded when he felt it was fitting and gestured for a servant to fill his cup some more.

Clearly enjoying the whole spiel, acting all high and noble for Claus had gotten a seat at the honour table as befit his status of royal advisor… or imperial advisor as it seemed after that one.

He’d even dressed up a bit and the only armour he was wearing was his black cuirass with the emblazoned white gauntleted fist of his company. A nice new black gambeson with red lining and a broad dark blue hat with red trim and silver bands with a white feather on top.

After Alasdair had finished Claus let out a voiced thought which could be heard by some of those near him.

-”Empire? That has a nice ring to it, let’s hope it works out.” He took another pair of hearty gulps of wine.

Mmmm, Orog wine he thought.

Patrick threw Claus a disapproving glare as he took yet another gulp of wine as he continued to make a fool of himself. Patrick was sat next to Claus and had watched him drink more than the rest of the high council combined, gulping wine as if it were water. Before Claus could take another swig Patrick grabbed the goblet from his hands and slammed it on the table.

“You are now a member of the high council now and you will act as such” Patrick growled under his breath “Whether you wish to drink yourself under the table during your private hours is your own concern but while you are here you will keep yourself presentable, at least in my presents, otherwise people will think me a fool for electing you to the high council”

With a shocked expression, Claus was cast from his good mood and into the angry remarks of a stern man.

He eyed Patrick for a moment before voicing his response.

-”It’s lucky you’re the kings… emperors brother, since otherwise what you just did is probably illegal somehow.” He finished off with a serious stare completely bereft of even an ounce of drunkenness straight into Patrick's eyes. Which quickly turned into a smirk.

-”But luckily I don’t care nor do I want to get on your bad sides. This is also far less than I can drink and still hold my manners about. It wouldn’t even be hard to drink all of these wimps under the table.” He finished by gesturing towards everyone present at tables.
Making another spiel of it, Claus gestured for a servant to wipe up the spilled wine from the table.

Patrick’s face remained unchanged. He was about to protest, though as he looked at the nobles that surrounded him he knew he needn’t bother; after the speech, the drinking had only intensified and a couple of nobles had already passed out, carried away by their servants under the commands of their disapproving family. Who would notice one more drunk fool? Still, the sight made Patrick angry; these were the elite of Formaroth, those who were responsible for keeping order and ruling throughout the concord. Yet they acted like drunkards and spoilt children. Until Alasdair had taken the throne many of them would have openly declared the De Reimer’s unworthy of their title and secretly many still did. At least he had earned their title and proved to be deserving of it, unlike the fools that now surrounded him, that only had their titles because of their birth. As he looked back at Claus his face, though still stern, softened.

“Very well, though I ask that you hold off on your drink until you have heard what I wish to say”

-”I am all ears when you have something to say, after all, your ideas have worked out wonderfully so far.” A massive grin was on his face while taking a sip of wine, but as a gesture, Claus put some water in his goblet as well.

“From what I gather you are still having trouble replenishing the steels fists forces and that most of the new recruits quit the moment training became challenging. I have the means to solve this problem, tell me to have you heard of Cawaport’s ‘Darktown’”?

Thinking for a moment Claus answered.
-”Not much, it’s a shithole, what of it?”

A shithole was an understatement, Darktown was not only the poorest area of Cawaport but the worst slum in all of Formaroth. Under the De Reimer’s rule, Cawaport’s wealth had increased greatly improving the lives of the cities majority. The same could not be said for Darktown. In improving the cities wealth the De Reimer’s also ended up increasing the wealth gap between the rich and the poor and both the population and squalor of Darktown had grown exponentially. Now the once poor yet safe slum was a crime infested pit of despair, segregated from the rest of the city by a stone wall to keep the rest of Cawaport safe.

“As you know, Darktown is the worst place someone could find themselves, with almost all of Cawaport’s crimes originating within it,” Patrick said “We are trying to find a way to deal with the problem and one such solution that has met with some success is conscripting these vagabonds into the military. Either they remain in the army where they are of some use or they are put to death for whatever crime they committed. If you wish I can send some of them your way, I can guarantee you no matter how hard your training the fear of what awaits for them back in Cawanor will ensure they will not quit”.

Claus answer was quick.

-”I am skeptical, the Steel Fist is built upon discipline, and many a common crook lack even the slightest sense of it. But if you want I can turn them into a decent militia force and cherry pick the ones I like.”

“Good, they will be far more useful as a militia than they will be plaguing the streets of Cawaport” Patrick said. Patrick’s attention was broken as a figure amongst the crowd caught his eye “I was unaware we had invited elves to this party” Patrick said with mild contempt.

Seeing what Patrick had spotted, Claus immediately recognized Dyril looking rather out of place at the right table.

-”That’s not just any elf, it’s a friend,” Claus said with happiness since he realized that he now had time to catch up with lost time with her.

He stood up with his goblet and boomed out with his usual disregard for proper etiquette.

-”Dyril! Still on your first cup?” He grinned and walked over and simply sat down opposite her on a stool he brought along, pushing some drunk person out of the way.

Dyril’s head turned to the sounds of Claus calling her. She shook it a little, clearly amused and unsurprised by his antics. Her eyes followed his figure lifting from his seat then plopping right across from her. Small delicate fingers twisted the goblet in place as she had been lightly sipping it. The taste wasn’t quite sweet enough for her compared to Elven wine.

“Yes, I am. Grandfather ensured I was not exposed to too much so I’m a lightweight. However, it’s nice to see things haven’t changed with you,” she said with a hint of enjoyment to it, “It’s interesting to see as someone of authority now. How did that happen?”

With one of his telltale smirks, Claus answered after a short thought.
-”Barely any idea honestly, but it has to do with that sour fella.” He motioned for Patrick with his goblet as he said it. Waving in a silly way with his fingers to the serious king.

Dyril expression had a subtle change, edging into disbelief, before evaporating altogether. Her head tilted into Patrick’s direction. Observing him for a moment, she then returned to her conversationalist, “He obviously didn't know you very well or made a hasty decision.”

A booming laugh was the answer which Claus stopped with a sip of wine.

-”Damn right you are, I have little to no idea what a military advisor does, but as the old saying goes, fake it ‘til you make it.”

-”So, what in the world are you actually doing here and not in a boring castle in Beilokias?”

“That’s complicated. I was hoping to reconnect with some family while trying to establish a trade agreement that would benefit both sides, but it appears war happened. My father never arrived leading me to believe they were no longer interested or didn’t have the time,” Dyril paused for a breath then continued, “Naturally grandfather wasn’t pleased, but several relatives were eager to get rid of their unsightly blight on the family name. So my uncle decided to allow me to take over his role within our family.”

Kiseo leaned in around Dyril, allowing Claus to catch sight of her as she removed her mistress’ partly empty goblet. She flashed the mercenary a gentle smile in a respectful manner then retracted back to dispose of the cup onto a nearby passing tray.

-”Hey there!” Claus said with a wave to Kiseo before returning to Dyril.

-”Long time since I saw a mao, nice to see one without scars as well. That was… Kisso? The men mentioned her and I know you did as well.”

Dyril fought hard not to roll her eyes at his mispronunciation of Kiseo’s name. Kiseo, on the other hand, stifled a giggle under her well-placed paw. Her eyes looked to Dyril for permission to speak before receiving a nod from the blue-skinned woman.

“Key-so,” the mao kindly corrected, careful to word her name in two easy to say words. As she let the soak into Claus’ drunken thoughts, she continued.

“Much pleasure to meet you, Claus. And yes. Very taken care of well by mistress I am. Formaroth is still getting… better?” At the last word, Kiseo looked to Dyril for guidance if she was using the correct word in its proper form.

“Yes, you’re getting better. Still needs a lot more improvement,” Dyril confirmed, “Yes, her mother served me before she did. Sadly, Shinx, her mother, was… disposed of during an errand for me.”

Both fell a bit silent at the memory.

Claus picked up on the gloomy thoughts and instinctively raised his goblet.

-”For a fine mao, a memory toast for Shinx.” He moved to let the goblets clink into Dyril's.

“And what is it that you are toasting for,” Patrick said; while Dyril and Claus had been talking Patrick had made his way from the honor table over to them. He would have remained at his seat, however, he had grown suspicious of Dyril; an elven woman making casual conversation with the new advisor of war. Perhaps she was an ambassador, hoping to gain valuable information for the Imperium.

Kiseo’s eyes lowered instinctively when Patrick arrived, glancing away from his direction. Dyril acknowledged him as frowned slightly, but said nothing.

-”We are toasting for a lost friend and a missed mother,” Claus responded to Patrick as he dragged out another stool for him to sit on.

“Yes,” Dyril said as she sized Patrick up, before she spoke, “I’ve not had the chance to meet you. I’m Híril Dyril Elian.”

“I see, I am Patrick De Reimer; ruler of Cawanor and brother to the High King” Patrick said as he slowly sat down on the stool Claus had offered, keeping his back straight so to remain taller than those who sat at the table “So Dyril, I assume your origins are from Beilokias? Tell me what business do you have here in Formaroth”?

“Yes, I was conceived, born and raised there. As I mentioned earlier to Claus, I was here originally to establish a trade with the human side of my family. Since they didn’t turn up, I assume they no longer held any interest and are no longer important,” she cleared her throat, trying to keep the distaste out of her voice, “I managed to get an audience with the High King then showed him some premade magical items. It ended up leading to a better trade negotiation.”

“Your human family?” Patrick said as he raised an eyebrow, he had heard that humans and elves were able to produce hybrids, though he imagined such pairings were rare, looking down on Dyril’s hands confirmed her claim. Patrick was always perturbed by the three claw-like fingers that most elves had, Dyril’s hands, however, were far more human-like “Who was your human family, do they share a name I may have heard of”? Patrick continued as he looked back at Dyril

“I only know a name, but it’s not important. Personally, they are no better than the family that raised me now,” Dyril stated bluntly, her words held a slight ice to it when thinking of her Elven side, “Hybrids aren’t… viewed fondly on. I was considered the very shame of my family that needed to often be reminded of her place. I prefer not to be reminded of it.”

“You still didn’t answer my question,” Patrick said bluntly, he did not like people avoiding his questions “What was their name”?

-”Now, let’s not dwell on unimportant things. Why not instead ask what kind of interesting things Alasdair is buying from her?” Claus interjected not wanting the mood to be ruined.

Patrick remained silent for a short while as he considered whether to pursue his question. Eventually, he decided against it, if he continued asking Dyril about her family he would be viewed as overly forward at best and desperate at worst. “Very well, what items have taken my brother’s interest”?

“Mandrakes and their unique ability to lengthen a natural lifespan,” Dyril said calmly, relieved he was dropping the subject.

Patrick’s interest peaked upon hearing this “Now that does sound interesting” he said as his stern expression softened slightly “Do say more, how long can these mandrakes increase one’s lifespan”?

“Without magical assistance, at the most tests have shown it to be one or two years at least,” Dyril truthfully repeated the same information as she did the High King, seeing the same strange interest.

“Interesting” Patrick said as he remained silent for a short while, contemplating what he had just been told, “You say without magical assistance if a magic specialist were to work alongside you, along with sufficient funding, would it make a difference”?

“It would. The increase would be about five at least, through additional research could improve it. However, I need to make arrangements to locate a suitable place to grow them and harvest a crop.”

Dyril thought a moment then continued, “It is difficult to tell without attempting it first. I do recall reading up on the theory, but for most Elves, that’s just a drop in the bucket for a natural lifespan.”

“I see,” Patrick said as he stood up from the table “This has been most...informative, I shall certainly remember to keep an eye on your work. For now, I must return to the honour table, gooday” Patrick said as he walked away, he had ascertained that Dyril was not working for the Imperium and any information that Claus may drunkenly share would not be reported back to them (though Patrick doubted he had anything of significant importance). But more importantly, it appeared this ‘half-blood’ may have the potential to increase one’s lifespan. It was certainly something he planned to inform Alice about.

As Patrick moved off, Claus leaned in towards Dyril and whispered in brutally broken elvish.
-”He has such a stick up his arse, just watch him waddle off.” To which he took a hearty gulp of wine.

Dyril fought not to snicker as she raised her hand to her face, her lips curled briefly into an amused smile at Claus’ comment. Her fixed expression softened slightly. She gently placed her hand back underneath the table while she replied in fluent Elven.

“He seems to wear that stick proudly. Are all De Reimer like that?” Her eyes spied his path heading back to the table, relieved there would be no more poking for her lineage.

Keeping in elven and now grinning like a fool.

-”Nah, Alasdair and the others aren’t as fat as him.” To which he snickered and drank some wine. He then stopped and returned to Formarothian.

-”It’s good to have a nice chat without your nasty relatives and old Doroka looming over, much more relaxed don’t ya think?”

Dyril paused for a moment, considering what Claus pointed out.

“It’s freeing almost, but I’m still waiting for Grandfather or one of my Aunts to suddenly appear. Then just sweep me away under the rug,” Dyril said with worry in her tone, remains of her less than ideal home life.

“Now, I’m just worried about things crumbling here and I being forced to return. Also, you do realize… I know you have better language skills than that, right?” She said with her head tilted in his direction, noting how he rarely changed since her childhood. Then again she didn’t expect him to because a few years were like days in an Elf’s lifetime.

Looking suspiciously guilty, Claus smiled and responded in fluent elven.

-”I know.” Followed with a wink, Claus had learned two phrases fluently in elve, one was that and the other was ‘i’d like some wine.’

He kept on in Formarothian.

-”You know I’m always ready to punch that old geezer if you want to. Never liked the old guy anyway.” Just realizing, Claus waved to a servant to come over before turning back to Dyril.

Her hand twirled with the fresh goblet, now replaced with water, on the table. Kiseo had left briefly to retrieve it since Dyril doubted any of the servants would actually offer anything other than wine, ale or other exquisite drinks.

“Punching him wouldn’t do anything. We both know that. In his eyes, I should’ve never been born. In my mother’s, I was merely a tool for manipulation and gaining some human connections to make our family’s life easier,” Dyril said with distaste while she sipped the better tasting water. She noted him getting more wine causing her to ask, “How can you stand that… bitter stuff? Especially after having the better quality drink at Beikolas?”

Her nose scrunched up in distaste at the rate he was consuming it.

With a wondering expression, bordering on poetic, he gazed into the bottom of his cup and thought of this deep question.

-”Good question, I guess it’s an acquired taste. Like that Keller root wine from the province south of where you grew up. I love the stuff, while all my men gag at the thought of it.”

-”Also I’m a bit of a party person, if there is booze, I drink it.” One of his smirks snuck into his face, revealing his easygoing attitude to all of this.

Flipping to the native language, she sighed softly, “Don’t drink too much or I might have to send Kiseo along to ensure your cups are watered down. I rather there wasn’t another incident. Your predecessor had to do some quick thinking in order to smooth things out with grandfather.”

-”Ah, but these ARE watered down, lord grumpy over there made sure of that.” Claus pointed casually towards Patrick without turning, making the gesture a bit less obvious.
Here the servant Claus had waved to arrived and made a polite bow.

-”Great, you, make sure to write an overly pompous and impressive letter to my father, Adolf Rotstein from Scassia that I have become royal advisor…. IMPERIAL advisor. Make it extra jolly as well, he’ll hate that.” The servant made a barely noticeable raising of an eyebrow, before bowing and beginning the task, or getting the proper people to do it.

-”It’s great to be an advisor, I’m practically nobility!” Claus raised his arms and was genuinely happy and leaned back on the table. A massive grin on his face.

-”Want some cider? I’m tired of this wine anyway, they probably have some weaker stuff.” He asked Dyril.

“And how many did you have before they were watered down?” Dyril asked accusingly.

She meant no harm by it as her lips curled into a small smile, showing her amusement at Claus’ disgruntled behavior. A subtle hint of surprise crossed her face at Claus’ statement over his father. It made her eyes tighten in thought before dismissing until later. Dyril shook her head at her friend’s reaction before reminding him of true facts.

“True, but what the High King gives, he can take away. You have to remember you only have power due to a title. Lose that and you might end up worse off than when you started. You’re also in a position of importance after all,” Dyril gently reminded him, then nodded at the offer of cider. It had to be better than what she was currently drinking.

A moment of contemplation came from Claus, with him stroking his chin in thought, followed with ignoring the tough question altogether.

-”Honest to Jykher, two cups. Sure it’s a goblet…” he stared into his goblet” I’m just surprised these fellows can’t handle their drinks better than this.” Almost on queue as he said it, a man passed out next to him and sort of slid off his right side. A pair of servants began to drag him off after apologizing to Claus.

With a loud shout, Claus ordered a servant over and asked her to bring some quality light cider.

-”Always preferred the taste of cider and beer to wine anyway,” Claus said as he turned towards Dyril once more, suddenly he had his rare darker tone to him, shadow over his face and a slight tilt of the head.

-”As for titles, my power comes from the fist, my connection to Timtos and my blade. If I want more…. I get hold of more.” His smirk wicked.

Dyril rarely saw him like this, but it had happened once or twice before.

Before she had time to answer, the cider arrived and Claus was back to his usual jolly mood, pouring drinks and smiling.

Dyril fell silent. She wouldn’t deny the expression on his face caused her to shiver in fear slightly. It felt like a different individual was holding the reins within his body whenever it happened, drawing out an instinctive need to recoil for protection. Quietly sizing him up, her attention was distracted by the servant’s arrival as she placed their drinks down.

Letting the uneasy feeling go, Dyril and Claus began to reminisce over their past. A long, enjoyable conversation that turned to their future too.
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Alasdair has only been away from the honour table for a few minutes and already he had been ‘ambushed’ by a number of different guests. He had only just escaped Anera Greensworth and her painfully dramatic ‘thankyou’ for allowing her family to maintain control over Ralda. Unfortunately there was only one noble who Alasdair was interested in having a lengthy discussion with and that was Eli Blackwell. Though it was already clear that this man was his new rival, he still knew very little about him.

Alasdair’s trail of thought was interrupted as he noticed a figure who stood out amongst the sea of nobles: A slender, gaunt and pale man dressed in black trousers, a light green tunic with a golden trim, high black boots and a long black coat. He was holding a goblet filled with a beverage unknown to Alasdair and presented himself with a certain degree of confidence. Alasdair immediately identified him as Ignocious Phlemonte, the master Alchemist; someone Alasdair had invited personally to the party. His work had not gone unnoticed by the crown and Alasdair had hoped to meet him during this event. With him was a older man with dark graying hair, kept in a braid and a goatee of the same color, though whoever he was it was of little concern to Alasdair.

“Ignocious I presume” Alasdair spoke as he strode up to him

At the sound of his name, Ignocious took a long drink from his goblet of wine before turning toward the voice. There stood the king himself. How interesting.

“Your grace,” Uncle’s shock was palpable as he hurriedly went into a deep bow, clicking his tongue at Ignocious to do the same.

“Your grace,” Ignocious said slowly before giving a small bow.

He could practically hear Uncle groan beside him at Ignocious’s shallow bow compared to his own. By this point surely the entirety of the court would know Ignocious would not pander to the gentry and their whims. Of course, that led to low funding and scarce backing for his projects.

Alasdair raised an eyebrow at desultory bow but decided against saying anything

“I am glad you decided to attend, from what I gather you are a hard man to reach. I must say I am surprised that such a skilled and accomplished Alchemist such as yourself is not better known amongst the nobility”. Alasdair turned to face Ignocious’s older companion “and you are”?

Ignocious chuckled at the mention of being hard to reach. It wasn’t so much he was hard to reach as he locked himself in his lab and refused most visitors.

“Ah, Your Grace, it’s not that I’m unknown rather that I have an… infamous reputation among the nobility of the court.”

“Lynus Galdrin, Your Grace. This young man’s mentor since he first joined our ranks,” Uncle went into another deep bow as he spoke.

“I pleasure to meet you” Alasdair said before turning his attention back to Ignocious “from what I gather you have been able to develop a form of explosive powder, independant of that which has been developed by the Riogail Sovereignty. Tell me despite the clear potential that such a technology holds, how is it that so few have chosen to invest in your research”?

“I have, Your Grace. That would also be due to my infamous personality amongst the court. They feel I am difficult to work with, and none of them wish to be a patron to my research either from their own experience or due to the words of others. I have managed to get some backing here and there but no regular and committed funding. I manage though.”

Ignocious gave a nod and took another drink from his wine. Uncle was looking uncomfortable as he spoke. He usually did when Ignocious spoke to the nobility, but this time it was the king himself.

“I see. Personally, on matters such as these, I always think it best to judge a man on his abilities, rather whether one likes one's personality, no? Such weapons could be used to help secure our new empire from those who would do it harm. Perhaps we could reach some sort of arrangement to which you will be satisfied”? Alasdair replied

Uncle nearly choked on his drink, but Ignocious barely blinked at the surprising offer.

“Oh, I agree, Your Grace. Which is why my infamous personality has not changed,” Ignocious smirked as he spoke, “Now that sounds like an interesting topic, Your Majesty.”

Ignocious raised his glass to the king and drank. He was glad he allowed Uncle to drag him to this party now and would have to thank him later. The king himself not only approached him but offered to fund his research to top it off.

While Alasdair’s face remained unchanged he was somewhat irked by the disrespectful nature that Ignocious was showing his king, it was likely this personality that has driven away so many potential investors. However what Alasdair had said earlier still held true, he didn’t have to like this man to get what he wanted from him.

“Tell me, with the correct funding how do you think you will best be able to utilize this technology”?

“An excellent question, Your Grace. With time and funding I believe I can take the idea of the Su Yuta with their explosive vases and make them more compact to be easier for infantry to carry on their person and lob at enemies. I also believe I could take the fireworks they use and make them longer lasting so a lost individual can fire them into the air and mark their location or a soldier to fire from afar and light something a blaze.”

Alasdair thought for a moment; while the flare did sound like a useful tool it was the explosive vases that truly interested him. He would like to see the famed Blackwell dragonguard try to fend off against explosives.

“This sounds very promising, very promising indeed. Perhaps we could come to some sort of an arrangement. I will fund your research; a Silver-Half Trite per week along with covering the cost of three alchemists of your choice. I will give you two months to produce something to encourage me to continue to support your funding. If I am not satisfied however then all funding to your project will be cut and your reputation will suffer so much that you will find it different to fund any research again. How does that sound to you”?

If by some chance he failed to impress the king then he would be back where he started in the first place. His reputation among the court was essentially already mud, but he still had ways of getting funding, so he wasn't worried about the minute chance of failure and the consequences that would come with it. The three alchemists were a bit much, but having underlings would be an interesting change of pace from his solitary work.

“That sounds excellent, Your Grace. My first choice is Uncle,” as he spoke he gestured to Lynus with his glass.

“Feel free to choose who you like, so long as if you produce results. Anyway I shall not keep you from the celebrations any longer” Alasdair said, while his conversation with Ignocious had proven to be a pleasant surprise he still had to find Eli before the parties end. “I shall send a messenger to you with the appropriate funding and in return you will give him a report of your work so I remain informed”.

“As you wish… Your Grace.”

Ignocious watched the king walk away from behind his glass. Beside him Lynus stood, face flushed and mouth agape.

“I’m as surprised as you are, Uncle. I must thank you for dragging me here now. I trust you to find two more capable bodies for this venture.”

“Of… of course, my boy. I will begin interviewing possible candidates tomorrow. Even with the King's own funding it may prove difficult to find anyone willing to work with you. You have got to do something about your attitude, my boy,” though it sounded like a scorn, Lynus smiled warmly as he said it.

“Yes, yes, I am all too aware of my reputation within the guild. It's not my fault they can't give or follow directions properly.”
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Location: Nyhem
Time: A few days before the party.






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Kiseo, Dyril, Lana and Arianna


Location: Party in Celebration of War’s Victory
Time: Month after the Riots
Collab with: @Sundered Echo



The Sun was sinking below the Horizon, the last vestiges of gold disappearing from the sky. Lana was considering returning home, or perhaps taking a circumspect trip to where Eli was staying… But as the crowd thinned ever more, she noticed Dyril was alone, and an idea came to her. Also present at the party was Arianna Zerrikan, a prominent Tide Master from the Summer Isles.

Arianna was looking decidedly out of place, currently being talked at by some fawning noble. Lana suddenly felt terrible for not helping her friend fend off admirers who only knew of the famous Zerrikan name. Seeing an opportunity to perhaps make up for her negligence, she gracefully entered into the one-sided conversation, expertly dismissing the noble with a glance before leading Arianna towards the elf.

Above them, a number of illusory lights appeared suddenly, illuminating the gardens to ensure that those still present would not have to cease their reveling due to darkness.

“Dyril, Kiseo.” Lana said as she approached the pair. “It is good to see you again. I trust you are enjoying the festivities?” At her side, Arianna could not help but stare a little, particularly at Kiseo.

Dyril had been about to suggest to leave when a voice spoke. It caught her attention causing the half-elf to turn and look. Naturally Kiseo peered over her mistress’ shoulder where she noted the Magister approach them with another individual.

As the woman started, the Mao’s tail flickered from behind her. Her mixed lips curled in what she hoped was a friendly gesture as she allowed Dyril to speak for both of them.

“There’s slightly better company than those in the Elven courts,” Dyril had considered tacking on a mention of ‘especially the priests’ but thought better of it. Lana might’ve found the comment insulting depending on her views.

She noticed Arianna stare at her servant as she smiled, “Magister, I see you brought a friend. Would you kindly introduce her please?”

“This is Arianna Zerrikan, Tide Master of the Summer Isles. Arianna, this is Híril
Dyril Elian, a trader from Beilokias, and Kiseo her… servant.” Lana’s command of the foreign titles and names was, she thought, adequate.

“A pleasure.” Arianna said, bowing slightly as she would for Formaroth minor nobility, just to be safe.

“Tide Master is a title denoting esteemed mage-captains in Formaroth.” Lana added, by way of explanation. She knew the elf wasn’t familiar with some of the more esoteric terms in this land, and did not want to waste time with polite questions.
“I recall having your name being recommended to me as an option for sea trade services,” Dyril stated, actually happy she could do business in a far less ridge settings. It also saved her time tracking the woman down as she returned a small nod in acknowledging the bow.

“I hope you don’t find me rude for asking a few questions? I’m interested to see if you would both be willing and suitable for ferrying magical items across the sea from Beilokias.”

“Not rude at all.” Arianna said. “Indeed, i’d much rather speak of seabound business than answer questions about my father. He seems to be all everyone else in Nyhem is interested in…” She sounded terribly frustrated as she spoke of that particular subject. It was clear in her tone that Nyhem was not the only place she had to deal with that problem.

“I’ve not been in Formorath for long, right now your name was recommended to me and I intend to see if I can do business with you,” Dyril reaffirmed as she felt her liking toward the woman grow. They both were left underneath someone else’s shadow and that drew a connection to encourage they could meet a good bargain for rendered services.

Dyril cleared her voice then continued, “What type of ship does your business use? Most seabound businesses usually have a ship most suitable either for their captain or their purposes.”

Arianna listened with a growing smile. Lana’s quick explanation of her title had left out a fairly critical aspect of her job, and it had resulted in an amusing misconception on Dyril’s part.

“I’m afraid you’ve gotten the wrong impression.” She said mirthfully, then cast a mock scathing gaze at Lana. “I’m a warship captain. I command a catamaran that wouldn’t last ten seconds on the open ocean.” She laughed then a genuine, but not mocking sound.

“I do, however, know some of the best traders the Isles have to offer. For a free Zephyr fleet escort they will go anywhere in the world. What are you planning to trade?”

“That’s why I asked questions. I felt there was more to it than what was given,” Dyril attempted to recover from her mistake as she nodded.

“I was aiming on shipping some mandrake seeds and magical items. On my way here, we had a run in with a particularly nasty pirate that burned our escort ship.”

“I see. Perhaps it will soon be time to send the fleet to Akki for a purge…” Arianna mused. “I will inform my father of that, and see what he thinks. But no such fate will come to any ship under a Summer Isles flag. Unless the pirates wish to risk our wrath…”

Arianna thought for a moment, considering the possibilities. She could no doubt charge the elf quite a bit, but she was not really concerned with money, and she liked the idea of a friend who might get to know her, instead of judging her on her last name.

“I have an offer. I will arrange a trade route and escort with one of the Holk captains I know. He will no doubt have a fee, but with guaranteed escort it will be low. In exchange, you can tell me of your land and stick around here for a while.” Such an altruistic offer would no doubt see generations of traders in her ancestry rolling in their graves, but she didn’t care.

Dyril blinked for a moment. She wasn’t sure what to say or think primarily because most individuals, when their business was complete, left or wanted nothing farther to do with her. In fact, few ever stood in her presence beyond public if they could help it. This unusual request caused Dyril to mentally stumble over her words.




Meanwhile, Kiseo had casually shifted over beside Lana where the two were able to quietly converse without interrupting.

“Thank you,” Kiseo said gratefully, through she wasn’t sure if it was intentional or not.

“What for?” Lana said, genuinely bewildered for a moment. Then it dawned on her. “Oh.” She said quietly. “There are no slaves in Formaroth.”

“Oh, not that. Dyril has...had trouble making friends here. It seems she likes this one,” Kiseo corrected Lana as her feline lips widened in a smile, her tail swaying in place. She noticed it coming dangerously close to the Magister’s personal space before her arm reached out to collect it, pulling it around her front to avoid another incident.

“Good. I am happy to help.” Lana said. “How have you been faring these last few days? Enjoying your time in Formaroth I hope?” Lana continued, making small talk while Arianna talked business.

“It better than a month ago during the riots. I ended up meeting Dyril’s old childhood acquaintance, Claus. It was interesting to watch her control his drinking,” Kiseo chuckled, recalling how her mistress lite up and interacted with the jolly individual.

“She knew Claus before? Interesting. It seems you two are quickly making friends with the great and powerful of the land.” Lana observed.

“Claus is fond of her, like a little sister I think. I heard he tried to teach her to use a crossbow before her grandfather discovered it and isolated Dyril in her room for the following years,” Kiseo’s eyes lowered to hide her slight discomfort of being locked away like that.

“I met a friend of yours one day in the market, Drevala. She was nice enough to help me with some butcher trying to… how do you say it? Cheep me?”

At the mention of Drevala, Lana looked away. No matter how much she tried to get the memory of their last meeting out of her head, it was so vivid and shocking that it would not go away. Her cheeks burned and she was filled with great sorrow. Only with a monumental effort of will was she able to hide it all under illusion and turn back, doing her best to act like nothing had happened at all.

She was unaware of a now heightened pulsing glow from the gem upon her breast.

“Yes, she mentioned something to that effect. And it is ‘cheat’ you.” Lana focused on correcting Kiseo’s use of common to change the subject. “You have definitely improved your command of the language however. That is good.”

“There is still a lot to work on. Common is not easy. Not like Elven or Mao,” Kiseo pointed out, noticing the discomfort in Lana’s posture. For a moment, her words fell silent to the pulsing glow coming from the Magister’s chest.

“That is an interesting piece you are wearing. Does it always pulse like that?”

Lana looked blankly at Kiseo for a moment, wondering what she was referring to. All her jewelry was an illusion, and she hadn’t set any of it up to pulse.

Kiseo pointed to indicate what she was seeing.

Slowly, it seemed to dawn on Lana what Kiseo was referring to. The realisation crept over face slow enough that none could miss it, and then she simply said “Oh.” She gently plucked the gem from where it hung in two finger and raised it up to where she could see it. “No, it doesn’t usually do that.”

“Where did you get it from?” Kiseo, not liking the fact it was activated without a command from its owner. Most magical items that acted of their own violation lead to dangerous consequences.

Lana narrowed her eyes then, looking suspiciously at Kiseo and dropping the gem to let it hang in its usual place. “Why?” She asked. She was not about to tell the servant of an elf about a magical breakthrough even the elves could never manage.

“From what Dyril has told me, if a magical item acts of its own free will… it’s dangerous or defective,” Kiseo replied, her ears pinned back defensively. She didn’t like the tone the Magister had suddenly taken with her over a simple question.

“I see. Well, pay it no mind. I know what I am doing.” Lana said haughtily.

“Ignoring it might damage it worse. Even the Elven Priests refer to Dyril’s family when it comes to magical items and their status is far above them. Magic in an item isn’t the same as magic in a living creature,” Kiseo tried once more, but aimed to pull back without another word.

“Are you questioning my magical expertise?” Lana snapped. She was getting angry now - Kiseo’s words were starting to feel a little too patronising, something she only expected from pureblood elves. “Formaroth is not as far behind Beilokias in the art of magic as the elves seem to believe. You would do well to stop your prying into this subject.”

“It’s not your magical knowledge I question, but your caution,” Kiseo found herself saying, then sighed.

Letting the moment pass and she added, in a softer tone,“I don’t want to see you hurt or worse, dead. So please, get another opinion that knows about this. If what you said is true, there’s individuals that know about magical items and can confirm what I said is true.”

Lana looked carefully at Kiseo for a long moment, then relented, calming a little. “I will consult my peers.”

“Thank you,” Kiseo’s smile returned.

Her ear flickered to return upon Dyril, catching Arianna’s generous offer and Dyril uncharacteristically caught off guard. She flashed an apologetic expression before she excused herself.

“Your offer is unusual and…,” Kiseo, stepping in, struggled with the next word.

Dyril promptly snapped out of her stun to correct the Mao, “But and the last word is generous. We need to work more on your common, Kiseo. Remind me later.”

She quickly reined in her composure then continued, “As my servant said, your offer is unusual purely because most individuals want to only engage in business. However, I would be happy to talk with you and stick around in exchange for you offer.”

“Good. It’s a deal then.” Arianna said. “Come see me at the docks tomorrow, I’ll be on my ship. You can't miss it - it is the only Catamaran there.”

Kiseo casually slipped back into the background when Dyril started to take the conversation’s reins again.

Arianna settled into describing her ship for a time, speaking to Dyril into the night about ships. Meanwhile, Lana slinked away and found something more to drink. With the night growing older, and being reminded of Drevala, she felt the need to get a little more drunk than she had planned...

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